Make Your Own Sidewalk Paint at Real Life Deals

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It's time for the Mess For Less Idea of the Week over at Real Life Deals.  Today I will give you a quick and easy idea for making sidewalk paint with stuff you already have at home.

Want to learn how to do it?  Head on over to Real Life Deals and check it out.  While you are there, explore and find some great money saving tips.
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Monsters vs Aliens - Toddler Style

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Sometimes when I am looking for ideas, the easiest place to start is with things we already do.  I like to think about ways to extend play or take something routine and add a different spin to it. I am always on the lookout for  ideas to spice up play doh.  Some easy options can be found at (say it with me) the dollar store.  A while back, I purchased some googly eyes, pom poms, feathers and colored Popsicle sticks from the dollar store.  I wasn't quite sure what I was going to do with them all, but one of the ideas I had was to use the stuff with play doh.

Here is a quick tip for busy moms when you need a few minutes to get stuff done.  Don't just give the kids the play doh with all the new accessories.  Kids generally have a short attention span.  They will get bored soon and want to do something else.  I always start with a basic activity, in this case I just gave each girl some play doh with nothing else.  Sure enough, after 5-7 minutes, they were done.  That is when I brought out my cool new items. I made it sound super exciting and told them they could make aliens or monsters.  They played with the play doh for an additional 20 minutes which is a win for mommy!

Another quick play doh tip is to store it in the refrigerator.  The girls love poking their fingers in the cool play doh and they get a different sensory experience than they would with room temperature play doh.

So hold on to your hats and try not to get too frightened as I share some scary monsters and aliens.  I swear they are friendly.

B thinks the eyes have it!  :-)

A's monster sports a feathered cap.  There is no way a monster in a feathered cap can be scary!

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Truck Tracks - Painting with Trucks

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The inspiration for this painting with trucks idea came from an activity that B's Early Start teachers did in their class. You are going to need some paint, paper and toy cars, trucks or even trains. If you have a tray, it makes a great place to spread the paint.  Be creative when painting with trucks!  Those aluminum baking pans they sell at the dollar store would work great for this and most of us have some lying around.  I spread some red and blue paint on the tray and after looking at it it seemed kinda 4th of July-ish. 

If you are interested in purchasing supplies for this activity, affiliate links are provided at the end of this post.

I then gave the girls some cars and trucks that had different types of wheels on them.  I have to be honest here, as the mom of 3 girls, we don't have a ton of cars.  I have bought the girls cars, but they just seem to prefer other toys.  So I had to do quite a bit of scrounging to find enough cars.  These are the ones we ended up using.

I showed the girls how to push the car back and forth through the paint to get the wheels fully covered.  We then ran our cars on some paper and got some cool track prints.  "A" loved to just push her car back and forth on the same spot on the paper and she got this effect:

"A" then noticed that this truck made prints with a little more texture.  B then noticed that A had something she did not and B was none too pleased.  I then noticed that it might be easier to own 2 of everything.  C then noticed that we should own 3 of everything.  OK, she didn't notice any of that.  She was napping. But I digress... truck prints...different ya go:

Some of B's handiwork:

Then we tried the prints on some black paper since I thought that might look like a road. You could use white or yellow paint.  We started out with white, but then A mixed it with her other colors so we have this fun color.

I have very girly girls (hence the absence of many toy cars) and they enjoyed this activity immensely.  So I challenge you, moms of girly girls, try this and see if your kids agree.  If you have a boy who loves cars (or a girl for that matter) then this painting with trucks activity is a no brainer.  Keep on truckin'!  You didn't think I would miss an opportunity to use that, did you?

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Dining Under the Sea

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My girls love the Little Mermaid and all things fishy (except for eating actual fish, that would be too easy).  But they did love this fish I made out of sliced cheese.  I added some blueberries for the bubbles, made a starfish by using a cookie cutter and adding cinnamon, and chopped up some chicken for the sand/shells.  For the fish, I used a straw to make the scales and added some shredded mozzarella for the stripe. Then just cut out a little mouth and add an eye.  I used some cookie sprinkles for the eye but you can use anything or even just use a straw to punch out an eye.  If you don't mind punching a fish.  

B cleaned her plate.  A, my less adventurous eater, ate everything except the chicken.  That's a win in my book!  Any ideas for other sea items I can add?  

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Kids Art - Block and Paper Towel Prints

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Block and Paper Towel Prints - use yarn and simple alphabet blocks to create a fun art experience.

Do you have some letter blocks at home? I am constantly tripping over them and finding them in the oddest places like in the dryer (how did that happen??). My kids rarely use them for building any more so I tried to breathe some new life into them. I was perusing a design blog, Print and Pattern, and they shared some images from a book where they wrapped blocks in yarn. That gave me an idea for some fun kids art. This Block and Paper Towel Prints project was inspired by big people art.  Often you can find ways to simplify activities to make them accessible for little artists. My little artists love creating with paint as you can see in the Kids Window Art Activity.
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Guest Post at Real Life Deals

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Sharon, over at Real Life Deals, was nice enough to ask me to share some budget friendly kids ideas with her readers.  The ideas that I will be sharing are new so if you like what you have seen here, go check out her blog.  It's a great place to pick up some tips for saving money.  And who doesn't want to do that?

My first post appears here Mess For Less Idea of the Week
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Fine Motor Activity - Fruit Loop Towers

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Fine Motor Activity - These fruit loop towers are a simple way to practice fine motor skills with little ones.

Yesterday, I was looking for a quick fine motor activity to do with the girls that would not take much time and not require a big cleanup.  I remembered a fine motor activity I had seen on Sugar and Spice that involved play dough, pasta and cheerios.  Doesn't that sound yummy?  Okay, so you don't eat the pasta or the play dough, but you can eat the cereal when you are done. I didn't have cheerios (what kind of mom am I?) but I did have fruit loops and they worked just as well. My kids were so proud of how high they made their fruit loop towers. For more fun ideas check out 18 Fine Motor Activities for Preschoolers.

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Bottle Print Flowers

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Our recycling bin is usually filled with boxes, containers and bottles.  I confess that I often raid it to find materials for crafting with the kids.  Yup, nothing but the best for my kids.  When I was visiting another blog and saw Flower Prints From Soda Bottles I knew I wanted to try it and add my own spin to it. And I knew just where to look for some free art supplies.

For this activity you will need some empty plastic bottles, tempera paint, and paper.  I wanted some variety so I used a one liter, two liter and pint bottle.

I squirted 4 colors of paint on a tray (you could use less or more, but my girls sometimes get overwhelmed with too many choices).

I showed the kids how they could hold a bottle and dip it in the paint so that the bottom of the bottle would get thoroughly coated.  Then we pressed the bottles onto the paper to make our flower imprints.  I liked that I used the different bottles because each one had a different bottom which resulted in a nice variety of flowers.

We are big Disney theme park fans in our house and A already sees hidden Mickeys everywhere.  Maybe the brainwashing is working!  I had to laugh when she made some prints and said "look, it's a Mickey head!"  That's my girl!

They did many, many prints and I almost ran out of places to put all the drying pictures.  Here are a few examples:

This ended up being a 2 day project since I got the idea that it would be cute to add some stems and grass to our paintings when they had dried.  So the next day, I taped another piece of paper to their finished paintings and drew some stems on the flowers.  If you have an older child you could have them draw the stems.  I think pipe cleaners glued on the paper would make adorable stems too.  For the grass I gave the girls some green construction paper to tear.

I then provided the girls with some recycled applesauce cups filled with Elmer's glue and a water color paint brush.  They carefully glued the torn "grass" on the bottom of the paper. 

See how careful they are being?  Well that lasted about 3 minutes and then they started being un-careful and just putting the grass wherever they darn well pleased.  Luckily they ran out of green paper before they could cover up the all the prints.  Maybe the grass had just been mowed and a strong wind came along and blew it everywhere.  Yes!  Now that I think about it that must be what they were trying to convey.  My daughters are geniuses!

One of my favorite things to come out of this multi-day art fest was the fact that the kids were so engrossed in it.  When B finished her grass she said she wanted to do more.  So I gave her some orange and purple construction paper and we tore it together (mostly me) and she made a collage.  A had no interest in this, but B later declared it was her favorite part of the activity.  I might have to revisit torn paper collage at some point soon.

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Flower Counting

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Flower Counting - Using flowers and cups with numbers on them kids can practice counting.

Not all activities need to be elaborate or even require much preparation.  Which is good because I am lazy.  We did a math activity where the girls practiced counting and one-to-one correspondence and the setup took about 3 minutes.   Did I mention I was lazy?

I used some leftover applesauce cups (I heart these things!  Save them!  They are great for sorting, filling, scooping, water play, sand play etc...) and some number stickers I had around.  You could easily use any kind of cups/containers and even masking tape with numbers written on it.  The key here is use what you have.  For instance, I make hair clips for the girls, so I have a variety of embellishments lying around.  I found these purple, pink and white flowers that I use on their clips, and put some in a small vase.  I got the vases at the dollar store and they are so festive that the girls always feel like something fun will happen when I bring them out.  But you can use cotton balls, pom poms, coins and any kind of container to hold them.  Again, use what you have.

I then demonstrated how they could take a flower from the vase and place one in the cup that had a number 1 on it, place two in the cup with the 2 and so forth.  A had no trouble doing this.  She carefully counted and placed the correct number flowers in all the cups.  One thing that bothered her, that I should have realized beforehand, was that when she finished, she had an extra flower leftover.  OK, remember the lazy thing?  That comes into play here.  Rather than making sure the girls had just enough flowers to fill their cups, I just dumped a bunch in the vase.  So poor A, who likes every loose end tied up, was not pleased with this extra flower.  My bad.  So when you do this, you might want to make sure to give them just enough flowers (items of your choice) to complete the task.

B is more of a free spirit.  She was just putting however many flowers she wanted in whatever cup.  This is fine too, but I wanted to see if she could perform the activity.  When I sat with her and directed her attention back she was able to do it, but then quickly returned to doing her own thing.  Why do I have a feeling this will be a continual theme in her life?

When the girls were done, I encouraged them to sort their flowers by color and they did that.  OK, A did that and B continued with her exploration of the flowers.  I think I could even do cups up to 10 next time though that would require us to eat more applesauce.  Ah, the sacrifices I make for my kids.

This idea was inspired by Growing Up Our Style and their multitude of flower activities.
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Funny Food Face

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Made this dinner for A and B the other night.  It was very easy and the girls loved it.  The hair is obviously strawberries, but you could do cut grapes too.  The eyes are wheat bread that I cut with a cookie cutter.  I then have salami circles and a sprinkle on top.  A eats the sprinkles first and B doesn't like them, so she puts them aside and A has them when she has finished her dinner.  The nose is a baby carrot and the ears are Colby Jack cheese that I used a heart cookie cutter on.    Heart cookie cutters are great because in addition to hearts you can make lots out of half a heart.  The mouth is a silicone muffin cup with peach yogurt.  I don't always have time to do dinners that look this fun, but when I do the girls always clean their plates!

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My First Award!

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I'd like to thank Kat at Making the most of it for awarding me with the Versatile Blogger Award!  I am so happy that you like the blog!

The rules after accepting the Versatile Blogger Award are:
1. Thank the person who gave the award and link back to them in your post.
2. Share 7 things about yourself.
3. Pass this award along to 15 recently discovered blogs.

So here are 7 things about me:
1- I really dislike peas.  Even the sight of them
2- I love reality TV
3- I am a huge fan of Disney World and Disneyland
4- If I did not have kids I would get an old school Charger or a new school Jaguar - if I could afford it.  
5- Honeymooned in Bora Bora and New Zealand
6- Loathe bugs
7- Bothered by the sound feet make rubbing against sheets
8- Adore brussel sprouts
9- Eat popcorn at least 3x a week

So I know I am supposed to pass this on to 15 other blogs, but I am going to limit it to 7 since I want to post this in the time I have.  So here are 7 fun blogs I have discovered that I am awarding the Versatile Blogger award:

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Shaving Cream Greeting Cards and Wrapping Paper

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The twins will be starting at a new school in a few weeks.  Their current teachers have been so amazing that we wanted to show our appreciation.  We got them some gift cards, but I wanted to make them something special to remember the girls.  So we made some pretty marbled cards using shaving cream and food coloring. So let your legs be stubbly for a day and put that shaving cream to good use!

If you don't want to use the good stuff, I can tell you that the dollar store sells shaving cream.  Food coloring is one thing I have not found at the dollar store, but if you buy the store brand at the grocery store it will save you some money.

I was inspired for this fun project by Playing House.  I love the shaving cream art she created and I wanted to see if it would work for a greeting card.  So I got my nifty trays (purchased at Target for $1.99 and used for EVERYTHING) and loaded them up with some shaving cream.  You can also use those metal food trays which they do have at the dollar store.  

Then I added some food coloring to the mess and let the kids stir with a Popsicle stick.  B does not like to get her hands dirty and even touching the shaving cream with the Popsicle stick was a big step for her.  She complained a bit but quickly got over it.  A jumped right in and enjoyed watching the colors mix.

The girls were very enthusiastic about mixing the colors, so I had to slow them down so we could do our prints.  If you mix the food coloring in completely you will just end up with a piece of colored paper and not colorful swirls.  The prints are easy peasy to do.  I used card stock since I wanted to make greeting cards, but I did the project alone first, and had no problems with copy paper.  So whatever floats your boat.  

Place the paper over the shaving cream and pat.  B really enjoyed this part.

When we lifted the prints off, the girls were so excited to see the pretty colors they had created.  I let them dry for 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes I used a Popsicle stick to scrape off the excess shaving cream.  I also invented the "Scrape Song" (my apologies to KC and the Sunshine Band).  "Scrape, scrape, scrape.  Scrape, scrape, scrape.  Scrape your shaving cream.  Scrape your shaving cream."  I didn't know what I started with that one.  A and B started dancing to it and made me sing it for each picture I scraped.  Not my proudest moment.

When you remove the layer of shaving cream you are left with these gorgeous marbled prints that feel super soft.  

I added some stickers and a photo of the girls to the front and voila, you have an inexpensive, original greeting card.  

I mentioned earlier that I tried out the project alone before I did it with the girls.  This is something I learned while teaching.  You don't know what can go wrong unless you do a test run first.  I don't do it for all my projects, but the mess factor was high for this one so I thought it would be wise.  What I discovered was that this project is a lot of fun for an adult too.  I just used plain copy paper and it came out so pretty I thought I would try wrapping a present with it.

As an added bonus, when we were done making our prints A started touching the shaving cream with her hands.  When B saw that her sister didn't melt, she thought she would give it a try too.  They played with the colored shaving cream for another 15 minutes and let mommy clean up!  Here is B, who if you can believe it, hates getting her hands dirty.  So proud of her for overcoming this sensitivity!  Of course she was not pleased to discover upon washing her hands that they still had a tinge of green.  Oh well, it's a start.

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Recycled Robot

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Recycled Robot - Make a robot some recycled boxes. A great way to use items from an over flowing recycling bin.

We went to a birthday party last weekend and the birthday girl was kind enough to give us fun party favors that came in these great Pottery Barn Kids boxes. Now, being a crafty sort my mind was racing with all the things we could do with them. I thought they would make a fun recycled robot. First I gave the kids the boxes to play with. They stacked them and knocked them down over and over. When they got bored with that, we started working on our recycled robot.

First A and B worked hard to paint the boxes.

The tray helped to contain some of the mess but we still ended up with a good deal of paint on smocks and hands, not to mention on the glass table.  Here's a tip for those with glass tables: wipe up the paint as soon as you notice it instead of when the activity is over.  It's a lot harder to get off when it dries.

B painted one box and A painted two.  She always seems to have more stamina for these kinds of activities.  When the boxes dried, I used hot glue to stick them together.  Epic fail!  The glue dried before I could get the other boxes on.  So I moved to plan B - packing tape.  I imagine there are a number of adhesives that could have been used, but packing tape was handy.  Here's our new friend all taped together.

We decided he needed some arms so I went to my pantry o' recycled goods and got some paper towel rolls.  I save a bunch for craft activities.  My poor husband will go and open the cabinet to get something, and a bunch of paper towel and toilet paper rolls will fall out all over him.  Now he will be attacked by two less.  

The girls decorated the robot's arms but this time used markers since I had already cleaned the paint off the  table.  :-)

I used the packing tape to attach the arms, though you could use brads or any number of things to attach them so they could even move up and down.  My poor girls just get immobile arms.  It's all good since he doesn't have legs anyway as B was quick to point out.  But he's a pretty handsome robot torso if I do say so myself.

This guy still needed a face.  Hey, I deprived him of moving arms and legs, the least I could give him is a face so he can express his displeasure.  I had some foam stickers I purchased from the dollar store, and we used those for the face.  Okay, I phoned it in on the face.  Here's the deal.  I had two 3 year olds whining "Is he ready yet?" over and over, and while I had visions of doing some cool cut outs or using bottle caps, I just slapped on some foam pieces and called it a day.  If you have older/less whiny kids it would be fun to let them be creative with the face.  You can even add some yarn hair.  Who says a robot torso can't rock some glam hair?

The robot was a big hit.  Here are A and B enjoying their new friend.

And here is Little C ripping his face off.  Yup, he is now faceless.  

Recycled Robot - Make a robot some recycled boxes. A great way to use items from an over flowing recycling bin.

Poor robot torso.  We hardly knew ye.

For more recycled crafts check out:

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