Fireworks Printing

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We’re busy decorating for the upcoming 4th of July, and this was a fantastic way to make prints that looked just like exploding fireworks!

I had a few plastic scrubber sponges which I knew would be perfect for the craft. (Note: look for these in the cleaning supplies aisle of the supermarket).

I set out black construction paper for the night sky, along with paper plates containing red, white, and blue paint. Using one scrubber sponge per color, dip in the paint and then press to the paper.

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“Pop!” I said, as I demonstrated to Veronika. “We made a firework!” Saying “pop!” was half the fun of the game, and Veronika proceeded to pop pop pop her fireworks all over.

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In this way, we  filled up the black paper rather quickly!

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That meant this was a great art project, but definitely not a way to keep your toddler occupied solo.

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Even though we can’t watch real fireworks this year, at least our home will be spangled with them!

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Melty Masterpiece

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Veronika has already used ice as a paint brush, so now it was time to use ice as her canvas! This is a fantastic art activity for outdoors on a hot day.

Overnight, freeze a cube of ice in a large plastic food container. In the morning, I simply popped out the cube and set it on a tray for Veronika, along with 3 colors of paint.

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She immediately wanted to paint “all by self,” dipping her brush into one of the colors and watching it run over the ice.

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The neat trick here is that the sun will work to melt the ice at the same time your toddler works to paint it, resulting in beautiful drippy colors.

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She painted until it was completely coated in paint and gleaming.

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It was fun to watch the paint run down the sides together!

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We were curious how long it would take to melt completely, and left her melty masterpiece outside in the sunshine. After only about an hour, we had a peach-colored puddle instead.

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An ephemeral but fantastic art project for toddlers.

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Spice Painting

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Having recently enjoyed a sensory game where she smelled items from the pantry, I thought Veronika might like marrying that game to another favorite: Painting!

To set up, I set out white paint and then chose spices with scents across the board, from spicy to sweet to earthy and back again. Our lineup included:

  • cinnamon
  • black pepper
  • turmeric
  • paprika
  • ginger

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For each spice, I poured a little white paint into a paper cup and then tapped in some of the spice. It was hard to get the mixtures to turn out exactly as I wanted. Too little spice and they just looked like flecks in the white paint. Too much and it became too dry to spread.

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Of course Veronika wasn’t bothered about the consistency! I held each cup up to her nose and described what she was smelling. Cinnamon was sweet, paprika was spicy, and so on. Even though we could also smell the paint, she seemed to enjoy it!

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Then she began smearing the paints all over a piece of black paper (which I thought would look best against the white paint). Whoops, she managed to dump some spices out, too, before I screwed the lids back on tightly.

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Older kids can be more deliberate and careful with the activity, either making a guessing game out of it, or making brushstrokes of each paint on the paper and labeling them.

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It wasn’t long before Veronika tested out some of the spicy paint on her legs, too. Which meant it was time for clean up!

Rainbow in a Bag

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This is a neat, no-mess way for toddlers to paint a full rainbow!

To start, I needed to make a thick goopy paint. Based on a recipe I found online, I combined 1 cup flour, 2 cups water, and 1 tablespoon salt in a saucepan, then cooked over medium-low heat, stirring with a whisk. It didn’t get as thick as I hoped, but stirring in 1 tablespoon cornstarch did the trick.

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Once thick, I divided the mixture among 6 paper cups and added about 20 drops of liquid watercolor to each, one for each color of the rainbow. Note: If you are worried about staining, use food coloring instead of the watercolor. However, because I knew this project would be sealed in a bag, there would be no chance for Veronika to smear it on her clothes… Or taste it!

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I placed a piece of thick white paper in a gallon-sized zip-top bag, then arranged the colors in rainbow order across the paper. Because the paint was so sticky, it grew harder to work as I went, so the colors sort of ended up at a diagonal! But this still worked fine; I sealed the bag and handed to Veronika.

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At first she was frustrated she couldn’t touch the paint, looking at me with disappointment. Oh that toddler glare!

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But then she realized the paint blobs felt mushy and squishy beneath her hands, and she loved poking around at them.

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By the end she had smeared the paints in such a way that we had a full rainbow of stripes across the bag.

Rainbow in a Bag (8)It’s actually too bad that the paint was so goopy, or I would have pulled the white paper out to dry and hang on the fridge. Next time!

Cling Wrap Painting

Cling Wrap Painting (9)

Veronika loves to smoosh her fingers through paint, and today I found a way to make that smooshing a part of the process, minus the mess!

To start, cover your work surface and lay down sheets of white paper. Set out plastic cups filled with paint, and add a plastic spoon in each cup.

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I showed her how to use the spoons to dribble paint onto the paper. Veronika liked making both big blobs and using the edge of the spoon more like a paintbrush.

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When each page was filled with enough splotches and blobs (and just when her hands were itching to get messy in the paint!) I laid a piece of cling wrap over the paper. Make sure the paper is completely covered.

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Now use your hands to smooth over the paint.

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The blobs will squish and flatten in a fun sensory way. You’ll get some color mixing, too! I pointed out to her where our blues and yellows had made green, or where red and blue had mashed together for purple.

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Lift up the cling wrap and set the painting aside to dry completely before displaying your little one’s art.

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This was a novel painting method, and her hands even stayed (mostly!) clean.

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Blob Painting

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Veronika is so into painting these days, but all too often she drops the brush and decides to smear with her hands instead. I wondered if using a few novel tools might distract her from doing so!

For this project, you’ll need anything your toddler can squeeze paint out of. We used two versions: an old infant medicine syringe (for pushing) and an empty cosmetic bottle (for squeezing).

I filled each with a little paint, and showed Veronika how to either squeeze or squirt blobs of paint onto the paper. As it turned out, both methods were a little advanced for her muscle development, but she loved seeing the blobs that appeared!

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I folded the paper in half over the blobs we had made, then opened back up to show her a big smeary picture. As an alternative version, place another piece of paper over your blobs, rub firmly, and then lift up.

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She loved the way both versions came out!

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We continued squeezing and blobbing the paint, and she started to use the medicine syringe tip more like a paintbrush.

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For extra fun, we tested out blobbing onto different surfaces, like coffee filters or paper towels.

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Did this project keep her from painting with her hands?

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Not entirely, but it definitely mixed up the art experience around here!

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Drip Pots

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We had two teeny tiny terracotta pots here in the house, and Earth Day prompted me to think of a use for them: they’re the perfect size to grow a few windowsill herbs! Although we don’t have a garden, I loved the idea of showing Travis how we can be responsible for our own food (seasoning at least). You could use this paint method on any size clay pot, though, and plant flowers or succulents instead.

The night before, we painted the pots with a few coats of white acrylic paint and left them to dry overnight.

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In the morning, Travis helped mix up red and blue acrylic paints with a little water. You want the mixture to look like glue.

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Turn the pots upside down and place on a work surface. I showed Travis how to dip a brush in the paint and then hold near the rim of the pot. Let the paint drip down in rivulets. It took him a moment to get the hang of it, but then he loved this new painting method!

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Let dry completely, then add a coat of clear sealer, if desired.

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Then just add your planting and enjoy the greenery!


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Easy Easter Eggs

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For Veronika’s final contribution to Easter decorations this year, I gave her wooden eggs to paint instead of egg-shaped paper. To set up, simply squirt pastel colors into a paint tray, then give your toddler q-tips and cotton balls to paint with rather than a regular paint brush!

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Of the two, Veronika definitely preferred the q-tips. She loved delicately dipping them into the paint and then dotting onto the egg. The little spots she produced seemed to fascinate her!

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I showed her how to dip a cotton ball in the paint, too, and press it against an egg for a larger smear, but she wasn’t as interested.

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She did, though, discover that she could dip a little fingertip into the paint and make a similar dot against the eggs. She so carefully repeated this several times, smearing the paint lightly.

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I didn’t help her out with the paint at all, aside from rotating the eggs. The resulting speckled and spotted eggs were decidedly her project, and she looked so proud.

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They looked so pretty gathered together in a glass bowl for a little Easter centerpiece!

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Edible Finger Paint Activity on Foil

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Between an edible yogurt-based paint, pretty colors, an outdoor setting, and a shiny piece of foil as the canvas, what’s not to love about this project? The edible paint means it’s safe to play with toddlers or even younger babies.

It was warm enough that we took the activity outside to the patio, where a big beach towel could contain any mess. If it’s summer, you might consider stripping baby down to a bathing suit or diaper, in fact!

To make the paint, spoon non-dairy vanilla yogurt into containers or cups and add a few drops of food coloring to each. The pretty pastel colors felt just right for spring.

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For her “canvas”, I lightly crumpled up a piece of aluminum foil, then opened it back up again. This added lots of fun texture and shine to capture her attention. Note: I did also set down a brown paper bag in case she wanted to paint on that, too, but the foil was the definite favorite.

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She was eager to paint right away, and especially intrigued with using a brush instead of her fingers. Then she started painting her pants! Luckily it was warm enough to take them off and continue the activity.

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Next she loved pouring the paint cups right onto the canvas. After that we swished the yogurt around to even out the big blobs.

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Here is her final masterpiece:

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This activity was good yummy colorful fun.


Mix ‘n’ Squish Heart Sensory Bags

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Here’s a Valentine’s heart activity that even the youngest toddlers can enjoy without making a mess These hearts get “painted” inside a zip-top bagQ

There’s a little color mixing lesson thrown in, too, and although toddlers won’t yet grasp the difference between primary and secondary colors, kids are never too young to marvel at how yellow and blue make green, red and blue make purple etc.

I drew a heart with sharpie on each of three snack-sized zip-top bags. These were the perfect size for little hands, although you could make a large version in gallon-sized zip-top bags.

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Carefully squeeze two primary colors of paint into each heart. We had one each of the follow:

  • red + yellow
  • yellow+ blue
  • blue + red

Aim to line these up so that each color fills half the heart. Now it was up to Veronika! She immediately loved squishing the bags in her hands.

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She most likely didn’t notice the “hearts” she was filling in, but she clearly delighted in the texture and colors.

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When she tired of the beautiful green she made, it was time to make purple!

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The red and yellow squished together and resulted in a pretty peach for her to see.

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In sum, it’s safe to say that Veronika loved this little Valentine’s Day activity.

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