I tried my hand at homemade playdough for the first time. I am no cook. But since the end product is not supposed to be edible, how can I mess it up? I used this recipe from Domestic Super Hero. Don’t worry. You don’t need to be super hero at all. I made three batches: red, yellow, and blue.
Then the fun part: mixing colors! I divided each of my colors of playdough into two equal halves and then set one of the halves off to the side. The remaining half should be divided in half again. (Perfect time to talk about how fractions are equal parts of a whole.) Now you have two equal fourths of each color. Time to mix! Take 1/4 of the red and smoosh it together with 1/4 of the blue. It takes awhile, so you might have to help if your kiddo wears out on the mixing. See if your kid can guess the color that you are making…then see if it actually turns out. Our purple was a little on the gray side. But you can always add a pinch more red or blue to tweak the color.
Our last step was to put our colors on a color wheel. There are tons of free blank color wheels out there. I used the secondary color wheel from Mr. Printables. I liked how the color words were labeled so my daughters could match them up. If you don’t have a reader yet, give them clues like “Red has three letters. Can you find the word blue? It starts with the letter B. Orange is red and yellow mixed together so it should be in between them.”
And if you are still in the mood to play, here are 15 more ways you can learn with playdough!
How do I keep the kids entertained while I mow the lawn? Water painting. All you need is a bucket of water, paintbrushes, and a fence. It’s free and it’s fun and it doesn’t make a mess. Plus kids can practice all kinds of things:
- patterns- use the fence pickets
- math problems
- sight words or spelling words
- and my daughters’ favorite: splattering
It isn’t the same as practicing handwriting with a pencil and paper, but that’s the point. Sometimes kids need a break from the routine. Novelty makes learning fun. Who wouldn’t want to practice their spelling words outside with a paintbrush in the sunshine instead of at the kitchen table?
The girls decided it would be a fun game to cut up yarn. I’m not sure how the came up with idea or how they stayed interested in it for so long. It kept them occupied and it was great cutting practice for my three-year-old, so I was happy. I was slightly less enthusiastic when my living room was covered in bits of yarn. Hmmm… What to do? Well for starters we played my fun game of “Who can pick up the most yarn in her baggie?” Then we made some art.
Big Sis used some steady hands to make lines and shapes with the Elmer’s glue. Then she carefully found pieces of yarn to place on her glue lines.
Little Sis also had a great time plopping glue on a paper and then sticking yarn on. She wasn’t as concerned about getting it on the lines….
We also practiced some sight words. First I wrote the word with glue and Big Sis placed the yarn on the lines. Then we switched and she got to write with glue. You could do the same with letters, numbers, or shapes.
So easy. Fold toilet paper tubes to make a triangle and square. Lucky you, the circle is already done. 🙂 Then dip the ends in paint, stamp on paper, and you have a shape masterpiece! This is a great craft for toddlers who haven’t mastered painting with a brush. You can talk about shapes and colors while you create.
You might want to give them one color at a time or else this happens…
Last year for Mother’s Day we made these kid-painted vases for the grandmothers and great-grandmothers. I was happy to find a use for the plethora of glass vases that take up residence in my kitchen cabinet. I swear, even though I rarely buy flowers, they just seem to multiply up there! Maybe it has something to do with the microwave beneath them. Hmmm… Where were we? Oh yeah. My girls are big fans of painting, so they loved it. Big Sis liked picking out “the perfect vase” for each grandmother and great-grandmother. And even if the painting looks like a mess (ahem, Little Sis’s small vase in front), it will still be a cherished modern art masterpiece by any grandma.
Paper towel art is a super easy. First, draw with markers on a paper towel. Then, drop water on it with an eye dropper. That’s it. Markers alone are enough to get my daughters excited about a project. Then the water really upped the “wow” factor! So just give your kids a paper towel, markers, and water and you are free to make dinner without anyone hanging on your legs.* And for clean-up, you’ve already got a paper towel handy. 🙂
My daughters might have inherited their marker love from me. I had make some paper towel art of my own:
*Results may vary. I’m not responsible for any burnt dinners or kids that get stepped on.
Do you have some tissue boxes? Let’s make them into monster feet! Last year the girls’ preschool made these and the kids loved them. I like the idea of recycling trash into toys. I also like crafts that are easy enough for kids to make it mostly themselves.
- Cut out the plastic in the top opening of the tissue box. (I did this part.)
- Paint boxes whatever color you want.
- Cut out toes from construction paper and glue to the bottom of the box.
- Optional step: We used a texture brush to do a final coat with sparkly paint.
The end product isn’t perfect, but it is kid-made and they had fun painting.
The scariest monster you’ve ever seen…
- 2 tissue boxes
- construction paper
- texture brush (optional)
Time investment: 15 minutes (plus extra time for the paint to dry)
Difficulty: Elementary kids could it all by themselves, preschoolers might need some help with the cutting.
So over breakfast, I had an idea to make masks (or glasses or goggles or whatever you want to call them) out of an egg carton. It was fast, easy, and didn’t require a lot of supplies. Just the way I like it.
- Cut apart the egg carton in pairs.
- Cut out circles for eyes. We experimented with different sizes for the eye holes. Also, we found that it was helpful to cut a little triangle out for the nose, but it isn’t necessary. Please note my meticulous cutting job.
- Decorate! We used washable tempera paint (after first failing with markers). Stickers would also be a fun idea. And as you can see, stickers would be a lot less messy. How did she get paint on her chin?!
- Glue on a popsicle stick and you’re done! (In case you were wondering why our egg cartons don’t carry a dozen eggs…we lost a pair of glasses in a cutting mishap.)
This project was easy enough for Big Sis to do the cutting, gluing, and painting on her own. Both girls had so much fun that I wanted to try it out, too. Please say you can pick out the one that wasn’t painted by a preschooler.
- egg carton
- popsicle sticks
Time investment: 15 minutes to make them, then a couple hours to let the paint dry
Difficulty: Elementary kids could it all by themselves, little ones need help with cutting.
Our local food pantry, Harvesters, does a yearly competition where businesses build structures out of cans. Then when the competition is over, all the cans are donated to Harvesters to feed those in need. The designs are on display at the mall for about a month.
We got inspired to make our own CANstruction at home! Can you tell what we made? (ha- unintentionally pun)
Did you guess? It was a giraffe, rainbow, and castle. Constructing with cans was free, fun, and (bonus!) I had an organized pantry when we were all done. It would be a great activity for the kids while you put away groceries. And of course there is all sorts of learning that can be done with cans…
(Common Core Standards appear in italics. They correlate with specific standards in different grade levels. These standards are used in almost every school in the country. Click the Common Core tab above to learn more.)
- Colors- Talk about the different colors on the cans, then divide them into groups or make a rainbow.
- Size- Compare sizes of cans. Find all the cans that are the same size. What happens when you stack a large can on a small one?
- Counting– How many cans in all? Count how many you can stack in a tower.
- Addition and Subtraction– How many bean cans plus tuna cans do we have? (first grade- Represent and solve problems involving addition and subtraction)
- Geometry- Talk about 2D vs 3D. Use the word cylinder. Point out the circles on top and bottom of a cylinder. (kindergarten- Identify shapes as two-dimensional or three-dimensional)
- Measurement– Measure things around the room with cans. How many cans long is the couch? (first grade- Express the length of an object as a whole number of length units, by laying multiple copies of a shorter object end to end)
- Classification- Sort the cans into groups based on color, size, or type of food. (kindergarten- Classify objects into given categories; count the numbers of objects in each category and sort the categories by count)
- Reading– Beginning readers might be able to read some of the labels using the picture as a clue. If they know it is a can of corn, see if they can pick out the word “corn” on the can.
- Letters- Try to make letters or even words out of the cans.
- Creative building– And the most fun, building!
During our recent packing paper fingerpainting extravaganza, we also made prints. There was so much paint from the color mixing that Big Sis started making designs with her finger. I gently pressed white paper over it and… ta da!
Multiple prints can be made from the same design (depending on how much paint you use and how hard you press). We made our design on packing paper, but I’m sure it would also work on tin foil, wax paper, a cookie sheet, or the table itself. It would be fun to experiment with writing letters or numbers and see how they come out backwards! Let me know if you try it and how it works!