Toddler Water Activities

Toddler Water Activities

With summer comes water – especially here in Chicago, where the heat and humidity can make a bed of ice cubes sound comfortable. Even with the scorching weather, I like to spend as much time as I can outdoors with the kids – which means LOTS of water activities to keep them cool. We have a ton of fun with sprinklers, water balloons, and the kiddie pool, but sometimes they need a little extra creativity to catch their interest and get them excited to play outside in the heat.

With 3 little ones, I try to stick with activities that have minimal set-up time. I’ve seen a ton of great ideas on Pinterest, and as fun as some of them may be, I simply don’t have the time for things like building an extravagant “car wash” system out of PVC, hoses and hanging sponges…. For me, simple = good. And holding the kids attention for 30+ minutes = WIN!

That said, below is a list of our top 10 water activities…

1. Target Practice

Target Practice
Using water sprayers from our local dollar store, I set up rubber ducks and frogs on top of activity cones and the kids practice their aim by spraying them off.

 

2. Fishing for Ducks

IMG_7980Fishing for Ducks 2Fishing for Ducks
Holding the test of time, this has been a favorite activity since the boys were just short of 2 years old. Using an aquarium net, the kids “fish” for anything from rubber ducks to ping pong balls… After they are done fishing, sometimes the kids like to get out kitchen utensils and make “duck soup”.

 

3. Animal Baths

Animal Baths
This particular day we were taking a break from the heat, but have done this activity indoors and out… Using an old toothbrush and some soap, the kids enjoy pampering their favorite toy animals with a little spa-day.

 

4. Sink, Float & Explore

Sink and Float
With simple items from around the house, the kids explore what sinks or floats. The activity itself only lasts about 10 minutes, but then they enjoy simply playing with the items in water… (example items: plastic cups, paper, marbles, straws, plastic beads, coins, pom poms, plastic bugs/animals, buttons, wooden sticks, spoons, paper clips and rubber bands)

 

5. Splash Slo-Mo

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Playing around with the ‘slo-mo’ feature on my iPhone, I decided to take some clips of the kids splashing around in the pool – SO FUN! Now the boys are constantly requesting I take videos so they can watch their playbacks in slo-mo… Summer splashing at it’s best!

 

6. Chalk Paint

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Wet Chalk Jacob
Water + chalk = messy fun!!… Great for using left over small pieces of chalk – Just throw chalk sticks into a baggie, pound with a hammer (or the flat end of a meat tenderizer), pour chalk powder into a bucket, and add a small amount of water to make a thin paste… For less prep: Simply pour water on the ground, color heavily in the puddle with chalk, and mix with hands.

 

7. Car Wash

Car Wash
Whether it’s washing their toy trucks or Mom and Dad’s cars, the kids always enjoy a good car wash.

8. Wet Paper


As simple as construction paper in water – Squish it, squeeze it, and tear it. A great sensory experience.

 

9. Water Transfer

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Another go-to activity of mine, indoors or out… Using kitchen utensils, sponges, and a Fine Motor Tools Set, transferring water becomes endless hours of fun.

 

10. Putting out Fires

Putting out Fires
Off in imagination land, the kids love to pretend their toy house in our backyard is on fire and they help put it out with the hose, buckets of water, and/or their Paw Patrol Water Backpack.

Thanks for visiting my blog! For more fun ideas, follow me on Pinterest and Facebook… and now I’ll leave you with this adorably happy face…

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DIY Children’s Artwork Canvas Tote Bag

DIY Childrens Artwork Canvas Tote Bag

Homemade gifts are the sweetest and it doesn’t get much more adorable than children’s artwork – so this year for Mother’s Day, I worked with my sister in-laws to have each of the 8 grandchildren create a special piece for their Nana.

Each drawing/painting was created in a square format. I then took a photo of each masterpiece (Note: For best results, shoot outside in full sunlight), and used Diptic to group the photos into two sets of four with equal dimensions. This app also makes it super easy to create a fun colorful border, complimenting the kids’ artwork.


After combining the artwork into two collages, I printed each as a MIRROR IMAGE onto Fabric Transfer Sheets, then ironed them onto each side of a Canvas Tote Bag. (I stress “mirror image” because, regardless that it’s clearly on the instructions, I have forgotten this step on numerous occasions – trust me, you’ll want to save yourself the frustration)

Voila! Straight from a child’s heart and imagination… A one-of-a-kind, reusable tote, made especially for Nana.🙂

“Mothers hold their children’s hands for a short while, but their hearts forever.”

To all the amazing moms out there – you are loved and appreciated today and every day… Happy Mother’s Day!!

Teacher Appreciation Coloring Page

Teacher Appreciation Coloring Page Free Printable

It’s time to celebrate our real life superheroes – teachers! With Teacher Appreciation Day just around the corner, I wanted to come up with something the boys could give to their teachers at preschool. I thought it would be nice if they had a hand in creating it with their own personal touch – so I designed a coloring page with an option to add a statement about their teacher/classroom.

Click HERE for Teacher Appreciation Coloring Page. (Also great for nannies and child care providers)
Click HERE for Teacher Appreciation Coloring Page with Questionnaire.

Thank you to all the hard-working teachers! I appreciate your dedication to making a difference, while inspiring curiosity and knowledge that ultimately shapes our children’s future.

“It takes a big heart to shape little minds.”

Bunny Silhouette Painting

Bunny Silhouette Painting

With Easter right around the corner, I decided to create bunny silhouette paintings with the kids. A great way to kick-off spring, and capture the beautiful upcoming season.

I started by printing out a bunny silhouette from Clip Art Queen on card stock, then cut along the edge with an x-acto blade (not including the tail), and taped the stencil to a blank sheet of paper. I mixed pastel pink, blue and yellow onto a tray for the kids, then they painted over the stencil using a sponge and/or their hands.  After removing the stencil, their paintings looked pretty adorable as-is. But for a little extra fun and individuality – we added a tail, eyes, a nose, and mouth… I’m not sure what it is with kids and googly eyes, but they can’t get enough!

The kids enjoyed this craft enough that I’ll definitely try it again with other silhouettes. A fun craft for all ages!

Child Size or Small Wrist Magic Bands

We received our Magic Bands in the mail today. Woot, woot!! Warm weather and Disney World, here we come!! Needless to say, the kids were super excited and wanted to try them on immediately. Following the directions provided, Cory pulled away the grey section of Jacob’s bracelet to make it “child size”.  Little did he know the melt-down that would ensue… As far as Jacob was concerned, Cory just stripped away all the band’s magic… First off, Jacob said he wanted the grey border back on (which is not possible). But what seemed to bother him most, is that after you pull the grey section away, it leaves a frayed rubber edge that is visually less appealing. With tears in his eyes, Jacob asked me to “take off” the frayed edges. Normally I would shrug this off as a dramatic toddler episode but, Disney World is supposed to be a “place where dreams come true”, right? So I did my best to trim the frayed sections off with a pair of scissors. After a smoother edge and some convincing from Dad, we were able to sell Jacob on his new modified Magic Band.

Kid Size Magic Band Frayed Edge

Still a little frayed, but MUCH better than the initial appearance after peeling the grey away.

To avoid a melt down from Evan and Avery (who said they wanted to leave their grey border on), and to adjust my Magic Band for my small wrist – I came up with an alternative way to adjust the Magic Bands: Simply trim off the excess grey strapping with scissors (see Orange Magic Band below).

Kid Size or Small Wrist Magic Bands 2

  • Original Magic Band (blue) on the left.
  • Evan’s Magic Band (orange) in the middle, showing if you simply trim off the excess strapping, while leaving the grey border on.
  • Jacob’s Magic Band  (red) on the right, showing Disney’s recommended way to peel off the grey edging.

In my opinion, simply cutting off the excess strap while leaving the grey edging on, looks WAY better. Comparing the two, I’m honestly surprised it’s even a recommendation to rip away the grey edging… Either way, figured I’d share so that any other Disney World travelers can see both options and choose whichever they like best.🙂

Related post: DIY Disney Autograph Memory Book

Kid Size or Small Wrist Magic Bands

Paw Patrol Family Halloween Costume

Since my Ghostbusters Costumes / DIY Proton Pack has been receiving the most amount of blog traffic, I thought I’d throwback to 2014 and share details on how I made our Paw Patrol Halloween costumes as well…

With Jacob’s obsession for the color red, it was no surprise he wanted to be Marshall the fire pup! I purchased a toy fireman hat and red t-shirt from Amazon. After cutting off the sleeves to the t-shirt, I sewed on arms and made pants by using white fleece fabric and attaching black felt spots with Stitch Witchery (a no-sew/iron-on fusible tape – LOVE this stuff!). I hot glued ears to the helmet, added a collar with yellow strapping, and finished it with the final touch of his pup badge (from the Action Pack Pup & Badge toy) and Paw Patrol hat sticker (printed on sticker paper).

Marshall Paw Patrol Halloween Costume 2 - projectsinparentingMarshall Paw Patrol Halloween Costume - projectsinparenting

Evan wanted to be “Rubble on the double!”, so I purchased a toy construction hat and yellow t-shirt. I cut off the t-shirt sleeves to sew on arms, and made pants by using  fleece fabric. I created his ears with the same fabric, and gave them dimension by using Poly-fill and pipe cleaners. After attaching the ears with a glue gun, I added the Paw Patrol hat sticker (printed on sticker paper). Using black strapping, I added the collar and attached Rubble’s pup badge (from the Action Pack Pup & Badge toy) to the shirt.

Rubble Paw Patrol Halloween Costume 2- projectsinparentingRubble Paw Patrol Halloween Costume - projectsinparenting

It was only appropriate for Avery to be Skye (this was before Everest was introduced), so I purchased pink aviator goggles, sewed ears using fleece fabric stuffed with Poly-fill, then attached the ears by sewing them around the goggle straps (leaving flexibility for all sizes to wear – even adults!). I already had a pink aviator-style winter hat from GAP that worked perfectly, and I kept it simple with a pink long-sleeved onesie and black pants. And of course, can’t forget the pup badge!

Skye Paw Patrol Halloween Costume 2 - projectsinparentingSkye Paw Patrol Halloween Costume - projectsinparenting

As male leader of the pack, Cory dressed up as Ryder, wearing a red puffer vest that I found on Amazon. I used white, yellow and blue duct tape to create the illusion of Ryder’s vest and added a badge (printed on sticker paper) for more authenticity.

Ryder Paw Patrol Halloween Costume projectsinparentingRyder Costume projectsinparenting

Don’t lose it, re-use it! I decided to be Rocky, so got myself a green shirt and trucker cap. Creating simple ears using felt, I attached them to the cap with hot glue, then added the Paw Patrol hat sticker, and attached Rocky’s pup badge to my shirt.

Rocky Paw Patrol Halloween Costume projectsinparentingRocky Skye Paw Patrol Halloween Costume - projectsinparenting

It’s Paw Patrol, we’re on a roll!!…

Marshall Rubble Skye Paw Patrol Halloween Costume - projectsinparenting

Over a year later, the boys still cram their heads through these 2T neck holes, just so they can team up and pretend to save Adventure Bay!… Pretend play at it’s best.

Tape Resistant Valentine Painting 

My niece, Brynn is a huge fan of our art room and loves when I have projects planned. I knew she was coming over so, with Valentine’s Day around the corner, I prepared a craft to be given as a Valentine’s gift for the grandparents (They are in the mail, Papa and Nana!)… We created tape resistant paintings – a great way to let toddlers slosh paint around, channeling their inner artist, while ending up with a beautifully unique masterpiece every time!

STEP ONE: Apply painter’s tape to paper (I highly recommend using Frog Tape – This product has consistently outperformed all other brands I’ve tried).

STEP TWO: Put on a smile.

STEP THREE: Paint to your heart’s content. 

STEP FOUR: Peel off painter’s tape and appreciate the masterpiece!Tape Resistant Valentine Painting

“Love of beauty is taste. The creation of beauty is art.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tape Resistant Valentine Painting - Projects In Parenting

DIY Super Hero Valentine’s Day Cards

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It’s that time of year – spread the love by giving thoughtful cards to your friends, family and classmates!

While Valentine’s Day cards are nice – As a toddler, receiving ones with little favors (glow sticks, stickers, candy, etc.) are much more enjoyable, so I wanted to make something fun for the boys’ friends. With Evan being really into Batman right now, I created these Gotham City inspired cards and stapled on Batman tattoos I found at Party City. (Note if purchasing this specific tattoo pack: The label states “16 tattoos” which is essentially 8 perforated squares, with 2 tattoos each – so you can make 8 Valentine’s Day cards per pack)

DIY Batman Tattoo Valentines CardDownload FREE printable HERE.

For Jacob, I stuck with the super hero theme, but included Avengers tattoos.

DIY Super Hero Tattoo Valentines CardDownload FREE printable HERE.

Stay super and have a wonderful Valentine’s Day!!

Follow me on Pinterest and Facebook for more fun and creative ideas!

Constellation Sticker Craft

Constellation Sticker Craft - projectsinparenting

All things outer space has been a huge interest of the boys lately. They enjoy star gazing, identifying planets in the sky, and were thrilled to see the Super Blood Moon this past summer.

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Although it would be amazing if the moon were really that huge, it’s enlarged for effect 🙂

Jacob’s favorite thing to wear are his constellation pajama pants (as seen above) and he’s always asking us to point out the Big Dipper, especially after reading Touch the Brightest Star – one of his favorite interactive books, where you trace the Big and Little Dipper with your finger as part of the story. (Great book for any toddler’s bed time collection!)

I wanted a fun way to teach them the basic constellations, and ones that are easy to spot in the sky, so I came up with the following craft worksheets…

 

Download FREE Printable Worksheets HERE.

First I had the boys place star stickers on the grey dots, then using the picture as reference, draw lines to create each constellation.

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After learning the constellations, the boys got creative with their worksheets – connecting the dots without stickers, outlining the constellation in all star stickers, putting other stars in the sky, tracing the letters to spell the constellations, etc. I enjoy watching them explore whatever materials I give them. It’s fun when they think outside the box and come up with new ways to do things… A great hands-on way to learn while using imagination and creativity!

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“Don’t wait for the stars to align. Reach up, rearrange them the way you want them to be. Create your own constellation.” – Pharrell Williams

DIY Disney Autograph Memory Book

DIY Disney Autograph Memory Book

The beginning of winter in Chicago can be quite exciting – the anticipation of snow, holiday season cheer, ringing in a new year… then BOOM – January rolls in and the magical part of winter seems to come to a screeching halt. Next comes months of frigid cold, making it seem as though spring is an eternity away. For me, winter sanity is planning something to look forward to – like a nice warm vacation.

We decided to book a trip to Florida and try our hand at Disney World for a few days. Cory and I have both been to Disney World when we were little, but this will be our 1st trip as parents… Although all the information for planning a “WDW” vacation can be overwhelming, and some websites even require a secret decoder ring to figure out their acronyms, I find most advise has the same staple suggestions. One of these recommendations is to be prepared with an autograph book for character photographs and signatures.

The Disney Store sells autograph books anywhere from $8 to $20, and customizable books can be found on Etsy for up to $75 (you read that right – SEVENTY FIVE!) To sell me on $75 I’d hope for them to be encrusted with princess jewels or sprinkled with Tinkerbell’s fairy dust, but my guess is they are not… I understand some Disney enthusiasts might be willing to fork over that kind of cash for a memory book, but I have 3 toddlers who – to my best guess – will develop stage fright and not even get close enough to the oversized, slightly terrifying characters for me to snap a photograph, let alone ask for an autograph… Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about keepsakes. But if I can create a quality, personalized version myself and save money, I’m definitely going to choose that route.

To keep the cost of their autograph books at a minimum, I scoped out Hobby Lobby’s 40% off Art Pads & Sketchbooks sale and purchased  6″ x 6″ Master’s Touch Wire Bound Sketch Books for $2.99 each.

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I created my own image featuring the kids’ favorite characters/movies…

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Click HERE for editable PDF (accurate print size for above sketch book) or HERE for jpg format.

I then personalized each cover using a free New Waltograph font I found on Fontspace.com.

Disney Memories.jpg

If you have a Mac — After downloading the New Waltograph font, you can open the PDF file in Preview and follow the below steps to add your text:Editable PDF Steps

Step 1: Select the Edit button  from the toolbar at the top of the Preview window.
Step 2: Select the Text tool add text tool showing text within a box.Step 3: Select the color [white], [Waltograph] font, appropriate size – I used [48 pt], and [center] alignment.
Step 4: Click on document and type name / text. Note: You may have to do this a few times to get accurate placement.

Printing the images on card stock looked fabulous, but for an extra crisp result – I had them professionally printed online using matte photo paper (Note: Maintaining image size to scale is extremely important). I then trimmed the images with a paper cutter (leaving a white border) and used spray adhesive to attach each design to the kids’ autograph book covers.

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This photograph shows image printed on card stock.

We are now prepared for character autographs… Take us to the mouse!

Related post: Child Size or Small Wrist Magic Bands

Follow me on Pinterest, for more fun and creative ideas!

“Today’s special moments are tomorrow’s memories.” – Genie, The Return of Jafar