For this one, you have to do a little preplanning.
The night before you want to do this activity, it has to be frozen. I used an old Tupperware container and filled it with water. Then, I added colored flowers that matched the Olympic Rings to the container.
To keep the flowers in place, I filled the containers lid and put something heavy on it in the freezer.
It ended up looking like this…
Next, I poured a little bit of table salt into a jar and got some brushes out too. To help the melt, I also gave Mila a little cup of water.
Everything was set into a bin to collect the water.
All I instructed Mila to do was rescue the ‘rings’ and that the salt helped make it melt.
While she worked hard on melting all the ice, we talked more about the Olympics and I showed her how it was spelled. She’s recognizing letters that are in her name and the ones she sees frequently!
She worked really hard on figuring out the best way to make the ice melt.
Her favorite was to dump a ton a salt on the ice, then water. It was so neat watching her figure out why it was melting and what helped.
It really did take her a while for all the ice to melt. I was impressed with her persistence.
Once it was melted, she enjoyed played with the letters and the flowers in the water. Water is always a great sensory component!
During this play time, Mila let me know her favorite Olympic sport was swimming… of course. She thinks it’s amazing how fast they can get through the water! I’ve also showed her some gymnastics routines that she enjoyed.
We always love sensory play and toddler activities.
It gives toddlers time to have fun while learning and parents time to get some things done! This Olympic Ice Play was a hit with Mila and I think a ton of other kids will enjoy it too!
Do you watch the Olympic Games? What’s your favorite sport?
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.
To get to the exhibit, all you have to do is park in the lot by the red barn. Then follow the signs up to the pavilion you saw when pulling in. I promise you can’t miss it.
Mila was so excited to see the butterflies, she ran up the hill to get to them.
Under the pavilion, the NJC crew had butterfly crafts, face painting, and information. Plus, the main event: actual butterflies!
The butterflies were in a screened off section of the pavilion.
Inside, there was a lady who was extremely knowledgeable about butterflies. She was such a huge help in teaching kids the different parts of the butterflies and how to handle them.
We learned that we shouldn’t touch butterflies with our fingers, they eat with their proboscis (which is like a straw), and they love to eat rotten fruit, but prefer flowers more. Also, that Eric Clarke wrote that caterpillars made a cocoon, but it’s actually called a chrysalis!
Those were the main takeaways. There was so much more information.
If you’re wondering why Mila has the q-tips, it’s a good question. Since you shouldn’t touch butterflies with your finger, q-tips are the best option to be interactive with butterflies.
They’re dipped in watermelon, which some butterflies like. You can get them on there so they drink the juice. Then they can either fly away or you can transfer them to a flower. You get to see the butterflies up close AND they get to stay safe.
After we visited the butterflies, it was craft time!
The NJC had a free paper butterfly craft. It consisted of coloring the wings, cutting them out, and assembling it together. Mila and I tackled this one together!
Then, she got to get her face painted, with a butterfly of course. She picked all her favorite colors: pink, blue, purple, and a silvery color. The butterfly was very unique.
It was her very first time getting her face painted! I think she was a little nervous, but overall stayed as still as she could.
Immediately after, she wanted to do a little photoshoot and ran on the hill.
I guess you could say she was happy with the finished product.
After face painting, she made some sand art.
They had crafts that costed up to $5 that were butterfly themed. She choose to do the sand, but they also had concrete garden stones kids (or adults!) could paint too.
Before we left, Mila said goodbye to everyone, especially the butterflies.
The play took place at Dover High School‘s auditorium. It provided comfy seats, a decently sized stage, and an overall nice atmosphere.
I will say… Mila and I did get lost finding the restrooms though.. oops!
We met Mila’s dance friend, her sister, and mom there. The girls were SO excited to see Ariel. The potential of meeting here was in the air. All they had to do was watch one of their favorite stories unfold in front of their eyes.
Since it was there first play, we explained how they worked. The lights would dim when they play would start. We had to stay quiet while the lights were dim and they were on stage. Clap after the songs. No eating and drinking while we were watching.
The first time they saw Ariel was like magic. Every time she left the stage, they wondered where she went!
It was so cute seeing their excitement and hearing their little chatter. Thankfully the people in front of us didn’t mind toddler talk and their seats being touched.
Honestly, hearing all the kids in the theatre made it extra adorable.
The play would be in two parts with an intermission in between. I’d say the break was definitely needed with two three year olds.
Although I won’t give too much away about the play (you know the story), the intermission took place right after Ariel lost her voice. Hopefully if you go the next two nights, this can help you plan for your littles.
During intermission, the girls took some pictures, ate a snack, and got some of Ariels treasures!
Her treasures were some mermaid inspired merchandise. Mila got a necklace, ring, lipgloss, tattoo, and shell. They also had crowns, keychains, and so much more.
One really cool option was writing a note to a cast member. Mila and the girls chose to write their note to Ariel!
During the second part of the play, the girls were getting tired. Somehow knowing they were about to meet their favorite mermaids kept them awake.
Honestly, I was so impressed by the play. It’s the first local one I’ve been to in a couple years. The actors were amazing. I laughed so many times throughout the entire thing. Sebastian had me laughing out loud every time he was in stage! The music and singing amazed me too. On top of that, the props and costumes were on point too.
It was just such a great play.
As they play ended, the girls knew it was time to meet all of their favorite characters. It was so interesting watching Mila interact with different characters.
She ran up to King Triton and gave him a big hug. On our way home, she told me, “Ariel’s daddy is so cute!” No wonder why she ran up to him then! When she saw Sebastian, she had to go talk to him too.
I mean, just look at their costumes!
Then, she saw Ursula. Mila refused to even stand beside her. I absolutely loved her costume, makeup, and performance. It’s quite comical that Mila wanted nothing to do with her. She knows she’s ‘evil’ in the movie.
The girls met other cast members and took their pictures. Mila also did not want a picture with Flounder or Prince Eric. I found this perplexing because she loves watching them.
While we were meeting with other characters, Ariel snuck in the room.
Mila was so giddy and just happy to see her.
The actress was so patient and gave each child time to talk. I think that’s such an important thing to do when portraying a Disney princess. It’s a huge deal for kids and she understood that.
I wish I could tell her thank you again!
The night was absolutely beautiful. We got to spend it with great friends watching an amazing performance! The added bonus of meeting Mila’s favorite characters just made it sweeter.
Her first summer, we were constantly in the pool. She seemed to be at her happiest when we dance around and swam, so that’s what we did. It helped become familiar with the water and gave her a lot of pool confidence early on.
The next summer, I worried whether or not she would like it as much. But, she loved it and had no fear of getting in with her floaties.
Last summer, she mastered jumping in by herself (with her puddle jumper) and swimming to one of us. It felt like a victory! We spent so much time during our COVID summer swimming around.
When this summer came along, I wondered what she would want to try this year. I had no idea she’d be confident enough for no floaties.
I will say, my anxiety definitely stepped up. All the thoughts of what could go wrong flashed through my head. Yet, when I saw her excitement and determination to do it, I calmed down a little.
Since it’s been a process, I figured I’d share some tips that worked for us through it with other parents.
1. Set rules.
This was so big for my anxiety and Mila being pool safe. Not everyone’s rules will look the same, here’s ours.
You have to wear floaties if there’s other kids in the pool.
You don’t have to wear floaties if there’s an adult in the pool already.
If you’re practicing swimming without, you have to have an adult beside you.
When swimming between adults, let them know where you’re going.
Only jump in without floaties if someone’s there watching.
There has to be breaks.
These are the rules that work for us. My main focus is Mila’s safety. I want her to know she cannot swim without floaties by herself. She seems to be receptive with our rules too.
Although she does like to challenge us and push her limits.
2. Be confident and open.
Toddlers and kids can immediately tell what their parents are feeling. If you’re not confident and open to the situation, they’ll feel that.
At first, I was really anxious about it all. She was too! The more I let myself be okay with her swimming by herself, the more confident and stronger she became.
I think by having some sort of rules and guidelines for her, it calmed my anxiety too.
3. Get active with them.
Monkey see monkey do, right?
To put it out there, you can teach your child to swim confidently if you’re not in there with them.
While we’re in the pool, there’s someone showing Mila different ways to swim. Or they’re going under water with her. Just being active and involved goes a long way.
I also think the more she sees confident swimmers, the quicker she’s going to get there too.
4. Give them feedback.
At the beginning of this no floaty journey, I felt like I nit picked everything she was doing. Just because I wanted her to be safe.
Now, I’ve been able to give her constructive feedback.
The biggest one I’m always saying is to use big arms. She forgets halfway through to keep moving them. Once she’s reminded, she does it the next time. It’s all just a learning process!
Obviously, try not to bombard them with feedback. That can be discouraging, but there is a good balance to keep them safe and swimming.
As with anything, the most important thing is to have fun!
I encourage Mila to jump in and show me different tricks. That’s always a hit! When we’re in the pool, we have races and make waves too. We make sure to play games while she has her floaties on too. Some games we play are hide-and-seek and building forts.
The stronger she gets as a swimmer, the more games we’ll get to play. I know she’s really excited to be able to dive for diving sticks and toys.
I hope our experience with swimming and these tips can help you with your toddler or child too!
What are some of your tips and tricks that helped you or your child swim?
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.
If you’re by the campfire making s’mores, you have almost everything you’ll need.
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!
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.
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…
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.
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.
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?
All you need to do is dip your strawberry in the marshmallow fluff. This is a little more difficult than I thought. The best way was to deeply dip the strawberry and twist. You can adjust how much marshmallow fluff gets on there!
Then, roast it like a marshmallow.
Seeing a strawberry roasting looked hilarious to me. It felt like I was roasting the biggest marshmallow ever!
Roast to your preferred marshmallow done-ness. I like mine slightly burnt.
The next part is MESSY… well it was for me.
Drizzle chocolate sauce over top the strawberry marshmallow combo. It might have been easier to dip it, but I just drizzled over a plate.
Now you’re ready to eat it!
Although I didn’t take a picture of it, I added crushed graham crackers to this whole strawberry s’more. It gave it the crunch that I love about s’mores.
Here’s a bonus strawberry s’mores idea.
Since I was just making random s’mores, I tried slicing strawberries and adding them to a regular s’more.
It’s a real game changer!
I loved both strawberry twisted s’mores, but loved the chocolate bar taste on this a little more.
Either way you make it, I’m telling you, add strawberries to your s’more agenda. It adds such a fresh bite to a sweet, summer treat.
Do you add any extras to your s’mores? Let me know in the comments.