Hands On As We Grow is all about learning to do hands on activities with your kids and Jamie shares a lot of practical, easy activities, and sneak in learning opportunities whenever she can. You’ll find crafts, art projects, gross motor activities, and fine motor activities regularly on the blog.
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?
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:
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.
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
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!
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?
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.
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!