Play Everyday

365…ok 366 days of simple, inexpensive and wildly fun 2-year-old play!

Indoor Treasure Hunt

I had planned on doing a geo caching activity at the park with some of Noah’s friends. The sand there would have made burying treasures, and more importantly uncovering treasures, a breeze. But weather, pony duties and a packed schedule didn’t allow for that today.
I also wasn’t sure how difficult it would be to practice map skills in a relatively unfamiliar environment. I felt Noah could be more involved, independent and successful if we practiced first in our home. Honestly, even doing this at home I wasn’t sure he’d “get it”. As usual though, the boy surprised me and I’m already looking forward to doing this activity again!

Here is out ill-drawn, not to scale, treasure map. Pssst-all that doesn’t matter!


I tried to direct noah to items that went from cool to super cool. I thought if he found an extra awesome treasure mid-hunt he’d be so distracted by that he wouldn’t want to continue on. Well, it didn’t take me long to screw that up as we discovered the bubbles just three treasures in. But it didn’t matter at all! The thrill of the hunt is what this activity was about for him! We spent some time playing in the bubbles but it wasn’t long before he was excitedly grabbing the map from me saying “Again! Again!”. Here is a collection of our finds…

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But it was this moment I could tell he was making the connection between the map and his treasures. He started referencing the red Xs. Awesome!


We’ll be ready for our geo caching adventure in no time!

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Bauking Chicken

I discovered this craft in an old binder I kept from a college course. Each day a fellow classmate would present and lead us in a new craft. We would keep that handout in our binder as we added our own. It was to serve as a resource for us later in our careers in the world of camping. And I’m not even kidding. I was after all, majoring in Recreation. Again…not kidding.
We had everything we would need for it but I thought it would be fun to decorate our chicken with real chicken feathers. After the morning fog lifted and the drizzling ceased we were left with an unbelievably gorgeous day so we donned our muck boots and set out for a feather hunt in the barn.
Going out there is hard for me. Everything is still exactly as it was the day the horses left. All of Callie’s things are still hung, hay nets stuffed full, even the water bucket is topped off. I’ve only been in the barn a couple of times to retrieve the basic necessities of brushes, blankets and bridles. I thought certainly there would be feathers in the hen stall or feed room. I found only one tiny downy brown feather from Hazel though. And this…

Oh that made me sad. Because I was out of town when the animals had to move Dave had to do it on his own. He was probably so frazzled he never noticed that blue egg in the corner.
So we continued to look in and around the barn, in some of the hens favorite hangouts. At least I did. Noah mostly hung out in the shavings room doing this…

And a lot of this…

So we were coming home empty-handed but the dogs were muddy, the boy was covered in sawdust and everyone was worn out. It seemed we’d have to settle for a featherless bauking chicken, but not before everyone took a nap.
In gathering supplies later, I found a wild turkey feather we received while visiting the Wild Turkey Museum in South Carolina. With that, a plastic cup, ribbon, toothpick and fun foam we assembled our bird:


You could just knot the ribbon at the top but I think it’s easier to make a bigger hole for threading your ribbon (you can also use string) and tying it around a toothpick to keep in place.


Wet the ribbon and pinch it tightly as you pull down. It will create a very loud squawking sound. Although Noah did have his turkey clucking quietly, it was difficult for him to make the loud squawking sound. He mostly got a kick out of pulling the ribbon out of the top as I gasped in simulated-shock. Oh, the little things…


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Bouncing Balloon Balls

We were stuck inside all day today with a constant, drizzly, freezing rain outside. These crazy-bouncing, ball-filled balloons helped give a colorful party atmosphere to an otherwise grey day.

The only bouncy balls I had were pretty big. I was still able to stretch the neck of the balloons enough to get the balls in. The easiest way I found was to nearly turn the balloon inside out. It was a stretch (HA!) but I managed.


I helped Noah perform the countdown he learned this past New Years and we dropped all four balloons at once. As the balls continued to bounce around inside the balloons, they jumped and shook chaotically. Definitely something Noah could relate too.


We played around with the intact balloons for a bit…


…But then it was time to pop them and find the treasure inside. He was just as excited for this part, maybe even a little more.


He continued to bring me all the balloons asking me to pop them, but he kept more of a distance for the next three.


Again we practiced our countdown leading to the *POP*! Immediately he would hop up and run to collect the glittering treasure inside.


Even more fun-runs, giggles and woofs followed as Noah played a combination of fetch and keep-away with one of our ball-crazy dogs. Three fun activities with two simple toys. It doesn’t get much better than that!


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Dino Feet from tissue boxes

I’ve had this idea on my list (thanks to a bird and a bean) for some time now. I’d saved one tissue box for the occasion and we were about halfway through what would be our second dino foot.
After watching Noah stomp around the house for the past week, pausing only to let out a big dino “Raaawwwwwrrr”, I cheated a little and emptied that second box early. This would be totally worth it to have naked tissues laying about!

First Noah painted the tissue boxes…

Once those were dry I added claws out of fun foam. Nowie stomped around in his new dino shoes, roaring loudly and pointing out his claws. And true to form he did it all nakie. So here’s a pic I can actually share…

I love a bird and a bean‘s idea of using sponges for the claws. Maybe an extension of this idea could be to add sponges to the bottom and get my floors mopped 😉

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Car Tracks from Old Denim

When I found this idea on Pinterest I knew I had to do it!  Check out the original version at lil Mop Top.  She’s got a cute little blonde haired boy too 🙂 I knew I had to do this not only for my truck loving tow-head but because I have an obscene amount of old denim jeans.  They aren’t even remotely nice enough to ever be worn again.  I received them from a friend who thought I could use them in sewing projects.  I had no plans for denim anything but I cannot say no to free fabric and so I took it.  And there it has sat in my carport ever since.  I call it my denim graveyard.  At least someone in the family appreciates it…

I have enough to make several cities worth of denim road.  Thinking that some of the fabric still had a chance in my sewing room I chose 5-6 pairs of the ugliest denim we had, mostly acid washed.  It looked like we were going to have a lot of gravel roads in denim town.  If you’re not a denim hoarded like me, congratulations.  You can use any type of denim, canvas of other heavy weight fabric.

  • Old denim or other heavy fabric
  • Fabric paint marker – you’ll need fabric paint for the lines to show up on darker denim and you want something that won’t come out in the wash
  • Hook tape, optional and you can get the sticky back hook tape if you don’t sew, but it may not hold up in the wash

I set out doing the cutting while my husband was in charge of lining the roads.  Check out his line work!  I’ll give you one guess what he does for living…


For now we just set the road pieces out but I plan on sewing small pieces of hook tape (the stiff part of velcro) to the backside of each piece so they will stay in place on the carpet.  If you’re working on hardwood floors you might try adding strips of glue or puffy paint to keep them from sliding around.  For now, it was time to play!

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Exploding Stars

I remember making these with my brother.  I’m sure it’s something our dad taught us how to make.  I also remember calling them “throwing stars” but for some reason that sounded a bit too violent.  Exploding Stars probably isn’t much better but that’s exactly what happens.  And it’s super cool!

  • 5 popsicle sticks per star

Here’s the end result…


Take 3 sticks, holding them together at one end with the center stick on the bottom 

Weave 1 stick across, going under the center stick

Weave the last stick across, going over the center stick


You have to throw them down fairly hard.  Noah had a little trouble making them explode but it was fun just having Mama do it


As usual, Noah had his own ideas about how to play with the stars.  He liked throwing them into a tree, which is exactly how our Christmas tree was decorated this year 🙂 



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Target Tidy

Super Bowl Sunday! Noah and I had planned on attending an Un-Super Non-Bowl Party with friends.  It actually would have been Very Super but as the day unfolded drive times, car naps and b edtimes collided and we just couldn’t make it happen.  I wanted to do something football themed but after browsing Pinterest I came up empty-handed.  Gasp!  Pinterest has never before failed me!  There were some great ideas, just nothing I felt would be great for Noah.  Sometimes I think I rely on Pinterest (or more accurately all my brillant fellow bloggers) too heavily for inspiration though and it didn’t take me too long to come up with something that would be great for Noah and I both.  A football toss with the target landing all his balls back in the ball bin!

  • 2 paper plates
  • Glue
  • Paint stir
  • Markers, stickers, etc. for decorating, optional

I glued the 2 paper plates together to make them sturdier.  We didn’t do any decorating but that might be a fun option the next time.  I cut the center out and taped the paint stir on the back.   Our ball bin has a clever little pocket where a label can be placed.  The paint stir fit in that pocket perfectly and I added some tape at the top.  We were ready to clean up!  Err….I mean play!


Eyes on the TV…he is ALL boy!  He shoots and scores with a bowling ball!


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Shadow Play for Groundhog’s Day

As I’ve said before, our pre-bedtime ritual is my favorite part of any day.  With it being groundhog’s day (and my birthday) shadow play in bed sounded like the perfect end to a wonderful day!  I wanted to find little templates of all the animals from Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr.  Although I wasn’t able to find exactly what I was looking for, I did find these printables which also includes several activities that could be done along with reading the book.  I used some of the images from the above printables after resizing them.  Some I just drew up myself.  I printed them on cardstock and glued another layer of cardstock on the back before cutting them out.  A practice run on white cardstock didn’t turn out so well so I wanted these to be as opaque as possible.  Here are my templates…

Noah loves flashlights and was just delighted that I asked him to bring one to bed with him!  He helped me pick the animals as we made a new shadow for each page we read.  This is the dog shadow.  It was a struggle to hold a flashlight, read a book, hold a shadow template and take photos at the same time!

At the end when the teacher and children make an appearance I shone the light on myself (scary story style at my chin) and on him.  He got a big kick out of that and we stayed up playing flashlight games.  I think 33 is going to be a great year 🙂

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Marshmallow Structures

Slowly, ever so slowly, I am trying to get my kitchen cleaned out and organized.  I had a bag of giant marshmallows that I knew we’d never use.  They were left over from a campfire, which is really the only time marshmallows taste good.  With no campfires planned I was happy to chuck those, but not before having a little fun with them of course.  We had wooden skewers which were forever getting in the way when I tried to close the drawer they were kept in and for whatever reason packs and packs of toothpicks.  I think they were a gift from a family friend.  If you’re wondering what kind of person would gift toothpicks, well I’ll just say this chap is unique in every way and we love him for it 😉

  • Marshmallows, varying sizes would be great
  • Wooden skewers and toothpicks
  • Beads, construction paper and other decor could be added if your kids get really into building.  Mine was just really into nibbling.

With a long afternoon of building in front of us, it was important to keep up our strength.  I just kept thinking crash and burn, crash and burn and that I might get some sewing done later 😉



I asked Noah what we should build and without hesitation he said “barn!”.  That’s my boy!!  I put together a barn structure and we each contributed an animal to farmyard.  I made a sheep, Noah made a porcupine.  Given the materials we had to work with, both were such obvious choices I’m a little disappointed in our creativity.  I was however quite proud when Noah set toothpicks down in front of our animals and told them to “Eat!”.  He’s so good to his animals! Even the marshmallow ones.


I guess the animals were done eating at this point…


But Noah sure wasn’t…

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Balloon Yo-Yo

Here’s an easy 2 for 1 activity, especially if you’ve already made the Squishy Balls. Between an over-worked mind and my desire to just have a lazy Sunday this was a super easy activity that gave us a nice play break and a chance to giggle together.

  • Balloon
  • Flour, sand or salt (water would be great for an outdoor summer toy)
  • Rubber band

I literally just cut a rubber band and tied it around one of the squishy balls we’d made.  At the time Noah was having a snack (or doing something??) in the other room so I set it on the table to pull out later in the day when he would inevitably become bored.  Little bugger came in and found it early though.  So we played and laughed and I did the best picture taking I could, considering I didn’t have time to put clothes on my boy before pulling out the yo-yo.


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