We had a blast at play group this past Friday with Slimy Sand Dough inspired by Growing a Jeweled Rose’s Quicksand Dough. If you don’t know this amazing blog already, check it out. Crystal has amazing ideas and so many of them are from everyday items you have around the house. Quicksand Dough is made from corn starch, tempera paint, sand and water. I thought it sounded great but didn’t want the little ones to put tempera paint in their mouths, so I switched the paint to food coloring. Crystal doesn’t use much water in her recipe so the dough, is, well, doughy. I added a lot of water to ours so it would be fun to drizzle on the pumpkins. It turned into the best, totally strange, slimy goodness. Even the moms couldn’t keep their hands out of it. When you pick it up and move it, it’s a solid, but as soon as you keep your hand still it turns into a liquid. It’s totally bazaar and totally fun. The sand gave it a great texture that added to the sensory fun. The more water you add, the slimier the quicksand becomes. It was a super fun activity for everyone.
Sensory boxes from cardboard and duct tape were such a big hit at play group a few weeks ago, I decided to make more. I would love to make a whole sensory box city some day. That would be so cool. Anyway, these were a big hit as well. The first one was a big box with velcroed shapes on it. The kids loved pulling the shapes off and putting them back over and over again. It was great for all ages and I love the educational component. Once a teacher…
I had a few mini ones that you could pull on either side to make the ribbon go through the box. The pom poms prevented the ribbon from coming lose. As you can see, these were especially adored. This little beauty hugged and pet hers like a dolly for quite some time.
The last one was just a big box covered in bubble wrap. It took the least amount of effort and thought and was definitely the biggest hit. Isn’t that always how it goes? The most simple things are always the best. The kids loved jumping on it, sitting on it, pretending to go night night on it, you name it. I’ve had it out in the back yard ever since and my kids still haven’t tired of it. I stuffed it with packing paper so it kept it’s shape. These sensory boxes are endless and such a good use of all those boxes we throw away. Now the only problem is, where on earth am I going to keep them???
If you’re anything like me, the idea of your kids consuming heaps of candy for Halloween is not exactly appetizing, so a bunch of us moms have gotten together to share ideas of candy fun that doesn’t involve eating. Yay! By the end of the week we’ll have shared over thirty super fun candy art and exploration activities. These candy headbands are simple and so cute. My girls love wearing them. I painted some wood shapes found at Michaels, glued on different candies with a glue gun and glued on a simple elastic headband from the pharmacy on the back. D was so into it and they pics of her are seriously making me melt. Speaking of which, I tried coating the candy with Elmer’s glue, which turned into a gigantic melty gooey mess. Yuck, not what I was going for. So unless anyone has any ideas, these will just last a a wear or two but the cuteness and holiday spirit is worth it.
Make sure to check out these awesome how to’s on other fun things to do with candy!
Candy Jewelry by Mama Papa Bubba
Candy Pumpkin by Blog Me Mom
Erupting Art for Kids by Learn Play Imagine
Starburst Candy Mosaic by Mama Miss
Nerds Watercolor Trees by Reading Confetti
You know those times when everything in your world just lines up and it feels like magic happens? Some call it synchronicity. Others call it God’s work. Some just call it coincidence. Whatever you want to call it, that’s what I had the pleasure of experiencing this past weekend. I had heard of Crafting Community several years ago via Karen Kimmel’s website and immediately wanted to go. My cousin Er sent me the link when the tickets went on sale a few months ago. I talked about it with Ev and we decided that for my birthday, this past Monday, I could either save for a camera or we could go to Crafting Community, an incredible crafting weekend event in Palm Springs for families of all ages. After a lot of thought, I actually decided on the camera. I have wanted one for so long and I’ve really out grown my iphone. I follow Crafting Community on Instagram and would whimper every time they posted a new pic. I knew I was going to miss something truly exceptional. Well, this past Friday I got an email from a special friend saying she had tickets to this cool event in the desert that she couldn’t attend and was wondering if I wanted the tickets as a gift. As I read the email I thought, no, this can’t be what I think it is. I checked the link she included and sure enough, it was for Crafting Community. I nearly died. I screamed “Ev, Ev, you’re not going to believe this!” Even writing about it now, I can’t believe it. I am a believer in synchronicity and the power of prayer. I have written morning pages from The Artists Way almost every day since I started, 4 years ago. I pray and pray and pray for things daily in my writing and I am so blessed to say that so many dreams have come true. Of course, I didn’t specifically say in my morning pages, please someone gift me tickets to Crafting Community, but, I did pray for my life to be filled with art and creativity and love, and that is just what I got. Ev stayed home with D because they were both a little sick and Gigi and I had our first mother daughter weekend. It was truly magical from start to finish and I will be forever grateful to my friend for the tickets and to the universe for hearing my prayers. If you’ve never heard of Crafting Community or The Artist’s Way, please check them both out. I can’t say enough about either one!
The weekend started with craft tables of all kinds. Gigi’s favorite was the felt board station. They had tons of felt squares cut up and felt boards you could put your cut outs on. Gigi sat and practiced using the scissors throughout the weekend. She was fascinated by them and totally proud of herself every time she made a cut. All the stations were totally amazing. I could have sat for hours at each one, but that’s not really in the cards with a toddler. Next year I will bring the whole family for sure and hopefully I can steel an hour or two while Ev watches the girls.
Splendid and Converse were both sponsors, so Gigi got to design her own sneakers and there were beautiful decorations like the ones below, everywhere. You got to make them and beautiful baskets with gorgeous strips of Splendid fabric. Just looking at it was enough to make you high.
Saturday night there was a big disco where all the kids danced around with glow sticks and glow in the dark glasses. Gigi went berserk. This girl danced her little butt off for almost an hour. This was definitely a highlight from the weekend.
On Sunday the crafts were out again in the “making things room.” They had a station by Confetti System that was totally awesome. You got to decorate your own lamp shade with tons of the most beautiful fringe you ever saw. Todd Oldham was there as one of the sponsors too, which meant lots of KidMadeModern supplies everywhere. Gigi loved it because she recognized them from home. We are big fans of all his art supplies, which you can find at Target.
Play group was extra sticky and extra fun this week. It’s really interesting to see what sensory activities work right away for kids and what takes a little getting used to. Rainbow jello for the little ones was a little touch and go. Some loved it and sat right in the tub and others had one touch and said no thank you. This is definitely something I want to do again so that those that were a little tentative can have a second go at it. I think there is great value in repeating activities.
A friend recently offered me a bunch of boxes in hopes that I might be able to use them for play group. I said yes right away because I’ve been wanting to make a cardboard city for months. Isn’t that on everyone’s top ten list of things to do? Anyway, the boxes were kind of narrow for the most part so a city that the kids could crawl threw didn’t seem feasible. I decided to get out the duct tape and just see what happened. I am sooo ecstatic with the results. I made four boxes. One box was a long skinny boat. Another box was a sensory board with rice bags in rainbow colors. One box was covered in ribbon strands and the last one, my favorite, I taped up and cut out different shapes for exploration. There was something for everyone.
The kids really loved the shape box. I think it was the most engaging and involved the most thinking. We ended up using it as a dinosaur drop box. It was great watching the kids figure out which dinosaurs would fit where. Any dinosaurs that didn’t fit the kids placed on the box to watch. This little cutie was fascinated by the dinosaurs that went inside the box. ”Where did they go?” He did his best to see.
A friend recently gave me a metal canopy from CVS. It’s one of those 30 dollar ones that comes with a million poles you have to put together. I was hoping to use it for shade at play group. Flor and I took one look at all the poles and just started laughing. There was no way we were going to be able to put it together. So, plan b. We used about half the amount of poles and put up an impromptu pyramid shape. There is no how to on this. We randomly attached different poles and sort of hoped for the best. I had bought a million yards of cheese cloth for Gigi’s first birthday that I never used and thought it would be perfect for a teepee. We draped it over the poles and secured it with duct tape and clothespins. We used golf tees to secure the ends into the dirt. I reused the insulation I got at Home Depot for last play group as the floor. It fit so well with the ethereal look of the teepee. Lastly, we hung a wired flower structure of sorts I picked up at a Free People sale. It looked so pretty dangling from the center. Let’s just say, my girls went bonkers over this teepee. D crawled around and around the silver floor at a speed I didn’t know was legal for a baby. She was hysterical. Gigi just kept jumping up and down saying “oh my gosh, oh my gosh!” It was amazing.
Then they just sat in front of the teepee for 20 minutes dancing and singing and laughing. I nearly died. We kept it up for a week and now I’m wishing it was still there. The photo ops were pretty insane and play group loved it too. I don’t know if it was the pretty colors or just having something cave like to go into, but this teepee really felt like magic. At any moment I expected a colony of fairies to move in with tiny little suitcases.
I hope whoever invented rainbow spaghetti is happily skipping in a field somewhere surrounded by fairies and peonies because this stuff is seriously freaking awesome. I mean, I just want every child on the planet to play in it at least once. If I ever get the the chance I am going to create a huge round white tarp, cook 100 boxes of spaghetti and invite as many children in need as possible to slip, slide, slosh and play in a rainbow spaghetti playground. It’s truly magical. These kids had a blast.
Pics by Ryan Born and yours truly.
I have done a lot of fun activities with kids over the years but this might have been my absolute fav. Oh my goodness. This was so much fun! I talked about the first half of our play group here. This was part two, which happened after we snacked a little bit. I had all the kids and parents stand to one side and I slowly poured different color spaghetti in rainbow on a big tarp. This may have been my favorite moment, watching everyones faces, kids and adults, as I poured out the spaghetti. I wish I had it on video. Gigi was practically jumping out of her skin to get in there. Everyone else was just staring totally mesmerized. Priceless moment. I had made ten boxes of spaghetti and dyed a large ziploc bag worth for each color. It was time consuming but pretty easy. Just put spaghetti in a ziploc, add water and food coloring, seal and swoosh around. Then drain the water. *Note* Add oil to the spaghetti so it doesn’t stick. The colors are really vibrant and of course, the more food coloring you use, the brighter it gets.
Little d had a blast. She literally ate spaghetti for 45 minutes. That girl cracks me up. The older kids mooshed it around, walked in it, used the spaghetti as a slip and slide and poured it into buckets. Every child had their own amazing experience with the spaghetti. It was so great to see the ones who were hesitant at first make their way over and get involved. Not to mention it looked absolutely beautiful.
The clean up wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought either. We gathered all the spaghetti in the tarp and poured it into a box. And then these two had a field day in their very own spaghetti boat. So much fun. Any spaghetti that was left on the grass just dried up in the sun and sort of became compost. Either that or our dog Billie ate it.
I can’t recommend this activity enough. You don’t have to go crazy with ten boxes. Maybe try one box and set it out in a bowl or a large tub. Or you can put it in the bath with the drain in. If you’re into no mess at all, you can put it in a plastic ziploc sealed with duct tape and let your child mush it around, like this. Whatever you decide, have fun!
I’ve wanted to get my girls a light table since the moment I saw one at a local nursery school. They are so awesome it’s kind of ridiculous. Unfortunately, however, they are majorly expensive so I’ve been waiting and waiting to take the plunge. I ended up finding this one on ebay for Gigi’s second birthday. It’s definitely not cheap at 150, but it was less than a lot of the other ones and I like how simple the design is. I think it might be someone’s DIY project because it kind of seems like an Ikea Hacker job. Regardless, we love it! It was super easy to put together and the light works great. Very pleased so far. We’re two days in.
First night I set out some magnatiles and a big crystal, which was pretty cool. We LOVE magnatiles in our house.
The next day, I covered the table with white butcher paper, filled a cup with paint and put down some plastic stencils. Gigi had a blast. We talked about the different shapes and she filled them in with paint to see the stencil. Her favorites were the bottle and the teddy bear. She’s only two, so she didn’t cover all the white space to make the stencil, but it didn’t matter at all. She loved lifting the stencil and looking for the design.
It looks like the listing for this light table is down on ebay. Maybe they make one at a time. If you want to get crafty and make your own, here is a really thorough tutorial and here is a way more basic tutorial. If you just want to go ahead and buy the real deal, this one and this one come highly recommended. I bet they come up on Craigslist from time to time too. Enjoy!