My Guest Post at Come Together Kids

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I am so excited to have been asked to share an activity at Come Together Kids!  I like to think of that blog as Mess For Less grown up.  Laura has children that are a little older than mine and does so many terrific activities with them.  Every time I go there I learn something new.  See if you don't agree.

I shared a fun watercolor activity that is easy to do and provides a big visual impact.  Here's a sneak peek!

Want to see the rest?  Then head over to Come Together Kids and have fun exploring!

Come Together Kids
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Fish with Stamped Scales

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I have a simple art activity for you today.  You will need some paper, unsharpened pencils with erasers, a stamp pad, and a googly eye (optional).  Draw and cut out a fish shape from your piece of paper.  I used yellow construction paper because I wanted the stamping we would be doing to show up well.  White copy paper would also work in a pinch.

I should mention that I am not great at drawing, so my fish looks more like a shark.  Who can't draw a fish?  Apparently, me.  Anyway, I glued on a googly eye, though you can just draw one on.  A word on googly eyes.  My husband had a laugh because the package of googly eyes I bought at the dollar store say "google eyes."  I knew Google was taking over the world, but now they own plastic eyes too?  They are always one step ahead of everyone.  I always thought these things were called googly eyes, but maybe I was wrong.  So which is it?  Googly eyes or google eyes?

OK, back to the activity.  I gave each girl a fish, a pencil and stamp pad and showed them how to dip the eraser in the stamp pad and stamp it on the fish to make scales.  This is why you will want to use an unsharpened pencil.  You don't want your kid getting poked with a pencil while stamping.

The girls had a lot of fun with this.  "A" liked  stamping really fast over and over on her fish, while B was slower and and more methodical.


So I only had 2 stamp pads and little C wanted to participate as well.  I made her a fish and she colored it with markers and was quite content.  I am not sure how much longer I can get away with just buying 2 of things. Hmmm...

Our finished fish.

I think the fish look more like they have the chicken pox than actual scales, but it's all good because the girls had fun.  In my head I was picturing the scales being all lined up and overlapping.  That might work with older kids.  But I need to remember that my kids are three and they don't know what chicken pox are, so these fish look totally normal to them.

Linked to Blue Cricket Design, Mushki Loves, For the Kids Fridays, Hands On As We Grow
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Guest Post from This Mom's Happy Life: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Crescents

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Today is an exciting day at Mess For Less!  We have our first guest poster!  I am so happy to introduce you to Amanda and her fantastic blog, This Mom's Happy Life.   As a busy mom of two, and a teacher, Amanda knows all about keeping kids entertained.  In addition to tons of great activity ideas, you will also find delicious recipes and cooking tips at her blog.  I know you get as much inspiration there as I do!  

Hello Mess for Less readers! My name is Amanda and I’m excited to be here today sharing a fun cooking activity you can do with your kids. I am a 2nd grade teacher with two young children, a three-year-old daughter and 3-month-old son. Over on my blog, This Mom’s Happy Life, you can find easy recipes, money-saving ideas and crafts for kids. Today I’m sharing a recipe that toddlers, preschoolers or older kids can help you create.

Cooking with Kids—Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Crescents

My daughter loves to help me cook in the kitchen. She started helping me with cooking when she turned 2 and now, at 3, is very good at stirring, adding ingredients and even cracking eggs. Today’s recipe is very easy and even very young children should be able to help with this.

You will need:

1 tube of crescent rolls, peanut butter, mini chocolate chips and chocolate syrup

Begin by unrolling crescent rolls and spreading peanut butter over each. Older kids can use a butter knife to do this. For younger kids, I would offer the backside of a spoon to spread the peanut butter.

Sprinkle mini chocolate chips over top of peanut butter.

Starting with the fat end of the crescent, roll up each triangle.

Place on a baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 11-13 minutes.

Top with chocolate syrup and enjoy!

For more ideas visit This Mom's Happy Life!

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Calorie Free Cupcakes

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My kids love cupcakes.  They are a picky bunch, so I will tell you how cupcake eating goes in our house.  "A" and C lick the frosting but don't eat the cupcakes, and B wants me to take off the frosting so she can eat the cake underneath.  Despite these idiosyncrasies, cupcakes never fail to elicit excitement among my bunch.  So I thought why not let my little ones make some cupcakes?  Before you think I am braver than I actually am, I should mention these are non-edible cupcakes.

A while ago, I ordered a giant bag of various sized pom poms from Oriental Trading.  I use them for a lot of fine motor activities and games.  To make our cupcakes I used these pom poms, paper muffin cups and muffin tins (purchased at the dollar store).  

I gave each kid a muffin tin, 6 muffin cups and a container full of pom poms.  Then they got to work filling the tin with muffin cups and pom poms to make their yummy creations.

"A" had fun telling me about her different cupcakes, "strawberry and chocolate with a cherry."

Then I brought out some tongs so the older girls to get some fine motor work in.  I have a collection of tongs.    These are from Cost Plus World Market, but try some you may have at home.  They will probably work just as well.  I encouraged the girls to use their tongs to try and pick up the pom poms from their container and drop them into their muffin cups.  

I love how B always needs to have the book she is reading on the table with her as she works.  As you can see, the book this day was "The Little Mermaid."

I think the next step for me is to actually bake some cupcakes with the girls.  They have helped me make a cake before but never cupcakes.  Maybe we will bake some real Halloween cupcakes that they can decorate themselves. In the meantime, this was a good substitution.  Did I mention they had no calories?
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Guest Post at This Mom's Happy Life

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I am excited to have a guest post today at This Mom's Happy Life!  I am sharing one of our favorite inexpensive activities called Sticky Feet.  This is great for rainy days or when the kids need to burn off some energy but you don't have a lot of time to prepare something.  Intrigued?  Then check out This Mom's Happy Life and have fun exploring a blog that I really enjoy.

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Marvelous Marble Painting

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This activity is one that I used back in my teaching days. I have never done it with three year olds but decided my kids might find this art project fun. You will need the following basic supplies: baking pan (got mine at the dollar store), paint, white paper cut to fit inside the pan, tape, and marbles.  Would you believe I had the hardest time finding the marbles?  I thought for sure the dollar store would have them, but they did not.  I looked in lots of different stores and finally found them at Cost Plus World Market when I wasn't even looking.  So if you already have marbles at home, you are ahead of the game!

You will want to tape your paper to the bottom of the pan.  I am sure there are many different ways to paint with the marbles, but here is what I did.  I squirted different colors of paint onto the paper and dropped in some marbles (I believe I used 4 in each tray).  It would be fun at another point to experiment with the number of marbles in a tray and see how it changes the results.  

"A" wanted yellow and blue paint on  her tray.

Once your marbles are dropped in, have your child rock the tray back and forth to get the marbles to move and paint the paper.  

Later, A discovered that she could tilt the tray up and down to get lines going in different directions on her paper.

I love this action shot of B.  Who knew this activity provided such a workout?

A really wanted to work with green paint.  I did not have any out, but explained that we could make green by mixing yellow and blue.  And just like that we are learning about color mixing.  Thanks for the great idea A!  I dropped some yellow and blue paint on her paper and gave her some marbles.  

She was quite proud of the resulting green!

Finished products

My final verdict is that this project was just perfect for three year olds and might even work with two year olds.  But you know your child best. I did not have C participate, because at 20 months, she still puts everything in her mouth and I was concerned that the marbles would be a choking hazard.  

The girls loved discovering a new way to paint and I'm just thankful that I didn't lose my marbles.  

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Real Life Tips Blog Link Up

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We love finding practical ways to save money in real life and create memories without spending a lot of money! I am teaming up with Sharon at Real Life Deals to host our first Blog Hop. Please visit her, she has so many great money saving tips.

What is this Blog Hop? This is a place for all bloggers to link up their favorite post featuring a real life tip. It can be a tip about saving money, how to reuse a common household product, something fun you do with your kids, or a tip that makes your life easier or more productive? (Feel free to link to an older article as long as it is a real life tip!)

Featured Blogger Co-Host - Mess for Less

Mess For Less


This is a great resource for you to find other great tips from bloggers all around the country.

Don't have a blog to link to? No problem! Just leave your tip in the comments!

Many heads working together can help us all find great ways to save money!

***Bloggers, when you link up leave a comment and let us know and we'll come follow your blog! This is also a great way to get some new readers!

Any rules for this blog hop? Nope! (Although we would love for you to follow as a google friend or on facebook!) Just keep it family friendly and the links about ways to save money and create cheap memories!

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Review and Giveaway: Erin Baker's Wholesome Baked Goods

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If you've been a reader for a while you know that my kids (3 year old twins and a 20 month old) are picky eaters.  I have tried all sorts of things to get them to eat with varying degrees of success.  I know that many of you are dealing with picky eaters too and are looking for ways to feed them food that is healthy and tasty.  Well, look no further!  I was sent some Erin Baker's Wholesome Baked Goods to review and I thought I would put them to a real test.  Would my picky girls like them?

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Check Us Out!

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Thanks to Sarah at Moose Tracks and Tater Stacks for featuring Mess For Less this week.  It was great to share some of my activities with some new readers who might not have found me before.  Swing by and say hi and enjoy Sarah's great site.

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Play Dough Zoo

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We have done some fun things with play dough in the past, and I am always looking for new ways to reinvent it.  When I saw the play dough zoo at House of Baby Piranha, I knew my girls would love it.  This is really simple and you can make it with your kids.  All you need is some play dough, Popsicle sticks and small animal toys.  We have a ton of Little People animals and this was a great way to use them.  Yeah, I know a cow doesn't really belong in a zoo, but he got tired of hanging out at the farm.

Give the kids some play dough and help them spread it out and then give them Popsicle sticks so they can make the cage.  I demonstrated how to do this and the girls picked up on it right away.  

"A" completes her cage.

Even Little C attempted to make a cage.  She likes her animals to have the freedom to wander.

B's lion in his new home.

The girls extended this activity on their own.  B took some of the play dough and was trying to feed her animals.  She had a hard time rolling the play dough into balls, so I helped her with that and she pretended to be a zookeeper.  B's animal will not go hungry.

This was a super fun and very easy activity that took almost no time to set up.  We will be doing this again!
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Color Drop Game

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A few days ago, I posted about the straws that we used for Straw Jewelry and Creations.  Faithful readers will remember that I promised to use the straws for a few more activities so I could get my money's worth.  Well I racked my brain and remembered an activity I had seen somewhere with colored pipe cleaners and an empty container.  I have lots of empty containers and I have these colored straws.  What game can I make?

I came up with "Color Drop" which reinforces/teaches colors, and improves visual discrimination and fine motor skills.  Not bad for some straws and a recycled container.  You can use a variety of containers to make this game, but you will want something with a plastic lid.  I have been saving these Safeway whipped topping containers, and they were perfect for the project.  The top of the lid is paper that just comes right off.  This is the container I started out with and it's various looks before I got to my final game.

You will need to drill some holes in your container.  Make the same number of holes as colors you are working with.  I had 6 different colored straws so hubby drilled 6 holes into the container for me.  If you don't want to do anything else, you can stop here.  This alone makes a great game for younger kids who are doing fine motor work while having fun dropping straws.  Little C loved doing this and shaking the container to hear the straws.

Next, I took some permanent markers and colored around the holes so the kids would know where to put the different colored straws.

I decided to cover up the part on the container that had the writing on it, so I used some address labels for that.  Then I decorated it with some permanent markers and some scrapbook letters that I have left over from when I had time to scrapbook.  I think it came out pretty cute.  It really didn't add that much time to the project, and as you can see, really takes no artistic ability.

When it was time to play, I reviewed the colors with the girls and showed them how they could put a straw in the hole that was the same color.  They did great at this.  Even B, who is my rebel, followed directions!

When "A" was done she wanted to open the container to see where her straws went.  She was happy to discover that they were all inside.

My favorite thing about this game, other than the freeness, was that various ages of kids could enjoy it and get something different out of it.  For those of you who are not fans of messes, it is also very clean and quiet too.  If you don't have colored straws around (haven't I convinced you to buy some yet?) cut-up pipe cleaners work well too.

I am linking this to Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas , Play Academy, A Little Tipsy,  Momnivore's Dilemma and Funky Polka Dot Giraffe
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