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.

A Word From Our Sponsors

«
Read the next post: »

Quick & Easy Trim Healthy Mama Recipes {that kids like too}

 

Guest post by Linda Rose.

I began my THM (Trim Healthy Mama) journey this past summer. In June I started training for a 5K using the Couch to 5K training program. Shortly after that, a friend started up a Trim Healthy Mama group at her house. At first I was like, ok sure I’ll come, but you can’t make me eat anything green or weird. After hearing people talk about THM, I still wasn’t convinced, but ordered the book out of curiosity anyway. I read the book and it just made sense. I had a light bulb moment! You see I had always thought that in order to lose weight I would have to eat weird or green food, but it turns out that isn’t the case at all.

It’s been slow going, and there are days that I find it challenging to eat on plan all the time, but even so, I’ve lost almost 27 pounds! I feel healthier, have more energy, and am still running. It almost feels strange to be able to eat some of the foods that I do eat and be able to still lose weight. And I don’t have to eat any weird or green foods (unless I’m feeling adventurous). I’m a pretty picky eater (so are some of my kids). In order to make THM work for me, I’ve had to make foods that the whole family will eat and love. I’m not about to make a meal for them and then make a separate one for me.

 

Many of the recipes in the THM eating plan are extremely quick and easy. If you are like me, you can appreciate that because honestly who has the time or the energy to slave away in the kitchen?

A couple favorite recipes at my house:

 

Chicken Alfredo (S meal for THM)

Ingredients:
6-8 frozen chicken breast tenders (or 3-4 whole chicken breasts)
1 pint heavy whipping cream
2 cups mozzarella cheese
garlic powder (or fresh if you have it)
salt and pepper to taste

Serve over Dreamfields spaghetti pasta or steamed broccoli.
Place the frozen chicken breast tenders into the bottom of the crockpot. Pour the heavy cream over the chicken. Sprinkle the garlic powder over the cream and chicken. Salt and pepper to taste. Add the mozzarella cheese. Turn the crockpot on high. I like to stir the ingredients every hour or so. It just prevents the cream and cheese from burning on the edges. As the chicken cooks it becomes tender and breaks apart easily. I use a fork to pull the chicken apart before serving. I serve the alfredo sauce over Dreamfields spaghetti with broccoli on the side. It’s so easy and delicious. I put the ingredients in the crockpot at lunchtime and it is ready by dinner time. If it’s ready sooner, then I just turn the crockpot down to warm until we are ready to eat it. The house smells delicous while this is cooking! (adapted from a recipe in the THM book, which you can purchase here)

Ham and Cheese Scrambled Eggs (S meal for THM)

Ingredients:
6 eggs
4-6 thick slices of ham–diced
1-2 tablespoons of cream cheese
1/4-1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
 
Directions:
Put all of the ingredients into a mixing bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. Whisk everything together. Melt a couple tablespoons of butter into your frying pan. Add the ham and cheese egg mixture, stirring to help everything cook evenly.
 
You can use more or fewer eggs; this is what I use for our family. Alternately you could substitute the ham for some other breakfast meat–bacon or sausage is yummy too. Be careful if you choose to substitute store bought pre-packaged bacon bits as many of these have sugar in them.

 

These are quick, easy, and yummy–perfect for a quick breakfast!

 

Linda RoseLinda Rose blogs at Rose Academy and Sew Happily Ever After. She has 15+ years of teaching experience in public, private, after-school, and home school settings. She enjoys homeschooling her own children as well as teaching small group English classes in her home and at local co-ops. Sewing has become an important creative outlet for her and allows her to use her talents to bless her own family as well as others.

A Word From Our Sponsors

An Elementary Writing Curriculum
«
Read the next post: »

Roasted Tomatoes: Preserving for Another Day

Gardening in the Inland Northwest can be risky. Especially if you are growing tomatoes.

We have had years with abundant, wonderful red tomatoes to harvest, and then we’ve had years with abundant green tomatoes that have frozen on the vines. More often than not, we have the latter. Such a waste.20131003_123852

That’s fall in Eastern Washington. We go from the heat of summer to the frosty mornings of early winter with just a quick flash of fall colors in between.

Fall here can be as short as 4 weeks.

This year I wasn’t going to let the tomatoes go to waste. The news said we were due for frost in a couple of nights, so I decided we would save those little gems and pick them before the frost. 20131003_122834

The boys and I picked every last tomato, from the smallest grape tomatoes to the biggest beefsteaks.

20131003_124843

A friend came to my rescue when I was trying to figure out what to do with all of the ripe ones and deal with the green ones as they ripen. She told me how roasting tomatoes is one way to preserve them.  After talking with her, I also searched online for recipes and although they differ, the methods are similar.

I didn’t use a recipe. I just added what sounded good at the time. :)

Roasted Tomatoes: Preserving for Another Day

  1. Wash and cut cherry and grape tomatoes in half and put them in a 9×11 baking pan. Cut larger tomatoes in quarters or in 1/2” rings.
  2. Sprinkle with olive oil, Italian seasoning, black pepper, and garlic salt and stir well to coat. Ideally you will only have one layer of tomatoes, so if you have more than that, use a second pan.
  3. Roast in a 350* oven for 45 minutes.
  4. Remove when your kitchen smells heavenly and the tomato skins have become wrinkled.

roastedtomatoes

I truly have never tasted anything like these! I added half of the tomatoes to a pasta dish and put the remaining ones in the freezer for another meal. They may be added to any hot dish that sounds good to you, or stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. These can be pureed (remove the skins first) and canned into tomato sauce also.

Enjoy!

What’s your favorite thing to do with tomatoes?

The Momma Knows

Dawn (24 Posts)

Dawn is still happily homeschooling after 16 years. She teaches her two sons, 13 & 11, enjoying every minute of "the second time around". She lives in Eastern Washington with her husband, the youngest 2 of their 6 kids, and an assortment of barking, squeaking, and clucking critters. She writes at her homeschool/parenting blog The Momma Knows and her new chapter, Dawn Marie Perkins. You can also find her on Twitter @DawnMPerkins, , and Pinterest.


A Word From Our Sponsors

An Elementary Writing Curriculum
«
Read the next post: »