DIY Lion Guard Costumes


Months ago, Jacob told me he wanted to be Kion from The Lion Guard for Halloween. To no surprise, Evan and Avery wanted to team up with him as Beshte and Ono to help defend the pride lands!

For Kion and Beshte, I used orange and grey footed pajamas from (while also scoring a 15% off coupon from Retail Me Not – deals rock!). I attached red and black craft fur that I got from Michael’s Craft store (also available online at Amazon or Walmart) for hair, and used fleece fabric to sew on ears and a tail.

For Beshte, I designed a mask and created this TEMPLATE to make it into a fabric mask using felt squares and Stitch Witchery. Seriously, this stuff is AMAZING! All you have to do is cut the Stitch Witchery to shape and iron your fabrics, bonding them together – no sewing required! (Note: I cut the eyes out after bonding all the materials together to make sure the fabric was even)

For Ono, I purchased a white leotard from Amazon and created wings and a tail, using fleece fabric (Fleece is great for this purpose since it does not fray at all). The leotard fabric and skinny arms were a bit difficult to work with, so I chose to use a combination of Velcro and sewing to attach the wings. To give the tail a more 3 dimensional look, I sewed in pipe cleaners between the two tail fabrics.

diy-ono-costume-wings-and-tailSimilar to Beshte – I designed an Ono mask for Avery and created a TEMPLATE so I could make a fabric mask, using felt squares and Stitch Witchery.



To complete their costumes, The Lion Guard needs their badge of honor – so again I used my trusty Stitch Witchery to fuse the symbol (from felt squares) to each costume’s left arm. Tip: After printing out this TEMPLATE, I cut out the shapes with an X-ACTO knife, and chalked out a mirror image as a stencil.


Now my little protectors of the pride lands are ready to roar on Halloween!


Related: See Paw Patrol and Ghostbusters costumes.


Exploring Colors for Preschoolers


Mix It Up! by Herv├ę Tullet has been a long-time favorite book in our house. A truly brilliant and engaging way to introduce the idea of mixing colors. One of the best parts = The kids can mix colors, over and over again, without the actual mess of paint! Another great book to compliment this read is The Wonders of the Color Wheel, by Charles Ghigna. Similar to Mix It Up!, this book explains color combinations, but also touches upon the categorization of primary and secondary colors.

While paint seems to be the most logical activity for hands-on learning of mixing colors, I’ve found that (specifically when working with toddlers) the secondary colors never come out quite right. For example, when attempting to mix the bright green of a shamrock, we end up with more of a brownish-green that looks like rotting seaweed­čśŽ

To make things a little easier (and more accurate), I’ve come up with a few other mediums that are great for exploring colors with kids…

1. Mixing Colored Water


I filled plastic cups with water and used food coloring to dye the cups in correspondence to this Color Math Printable. The boys then poured the 1st two cups in each row (primary colors), into the last empty cup, to create the secondary colors (green, purple & orange).

2. Play-Doh Color Wheel


Using the primary colors of Play-Doh (blue, red & yellow), the boys mashed and rolled small pieces together to create each secondary color (green, purple & orange), and place them on their Color Wheel Printable.

3. Overlaying Transparency Colors


Using the primary colors of Magnatiles, the boys held the tiles up to a window, overlapping them to discover each of the secondary colors. If you don’t have Magnatiles, any form of color transparencies can work.

Thanks for visiting my blog! For more fun kids’ activities and free printables, follow me on Pinterest and Facebook.

“The ones who are crazy enough to think they can color the world are the ones who do”

´╗┐Toddler Weekly Calendar

FREE Printable Toddler Weekly Calendar - projectsinparenting

Shortly after the boys turned 2 years old, they started finding Cory or I in the mornings and asking, “Is Dad home all day?”. If the answer was “no”, I often times had two crying kids on my hands. Understandably (in their minds), they were upset that Cory had to run off to some unknown “work” place, instead of staying home to play with them. Unfortunately for me, I had to break this news to them every Monday through Friday and they would be super angry with me – like it was MY choice which days Cory went to work.

While it was neat watching them realize the concept of days, I wanted to avoid the unnecessary tantrums and help them understand their schedules better. As a visual person myself, I decided to put together a weekly calendar *showing* them which days Dad was “home all day” (by putting a picture of Cory’s face on Saturday and Sunday). I printed out the calendar, put it in a sheet protector, and hung it on their bedroom door with a clothespin to mark the current day. Each morning, they would wake up and move the clothespin to the new day.

Both Jacob and Evan responded to the calendar extremely well, so I started adding images for almost everything – doctor’s appointments, swim class, holidays, etc. The boys quickly started understanding weekends vs. weekdays and were excited when something new would pop up on their calendar. Although our weekly events pretty much stayed the same, when I knew a holiday or special event was coming up, I would print the future week in advance and simply slide the sheet behind the current week (in the sheet protector) so that it was ready to go.

Avery is 2 years old now, and starting “toddler school” this week, so I started using the weekly calendar for her. She is loving the new responsibility of updating her marker for each day, and super excited for her 1st day of school. No more tantrums and full cooperation for the day’s activities (well, most of the time anyway). Either way, a definite WIN!

  • Click HERE for Weekly Calendar Printable.
  • Click HERE for Weekly Calendar Clipart Printable – Simply cut & paste appropriate holiday, event or activity onto your Weekly Calendar.
  • For sports classes such as swimming, gymnastics, tennis, etc., I recommend using images from Classroom Clipart (endless options and free!). This website also has perfect graphics to use for other activities (piano lessons, etc.) and additional holidays.

“December is here before its June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?” – Dr. Seuss

´╗┐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

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

Chalk Paint.JPG
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

Water Transfer.JPG
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…




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┬áCanvas 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.­čÖé

“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.┬á┬áAfter 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.­čÖé

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┬áfusible 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┬á 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┬áPaw 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 (similar hat from Old Navy), 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. The exact vest I purchased is out of stock, but Old Navy currently has a perfect one, as well as a kid’s version (and here are some kid’s options from 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.

Related: DIY Lion Guard Costumes


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.┬á

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