DIY Totally Safe Art Supplies for Toddlers (and their older siblings)

Guest Post by Lisa of School at Home Mom.

As a mom of an active 21-month old, I am always looking for new ways to excite his curiosity and sustain his focus. Early childhood learning is so much about hands-on experiences and exploration, and art activities are a perfect way to delight a child’s senses.

Up until about last week, though, my little artist was still putting everything into his mouth – or coating his hands with everything and then putting them into his mouth!

So, I decided to hold off on splurging on art supplies and make my own food-based materials. This way, he could explore freely, and I wouldn’t have to constantly be on “DON’T EAT THAT!” patrol.

Most of our DIY supplies use only a handful of ingredients that can be stored at room temperature in a kitchen. Just about everything we use is something we’d want to keep around for baking or cooking anyway, and can be found in every grocery store. What could be easier?

DIY Totally safe art supplies for toddlers: homemade play dough and finger paints

Benefits of DIY (besides saving money!)

My son loves to make his own art supplies. He runs to the cabinet where we keep our projects stocked and opens it up, declaring, “Paint! Paint!” and eagerly gets his smock on so that he can help me mix the ingredients.

Some of the skills we can work on while creating and using the art supplies:

  • Cause and effect
  • Colors and color mixing
  • Opposites (wet/dry, big/little, open/shut, soft/hard, slow/fast, etc.)
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Hand & finger strength

If you have more than one child, these DIY projects are perfect! The older children can help to prepare the supplies in a more scientific way, observing how changing the quantities or process changes the outcome. The playdoh project uses more precise quantities, and would be perfect for an older child learning about customary units of measurement and fractions.

Kool Aid + Baby Cereal + Water = finger paint!

Kool Aid + Baby Cereal + Water = finger paint!

DIY finger paint

Ingredients:

  • Small amount of water
  • Baby cereal
  • Kool Aid or food coloring

Procedure: Mix the dry baby cereal with water to desired consistency, then mix in the coloring.

 

My son's masterpiece, created with Kool Aid, baby cereal, and water!

My son’s masterpiece, created with Kool Aid, baby cereal, and water!

Fun with painting!

Fun with painting!

3/4 of the fun was making the paint ourselves. My son loves watching the powder mix into the water!

3/4 of the fun was making the paint ourselves. My son loves watching the powder mix into the water!

My son was never a fan of baby cereal, so we ended up with a whole open container of it that we didn’t want to throw away but couldn’t donate. Using it up as thickener for finger paint was the perfect solution!

Note: we do not drink Kool Aid, but we do keep packets stocked for use in projects. I order them in bulk on Amazon so that we can get a variety of colors, and they’re widely available in grocery stores too.

Kool-Aid (or anything else with food coloring) will stain hands and whatever else it gets on, so an old shirt or smock would be great. My son gave himself a red belly button from one of his early painting sessions before we invested in a smock! Personally, I don’t mind – I abide by the saying “If he got dirty, he had fun today!”

For kids who don't like the feel of finger paint, a piece of plastic wrap taped over it will let them explore and play.

For kids who don’t like the feel of finger paint, a piece of plastic wrap taped over it will let them explore and play.

My son loved using one of our basting brushes to explore the paint materials. And I didn't have to worry about contaminating the brush!

My son loved using one of our basting brushes to explore the paint materials. And I didn’t have to worry about contaminating the brush!

After a number of successful experiences, he couldn't resist touching it!

After a number of successful experiences, he couldn’t resist touching it!

My son actually hates the feel of finger paint, or anything else that is the least bit goopy or sticky. After he made it clear that he was not going to be touching the paint directly, I taped a sheet of plastic cling over the goop. Then he loved it! Later, I gave him a basting brush, and he got into moving the thick finger paint around with that.

Once he got the hang of the brush, I decided to move on to regular paint. My 2 ingredient recipe for that is next!

DIY paint

Ingredients

  • Water
  • Kool Aid packet

That’s it! Mix & enjoy.

My son LOVED watching the different colors mix!

My son LOVED watching the different colors mix!

The Kool Aid produces a vibrant color, especially if you use a slightly more concentrated amount.

The Kool Aid produces a vibrant color, especially if you use a slightly more concentrated amount.

The finished product!

The finished product!

After my son had an epic painting session involving like 8 packets of Kool-Aid, we ran out! So we substituted regular food coloring instead. He loved watching the drops of coloring diffuse out into the water. It turned into a bit of a science experiment!

Other paint making ideas:

  • Using water mixed with spices and flavorings
  • Using water with food coloring & salt, for a glittery effect

Another variation: sprinkle the Kool Aid on the paper first and then paint with water – your child will be able to see the powder mixing in a bit at a time. My toddler was mesmerized!

If you homeschool multiple kids: Your older children will enjoy writing secret messages in white crayon and then painting over it to reveal the hidden words! Or, how about a secret “math code” using number sentences or patterns?

Speaking of practicing math and reading, I’m a big fan of using manipulatives and hands on materials to make abstract concepts more concrete. This next project will provide a sensory experience for little ones, while your older child can use it to make numbers and letters, or even cut it up to model fractions!

DIY Playdoh

There are plenty of recipes for playdoh, but many of them use salt – which doesn’t work for my son’s eczema-prone skin. Here’s one that was gentler for him, and still used food-grade ingredients.

Because this recipe uses heat, you won’t want to prepare this one with your toddler’s help. Once it cools, you can enlist your child’s participation for mixing in colors.

Bonus: This recipe is gluten free, if that’s a concern for you.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups baking soda
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • Food coloring of your choice (if desired)

Mix the ingredients and cook on medium heat. Stir constantly and watch for when it begins to thicken. When it thickens enough, take it off, allow it to cool, and then mix in the colors.

This playdoh recipe is easy on sensitive skin.

This playdoh recipe is easy on sensitive skin.

My son was actually willing to touch the playdoh - big victory!

My son was actually willing to touch the playdoh – big victory!

The texture of this playdoh is soft and a bit sticky at first (if it’s too sticky, add more cornstarch). We were able to keep it in the fridge for several weeks. We allowed it to warm up a bit before playing with it.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Lisa of schoolathomemom.comLisa has been a special education teacher for 15 years and is looking forward to wrapping up her final months of her teaching contract so that she can homeschool her young son. She is also eager to help other homeschool families who can benefit from her years of experience working with children with many different learning styles, strengths, and needs. If you are new to homeschooling, her 100 Day Countdown begins on April 21, 2015! In addition to her years in the classroom, she has also traveled to 6 continents and participated in endangered sea turtle conservation projects and archaeological digs. Lisa currently works for the Museum of Natural History developing curriculum and teaching enrichment courses and camp sessions to children ages 5-10. You can learn more at her website, http://www.schoolathomemom.com.

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Toddler and Baby Friendly Homeschool Room

This is my second year homeschooling.  My two older boys are in 1st grade and Kindergarten.  Easy peasy.  However, the 2 1/2 year old and crawling 8 month old are a force to be reckoned with.  The spring was a challenge with a newborn and a toddler, but now that the baby MOVES, I have to be as efficient as possible.  This means a tidy, organized, inviting, and baby proofed school room.

Here’s what I came up with.  Tips are in the captions below.  This morning was our first official day and it went pretty smoothly!

Toddler and Baby Friendly Homeschool Room

post1

Keep DVDs, TV, and DVD player up high. Those dangling cords proved to be a problem for me today. I need to find a taller trashcan to distract my 8 month old. He pulled the plug RIGHT in the middle of our Math U See lesson.

the post 4

We use Sonlight and last year I kept my notebooks on a desk and so many pages got ripped out by my then 18 month old. Keep mommy friendly things out of sight to prevent disorganization.

Keep books up high to prevent little ones from ripping pages.  A couch or comfy chair is a MUST if you're nursing a little one!

Keep books up high to prevent little ones from ripping pages. A couch or comfy chair is a MUST if you’re nursing a little one!

thepost3

Even though you’d like to keep the littles out so that you can concentrate…DON’T! Include them. Hands-on, non choking manipulatives are great (mine throw them and sometimes it gets nuts, but we’re working on that ;))

Post a clear, easy to understand schedule so that ALL your kiddos, young or old know what's coming.  (And so mommy doesn't forget!  I forgot handwriting for like a month last year!)

Post a clear, easy to understand schedule so that ALL your kiddos, young or old know what’s coming. (And so mommy doesn’t forget! I forgot handwriting for almost a month last year!)

Framed chicken wire hung up high is the perfect place to hang art work with clothespins.  Hanging things too low down will allow your little ones to rip them off the wall....and then eat them.  Hey, it's a rough homeschooling world out there!

Framed chicken wire hung up high is the perfect place to hang art work with clothespins. Hanging things too low down will allow your little ones to rip them off the wall….and then eat them. Hey, it’s a rough homeschooling world out there!

Keep markers, pencils, and big boy crayons up high.  I buy jumbo crayons for my little ones to use and keep them in a place they can access them.

Keep markers, pencils, and big boy crayons up high. I buy jumbo crayons for my little ones to use and keep them in a place they can access them.

If you’re a homeschool blogger and you have a post sharing your school room for this year, please join in and link up.

Click the graphic through to visit iHomeschool Network’s Not Back to School Blog Hop: School Room Week!

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Liz (5 Posts)

Liz was a cheerleader swept off her feet by the football player back in high school. They’ve been married nearly ten years and are the proud parents to four young boys. She’d always envisioned working and sending her kiddos off to school so she could live the ‘normal’ American dream. However, life and the Lord surprised her and she’s learning to ‘redefine having it all’ while being a debt free homeschooling housewife. She enjoys finding strength from God’s word, the Today show, talking on the phone with friends, and being real about finances and parenting.


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Messy {Outdoor} Preschool Activities for Summer

@destinyblogger, @hsbapost

Let’s face it; kids are good at making messes.  It’s part of the fun of being a kid!  For those of you that shudder at the thought of messes, summer can be a good time to cut loose and let the kids be kids — outside where clean up isn’t so much of an issue.  I’ve been scouring Pinterest and my bag of tricks homeschool plans to find new preschool ideas.  If the kids start to get bored of the same old activities this summer, try this list to spice up their playtime (and sneak in some learning and sensory play):

What preschooler doesn’t like bubbles?  I found this cheap and easy recipe for homemade bubbles, complete with a cute container.   Need a bubble wand?  Take several drinking straws and rubber band or tape them all together to make a big bubble pipe.  Dip one end of the straws in the fluid and blow through the other end to get multiple bubbles at once.

My preschool girls love sidewalk chalk, but how about taking it up a notch?  I found these awesome ideas for making your own frozen sidewalk chalk with cornstarch and food coloring.  Simple, fun, and a great sensory experience.

@destinyblogger, @hsbapost

Speaking of sensory ideas, summer is a fun time to try making your own sensory bins.  I blogged about an ocean-themed sensory bin I made that was very budget-friendly and easy to do.  If you take the bins outside, it allows more room for experimenting with messiness.  Use sand, rice, Cheerios, and even water as the medium for the bins.  You can create your own I Spy game by hiding things in the bins for your kids to discover.  Preschool themes can include colors, shapes, numbers, letters, animals, or any other subject your kids might love.

@destinyblogger, @hsbapost, sensory bin, Montessori

Call me crazy (or Messy Mama), but we’ve even made our own homemade moon sand.  You can take this outside and use a small sand and water table (you can usually find a small one for about $20 at a discount store) or any other container you choose.  Mix some baby oil with either white flour or cornstarch and experiment with the consistency.  My girls loved this, and believe me, it was plenty of messy fun.

@destinyblogger, @hsbapost, sensory, preschool

These are just a few of the fun and messy things you can do with your preschoolers outside this summer.  Remember, play equals learning for little ones!

Sara (81 Posts)

I'm a reader, writer, dreamer, wife, and homeschooling mom of 3 girls. We take a relaxed, eclectic, Charlotte Mason-leaning, Montessori-ish, literature-rich, delight-directed, almost unschooling-at-times approach to learning. Lots of unit studies, field trips, and lapbooks, too. I like to blog about our learning adventures (plus faith and encouragement) at Embracing Destiny.


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