Tag Archives: challenges

50 Ways to Make Today Magical (Coronavirus Edition)

Hello, magical people!  I know that many of us will be at home with our kiddos for quite a long time with the Coronavirus quarantines around the world and I thought a list of ways to make the day magical might help.  I have a master list of 100 ways to make today magical, but some of those are decidedly out right now (like visiting museums, throwing fairy parties, and probably that one about using toilet paper for fun!).

So I’ve compiled some of my favorite ways to make the day magical from over the years in a list of 50 ways to make a little magic (at home) with the kids right now.

50 Ways to Make Today Magical (at home)

1. Make pillow and blanket forts — pillow forts from the couch cushions, table forts with sheets, a clothesline fort in the back yard, or even giant forts with lengths of rope strung across the room and blankets draped over them.

2. Look through old family photos and videos.  Talk to the kids about what they were like when they were little, or what your own childhood was like.  Cuddle up, tell stories, and talk about happy memories.

3.  Watch a free streaming concert together.  MSN has All the Live Streams & Virtual Concerts to Watch During Coronavirus Crisis, which is being updated often.

4.  Teach your child how to make a favorite recipe.  Even little kids can learn to make simple things like sandwiches, and big kids love to learn how to cook fancier dishes.

5.  Print out some free toys!  Made by Joel offers free printables of everything from a Travel Size Paper City Paris Champs Elysees and Champ de Mars to paper slotted animals to an oscillating bird and more.  We’ve also loved the toys at The Toymaker for years.

6.  Sit down with your kids and make up lists of 10 or 20 things you each love about special people in your lives.  You can write the lists for kids who aren’t writing yet, but keep it in their words and have them add some decorations. Take a picture to text or email to each loved one.

7.  Have some fun with photo apps.  We created this fun picture of Alex with the free Photo Labs app.  Or just open up Snapchat and take some fun selfies together.  Print out and frame your favorite, if you like.

8.  Have an early morning balcony picnic and watch the sunrise together.  Get up early and grab something simple like fruit and a cup of tea and go sit and watch the sunrise together.  You can watch from your balcony, the roof of your apartment, your back yard or even a good window.  Take some time to just soak in the beauty and connect.

9.  Have a cleaning party together.  Yes, really!  Dress up in fabulous play dress-up clothes (party hats and/or tiaras are a must!), blast some happy music, grab some fun treats and clean like crazy together.  Set a timer for every 15 minutes to take a break and enjoy some treats together, and concentrate on being as wild and wacky as possible as you clean.  Celebrate when you’re finished by making a fun new mess by cooking together or doing crafts.

10. Make colorful soap clouds.  If you happen to have any Ivory soap and a bit of food coloring, this is a great time to make colorful Ivory soap clouds (and learn the science behind what’s happening).

11. Waste a box of birthday candles on repeated wishes at lunchtime.  Blowing out the candles is some of the most fun of birthdays for some kids, so sometimes it’s fun to do it just because.  Just put them one at a time in a muffin, sandwich, whatever.  Light the candle, make a wish, blow, repeat!  You join in too!

12. Make puzzles for breakfast.  Use cookie cutters to cut shapes out of toast, pancakes or french toast.  Let kids match the shapes to the pieces with the holes and fit back in.

13. Blow bubbles off the balcony or out the window.  This is especially fun if you live up high!

14. Do freeze dancing.  Put on a CD (or find some good songs on you-tube) and have the kids all dance wildly.  Every time you hit pause, they have to freeze in place.

15. Have the kids make up funny fortunes and put them in homemade fortune cookies or leave them in unexpected places like cereal boxes.

16. Play the gratitude game at dinner.  Go through the alphabet taking turns naming one thing you’re grateful for in life for each letter.  Anything counts, from artichokes to Aunt Julie.  🙂

17. Send people some laughs.  Task the kids with finding their favorite corny jokes, funny videos and other things that crack them up.  Text them to friends and family or have the kids call and tell them over the phone.

18. Cut out dozens of construction paper hearts and write a reason you love each other on each one.  Cover the windows or a door with them all, or hang them from the ceiling on lengths of yarn or ribbon.

19. Make poetry shells.  Gather up a bunch of pistachio shells, smooth rocks  or other natural objects and use a magic marker to write words on them.  Make sure to use adjectives, nouns and verbs.  For example…. I, you, we, love, wet, dogs, jumped, lick, stars…. the more words you make the more variety you can get in your poem.  Drop the rocks in a bucket, shake, and grab a handful to arrange into each line.  Make sure to add some funny words!

20. Throw a dinner party just for your family.  Put out the good china and some delicious appetizers, set the table grandly and dress the part.  Put on some music, light some candles and take your time enjoying your own company together.

21. Make up a batch of homemade playdough (white) and then hide different colors inside.  Poke a hole in the middle and add a little bit of food coloring.  Encourage kids to knead their balls of playdough and watch as they discover there’s more to it than it first appeared!  You can also do color mixing this way (make yellow and add blue to the center of one and red to another, for instance).

22. Bring snow or mud inside for the kids to play with.  Fill a big tub and give them cars, chopsticks, you name it to play with it.

23. Try circus tricks together.  See if you can juggle, balance a ball on your nose, walk a “tightrope” on the floor, clown around and so on.

24. Discover a new (old) TV series together.  This is a great time to introduce the kids to comedies that might have been before their time.  Our kiddos have really enjoyed My Name is Earl, Parks and Recreation, Brooklyn 99, Raising Hope and Malcolm in the Middle (note that there is sometimes mature content for little ones).  There are other great shows besides comedies too.  Smallville was a huge family favorite here (and it was on for ten years so there are tons of episodes!).  Other old shows to check out include Monk, The Great British Baking Show and Trading Spaces (though I’m not sure if that one’s available on streaming?).  Please add your recommendations in the comments!

25. Challenge the kids to make each other laugh as much as possible.  Try for all out belly laughs, snorts and the type of giggles where you can’t catch your breath.  If you can, catch it on tape to make you all laugh all over again later.

26. Go sledding or ice skating in the kitchen! Pull little ones around on towels, or have them put on socks and slip around the floor.  Older kids can pull the little ones and accidentally get some exercise in at the same time!  If you’re brave enough, give them a bucket of warm soapy water and have them “mop” the floor with their stocking feet.  My girls used to love to do this, though it can get pretty wet!

27. Start a recipe box or cookbook of family recipes you teach your child. Bake and cook them together and write each one out as you teach it to add to the collection.  Don’t know very many?  Learn together!

28. Be outrageously silly at odd times, for no reason, all day long!  Suddenly widen your eyes and say, “Oh no! I forgot to give you noisy kisses!” and scoop up your toddler.  Stick your tongue out and grin at your teenager.  Be silly as much as you possibly can.

29. Do some Pinterest-inspired arts and crafts.  Find a fun project, tutorial or bit of inspiration and sit down together to give it a try.

30. Start a paper chain of happy memories and accomplishments.

31. Have a family jam session.  Gather up instruments or make your own by filling containers with pennies and getting pots to bang on.  I love having older kids now who are great at playing the guitar and ukelele, but I also love hearing the little ones playing the kazoo or just shaking maracas.  My husband is great at playing a dozen instruments and I have a hard time even keeping a beat while clapping, but we have such fun all playing together.  Play songs you know and love, or make up songs together as you go.

32. Learn how to do The Cup Song with the kids.  Or, go old school and teach them how to do The Macarena or The Hand Jive.

33. Have fun with boxes.  If you’re getting lots of boxes coming into the house right now, why not let the kids put them to use?  Let them use them to make robots, tunnels, playhouses, you name it.  You can be fancy and help out, like the ultra-creative mama at Life as a Thrifter

Or just let the kids loose to make up their own fun!

34. Cut up a zillion paper snowflakes and decorate the house.  Paint them with watercolors to make them extra special.  Coffee filters make it even easier.

35. Have a silly word day.  Pick an ordinary word to be the silly word of the day, and anybody who accidentally says that word during the day has to do something silly.  For instance, if the silly word of the day is “car” and you forget and say it, you might cluck like a chicken or yodel.

36. Compliment each other, balloon style!  Pick someone in the room to focus on and toss a balloon up in the air.  Everybody else has to keep bopping the balloon up and keep it from hitting the ground.  You can’t bop it without calling out something fabulous about your subject though!  Think quick! See how long you can keep it up (and how many wonderful things people can think up about each other!).

37. Have an inside snowball fight!  Crumple up oodles of paper from the recycling bin and give each player a laundry basket full.  Find some good launching spots (behind the couch, behind a table…) and commence flinging!

38. Wear fancy clothes all day, just because.  We’ve had a whole stash of thrift store costumes, capes and prom dresses for years to make an ordinary Monday seem more special.

39. Start a family poem wall.  Put up a large piece of paper on a door and put a pen nearby.  Ask every family member to add a word every time he or she passes.  It can be silly or serious.  Save the finished poems in an album or scrapbook.

40. Have a paper airplane derby. You’ll find free patterns for simple to fancy planes, helicopters, rockets, frisbees and more here.  This is also a fun way to reuse old coloring pages, worksheets, scrapbooking paper and even maps.

41. Start making toasts every night at supper.

42. Bake bread together.

43. Clear out a back closet or other out of the way place to become a secret hideaway for your child.  Stock it with flashlights and lots of fun items to decorate it.

44. Play balloon volleyball.  If you have enough balloons, try some of these other fun balloon activities.

45. Do some melted crayon art.  Line a warming tray or electric griddle with tinfoil and then place a sheet of paper on it.  Let kids draw on the paper with crayons, pressing down and drawing slowly so the crayons will melt into vibrant, waxy pools as they draw.  You can use mittens to help protect little ones from getting burned, but close supervision and cautions about the heat are the best protection.  We turn the heat to around 200 for little ones and 250 for older kids (and more satisfying results).

46. Take apart a bunch of old jewelry and try to make a new artistic creation together.

47. Let the kids decorate you.  As a busy homeschooling mama of five, I’ve had many days of entertaining kiddos even when life was… interesting.  One noteworthy day when I was particularly tired and sick from morning sickness, I let my little ones decorate me with washable markers and an older child gave me a pedicure.  🙂  They had a blast and I got to rest on the couch with my feet up!

(Side note: Every week for my prenatal visit with Fiona, my doctor would look to see what kind of a pedicure I had for that visit, since my kids were so fond of giving me crazy paint jobs and they always made her smile.  I also once accidentally showed up with magic marker legs under my pants that I’d forgotten about!)

48. If you have the go-ahead to walk around your neighborhood, grab a pack of colorful sidewalk chalk and head out to make the world more cheerful (even your own driveway).  Have the kids leave happy faces, sweet notes, rainbows, silly cat faces, flowers, goofy aliens, you name it, in various places just to make people smile.

49. Learn some new games — or make them up!  We play lots of card games here but also have fun making up games.  My older kids are especially good at finding creative new games online and then coming up with homemade versions.

50. Stage a virtual talent show for loved ones.  Assemble costumes and props and then sing songs, put on clown acts, recite poems, tell jokes, do magic tricks, whatever and record it all.  Send it to a loved one who could use a smile (and save it for years later when you can all smile at the memory!).

But most of all…

Have a little fun.

Our kids are relying on us to keep them feeling safe right now, so it’s a good time to turn off the TV and just focus on staying healthy and happy at home together.

This list is literally just a drop in the bucket of all the wonderful ways to make the best of the situation right now, but I hope it gives a little inspiration.  I’ll try to be back soon with another list.

Please add your favorite suggestions to the comments!

And with that, I’m off to play Nerts with my kiddos and rustle up lunch.  Stay well.  We’re all in different circumstances and some of us may feel especially alone right now, but we’re all in this together.  It’s a good time for all of us to count our blessings, love on our kiddos, and as always — don’t forget to take good care of you.

     ~Alicia 💙



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Do Something Brave Month!

We’re doing a family challenge for the month of February that I thought others might like to join in on.  We’re designating it Do Something Brave Month, and challenging ourselves to each do 20 brave things to earn a family reward.

What counts as brave?  Anything outside your comfort zone that could lead to good things but feels a little scary.

Some examples (for big and little people)…

  • Go to sleep with the lights out
  • Approach someone you’d like to befriend and start a conversation
  • Audition for a play
  • Jump into the deep end for the first time
  • Sign up for a club or class
  • Ask for a raise
  • Stand up for someone (including yourself)
  • Sing in public
  • Face a phobia and take a step towards kicking it
  • Climb a tree
  • Send out a book proposal
  • Go into the basement alone
  • Compliment a stranger
  • Write an author to say you love her book
  • Get a daring haircut
  • Go up high and look down
  • Sign up for a half marathon
  • Quit a bad habit
  • Try out for a sport
  • Look under the bed

Obviously, these should be tasks that are a little bit scary for you.  Petting a dog would be a great challenge for a child afraid of dogs, but not for someone who is always around them!  Each thing should be safe and positive

These can be small steps that help deal with shyness, fears and hesitations.  Keep it doable!

Want to join in?  Pick a family goal (we’re doing 20 each, for me and the four older kids, so a total of 100 brave things for the month) and a reward (we’re taking a trip to the Mall of America for the first time as a family so we can hang out with wonderful friends and see LEGO Land for the first time!).  Also decide on rules.  For instance, we decided that we can do more than one a day and that we can do extra to help the family out (for instance, if one family member is short on her/his 20, we can do extras to make the family goal).  Focus on making it positive and possible!

We’re tracking our points on the calendar, with a different color of pen for each of us to log our accomplishments.

Are you in?  Feel free to jump in any time and tailor it to suit your family!  I’d love to hear some of your challenges in the comments if you do join in.

Here’s to making some magic happen.  🙂



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Land Art!

Want a little inspiration for making something magical outside with the kiddos?  I love this Flickr pool of Land Art for Kids.  Check out just a few of the images….

I can’t wait to see what my kiddos can come up with to join in.  Best of all, it’s an all season, all climate kind of project.  What fun!

And yes, I’m still planning on moving shop.  I’m working on getting my bearings at blogger right now.  I’m going to see if there’s any way to transfer a year’s worth of posts over there, other than copying roughly 360 posts.  It would help if I were not quite so clueless about all of this stuff!  🙂

I’ll keep you posted.

Happy weekend!


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Magical Moments– the Annotated Version

Lest things seem too perfect here, I offer up some behind the scenes not-so-magical moments from yesterday’s entry!

1.  Make mud art…

I’ve saved these plates from an estate auction (the stack was a dollar!) to use for something whimsical for years.  Shortly after taking these pictures, Alex threw a trowel at the stack that was left and broke them all.  

Also, Jack destroyed Anna’s mud art and made her cry.  I needed to come back out and mediate after I went inside and get everybody on the right track again!


2.  Put bubbles in the kiddie pool! 

We had our one year-old neighbor over the next day and Jack and Anna were both so wild I had to quietly take them each aside several times and remind them to dial it down a little — which didn’t work.  Jack splashed and flung bubbles so wildly that he soaked the neighbor (the one year-old’s dad!) a bit and I finally got frustrated and sent him inside.


3.  Make a density column

Okay, this was cool but there were still squabbles over who got to pour which layer and fussing about so-and-so jostling the table!  You can see that the colors mixed in places from it getting bumped too often.

4.  Go see a pageant (a historic play) or other outdoor show.

Jack talked the ear off the smiling lady next to him and accidentally dumped an entire bottle of water on his shirt and pants when he somehow missed his mouth!   Alex happily (and unhappily) shrieked at inappropriate moments throughout the show!  He especially loves to hoot to the horses.  Grandpa and Grandma were not fond of Alex hooting at horses.

5.  Better yet, sign up to be part of one!

The girls had plenty of moments when they had to be reminded why they signed up for all that work.  They are sad that it’s over and absolutely love being part of the pageant every year (this was their 5th season!) but see plenty of posts of mine from the past 2 months about what nights have been like while Daddy and the girls are gone until nearly midnight some nights with rehearsals and performances.  The boys and I sometimes had to be very creative to make it to bedtime!  🙂


6.  Look for shooting stars. 

In this picture, Victoria has just gotten over sobbing because Annalee has accidentally elbowed her hard in the eye!

7.  Play in the sprinkler! 

Victoria was annoyed at Anna for not playing frisbee well, Jack thought the water was too cold and Alex was scared of the whole business.

8.  Find a good hill and roll down it!

Okay, to tell you truth I don’t think a single second of unhappiness happened during hill rolling.  I’m sure it’s just a matter of time until someone rolls onto a red ant hill or over a sibling, but it’s a pretty innocent way to pass the time!  🙂


9.  Set up the tent in the back yard…

We got a little bit hot after a while and moved to the back yard, but it was windy and kept blowing the cards away!


10.  Break out the legumes! 

Other than the kids squabbling over who got to use the pan of beans, this one was pretty foolproof too.  You have to prepare to sweep up spilled beans, but it’s a small price to pay in my book!  Besides, I always tell the kids that spills are the only way my floor gets regularly swept and mopped!  🙂  It’s good for us!

You can also note the mostly naked toddler, the badminton net made out of an old hammock (plus a bamboo stake and a tent pole), the unbrushed hair, the stained tablecloth and other imperfections that crept in despite careful photographing!  🙂

I still count every one of those as magical moments though.  I tell my kids to hold on to the good parts of the day and dump the rest.  When we’re in those maddening moments, it can be pretty crazy-making.  At the end of the day, I try to let the noises and messes and fights fall away and remember the good.

It’s imperfect as all get-out, but it’s still magical.  🙂


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A Walk in the Moonlight

Tonight was not the easiest of nights.  Daryl and the girls had "media night" for the play they are in.  They have practice every weeknight and tonight they left early in full costume to rehearse act one and meet the press.  As with the rest of June, I was on my own with two little boys (one of whom can drive me to distraction!).

It was a long night.  Alex found the litter box and the scoop and left a trail down the hallway carpet and all the way down the stairs.  He dumped things out.  He wrote on Daddy’s new recliner with blue marker.  He accidentally scratched Jack.  He threw fits.

There are some nights when it takes all you’ve got to make it to bedtime, and tonight was one of those nights.

I got him cleaned up, the recliner cleaned up, the hallway and stairs cleaned up, and got him acting better and asleep.  I even got a bunch of enthusiastic toddler hugs and kisses before he dropped.  The rest of the house was trashed but it was a success in my book.

When the girls came home, we ended up having an impromptu music history lesson when I had Victoria look up "We are the World" on you-tube and talked about how Michael Jackson shaped his generation.  Then I was still wired from the evening and asked Anna if she wanted to go for a walk.

My kids love taking late night walks.  I’m not sure what it is about walking with Mama under the stars, but it has always been a treat to my kids.

Anna was still in her prairie girl costume, bonnet and all.  We held hands and walked around the neighborhood, talking.  I told her how I held her in my lap when she was a baby on the front lawn in the moonlight and made her promises.  She walked me to the magical cornfield and told me to make a wish for the fairies.  She also told me how so-and-so texted her boyfriend at rehearsal about the bench the kids were using.  She said she felt lucky she got to take late night walks with me.  I told her sappy memories and gave her hugs.

When we got back, I asked her to send Victoria out.  I’m glad Victoria is not too old to take late night walks with her mama.  I showed her my bulletproof roses that the neighbor thought were "brambles" and mowed down for years.  They grew in full shade on the north side of the house for years before we moved in and loved them into full bloom.  I told her how our back yard used to be nothing but grass, and how we bought 5 tiny lilac trees and 2 dogwoods to line the back and now they’re twice as tall as we are.  The gardens, the climbing tree, the raspberries, the roses taller than the garage… it’s all new since the house became ours and now it seems like it’s been there forever.

We went walking off down the side streets and I told her how we went walking on a night like this when she was a baby with my friend Jen and her daughter, Lizzie, and how we stopped in the moonlight for me to bend down and talk to her in the stroller.  I was being sappy and adoring her, and Lizzie turned to her mother and said in her most reverent five year-old voice, "That’s love."

I told her again about how many miscarriages I had before we had her, and how Daddy and I used to fight over who got to hold her.  I told her how much we loved her and how proud we’ve been every day of her life.

When we got home, Jack snuggled up in my lap while we watched late night TV and he fell asleep while I stroked his hair.  We never got to the books I meant to read tonight or the art project I kept wanting to do.  I hope the snuggling and the extra orange juice popsicles made up for it a little.

It’s the end of the night now, and it’s miserably hot inside.  We don’t have central air, just a window unit downstairs.  I’m hot and tired and there’s still more mess to clean up in the morning.  Tomorrow, Alex will wake in a fantastic mood and commence trying to drive us all crazy again. 

It was a trying night.  There were messes and tears and mayhem.  There’s no denying it.  But what I’m taking to bed with me tonight is the kisses, the snuggling, walking hand in hand with my daughters and making wishes by magical cornfields.

The rest will still drive me to distraction, but I still think it’s worth it.  🙂

Goodnight all.  Happy Friday!

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Make Something Cool Every Day Challenge: Days 1-5

Just checking in for the “Make something cool every day” challenge.  Here’s what we’ve done so far….

Day 1:  Made colored bath cubes

Day 2:  Invented apple-raspberry iced tea (we steeped 3 green tea bags and 2 standard tea bags in boiling water and added hot water to make a gallon, and then added 1/3 cup of sugar and 3 big scoops of concentrated apple-raspberry juice)


Day 3:  Made altered spice containers for sand box play.  I gave the kids an assortment of spice tins that were either empty or stale and let them use acrylic paint, stickers and permanent markers to create their own line of fantasy spices.  Victoria thought she’d be clever and put hers back in my cooking supplies to surprise me.   They don’t strike me as very appetizing at all!  ;)

Day 4:  Victoria and I made “secret recipe” KFC cole slaw.  She found it in one of my recipe books and requested it last week so I got the ingredients.  We made a bit of a mess but she had fun,  it made lots and it was pretty close to the real thing!


Day 5:  Anna took this wonderful picture of a Downy Woodpecker.  She and Daddy went for a drive yesterday to go bird watching and she snapped this picture before they even got out of our driveway!  She’s going to submit it to “Birds and Blooms” magazine.  We think it’s a fantastic shot!

It’s been fun taking part and it’s a good extra push for me to make sure we do something fun each day.  I like how open it is in terms of what we can do, too– cooking, art, crafts, photography and so on.

It’s also been nice that we often have done more than one thing that day.  Yesterday, for instance, Jack and Victoria also made all sorts of snow recipes.  They mixed fresh snow with milk and sugar to try to make ice cream and also tried honey, orange juice and pixie sticks <G> on top of various batches.   I didn’t get any pics of the process though and I love Anna’s photograph, so I went with that for yesterday’s project.  Other days I’ve had to scramble, like we made the tea at 11 at night!  :)

Anybody else taking part? 

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Make Something Cool Every Day Challenge

Dabbled is embarking on a "Make something cool every day" challenge for the month of April and is inviting others to play along.  We’re going to take part and I’ll post weekly updates here.  You can take part in whatever way you like (crafts, cooking, photography, art…) and you don’t have to take part every day if that doesn’t work for you.  It could be a great way to push yourself to do more neat stuff with the kids, though, which I know I need sometimes.  Anybody else in?

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Magical Moments

Calling all magical mamas!  And dads and grandmas and others.  🙂

Some folks wrote me and said they were going to try doing the birdseed gingerbread house idea I posted the other day.  If you do something from the Magical Childhood site/blog and take a picture or blog about it, I’d love to put it up!

Feel free to share any photos, blog entries, tips or crafts you have that capture any magical times with your kiddos.  I’d really love to share them.  I’ll post a link to your blog or just post your photo and thoughts here.

I’m also thinking of doing some sort of monthly blog carnival of magical moments or perhaps a weekly challenge with a different theme each week.  What do you all think?  Anybody interested?  Anybody even out there?  <G>

Let me know if there’s anything you’d suggest for this blog.  It’s all new to me and I’d love input.

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