Tag Archives: recycling

Make a Simple Terrarium!


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.

Have fun!



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Garden Potions!


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!


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Plastic Bag Flowers, Revisited

A few days ago, I got a comment on a new post asking how I made some plastic bag flowers back in 2010.  I didn’t even remember making plastic bag flowers, but a quick blog search showed this post where I linked to a fabulous blog with instructions.

It turns out that the original blog is down, but thanks to the amazing Wayback Machine, you can still read the post and get the directions here.  I also found the original author’s current blog, which has some neat community art projects to check out.  For instance, this is an art installation called “the tent” that community members created out of scrap fabric from a nearby factory.

And this amazing community art installation is created out of recycled plastic bags, just like those flowers.  Isn’t it amazing?

Now I’m wishing we had plastic bags in colors other than boring white, and looking at all of our recycling with new eyes again.  🙂

Fun stuff!






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Easy Puffy Paint!

I’ve seen recipes for homemade puffy paint many times over the years, but I never took the time to make it with the kids until today.

What a shame I waited this long!

The kids had a blast and developed lots of ways to use it.

Even Harry Potter crests and pendants!


The original instructions were to mix one tablespoon self-rising flour, one tablespoon salt, food coloring and enough water to make a paste, once for each color.

Since I made up little cups for four different children (life is too short to listen to “Mom, Alex mixed all the colors into brown!” and “Hey!  Victoria used all the red up!” all day!), I soon realized that it made much more sense to just mix up:

  • One part self rising flour
  • One part salt
  • Enough water to make a paste

and THEN divide it into muffin tins or ice cube trays and add food coloring!

Either way, all you do is give the kids Q-tips or paint brushes and instruct them to dab it on cardboard.

We used recycled Priority Mail boxes for our canvases, cut into small squares.  You want a nice sturdy canvas.

When the picture is finished, microwave it for about 10 seconds (we did 5 second intervals and occasionally needed longer for really thick and wet paintings).

All four kids had a blast using this stuff and they used it off and on the whole day and into the night.


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Five Fun Things

There’s been so much fun stuff catching my eye on the web lately.  Here’s some favorites you might like….

1.  Things I want to teach my children everyday:  Steph from Modern Parents Messy Kids has a great post and free printable at Bloom

2.  Dress-up wings, courtesy of Little Eco Footprints

3.  And dinosaur wings, courtesy of I’m Feeling Crafty

4.  We made our own pool noodle race track yesterday after being inspired by Home Spun Threads.  Alex loved shooting marbles down it but it turns out that one of our nutty cats had as much fun “wrestling” it when we weren’t looking and shredded it! 

5.  Lastly, recycled robots (think metallic Mr. Potato Heads) from Family Fun

And with that, I’m off to tackle a to-do list as long as the city phone book.  (Yes, magical moments are on the list!)

Wish me luck!







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Art Dolls!

I am currently quite under the weather, thanks to the roughly walnut-sized being in my mid-section who (according to my nifty week-by-week pregnancy app) last week celebrated the milestone of losing his or her tail.

Since morning (and afternoon and evening) sickness is generally regarded as a very good sign, I’m quite happy to feel so miserable.

Just the same, I’m less than productive these days.  And oh my goodness, is that an understatement!

So I’m swiping this craft from the Magical Childhood web site, where I posted it several years ago.

We have made many more art dolls since this post and it’s continued to be a fabulous way to get creative and to use up art supplies and odds and ends from the recycling bins.

I’m thinking I need to get out a big box of supplies and set things up for a new batch tomorrow, as a matter of fact…


Art Dolls

I learned about art dolls recently and decided to try making some with the kids today. I gathered a bunch of materials and showed them some Flickr pictures of a lot of different styles and them let them loose. They loved making them!

Our ground rules were

  • There were no rules on what the dolls looked like–people, animals, no arms, 8 arms, anything goes.
  • They could use any broken objects they could find, items they owned, or craft items that I put in the big bowl for the project. Otherwise they had to ask permission before using stuff.
  • They had to finish one doll before making another.

There were basically no rules, though, which was part of the fun. 🙂

Here are some pictures of a few of the finished creations…

Jack (who is morally opposed to looking normal in a photograph):
Jack's Doll

Anna's Doll

And Victoria with two of hers:
Victoria's Doll

Victoria's Doll

They had so much fun and are still creating!

Happy Friday!


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10 Ways to Make Today Magical

Happy Monday!

I’m a bit under the weather so I’m going to get right to things!

Here’s a few ways to make some magical days this week…

1.  Clean out some bottles from ketchup, syrup and other food items from the recycling bin and let the kids use them for their drinks at dinner.

2.  Then fill those bottles or some others with colored water and decorate the snowbanks!

3.  Then take some of that colored water (make it bright!) and bottles, and grab some white t-shirts.  Hang them up outside or in the shower and have the kids squirt designs on them.  Let them dry and then they can wear their creations.  When you wash them, most of it will fade so you’ll just have to do it again!

4.  Start watching a TV series or favorite movie series with one or more of your children (my girls and I have started having 80’s movie nights), and make a special time to watch it together.  Make some treats, turn down the lights and make it a special time together.

5.  Take some pipe cleaners and have the kids string all different types of cereal on them for the birds.  Hang them where you can see them from the windows and see which cereal the birds like best!

6.  Raid the recycling bin again and also gather natural materials, and make all sorts of little boats together.  Next bath time, let your child float her own regatta.

7.  Here’s one for your mamas in summer time right now!  Scroll down to see what happens to these little decorated bottles when the child unscrews the cap!

8.  Find a good radio station (you can listen to ones from around the world online!) and dance like fools together.

9. Make neon mashed potatoes.  Whip up a batch and then divide it in half.  Mix a bit of beet juice in one (a little goes a long way — you won’t taste it and it will make it a lovely bright pink!) and some sprinkles of turmeric in the other (for bright yellow-gold).  Put the two bowls out at supper and let the kids mix and match colors.

10. Stuff a duvet cover with pillows and make a crash pad for the rec room or basement.  Kids can safely jump from the couch or other high(ish) place onto a padded landing spot.  (Thanks to the book “The Out of Sync Child Has Fun” for this and billions of other fun ideas!)

And with that, chickadees, I’m off to gargle with some salt water and make up a crazy grated onion-honey concoction someone swears will cure me.

Kiss your babies, count your blessings and don’t forget to take care of you!


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Make Some Homemade Do-a-Dot Markers!

I love this idea for homemade do-a-dot markers from Counting Coconuts!

I think I’ve seen it before but my brain is a bit like a collander these days and things are constantly new to me again.  😉

These work a little differently than the store-bought kind, but I’m guessing that kids will have at least as much fun if not more with this design.

What a fun craft to do on a lazy winter day!

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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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Plastic Bag Flowers!

Look at these adorable oversized flowers made from plastic bags!  I’m actually wishing we had more plastic bags so we could make up a bunch.  🙂  Head over to Growing Up Creative to find out how to make your own!

Edited to add:  The blog seems to have gone down but thanks to the Wayback Machine, you can still find the instructions here.


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