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:

The Butterfly Exhibit at the Norma Johnson Center

Looking for something fun and educational to do nearby? Head out to the Norma Johnson Center to see the Butterfly Exhibit.

The exhibit only runs until July 18, but it’s worth the quick trip.

Their hours are from 10-4 on weekdays and Saturday and 12-4 on Sunday.

Mila and I actually didn’t plan on seeing the butterflies this week. It was quite the happy accident. On our way out to Sugarcreek, we saw signs adorned with butterflies.

After a quick thought, I asked Mila if she wanted to go and we were on our way.

The Norma Johnson Center (NJC) is between Dover and Sugarcreek. We’ve been there to hike, take pictures, and look at flowers. It’s a beautiful location that also offers educational programs for kids and adults. This was our first one, but we will certainly be back for more.

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.

I’m so glad we fluttered by the Butterfly Exhibit.

Everyone at the exhibit was so helpful and nice to Mila and me. We loved learning, playing, and interacting with it all.

She’s even asked if we could go again!

If you’re local to Ohio and are looking for something to do this week, check out the Norma Johnson’s Butterfly Exhibit!

You can learn more about the Norma Johnson Center and all of their programs on their website.

For those who live further away, I hope you have something similar close to you. It’s definitely worth checking into. Maybe you’ll find a new place to take your kids to play too!

Did you learn anything about butterflies through this post? Or what’s a fun fact you have about them?

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…

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:

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Butterfly Activity

And I just think that whatever our eyes touch should be beautiful, tasteful, appealing, and important.

Eric Carle

Children’s book author and illustrator Eric Carle has gifted us so many stories. Each help us learn about the world around us. I loved reading his work as a kid and Mila loves it now. I was so sadden to hear about his death in May.

His books inspire us to slow down and find the beauty in all parts of life. Even with a paper plate. I am so thankful for the lessons he’s imprinted on so many of us. His words will echo throughout generations.

In celebration of Eric Carle’s life and our favorite book of his, we made a transforming craft. By following along with The Very Hungry Caterpillar, we turned a paper plate caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly.

Here’s what you’ll need for this activity!

The only prep that was difficult for this activity was drawing a caterpillar/butterfly shape on the paper plate. It ended up looking like the big caterpillar at the end.

Mila did not question it, so I think it turned out good. It does make me giggle though.

This activity is quite simple though. It actually reminds me of this years St. Patrick’s Day book activity. Pretty much every time the caterpillar eats, your child should put a dot of paint on the caterpillar paper plate.

I tried to get Mila to do big dots of paint, but she refused. It still turned out cute.

You can also correlate the colors too. Whatever color food the caterpillar eats, they can put it on the caterpillar.

It was also a great way to practice counting too. We counted the food on the page, then again when she was painting. I actually love the holes in the book to help them count.

When it gets to the page with the not so hungry caterpillar and it’s cocoon, just flip the paper plate to where the paint is touch the other side. Then press down so the paint can transfer to the other side.

I pretended that the folded up plate was the cocoon. Then we counted to fourteen (two weeks in the cocoon) and flipped the paper plate as we turned the page.

Mila was shocked with the activity. I don’t think she knew we were making a butterfly. She just thought we were painting just to paint again.

The reveal of TWO butterflies was quite exciting.

In the end, it was another fun activity to do while reading one of our favorite books. I’m sure we’ll find more with it too.

Mila has been reading it by herself too. It’s the cutest thing. She swears the caterpillar eats a hot dog, not a sausage during his binge.

Not matter what, I love the message Eric Carle’s books have brought to our lives. We will always read them and do fun activities with. He has left a legacy in our lives forever.

What’s your favorite Eric Carle book?

Toddler Activity: Fruit Flower Art

Two of our favorite parts of spring are the flowers and fresh fruit! Since we love playing with our food, we were inspired to paint our favorite spring things.

Mila has painted with different foods before. It’s always fun watching her experiment with how the paint works with random objects. Even more fun, is how it all turns out at the end.

For this project, we ate a fruit salad for breakfast and then used the tops for her artwork. It was a way to reduce waste and be creative all in one.

Try saving some of your fruit scraps and try this flower painting out.

Here’s all you’ll need:

This activity is really simple to set up.

All you need to do is prep your fruits, get a painting space, and pour paint. Your child will figure out the rest as they paint.

For Mila, I asked her if she wanted to paint flowers and we looked at the ones in our yard.

Since we practiced the parts of flowers, she kept telling me which part of the flower she was painting. It’s amazing how much little ones remember! She also kept telling me the apples made bigger flowers and the strawberries made smaller ones.

I absolutely love watching the world Thats in her head come alive on a canvas. She’s always telling a story when she paints too.

We make sure to ‘sign’ and date the back of every painting she does. One day I’ll need to get a huge storage box for all of her paintings. For now, they’re decorated all throughout my house.

With these paintings, you can have your child paint whatever they’d like. Mila just loves flowers and it’s perfect for springtime.

I think she did an amazing job!

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever painted with and what do you think Mila and I should try next?

If you’re into playing with your food, but just prefer eating it, check out these recipes from other mamas. I’m sure you’ll love them!

Toddler Activity: Birdhouse Motel

Mila and I love watching birds in our backyard. After making DIY bird feeders, we thought it’d be fun to expand their spot on the tree. We created what I like to call a little birdhouse motel.

If you didn’t know, birds hold a special place in my heart. They remind me of Jensen and whenever I see a red or blue bird, I feel as if it’s him saying, “hello mom!” There are also birds on his urn. For some reason, his urn called out to me. It felt like it was a freeing image and after that, birds just felt right to celebrate him with. With that being said, we really welcome them in our backyard.

I’ve been looking at different birdhouses to purchase, but have been so busy I’ve forgotten to order one. Thanks mom brain! When I last went to the dollar store, I found two little kits, so I had to buy them. Then I figured we could reuse something at home too.

Not everything has to look perfect or expensive, it still turns out cute when made with love.

Here’s what we used for our birdhouse motel:

As I said before, if I could do this again, I probably would have ordered a different birdhouse kit. Yet, this one worked out perfectly because it wasn’t so big that Mila lost interest.

For the kits, I followed the instructions on the back of the package.

Honestly, I threw away the wood glue and went straight to my hot glue gun. It went a lot quicker! If you’re up for the challenge and have the patience, you could try the wood glue.

After the hot glue was dried, Mila and I each painted one of the mini birdhouses.

She wanted to pick out the colors and of course chose purple and pink. They’re truly her go to colors! It makes me laugh that most of the crafts and artwork in our house are bright and girly. Let’s hope the birds like it too!

While Mila continued to paint her birdhouse (which she did all by herself!), I cut out a big chunk of the juice carton and then washed it out. I also cut two holes across the top to pull string through to hang. It would have really helped if I had done this before I painted, but… I forgot!

Afterwards, I ended up painted it black (against Mila’s wishes) with a purple little heart on it. When it was dried, I pulled the string through and tied a knot.

When the kits were done, I also tied the string and hung them all together.

Mila went to find some grass, small sticks, and a little bit of bird seed to welcome in our new friends. It was so cute seeing which objects she thought the birds would like. If I were them, I’d feel right at home!

I can’t wait until we can get more birdhouses and maybe do another DIY.

These two were simple enough for us to do it in an evening. As she gets older, we can definitely do more complicated things. For now, she’s in love with our birdhouse motel. I am so proud of how well she painted and worked on her little project.

Now we get to wait to see who decides to move in and benefit from the motel. Hopefully different types of birds will visit and maybe even a bluebird or two. Fingers crossed!

What’s your favorite type of bird? Let me know in the comments.

If you love birdhouses and want some other inspiration to do a DIY one, check out what these moms have done.