Winter Snowflake Slime

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We don’t make slime often, so this winter snowflake version today was a real treat for Veronika! I did use borax powder for this particular slime recipe, but there are lots of alternatives (including saline solution or liquid starch) if you’d rather not. Since I knew Veronika would be using craft sticks to play with the material, and not her hands, I felt comfortable about the borax.

To make the slime, combine 1/2 cup white glue and 1/2 cup warm water in a bowl or tray.

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Next, add silver glitter: lots! I used large flakes of silver to make it look like snow in the wintry white slime. You could also search for glitter in the shape of actual snowflakes at the craft store! Finally, dissolve 1/4 teaspoon borax powder in 1/2 cup hot water. Add this to the glue mixture and it will seize up instantly.

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Our mixture turned out almost like ooblek, running back towards a liquid when we didn’t touch it, but seizing up as soon as we stirred or scooped. Needless to say, Veronika was fascinated. She loved watching me lift up big handfuls of it.

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She would stir with her craft stick and then lift it to pull up big globs before watching it dribble back down.

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If we touched our two craft sticks together, the mixture was so sticky!

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And of course the silver glitter and white color made us think of sparkly snow. If you want, recite your favorite word play or nursery rhyme about snowflakes while your toddler plays and stirs.

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Here’s one we like, which you can say as you flutter your fingers like snowflakes.

Softly, softly, falling so,

This is how the snowflakes go.

Pitter-patter, pitter-patter,

Pit pit pat,

Down go the raindrops

On my hat.

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Glitter Shapes

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You’ll combine early learning (shape-recognition, colors) and messy art with this fun toddler project!

To start, I cut out simple basic shapes from bright construction paper, using a different color for each shape. Soon we had a pile of green rectangles, purple triangles, red hearts, orange circles, and more. As I worked, I asked Veronika to identify each one, and she was a willing participant.

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Now for the mess! Have your toddler smear a glue stick all over each shape. One or both sides, it won’t matter!

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Place one or two shapes at a time in a small shoebox with a lid, then dump in copious amounts of glitter. Yes, toddlers, the more glitter the merrier!

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Now seal the box and shake. I hadn’t counted on small holes in the bottom of our box that allowed some glitter to escape, but luckily we were using large pieces of glitter that were easy to sweep up.

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Needless to say, the result was worth the mess.

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Open the lid and reveal to your child how each shape is now sparkly. Veronika loved them!

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Very Sticky Play and Recycled Sculpture

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It’s near the end of the month, which is when I sort through my craft bin, think about stocking up for the month ahead, and don’t mind getting rid of leftovers. With the end of a roll of contact paper left,  the morning was ripe for some sticky play! We combined a few old favorite ways to play with this material with some fantastic new finds.

First up was a classic “sculpture” on the wall. Veronika loved helping me sort through the craft bin as we filled a tray with leftover odds and ends like yarn, pieces of ribbon, cut up straws, small pom poms, and strips of crepe paper.

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The favorite turned out to be leftover wiggle eyes! ” A little eye!” she said with delight, and she promptly trotted over to stick this on the contact paper.

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To add a little learning, you can talk about all your various materials: textures, size, 3D versus flat ones, etc. If siblings are working together, it can also be a great lesson in collaboration.

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But honestly Veronika was so interested in the wiggle eyes that we didn’t end up with too much decoration on this wall version.

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So next, I taped the final piece of contact paper down to the ground, which is always fun for stepping on. “Sticky feet!” Veronika said.

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Encourage your kids to lie down too, or crawl across it for a novel sensation.

Here’s where the novelty kicked in; we decided to see if stuffed animals could stick and soon had dinosaurs stomping through swamps.

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Hmm, what about toy cars?

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Well now Travis discovered that if he wound up the car tires, they still could move forward on the sticky contact paper… but as slooooowly as a snail.

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This led to an hour of “racing” play. Even I thought it was neat!

Little sister Veronika wanted to add her tractor and bus to the mix.

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When the races were done, we used up all those remaining leftover art supplies. This time, tiny beads were the biggest hit, which the kids sprinkled by the handful over the paper.

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Travis asked for glitter. Oh heck why not, it was already such as mess that I handed it over.

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Travis loved this even more than Veronika!

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Although of course she loved it too. You know you have a happy toddler when they start rolling around in glee.

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And then I folded up their sticky “sculpture” and the mess was gone.

If you do have leftover bits of glitter on the floor, here’s a quick hack: a lint roller gets them up much easier than a dust broom. You’re welcome.

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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Glue Printing

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Caution: This project is messy! But toddlers love a mess and this catered right to Veronika’s impulse for arts & crafts this morning.

Instead of using an ink pad for stamps, the idea is to use glue as the “ink”. I gave Veronika a paper plate filled with white glue, and then I set out a few items that we could dip into it.

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I included a fish-shaped sponge, a block wrapped in string, and a cut apple. The small block was by far the easiest for her to dip in the glue and lift up, then transfer onto paper and press down.

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The larger items turned out to be tricky; they had a tendency to stick in the glue, and were tough for her to pull up without assistance!

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Next time I would use much smaller objects, like a sponge cut into little squares, or slices of an apple. But with some mommy help, we managed to dip the items in our glue “ink” and then transfer to paper.

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To make the prints more apparent, sprinkle with glitter. This was definitely Veronika’s favorite part, shaking a container of large glitter over the paper and watching it pour down on her creation.

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Shake off any excess glitter and let dry. I confess you couldn’t really discern the shapes of the prints we’d made, but it was still a fun and colorful piece of toddler art.

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Glitter Water Blob Sensory Bags

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Veronika has been having so much fun with sensory bags lately. What’s better than a rainbow array of bags to play with? Rainbow bags with glitter and bubbles inside!

To make these glittery bags, fill sandwich-sized zip-top bags about one-third of the way with water. Now add food coloring and glitter.

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They will look best if the glitter and food color are in the same family; so for example I used a purplish glitter in the red bag, gold in the yellow bag, and silver for the blue and green.

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Seal the bags (tightly!) and place where your toddler can come discover them.

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Veronika first just loved squishing her hands on them and watching all that glitter and water move about.  She seemed especially intrigued by the red one.

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Then we stood them upright so she could lift the bags and grip in two hands, which was good glittery fun. We talked about how sparkly they were!

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If you lay one bag over the other, as with blue and yellow, you get a color-mixing effect, too, although this was a bit lost on her.

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The most fun was when we shook the bags and produced bubbles inside – sometimes huge! – which she then chased around with a finger.

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These easily kept her busy for about a half hour, a big hit.

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Here’s a fun and simple sensory jar for your baby: an instant snowstorm no matter the season!

Fill a small plastic water bottle about 2/3 of the way with rubbing alcohol. Drop in a few things to swirl in the snow; small buttons are fun, and I also added gold and silver sequins. Next add about 2 teaspoons white or silver glitter. Fill the bottle the rest of the way with vegetable oil.

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Note: you can also tint the alcohol blue with food coloring if you want, but I found that this makes it harder to see the “storm” and preferred a clear version.

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For security, duct tape on the lid. Now swirl for your baby!

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This works well if you roll it on the ground in front of him or her.

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Veronika also loved looking at it up in the air though.

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And wanted to snatch it from my hands!

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If you’re trying to encourage a first crawl, roll the bottle along the floor and see if your baby will go after it!

Cardboard Tube Star Garland

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January always feels so sad after the holiday decorations come down – so why not leave some sparkle up in your home to brighten the dark winter days? To wit, this glittery star garland added shimmer and shine to the wall that held our holiday cards, up until a few days ago. Enlist your kids and you’ll have a fun afternoon project before school starts back up again!

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You’ll need paper tubes to make the garland, either toilet paper rolls or paper towel rolls; for the latter, cut the tube into thirds.

Travis helped use grown-up scissors to make five slits in each tube, nearly to the edge. Fan out the slits and you have a star shape.

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We smeared a glue stick on each of the five arms, and pressed into a plate of glitter, one at a time.

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Set aside to dry. Because we used a glue stick instead of white glue, it dried fairly quickly.

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Travis got to use his new one-hole punch on one arm of each star.

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Thread a string or twine through the holes, and mount on a doorway, window, or wall for sparkly decoration.

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Happy January!

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Twig Stars

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There is a beautiful, yuletide feel to these stars, although here we are crafting them in October! Make them now, or set the idea aside for the upcoming Christmas season.

For each star, you’ll need 5 sticks that are roughly the same thickness and length; break any to the proper size if they are too long.

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I hot glued the stars together, then set Travis up with tidbits to decorate them – berries, pine needles, a bowl of glue, and a bowl of glitter. Little pinecones would look sweet, too.

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First dunk the berries in the glue, then immediately transfer to the glitter. He loved this part!

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If you like, dunk in the tips of your pine needles, too, or any other nature finds you have to add to your stars. Let dry completely.

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The next morning, we dabbed glue all over the stick stars, and added our berries and other treasures.

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Travis got a bit impish and loved smearing glue over the leftover glitter on our work surface, too. Good thing I had things covered with a layer of foil!

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Hang the resulting stars from twine, indoors or out.

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As mentioned, these would be beautiful at Christmas, but will light up a windowsill or other area of your home any time!

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Stained Glass Window Art

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Just about this time last year, when Travis was two-and-a-half, we made toddler stained glass. Now that he’s three-and-a-half, we’ve grown a bit more sophisticated with our designs! This project introduced a new art medium – puffy paint! – which absolutely delighted Travis.

First, place a piece of contact paper, sticky side down, on a work surface. You’re going to use your puffy paint directly on here, so make sure the contact paper is some place it can dry undisturbed for a while.

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I knew Travis wouldn’t be able to draw the exact outline of a house for our stained glass, so I set up two work stations side by side. While I outlined the house, he went wild with other puffy paints on his work surface.

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He told me he’d painted a castle, a prince, a king, and the girls visiting (whoops, too much Cinderella!). Meanwhile, he was ecstatic when he realized I had copied the house shape off of a template online. Next time I would make sure to have a large bottle of black puffy paint on hand – I had to switch to green mid-way.

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Let your puffy paint dry overnight.

To fill in the panes of our “glass”, we used glitter glue in lots of fun shades.

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After a bit of trial and error, Travis grew quite adept at keeping the glitter glue between the lines of the puffy paint.

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We did run out of puffy paint with a few spaces left to fill, so I mixed up some quick colored glue (glue and any shade of tempera paint). Let dry completely again.

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Trim any excess contact paper, and then your stained glass will adhere right to any window.

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It was so beautiful with the sun shining through!

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What other shapes or designs would you make to hang as “stained glass”? We’d love to hear in the comments!

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