Play Everyday

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

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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Virtual Hug for a Far Away Valentine

We made the Grandparents these “I Love You” Valentine cards.  Since Nannie and Pop happened to be here to get theirs in person I wanted to send a little extra something to Grandma and Grampy in the mail.  What grandparent doesn’t just love anything with their grandchild’s handprint on it?  And Oh! how Noah loves to paint handprints.  So we created this virtual hug to stick in the card.

  • Finger paint
  • Card stock
  • Ribbon, cut the length of your child’s arm span

I cut the handprints out before the paint was dry which made the fingers curl up a bit and I like that.  Just like my little bean’s fingers when he gives me the best hug ever! 

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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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Indoor Monkey Bars

I’ve been wanting to make this for Noah for some time.  Ever since we played at our friend’s house and saw this…


And yes – that would be my son.  Always nakie even when all his friends are fully clothed.  In jeans and long-sleeved shirts at that.  Anyway, I knew I couldn’t do it alone and with Pop in town for a few days I thought it would be the perfect time for this project.  My Dad can’t sit still anyway and he’s always looking for an excuse to get out of the house so he and Nannie were off, boy in tow, to gather supplies at Lowe’s.

There’s no real blue print for this project.  Certainly it could be more elaborate but even at its current size we hardly have room for it in the house.  But when I posted this picture on Facebook……I had a lot of people wanting to know how to make it themselves.  So here are a few up close pictures to inspire your own creation, as well as an important safety upgrade:

Nearly the entire structure is made with 1.5″ PVC pipe.  The adjustable handle uses .5″.  Once Noah really started swinging, Pop thought he should better stabilize the bar by adding two 45 degree angle braces.  Also, although it’s not seen in the photograph above, there are three levels for the main hanging bar.  The caps come off so the bar can be moved up as Noah grows or completely removed (as seen above).


During the safety upgrade, he also added screws so the contraption can be taken down into 2 pieces and stored a bit easier.  Lining up the tiny screw holes when re-assembling would be a nightmare though so he even thought to leave 2 little marks.  When those line up we know we have our screw holes lined up.  (Man, that just sounds awful)

Now go flex those baby muscles!

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Water Balloon Bath

Nana and Pop are in town which means fun new surprises for the boy and craft time for Mama!  One of Noah’s surprises was a small wooden helicopter and a big pack of new paints.  While Nana was on paint duty I was preparing for the inevitable bath.  On my last trip to the grocery Noah and I had found packs of small balloons on clearance.  Just the right size for water balloons!  I filled them with warm water and loaded the tub. 


And ever since our Bubble Bubble Bath, no bath is complete without bubbles in the tub AND the air.  We played toss with the balloons and surprisingly none bursts.  The nice thing about this activity is the balloons will be there for the next bath.  Until I show him how to throw them at the wall for a big, fun splash!

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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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“I Love You” Valentine Cards

Whenever we play with markers Noah always wants me to trace his hands.  Then he traces my hands.  I love how they come out all lumpy and contorted.  He just too anxious to pull his hand up to see the outline.  So I knew this card, from Busy Kids = Happy Mom (and oh how true is that?!) would be the perfect Valentine card for Noah to make for his grandparents!  We tried to keep the tracing a little more realistic this time, but it still turned out a little lumpy and contorted, just as it should be!  Check out the bonus gift we stuck inside this card to send the cuteness factor off the charts!

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Cotton Clay

Every so often I forget to close the craft closet.  I’m convinced Noah can immediately sense this and off he goes to explore.  It’s not that I don’t want him finding activities, it’s just that there’s SO much in there that at one time was neatly organized.  Now though, every container, drawer and box is open, their contents dumped and scattered.  And of all the things he could bring to me to play with, one of the most common items – a big bag of cotton balls.  Sometimes we “cook” with them, other times we’ll blow them back and forth in a game of tabletop soccer, we’ve even just thrown them around like confetti.  So when I found this recipe for Cotton Clay I was excited to have a new way to play!

  • 3 cups cotton balls
  • 2 cups water
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • Food coloring optional

First you need to pluck at every cotton ball until you have a giant bowl of fluff.  I didn’t pre-read the instructions so that was a parent fail on my part.  Noah enjoyed doing this for maybe the first three balls.  I lost him after that and was stuck plucking the balls while Noah spent his time joyfully dumping the remainder of the bag around the house.


Things got a little more exciting when we added the water.  If you want your clay colored, add the coloring to the water BEFORE adding it to the cotton.  But then everything needed to move to the stovetop so the excitement was over for Noah for a bit.

The instructions say to heat the water and cotton mixture over medium heat and slowly add the flour as you stir.  Continue to stir over heat for 5-7 minutes until the mixture becomes stiff.  Just the water in the cotton felt stiff to me.  I started to doubt this project.  But I forged on.  Still, it seemed…weird to me.  But then again I was making clay out of cotton balls so this feeling probably should have struck me much earlier in the process.  I will say, when I began stirring the water could easily be squeezed from the cotton.  After the flour was added and it cooked up a bit the water could no longer be squeezed from the cotton.  I used this as my definition of stiff and felt the clay was done.  In the first photo you can tell there is sitting water, not so much in the second.


Once cooled we got to creating.  This clay is super slimy but will air dry in 24 hours or so.  We made a DINO…                                                                            A TURTLE…  And a SNAKE.  Noah made sure the snake had something to eat…

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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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