Tag Archives: crafts


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.



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 – making marbled paper, making your own bouncy ball, a colorful salt mandala…

My sessions will be perfect for all ages – we 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.

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


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.


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.


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:




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:


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!


Tiles by Jen

Economics 101

This is a post about art, crafts, and teaching children about money.


I discovered alcohol inks via Pinterest. Usually stuff I do from there doesn’t QUITE turn out how THEY made it look. (pffft). Anyway, I got some of the inks from Amazon (but was too cheap to spring for the spreading solution), and some tiles from the hardware store.

Google promised that if I used rubbing alcohol it would work well with the inks. I cleaned the tiles with it, then dripped the inks on. Super pretty. Then Alex and Jen wanted to try.

Tiles by JenThey made a lot of tiles. I sealed them with spray sealer and put felt pads on the bottom. Then I needed some items for their school fundraising auction and the ones Jen made (“Look Mom, I made a picture of Elmo”) got snatched up. And everyone LOOOOOOOOVED them.


So on a whim I applied to the Wakefield Farmers Market to sell them. Oddly, we got accepted and set up a both there yesterday. This is a very well run, popular market with very good veggies, baked goods, and a couple of artists – well worth the visit!

Tiles for sale

Our tile display

Alex and Jen were very excited. We had agreed to sell their tiles so that they could earn money to buy Lego. It was very interesting watching them during the day: Alex spent the entire 4 hours yelling “Tiles for sale” and then telling potential customers he had made them, and how much they were per set ($10). We sold several sets, but not everyone bought one. I could see it start to sink in that he would have to WORK for the money. He neatened up the display, he put ribbons on, he put on the charm. HE LEARNED HOW TO SELL!

Alex selling

Alex behind our table selling tiles

For me this is very important. I have found that being able to sell is crucial. The same techniques are used for selling yourself during a job interview, for selling services or goods, for starting a business, for convincing people to work with you or for you.

We will be back at the Wakefield Farmers Market in a few weeks. Come by and see us. Alex will be sure to convince you to help him grow his Lego fund and have some beautiful artwork in your home. And that they make great gifts! 😉

Craft Supplies

Not much of a secret, but I’m writing a book with lots of basic craft recipes “Recipes for Disaster”. I’m still testing a few different playdough and paint recipes, so it’s not quite ready to be viewed in public. But here is my current list of ingredients I’m using. I’ve been ordering in bulk from Amazon.com because some thing like Cream of Tartar are insanely expensive from the supermarket.

Stoneham Moves

Childhood obesity is a national problem, and the White House has an actual task force and separate program to address related issues. The Let’s Move! campaign is aimed at all sectors of the community (since all are needed to come together to make a difference for our children).

I am a huge advocate of outdoor play, and even though I do let my children watch some television, I really try to have them be outside for at least two hours each day. Sometimes that’s a lot of hard work.

I have been following the Let’s Move! website, which has ideas for eating healthy, staying active, and resources for:

The most recent campaign was to celebrate the Olypmics.  There was a national call to host a meet-up to celebrate, honor athletes and of course to do lots of running, jumping, throwing,…

Somehow I ended up being the Stoneham coordinator. (I’m not sure how these things happen either) and we had a very pleasant, low-key event on the Stoneham Town Common last Saturday. We had a bunch of medal crafts, mostly involving stickers, though I had a lot of fun with glue, paper, cardboard, salt-dough, and glitter paint the night before. I brought along our soccer balls, baseballs, bats, diving sticks to serve as relay batons, face paint and stuff to make competitor bibs.

There were 15 of us, and I’ll let the pictures do the talking. I’ve been vaguely thinking of turning “this” into regular events to help me get motivated to get outside even more. If you are interested, please contact me at angelika@playgroundhunt.com and in the meantime you can visit the Let’s Move! website (http://www.letsmove.gov), the Meetup.com page (http://www.meetup.com/Lets-Move/Stoneham-MA/) or my regular blog at Playground Hunt (http://www.playgroundhunt.com/blog/).

Here’s an excerpt from the Let’s Move! website about their mission:

Let’s Move! aims to increase opportunities for kids to be physically active, both in and out of school and to create new opportunities for families to move together.

  • Active Families: Engage in physical activity each day : a total of 60 minutes for children, 30 minutes for adults.
  • Active Schools: A variety of opportunities are available for schools to add more physical activity into the school day, including additional physical education classes, before–and afterschool programs, recess, and opening school facilities for student and family recreation in the late afternoon and evening.
  • Active Communities: Mayors and community leaders can promote physical fitness by working to increase safe routes for kids to walk and ride to school; by revitalizing parks, playgrounds, and community centers; and by providing fun and affordable sports and fitness programs.

Originally published by Angelika on Stoneham.Patch.com at this link: http://stoneham.patch.com/blog_posts/stoneham-moves

Awesome Stuff I found on Pinterest

Arts & Crafts on Any Budget!Here is a round-up of my favorites pins I found during the last week on Pinterest… Follow Me on Pinterest

Source: 4hbakerco.blogspot.com via Angelika on Pinterest



Source: totschool.tumblr.com via Angelika on Pinterest


Source: vanessasvalues.blogspot.com via Angelika on Pinterest


Source: preschoolpowolpackets.blogspot.com via Angelika on Pinterest


Source: bbcc.org via Angelika on Pinterest


final color discs


Sine I’ve been fielding a lot of questions about what happens if you mix not just two color, but three (think “what color do I get when I put together yellow and blue and green”) I thought it was time for some more independent investigation…

I found some plastic ring binder dividers, cut out some circles by tracing a cup, and used a pipe cleaner to tie the circles together.

Totally worth the 2 minute investment for a 5 minute toy 😉

ingredients for color circles

Ingredients for making color circles: plastic ring binder dividers, pencil, cup, scissors, pipe cleaner


Plastic discs cut from plastic binder dividers. I used just yellow, blue, red.

color discs tied together

I tied together the color discs by bending a pipe cleaner – I used my pink Leatherman – swoon

final color discs

Looking at the finished color disc contraption – look at it against a light for best effect

Nature Craft Books I’m reading

A quick list of children’s craft books I am into at the moment. Alex, who turned 4 in Dec, is definitely able get something out of these. Jen still makes blobs a lot – though she surprised me by daintily painting just the wings, eyes, and feather tufts on an owl mask the other day. I’m looking forward to spring – can ya tell?