Practice Measuring with Rice

Pretend Cooking And Practice Measuring With Rice Activity For Kids

This is one of those activities I love:  easy to set up, great for learning, and free.

That’s a hard-to-beat combination.  :)

Anyway, while busy in the kitchen/laundry room, I set this up for my girls and was amazed at how involved they became.  We’ve done similar things with dried pasta, but we hadn’t used rice for anything in awhile.

I put two large, two medium, and two small bowls on an old cookie sheet.  I provided two small measuring cups and two measuring spoons, and dumped some rice into the two big bowls.  Then I stepped back.

There was measuring, scooping, pouring, touching, and a general sense of busyness.

And silence.

It was so strange.  I’m not used to my 2yo and 4yo sitting so quietly together for so long.  But they were involved in their project.  There wasn’t even any arguing.  No “she’s touching me!”

Just concentration.

It didn’t last forever, of course.  Eventually the 2-year-old discovered that the rice made a neat sound as it sprinkled out over the tile floor, and so I wasn’t really able to keep and reuse most of the rice as I’d hoped.

But it was worth it.

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Just How Long Can A Long String Be {Book Review}

Just How Long Can A Long String Be by Keith Baker

We recently read Just How Long Can A Long String Be?! by Keith Baker.

My 2-year-old picked it out because of the bird on the cover, and both my girls liked it.

It’s a simple rhyming text about a bird and an ant discussing that they can do with a long string, such as tie up a package or make a nest.

Just How Long Can A Long String Be? By Keith Baker {Book Review}

My 4-year-old got excited about finding the ant on each page, then her sister followed suit.

So each time we read it, they point out the little bug:  “There’s the ant!”

It’s a cute book, and both girls liked it and have requested it over and over.  It was a library book, and we’ll definitely be borrowing it again.

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Spinkle Cookies

Sprinkle Cookies

Don’t those look deliciously fun?

Seriously, these sprinkle cookies were a super easy way to give my girls a fun project in the kitchen.

First of all, they love sprinkles.  LOVE.  Them.

So when I put tiny paper plates full of colorful sprinkles in front of them, there were many squeals of joy.

Making Sprinkle Cookies With The Kids!

We used a box cookie mix for this {thanks to Publix BOGO}.

So it was just a basic sugar cookie and piles of whatever sprinkles we had in the pantry.

The girls rolled the cookies in the sprinkles, creating wonderfully colorful cookies, and we baked them according to the package directions.

Sprinkle Cookies

Look at how pretty they were even before baking:  like little sparkly jewels!

They certainly made movie night even more exciting.  :)

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Shamrock Fun for Kids on St. Patrick’s Day

shamrock suncather

I just noticed that my pin of the above Shamrock Sun Catcher has been re-pinned over 2,000 times on Pinterest.  Reminded me that St. Patty’s Day is coming up.

I normally would have been much more aware of this, except that a massive sinus infection has recently melted my brain.

Anyway, the St. Patrick’s Day crafts I did with my kids last year are on one of my Squidoo lenses (St Patrick’s Day Crafts and Recipes for Kids), and include a few fun crafts that all resemble shamrocks.

Like our green dinner biscuits and chocolate shamrocks:

shamrock biscuits

chocolate shamrocks

You’ll find all of the instructions and step-by-step photos at St Patrick’s Day Crafts and Recipes for Kids.

Check it out and please share with me if you decide to make any of them!

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Ocean Sensory Play Bath

ocean sensory play bath

This was a wonderful activity – so easy to set up and so much fun for the girls!

I incorporated this into Letter O Day.  (I know, I know:  I’m a little behind in posting all of the Alphabet Activities and their free printables, but I’m getting there…)  It’s an activity that I found on Pinterest, originally from Growing a Jeweled Rose.

The girls have always loved sensory bins where they search for small toys in a little tray or bowl, but I loved the idea of allowing them to immerse themselves in a giant sensory bin!

I made it in much the same way as my inspiration, with just a small change:  I didn’t add food coloring to the water.  I didn’t think it was necessary, and, as the bath went on, a little of the food coloring seeped from the noodles and colored the bathwater anyway.

ocean sensory play bath

As you can see, in the above photo, I started with plain bathwater.  I threw in the noodles, spread them around, tossed in a few ocean-themed toys, and let the girls climb in.

To make the noodles, I took 3 pounds of spaghetti and cooked it in two pots.  One pound went in one pot, with quite a few drops of green food coloring, to make the “seaweed,” and the other two pounds went into the other pot, with a LOT of blue food coloring, to make the “water.”  Or “blue seaweed,” or “coral” or “algae.”  Whatever.

After cooking the spaghetti, I rinsed it off in a colander in the sink to get rid of excess food coloring.  I didn’t want to turn my girls blue, after all.

ocean sensory play bath

After spreading around the spaghetti, we threw in their ocean animal squirt toys and a handful of mermaids.  It wasn’t a ton of toys, but it was enough.

They mostly played with the noodles, anyway.

ocean sensory play bath

Before climbing in, the girls stood outside the tub, feeling the spaghetti with their hands, then gently dipping in their toes.  Lots of giggles.

Then they jumped right in.

They held the spaghetti in their hands, wiggled it between their toes, “wrote” on the sides of the tub with it, and dumped handfuls on each other’s heads.

ocean sensory play bath

We made all kinds of shapes out of the spaghetti on the tub sides and on the tile wall.  My 20-month-old did a lot of swirling and slow movements with her hands and feet in the noodles.  My 3-year-old made patterns on the edge of the tub for her mermaids to sit in.  She concentrated pretty hard on her projects.  But even with all that focus, there was so much laughter and endless smiles.

They even helped me dump the spaghetti into a plastic bin before draining the tub.  They thought it was fun to use the little metal colanders with handles to help scoop it all up.

And, afterwards, the girls got a good scrub, and I made sure to dump some baking soda and white vinegar down the drain, because some noodles did escape me.

Overall, a great, great project.  So much fun!

It’s been requested multiple times, although I may do it in a little blow-up pool next time.  Kinda like our blustery day water play.  We’ll see.  :)

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Make Your Own Snow

make your own play snow

Some of our friends had six feet of snow in their backyards during the polar vortex.

Here in Florida, we experienced a gentle misting of ice coating our cars and grass.  Good for me (I didn’t have to abandon my flip flops) but bad for my preschooler, who still remembers romping through the snow during our vacation last winter.

Solution:  make our own snow.

I found the Erupting Snow Recipe at Growing a Jeweled Rose, and I thought it looked like a great idea:  realistic play snow and a science experiment, too!

make your own play snow

It was super simple to make, since it has only two ingredients.  My daughter even helped me mix it.

make your own play snow

You just empty some baking soda into a container (we used an old Tupperware) and mix in some shaving cream until you reach a consistency where it will form snow balls that don’t fall apart.

We used two small boxes of baking soda and what I believe was most of a can of shaving cream.

We mixed it with our hands, which is why my hand looks coated in the stuff in the top photo, but once it’s mixed, it doesn’t stick to your hand too much.

make your own play snow

And we played with it on a disposable, plastic tablecloth, to contain the mess.  And just vacuumed up any that spilled on the carpet.

Oh, and, incidentally, the girls decided that it was best to play in the snow while wearing their dress-up outfits.  Just in case you were wondering about the frilly sleeves and skirts.  :)

make your own play snow

The snow is great for sensory play.  My daughters both loved sinking their hands into it…

make your own play snow

… and their feet.

make your own play snow

And when they were tired of playing with it, I put the cover on the Tupperware and we set it aside for a few days.

Then we pulled it out again to perform our “science experiment.”

Since I often use baking soda and vinegar to clean my house, my girls had seen the fizzle they produce.  But now they were going to use their snow to create it.

make your own play snow

We made little snow balls, using our melon baller to measure them out, and then tossed them into a vat of white vinegar:

make your own play snow

*fizzle, fizzle, bubble, pop*

make your own play snow

It was a lot of fun, and a great way to incorporate discussions of the seasons into our sensory play.

And if you’re looking for more winter activities, you could try out our Crystal Snowmen!

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Heart-Shaped Salt Dough Fingerprint Magnets

Heart Shaped Salt Dough Fingerprint Magnets

For Grandma’s birthday this year we made little magnets from salt dough that had the impressions of the girls’ fingerprints.

Last year we made a large heart for both of their footprints, and it was a big hit, but this year I wanted to something a little different.

And, admittedly, the little fingerprints don’t really show their fingerprint texture; they’re really more like finger “indents.”  But the girls really liked making them for Grandma and hanging them on the fridge.

We put their initial on their heart so they’d know which was which, and they like that their fingers fit in the imprints.

Heart Shaped Salt Dough Fingerprint Magnets

Salt dough is a pretty standard recipe.  For this project I made half of the recipe, and what we didn’t use, I let the girls play with, since it’s like play dough.

To make the salt dough: 

Combine 1 cup flour and 1 cup salt in a bowl.  Mix in 1/2 cup water.  Knead. 

To make the hearts, I rolled out the dough and used a cookie cutter to cut out the hearts.  The girls pressed in their fingers and I drew in their initials with a toothpick.  Then we baked them at 200 degrees Fahrenheit for two hours, flipped them over and baked for an additional 30 minutes.  Once cool, we painted them.  Once the paint was dry, I attached button magnets to the back.

Heart Shaped Salt Dough Fingerprint Magnets

And, of course, we rolled out the dough on our Jake and the Neverland Pirates Placemat.  I think I love this thing more than my kids.  It’s soooooo easy to clean.  We use it for meals and crafts.  I’m a fan of multi-purposeing.

Oh – and we used the toy play dough rolling pin.  But you could roll it out with whatever you have:  a regular rolling pin, a drinking glass, etc.

Heart Shaped Salt Dough Fingerprint Magnets

I helped my girls press their fingers into the dough so that their two fingerprints would mimic the shape of the heart.

Heart Shaped Salt Dough Fingerprint Magnets

Then I took a toothpick and drew in their initials by pressing the end of the toothpick into the dough.

Heart Shaped Salt Dough Fingerprint Magnets

After baking the shapes (we made a few) and cooling them completely, we painted them.

We used sponge brushes and a metallic pink acrylic paint.  I like the sponge brushes because it’s easy to cover the shape and you can soak up excess paint from the letters with the sponge.

We didn’t seal them with anything, but you could.

I bought button magnets with adhesive so all we had to do was peel off the paper and stick them to the back of the hearts once the paint was dry.  But you could use any type of crafting magnet.

Heart Shaped Salt Dough Fingerprint Magnets

We had a lot of fun making these and the finished product made a great gift for Grandma’s birthday.

What have you used salt dough to make?

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Letter M: Free Alphabet Worksheets for Kids

FREE Letter M Printables | Alphabet Activities for Kids

If you’re new here, please read the Introduction to the Alphabet Activities first!

Here are all of the free printable PDFs for the Letter M.  They are for home and classroom use, please don’t sell them.  Click on each title to print or download them:

M is for M and Ms Patterns

M is for M and Ms

M is for Marshmallows

M is for Matching Milk and Muffins

M is for Mermaid

M is for Mighty

M is for Monkey Maze

M is for Moose

M is for Motorcycle

M is for Mouse Mayhem

And be sure to follow me on Facebook and Pinterest to see our latest recipes and crafts!

Have fun!

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Cotton Candy Champagne or Sparkling Juice

Cotton Candy Champagne or Sparkling Juice

I gotta be honest here:  I’m not a fan of sparkling grape juice.

But a shot of whiskey was not going to be how my girls were going to ring in the new year.  Not for another 18 or 20 years, anyway.

So sparkling grape juice it is.

I wanted to do something a little different, tho, and so I picked up some cotton candy at the dollar store, since I’ve read that people sometimes add it to champagne.

The result?

I loved it!

And so did my girls, which is the important part.

Cotton Candy Champagne or Sparkling Juice

It’s such a simple concept, too:  put a little cotton candy in your glass and pour the champagne / sparkling grape juice over it.  Watch it fizz, and enjoy!

The fizzing happens quite quickly, but it’s still fun to watch.  And listen to.  But the best part?  Your sparkling grape juice now tastes like cotton candy.  Yum!

Cotton Candy Champagne or Sparkling Juice

As you can see in the above photo, the cotton candy disappeared almost the instant the sparkling juice hit it, so it was hard for me to capture the actual process on film.  Although the “after” is kinda pretty.

I used pink cotton candy above, and then I tossed some blue cotton candy into it, which you can see below.  The result was a somewhat murky purple, but delicious.

Cotton Candy Champagne or Sparkling Juice

And, I served it in aperitif glasses, so that my preschooler could feel like a grownup with her own kid-sized wine glass.

This will definitely be served for many New Year’s to come!

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Turkey Treasure Buckets

Turkey Treasure Buckets | Great Thanksgiving Activity for Kids!

This November, in the spirit of Thanksgiving and Autumn, one of the projects we did was to make these Turkey Treasure Buckets.

My girls LOVE being outside.

They’d sleep out there if I let them.

Anyway, I wanted a project that would involve nature.  So we made some turkey buckets to collect autumn leaves.

Unfortunately, we don’t have a ton of beautiful, colored leaves where we live in Florida.  Our backyard pretty much has a bunch of brown Live Oak leaves.  And some sticks, and some mulch, and some grass…

So, nature:  yes.  Beautiful fall colors:  not so much.

I feel bad, too, because we we just in Georgia a couple of weeks ago and we collected a ton of fantastically bright fallen leaves.  But I didn’t think to bring any home with us.

So, we improvised.  Used what we had.

And the kids had a blast.

Turkey Treasure Buckets | Great Thanksgiving Activity for Kids!

We started with some copper-colored mini buckets from the bargain section of Target and a handful of clothespins.

We painted the clothespins with a variety of colors and sprinkled sequins over the wet paint to represent the turkey’s feathers.  It was messy, but fun.  My girls love painting.

And we only did one side.  You could do both if you prefer.

I cut a quick face out of construction paper while they were painting, and they helped me glue on the eyes, beaks, and waddel.  Then I hot glued the faces to the buckets.  This was a sure way to keep them securely attached, but with an easy way to remove them later to reuse the buckets for another project.

Then, they clipped on the clothespin “feathers.”


Turkey Treasure Buckets | Great Thanksgiving Activity for Kids!

Here’s a picture of my baby searching the backyard for treasures.

The clothes pins are a little heavy, but my girls wanted as many as possible.  You could always use less if the weight is problem for you.

Turkey Treasure Buckets | Great Thanksgiving Activity for Kids!

And here’s one of the buckets, filled with leaves and sticks.

They had so much fun with this.  And they played with the buckets over and over, filling them with all kinds of treasures, including tiny toys.

And I had a blast watching them and helping them seek out fun discoveries in the backyard.  It’s so great to spend some outdoors with my girls.  I’m sooooooo happy that the coolness of fall is finally showing its face in Florida!