A couple weeks ago our family went camping, which is a really big deal, because we are NOT campers! Two of our kids attend a school where they have a Fall Campout each year so… More
At the beginning of this summer, we spent a day at The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, CA. If you’ve never been there, it is such a fun experience with tons of hands on exhibits. One of my daughter’s favorites was a wall with plastic magnetic tubes to create a “marble track” and little balls to test it out on. She spent quite awhile rearranging the tubes to make different tracks and trying them out. As I watched her, I started thinking about how I could make something similar at home, and this idea was born.
I began saving toilet paper and paper towel rolls and waiting for just the right time to create our DIY Magnetic Marble Track. This Saturday was the perfect day! My oldest was away at camp with his youth group and my two younger kids were having a pajama day. My husband was taking a nap and the kids were getting “bored,” so together we created this super fun “boredom buster!”
Check out my daughter’s “Craft Time With Karis” video tutorial (above) to learn how to make these with your own kids. It took some trial and error, but we figured out the best way to keep the tracks up and the best balls to use. Here are a couple of tips:
- make sure your magnets are strong enough…we tried some at first that would not hold
- use light weight balls: we found my son’s Nerf Rival Bullet Balls to be the perfect balls for this project. Small bouncy balls were a close second. Marbles were too heavy and knocked the tracks right off. Experimenting with different options is part of the fun!
- even though we used magnets that were sticky on one side, it is best to hot glue them as well for a stronger hold
For more “Craft Time With Karis” videos click on the following:
Birthday parties are challenging for teen boys. The past couple of years my son Jacob has not wanted a theme or decorations, so we have just had a few friends over for movies and board games. But this year, for his 15th birthday, we decided to do something unique. The idea was sparked by a conversation we had about the youth group I attended as a teen and some of the fun events we got to do. My favorite was called “The Torture Rally,” a 24 hour car rally around our city with clues to solve and challenges, definitely one of the highlights of my teen years. I described it to Jacob as a sort of youth group Amazing Race, and the idea for pulling of a birthday party like this was birthed. We kept the party small and just had one team…so they were essentially competing against themselves, but they had so much fun and it was well worth all the hours of prep that I put in to plan all the clues and challenges.
Here is a list of what we did for Jacob’s AMAZING RACE PARTY!
- PULL 50 MARBLES OUT OF A TUB OF ICE WATER USING ONLY YOUR TOES
2. MEMORIZE THIS POEM. FIND THE MAN IN RED ACROSS THE PARK AND RECITE IT PERFECTLY. IF YOU MESS UP, GO BACK AND TRY AGAIN
Spaghetti, spaghetti, all over the place, Up to my elbows – up to my face, Over the carpet and under the chairs, Into the hammock and wound round the stairs, Filling the bathtub and covering the desk, Making the sofa a mad mushy mess. The party is ruined, I’m terribly worried, The guests have all left (unless they’re all buried). I told them, “Bring presents.” I said, “Throw confetti.” I guess they heard wrong ’cause they all threw spaghetti! – Shel Silverstein
3. (set up in someones front yard) MEMORIZE THE ORDER Of THESE TRIBAL PRINTED CARDS. NOW RECREATE THIS EXACTLY IN THE BACKYARD. YOU MAY RETURN AS MANY TIMES AS NECESSARY BUT CANNOT BRING CARDS WITH YOU.
4. (part 1) WEAR CRAZY PARTY HATS AND MARDI GRAS NECKLACES IN PUBLIC (WALK ACROSS THE BRIDGE) (part 2) CHALLENGE…WITH STRING TIED TO YOUR WRISTS AND CONNECTED TO A PARTNER, FIND YOUR WAY APART (it’s actually quite simple but seems very complicated)
5. MAKE MARSHMALLOW SHOOTERS. NOW SHOOT MALLOWS INTO A BUCKET THAT IS HELD ON YOUR TEAMMATES HEAD (MAKE 5 MALLOWS EACH)
6. PLAY A GIANT GAME OF MEMORY: BOARD GAME STYLE (game made out of heavy paper plates, printed boardgame photos, and weighed down with flat marbles)
7. FIND THE PIECES OF THE WOODEN PUZZLE HIDDEN IN THE PLAY STRUCTURE. NOW PUT THE PUZZLE TOGETHER. (much more challenging than it looks)
8. GO TO BARNES AND NOBLE AND ANSWER THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS…
- HOW MANY BOOKS ARE THERE IN THE BIBLE?
- WHAT IS THE TITLE OF A BOOK WRITTEN BY OUR PRESIDENT?
- HOW MANY BOOKS ARE IN “THE DIARY OF A WHIMPY KID” SERIES?
- NAME 3 “NON-BOOK” ITEMS YOU CAN PURCHASE HERE
- FIND AND NAME 2 BOOKS BY THE CHILDREN’S AUTHOR ERIC CARLE
9. GO TO THE MALL. FIND THE PHOTO BOOTH. TAKE A PHOTO WITH YOUR WHOLE TEAM IN THE BOOTH AT THE SAME TIME.
10. USING SIDEWALK CHALK, DRAW AN ACCURATE DIAGRAM OF THE SOLAR SYSTEM, PLACING EACH PLANET IN ORDER STARTING WITH THE SUN
11. DIVE INTO THE POOL AND RETRIEVE THE GOLF BALLS AT THE BOTTOM. EACH HAS A LETTER WRITTEN ON IT. UNSCRAMBLE THE LETTERS TO DECODE THE MESSAGE
FINISH THE NIGHT WITH PIZZA AND CUPCAKES AND OF COURSE AN EPISODE OF THE AMAZING RACE!!!
The Amazing Race Birthday Party lasted for about 5 hours total (the race itself was 4 of those hours which included a “pit stop” for snacks about half way through). Be sure to come prepared with bottles of water to keep everyone hydrated, especially during the summer. For more Amazing Race Birthday Party footage check out this fun video of the highlights from Jacob’s party!
We celebrated my daughter’s 7th birthday the first week of June with a Moana Themed Birthday Party. My girl fell in love with Moana after watching the movie in the theater and she’s been belting out “How Far I’ll Go” at the top of her lungs ever since. Her Grandma and Papa surprised her with the soundtrack for her birthday, which made the party even more special to have her favorite Moana songs playing in the background while she swam and played with all of her sweet friends.
I had so much fun planning this party and I’m happy to say that everything turned out just as I imagined it would. I started making decorations several weeks in advance because May and June are always crazy busy with all of the end of school activities, dance recitals, and two kids with birthdays just a couple of weeks apart.
I used my Cricut Expression 2 to make the black and white tribal sewn paper garlands and the HAPPY BIRTHDAY KARIS pennant banner. I also used it to cut some of the pieces for the Kakamora faces. These were all made out of card stock that I purchased from Joann Fabrics. I also found the tribal print material at Joann’s that I used to cover the contents of our two bookshelves.
The Dollar Tree is a great place for inexpensive tropical decorations this time of year and it did not disappoint. This is where I purchased the tissue paper for the giant tropical flowers, the leis, the grass skirts that I used to surround the table, the plastic beach backdrop, plates and napkins, and the Moana and Maui “magic towels” that we gave to the children as party favors.
My favorite part of the whole party, was the Moana Boat and Sail Photo Backdrop (tutorial link below). All the kids were greeted by my daughter and given a lei to wear and the first thing they saw when they walked in was a huge beach scene with a cardboard Moana boat and sail to play in. I even made an oar out of a dowel, cardboard, and twine. We got some super cute pictures of the kids in Moana’s boat.
If you are planning a Moana party of your own, here are three fun tutorial for you as well as a ton of pictures from my daughter’s party. Enjoy!
Coloring pages, painting, and puzzles…three things my girl loves, all combined into one project. This is a super simple craft that your kids can do at home and you only need a couple of items, most of which you probably already have.
To make DIY Magnetic Puzzles, you will need:
- adhesive magnetic tape
- white card stock
- paint, crayons, or markers
- scissors or a paper cutter
Your child can print a coloring page from the computer or create their own art. The possibilities for unique puzzles are endless! This activity can be modified for very young children by cutting fewer puzzle pieces, and can be made challenging for older children by cutting a variety of shapes.
Watch my daughter’s “Craft Time With Karis” tutorial (above) to learn how to make some DIY Magnetic Puzzles of your own.
For more “Craft Time With Karis” fun, check out these other blog posts:
I love setting up sensory bins for my kids. Over the years, we have done white rice, beans, popcorn kernels, shaving cream, salt, and more, but we have never made rainbow colored rice. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to make!
This week, my kids are on Spring Break and the weather forecasted several rainy days. Since we were staying home this week, I decided that I’d plan a couple of fun activities to keep us busy. I picked up a large package of inexpensive white rice and some Wilton’s Gel Food Colors at Target and began looking at recipes for colored rice. Some recipes called for rubbing alcohol, but I wanted to make ours without, so I found that vinegar was a great alternative for setting the colors without the alcohol.
My daughter and I had so much fun making this rice! She actually made it almost all by herself! We created this little video tutorial (below) as part of her kid’s series “Craft Time With Karis.”
In the past couple of days, “Colored (rainbow) Rice” has provided hours of sensory and imaginary play. Karis added some little bunnies and plastic eggs for Easter play. She put plastic dolphins and other animals in too, and yesterday we included some cardboard with holes cut out and a funnel for pouring rice. This inspired Karis to create an imaginary town called “Flowerville” while she played with her animals and rainbow rice.
Watch our tutorial to learn how to make some “Colored (rainbow) Rice” with your kids!
More “Craft Time With Karis” Fun:
You know that scene from the movie “Trolls,” when Poppy and Branch are on their way to rescue their friends from the Bergens, and they camp for the night? Poppy sets up a collage of Popsicle Stick Frames with pictures of all the missing Trolls and it keeps expanding. That was the inspiration behind this Trolls Craft. As soon as I saw that scene, the first time we watched Trolls in the theater, I knew that my daughter and I would have to make a “Poppy Frame” of our own. So I started gathering the supplies, and my plan was to have a special “Trolls night” with my girl as soon as the movie came out on DVD.
I found a set of Trolls stickers at Joann Fabrics. The rest of the supplies we bought from the Dollar Tree. I also picked up this amazing find, a plastic veggies and dip tray to hold all of our craft supplies. I have reused this dollar store treasure many times since for other art and craft projects and sensory activities.
The week that Trolls hit the Red Box, I surprised my daughter with a special “Mommy/Sissy” Day. We rented the movie, made our craft, and also created a yummy treat to enjoy, Trolls Marshmallow Pops.
My daughter thoroughly enjoyed her special day and spent a long time making her Poppy Popsicle Stick Frames with pictures of her favorite Trolls and tons of decorative embellishments. Here’s what we used:
- colored popsicle sticks
- colored cardstock to back the frames
- Trolls stickers
- paper cutouts (cut from my Cricut, left over from another project)
- butterfly charms
- pom poms
- glue (I used a hot glue gun for the frames and my daughter used Elmer’s glue for the decorations)
Here’s a screen shot of Poppy’s Frames and some fun pictures of my daughter’s creation.
Today my 11 year old son had to stay home from school because he woke up with pink eye. Bummer day…or so we thought! Cleaning the house was at the top of my agenda, but then Micah started playing around with his newest Nerf Gun, the Nerf Centurion. He grabbed some duct tape and popsicle sticks and rigged up a hanging target to shoot at. Somewhere in the middle of house cleaning and target practice, Micah and I came up with this super fun activity that we like to call “Exploding Easter Egg Nerf Gun Targets.”
Did you know that some plastic Easter eggs have two little holes at the bottom? Well these holes came in handy for today’s activity and so did the duct tape and little sister’s bag of sequins. Check out our tutorial about how we made these explosive Easter eggs! They may be messy…but they sure are fun!
Helpful Tip: If your plastic eggs do not have holes (2 of ours did not), you can easily make holes by hammering a nail through the bottom of your eggs (from the inside) two times about 1/2 inch apart. I used a wood block under my eggs while hammering so they didn’t crack.
For more Nerf Gun fun check out my blog post Nerf Target Practice