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I am certain I’m not the only one eagerly awaiting warm and sunny days. Here in New England, April showers have been quite persistent. While my kids do their fair share of playing in the rain, it’s still pretty chilly, which means that outside playtime only lasts so long. On these long rainy days of early spring, I need to be equipped for indoor fun!

10 Rainy Day Activities for Toddlers

10 Rainy day activities for toddlers
1. Make your own sensory bins

My son’s occupational therapist gave us this idea and the boys love it! Go to any big box store and buy plastic storage bins. I buy medium-sized bins that fit on the table and I also ensure they have secure lids… for obvious reasons. What you fill your bins with is up to you — we mostly do dry rice, pasta, or beans. I like to hide items inside that the boys have to dig around to find — lots of fun and great for their fine motor skills.

2. Build a fort

This is one of my boys’ favorite activities. It’s so simple and yet it gives you hours of entertainment. I pull out old sheets and blankets and help the boys hang them from the furniture safely. They’ll read books and hang out in their new hideout for hours.

3. Baking

My boys love to help in the kitchen. Baking is a great activity for us to do together, the boys feel accomplished, the house smells awesome, and well, every gloomy rainy day calls for a tasty treat!

4. Bathtub painting

What kid doesn’t like to make a mess? I say let them do it in the bathtub on a rainy day! Not only will it keep the mess contained, but you don’t have to worry about the cleanup. Looking for a fun bathtub paint recipe? Check out mine on Mainely Mama.

5. Make a home movie theater

Some days are just made to be movie days. A rainy and gloomy day in New England — or wherever you live — is a perfect excuse. My boys line up their chairs, I make popcorn, and they make “tickets” to get in to the show.

6. Make your own Playdough

After years of avoiding it, I finally started making our own Playdough. It’s actually super easy and smells a heck of a lot better than the store-bought version! Made with simple ingredients found in my pantry, it’s a great rainy day project. I also highly recommend experimenting with different scents using spices or essential oils, like this Pumpkin Spice Playdough recipe.

7. Play dress up and do a photo shoot

This can be really fun… if your kids are like mine and like to be silly and have their picture taken. Hang a white sheet on a wall in your house (preferably one that gets good natural light), get out your dress up clothes and props, and have a blast in your own photo booth. Take lots of pictures of your little ones having a fun, and if you have a timer on your camera, be sure to get in some of the pictures (years from now you’ll be glad you did).

8. Build an obstacle course

We are lucky enough to have a great basement for this, but use whatever space you have for this fun way to get some extra rainy day energy out of your toddlers. You can use everything from couch cushions to laundry baskets to exercise balls to mini trampolines. I love the ideas in this obstacle course post from education.com.

9. Create a time capsule

The saying goes, “The days are long, but the years are short,” and it’s so true. These crazy rainy days can send my head spinning, but soon enough they’ll be a fleeting memory. Create a time capsule on your next rainy day at home — include a list of everyone’s current favorites (foods, words, toys, etc) and have each kiddo put in something special.

10. Do a scavenger hunt around the house

This doesn’t need to be fancy or complicated, but while the kiddos are napping (if you’re lucky enough to have nappers) or while they’re eating lunch, put together a scavenger hunt. Perhaps it’s a list of things they need to find — something blue, something furry, something old, something that makes noise — or if they’re a little older, write clues leading them to around the house and eventually to a small prize, snack, or new activity.

What’s your go-to rainy day activity?

 

This post was contributed by Rebecca Spear as part of Savvy Sassy Moms Product Scouts. You can find more from Rebecca on her blog, Mainely Mama.

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Do you want to build a snowman? No? (Sorry, is that stuck in your head now?) What if we told you you could let your little ones build one without leaving the warmth and comfort of your own home? With just a few steps and some ingredients that you probably already have in your cupboard, you can make your own play snow that will provide hours of fun and giggles for all involved… no wet, soggy mittens necessary!

This super easy play snow is a great indoor activity for those blustery winter days when it is just too cold to play outside, but your children have begun to get a lot little stir crazy, which simultaneously tends to make mommy a lot little crazy. It is so much fun, and is a great activity to provide much needed sensory play for active little hands and minds.

Easy to Make DIY Play Snow

Easy DIY Play Snow

 

What you need

  • 3 cups baking soda
  • 1/2 cup hair conditioner, preferably white so that it looks like real snow
  • Plastic container or large pan to use for play area
  • Fun tools for creative play: beads, toothpicks, ribbon and craft eyes to make a snowman and Playdoh tools work great, too.

How to Make Play Snow for Kids

Directions

1. Mix baking soda and conditioner together in a large bowl.
2. Stir together with spoon until somewhat crumbly in texture. Snow should be moldable, like sand.
3. Place snow in container and let play begin!

DIY Play Snow for Kids

The snow is cool to the touch, so it feels similar to real snow. It molds easily, smells fabulous, and, surprisingly, provides very little clean up. With just a quick post-play wipe down, and quick once over with the vacuum, all remnants of your snow play will be gone.

How to Make an Inside Snowman

As an added bonus, the snow can be stored for future use. If it becomes dry, just add a little extra conditioner to the mixture, and voila — you are set to go for hours of more snow fun!

Make your own snow

 

So now, do you want to build a snow man?
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Water toys for kids make summer cool

Whether you’re swimming in a backyard pool or finding the flattest part of your back yard for sprinkler games, water toys make summer a little more fun. Try these fun water games for a wet and silly way to cool off this summer.

Simple outdoor water fun

The simplest water toys can be the most fun, and the Poolmaster Splash and Spray Ball provides hours of outdoor entertainment (Target, $14). The ball can be used in the pool as well, but it’s so much fun to play with on the grass you might not want to move it. Water sprays out of all parts of the ball, so kids can stand and get splashed or run and jump to avoid the spray.

water toys for kids

Dive for pirate gold

Diving toys are a pool favorite, and this adorable Sunny Patch Undersea Treasure Hunt from Melissa and Doug is perfect for kids just learning to dive (Amazon, $14). The six treasure-shaped sinkers help kids practice their underwater swimming skills while working on fine motor skills. The chest floats, so kids don’t have to worry about lugging up something too large to the surface. If you aren’t sure your kids are ready for diving — or if they’re getting tired — the chest comes with games that can be played out of the water, too.

water toys for kids

Let loose their inner mermaids

Maybe you have a little one who has The Little Mermaid on the mind or perhaps your favorite swimmer just likes the idea of the way mermaids swim. The MerFin can unleash anyone’s inner mermaid (HearthSong, $90). Available in two colors, the recycled rubber fin is remarkably flexible and functional. Kids can flip the fin to quicker speeds in the water, and the snug-fitting fin can be easily kicked off with a flick on the ankle strap if necessary.

water toys

Practice swimming underwater with water rings

Little fish can hone their underwater swimming skills with the Water Sports Swim Thru Rings (Amazon, $20). The rings can be adjusted to different water depths, so you can use them in the shallow end or the deep end of a pool, depending on the swimming level of the kids. Use the rings to practice skills or to have an underwater obstacle course.

water toys

The coolest way to play outside

The Intex Rainbow Ring Inflatable Play Center is filled with backyard water fun (Amazon, $49). The play center includes a water slide, wading pool, water sprayer and ring toss game with four inflatable rings. The sprayer attaches to a garden hose, and the center also includes six balls to toss through the rings. Kids two years and older will love cooling off in the little inflatable, and it will quickly become a favorite backyard toy.

water toys for kids

When you’re serious about backyard fun

If you have several summer birthdays to celebrate or love being the house in the neighborhood that attracts all the kids, splurge on the Step 2 Twin Fall Continuous Air Waterslide (Toys R Us, $500). With two slides and a water cannon, the slide is sure to be a hit, whether you’re entertaining two kids or ten kids. The inflatable goes from flat to inflated in two minutes, so it’s simple to incorporate into your party or play date plans.

water toys for kidsDo your kids have a favorite outdoor water toy?

 

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Recycled crafts teach kids about re-purposing materials

Recycled Crafts for Kids

Crafting with kids doesn’t always mean running to the craft store for new supplies. Look around your playroom for materials your children may have left behind or grab some of the kitchen packages you may normally recycle and get started. Recycled crafts are a fun way to learn about reusing materials while enjoying crafting activities with your little ones.

Looking for another simple way to craft? We loved the #PerfectPlaydate subscription box from Avery & Austin.
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Reuse paper and cardboard for these creative crafts

Moving boxes magically transform into a Collapsible Cardboard Tent, crafted by Pink Stripey Socks for Handmade Charlotte. The tent doesn’t even require power tools, and it folds up neatly when your kids are done playing with it for the day. Let them get creative with the design, and they’ll truly have their own private space for reading, writing or daydreaming.

Folded Paper Bracelets from Picklebums are a creative way to recycle your kids’ own artwork. If your children love coloring or painting, especially watercolor painting, you’re likely the proud owner of too-many-to-count colorful masterpieces. Instead of simply stashing several of the pieces of artwork in your recycling bins each week, let the kids choose the ones they want to turn into bracelets.

Michelle from MollyMoo Crafts offers an adorable way to make use of your empty toilet paper rolls. With a little imagination — and some construction paper — your craft-loving kids can turn those simple rolls into a Hula Girl and Her Mermaid BFF. You’ll find additional toilet paper roll crafts at MollyMoo if you have fun with these!

Still Playing School brings you a Triceratops Craft for Kids. Dinosaur lovers will adore this colorful craft made from items most families have in their homes — and craft bins. We eat a ton of eggs, especially during the summer when the kids are in the mood for more leisurely breakfasts, and finding uses for the egg cartons is a fun way to teach about recycling.

The DIY Cardboard Box Lap Tray from A Centsible Life is a perfect craft for summer break. Except for the cutting portion of the craft, kids can create and finish the remainder of the project on their own. Once finished, the lap tray can be used on the floor, on couches or beds and maybe even in the car for road trips, depending on the size and shape of the box you use.

Crafts from repurposed glass, plastic and other materials

Crayon Covered Jars from Donna Herron at Perl3Agony are a clever way to use your jars instead of tossing them into the recycling bin. The jars can be a pen and pencil holder, a colorful vase for the flowers you’re growing this summer or even as a container for craft supplies like pom-pons. We love the way she works around jars whose labels simply won’t be removed.

Floral and Feather has a simple method for using things you have in your home to make a Bird Feeder. The wonderful thing about making a bird feeder with your little ones is the excitement they’ll get from seeing it in use. Young children will love watching the birds discover their new treat, and older kids may be interested in identifying the types of birds hanging out in your backyard.

Simply Kelly Designs knows not all fun crafts need to take an entire afternoon. Her Recycled Bottle Cap Magnets can be completed in fifteen minutes — not including drying time. They’re simple enough that kids can work on them in that sometimes stressful window of time when you really need to make dinner but your kids are suddenly bored with every toy they own.

Keep up with these inspiring craft bloggers on social media
Which materials do you think you’ll use the most for recycled crafting this summer?
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If you don’t already have it on your calendar, Wednesday, April 22, is Earth Day.

While there are usually plenty of local, kid-friendly events to attend to honor Earth Day, the day also serves a good opportunity to talk with your kids about how we can do things on a daily basis to nurture the world around us.

Here are 10 ways to celebrate Earth Day with kids, every day.

Recycle

Recycling pick-up day is a big deal at our house. As soon as my girls hear the beep of the recycling truck backing down our driveway, they beeline to the window to watch the show. This is a great time to talk about where all of those cans, bottles, and flattened cardboard will go after it gets loaded on the truck.

Celebrating Earth Day every day with kids

Upcycle

Type Earth Day into Pinterest and you’ll find a wide variety of earth-themed crafts, coloring pages, and activities to do with your kids. Choose a craft that uses items from around your home and you’ll be honoring the earth in more than one way. I especially love this simple art project using upcycled egg cartons.

Buy organic, locally-sourced foods

Organic farming practices are better for the earth, period. Choose organic over conventional produce, especially when buying these fruits and vegetables.  Shop your local farmers market instead of your grocery store, and buy as much produce in season as possible. Get to know the people who grow your food — introduce your kids to the individuals manning the farmers market booths.

Become a locavore

Shop local, for more than food. Before shopping online or heading to a big box store, visit locally-owned shops. From toy stores to book sellers to boutiques, choosing local businesses helps your town, your neighbors, your economy… your earth.

Bring your bags

My hometown has a ban on plastic bags, and charges a fee if you don’t bring your own. Honestly, at first it was a pain to remember to bring my own bags. But now, even if it weren’t for this mandate, I’d still participate. It’s become a habit, and my 4-year-old loves to carry one the empty bags as a purse as we shop. Reusable bags help keep plastic out of our landfills. Plus, they hold a lot more stuff than the typical plastic grocery bag.

Plant a tree

Whether it is every year on Earth Day, Arbor Day, or some other annual occasion, visit a local nursery with your kids to choose a tree to plant.  Then, get those shovels out and start digging.

Clean up, clean up, everybody let’s clean up

We teach our kids to pick up their toys, tidy up their rooms, and take care of the things they love. The same thing goes for the earth.  If we are on a walk and see litter, we pick it up and thrown it in the trash.  If we are at the beach for a picnic lunch, we leave nothing behind.  If we are on a hike with our dog, we clean up after him.  Everybody does their share, even if it wasn’t a mess that we created.

Grow a garden

You don’t need a lot of space to grown your own vegetables and flowers.  Bigger kids can help plant seeds; little kids can help water.  Plus, what’s better than the thrill of proudly plucking a big bunch of carrots out of the ground?

How to celebrate Earth Day with kids

Read The Lorax (and watch the movie)

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.  It’s not.
There are lots of great kids books honoring the earth, but the Dr. Seuss classic is my favorite, by far.  Start your Earth Day by reading The Lorax, and finish it with a popcorn-and-pajama movie night.

Go outside

Whether it’s an adventure in your own backyard, a simple walk around your neighborhood, or a day hike at a local state park, explore the outdoors, every day. Cherish the beauty and wonder of the world around you, rain or shine.  That means splashing in puddles.  That means crouching down low to examine the tiniest of ants.  That means running through wide open fields of dandelions. Take time to experience the earth through the eyes of your kids, with your kids.

How to celebrate Earth Day with kids

We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.  — Wendell Berry

Happy Earth Day, everyone.

This post was contributed by Jessica Spencer who is part of the Savvy Sassy Mom Product Scouts program. You can find more from Jessica on her blog, The Average Jess.

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Camping with kids

Camping with kids doesn’t have to involve renting an extra vehicle to haul your gear. Do a camping test run in your backyard to see if your kids are ready for a weekend away. Pitch a tent, create a backyard scavenger hunt and invite a few friends to camp out without leaving your neighborhood.

camping with kids

The benefits of camping at home

A camping test run will help you and your kids feel more comfortable planning a weekend or week-long camping trip. There’s nothing worse than loading up cars and unpacking tents and then realizing there’s no way your kids are ready to spend a weekend outside with the sound of crickets, wind and the unruly college campers at the campsite across from yours. At home, you have control over the amount of time you spend “camping.” Kids can use their own bathroom, and any real fears of sleeping outside can be addressed by returning to a bedroom inside the house.

Backyard camping supplies
  • Tent
  • Sleeping bag/air mattress
  • Water bottles
  • Small cooler with snacks
  • S’mores maker — unless you have a backyard fire pit (Plow & Hearth, $25)
  • Scavenger hunt (Etsy, $7)
  • Play doh
  • Fun sprinkler
  • Bathing suits
  • Sunscreen
  • Change of clothes & pajamas

camping with kids

Don’t stress about the campout

The more fun you can make the camping dry run, the more fun camping with kids can actually be when you do it for real. Try to emphasize that the campout is like a sleepover outside. If you have close family friends or cousins who might want to try camping, too, invite them to share your backyard! Let kids help with their packing, and remember not to overdo it — really, everything you need is only a few feet from your tent.

Focus on the fun

Kids can hold tent stakes or “direct” tent building, but if their attention span wanes, try a little distraction so they don’t wander back inside. Play doh is the perfect camping toy — it’s the one time you don’t have to worry about getting it stuck on your floors! Set up the sprinkler for a while, and guide them in a scavenger hunt around the backyard — create your own or turn to the printable experts at Etsy. At the end of the evening, huddle around a fire pit or set up a s’mores maker for sweet treats and campfire stories — and hopefully start planning a weekend camping trip!

Do you go camping with kids?
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glitter crafts
Get ready for glitter crafts

National Craft Month means it’s time to bring out your favorite craft supplies and get crafty with your kids. Make their month by bringing out the glitter. Even if you normally avoid those sparkly particles that never, ever seem to disappear once they arrive, adding glitter to simple crafts will make every craft project seem magical. Try one of the crafts in our craft roundup, and you won’t even notice the 14 extra times you have to vacuum the floor.

Glitter adds another element to sensory activities

Little hands will love playing with the Glitter Play Doh. The sparkles within the soft colors make their creative rolling and pulling just a little more fun. When your little ones need to slow down, try the Glitter Calming Jars. They’re a soothing way for children to spend a few minutes refocusing, and they can be more calming than a typical, protested time-out — for both parents and children.

Crafting with kids doesn’t mean glitter messes

Using glitter for kids’ activities sounds like a giant mess waiting to happen. Younger children don’t always have the fine motor control to keep glitter contained, so try one of the glitter crafts that keeps the mess encased, like the Pipe Cleaner Crown or Golden Glitter Slime. Kids get the fun of the sparkle without trailing tiny sparkles throughout the house. Older children will want to use the glitter themselves, and the best way to minimize the mess is to prep your craft area. Covering the area with a giant tablecloth is one way to keep your furniture from becoming bedazzled. It’s tempting to use a disposable plastic cloth, but the disposable paper ones can be — slightly — less messy because plastic ones can carry a lot of static.

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Like our glitter craft gurus on Facebook

1. The Craftinomicon, 2. The Chronicles of Home, 3. Confetti Pop, 4. Design Improvised, 5. Doodlecraft, 6. Fun at Home with Kids, 7. Blythe Ponytail Parades, 8. Dream {a little} Bigger, 9. Madigan Made

Do you craft with glitter? (We’re a glitter family, and I have sparkling remnants all over the house to prove it.)
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I might be a little bias and think that every time of year is a good time  to visit the Bay Area…In particular, this time of year is so ideal. With a slight chill in the air and a puddle left over from yesterday’s rain, there is something so cozy and romantic about bundling up and heading out to a festive holiday activity in the Bay Area. So far some of our favorite holiday hot spots include:

Downtown WC Ice Skating

 Ice Skating Downtown Walnut Creek: Open daily through January 13th…perfect spot to take a break from all the holiday shopping hustle and bustle downtown. Literally walk out of Neiman Marcus or Pottery Barn and within minutes you could be lacing up your skates.

Train of Lights at the Niles Canyon Railway: All decked out in lights for the holidays, the Niles Canyon Railway provides a historic train ride experience all year-round from the 1880’s depot in Sunol and from the Niles Station in Fremont. With tickets sold out most nights, get your tickets ahead of time to ensure a seat.

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Tilden Christmas Fantasy: Not only will you be able to ride the antique, hand carved merry-go-round, it feels like a true fantasy with decked out Christmas trees all around and themed holiday light displays lighting up the hills of Tilden Park. Although almost slight disastrous for my 2 year old, the hubby and I enjoyed seeing one of the largest Christmas ornament displays in the Bay Area. Yummy treats, hot drinks, carolers and nightly visits from Santa and his live reindeer will truly make you feel like you are walking in a winter wonderland.

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Winter Workshops at Habitot: Like most 2 year olds, my little man is OBSESSED with trains. If your little one is a train-aholic, you must come check out Habitot’s annual train display. You can peek through the window of Suite M and see a small scale locomotive choo-chooing through a winter wonderland scene. With this train scene as inspiration, toddlers can create railroad track patterned pictures, paint with wheels, etc. Next year, we hope to plan ahead and reserve a spot with in the Gingerbread House Workshop. It looks like a super fun mommy/daddy and kiddo activity making a gingerbread house. With all the supplies  and space provided…it sounds like all the holiday fun sans the mess…icing on the gingerbread house if you ask us!

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Magical Tea Time at the Intercontinental Mark Hopkins
It is the perfect mix of kid entertainment and chic “mommyness.” Kiddos of all ages are entertained by a renowned magician and face painter as well as ginger cookie decorating station (no you don’t have to sneak one out with you…they encourage you to take one with you :)). Parents and kiddos are sure to enjoy mouth watering gourmet bites and upscale teas. I am pretty sure that this is going to be my new holiday tradition with my little man, we had far too much fun getting all dressed up and going on a mommy and son date! We are already awaiting the dates for the Magical Tea next year so we can deck the halls once again at the Mark Hopkins!

Stay tuned for Part 2 next week as Eddie and his stroller head out to San Francisco to check out the Holiday Scene at the Fairmont, Oakland Zoo Lights, and much more holiday fun…

This post was sponsored by Spotivate: Connect. Discover. Experience
Spotivate is a destination for discovering the best local experiences for your family.

In the Bay Area? Spotivate has launched in San Francisco! Don’t worry Spotivate is coming soon to a town near you! Spotivate on Facebook and Follow Spotivate on Twitter

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The New Year is just around the corner and whether you and your children stay up until the stroke of midnight to ring in the new year or you celebrate at the stroke of noon instead, here is a roundup of the best crafts to celebrate bringing in 2013 with your children.

countdown bags

I love these Countdown Bags from The Idea Room. No New Year’s Eve would be complete without fun ways to count down the hours until the stroke of midnight (or noon).A bag filled with a fun activity or idea to open every hour, sounds like a blast to me and I bet the kids would love activities like “dance in the kitchen” or “make cookies”!

 

Blessings Jar

Blessings Jar from I Can Teach My Child is wonderfully sweet and thoughtful. I absolutely adore the thought of my children gathering what they are thankful and blessed for all throughout the year, then on New Years Eve sitting as a family and “counting our blessings” together.

 

balloon countdown

The Balloon Pop Countdown from Real Life, Real Estate, Real Dana is something I am positive my kids would go crazy for. You can fill the Balloon’s with notes containing fun activities like “have a confetti party” and “jump on your moms bed”.

first night hats

 

First Night Hats from Spoonful While you’re waiting for the New Year, you can help your kids make these adorable and festive. Let your children’s imagination run wild as they create and decorate their own special hats to wear!

 

confetti box

 

Once the magic hour sets, it’s time to celebrate! These Matchbox Confetti Boxes from Homework Today’s Assignment: Be Inspired may be messy but will certainly bring loads of treasured memories for your children. You can make a bunch to throw at the stroke of midnight or you can do one each hour as a countdown; the amount of confetti mess is up to you!

 

noisemakers

 

Noisy NoiseMakers from Alphamom are the perfect way to ring in the New Year. Made of empty raisin boxes, your kids will have a blast making them!

I’m looking forward to the New Year and whatever 2013 holds. Happy New Year Savvy Sassy Moms!

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The amazing designer Todd Oldham is launching his exclusive ‘Kid Made Modern’ collection at Target on May 20th.  This collection of art supplies and craft kits for kids and parents is inspired by Oldham’s 2009 book, Kid Made Modern which has sparked the creativity of children around the world.

Now those colors will come to life in Todd Oldham’s exclusive and affordable collection of art supplies and craft projects that will inspire imaginations of the young and the not so young (me) alike.

We love Todd’s book of crafting inspiration and are very excited to work with the new mediums that he has created exclusively for Target. And what better timing. I know that many parents love to have extra activity and craft ideas, projects and supplies on hand for the Summer months. Our crafting cabinet will now be full and ready!

My girls and I will probably be first in line on the May 20th to fill our basket with beautiful colors, inspiration and fun.

We are so excited about the amazing collection of duct tape! Have you tried duct tape crafts with your kids – oh you should! We love making little wallets and gifts for friends.

 

My 1st grader is anxious to work with some of the new jewelry making kits with some fun new beads and mediums.

Here’s a very cool video with an exclusive sneak peek from Target.

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