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.

 

 

The Color Box Game

Most parents will tell you that one of the most favored toys in the history of childhood is a cardboard box. You can purchase the most flashy expensive toy on the market, and the box will hands down be the highlight of a child’s experience.

Lucky for us we purchase many of our groceries from Amazon’s subscribe and save store, which is really great in that it makes life significantly easier (and cheaper). I say we’re lucky because we have a toddler in the house, and it leaves us with an…Amazon…of cardboard boxes in the garage. In the back of my mind I’m always considering how I could use our ever growing collection of cardboard, and I’m well aware there are plenty of activities that can utilize those boxes. Everything from forts to pretend vehicles of various sorts, they are certainly the easiest way of keeping my son entertained.

With our latest delivery of Amazon groceries coming in yesterday, I’ve revisited the possibility of using the boxes for a new activity. I’ve also been thinking of new ways to encourage color recognition, as he’s starting to show some understanding in that subject.

And that’s why we now have the color box game in our house.

Cardboard boxes. Practice with color recognition. Gross motor activity. Spacial awareness. It’s a really great game that we spent a full hour playing today (and then another fifteen minutes after nap time).

The set up is pretty simple. To make the die, take a small box and wrap it in white paper (I used the reverse side of wrapping paper). On each side of the die use a marker to make a large colorful dot, with the name of that color written above it.

Find 1 large box for each color. Offering a variety of different shapes and sizes creates a more interesting challenge. Cut off the top flaps of each boxes, and tape down construction paper to the floor of the boxes. Arrange the boxes so that they are all standing beside one another.

The game is simple. Have the child roll the die, and climb into the box matching whatever color it lands on!

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Rope and Noodles

My son is entering into a stage where his fine motor development has crossed into a whole new level. It’s surprising to me just how much he is able to do these days, and I’m starting to wonder what little things I could do to encourage him.

Puzzles are an everyday thing. Blocks are a favorite game. Eating in and of itself is a motor development activity.

But I wanted to get creative, so I went ahead and put together my own little toy for him. The best part? It is super, super cheap. All you need is one pool noodle (which you can find at the dollar store most likely. Depending on the season). Cut the noodle into a bunch of little “O”s. The only other thing you’ll need is a piece of rope, and there you have it.

Babies and toddlers love these sorts of activities. My son sat on the floor  stringing the “O”s through the rope for a good half-hour, while I sat on the side lines cheering him on.