Halloween can be a fun and exciting, especially for families with young children.  With candy and costumes tempting young ones at every turn, it can also be frustrating for parents.  One way to avoid those wasteful and potentially harmful costume purchases is by getting children excited and invested in creating their own costume with everyday items found in the home. Not only is this better for the environment (and our pocket book!) but it provides an opportunity for creativity and problem solving as well.

Have your child(ren) brainstorm ideas – what do they want to dress up as for Halloween?  Once they have decided on a few options, work together to determine if there are items you already have that could be used to create a costume.  Here are a few of our favorite materials to use for dress up, and some costumes you can create with them:

Materials

Socks: These can be used to create antennae, ears, tails, tentacles and more!

Toilet paper cores: periscopes, binoculars, super hero cuffs, and telescopes to name a few…

Paper Bags: Great for creating costumes such as the tiger pictured above, a robot, crayon box, or any primarily rectangular shape – for older children the bag works best as a mask, for younger children the bags can be cut out on the sides to accommodate arms.

Sheets: in addition to the traditional ghost costume, use sheets to create dresses, togas, bat wings, mummy wraps, and bandages.

Mom or Dad’s t-shirts: create super hero capes, art smocks, and lab coats, or stuff to create a big belly or a funny shape.

 

Costume Ideas

Octopus: attach 6 stuffed tube socks to a sweatshirt of the same color. A matching hat will help tie the look together.  Now you have 8 arms instead of 2!

Penguin: cut out a white piece of paper in an oval shape and cut off ends for a flat top and bottom.  Attach to a black sweatshirt, and place a yellow“beak” at the top of your child’s forehead.

Super Hero: Make a cape and mask from an old t-shirt, create cuffs from toilet paper cores (add a slit down the length to attach) and create a belt from any remaining t shirt material and some colored paper.

Robot: Cut out a paper bag to resemble either the body or the head of your robot, depending on the size of the child.  Create the remainder of the robot by attaching colored paper controls.

Have you created your own Halloween costumes?  We’d love to hear your ideas, and how the costumes turned out!

Are you planting bulbs for next spring?  If tulips are on your list, check out Journey North’s international citizen science project which tracks tulip growth as a measure of climate and climate change.

Participants in this project, including many kids at school, plant tulips in the fall.  When the plants emerge and bloom in the spring, kids record and report their observations.  In doing so they can “watch the wave of spring as it moves across the globe.”

Blooming patterns reveal trends about climate, and the data you collect through this project becomes part of a long-term database which can be used to study changes in climate.

Journey North offers a kids’ section, a teacher’s guide, and maps of plantings and growth.  They host several other citizen science projects, including ones on hummingbird, monarch, American robin, gray whale, and whooping crane migration, at other times of the year.

To celebrate Breast Cancer Prevention month, we’re giving away five dolls from our PINK collection. A percentage of the sales of the PINK collection benefits breast cancer research all year long. We also work to educate parents about prevention (none of our products contain any phthalates, BPA, etc.).

The PINK collection is organic (no pesticides or toxins) and machine washable because we know that toys get a lot of love and a good bath is necessary.

What seeds of change does your family do now? What seeds of change are you trying to master?

Please note whether you’d prefer the blonde or brunette doll. We’ll pick the winners on Friday, October 28th. If you don’t have a little girl in your life to love the doll, just note that in your comments and we’re happy to send an Activity Ballinstead.

Since many of us are spending our weekends raking leaves these days, we thought we’d share this list of way to use your leaves in the garden and in your home.

Bagging, hauling, and disposing of leaves uses landfill space, fuel, and other resources, costs towns (taxpayer) money, removes nutrients from the environment.  These alternatives make better environmental sense.

1.  Leave them where they are to provide a home for insects, amphibians, and as root insulation for trees.

2.  Compost them along with nitrogen-rich materials (like lawn clippings, food scraps), and have great mulch by spring.

3.  Mow them into your lawn, and see less weeds next year.

4.  Use as winter cover for your vegetable garden plot.  Worms love leaves, and plants love worm castings!

5.  Use as a winter blanket for your more fragile outside plants.

6.  Make leaf rubbings.

7.  Make leaf sun catchers for your windows.

8.  Use them to stuff a scarecrow (and then compost them).

9.  Make a leaf wreath.

10.  And don’t forget to make big piles and jump in them!