Fighting summer slump and looking for some activities that will keep young children stimulated, contribute to their physical and intellectual growth, and that you can enjoy and participate in as well? Try three activites from Banish Boredom: Activities to Do with Kids That You'll Actually Enjoy by Rebecca Green.
"Next to glue, tape is the most popular art supply in our home," shares Green. "I honestly can't make much sense out of it, but both kids get so excited if I say we are doing a project using tape. And letting them tear the pieces themselves is a must. So not surprisingly, they both love to make tape-resist painting, and they have ever since they were very young. Plus if you're looking for a time-consuming project, you can absolutely count on this one for the additional time it takes the kids to untape themselves after getting inevitably tangled as they work. Sometimes it's the little things about a project that make it so special."
- Heavy-weight white paper
- Tempera or watercolor paints
- Washi tape (or similar, light-adhesive tape that can be removed easily—painter’s tape is a good alternative)
- Glue, white crayon, or chalk (optional)
- Have the kids tear pieces of tape in advance and then stick the tape pieces to the paper in whatever design they wish.
- Allow the kids to paint over the taped paper, encouraging them to cover the white space (so that the resist pattern actually shows up).
- Let the painting dry almost completely, and then let your children (with appropriate assistance given their age and temperament) remove the tape pieces to reveal the resist!
- Instead of making a random pattern, use the tape to outline a more realistic shape.
- Use the negative space from the tape to write a message and turn the painting into a card for someone special.
- Try other forms of resist painting, using glue, white crayon, or white chalk to draw a design or image. Then paint over it (once dried, for the glue) to reveal the resist.
"This project definitely falls under the cool category, because you can sneak some science in without the kids noticing much," say Green. "If they are more advanced in science at this point, you can adapt the experiment up to their knowledge level. This is essentially an experiment about molecular polarity and density using water and oil. Water molecules like to stick together. Oil molecules like to stick together as well. But the two kinds of molecules don’t like to stick to each other."
- A tall bottle
- Cooking oil (enough to fill up ¾ of the bottle)
- Food coloring
- Fizzy antacid tablets (such as Alka-Seltzer)
- Submersible light or flashlight
- Glitter (optional)
- Salt (optional)
- Let the kids fill three-fourths of the bottle with cooking oil.
- They can fill the remainder with water, but not quite all the way to the top. You’ll need some room for bubbling.
- Have the kids add a few drops of food coloring.
- Leaving the top of the bottle off, let the kids break up the fizzy tablet and drop it in a bit at a time. Watch what happens to the gas bubbles created and observe the rising droplets of colored water.
- Add a submersible light, which will float on top and light downward, or shine a flashlight up from the outside bottom for a more realistic lava lamp effect.
- Do you have a child who likes to sparkle? Add a healthy dose of glitter to the water first and see what happens when you add the fizzy tablet.
- Try creating a reverse lava lamp effect by sprinkling a little bit of salt onto the top of the oil (after all your fizzy tablets have fizzled out). The salt is heavier than water, so when you sprinkle it on the oil, it will sink through the mixture and carry a bit of oil with it down through the water. When the salt dissolves in the water, it releases the oil, which will then float back up to the top of the water.
- Spend some more time observing density. When the fizzy tablet is gone, replace the bottle top and tip the bottle back and forth. Shake it in different directions. Help the kids make observations about what is happening.
Frozen Shaving Cream
- Shaving cream
- Plastic containers
- Washable liquid tempera paint
- A large bowl
- A mixing spoon
- A freezer
- Fun accessories
- Baking extracts (optional)
- Easel (optional)
- Paintbrushes (optional)
- Ice cube trays (optional)
- Sensory bin (optional)
Note: Do not use liquid watercolors or food coloring; they’ll melt the shaving cream. Gel food colors work but are not washable.
- Mix shaving cream and a few squirts of tempera paint in the large bowl. Add more color or cream until you get the desired color. If you add too much color and the cream starts to deflate, just mix in some more shaving cream. You’re looking to keep the colored shaving cream roughly the same consistency as when it comes out of the can.
- Scoop the mixture into a plastic container and then repeat for each color. Place all containers in the freezer for hours.
- Once the shaving cream has set nicely, remove from the freezer and let the kids go to town playing with it.
- If the smell of shaving cream is not for you, consider adding in baking extracts (such as peppermint, vanilla, almond, and so on) prior to freezing. Just be careful not to add so much that the cream turns to liquid before making it into the freezer. Remember, too, that the attractive smell can make it more tempting for kids to taste the off-limits chemical substance—so emphasize safety!
- Turn the sensory experience into art. Set up an easel outdoors, and let the children use their hands or paintbrushes to paint with frozen foam.
- Stuck indoors in the winter? Freeze the shaving cream in ice cube containers, and have your kids build igloos in a sensory bin.
The creator of Not-So-SAHM, a family-focused lifestyle blog, Rebecca Green writes about arts and crafts, field trips, DIYs, recipes, party fun, and the all-around silliness of her family. She started the blog in 2011 when she decided to take break from practicing law to become a stay-at-home mom (SAHM) and spend more quality time with her family while pursuing creative endeavors.
Her book, Banish Boredom: Activities to Do with Kids That You’ll Actually Enjoy, offers inspiration for parents looking for fun, stimulating activities that will contribute to children’s physical and intellectual growth. Discover ideas for art projects, science projects, sensory projects, outdoor activities, and field trips that will help you find a balance between keeping you and your kids engaged and entertained.