hands on : as we grow http://handsonaswegrow.com Hands on kids activities for hands on moms. Focusing on kids activities perfect for toddlers and preschoolers. Sat, 19 Apr 2014 13:40:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9 Decorating Pancakes Easter Egg Style http://handsonaswegrow.com/decorating-pancakes-easter-egg/ http://handsonaswegrow.com/decorating-pancakes-easter-egg/#respond Fri, 18 Apr 2014 11:30:00 +0000 http://handsonaswegrow.com/?p=40542 Decorating pancakes will be fun for the kids to make them look like Easter eggs! A fun breakfast idea for Easter morning and works on fine motor skills.]]> For the past couple of weeks I have been playing around with decorating pancakes for Easter.

Making egg shaped pancakes turned out to be harder for me than I would like to admit.

When the opportunity came to team up with International Delight, I knew right away that the spout on their bottle would work perfect to pour pancakes and help me make the best shapes eggs for the kids to decorate!

Decorating pancakes as Easter eggs!

International Delight bottles are great for so many different kid activities, like a DIY telescope, or even a vase for Easter flowers!

It turns out the pour spout works great for pouring pancake batter into a hot pan, too!

I felt like I had so much control over where the batter would land. Perfect!

International Delight bottle makes pancake pouring easy

Once I mastered the Easter egg pancake, we turned breakfast into activity time for the kids.

To set up a pancake decorating station you’ll need a few things:

  • Pancake mix: Use your favorite pancake recipe or a mix.
  • International Delight bottle: I’m so excited about this! Can you imagine the uses? The kids can get involved and make their own pancakes. Mixing batter once and keeping it in the fridge so Daddy can make fresh pancakes after we’ve all eaten. And for taking premixed batter camping?!?! YAY!
  • Frosting: We mixed powdered sugar with a tiny bit of milk. Make sure to add only a little milk at a time, the frosting gets really runny, really fast.
  • Food coloring
  • Plastic baggy: Sandwich size worked well for this. Or you can use a plastic pastry bag [affiliate link to support hands on : as we grow].
  • Sprinkles
  • Hungry kids: Although you don’t want them to be too hungry or they won’t make it all the way through the decorating. My kids each ate a pancake before we started [that was a good way to get rid of the practice pancakes].

Decorating pancakes as Easter eggs!

Just let them decorate pancakes!

I filled the plastic baggies with colored frosting.

When the kids were ready, I cut a small corner of the tip of the bag. Make sure the hole is really small. You can always make it bigger if not enough frosting is coming out.

Figuring out where and how hard to squeeze is a little bit of a challenge [in a good way, of course]. For younger kids try guiding their hands until they can feel where to put pressure. Then let them take control.

Decorating pancakes as Easter eggs!

Time for sprinkles! I like to fill a cup with sprinkles, instead of giving them the entire bottle. [We use less that way.]


All that’s left to do is gobble up those delicious [and adorable] Easter pancakes.

Have your kids had fun decorating pancakes?

Be sure to check out all the Easter IDeas that International Delight has on their Easter Pinterest board!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of International Delight. The opinions and text are all mine.

http://handsonaswegrow.com/decorating-pancakes-easter-egg/feed/ 0
Our Most Used Kids Craft Supplies: A Look in My Cupboard http://handsonaswegrow.com/look-craft-cupboard/ http://handsonaswegrow.com/look-craft-cupboard/#comments Thu, 17 Apr 2014 11:02:00 +0000 http://handsonaswegrow.com/?p=39382 What kids craft supplies I recommend for doing activities with young kids. A comprehensive list of our most used craft supplies.]]> Ever since asking hands on : as we grow readers what supplies you have on hand most of the time, I got a lot of requests to share with you what kids craft supplies I recommend for those of you starting out doing activities with your kids.

I have a lot of odds and ends in my craft supplies, from brands sending me random stuff to try, to me getting supplies here and there to try it for an activity or craft.

But there’s only a few craft supplies that I buy for the kids over and over again, that I make sure I have on hand in my craft cupboard.

A list of kids craft supplies that gets used over and over for many activities

What kids craft supplies are the most used and I buy over and over again?

The supplies below are linked to a product on Amazon that I recommend using my affiliate link. By clicking on the link it helps support hands on : as we grow as you purchase from Amazon, however its no additional cost to you. Thank you very much for the support!

One time purchases, or rarely have to restock [these last a long time!]:

  • A roll of butcher paper or art paper. Its usually about $30-$40 for a roll of butcher paper, but I just finally used my first roll up after using it for more than 3 years. It lasts a long time.
  • Ribbon, yarn and other strings. I bought 4 bundles of yarn a couple years ago and have barely scratched the surface of them, but they come in handy a lot!
  • A good pair of kid’s scissors. I think for any age kid, I believe George started cutting at 18 months. But definitely for those two and older. Let them cut, supervised, and you’ll be surprised at their ability!
  • Paintbrushes
  • Clear contact paper. I’ve probably bought a roll of contact paper 2 or 3 times in the last 3 or so years. Its great for beginner toddler crafts and art projects, but also great for window art! Always love contact paper!

I make sure to restock these craft supplies all the time:

  • Painter’s tape and lots of it. I use it a lot. For fun activities [its great to get the kids moving] as well as creative art projects for tape resist!
  • School glue
  • Crayola washable paint: Hands down the best paint I’ve used for the kids. It has washed out of everything. I’ve never had troubles with staining anything.
  • Scrapbook paper [both 12x12 and 8x10]. I prefer scrapbook paper over any other kind of paper. Its stiff and lots of color options. I personally like the 12×12 size too.
  • Construction paper
  • Food coloring: I often make my own watercolors using water and food coloring. Or any type of paint, I just color it with food coloring. I most often use the small McCormick bottles, but sometimes when I need a lot, I use what we have at the bakery, Kroma Colors.
  • Squirt/Spray bottles: My kids go for any activity when I include a spray bottle. Bonus is that it works on their fine motor skills too.
  • Sidewalk chalk or chalk for the chalkboard. 
  • Markers or crayons: Again, we love Crayola, they wash out of anything!

My list of kids craft supplies that gets used over and over for many activities - including toys we use and stuff around the house

Those are my most recommended supplies to have on hand and keep on hand to do probably 90% of the activities that we do.

I do tend to used a lot of items from around the house too though that don’t belong in my craft cupboard.

Toys around the house come in handy a lot [the kids love it when we incorporate toys into activities]. But also supplies from my kitchen cupboards and pantry are reused all the time. I sometimes do grocery shopping with activities in mind!

Quick tip! Don’t go by this list of toys to do activities with your kids. Find the toys your kids are interested in and bring those into your activities! They’ll be excited!

Toys in the toy box we use for activities:

  • Wooden blocks, we have both this set from Melissa and Doug that gets used a lot, as well as this set with smaller, colored blocks.
  • Store-bought or homemade play dough
  • All the boys’ trains, cars and trucks get used all the time
  • A deck of playing cards is coming in handy a lot lately
  • A chalkboard. I inherited ours, so I don’t have any recommendation for one. But it comes in handy a lot!

Stuff around the house I make sure to have some on hand for activities:

  • Q-Tips [cotton swabs]: I use them as paintbrushes sometimes.
  • Cotton balls: These are a great alternative to pom poms.
  • Scotch tape: I always need more! My kids like to just play with it by itself, but you always need it to hang up their artwork!
  • Permanent markers [Sharpies]: I tend to use these a lot myself as I get activities ready.
  • Rice, Oatmeal, Salt, Flour: All come in handy for sensory activities or making our own paint.
  • Baggies or Ziploc Bags: Great for no mess painting or sensory activities.
  • Lots of measuring cups and spoons. These are always handy for sensory tubs.
  • Dish soap: Its just great to have on hand for clean up, but also can make foam or bubbles with it.
  • Of course, we did through our recycling bin to upcycle whatever we can!

Odds and ends kids craft supplies that we don't use ALL the time, but do use occasionally, they're good to have on hand if you have the room.

Then there are the craft supplies that are in my cupboard, but don’t get used all the time for our activities:

They do get used in some activities, so if you’re in a position to diversify and have the room to store these supplies, choose a few of these that suit what you’re looking to do with your kids!

  • Pipe cleaners: we used them as a fine motor activity sometimes.
  • Craft sticks: we made cool Christmas tree ornaments from them!
  • Buttons: I can’t seem to keep my button stash stocked as much as I like with cute buttons. When I do have cute buttons on hand we use them up fast. We tend to use them instead of glitter or sequins.
  • Pom poms: They’re great for simple embellishments for crafts, but most of all they’re a fun fine motor activity for toddlers.
  • Glitter: I try to avoid glitter whenever possible, but its great to have it around to embellish the occasional craft.
  • Glue sticks
  • Golf tees: we use these to hammer into Styrofoam when we have it. However, this is the most common thing that hands on : as we grow readers do not have in their house! This is also something we wouldn’t have either if I didn’t buy them to do activities.
  • Shaving Cream: its great for sensory play and making marbled prints.
  • Googly eyes: they’re great to have on hand for the Halloween season to make monsters!
  • Sequins: I actually dislike sequins almost as much as glitter. But again, they’re great to embellish crafts at time.
  • Beads: I kind of loathe beads because they seem to roll everywhere whenever we get them out. But they’re great for beading and making simple jewelry. We have some letter ones that have added learning opportunities.
  • Magnets: There are many magnetic activities I’ve found to do, but haven’t had much success with them with the magnets that we have. So these mostly sit in our cupboard. They came in handy for our interactive snowman though!
  • Hot glue gun: This is more of a mom craft supply than a kids craft supply, but I’ve seen many crafts around where kids use them too [be sure to get a low temp one for the kids]. We just haven’t yet. Soon!
  • Clothespins: We’ve used them a number of times, its just not something I get out a lot. I love them for fine motor activities.
  • Rubber bands: I finally bought a rubberband ball and its coming in handy, but haven’t had the chance to really use it yet. Our favorite way so far is a very simple activity to just wrap rubber bands around!
  • Straws: We’ve used them for painting activities, but also love to blow pom poms around with them!
  • Coffee filters: They’ve come in handy for numerous crafts, especially flowers. However, this is something I found most of you do not have [almost half of you] so we’ll be using it less and less, especially since we wouldn’t have them if I didn’t buy them for crafts either.
  • Sponges: I just bought a pack of regular kitchen sponges that I have some of them cut up for painting projects. They get used over and over again.
  • Stickers: I don’t ever seem to buy stickers for the kids, they get them for birthdays and holidays and whatnot. They come in handy for busy activities to do when they’re waiting for something.
  • Tissue paper: I tend to save tissue paper from birthdays and put it in the craft cupboard. Its a great pair to contact paper for window crafts.

FYI: A shower curtain or old sheet comes in handy for messy play too.

That’s about it. I hope I didn’t miss anything, but if I did I’ll come back to add to our list of favorite kids craft supplies.

What is on your list for supplies that you use the most when doing activities or crafts with the kids?


http://handsonaswegrow.com/look-craft-cupboard/feed/ 1
“What Dissolves in Water?” Experiment for Kids from the Pantry http://handsonaswegrow.com/kids-what-dissolves-in-water-experiment/ http://handsonaswegrow.com/kids-what-dissolves-in-water-experiment/#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 11:30:00 +0000 Find out what dissolves in water! This is a fun experiment for preschoolers to predict and observe what will dissolve and disappear in water and what won't.]]> This is a fun experiment for preschoolers to predict and observe what will dissolve and disappear in water and what won’t. Find out what dissolves in water! 

I’ve mentioned before that Henry’s really been into experiments lately.

He’s created his own experiment as well as begs for others to do quite often.

Like I mentioned in the how to become hands on post last week, I go to Pinterest for a lot of my ideas. On a whim when Henry asked for an experiment to do, I checked out my ‘All Things Play’ board and this post popped up:  Does it Dissolve? from The Picky Apple.

So we simply set up a dissolve experiment station with stuff from the pantry.

What dissolves in water? A simple experiment from the pantry.

I found a few things in my pantry that might dissolve, along with a few that I knew wouldn’t dissolve:

  • Flour
  • Sugar
  • Brown Sugar
  • Orzo Noodles
  • Cornmeal
  • Oatmeal
  • Colored Sprinkles

Use pantry goods to see what dissolves in water

I started out setting out two pitchers of water to have Henry use each one to predict that it would dissolve or not and pour it in the corresponding pitcher. But right off the bat, he predicted wrong, and realized how hard that was going to be to tell if the next one dissolved or not.

So, instead, I filled up seven different plastic jars with water.

Equipped Henry with a funnel and a couple wooden spoons.

And let Henry have at his experiment.

The experiment to see what dissolves in water

He predicted before pouring in each one if he thought it would dissolve or not and then observed to see what happened after he stirred for a bit.

He was wrong a lot. And I’m so glad it didn’t upset him.

He did really like when something changed the color of the water, though.

Some changed the color, or made it foggy, but still didn’t dissolve.


And the sprinkles were, of course, the most fun to watch.

See if sprinkles dissolve in water

They changed the color of the water, but the sprinkles still didn’t dissolve.

Watching sprinkles dissolve in water

I had a hard time choosing what to use for our experiment… I’m curious what other items we’d have to ‘test’ out.

What do you have in your pantry to dissolve?

Henry was 3.5 years old.

http://handsonaswegrow.com/kids-what-dissolves-in-water-experiment/feed/ 19
11 Connect the Dots Activities to Ditch the Traditional Worksheets! http://handsonaswegrow.com/connect-the-dots-activities/ http://handsonaswegrow.com/connect-the-dots-activities/#respond Tue, 15 Apr 2014 09:15:00 +0000 http://handsonaswegrow.com/?p=40005 There's so much potential with connect the dots for hands on fun and learning! I found 11 connect the dots activities that takes them to a hands on level!]]> I’ve been on a major connect the dots activities kick with the kids lately. From beginner connect the dots for preschoolers to more abstract and hands on connect the dots that got the kids moving.

When I searched for more connect the dots activities to do with the kids, I was bummed that all I was finding were number worksheets for them to count and connect.

There seems to be so much more potential with connect the dots than that!

We’ve already had so much fun with them, I figured there had to be more ways to do hands on activities and connect the dots!

11 not-so-traditional ways to do Connect the Dots activities with the kids

You’re in luck, I found 11 awesome connect the dots activities, and we can ditch the worksheets. These are going to be fun for the kids!

  1. Use crafts sticks to connect the dots on the floor! From Inspiration Laboratories
  2. Use a chalkboard, or whiteboard, and make a big connect the dots. Use simple shapes or letters to make.
  3. Preschoolers that don’t recognize numbers, or know the sequence of numbers, can simply connect dots instead! In any order they please!
  4. Get the kids moving while connecting the ‘dots’. We set up a way connect colors together using string.
  5. Preschoolers that know their letters can do a big connect the dots that matches letters to each other, again, in any order they please.
  6. Bring math into the equation! Make your own connect the dots that kids have to solve the problems to find the order. From No Time for Flash Cards.
  7. Simply just make your own connect the dots. Easy peasy. From What Do We Do All Day?
  8. Just make it big! Make a simple – but big! – connect the dots, using numbers, on a big piece of paper! From What Do We Do All Day?
  9. Use magnets to make a connect the dots on your fridge! Sticky notes work great for the numbers! From B-Inspired Mama
  10. Stickers work great for a simple connect the dots for toddlers too! From What Do We Do All Day?
  11. Take connect the dots to the window! Drawing on the window with window markers [dry erase markers work on the window too!] make it fun! From And Next Comes L

I don’t have anything against doing a traditional Connect the Dots worksheet either, they’re great busy activities for the kids!

Do you have any ways to do connect the dots activities?

http://handsonaswegrow.com/connect-the-dots-activities/feed/ 0
Easy Easter Egg Craft to Make Use of Your Ribbon Stash http://handsonaswegrow.com/easter-egg-craft-ribbon-stash/ http://handsonaswegrow.com/easter-egg-craft-ribbon-stash/#respond Mon, 14 Apr 2014 11:55:08 +0000 http://handsonaswegrow.com/?p=40435 Brighten up the room with a super simple Easter egg craft for preschooler to create using ribbons, glue and paper to hang up for the Easter holiday season! ]]> A simple ribbon Easter egg craft that surely brightened up the room and added a Spring touch to decorate for Easter!

George and I spent a morning making Easter eggs to put in the window! Take a look at these! Aren’t they pretty? And they’re so simple to make.

Use up my ribbon stash to make an easy Easter egg craft with the kids

I started by cutting out several egg shapes from scrapbook paper [or heavy card stock, an affiliate link for you to help support hands on : as we grow without any extra cost!].

I have a bunch of pastel colored paper, so that worked perfectly for Easter colors. But I don’t think the color matters too much, because most of it gets covered up.

I brought out the tub of ribbon that I have on hand.

Is it normal to have a lot of ribbon? Do you? I use ribbon a lot for decorating wedding cakes, and tend to have a lot leftover and it gets stashed in my ribbon tub. But I’m sure I’d still have ribbon on hand to add pizzazz to birthday and wedding gifts [when I think about it].

Cut and glue ribbon to fit the Easter egg

George simply cut the ribbon and glued it onto the paper egg however he wanted. Stripes, crosses, or whatever!

Measure and cut ribbon for Easter egg craft

What surprised me about this craft is that it ended up being a simple measuring introduction for George. Since I didn’t pre-cut the ribbon, he would lay it over the paper egg to see how long to cut each ribbon.

I’m not saying he did it very accurately though or understood what he was doing. But I did realize I was saying ‘measure’ a lot during our craft. Most of the time he would lay the ribbon out, across half the table and say he measured it and was going to cut it there.

I couldn’t help but think how this activity could become a learning activity if Henry were home to do it with us. Stripes of ribbon could easily be added in a pattern, which George did unknowingly on one of his Easter eggs.

Simple Easter egg craft for preschoolers to make

I finished off the Easter eggs by trimming the excess ribbon around the paper eggs once they dried.

Easter egg craft hanging in the window

There were lots of little ribbon scraps left and we had one lonely paper Easter egg left, so we glued them on that egg to make a speckled egg craft!

A speckled Easter egg craft using the scraps of ribbon

Most of the Easter egg craft hanging in the window

With a little Scotch tape, I have them up for display in our dining room window! So incredibly easy for preschoolers to make this Easter egg craft!

Another Easter egg craft or two [or three] we’ve done:


George is 3.5 years old.

http://handsonaswegrow.com/easter-egg-craft-ribbon-stash/feed/ 0
Simple & Big Connect the Dots Using Letters http://handsonaswegrow.com/big-connect-the-dots-letters/ http://handsonaswegrow.com/big-connect-the-dots-letters/#comments Thu, 10 Apr 2014 11:00:41 +0000 http://handsonaswegrow.com/?p=40305 A big connect the dots activity that's simple, gets the kid's whole body involved, and also works on writing skills all while learning letters!]]> I couldn’t shake the idea of doing a big connect the dots for a move and learn activity.

George did a simple connect the dots that’s great for preschoolers, or beginners, that don’t quite know their numbers yet. Its great for fine motor skills and working on writing.

But I wanted one that could get him moving and learning.

We did the giant connect the dots to connect the colors, but didn’t work in any writing skills which is what I was hoping for.

Finally, I came up with this simple connect the dots using letters and writing skills! And its big, so its great for moving and learning!

Its a variation of the follow the letter maze I shared on PBS Parents.


I rolled out a long piece of butcher paper.

Sidenote: If you don’t have a roll of art paper, or butcher paper [that's an affiliate link that helps support hands on : as we grow, thank you!], I highly recommend getting it, we use it a lot for art activities, but it comes in handy for these types of activities too. Its just a great way to enlarge anything! We finally used up the last of our first butcher paper roll, its been a good three years of using it, so well worth our investment.

On the paper, I wrote letters of the alphabet along the whole length of it.

I chose only 5 or 6 letters to focus on. I wrote the same letter over and over down the length of the paper. Then went back and did the next letter, and so on. So each letter was on the paper 8-10 times.

The letters I chose were both ones that I knew he knew [confidence boosters] and ones I knew George was struggling with [to stretch him to learn them].

He was right beside me as I wrote them, and he asked if he didn’t know what the letter was. So that got him started.

George then connected the letters. He chose which letter he wanted to start on. He started with the letter R, one he knew.

Make a BIG Connect the Dots using letters for preschoolers!

I didn’t care how he connected the letters, just to be sure to look around to see if he got all of that letter.

He went back and forth, through all the other letters too, to get to all the R’s.

He wanted to connect it back to the beginning R when he was done too!

Then he started the next letter and did the same and so on.

Make a BIG Connect the Dots using letters for preschoolers!

It would have been cool to do all the letters in different colors, I didn’t for a couple reasons though.

One, I’m in a marker shortage right now, they seem to have either disappeared or dried out. We could have used our crayons though.

But reason two, I wanted this to really be about the letters and not the colors.

A few months ago, I would have used the colors as an additional clue for him to find the letters.

Make a BIG Connect the Dots using letters for preschoolers!

More move and learn ideas from my co-hosts:

George is 3.5 years old.

http://handsonaswegrow.com/big-connect-the-dots-letters/feed/ 2
Painting With Water is Easy for Toddlers http://handsonaswegrow.com/toddler-water-painting/ http://handsonaswegrow.com/toddler-water-painting/#comments Wed, 09 Apr 2014 10:26:04 +0000 http://handsonaswegrow.com/?p=6744 Painting with water is a blast! Color in a chalkboard completely with sidewalk chalk hand over a few paintbrushes with some water to a toddler!]]> Painting with water was a blast! George has a little thing for water, so I knew he’d get a kick out of this activity.

George and I have a great time while Henry is at school most days. We’re starting to work many more toddler appropriate activities into our mornings. I really enjoy watching George getting a kick out of these, too!

Painting with water is an easy starter painting activity, great for toddlers

I colored in our chalkboard completely with sidewalk chalk [affiliate link].

George helped as only a toddler can help.

Painting with water is an easy starter painting activity, great for toddlers

I set out a little dish with just a little water to fill the bottom of it.

Handed George a few paintbrushes and showed him what happened when you got the water on the chalkboard.

Painting with water is an easy starter painting activity, great for toddlers

He really got into it and it was fun painting along side of him.

He really acted like he was an artist busy as work. Showing me what he did as he made marks with his wet paintbrush.

Painting on the chalkboard with water.

How can an activity be much simpler than that?

And with a happy kid, can’t beat that either.

We’ve done lots of painting with water, check out some of our other activities below:

George was 20 months old.

http://handsonaswegrow.com/toddler-water-painting/feed/ 18