Thursday, June 28, 2012

Colorful Slime

I have seen many recipes for slime on the internet and in books so we figured we would try it out.  This was so simple and fun.  Just combine equal parts clear glue and liquid starch (found in the laundry aisle at grocery store).  Mix them together.  Then separate the slime and add food coloring to each smaller batch.  We only used one food coloring drop per small batch. 

We used our hands to mix in the food coloring and then it was squish time.  The children enjoyed squishing the slime through their fingers and trying to mix up the colors.  The longer you mix it together the thicker it gets.

This was a fun project to do that was a different consistency than gak, flubber and play dough.  

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Target Practice

Here is one of the games my son set up at his recent birthday party.  He turned over a Styrofoam cooler, pushed 5 golf tees into the bottom and balanced 5 ping pong balls on top of each golf tee.  Using a water gun from about 5 feet away, we timed how fast each player could shoot off each of the ping pong balls.  All the boys gave this game a thumbs up!

The game encourages:
  • fine motor skills
  • eye hand coordination skills

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Toddler Time: Bottle Bat

Here is a simple toy to make with recycled items from around the house.  You will need a two liter bottle, paper towel tube, duct tape and colored cotton balls or pom poms.  

Put colored cotton balls or pom poms inside the two liter bottle.  This is just to add some visual fun therefore you can skip this step if you would like.  Fold the paper towel tube in half and shove it inside the top of the 2 liter bottle.  Wrap duct tape around the bottle top and the cardboard tube.  This will secure it tightly to the bottle.  Now your bottle bat is ready to play with.

The toddler can bang it on the floor or try to hit a ball.  It makes great noise and is fun to look at.

If an older child wants to use it as a bat, head outdoors.  This bat hits balls pretty far so do not try it indoors. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

5 Games to Play for July 4th

Check out these 5 fun games to play on July 4th.  It does not get any easier than this - just print and play to start celebrating Independence Day.  You can download one game for free - Red, White, Blue, Flag. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Small Hands Creating Hope

Small Hands Creating Hope is a project started by MaryAnne at  As a survivor herself she reached out to many bloggers to submit children's projects that symbolize hope in the face of cancer.  When I read her blogpost I knew I wanted to participate.

As a 10 year survivor myself, courage, hope and love is crucial to beating this disease.  I was diagnosed with lymphoma the same week I found out I was 5 weeks pregnant with our second child.  After refusing doctor's recommendations to terminate the pregnancy, I was followed closely by top oncologists from the NY metropolitan area.  At 20 weeks pregnant, I still was losing weight and sick.  My doctor wanted one more MRI before he started chemotherapy while I was pregnant.  Miraculously, my MRI showed that the cancer in my neck, chest and arm had become smaller!  The doctor's chose to hold off chemotherapy and I delivered a full term healthy baby girl.  Starting chemotherapy with an newborn and a 19 month old toddler was no picnic.  But prayers, courage, hope and love helped us all through it.  Now, 10 years later I have a wonderful, spirited 10 year old girl who God has great plans for in this life, a 12 year old daughter, 8 year old son, 6 year old daughter and a 21 month old baby girl.  My husband and I have been so blessed.  As the phrase goes "that which doesn't kill us makes us stronger"!!!!

For my submission to the ebook we created charms, keychains, bracelets or necklaces out of metal washers.  

Mamasmiles is sending the ebook version of this book out to anyone who donates at least $15 to the American Cancer society. An email with the download link, as well as a second link that allows you to purchase a hard copy of the book for an additional $10.52 will be sent once we receive your donation. There are close to 40 bloggers who have participated in this project.  The ebook is loaded with projects that young children can create to give to a loved one with cancer or in memory of someone who had cancer.   

Donate to the American Cancer Society

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Character Trait Report Card

Why not try letting your child be the teacher the next time you read a picture book or any book.  Download this character trait report card and complete it after reading a story.  You could also take the time to relate it to your child's life by discussing important character trait or people you know who display excellent character traits.

If your child likes pretending to be the teacher check out the Pretend Play School Packet.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Toddler Time - Water and Rock Sensory Play

I am all about keeping it simple with toddlers.  There are so many things to entertain toddlers that do not involve bells and whistles.  We all know water is probably the biggest entertainer of toddlers.  Here I just added a few rocks of different sizes, a small cup and an inch or two of water in a large kitchen container.   We headed outdoors with it and the toddler had lots of fun, motor skill practice and learning - scooping water, dropping rocks, splashing and exploring the weight and texture of the rocks.  

After this initial play phase we added in some small, play toy animals.  I thought she would enjoy this change.  Come to find out she just took all of the animals out and continued to play with the rocks and the cup.   

Monday, June 18, 2012

Invention Game

Here is another kid created activity that my children enjoy.  The invention game is to either create something from scratch from different materials or recreate something with items from around the house.  One of the first challenges they did was to make your own water bottles.  Then they had people vote which one they thought was the best overall.  The one on the left was an attempt to make an insulated water bottle with a cup inside a cup and LOTS of tape.  The one on the right was super simple - plastic cup with coffee cup travel mug lid.  

They have done this activity many times since then.  Some inventions they work together on i.e. a water fountain out of a cereal box and duct tape (amazingly it did work).  Some inventions they create a contest for such as using only objects out of the craft bin make a puppy dog.  This was interesting because the end results were all different - pipe cleaner dogs, wood block dogs, painted dog and a clay dog.  

There are so many things that children could invent using materials around the house.  Leave it very open ended to allow for problem solving. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Birthday Claycakes

Children love to play pretend birthday party.  To start off this pretend party we needed to make the birthday "cupcakes".  I set out a tray with some play dough, cut up straws, beads, cotton balls and cupcake liners. 

After rolling the cupcakes into balls, we placed them into the cupcake liners and they were ready to decorate.  The beads became delightful and colorful sprinkles.  The cotton made wonderful icing but we also found another use...

Put a straw in the middle of your claycake.  Place the cotton ball (or rip off a small piece of the cotton ball) on the top of the straw.  Now you have your birthday candle ready to blow out.  Blowing the cotton ball off of the straw was excellent practice for little ones to strengthen the muscles around the mouth. 

After a many rounds (you know toddlers they love repetition) of singing "happy birthday to you" and blowing out the cotton candles, I give this activity a big thumbs up. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Toddler Time: Nature Salad

Head outdoors with your toddler to create some nature salad.  Give the toddler a plastic bowl, large spoon, ladle or tongs.  Go exploring to find grass, large leaves, wildflowers or whatever your child can find in nature.  Mix it all up and you have a delicious nature salad.

If it is a warm day, add some water and change it to nature soup.  See if by adding natural items you can get the water to change colors. 

For an older child, provide some plastic plates to serve the nature salad on and play pretend restaurant.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Playing Pretend on the iPad

Want to learn how you can mark up pdf documents so that you can write on them on your iPad?  This is a wonderful way to turn our Pretend Play books into your own iPad apps to let your children take digital documentation just like some doctors do!  Plus, it combines the technology with good old fashioned playtime.  One more bonus, you do not have to print the colored pages.

Basically this free app allows you to mark and draw on the iPad with pdf documents. Here is how you do it:

 Step 1: On your iPad download the an app that lets you mark up pdf documents. There are few available.  Some are free and some are inexpensive ($0.99).  For the pictures above I used Neu.Annotate.  I have also used pdf-notes free in the past and that works well too.   

Step 2:  Email yourself a copy of the pdf document such as Pretend Play Doctor and Hospital.  

Step 3:  If you have just purchased it open up your download link on your iPad and you can select to open it up in pdf notes or Neu.annotate.  If you emailed it to yourself, click on the attachment and select to open it up in pdf notes or Neu.annotate.

Step 4:  Start playing around with the document.  You can write with your finger, write in text boxes, use stamps to make 'X' marks and erase.  There is a very small learning curve to figure out all the tools but it takes all of 5 minutes if you are familiar with the iPad already.

Step 5:  Open up your pretend doctor's office, emergency room, school or animal clinic and get started with your digital documents.

Check out all the Pretend Play packets


Monday, June 11, 2012

Outdoor Puzzle Race

Here is a suggested activity for older children that combines physical activity with visual perceptual skills.  Trace around a bunch of small objects or toys on a large piece of paper or folder.  Place all the small objects plus a few extra that you didn't trace in a large container. 

Head outdoors or a large play space area.  Put the folder with the traced outlines at least 20 feet away from the container with the objects. 

Explain to the child that they will have one minute 30 seconds to try and match up as many objects as they can.  Only allow the child to bring one object at a time to match up. 

The kids enjoyed repeating this race over and over again to see if they could beat the amount of objects they matched up each time.  The record was 17 objects matched up in 1 minute 30 seconds.

Friday, June 8, 2012

My First Nature Collection

Yesterday, my toddler enjoyed gathering items outdoors for her first nature collection.  I have been saving clear plastic jars with lids and this one sure came in handy.  She loved collecting rocks and picking dandelions.  She would drop them each in the jar and close it up.  With the jar being clear, she admired the collection.  

Of course, after awhile it turned into a game of dumping all the rocks out into other containers and back into the original container.  In the end it was a temporary collection since she dumped it all out (which is the best kind - one less thing I need to keep around the house). 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Giveaway - Pretend Play Animal Packet

This is a great giveaway of a printed copy of  Animals Pretend Play pages from Growing Play.  I had to order a few test copies from a printer and now I can mail them on to one of my lucky followers. 

This printed packet includes 28 forms and signs to play pretend veterinarian, pet store, pet show animals and selling pet food.  Organize a pretend pet show, judge it and give out awards.  Open up a pretend zoo, sell tickets and plan animal shows.  

It has been printed on heavy paper so it would be great to laminate or slip inside page protectors to use over and over again in a classroom or your dramatic play area at home.   

Kids of all ages will love this packet to take playing pretend a step further.

You can preview a sample page here from Animal Pretend Pages.  

Here are some ideas for how to use the Animal Pretend Pages. 
To order the download of Animal Pretend Pages or get more information on the packet go to

Follow the blog to keep informed on more giveaways of the pretend pages.  

Enter below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 Congratulations to Aimie the winner of the Animal Pretend Pages Packet.  Thanks to all who entered.  Keep watching for more giveaways.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

DIY Sticker Paper Dolls

Here are the directions and a free printable to make your own sticker paper dolls.  Once the project is complete, you will have a collection of paper dolls to create where you can lick the sticker clothes to put on the paper dolls.  This is a great activity to make ahead of time and take on a car ride, vacation, camping or waiting room.  You can get all the details and the free download at

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Toddler Time - Hot and Cold

Here is a toddler activity that will not only entertain your little one but also teach him or her about opposites and temperature.  

Put a mat on the floor or bring the activity outdoors.  I chose to put red and blue fun foam under the clear containers to add more contrast to the two trays and to reinforce the concepts of red means hot and blue means cold.  On the mat, place one container filled with warm water (obviously not too hot) and one container filled with ice cubes.  Toss a spoon with a short handle into the ice container ( I used a slotted spoon to prevent any major splashing on the water).  That is it, the activity is all set.  Remind your little one not to put the ice in his/her mouth. 

The child may choose to transfer the ice, using the spoon or their hands, into the warm water where they will watch it dissolve.  Perhaps they will just enjoy touching the cold ice followed by the warm water.  By the end, I am sure that most toddlers will be getting a little wet themselves.    

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Letting Kids Create

On a recent hot day, the children were outside playing in the sprinkler and the toddler was splashing in the kiddie pool.  The older kids decided to try and make their own pool. 

Using a parachute, they created their own "pool".  The thing I love about this activity is that they did it 100% on their own from start to finish.  Because they were a tad bored they thought up this project. 

Not sure if you can see in the photo, but the engineering of the pool was quite interesting.  A large rock covered the whole in the middle of the parachute.  Clothespins clipped a rip closed.  They tied it to the swing set and the large slide because they quickly learned a lawn chair would not hold it up.

These is the type of outdoor fun that children learn from.  Through trial and error they learned engineering principals, physics and a huge sense of accomplishment.  It didn't matter that the pool leaked a lot.  It was deeper than the kiddie pool, handmade and therefore loads of fun!  They made it from start to finish with no parent involvement!  So there is only one rule for letting kids create - don't provide any help.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Kid Created Recipes

Our children have been picking out meals for dinner where they choose the menu.  The kids have been coming up with some creative recipes around here.  They decide on the meal but I cook it.  There are plenty of times that they cook around here but during the week sometimes it can very hectic with different after school activities.  Therefore, this allows them to still be involved in the meal planning but works with our schedule.  

This week, my daughter's recipe was sausage sandwiches.  She wanted sausage grilled like a hamburger with french toast as the "bun".  We used syrup instead of ketchup for our "burger".  She was so proud of her meal (as you can see by the picture).  It was super tasty.  

The next recipe on our list for this week is Goldfish Cracker Chicken.  My son wants chicken cutlets breaded in crushed colored goldfish.  I have to admit I love that they think up these recipes - one less night that I need to plan a menu!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Dirty and Clean Stations

This activity started out as some shaving cream play.  I put some shaving cream on the small table.  My little toddler enjoyed it but not for too long.  What she really enjoyed was the change from dirty to clean.  I set up a bucket next to the shaving cream table so she could rinse off since she was done playing with the shaving cream.  She loved washing up.  Once clean though, she headed right back over to the shaving cream to dirty up once again.  The process was repeated many time lasting much longer than the initial shaving cream playtime. 

Next time I will try this with finger painting.  May move it outdoors though.