Toddler Activity: Cupcake Liner Octopus

If you’re looking for a fun, ocean animal themed animal craft that’s not a mermaid, you’ve came to the right spot. This Cupcake Liner Octopus is easy to do and turns out looking cute!

When I say easy, I mean that Mila made her octopus with little assistance by me. Yay for independence and growth.

I also like that even though we LOVE mermaids, we’ve done so many this year. It was nice to switch up the ocean themed activities with a different sea animals. Mila remembers them from our trip to Ripley’s Aquarium in Myrtle Beach, which helped a lot!

The best part of this activity, you can find everything at your local dollar store for less than $5! Here’s what you’ll need:

First, have your child pick out what colors they want the octopuses to be. In our pack of cupcake liners we had pastels: pink, yellow, blue, and green.

Mila picked pink for her (of course) and yellow for me.

Then, to help your toddler succeed in this craft, cut four, long strips of scrapbook paper and tissue paper. These will be the octopus’s legs.

Then, glue together a strip of tissue paper and a strip of scrapbook paper. The scrapbook paper should be on top of the tissue paper. I folded them in the middle to help my guide where they should meet.

Mila did help me with gluing, but she doesn’t have the scissor skills yet to cut long strips. She enjoyed cutting some small pieces off though.

While the legs are drying, take two of the same color cupcake liners and glue them together. This reinforces the octopus and makes it stronger if you want it to hang longterm.

Then, it’s time for the googly eyes. Mila matched the octopuses’ body color with their eyes. She’s been obsessed with googly eyes so I knew I needed to have a craft that had them in there. It was a success.

Just glue the eyes on to the cupcake liner. For this, I flattened the liner to make sure they stayed.

After that, I had her used a marker to draw a smiley face.

Now it’s time to put the legs and body together!

I assisted her with this a lot because it’s a little tricky for toddler.

Take one of the legs and put glue on the center of the scrapbook paper part. Then, place it in the inside of the cupcake liner. It should look like the octopus has two legs dangling down.

After, flip it upside down again, repeat the gluing, and rotate how you put the legs so it’s opposite. You want to make a little ‘x’ in the middle.

While the first two strips dry on the octopus, help with the other one or wait until it dries a little more. I found it dried better if it was flipped on the octopus’s head.

When it’s strong enough make another ‘x’ with the remaining legs.

The legs should look like a star when they’re laying down. It’s hard to explain, but simple to do.

If you’d like to hang then, just take a string and scrapbook paper and glue it on top of its head. I put the string under the paper to give it a little more strength.

Now you’re all done!

Mila was super proud of our Cupcake Liner Octopus and I think they both turned amazingly cute.

If you try this craft out, let me know in the comments. Also, if you know of a cute octopus book, I’d love for you to share it too. It’d be a great idea to pair this craft with a book for other toddlers.

After that, check out how these other moms incorporated mermaids and sea creatures in their day too!

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!

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!

10 Thoughts On Taking a Toddler Fishing

A few weekends ago, Mila went fishing for the first time.

We decided to go for Father’s Day. It’s been a while since my dad and I have went, but we had been talking about it in front of Mila. She had been asking for days and it felt like the perfect time. Father’s Day weekend was a free fishing weekend, so we got a few fishing poles and found a spot by the lake.

What I didn’t realize was how different fishing was with a toddler. Just like my thoughts on Mila’s dance class, I knew I had to share what was going on in my head here too.

Feel free to laugh along with me.

What’s the difference between worms and night crawlers?

Seriously though… what’s the difference? Plus, is it really kosher that I’m buying whatever they are at a gas station? Either way, thank goodness I don’t have to touch them. Maybe Mila will be braver than me.

There’s a lot of gear and snacks that go into fishing.

Fishing pole. Check. Kid’s fishing pole. Check. Snacks. Check. Chairs to sit in. Check.

Did I forget something? Probably.

Thank goodness Papa is here to get everything in working order.

If it was just Mila and I today, there wouldn’t be a ton of fishing. It’d be more of me chasing her around than casting out and catching! She’s grossed out by the worms… I guess we have more jobs for Papa.

It’s time to fish!

It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for. Our poles are ready. Mila is excited to catch a big fish. Let’s see if we can…

HOOOOOOOK!

Toddlers and sharp objects are not a good combination. Especially when said sharp objects are being hurled through the air. I guess we should have started with some ground rules to begin with and a few practice casts.

Why am I doing more fishing than her?

After the first few casts and no fish, Mila is highly disappointed.

Apparently in her mind they were all going to flock to the worm/night crawlers. I guess no one sent out the being patient while fishing memo to her.

I got one!

Cue the yelling to Mila to help me reel the fish in. As she ran over, I realized I probably scared the rest of the fish away, but this was a BIG moment for her.

No, you don’t have to touch the fish.

After the intense reeling, she eyes up her prize. Once it starts wiggling around, she’s not so sure about touching it. Finally, I convince her to pet it before we throw it back in. Of course, Papa had another job of unhooking it.

Thankfully, Mila stepped up and threw it back in the lake.

I need to catch all the fish for her!

Hours seem to pass quickly and her excitement makes me want to catch even more. We do our normal fish routine, but mixed in is the patience memo she missed.

I guess the boredom helped her get more brave in touching the worms.

This is pretty relaxing.

As it’s time to pack up, the day has been quite relaxing… minus the almost getting hooked every time Mila casted out and the persistent whining. Right before we leave, Mila proclaims that next time we catch a really big fish so we can eat it.

I guess that’s a goal and story for another time.

Have you ever been fishing with your child? If so, what was your favorite part of the experience?

Looking for other camping related activities? Check out these fun ones.

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!

15 Things To Do With Your Toddler This Summer

Summer is OFFICIALLY here!

Mila and I love the warm months and everything to do with our time off. It may be hard to think of fun things to do with your toddler in the heat, but getting outside is so important.

We’re going to track our time outside until next summer. Our goal is to hit 1000 hours and I have a feeling the majority of the time will be when the sun is shining bright. 1000 Hours Outside is a movement to get outside and lessen screen time. They have a fun coloring page to track your hours and I think it’s a fun little challenge.

I also think about how Mila and I only have EIGHTEEN summers together until she goes off to college or enters adulthood. We’re going to try to make the most of them.

This is summer 4/18.

Here’s a little list of what Mila and I will be doing this summer. I can’t wait to see all of our adventures.

Create a Scavenger Hunt

You know how much Mila and I love scavengers hunts. They’re easy to make and can be done anywhere outside. We love to do them in our backyard, but have also done them on hikes, walks, and on vacation too!

Scavenger hunts are great ways to keep your little busy and you can join along too!

Go to the Zoo

Zoos are such fun places to explore. There’s all kinds of different animals and kids are just in awe of them. It may get a little hot during the summer, so make sure to pack extra water.

I’d also suggest trying to go early in the morning or during zoo nights!

If you’re in Ohio, check out the Columbus and Akron Zoo!

Go to the Pool

Mila and I’s FAVORITE summer activity is going to the pool. We love to swim and just relax in the water. She’s also started asking to go to the waterpark. She loves the slides!

For us, swimming passes the time so quickly and cools us down. It’s also fun to play pool volleyball, make floaty forts, and play Marco Polo! Pool days have unlimited opportunities to play and learn.

Watch the Clouds

One way to engage your child’s imagination is to watch the clouds. Ask them what they see in the sky. Mila tries to make up stories along with them too. Let’s just say, she always has me laughing with what goes on in her mind.

Stargaze

Summer means staying up a little later than normal. Just like watching the clouds, stargazing with Mila opens up different conversations than normal. She asks about the moon and how to get to space. We also try to find different constellations, but I’m not very good at finding them right away. I promise I’ll be better at the end of summer!

Play with the Hose

Some days you can’t get to the pool, but still want to play in the water. We love playing with out hose and the attachments with it.

It’s a fun and simple activity that I think most toddlers love.

Just like going to the zoo, going on a walk or hike can be hindered by the heat. Make sure to stay hydrated or go when it’s cooler.

If you go on a hike, it could be fun to go somewhere where there’s water to be cooler too!

Tend Your Garden

If you started a garden, you’ll probably have to tend to it.

Tending your garden can be so much fun for you and your toddlers to watch flowers, fruits, and vegetables grow. It’s even better when you can pick and eat what you’ve helped grow!

Have a Fire

Extend your time outside by having a fire.

You can make food, like s’mores, and just enjoy the moment. We also like telling stories. Anytime there’s light that makes shadows, Mila thinks it’s story time! It’s also a fun way to wrap up a pool day or time spent with family.

Blow Bubbles

This is pretty self explanatory, but deserved a spot on the list!

Play with Chalk

Playing with chalk is not only creative for kids, it can be a great learning activity. You can do color recognition, practice shapes, and even help learn letters too!

Also, it always brings a smile to my face when I see sidewalk chalk art when we go on a walk.

Go Somewhere New

There are so many places to explore. Recently, I’ve joined an Ohio Facebook group to see if there are any quirky or fun new places for Mila and I to go. Honestly, i already have a huge list of things to do this summer and beyond.

If you’re in Ohio, I’d totally recommend going to the Fountain of Dogs in Mt. Vernon. It’s still one of the places Mila asks to go frequently.

Go on a Road Trip

Just like going somewhere new, going on a road trip is another fun option. Mila is finally loving the car. It’s a blast to sing songs together and watch her see the world around her.

The opportunities are endless when it comes to road trips!

Volunteer or Donate

No matter if you volunteer or donate your time officially or just on your own, it’s important to show your child how important it is. On our walks, we’ll pick up trash. When we have extra money, we’ve taken dog food to the humane society.

It’s a way you can get outside and help your community too.

HAVE FUN!

This is the most important thing on the list!

No matter what you do this summer, just make sure to have fun. Kids are only little one times in their lives… and I think it’s magical to watch your children experience this time too. I know I’ll be having just as much fun as her this summer.

What is your favorite thing to do on this list? And what’s something you’re planning that you’d add?

Unicorn Flower Crown

What’s more magical than a unicorn? A unicorn wearing a flower crown!

With flowers popping up everywhere and our love for being outside, we combined the two for another fun backyard activity.

Mila and I LOVE unicorns. I swear when I found out I was having a girl I bought all the rainbow, pink, and unicorn items I came across. Its no wonder why Mila loves them.

Since I know she is interested in backyard adventures (scavenger hunt, birdhouse motel, fairy-tale garden, and nature crafts), I figured we’d do another one.

As always, you’ll have most of the items you’ll need on hand.

Here they are:

  • Cardboard
  • Sharpie
  • Pen
  • Yard full of flowers

All you need to do is cut a cardboard piece to whatever size. I had just recently bought candles and they came in the cutest, smallest boxes. They turned our perfect doe this activity.

Then, try your best to draw a unicorn ‘head.’ To simplify it, I obviously just drew the eyelashes, hair, horn, and some hair.

It’s not perfect by adult standards at all, but Mila thought it was the best thing ever.

Next, poke holes where a crown would be. I just used a pen to push through the cardboard. It would have been cute to do a pattern on a bigger piece of cardboard. Maybe next time!

All that’s left is to let your child explore the outdoors.

I let Mila pick ANY flowers in the yard and flower garden. For some reason, she was intent on picking the little white ones.

To keep the flowers from falling, I had Mila thread the stems in. If your little can get long stems, this will help. Then when she went back to look for more, I made little knots from the excess stems.

If you have an older child, this might be good practice for them!

Once she was all done, she gave me the biggest smile possible. Then ran inside to place it on her favorite shelf. It needed the prime spot.

Toddler activities do not need to be crazy intense for your child to be engaged and happy. Most of the time, it only take a piece of cardboard and creativity from a parent!

Even though we love unicorns, this activity can easily be tailored to your child’s animal preference.

I hope you and your child enjoys this activity! Let me know in the comments if you’ve done something similar or what animal you’d draw.

Before you go, check out how these moms included magical animals in their play: