Glow Sticks and Balloons

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We’re having a dreary wet Memorial Day, but we’re not letting that stop the fun! In lieu of a parade or fireworks, we created our own display at home!

Enlist your child’s help in snapping glow sticks – Travis’s face lit up for each new one we set aglow, no matter how many times he’d seen it happen.

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Slightly blow up a balloon to let it stretch out a bit, then carefully insert a lit glow stick into each.

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Blow up the balloon the rest of the way and tie off.

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Let the illuminated fun begin! For the best results, dim the lights or wait until dark.

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Patriotic Rocks

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A very happy Memorial Day to all, and a sincere thanks to all those in our country who serve or have served. We had a very patriotic weekend, catching a local Navy parachute demonstration in honor of the holiday. Travis was smitten, so we brought the patriotic sentiment back home with this easy craft.

Take a walk to collect a few rocks, and then lay them out with red, white, and blue paints.

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Older children will definitely have fun drawing replica American flags on their rocks, but for a three-year-old, simply decorating in the colors of our flag was a joy.

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He liked choosing which colors should go where!

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I added a few lines of paint to a few rocks so that they more closely resembled our flag.

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Let the rocks dry, then proudly display as holiday decorations. These would be great for the 4th of July, too!

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Pond Play Dough

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This was an activity that first got botched, then turned out to be fun with a plan b, and then which we finally made correctly!

My first batch of homemade play dough didn’t come together quite right – I think because I ought to have left it on the heat a little longer. But I had already promised Travis “pond-scented” play dough, so thinking quickly we added tea tree oil to the store-bought play dough we had at home.

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Travis was fascinated by the way it smelled, and soon our play dough became lily pads and water for frogs and fish to play around on.

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For extra gooey fun, I pulled out the botched batch of play dough anyway. Travis loved the way the frogs sank into it and left impressions behind. Goopy but a good time!

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The next day I pulled up a more foolproof recipe. In a bowl, combine:

2 and 1/4 cups flour

1/2 cup salt

2 tablespoons cream of tartar

3 tablespoons oil

1 cup boiling water

Travis helped combine all the ingredients, except the water, which I poured in last (definitely a grown-up step). Let your dough cool slightly, then need until smooth and workable.

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We added natural food coloring for a blue pond.

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And then of course the tea tree oil.

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And had fun all over again!

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Tornado in a Jar

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Show your child the whirling power of wind with this tornado-in-a-jar. They are sure to love adding the ingredients and watching the results!

First we needed to put our tornado together. Travis helped pour water into a mason jar until it was about two-thirds of the way full…

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Then we squeezed in a little dish soap…

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A few drops of food color…

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And glitter. (Because of course a tornado needs glitter – but actually this will help make it easier to see the water swirling around).

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Travis had seen some clips of big tornadoes online, so he had a reference point when we turned our mason jar upside down and spun it a few times to create a tornado effect. Glue on the cap if you’re worried your child will try and open it up to explore the contents of the tornado, of course!

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Coaster Gift Set

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This two-material project is so simple, with such beautiful usable results – real coasters! Perfect for Memorial Day drinks perhaps? They are great just to have around your own home, or even to send off as a gift.

I pulled out all of our washi tape and 4 foam squares (circles would work well too), and let Travis have free creative reign.

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At first he just wanted to play with the washi tape a little.

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Then he saw the picture of this craft from where I had found it online. “Look, there are three lines!” he observed. He then wanted to replicate a coaster with three lines.

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We also replicated one with an X, and then he made up a few design creations of his own.

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A delightful little project; we made sure to send some on to his great-grandparents as a surprise gift.

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Tin Can Wind Chimes

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Before you toss those cans of beans or soup, save a few for this adorable project.

Over a few days, we rinsed out three cans and set aside until dry. Then it was time to cover them with paint!

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Travis particularly loved how the paint went over the ridged parts of the metal.

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Once the paint dried, it was time to attach our chimes together – a decidedly mommy job. To make a hole in each can, I held a screw to each and hammered until perforated.

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Travis was a big help hammering along next to me with his toy tools!

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Threading the cans together proved to be tricky even for adult fingers – I had to use very fun sewing thread.

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Eventually we had our three cans in a row and they were ready to chime!

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Wooden Napkin Rings

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We recently switched Travis from his highchair to a big boy table. It seemed like the perfect occasion to make him his own napkin ring as well!

For this simple craft, all you need are wooden beads and pipe cleaners. Threading the beads on is great practice for little fingers.

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As we worked, Travis and I discussed the different beads – some dark wood, some lighter, and in different shapes like squares and circles.

He lost interest after a while and the beads themselves became fodder for a game. Meanwhile, I finished the napkin rings by looping any remaining pipe cleaner back over itself to seal.

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Slip in a napkin and you’re done! These would be a lovely project for kids around the holidays, too.

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Sand Art

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You can make sandboxes inside from so many indoor-friendly materials – oatmeal flakes, cornmeal, salt. But every once in a while, I like to buy refill packs of real sand and Travis has a blast shoveling through it. This time, instead of just shoveling our sand, we made art!

First, divide your sand into several containers – make sure they have lids.

Add a few drops of food coloring to each container. Seal the lids and shake tightly.

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Our color didn’t disperse as well as I hoped, but we left it to sit overnight, and after stirring through the following morning, we had enough of a sandy rainbow.

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My plan had been to fill a mason jar using a funnel, adding one layer of each color at a time, but Travis was so delighted he just started adding colored sand to the jar by the spoonful.

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The bottom of our jar was a bit of a muddled mess, but eventually we poured in our colors one at a time for a pretty, layered effect.

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Seal the jar and display your lovely sand art some place prominent!

Frozen Ice and Sand Comets

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If your child loves outer space, this game is sure to be a smashing success.

Travis and I talked about how comets are made of ice and dust, and decided to make our own. I froze ice cubes and then crushed the ice in the blender for a more easily workable texture – the crushed ice was a big hit!

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Then we sprinkled on sand, making a sandy dusty comet-y mix. Travis loved watching the two combine.

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Once we had a good mix, I packed some into a plastic cup, and we added a little bit of extra water.

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Place your comets in the freezer until solid.

Now comes the real fun part – take the comet outside and toss it on the ground so you can demonstrate what happens when one collides with a planet!

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Frog Rock

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Here’s a sweet and simple project that comes together fast, with super cute results.

The best part by far was our spring nature walk – we always come home with treasures! Travis found the most perfect rock, and I decided we should turn it into a little frog. This sent us hunting for green leaves to cover our frog with amphibian skin, and Travis loved finding leafy treasures.

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At home, we tore some of the leaves into smaller pieces, and glued them in overlapping patterns on the frog.

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When the glue dried, I added little felt eyes and feet.

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Travis had so much fun leaping his frog about!

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