Sep 12

DIY: Toy Maracas

by Hannah Holt »


A craft with a beat.

What you’ll need:

  • cardboard tubes
  • Saran wrap
  • packaging tape
  • rice
  • decorations of your choosing… we used finger paints

Step 1) Pull Saran wrap around the end of a tube and secure in place with packaging tape. Then place more packaging tape over the end of the tube. (The Saran wrap by itself is prone to punctures. The packaging tape provides a firmer seal.)

Step 2) Fill the tubes with 1-2 handfuls of rice. Using a funnel helps keep the mess down.

Step 3) Repeat step 1 to seal the other end of the tube.

Step 4) Decorate the maraca. We finger painted copy paper and used more packaging tape to secure it around the maracas.

Step 5) Have a dance party with the new maracas! (I like crafts that end with a party. Don’t you?)

Aug 22

Food, Shape, and Color

by Hannah Holt »


The next two weeks will be crazy for me. School is starting; I’m running in a 200 mile relay race; And I’m working on two (or three or four) exciting longer term projects.

So I’m taking a break from the blog front.

In the mean time, here’s a little food for thought.

Click here for a printable pdf of the image.


  1. Show kids the food chart. Ask them to think of other red colored foods. (Repeat with orange, yellow, green…)
  2. Use foods as a way to introduce 3-D shapes (an orange could be a sphere, carrot for cone, chocolate bar for rectangular prism…). It’s a lesson and a snack!
  3. Have children fill out the USDA food pyramid coloring page for kids.
  4. Read Spicy Alphabet, and name all the different colors.

More resources about food, shape, and color.

  1. Hubbard’s Cupboard has a free printable booklet about shapes and colors.
  2. Edupics.com has a wide assortment of fruits and veggies coloring pages.
  3. This blog posts pictures of school lunches from around the world.

I’ll be back in a couple of weeks. Enjoy the rest of summer.

Aug 17

Two Books for Beginning Readers

by Hannah Holt »


School is just around the corner. With that in mind, I have two new books for the free reading library.

The simple and playful texts of these books will help new readers gain confidence. Younger children might read with a parent, while older children can read by themselves.

I hope your school year gets off to a great start, and I hope these books give young readers a boost.

Book #1: I Can!

Summary: Come join Sam as he plays, jumps and learns to read.

Teaching Concept: Verbs. This book centers around seven common verbs: sit, stand, run, look, jump, play, and read. Each verb is used twice and is illustrated.

Possible Discussion Topics: What is a verb? What activities can you do by yourself? What do you need help with?

Sight words: Click here for a flashcard sheet with all the words from I Can!  (pdf)

Classroom Copies: Click here for a condensed printable version of the book (pdf).

Art Project: Have children make an I Can! collage with magazine pictures of activities they like to do.

Suggested Games/Activities: Follow the leader, Have children act out each verb as you read the book.

Book #2: What is it?

Summary: Jacob has hidden a toy. Can you guess what it is?

Teaching Concepts: Nouns and making guesses.

Possible Discussion Topics: What is a noun? How can you come up with a good guess? Is each hidden object a person, place, or thing?

Sight words: Click here for printable flashcards with all the words from What is it!  (pdf)

Classroom Copies: Click here for a printable booklet of What is it! (pdf)

Art Project: Children can make their own What is it? book. Draw a classroom object on each page of the book. Then cover the drawing by gluing a tissue paper flap over the top. Consider having children write clues about each object (its color or shape).

Suggested Games/Activities: 1) I Spy. 2) 20 Questions 3) Bring a blanket to class. Have one child close her eyes while another child picks a small object in the classroom to hide. Cover the object in the blanket. Have the first child try to guess the object by feeling it through the blanket.

If a child is comfortable reading both these books, they might also enjoy reading The Sun Came Out (also in the bookshelf).

Aug 08

Peanut Butter Play Dough

by Hannah Holt »


For those who always wanted to eat play dough

(and some who already do).

What you’ll need:

  • 2/3 cups creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp honey

1) Cream the peanut butter and half of the powdered sugar together. Gradually add the rest of the powdered sugar (the resulting mixture will be dry).

2) Beat in the honey. The dough should be firm but pliable, not too sticky.

3) Divide into six portions. Play with it or eat it or both.

4) Refrigerate or freeze any leftovers for another day.

My four and six year olds had a lot of fun playing with the dough. My eighteen month olds had a lot of fun eating it.

What else you can do with it?

Use it as the center for homemade chocolate peanut butter cups.

Warning… this is ridiculously yummy! Add a dash of vegetable oil to 1/2 cup of chocolate chips. Melt the chips in the microwave on high (stirring every 20 seconds until smooth). Using two teaspoons, put a little chocolate in the bottom of a few cupcake papers. Press the peanut butter dough into the chocolate and top with more chocolate. Let them set in the fridge for a couple hours.

Make double-trouble peanut butter cookies.

Place a ball of the peanut butter dough into the middle of your favorite peanut butter cookie recipe. Bake as usual. Enjoy the surprisingly soft and delicious center. The hubby and kids gave them a big thumbs up!

This recipe is like peanut butter Marzipan.


Aug 02

DIY: Glow-in-the-Dark* Paint

by Hannah Holt »


This paint glows under black light.* With only two ingredients, it’s completely non-toxic (you could eat it), and it will brighten any black light party.

What you’ll need:

  • 1/2 cup tonic water
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch

1) Pour the tonic water into a small bowl and let it rest until it loses its fizzy.

2) Stir the two ingredients together.

3) Using paint brushes, decorate colored construction paper, skin, or other non-phosphorescent surfaces. (Most white papers won’t work because they also glow under black light. I used black construction paper.)

While working on my Spicy Alphabet book, I learned that tonic water glows under black light. I have a black light at home (who doesn’t?), so I tested it out.

It turns out tonic water ice cubes also glow under black light:

As does boiling tonic water:

Here’s the paint applied to my face:

When working on this post, I first tried adding tonic water to a variety of paints. None of them worked. The pigments in the dyes seemed to block tonic water’s glow. Finally my husband and I walked around our kitchen waving the black light over all the foods in our pantry. Cornstarch had the best luminescence, hence this recipe. We tried a few different ratios. The one-to-one ratio had a good consistency.

Most of my projects involve a lot of trial and error. Here’s a video I shared on my Facebook Page a while ago (from my Summer Science series):

What can I say? I like to play!

Happy painting!