Rubber spike ball painting

You may think I'm crazy for trying this, but I was sure my girls would love to try this painting activity - and they did...but boy what a mess! I found this idea in Family Fun magazine this past month and have been waiting for a non-windy, non-rainy day to do it. I love to let them do big art because I think that is what I would have enjoyed most as a kid.

To do this project you need:
  • An extra large piece of paper (I used a piece off a roll of table paper), it would also be fun to try it on a sheet
  • Rubber spike balls (I found mine in the dollar spot at Target)
  • Tempera paints
  • A drop cloth for the ground to keep dirt & grass off the balls - in my case I was trying to protect my cement (it did help a little, but next time I will try to find a grassy area so the clean-up is easier)
  • A wall or fence to tape your paper to

 Dip your ball in the paint and throw it!

 Mina was in the way of one of Maisy's balls - New rule: make sure no one is in front of you when you throw your ball...

 Lou spent a good 5 minutes mixing this purple.  She really wanted her ball to stay this color.

 Mina decided to paint some circles...

 And then toss the ball again!  After each toss she would giggle with delight - that made the whole experience worth it for me.

 Maisy in a good action shot!

 Now I told you this was messy - I'm not sure how she ended up with paint on the back of her head.

After having done this, here are my recommendations:
  • Tape up an extra piece of paper above the art work paper in case of a stray ball to protect your wall or fence from paint splashes.  I had to scrub mine off the house - it wasn't too bad, but it only added to the clean up I had to do on my driveway. 
  •  I could have used a few extra drop cloths also, but it wouldn't have been a big deal if the kids had been standing on grass. 

Afterwards I turned on the sprinklers so they could rinse a little paint off their bodies, but instead they decided to turn clean-up into a bike wash. 

Wet chalk drawings

My girls absolutely love to draw outside with their sidewalk chalk, but I had never even thought to bring it inside and use it (wet) on paper until Classified: Mom did this project with it.  They made these really cool rainbow fish inspired by the book The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister.  I love this book and my kids have also enjoyed having it read to them. 

This time we read Rainbow Fish and the Sea Monster's Cave.  Mina still can't sit through a book like that, but the two older girls really liked it. 

To do our project we pulled out some blue construction paper, gathered some of the sidewalk chalk from outside and dipped it in water before drawing. 

Just like most drawings start out, Lou draws a rainbow -- and Maisy does as her big sister does.

And here are some of our finished products:
Seahorses by Lou

Rainbow by Lou

Rapunzel by Maisy (her mainstay)

Really cool sea creature by Maisy

Gigantic blue whale by Lou

Close-up of the whale - the wet chalk left these really cool hard polka dots.

Celebrating Pioneer Day

In Utah the 24th of July is a holiday where we celebrate the pioneers arriving in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847.  To learn a little bit more about our pioneer heritage and ancestors we made mini covered wagons - an idea from Enjoy Utah.  While the girls worked on these wagons we talked about what kinds of things the pioneers were able to carry in their wagons and things they had to leave behind.  They also got to see a picture of one of their ancestors who came across the plains this way.  Hopefully they can appreciate the sacrifices these people made and know how good they have it!

To start, the girls painted some small cardboard jewelry boxes. We used this size so our tiny horses could pull the wagon once it was finished. I think it would also be fun to make one out of a shoe box so you could fit more things inside of it.

Next, they were able to practice their cutting skills to cut out the wheels.  Lou thought this part was easy peasy, but Maisy struggled a bit because of the smaller size.  She pulled through though and did it all by herself.  I did the cutting for Mina since she is two and is still learning to hold scissors correctly.

We had to wait for all that paint to dry...

Next, I poked holes in the wheels and box and attached the wheels with brads.  The girls added a little glue to each side of a piece of cardstock that was cut to fit the length of the wagon.  This made the canvas.

Lou decided she would tie her horses up to the wagon with some hair ribbons - clever, clever. (I ,of course, couldn't figure a way to hitch them up.)  Have you done any art projects to help your children learn about their heritage?

Sock puppets with personality

A couple of years ago we made our first sock puppets.  We used regular old white socks and colored them with markers - hey my kids were so young, I didn't think we could do it any other way without it taking a really long time.  My girls have enjoyed making them in the past and are always telling me they want to make some new ones. 

Recently I came across some silly sock puppets from Quirky Momma.  I loved that they were made from socks that were not white.  I loved the use of yarn for the hair and the personality the finished puppets seemed to have.  I decided it was time to give this project a go. 

I gathered some Christmas socks I had in my drawer (originally from the dollar store), found some yarn and scraps of felt, and pulled out some fun beads, buttons, and flowers.  I had also pulled out a low temp glue gun (I found recently at Walmart for less than $3) so my kids could glue some of these things on.  I was planning on sewing some parts to the puppet, but ended up using the glue gun the whole time. 

 Lou is 7 and insisted that she cut her own fabric.  It worked better for her than I thought it would.  I'm actually glad I didn't have to do all the cutting.

Lou also insisted on using the glue gun.  Since it is a low temp, this also turned out OK for her.  The glue does get hot, but not so hot that it burns your skin.  Lou really enjoyed making most of the puppet all by herself. 

Lou carefully place the buttons and other decorations onto her puppet's beautiful green dress.

The happy first puppet.  Lovely green yarn hair with a flower bow for her hair, and a one-of-a-kind green dress...

 complete with bells, buttons, and animal beads.

I helped Maisy (who is 4) with the cutting of her felt and the glue placement since I didn't feel comfortable with her squeezing the glue out of the glue gun.  But she did the designing of her puppet, Sleeping Beauty, and applied all of her accessories.  She even found a scrap of felt that looked like a crown so we attached and decorated it.

Lou's second puppet Buttercup. 

I can't wait for the puppet show!  These sock puppets have so much personality - and with the hot glue I'm sure they will stay together for a long time.

Making GAK

Here's a fun science experiment - making your own GAK (aka flubber).  Lou came home from a play group the other day and had made this stuff there.   I thought it was so fun, I looked up the recipe and found it here.

All you need are 3 simple ingredients:
  1.  Elmer's glue (4 oz. bottle)
  2. Borax - I found mine at Walmart near the laundry detergents.  You only need a small amount, but a box only costs around $3.
  3. Water
You can use food coloring or paint to color it, but we just used markers.  We even used the washable kind and they worked just great.  Here's what to do:

  • Pour entire contents of 4 oz. glue bottle into a large bowl.
  • Fill the empty glue bottle with water and shake, with the lid on of course.
  • Pour water into the bowl with the glue.

Stir water and glue mixture.  If you want to add food coloring to your GAK, you would do it now.  We chose to color ours afterwards with markers.

  • Mix together 1/4 cup water and 1/2 tsp. Borax - it's ok if the Borax doesn't dissolve completely.
  • Slowly add the Borax mixture to the water and glue mixture while stirring.  The mixture will start to change immediately from a liquid to a polymer.

This is when it's time to take the GAK out of the bowl and knead it a little with your hands.  If you want your GAK to be a little more stiff than gooey, just add a little more of the Borax and water mixture.  Then you are ready to play!

We colored our GAK with markers,

cut out shapes with cookie cutters,

and rolled it out flat.
They were also able to roll it up and bounce it, or just stretch it.

Then we tried to blow bubbles with the stuff.

Lou showed us how to do it by wrapping a small piece of flubber around the end of a straw and blowing into it.

Maisy blowing her own bubbles.


By the end,  Lou's portion of GAK had turned brown from all the colors that had been added to it.  Lou was quite upset for a little bit about this - but she did know from the beginning what would happen if she kept adding all sorts of different colors to hers.  It became fun again when she realized she could make a chocolate mint cake out of it.

I need to mention two things. Mina got it on her clothes a couple of times and it washed out completely.  I did use washable glue as well as washable markers so I'm sure that played a factor. Also, I don't recommend this project for a child that has a tendency to put these types of things in their mouth, given the ingredients.

When playtime with your flubber is over, make sure to seal it up well in a zipper lock bag. It should stay moist enough to play with time and time again. 

In response to a comment about the concern for a child's safety using Borax, I must first say that safety for our children is my first priority. After seriously researching the safety of using the Borax I found that it does have a low toxicity level, and I have come to the conclusion that it's OK for children old enough to understand not to ingest the stuff. And when I say ingest, I mean that a child would have to eat the entire batch of slime to experience adverse effects - it actually takes a full teaspoon. The same effect could possibly come from a child who ingests bubbles meant to be blown - after all they are made with soap. Also, a child should wash their hands after playing with this concoction as it could possibly cause skin irritation if not washed off.  My children have played with GAK three times now and we have yet to experience anything adverse - it was kept out of their mouths and hands were adequately washed after play.  Borax should be treated like what it is - a cleaning agent similar to laundry detergent or other household cleaner.  It is safe when used under adult supervision

Boron, the mineral found in Borax, is also used as a health supplement. It is only harmful in large doses - just as most other minerals, for example table salt. However, it is up to you as a parent to decide whether or not you think this is safe for your child.

I think this article was most helpful in answering my questions because there is a lot of contradicting information out there.   


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