Six years ago I built a PVC playhouse. It was super cute, easy to take apart and I spent a lot of time creating it so, when we moved from our first home to our second and there wasn't a place to put it, I kept it in the attic. I'm not throwing away all that work! So, it sat in the attic for four years until our recent move across the country. When we found it hidden in the far corner of the attic my reaction was the same. We are not throwing that away! So it made the trip with us. Our new home has a HUGE basement which has a dedicated play area for the kids and is a perfect place to bring the playhouse back to life. I was able to rebuild it by referring to my old blog post without any issues and the kids were pumped. But, the cover had seen better days so I spent a few days making a new, more aesthetically pleasing one. I bought a king sized white sheet and scrounged around my fabric scraps where I found a black and white polka dot material for curtains I used black felt for the flower boxes and instead of making felt flowers like before I thought an added element of being able to switch the flowers for the seasons would be fun so I bought cheap fake flowers and trimmed the stems so they would fit. To finish it off I used another king sized sheet but in black for the roof and painted white shingles on it. I also put some Christmas lights in the top of the house.
I was not about to sew anything this time and just hot glued the cover to the frame this time. I figure I can always pull it off pretty easily when it's time to retire the playhouse again. But, rest assured, I plan on keeping it until I have grandkids who will find it just as magical as my kids do right now and I will be MiMi of the year!
PWith covid still a very real thing we did not have a big party for Arthur's 7th birthday. However, just because we can't have people over doesn't mean we can't have a party! With three kids we basically have a party anyway. So, I planned a day full of activities revolving around pirates, his chosen theme. We had a great day doing all the things and, the best part for my son was that he never had to change out of his pajamas. He's a real home body and if allowed, he would choose to almost never leave the house.
I made a party planning sheet and Pinterest board to make sure I didn't forget anything, hit Hobby Lobby hard for supplies and headed home to get it all prepped!
He woke up to find a pirate themed basement with a cardboard ship, pirate costumes, treasure, a shark infested "ocean", pin the teeth on the shark and a piñata.
After a riddle filled treasure hunt we did a lot of crafts including making a shoulder parrot, coloring pirate accessories for our stuffed animals so they could join in on the fun, decorating swords and making maps.
Mixed into all of the fun we had jell-o ocean cups with orange ships, his fav breakfast (apple fritters), gold oreos and birthday cake in his chosen flavor, strawberries and cream. I even made the cake twice because the first time the altitude killed it and I had to start over. But, I made chocolate covered cake balls out of the failed attempt that turned out delicious.
We all had a great day of togetherness and celebration and I don't think he missed having a huge group of people over in the least.
You can find links to all of my inspiration ideas on my pinterest board here.
Thanks for visiting!
Our new year's eve plans vary each year. Sometimes we go out with friends, other years we stay in. This year going out was clearly off the table so I planned some fun kid activities for the day.
We started the day off by making dream catchers. I used embroidery hoops for the base and a mix of yarn, ribbon, feathers and sequins to decorate.
Then we made some champagne cupcakes, chocolate truffles and midnight kisses. We also made a happiness jar so we can keep track of all of the good things that happen during the upcoming year.
We ended our evening by getting glammed up, taking some photos, watching fireworks from Pike's Peak, having a dance party and playing minute to win it games. You can check out my pinterest board with all of the inspiration I used for the activities here.
Halloween this year will be different just like everything else in this dumpster fire of a year. But, just because we can't do all of the normal things doesn't mean we can't make the most of our time and have fun. Halloween is finally on a Saturday so that gives me the whole day to fill with fun and exciting things for my kids. So, I've compiled a huge idea board full of food, activities, learning opportunities and things to do as a family. I linked all of the things to the posts about them online so you can do it too! We may not get to everything but we definitely won't run out of exciting things!
What's the plan?
Morning: Wake up and make sneaky monster pancakes packed with spinach and covered with candy eyeballs! With all of the candy they will be eating throughout the day I want to make sure they get some healthy foods as well and they won't even know they're getting some leafy goodness with these green pancakes. After breakfast we will start our activities in no certain order.
Afternoon: Lunch will be a make your own monster pizza and healthy candy corn parfait made with just fruit and whipped cream. Then we'll continue with more activities.
Evening: Mummy dogs for dinner with popcorn and candy while we watch a movie after trick or treating in the house and going on a halloween egg hunt for candy in the yard.
What are the activities?
I've planned a ton of things but these are the ones I'm most excited about. You can find all of the activities and links by opening the document linked above.
-Pumpkin Punch Out - solo cups, tissue paper and small trinkets will make a pumpkin punch board for them to find treasures.
-Halloween Scavenger Hunt - cute clues from The Dating Divas and a boo basket prize at the end will make for a ton of fun
-Mad Scientist Drink Station - throw a variety of soda and juice in various plastic containers and let kids make their own tasty drinks, it'll be way more fun than when we used to make suicides at the drink dispensers
-Make a Potion - provide a bunch of plastic halloween trinkets, a bowl or plastic cauldron and colored water, soap and glitter so kids can make pretend potions
-Elephant Toothpaste Pumpkin - the classic elephant toothpaste science activity but inside of a carved pumpkin
-Candy Corn Science - another classic science experiment using candy corn
-Bob for Apples - a traditional activity that you don't see much anymore but will be sure to entertain
-Playdough Monsters- playdough, trinkets and imagination will keep the kids entertained for a good while
-Pin the Eyeball on the Zombie - my son specifically requested a pin the something game so this is for him
-In House Trick or Treating - they still get to trick or treat but this time they'll do it at eachother's bedroom doors.
-Glow in the Dark Halloween Egg Hunt - glow sticks and sharpie monster eggs hidden in the yard for a twist on the normal outdoor shenanigans
I think it will be a memorable and fun Halloween even though we are missing out on our annual door to door and party with friends. I'll post all of our photos and share our experience next week. Until then, enjoy the ideas and be safe!
I always try to throw together a few themed activities depending on the time of year. This year I brought back a popular activity from last year, Pumpkin Destruction! I just gave the kids some pumpkins, water, small hammers, golf tees and paint and let 'em at it. They loved breaking the pumpkins open and exploring the insides or, if they are less into destruction, simply painting them and washing them over and over again. It kept them entertained for at least an hour. There was quite a mess afterwards but, that wasn't a big deal since they did it outside.
This year we went as characters from the movie The Greatest Showman. I was the bearded lady, Derek was the ringmaster, Lillian was the acrobat, Arthur was the strong man and Alan was the small man dressed as Napoleon. I feel like our costumes turned out great and you can read on to see how I pulled it all together!
The ringmaster costume was easy. Derek already has a top hat and cane as well as black pants and boots and a white shirt so, I just ordered him a jacket from Amazon. It looked great and was cheap. Done.
My costume was also relatively easy. I thought I would luck out and find a cheap prom dress at Goodwill but that did not work out and I ended up buying a cheap dress on Amazon along with a taffeta underskirt. I already had some flowers for my hair. For the beard, I researched how to apply a fake beard which is surprisingly easy. You can see the video I used here. All I needed was fake hair and spirit gum. Done.
The strong man costume was also pretty quick and easy. I did take a few liberties and went with a more traditional strong man costume, omitting the tattoos because it seemed like a lot of work and I was not feeling it. I purchased his muscle suit, red shorts, and inflatable bar bell on Amazon, drew a mustache on his face with some waterproof eyeliner, slicked his hair back and done. Yes...I know his shoes are on the wrong feet. We are working on that. He just likes them that way. lol.
The acrobat costume took a bit more work. I ordered a leotard, cape and pink wig on Amazon but the cape and leotard needed to be embellished. I went to Hobby Lobby and purchased some gold trim and purple ruffle material and hand sewed them onto the leg holes of the leotard and the neckline. I also glued on gems onto the mesh portion of the neckline. I added the gold to the edge of the cape as well but got lazy there and just hot glued it. I gave her a little bit of pretty makeup and pulled the hair back after attaching it to her head and done.
The Napoleon costume took the most effort. I had to make it entirely from scratch but, it also turned out to be the most awesome one in my opinion. I used a Martha Stewart tutorial as my guide but did make some changes to the steps. I purchased a navy blue long sleeved shirt and cut it down the middle creating a curved edge on both sides. Then, I glued bias tape to the cut edge on both sides. After that, I cut out red felt with angled edges, double layered it and then hot glued it to the neck of the cut shirt. Then, I hot glued little gold buttons on both sides of the cut shirt. To finish off the jacket, I took navy blue felt and created epaulets to which I added some gold fringe and then hot glued those to the shoulders of the shirt. Finally, I followed the Martha Stewart tutorial exactly for the hat using black felt, hot glue and gold trim. I put him in blue pants with blue rain boots and a white button up shirt to finish it off. I did not modify the white shirt because I felt like it was unnecessary and would ruin the shirt for future use.
I was super happy with how all of our costumes turned out this year! I hope you had a great Halloween too!
As you might already know, I am a high school teacher. This week we had parent-teacher conferences on Tuesday and then had Wednesday off so, while sitting in my classroom between parent meetings I worked on a little plan for entertaining my kids and keeping my sanity during our day off together. As always, we didn't finish everything but, we did have a lot of fun that was pretty low effort on my part and extremely inexpensive too! You can print out my plan at the end of this post!
We started the morning with some indoor fun because it was a bit chilly outside. So, I set up an invitation to play with play dough by giving them some spider rings, plastic eyeballs, gems, silk flowers and orange play dough and asked them to make me a monster. You can give them any doo dads you think they might like. I hit up the halloween aisle at Wal-Mart to have a few spooky things like the rings and eyeballs.
After the play dough fun, we headed outside for a little bit of messier play. I set up a container with colored water and googly eyes and placed a few large spoons next to it for them to create an eyeball stew. I also had a pumpkin painting station, pumpkin washing station and a pumpkin hammering station. For the washing station I just filled a container with soapy water and for the hammering station I provided a few small hammers and golf tees. They all enjoyed various areas more than others and they were all entertained for almost two hours!
We also made some boo hand print art and were going to make a monster wreath but, Arthur wasn't interested and wanted to play with play dough more and Lillian didn't want to make a monster wreath. Instead, she made a "pretty" wreath using ribbon and glue. They were happy so I was happy. If we end up with some free time before Halloween I will try to do the activities we didn't have time for and I'll post about it if I do. There are several fun science ones that I couldn't do because I didn't have any vinegar! So be sure to check out the document for those!
We ended the day with a trip to chikfila and I have to say, it was a pretty great day!
Download my very basic but serviceable plan below and enjoy!
This weekend we celebrated my daughter's 8th birthday with a very fun, panda-themed party! I wrote about my plan in a previous post which you can find here.
When my daughter stated that she wanted a panda themed party I thought, "No problem!" but when I started trying to plan activities for a bunch of 7 and 8 year olds to do, I struggled. So, I built off of the teddy bear picnic idea and added in a tea party element for the craft focus. I think everyone had a great time despite the fact that it was a bit hotter outside than I would have liked.
For the food, I went pretty easy and basically cheated by ordering chinese food from our favorite place. We had chicken and veggie fried rice, chicken and veggie lo mein, eggrolls, crab rangoon and, of course, fortune cookies. I also made a fruit salad and a pineapple, sprite, hawaiian punch. To make it a bit more fun looking I dolled it up a bit by transferring the food to small, cute chinese food containers that I purchased on Amazon. I also stuck a pair of plastic chopsticks and chopstick helper for anyone who was not skilled in the art of chopsticks (also purchased on Amazon) inside each container. As a bonus, the kids got to take home their chopsticks and chopstick helper.
The thing I am most proud of is this cake. I MADE this! I found an image of a cake on Pinterest that I really liked and for a brief moment, the stars aligned and everything went perfectly in the baking of this cake. It is EXACTLY like I wanted it and looks super similar to the original photo here from bloglovin. I cheated and used a box cake mix and pre-made icing for the layers. But, I did make the ganache using white chocolate chips, mint green food coloring and heavy cream. It was super easy to get the drip effect and I will definitely be using this cake style again in the future. I followed directions here for making the ganache.
The kids not only had the option of playing outside on the trampoline and swing set but, they also had the opportunity to play badminton and participate in several craft activities.
They were given the opportunity to paint a tea cup, color a panda bear coloring sheet and make a tea party hat. No one was very interested in the coloring table but everyone seemed pretty pleased with their craft opportunities.
I made the tea party hats by taking a white paper cup and hot gluing it to a piece of cardstock that I cut into a circle. Then, I hot glued it to a black, plastic headband blank that I purchased on Amazon. Additionally, I hot glued a few fake flowers to some of the hats. For decorating, they had pre-sticky gems, washi tape and markers.
At the tea cup table, kids were provided tempera paint and white, plastic tea cups that I purchased on Amazon. Unfortunately, the tempera began peeling off (I thought it might happen but figured I would take the chance instead of giving kids permanent paint) but, the cup was still usable so, they can paint them again and again or not!
When it was time to chow down, they sat at a custom picnic area that I set up using pallets wrapped in plastic table cloths with a table runner made of black and white striped wrapping paper and balloon centerpieces. They sat on color coordinated pillows. I ended up buying the bigger pillow covers for only $10 total to add the pop of black and white and just stuffed them with plastic grocery bags (of which I always have a million). The other pillows were actual pillows inside of pillow cases I already had.
Aside from the tea cups, party hats and chopsticks, guests also got to take home a custom panda bear and panda bear mask handmade by ME!
I spent a good chunk of labor day weekend making the panda bears. I based my pattern off of this one but modified it quite a bit to get a shape I was happy with. I also did not sew it. I do not like to sew, even though I can, and instead created the pattern from felt and then hot glued it and flipped it inside out just like you would if it was sewn. Then, I stuffed it and sealed the stuffing hole shut. I cut out felt of a different color for the eyes, paw pads, legs, nose and ears to mimic a panda's markings and hot glued them down as well. I finished it off with black fabric paint for the eyeballs and mouth. I think they turned out amazing and my almost 2 year old quickly decided that "Bobo" was his new favorite lovey.
For the masks, I used one of my sons PJ Masks as a base for the panda face and then created my template by hand. I thought I had captured a few photos but upon looking through my camera, I realize I didn't. Oooops. Anyway, I used my template for the white base and then cut out the black eye, nose and ear areas all from felt. Then I hot glued again and attached ribbon to tie them on with. I made them over the course of two afternoons after work and probably only spent about 2 hours total. Not bad. Plus, I find this kind of crafting kind of zen like. After creating the pattern, it's just a repetitive cutting and gluing process and it is kind of like a form of meditation.
Oh! I also made the birthday girls shirt at the absolute last minute at 1am the night before. I created a panda face design in Silhouette and cut out a stencil. Then I used silver and pink glitter fabric paint to fill it in. It took no time at all and I think it looks adorable. She also had a black and silver tutu and panda leggings.
It was a fun party with all sorts of personal touches that I am very proud of accomplishing. I know that we are nearing the time when she will no longer want a big party with activities and I plan on cherishing the last few moments where she is my little girl and wants me to go all out so, until she decides it isn't cool anymore, I'll keep up the hard work for the big payoff that is her smiling face at the end of the day and hope that when she has a little girl of her own she remembers and is able to do the same for her.
Lilly's school has an upcycle fair every year. Last year she made a plastic bag jump rope and won 3rd place in her grade. This year she made what she called "ipod Bears" which are basically mini bean bag chairs that look like chairs to hold your ipod or iphone. She won 1st place in her grade!
I'm going to show you how we made them so you can make your own. They are super adorable and easy to do using materials you probably have right now! We did get the idea from youtube and used this video to help us make them.
diy: ipod bears
You will need:
- rice- hot glue and glue gun
It was a pretty easy and fairly quick project. We ended up making three in total and only spent about 1 and a half hours. It's definitely something interesting to do with all of those socks with missing partners!
Maybe now she won't lose her ipod under her bed. Lol.
I have another great guest post from Education.com! This time they've provided a free worksheet and answer key!
Let your child float through practicing subtraction with this fun Under-the-Sea Worksheet. Find more subtraction resources from Education.com.
You can get the free worksheets by clicking each image.
We celebrated my daughter's 7th birthday this past weekend and it went off without a hitch! I even managed to make a cake that was not an epic fail like previous years! Check out all of the details, activities and fun below!
The theme was Flamingos and Dinos with a focus on the flamingo. The cake was one hundred percent boxed mixes in both devil's food and confetti and canned icing but, I made it look extra by making it a tier with ombre icing. I made the two paper figures on top by printing out a dino and flamingo image from the internet and backing it with colored paper and then taping it to a skewer. The rest of the food was simple but yummy with dino scales (chips), flamazing ham and cheese sandwiches, flamingled fruit salad, dinorriffic noodles and dinotastic punch.
For activities, we played flamingo ring toss, had a dino and flamingo egg hunt, did a guided flamingo painting, pinned the tail feather on the flamingo and had a competition to see who could stand on one leg the longest. We also had a tropical themed photo wall area.
For the art activity, I created cardboard easels by cutting out one side of a small packing box and creating a triangle. Then I used duct tape to tape along the cut edge. Then I taped the canvases onto the sides. You can see how I made them here. I ordered kid aprons online for each kid to wear and bought a pack of big paint brushes as well. The paint was liquid tempera purchased at Hobby Lobby and I put the paint on paper plates. The kids all got to take their aprons, paint brush and art home as party favors.
The photo booth props were something I planned on making and then I found a pre-made set in the party aisle at Wal-Mart on clearance for .99 cents! So, I just used that. It even had flamingo glasses! Perfect! I also supplemented with some items from our dress-up collection including tutu's, masks, tiaras and feather boas.
In addition to the art themed favors, kids also took home a flamingo or dino mask. The girls above are wearing them while competing in the one-legged standing competition. In the background you can see the pin the tail feather game I made. Somehow it did not get photographed! I just drew a flamingo on some pink paper and game the kids colored feathers with tape to tape onto the bird. They enjoyed it!
I found free mask printables, backed them with construction paper and then laminated them. Then I hole punched them and added ribbon for tying. They actually took a lot of time but were essentially free and I think they looked awesome!
I purchased pre-filled eggs online one set was regular eggs but the other were dino eggs! I had some other adults hide them while I corralled all of the kids inside and handed them paper bags with their names on them. Then we let them loose!
I think the party was a success and all of the guests had fun. I didn't feel too rushed the day of but I'm sure that was mostly due to staying up until one the night before. Now I have to get planning on my son's 1st birthday coming up in October! Thanks for visiting!
Help your child with important vocabulary building by leading him through some easy, at-home activities designed to help him understand basic spatial relationships and the words used to describe them. You’ll start out with a short activity involving two jars and some handmade labels and then move on to building with blocks. Watch him acquire new vocabulary to express direction and position without even realizing that he's learning! These activities that involve building, ordering, and rearranging materials will also help him develop strong observational skills.
What You Need:
Thanks so much to Education.com for this fun post! I love their site and always find great activities that match many of my Mommy Camp focus topics! You can find more math focused activities like this one on their site here.
This week was the most popular dramatic play theme of the summer so far and the other activities were pretty popular too. You can download the lessons by clicking the image below and read about all of the fun further down.
This week they had a construction zone dramatic play area. They had a table with foam blocks next to a square of contact paper that I taped to the wall. They could stick the foam blocks onto the contact paper to build. They freakin' loved it! They also had giant foam blocks to build with and I made them diy wrecking balls using long socks and soft rubber balls. I placed the ball in the bottom of the sock and they simply swing it at their towers. It was also a huge hit. They also had regular blocks to build with. To finish off the area, I provided construction worker hats, caution tape and some signs. This was the most popular dramatic play area so far and they played for a really long time multiple times through the week.
day one: engineering
We talked about what an engineer is and what they do. We read some stories about great women inventors and watched a video. Then we discussed the engineering process. Afterwards, we made lego prints.
day two: blueprints
We learned about blue prints and listened to a fun song from Phineas and Ferb. Then Lilly did some measuring using a worksheet and followed a recipe to make mug cake. It's kind of like a blueprint in the overall idea because it is the directions for creating a cake just like the blueprints are directions for building a house.
day three: tools
We read a book and discussed different types of tools. Then we did some hammer painting using cotton pads, paint and a rubber mallet. It was a big hit. (get it? lol)
day four: machines
We learned about different kinds of simple machines by watching an episode of Bill Nye and discussed where we have seen and used simple machines in our every day life. Then we made a pendulum using a paper cup, broom stick and string. We used it to create a pendulum painting. We also made a painting using an inclined plane and discussed what that meant.
day five: architecture
We had a lot of options but, as always, we didn't get to much of it and instead simply read a book about the three little pigs from an architectural point of view, watched a few informative videos and created graham cracker houses. Then we tried to blow our housed down. They were sturdy enough to resist. Honestly, we skipped a bunch of the activities this week. I think we're all tired and would rather just have free play. They really loved the dramatic play area and spent a lot of their free time in there this week.
We had a fun week learning about different forms of transportation! Keep reading to see the recap and click the image below to download the free lessons!
The kids got to get hands on with a dramatic play auto shop this week. They LOVED this and it was so stupid easy. They played with it consistently all week and would spend up to 45 minutes playing together with no arguing. It was magic. In my original plans I was going to create a car out of cardboard but, when I began setting up the night before, I realized that I didn't have a box large enough. So, I improvised and used a plastic tub instead. I just created some wheels and taped colored paper inside. I even added paper to the inside bottom to look like mechanical parts that they could work on. Honestly, I think this was more successful than the box would have been. To complete the area, I gave them some forms and signs, toolbox with kid tools, safety goggles, empty spray bottles and work gloves.
day one: land
We talked about the different kinds of vehicles that are used on land, read a book, painted with cars and created train track stencil art!
day two: bridges & roads
We created Monet inspired bridge art, created bridges with index cards and blocks and watched a video about different types of bridges.
day three: traffic safety
We learned about being safe and road signs and then Lilly took a scooter and bike safety quiz and earned her own scooter/bike license! Arthur got one too but I'm pretty sure he would fail the safety test.
day four: water
We talked about water transportation, watched a video, made aluminum foil boats and tested them out in the sink with Shopkins passengers and created collage boat art.
day five: air
Similarly to the past weeks, we were all tired by Friday and with this week being the 4th of July even more so. So, our last day didn't get our best efforts. In fact, all we did was make a few paper airplanes and test them out. Oh well! Maybe you'll do better than me and get to all of the things I didn't have time for this week!
We had a great week and learned a lot! Check back for the next few weeks of Mommy Camp 2017 soon!
I modified the schedule this week and we skipped the ocean week. We will be doing it a bit later in the summer right before we take a trip to the beach! So, this week we focused on the community. You can download the plans for this week by clicking the picture below.
The dramatic play set up this week was a map and community creation theme. I purchased a printable from teachers pay teachers for a few dollars and created roads, trees, bushes, ponds, rivers and houses out of felt.
day one - maps
Day one focused on using, reading and playing with maps. Kids got to be pirates and use maps to find hidden treasure. Both kids also got compasses and telescopes to enhance the fun! We also made satchels and maps using paper bags and rounded out the costume with some appropriate items from the closet and eye patches made from craft foam and elastic string. We attempted an origami pirate hat but they didn't fit very well so I found a free printable instead. We used a pirate name generator worksheet but, Lilly wasn't too excited about her name, Stinky Blue Pearl. She also drew a map of her bedroom.
day two - where i live
We started by learning about our neighborhood. Then Lilly stepped outside to draw our house. She also worked on a few worksheets to learn our address and phone number. Then we watched a few videos about our state and city.
day three - economy
We reviewed money and it's value. Then we watched a few videos about consumers and producers. We wrapped up the idea of what builds our economy by creating a product and storefront. Lillian chose to create "Lillian's Lollipops". It was a great way to reinforce the content from the day. Apparently, I forgot to get pictures of her set up with the shop! Ooops!
Day four - community helpers & day five - how can I help
We ran out of time this week to finish everything though we did discuss some of the topics for days four and five. They spent a brief time playing pretend play with police and firemen but I didn't manage to snap a photo. We also decorated some rocks with uplifiting phrases to leave around the park and plan on getting around to making wands to leave for the magic wand project too. We just didn't get them done yet.
Honestly, this was the week I was least excited about and I guess I let that feeling be reflected in the amount of focus I put towards it.
Rachel is a mother of three, high school Spanish teacher and part-time blogger who loves crafting, creating fun and engaging activities for her children and students and hanging with her friends and family. She blogs about what she's doing and her interests at any given time which vary. She's a little OCD and always looking for her next project. Her husband calls it, "focusing her crazy", but she just calls it fun.