Halloween Crafts for Kids: Monsters and Spiders

Yesterday was a cold and rainy day here in Minnesota and I like nothing more than hunkering down with my daughter and crafting and cooking on days like that. My daughter loves decorating for holidays and she woke up yesterday and began creating little spiders with wooden beads and pipe cleaners. That set the tone for our crafty morning and we took a peek on Pinterest to get ideas of other Halloween decorations that we could make with materials we already had around the house. One thing we found were cute TP roll monsters. Here are the spiders and monsters we made:

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One of my Instagrammers wanted a tutorial so here is a brief summary of how to make them!

Materials for monsters:

  • TP rolls or paper towel rolls cut in half
  • Paint and paint brushes/foam brushes
  • Eye balls (we bought ours at the $1 store)
  • Glue
  • Construction paper
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Scissors

First paint the TP rolls whatever colors you’d like:

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Then add the eye balls in whatever creative way you’d like. My daughter added eye balls around the entire TP roll on one monster, which made me think we could decorate both sides with a face and have them double-sided! If you don’t have the googley-eye balls, then they could be drawn on as well or cut out of paper — just be creative!

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Then we just cut mouths out of construction paper and glued them on.  For the arms, I used a scissors to cut little slits to slide the pipe cleaners through – this is a job for the adult. Be careful not to poke yourself!  And then bend the arms in whatever spooky way you’d like. To get the spiral look, just wrap the pipe cleaner around a pen or pencil.

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To make the spiders, all you need are wooden beads and pipe cleaners. My daughter received a kit from her God Mother that came with a bunch of wooden beads and pipe cleaners with creative suggestions of things to to make. I believe the kit is available at Target. All you need to do is poke four pipe cleaners through the larger wooden bead and bend the pipe cleaners to look like legs. Grab a permanent marker and draw on a spider face and that’s it!

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Have fun!

Monarch Butterfly Caterpillar Transformation in Photos

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When we bought our home six years ago, the previous homeowner had milkweed plants growing near the back door. At the time, I had no idea that milkweed was a huge part of Monarch caterpillars’ diet, but I was sure happy when I saw my first little caterpillar on the plant! I had never seen one in nature before, it was so much fun to watch.

This year, we had 3 caterpillars munching away at our milkweed plants and one in particular stayed the entire transformation from larva stage until pupa stage. Here is the transformation in photos I took:

This is when we first found our little buddy. My daughter spotted it somehow with her hawk-like eyesight. I cannot express how tiny this little bugger was; Less than 1mm!

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This was about 3-5 days later. The size has increased by 5 or 6 times the size when we first found it.

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And this was the last time we saw the caterpillar… about 14 days after first noticing him. All grown up and ready for the next stage:

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Unfortunately we don’t know where he  made his chrysalis, but it would be so neat to see that stage as well. Next year we might try building something that will hopefully appeal to the caterpillars to stick around.

Monarchs feed almost exclusively on Milkweed plants and as adult butterflies, they get a lot of their nutrients from the milkweed flowers. Consider planting some in your garden if you haven’t already!

Each year, millions of Monarchs make their way down to Mexico because it’s too cold in Minnesota for them to survive. We celebrate the kick off of this 1500 mile migration at Lake Nokomis at the Minneapolis Monarch Festival which takes place at the beginning of September. It’s a great opportunity to learn tons of interesting facts about Monarch Butterflies and learn why they are so essential to our environment, plus there are great vendors with delicious food and amazing entertainers as well. I love the awareness this spreads throughout the community. Do you have a similar event in your neck of the woods?

A few facts about Monarch Butterflies:

  • Their number one most important job is pollinating and they are great at it!
  • They eat destructive bugs from other plants.
  • Once their life is over, they play an important role by being a beneficial food source to others, such as bats, birds, lizards, monkeys and snakes.
  • They are beautiful and bring joy to those that see them. 🙂
  • Average lifespan is 6-8 months.
  • Male Monarchs have a black spot on the bottom quarter of each wing, which females don’t so they are easy to distinguish between.
  • The prevalence of Monarchs in our environment give scientists great insight on our ecosystem and how it is changing.

So consider what plants you have in your yard and think about making a butterfly-friendly area.

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What is your favorite type of butterfly?

MN Renaissance Festival – Fairy Fest Weekend 2014

Last year I wrote about the Minnesota Renaissance Festival’s Fairy House competition. It’s a contest in which adults and children are encouraged to submit their fairy house masterpieces in hopes to win prizes. Over the weekend, Renaissance visitors are able to vote on their favorite house. We had such a great time last year that we had to go back for Fairy Fest again this year. Here are a few of the houses I was really impressed with (click on the image to make the photo even larger):

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Our favorite:

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And of course, a trip to the Renaissance would not be complete with out seeing Twig the Fairy…

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We’re already looking forward to going back next year!

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