It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Sidewalk Paint!

Brilliant and easy! Equal parts cornstarch and water, and enough food colouring to get the colour you want. It dries to a chalky finish, but we found the colour to be very bright, possibly because I was using Neon colours.
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The kids loooved it!
Tip: Get the cheapest paint brushes you can find in the hardware store: the sidewalk is rough and chews them up.
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The sidewalk outside my home was a brilliant mess of happy colours … until the next rain, when it washed right away! Perfect!

July 31, 2013 Posted by | crafts, daycare | , , | 4 Comments


There is nothing like a quick glance at the blog calendar to highlight my winter doldrums. Every winter I find it difficult to post regularly. Every March I complain about being weary. I see a pattern…

However! Just because I am not blogging does not mean I am not Doing Stuff. Lots of stuff. The children are busy, busy, busy.

Last week, we made Puffy Paint, using this recipe:

Poppy (18 months) and Grace (2.5) spent a solid 40 minutes creating a mere three pictures each. That’s over ten minutes per picture! I’ll be doing this again when all the children are here.

We made PURPLE playdough, using this … oops. I have no idea where the recipe came from. I shall have to post it. It’s superb! So velvety silken soft and smooooooth. Here, Jazz practices the pinch technique I’d just shown them. FUN!

In fact, given that Valentine’s day is coming up, I was aiming for pink, but the teeny vials of neon food colouring are not labelled all that well. I could’ve sworn that lid was pink. SURPRISE!!! But purple is fun. Way, way fun. (It also stains their wee hands, but not, happily, their wee shirts.)

We did puzzles. The big ones are very much into puzzles these days, which means the little ones (that’s Daniel’s so-blond head you see there) must try it out, too! (This is modelling and peer pressure at its best.) Daniel doesn’t really get the whole “fit it in the hole” part, but he very much enjoys the fine motor challenge of picking them up using the tiny peg in the middle of each piece.

So there you are. I may be a winter blogging dud, but I am not a winter daycare dud. 😀

January 23, 2012 Posted by | crafts | , , , , | 9 Comments

The tots ate my homework

Today we…

— went out for a short flounder in the snow. (Coats, hats, mittens, snowpants, scarves/neckwarmers, boots times four.)

— during which time the puppy had a pee. “YAY, Romeo!!!” (Toddlers being experts in Encouraging Housebreaking Potty-training. There may even have been some Potty Dancing around the puddle of steaming dampness.

— came back inside (De-coat, hat, mitten, scarf/neckwarmer, boots… times four.) Oh wait, five. I was wearing all that stuff, too.

— Oh, wait. Six coats, if you count the puppy.

— made some more foam mittens for our WINTER banner (pictures forthcoming)

— made some foam winter clothing cut-outs for Emily’s banner, which she will be taking home today

— cleared the table of 146 pounds of craft debris so that we could

— eat apples and peanut butter for snack.

— We read forty-three gazillion books

— made an attempt to sing our way through the Porcupine in a Pine Tree book. (“Attempt” because I have a touch of laryngitis, which manifests most obviously when I sing. The voice starts out okay… a bit thready, but okay, and steadily deteriorates.) By the ninth day, Tyler looked at me and said, MOST reproachfully,

“You are just PRETENDING to sing, Mary.”

My attempts to explain — with a voice that is pretty much business as usual for talking — that I wasn’t doing that on purpose were met with scathing skepticism.

We also…

— played with puzzles

— talked about shapes and colours

— did our weather calendar

— and our regular calendar

— and our charting (for vocabulary and reading)

We sang… well, they sang, and I sort of chanted… “Ring around a Rosie”…

— which led to a discussion of why Lily says “Ashes, Ashes” while the rest of us say “Hush-a, Hush-a”. (Touching on things like “folk song”, “very old”, “many variations”, she’s from West Virginia (er, far away from here, in a whole ‘nuther country!!))

…Twinkle, Twinkle; ABC; My Father is a Garbageman; I’m a Little Smelly Skunk… and a bunch of other songs.

— We had rice and beans for lunch. Emily LOVES rice and beans. “I will have FOUR helpings!” she declared as she raised her spoon. Everyone enjoys rice and beans, but no one loves them like Emily.

She managed three helpings before rolling away from the table…

We washed hands and faces, then cleared the table so that we could

— colour large paper pieces, cut into mitten shapes

— and then, while the other children were napping, Emily and I made some of these VERY cool snowflakes starbursts. (Can’t be snowflakes, you know, because our theme for the month is Winter (subset snow), and EVERYONE knows that snowflakes have SIX points, not eight. Emily was Very Clear on this point. “And six is two less than eight”, she declared, showing commendable subtraction skills, “so these are not snowflakes!”)

— Then, while Emily napped, I made a couple of quiches and a spicy carrot salad for dinner, and took the puppy out to pee.

— When Emily woke again, she and I made oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.

— and did the dishes from cookies, quiche, and salad prep.

And now everyone else is starting to wake up. We will have fresh-baked oatmeal cookies and milk for snack.

And that? That is why I didn’t blog today.

January 6, 2011 Posted by | crafts, daycare | , , , , , | 9 Comments

Toddler Christmas Craft

Super simple, and I’m sure you’ve come across it before. We do it every year, in one form or another. Today I have only Rory and Lily, and right now, Lily is sleeping. So Rory and I got out the supplies — paint, cookie cutters, paper. (The paper is from an enormous roll of tracing paper I got in the Great Design Firm Cast-off Haul. The goodness, it just keeps on coming!)

If you want a product that will actually be attractive enough to use, keep the colour choice simple, and give the child only one colour at a time. If you’re only in this for the fun of creating, let the kid go wild. We did a little of both. (That’s Rory’s pudgy hand. Can you tell how much FUN he’s having? Because he totally was.)

Fun, fun, fun…

soooooo much fun!

And when Lily, who celebrated Hanukkah last week, but will not celebrate Christmas, when she wakes up, she, too, will make wrapping paper, only we’ll use the butterfly and heart shapes (her favourites), in yellow and red (which she seems to particularly like) and it can be all-purpose wrap.


December 13, 2010 Posted by | Christmas, crafts | , , , | 1 Comment

Hawaii Day Lei

A couple of weeks ago, our local park had a “Hawaii Day”. In preparation for that, we decided to make our own leis. I suspected there would be dollar store leis provided, but, hey! Any excuse for a craft is good by me! I’d seen pretty coloured coffee filters in several places on the internet, and decided that would be the perfect medium to make beautifully coloured, light and pretty flowers.

So. Take a coffee filter. Take a whole bunch of coffee filters! Colour them with water-soluble markers.

Any way you like. The one on the left is Tyler’s, the middle is mine, the right is Emily’s.

Take a squirt bottle of water set to “mist” (or the most diffuse setting) and spray your coloured filters. Warning: although these are technically water soluble colours, they managed to sink into the white top of my table and become permanent additions to the paint. Good thing that table was on its way out, anyway! For those of you who desire a more long-term relationship with your furniture, I suggest a plastic cloth.

The colours don’t blur instantly. Spray a bit, wait a bit and see what happens, spray a bit more. I also found that lifting it and turning it a bit, then setting it down in much the same spot on the table (or, in your case, your plastic cloth!), helped the colours to blur even more. This one is mid-blur.

Various degrees of blurring:

When you have a bunch, let them dry. I think we made about 45, all told, but we were making several necklaces. I’d say you need at least 4, and the more you make, the longer your lei can be!

Fold the coffee filter into quarters. Cut all layers into as large a circle as you can get from the quarter.

Now, take one circle, fold it in half, and cut petals from it by removing curvy V’s. (Does that make sense? I find it’s easier to visualize the shape I’m removing than the shape I’m aiming for… If that doesn’t work for you, do it your own way.)

Ignore those green things in the background. Originally we were going to put leaves in our leis, but they just looked stupid. Well, those ones did. A different kind would have fit in better, but by then we had MOVED ON from that idea, and were all about the FLOWERS!

When you’ve found your cutting groove and like the look of the flowers you’re producing, you can cut several at a time. I think I found four was about as many as my scissors would handle — eight layers, of course, since you’re folding them in half.

Flowers! Lots and lots and lots of pretty flowers!

Next, the threading. I used green plastic ribbon, cut to the right length for each child. We cut a bunch of green Starbucks straws into 2-cm segments (1 inch). (You don’t save your green Starbucks straws? Whyever not?) Tie one straw segment at what will be one end of the necklace. This is to stop the children from pushing the flowers right off the end.

Now you have, not only a craft, but a pattering activity! Patterning is a pre-math skill! One flower, one straw, one flower, one straw, until you get the length you want.

This little guy, a very active dude, got bored, and so this rather short necklace was as long as he wanted, thankyousomuch. I don’t have a picture of Emily’s, because she wasn’t DONE yet! Hers will be much, much longer…

September 6, 2010 Posted by | crafts | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Thinking ahead

There! I’m done the boys’ Christmas presents, well almost. And for the girls?

This. Isn’t that a terrific idea?

In fact, maybe I’ll have everyone make fabric, boys and girls alike, and make skirts for the girls and for the boys… what? … vests? ties? It’ll be winter, so not shorts… pajamas? Oh, yes. Why not pajamas? Hee.

Course, I’ve already made car caddies for the boys, so then I’d have to make something extra for the girls to even things out…

Fun, fun!

August 12, 2010 Posted by | Christmas, crafts | , , , , , | 7 Comments

Every good gift needs a card

We did two Mother’s Day cards today. One, using construction paper, pipe cleaners and pastel-coloured muffin papers, for the older children.

Here, four-year-old Emily carefully traces over my lightly-pencilled “Happy Mother’s Day”.

Tyler’s finished product. Tyler, being two, doesn’t have the fine-motor control to trace letters. But he can glue! And tape! And splash stickers about!!

And for the babies, who can do none of the above? Baby hand-prints are always a favourite amongst mothers of babies, so why not turn a few into flowers?

Happy Mother’s Day!

May 7, 2010 Posted by | crafts | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Mother’s Day Craft

Mother’s Day is on Sunday! Are you ready? WE are!

Taking a craft idea that is all over the internet, but which I originally found at that terrific craft resource, Frugal Family Fun Blog, I decided that we would make bath salts for all the mummies. Here are our ingredients:

Epsom Salts (ironic how BIG and BOLD the “KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN” label is, huh?) But it’s salt, people, not arsenic, and they were supervised. No ingesting, no rubbing into eyes happened.

Other ingredients: food colouring and essential oil. Not shown: the bit of baking soda we tossed in for good measure.

I had all ingredients but the essential oil at home. The oil, after a bit of floundering, I found at a local health food store. That stuff ranges hugely in price, so I chose one that I liked but wouldn’t break the bank. (Rosemary, at about $8 for a small bottle that, at 5 drops a year, is liable to last me a hundred years. Much better than the rose scent at $45 a bottle!)

We put two cups of salt into a bowl, and then we counted!
One… two… three… four… five drops of food colouring, and
One… two… three… four… drops of oil.

And then you stir it up. It takes quite a bit of stirring, to get the colour evenly distributed. There were still darker bits flecked throughout when we were finished, but I liked that look. I don’t know how long you’d have to stir it to eliminate those. I don’t even know if it’s possible.

And then you pour it all onto a cookie sheet, and smooooooth it out. This takes a surprising amount of fine motor control, I discovered, to make a nice, smooth sheet instead of a tray of humps and bumps.

You leave it overnight. This helps the scent dissipate a bit. (Even with only four or five drops, I found it a bit overwhelming, but I’m sure that’s a matter of personal taste.) It also helps it to dry out, so as to avoid clumping.

But really, so you have a clump in your bath salts. You’re only going to toss it into a tub, so this step is not essential. Given how damp this week has been, I was in no way convinced that setting it out overnight was going to dry it much. I was almost convinced I’d come downstairs in the morning and see big pink and green stinky clumps.

But no! Just nice, smooth, pretty salt, smelling lightly of rosemary. Pretty, scented salts which we poured carefully into our pretty jars. (I picked those up at the dollar store at Christmas. I KNEW they’d come in handy for something!) (Well, actually, they did, briefly. They were filled with gorgeous cranberry relish, which I was going to give to the neighbours. Except I let them sit on my counter for too long, and… geez, cranberry relish develops mold REALLY fast, you know? So anyway. The bottles have all been disinfected, not to worry. The mummies are not being given mold spores in the bath salts.)

Using the funnel was a lot of fun. The kids were mesmerized. They also helped each other: one would hold the funnel so another could pour. (No, this picture doesn’t show that. Noah was being Independent.)

A pretty ribbon around the top…

Some tissue paper and a sparkly pipecleaner… and…


They were VERY proud.

And, once again proving my gift-giving acumen, the children have not spilled the beans to their mothers. The mothers know they are getting a gift. The mothers know it comes in a jar. But we have never used the terms ‘salt’, ‘bath salts’, ‘essential oil’, ‘perfume’. Not once. So, lacking the vocabulary, they’ll only say inexplicable things like, ‘white stuff’ and ‘jars’ and ‘pink and green’.

Oh, and ‘stinky’. (Because I used THAT word, yes, I did. Just to play with the mummy’s heads a wee bit…)

Happy Mother’s Day!

May 6, 2010 Posted by | crafts | , , , | 3 Comments


Good thing I like glitter!

Two little boys carefully drizzle pinches of silver glitter onto a looooong strip of clear packing tape, sticky side up. We’re making rain for our clouds!!

Predictably, they got a LOT of glitter on the tape. Even more predictably, they got a LOT MORE glitter onto the table.

THEN we discovered that long strips of packing tape can also be used to PICK UP the glitter!! An adult holds the ends of the strip and lays it lightly on the table. The children tap along the length of the strip, then the adult moves it and places it back down on the table. Repeat until the strip looks nice. Then do it again with another strip.

And again.

And again.

And again.

And soon enough, you will have a beeeeeeyoutiful rain shower, right there on your dining room wall!

If you have a nice, coordinated four-year-old around, you might even give her a small pot of beads, a longish thread and a real needle (imagine the PRIDE of being BIG ENOUGH to use a REAL NEEDLE!!!) and let her make raindrops of a different sort.

More rain on the weekend, and sunny skies for early next week. I think next week’s crafts will be about MUD.


April 9, 2010 Posted by | crafts | , , | 8 Comments

Ooey-gooey fun!

I found a recipe for finger paint online the other day…

Here’s what it looks like, thickened and ready for the colour:

And here we have the coloured version:
(Note to the wise: though the recipe suggests tinting with food colouring, the smart adult will use tempera paint or powder. Food colouring, though non-toxic, is a DYE, and will stain everything.)

You can expect the children to be a little tentative at first:

But with a little time, they’ll get into it!

Oopy-goopy goodness!

This is one of those projects that is more about the process than the product. This little fellow’s “painting” was more like sculpture when he was done, causing the paper to curl, and, when it was dry and we tried to flatten it, it crackled and bits flaked right off the paper. Now, we were using waxed packing paper rather than proper fingerpaint paper, which may well have been a factor.

It doesn’t matter, though, because they all had a whale of a tactile time.

February 23, 2009 Posted by | crafts, eeewww | , , | 5 Comments