I can’t think of an eloquent word for the consistency that this creates. Paste? Slop? Sludge? It’s gooey and colorful and a little bit gross, which I think makes it perfect for young kids, always happy to stick their hands in goop.
This little activity is super simple and great entertainment for the kids. It’s messy, it’s fun, and my kids always love some good quality sensory play. As an added benefit, you can choose to do primary colors as an educational example of color blending.
A word of warning: this is an outdooractivity! Make sure that you immediately wash vinegar off of wood. I am a little embarrassed to admit that by letting my children do this inside on our table, I accidentally ruined the table by rushing them off to the bathtub rather than cleaning up first.
Food coloring or watercolors (food coloring may stain hands)
Bowls and utensils for mixing
(Optional) squirt bottles with vinegar water–careful where you do this!
1. In your bowls, add a cup or so of baking soda. You may use as many bowls/colors as you like.
2. Add water until it turns into a pasty consistency and stir together.
3. Add food coloring and stir.
4. Separate colors into containers. I did some stripes of color in a large Tupperware container for each kid.
5. Give them their squirt bottles and watch them have fun.
I never liked apple pie as a kid in spite of wanting to. Every time I tried it something about the texture of the apples was never quite right to me; they would be partially crunchy with peels still clinging to the sides. Finally I’ve learned what I didn’t like about it! Crunchy cooked apple isn’t for me.
Sometimes it can be really difficult to get kids to cooperate when you need them to. Believe me, I know. My kids can be as stubborn and ornery as their mom and dad.
One of the best ways that I’ve come up with to get the kids to help out is a stamp chart. It looks like this:
Stamps could easily be exchanged for stickers, but we use stickers elsewhere and my girls really enjoy the process of getting to ink the stamp and press it on paper, so it’s more rewarding for them.
The kids can earn a stamp in a few different ways:
1. Picking up their own messes/cleaning up toys
2. Eating like a civilized person and not throwing stuff
3. Not whining or hitting, aka trying to express emotions with words
4. A day without TV
5. Filling a row on the potty sticker chart
The rewards on the chart are usually a fun trip or activity that the kids enjoy. We try to keep the cheap, easy rewards towards the top and more expensive rewards for the end of the chart. This requires quite a bit of help from the girls to actually get to go do something like go out to eat or go to the riverwalk. The chart ends on the last day of the month, so it’s possible to reach the end without acquiring every reward–and that’s okay, too. It’s okay to not get everything. I want them to see that sometimes you don’t win, and working harder improves your odds. Right now when one of them earns a stamp they both get it, but that will change soon.
This is intended as an active, exciting way to engage them in the process of learning how to help out and pick up after themselves. It’s also a precursor to earning an allowance, or “salary.”
Having said all of this, sometimes it doesn’t work. One kid is almost 3 and the other is going on 2, so they often know better than mom and dad or just want to be bratty (as indicated by the accompanying smirk they give), but it’s alright. Some kind of system is better and more successful than no system at all.
Hey, hey, hey! Today, as with many August days here in San Antonio, it’s nice and sweltering. Sure, it may get down to 90, but you’d never know it with the humidity. Of course, the heat keeps us indoors in an attempt to avoid it a lot of the time, but it’s still important to get out and go somewhere. I’m a serious believer in the importance of exposure to nature for so many reasons, so we always try to go out and explore outside a couple of times a week.
Here’s my personal list of what makes something a great day (morning or afternoon) destination:
$$$–is it cheap, or even better, free?
Will my small children be happy there?
Safety, weather, and you know, preparedness things
We moved back in February, so I have certainly not scoped out the hottest mom spots in San Antonio by any means, but here’s our favorite spots to kill some time outside with the kid monsters!
1. Guadalupe River State Park
Okay, so not in the city, I know. But hear me out! This beautiful state park is easy to get to, just a drive up Blanco Road to 46. In addition it’s extremely family friendly: they have camping, hiking, a playground (currently closed, boo), a children’s discovery center, a ton of picnic tables, and of course, swimming. There’s deeper water for parents and older kids, but for smaller children there’s also a wonderful section of shallow water. My water-timid 3 year old gets to play and splash around without being worried here. We like to take a big mat and lounge in the shade. Hands down my favorite spot to cool off.
$$$–We have a state parks pass so it’s worth it for us to go. If you don’t, you will have to pay a day use fee.
Happy kids? Very. Always have a hard time leaving.
Preparation–sunscreen (please use a non-toxic kind!), swimsuits, shade, water, snacks, water shoes (don’t underestimate how painful river rocks can be on bare feet), and whatever water safety devices you feel appropriate.
2. Phil Hardberger Park
If you’ve never been to Hardberger Park with your kids it’s definitely worth a trip. This place is huge and even has two entrances, one on Blanco Rd and one on Military. There are dog parks and playgrounds on each side near the parking lots. In addition, the hiking trails just can’t be beat. There’s a large picnic area on each side, benches on some of the trails, and even a large overlook. We go hiking here a couple of times a week and always have a great time. Sometimes we do nature scavenger hunts here while hiking to engage the kids.
Happy kids? Usually. Sometimes a kid gets mad that she has to walk or ride in the stroller instead of being carried.
Preparation–sunscreen (or sun hat and sleeves), water
3. San Antonio Zoo + Brackenridge Park
We purchased zoo memberships as soon as we moved. It was a no brainer for us, we went to the LA Zoo all the time in California, and it wasn’t even particularly close! The girls absolutely love it. And with all the fun enclosures (sorry, animals) and features I can’t blame them. Plus, summer animatronic dinosaurs! You can take a (very short) ride on the carousel, see the pigs and goats at the petting zoo or ride the train. You could spend hours in the splashpad area. There’s all sorts of outdoor things over in the kid’s area, including adorable mini benches. There’s even a small discovery center for the kiddos. If that’s not enough (and let’s be real, you might be beat, but the munchkins have some magical reserve of energy just for moments like this) Brackenridge park is right outside!
$$$–just buy a membership. If you go twice it’s worth it.
Happiness factor? Kids always enjoy it. Even Matt and I are usually glad we went. Exhausted, but glad.
Preparation–sun protection, water
4. Eisenhower Park
I really enjoy this place. There are more difficult hiking trails if that’s what you’re looking for, easy paved trails if you need something simpler. There are nice, wooded trails, too. I like taking the double stroller here. There’s a nice little playground and a large climbing wall for older kids.
Fun level–decent. My kids are always happy if they get to play on a playground.
Preparation–sun protection, water
5. Orsinger Park
Now you should have a very good idea of where I live! This is our basic time-killing place. It’s got a large pavillion for events, bathrooms, a sandbox, and a very large, nice playground. Karissa is obsessed with the sandbox, but Madilyn always has to be coaxed into playing in the sand. There’s lots of lovely cedar elms and picnic tables scattered throughout the grove behind the play equipment. We always go for a little walk through the trails, too.
Happy? Oh, so very happy.
Preparation–a diligent parent might bring hydration? I usually don’t…eek. It’s okay, though, because water fountains.
Big Kid Bonus: Tom Slick Park
I’ve only been here once, but the playground was awesome. It was definitely better for older kids, but the play equipment was shaded and I was impressed. There’s a lake with a nice, easy trail to walk, exercise equipment, and what I’m pretty sure was a baseball diamond. This one is on the west side but was a really fun adventure.
Sometimes I like to do themes for the kids for a day, a few days, a week, or whatever. The local zoo has a fun summer thing set up where there are animatronic dinosaurs throughout the place, so I thought that this would be a really fun way to get the girls excited about going to the zoo to see the dinosaurs! If you aren’t near San Antonio, and thus don’t have a zoo or something to take them to see the dinosaurs, you can add a fifth day of dinosaur activities.
Warning: this post is a bit longextreme. I’m going to put a link to some of the recipes instead of inserting the whole recipe so that the length will be a little more reasonable.
Pro tip: my kids are young enough that we can add the word dinosaur to almost anything and make it more exciting, hence the general basis of my naming theme.
Disclosure: some of the supplies linked are affiliate links, meaning that, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you use this link to make a purchase. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
My girls play this silly game where they put blankets on their heads and run around saying, “I’m a scary dinosaur!” They also really like to dance and listen to music. I thought, why not try to combine these two things? Plus, thanks to Sandra Boynton, we have a pretty good idea of how dinosaurs like to dance. So throw a blanket on your head and break out your best velociraptor moves!
Craft: Dinosaur Sticker Collage
We found these awesome holographic dinosaur stickers at the dollar tree and have some others from Michaels. With the ridiculous amount of stickers I’ve collected, it’s hard to keep track of where they come from. These stickers seem like a lot of fun.
When we do focused crafts like these I like to do them with the kids so they can see my idea of how to do it. They do whatever they want, of course, but it’s fun to do together. First, with a green piece of paper, cut out a basic “ground” shape. You might need to do this for kids, too. On a second piece of paper (orange, yellow, or blue), glue this ground to the bottom. Now the dinosaurs have somewhere to roam!
Next, bust out the markers. We’re going to add some rocks, grass, trees, and a sun–or whatever you want to, that’s just what I’m adding. Landscape complete!
Add dinosaur stickers! Proudly display artwork on wall.
Activity: Dinosaur pool party
On this nice summer afternoon we’re filling up our cheesy eight dollar blow up pool and adding plastic dinosaur toys. Voila! Simple and still on theme.
Craft: Dinosaur watercolors
I know, it sounds lame. I’ll be totally honest, too: it’s pretty lame. The kids will be happy, though. For this you’re just going to cut out the most basic dinosaur shape that you can out of construction or printer paper (you can trace, sketch, draw, or print one out if you need to–there are a ton of awesome free printable coloring pages available via a quick google image search).
Once you have your dinosaur, simply hand it to them with some watercolors. They will have a blast painting their own dinosaur. Once done, I like to let them (or do it myself) glue this to a second piece of colored paper and display on the wall once dry.
Recipe: Stone Age Soup
So, here’s the deal with Stone Age Soup…it’s really just a way to get everything that’s been sitting unused in the fridge into edible form. Squash, carrots, onion, frozen veggies, old meat or a scoop of gelatin…What I’m saying is that you probably don’t need to go out and buy ingredients. It’s a mom way of framing something dull into something a little more fun.
Activity: Dinosaur Containers
These are what we’ve been using as our portable busy boxes lately due to the current dinosaur obsession. But it turns out every morning before breakfast they want to play with these while I cook. Win!
I tried dinosaurs three ways: freehand, using a squirt bottle, and pouring into cookie cutters.
The squirt bottle probably would have been amazing if I used regular pancake batter, but I had some almond flour clump and clog the nozzle.
Cookie cutters worked the best, but the first batch I didn’t remove the cookie cutter quick enough and they got stuck.
Some of these attempts were just plain hilarious:
Activity: Paleontological Excavation
This might seem like a bit of work, but it’s really not so bad. Just bear with me.
First, you need to decide where your “dig” is going to happen. If you want to fill a tub with sand or dirt, that’s great. I’m going to pick a little patch of dirt outside because I think my girls will enjoy that a lot, and I’m not using it. Plus, it’s good for them to be in the dirt.
Next, locate some plain rocks that you can draw or paint on. I’m going to be lazy about it and just draw with a white paint marker. I have two kids, so I’m doing about 10 each. Draw some bones on there–the beauty of this is that they can be ugly/imperfect and it’s no big deal.
Bury your dinosaur “bones” in your excavation site. Be sure to spread them out a bit. If you’re doing this outside like us, stick some small sticks around the outside to mark the area and “rope” it off with some string. Be sure to create separate dig sites for each kid.
These buttery, chocolatey gems were for my daughter’s dinosaur themed birthday party! Seriously unlike anything else, the texture of the cashews and the cashew coating combines perfectly with the chocolate and “blood” drizzle. My husband came in afterwards and said, “hey, cool, it looks like meat, bones, and blood!”
These are sure to satisfy any carnivore’s sweet tooth.
Amounts vary depending on your molds. If you don’t have molds for this you can pour in a tray and cut into squares.
For the Filling:
1/2 cup cashews
1 stick of butter
1/2 cup confectioner’s swerve
10-15 drops of red food dye
For the Chocolate:
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tbsp coconut oil
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup confectioner’s swerve
1 tbsp heavy whipping cream
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp moringa greens powder (optional)
a tiny amount of emulsifier such as xanthan gum (optional)
For the Drizzle:
20 drops red food dye
1 tbsp cocoa powder
4 tbsp butter
20 drops liquid stevia
Melt the butter for the filling in the microwave, about 30 seconds. Add swerve and red food dye.
Stir the cashews into the pinkish red butter mixture. Spoon into molds or scatter in a greased tray.
Melt the coconut oil and butter for the chocolate in the microwave. Add heavy cream and vanilla and whisk with a fork.
Add swerve, cocoa powder, and greens powder and whisk until combined.
Pour over cashew mixture evenly. Place in refrigerator or freezer and allow chocolate to set.
For the red “blood” drizzle, melt butter in microwave, 10-15 seconds. Add red food dye.
Add cocoa powder and liquid stevia.
Remove chocolate from refrigerator once it has set. Remove chocolate from molds/tray. Drizzle red chocolate on top and serve.
Well, we had told the kids that we would go to the zoo today because it was supposed to be cooler. We woke up to a dark sky and pouring rain–no way was the zoo happening. Boo!
Oh well. I felt bad, though. I wanted to give them something different and engaging to do.
Activity 1: pom pom toss
I used painter’s tape to tape some toilet paper and paper towel rolls to the wall and handed each a cup full of pom poms. Karissa loved this and kept going back to it constantly.
Bonus Activities: Madilyn dropped a few through the tubes before deciding that it wasn’t really her thing. She decided to sit down and sort the pom poms instead (she really loves pom poms), and then wanted to stick and unstick tape to the wall for a while.
Activity 2: Paper Basketball
My mom in law constantly gets junk mail clothing catalogues, so today we utilized them! We made some crumpled paper “balls” and tried to throw them in our bucket “baskets.” Alas, mommy doesn’t have great aim.
Oh well, still fun.
Activity 3: Straw Bead Necklaces
I still love crafts, but since we moved I’m not sure where everything is. This is really easy–all you need is some stiff string (we used paracord), plastic straws, and scissors to cut your straws into beads. Give them to little hands for great motor skills practice. I was very impressed with both girls, Madi even strung the beads herself.
I love getting to share what we do with you and I’m always looking for new fun and/or easy activities to do with my girls. What does your family do for fun on rainy days?
We have another round of holiday cards to paint for some super special people today–dads!
I decided to go with a western theme this year with my girls helping.
8 1/2 × 11 cardstock cut in half
Tempera paint–brown, green, and tan
Acrylic paint–yellow and pink
Red and blue or black construction paper
A ballpoint pen or black marker
1. Have a little helper place two brown footprints (one of each foot) on the inside of the card. These are chaps! You can see in the pictures that mine are too high up and too big, my 6 month old is a giant! You could size your paper up if you would like, I just have small envelopes. I also had her put a small handprint for a little cactus. Let dry.
2. Have a helper (I had my 20 month old do this) add a large green handprints to the front of the card. This is a prickly pear cactus. Let dry.
3. On the inside, glue a triangle of blue or black construction paper down between the chaps for a body. I used patterned paper. Paint a head with tan paint and let the glue and paint dry.
4. Add some cactus needles and arms to your little cowboy man. I also added a foam cowboy hat sticker (he is tipping his hat, otherwise it would be hanging off).
5. It’s coming together! Give your cowboy some stick figure arms and a smiling face with a pen. Cut a small triangle out of red construction paper and glue on top of the shirt around the neck.
6. Using pink acrylic paint (I used acrylic for the different texture and layering of the paint) and the wrong end of a paintbrush (handle side), place a few scattered dots on your cacti. Wipe the end of the brush off and, using yellow paint, surround the pink dot with yellow flower petals. Add whatever finishing touches you like, and you’re done!