Our Gratitude Tree

Tomorrow is the last day of November, and so we will once again wrap up this year’s Gratitude Tree, my annual attempt to keep the kids’ heads straight during the contagious and overwhelming excitement of the holidays.  October ends with a bang with Jax’s birthday and Halloween one after another, then the Christmas catalogs start rolling in and the kids get a glazed look in their eyes with the influx of holiday commercials and Christmas-themed television shows, not to mention the lingering sugar from their Halloween candy.  That’s why the first week of November we donated our Halloween candy to the troops overseas, and I think that is a tradition I will gratefully continue!  I thank my lucky stars that we live in a commercialized black hole, so the Christmas hype is easier to avoid for us than most, but I still like doing something every now and again to remind Jax, Em, and Little H that we are more blessed than we could have ever imagined.  Thus our Gratitude Tree was born.

I cut a tree silhouette out of butcher paper and since I never found those foam leaves this year as I had before, used the kids’ hand prints to form our daily “leaves.”  Then every day they rotated writing what they were thankful for, trying not to repeat too often, although Little H was always thankful for her “new bookshelf” and her bed!

gratitude tree @ Rub Some Dirt On It #thanksgivingcrafts #handprintcrafts

Em was definitely the most thoughtful; Jax often did one-word answers, such as “books” or “food.”  Em was my girl for the most varied and specific answers, which I loved as much as her investigative spelling.

gratitude tree @ Rub Some Dirt On It #thanksgivingcrafts #handprintcrafts

I put Little H’s autumn button branch above our tree with the words “Give Thanks” printed on it, and our kitchen has been more cheerful and gratifying all November because of it.

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Autumn Button Branch

A perennial favorite!  We love Autumn Button Branches!

Autumn Button Branch @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Little H and I have had this craft in mind ever since the leaves fell off the trees and left our branches bare.  I went out and found one that has lots of small branches and nubs, and taped it to a piece of paper.  Card stock works really well, too.

Autumn Button Branch @ Rub Some Dirt On It

You’ll need lots of autumn-colored buttons (reds, oranges, yellows, maybe a green here and there) of different sizes, and some good old Elmer’s glue.  No need to remind you to keep your eye on these little choking hazards; although if your child is as into sorting as Little H is right now, I’m sure he or she wouldn’t waste the opportunity for color play by eating them!

Autumn Button Branch @ Rub Some Dirt On It

I usually squirt the glue alongside the branches, but have had experience where the buttons fall off later when the glue dries.  This time I took the cap off the glue and applied it very liberally, letting the button sit completely in a gluey puddle.  Much more effective, and Little H had more leeway (and success).

Autumn Button Branch @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Autumn Button Branch @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Autumn Button Branch @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Outline the branch in beautiful autumn colors and hang it on your wall to keep autumn alive even as the world outside gets more brown and cold!  We hung ours above our November Gratitude Tree.  I love bringing the beauty of fall inside at this time of year!

Autumn Button Branch @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Oh, how we love playing with buttons!  See more button play ideas here.

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Autumn Leaf Wreath

Autumn Leaf Wreath @ Rub Some Dirt On It

When you are faced with something as beautiful as a sun-filled lawn full of fiery red and gold maples leaves, there is simply nothing you can do other than pick up as many as you can and come up with way to savor them as long as possible.  Thus, our Autumn Leaf Wreath was born.

I found the directions here on Pinterest, but it’s all very simple.  Cut a whole in the center of a paper plate, large enough so you have plenty of room for gluing.  Cute assistants help, too.

Autumn Leaf Wreath @ Rub Some Dirt On It

  Then arrange your leaves in such a way so that you hide the white spaces between them on your wreath.  Be sure you have enough leaves–better to have too many than not enough.  Then glue the leaves to the paper plate with rubber cement.  Little H loved to glue along the veins of the leaves.

Autumn Leaf Wreath @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Press firmly and they should hold! If not, a discreet staple probably wouldn’t hurt.

Autumn Leaf Wreath @ Rub Some Dirt On It

It’s up to you if you want to cut the stems from your leaves before or after you’re through gluing.  As I was using the stems as a bit of a guide to make sure the leaves were all angled in approximately the same way, I cut them after, but it would probably be easier to do so before.

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After the stems are gone, just punch a hole in the paper plate, tie a bow or some simple string to hang it up, and you have a lovely autumn wreath that will help keep you warm on these chilly fall days!

Autumn Leaf Wreath @ Rub Some Dirt On It

I love it, and Little H does, too!  Simple pleasures and a more beautiful home.

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Five Little Pumpkins Rock Painting

Little H and I are having a great time getting back to arts and crafts this fall now that it’s just the two of us at home.  We rang in October with some fun autumn decorations around the house, Halloween books, and our favorite fall songs, especially Five Little Pumpkins, which all three of my kids enjoy (in case you don’t know it, you can check it out here).  Singing that song (and some poking around Pinterest) gave me the idea that it would be fun to have five little pumpkins of our own to play with, and our little pumpkin patch was born.

Five Little Pumpkins Rock Paining @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Little H and I went outside and looked for five roundish rocks around the same size, then we came in and painted them orange.  With little she could do to mess it up, she loved having free rein and took her job very seriously!

Five Little Pumpkins Rock Painting @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Well, she took it seriously for a hot second and then I took over while she explored the finger paint.  Sticking to one color was too restricting for her.  She did make a reappearance when it came to painting the jack-o-lanterns’ faces, though.

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When they dried, we had five little pumpkins who sit on our kitchen table and keep her company while I make lunch.  Listening to her sing the song and have them “run and run and run” or “roll out of sight” has been so fun!  Quite a lot of payoff for a very simple project!

Five Little Pumpkins Rock Paining @ Rub Some Dirt On It Five Little Pumpkins Rock Paining @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Happy Halloween everyone!

Five Little Pumpkins Rock Paining @ Rub Some Dirt On It

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Fingerprint Garden Art

The day before my birthday last week, JDubbs picked the big kids up from school and they went out to do some last minute shopping.  That left me and the baby with nowhere to go after nap, a luxury for us after I had to wake her up so many times over the school year to get to pick-up on time.  My tired self was voting for an extra episode of Paw Patrol, but I knew that a quiet afternoon with just us two (a glimpse into what life will be like this fall!) was so special it deserved a little effort.

Fingerprint Garden Art @ Rub Some Dirt On It

It was a toss-up between painting and Play-Doh, two activities Little H loves that I am guilty of avoiding because it takes a lot of work to set up for two or three kids.  Since I would pretty much rather do anything than clean teeny pieces of Play-Doh up for the next several days, I busted out the art supplies and an old favorite craft–using hand and thumbprints to create a garden scene–and I’ve never seen Little H so thrilled to have me to herself.

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First, you draw or paint some stems for flowers.  Knowing Little H is a painting novice, I didn’t want her to inevitably smudge the stems as she painted.  So I drew them with marker, which I think helped her understand what we were trying to do and kept the garden from getting too smudged too quickly.

Thumbprint Flowers @ Rub Some Dirt On It

 Then she was “all thumbs,” in the very best way, to make colorful flowers.

Thumbprint Flowers @ Rub Some Dirt On It

We had to take a short break from our plan for some less structured paint time, because she was getting antsy to just dive into the paints with more than just one finger!  Five will do!

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Once I got her back on track, I asked her what we needed in our garden.  We agreed no June garden is complete without sunshine, so a handprint sun was born. Just make several handprints on top of each other to make the rays.

Handprint Sun @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Lastly we added some bumblebees (a Little H favorite)…

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…and our glorious garden was complete!

Fingerprint Art @ Rub Some Dirt On It

A beautiful product created from some truly beautiful time together, just me and my littlest girl.  She deserves just as much energy as the other two received at her age.  I’m looking forward to being reinvigorated by her enthusiasm as she grows, spending time with just me and my girl!

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Painting With Cars To Welcome Spring!

Spring is finally here!  Time to paint the house colorful, in an unusual way.

Painting With Cars @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Yes, I know that just because spring has officially sprung, it doesn’t mean that the sun will immediately come out and melt all our mounds of snow away.  But even if I only hear the birds chirping in my mad dash from my warm house to my warm car, I can still make it feel more festive and colorful inside!

In an attempt to change things up (and hopefully keep their attention longer), the girls and I pilfered some of Jax’s matchbox cars while he was at school and got ready to create some colorful art. We’ve done this before and it was a huge hit!  I got one car for every paint color and spread the paint out on butcher paper so the girls could drive the vehicles from the paint to the paper with very little reach and fuss.

Painting with cars @ Rub Some Dirt On It

The trickiest part is encouraging the kids to keep the paint separate so that you don’t end up with a brown muddy blob.  Then let them pick a color, drive their car through its matching paint blob, and drive a rainbow to their heart’s content!

Painting With Cars @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Painting with cars @ Rub Some Dirt On It

With all these color choices at her fingertips, it was no surprise what Em decided to paint.

Painting With Cars @ Rub Some Dirt On It Painting With Cars @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Little H was a little more abstract and mostly just thrilled to get her hands dirty.

Painting With Cars @ Rub Some Dirt On It Painting with cars @ Rub Some Dirt On It Painting With Cars @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Even Mommy made one. I couldn’t resist!

Painting With Cars @ Rub Some Dirt On It

And don’t forget about the added bonus–they get to wash the cars when all the artwork is done, taking this springtime craft to a fabulous new level!  Your house has new art, the mess is cleaned up, and everyone has had a ton of fun.  It’s spring!  Let’s celebrate!

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Coffee Filter Snowflakes & Snowmen

As if we don’t have enough snow around here, the kids wanted to add some more, just for fun!  I didn’t think cutting snowflakes out of coffee filters would be so completely engaging for Jax and Em, but they literally made dozens of them.  So many, in fact, that we sent them along to family with their Valentines!  Spreading Vermont snow near and far!

Coffee Filter Snowflakes @ Rub Some Dirt On It

The kids had tried to make snowflakes out of paper before, but grew frustrated easily when they had difficulty cutting through folded paper.  With the coffee filters, it was so much easier!  We folded the paper various ways, but three folds seemed to be the perfect size for them to manipulate.

Coffee Filter Snowflakes @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Then I gave them a large bowl for the scraps and some safety scissors and they went to work.  Nicely.  Quietly.  No arguing.  Why don’t I do this every day?

Coffee Filter Snowflakes @ Rub Some Dirt On It Coffee Filter Snowflakes @ Rub Some Dirt On It Coffee Filter Snowflakes @ Rub Some Dirt On It Coffee Filter Snowflakes @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Before I knew it, our home was a winter wonderland, inside and out!

And Em had a great idea all on her own.  She turned three coffee filters into a snowman, with a few construction paper accessories to add realism.  I was so proud of her for coming up with a unique project by herself.  She is definitely my little artist.

Coffee Filter Snowman @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Making the most out of our many snowy days!

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