Toddler Activity: Cake Decorating Sensory Bin

Cake it till you make it with this Cake Decorating Sensory Bin.

Shaving cream is such a fun ingredient to use during sensory play. It’s cheap, versatile, and easy to clean up. That makes this bin perfect for kids and their parents!

I also loved seeing Mila’s creativity again and again. She did a lot of different designs and pretended she was a cake decorated the entire time.

It was a sensory bin success!

Here’s the only things you’ll need for this one:

I feel like I always say this, but putting this bin together took no time.

The longest part was cutting up the straws into sprinkles. For this, all I did was randomly cut it in small pieces. I didn’t measure or make anything exact.

Then, I put shaving cream in the bin. There was a decent sized layer there, but I didn’t fill the bin.

After that, I set it in front of Mila and told her the goal of the sensory bin. She did everything else without me having to monitor it.

The only thing I did have to mention that this was shaving cream… not whipped cream.

Mila played with this activity for way longer than I set it up. Which is always a win in my book. When she wanted to clear off her cake, we put the sprinkles in a colander and cleaned them off.

This Cake Decorating Sensory Bin really was such a simple and fun activity for her!

I’m the future, I can see this activity expanding into her spelling words or having her make certain images. Mainly because it was so easy!

Let me know in the comments your child’s favorite type of sensory play. I think Mila’s might be water!

Check out these other sensory play ideas too:

Toddler Activity: The Rainbow Fish Paper Craft

The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister is a classic story about sharing. Since preschool is quickly approaching, I thought this story and lesson would be great for Mila to read and remember.

Sharing can be a tricky thing to learn, so a book with beautiful illustrations is a great place to start.

One of my favorite parts about this activity is you can make it however you want!

Every fish will as individual as your child.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Before the activity, I prepped the basics of Mila’s fish.

Instead of a paper plate, I just used left over scrapbook paper to make the fish’s body, fins, and eyes. Then I cute out aluminum paper and taped it on the fins. I tried to mimic the book, but I think it turned out just fine!

At this time, I also premade the foil scales too!

To start out this activity, we first read The Rainbow Fish. While reading, I asked Mila a few different situational questions like…

Would you share your scales?

Do you think you have to share to have friends?

Would you be sad if someone didn’t share with you?

Do you know you’re just as beautiful inside as your are out?

Plus a few extra ones that I can’t think of at the moment. Yet, they all touched on these topics.

Another BIG thing we talked about with this book is consent. Mila stated she wouldn’t want to give away her scales or parts of her. When she said this, I thought… duh mom?!

We talked about how it’s okay not to share all of yourself or things with others. But it is nice to take turns with toys and listening ears.

Who knew she’d get so deep so fast.

Then, I had her use her watercolors to paint her own scales. She made me a beautiful pictures first.

After she was finished painting, we let the paint dry. It only took a little bit and you could speed it up with a hair dryer. Then make more paper scales.

To assemble rainbow fish, I taped the back of the scales and we talked about sharing and consenting again.

While she taped on her painted scales, I would ask her about positive ways she could share in preschool. Every time she thought of one, she could add a shiny scale to her rainbow fish.

I think she did excellent and was so proud of her fish after it was done!

When I reflect back on this book and activity, I’m really shocked with the questions she had. It also made me smile knowing she’ll be good to go with sharing and being a friend in preschool.

Let me know in the comments if you love The Rainbow Fish or what other books about sharing you’d recommend.

Then, if you love pairing books and activities, check out some of these ideas…

Water Balloon Tie Dye Sheets

What’s more fun than water balloons? Throwing water balloons with tie dye in them at a perfectly white sheet.

Let’s just say, Mila custom made me Water Balloon Tie Dye Sheets to celebrate summer.

AND… I love them!

So, let me tell you this first. It was sort of a huge jump of faith to do this activity. Mila was introduced to water balloons this year and throwing them at other people… do you get where my brain went?

Unlike Mila, I didn’t wear a swimsuit for this activity. I hoped with all my might she wouldn’t just throw them at me.

She ended up not getting me with them, but if you do this activity, beware! Tie dye is so hard to get off other clothes if you can’t get to it right away. It also takes a few days to get off of skin too.

But it was totally worth it! This is my favorite art project of the summer that I get to use frequently!

When you brave it with your kids, here’s what you need:

There is some prep going into this activity. It’s a lot easier than the Balloon Pop Artwork we did for Mila’s birthday!

For some reason, Mila slept until 10 am one morning, which gave me a perfect amount of time to set up and prep for this. Usually I’m all for older kids helping with prep, but this one can get messy!

To start off, I mixed the tie dye together and let the solution saturate.

Then, I color coordinated the balloons to match the dye. This way Mila knew what to expect and could do more color recognition… because we’re always learning!

After I thought they were mixed enough, it was time to start.

I’m guessing there’s probably easier ways to do this, but this is how I did it. If you know of a better way, PLEASE let me know in the comments.

Anyways, I blew up the water balloon with air. Then, added the tie dye water to the balloon by sticking the tip of the bottle into the balloon. After, I added extra water into it.

See… messy.

I found it better to blow it up as much as it could and not fill it completely with water.

Not going to lie, this took a little while, but I had the time. If you’re planning to do this, just know they’ll want way more than you planned! We probably threw around 50 to 75. They all didn’t hit or pop on the sheet.

So, if you think you have enough, do ten more.

After the balloons were done, I set up the outside area. Since I have access to pallets, I used that to hold the big sheet. The pillow cases went to the ground to catch the splatter.

At first I had it more upright, but it worked better with a slant.

By the time Mila woke up, the area was ready to rock-n-roll. Let’s just say, she woke up pretty easy when she found out what we’d be doing!

All I told her to do was get her swimsuit on and meet me outside.

Then she saw the balloons and sheets.

I told her the plan for the day and she took right to it. Again, I’m thankful she didn’t hit me with any because I wore normal clothes. Which I would not recommend.

We found out that the balloons were harder to pop than we originally thought. I’m guessing because of the air in them.

She found her rhythm though!

Look at that lefty power.

It took a lot less time to throw all the balloons than it did to pop them.

I actually made more midway through.

We had fun talking about the different colors and making predictions about their pop. Like I said, it took a little bit to figure out how to pop them. I think the sheets softened the blow.

It was fun watching Mila’s strength and persistence while throwing them.

One tip I’ll give is to turn the sheets and pillow cases half way through. That way both sides can get optimal color!

I am super impressed with how these turned out.

To finish off the tie dye, I folded the sheet and pillow cases up, put them in a plastic bag, and popped them in the refrigerator overnight. Then, wash and dry them. They’ll be ready to go after that.

Once I put them on the bed, I’ll update this post and share on Instagram and Facebook.

We’ll definitely be tie dying again with this kit! I’ve made a few shirts with it, but this way by far the most fun we’ve had with it.

Have you ever tie dyed anything? What’s your favorite way to do it? Comment to let us know.

I think ours is with water balloons!

After you comment, check out how these moms incorporate water play with their kids!

Christmas in July Snacks.

Christmas is officially SIX MONTHS away! I can’t believe 2021 is halfway over.

To celebrate the occasion, Mila and I made some Christmas inspired treats. Then, we cleared out some of her older things to give to others. ‘Tis the season of giving.

The three snacks we made were Strawberry Santa’s, marshmallow ‘Olaf’s,’ and frozen hot chocolate.

Each are pretty easy to make. They all include one of Mila’s favorite things: sugar.

For the Strawberry Santa’s here what you’ll need:

  • Strawberry’s
  • Whipped cream
  • Sprinkles
  • Food coloring

To make this little guy, all you need to do is cut a strawberry in half. Then, add whipped cream to the middle to make Santa’s face and beard and to the top to make the fluff on the top.

A face only Mrs. Claus can love.

I made his eyes with food coloring… I’ll admit, he looks like a creeper. But let’s just say Santa has some shades on. For his mouth, I added a red sprinkle.

Out of the three, this was my personal favorite. Yeah, I know I’m on a strawberry kick this summer.

Mila’s favorite was the Marshmallow Snowmen. she obviously named them Olaf’s.

All you’ll need for these are;

  • Marshmallows (2 per snowman)
  • Chocolate chips
  • Sprinkles
  • Toothpicks
  • Food coloring.

Honestly, these are just as easy to assemble.

I stuck the toothpick through both marshmallows to keep the snowman upright. Then, I pushed the chocolate chips in as eyes and buttons. Finally, an orange sprinkle made the perfect nose.

For his smile… I just painted on food coloring because that would have been too many chocolate chips.

I think I also wanted to showcase that I actually know how to paint on a circle to a face.

I think this was Mila’s favorite treat. Mostly because she loves Olaf and the nose made her giggle.

Last but not least, the frozen hot chocolate was so easy to make.

All I did was take a hot chocolate packet, milk, and ice to my blender and mixed it up. It turned o it really good. Then I put it in the Santa mug and topped it off with whipped cream.

After our little snack, we took the time to go through Mila’s old clothes, toys, and baby accessories. I think the sugar rush definitely helped Mila get through it.

It was nice to clear up some closet space for Mila and giveaway a few toys.

I told Mila she was Santa’s little helper. Then reminded her he’s always watching so to keep being a good girl!

Now she won’t take off her Santa headband! We’ve been reading Christmas books and watching Christmas movies too. I guess she’s already excited.

Mila and I had so much celebrating Christmas in July!

It’s always nice to make something special for Mila. AND I love teaching her early on that giving is important.

Ww have a little work to do for when Santa’s not watching, but it’s a start.

If you’re looking for more ways to celebrate Christmas in July or want to have a little party to celebrate, check out how these moms do it:

Shark Week Paper Craft

Duuun dun duuun dun… look out, it’s Shark Week!

This might be the first year that I’ve ever participated in Shark Week. They’re one of my biggest fears… good thing I live in Ohio. But, I’m raising Mila to be fearless, so we did a toddler-friendly shark inspired craft!

The set up is reminiscent of our Frida Kahlo portrait we did earlier this year. Just shark inspired.

Here’s what you’ll need to hammer it out:

Since Mila isn’t the Steven Spielberg of using scissors, I prepped this activity. If your kids are older, they’ll have fun with this.

All I did was cut out different shapes of the shark and waves for her to put together.

  • Light blue for the background
  • Newspaper for the shark’s body
  • Black for the shark’s mouth and pupils
  • White for the eyes and teeth
  • Dark blue for the waves

Honestly, I just free-cut everything jaws because it was easier and I knew it wasn’t going to be ‘perfect.’ I’m so happy I did because the shark’s expression is amazing.

Once your done cutting the pieces out, have your child assemble their shark.

I let Mila place the shark’s parts however she wanted. She also had her toy shark for reference. The only thing I did tell her was that a shark’s mouth is FULL of teeth.

Take a bite out of this…

Shark’s will have 30,000 teeth over their lifespan. I told Mila that, but she doesn’t really know 30,000 is a huge number.

Back to the craft…

While Mila was working away, I found the letters to ‘shark’ in the newspaper to cut them out. There’s always an opportunity to learn letters, so we take them.

After the pieces are set, glue them down.

So, Mila’s shark is the only shark I probably would not be afraid of seeing in the water.

I mean, just look at him.

He’s not very ferocious and makes me laugh every time I look at him. I don’t know if it’s how big the eyes are or the mismatched teeth…

All I do know is Mila is extremely proud of her shark.

He’s currently hanging on our fridge. So every time I look in our kitchen, his bewildered face makes me smile.

Isn’t that fintastic?

We hope you liked our Shark Week paper craft! It’s always fun to see your child creating and learning at the same time.

What’s your favorite type of shark?

I’d you’re looking for other Shark Week activities, check these more ferocious ones out:

Toddler Activity: Marshmallow Painting

S’mores are obviously a huge part of our summer. We have tons of fires and we’re always craving the gooey treat. Sometimes, you can have a ton of leftover marshmallows. Instead of just throwing them away before they get hard, try this Marshmallow painting.

It’s a fun way for kids to play with their food and wait for the s’mores to get done!

If you’re by the campfire making s’mores, you have almost everything you’ll need.

  • Marshmallows
  • Paint
  • Sticks
  • Canvas

To start this activity off, I had Mila go find sticks. It gave her some time to explore and find the perfect ones.

While she was doing that, I prepped the painting area. All you need to do is find a spot for your canvas, get a palette (I used old cardboard) to put the paint, and get out marshmallows.

Once Mila got back with the sticks, I stuck the sticks in the marshmallows to make a ‘brush.’

Before she started painting, I asked her to tell me a campfire story through her art. So, while she was painting, she was telling a big story. Everyone color represented something different.

The storytelling part of this activity is my favorite! People have been telling stories around the fire since the first humans.

I can’t remember exactly what Mila’s was about. There were a lot of details.

What I do recall is the story was about me, Mila, and Max. We rode on a bike to get plants and a tree. She was purple, I was pink, Max was orange, the plants and tree were green, the bike was blue, and there’s some colors she used again that I don’t remember why.

I should have been recording her tell the story, but I didn’t think about it until after. Either way, when I look at her little painting, I smile.

Afterwards, we enjoyed a little s’more and told more stories. It was such a fun activity to start our evening. Summer nights like these are my absolute favorite.

In the next week or so, I hope I can start writing down her stories. She’s been telling a lot of them and I want to make sure I always remember. When I do, I’ll make sure to write a post about it in case you’d like to do something similar.

Have you ever painted with marshmallows before? If not, what’s your favorite camping or summer craft you did as a child?

Here’s some other summer/camping crafts you might want to check out too!

DIY Stars and Stripes Sign

Hello July!

I can’t think of a better way to start the month of than a DIY sign. Especially when a three year old is doing all the heavy lifting! With the Fourth of July right here, it seemed fitting to do a patriotic Stars and Stripes sign.

On Pinterest and Instagram, I’ve been seeing so many cute, patriotic signs. I knew Mila and I had to make one too. When I went to Joann Fabrics last, a wooden sign was calling out to me.

*I’ve looked all over Joann Fabrics’ website and Amazon to link the sign. There’s nothing comparable, but something still could be in your local craft store. Whenever I go, there’s a multitude of wood signs! Plus, you might find something else you like more!*

Unfortunately, I got too excited to actually take pictures of the plain wood. I painted the outside of the sign blue. Then, red and white went on the ‘stripes’ in the middle.

I just used craft paint and it worked fine!

Usually, I set up Mila’s activities and projects when she’s asleep or working on something else. When she saw me painting, she was not happy with me! She didn’t understand why she wasn’t painting either! Oops.

I promise the next part makes up for my apparent painting betrayal.

After the sign was dry, I laid out her part of the activity. She requested we use light blue in the sign too… which was a fantastic choice.

All we ended up using was:

Of course, I laid down brown paper to protect my table and a paper plate to dip in the paint.

Thankfully this isn’t the first time Mila has used something other than a brush to paint. She knew she had to push down hard to get the paint off.

It always amazes me how she creates art. I have no idea what her method is, but it always turns out so cute.

She ended up layering all the star sizes and blended the colors. I love how some of the stars turned out ombré from navy to light blue. The pops of light blue are actually my favorite.

Since the sign wasn’t huge, it didn’t take too long to fill the inside up.

I went back and forth on adding words or something on the blue ring of the sign. Eventually, I decided it was perfect how it was. I didn’t want anything to take away from the stars. Sometimes less is more.

If you can’t find star cookie cutters, sponges would be an amazing alternative. We haven’t used sponges to paint a ton, but it’s on our list this summer!

I am SO happy with how our DIY Stars and Stripes sign turned out. It’s proudly hanging on our front door now.

My favorite part is just making art with Mila. It’s something I’ll always treasure.

The next few days will be ones to treasure too! I’m excited to see her react to our community’s festivities and fireworks. As a child, I loved being around my family for the Fourth and hope Mila does too. Check out her second Fourth of July here.

I hope you have a fantastic July as well!

Do you craft or make signs for different holidays? If so, which is your favorite holiday to craft for?

Toddler Activity: Mermaid Swim Party

With summer heat waves, it can be hard to stay cool when you’re outside. Our favorite way is to add water play to our routine. This week started off with a Mermaid Swim Party.

Every day, I like to do a hands on activity with Mila. In the summer, that usually happens first thing in the morning. It’s a great way to set the mood and guarantees extra learning for the day!

A win-win right?

Since Mila loved the beach sensory play activity earlier this month, I thought I’d bring those themes back.

The best part, we used actual water this time!

A mermaid swim party wouldn’t be complete without these:

This activity was pretty simple to set up. The hardest part was getting the sprinkler in the hose.

All I did was setup the sprinkler (which wasn’t that hard at all), grab the items for the sensory bin, place them in, and fill up the bin with water. That’s all!

Before I let her play with the bin, we read a book. I believe reading books everyday is so crucial for a child’s development. They’re able to expand their vocabulary with every new word they here and start becoming familiar with sight words.

For this activity, we read That’s Not My Mermaid from the Usborne series.

It was a fun stepping stone to get her describing the differences of our mermaids during the activity. Plus, Usborne books are so educational. We love this series and find different ways to learn from it each time.

I would recommend the That’s Not My series to anyone!

After we read the book, I showed Mila her sensory bin and let her do whatever she wanted with it.

She went wild!

Between the water, the mermaids, and the sprinkler, she thought it was the best activity. I loved the way she reacted to it all. It’s always so much fun to see her growth through play.

I’d love to say I watched her the entire time, but she played with this activity for two hours. Yes. You read that right THREE HOURS.

For some reason, she really just thought this was a blast. We did different educational activities like talking about the resin letters and talking about the differences in the mermaids. She also loved pretending and making up stories about them.

At one point, Mila even got into the sensory tray to try to play with them more.

Eventually, after three hours, Mila was finally done with this activity and playing with the the hose. I was amazed that she was so engaged. It allowed me to wash the dishes, change the laundry, and tidy up. Of course, I kept checking on her, but it was hot!

Honestly, it makes me so happy to see how much she loves to play, use her imagination, and be outside. If creating simple activities helps, I’ll keep doing just that.

What are some of your favorite ways to beat the heat waves? Do you stay inside or like to play with or in water too?

Make sure to check out these other water inspired play ideas too!

Toddler Activity: Balloon Pop Artwork

Toddlers love throwing things, balloons, and making a mess. I’ve found a way to incorporate all three with this Balloon Pop Artwork.

For Mila’s third party birthday in April, (I still haven’t wrote about it. I’ll get to it as soon as I can!) we did a Young, Wild, and THREE theme. That meant animals prints, fun games, and friends. The day was truly a celebration.

Anyways, one our favorite parts was all the littles creating a huge piece of art. It was a carnival style game that the adults had a lot of fun watching.

This set up was inspired by the balloon throw game at fairs and carnivals.

And yes… we used darts.

Here are the supplies we used to create the balloon pop artwork:

  • A huge canvas
  • Paint
  • Balloons
  • Darts
  • Tape
  • A crazy group of kids

I want to start off saying that this project was a little more difficult than I thought. Honestly, I didn’t think through the getting the paint in the balloon or how to get them to stick effectively.

Yet… here are my tips to help! Plus a funny story or two.

The first thing you need to do is get the paint inside the balloons. Like I just said, this is not easy at all. If you have a trick of how to do this, please let all of us know. Hopefully that tip will help someone else out.

Anyways, after trial and error, I found the best way to put paint in a balloon are these steps.

First, blow up the balloon and let the air out. Second, stretch out the hole and squeeze paint in the balloon. Then, blow it up.

It sounds way simpler and easier than it actuality.

At first, I tried filling the balloon with a straw. It helped for a little bit, but pulling it out put paint everywhere. Which isn’t good when you still have to blow the balloon up.

BEWARE…

With one balloon, I had it half blown up then accidentally let go of the opening… that meant, all the air and paint in the balloon sprayed back on me.

It covered my face and shirt. Some got on my teeth and in my mouth. It just was not a great time.

So, there will be some trial and error.

After you’re done blowing up balloons, you have to tape them to the canvas.

I’d suggest not taping the balloons on or getting the activity outside until you’re ready to do it. The balloons will pop in the heat and tape doesn’t hold really well on canvas.

Yes… some balloons did pop prematurely in my house. It was a mess the entire time. But made me laugh too. What’s life without laughter?

Once it’s time to throw down, just set it up where you don’t mind paint getting every where.

We lined the kids up and told them what to do.

They all took turns really well and had a lot of fun with it. The littler kids had a harder time, but as soon as they realized they could throw hard, it got a lot more fun.

If you have kids close to the canvas, they will get paint on them!

Anyways, it took them a while to actually pop all the balloons. They started inching up after a few rounds.

Even though it was messy, I’m obsessed with out the Balloon Pop Artwork turned out. It’s actually the first piece of art someone sees when they walk into my house right now.

I love that every time we look at it, we remember how much fun Mila’s third birthday was!

Let me know in the comments if you’ve ever done an activity like this? Or let me know what your favorite carnival game is.

Before you go, check out how these moms incorporate the carnival in their play…

Toddler Activity: Flag Hunt

Happy Flag Day!

To celebrate the occasion, we went on a Flag Hunt and talked about the importance of flags. Mila was surprised with how many flags were in our little community!

To start off, we did not intend to go on a mini flag hunt. There were just so many at the beginning of the walk! At the beginning, she was very enthusiastic to find flags and ran over to touch them.

Our town always has a lot of American flags up, just more throughout the summer with Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day.

Most cities or towns will have flags at these places:

  • Schools
  • Post Offices
  • Police Stations
  • Town/City Hall
  • Monuments
  • Any Government Building

We also found them on our towns telephone poles, fences, and yards. Although we didn’t go on anyone porch, Mila was pointing them out on there too.

I didn’t expect her to find as many as she did.

Some roads had a lot of telephone poles, so she was constantly saying, ‘there’s one, there’s one, there’s one too!.”

At one point she did ask why there were so many flags and what it meant.

Right now, she associates hearts with love. She’s starting to understand there’s some association with objects and feelings. Probably not as complex as our flag, but you have to start somewhere.

I told her that the flag represented where we live and that’s the United States. That’s a big concept for her since she’s just started to learn our town and state.

When I saw her look of confusion, I asked her what a heart meant. She, of course, knew. Then I told her the flag meant pride, community, and togetherness for some people. That seemed to make a little more sense.

She enjoyed talking about the colors of the flag and the stars more.

I also want to mention, beware if you’re flag hunting on a hot day. When we went, it was very humid and a tiny bit miserable.

Mila and Max were dragging their feet. At one point, Mila defeatedly dropped her head walking home. She most definitely let me know how hot it was most of the time though.

Leave it to a toddler.

So, if you go on a flag hunt, make sure you bring lots of water or go on a cooler day!

If not, you might get these types of looks of disappointment.

Either way, we had an educational walk that was engaging and got us outside for about an hour. Next time, we’ll bring more water and maybe a cold rag.

As always, let me know if you do this activity with your child and how they like it.

How do you talk to your toddler about our flag, the USA, or community? Is there any activities you’d like to share?