Sprinkled Candy Bar Wrappers

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The fun shredded paper “confetti” on these DIY candy bar wrappers makes them perfect to give as a gift! To wit, we made this craft today to gift on Father’s Day.

To start, you’ll need lots of tiny pieces of paper. This would be a great chance for preschoolers to work on their cutting skills, but for Veronika, it was about playing with the pieces after I cut them!

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I then wrapped two chocolate bars in additional sheets of construction paper. We chose orange and blue, for the colors of daddy’s favorite sports team of course.

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Next, a grown-up will need to make a design or word on the top of each wrapper. Ours featured a heart on one and the letters D-A-D on the other.

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Then Veronika sprinkled our paper “confetti” down on the glue. Tap lightly over a trash can to remove any excess paper pieces and let dry complete.

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The DAD version was a little harder to read than we’d hoped, but the heart was clear as could be, and needless to say daddy loved them!

Cosmetic Wedge Stamps

If your child loves stamp art, here’s a perfect way to create stamps at home, with some shape learning thrown in! Make-up sponges often come in bulk packages, so I simply grabbed a few from the bag and set them out alongside trays of paint.

Our sponges came in triangles, and I trimmed a few so we also had small diamonds and triangles in different sizes. If you want to get fancier, cut out hearts or other shapes, too!

Veronika then surprised me, by holding the sponge by one triangle point and dipping the flat bottom of it in the paint. So her prints came out as rectangles!

You can cover a sheet of paper just for fun, or fold thick paper in half and decorate just the front, in which case this would make a lovely card for a relative or friend.

Spin Art with No Spinner

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Forget fancy spin art machines; there are so many fun ways to replicate the equipment at home, ranging from the messy to the messier. Even better, today we found a way to make “spin art” with almost no mess at all!

To start, I set out various colors of paint along with thick white paper and small paper plates. I invited Veronika to choose which colors we should use on our first plate.

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She picked red, yellow, and orange, which I dolloped in the center of the plate. Flip over and press your hand firmly in the center, then twist your hand to rotate the colors around in a circle.

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Lift up for the big reveal!

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After making a few prints this way, it became clear that it was easier for Veronika’s little hands if we put the paint on the bottom of the plate, then rotated from on top. See which method your child prefers, based on age and strength.

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You can work in some color mixing for a quick art lesson, as we did with red and yellow paint.

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Or just add colors in a random way and make pretty designs. Either way, Veronika marveled each time that we lifted off the plate and she saw that we’d made a circle. We were definite fans of this variation on spin art!

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Water Color Paint and Salt

The beautiful visual effect when salt hits wet paint has some science behind it, too! Whether your child is old enough to understand the STEAM concept of this project, or young enough just to enjoy the art and sensory play, this is an easy and fun craft to do together.

To start, I set out watercolors and a cup of water for Veronika, and invited her to make big stripes of wet color on thick paper. As soon as I began narrating, “Now some blue, now some green,” she dove right in. “I’ll do blue! I’ll do green!” she said, painting over my lines.

The wetter the better, and once we had several thick streaks of color, I invited her to sprinkle salt on top. Of course for a toddler this was great sensory fun.

But the real wow is watching the salt absorb the water right away. If you then shake off the excess, it leaves a neat bubbled look in the colors.

For an alternative, we painted a second set of thick stripes, then pressed plastic wrap on top. Leave until the color dries, then lift up. The paint itself looks full of bumpy, crinkled texture.

Veronika was eager to return to the salt, and soon had dumped a whole pile of salt on the paper and painted it directly with drops of watercolor!

Then she wanted to stir the salt around with her brush, add more water, stir the salt some more, etc., all of which kept her quite busy for a while.

Mixed Media Collage

We spent the morning tucked inside from a heatwave, and a simple art collage felt like the perfect way to pass the time. This activity relies on items already in your craft bin, especially any scraps left over from other art projects.

To start, I set out a tray of materials, including torn pieces of paper. I chose hot oranges, reds, and yellows to fit our 90 degree day! I also added blue sequins, a tube of glitter glue, and regular white glue.

Veronika immediately wanted to stick the sequins on the page, but we needed something else to make them stick – the glue! Together we squirted white glue pretty much all over the page so that wherever she placed an item, it now would be sure to stick. First she pressed on pieces of the paper. Once we had a layer of paper, we added a second layer of glue.

Now she could sprinkle down handfuls of sequins. (Note: Just tilt the paper to shake off any excess).

Next she wanted to try squeezing out the red glitter glue and was so proud she could do this all by herself. And then of course she needed to squeeze out more white glue.

Pretty soon we had a vibrant summertime collage. She had so much fun that we immediately filled up a second sheet of paper!

What materials will go on your child’s collage? Please share in the comments!

Tin Foil Constellations

Children love the glow of the stars, and here’s a beautiful way to bring that glow inside! This activity doubles as a quick lesson on constellations and a D.I.Y. nightlight.

To start, I set out a sheet of tin foil and showed Veronika how to prick it with a toothpick to make dots. We did this step over a yoga mat, so the toothpicks wouldn’t scratch a tabletop or other surface; you could also place a sheet of felt underneath.

While she made holes at random, I made more deliberate constellation shapes, such as the Big Dipper. Older kids can follow along with pictures of real constellations, too. For a toddler, this was a great first chance to talk with Veronika about how some of the stars make shapes in the sky.

Next, we fit the dotted sheet of foil inside a mason jar. This was trickier than I thought, with the foil crumpling on the first round, so we quickly made a second sheet and inserted it more smoothly. It helps to make the holes a bit wider than the point of the toothpick, too, so they show up better.

Finally, we needed to light up the night sky! Veronika helped turn on a tea light, which we then inserted into the jar.

She marveled at the twinkle as soon as we were in a darkened room! Even better, the stars will twinkle in her bedroom all night long.

Sunny-Day Clay

We’ve made homemade playdough before, but haven’t ever tried our hand at homemade clay! This version comes together fairly easily and has a fantastic texture.

To start, have your kids squeeze in some quick math by helping measure out 2 cups baking soda, 1 cup cornstarch, and 1 and 1/4 cups water into a saucepan.

Cook the mixture over medium heat for about 5 to 10 minutes. By the end, it should pull away from the sides of the pan and look almost like mashed potatoes. Let cool completely.

We divided the clay into 4 portions, with the intention of adding a different color to each portion before starting to roll out sculptures.

Travis thought it was much more fantastic fun to squeeze tons of food coloring onto the white clay, however, which meant soon we had a goopy mess!

There was a brief moment where the subtle color in the clay was just right…

(I managed to snap a quick pick of this shamrock)

…before there was so much food coloring that the clay became a squishy mess. This thrilled Travis of course, but for actual sculpting and building purposes, I rather wish we’d left it white!

As a side note, the texture of this homemade clay is wonderful. I find that store-bought clay has a tacky feeling and sticky residue, whereas this was silky smooth.

Sensory Paint, Inside and Outside

Lately, Veronika has loved sensory play where we begin with a material contained in some way (a bottle, a zip-top plastic bag) but then take it out of the container for something much messier! To wit, today we started with paint in the bag and then moved it out.

For the inside version, I squirted a generous amount of hair gel into sandwich-sized zip-top plastic bags, then added bright neon colors of tempera paint to each. Bright food coloring gel would work, too. I deliberately chose colors that felt just right for a hot sunny day: think neon oranges, pinks, and yellows. Press out most of the air, then seal the bags. You can add a little duct tape at the top if you’re worried about curious fingers opening the bag.

Veronika briefly squished the vibrant colors all around, and liked tossing them to the floor with a splat.

They were also fun to stomp on with bare toes! But, as I anticipated, they didn’t hold her interest long.

Neither did a second sensory bag for writing practice. For this one, I used a gallon-sized zip-top bag and only a thin layer of paint so that the squiggles and shapes she made would show up clearly.

I showed her a few letters like V for Veronika, and we even could make hand prints. Still, she lost interest after a few swirly lines.

It was time for something decidedly messier. Lay down a piece of cardboard to protect your patio or lawn, and place sheets of white paper on top.

We made blobs of paint on the paper and then covered each with a cotton pad. (Note: You could also apply the paint directly to the cotton pad, and then set down on the paper). Now whack with a wooden spoon!

Similar to fly swatter painting, whacking the paper is sure to be irresistible for kids. The clear winner once more? The outside messy way!

Berry Basket Printing

There are many items around the house for making perfect circles, but it can be harder to find an item that’s just right for dipping in paint to make perfect squares. The solution? Berry baskets! Because the market is bursting with fresh berries right now, this activity had a nice seasonal feel, too.

To start, I poured out several colors of paint directly onto a tray so we had a surface large enough to dip in our pint-sized berry basket.

I showed Veronika how to press the basket into the paint, then lift up and transfer to paper. A perfect square!

She loved mixing colors, too, for a beautiful blue-green hue on some of them.

We let the paint dry, then finished the fun with markers. I challenged her to think about what we could turn our squares into. While I drew a house and a window box as examples, Veronika loved scribbling beside me.  Overall, this is a berry cute craft in the merry month of May.

Fishy Necklace

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It was our first beach day of the season, and Veronika loved spotting fish in the water. At home, we decided to continue the fishy fun with this cute necklace, which counted towards the day’s arts & crafts, plus worked her fine motor skills!

To start, I cut simple fish shapes from construction paper and Veronika helped punch a hole near the top of each as the “eye”.

For a few extra necklace beads, we painted penne pasta. I expected Veronika to brush the paint on, but she loved dunking the pasta right in cups of paint! This gave us great saturated colors, although it did mean they took longer to dry.

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Once the pasta was dry, it as time to thread. I showed Veronika how to alternate adding a fish and then a pasta “bead” onto a lacing string, working in this way until the lace was full.

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She absolutely loved the process, picking each color bead to add, delighting in the way we could pull the thread through, and eagerly selecting what item should go on next. Then we knotted it off for a fashion show!

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She loved it so much that we made a second version; this time, I didn’t knot the lace so she could remove the beads and put them on again to her heart’s content.

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In sum, there was nothing fishy about this craft, just lots of good fun!