“Ice Cream” Play Dough

My kids love playing ice cream shop!

They have a magical ability to manifest imaginary ice cream out of nothing and turn any location into an ice cream parlor. In fact, on the first day of preschool, my son claimed “ice cream man” as his dream job.

My kids are seriously dedicated to ice cream, but who isn’t?

With summer here, I wanted to do a little something to enhance their experience with the fantasy ice cream business. I know there are a number of Play-Doh sets themed after ice cream shops, but we honestly have enough Play-Doh related tools and the color of the dough turns ugly after a few minutes of manipulation by a toddler.

And, to be completely honest, I recently discovered a really cool way to make non-toxic play dough, and I wanted to see if it works.

Surprisingly, it worked extremely well!

The ingredients might be a little intimidating for parents, especially those of the healthy variety. It seems like the consistency should be pretty sticky and gross, and it is certainly a lot of sugar to put in front of kids. However, this worked out significantly better than I thought. The texture of the dough matched pretty closely with traditional Play-Doh, and since I didn’t tell my kids (right away) how I made the dough, eating it didn’t occur to them…

Except that my son asked me about the ingredients, and I didn’t want to lie.

But! The end result is so sickeningly sweet, he didn’t eat anymore beyond an initial taste test. My daughter, on the other hand, kept licking her “ice cream”, but after only a few licks she got sick of the taste rather quickly.

This activity was easy to set up, and it kept my kids entertained for hours. Sure, they could (and often do) play ice cream shop with nothing more than their imaginations, but every now and then it’s fun to make their fantasies come alive!

What You Need:

Store bought frosting
Powdered sugar
Optional:
Food coloring
Ice cream scooper
Small aluminum loaf containers
Sprinkles
Ice cream cones

Instructions:

Choose frosting that matches the colors you want. We bought a pink, a purple, and a white (which we turned into a minty blue). If you’re wanting to create your own color out of the white frosting, mix in the food coloring before adding powdered sugar.

Using a spoon, mix your powdered sugar and frosting together. The ratio should be 1:3 (for every 1 cup of frosting, add 3 cups of powdered sugar). If the dough is too sticky, sprinkle in more powdered sugar until it reaches a similar texture as Play-Doh. Eventually, the frosting will clump, and you may need to knead the dough with your hands once it is no longer gooey and sticky.

To really heighten the experience, put the “ice cream” dough in aluminum loaf tins. Give the kids an ice cream scoop (it scoops wonderfully!), sprinkles (or maybe confetti or something else that can substitute sprinkles), and ice cream cones. Don’t forget bowls and spoons as well!

While this recipe does not last forever, it did keep my kids entertained for a couple of days before we had to toss it. But, it’s so easy, I can definitely do this again without stress!

DIY Dyed Beach Sand

A couple of weeks ago we made our first beach day trip of the season! We got together with a few friends, took PTO, and spent a pleasant day in sand and sun. Of course, the kids were ecstatic. Just a few days prior, my son started making comments about wanting to go to the beach. His timing couldn’t have been more perfect. I think I surprised him quite a bit when I responded with “okay, let’s go in a few days!”.

While body riding waves is something spectacular, a child’s true enjoyment is in the sand. It keeps them entertained literally all day long, and while I do keep a watchful eye over them as they play, the endless supply of sand offers me an opportunity to relax a bit.  Everyone is happy. My daughter was particularly in love with the gritty mess. So much so, she basically bathed in it…

On the other hand, taking my family to the beach doesn’t necessarily mean I check out for the entire time. On top of making sure we pack enough sunscreen, food, and novels, I also like to plan unique activities. This time around, I discovered a craft using the resources around us!

This was an especially easy activity, and even though it may have gotten messy at certain moments, a quick rinse in the sea took care of that hassle.

All you need is food coloring, ziplock bags, and if you’re wanting to take your craft home a bottle of some sort, as well as a funnel. I found plastic and glass tubes on sale at Joann Fabrics. I believe they were something along the lines of “glitter mixing tubes”.  They were the bare minimum of what I needed for this activity because I wanted to get enough supplies for the adults to participate too (I know my friends pretty well). However, if I do this again and I’m looking to do no more than one or two bottles, there were also larger decorative bottles with corks.

The other tool you might need is something thin and pointy to make designs with your sand. A wooden dowel rod works fine, especially if it has a pointed end. Usually, you can find these in the cake decorating section of Walmart or craft stores.

The activity itself is simple. Fill a ziplock bag with sand, drop food coloring in, and start shaking. If you want to fill bottles, snip the corner of a bag, fit the funnel over the bottle’s mouth, and fill the bottle with your choice of alternating colors until the bottle is packed full. For a really cool effect, stick a rod down the sides of the bottle to make funky designs with the alternating color layers.

On the other hand…this activity does not need to be a craft that you take home! If you’re looking for some colorful beach fun that doesn’t come back with you (because let’s be honest, enough sand will follow you home without you trying), simply drop food coloring onto the ground and mix it in with a pile of sand. The result is vibrant beach sand to make unique and creative sandcastles.

This was truly an awesome beginning to our summer season, and I cannot wait to see what other activities we’ll discover in the next couple of months. At the very least, I’m going to pack food coloring for our next beach trip!

Five Alternatives to Paint Brushes

Today I planned to mop the kitchen floor. I don’t know why that matters considering tomorrow it will once again see drops of paint, but I figured since I’m going to be scrubbing anyway we might as well make a mess.

As many of my friends know, I am the Napoleon Bonaparte of the revolution against bougie motherhood. If my kids are without mosquito bites, dirt under the fingernails, skinned knees, and splattered paint on their clothes…I start to wonder what I’m doing wrong. It’s unfair to expect kids to act like anything but kids, and I say we might as well facilitate some of the opportunities for them to enjoy childhood. Life is too short to be tidy. We survived our own germ ridden grubby childhood…our kids will survive theirs.

Sensory play is a driving force in the way kids explore the world, and inside every child is the creativity that makes an artist. At least that’s what I believe, anyway. Understanding these two aspects offers the opportunity for fun projects that, while messy, create interesting paintings you wouldn’t be able to recreate with a regular paintbrush.

Here are 5 alternative paint activities we’ve tried:

This one takes some overnight prep time, however, it’s super easy to put together.

All you need is an ice tray, food coloring, popsicle sticks, and aluminum foil or saran wrap.

It’s a pretty obvious process. Fill the ice trays with water, leaving enough room for food coloring, as well as space at the top so the different colors don’t slosh into one another.

Experiment with varying amounts of food coloring, as well as color mixtures for different shades. Use your popsicle sticks to stir the coloring.

Cover the ice tray with saran wrap. Or if you’re like me and completely incapable of working with saran wrap, aluminum foil works just as well. I simply marked out the lines of the tray beforehand so I knew where to find each slot once covered.

Poke a popsicle stick into the middle of each section of the ice tray, and carefully transfer the tray to the freezer. Let it sit overnight.

Once the ice is completely frozen, pop them out of the tray. Mine came out easily, however, you can also use a knife around the edge of each piece of ice if you’re met with a struggle.

 

As each piece of ice melts, run them over white paper to create watercolor paintings. At first not much will happen, but given a few minutes, the effects can be pretty interesting to play with!

This next activity didn’t require prep time, but of the painting activities we tried, it was the messiest.

All you need is paint, paper, and a fly swatter.

Yes…a fly swatter. Personally, we used brand new and unused swatters. But hey, do each their own.

The activity is simple. Drizzle paint on to white paper and then smack it with the fly swatter. Of course this splattered paint everywhere, but the kids had a ton of fun. Next time we will do this outside if I’m not already planning to scrub the floor. That will give us the oppertunity to be a bit more violant and crazy with our splashes.

 

 

The squeegee painting was a huge hit with the kids, and it also made an incredibly beautiful picture.

Once again set up was simple. We poured a line of paint across the top of a piece of paper, using two or three different colors.

Simply swipe the squeegee down the page, and the result is gorgeous.

 Bonus points for the fact that this was not especially messy compared to all the other activities we tried, with the exception of our marble painting:

The marble painting required only a container, paper, paint, and marbles. We placed the paper at the bottom of the container with drops of paint (once again using two or three colors). After dropping a handful of marbles on top of the paint we tilted and turned the container, causing the marbles to roll around and create fun designs.

This one tied with the squeegee painting for most beautiful. I can’t decide which one’s my favorite.

Our final activity was for the sake of pure fun and mess. This is where I set up and then stepped away, leaving the kids to simply play and see what comes of it.

Like the marble painting, I took some toys from the playroom in the name of art: Hot Wheels.

I set up the track from the edge of our art table, laying pieces of paper on the floor at the end. The paint was poured onto the track and the kids let their cars run over the paint, streaking the paper with their wheels.

This one was second in messiest, but also held the kid’s attention the longest.

 

All in all, I’m pretty happy with the new art we have for our fridge. Now it’s just a matter of waiting till the paint dries.

 

 

2 Ingredient Rainbow Slime

It has been a fun year filled with one adventure after another.

Last week we wrapped up a year of preschool that took us beyond where I expected to go. We discovered the world through geography lessons using a literature-based curriculum, and simple letter and number recognition activities eventually turned into reading and multiplying. Now that I see what happens when I let my son explore the world at his own speed, I am excited for Kindergarten next year.

Though is it really Kindergarten when he’s a few weeks too young, and ahead of schedule academically? Who cares. That’s the beauty of homeschooling.

Of course, being gifted in math does not mean we have to spend all day every day working on “school work”.  After all, my son is still 4 years old and spends the majority of his time creating shenanigans with his sister.

With the free time that comes with the beginning of summer, I got in on some of the fun by introducing the kids to a new slime recipe! The great thing about it is the fact that it comes down to only two ingredients, which made set up incredibly easy even if this activity got messy.

All this recipe needs is equal parts liquid starch and white Elmers glue. That’s it! Wanting to make a large batch of it, we used four cups of each.

It started out as a pretty messy business while the glue and starch reacted to one another. It may take a few minutes before you begin feeling confident in the texture, but if you do go at it for a while and don’t feel an improvement, you may need to add a little bit of either glue or starch. If it’s too runny add a little more glue. If it’s too sticky, drop in tiny bits of starch.

To make this activity extra fun we added food coloring to give a rainbow effect!

The easiest method of accomplishing this is to divide the slime into individual plastic bags and drop in food coloring. This allows you to knead the color into the slime without dying your hands (and mixing the colors together to create an ugly brown effect before you have a chance to enjoy the beauty of multi-colored slime).

Once all of our slime had some color…it was time to play!