Stacking Snowmen Play Activity from Housing A Forest

Today I am handing things off to Tammy from Housing A Forest. She is one of my favorite bloggers and when you stop by her blog, you will see why. She has so many wonderful, creative projects for kids and her beautiful photos really bring the activities to life. Her house just seems like a really fun place to live. So check it out and be inspired!

Hi everyone from Mess For Less! My name is Tammy and am so excited to be sharing with you today! I am a mom of 3 busy kiddos, run an in home daycare and teach high school art. I love spending time being creative and encouraging my kids to be creative as well. I blog over at Housing A Forest where we have lots of fun creating, learning and experimenting. I would love for you to stop by, say Hello and join in on the fun!

  Stacking Snowmen Play

Do you have a bag of opened marshmallows in the back of your cupboard? You know the kind that have been there since your last summer campfire. They still look yummy, but are hard as a rock. Instead of throwing the inedible marshmallows out, we turned them into an adorable Stacking Snowman Play activity.

Stacking Snowmen Play

Since these little guys were too hard to be consumed, the kids made little snowman faces with a Sharpie marker. (However, if you plan on eating your snowmen, then make sure you use a food safe marker)

Stacking Snowmen Play

The kids tried to build the tallest tower they could before it came toppling over. Four snowmen was a common number, but a few stacks got to be six marshmallows tall. I tried it, and let me tell you, you have to have good coordination to get them to stack 6 high!

  Stacking Snowmen Play 3

Who knew a bunch of dried out marshmallows could look so cute:)

Stacking Snowmen Play

We also played a quick game of Hide the Snowmen. My house was full of adorable snowmen peeking out from everywhere. I handed each of the kiddos an egg carton and turned them loose to hunt down the snowmen. The kids loved this winter version of an Easter egg hunt.

Stacking Snowmen Play

Sometimes it is the simplest things can provide the most fun and entertainment. What would you have done with a bag of dried out marshmallows? I would love for you to stop by Housing A Forest and say hello!

Thank you so much Tammy! Marshmallows usually don't have chance to get stale in our house so we are doing to this with food safe markers as you suggested. Love the idea of the marshmallow hunt! 

Here are some of my favorite posts from Housing a Forest:

Rubber Cement Resist Easter Eggs
Rainbow Bubble Snakes
Volcano Easter Egg Experiements

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Teaching Symmetry Art Activity

Preschool Art Activity to Teach Symmetry from Mess For Less #kids #math

We were recently playing with our Do A Dot markers and discovered a fun way to learn about symmetry. This art activity only requires a few items and has no prep time. That's my kind of art!

You will need:

Using Do A Dot Markers to Teach Symmetry

Fold a sheet of white paper in half and then unfold it and give it to your child. I told the kids that they could only make a design on one side of the paper. This is much easier for them to understand if the paper has been pre-folded.

Have your child draw a design on one side of the paper with a Do A Dot marker. You will want to make sure they are squeezing the marker as they are making the design so more liquid comes out. The designs need to be pretty wet so that they will make a symmetrical picture on the opposite side of the paper. This required some experimenting until the kids got the hang of it.

fun art for kids

When the design is drawn and the paper is still wet, fold over the blank side and have your child smooth down the paper.

Now it's time to open it the paper and see what happened!

She discovered that her pictures looked similar on both sides of the paper. We talked about how the pictures on each half were symmetrical - they had the same balance of proportions of each side of the fold in the paper.

Teaching about symmetry

She tried it again with a red Do A Dot marker and got a similar result. You can try this with all sorts of designs. Half a circle and half a heart work well to demonstrate this concept. Just be sure to make your design start right near the crease if you are making a circle or a heart.

If you are looking for other ways to teach symmetry through art you can try using the folded paper method above with finger paint or tempera paint. Use what you have at home to create a fun art and math activity for your little one!

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175+ Ideas for Repurposing Items for Play from The PLAY Group

I am so excited to introduce you to The PLAY Group! The PLAY Group is a group of moms and teachers who blog about kids play and learning activities. These are some of the most creative kid bloggers around and they share creative ideas for having fun and teaching your kids. I am honored to be part of this group. To kick things off, we will be sharing a zillion (more or less) activities in areas we are especially passionate about. At the end of this post are links to all The PLAY Group lists. Literally, thousands of activities. What more do you need?

Make a St. Patrick's Day Votive

If you are looking for a St. Patrick's Day craft that doesn't involve rainbows or a leprechaun then you've come to the right place. Don't get me wrong, we love us some rainbows, pots of gold and Lucky Charms, and we have done plenty of activities involving those things. Today's kids activity does not. This St. Patrick's Day Votive is a little more subdued and will be a great addition to your holiday decorating. 

St. Patrick's Day Craft for Kids - Make a Votive.

Follow Mess For Less on Google+

So I took the plunge and am now on Google+. I said I would not join another social media site, yet here (or there) I am. So why did I do it? Well, for one thing it seems like it's not going away. In fact, more and more people and bloggers I adore have set up shop there. So in my quest for world domination, I am on Google+ too.

Come on by and friend me, like me, follow me, circle me, whatever lingo the kids are using these days. You can click on the links here on on our nifty button on the top right of this page. I am excited to see what you are up to there as well.

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Fun Math Games: Toilet Paper Knock Down

If you belong to a warehouse club then chances are you've purchased an enormous package of toilet paper. We recently bought one that contained 30 rolls and when I looked at it, I started thinking of some easy math games my kids could play with it. As we got to exploring, I realized that my kids were learning a lot more than counting. They were using their gross motor skills, learning principles of balance and even practicing cooperation. And you thought toilet paper was only good for, well, you know...

Fun Math Games: Toilet Paper Knock Down - We all have toilet paper. Now you can use it to help kids learn math and other concepts. From #math #kids #gross-motor

Fruit Filled Crescent Cups - Food Fun Friday

Crescent Roll Recipes - Fruit Filled Crescent Cups. So good you will never believe they were made with crescent rolls. Pin now, make later. You won't regret it! #dessert #crescent-rolls

If you are a regular reader of Mess For Less, then you know my love of crescent rolls. I have made a number of crescent recipes in the past, the most popular one being Apple Pie Crescents. Today I am sharing a recipe I made with the kids where we made the crescent roll dough into muffin cups. To see what we did, click on read more.

20+ Ways to Use Contact Paper With Kids

20+ Ways to use Contact Paper with Kids - go buy some contact paper now and have some fun with your kids. From #kids

One of our favorite supplies to use in kids crafts and activities is contact paper. You can do so many fun activities with contact paper and the best part is you can buy it at the dollar store. I always have some on hand and when there's a rainy day or a sick day, I bring it out and add some other items I already have. If you don't have any, go grab some and if you already have it, here are some great ways to use it.

18 Fine Motor Activities for Preschoolers

18 Fine Motor Activities for Preschoolers. Love how lots of these ideas use stuff you already have around the house. #kids, #education

It's no secret that fine motor skills play an important role in a child's development and success at school. When I was teaching Preschool and Kindergarten, I saw many kids who had weak fine motor skills. I created a variety of fine motor activities to use in the classroom for students of all skill levels, as everyone can use a little help. Many parents wanted to work on fine motor skills at home too and they often asked me for ideas. The activities I will be sharing today will help kids strengthen their skills while incorporating learning from various parts of the curriculum. I just love sneaking in some learning wherever I can, don't you?

Breakfast Casserole Recipe - Food Fun Friday

Breakfast Casserole Recipe - Cheese, bacon, potatoes and eggs. So yummy and can be made the night before! #recipe, #breakfast

I made this cheesy breakfast casserole a few weeks ago for a MOPS meeting and it turned out great - cheesy, potato-y bacon-y goodness in a casserole dish. What makes it especially wonderful is that you can assemble the entire thing the night before and just pop it in the oven in the morning. Mornings are so hectic - the last thing I want to be doing is putting together a hot dish.

Read on to see how you can make one too!

Get Rid of Hair Tangles Plus a Recipe for Hair Detangler

Get Rid of Hair Tangles Plus a Recipe for Homemade Detangler. Never waste time with tangles again. #kids, hair

My daughters have a lot of hair. When we are out and about people always stop to comment on their hair. Often those same people will ask me how I deal with hair tangles or just give me tips on what works for them. A typical comment will be: "Your daughters have beautiful hair. Do you have problems with tangled hair? I found a great product..." I had gotten pretty desperate in this department so I would usually run out and buy whatever was suggested. 

I counted 7 items under our sink that I bought in the hopes of solving our hair tangling problem. I only use a few on these on a daily basis and the rest collect dust. Some of these products might work great for you but we did not have success with all of them. So here is my guide to getting rid of tangled hair for good.

Products for tangles

Below are my main go-to hair detanglers (Original Sprout Miracle Dentangler, Zerran Equilizer Leave in Conditioner, Suave Kids Detangler and a Goody Ouchless Cushion Brush). Read on to find out what will work for you.


The Zerran Equalizer Conditioner (large green bottle above) is my first line of defense. It is a leave in conditioner and detangler that I use in my girls' hair before they get out of the bath. A woman at the gym told me about this when she saw me with my girls. She said that she also put some in her daughter's dry hair each day to help more with tangles. I tried that and just felt like the hair was getting weighed down with too much product. So I just use it after I wash their hair. What a difference it makes! We had just been using normal conditioner that you wash out, but it didn't make a difference. Zerran Equalizer can be pricey, but it lasts a long time. You don't need a lot at all.

In my experience, certain hair types are more prone to serious tangles. I happen to have girls who all have different hair types. 

Solution for Hair Tangles

Thick & Straight
My youngest has thick, straight hair which tends to resist much tangling. She does get a few small tangles each morning so I use Suave Detangler Spray for Kids which you can find at any super market or drug store for under $3. This or the homemade detangler I will mention later and a good brush are all you really need to tame those tangles. Lucky you!

Thick & Curly
This kind of hair looks overwhelming but if properly managed, it can be easy to maintain. I use the same super market or homemade dentangler and it works fine. If you still have had a hard time with your child's curly hair, follow my advice for Fine and Wavy hair.

Fine & Wavy 
In my experience, this is the type of hair that tangles most. Surprised? I was. It used to seem that even after I just combed it, my daughter could shake her head and it would be all tangled again. It was like it had a mind of it's own. I was at my wits end and spending tons of time each morning brushing through this kind of hair.
I now use the Original Sprout Miracle Detangler (thanks Julie for the recommendation!) for the tough tangles.  At around $20, it is pricier than what you'd buy at the supermarket, but it really gets the tangles out. When I first got it I was skeptical because of the price, so I tried the cheaper hair detangler on my daughter and when I still couldn't get out certain hair tangles, I sprayed the Miracle Dentangler on it. The brush slid right through the tangles. Amazing! I've been using it daily on my daughter with fine and wavy hair since January 1st, and we haven't even used 1/4 of the bottle. A little goes a long way so don't let the price deter you.

My daughter's hair before the Miracle Detangler. No brush is getting through there!

When you spray on the Miracle Detangler, it comes out gloppy. It will look like you sneezed on your kid. This is normal. Rub it into the hair with your fingers.

Brush through with your Goody Ouchless brush and check out the results. Is she ready for a shampoo commercial or what?

Of course, if your child doesn't have very bad knots in their hair you can always make your own hair detangler which should get the job done. Get a spray bottle (you can find one for $1 at the dollar store or Target) and add 2 tablespoons of your favorite conditioner.

After you have added the conditioner, fill up the rest of the bottle with warm water and shake it up until the conditioner is totally mixed with the water. That's all it takes. I make sure to shake mine up before each use.

No matter what detangler you use you will need the right brush and the right brushing technique to effectively remove tangles and make the experience painless for your child. I was using a normal plastic brush on my kids hair for the longest time until someone at the grocery store of all places, recommended I try the Goody Ouchless Cushion Styling Hair Brush. You have to like a brush that has "ouchless" in it's name. The brush doesn't pull or snarl hair like others I have tried.

Okay, so you chose you detangler and brush but you still need to brush your child's hair the right way. My kids never complain or fuss when I brush their hair and I believe it's because of my pain free brushing technique. You want to grab a section of your child's hair and hold it tightly in your hand. Make sure to hold the hair close to the scalp. Then you can brush the remainder of the hair without hurting them if you come across a tangle.

My final tip is to brush your child's hair every night before they go to bed. This is really a must if your child suffers from tough tangles. The hair will tangle a bit while they sleep, but it will be much harder to comb through in the morning if you don't comb it the night before.

Wishing you less tangles and tears in the mornings.

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Natural Child World Magazine - Review and Giveaway

I have noticed a trend lately with the magazines I subscribe to. The paper is getting thinner and the magazines just seem flimsier. And the content is more fluff than substance. It no longer feels like a treat to curl up with these magazines. I was starting to lose hope and then Natural Child World magazine arrived in my mailbox.

The first thing you will notice about the magazine is the look of it. The cover is glossy, the pages are thick and the photography is beautiful. THIS is what a magazine should be.  Just based on the look and feel of it alone, this is something I can get excited about reading. But we've all learned that appearances aren't everything and you can't judge a book -- or a magazine in this case -- by its cover. It's what's on the inside that counts, right? So let's take a peek inside, shall we?

As a mom of a child who is intolerant to certain foods, the above article really spoke to me. It offered practical tips and suggestions for what to do if you suspect you child has food sensitivities. Elsewhere in the magazine, in the article "Life, Family And Our Pursuit of Happiness," I learned that scientists have discovered that 40% of our happiness is intentional. That means that once you remove genetics (50%) and circumstances (10%) we are still left with 40% of our happiness that we can control. That is HUGE and makes me feel a lot less like a victim and a lot more like I am in the driver's seat when it comes to joy and happiness.

Since I've gotten married and had kids, my tastes have shifted from magazines that offer dating advice and trendy single gal fashion to those that focus more on family and kids. And I'll be honest, some of those family and parent magazines leave me feeling old with their articles about saving for retirement and finding a pair of flattering mom jeans. I like to think I have evolved and grown since I read the "young women" magazines. But I don't think I have grown into mom jeans... yet.

Natural Child World seems like it's a magazine for the person I've become and hope to be. I am more socially aware and am working to be a better person, wife, mom and friend. Natural Child World supports those goals.

Natural Child World describes itself as Modern, Creative and Sustainable. Each issue has a theme such as "The Happiness Issue," "The Imagination Issue," "The Clean Issue" or "The Relationship Issue." In these issues you'll find features such as Design, Fashion (great ideas for the adorable kid in your life), Lifestyle, Wellness for Life and Inspired By Motherhood. Plus they spotlight products that are good for you, your kids, and the environment. There is a lot to explore at the Natural Child World website, too. I've found lots of great ideas there for healthy foods and recipes that I feel great giving my kids.

While you're at the website, be sure to preview Natural Child World and request your FREE issue. That's right, FREE. And speaking of things that are free, Natural Child World is giving one lucky Mess For Less reader a year's subscription to the magazine. Now you can be inspired too! You can find Natural Child World on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Entry and rules are below. Good luck in the giveaway!
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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Valentine's Day Craft: Hearts with Black Glue

Hearts with Black Glue - Black glue is easy to make and can be used with watercolors to create this eye catching hearts.

Have you ever worked with black glue? It is one of our favorite art supplies because when paired with watercolor paints, it creates a stained glass effect. In the past, we have made leaves using black glue and watercolors. If you haven't made black glue before it's super simple and the results are always eye popping. Today I will be sharing how we made a fun Valentine's Day Crafthearts with black glue and water colors. 

Valentine's Marshmallow Pops - Food Fun Friday

Marshmallow Heart Pops - These are perfect for a class party. So many ways to decorate them!

Today for Food Fun Friday I am sharing an easy recipe for Valentine's marshmallow pops. I wouldn't recommend you make these with little ones because the melted candy is pretty hot, but little ones will definitely enjoy eating them as you will see. If you are looking for some Valentine's treats to make with kids check out our Valentine's Cupcakes.