Octopus Bottle Buddies

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Travis has been a little bit homesick at camp, so we made a “buddy” to go along with him today… attached right to his water bottle!

The first step was to draw an octopus outline on craft foam, and this was tricky even for me.

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I copied an example in Highlights magazine and still needed a few tries, so I didn’t expect Travis to master the shape. But he sure loved drawing on extra craft foam (little sister, too!), making this a great art session even before we moved on to assembling the rest of the craft.

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As you draw, make sure the top two arms of the octopus reach up over its head and nearly touch; you’ll need to glue them into a loop that will hold on to the water bottle.

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Once you’ve drawn the octopus shapes, cut them out. Next, draw accessories on additional craft foam and cut out. These shapes will be simpler for kids to help with. We included a surfboard, sunhat, and a little ukulele. Think anything beachy and tropical!

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Use tacky glue or hot glue to add wiggle eyes and the foam accessories to each octopus, and glue the top two arms into a ring.

Once the glue dries, your new “buddy” slides right onto a water bottle.

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Travis chose the blue one to take to camp!

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Cardboard Weave

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I’ve been working with Travis on weaving this summer, which is not only great for fine motor skills, but also the perfect craft for Camp Mom. Here’s another version that’s very easy for beginner fingers. The trick? Instead of a tiny needle, your child will weave with a stick!

I cut a small square of cardboard from an old delivery box, and wound yarn around it a few times, taping on the back.

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Now we took a stick (you can use one from a recent nature walk, if you like!) and wrap a second color of thick yarn around it a few times.

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Begin threading over and under the yarn on your cardboard.

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Travis was able to do this with no assistance, unlike more delicate weaving projects. He liked the way the stick pulled through at the end of each row.

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That said, he did still tire out quickly, so his final product was only a small scrap. Snip the yarn from the cardboard down the middle of the back, and tie the loose ends together. Chances are Travis can find a way to feature this weaving in games with his action figures!

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Skin Therapy Play Dough

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This is the softest play dough in the world, thanks to a recipe based on silky quick oats with zero salt. It’s a great homemade alternative store-bought play dough. Just note that because there is no salt, it will only last for a day or two.

To make the play dough, stir together 1 cup flour, 2 cups quick oats, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Add 1 cup water and 2 tablespoons olive oil, stirring to form a dough.

Sprinkle on extra flour as needed, if the dough is still a little sticky.

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You can add food coloring, but we decided to leave ours natural. I liked this because it really looked like cookie dough! But instead of mommy using it all up for cookies, this dough was all Veronika’s to play with.

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She loved using it with a play dough kitchen set, including pots and pans, cookie cutters, and little spoons and knives.

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We even rolled up mini cookies.

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She later transferred the dough over to her tea set, and was pouring cups of play dough “tea”.

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This kept her busy for so long! And I loved knowing how natural and safe it was for her skin and hands.

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Wave Bottles, Three Ways

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Summer means lots of empty sparkling water bottles in our house, and before recycling them I wanted to turn a few into fun sensory bottles for Veronika. There are so many ways to do this, and here were three I put together as a set this morning. She loved going back and forth between them all day!

For version number one, I filled a bottle 1/3 of the way with water. Add a drop or two of food coloring, then some fun items to swirl around; we used large glitter and small pony beads. Fill the rest of the way with baby oil. Seal the cap with hot glue.

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She loved this one, immediately delighted by the colors and shine.

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“Look at the beads!” she said, watching things swirl around.

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For version number two, I used a larger 1.5 L bottle. Fill the bottle 1/3 of the way with water. Add a few spoonfuls of tempera paint (we used red), then add 1/3 cup dish detergent. Seal the lid with hot glue. Shake it up and watch the colored bubbles!

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She loved how bubbly this one was.

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It was also fun to roll it on the floor and give chase!

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For the final version, I snipped a few pieces of brightly colored yarn to about 6 inches in length. Add to an empty bottle, add water, and seal the cap with hot glue. Now the yarn lengths dance and swirl in the bottle. They almost look like jellyfish!

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She loved watching this one. The more you swirl it, the better the yarn “dances”. I loved watching her move the bottles around all day, sometimes rearranging them on shelves, or shaking them, or just picking them up in her playroom and looking at them. A great way to fill those summer hours!

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