Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Name Garden

Your kids will love seeing their names grow out of of thin air {or thick dirt} with this fun project. Just follow these simple steps:
1. Fill a tray or cookie sheet with a layer of garden soil.
2. Have your child trace their name in the soil and then fill the letter-shaped trenches with grass seeds.
3. Cover lightly {careful not to distort the design} and water very often {soil should never ever dry out}.
4.Watch your child's excitement peak as they see their very own name growing out of the soil.


Pebble Pets

Rocks, paints, glue, googly eyes, and some pipe cleaner make for some serious garden-y fun! Let kids make their own pebble pets to decorate the family garden.

If you want to bump up the crafting intensity, try this fun {and more labor-intensive} tutorial to make colorful wax wings for pebble butterflies.

First: Grab a box of old {or new} crayons. Peel the wrappers off, and grate them into colorful piles on a sheet of wax paper.

Second:dig into those colorful piles and drop shavings into fun designs on a clean sheet of wax paper.
Third: cover with a second sheet of wax paper.
Fourth:take a warm iron to it. {Set the iron to medium-low heat. Mine was set on really high, and it burned some of the colors, and to be honest... that was kind of devastating ;). }
Fifth: Let your masterpiece cool, and then cut the wax sheet into wing shapes.
Finally: take a slender rock and glue the wings to it.
* I tried this with hot glue first, and it totally didn't work because the hot glue melts the wax. {um, yeah.} So use a cold glue like Elmer's {it takes forever to dry, but it works}.
*Hot glue gems and antennae to the rock body, and voila!  You have a beeeautiful pebble butterfly.


Paper Garden

Have some dirt-free garden fun with your kids by making a fun paper garden!
1. Let each child decorate their own flower pots {paper cups} and then fill their "pots" with beans or rice.
2.Then, simply cut out lots of different colorful shapes and petals with different colors and prints of craft paper and let the kids use glue sticks to create flowers and bugs for their paper gardens.
3. Finally, attach Popsicle or craft sticks to the bottoms and "plant" them in the bean-filled pots.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Themed Play-Dates: Dinosaur Mania!

Themed play-dates are a great way to add a little structured {and hey, maybe even educational} fun to your summer days! With a few simple items you have right around the house, you can turn your kitchen, dining room, and back yard into a prehistoric wonderland.

Dinosaur Eggs:
This fun and simple project gives you a reason to dye eggs that have nothing to do with a fuzzy white bunny.Trust us, your kids will love this one!
1. Hard boil some eggs.
2. Bang them up and make them crackle-y all over, but DON'T peel them.
3. Mix up egg dye using food coloring and vinegar {Follow the instructions on the back of the food coloring box.}
4. Put the crackled eggs into the dye and let sit for a few minutes.
5. Take them out, peel, and enjoy! They are perfect for your dinosaur theme, and are a healthy snack to boot!

To make your fossils, you're gonna need some Play-dough. It's totally fine to use store bought "Play-Doh" but if you wanna get your cheap on, feel free to mix some up with a few simple ingredients.
We have a fantastic home made play-dough recipe here. 

Once you've got your play-dough situation figured out, make little balls, smash them down into pancake-y patties, and then let the kiddos mush dollar store dinosaurs into them.

They can also smash larger-sized dino feet into them.
 Put the "fossils" on a baking sheet and bake them at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Take them out and let 'em cool. They will look something like this:


Now that you've had fun MAKING the dinosaurs, the kids can enjoy playing with them too! Take all of your fossils and bury them in your sand box and let the kids excavate with paintbrushes/toothbrushes/whatever you have handy and see how many fossils they can dig up.

If you don't have a sand box, one variation is to hide the fossils and/or the dollar store dinos all over your house/yard and let the kids go find them. Let everyone take a bag-ful of dino-goodies home with them.

Other Activities:
1. Learn all about dinosaurs, or read fun and funny dinosaur themed books together.
2. Have smaller children act like dinosaurs. What do the meat-eaters act like? What about herbivores?
3. Watch a dinosaur movie.
4. Make and decorate a volcano cake together.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Squishy Fishy

Want a fun, simple summer project to do with the kids? Well, we have a project that you can make using ONLY items found right in your home!
The Squishy Fishy!
{Translation: a no-sew bean bag... that is much cuter/quirkier than a bean bag.}


To get started, you'll need:
Socks {new or used}
Dried beans
Pea sized gravel
...and that's it!

We'll make a few decoration suggestions as we go, and you can pick and choose projects based on what other supplies you may or may not have.

The most important thing is to have fun with your kids! At the end of this post, we have a few easy suggestions for games you can play with your squishy fishy bean bags.

Simply fill a sock with your filler of choice, tie the end off into a little tail {cut off the excess if it's a tube sock} and voila! You have yourself a bare-bones squishy fishy. Now, if you want to give it a little flair... read on!
One step above bare bones, would be to bust out a few sharpie markers and give your squishy fishy a face, or some scales, or any fun design you can dream up.
Another option is to draw designs with a black sharpie, then use Crayola Washable Watercolors to create a tie-dyed effect. {Simply take a paint brush, dip into the water and then the paint, and then blotch random patches of color into the white sock. The sock readily soaks up the watery-paint.} 
For this squishy fishy, we used:
A black sock
Acrylic paints
The eraser on the back of a pencil

Just dip the eraser into the paint and use it to make the polka dots. Be sure and re-dip the eraser for each dot so the paint will show up nice and dark. Then glue on some googly eyes or buttons, and your fish is complete!

This Fishy? {Above}
Old white sweat sock
Acrylic Paint
Paint Brush
Googly Eyes

And this fishy?
Funky sock {Walmart}
Silk flower
Funky buttons


Now, to have a little fun with your squishy fishies, try one of the following simple games:

Toss Game
*Round up laundry baskets, pots, tupperware bowls and anything else you can think of.
*Spread them out over the lawn.
* Write different point values on paper plates and attach them to the "targets". {Higher point values should be assigned to smaller targets that are further away, while smaller point values are assigned to easier/larger targets.}
* give each child a certain number of fish and then see how many points they can earn!

Hot Potato
*Pass a squishy fishy around in a circle as fast as you can to music.
*When the music stops, the player stuck holding the fishy has to run a penalty lap around the circle.

Fish Out Of Water
*Set a small blue object out in the yard, or at the far end of your living room. This object represents a pond.
* Stand behind an established line on the opposite end of the yard or room.
*Have each child take a turn tossing a squishy fishy across the room in an attempt to land it as close to the "water" as possible.
*The child who lands their fishy closest to the pond wins.

Any bean bag game your kids like to play will work just as well for your squishy fishies.
So make some fun memories with your little ones today!