Inviting Autumn into our Daily Themes

October 31, 2017

Each weekday, between our morning walk and lunch, we set aside some time, an hour or two for a planned activity or work. Each day has a "theme" (for lack of a better word) that I plan around, creating a rhythm to our weeks. There's a comforting predictability for Ramona knowing that on Mondays, we bake; on Tuesdays, we paint; on Wednesdays, we play; and so on. Between the busyness of our every day lives, it creates a space where we can connect and focus on things that are important to us - creating, exploring, cooking, being together, creating traditions.

I wanted to share a little more in-depth about the themes of our days, and how we embrace autumn traditions into them.

Monday | Kitchen
On Mondays, we make a batch of something that is big enough to last the week (or a few days at least) for snacks or easy breakfasts. This time of year it's all apple crumble, pumpkin scones, apple pie, pumpkin seed granola, apple loaf, pumpkin muffins.

Since we've been using apples so often in our baking, we borrowed my mum's apple corer/peeler/slicer (like this one).

It sure beats peeling and coring apples by hand, not just from a time perspective, but because it is just so satisfying to watching the skin peel off into curly spirals. I remember how much fun I had as a kid turning the handle and watching it spin (especially because I knew it would soon be baked into something yummy) and no surprise, Ramona loves turning it too.

Instead of throwing out the peels, we coat them in some cinnamon and a little oil and throw them into the oven at 4:00 for about 12 minutes or until they're slightly crispy.

Aside from baking on Mondays, we try to involve Ramona in all of our food preparation, from cutting (with something like this) to stirring to rolling out dough - it's a skill and interest that we want to nurture, and she's much more likely to try a little of everything as we're cooking than at the dinner table.

Tuesday | Paint
I often share "On Tuesdays, we paint" stories on Instagram. We do occasionally paint on other days, but we always set aside a specific time for painting on Tuesdays. Lately, we've been enjoying painting leaves, pinecones, acorns, and pumpkins.

We paint with Stockmar Watercolour Paints, which are a worthwhile investment in my opinion. The pigments are bold and vibrant, and a little goes a long, long way. And we use either Strathmore Watercolour Paper or Canson Watercolour Paper (sustainably made from recycled paper in the USA).

We're are often asked what we do with all of Ramona's paintings - we either frame them or cut them into cards for family or friends on special occasions.

Wednesday | Play
Of course, we play every single day, but since I was finding our weekly rhythm was thrown off by random play dates, we set aside a specific day for friends and family. Every other Wednesday we spend the entire day at grandmas house until bedtime, and the rest are open for spending time with friends.

Thursday | Create
Creative materials are available for Ramona every day, however, on Thursdays, I offer new materials or introduce a new idea/technique, and I sit down and create alongside her. While she sometimes mimics what I'm doing, she usually has her own ideas, which I encourage. I'll admit, I sometimes struggle to plan for the most because, well, she's a toddler, and I'm never sure if what I provide will hold her interest for very long - sometimes our craft goes well into lunchtime, sometimes it lasts five minutes.

A few rules I follow: No print-outs or colouring sheets. Avoid pre-cut crafts. No set expectations of how it "should" look in the end - after all, for toddlers art is much more about the process than the product. Materials and activities are as open-ended as possible.

In autumn we start collecting leaves and pressing them in our wooden press as soon as they start falling (there's a similar wooden press here) - and they're quickly used for crafts and decorations. Pinecones, acorns, sticks, and maple keys start to fill jars and cans ready to be glued, painted and strung into garlands.

A few of of our favourite simple crafts include crayon leaf rubbings, leaf tracing, pinecone bird feeders ("paint" pinecones in peanut butter first, stick seeds to it, and hang on branches outside).

Here are two new crafts that we made this year.

Embroidery Hoop Leaf Suncatcher
Occasionally Ramona and I collaborate and create a more "finished" looking craft together, like these leaf suncatchers that we made with secondhand embroidery hoops (similar to these). She chose and arranged the leaves, and I fastened it together. I wanted to make suncatchers with materials that we already had, and without producing any excess waste, so I used some clear plastic packaging that I had saved for crafts.

What You'll Need
- Embroidery hoop (any size) with both inner and outer ring
- Pressed leaves
- Two layers of plastic. Instead of plastic, you could also use two thin pieces of fabric, gauze, or wax paper for a different effect.

Step One: Place one layer of plastic over inner embroidery hoop (the smaller one). Make sure it is large enough to cover the hoop with an inch or more to spare.
Step Two: Arrange leaves on top of plastic within the hoop.
Step Three: Place another layer of plastic on top of the leaves.
Step Four: Place outer hoop around the inner hoop, and tighten. Pull plastic tighter from the edges outside the hoop to make it lay flat, and keep the leaves from slipping around.
Step Five: Hang it or place it near a window.

Leaf Garland
Last week I made a leaf garland by tying leaves by their stems. For Ramona, I knew she would be more successful on her own with a simplified version (activities are often frustrating for toddlers when they aren't age-appropriate). I raided my sewing box and found a blunt-tipped tapestry needle (like these) and thread. I strung the first leaf for her and secured it, and then she took over.

What You'll Need:
- Blunt-tipped tapestry needle
- Thread
- Leaves

*This is a supervised activity for small children.
Step One: Thread a blunt-tipped needle and knot it twice to keep the thread in place.
Step Two: String one leaf at the end of the thread and tie a knot to keep it in place.
Step Three: Let your kid do her/his thing.
Step Four: Ask them where they want to hang it (Ramona chose above her peg rail in her bedroom).

Friday | Explore
While most of our daily morning walks are around the parks and paths in our neighbourhood, on Fridays I try to plan more extensive hikes in the woods or special outdoor outings (sometimes paired with a play date).

This time of year nature has so much to offer. Vibrant colours on every tree; leaves for throwing, jumping in, crunching underfoot; acorns, leaves, and seeds for collecting.

This post is in partnership with the Amazon Associates Program and contains affiliate links. As part of this program, I receive compensation. However, as always, all thoughts, opinions and run-on sentences expressed here are my own.

1 comment :

  1. Dear Robin, thank you for sharing this beautiful post! I'm wondering if you have set up some kind of art shelf for Ramona so that she can get access to the art supplies whenever she feels like using them, or you would rather take out certain art materials and set them up on a table during the creative session only? Thanks again ♡