Tag Archives: frugal fun

Our Craft Sheet

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Those who have been reading Magical Childhood for a while know that I often recommend sheet painting.  It’s even one of the first crafts I put up on the original Magical Childhood site.

We have been using an old white bed sheet for crafts and sheet painting for over a dozen years now. 

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In the summer time, we hang it on the clothes line and the kids use paint to decorate it. 

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Sometimes we put it on the ground and they decorate it with their feet. 

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Sometimes it’s washable paint, sometimes not. 

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The sheet looks different every year and every project. 

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In the winter time and on rainy days, the sheet is our art tablecloth.  It doesn’t matter how messy or staining an activity is, because if it stains the craft sheet it just adds more character and another memory. 

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I love my craft sheet and it makes me smile every time I spread it on the table or hang it on the line for another round of staining. 

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It’s so amazing to look at little one year old Fiona using it now and remembering when her teenage sisters were making those stains. 

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You can use any old flat bed sheet for an art cloth or pick one up for a dollar or two from a thrift store. 

I highly recommend starting your own. 

You’ll never find another bunch of stains to make you smile more.  :)

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Colorful Shaving Cream Fun!

I’m very sorry for my long absence! 

Five year-old Alex had a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy last week and the recovery has been really hard on him.  We’ve also been out of town to celebrate my birthday and to meet with doctors at the Mayo for my husband to get a long-overdue new hip.  Also, a friend (and magical mama to six kids) died suddenly (click here if you would like to help the family), and I just didn’t feel up to writing for a long time.

But times like these mean we need more magic for our kids (and us), so I’m back on my feet to do my best.

This morning, I got out the shaving cream and food coloring for Alex to have a bit of messy fun. 

I sprayed his name in shaving cream and then had him smooth it out, then dropped about 3 drops of each color (red, blue, green, red) on various parts. 

He used his finger to swirl the colors, then used chopsticks and spoons, making colorful mountains and experimenting with lots of color mixing.

It was a huge hit!  His brother joined in the fun for a while too, and then helped clean it all up. 

I hear it’s good for wood tables, too.  I have no proof, but our 50 year-old wood table can pretty much handle anything at this point.  :)

This craft works marvelously well in the bath, too, of course!

Hug your kiddos, count your blessings, and make the most of every second that you get with these amazing little people (and the amazing big ones, too).

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Easy, Sturdy (Free) Building Blocks!

Here’s a little project that we’ve been doing for years.

These fun blocks are so easy!

I was planning on making a set of building blocks for Fiona for Christmas, but she kept trying to manhandle the presents under the tree so I decided to make her a set of “presents” of her own. 

It worked like a charm!

Here’s all you do:

  1. Save your cartons of drinks like almond milk and orange juice.  You’ll need two cartons for each block.
  2. Cut off the top.  Rinse and dry.
  3. Fit one carton into another (open ends facing each other), so that the block is closed on all sides.  This also makes it very sturdy, since it’s basically doubled up.
  4. Wrap with wrapping paper or cover with contact paper.  If you use paper, you can seal it with clear contact paper.  You can also tape on family pictures, magazine pages or other fun images before sealing with contact paper.

That’s it!  You can change them whenever you like by simply wrapping them with a new wrapping paper or covering with another layer of paper and contact paper. 

When my bigger kids were little, I made a “marble” set with marble contact paper so it looked like they were building stone buildings. 

You can also use little individual milk cartons (like school lunch size) to make alphabet blocks.  :)

 

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Make Your Own Beautiful, Affordable, Collapsible Dollhouse

Here’s a project I’m absolutely in love with!  Southern Disposition has the plans for an ingenious dollhouse she made from three ring binders, scrapbook paper, magazine pictures and a few found treasures.

It collapses to take up very little space, it’s utterly gorgeous, it’s green, and it’s super affordable.  She estimates she made hers for about $30 but she says you could easily do it for under $10 with a little creativity.

What a sweet holiday gift this would make.  :)

Head over for all the fabulous information.

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10 Ways to Play With Your Kids Today

10 Ways to Play With Your Kids Today

Photo by Victoria Bayer

Is summer slipping away as fast for you as it is for us?  Here’s a few easy ways to take advantage of the end of July with your kiddos this week…

  1. Grab some boats (or make some simple floating ones with bark or paper) and spread out a tarp, shower curtain or plastic tablecloth in the yard.  Drizzle water on it with the hose and sit right smack in the middle of it — getting cool, floating boats, making little island getaways, you name it.
  2. Have a photo shoot outside.  Be sure to let the kids take your picture too!
  3. Shoot some hoops — even if that means tossing balled up socks into a bowl on the coffee table because it’s 115 degrees outside.
  4. Go on a sprinkler walk.  Head to an area of town where people have their sprinklers going and sidewalks that go through them, and try to walk through as many sprinklers to cool down as possible.
  5. Make some real fruit slushies.  Toss frozen fruit like strawberries in the blender with some water and sugar to taste.  Blend like crazy and enjoy.  Make it extra fun by playing chef with a big variety of frozen fruit choices.
  6. Freeze lots of ice cube trays and muffin tins full of colored water and then put all your multi-colored ice treasures in a big bowl.  Head out to the kiddie pool and grab some buckets of water to melt and color mix like crazy.
  7. Take blocks of ice to the top of a grassy hill and go ice blockingHere’s more info on this activity that’s on our bucket list this year!
  8. Make mud pies.
  9. Play balloon volleyball.
  10. Go camping.  Can’t do that?  Camp in the back yard.  Can’t do that?  Camp in the living room.

And yes, I know it’s winter for some of you!  I think a lot of these are still options.  If not, please do something fabulous and then come back and tell us about it.  :)

 

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Altered Artwork!

Here’s a fun project to do for your next art adventure.  Alter some artwork!  Twisted Sifter posted the altered thrift store masterpieces by artists Chris McMahon and Thryza Segal, and the results are so fun! 

You can generally pick up oil and acrylic paintings at thrift stores for next to nothing, and then assign the kids the task of adding in a magical creature or two. 

     

My late father was an artist and he often bought thrift store paintings and just painted over them completely since it was much cheaper than buying new canvases.  I’ve planned for a long time to take some paintings and have the kids just add on to them, but I like this idea even better.  We recently bought a bucketload of framed art and pictures for Victoria’s photography, and now I think we need to go back and get another stash for this project. 

Fun!

 

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Boxing Day

I won a fabulous outdoor chair recently and it was delivered in a giant cardboard box.  I love my chair, but I was also really tickled by how much my children loved the box!

Thirteen year-old Victoria claimed it right away, sneaking out to it with a book, a snack and some water before the other kids knew that it was in the yard.

Before long, she and her fantastic new home were discovered.  Luckily, there was a smaller (but still fun sized) box for smaller children.  Anna moved into that one with her own book and snacks, and then Jack moved in after she tired of it.

Then, Victoria’s quiet reading time in her hiding spot was foiled when four year-old Alex discovered her.

Luckily for Alex, she’s a good sister!

The kids hung out in their boxes for a good part of the afternoon!  There was something about a quiet, shady secret spot on a summer day that was apparently the perfect retreat.

Sadly, the younger kids loved the boxes to death by the end of the day and they’ve since been hauled to the recycling bins.

I think a trip to an appliance store for a refrigerator box might be in our future….  :)

 

 

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New Uses for Old Markers

What do you do with a dried out marker?  I’ve been listening to the boys’ Pirate CD for too long, because I’m hearing that phrase in my head to the tune of “What do you do with a drunken sailor?”.  ;)

In any case, there are plenty of ways to get more use out of them once they seem to be all dried up.

In our family, we like to use them to color on packed snow.  The water brings them back to life and it’s cheap, easy fun on wintery days.


We also like to wet coffee filters and then press them all over to make bright designs.

But this site has lots of ideas that I never dreamed of.  From coloring homemade concoctions to soaking them in water to color the water, there’s oodles of fun ways to use the markers one (or more!) last time.

What do you do with dried out markers?

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Colored Water Busywork

Here’s a simple way I keep my boys happy when they’re bored and I need a few minutes to finish supper.  Fill an ice cube tray or muffin tin with water (half full) and add a few drops of food coloring to about half of the cups (put a towel underneath for little ones who are prone to spills).  Then give them eye droppers or medicine droppers to mix and match the colors.

This is surprisingly fun for kids and very calming for my boys.  They love to make a rainbow of colors and shades.

They can also drop the colors onto coffee filters, newspaper, light colored construction paper or other absorbent paper to make patterns with the colors.

It’s simple fun, with a little color theory tossed in!

Want to add to the fun?  Tint white vinegar instead, and then give them each a little bowl of baking soda with a baby spoon afterwards.  They can add a tiny scoop of baking soda to each cup and see what happens!  In color! :)

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A Door to Anywhere

Daryl has been on the lookout for an old fashioned screen door for a play he’s putting on in September.  Last week, he spotted one by the street for trash pick-up and snagged it.  When he got it home, he realized it seemed to be made for very tiny people (!) and would not work at all.

A door made for very tiny people?  I immediately seized on it and asked Daryl to hang it up for us.

Three hinges and ten minutes later, we had a door to nowhere.  Or the back yard.  Or anywhere.

Daryl added a hook and eye screw so the door can be fastened against the garage when out of use.

We discovered that it made a perfect stage for puppet shows!

Or just make believe.  :)

One thing I’ve learned over the years is that often the most magical things are things that other people would consider rubbish.  Whether it’s scrap wood painted bright colors and used as giant outdoor building blocks or old doors that lead to nowhere, there’s often pretty nifty stuff out there waiting to be imagined — for free!   :)

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