It’s almost fall, so that means it’s time for autumn themed play. This week, we made pumpkin spice play dough.
Not only does it smell amazing, it’s a ton of fun to play with… for kids and adults!
One BIG thing about this recipe is that it makes a lot of play dough. I was actually really surprised with how much there was after I made it. Honestly, I would suggest cutting this recipe in half. Unless you want to gift some to others!
The best part of this DIY play dough is that it’s only four ingredients and you don’t even need to cook it like other recipes.
2 cups of flour
1/2 cup of vegetable oil
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
Dash of pumpkin spice
It’s crazy that you can make good smelling play dough with only four ingredients… really only three main ones if you don’t want it to smell like pumpkin spice.
Mila helped make everything! We measured out all of the ingredients and she helped pour everything in. At first we started stirring it with a fork, then it got too thick and we had to start mixing it with our hands.
For the pumpkin spice, we poured a lot more than a dash. We poured it in until we could smell it!
She ended up playing with it for a long time. I think play dough really calms her. It’s also fun to watch her do pretend play with play dough. Another way you can challenge your toddler or preschooler to play with play dough is to have them make different shapes. It’s fun to watch them try to figure out how to make the shape with their hands.
To store this play dough, just keep it in an air tight container in the refrigerator. Mines in a ziplock baggie with all the air pushed out.
Before Mila plays with it, I just have it on the counter to warm up a little bit.
I’ve been trying to take more videos, but I’m forgetting to take pictures… oops. Thankfully I can share them on here.
It’s fun to watch the memories live instead of just pictures. I’ll try to do both!
I can’t wait to see all the times Mila plays with the play dough throughout the season. If we think of more fun ways to play, I’ll share them here with you.
Have you ever made play dough before? What’s your favorite type to make?
Fall is quickly approaching and that means leaves will be changing. A great way for kids to learn about leaves and fall is through sensory play. This Leaf Cutting Sensory Bin is a fun activity to welcome fall and practice important skills.
Mila and I try to go on a walk every day; with Max and Toby too. This past weekend, there were so many leaves on the ground. Since she was in awe of them, Mila started picking them up.
My pockets were full when we got home!
Even though I had planned this activity for September, it sort of just happened naturally.
Once we got home, I emptied the leaves in our sensory bin, set out her resin letters, and hoped the child safe scissors would work!
That’s actually best part of this sensory bin… you probably have everything right on hand!
Child safe scissors
All I did was do the steps above and let Mila explore the leaves. I did have to remind her how to safely use the scissors a few times though.
Without prompting, she talked about the different colors of the leaves, their texture, and if they are crunchy or not. It brought up a lot of different conversations that I really enjoyed having with her. It’s so amazing to see her mind work.
If you have scissors that cut different shapes, I’d suggest using them. Mila loved seeing the different patterns.
I also love that there isn’t a ton of creativity or prep for this activity. She actually took her time and played with the leaves. It was great for me to clean up while she played.
Another huge suggest is to get resin letters!
She’s been playing with them during our activities for the last few months and is recognizing more letters. I really believe they’re helping her become more comfortable with them. She’s actually remembering what letters are in her name and her cousin, Isla’s name.
Again, check out Beags and Bubs, Danielle makes amazing custom sets. I actually have another on the way!
Do you think your child would like this activity? What activities do you use to talk about fall or the leaves changing with your young child? Let me know in the comments.
Mental health matters and talking about it at an early age is a great way to let kids know what’s going on in their head is important. Disney movies are a great way to talk about mental health with kids.
Just like every toddler household, Mila and I watch a lot of Disney. When we’re driving or talking at dinner, we talk about the message behind each movie.
No matter if it’s about grief, anxiety, or perseverance, Disney movies talk about it all.
Watching movies is also a fun way to practice self care. We usually watch a movie before bed to unwind. With any self care nights, there’s Disney movies playing too.
Disney movies and mental health just work.
Here are five of Mila’s favorite Disney movies with mental health messages I love.
Lucacame out this past summer and Mila watched it repeatedly for days. The biggest message in this movie is “Silenzio Bruno.” She’s wearing that in the picture in the beginning of the post.
Luca seems to have a lot of anxiety in the movie. His friend, Alberto, helps him push through this anxiety by saying “Silenzio Bruno.”
The way I’ve explained it is it means for the little voice in your head to be quiet. You shouldn’t doubt yourself or think you’re not going to succeed. Silence those negative voices and conquer your goals.
Mila and I say this to each other now. We’ve talked about big emotions and feeling worried. Whenever Mila is scared I tell her this and she usually tries whatever.
The movie also talks about friendship, being yourself, and loss. It’s a great movie for those big topics, but it’s also really good too.
I’m pretty sure Frozen is Mila’s favorite movie of all time. It’s one she can always watch and never get bored of.
Since we’ve watched it so many times, there’s a few themes that I talk about with Mila.
First, we talk about how people manage grief… of course in an age appropriate way. Elsa and Anna’s parents die early in the movie. Elsa has already shut herself off from the world (conceal, don’t feel) and Anna wanted to outwards process her grief.
We’ve talked about healthy actions to do when we feel sad and mention both of her favorite characters.
The second thing we talk about is her favorite song, “Let It Go.”
Anytime Mila is having big emotions at home, we sing “Let It Go.” Mostly because dancing and singing always makes her feel better, but I also love the words to it.
I don’t want Mila to ever feel held back by her emotions. If she can let them go and not let them hold her back, she can conquer the world.
Admittedly, I think Moana moves me more than it does Mila, but she loves the island life.
I love the part where Te Kā turns back to Te Fiti. It makes me cry every single time. For me, it shows how anger, grief, and disappointment can change a person. It gives them a tough exterior, but they’re always a person underneath it all.
Mila might not grasp all of that now, but we talk a lot about Moana and her Dad’s relationship.
Moana wants to leave the island and voyage, but her dad wants her to stay safe on the island. By the end of the movie, he lets her go, but it was a struggle.
With this, I tell Mila she can be anything she wants to be. I will never try to pressure her or hold her back.
Of course she tries to be funny and bring me her whole snack drawer to eat after these talks…
If you ever have a conversation about Mila and ask about Jensen, she will let you know that he’s her brother and that he died. It can come off as a little creepy, but I’ve always talked about Jensen and grief with her.
When we watched Onward, she understood that their dad died and he couldn’t ever fully come back. Even when his legs came back, he could never stay or be the person that the boys needed.
It, again, shows how Ian and Barley both handle their grief. There’s no right way to grieve, but it seems they both have grieved in healthy ways.
As she gets older, I’m also going to point out that grief is a journey. Ian and Barley literally take a road trip to help process their grief, but that’s what we do when we’re really grieving too. There’s bumps in the roads and roads you take that you shouldn’t. It’s all a part of grieving.
I hope Mila will continue loving this movie and learn more lessons the older she gets.
If you’re looking to talk about emotions, Inside Out is a perfect way to introduce kids to emotions personified.
We love Joy and Sadness. Their journey through the movie let’s us know it’s okay to feel however we need. You can’t always be happy or sad, there’s a good mix in it all.
The other journey in the movie is Riley’s. Riley and her parents have moved and it’s hard on her. Her story is perfect for talking to kids about big life changed and the emotions felt afterwards. Again, it shows that it’s okay to miss something and have those feelings attached. It’s also okay to let yourself make room for new memories and emotions as well.
Like I stated before, I just love how this movie gives each emotion a personality. It helps kids visualize their emotions and how they could handle them too.
This is just a short list of Disney movies that talk about mental health. There are so many more that we love and can have great talks about too.
The Princess and the Frog
I hope that you enjoy this list and can talk about these things with your child too. It’s an easy way to bring those talks up and dig deeper in what your little is thinking about.
What movies would you have added to this list? Or what are some ways you talk about mental health with your child?
This morning Mila hit a huge milestone: preschool. It’s something we’ve both been excited for all summer. For the last week, she’s asked when she could finally go.
Today was that day!
If you like some of her preschool gear, check out her Success Backpack for links and information.
One part of the preschool process that I’ve been worried about are the mornings. It’s a lot to get two people ready… on top of two dogs too. So, I set my alarm extra early and this is sort of how it went… at least in my head.
Here are the ten thoughts I had over the course of getting ready for preschool this morning.
1. This is way too early.
5:45 came way too early this morning.
Thank goodness I laid everything out last night and know what I’m wearing today. Tonight, we’re going to sleep way earlier.
2. Be quiet and get ready quick!
Sneak into the bathroom. I can’t wake her up before I’m ready. This will go so much quicker and smoother this way.
3. I haveplentyof time.
It’s only 6:05. I’m doing way better than I thought. Still, I should fight the urge to scroll. I’ll make some tea instead.
4. Time to wake her up.
I’m all ready. Everything’s ready to go out the door, there’s only one last thing that needs done… Mila!
A gentle rub on the back isn’t cutting it.
“Try to wake up and I’ll make you food. Remember, you’re going to preschool today.”
As I walk out, I hear her flip over to sleep again.
5. Get the dogs set up.
A dog and a puppy… what was I thinking?!
6. ‘I’mtired Mom.’ Me too, kiddo…
She’s still asleep.. uh-oh.
I wake her up and get her on her feet. This helps a little bit, but she still looks like a zombie.
“I’m tried,” gets repeated over and over again. Believe me kid, I get it. Tonight, we’ll go to sleep much earlier. For now, it’s time to get ready.
7. Be a multitasking queen.
Breakfast. Hair brushed. Clothes. Teeth brushed. Bags in hand. Out the door.
Just your average multitasking queen.
8. Cheeeeeeeesey Cat!
Cue all the pictures.
We need one with her sign on the steps. I need to get the Instax film. I want to remember this moment and day for forever.
Here’s a few by the preschool sign just for good measure too.
9. This is it.
Walking her into school is such a rush of emotions. Is she ready? Will she be okay? What if she misses me?
10. It’s okay… she’s going to do just fine.
As soon as she walks into the classroom, she runs to play.
It’s okay, mama. This is what you’ve prepared her for for the last three years. It’s all apart of growing up.
Honestly, I’m so proud of Mila and her going to preschool. It’s such an accomplishment and milestone that deserves to be celebrated. I just hope she knows that she’s special and loved.
Are these thoughts similar to the ones you have when getting your kids ready? Let me know in the comments.
September is Self-Care Month! Mila and I spent our first Sunday in September with a DIY Pumpkin Face Mask.
We love having spa nights and days at our house. It’s even more fun when we can make our own masks too. Since it’s almost fall and spooky season, I knew we had to incorporate pumpkins.
Pumpkin is SO good for your skin. It is full of vitamins, such as A, C, and E. There’s also antioxidants and beta-carotene packed in there as well. Obviously, I looked all that information up. All of that means that pumpkin helps reverse UV damage (perfect for after summer), improve skin texture, and increase collagen.
All things that make your skin happy!
The only four ingredients you need for this mask are…
To make the mask, just mix all of the ingredients together until it’s consistent. It didn’t take long to do at all.
Then, apply and leave the mask on for fifteen minutes.
Removal is easy. Just wash your face with water and pat your face dry. I actually used a washcloth to take it off of Mila’s face.
Before putting it on our faces, I left it on the counter to get to room temperature. I personally don’t like when masks are super cold on my face. We took a shower and did a hair mask and it felt nice on our skin.
I applied Mila’s mask with my finger and mine with a spoon. It worked way better with a spoon.
Mila loved seeing her face covered with the mask. She thought it looked silly, but didn’t touch her face for the whole fifteen minutes.
After taking the masks off, I could instantly tell a difference. Both of our faces felt so much softer. I can imagine doing pumpkin masks consistently would really help.
Maybe with all the pumpkin recipes and crafts planned, I’ll have extra laying around!
I’m actually so excited that September is Self Care Month. With Mila starting preschool and our routine changing once again, it’ll be nice to take the time this month to get back to us.
What type of DIY masks do you like making? If you have any suggestions, let me know in the comments.
Also, let me know what self care ideas you’re planning for this month!
When you have a little artist, walls and flat services are prone to getting drawn on. Since life is all about compromise, we transformed our front door into a DIY Chalkboard Paint Door.
It’s a really simple and fun switch. Plus, you’ll get the cutest drawings constantly.
So if you can remember, I posted a mom tip about how to get crayons off of walls and cabinets. There was also a permanent marker incident that took some time to get off.
The best solution for our family was giving Mila a space to create.
Since I wanted to paint my door black for a long time, it was the perfect reason to buy chalkboard paint!
You can buy chalkboard paint at any hardware store. There’s different colored chalkboard paint, I just preferred black. I know there’s a TON of different ways to make chalkboard paint all over the Internet too.
One suggestion I would make is to paint a base coat in whatever color you want your door.
Chalkboard paint is more expensive than regular paint. So, if you have a base color coat, you won’t need as much blackboard paint.
Always trying to save money!
I love that I’m able to celebrate Mila’s creativeness without losing my sanity with cleaning all the time.
If you don’t want to paint a whole door, you can easily frame off a piece of a wall to create the same effect too!
Would you create a blackboard space for your child? Or what’s your favorite way to encourage your child to be creative… minus the mess.
Looking for other ways to making parenting easy? Check out these mom hacks!
Another week, another activity box for Mila to explore. This week is a Mermaid Activity Box. Since summer is still here and she loves the beach, I thought it was a perfect time to do this theme. It’s fun, education, and a hit with Mila.
Although I over-themed it for mermaids, this could easily be altered to be more about sharks, fish, or any other ocean creature too.
Like the Dinosaur Activity Box, the Mermaid Activity Box is filled with sensory items, toys, books, and educational activities for toddlers and preschoolers. All of this fits inside a book box from Target so it can easily travel from place to place.
These boxes are such an easy way to help promote learning for you little ones with multiple family members and friends.
Every time Mila sees me start to take items out of the box and put new ones in, she gets so excited to see what she’ll be working with. I think by just getting her to sit down with the sensory toys, books, and activity worksheets, it’ll help her prepare for preschool. it can be a huge adjustment to start learning how to sit down for crafts and activities the first time they go to preschool.
Anyways… here’s what’s all in the Mermaid Activity Box.
I’m a big supporter of Mila reading books every single day. Even if she’s making her own words up with the pictures. Books help kids understand concepts, worlds, and places they don’t have the opportunity or option to explore.
These four books are amazing. I’ve definitely showcased three of them on past posts before. They’re just that good!
In all of these books, we love the stories, but the illustrations are just gorgeous. I think they really capture the ocean vibes with all the blues. Mila’s favorite for a long time have been the That’s Not My… series. She loves finding the mouse and learning new words that describe what the books about.
I’m always on the look out for more books too. If you have fun ocean, sea, or mermaid inspired books you think we’d love, let me know in the comments.
Sensory Play Items
We love sensory play. There’s SO many options for kids to learn by feeling and exploring.
The beautiful resin letters are from Beags and Bubs. I shouted Danielle out last week for her letters and knew I had to showcase them for this activity box. She also created the seek and find activity too (the clear circle in the top left) and the sand play-doh. I would 100% recommend her to anyone. Her Instagram feed is beautiful and she can make custom letters that will be perfect for you child.
I also added her mermaid pop-it. Mila is just amazed by pop-its. Whenever she gets overwhelmed, i’ll give her one and it calms her. This one is adorable, but can easily be carried around too.
She also always loves slime and I gave her blue play-doh too. The seashells were included so she can make impressions in the play-doh. This will allow her to extend her play and be imaginative with the toys too.
I have a ton of different sticker and coloring books for Mila. She loves them both. For her sticker books, I usually have another page or cardboard for her to put them on too.
The two pictured above were found at Joann’s for cheap! The marker page was actually 70% off. Mila likes the way the black feels and I love that it’ll help her stay in the lines. I also have other coloring pages from older coloring books that she loves to color in.
Like with the Dinosaur Activity Box, I flipped through Mila’s workbooks and found mermaid and ocean themed pages for her to use. Usually preschool workbooks will have a huge range of themes they use in their books, which is awesome for using different themes!
Again, I love preparing her for preschool by giving her these pages now. It helps let her know that learning can be fun!
There’s also a ton of printables on Pinterest you can find for activity pages too!
Although they’re not added in this picture of the activity box, you can add so many other crafts and activities too. We’ve done so many ocean and mermaid themed sensory play and crafts that Mila has asked to do over and over again.
These crafts and sensory components can be put in bags or Tupperware containers to help organize them.
Wondering what crafts and sensory ideas you can do, check out this list:
No matter if your little needs to stay busy after school or during the day, activity boxes will help! This week, Mila has been enjoying a Dinosaur Activity Box.
Filled with books, educational worksheets, sensory objects, and dinosaur toys, Mila has been engaged with this activity box all week. Every time she goes to pull something out, she can explore a new way to play. That’s what makes these boxes so intriguing to kids.
I’m actually really happy that Mila is interested in dinosaurs. Here’s a little secret… dinosaurs are one of my weird fears. I mean they’re extinct. Since Mila is interested in them now, I’ve learned a ton about them. Thank you to all the authors who have simplified the terms and information to toddler books. I really think the dancing dino books have been a huge help into getting Mila interested in them.
Anyways, since Mila is in a weird in between of waiting for preschool while I’m at school, I thought putting together activity boxes would be perfect.
This is a low prep solution to keeping her engaged while she’s with my mom. I can imagine babysitters would love this idea too. All my mom has to do is grab the box and take it. Next week, I’ll have a different theme with similar activities.
Here’s what’s in the box…
Mila learns best with books and activities. We’ve collected a ton of books in her three years, but they have paid themselves off with all that she’s learned.
A few months ago, we actually did a fun activity with Dino Dance by Sandra Boynton. Mila actually remembered it when she saw her activity box and flipped to their dances. It’s so nice to know she has that information stored somewhere.
The other books are just as valuable. We love them all and read them even without talking about dinosaurs…
It turns out, Mila loves worksheets. She loves the idea of ‘working,’ so it’s made learning a breeze.
I went through all her different workbooks and found the dinosaur themed ones. Some of them talk about the letter ‘d’ and others are working on prewriting. Either way, they are her level and she’s learning.
I’d definitely recommend starting your toddler or preschooler with worksheets at home. Target and Amazon always has amazing options!
Resin letters are a must to add to any activity. I love that they help familiarize kids with the alphabet in a fun way that they can hold in their hands.
For this activity bin, I obviously put ‘dinosaur’ in an egg for Mila to explore. She matched them up with the letters on the books and we went over them too. This particular set was made by one of my students. However, I love Beags and Bubs‘ resin letters on Instagram. I bought a custom set a few weeks ago and have used them a ton. They’d be a great Christmas or birthday present!
Pretend play is Mila’s favorite way to play. She likes to make up different voices and scenarios. I HAD to include them in her bin.
Not only did the dinosaurs dance, they played all types of different games with them too. Mila likes to make the dinosaur toys act out the books as well. She could pretend play for hours. This was no different than usual!
I also added some sensory play items in there for her too. She loves the different textures of the play-dough and slime. In this bin, I only put in ‘dinosaur colors,’ which are greens and blues. This way she can make foot prints, try to make dinosaurs, or just give her brain a little break.
Some of the other sensory items I added were beads, a dinosaur egg, and play-dough moulds.
Overall, this activity box was a success! Mila loved it and I love watching her learn.
I have a few ideas for future boxes, but would love to hear what you all would like to see too! Let me know in the comments!
Then check out these dinosaur inspired activities: