Through the wonders of Facebook, Breezy Mama Rebecca and I reconnected after close to a twenty-year gap! It’s funny how not a moment goes by… except for the addition of kids! Recently, I learned in her post Carlsbad High (go Lancers!) life, she was a preschool teacher. She shared her crafty ideas that even I could be capable of.
As a stay at home Mama of two little ones, I absolutely love summer vacation. Every day is yours, no schedules to adhere to, no homework or carpooling, sleeping in, lazy days, water play, swimming, lots of time to do art projects and activities, play dates, popsicles, etc. But something starts to happen after a couple months of all that free time….burn-out, boredom and a sudden grasping at straws as to what to do to keep the children entertained. Those fun and new ideas we as Moms had in the beginning of summer no longer seem so exciting to the kids anymore. After all, it seems like we have been doing the same great ideas so often that they are now routine. With August already upon us, so is the typical end of summer boredom. Yawn! Moms are beginning to really appreciate that school will be starting again soon and some I know have even begun the counting down of days. Here are some fun, easy and low cost boredom busters you can do at home to mix things up a bit and reignite that spark of excitement in your children. And most importantly, just about everything needed to implement these ideas can already be found in your home. YAY! Music to a Mommy’s ears! Enjoy the final days of summer with your little ones and these simple, fun and easy projects.
5. Kool-Aid Playdough. This is a personal favorite that I have made with my preschool students (and now my own children) for years and years. What can make playdough even more fun than it already is? Yummy fruit scents, that’s what! We keep a plethora of playdough tools on hand and I try to switch things out and mix it up as often as I can. This keeps it fun and exciting and the kids never seem to tire of playdough time. Our favorite playdough tool du jour is a set of Insect 3-D Dough Stampers (click here) we picked up at Lakeshore Learning. They also have super cool sea life and dinosaur stamps too. We will be heading back for those soon and hoping the awesome Back to School sale is still on.
What you need:
1 Cup flour
1/2 Cup salt
3 Tsp. Oil
I pkg. Unsweetened Kool -Aid
1 Cup boiling water
What you do:
Mix together flour, salt, oil, and Kool-aid. Add the cup of boiling water. Mix well. Knead the mixture until it forms soft dough. Have fun! Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Tips: Any other unsweetened, powdered drink mix may be substituted. Expect colored hands Non-toxic… could be eaten, but won’t taste very good. I typically double this recipe so my two kids each have their own big mound to manipulate. Set up outside whenever possible. Getting colored playdough out of carpets is no fun.
4. Sensory Table Play is typically a staple in the traditional preschool classroom and switched out every couple weeks so the children can experience a variety of textures. This is a wonderful component of play as children interpret their world through their senses and really need countless tactile experiences on a regular basis. You can make one or buy one. We love our Giant Economy Sand and Water Table with lid from Lakeshore Learning (click here) but you can easily make one by using a large square or rectangular plastic storage container. I prefer a large rectangular shape as this allows more children to access it at once and is great for siblings or play dates. Our sensory table is currently featuring white rice at the moment. See below for more ideas of what to fill your sensory table with. I buy these things in bulk at the grocery store. You can even store and reuse more items listed. I fill the table with every day household items such as measuring spoons, measuring cups, funnels, sifters, sand toys, cups, eyedroppers, plastic dolls, plastic bath toys, etc. Get creative with what you add to the table and replace the ingredients and tools weekly to keep it lots of fun and exciting. Store ingredients to use in the sensory table later, just make sure to label it sensory play so you don’t end up cooking with items that little hands have handled over and over.
Some ideas for sensory table:
3. Spin Art is a definite favorite of both old and young alike. I have very fond childhood memories of making spin art at carnivals and thinking it was the coolest thing ever! Well you don’t need a fancy spin art kit to make magic at home. In fact you probably have everything you need already in your kitchen.
What you need:
Card Stock or White Paper Plates
2-3 colors of Tempera Paint or Food Coloring
Eye Droppers (recycle from Tylenol & medicine bottles)
What you do:
Cut circles out of card stock to fit the salad spinner and place one circle at a time inside salad spinner. Or if you are really
lazy short on time like me, cut the circle part out of a plain old cheap white paper plate. Fill a cup with one color each. Add water to thin to a runny consistency. Or mix food coloring and water. Let children drop a few colors onto paper with eyedroppers. Then put the lid on and let the kids start spinning away.
Tips: If your salad spinner has drainage holes in it, place a box or plastic kitchen bag under salad spinner for easy clean up. I prefer doing this project on the grass or inside our sensory table to avoid big indoor messes. We save the finished product and keep on hand to use as birthday cards or labels on gift bags. I punch a hole and let the kids write a message and/or sign the back, insert a ribbon and tie onto gift bag. Save paper and money on cards and recycle your child’s art.
2. Contact Paper Art. Contact Paper is not just for lining drawers anymore. It can be used in so many fantastic ways and is a good idea to always have on hand. It is an excellent medium for a multitude of collages and projects. You can have kids do this at a table or tape a piece to the sliding glass door and let them make a great 3D picture while standing. My children’s favorite project with this medium is stained glass made with colorful tissue squares. You can frame this with cut out construction paper and hang in a window. We recently read the book The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister (click here to purchase) so we decided to turn our tissue paper art into our very own Rainbow Fish. If you have time to cut tissue squares then you rock! If you are the
lazy busy variety like me, then you can purchase Tissue Paper Squares (click here) already cut for you in boxes of 10,000 squares in 20 colors. Overkill you might ask? Nonsense…it’s just enough to keep the kids busy for oodles of projects and to keep you from having to cut tissue squares for at least a year or two.
Some ideas for contact paper art:
Tissue Paper Torn
Construction paper shapes
Paper Hole Punches (save when you empty your hole punch)
1. Marble Painting. This is a very popular activity with young children that can be done both indoors and out with simple household items. You can also use a golf ball for this activity if you have little ones and don’t keep marbles around for safety reasons.
What you need:
Small rectangular box (the kind cases of water bottles come in)
Paper, Card Stock or Plain White Cards
Marbles or golf balls
What you do:
Fill a few cups each with a different color of paint. Place two marbles or one golf ball in each cup and add a spoon to each. Line the box with paper. Let children choose colors and with the spoon, drop the marbles or golf ball (one color at a time) onto the paper. Let child hold box and roll from side to side and back and forth. They love this part! Repeat with other colors then set outside or hang to dry.
Tips: Bright colors usually turn out the best. This also make a great holiday art project by cutting into a holiday shape and using seasonal paint colors for Valentine’s Day, Easter, Independence Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah or Christmas. I buy packages of 50 plain white cards and envelopes at the craft store and we create our own colorful cards and envelopes to keep on hand for birthday parties and greeting cards. I guarantee the mailman will take notice of this colorful envelope when sending one of these. The finished product can also be used as wrapping paper or laminated and made into kid friendly placemats.
Rebecca is mother to Macguire (6) and Ainsley (3) and lives with her husband Steve outside of Sacramento, CA. A former Preschool Teacher with an Early Childhood Education background, Rebecca is currently a stay-at-home Mommy, photographer, art docent, fundraiser, and volunteer extraordinaire. She stays very busy with her children, family, photography, soccer, ice hockey, gymnastics/dance, preschool, elementary school, and children’s art. Rebecca has a passion for early childhood education and children’s art. When Rebecca had her first child and moved to the Sacramento area, she founded a Mommy and Me Art Program called Arts & Tots. Throughout Rebecca’s career as a preschool teacher and while running Arts & Tots, she regularly incorporated art projects based on the philosophy that art for children needs to be about the process and not the finished product. She believes strongly that models or examples should never be used in children’s art as it compromises a child’s imagination and interpretation of their world. Rebecca believes that children’s art should be messy and hands-on and that young children interpret the world through their senses, and therefore art should provide sensory and tactile experiences for young children.
Breezy Tip: Want more ways to make the afternoon fly by? Rebecca also highly recommends: School Library Journal’s list of the Top 100 Picture Books. Click here!
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