One Part Sunshine

Way to Display Precious Collections

Use an antique letterpress tray to store precious rock collections.

antique letterpress printers tray for storing and displaying rock and stone collections

Like a lot of kids his age, my 6yo son loves to collect rocks and other pieces of nature.  After a while, I couldn't handle seeing another bowl or jar full of rocks.  I found an antique letterpress or printers' tray on Ebay for just $20.  His rocks and stones fit into it perfectly and it looks nice sitting on our cabinet.  You could even hang it on the wall.

Submitted by a mom to a 6yo boy

Easy Way to Display Art Work

Display your child's art work quickly and easily using string, nails and clothespins.

Hang display children's kids art work using clothespins

My son loves to draw, paint and make the most interesting creations. We ran out of space on the refrigerator a long time ago! So I hammered three nails along the top of the wall and then hung twine between them. I use clothespins to clip art work to the twine. Now, it's easy to rotate the artwork every so often. You can even have your child make a decorative "stone" out of clay to cover the nailhead.

Submitted by Rob (dad to a creative 5-year-old boy) - Charlottesville, VA

Egg Shell Seed Starter

For a fun craft and a great way to teach your kids about plants, try planting seeds in egg shells.

egg shell seed starter

I wanted to teach my son about how plants come from seeds.  I found an easy and free way to do this by using egg shells and an cardboard egg carton.  Gently crack open the eggs so that they break into two equal-sized pieces.  Rinse the shells out with water and place each half in an egg carton.  I used a cardboard egg carton so that we could plant the whole thing in the ground when the plants were big enough.  Fill each egg half with soil (we used a special seed starting mix) and poke a hole with your finger in the middle.  Drop one seed in each hole, cover with soil, sprinkle with a little water, and wait!  Depending on the seed you use, you will start seeing seedlings popping up within a few days.  Radishes are a good quick-growing choice.  Keep the egg carton in a sunny indoor location and water daily.  When you have some good sturdy seedlings, plant the egg shells (or even the whole carton) outside in a sunny location.

Submitted by Mike - dad of a 5-year-old boy - Danville, VA

Recycling Crayons

Reuse broken crayons and create a fun gift or party favor by melting crayons into interesting shapes.
Most restaurants simply toss out leftover crayons so I make a point to save them.  I take these as well as all of the old broken crayons that my son won't play with anymore and melt them down to create new, fun-shaped crayons!  These make great gifts and party favors too!
There are two ways to melt crayons: the oven method and the stovetop method.  I use the oven method when I want to make multi-color crayons and the stovetop method for single color crayons.
The Oven Method:
Reuse broken crayons and create a fun gift or party favor by melting crayons into interesting shapes.

Most restaurants simply toss out leftover crayons so I make a point to save them.  I take these as well as all of the old broken crayons that my son won't play with anymore and melt them down to create new, fun-shaped crayons!  These make great gifts and party favors too!

There are two ways to melt crayons: the oven method and the stovetop method.  I use the oven method when I want to make multi-color crayons and the stovetop method for single color crayons.

The Oven Method:

  1. Remove wrappers and break the crayons into tiny pieces.
  2. Place crayon pieces in a muffin tin or other oven-proof pan.  I like to use a heart-shaped muffin tin.
  3. Place tin or pan in 300 degree oven until wax melts.  This should only take a few minutes.  Don't overcook!
  4. Remove from oven and let cool before removing crayons.
The Stovetop Method:
  1. Remove wrappers and break the crayons into tiny pieces.
  2. Place crayon pieces of similar colors in a tin can.
  3. Heat a saucepan filled with about 2 inches of water to boiling.  Reduce heat to medium.
  4. Place tin can in water and stir the crayons until they have melted.
  5. Poor the melted crayons in a muffin tin, ice cube tray or candy mold (do not use ice cube trays or candy molds in the oven!).
  6. Let cool before removing crayons.
Submitted by Cindy - mom of a 4-year-old - Charlottesville, VA

Homemade Salt Dough Tree Ornaments

Making homemade dough ornaments is a fun activity for kids and a great way to decorate.

DIY homemade paint salt dough ornament christmas

Every year, my son looks forward to making salt dough ornaments.  He helps me mix and roll out the dough, cut out the ornaments and then paint and decorate them.  We like to make it a family event with each of us making our own ornaments.  And they are really easy to make:

  1. Mix 2 cups flour, 1/2 cup salt, and 3/4 cups water in a medium bowl.
  2. Knead the dough until smooth and roll out to about 1/8 inch thick.
  3. Cut out shapes with cookie cutters and make a hole for the string.
  4. Back for 2 hours at 250 degrees (but don't let them burn).
  5. Let cool and then decorate with paint, glitter, markers or whatever you want!
Submitted by Cindy - mom of a 4-year-old - Charlottesville, VA

Make Your Own Sidewalk Chalk Paint

Make your own sidewalk chalk paint - save money and have fun making it!

make your own sidewalk chalk using natural ingredients

My girls love to play with sidewalk chalk.  Rather than spend tons of money on chalk from the store, I make my own sidewalk chalk paint.  And I don't have to worry about potentially toxic ingredients in the paint!

Combine the following but separate into smaller bowls before adding the food coloring so you can have several different colors:

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • food coloring
Grab some paint brushes, find a nice piece of empty driveway or sidewalk, and have fun!

Submitted by Michelle - mom of Saliyah, Teyja, Anna and Trace - Pinellas Park, FL

Make your own watercolor paints

Make your own watercolor paints and avoid toxic chemicals in store-bought brands.

diy watercolor painting natural homemade paints

When my grandkids come to visit, their favorite thing to do is paint.  I like to make my own watercolor paints.  I save money and I don't have to worry about toxins that may have been added to the store-bought brands.

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbsp. Baking soda
  • 3 Tbsp. Cornstarch
  • 3 Tbsp. White Vinegar
  • 1-1/2 tsp. Corn Syrup or Glycerin
  • Food coloring (try natural colors like those from India Tree or try Kool-Aid)
Mix the first 4 ingredients together in a bowl.  Once it has stopped fizzing, pour into small individual containers (such as paper cups or a plastic egg carton) and add food coloring.  Let set for a few hours until hardened.  Then all you need is a paintbrush, a cup of water, paper and some imagination!

Submitted by Carol - grandma to 5 grandkids - Wynnewood, PA

Fun ways to reuse glass beverage bottles

Reuse glass beverage bottles as fun glasses at parties or paint the inside for a colorful vase.

glass bottle reuse enamel paint vase

Clean and reuse glass bottles for beverages at parties.  To avoid problems with biofilm formation in areas that cannot be reached for cleaning, swirl inside with glass enamel paint for a colorful flower vase after several uses.

Submitted by Lucille - mom of Ava Lucille (age 4) and Lucia Calla (age 3) - Stafford, VA

DIY bath soak for dry skin

Make an all-natural bath soak to help soothe dry skin and eczema during pregnancy.
While I was pregnant, I had a big problem with eczema.  I didn't want to use any of the conventional bath products because they are full of chemicals and usually dry my skin out even more.  So I made my own bath soak and it worked great!  I just put some oats (I usually used rolled oats because that's what I had) in a food processor and processed them until they were powder.  I then made a mixture of half powdered oatmeal with half powdered milk.  I poured about a cup of this mixture into my bath.  You can also add ten drops of essential oil for a great scent but I didn't do this when I was pregnant because so many essential oils are not recommended for use during pregnancy.  I stored the oatmeal/milk mixture in a glass jar.
Submitted by Cindy - mom of a 3-year-old - Charlottesville, VA
Make an all-natural bath soak to help soothe dry skin and eczema during pregnancy.

DIY bath soak for dry skin using natural ingredients

While I was pregnant, I had a big problem with eczema.  I didn't want to use any of the conventional bath products because they are full of chemicals and usually dry my skin out even more.  So I made my own bath soak and it worked great!  I just put some oats (I usually used rolled oats because that's what I had) in a food processor and processed them until they were powder.  I then made a mixture of half powdered oatmeal with half powdered milk.  I poured about a cup of this mixture into my bath.  You can also add ten drops of essential oil for a great scent but I didn't do this when I was pregnant because so many essential oils are not recommended for use during pregnancy.  I stored the oatmeal/milk mixture in a glass jar.

Submitted by Cindy - mom of a 3-year-old - Charlottesville, VA

Fun Sand Toys

Reuse formula tins and yogurt cups as fun sand toys.
I take used containers, such as formula tins and yogurt cups, and give them to my kids to use as sand toys at the playground or beach.  They make fun castle shapes, and it’s a great way to reuse items that can’t be recycled.
Submitted by Kelly - mom of Julia (age 2), and Jude (age 6 mos.)
Highlands Ranch, CO
Reuse formula tins and yogurt cups as fun sand toys.

reuse containers as fun sand toys

I take used containers, such as formula tins and yogurt cups, and give them to my kids to use as sand toys at the playground or beach.  They make fun castle shapes, and it’s a great way to reuse items that can’t be recycled.

Submitted by Kelly - mom of Julia (age 2), and Jude (age 6 mos.) - Highlands Ranch, CO

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