School Projects

Fun Projects

Monday, October 27, 2014

Caramel Apples or Why I Am Not a Purist

Well, it seems that the beautiful portion of Autumn is drawing to a close.  You have to search pretty hard to find a yellow or a red leaf left among the brown and crinkly debris - but since you can still find one or two I shall carry on in my "Celebration of Fall" series of posts.  Today's installment brings you instructions on how to make the perfect caramel apple. 

Step 1: Go to Walmart and buy the kit.  

Seriously.  Buy the kit.  I have no delusions of a grandeur (I heard whoever just whispered "No, she's just delusional....").  I have no confidence in my ability to corral 4 kids whilst unwrapping a bag of caramel candy, melting uneaten portion of said caramel candies, keeping aforementioned children from falling headfirst into the now molten caramel, fishing apples out of the caramel after they fall off the stick during the dipping process or refraining from throwing the pot containing the cooled and now permanently attached caramel out through the front window.  No confidence at all.  That is why I bought the kit.

The kit worked beautifully.  The top sheet of waxed paper was peeled off, revealing a thin circle of caramel just waiting for an apple to be set in the middle of it.
 The edges of the caramel circle were lifted up and with just a little bit of stretching and folding they covered the apple.
 Then a popsicle stick handle was inserted and the apple was placed on another square of waxed paper on a cookie tray.  After five minutes in the oven they were soft and gooey and perfect for eating.
And here is the other reason why I am not a purist when it comes to caramel apples: the kids who begged and pleaded and harassed and cajoled for more then a week to make those caramel apples used their front teeth to scrape off a little bit of the caramel from the finished apples, turned up their little noses and said "can we have a different snack?"

Happy kit buying, everyone!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Fall Produce

I love fall, in case you didn't know.  It is when my Yellow-and-Orange Fever (or Y1-O1 as my husband calls it) flairs up the worst, due to all the stimulants floating in the air.  One particular reason that I like it so much is that all kinds of tasty fruits and veggies - namely apples and pumpkins - ripen and we can go collect them and make yummy things from them.  Some years we go to an apple orchard, but this year the kids and I drove to my sister's house instead, and picked a box full of apples from her trees.
 Pumpkins usually come from a little front-yard place in our town where we have lots of fun running around and picking different sized pumpkins from the different piles, but this year Great-grandpa Red grew lots of pumpkins in his garden, so we chose ours from his pile instead.
There is one type of produce, however, that I don't enjoy collecting quite as much as pumpkins and apples:
Have you guessed yet?
 Yeah - all the leaves that I love so much ON the trees eventually come down and pile themselves inches deep in the yard.  Even at that point I still love the red and orange and yellow leaves - until it is time to collect and remove them.  Then my love begins to wane a little bit.
Even so, having these cute little helpers makes the job a little more enjoyable!
Happy fall, everyone!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Fall Leaves and Banners

A few weeks ago, my sister-in-law mentioned a method she used to preserve fall leaves for decorating around the house: she dipped them in melted canning wax.  It seemed like a pretty awesome idea, so the first time I had an opportunity I decided to try it out.  There was only one problem - I didn't have any canning wax AND the one store I checked didn't have it either.  Since I rather despise the notion of running to 10 different stores trying to find "THE PERFECT SOLUTION", I thought about what I had at home and decided that maybe I could melt down some unused votive candles and use those instead.
 I put them into a disposable baking pan and set that on a low stove burner.  When the candles were all melted, I dipped in the leaves.  It worked!
 The leaves crackled and popped a bit as I dipped them in, and the colors did change a wee bit, but overall they came out looking really pretty!
 Now that I had all these leaves, I needed to find things to do with them!  Some were scattered about the house and the rest got turned into a Fall Banner.  I used 4x6" pieces of left-over brown cardstock for the words, which I hand lettered in chalk.  I used mini-clothespins to attach the letters to twine and then added bunches of leaves at the beginning, middle, and end.
I'm thinking of painting the clothespins a pumpkin color to give a boost to the fall color scheme, but for a quick evening project I'm rather pleased with how it turned out.
 Thanks for the inspiration, Jamie.  Happy fall colors everyone!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Project Day: Fall Trees and Leaves

Did I mention in last week's post that you were going to be seeing quite a lot of orange and yellow around here?  I'm pretty sure I did.  But, on the slim chance that you skipped reading that not-yet-but-certainly-soon-to-be-nominated-for-a-literary-award post, I'll remind everyone that fall colors are my favorite and I tend to go a little overboard every year making fall-themed stuff.  My mom, who also suffers from "Yellow and Orange Fever" doesn't help.  In fact, she beat me to the autumn projects this year with a fun craft on our last Project Day!

The first step was to paint coffee filters with water paints, so that the colors blend together to mimic fall leaves.
While the coffee filters were drying, each kid got a small brown paper bag, which they turned into the trunk of a tree.  For a really good description with pictures, check out this website, where my mom got her inspiration.
Finally, the previously painted coffee filters were cut into leaf shapes and then the leaves were glued on the branches of the trees.
They turned out very pretty (much better then my photography skills illustrate) and make really cute table decorations!
Stay tuned for more yellow and orange.  Happy Project Day everyone!