My boys were two and three when they decided to abandon their afternoon naps. I’m certain they plotted to ensure they ditched their midday siestas together, because within a day or two of each other, they opted for longer playtimes and trips to the park. Can you blame them? Why sleep when there were so many other fun things to do and interesting places to explore?
I quickly learned that I needed to devise ways of keeping them entertained when the weather wasn’t on our side, and within weeks I had learned how to do every craft possible in hopes of passing the time.
Thanks to some web searching, I even found it was possible to create crafting supplies out of natural, non-toxic materials I already had in my home. In fact, making the supplies was a team effort between the three of us, and we could easily pass an afternoon making what we needed for another day’s fun.
Here are a few of our favorite recipes; most of the ingredients required are things you likely already have tucked away in your fridge and pantry, making these easy and doable.
Homemade Finger Paint (can be used, then wiped off of almost any surface)
- Combine ½ cup plain or flavored yogurt with 2 – 3 drops of non-toxic food coloring and stir to combine.
- Tape a piece of parchment paper to the table or tray of a high chair and let your child “paint” with his fingers.
- If you’re feeling really creative, feel free to “dye” the yogurt with berries, beet juice or coffee for a more natural product.
- For a little extra fun, use the “paint” in the bathtub to decorate the tiles!
Homemade Puffy Paint (can be used on traditional paper)
- Combine 1 cup flour, 1 cup salt and 1 cup water in a bowl.
- Add a few drops of food coloring until you’ve reached your desired color.
- Stir well and store in a covered jar.
- Alternatively, mix the ingredients in a zip-top bag and snip the end off one corner to create a hole for drizzling the paint over an object.
No-Mess Marble Painting (adapted from the Inner Child Fun blog)
- Add baby oil and water-soluble paint at a 1:1 ratio to a heavy duty ziplock bag.
- Gently let as much air out as possible, then seal up the bag very well.
- Use packaging tape along the top of the bag to seal it up completely.
- Let your kids “paint” by swirling around the various colors with their fingers.
Homemade Baby Handprint and Footprints From Salt Dough (adapted from the Design Mom blog)
- Combine 1 part water, 1 part salt and 2 parts flour.
- Mix well and knead a few times to bring the dough together and to make it smooth.
- Roll out the dough to ½” – ¾” thickness and cut large circles out of the dough.
- Press the baby’s hand or foot into the dough to make a deep impression.
- Make holes in the top of the dough (so the finished product can be hung with a ribbon) using a straw or wooden skewer.
- Bake for 2 ½ hours at 225 degrees.
- Once cool, paint or decorate as desired.
Today, there are plenty of eco-friendly supplies available in the stores and online. (Feel free to get more information by visiting the Art and Creative Materials Institute, which grants an approved product seal to any product proved to contain no hazardous ingredients.) But I’m still smitten with the homemade versions. They’re the more economical and ultimately healthier choice. Plus, your little ones will have just as much fun working with them as they would a store-bought product.
Jan Scott is a food writer, blogger and party planner. She is the food editor for SavvyMom Media, and the creative behind Family Bites, a blog inspired by the simple recipes and party ideas she’s put to the test on her family.