This is a layout of the swing that Sophie made using a PVC pipe and a jump rope. She just wrapped the jump rope around the knob of a cut-off branch. At first, they were just using it with one rope in the middle, putting their legs on either side of the rope, but we re-designed it to be more like a regular swing with two ropes to hold onto. They absolutely love playing on this, although they have come in with some scrapes from hitting the tree (we don’t really have a great tree to put a swing on and this one is really too close to the trunk). Mostly, I think they love it because they made it themselves. I do think that one of our most important jobs as parents is to allow kids to be creative, messy and playful. My kids are always making tents, forts, mud food and castles in the sand. Sometimes, I do have to give a big sigh when I think about cleaning up those messy clothes and shoes, but then I remember what a wonderful time I had making messes outside as a kid. We are going to have a garage sale and will probably get rid of most of the plastic play things we have in the yard. The kids don’t really use them. They would rather have sticks, an old blanket, and some leaves.
These are a very fun treat I saw in a Family Fun magazine about 10 years ago. When I wanted to make them for one of my kid’s birthday parties, I found out they didn’t have it on their website. Later, I found it in my recipe book and decided to share it. I especially like using blue jello with gummy sharks for a beach or luau party theme.
Jell-O freeze Pops
Heat until boiling;
2 cups water
Dissolve in water:
13 oz. Jell-O
1 cup sugar
1 cup grape or apple juice (or water)
Pour syrup into snack-size ziplock bags (about ½ full) and chill until partly solidified. Put into each bag:
A few gummy creatures or fruit snacks
Freeze until firm. To serve, slice off on side of bag or just open up top.
Here are two of my favorite finger paints to make with kids. They can be messy, but if you have them paint outside or in a high chair (littlest, messiest ones) they can make a mess and you can clean up with a hose! Kids need to explore textures, especially kids that don’t like to do this. You can also teach them shapes and letters by drawing in the finger paint. This is especially helpful for kids (even older ones) who are having difficulty learning their letters.
Home Made Finger Paints
In saucepan, stir together and whisk over low heat for 5 minutes until thick and clear:
1 cup cold water
1/4 cup cornstarch
Whisk in and let cool:
1 TB light corn syrup
Divide mixture into bowls and squirt into each one: washable, nontoxic tempera paint (or Jell-O or unflavored Kool-Aid or food coloring). When paint is cook, scoop onto finger-paint paper and commence smearing!
Pudding Finger Paint:
Mix a package of pudding according to directions but add a little less milk so it is thicker. Let set. Give a glop to kids on a piece of paper.
Other Home Finger Paints: Applesauce, yogurt, jello, chocolate sauce.
How to manage the mess:
Do the activity outside, or in a plastic swim pool and hose off when done.
Don’t use paper—use a plastic swim pool, tub, or bodies to paint on!
Do the activity in the bathtub (and shower afterwards!).
Use old T-shirts over clothes for paint shirts.
Do an activity once a week and your kids will get used to your rules.
Have a designated area for crafts. Allow kids access to crafts on a regular basis so they get used to the rules
I decided to share some of my best recipes for kid’s activities. Here are two that are made with Kool-Aid
Kool-Aid Play dough
Much softer than store bought play dough, so even the youngest ones can play with it. The Kool-Aid gives color and scent. The cream of Tarter or Alum (find in the spice section of the grocery store) makes the play dough last a long time, but you can make it without it and put it in the refrigerator or just use it until it gets too “gooy”. If that does happen you can try cooking it again to make it back to the right consistancy.
Mix in a bowl:
2 ½ cups flour
2 pkgs. Kool-Aid
1 TB cream of tarter or alum
Heat in microwave for 3 minutes:
1 ½ cups water (should be boiling hot)
Add water to flour mixture along with:
3 TBS. oil
Mix, knead well and store in a plastic bag or Tupperware. If dough isn’t the right consistancy, try putting it in the microwave for a minute, knead it and then let it cool.
This is wonderful paint that is scented even when it is dry. Use Flavor-Aid for easier clean up (they do not have as much dye in them). Use Styrofoam egg cartons and put in each well a small amount of unsweetened Kool-Aid. Add a few drops of water and mix with a Q-tip or paint brush. Let kids paint with Q-tips on paper or cardstock. The kids love this one!