Growing up, there was no way that we would ever mix our Play Doh colors together. It was simply unheard of. In fact, as an adult, there is still a little bit of anxiety that occurs when we think about mixing those colors. For some Play Doh fun, I purchased a huge box of 50 different Play Doh colors for a little bit of nothing at a local consignment sale. When I showed them to my kids they were excited. When I announced that they could do whatever they wanted to do, including mixing the colors together, they cheered. We used their Play Doh ice cream set to squeeze 2 or more colors together and it almost created a tie dye affect as they came out the other side of the tube used to make soft serve Play Doh ice cream. We had a great time making anything from food to animals to shapes. If you don’t have something that you can use to squeeze them through, you can use your hands to smoosh the different colors together. Just don’t smoosh too much or the individual colors will blend together and you won’t be able to see them. What will you and your family create as you *gasp* mix your Play Doh colors together?
Many children love to play with stuffed animal. These animals often have their own unique personalities. Dress up clothes and play jewelry are not just for dolls. They make great props for stuffed animals as well. They can then use their costumed stuffed animals to put on a play or spend an afternoon dressed up playing house or school or anything else they can imagine. I try to keep some a wide variety of dress up items on hand such as pirate gear, doll size pajamas or construction hats and tools so that they can expand their area of play outside of fancy dresses and princess crowns.
If you have ever gone to a restaurant with your children, you know that sometimes it can seem like an eternity between the time you order and the time the food gets there. Whether your children are hungry or board or full of energy, it is always good to find a distraction to make the time pass quickly. Some places have crayons and coloring activity pages, which is fantastic. However, if there isn’t anything to do at the table, we invented a game that we can all participate in and we call it simply the Alphabet Food Game. Starting with the letter A, we go around the table and everyone has to name a food that starts with the letter A. Then we move on to B, then C, etc. We help each other out when we get stuck. The only rule that we have is that nobody can say a food that somebody has already said. The kids forget about waiting for the food and the food usually comes before we get to the end of the alphabet!
We are always looking for a reason to bake a cake and celebrate. Recently our kittens turned 1-year-old. So, in honor of their big day, we baked a cake in the shape of a cat. We got them some kitten treats to enjoy while we ate the yummy cake. To bake this cake you will need 2 round cake pans and a box of cake mix. Bake the cake as directed. The 1st round cake will be used for the face. Cut triangle ears out of the 2nd round cake. We saved the left over pieces of the 2nd cake and ate them as well. Icing your cake and ears…the icing will help hold the ears to the round cake. Decorate however you would like. We used blue gum eggs for eyes, pink sprinkles for the ears and nose and black icing for the whiskers and mouth, but you could use whatever you have in the house. Good things to use for eyes could be round candies, M&Ms, or fruit gummies. Whiskers could be made out of licorice or fruit by the foot cut into thin strips. We completed our party by all wearing headband cat ears. This cake is simple to make and could be easily modified to make any animal!
A paper plate is the perfect size for a mask for your children to make. I always cut out the eyes first to make sure that they are at the right spot before they decorate the mask. That way if you make a mistake when cutting out the eyes you won’t mess up their creation. Once the mask is completed, you can staple yarn on each side and tie the mask on or glue a popsicle stick on the bottom so that they can hold onto the mask. Your children might enjoy using their masks to make up a play or just for make believe. Add accessories like a tail and ears if it is an animal mask or a cape if it is a superhero mask to make them feel even more in character. If you plan ahead and cut the eyes out of some plates, they make a great activity to do on a road trip as well.
Last night my daughter was practicing her spelling words and her assignment was to come up with a unique way to practice them for the night. So, she asked to fingerpaint them. She had a fantastic time mixing the different colors together to create new colors and to make some of the letters look tie dyed. This reminded me of how much they loved to practice writing their ABCs, names and simple words when they were little with paint. To do this activity, all you need is printer paper and washable paint. We were out of fingerpaint, so we simply used Crayola washable paint. After she was done she also made some fingerpaint pictures. Whether you have a child just learning their ABCs or an older child that needs to practice their spelling, fingerpaint spelling is a fun and educational activity. Use it as an opportunity to teach young children about mixing colors to make new colors as well.
My son has always loved Matchbox cars. One of his favorite things to do is to park them on his car rugs. One day we took a giant piece of paper and we created our own parking lot. It is simple to do. First you need a large piece of paper (like the size that you would use on an easel that you can get at most office supply stores). You can also tape together printer paper until you get the size paper that you would like to use. The only thing else you need is a marker and your imagination. The first parking lot we did was nothing but parking spaces on the whole page! Later we would start with roads that led to parking lots…this way he could line the roads up with his car rug and drive from the road on the rug onto the paper. The parking lot in the picture was created by my sister-in-law who painted it all on canvas fabric…adding an airport too.
A rainy day at the beach turned into a day of creativity for my son. We played a game of Jenga and then he spent the next 2 hours building different things out of the Jenga blocks. He made bridges to drive cars on, buildings for his Lego minifigures and then rearranged the blocks to create different pictures. His favorite was Toad from MarioKart. My kids love to do this with building blocks and Lincoln Logs as well. So, pour out the blocks and let their imagination take over!
On any given day when it is too hot, too cold or rainy outside you might walk through one of the rooms in my house and see it transformed into two secret hideouts. This is a great boredom buster as well as the promise of creating a home out of blanks and chairs and pillows always draws them in. My only rule is that whatever comes out must go back after the play is done…this means if 200 matchbox cars are being rolled around in the fort or all 25 stuffed cats make their home among the pillows we will work together to clean up afterwards so that we can once again walk around the room. Other than that, pretty much anything goes. We have learned that 2 chairs facing each other make a great doorway and also create storage “shelves” in the fort. Our folding card table is always a hot commodity in the hideout business…often serving as a secret meeting space between their forts where they can make plans. Snack time with stuffed animals makes a special treat. One summer my children finished 5 of their summer reading books within 2 days by reading them to their stuffed animals and each other in their hideouts. We will also change up rooms to try out different fort ideas. A bonus for me is that they always want me to visit them in their hideouts and I love their enthusiasm as they show me all the nooks and crannies that they created.
We love to recycle and reuse at our house…one man’s trash can be the inspiration for our next craft project! Turn a used gallon milk jug into an animal habitat. Make sure that you wash it well and let it dry completely. Cut a circle in the side and let your children’s imagination run wild. At our house we created a birdhouse with one jug. My children decorated the outside with fabric and ripped up construction paper to build a nest on the inside. We threaded yarn through holes we poked in the top of the jug and hung it up in my son’s bedroom to house various bird stuffed animals. They covered the outside of the other jug with different fabric and created a frog habitat for their Littlest Pet Shop frogs inside the jug. This jug has transformed into a home for other Littlest Pet Shop animals as well as a family of Squinkees. Other decorating ideas that we tried included glitter and stickers on the outside of the jug and a cotton ball nest on the inside for stuffed bunnies. What home will your child create for one of their favorite toy or stuffed animal?