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The last few rainy days have kept us inside in search of something silly and fun to pass the time. We do like to get out and dance in the rain, but today was just too cold. We were bored and in need of something different to occupy ourselves. I took a look around the house to find something new, something we haven’t already done a billion times. Well, as luck would have it I checked out a couple of books from the library last week with a ton of fun things for us to do! And I found a craft that is super easy, using only things we have in the house where we can stay warm and dry.

MATERIALS:

  • Tissue Paper
  • Marker
  • Scissors
  • Large dinner plate
  • Tape
  • Balloon

 

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Unfold the tissue paper completely and lay it flat on the table. Trace the outer edge of a dinner plate to create a circle.

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Draw a snake shape inside the circle, or simply cut into a spiral leaving room to make a head. If you want you can draw on eyes and tape on a small tongue.

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Next comes the fun part. Tape the tale of the snake to the counter. Blow up the balloon and tie the end. Now rub the balloon against your head (or something wool if you have it) to create an electrostatic charge. Now, laugh at how your hair stands straight up! Then apply balloon to the head of your snake. As you raise the balloon the tissue paper snake should attach its self and follow the balloon. This looks like you are charming the snake.

 

That’s it! A fun, quick craft that my kids enjoyed. They continued to play with the balloon without the snake because when you are six nothing is more special than a balloon; even if it can make you a snake charmer. Hope you are surviving the rainy days of Spring!

The Whatever Mom is a full-time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here. You can also find her musings and popular shares on Facebook and Twitter. Stay up to date with her creative ideas and outings on Pinterest. 

 

UNION

With the warmer temps beginning this week I am looking forward to getting outside! However, it can be a challenge to get my kids outside. Once they are outside they will play, but I typically have to set the stage for them first. As a mom I am totally baffled by this. When I was a kid you could not keep me inside the house. I was happiest sitting outside under a big tree watching the clouds going by, or racing up and down the neighborhood street. Not sure how I ended up with two kids who need to be prompted to be outside.

I have discovered if I set a craft up outside they are more motivated to join me in the back yard and will likely stay outside longer. It can be a simple craft, or an entire project, but it helps transition to spending time outside.

By now you all know the benefits to getting kids outside. But just in case, here are 5 more reasons:

  1. Kids who interact with nature tend to engage their imaginations more and invent their own games. This involves critical thinking and observation of what’s in their environment.
  2. When kids are more physically active they are building gross motor and fine motor skills.
  3. Kids who spend time outside more tend to develop a lifelong love of nature and see the need to preserve it.
  4. Kids tend to develop more visual and spacial skills when learning to navigate natural environments.
  5. Anyone who spends time outside feels less stressed.

You may have heard the benefits of kids crafting. I like to be thorough so again, here are 5 more benefits:

  1. Crafting benefits executive functioning. Having to plan a project or craft and lining up each step helps kids with focus and memory skills.
  2. Develops fine motor skills. This helps with handwriting and coordination.
  3. Helps kids recognize patterns and sequence recognition.
  4. Crafting builds on long term academic skills like math and reading.
  5. Teaches social interactions like learning to share and use manners when sharing.

Why not combine these benefits and craft outside? The bonus is you can make a mess outside and not worry about having to clean it up right away, or any of the materials staining your nice dining set.

Outside crafts to do with your kids

If you are tired of the old standby of bubbles and sidewalk chalk try these 5 things to amp up your outdoor craft time.

Make colorful bubble art. Simply pour some bubble mix into a shallow bowl and add food coloring. Mix well and use the bubble wand to soak up the mixture. Blow bubbles right in front of the paper or canvas to be sure they land and splatter on the surface. This will make a really unique print for your house. Or turn the paper into personalized stationary.

Paint some rocks. You can paint rocks to add some color to your back yard, or create a fun tick tack toe set by painting three similar rocks to look like lady bugs, and another three rocks a solid color. If you really want to make a fun project sign up to paint some Kindness Rocks to leave around your community, or for friends and family to find in your back yard.

Make your own fossils. This was fun when we did it with cookie dough, now I can’t wait to try it with baker’s clay. Simply roll a small piece of dough into a ball and press flat between your hands. Then press a leaf, or pine cone, or blades of grass into the clay to create a fossil imprint.

Design a paint brush from nature. Simply dip flowers into paint and press flat against your paper to make a pretty print. You can also dip leaves, feathers, a bundle of pine needles or stems into paint and use them like a paint brush.

Re-imagine your water table. When my kids were really little we used the water table for more than just water fun. We filled it with things like shaving cream, a bubble bath for dinosaurs and cornstarch with water (it creates a really fun solid that melts into your hand).

Crafting outside has long term benefits for kids, and the combined benefits create life long skills sets. You don’t need to wait for summer vacation to give any of these ideas a try. As soon as the weather is nice enough to be outside skip the chalk and do something a little different! Your kids will always remember the fun you have together, no matter the craft.

The Whatever Mom is a full-time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here. You can also find her musings and popular shares on Facebook and Twitter. Stay up to date with her creative ideas and outings on Pinterest. 

5-ways-to

So this was a crazy week at my house. I had a lovely stomach bug that set me back an entire weekend and made for a crazy week of catching up. As a result I was busy rushing around, maybe a little too fast, and smashed my hand. I thought I broke my thumb, but thankfully it is just a wicked sprain. Five days later and it is still swollen and really hurts. As a crafty blogger that kind of limits what I can do with one hand. I thought about sharing five different ways to splint an injury using only a Popsicle stick, but realize that doesn’t really qualify as a craft.

I shared with you last week 7 fun things to do with bubble wrap, so I thought I’d share what to do with all those left over shipping boxes!

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We didn’t make anything this week due to the aforementioned hand injury. But, we did do a little research!

My kids and I are hooked on watching videos on Box Yourself YouTube channel. What this guy can make from a box or cardboard tube is amazing! You need extra supplies like paint and a box cutter, but if you are in a serious project mode, or have an older kid, these could be fun!

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If you have really little kids you could literally give them a box to play with and they’ll magically turn it into something fun simply using their imagination. If you want to add some color without making a mess, just give them a box of crayons or washable markers and some stickers. Prepare for some quiet entertainment.

Here are 5 ways we’ve used left over shipping boxes:

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BOX TUNNEL – every kid loves to climb into a cardboard box. It feels like a little space just for them. Tape together several large boxes end to end and allow your kid to crawl through. If you are feeling really ambitious you can poke holes in the top and push through Christmas lights. This makes a fun starry effect inside the tunnel.

AUTOMOBILES– help your kiddo transform a plain box into a car or truck. Use paper plates for the wheels, duct tape to make lines for windows and doors (if you don’t want to deal with paint). You can make a steering wheel from a paper towel tube and another paper plate, or cardboard circle. Your kid will spend hours driving this car through their imagination. Throw in a pillow and blanket, park the car in front of the TV and you have an instant indoor drive in.

DIARAMA– building small scenes inside of a box can help kids really use their preplanning skills to imagine a small world inside an ordinary box. Once your child selects a theme they can draw a scene inside the box, or glue items inside to create a 3-D effect.

CITY SCAPES– set up a row of boxes and let your child paint a different store front on each. Again, if you don’t like paint hand them markers instead. Attach signs for Bakery, Grocery, and Barber etc. Your kid can pretend to run errands with their stuffed animals in tow.

TREASURE CHEST– let the kids decorate any way they like and use to store their favorite treasures in. My kids like to pretend they are pirates discovering hidden treasure. Super easy and super fun!

Hope you are enjoying the Christmas break with the kids and remember boxes are better than any toy at any age! But if your household has outgrown the magic of finding a good box, you can always use them to pack up donations in and send off to your local Good Will, OR other favorite charity. Here’s how.

Wishing you all a Happy New Year! Here’s to much healthy and happiness in 2017!! As always thanks for reading each week!!

Oh and p.s. if you are looking for a fun way to use those paper towel tubes, check out my post from last year, Pom-Poms and Cardboard, Expensive Toys Are Overrated.

The Whatever Mom is a full-time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here. You can also find her musings and popular shares on Facebook and Twitter. Stay up to date with her creative ideas and outings on Pinterest. 

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When we become grownups, we sometimes forgot what really makes the holidays a magical time of year. We think we can purchase it at the store. We try so hard to either give our kids the kind of childhood we had or one that is better.

If we really think back, childhood itself is what’s magical. It’s the time in our lives where parents still live on pedestals, special meals have more to do with who we’re sitting next to than what’s being served, and we see the beauty in the small things like the twinkling of lights or the magnificent height of a pine tree.

Here are 17 ways to make your child’s holiday magical without spending a lot of money.

  1. Take them to a tree lighting ceremony in your community.
  2. Decorate your tree together if you have one.
  3. Take a trip to New York City at Christmas time if you can. Between the ginormous decorated tree at Rockefeller Center, ice skating and incredible light and window displays, this time of year NYC is a magical place to visit.
  4. Read books to them that teach them the stories of your religious connection to the holidays.
  5. Bake cookies and make baskets/plates to give to friends and neighbors.

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  6. Sing songs that get you in the mood for the holidays. It’s okay if it’s loud, silly and completely off key.
  7. Share a special meal with friends and family. The longer it’s been since you’ve seen them, the more magical it will be. My kids are excited to see their cousins since it’s been a few months since we’ve seen them last.
  8. Build snow castles. I still remember the igloo style castle my Dad and I made together twenty-odd years ago.
  9. Have a day where you gather all your craft supplies and go crazy making decorations for the house. It really doesn’t matter if they aren’t “Martha Stewart worthy.” It’s more about the process; the messier the better. Just throw down some newspaper and have fun.
  10. Take a tour of the best light displays in the Hudson Valley. You don’t need to go to elaborate displays that cost money if you don’t want to. Simply pile in the car in your pajamas with some hot cocoa in travel mugs and try to find the best lights in your area.
  11. Go sledding and/or snow tubing with your kids. Find a decent hill in your neighborhood or at a local park and spend the day riding down with your kids. We always have a blast with our kids.
  12. Have hot cocoa on a cold winter day. Add special toppings like marshmallows, whipped cream, mints or add a candy cane stirrer. It’s extra special after a day of playing in the snow.
  13. Make snow art. A few years ago I gave my kids squirt bottles filled with water and food coloring. Make a few different colors and put them in different types of containers like an empty spray bottle, a watering can, or a soda bottle with a hole drilled in the cap. Anything that could be used to make art on the beautiful white canvas will fuel their imaginations.
  14. Play Name That Tune – Holiday Edition by making loud kisses on your kid’s cheeks to the tune of your favorite holiday song and have them guess what song it is. Then they could take a turn by doing the same to your cheek.
  15. Bundle up and take a winter hike. View the majesty of local trails in a breathtaking winter landscape.
  16. Pick a charity project together. Head to the toy store and have your child help you pick out a toy for a child in need. Then donate it to your favorite charity/toy drive.

    My kids had fun filling boxes with small toys and toiletries for Operation Christmas Child a few years ago. It helps to have them pick out toys for children their ages. It could be any charity project that interests you. The point is to focus their heart on giving rather than just receiving this holiday season.

  17. Visit Santa – If you are at all inclined to make Santa a part of your holiday traditions, then this is a magical no-brainer. A jolly old man who delivers toys to all the girls and boys by flying his sleigh driven by flying reindeer around the world in a single night. Yes, Santa pretty much epitomizes magic. You can take photos with Santa for free at Adams Fairacre Farms.

    Kids don’t need you to spend a fortune on them to have a magical holiday. My dad used to say that he’d buy me a toy and I’d play with the box. Kids simply need you to get involved and use your imagination. They supply the magic.

    What are your favorite free holiday activities?

    Erin Johnson a.k.a. The No Drama Mama is the author of “So, You’re Broke? 18 Drama-Free Steps To A Richer Life.” She can be found writing for The No Drama Mama and Hudson Valley Parent when she’s not busy caring for her three adorable kiddos. Her work can also be found on The Huffington Post, Money Saving Mom, Mamapedia and Worshipful Living.

At the beginning of summer I shared with all of you a list of cool places to get free fun mail for your kids. I hope you and the kids are enjoying all your fun freebies. I know we are! In fact one fun package in particular helped inspire our seed bomb project.

I signed us up to receive a free packet of pollinator wildflower seeds at feedabee.com. Wildflowers attract bees and help feed the population of pollinating insects. You can read more about why this is important by clicking here. Our little packet of about 200 seeds will cover approximately 10 sq. feet. Now we could easily toss these seeds around the back yard and wait, or we could launch them with a sling shot. Why not?

I was flipping through the pages of one of our new kid magazines when I found this unique little project. It is perfect for kids age 6 or older. In just a few simple steps you can create a handful of seed bombs to toss out into the yard, or while out on a hike.

seed bombs materials 1

Materials:

4 pages of construction paper

1 packet of pollinator wildflower seed mix

1/2 cup of warm water per sheet of paper

Kitchen Blender

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Start by tearing each sheet of paper into tiny pieces and place in separate bowls. Next, pour 1/2 cup of warm water over the pieces. Allow paper to soak for 5 minutes before running through the blender.

seed bomb strainer 1

Pour mixture into  strainer and squish the paper with the back of a spoon to get most of the liquid out. You want the paper to be pasty, but not completely dry. Discard water and put paper pulp into bowl and add a palm sized amount of seeds. Roll into 1/2 inch sized balls and place on wax paper to dry.

According to my kids the straining step is the most, “boring part” of the project. If you have kids always in a hurry to move on to the next step, perhaps offering a wildflower coloring page, or a list of facts about honey bees to read, will help them while they wait.

seed bombs 1

Allow your finished product to sit for 48 hours to dry completely. While the bombs dry you can help your kiddos create a sling shot if you don’t already have one. You can find a Y shaped stick in the yard and place a rubber band around the branches. Viola! Instant launcher!

Tips:

  • The recipe I found makes more bombs. I cut it in half to accommodate our limited supplies, so we only have six seed bombs to distribute. Which is perfectly even for two kids always assuring me, “she got more than me!” Using three sheets of paper and one seed packet yields approximately two bombs per page.
  • You may need to add just a bit more water to the blender when whirling the paper. This will keep the paper from bunching up around the blade. If you add a little too much water that’s OK, you will remove all the extra in the straining step.

When you are ready to launch, find a nice open plain field to fling the bombs into. Maybe a nice open space in your yard, or take a hike and launch into a flowerless area of a field. The bees will thank you for it!

The Whatever Mom is a full-time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here. You can also find her musings and popular shares on Facebook and Twitter. Stay up to date with her creative ideas and outings on Pinterest. 

 

 

 

Tucked away on a tiny lot which you probably pass every time you make your way through the village of Catskill, is the Catamount. This kooky little people’s museum is fun for all ages. It is quite unique and if you pass by too quickly you will miss it. It sits just above street level and blends right into the greenery and the remains of an old brick foundation. The Catamount is completely hand built and the brain child of local artist Matt Bua. You can read Matt’s blog to see conceptual sketches, ideas and events held at the museum.

Catamount

What makes this museum truly unique is that it is a “people’s museum.” All the exhibits inside the belly of the bobcat are donated by members of the community, strangers stopping by and local historical organizations. You will find maps, water color paintings, a carved wooden cat puppet, newspaper articles and much more. Even you are welcome to leave behind a little work of art, a map, or a note. Have fun signing the guest book and looking through to see how far people travel to visit.

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The bobcat was installed in 2010 and it was only supposed to stay for one year. But this heart warming feline has grown on the city of cats and folks here have let it stay. Would you believe I drove passed this spot for a year to schlep my kids to preschool and I never noticed the 15 foot cat?!

We found out about this amazing little place through the Follow That Book program at the Catskill Public Library. Librarians Miss Jennifer and Miss Crystal put together a wonderful tour and story time. My girls even enjoyed a game of ping pong using a wooden plank for a paddle. Why not? The entire Catamount is made out of recycled and found objects. Even the eyes are made from old plates and light bulbs. At night you can see them glowing. So it is only fitting we used planks of wood we foud lying around to create our paddles.

Between ping pong and story time we enjoyed a lovely picnic inside the bobcat. Then it was time to chat with the artist himself. He was really great with helping the kids build their own sculpture from found objects. He let the kids take total control of the project and simply guided them with, “where do you feel that piece belongs?” It was educational, interesting and different than your usual story time.

Tips if you plan to visit: Bring a picnic lunch to enjoy at the table inside the museum, or spread out a blanket on the grass nearby.

Bring plenty of bug spray. Even though it is a small lot it is quite lush with greenery.

Be sure to stop by Coney Island just up the street (walking distance) for ice cream and fun kiddie rides. Take your picture with the tiny Statue of Liberty.

Bring a camera!

Bring a small piece of history or your own hand crafted artwork to leave behind.

If you just can’t get enough cats in your visit, be sure to find parking on Main Street and take the walking tour of painted cats. You can find a map at the Greene County Arts Council, or just walk on your own. If you stop by the arts council check out the latest exhibits!

Check out the secret gardens planted between buildings on Main St.

Cool off at the library in the kids books section and pick up your calendar for Follow That Book.

Stop for lunch at Village Pizza or the Garden Gate Deli. Both places are kid friendly, affordable and really yummy!

For a really small village there sure is a lot of free art to see and fun things to find! The girls and I truly enjoyed the day. We can’t wait to make a trip back to leave behind our own piece of history.

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The Whatever Mom is a full-time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here. You can also find her musings and popular shares on Facebook and Twitter. Stay up to date with her creative ideas and outings on Pinterest. 

 

 

Fun FREE Mail for Kids

As a blogger I get a lot of fun things in the mail to review. I can get several packages a week delivered to my door. Each time my kids ask, “is that for me?” Of course I have to break the bad news and tell them, “Nope. This one is for mommy too.” After seeing their disappointed faces a few too many times, I began to wonder how I could get the kids some FREE fun mail delivered to our home.

Last year we tried to create our own city swap with a friend, but unfortunately we sent more than we received and my kids were disappointed. But it was a fun project! My family is too busy to send off a quick letter, or card so we can’t count on that for fun. It would be nice to get a subscription to their own magazines, but that would be a very limited amount of mail.

I asked around in various mom groups for ideas on how to get free fun mail for the kids this summer. Most everyone suggested a paid subscription, or starting a pen pal group. Since we are working on hand writing this summer a pen pal group will be a fun way to get some mail. But I wonder what else is out there. After a quick search in Google I found some really fun ways to get FREE mail for your kids this summer and through out the year!

Funmail 1

STATE TRAVEL BUREAUS

Use this database link to find a list of states that will send out tourism packets of info for their state. We sent away for free information for several different states. The first one to respond is Nebraska! My daughter was super excited to get an entire package delivered in her name. It came complete with a highway map and an adventure guide. Not only will your child be excited to get mail, but they could learn a few facts about different states; and you may find yourself planning your next vacation. Delivery times vary per state but allow 4-6 weeks for magazines/brochures to arrive.

LEGO JR. MAGAZINE

Offers a free 2 year subscription for kids ages 5-13. You will need to provide your child’s birth date. Magazines are mailed 6 times per year January, March, May, July, September, and November. Each volume is full of LEGO news and behind-the-bricks interviews, comic adventures, games and puzzles, building challenges and Cool Creations built by LEGO fans, as well as sneak peeks at the latest sets and themes. Magazine age 5-9 and digital newsletter up to age 13.

NASA

Get an autographed photo of an Astronaut!! Have your child practice their hand writing by requesting a letter or signed photo from NASA headquarters!

PETA

PETA kids offers a one time Free Helping Animals Guide magazine.

Child Safe Kit

This kit will help you keep important data about your child on hand should they ever go missing. I know not exactly fun mail for kids to ask for, but it is a free kit that you can help your child send off a request for.

MONSTER TREEHOUSE COMMUNICATION

Monster Tree House Club ‘characters’ will write back and forth with your child with no form letters ever used.

DINOSAUR TRAIN

Receive a free activity tool kit for  your child to enjoy.

EPA ACTIVITY BOOK 

Download the free activity book, or select the postal service icon and have a free activity book mail directly to your home.

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THE LEFT HANDERS CLUB

Help your left handed child feel like everything is right in their world with a free membership to the Left Handers Club. Sign your child up to receive a free certificate and a unique “backwards” calendar.

NURSE COLORING BOOK

Johnson and Johnson will send a free coloring activity book about nursing and what nurses do to help people. A great way to teach children about community helpers.

Funmail 2

ANIMAL WELLNESS MAGAZINE 

If you have a dog or cat lover in the family this free issue is perfect. It’s a wellness magazine sharing tips on keeping your pets healthy.

OFF ROAD ADVENTURES

Get 6 free issues for your little car/jeep enthusiast!

BUTTERFLY GARDEN KIT

Upload a photo of you, making the American Sign Language sign for butterfly, as your pledge to help the Monarch butterfly. The sign for butterfly is made by linking your thumbs and crossing your two hands in front of you at the wrists with your palms facing you. After taking the pledge, you will receive one Butterfly Garden Starter Kit per pledge, while supplies last. Once you have your kit, learn how to garden and watch your wildlife garden bloom!

FREE WILDFLOWER SEED PACKETS 

Just click where it says send me free seeds and get ready to save a bee!

 

A LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT

Have your child request a letter from the White House. No matter your political affiliations, it’s still pretty exciting to get an official letter from the White House.

 

DISNEY CHARACTERS

You can have your child write to their favorite Disney character and get a signed post card in return. It is a great keepsake for your child’s memory book.

Disney World will send you an autographed postcard when you write a letter to the following address:

Walt Disney World Communications

P.O. Box 10040

Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830-0040

Disneyland will send you an autographed postcard when you write a letter to the following address:

Walt Disney Company

Attn: Fan Mail Department

500 South Buena Vista Street

Burbank, CA 91521

 

DANIEL TIGER

My kids LOVE DT! So I wrote to PBS Kids and asked if they send return letters to fans. They did not confirm a reply, but did give me an address where kids can send their fan mail.

The Fred Rogers Company

2100 Wharton Street ∙ Suite 700 ∙

Pittsburgh, PA 15203

 

There you have it! A bunch of fun things for your kids to get in the mail for free! Happy writing! Quick Tips: Don’t use your child’s full name on the address. Once you sign your child up their name may be added to additional mailing lists. To limit the amount of junk mail we get from these one time subscriptions, I use a “fake” name or use initials. If new mail I didn’t request shows up with the name I created I can trace it back to the source. Also, allow several weeks for delivery as all items ship differently.

 

The Whatever Mom is a full-time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here. You can also find her musings and popular shares on Facebook and Twitter. Stay up to date with her creative ideas and outings on Pinterest. 

Changing SoundBackyard Xylophone

Last week I shared that I am starting our own back yard summer camp as our last hoorah before Kindergarten. The girls are pretty on board with this idea and I am looking forward to saving some money. It gets expensive sending two off to camp at once. Plus, I just want to squeeze out as much time as I can from what is possibly our last summer together. We still have a few more weeks of school left, and summer hasn’t “officially” begun, but we have already started on our list of fun camp projects.

Music is one of our favorite ways to play, connect and relax. We always have the radio on, or a kid favorite CD playing (yes we actually still use those), we are singing or we are making music out of pots and spoons. Music is really everywhere and I love when my kids find ways to create music on their own. This week we discovered outdoor xylophones using glass jars. That’s it. Glass jars we already have on hand. (If you have a really tiny tot you can use various sized plastic jars, or cardboard containers, or small boxes).

I simply removed the label and took them outside!

Start by finding a level safe spot to line up your jars. We chose the rock wall in our garden. You can use as many jars as you like, but we kept it simple with just three. When you use a variety of jars with different sizes and thickness you will get a more interesting sound.

Xylophone jars

You can’t play a xylophone without a mallet (I actually knew it is called a mallet!). Help your little one find a stick, or a wooden spoon to use as your mallet. You can even bring out a variety of mallets to sample. Each one will make a different sound.

We used various sized sticks and then the girls realized perhaps their magic wands would help make an interesting sound. I love that this got the girls thinking about what they could use to create a new sound. They immediately noticed the different pitch each glass makes. And of course being the overly ambitious bunch we are, we tried to play songs we already know like “Twinkle, Twinkle.” Did not work, but it was a good effort.

xylo jars with magic

Try turning the jars on their sides to hear how they make a different sound. It is definitely a heavier sound than the slight “plink” when the jars are standing.

xylo side

We played for a short time for the “fairies” hiding in the garden before my girls brought out the big drums. Yes, I actually gave my kids a kid sized drum kit complete with cymbals, and a kick pedal for a nice booming bass. I am sure our neighbors know how much we love music by now.

Xylophone mallet

You can change the pitch and sound of each jar by adding water, rocks, glass beads or pine cones and flowers to the jars. The desired effect is to hear how sound is changed. This is a great project for toddlers (with supervision of course) and older kids. Let your kids fill in the jars and give them space to jam away with a mallet they choose.

Trust me any kid is going to love to bang around and make some noise. This is such a minimal and simple way to engage your kids in a new way to create music. Forget those Fisher Price toys, use what you have. Much like playing with a cardboard box, kids will enjoy anything you give them to play and create!

I hope you enjoy this super easy and cheap project! I wonder what we’ll do next!?

 

The Whatever Mom is a full-time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here. You can also find her musings and popular shares on Facebook and Twitter. Stay up to date with her creative ideas and outings on Pinterest. 

Create aBack Yard Sumer Camp

The end of the school year is only a few weeks away. The subject of summer camp started floating around in mid-April. I find  that most camps run only one week. And if they run longer it can get pretty pricey, especially for two kids. Even a one week camp for $55 per kid can break our budget for summer activities.

I feel like I am some how letting my kids down by not giving them a camp experience. Then I remember I never spent one single day at summer camp as a kid. And I turned out pretty awesome. 😉 My kiddos have many years ahead of them to get involved with different activities. This summer is our last hoorah before Kindergarten. Who knows if the future will allow me to have summers off every year? This is our last summer to live it up!

This year I am starting a back yard summer camp with my kids and their friends. I am enlisting the help of my fellow parents who are willing to open their yards for different activities. We can each volunteer a day to host, lead an activity, share a snack and just play. Sharing in activities keeps the cost low, makes for less planning and saves us from hearing “we never do anything” and “I’m bored!”  Not to mention the social benefits my kids get from keeping in touch with their friends over the summer.

You don’t have to be a teacher, or have any training to make back yard summer camp fun! You just have to be a big kid at heart! Take a cue from your kids interests and create one day of fun each week in your own back yard! Then ask your friends to do the same.

Get Organized

Gather your friends and decide on a schedule. If you run arts and crafts on Monday maybe someone could offer sports, or music another day of the week.

Play to your strengths. Are you crafty? Do you mind getting messy? Can you sing, or dance, or play guitar? Sharing those gifts with friends can make for some really great summer memories.

Will the host provide a snack for everyone? Or will each family bring their own snack, or lunch? Maybe a potluck or picnic style lunch?

Will you allow the kids to be dropped off, or will you expect parents to participate too?

Decide on A Time Frame

Hosting a group every day would be exhausting. Perhaps one hour every Monday, or every other Tuesday? Decide if camp will run for one week, one month or through out the summer.

Inspiration for Activities

Or should I say, Pinsperation? Hit up Pinterest for activities and ideas. You can also find a little inspiration right here on my blog! See below for related links, and check back each week!

Get Creative

If you are not someone who is crafty, or think you don’t have a special skill to share why not volunteer a time the kids can all run through the sprinklers together? Or host a water balloon fight? Kids can share a snack or lunch after while the adults get to chat.

Take a Trip

I know the title says Back Yard Summer Camp, but it could be fun to pick one day a week to meet at a local museum, a new hiking trail, or visit a new library. It might be fun to volunteer together as a group at a local food pantry, or animal shelter. Getting out of the backyard can help mix things up and see new sights.

Even if you are a parent working a 9-5 you can create a Saturday workshop, a week night camp time, or maybe there is a week during your summer that you can get a group together to rotate back yards. The whole idea of a back yard summer camp is to make it work for you! Have fun and enjoy your time with the kids!

Related links: Create A Mud Kitchen Storm King Art Center Frozen Dino Smash Backyard Pirate Adventure

The Whatever Mom is a full-time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here. You can also find her musings and popular shares on Facebook and Twitter. Stay up to date with her creative ideas and outings on Pinterest. 

 

the story from the lens

At the beginning of every summer I try to round up a few new places to visit with the kids. Now that my kids are getting older they are outgrowing some of the play spaces  we used to visit. One thing that hasn’t changed is their desire to explore.

Last month our family signed up for a free Healthy Ulster Membership at the Mohonk Preserve. The Visitor Center Trailhead is located at 3197 State Route 55, Gardiner, NY. While we were there we were encouraged to explore the visitor center which includes an interactive children’s corner. And by corner I mean an area too small for a crowd, or big group. But it is perfect for a handful of friends to gather for play.

Here is what we found during our exploration:

Interactive Exhibits

When you enter the center you are on the upper level. There are interactive exhibits where kids can learn about the land within the Mohonk preserve, the animals they can find and the Geoexchange system running the center. Your toddler won’t understand a whole lot of this information, but they will love getting to push the buttons and using the swipe screen to get to the next slide of information while your older child interacts on their own.

There are amazing views all around so be sure to simply take a moment to enjoy looking out the large windows at the surrounding landscape.

Children’s Corner

After you make your way through the upper level take the stairs down to the children’s corner. There is something there for kids of any young age. There are books, games and puzzles about nature. There are a few live animals to see and kids can unearth animal bones. You can even borrow a nature exploration kit and wander through the Children’s Forest right outside the center.

VC-Kids-Corner

HVP kids corner

Sensory Trail

This is a paved trail that is perfect for strollers and for toddlers learning to walk. Simply follow the path and allow your little ones to explore the artwork, butterfly gardens and views along the way. The paved path leads into the Children’s Forest where there are fun things to play with. We found a tee pee style hut made with sticks and a whole lot of natural things to keep our exploration thinking caps busy. Allow your kid to be your guide and follow along at their pace. You will be amazed by the amount of questions they begin asking.

HVP childrens forest

What got my kids the MOST excited? The little animal nook tucked away under the stairs in the children’s corner. Beyond these doors is a hidden little room where kids can sit with the many stuffed creatures and use their playtime imaginations. Moms can sit quietly on a bench and feed babies, or chat with another mom.

HVP animal nook

HVP kid corner 2

The visitor center is open 9 am – 5 pm daily (except holidays) all year. It is free to explore the children’s corner and the sensory trail just outside which leads to the children’s forest. Pack a snack and invite a friend for an easy morning of play, or bring your lunch for an afternoon of pint sized fun! For more information click here.

Even though my kids are no longer toddlers we enjoyed this day out together. I wish I knew about it when my kids were little and we needed a safe place to explore. It’s a great place to wear out little ones with play time adventures before nap. Older kids (I’d say up to age 8) can enjoy the activities here as well. A great little stop for moms of kids with toddlers or mixed ages.

 

The Whatever Mom is a full-time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here. You can also find her musings and popular shares on Facebook and Twitter.

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