Category Archives: Crafts

Best Giant Bubble Recipe

Ingredients

  • 6 cups water
  • 1/2 cup blue Dawn dish detergent – original
  • 1/2 cup corn starch
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder (not baking soda)
  • 1 Tbsp Glycerine

 Directions

  1. Mix cornstarch in the water, stirring very well.
  2. Gently stir in the remaining ingredients without making froth
  3. Allow mixture to sit for at least an hour.
  4. Stir occasionally if needed
  5. use giant bubble wands/rods

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Footnote

Avoid creating froth when playing with the mixture Overcast/humid conditions are best. Wind, dry air and sunlight will wick the moisture out of your bubbles.

Best Body Paint Recipe

We have tried making body and face paint from a bunch of different ingredients. This is the best one we have made: the paint doesn’t dry or crumble, and it washed off easily with soap and water.

  • 1Tbsp shortening
  • 2Tbsp corn starch
  • 1/2 tsp tempera paint powder

Mix and paint on skin with brushes or fingers

Wash off with soap and water

Here are some photos of us testing the different skin paints we made

Best Play-Dough Recipe

This is the best play dough recipe we have made. It does need to be cooked, but it is totally worth it. We kept this dough in little zip bags and it stayed usable for months. The recipe worked best when our food processor did all the kneading work.

Color, sparkles, glitter, etc. can be added at the end. Unless you need Frozen dough, then according to Jen you add blue and sparkles to EVERYTHING ūüėÄ

Ingredients

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups salt
  • 6 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 3 cups cool water
  • 3 Tbsp oil
  • Food coloring

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Directions

  1. Mix dry ingredients in a big cooking pot.
  2. Blend liquids together in a bowl.
  3. Combine with dry ingredients and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly.
    • dough will start solidifying – KEEP STIRRING
  4. Remove from heat when dough pulls away from the sides of the pot and can be pinched without sticking (about 5 min.)
  5. Put into food mixer (KitchenAid) with dough hook and knead until smooth
    • alternatively turn onto board or counter and knead until smooth
  6. Store in an airtight container.

Arty Campers

In case you didn’t notice, the big plan I had last year of funding and publishing Recipes for Disaster was, well, as disaster: I was in hospital for a week instead of promoting the Kickstarter during it’s last few days. It didn’t get fully funded and since those projects are an all-or-nothing deal, bajillions of cute children didn’t get to mush around in home-made paint. Sigh ūüėČ

I still got to go and show people what it was all about while we were camping at Searsport Shores Ocean Campground as an artist-in-residence in July 2014. And guess what! They said I could come back for 2015!!! Proof: Artist in Residence Schedule

I will be showing campers how to:

In case you can’t join me in Maine from June 28 to July 4, I’m going to post my best recipes from my Recipes for Disaster collection. I’m so sad I can’t use my slogan: Tested by Children, Perfected by Science

Monkey See

I’ve been doing a bit of cross stitch over the last few months. I started off with a basic kit thing from Michael’s craft store. It took a little while to get used to the back-end mechanics of the thing. Like how do I get the needle over THERE?

After that experiment I started making my own patterns: a honey bee, a cardinal, a chickadee,… Of course it took me a couple of months to complete each cross stitch – they are about 7in across.

I’ve copied photos of the finished products below. I had the chickadee framed, which turned out really well. Alex was apparently so impressed he wanted to do one too. I redesigned the chickadee pattern to be much smaller and simpler. He promised that he would keep working on it even if it took years (it might). Apparently he has to wear a home-made crown while cross stitching.

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I did list these patterns on my super small etsy store: https://www.etsy.com/shop/MothersOfInventions

Artist-in-Residence

slime?!Pinterest has been the bane of my existence. At first, I was sooo excited at all the inspiration, the creativity, and the awesome ideas of what I could do with my preschool children. Then I tried some ideas. And failed. Quite a lot.
Follow Angelika’s board Ideas for Children on Pinterest.

By training I’m a scientist (Ph.D. in Biology), and with each unsatisfactory attempt at making finger paints that cracked, or colored sand that stayed brown, I got frustrated that the proportions of the ingredients were not great, and that I didn’t know what the variables were that would make each recipe a success.

Sausages

Sausages

So my children and I started testing and experimenting. I am compiling all the recipes I have tested and optimized into a handy, boxed collection: Recipes for Disaster. My plan is to produce this as an actual physical product by fall 2014.

Meanwhile, Last year we stayed at the very kid-friendly, arty Searsport Shores Ocean Campground for a week.  Read my blog post of our trip here.  This year, we will be back showing fellow campers some of the trick and lessons we have learned.

During my week as Artist-in-Residence at Searsport Shores Ocean Campground (July 6 to July 12), I will have a different theme each day. I will show you how to make colored sand, pasta, rice, and sugar, several different kinds of paints, doughs, clays, slimes, and BUBBLES. We will measure and cook and mix all these recipes from scratch and I will have several suggestions on what to create from our concoctions Рmaking marbled paper, making your own bouncy ball, a colorful salt mandala…

My sessions will be perfect for all ages Рwe have been trying  these recipes since my children were toddlers. At the same time, using some of these basic materials is only restricted by your creativity. I will be taking pictures to add to my blog Playground Hunt, so please join us in making some of our Recipes for Disaster art.

Recipes for Disaster

Creating Creativity

I have two very active and creative children. We used to go through a lot of store-bought playdough and paints until I decide they were too expensive. Over the last 5 years I have tried out a lot of recipes for play dough, different kinds of paints, slimes, goops, and lots of other basic craft supplies to give my children the ingredients for their creativity.

I have put together a collection of fifty of the easiest and best craft supply recipes that, for example, made the best playdough or finger paint for the least amount of work. My children have tested all the results for how well they work, whether they stain skin, clothing, or work surfaces, and for how long they are fun.

The Product: 50 Craft Recipes on Waterproof Cards in a cute Box

The recipes for homemade craft supplies are printed on durable, waterproof cards that can be used for years in kitchens at home or schools.  They are packaged in a sturdy recipe box that will also make a good gift.

If you think a set of recipes for playdough, different paints, and a whole lot of other craft supplies would be great to have either at home or school, please pledge now for this kickstarter campaign. You will get one of the first edition sets mailed to you by August. However, the printing and making of recipe boxes only become financially viable if we print 100 sets. So, please pledge today ūüėÄ

Why these are so good to have:

‚ÄúPlay to learn‚ÄĚ has been the foundation of my child raising philosophy. I like to provide basic ingredients so that my two preschoolers can independently explore textures, colors, and smells. In creating this compilation, my children and I have spent many hours experimenting: measuring liquids, mixing colors, watching chemical reactions,… We have learned to play.

I have hugely enjoyed Jen’s and Alex’ jaw dropping expressions when we made shrinky plastic, extra gooey slime, and bouncy balls. But the biggest reward for me has been their constant stream of questions: How do you make that? Can we make that ourselves? I smell something Рis that a chemical? What color do I get when I mix blue and green? Can I paint my belly? Can I paint the dog? Can we go to the supermarket and get more cornstarch? Seriously!

I have learned a lot testing these recipes and even dusted off some long-forgotten chemistry. My children spent many happy hours creating and being curious. We hope you find these recipes useful and inspiring.

Groundhog Day is underappreciated!

We think Groundhog Day can tend to be a bit forgotten and neglected as far as holidays go. ¬†And it involves the types of things we at Playground Hunt are very into: ¬†the outdoors, animals, seasons, weather, and more…

fat-groundhog

Here are some ideas on ways to acknowledge it this year:

This is the official website for the holiday.  It has links to a great Weather Discovery Center, information on history, tourism, lesson plans, and more.

Here is a Punxsutawney based souvenir shop where you can pick up everything from mugs and hats to slippers and golf balls.  And, er, bags of chocolate posing as groundhog poop!

There are actually dozens of great Groundhog Day books out there for kids. Ask your local librarian! ¬†But one of our favorites is The Groundhog Day Book of Facts and Fun by Wendie Old, which is just a nice overview of the holiday and the animal in a kid-friendly format. ¬†Gretchen Groundhog, It’s Your Day by Abby Levine is another favorite, in which she bucks convention and saves the day.

Take some time to learn about groundhogs themselves (also known as woodchucks) and include some other North American wildlife in your studies while you’re at it. ¬†The National Weather Service website has a special section for kids, to learn more about weather and the seasons.

If you’re feeling really ambitious, you can invite some friends over for some celebrations!

–If your kids are old enough, play the Groundhog Day movie. ¬†Once will probably do. ¬†But then you can play this really awesome song called I Hog the Ground by Steven Drozd from the Flaming Lips and Stephen Burns from Blues Clues.

–Make Porcupine Balls¬†(yes, I know they are called porcupine balls but they kind of look like curled up groundhogs) or make Dirt Worm Cups¬†or just serve any hearty mid-winter comfort food. ¬†Decorate cookies and give half a winter theme and half a spring theme and guests can choose their favorite and make bets on what the groundhog will predict.

If it is sunny, go outside and play shadow tag. ¬†If not, stay inside and play “Pin the Shadow on the Groundhog”.

We have lots of fun in the snow–but let’s face it–by the end of winter, many people are missing spring. ¬†If you are all starting to get a bit tired of it all, make a pinata representing winter (like a snowman shaped one, for example, but be creative) and beat the stuffing (well, candy) out if it to release your frustrations and get some treats!

Bridget as a baby, dreaming of spring.

Bridget as a baby, dreaming of spring.

We used to host an adult version but admittedly never adapted it for kids, but we’re not ruling that out! ¬†While it did break up the cabin fever, we remembered there are other party excuses this month to break up the tedium as well–Mardi Gras, Superbowl, Chinese New Year…so while we are always sure to do well acknowledging Groundhog Day, we might pick yet another “forgotten” holiday to throw a bash around. ¬† April Fool’s? ¬†Daylight Savings Time? May Day? Flag Day? The solstices? ¬†What would you pick? ¬†Let’s hear your ideas!

 

Halloween Candy Ideas! Or, what to do if you want to use it up before spring.

“We’ve got so much Halloween candy! I don’t know what to do with it! I just threw it out!”

I’ve seen this more times than I can count online in the past week or so. No! Don’t throw it out! Think creatively! I’m seeing this even on blogs or threads focusing on sustainability and the environment; avoid collecting it in the first place if you want, but trashing it perpetuates the issue. I can understand that you may find the trick-or-treating worth it for the fun and fellowship with your friends and then don’t want all the sweets in your house. I get that. ¬†This is especially relevant in the Boston area where close-together easy walk neighborhoods equal large hauls. But let’s brainstorm some fun alternative ideas somewhere in between letting your kids binge til they pass out and the trash bin.

Candy corn

Donate:

Drop them off at a shelter or soup kitchen. Call first–they may have an overabundance this time a year. Yeah, yeah, I know it is not healthy nourishment, but everyone deserves a treat. This may be especially relevant if there are nut allergies in your family. In that case some of these other alternate ideas may not be workable, yet the bars made with whole nuts are ostensibly slightly healthier for others if you’re passing it on. Hard candies can be used for quitting smoking or blood sugar control. And, again, treats in moderation bring smiles to people’s faces. Some families fill baggies with candy and directly hand them out to anyone who looks like they could use a smile.

If you have friends and relatives overseas, set up a candy exchange. ¬†We have access to some varieties they don’t and vice versa, so it is a good way to learn about and start a dialogue about other countries and cultures while also getting to try some new things.

Baking:

Click the link and check out these Butterfinger cookies. ¬†Or these York Peppermint Patty Brownies. ¬†A friend of mine just spoke of making a crushed candy cheesecake. ¬†YUM! I know, no healthier than the original incarnation if you’re trying to place limits on your own family. ¬†But the holiday season is coming up as we speak and ¬†homemade baked goods will make better and more appropriate presents for the neighbors, teachers, and other loved ones than a spare Twizzler fun pack, right? ¬†And whether you keep them for yourselves or not ¬†(we don’t blame you if you do!) baking with kids is a great way to teach them about counting, measurement, percentages, chemistry, and more.

Crafts:

Speaking of the holiday season, it is gingerbread house time. ¬†Save that candy and rather than chowing down use it to build a fabulous gingerbread house. ¬† It doesn’t have to be a Christmas-y one if you don’t celebrate the holiday or want to try this another time of year. ¬†There’s no reason you can’t adapt this to a year round activity.

Is a birthday coming up? Use your excess to fill a pinata!

Check out this neat article for candy wrapper craft ideas: http://earth911.com/news/2011/11/04/10-crazy-crafts-with-candy-wrappers/

My friends and I used to love to make gum wrapper necklaces in high school! ¬†Let’s bring back that trend! You can also use Starburst wrappers. Some quick instructions here:

http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-make-a-starburst-or-bubble-gum-wrapper-ch/#step1

gumwrappernecklace

 

Science experiments:

We’re all about kid friendly science experiments here at Playground Hunt! ¬†I think we’ve all microwaved a Peep (haven’t we?) or wondered why Pop Rocks do what they do, but this person has an entire blog about candy experiments and there seem to be a lot of Pinterest posts about them going around, too:

http://www.candyexperiments.com/

They are a great way to make productive, educational use out of your candy without having to worry about overdosing on sugar (although, again, some experiments will allow the candy to remain edible if you want the best of both worlds).

What other alternative ideas do you have?  Share them with us!

 

Figment Boston 2013

Do you want to mix your outside time up with some art and culture? Art museums are fantastic, but are they sometimes too hands-off and enclosed? Is, um, er, Burning Man too far away, pricey, and not quite kid-friendly enough?

Check out the Figment Project! ¬†It’s a yearly FREE art festival on the Rose Kennedy Greenway¬†and the whole point is for artists to come up with art projects and installations that are participatory and interactive. ¬†Wonderful for kids, but many adults go on their own every year. ¬†It’s affordable and kid-friendly, but the art is serious enough to satisfy adults.

Figment is in nine international¬†cities¬†around the world so far and we were actually introduced by our friend Ashley who lives just outside New York City. ¬† New York hosts theirs on another great urban green space, Governor’s Island. ¬†So check dates if you’ll be state hopping or globetrotting, but it is a regular annual event, so you can just watch for Figment Boston 2014. ¬†Better yet, volunteer¬†or, if you’re an artist, submit an idea. ¬†(The link is actually for last year’s, but I’m assuming they’ll be reopening it there in late winter, as usual, so start brainstorming already!)

But, ironically, it had never worked out timing wise (what with summer so full of travel and barbecues and whatever else) to make it to the one in our very own city. ¬†Well, this year it lined up perfectly, and we’re glad it did. ¬†We had a great time.

Here’s Bridget enjoying the Hedgecone ring toss! ¬†She made a ringer, and won a lollipop from inside one of the safety cones.

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Fiona’s vocabulary is still burgeoning. ¬†But, charmingly, one of her favorite words is love. ¬†She and Craig are a bit squirmy so it was hard to line ourselves up correctly in the thought bubble booth, but we thought this was appropriate:

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Bridget made me a crown we later hung from the Sustainabilitree (made completely from found objects) behind me:

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Some of the projects were edgy and some of them were sweet, and some, like the armpit-smelling booth called Bring a Pheromone and this farting dog sculpture called Amelia’s Angry Stomach involved enough bodily function humor to make grandma tut-tut. ¬†But going with kids of a certain age and phase? ¬†There’s a market for that!

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Bridget’s favorite was Lend Me a Sound. ¬†We don’t have any photos of the booth because it was basically just a woman sitting at a computer, but she’d take sound samples from passers-by and make songs out of them. ¬†Bridget’s squeaky “hello!”, her duck noise (in honor of Fiona’s favorite animal) and her pretty trill went quite nicely with the other participant’s meows, yodels, and twangs.

Fiona’s favorite was String Theory. ¬†Relatively simple in concept (unlike the theoretical physics string theory) it was basically just hundreds of yellow strings suspended from a frame in a 28′ wide circle, increasing in density and length near the middle. ¬†It was indeed fun to run through (Imagine running through a hundred beaded door curtains from the 70s in a row! ¬†And odd but accurate description.) ¬†and it was quite gorgeous. ¬†IMG_9132

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And finally, the girls hula hooping with the Boston Hoop Troop in front of the famous Os Gemeos mural in Dewey Square:

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We hope you enjoyed us sharing our day. ¬† Our favorite part of Figment, which also has a Facebook page? ¬†Just like Outside the Box, last week’s brand new and highly acclaimed new arts festival on the Common, Figment Boston is ¬†incredibly creative community use of park space! ¬†Inspired? ¬†Come help us finish rebuilding Rounds Playground and park space in Stoneham August 24th. ¬†See if we can pretty it up even more and attract some fun cultural events there. ¬†See you there!

Sign up here!

http://www.slyreply.com/app/sheets/4jie8nj1h0gt/

Thank you!