100-Mile Bags

Brilliant idea for entertaining kids on long car trips.  And for helping them understand “how much longer.”

It’s not mine – I found it online 3 years ago when I went looking for “car activities for children” before our first 552 interstate journey with 2 preschoolers.  It’s worked every year since (“when are we going on a long trip again, Mom?”), and now they count down the mileage between bags on the GPS.

It’s simple, as most great ideas are.  Put a treat/toy/activity in a paper sack to hand out to each child every 100 miles.

Here’s our 6-year-old son with a 3D Drawing Pad (note that a lollipop was just as well-received).  He’s about 301 miles from home and couldn’t be happier.

Coloring the Yard

If you like color and can live with plastic, these adirondack chairs are fabulous!

Comfortable, stackable, easy-to-clean.  And, as my recent football player-sized party guest can attest to, surprisingly sturdy.

Adams Manufacturing makes them.  Last summer, after they sold out at Home Depot ($8 each on clearance), I found them at DoItBest.com, a hardware store co-op.  Several candy colors are available for $18.99, and they ship site-to-store for free, if there’s a store in the co-op near you.  They popped up on Craigslist, too.

The chairs are back at Home Depot now for about $16, but in more muted colors.  I prefer the brighter, candy colors at DoItBest.com, but if they’re too saccharine for you, there’s yet another option at Target for $17.

Ice Cream Art

Sasha, age almost-7

We spent yesterday afternoon making wall art for my daughter’s ice cream birthday party.  She made this beautiful piece trying to copy one I’d made.  Hers turned out so much better!

She also just happend to learn a lesson about placing her subject off-center: “I messed up trying to put my bowl in the middle, and it looks so good!”

The idea came from The Art Fairy and her lesson on Wayne Thiebaud.  We sketched our ice cream in pencil and then colored lightly with washable markers (out of our vast supply, my son’s old Crayola Pip-squeaks yielded the best results).  Then, with a brush dipped in water, we transformed the drawings into watercolors.

Brilliant, easy idea.  Best of all, the children loved the process – I literally had to drag them inside for dinner.

Kool-Aid Painting

The unseasonably warm weather we’re having reminded me of this toddler activity (art?) that yields Jackson Pollock-like results.

When I was pregnant with our first child, I worked at a daycare center with 2-year-olds.  The lead teacher was a wonderful lady and we had such fun with our tiny charges.  One day she announced that the kids were going to do “Popsicle Painting.”  She covered a table in the kitchen with craft paper, sprinkled different colored Kool-Aid powder on it, and gave each child a craft stick frozen in a chunk of ice.

Less than two years years later, I had my own daughter outside exploring the joys of melting ice and colored sugar.  It became a favorite warm weather activity for both of my kids.  My daughter loved the painting part and my son loved the licking-the-ice part.