More Outdoor Crafts and Activities!

Going for more walks?

We are. I have high energy children, and I know where they got it from. Me. They got it from me. And at one point, my energy surpassed theirs. I was the hurricane to their tornadoes. But since this damn depression hit, I barely keep up. Stupid depression.

Anyways. My tornadoes need walks. They need to move. If they stay cooped up inside too long, they get aggravated and pick on each other. Before long that picking becomes fighting. This isn’t just a shelter-in-place-thing. This is too-much-screen-time thing too.

So now walks. Two or three walks a day. Is this what it’s like to have dogs?

Here are some things to do while walking.

1. Scavenger hunt. Come up with a list of things to look for. Everyone is suggesting this one. There are tons of lists online right now. We are all desperate, bored people.
2. Photography. Come up with a list of things to look for and take pictures.
3. Make a cool nature collage with those pictures.


4. (In the desert, this gets a little tricky) Find cool leaves and bring them home. Make crayon rubbings with them.


5. Find cool leaves and use them as stamps. Pour some paint on a paper plate or pie tin. Dip the surface of the leaf into the paint. Press the leaf to some paper. In theory, it’ll make a print. Unless your kid smears it. Then they just have fun.


6. Use leaves and sticks as paint brushes. We never had much success with this, but sure, give it a try. I mean, why not? We’re all bored any ways.


7. Press flowers. Collect flowers. Put them between wax paper. Put them between a couple of heavy books. Leave for several days.


More crafts to come. Stay safe! Stay Sane!

Easy Science Crafts – with Glue

Always with glue. Most of these are astronomy related. I like astronomy.

The reason I will not move from the desert is because of the stars. They’re amazing here. So I made, built, remembered a lot of ways to get my kids interested in the stars.
1. Take cotton balls and stretch them and glue them on paper (preferably blue paper but orange or pink would be cool) like clouds. Make cool designs. Go outside and observe the clouds.

1.a. Look up different types of clouds (if your child doesn’t know them or quiz your child if s/he does know them. They will roll their eyes and be annoyed that you don’t know them. But review!) Make the cotton balls into the different types of clouds and label them.
2. Make constellations on black or blue paper. Drip glue in a pattern of dots and sprinkle glitter. Connect the dots with black marker or white chalk. Make real constellations. Make fake.
3. You can make constellations with star stickers too.


4. You can make constellations with white chalk dots and connect the dots. To keep the chalk from wiping off, spray the paper with hair spray.


5. You can use white paint and q-tips to make the night sky. Or white fabric paint. (For some reason I always have fabric paint at my house.)


6. Go out each night and observe the sky. Have the child draw the moon every night.


7. Have the child draw the stars every night. If you go out the same time every night for several nights, your child will notice the sky changing. Or go out several times in one night.


8. Extra points for using Oreos in the phases of the moon. Top off exposes the cream, making it a full moon. Top on makes it like the no moon or eclipse, whatever. Then break the top part of the cookie in different shapes revealing the different phases of the moon or remove the top cookie and cut the cream in different shapes revealing the different phases of the moon. I can’t take credit for this so type in “moon phases oreo” in a search bar an you’ll see what I mean.

Good luck, parents! Stay safe! Stay sane!

Stupid Easy Things to Do

In a crisis, we tend to forget about easy stuff to do. Sometimes we just forget to do things when we’re bored. Or we just forget.

God only know how many times I’ve wandered around the house bored, not knowing what to do, and then later realizing, “Holy Cow, I could have done X; sonofabitch!”
1. Let kids draw on the steam mirror. You can have them clean the mirror after. Kids are entertained by both. Also drawing something on the mirror as a surprise is cool too.
2. Dry erase markers work on mirrors and windows. Just make sure you supervise them kiddos.
3. Bubble baths are awesome any time of day. A few drops of food coloring in the water. Magic. You can also write words and draw pictures with the food coloring drops on the bubbles.
4. Night baths with glow sticks and bathroom light off.


5. Remember that game you played as kids where you had to keep the balloon in the air. That is still an awesome game.


6. Same game as 5 but you glue/tape popsicle sticks on the back of paper plates and use them as rackets. Have the kids decorate their rackets. Heck, draw a face on the balloon.


7. Since some of us bought up a 3 years supply of toilet paper, you can dress up as mummies. Not us, you. Some of you bought a huge supply. Make a fort out of it.


More to come. Stay safe. Stay sane. You’ve got this parents!

Let’s Play with Food: Food Crafts

There are so many ways to entertain kids with food. It’s cheap; it’s fun; it gets them to eat. And I am sure that this will not be my only post of food crafts.

When Tornado A was a toddler, he loved playing in the kitchen. He would remove cans out of the pantry and stack them. When he got bigger, he would get in the fridge and pull things out and make rows of food. He “cooked” by taking out my pots and pans out of the cabinets. If I threw in some dried beans, he would stir and cook.

1.  Cook and bake with kids. When they’re little, they love to help. When they’re older, it teaches math and, more importantly, that not following directions leads to disastrous results.

2. Let the kid string Cheerios or Fruit Loops. And then eat them. Sure, use candy. Heck, I was a strange child; I would’ve eaten dried noodles on a string.
3. You can also string Cheerios and such on pipe cleaners. They stay better on little wrists.

4. Frosting on a graham cracker is amazing. Make sandwiches.


5. Frost sugar cones and decorate with sprinkles and chocolate chips. Sure, it’s suppose to be for Christmas, but time means nothing now.


6. Dye cream cheese blue. The child can spread it on crackers, bagels, toast. Add Gold Fish crackers. An aquarium.


7. Dye white frosting blue. They can spread it on graham crackers or cookies. Add graham cracker Gold Fish or the S’more Gold Fish. An aquarium!


More to come! Stay safe! Stay sane!

Crafts with Glue!

I have a lot of easy crafts with glue because glue and paper are cheap and easy. (I feel like there’s a joke in there somewhere.) I am sure I will post more glue activities.

Another day in the madhouse here, just like it probably is at your house. My boys have school work, but it’s a struggle to keep them from not plugging in to YouTube and videos games not having anything else to do. So I’m pulling out art supplies and science experiments here.

It slightly reminds me of the horror when all three of my boys had Foot, Mouth, Hand Disease. Tornado E was 6; Tornado S was 4, and Tornado A was 1. I saw no other adult for a week. It was …. It was hellish.

So good luck, parents. You can do this.

(Some of these use food supplies; just remember the supply chain isn’t cut, and things will be back to normal soon.)

 
1. Glue and rice. Make a design with glue, sprinkle rice, shake of excess, let it dry. I was promised a glitter effect, but no. It still looks cool.
2. Noodle Mosaics. Have the child make a pattern with noodles. Perhaps various noodles. Glue them down.
2.a. Or let them just glue noodles down without any thought. It’s fine. You’ll get over it, and they will love it. Just grit your teeth and say nothing.


3. Rock Mosaics. Have the child make a pattern with rocks. Glue them done. Like the noodle mosaics, people make some awesome pictures.

3.a. Or let them just glue rocks down without any thought. It’s fine. You’ll get over it, and they will love it. Just grit your teeth and say nothing.


4. Bean Mosaics. Have the child make a pattern with dry beans. Perhaps a variety of beans. Then glue them down.
4.a. Or let them glue beans down without any thought. It’s fine. You’ll get over it, and they will love it. Just grit your teeth and say nothing.


5. Decorate those large noodle shells. We’ve done markers, glitter glue, fabric paint, googly eyes. It’s great.


6. Print out or draw a large letter or word. Have the child draw glue on it. Then have the child decorate it with buttons, noodles, rock, glitter, whatever you have. This is how I taught letters and words to my own sons.


Stay safe. Stay sane

Discipline in the Time of Shelter in Place

First, you’re doing fine. Your kids are great. You probably know all this stuff, and you just forgotten. Like when you get a flat, some of us realize what to do right away. Some of us take a minute or two. Some of us freak out and need some one to remind us how to do it.

Second this is a reminder. You can do this.

What do you do if your kids are acting crazy, and you are just 30 minutes from taking drastic action. Possibly regrettable, drastic action.

If you are that close to the edge, Parent Time Out. They are great. You tell your children that you need a time out to calm down. Take 5 minutes, ten, if you have toddlers, they will probably suggest your age. Maybe don’t stay away for 100 minutes. Take the time to calm down and focus. Take the time to read a few funny memes, wash your face, eat the hidden chocolate. Do what you need to calm down.

Next before any of these next suggestions work, please make sure you’re spending time with your kids. They’re stuck with you; you’re stuck with them. You’re not accidental roommates. Be the Fun Parent as well as the Taskmaster. Carve out time to be with them. When was the last time you played Legos or Princess? If you need to set a time, do so, and let your child know that you will play later. Easy. You know this.

What if your kids are at each other’s throats?

Get them moving. My kids are high energy, so they need to move. We’re averaging two walks a day. Some days that’s not enough. Right now they aren’t getting PE, and they are dealing with their siblings and parents. Remember those days when you were a kid. So get them out of the house.

But Fae have you seen the weather, our neighborhood, my sleeping toddler?

Yeah, ok. Family walks, hikes, runs are not always feasible. When my boys are insisting on antagonizing the hell out of each other, I give them something to do instead. Chores. Some weekends my house looks amazing. Every time someone picks on someone else, I give them a chore. I tell them if they can’t think of something constructive to do with their energy, I will. Cleaning windows, cleaning walls, sweeping, dusting, scrubbing. Have a list ready.

But what about fighting?

5 for fighting. No, usually more time. Time Outs for calming down. I love the meditation jar or calm down jar. I tell my boys that they need to calm down and they need to be in a place without the distraction that’s make them angry. When they were younger, I had a time out chair. As they got older, I sent them to their rooms. Now they have a choice. For some reason, one boy will choose my room. Whatever.

I have also been known to pull the plug on video games and videos for 24 hours. Right now in this time of crisis, that sounds like a bad idea. I still did it to Tornado S last week. I sent him to his room to calm down and write an apology letter, and then I banned him from video games and videos. I wouldn’t stretch it beyond 24 hours, even with repeat offenders. You get to far down the days, and time holds no meaning to them; you’re also likely to crack after the 3rd day.

But they keep fighting?

Then chores. So many chores. Your home is going to look amazing. If you have a backyard, pull weeds, move rocks. Be clear that as soon as they can figure out what to do with their energy and frustration, they can stop.

Name-calling and Cussing.

I hate name-calling. It gets on my nerves. I’ve tried time out, chores, apology letters, apology chore for the other person. None of this has worked for me, but they may work for you. We have a Name-calling Jar. Fifty cents for a name. Last time I cleaned it out we had over twenty bucks. Yes, I’ve had to put money in the jar for telling my dad he was acting like a jerk. Oh, and “acting like” or “are like” are still name-calling in my house. Nice try, kid; I know what you did there.

Oh and a buck for calling someone a penis. Living with boys….

I don’t like cussing either. I have tried time out, vinegar, all sorts of soap. We know do bar soap. Because I live with my parents and my dad is stricter with cussing, my dad tends to do this punishment. For some reason, this has worked better than the other times. Who knew?

What about you, the adult?

I am a big believer in modeling the behavior we want and setting rules everyone goes by. So yes, two weeks ago, I let out a doozy of a word while driving. The boys chimed in and demanded that I eat soap when I got home. So I did. It was just as bad as when I was a kid.

Temper Tantrums

Guys, we are all frustrated, bored, worried, scared, lonely, angry, sad right now. We are all dealing with some pretty big feelings right now, and most of us are not handling it well. I refuse to count the Thin Mints I have eaten. We need to help our kids deal with their feelings as do we all. Encourage healthy outlets before the tantrums. Yes, I know, easier said than done. Encourage writing, drawing, exercising.

When those temper tantrums ok, I do time out with a meditation jar. I set the time to their age. The jar is filled with water, glitter, glitter glue, and food coloring. Watching the glue settle is relaxing. After the time out, let the child know exactly why he or she was sent to time out and brainstorm on better ways to handle it. I go over the family rules. Some parents demand apologies. Do what works for you, but be fair.

If you have a temper tantrum, you need time out too. You need to apologize. Yes, I follow my own advice. Nothing is more humbling than admitting that you lost your cool, but it feels so good to brainstorm and try harder next time.

Good luck! Stay safe. Stay sane. We’re all in this together.

More Crafts: Cheap and Easy Edition

I meant to post sooner, but I have kids to teach like we all do, and I work from home, like most of us do. Teaching online is just as hard as kids learning online. I am embarrassed by my own tech savviness. Or really the lack of it.

Then to add that the kids need to move or they start attacking each other. And I have to move of I start feeling anxious. It’s a mess.

Here are some more easy things to do to entertain kids or yourself. (Also I swear that I’m putting line breaks between the numbers, but it’s just not showing up. I am a tech genius.)
1. Water painting. Bucket of water, brush, wall. Preferably outside.
2. Ice painting. Ice cube, sidewalk, preferably outside. (I have a chalk ice recipe somewhere…. I haven’t tried it, but I’ll let you know.)
3. Sand painting. Let them glue a design on paper. Let them pour sand on the paper. Shake off excess sand. Preferably outside. You can dye the sand with food dye over night. It may dye your hands. Just saying.
4. Freeze toys in ice cubes. (Do people still have ice cube trays?) (Use plastic or paper cups that you can destroy to get the ice cube out) Let child figure out how to break it open. Give them “tools” they can use. Or they will just throw them on the ground. Still fun.


5. Glitter painting. Let them glue a design on paper. Let them pour glitter on the paper. Shake excess glitter off the paper. Teach your child to sweep. Then swifter. Then vacuum. Find glitter two weeks later. The gift that keeps giving.

More to come. Stay safe. Stay sane. We’re all in this together.

Craft Ideas: These probably need supplies

Here are more craft ideas for kids or adults. Now my house has always had random stuff to do crafts, but now that I live with my parents, we have so much random junk. Anything my boys need to do a project, we have it.

I assume that I may not be normal. Many of you can still go to Walmart, Target, and the world-dominating Amazon. (Did anyone else see lightning and hear thunder? Just me. Cool.) I told my friends about these crafts before we sheltered in place. Not that many people are listening….

If you have the things, do the stuff. If you don’t, I have other craft ideas. Guys, not only have I been a parent for a while, I was also a Girl Scout leader and am a Cub Scout leader. I’ve got ideas for days.
1. Googly eyes! Glue them on rocks. Glue them on paper and have the child make faces around them. Glue them on milk carton lids. Glue them on plastic tabs. Glue them on signs.
2. Clear contact paper can make all sorts of cool sun catches. Between two sheets, kids can put cut up tissue paper, cut up streamers, leaves, twigs, flowers. I used to draw a shape before the kids put things on it, so I could cut out fun shapes to represent holidays or favorite themes. Cookie cutters make great shapes to trace.


3. Shakers. Get plastic eggs. Fill them with rice, pasta, beans, small rocks, buttons, beads. Each egg a different filling. Hot glue it.


4. Googly eyes on plastic eggs. Glue pompoms on it for feet.


5. Glue a pompom on the inside of the plastic egg for a body. Glue a second one on top the first for a head. Glue eyes.


6. Stamps. They’re awesome


7. If you have washable ink stamp pads, kids can make thumb prints. Just a lot of finger prints. Or make them into a flower with each print a different petal. Or fingerprints that a kid could add details to make them birds, bugs, or monsters. (If you get the nonwashable kind, their hands will be colored for 2 days, maybe 3. 4 tops.)

Good luck! Stay safe! Stay sane! We’re all in this together.

I’m bored!

It’s been a long time since I’ve written due to teaching and parenting and whatever other chaos has come my way. But after the last several days of giving suggestions to my colleagues and friends with younger children, I realized that I can help a lot of parents out there. Sure, I have the craft section of this blog, but I figured that I can just post quick ideas, and if you want the pictures, you can move over to the craft section.

So day 1 of craft and activity ideas for bored children and adults.

1. Baking soda in a pie tin. Give your kid a glass of colored vinegar and an eye dropper. This will amuse a kid (or an adult) until the baking soda is slop.
2. Bread painting. New (or really clean) paint brush. Color some milk. Let the kid paint the bread with milk. Toast the bread and butter it. Snack!
3. Stickers. Fish stickers on blue is an ocean scene. Have the child draw some seaweed, glue on some sand at the bottom edge, put on some fish stickers. Then cover it with plastic wrap. An aquarium. Animal stickers on green paper could be a jungle or forest. Have the kid make a zoo.


4. Pet rocks! First go rock hunting. You can stretch this out for a while. Is that the perfect rock? You can paint rocks. You can use markers on rocks. You can make monsters, pets, fun designs. Warm up the rock (or wait until “summer”), and you can use crayon, and it melts on the rock.


5. If you can wait, order shrink-a-dink paper. My kids loved shrink-a-dinks. Don’t let anyone tell you to use styrofoam meat trays. First it doesn’t work. Second no matter how clean a used one is, it’s not clean enough and will smell like cooked meat.

 

Good luck! Stay safe. Stay sane. We are all in this together.

10 things about my Dad

1. My dad’s a storyteller.  It’s why I want time alone from him.  To hear his stories.  It’s why he was so good at police outreach.  People love his stories.  It’s why the community college wanted him without a degree.  Because he taught so well.  Through stories.

2. My dad’s favorite colors are red, white, and blue.  Which is to say, he doesn’t have one but is willing to pacify his young daughter who was trying to draw something for him.  Some dads lie to please their kids.

3. He’s a lone wolf.  He wishes my baby brother and I didn’t inherit that.  We also inherited his run-towards-trouble, not away from it.  He wishes we didn’t inherit that either.

4. He’s had a mustache since he started college.  My mom has been asking for him to shave it for years.

5. He wanted to be a cop ever since he was a little boy.

6. He never drank.  He never smoked.  He was always a Good Guy.

7. He worked for Pepsi before he was a cop.  He raised us all to be Pepsi fans.

8. I have complete faith he can fix anything.  Even when he grumbles that he doesn’t work on foreign cars.

9. He keeps mints in his pocket so he can give them to my boys.  Just like his grandpa did for him.

10. A few stories:

When my dad was three, his family lived at the top end of a T intersection.  Before work, his father would move my dad’s little sister from her crib to the master bed to sleep with his mother.  My dad woke early and turned on the TV to watch Howdy Doody.  One morning, my grandpa left for work.  My dad raced to watch Howdy Doody.  Someone ran the stop sign and plowed into the family home.  The car landed on my dad’s empty bed.  My dad regrets never sending a letter to Howdy Doody thanking him for saving his life.  Also when my family lived at a T intersection, my dad parked his squad car in front of the house, so if someone ran the stop sign, s/he would plow into a car, not my bedroom.

My dad tells how he and I sat on a bench once, eating ice cream.  “I feel sorry for grown ups,” I said as I swung my legs.  “Why?” my dad asked.  “Because your feet always touch the ground.  You never get to rest.”

The year they rereleased Snow White in the theaters when I was a child, my dad bought a poster.  He hung it up in my room one night when he got off his midnight shift.  The first thing I saw when I woke up was that poster.

When I went to college, I cried the night before I left because who would hug and kiss my dad in the morning before he went off to work and to say goodnight since my brothers were practicing teenage boy jerks.

It’s hard to stop the stories because there are so many.  He has shaped my life.  I turned to him when I questioned my faith because I knew he would be honest with me.  I turned (and still do) to him when I questioned a moral, a philosophy, a law, a political stance.  One of his favorite past times is to play devil’s advocate to me, especially when he can push me to annoyed anger, and then I yell “better a bleeding heart than none at all.”  He enjoys when he can trip me up with a riddle or a joke, miming reeling in a fish when he has me on the hook.  (I’m more fun to sport because I fall for less than my brothers.)  He’s my dad. 

My dad and me.

Note: Not only was I an ugly baby but way too skinny.  What where those people doing to me?