Love, Laughter, and Life

Adventures With a Book Lover


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Toddler Tuesday: Pumpkin Spice Play Dough

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Fall and pumpkin season are my absolute favorites! So the other day when I had the urge to provide a fun activity for my two youngest grands (2 and 3 years-old), it was time to knead up a batch of orange, pumpkin spice play dough. This recipe is my old standby, perfect for adapting to any season.

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Pumpkin Spice Play Dough

In a large heat-proof bowl, mix:

3 cups flour

1 cup salt

2 T. oil (baby oil is nice, but vegetable oil is fine, too)

1 T. powdered alum

1 T. pumpkin spice powder

Boil 3 cups of water. Before measuring boiling water, add orange food coloring to measuring cup. Add water. Quickly pour 3 cups boiling water over ingredients in bowl. Use a wooden spoon to stir until dough cools slightly.

Immediately dump dough onto table. It’s hot, but for best results, knead while hot. It will cool off fast enough. It may be sticky while hot, but will knead together nice and smooth. I sprinkled a little bit more of the pumpkin spice on the dough as I kneaded. It smelled so good!

As soon as the dough is well-mixed and cool enough to be safe for young hands, it’s time to play. I have a tub of different play dough tools and toys. I’m not exaggerating when I say my two toddlers were occupied for over 30 minutes. It would have been longer, but we had to leave to get big brother.

Store cooled play dough in a covered play dough container. I love the Costco cottage cheese containers best.

You’re welcome. šŸ˜‰

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Fun Friday Cereal Necklace

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What craft can you make and eat at the same time?

Circle cereal necklaces!

Materials: yarn, tape, circle cereal, scissors

1. Cut a generous length of yarn that will fit easily over heads.

2. About 4 inches from end, thread and tie a piece of cereal in place to keep cereal loops from falling off the end. On the opposite end, form a needle by tightly wrapping tape around the yarn and cutting off the tip at an angle.

Tip: For really young crafters, I love to tape the end of the yarn to the table. This keeps the necklace from falling off the table and helps them know which end to use.

3. Fill a bowl with circle cereal loops. Show how to thread cereal on the necklace, pushing it down to the knotted cereal. Let crafters add as many cereal loops as they want. I always tell them they get to eat the broken ones!

4. Tie the ends together and trim off the ends. Ready to wear! Snack on the go.

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For older crafters, use colored cereal circles and challenge them to create a pattern as they make necklaces.

SAFETY: ALWAYS remove necklaces before sleeping or playing on playground equipment.

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Tuesday Tots: Bubble Wrap

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This post is NOT about wrapping preschoolers in bubble wrap. But it is about how much fun tots have popping bubbles.

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Today during a sorting marathon, I discovered two small boxes filled with hand-sized rectangles of bubble wrap. Bubble wrap became the seed of creativity for my two young charges.

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First, the fine motor skills used in attempting to pop the plastic bubbles brought intense concentration. Next came sound effects-boisterous shouts for each successful popping noise. And after introducing the ‘stomp-til-you-pop’ game while standing on the kitchen floor, squeals of joy and excitement filled the house.

30 minutes. That’s the minimum time they spent focused on small squares of bubble wrap. Moms, I was able to complete several tasks while supervising the giggly kiddos.

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Mom tip: Get (save) bubble wrap!

Other activities to do with bubble wrap:

– use bubble wrap taped to a cardboard tube to make a paint roller

– add bubble wrap to cardboard strips to make bumpy roads for toy vehicles

– experiment with the protective properties of bubble wrap (drop an egg?)

– press bubble wrap in play dough or damp sand to make prints

– add bubble wrap to doll beds for mattresses (tape securely with duct tape)

– cut bubble wrap to fit inside a freezer gallon ziplock bag; seal with duct tape; let younger tots pop bubbles through the bag

– make bubble wrap shoes and walk around outside to see how well they work

CAUTION: Always supervise any play with plastic. Keep plastics and bubble wrap away from faces and mouths.

It might be noisy, but bubble wrap fun will be music to your ears.


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Clay Tiles + Wood Benches = Fun for Kids

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Did you know that:

  • Dried-up markers make excellent painting tools when dipped in clay saucers of water?
  • Water color makers make pretty cool paintings on the clay tiles of a patio.
  • Chalk is another fun tool. Water, chalk, clay tiles. That’s it.
  • Dirt. Always fun. Anyplace. Dig out the gardening tools and construction toys.
  • Wood benches also make the perfect canvas for dried-up markers and water and chalk and water.
  • River rocks, those flat, smooth sorts that are so awesome to hold and touch, make wonderful stacking blocks. Add them to clay saucers to experiment with how they change colors. And paint them with chalk and markers.
  • Add some off-roading or construction vehicles for a different type of exploration.
  • Turn the tiles over. Bumpy road! (My tiles have ridges on the back.)
  • Cut fallen branches into logs for building. BirchĀ trees areĀ a personal favorite. My kiddos love peeling the paper off (extra fine motor practice) and I can use it for crafts. Or they can.
  • All of the above? Leave as is and let the rain or sprinkler wash away the traces. Or spritz the clay tiles and benches with water and TA-DA, clean, fresh canvases for more fun!

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So go ahead, enjoy those dried-up markers, clay tiles, rocks, branches, and benches. I love watching my grands explore, create, make a mess, and explore. Me? Not a care in the world since it all washes off.

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