Mar 05

Bringing the Great Outdoors Inside with Dramatic Play

by Hannah Holt »


We love playing outside. However, during the winter and early spring it’s not always possible to get all the fresh air we’d like (darn rotating nap schedule and bad weather). Here are a few ways we try to mix it up on rainy days.


dramatic play camping

We used daddy’s black socks to create a fire ring and  yellow and orange shirts for the flames. Then we set up a blanket-fort tent and taped a cotton ball to a stick (for pretend marshmallows). If you wanted to go crazy, you could use real marshmallows.

Brainstorm: What do you need to go camping? A shovel? A flashlight? A backpack?


dramatic play bird watching

I don’t recommend releasing a flock of wild geese in your house, but you could hide pictures of birds around the living room. I recommend using google images to search for bird families. Younger children might be able to distinguish between groups of birds, like owls, ducks, geese, etc. While older children might be able to identify unique species. Cardboard-tube binoculars and a log book helped us feel like legitimate ornithologists.

Brainstorm: What types of birds are in your area? What kinds of food do they eat? What is your favorite bird?


geocaching dramatic play

I took an empty check box and fashioned it into a “GPS” unit. Then I hid another box of trinkets somewhere in the house and gave them clues to it’s location. Once they found the initial box, I had them trade toys and set up a new hunt on their own.

Brainstorm: What does GPS stand for? How does a GPS device work? Is there geocaching in your area?

Feb 19

Planes, Parties, and Piñatas

by Hannah Holt »


My five-year-old flies around the house at an alarming rate. This is the child who jumped off the back of the couch, glanced off a window, and chipped his tooth on the entryway tile. But nothing keeps him down for long.

He wants to be a pilot when he grows up, so I wasn’t surprised when he requested an airplane party for his birthday.

papermache airplanes

We started with a crash-landing snack (rice krispy airplanes in chocolate pudding cups) because I think he likes crashing almost as much as flying:

IMG_7201Crashlanding Airplane snack

We decorated the room with yellow streamers and origami paper airplanes.

paper airplanes

Of course for one of our activities we made and decorated paper airplanes. [Note: the five-year-olds needed a little help with this, while the seven-year-olds had this skill mastered.]

paper airplanes2

We tested our airplanes for accuracy and distance.

I couldn’t think of a cute way to shape a cake into an airplane and all of the ones I found online looked like too much work. I opted for a sheet cake with an airplane design.

birthday cake

But my most ambitious birthday project the paper-mache airplane piñata. You’ll need to start this project at least three days before the party.

Here’s how we did it…

You’ll need:

  • newspaper (torn into strips)
  • 1.5 cups water
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • a balloon
  • cardboard cut-out wings, tail, and propeller
  • paint
  • tissue paper or a party streamer

 1. In a small bowl, mix the water and flour until there are no lumps. Blow up the balloon, and tie it off.

2. Dip the newspaper strips into the flour paste and then run the newspaper between two fingers to remove the excess glue. Press the wet newspaper onto the balloon. I recommend placing the strips in a variety of directions to improve the strength of the final piñata.


3. Let the balloon dry for one to three days (this will depend on how many layers of paper you apply. The more layers you apply the longer the drying time). I only did one layer, so mine was dry after 24 hours. Even so, one of my children stabbed the piñata with a steak knife after eight hours and the balloon popped. I ended up with a flat bottomed airplane. Not the effect that I was going for but we made it work.


4. Since I already had a hole in my piñata, I filled it with the prizes. (Tip: it’s a good idea to fill your balloon before you decorate it anyway.) I wrapped the gaping hole with painters tape before decorating.

5. We glued a yellow streamer around and around the balloon to create a feathered look.


6. Then we painted the wings and propeller to match the streamers.


After the paint dried, we hot glued the extra accessories to the piñata. Ta da!

paper mache 4


Jan 14

DIY: Ring Toss Game

by Hannah Holt »


Birthday season in our house has just begun. Three of my children have birthdays in the next three weeks. So while I usually try to write up healthy snacks on this blog, the next few weeks will probably have a lot of cake and games.

Speaking of games, today I’ll show you how to make your own ring toss:

To make the ring toss you will need…

  • 18 wooden popsicle (craft) sticks
  • three wooden dowels
  • a big box
  • masking tape
  • a craft glue (like Tacky)

1. First, make three rings by gluing the popsicle sticks into hexagons. Each “ring” will have six sides and needs six sticks, like this:

Let the glue dry overnight. Note: We tried making rings with pipe cleaners first, but the fuzzy rings didn’t have enough momentum for longer throws.

2. Have an adult use a sharp knife to punch three 1/4 inch slits into the top of the box. Wedge the dowels into the slits and secure them with the masking tape.

Note: If you want to decorate the box, it’s a good idea to do this before securing the dowels.

3. Create a masking tape line on the ground a few paces behind the box. Line up behind it for a chance to throw.

Other optional activities with this game:

  • Decorate the rings and/or the box
  • Assign different point values to each of the three dowels
  • Cut the dowels into different heights for an added ring toss challenge


Dec 18

Feelings Coloring Pages

by Hannah Holt »


Feelings have been on my mind this weekend. My heart goes out to those in the Newton, Connecticut community. The events from this weekend make me feel heartsick.

When my seven-year-old got off the school bus today, the shooting was the first thing he wanted to talk about. He’s taking it well, but I’m making an extra effort to keep the lines of communication open.

If your child is worried or if he or she just wants to talk about feelings, I put together a few coloring pages:

You can click here for the pdf version of the coloring book or below for the individual jpgs.


I patterned the pages in this coloring book after the different stages of grief.

I also created several “fill in your own feelings” pages:

Here are a few additional resources for helping children through difficult times:

Wherever you are and whatever you are facing, I hope these pages help your children explore their feelings in a safe and nurturing way.

Nov 14

Turkey Craft

by Hannah Holt »


My kids and I experimented yesterday to see if we could turn a few common items into a turkey craft. These were our favorites.

The tissue roll turkey:

The roadside gravel painted rock turkey:

The fallen leaf turkeys:

What else can you turn into a turkey?

It’s almost Thanksgiving in the United States. Here are a few other activities to keep your little ones busy this holiday season.

The Thanksgiving Activity Book I put together last year was quite popular. Here it is for anyone who missed it or would like it again:

Also here are nine easy Thanksgiving crafts.

Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!