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Mendo Lake Family Life

'A' Is for Acorn

By Meagan Ruffing

Fall is the perfect time to get your kids outside to collect acorns, pine cones, and sticks for their indoor crafts. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, any of these five simple projects can be proudly displayed on your kitchen table.

An acorn frame is one of the easiest, most fun fall crafts to do. The next time you go out on a walk, have the kids collect acorns in empty yogurt containers. Grab an old frame at a secondhand store and--an adult should do this part--hot glue the acorns all around the frame. Once the acorns are glued on, spray the frame with shellac. Voila! You have a really cool frame that makes a great gift for grandparents, especially if it contains a family photo.

An "I am thankful" tree is a wonderful way for the family to contemplate the importance of gratitude. Ask your kids to grab a bunch of long, skinny twigs from outside. Write down things that your family is thankful for on pieces of paper, tie the notes to the twigs, and then place the twigs in a vase. Before dinner, have each person take a piece of paper off the "tree" and read it.

Pinecones can make such pretty centerpieces. Paste glue on cones, and then roll them in glitter spread on a paper plate. After they are decorated, spray the cones with shellac to make sure the glitter stays on them and not all over the house. Display in a bowl or on the fireplace mantel.

Handprints are a simple way to preserve your child's itty-bitty years. Take that precious little hand, place it on a piece of paper, and trace around it with a pencil or crayon. (It's fun for an older sibling to trace a younger sibling's hand.) Then turn the tracing into a turkey by drawing a face on the thumb, feathers on the next three fingers, and, finally, a tale on the pinky. Gobble, gobble!

Lastly, make a headpiece for your child to wear at dinner. Grab some construction paper, tape, scissors, and feathers. Cut the paper into strips, and then tape them together to make one, continuous piece that is long enough to snugly fit around your child's head. Decorate the crown with feathers, and place on top of your prince's or princess's head.

Meagan Ruffing is a parenting journalist who loves making crafts with her three children. Check out more parenting tips and tricks at