Outdoor Fun: 5 Games to Play With a Broom

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The weather is warming up here in California, and we are spending more and more time outdoors. Recently, when we were outside, my daughter "A" found her toy broom and started sweeping. That got me to thinking about different games we could play with that toy broom. It was a few dollars at Target and quite the bargain when you consider all the things you can do with it besides sweeping. Here are 5 of our favorite ways to play.

1. Limbo

My girls love when I hold the broom at various heights and they have to try and go under. When I hold the broom high, it's easy but as the broom gets lowered they have to find creative ways to go under. None of them can do the traditional limbo stance yet, but they have crouched and crawled under. This is made all the more annoying fun because they chant "limbo, limbo, limbo" the entire time we play.

2. Up and Down

Another game where an adult holds a broom. It's kind of like limbo except that instead of keeping the broom steady you move it up and down while the child tries to run past. "A" loved this game. She would laugh every time the broom would come down just as she was running.

3. Jump the broom

Place the broom on the ground and have your child run back and forth while jumping over the broom. I did this too and let me tell you it was some good exercise. Who needs a gym membership when you have a broom?

4. Broom Hockey

"A" lined up her letter shells and then took aim. She loved seeing how far she could make the letters go using her broom. Bottle caps would work great with this and would even resemble a hockey puck.

5. Broom Balance

This one was the most challenging for "A." I asked her to hold out her hand with her palm open and I placed the broom on it. It fell a number of times before she was able to balance it for a few seconds. 

I hope I have given you some ideas for fun games that will sweep away boredom.

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Making Music - Homemade Harmonica

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Our church has a great nursery program and they often inspire me with their craft ideas. Last week, in Little C's class, they made these clever homemade harmonicas. When Little C's sisters saw her harmonica, a few fights occurred so to keep the peace I made them some of their own. They were super simple to make.

Supplies You Will Need:
  • Craft sticks (tongue depressor sized)
  • 3 rubber bands
  •  Construction paper
  • Scissors

First you will want to cut out two construction paper strips. I cut mine 1 inch wide by 4 or 5 inches long. The kids could not decide on a single color so we did pink and purple. 


Wrap your strips on each side of the craft stick making sure to keep them near the edge with a bit of craft stick still showing.


Wrap a rubber band around the length of the craft stick.


Place the second craft stick under the one with the construction paper strips and using another rubber band, wrap the ends together.

 Do the same with the other end and you should have something that looks like this.
Homemade Harmonica

Now it's ready for playing. Make sure your kids blow on the wooden middle part and not the part covered in paper. Playing this homemade harmonica will require some practice. At first my girls were biting down on the stick which will not allow the breath to travel. But with some practice, we were making music!

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Borax Crystal Letters

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I have seen ornaments and snowflakes made from Borax and pipe cleaners, but I didn't want to wait until Christmas to try this fun kids activity. So I decided we would make some letters. I started out with letter "A" and thought I could make all the letters of the alphabet. Yeah, that was very ambitious. I have only done "A" so far and since the whole process is a little time consuming, I think we will just be making the kids first initials.

Supplies you will need:
  • Borax
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Thread or string
  • Boiling water
  • Pencil
  • Glass container, large enough for the letter to hang (mason jars work well)

Before I began, I formed one blue pipe cleaner into a letter "A." 

A mason jar would be perfect for this activity since it can withstand the heat of the boiling water without cracking. I don't have any mason jars so I tested some boiling water in a vase and it was fine. Make sure you are using something that can withstand the heat. At the end of the activity there were a layer of borax crystals stuck on the sides and bottom of the vase but with a little scraping, the vase was as good as new.

I wish I could say that I followed some kind of recipe here, but I did not. I added 7 or 8 tablespoons of Borax to the bottom of the vase. I found my Borax at Target in the laundry aisle.

Next, I added enough boiling water to be sure that when I dipped my letter in, it would be totally submerged. The amount of water will vary depending on the size container you use. Stir well. You will want the water to be cloudy. If after stirring it is not yet cloudy, add some more Borax. I added another 2 tablespoons at this point, so I probably ended up using about 10 total tablespoons of Borax.

Tie a length of thread to your letter and then tie the other end to the middle of your pencil. You will then dip your letter into the Borax filled boiling water, being careful not to let it touch the bottom or sides. If it touches the bottom or sides of the container then it will get stuck there when the crystals form. I had trouble with my pencil rolling, so I added tape to both ends to secure it to the vase.

Nothing is going to happen for a while. My kids kept coming by every hour looking for crystals. After about 5 hours I noticed something going on. Crystals were starting to form!

I left it soaking over night and when we woke up the next morning we were treated to a crystallized letter "A." The kids were impressed! We hung it from a chandelier and it looks so pretty when it spins and catches the light.

For little ones, this activity doesn't require much explanation. It's a neat thing to observe. I wish the kids would have been more involved in the process, but between the Borax and the boiling water I thought it was best for them to just observe. Older kids can help more and you can get into more of the science behind the transformation which I discovered here.

For more kids science activities check out Chemical Reactions for Preschoolers and Colorful Dancing Milk.

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Food Fun Friday - Breakfast Enchiladas made with Crepes - Guest Post from Made Famous By

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I have one of my favorite food bloggers guest posting here today and I am super excited! Heather from Made Famous By is here and we have some things in common. We both love food and have three kids. This may be where the similarities end. You see Heather is an amazing cook - me, not so much. Want proof of Heather's culinary gifts? Check out her blog and prepared to be tempted!


Made Famous By:  McMullin Fam Bam

My boys have a serious love slash addiction to the ocean.  Can’t say I blame them, so do I.  There is just something so relaxing about laying out a beach towel, setting up a chair, spending hours listening to the waves and watching your children splash in the sea.  I sit back, watch them and try to soak up every second of their childhood.

Yesterday my kiddos had two options.  Go to Disneyland or go to the beach.  They chose to go to the beach and fish.  We could and have literally spent the entire day at the beach.  These my friends are some of life's cherished moments.

A while back at one of my gourmet cooking groups,  Karene (one of my dear friends) had a the idea to make breakfast enchilada’s using crepes instead of tortillas.  BRILLIANT I tell you!!

So I used my trusty McMullin crepe batter and McMullin breakfast burrito recipes to create this mouth watering dish.  The result was nothing short of culinary perfection!!

The best part is that I had already pre-made the crepes earlier in the week and just saved some to make this recipe.  They also freeze very well so I am going to be sending some with the hubs to work for breakfast. 


Breakfast Enchiladas made with Crepes
6 Crepes
10 Eggs
½ Cup Turkey Bacon, cooked and chopped
½ Cup Cheese
2 TBS Canned Green Chillies
½ tsp Fresh Ground Pepper
¼ tsp Salt
¼ Cup Spinach (optional)

*Combine the eggs, turkey bacon, cheese, green chilies, pepper, salt, and spinach. (If you choose to)
*Once all the ingredients have been combined and heated through completely put ½ Cup of the filling into each crepe and roll it up.
*Serve with Salsa or ketchup.
McMullin Crepe Batter
1 Cup Flour
2 Cup Milk
8 Eggs
6 TBS Real Butter
1 tsp Salt
2 TBS Sugar (only for dessert crepes)
*Combine flour and milk in a bowl.  Mix until well combined.
*Add the eggs and melted butter until well combined.
*Pour1/4 – ½ Cup of batter in your favorite crepe pan.  Swirl the batter around until the edges are slightly brown.   Run a knife along the edge and let the crepe fall onto a plate.

**If you are not making the crepes for breakfast enchiladas, we also like to eat them for breakfast with a little butter and powdered sugar rolled up into the crepe! **

Thank you so much Heather! I get so tired of the same things for breakfast and I love having new options. This sounds like a good one!

Here are some of my favorite posts from Made Famous By:
Healthy Turkey Meatball Sandwiches
Chocolate Cupcake with Peanut Butter Frosting
Apple Nachos

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Thrifty Thursday - Toddler Box Guest Post from It's A Long Story

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I am honored today to have Heather from It's A Long Story here to share an activity. Heather is a mom after my own heart. She is loves creating educational activities for her daughter that and budget friendly. See, she fits right in here. I hope you find as much inspiration from her post as I do.

Hello Mess for Less readers! I'm so excited to be over here today. I love Vicky's blog, and I was thrilled when she asked me to post.

My name is Heather, and I blog over at It's A Long Story.

I blog about all sorts of things over there. My faith, my projects, the occasional family outing...but one of the things I love writing about is the fun stuff I do with my daughter. She's 2 1/2, and loves to explore and figure things out. I like finding things for her that are simple, educational, and most importantly...don't break the budget!

I've recently started putting together something for Abbey that I have named Toddler Boxes. They are simple, self-contained activities that Abbey can, for the most part, complete by herself. I'm sharing my first one here with you today!

First of all, I found some great little tote boxes with snap-on lids at Hobby Lobby. They are the perfect size for Abbey, and the stack together perfectly so we can store them where she can reach them. Honestly, finding those boxes was the springboard for the whole Toddler Box idea!
I also found these buttons at Hobby Lobby for $5! Woohoo! 

Much better than trying to collect buttons from the sewing section, and they are nice and chunky with nice, big holes. Yes, I realize it says age 4 and up. If you have any reason to believe that your child would put these in their mouth, maybe wait a while before you try out this activity.

The S'getti String was $3 for 50 yards! Seriously, I have no idea what I'm going to do with all of it! I liked it for this activity because it is narrow and flexible enough to fit through the button holes, but it is sturdy, and doesn't fray.

This picture is sideways and I can't fix it...sorry! Blame Blogger!

Abbey loves her buttons!

The first time we played this, she had a hard time and I heard a lot of  "I can't!", but now she's a pro!

How's that for focus?? Haha! She is so good about keeping the buttons in the box, or picking them back up if they come out. This box is a LIFESAVER at dinner time!

Make sure you pop over to It's A Long Story and become a follower! I will be posting a new Toddler Box each week for the next month or so!

While you're over there, here are some other toddler goodies you might like:
Simple Stamps
Snow Dough

DIY Cloth Training Pants
Thanks for letting me play with you today! 


Thank you so much Heather! I have buttons just like that and never thought to use them in this way. I love when we can learn from each other. Please visit Heather at It's A Long Story and check out her other great posts like those above. 

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An "I Love You" Prayer Children's book - Review and Giveaway

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We recently had the opportunity to enjoy the book An "I Love You" Prayer (check out the flip book here) by Amy Parker and published by Tommy Nelson. This is the second book in the Time to Pray series. My kids were so excited to get this book. It might be because it is the shape of a heart. It certainly stands out from other books in that respect, but it stands out from other books in different ways as well. 

The illustrations are very sweet and kid friendly. 

There are a cat and dog on each page and the kids enjoyed finding them. Here you see my kids having fun pointing out the dog and the cat.

The book shows children the many ways that God expresses his love. It also showcases the wonders of the natural world such as flowers, rain and rainbows. This is a great book to read each night before bed as it has a rhyming prayer and you can end the day on a thankful note.

The kind people at Tommy Nelson want your kids to enjoy this book. You can buy it here for $8.99 or enter to win it here on Mess For Less. Rules and entry below.

Disclosure:  I was sent this product for review.  All opinions expressed are my own. I received no monetary compensation for this review.

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Paper Pattern Snakes

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I don't know about your kids, but my three year olds are really into patterns right now. They point out patterns everywhere. I thought I would take advantage of this new interest in math by incorporating some pattern activities into our play. Today, we decided to make some fun pattern snakes. What I like about these pattern snakes is that the kids get to practice making patterns and then play with their creations.

Supplies you will need:
  • Construction paper strips in a few colors. 
  • Tape
  • Googly eyes or sequins
  • Yarn
  • Small piece of red felt for tongue
  • Glue

I cut my strips close to 2 inches wide and their length is just the standard width of a piece of construction paper. I wanted to give the kids plenty of options to choose from when making their patterns, so I used 4 colors. Then I just taped my strips together to make small tubes. If you have older kids you can have them do the taping or you can even use glue to turn your strips into tubes. 

I cut out about 2 feet of yarn per child. You can use more if you want a longer snake pattern. I then taped the yarn to the inside of a tube. This will be the last tube on the snake and the tape keeps all the other pieces from falling off. 

Before the kids starting stringing their snakes, I had them make a pattern with the tubes. B made a blue and purple pattern. I thought it would be easier to have the pattern set up already and just transfer that pattern to the yarn. She later changed her mind and decided not to use this pattern on her snake. 

"A" starts stringing her patterned tubes on the yarn. STRETCH!

B really surprised me by doing a more complicated pattern on her snake. She used three tubes of each color.

Even Little C got into the act. Her snake starts out looking like a pattern but that is just a coincidence. She has no idea what a pattern is and just randomly made her snake.

"A" double checks her snake to make sure she has the correct pattern.

When the girls were done stringing the tubes, they glued on sequin eyes and a red felt tongue.  Here are our finished pattern snakes.

After what seemed like forever, the glue had dried and the kids were able to play with their pattern snakes.

A and B with the first of many "snake races" around the house.

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