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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. 

crafty collage

It is simply amazing the amount of pre-made craft kits available for kids today! I know I date myself when I say this, “in my day we had to make everything ourselves!” But it’s true!

Every holiday we made our own decorations; we recycled all our egg cartons and milk cartons into something new. We made our own candles by melting our broken crayons and we always made our crafts from scratch.

We live in a modern, prepackaged world and I am not going to lie, I often enjoy it! Sometimes taking out all the extra steps to a project really helps a mom actually enjoy making things with her kids. When the girls turned 5 back in the fall I asked for what else? Craft kits! They got so many crafty things to make I tucked a bunch away to bring out through the year.

Who knew you could buy a paint your own rock kit, right? Don’t you just find some rocks lying around outside to paint? Well, I am grateful to the person who bought this kit because it saved me a lot of rock hunting time and it was fun. The kit came with everything we need including tattoos!

rock kit

rock tattoo

How cute is this? You simply place the tattoo over the rock and run under water to get the outline to stick. Then you let it dry for a few minutes before painting. Let the kids go to town and make each little pet their own. I love that googly eyes come in the kit!

This is one of those projects that can take a few minutes or a whole hour. It depends on your kids skill and interest level. My kids didn’t want to color every individual section. A turtle should be green and in one swipe of the brush. Now might be a good time to point out that you should lower any expectations that your project will look anything like the picture on the box. Those pics are merely “suggestions” to have someone else make them if you want them to look perfect. 😉

rock box

This was a great activity to take outside on a sunny day. I’m a big fan of painting outside to keep the mess contained and away from my dining room table. We let the paint dry in the sun before decorating different parts of the yard with them.

rock tattoed

rock outdoor

You can find craft kits like this anywhere: Walmart, Target, Khol’s and Five Below to name a few places to look.

Do you craft from scratch, or buy a kit?

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.

Spring is officially here! The days are lighter longer and starting to warm up. It’s the perfect time to start planning a garden. Every year I say I’m going to grow everything and I make a plan, but someones cat will crush my tomatoes, or the pumpkins grow into the zucchinis. Learning to grow things can be frustrating. But, I really want my girls to see where all the veggies (they refuse to eat) come from.

I ordered this growing kit through a Scholastic classroom fundraiser. My kids could not wait to rip it open and get started.

It comes with it’s own seed packets, a double sided poster about plant life and a little growing box. My kids really don’t care what we grow, they just want to watch it grow. This little see through box will give them that experience! Not sure who is more excited here. Garden kit

Here is what our project looked like:

garden poster.jpg

We read the plant poster to kick off the science part of it. But, my girls were just too excited to hurry up and plant the seeds.

We pooled our materials: potting soil, gloves, shovel and a tray to catch all the dirt that spilled over the sides as we scooped.

We filled the growing box with dirt, poked a small hole in the soil big enough to fit our seeds in. Covered it with a light layer of soil. We lightly watered so our seeds had plenty to grow on.

garden beans

garden carrots

We covered our garden growing kit with a Ziploc bag. The instructions say to use Saran wrap or plastic wrap. We had neither. So Ziploc baggie it is! This is just to help the soil to retain moisture and create a little greenhouse inside the box. After 12 days we should see the germinated seed start to sprout. Until then we check it every day and mark on the poster what progress we see.

garden kit cover

I thought we did everything right. That is until my kids pointed out that we forgot one very important step. We forgot to add the love. So, this picture is of them sprinkling their tiny seeds with love to make them grow faster. They are right. Everything we do should be done with love!

Are you building a garden this year? Do your kids like to help? Please share gardening tips with kids below!

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.

DIY (1)

If you have been following along you already know my kids are dino obsessed. If this is your first time reading my blog let me catch you up on the obsession. Last spring we took a road trip to Mystic Aquarium and on our way home we stopped to see a giant fossil made by dinosaurs. My kids were in heaven! We continued the craze over the summer with a frozen dinosaur smash, and a dinosaur counting folder game. And now (drum roll) we are making our own fossil cookies!!

Here is what you will need to make your own:

dino ingredients

Favorite sugar cookie dough (store bought counts too)

Toy Dinosaurs (clean)

Baking tray

We started out with a dino washing station to be sure our dinosaurs were clean enough to press into the dough.

dino wash

Next slice the dough and cut slices in half, or in quarters. Then roll the pieces of the cookie dough into little ball shapes. Have kiddos squish them flat before using dinosaurs to make an imprint.

dino slices

You can use just a foot, a tail or the head of the dinosaur to make your fossil print.

dino prints

Bake according to package directions. That’s it!! Enjoy with your favorite glass of milk or hot cocoa for “lava.”

Our dinosaur friends took one last trip through the dino washing station before returning to their bins. Then we enjoyed a good book about dinosaurs while the cookies finished baking. My kids were thrilled with the results!

Tips:

Cookie dough tends to fluff up a bit when baked, be sure to keep the dough shapes small and make the imprints deep. This will ensure you do not lose the print as the cookies bake.

If you want to get a little fancy, make some dirt cups with chocolate pudding topped with crushed Oreos and add a fossil cookie.

If you want the fossil craze to last use salt dough instead of cookie dough. Bake according to recipe directions and let your kids paint. Store them in a box with your kinetic sand, or rice bin so kids can excavate later.

How do you play with your dinosaurs?

fossil foot

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.

Find more from Roxanne at The Whatever Mom. 

Keeping the Kids

Whether you are traveling or staying home, keep this list handy! Thanksgiving day can be a long day for little ones. Adults have so much to do to prepare for that kids can feel left out. Watching TV is a great way to keep the kids corralled in another room and away from the kitchen, but really little ones can often get bored by TV, or other electronics. If you are looking for ways to keep your cuties entertained through out the day and at dinner time I’ve assembled a list of our favorite funtastic activities and free printables:

Preschool kids will love this fun little Thanksgiving activities pack from RoyalBaloo.com.  We love it so much we bring it out every year! Print out before traveling and bring it along, or if you are hosting be sure to have several printed copies on hand. Leave them out at the kids table with some crayons and extra paper and let the kids play!

Print out a game of Turkey Bingo for the kids table! This is great for all ages! Maybe it will even buy you enough time to drink a full glass of wine! Here is a cute Bingo game download from Crazy Little Projects blog.

Print out a free Thanksgiving place mat the kids can color! This is a cute one from Sister’s Suitcase.

Kids will LOVE making these adorable turkey thumb print place cards and setting them at everyone’s seat! Get the step by step instructions from The Charmed Mom.

Let the kids help make a dessert. Set up your own cookie or cupcake bar where kids can frost and sprinkle their own treats. They can make their own festive creations and feel like part of the big celebration. These acorn cookies are simple and sweet!

For the toddlers bring out the bubbles, the play dough, the blocks and the cardboard boxes! They really want nothing more than to spend time playing! Whatever age group you have to entertain- I hope these suggestions help!

I hope you enjoy all of the festivities today! I am so thankful to all of you for following along each week! Happy Thanksgiving and wishing you always have enough!

Love,

The Whatever Mom

Each week the girls and I try to create our own projects. I scour Pinterest, or Facebook for ideas and we make them our own. I like to keep things simple. This week is so busy we are taking some help from the store. Well, more specifically a generous gift giver. The girls are using the gem mining kit by Wonderology they got as a birthday gift. I was reluctant to pull this out because of the mess factor. But, I can’t hold them off any longer, so now we are sharing with you!

Gem mining kit Wonderology

The age recommendation on the box says age 8+ but my 5-year olds love it! (I later found these available at Target). The kit comes complete with little plastic excavation tools and promises there are 8 gems inside.

Gem mining Wonderology

I placed the plaster cast inside a large disposable aluminum food pan to keep the excavation tidy.

Disposable food tray keeps crafting neat

It was a challenge to unearth these little gems as they were really hidden! It was big work for little hands so I stepped in to help by breaking the cast into smaller pieces to make chiseling easier.

Gem stones Wonderology

After we uncovered all of the gems I gave the girls the extra step of cleaning them. I emptied the plaster rubble into the garbage and filled our tray with clean, clear water. They enjoyed the water play as much as the mining activity.

Water play

Now that my girls are a little older and moving way from some of the younger preschool activities I often find myself challenged by what to do next. They don’t know it, but I stashed away all the arts and crafts gift sets they got for their birthday and I’ll bring those out on those less inspired days. Sometimes it’s OK to follow a boxed craft.

What are some of your favorite kids craft kits?

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

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