Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Keeping Kids Entertained Indoors.


Do you dread the winter months as much as I do?  7 kids stuck inside the house means....they are driving me crazy making family memories, making a mess , asking for food, not putting toys away, fighting gently disagreeing with each other, asking for more food, asking to go outside (and we all know that means wet snow gear and crying kids), and once in a while saying "I'm bored" or "I have nothing to do."  Please tell me it isn't just me.  

When Real Milwaukee asked me to do a segment on "keeping kids entertained indoors" my first thought was...oh, you can't just make them clean or fold laundry all the time?  You mean they actually need to have fun?  I will admit that due to the large number of children that we brought into this world, our kids always have someone to play with.  We play a lot of board games and the kids are really really good about playing with each other.  When they get bored of one sibling they can switch to another.  I would say that is one of the many blessings having a large family brings.  ( I won't touch on our food bill...that might scare you off from having more than 1 kid!) 

So I got to creating and came up with some new fun ideas to keep my kids entrained while on the Christmas break.  Hopefully these help you get through the rest of the winter months!  As you can tell by this picture....we can get a little crazy when cooped up!  


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DIY Felt Fishing Game

I saw an idea somewhere of making your own paper fishing game.  I knew that paper would get destroyed here in a matter of minutes.  I turned to my favorite wool felt and made some felt fish!  

Supplies Needed:

  1. Felt (or paper if you want)
  2. Scissors
  3. Stick pins
  4. Needle and thread
  5. Wooden Dowels
  6. String or twine for the fishing line
  7. Magnets
  8. Hot glue
  9. Cardstock or paper
  10. Stuffing
  11. Washi tape/Felt Balls (optional) 

I started by choosing fun colors of wool felt for my fish.  You don't have to use wool felt...any kind of felt will do.  I didn't use a template or anything for the fish...I just free handed a fish shape.  It isn't perfect and I was totally ok with that! I cut my template out of card stock (you could use paper too).  I then pinned the fish template onto the felt and started cutting.  You could trace the fish shape onto the felt and cut as well, but I thought was one step I could eliminate.  




I cut two fish out of each color of felt.  I then mixed up the front and back of each fish so they would be multicolored.  (one color fish for the front and another color fish for the back).  I then took my needle and thread and hand stitched around each fish.  I used a stitch called a blanket stitch.  I watched a You-Tube video as a refresher!  A simple stitch would work just as well.  I sewed about 3/4 of the way around the fish and then I stuffed with the the cotton stuffing.  (It comes in a huge bag at any craft store....it's pillow stuffing) Then I took 2 magnets and put them on either side of the fish inside right on top of the stuffing.  **Make sure you use the "right" side of each magnet.**  You want the same charged side of each magnet facing out so the opposite force will attract to it.  I kept a magnet right by me with I was stuffing and kept double checking that the magnets would attract.  After the fish was stuffed and both magnets were in place, I finished stitching and tied off the thread with a double knot.

(I used these magnets.  I found them at Hobby Lobby and used a 40% off coupon) 

For the fishing poles I used wooden dowels.  I wrapped some washi tape around each pole to give it a little extra cuteness!  At the end of the fishing pole I attached some twine with hot glue.  I left a long piece hang down as the fishing line.  

 At the end of the fishing line, my husband helped me thread the twine through wool balls.  (optional).  We hot glued the wool ball to the magnet.  **Again, make sure you have the right side of the magnet now that will attract to the magnets in your fish**
 Then you can GO FISHING!  I made 10 fish.  You can make as many or as few fish as you want.  
 I found that the long fishing pole was a little too difficult for my 4 year old to manage so I ended up making him a much shorter fishing pole using a smaller dowel.


 I love everything about this fishing game.  The brightly colored fish make me so happy to look at!  There is no mess and clean up is super easy.  The kids ended up fishing over the side of a couch one day, standing on a table and fishing (I am NOT recommending this for YOUR children....but what happens here at the farm stays here at the farm!), and fishing off of beds.  What a great way to fish in the winter without having to bundle them up and take them ice fishing!


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Stencil Art

We were visiting with friends when this project caught my eye.  I totally copied her and had my kids do the same craft!  (we even borrowed their stencil!).  The possibilities with this are endless.  This does not have to be done on canvas as a regular piece of paper or card stock would work!  Here are the details....

Supplies Needed: 

  1. Stencil (any kind)
  2. Canvas or paper
  3. Pencil
  4. Paint (or crayons or markers)
  5. Paint brush (if using paint)
  6. Painters tape
  7. Cute kids  ;)
I set up our crafting station and summoned some of the children.  They were super excited to see everything laid out and ready to go.  Sometimes doing something a little extra special helps get the kids excited to try something new!
We borrowed this owl stencil from friends, but you can find these at any craft store or maybe even at Walmart.  We used acrylic craft paint and canvases.  You could totally use paper and crayons or card stock and watercolors too.  
 First you start by taping your stencil down onto you canvas.  We liked the way the four owls were evenly spaced so we left it.  You could get creative with different stencils or your placement.
Next, you trace with a pencil.  
Then you remove your stencil and you are ready to paint.  It is THAT easy!  
 Even our 5 year old could do it.  I was actually surprised at how great of a job she did.  She sat at that table for well over an hour working on her canvas.

Sometimes it helps to stick your tongue out when painting ;) 



 I had 4 of our girls all sitting together and crafting.  It was so cool to see each of their personalities come out even in their canvas!


I'd say that is pretty good for a little girl that is only 5!!

 Then the oldest saw how awesome of a craft it was and even made her way to the crafting table.  Not only does it keep kids entertained, it's cool enough for any age!
I wouldn't change anything about this craft.  I would love to get different stencils and do it again with the kids!
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Paper Chain Countdown.

Remember when you were little and you would make paper chains?  I remember making them for a countdown to Christmas when I was in grade school.  Well, channel your inner grade-school self (or ask your grade school aged kids) and make a countdown chain! 

Supplies Needed:

  1. Paper 
  2. Scissors
  3. Tape or glue
  4. Ruler or straight edge 

We are heading back to Alabama (hopefully) this spring and the kids are super excited about it.  Not a day goes by that someone doesn't ask about when we are going.  The other day our 4 year old was packing his bag already.  I thought this would be a great was to keep the kids entertained for a bit AND give them a visual as the road trip approaches.  We started by counting down the days until we book it out of town!~
I remembered that I had found a precut paper chain kit on clearance at Michael's a few months ago.  SCORE.  I am not sure if they still have them so you might have to do it the hard way and cut strips of paper yourself.  If you do have to cut it yourself, use a ruler or a paper cutter to help with keeping the paper the same size both in length and width. 
The kids sorted through the colors and made a pattern.  I told them it didn't have to be in a pattern, but secretly I was so happy they kept it in a pattern!
Next they got to making the paper chain.  I let them use my double sided tape gun which made it mush easier on them.  (if you want this to take more time....you know...to keep them entertained longer) give them regular tape or even glue!!  I am pretty sure the kit came with it's own tape things, but they didn't work very well.  




81 days.  81 long cold winter days until we can escape to the beach!  We found the perfect spot to hang our countdown chain.  Each day that goes by, the kids rip off one link.  I am SO excited to see that chain get shorter and shorter! 



 I was going to paint or cricut some sort of fancy countdown sign....and then I was at Target strolling through the dollar section and I saw this Chalkboard sign.  Boom.  In my cart it went.  I added some polka dot ribbon to the back and called it a day.  It's sorta kinda like a fancy handmade sign, right?
 The countdown is on.  We have no hotel booked and no plans....but that's how we like to roll here!  You could make a countdown to Easter...or Valentine's Day....or to a birthday....to when school is back in session!

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I-SPY Bottle

I am telling you guys, this is super super easy and will keep the kids entertained over and over again! I have seen these jars at the doctor's office and waiting rooms.  (can you imagine the germs on those things?) I have even looked into purchasing one, but they are kinda pricey.  This, my friends, may not be as colorful, but it does the same thing! 

Supplies Needed: 

  1. Jar or bottle of some kind....with a lid that can be glued on or pushed down and not easily removed.
  2. Rice (or small beads)
  3. Small items to put inside the jar

I used just regular rice for our bottle.  I had this plastic paint can that I think I found at Michael's.  It was old and was holding buttons, but I loved that the kids couldn't remove the top.  I walked around my house and found small items to put in the bottle  and started filling it up.  I gave it a couple of good shakes and boom shakalaka....our very own I-Spy bottle!  Yes, it was that easy!  The thing that took me the mose time was finding small items to put in it!  I think I added 20 items.  Each of the kids has been searching and trying to find all the items over and over again!  I would say this will definitely keep them entertained time and time again!





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Foam Owl Craft

I made these super cute owls with the craft camp I taught this summer and wanted to let my kids try and make their own.  I remember the cutting taking quite a bit of time, so I knew this was a good one to keep the kids entertained!  

Supplies Needed: 

  1. Styrofoam Ball (4 inches)  
  2. Googly Eyes (I used 25 mm ones) 
  3. Felt Sheets
  4. Hot Glue Gun and glue sticks
  5. Scissors
  6. Owl Template (Found HERE)

Alright, first you have to choose your felt colors.  Once you have that all figured out you will need to cut out the shapes on the template that you have printed.  You will use that as your guide for cutting.  I had my daughter pin the template onto the felt and cut around it.  If you use a sharp enough scissors you can do 2 layers of felt together.  (I didn't tell her that!) Figure out what you want to be each color and start cutting.  


 My 13 year old had to take a few breaks from cutting the felt.  (It is a lot of cutting so you may want to help...or not...and make her come back to do it!)  *Pay no attention to the 4 year old using scissors to "cut."  I did do the responsible thing and remove them from his hands as soon as I noticed he had them!  Don't worry, no injuries occurred.
 Next you will use your hot glue gun and start gluing on the feathers.  I did the gray front feathers first and then put the blue ones all the way around the back.  Oh, yes, I also pushed my styrofoam ball down on the counter to make one side a little flat so the owl would sit and not roll away.  Please be careful with the hot glue.  I would recommend an adult do the gluing.  That is why I have no pictures of the gluing as I was the one doing it.  (see...some things we do safe here).  They very last thing I did was glue on the eyes.


 I used mine as table decorations for our kitchen table.  I wish I had my styrofoam balls on hand because I would love  few more to complete the look!  These would be a great gift idea too....they are super super cute!!


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Glitter Gloop

My mom used to make gloop when I was a little girl.  I can remember playing with it outside on my little picnic table.  I really haven't made anything like this before for my kids so I thought I would give it a try.  I truly believe they would play with this all day if I let them.  ** I apologize for the picture quality...I was using my cell phone so gloop wouldn't get on my good camera!**

Supplies Needed: 

  1. Elmer's school glue.  (I used white but have heard clear gives a better color)
  2. Sta-Flo liquid Starch.  (I got mine at Walmart.  I looked at Target but they didn't have it)
  3. Extra Fine Glitter (optional)
  4. Liquid Watercolor (or food coloring)

This was kind of a trial and error for me.  I dumped an entire bottle of glue into a bowl.  Next I added a decent amount of glitter.  ( You can never have too much glitter in my book so I may have gone overboard)  You don't need to add the glitter.  Next I squirted in some liquid watercolor paint that one of my kids had.  I  know they sell this in bottles but I couldn't find it on my walmart run so I made it work with these.  I have read that food coloring will work as well...I just didn't try it. Finally, I SLOWLY added the Sta-Flo.  I would add some and then mix...and then add a little more.  It will get to a consistency that you won't be able to mix it so you will have to pick it up and knead it with your hands.  (Kind of like bread dough)  The more Sta-flo you add the thicker it will become.  I did have to have my daughter add more of the starch to my hands while I was kneading some of the batches because it was too sticky.  

That really was it.  If you want it thicker just add more starch.  Some of the batches I made were more gooey than others.  Either way it is super fun!

 It is stretchy and gloopy and weird feeling.  It can be messy and sticky so I used plastic placemats for easy clean up.

 I made each of the kids a different color and glooped it on their placemat.  Normally, I like to do these kind of things outside....but it washed off very easily and the cleanup wasn't that bad!


 Lanie couldn't get enough....she kept coming back time and time again!  I stored our gloop in mason jars.  If you don't mind a little clean up or a little sticky gloop on hands to wash off, then I highly recommend doing this to help keep your kids entertained indoors!


Hopefully, one of these 6 ideas will help you keep you child/children entertained at some point!  I know my kids love doing something outside of the norm and any one of these ideas might make them think  you are super mom!  ( I mean, we all know we are super mom, but getting the kids to think that is the hard part!)

Happy Crafting :)

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