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Click here to read 3 Super Simple Incredibly Fun Pool Noodle Activities for a Rainy Day on Hands On As We Grow®

Stuck inside? Try these simple pool noodle activities, from Julie, to get kids busy and active indoors on a rainy day. 

We were stuck inside on yet another rainy day. I was at my limit and running out of ideas.

Until I dug up some pool noodles, tape, and a toy that rolls. Boom. Three super fun activities to keep my kids active and entertained, even on a rainy day!

3 Super Simple Incredibly Fun Pool Noodle Activities for a Rainy Day

My kids loved each of these three simple activities. They were all easy to set up and provided the exact entertainment we needed on a rainy day.

Try out these super simple activities for even more rainy day fun!

To set up your own pool noodle activities, you’ll need:

  • Pool noodles
  • Masking or painters tape
  • Toy car or ball
  • Knife or scissors
Pool Noodle Balance Beam

First up in our pool noodle lineup is a simple balance beam. This activity is great for developing coordination and gross motor skills!

I cut one pool noodle lengthwise and taped the flat part to the floor. I left another noodle whole and taped that to the floor in a zig-zag pattern.

My kids loved walking from one end to the other on our balance beam, over and over again!

You can also try these challenges for your balance beam:

  • walking backwards
  • stepping wide with feet on either side of the noodles
  • hopping from side to side over the noodles
  • make up your own challenge!

Get active indoors with just a little bit of tape!

Pint-Sized DIY Car Rollercoaster

For our next activity, we used the pool noodles that we had previously cut lengthwise.

My son helped tape them together, end to end. Then we secured one end to a high point.

We used our coffee table, but you could make the ramp even higher and experiment with what happens!

First, we tried out his favorite Hot Wheels car. It didn’t quite fit inside the groove of the noodle, but it did zoom down the rollercoaster.

Next, we experimented with different sized balls, tried holding the coaster up in different spots, and making the track a different shape.

Make Your Own DIY Building Blocks

For our last indoor pool noodle activity, I cut up the remaining noodles into smaller lengths.

Build even more with creative block activities!

My kids immediately knew what to do, and got to work building (and smashing!) with their “noodle blocks.”

Try this fun indoor scavenger hunt game for kids!

We loved playing with our pool noodles, and these were the perfect activities for just getting silly and having fun indoors. The next time it rains, we will be ready again with these simple indoor activities!

How do you re-purpose classic toys for kids activities?
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Click here to read 30 Ways to Play with Balloons for Kids on Hands On As We Grow®

There are so many easy ways to play with balloons! Check out these kid pleasing favorites!

Balloons are a blast! We get them out all year round, trying different creative activities and projects.

Balloons are such a huge hit in our house. I’m always on the lookout for fun ways to play with balloons.

To save me (and, well, you) time later, I pulled together over 30 over my absolute favorite go-to ways to play with balloons!

30+ Ways to Play with Balloons for Kids

Balloons can be a ton of fun, but remember to always closely supervise children during balloon play. Balloons are still a choking hazard!

Creative Balloon Activities

Balloons are fun to bounce around, roll, and toss around. Try these cool balloon activities with your kids!

You’ll love these fun free play ideas for kids!

Balloon Art Projects

Balloons are so versatile and stretchy! Which makes them totally amazing when it comes to making cool art projects.

Try these fun art ideas with your kids.

Science Experiments with Balloons

Balloons make the best tools for science experiments! There are tons of cool experiments that use balloons.

Try these fun science experiments with your kids!

Creative Balloon Crafts for Kids

Crafts are such a fun way to play with balloons! We love these creative crafts for kids that all use balloons.

Nervous about getting started with activities? Learn how to do activities with your kids!

Which one will you try together first?

What have you done with balloons? We’d love to check out your creative ideas!
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Click here to read Six Ways to Get Moving and Be Silly with a Pillowcase on Hands On As We Grow®

Get moving and be silly with a pillowcase! Dig out a few pillowcases to have fun and get moving with these no-prep gross motor ideas from Erin!

I hear a lot of things every day.

Loud thuds from upstairs that let me know the kids are awake. A beagle staring out the window howling at some apparition that nobody else can actually see. Small voices asking Google to play “Cotton Eyed Joe” for the 948th time.

Of all the sounds I hear in my day, the one I like best is definitely the sound of my kids laughing together.

Some of the most giggle-inducing activities are also the absolute simplest, too. My favorite activities use things I already have at home, often in super unique ways.

Six Ways to Get Moving and Be Silly with a Pillowcase

These no-prep gross motor ideas use a pillowcase to get kids moving and being silly. Laughter is guaranteed!

All you need for all six of these creative, gross motor activities is:

  • Pillowcase
  • Lots of open space
Be a Pillowcase Superhero

I’ll be honest: jumping on and off furniture is a daily event around here. It’s right up there with things like eating and breathing and wasting large amounts of toilet paper.

But the introduction of the pillowcase made all of the furniture jumping a new and hilarious game.

Keep jumping with gross motor activity using tape that’s perfect for rainy days!

Pillowcase Hop Race & Obstacle Course

Crazy face making is optional but highly encouraged.

Make it a race! Set up two lines of tape or cones in an open space.

Or create an obstacle course. Hop over, under, and around the furniture in your house – all inside the pillowcase!

Double Sibling Pillowcase Hop

Have two kids? Challenge them to BOTH fit inside one pillowcase and hop around together!

My kids made a valiant effort for a few steps before they fell over in a heap of giggles.

I imagine this looked a lot like me if I tried to compete in something like American Ninja Warrior. Except I would probably cry, not laugh.

Soft Toy Bounce on the Pillowcase

Pile a bunch of soft toys onto a pillowcase. Then stretch it out between two people and jump around!

Keep jumping until all the toys are bounced off the pillowcase.

Get active with physical activities for toddlers!

We used our ball pit balls but you could also use stuffed animals or really any soft, lightweight toys that won’t break your television or send someone to the emergency room.

Probably no forks or anything.

Scoot Like an Inchworm

Put both legs in the pillowcase and scoot around like an inchworm. Or slither like a snake.

Get creative! How many animals scoot and wiggle along the ground?

For added giggles, make it a race!

Hop Into a Three Legged Run

Go for a 3-legged run with the pillowcase.

Burn off even more energy with these gross motor activities for kids!

“A 3-legged run” is probably a bit of an overstatement. It will be more like a “3-legged fall on the ground and dissolve into laughter.”

What are your silly ideas for using common household items to get kids moving and laughing?
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Click here to read Super Simple Seek and Find Shapes Water Activity for Toddlers on Hands On As We Grow®

Add water play to a seek and find shapes activity, from Lisa, for a fun, hands-on learning opportunity for children! 

Splashing around is so much fun! Plus it’s also a wonderfully calming, sensory experience.

We love incorporating water play into our every day learning. Adding a shapes activity into something we already love to do was just a natural fit.

Toddlers and preschoolers will love this seek and find shapes activity. Best of all, your sensory activity is easy to set up with materials that you already have on hand!

It also utilizes those very important fine motor skills!

Super Simple Seek and Find Shapes Water Activity for Toddlers

For this shape hunt, we ended up using all materials we had on hand in our kitchen.

To set up your own seek and find shapes activity, you’ll need:

  • A clear baking dish
  • A clear glass or plastic cup
  • Food coloring or paint
  • Water
  • A piece of paper and marker

We focused specifically on shape recognition for this activity.

It is so easy to customize to what your child is learning. You could use this same activity for letter or number recognition, sight words or even colors!

Seek and Find Shapes Together!

The set up of water play is so much fun and children love to be involved in preparation as much as possible. For our activity, my three year old loved deciding the color of our water and pouring it into the baking dish.

Using the marker, draw out on your shapes on the plain white sheet. Then, place the paper under your clear baking dish.

Add two to three drops of food coloring or paint to your water and pour into your clear dish.

Set your clear plastic cup inside your baking dish, upside down.

This is such an easy, self directed activity for preschoolers!

Explore shapes with a fun water activity to erase the shapes!

I called out each shape that I wanted him to find and he moved the cup along at his own pace.

You could also have matching shapes in a basket beside your child for them to pull out independently and find.

Go on a scavenger hunt for shapes with your toddler!

He loved the vacuum seal and suction that the cup created as he moved it along the bottom of the tray! Because the cup was clear, it reinforced the shape he was seeking as well.

This was such a calm, low frustration activity. I’m all about ways that I can make our hands-on play simpler and less stressful!

He also really enjoyed learning while playing with water. Honestly, water is always a great addition to our playtime!

We love adding water to our playtime! How have you brought water into your activities?
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Click here to read 35+ Ways to Pretend, Create & Learn with Play Dough! on Hands On As We Grow®

Stuck for something to do that's creative, imaginative, and interactive? Try these easy ways to pretend, create and learn with play dough!

Play dough. We’ve made tracks with trucks and smooshed balls.

But then we got stuck. Until I found all these creative and cool ways to play with our dough!

35+ Ways to Pretend, Create & Learn with Play Dough

No more excuses to skip the play dough! Now I’ve got lots of easy ways to think outside the box for creative play.

Add a little science to your play dough with a cool homemade play dough recipe!

Play dough will never be boring again!

Pretend with Play Dough:

Play dough makes a great jumping off place for pretend play! Try these 6 creative ideas to get started.

Make & Create with Play Dough:

Play dough is perfect for creative art projects. Let your child’s imagination soar with these 6 activities!

Items to Add to Play Dough:

Know what’s fun? Mixing things into play dough!

Try these creative additions to your next play dough adventures.

Ways to Learn with Play Dough:

Play dough is a great teaching and learning tool. Make letters, numbers, and patterns to help your child learn early academic skills!

I’ve found that homemade play dough is far superior to the store-bought kind.

It’s softer, lasts longer and you can make whatever color you like just for that day. Not to mention adding fun ingredients to the mix!

What’s your favorite play dough activity?
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Click here to read Easy Hands-On Color Matching Clothespin Game for Toddlers on Hands On As We Grow®

Have fun learning colors with this color matching clothespin game from Julie. 

I was looking for a creative way to get my toddler more engaged when we were talking about colors. Then, I remembered how much fun we had with clothespins – just clipping and unclipping them.

And an idea was born!

This color game is perfect for toddlers and even older babies. My daughter loved pinching the clothespins and being silly as we learned about colors!

Easy Hands-On Color Matching Clothespin Game for Toddlers

It’s so simple to put together, and your toddler will love it!

Your toddler might also like a fun color scavenger hunt!

To set up your own color matching clothespin game, you’ll need:

  • a bucket
  • wooden clothespins
  • markers
  • color puzzle, colorful blocks, magnets, etc.
Easy Clipping with Colors

First, color the backs of a few clothespins with basic colors. We colored ours to match our color puzzle.

Then, set out a bucket. We love our metal bucket because it makes a lovely clanging sound when the clothespins are dropped inside!

Clip the clothespins to the rim of the bucket. All set!

Call out a color to find and clip or find and drop into the bucket. Just clipping and dropping the clothespin is a great activity for younger toddlers!

Get splashing with a colorful water play experiment for toddlers!

Add Color Clothespin Matching

First, have your child choose a clothespin from the edge of the bucket. Unclipping clothespins is great for developing hand strength and fine motor skills!

Name the color.

“Wow, you chose a green clothespin.”

Then, help them find the puzzle piece or object that matches the color on the clothespin. You could use LEGO blocks, balls, and magnetic blocks or tiles, too.

Help your child recognize the match.

“Look, you have a green puzzle piece, too! Green and green. That’s a match!”

Drop the clothespin and the puzzle piece, or whatever small colored objects you’re using, in the bucket. Repeat with more clothespins and colorful objects.

Your child “wins” the game when she has matched and dropped all the color pairs in the bucket!

Add even more fine motor exploration for toddlers!

Change Up the Color Matching for Even More Fun

This color match game is fun exactly as is. But it’s also super adaptable, too.

Try these easy switches to add more challenge or mix it up a bit!

  • Match clothespin colors with objects from around the house or yard. Let your toddler go hunt for a match, then come drop it in the bucket with the clothespin.
  • Encourage number skills by helping your child count to three (or ten!) before she puts the items in the bucket. Count up all the matches at the end, too.
  • Get silly and see who can come up with the funniest way to drop the items in the bucket!
Exploring colors can be hands-on and so much fun! What are your favorite ways to teach colors to toddlers?
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Click here to read Build Toddler Muscles with Simple Heavy Lifting Fun on Hands On As We Grow®

Try a different kind of gross motor activity with a heavy lifting idea from Amber!

A lot of the time when we talk about gross motor activities, we think about running, jumping, and balancing.

Those are fun and important, but lifting is an important physical skill to develop, too. Lifting – not just for the gym!

Build Toddler Muscles with Heavy Lifting

I tried to think of a fun way to develop my boys’ lifting skills and strength and came up with this simple activity. It’s an easy way to use their gross motor skills in a novel way.

As a bonus, it ended up being a great activity for taking turns, and using fine motor skills to get the cars into the jug.

To DIY your own heavy lifting activity, you’ll need:

  • An empty water jug or large bucket.
  • Small toys, rocks, balls, etc.

We used 10 or so small cars. But any small toys will be totally fine!

Play Heavy Lifting Hide & Seek

Think of this game as an Easter egg hunt, with a twist.

Make scavenger hunts extra fun with 12 Not-So-Traditional Scavenger Hunt Ideas

I hid the cars around the play area. Then I invited my kids to go around finding them and putting them in the jug.

The twist: They needed to bring the jug around with them while they hunted!

This activity can get some big energy out because carrying these big jugs or buckets around is tough work for their little bodies! Depending on what little object the jugs are filled with, it can get pretty heavy too.

I wasn’t expecting it, but it turned into a great turn-taking activity for my boys! They took turns, one at a time, putting the cars in the jug.

Once they found everything, they worked together to turn the jug upside down to dump the cars out again.

Super Simple Heavy Lifting for Toddlers

After the first round of hide-and-seek, my boys just put the toys into the jug and dumped them out over and over. Super simple, but they loved it!

There wasn’t as much carrying this way, but that act of lifting and dumping was hard work. At one point my 3-year-old declared “This is so heavy! I’m so strong!”

My 1-year-old loved hearing that “clunk” sound as he dropped toys in, then peeking in to see them all before dumping again.

I love having simple activities that use random things we have on hand! I think this will be a new go-to for us.

Lifting isn’t just for the gym! What activities do you like to do to encourage lifting?
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Click here to read Easy Stamping Spring Flower Art Project for Kids on Hands On As We Grow®

We love a good stamping craft and this spring flower art project is perfect!

I’ve been meaning to do bottle stamping for ages. And I’m so glad we did it as a flower art project! It was so simple!

Easy Stamping Spring Flower Art Craft for Kids

We were all in the mood to add a little spring color to our house. This simple spring craft was just the ticket!

Plus, it’s super simple. Even toddlers can handle stamping the bottom of a bottle into paint and onto paper.

To stamp your own spring flowers, you’ll need:

  • empty soda bottle
  • paint
  • green food coloring
  • water
  • dropper or syringe
  • paper
  • straw

Try 36 simple spring crafts and 21 spring art projects for kids!

Even though the actual stamping is really simple, it’s still three steps to get to the finished project. I’m actually amazed that Henry took to this activity because it was on one of those days.

But he really, really enjoyed it.

And we got some great artwork for the wall just in time for the flowers to start popping up outside! Anyone else as super excited as I am for that first bloom?

Get Stamping for Pretty Spring Flower Art

I was going to say that the straw blown stems was his favorite part… but now I’m not sure! Every step was really fun!

To make the stems, I dropped a few drops of green food coloring into a small bowl of water. Henry used a dropper/syringe to squirt some in one spot on the paper.

Then he blew it, using the straw, as far across the paper as he could!

Once the paper was filled with flower stems, it was time for the flowers to “bloom.” See what I did there?

I put some purple paint in a small dish just big enough for a soda bottle to fit into. Henry dipped the bottle into the paint and printed flowers on the top of his stems.

For the finishing touch: the flower center.

With a quick dip of his thumb into some yellow paint, Henry added the centers to the flowers.

These 10 stunning flower crafts are perfect for homemade gifts or cards!

That’s it! His flower art project is complete.

What are your favorite spring flower art projects? We’d love to share your creativity with our community!
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Click here to read Gorgeous and Fun DIY Charm Necklace Craft for Mother’s Day on Hands On As We Grow®

Make a simple, easy Mother's Day charm necklace craft, from Alisha, that's a great kid-friendly DIY! 

Wanting to make homemade Mother’s Day gifts this year, but out of ideas? I love this simple and fun glue charm necklace craft!

It’s a gorgeous, wearable gift that’s perfect for the mothers and grandmothers in your life.

Try even more DIY Mother’s Day gifts featuring flowers!

Gorgeous and Fun DIY Charm Necklace Craft for Mother’s Day

The process for making these charms if pretty simple, but does take a little time for prep and then for drying. So I recommend making these a few days before they need to be ready.

To make your own custom charm necklace craft, you’ll need:

  • Wax paper
  • White school glue
  • Tissue paper, torn or cut into small pieces
  • Scissors
  • Hot glue gun & glue
  • Ribbon or yarn
  • Hole punch
  • Optional: colored beads
Make Your Own Creative Charm Necklace Craft

While your glue gun heats up, tear off a good sized piece of wax paper and lay it on a hard surface – wax side up. Make sure you pick a surface that can get hot from the glue gun.

Use the hot glue gun to create outlines of shapes and squiggles. We made some circles, hearts, triangles, squares, diamonds, and a design shape too.

Need help getting started? Check out how we made a sensory hot glue shapes board!

Once you have made as many charm outlines as you’d like, let them cool and harden.

The hot glue shapes are an outline for the actual glue charms.

Add a Little Color to Your DIY Charms

When the hot glue is hardened, it’s time to fill up the charms. My kids loved this part because they were able to turn the glue bottle upside down and let the glue flow out as fast as it could.

Most of the glue can be put in the middle of the charm because it spreads out, but you may need to add some along the edges as well. Completely fill all of the hot glue shapes you made with the white school glue.

Once all of the shapes are filled with glue, it’s time to add the color. You’ll want to make sure you add the tissue paper pieces while the glue is still wet.

Make your tissue paper pieces small enough to fit inside of the shapes. Then, layer the pieces inside of the shapes, squishing them down into the glue.

You don’t need to press down hard, pieces can overlap. It’s just about covering up as much of the white glue as possible.

Keep decorating until all of your glue charms are full of wonderful colors. It’s also a great chance to talk about color mixing, since the overlapping tissue paper will create new colors!

The tissue paper will soak into the glue as it dries, so it will look a little different as time passes.

Once your charms are filled with the glue and tissue paper, it’s time to wait. The glue needs to completely dry before the next step. It may take a couple of days.

Peel & String Your DIY Charms

When the charms are dry it’s time to peel them off of the wax paper. Slowly grab a corner of a glue charm or any piece you can and gently fold back to essentially “pop” the glue charm loose from the hot glue frame.

Then begin pulling each charm off of the wax paper. This is the trickiest task so I would recommend you doing it or an older child.

The hot glue will stay on the wax paper. You want to peel up the dried school glue charms.

You may notice some tissue paper sticking over the sides of the glue charms. Trim off the extra bits with some scissors.

Then grab the hole puncher or scissors to make a hole at the top of each charm. We decided to punch holes in shapes so that they would hang upside down, for a little creativity.

If you notice that your glue charms are folding up at all, simply put them under something with a little weight and they will lay flat again.

Once all the charms are hole-punched and laying flat, make your necklaces! We used ribbons since they seemed less itchy, but you could also use string or yarn.

Before you cut any ribbon, be sure to measure it! Loop some around your neck or your child’s neck to check the length and then cut.

We made a few different designs, some with just one charm and others with two or three. You can also add some colorful beads to your necklace for extra beauty.

Make another necklace that doubles as a size-sort for preschoolers!

When your charm necklace craft is complete, wrap them up as Mother’s Day gifts for all the mothers, aunts, and grandmothers in your life!

What are some other Mother’s Day gifts you have made? Please share in the comments below.
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Click here to read Craft a Pretty Nature Collage Suncatcher for Toddlers on Hands On As We Grow®

DIY a nature collage suncatcher that's the perfect craft for toddlers!

We picked up so many cool leaves and flowers on our nature scavenger hunt, and I wanted to find a way to keep enjoying our treasures. Enter a little contact paper to make a pretty nature collage suncatcher!

Craft a Pretty Nature Collage Suncatcher for Toddlers

Given the general lack of flowers I have in my yard, these still turned out colorful! The pretty frames added such a nice touch of color, I think!

Check out the original idea that Jean The Artful Parent shared in the Camp Mom: Summer Activities Pack. They’re just gorgeous!

We kept these pretty simple. Simple is my favorite kind of craft and activity!

To make your own nature collage suncatcher, you’ll need:

  • paper plates
  • contact paper
  • yarn or ribbon
  • flowers and leaves
  • scissors
  • hole punch
  • tape

I made the frames for the suncatchers using leftover paper birthday plates. We happened to have orange and green party plates on hand, so that’s what we used.

Find more classic summer crafts for kids to make!

I loved what Jean did for her frames. It brought her kids into the craft a little bit more.

To make the frame, I just cut out the center of the plate. That was easy enough.

Then I used the plate piece that I cut out to figure out the size of the contact paper that I’d need. I cut a square just larger than the center of the plate.

I also trimmed down the corners just a tad to make sure they wouldn’t stick out past the plate edges.

Then, I stuck the square of contact paper onto the back of the paper plate. The sticky side of the contact paper was up when I set the plate on the table.

Make a Pretty Nature Collage Suncatcher with Flowers & Leaves

The boys added their nature items to the contact paper. They arranged them inside the plate “frame” to make a design.

The boys tore them apart into little pieces or left their nature items as big pieces. As they created their design, they also added and took away items as inspiration struck.

The contact paper isn’t too sticky, so moving pieces on, off, and around was pretty easy.

I especially love contact paper as a medium to craft with toddlers. Contact paper is a mess-free way to glue!

It’s so easy and kids love the stickiness of it. It’s like magic to them!

I wish I had more photos of the boys working at it. But I was happily making my own suncatcher with them and I only got a couple of snapshots.

When the nature collages are finished, I attached a piece of ribbon to the top of the paper plate frame. I just stapled ours on.

We hung it in a window from the window locks, but you could also use a curtain rod or hook.

I just love seeing the beautiful flowers and leaves preserved in our nature collage suncatchers! It’s like we captured a beautiful day outside together, too!

How do you use nature in your crafts and activities? Share your ideas with the community!
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