DIY Beach Seashell Souvenir Idea

This Beach trip souvenir idea is a post we put together at the end of last summer.  We made these free DIY souvenirs while on our beach vacation and wanted to share the tip but decided to hold off until Spring (for us, many of our readers are heading into fall now!) After we returned from our vacation, we loved using our beach souvenir as a sensory bottle for calm down moments.  This is such an easy idea and uses a recycled bottle to bring home a little bit of beach trip memories. 

Easy beach souvenir idea for kids.

Beach souvenir idea for kids (free!)

While at the beach this summer, grab an empty plastic water bottle.  Fill with sand, but be sure to not fill completely.  Leave a few inches of space at the top.  Next, add little seashells from your beach-combing walks.  You’ll want to find shells that are small enough to fit in the mouth of the water bottle.  

Beach Themed Sensory Bottle

Make a beach themed sensory bottle at the beach!
When you take the bottle souvenir home, use it as a sensory bottle!   What is a sensory bottle?  We use ours for calm down moments, relaxing, and visual perceptual skills.
Enjoy playing and remembering the memories of your beach vacation for long after!

Fruit Pizza Recipe Cooking with Kids

We are absolutely loving our cooking with kids series.  My kids love to get in the kitchen and cook with me.  (I think the end result of tasting the treats might be a minor motivation…)  Today’s Cooking with Kids recipe was a huge hit and the perfect after school snack for a rainy day.  We made our own Fruit Mini- Pizza recipe with grapes for today’s G is for Grapes post.  The kids decorated their own pizzas and gobbled up this snack!

Cooking with kids with mini fruit pizzas

This recipe is an easy one to throw together.  When a sweet treat is needed for parties or guests, this is the one for you.  Kids (and adults!) will love to snack on these mini fruit pizzas.  Set this up as a play date or school party activity and snack combined as the kids decorate their own mini sugar cookie pizzas with healthy fruit.

Mini Fruit Pizza Dessert

Mini fruit pizza recipe for cooking with kids.
To make this recipe, you’ll need a few ingredients (I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience):
Sugar cookies cut into circles.  Use your favorite recipe or take a shortcut and grab a tube of refrigerated sugar cookie dough
from the store.   I made up a batch of my sugar cookie recipe with my daughter.  She is my special kitchen helper and loves to cook with me!
I had my little helper rolling dough…
And cutting circles.  TIP: Use a drinking glass with the edge dipped in flour for the perfect mini-pizza sized cookies!
Prepare your fruit toppings.  To make the icing, mix together at high speed, one block of cream cheese and one cup of flour.  Slice strawberries and be sure to cut the grapes in half for children to prevent a choking hazard.  Kids can definitely help with this part.  Washing fruit is a great sensory experience as they clean the fruit without pressing too hard!  Little ones can use a safety knife to chop and slice fruit safely.
Ice the cookie pizzas.
Now is the fun part: decorating!  Make faces, shapes, or pile on that fruit.  My Little Guy (age 5) told me he made an AA BB CC pattern with his fruit.  This kid is too much!
We made a bunch of fruit mini pizzas and had a delicious after school snack and activity!
These mini fruit pizzas are fun for the kids to make.  This would make a great activity and snack for school parties or play dates.
Make a mini fruit pizza with sugar cookies.  SO good!
Make mini fruit pizzas with your kids as an after school snack!
Check out the other bloggers in the cooking with kids A-Z series and see what they’ve been making:
Frozen Fruit Yogurt Bites from Mum in the Mad House
Fruit Swords from Rainy Day Mum
Grape Poppers from Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails
Grape Sparklers from Still Playing School
The rest of our cooking with kids A-Z recipes can be seen here:

Experiments with Air Drag and Streamlined Shapes

Today’s experiment with streamlined vehicles and shapes was a very fun way to learn about air drag!  My son loves anything with experiments or discovery, so this STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) activity was right up his alley.  We discovered why sports cars have pointed fronts and a little about how an object’s shape affects it’s movement with drag and airflow.  
Experiment with streamlined shapes and airflow to discover drag.  This is a fun STEM activity for kids!

Experimenting with Air Drag and Streamlined Vehicles

 We used just a few materials for this experiment (I’m including the affiliate links for your convenience.)
You’ll need: 
Two identical toy cars.  We used ones similar to these.
colored cardstock, cut into rectangles
clear tape 
hair dryer 
foam board
stack of books

streamlined shapes vehicles and experiments with airflow and drag.
This is an easy STEM activity to set up.  Cut the cardstock into strips that are as wide as the cars.  You’ll want the length to be a little longer than the cars, but even with the end.  I taped the edge of the cardstock rectangle to the front of each car, then bent one into a curved shape and the other into an right angle shape.  The cardstock is a good material for this experiment because it holds the curve and angled shapes well.  Regular paper will not work as well.  Finally, snip the edge of the cardstock so that it ends at the end of each car.

Prediction:  Ask your child their predictions!  What will the shapes do to the cars?  Will one shape go faster? Why?  What will happen when air is applied to the cars?  

Experimenting with streamlined shapes
Now comes the fun part: the streamlined shapes experiment!

Stack a few books and prop one end of the foam board up.  You can use any flat surface for this project, but the foam board was the right length and perfect for both cars to travel without sailing over the edge.  

First line each car up on the edge of the foam board.  This is a fun activity in itself; sending toy cars down planks and ramps is a great boredom buster! 

Experiment with force, but just tapping the cars down the ramp and pushing.  More force gives them more speed!  We noticed that both cars went down the ramp at the same time.   Be sure to push the cars over the edge of the ramp at exactly the same time.

Experiment with air flow, drag, and resistance with streamlined shapes
Next, we applied a source of air to the bottom of the ramp.  Turn on the hair dryer and aim the air toward the cars going down the ramp.  Now, the curved car went faster!  

What is happening?  The car with the streamlined shape travels faster because it’s shape disturbs less of the air.  The car with the angular shape disturbs air as it travels.  This unstreamlined shape increases the force called drag and slows the car down.  

What is drag? Drag is air resistance caused by disturbances in the flow of air over an object.  This force slows down moving objects like the cars in our experiment.  

Have fun with your air flow experiments!  You might also like our Bernoulli’s Principle air glider project: 

The cutest potato stamp crafts

We’ve been busy recently making lots of potato print stamp crafts.  (Notice: you’ve been warned.  Be prepared for super cute potato stamp art and crafts coming your way!) So this week on Share It Saturday, we decided to feature the cutest potato stamp crafts out there.  The Polar Bear Print below was the inspiration for this feature post from our link up and we had to go look for more.  We’ve done a Grand Old Duke of York nursery rhyme print before and are excited to share more potato stamp crafts soon!

Cute potato stamp art crafts for kids!

Cute potato stamp crafts for kids

How adorable are these:
Tulip Prints from Crafty Morning
Watermelon Prints from Inner Child Fun
Monster Prints from Mollymoo
Panda Stamps from I heart arts and crafts
Mice Stamps from Glued to My Crafts
Grand Old Duke of York nursery rhyme print from Sugar Aunts

Teaching Kids to Write Their Name the Fun Way!

We are working a lot on writing lower case letters these days.  My five year old has been trying so hard to write his name and is a trooper when it comes to practicing.  Sometimes it’s not a child’s interest to write letters of their name (and other letters needed in handwriting, too!)  This letter forming name writing activity is perfect for kids who need more practice and are just plain tired of writing their name over and over again.  Adding a sensory and motor spin on forming the letters of their name can add interest and fun to handwriting and name writing.  Sometimes ordering the letters in name writing can be difficult for young kids.  This name building activity is adaptable to so many skill levels of kids who are working on writing their name.

Teaching kids to write their name and practice letter formation with sensory soup

Teaching kids to write their name with sensory and movement:

To practice our name writing with sensory and motor movements, we used these foam craft sticks that we received from our friends at  Draw lines across the sticks in 3/4 to one inch increments.  Have your child snip the craft sticks into pieces along the lines.  This scissor activity was a hit with my son.  Snipping the foam craft sticks provides a satisfying texture and allows accuracy with the thick resistance and thicker lines.  
Use the small foam pieces to practice letter formation.  The small size is perfect for kids who are working on size awareness in their handwriting. 

Pressing a pen into the foam surface provides great feedback for letter formation.  Use verbal and visual cues.

Build your name sensory soup activity
We used those foam letter pieces to make a sensory soup.  Fill a bowl or bin with water and add the foam letters.  They will float on the water surface.  Visual scanning and picking out the correct letter is a great sensory and fine motor experience.  Kids can work on the order of letters in their name as they look for the letters.  
name writing and learning activity for kids
I drew a rectangle on a plastic plate and had my son build his name with the letters.  The wet foam pieces will stick to the plastic plate.  Kids are encouraged to build their name in order while keeping the letters in a line given the visual cue of the rectangle.  This is great for kids who will soon be concentrating on line awareness and spatial awareness in name writing in Kindergarten and in older grades.

Teaching kids to build words and name with letter order, spatial awareness, and line awareness

We’ve been having fun with letter formation and handwriting and will be sharing more creative activities soon!  For now, check out these ideas for handwriting

Fun ways to work on Letter Formation:

High-Contrast Letter Formation
Sensory Letter Formation Practice
Tracing Letters: Letter Formation Handwriting Practice with Chalk
Tracing Lines with a DIY Light Box

Tripod Grasp Activities for Kids:

Improving Pencil Grasp With Fine Motor Play Activities
Fine Motor Coordination with a Cereal Box (activity to improve tripod grasp)
Gift Guide: Toys to Improve Pencil Grasp

This post is part of Preschool Powol Packet’s name recognition writing series. Stop by and see all of the great ways to practice name formation.

Caterpillar Math Craft

You know we love a great craft made from recycled materials, right?  Recycled items seem to make a reoccurring appearance on our blog.  And, here’s a little secret:  I LOVE crafting and encouraging playful learning with recycled stuff because it’s re-purposing and environmentally cool, but it’s also FREE!  You have the materials already in your home, and are just going to be tossing them away (whether it’s into the garbage or the recycle bin…so why not learn and play first?)  We made this caterpillar craft from a recycled egg carton and added a math twist to add a little adding and 1:1 correspondence number counting to provide a multi-age learning tool for three of my kids, ages 3, 5, and 7.  (The baby just want to to pull the googly eyes off of the caterpillar.  Which is a sort of subtraction…)
Caterpillar craft made from a recycled egg carton. Use this for math concepts for preschool through grade school kids.

Math Caterpillar Craft (from a recycled egg carton!)

This post contains affiliate links.
We pulled a recycled egg carton from the recycle bin.  Cut one long section of carton.  Paint the sections to make the caterpillars body and head.  We love these paints for their bright colors.
Grab some yarn and have the kids snip little 2 inch pieces.  This is fabulous scissor practice.  Holding the wiggly yarn while snipping sections encourages bilateral hand coordination that is needed for managing paper and scissors while cutting shapes from paper and worksheets.
Caterpillar craft made from a recycled egg carton. Use this for math concepts for preschool through grade school kids.
Math concept:  Encourage your child to count the sections of yarn into groups of three.  
Tape the yarn legs onto the caterpillar’s body.

Glue on googly eyes and draw on a smile.
Caterpillar craft made from a recycled egg carton. Use this for math concepts for preschool through grade school kids.

Caterpillar math activity:

We played a few math games with the caterpillar.  
  • Count out craft pom poms, encouraging 1:1 correspondence.  Counting items is an important preschool math concept that is used in addition and subtraction in later grades.  My first grader often uses counting manipulates as a technique for adding multiple digit addition/subtraction problems and counting too quickly can lead to errors.  
  • Use the pom poms to feed the caterpillar.  Sort them into piles by color and patterns and make the caterpillar eat the pom poms by pushing them under the head.  Write out the math subtraction problems.  
Caterpillar craft made from a recycled egg carton. Use this for math concepts for preschool through grade school kids.

How cute is this little guy?  Make him and other fun recycled crafts for learning and play.

This post is part of the  natural parenting and earth month series at Allternative Learning.

Painting with Pinwheels Art for Kids

This painting with pinwheels art activity is one that we actually did last summer.  We never got around to sharing it, but it was such a fun creative art activity, that I wanted to be sure to show you all!  My kids still talk about painting with pinwheels, so we’ll be doing this one again soon, especially now that the weather has warmed and we can get back outside for creating art with the kids!

Paint with Pinwheels for a creative art painting experience with kids!  This is a cute art project for a letter "P" preschool theme!

Painting with Pinwheels Art

This post contains affiliate links.
painting with pinwheels P letter theme

This is such a simple and fun outdoor painting activity for summer.  Or, if you’re looking for a “letter P” theme for preschoolers, painting with pinwheels
would be perfect!  (See what I did there?  Perfect?)  You can definitely take this painting activity indoors, with paper spread over the table surface.  The paint coated pinwheels make the paint spray, especially as kids start getting more into the activity and discover that blowing the pinwheels
makes paint spray in super artistic ways!  

Pour a little washable paint
into bowls. (Click here
for our favorite paint for it’s bright colors that don’t fade as they dry.)  Show the kids how to dip the pin the pinwheels into the paint.  We used a giant roll of paper for big art.  Roll, blow, spin, and tap the pinwheels onto the paper with color mixing.  This is such a fun and creative painting activity!  

Painting with Pinwheels Art activity for kids

Let us know if you do this Pinwheel Painting art with your kids or your class.  Stop by our Facebook page and share a picture with us.  We would love to see your pinwheel art!
More creative painting techniques you may enjoy: 

How to make Stovetop Clean Mud Sensory Play

Have you ever made clean mud?  This sensory dough is very cool.  We’ve made the standard version before (you know the clean mud sensory dough where you cook a bar of ivory soap in the microwave?).  This month in the 12 months of sensory dough series, we thought we would try a new version of clean mud.  We made a stovetop clan mud using body wash.  This sensory dough turned out to be a very cool messy play activity and we ended up doing a little birthday party pretend play, too!
How to make clean mud with body wash! For sensory play

(This post contains affiliate links.)

How to make stovetop clean mud:

 With a broken microwave, we were out of luck making the traditional recipe for clean mud.  Or were we??? Why not try a stove top version of clean mud for a different twist on the usual clean mud recipe.  Instead of a bar of Ivory soap, we used body wash. (This scent also had a pink tint to it and the body wash made for a great cherry/vanilla scent.)

We started by filling a pot with torn toilet paper.  (We used the same pot we used for melting crayons for our crayon play dough.  If you don’t have a cheap sauce pan
for kitchen experiments, be sure to pick one up. We use ours all the time!) Usually we make a large batch of clean mud using a whole roll of toilet paper.  This time, we just made a small amount.

If there was ever a reason for two kids to be happy, it was being told by an adult to go ahead and shred toilet paper.  These two sisters were in heaven!

Next,  add one tablespoon of body wash and one tablespoon of water.  Stir everything together over heat on the stove.  Keep stirring until the clean mud reaches the consistency of mashed potatoes.  Remove from heat and continue to stir.

Dump the clean mud onto a clean surface and let cool to touch.  Knead the dough just a bit to add “fluff” to the sensory dough.  You want the clean mud to be squishy but not too soapy.  You can adjust the texture by adding more toilet paper or soap/water.

How to make clean mud on the stove top (not microwave)

This stuff was so neat to play with!  We pulled out a few measuring cups and spoons to scoop, measure, and pat out.  
Clean Mud birthday party sensory and pretend play

We decided to make our clean mud into a birthday party celebration for no reason in particular.  Singing “Happy Birthday” to every stuffed animal in the house is always a fun way to spend an afternoon.

We used pink cupcake liners
and red coffee stirrers
to create cupcakes and candles.
birthday party clean mud sensory pretend play

Birthday Party pretend play with clean mud sensory play
This was a huge hit in our house and we will certainly be making Stovetop Clean Mud again!
You can see all of the Clean Mud sensory doughs in the 12 Months of Sensory Dough series here: 

The Science Behind Clean Mud | Lemon Lime Adventures

Clean Mud Garden Sensory Bin | Study at Home Mama

Music Inspired Clean Mud | Witty Hoots

Clean Mud Bubble Dough | Bare Feet on the Dashboard

Clean Mud Sensory Tray | Creative World of Varya

Lego Clean Mud | Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tail
Clean Mud  | In The Playroom

Clean Mud Fine Motor Gem Dig | Still Playing School

Clean mud, clean paper? | Glittering Muffins

Rainbow Clean Mud | The Pleasantest Thing
Soapless Clean Mud | Squiggles and Bubbles
How to make Edible Mud for Play | Wildflower Ramblings
Clean Mud Princess Garden | It’s A Long Story