Play

Whether playing outside in nature, playing games, or playing with experiments, these activities will engage children’s curiosities and promote creative and critical thinking…mindsets that support children as they grow into a world that values independent thinking.

Painted Wooden Blocks


Painted Wooden Blocks

artistic DIY blocks make a beautiful gift

When the kids walked into art class last week and saw wooden blocks and paint, they couldn’t believe it! Were they really allowed to paint on them? One little girl told us a story about how she once drew on wooden blocks. She said her mom didn’t get mad. Then they all started to chat and share more stories, saying “me, too!” whenever they recognized familiar parts of someone else’s narrative. This block painting party was very much of a collaborative art experience, with all of the kids working towards one end and sharing the same experience. It was a beautiful thing!

artistic DIY blocks make a beautiful gift

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Here’s what you’ll need for your own block painting experience:

Supplies

Wooden blocks (I got 1 1/2″ and 2″ cubes)

Liquid watercolor paint (this is a good starter kit, but we also used gold)

Recycled jars or glasses

Brushes

artistic DIY blocks make a beautiful gift

Focus was intense from the beginning as they realized that each block has six sides!

artistic DIY blocks make a beautiful gift

Some kids are just inherently neat. Some are not.

artistic DIY blocks make a beautiful gift

This boy was the champ. He never stopped painting for an entire hour. He also discovered that you could print with the blocks if you put enough paint on and stamped it on the paper. It’s so exciting to watch discovery and creativity in action.

artistic DIY blocks make a beautiful gift

artistic DIY blocks make a beautiful gift

I can’t recommend this art experience enough! The results are so beautiful. You can keep the blocks for yourself, or give them as a gift. The holidays are coming soon!

xo, Bar

{Warning: These blocks are not safe for babies and toddlers who are still teething. The paint could come off in their mouths.}

 

Sensory Art Play with Easy Dough


Sensory Art Play with Easy Dough

My friend Asia from Fun at Home with Kids has a new book! It’s called 150+ Screen Free Activities for Kids and it’s literally awesome. There are recipes for everything under the sun, from flubber to slime, moon sand to fizzy slush. There are also sections on homemade paints, small worlds, and DIY toys. If only I had had this book when my kids were little!! I would have used it every day, I swear.

I decided to make some easy dough, which was something I had never tried before. I have made lots of play dough, but I wanted a no-cook, quick version (just 2 ingredients). My 4-yr old art class kids would be my testers. Let the fun begin!!

Recipe from Fun at Home with Kids book

I made five colors and rolled them into balls. I also put out a few trays of stuff for them to tinker around with. I loved seeing what they chose and how they used all of the small parts.

Recipe from Fun at Home with Kids book

The dough is more like wet sand, not really like play dough. I love this little girl’s face as she squeezes and smushes it through her fingers. It has a really satisfying feel and quality. Like, you know when you walk on the beach and you get closer to the water and your feet sort of sink into the sand? Well that’s close to what this easy dough is like. Just really cool.

Recipe from Fun at Home with Kids book

This little artist made an island zoo. She used the cork to smooth out the sides, and added straw bits for grass.

Recipe from Fun at Home with Kids book

I love the progression of this purple mound. First she touched and rolled, then shaped and added parts. Then she took little bits of other colors and finally she discovered that pushing in the corks was just soooo fun. Process art and play at it’s finest!

Recipe from Fun at Home with Kids book

Although this dough looks messy, it really wasn’t that bad. Just a little sweep of the floor. The best part was that when I put the dough in the plastic bags, my own kids (much older) came home from school and all of them played with the “sensory bags” the whole night. Yet another use for easy dough!

Buy the book for the recipe!! It’s a must. You will be so happy to have it at your fingertips on rainy days (and sunny days)!. In fact, it would be an amazing holiday gift for your mom friends with little kids, along with a kit of some of the ingredients. Sort of like this one.

Click over to Asia’s blog to find all of the places you can buy the book outside of the USA. Or click here to buy it on Amazon.

xo, Bar

 

16 Sensory Recipes for Squishy Play


16 Sensory Recipes for Squishy Play

We make squishy mushy recipes all the time. I have a few favorites, and many that I still want to try. I thought it would be fun to do a round-up, and perhaps as much for me as for you! Now I will have all of the best recipes in one place. Here we go…

the best recipes from Pinterest for mushy, squishy sensory play

1. Edible Gluten Free No Cook Playdough – Fun at Home with Kids

2. Scented Slime (oh my!) – Modern Parents Messy Kids

3. Wonder Dough – Growing a Jeweled Rose // or try making your own Model Magic from Artful Parent

4. Basic Glitter Play Dough – Art Bar Blog (this is our fave go-to for play dough with or without glitter, lasts months and months) // you can also try pumpkin pie play dough from Tinkerlab, or sand dough from Blog Me Mom

the best recipes from Pinterest for mushy, squishy sensory play

5. Polka Dot Slime – Fun at Home with Kids (we’ve made this, it’s awesome)

6. Sparkly Gold Slime - Frugal Fun 4 Boys // and another similar recipe with fewer ingredients from Fun at Home with Kids // or try ocean slime from Buggy and Buddy

7. Fluffy Slime (add a secret ingredient to slime) – Sow Sprout Play

8. Flubber for Party Favors – Art Bar Blog (we’ve made this a hundred times and it never gets old for any age)

the best recipes from Pinterest for mushy, squishy sensory play

9. Frozen Shaving Cream Play – Learn Play Imagine

10. Erupting Sand Foam Dough - Learn Play Imagine

11. Ice Cream Dough – Bath Activities for Kids

12. Fizzy Cloud Dough – Powerful Mothering

the best recipes from Pinterest for mushy, squishy sensory play

13. Edible Paint for Babies and Toddlers – Meri Cherry (i’ve witnessed the little ones eating this paint and it’s an incredible multi-sensorial experience)

14. Rainbow Spaghetti and Meatballs – Meri Cherry

15. Water Balloon Painting – Meri Cherry (we’ve done this, it was one of our fave summer art camp collaborative activities ever)

16. Shaving Cream Paint – Learn Play Imagine

If you want your child to experience a squishy sensory material but you are adverse to mess for whatever reason, then one alternative is to make sensory bags. Teach Preschool made some good ones.

But I will say that getting messy through sensory play is really something all children should experience. Exploring their environment, working collaboratively, developing their creativity and problem solving are just a few of the reasons why messy sensory play is so important. For me, I do it because it just makes the kids so happy. The expressions on their faces and the way they engage with their friends or siblings is worth every bit of clean-up (unless throwing is involved, then I might get cranky). And honestly, making play dough isn’t messy, and once the flubber is made it’s not messy either. So there are options whereby you can cut the mess but still allow your child to experience the joy.

Do it!

xo, Bar