Here’s a super simple way to bring a little bit of nature indoors and teach kids a bit about ecosystems. Make a terrarium out of a jar from the recycling bin (we used a salsa jar) and a bit of moss and tiny plants from a shady area of your yard or nearby natural area.
This project is from the August 2019 issue of Wild Kids Magazine, a free printable nature magazine I put out for kids and their grown ups.
Fiona’s terrarium lived happily on our piano for nearly a year before it had withered enough to consign it to the compost pile and recycling bin. Don’t forget to mist it occasionally if it seems to be drying out a bit, and it can last much longer.
Here’s a sweet way to make a little magic in the back yard this summer.
My Alex had been having fun making “potions” with rain water, grass clippings and such, and he asked me to help him find new ingredients. I decided to make it a little extra magical and went and got a pitcher of tap water and a can from the recycling. I secretly dropped a few drops of green food coloring in the bottom of the can, and then made a show of filling the “empty” can with some grass clippings from the yard.
I gave him the pitcher and told him that I’d put magic grass in the can. Then I had him pour some water into the can and pour the can into a bucket. Of course, the water in the can instantly turned bright green when it mixed with the food coloring at the bottom, and Alex and Fiona watched in amazement as the magically green water poured into the bucket. 🙂
I also asked the kids to find 8 yellow dandelions for a second can (that I’d already secretly sprinkled with some yellow food coloring), and we used spent lilac blossoms for a third can that had some blue.
I also gave them a jar of fairy dust (Florida sand from a vacation) to sprinkle in.
Lastly, I had them gather dandelion puffs so they could blow wishes into their concoctions.
I gave them lots of buckets to pour into, so they could also have fun with color mixing.
Alex is old enough that he easily figured the secret out, but he had fun pretending anyway. Little Fiona just had fun gathering the ingredients and pouring and pouring.
They happily played for an hour with their potions. It was an easy, nearly free, absolutely magical way to have some back yard fun. We’ll definitely be doing more of it!
I also picked up an old spice rack with little glass bottles at a thrift store, and I’m going to assemble a whole magic potion rack for them to use sometime soon in their outdoor play kitchen. I’ll try to post pictures and update how that goes!
Want to have a little online holiday fun with your kiddos? There are some really sweet sites that let you virtually decorate trees, make gingerbread houses, cut snowflakes and more.
Technology Rocks. Seriously has a fantastic roundup of gingerbread man fun storyboards, activities, interactive sites, printables and so on like these:
Then there’s the snow round-up of fantastic activities like these:
There’s the Christmas tree decorating roundup with fun links like these:
And oodles more!
Be sure to check out the rest of the site for all sorts of great printables, educational games and other fun.
If you’re lucky enough not to live in one of the freezing cold places right now, you can still take part in lots of fun with snow and ice!
Here’s a list of ten ways to make the day magical, warmer style for warmer climates. And here’s a little round-up of online snowy fun. Help the kids make some snowmen, “cut” some snowflakes and more. 🙂
Here’s a fun little printable craft from The Toymaker — Marble Mice! Just print out the pattern on cardstock, cut out, and add a large marble inside.
The Toymaker says…
These Marble Mice are fun to make and roll around on your desk. Cats love them!
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…
- 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.
- Have a photo shoot outside. Be sure to let the kids take your picture too!
- Shoot some hoops — even if that means tossing balled up socks into a bowl on the coffee table because it’s 115 degrees outside.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Take blocks of ice to the top of a grassy hill and go ice blocking. Here’s more info on this activity that’s on our bucket list this year!
- Make mud pies.
- Play balloon volleyball.
- 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. 🙂
Here’s a fun way to occupy the kids in a bubbly, colorful way.
Do some baking soda and vinegar experiments but add color!
- A box of baking soda per child (ours cost about .50 a box and we bought a bunch)
- 1-2 cups of white vinegar (generally under a dollar)
- Food coloring
- One cake pan or similar container per child
- Muffin tin (regular size if two kids will be sharing it the way ours did, or mini muffin size would be enough for one child — an ice cube tray would work too)
- Eye droppers or pipettes (one per child)
- Fill the muffin tins half full with the vinegar, and tint each cup with a different color of food coloring. We usually leave one clear so kids can mix a custom color.
- Pour one box of baking soda into a cake pan for each child. Smooth out.
- Spread an old towel on the table (or do it outside) and put the cake pan(s), muffin tin and eye droppers on it.
- Show kids how to squeeze the eye droppers in the colored vinegar to fill them up, then have them drizzle and drop it on the baking soda to watch what happens.
This large amount of baking soda means that kids can happily do the activity for a good long time, making this a perfect activity for while you’re making lunch or taking a break.
Kids can also experiment with things like pushing the eye dropper under the baking soda and then squeezing (tiny volcanoes!) and so on.
Science info: Want to know why baking soda and vinegar bubble up? Explain to the kids that carbon dioxide is released when acids (like vinegar) and bases (like baking soda) combine and react to each other. If they want to do more colorful science to learn about acids and bases, consider the purple cabbage pH experiment (our family’s all time favorite science experiment). You can also just bake something! People make cakes and breads rise by either using yeast or relying on the same reaction with ingredients like baking soda and buttermilk.
Here’s a fun little activity my girls and I made up yesterday. Newspaper acting!
I grabbed a copy of our local newspaper and a few junk mail flyers and challenged them to read lines in all different types of voices. For instance, Victoria read a sentence about a basketball game as if it were an ad for a horror movie. Anna read a sentence about a city council meeting as if it were heartbreaking news. I read a sentence about a budget proposal with terrible rage. 🙂
Want to play along? Just grab some really boring or random reading materials like newspapers, ads and magazines. Even homework pages would work!
Here’s some suggested voices and styles:
- As if it’s the funniest thing you’ve ever read
- Like an action movie preview
- In the voice of an evil genius
- With great rage
- As if you’re heartbroken
- With a strong, funny accent
- As if it’s a children’s book for very young kids
- As if you’re super excited
- With terrible sorrow
- As if it’s a line in a romance movie
- Like you’re terribly scared
We had so much fun doing this! We were all laughing like crazy and the girls have asked repeatedly to do some more.
Here’s a simple way to make baths a little more fun (and colorful!).
Freeze some colored water in muffin tins or other medium sized containers, and then add a few to the kids’ baths when you want to make things a little more interesting.
They melt pretty fast but it sure is fun while they do!
We got a wee bit of snow around these parts recently.
I used the opportunity to have a bit of snow fun at the dining room table.
I had my faithful assistant, Victoria, go get bowls full of fresh snow and fill an under-the-bed storage container with it.
Then I put it on the table with an assortment of little cars and a bulldozer for Alex to do a version of Lonni’s shaving cream snow plow idea from the silly assignment day.
He plowed for a while but his hands got too cold, so we moved on.
First I packed down the snow and gave him a big paintbrush, a jar of water (right in the tub, so spills wouldn’t matter) and some watercolor paints. He painted the snow for a bit, but it was a bit tricky. So we moved on.
I put out a muffin tin of water and added primary colors to three of them, and then we made all different colors in the cups. I gave Jack, Victoria and Alex all pipettes (like tiny medicine droppers, I get them in bulk from a science surplus store for science and art fun!) and they squeezed colors to their hearts’ contents.
It was a colorful, artistic, crazy bunch of fun.
Even I got into the act!
I highly recommend it next time you have a bit of the white stuff to deal with. If you don’t have any snow, try mixing up anything white in a similar container and dropping colored water on it. Dry rice, pale sand, shaving cream… Lots of things would be fun to experiment with!
In my book, any activity that involves pipettes and colored water is a good idea. 🙂