Preschool Halloween Party on a Budget

In August of this year, I attended a blogging workshop.  While there, I met a fellow mommy blogger named Kyla (she blogs over at Ford-ology) who lives about 15 minutes away from me and has two kids the same ages as mine but opposite genders.  It was like a match made in heaven!  That night, she and I got to talking and decided that we definitely needed to collaborate on a post in the near future.

One day Kyla and I ran into each other at Hobby Lobby with our kids, who immediately started talking and playing with each other like they were already friends.  As Kyla and I were talking about activities our kids could do together for a playdate, it slowly evolved into a preschool/toddler Halloween party on a budget.  (Funny how things work huh?)  The more she and I talked, the more it all came together.  So today we are each sharing how you can host a fun, simple and entertaining Halloween party for your kids and their friends without breaking the bank.

We blocked out a two hour period of time to do everything which included prep time for each activity.  You could easily choose any one of these activities and do them with your child(ren) or for a playdate.  There is enough here that if you decided not to do an actual Halloween party, you could have some type of Halloween activity for almost every day of the week!  Some take a little more prep time, while others are fairly simple.  But the main thing is that all of them are budget friendly.

To start out with, we had the kids dress up because what’s a Halloween party without costumes?  We just used some dress ups we had at home rather than their real Halloween costumes.  When we got to Kyla’s house, we found that our girls had both chosen to dress as Sleeping Beauty/Aurora and our boys were both dressed as superheros: Spiderman and Superman!  So if our kids look like they are dressed the same, they pretty much are, but it was totally a coincidence.  (A very cute coincidence.)

While the kids played together, Kyla and I finished some of the prep work.  She already had a cute little table all decked out in Halloween decor with a tablecloth, fake spiderwebs and spiders (total cost: $4).  Each place was set with a cute paper pumpkin with each child’s name on it, a pumpkin and the paper goods we were going to use for lunch time.

Photobooth
Our first activity was a photobooth.  Kyla had found some cute monster props for the kids to use for $3 from Target and the Happy Halloween banner for $1 (also from Target).

We also used some darling little tissue paper tassels from my friends Etsy shop, Eve’s Party Market, to add a little extra Halloween fun. 

The kids thought using the props was hilarious and Kyla and I even got in on the fun, using our kids as stand-in photographers. *wink* (The tassels were kindly provided at no cost by Creative Juice Cafe.  The retail price is $4 for a pack of 5 tassels.)

Decorating Pumpkins
The next activity was decorating pumpkins.  We gave the kids some stickers, pompoms, googly eyes and paint and let them go to town.  (I already had the pompoms, paint and glue and Kyla spent $2 on stickers and $4 for the four pumpkins.)

It was so fun to watch them each create their own little masterpiece!  When the pumpkins didn’t have anywhere left to decorate, we set them aside to dry.

Pumpkin Toss
While the kids took a little break to get out some energy, we set up the next activity which we called the Pumpkin Toss.  I bought 3 buckets from the Dollar Tree for $3 and I made six beanbags using some leftover material and plastic pellets (purchased from Hobby Lobby for $3).

Since the kids are all fairly little, we just told them the rules were to try and get one beanbag in each bucket.  My daughter and her son (both 4 years old) accomplished this pretty easily, while the 2 year olds weren’t quite coordinated enough to aim accurately.  But they all had fun and wanted to try multiple times.  (I’m thinking this will be a fun game for my kids during the cold winter months when we’re stuck inside.)  If you have older kids, you could label each bucket with a point value and then tally up points for prizes.

Lunch
Putting together the kids’ lunch was so fun!

We made PB and J sandwiches and then cut them out into ghosts and pumpkins using cookie cutters.

The mummy juice boxes were made by ripping up white fabric I had in my scrap pile and wrapping it around the boxes and gluing some googly eyes on.

The string cheese ghosts and mandarin orange fruit cup pumpkins were made using a sharpie to draw the faces on.

Lastly, we gave the kids some yummy Jell-O popcorn in individual popcorn buckets, also from Eve’s Party Market.  They were the perfect size to portion out the popcorn.  (The popcorn buckets were kindly provided at no cost by Eve’s Party Market.  The retail price starts at $1 for 1 with bulk discounts available.)

Treasure Hunt/Goody Bags
The last activity was a treasure hunt that led the kids to some goody bags.  Because the clues were hidden around Kyla’s house, her kids led the way to most of the clues but all the kids had fun running from room to room to find the next clue.

When the kids found their bags, they immediately sat down to find out what was inside: pumpkin bubble necklaces, spider rings, vampire teeth, pencils, small notebooks, coloring pages and a little bag of candy corn.

All of the items for the goody bags were found at Target in the dollar section and cost $6 to fill 4 bags.

I found the treasure hunt printout on Imagination Soup and just printed it off at home.  The coloring sheets are from Honey & Lime.  Kyla put two on each page and then cut them down and stapled the corner to make a little coloring book.

Like I mentioned at the beginning, our whole goal with this party was to make it budget friendly and have activities that anyone can put together.  Even if you don’t consider yourself crafty, you can take any one of these activities and tailor it to your kids.  Kids aren’t going to care if everything is fancy or picture perfect.  All they want is to enjoy the activities and spend some time with you and their friends.

Total cost out of pocket: $29

Honestly, I had so much fun putting this whole little party together for the kids!  Each activity kept their attention for just long enough to complete it and they were able to get their excess energy out while Kyla and I set up the next activity.  As Kyla’s son said at the end, “It was the best morning ever!”  I think we can definitely count that as a success!

If you’d like to read Kyla’s post about the party, click HERE.

What are you favorite Halloween-themed activities to do with your kids?

3 Fun Ways to Paint with Toddlers and Preschoolers

Painting with your little kids doesn't have to be messy and can be a lot of fun!

As a stay-at-home mom, I’m always trying to come up with fun activities for my kids to do beyond coloring and Play-Doh.  Not that there’s anything wrong with these things, but my kids get bored of them pretty quickly.  And when they get bored, what do they do?  Bug each other.  Which in turn bugs me.  So it makes everyone a lot happier if I have a few new activities to offer, especially during the winter when it’s cold and we’re stuck inside and even when it’s summer and it’s hot outside. *wink*

This post contains affiliate links which means if you click on one and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.  Thank you for your support!

The ideas I’m sharing today all use the same basic medium: paint.  I bought a set with 6 different colors from Walmart for about $6.  The paint is nice and bright and easy to clean up with soap and water.  I also opted for tempera paint which is more opaque.  You could easily use acrylic paints for any of these projects as well.

No Mess Finger Painting

This is a great project for young children.  They can’t make a mess because the finger paint is inside a bag, but they still get the sensory experience from moving the paint around with their fingers and seeing the bright colors.  We did this activity with my son (21 months), my nephew (2.5 years) and my daughter (4 years). (At the time of the original post.)

For this activity, you’ll need:

Painting with your little kids doesn't have to be messy and can be a lot of fun!
  • A resealable bag, such as a Ziploc, in a quart size
  • Construction paper or cardstock
  • Paint
  • Masking tape (optional)

Step 1:  Cut your paper down to size so that it fits in the bag when sealed.
Step 2:  Shake your paint well and then squirt different colors on top of the paper in various spots (the paper should be inside the bag.)

Painting with your little kids doesn't have to be messy and can be a lot of fun!

Step 3: Seal the bag.
Step 4: Tape the bag to the table on at least 2 sides to prevent it from moving around.  (We decided not to do this and it still worked fine.)
Step 5:  Let your child “finger paint” on top of the bag.  They can feel the paint under their fingers as they move it around, but it won’t make a mess since it’s in the bag!

Painting with your little kids doesn't have to be messy and can be a lot of fun!

Painting with your little kids doesn't have to be messy and can be a lot of fun!

Marble Painting

I remember doing this activity as a young child in preschool and loving it!  My kids liked watching the marbles roll around the bin and all over the paper.  I bought the bin and marbles at the dollar store (just two of the awesome craft supplies you can buy at the dollar store) which I can easily reuse the next time we do this activity.  I had to help my son move the marbles around, but my daughter had no problems doing it herself.

For this activity, you’ll need:

Painting with your little kids doesn't have to be messy and can be a lot of fun!
  • A medium plastic bin with sides at least 3 inches high
  • Construction paper or cardstock
  • Paint
  • Marbles 

Step 1: Cut your paper down if needed to fit inside your bin.  Mine had rounded corners to I just used a roll of masking tape to round out the corners of the paper.

Painting with your little kids doesn't have to be messy and can be a lot of fun!

Step 2: Put the paper in the bottom of the bin and squirt different colors all over the paper.

Painting with your little kids doesn't have to be messy and can be a lot of fun!

Step 3: Drop 3-4 marbles in the bin and start shaking the bin around to get the marbles rolling through the paint.
Step 4: Remove the paper to dry and start all over!

Painting with your little kids doesn't have to be messy and can be a lot of fun!

Painting with your little kids doesn't have to be messy and can be a lot of fun!

Painting with your little kids doesn't have to be messy and can be a lot of fun!

Cookie Cutter Painting

This activity is more geared towards preschoolers since it’s not as contained and more likely to make a mess.  Also, the bottom of a cookie cutter can be a little sharp which might be a hazard for smaller children without close supervision.  My daughter did great and just got a little paint on her fingers as she dipped the cookie cutter in the paint.  This is also a great activity to do for holidays (heart for Valentine’s Day, clover for St. Patrick’s Day, etc) or preschool (letters, number, animals, etc).

For this activity, you’ll need:

Painting with your little kids doesn't have to be messy and can be a lot of fun!
  • Cookie Cutters
  • Paint
  • Construction paper or cardstock
  • A shallow container to put the paint in, such as a pie tin or paper plate
  • Tape (optional)

Step 1: Squirt some paint onto your paper plate.  I tried to squirt mine in the basic shape of the cookie cutter I was using (ie. train=oval, heart/star=circle) to make it easier to get the paint on the cookie cutter.
Step 2: Tape your paper to the table to prevent it from moving around.
Step 3: Dip the cookie cutters into the paint and press it onto the paper in different places.
Step 4:  Let dry.

Painting with your little kids doesn't have to be messy and can be a lot of fun!

Painting with your little kids doesn't have to be messy and can be a lot of fun!

I hope you enjoyed this post and that it gave you some fun ideas for activities to do with your kids!

What are your favorite indoor activities to keep your kids busy?

Kid Science: Elephant Toothpaste

Elephant Toothpaste

As much as I love the summertime and the sunshine and letting my kids play outside, there comes a point every day where it’s just too hot and we have to come inside and cool off.  I made a commitment to myself that I would try to have a balance between structured time and unstructured time this summer, but I haven’t been doing as well on the structured time with my kids as I would like.  So at the beginning of the week, I decided to do a little experiment that I’ve had on my mind for the last little while, but hadn’t gotten around to: elephant toothpaste.

This post contains affiliate link which means if you click on it and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.  Thank you for your support!
Elephant Toothpaste

Like many kids, mine love anything that bubbles and foams.  We’ve done glow in the dark bath paint, bubble snakes and color explosions and they have all been winners.  This experiment only required me to buy one thing I didn’t already have on hand (hydrogen peroxide), and now I have it so we can do this another day too.

Elephant Toothpaste

My kids totally oooh’d and aaah’d over this activity and it kept them entertained even after the initial experiment was over.  We did it a couple of times–once with my daughter while my son was napping and then again when he woke up.

Elephant Toothpaste
This post contains affiliate links.

To make your own elephant toothpaste, you will need the following:

First, measure 2 Tbsp. very warm water into a small bowl.  Add 1 tsp. active dry yeast (1/2 packet) and stir around.  Make sure your water isn’t too hot or you’ll kill the yeast.  You can have your child help with this part.

Elephant Toothpaste

Set your water bottle in the middle of a 9×13 pan.  Using the funnel, pour 1/2 c. hydrogen peroxide into the bottle.  Add 4-5 drops of food coloring and a couple squirts of dish soap.  Swirl it together gently.  I wouldn’t recommend having your child do this part unless you feel confident they won’t spill or lick their fingers if they get stuff on them.

Pour the yeast into the bottle through the funnel.  (Again, something your child could do.)  Remove it quickly as the reaction will start right away and enjoy the crazy foam!

Elephant Toothpaste

Elephant Toothpaste

A few things:

  • The foam is totally safe to touch!  The peroxide gets broken down in the reaction, only leaving water and oxygen behind.
  • The reaction is exothermic, which means it gives off heat.  You can have your child touch the bottle and they will feel the warmth.  Pretty cool!
  • 6% (20 volume) hydrogen peroxide is a bit of a specialty item, which you can buy at any beauty supply store (or order it online on Amazon by clicking the link).  The kind you buy at the store is only 3% and it will still produce a reaction, but it won’t be nearly as impressive.

After the reaction slowed down, I brought out some little cars and plastic animal (one was an elephant of course) and let them play in the foam.  I had to take it away before they were actually done playing in it because their hands were starting to turn colors. 😉

Elephant Toothpaste

Elephant Toothpaste

This was such a fun activity!  My kids loved it and I loved watching them love it.

I hope you have as much fun as we did!

American Fork Canyon: Granite Flats Campground

American Fork Canyon: Granite Flats Campground--a review of this beautiful campground in American Fork Canyon, UT.

When I imagine going up the canyon, I think of narrow, winding roads with thick trees and brush all around. I think of cozy little picnic spots nestled in the trees and a river or stream flowing nearby. This is probably due to the fact that I grew up living within a short driving distance of American Fork Canyon in Utah.

Last summer, my little family and I went up American Fork Canyon to spend the evening with my brother-in-law, his wife and two kids, as well as other extended family. They were spending the night at the Granite Flats Campground, just a mile up the road from Tibble Fork Reservoir. We had been invited to come up in the evening and cook tin foil dinners and roast marshmallows.

American Fork Canyon: Granite Flats Campground--a review of this beautiful campground in American Fork Canyon, UT.

Even though I have been to Tibble Fork many times, my family didn’t do a lot of camping growing up so I wasn’t familiar with the campground they were at, but as we drove to their reserved spot, I felt like it was exactly as a good campground should be. The individual campsites were separated from each other by trees and bushes, so you didn’t feel like you were camping on top of someone else. It gave a nice sense of privacy and made you feel like you were really camping outdoors. There was a set of bathrooms for every four or five campsites, easily within walking distance, which is great if you have kids (and even if you don’t).

Since getting married a little over 8 years ago, my husband and I have gone up a lot of different canyons with friends and cooked tin foil dinners. It is one of my favorite camping foods and so easy to prep and transport. Tip: We always cook our tougher veggies, like carrots and potatoes, halfway before putting them with the meat (usually chicken or ground beef/turkey), since the meat always cooks faster than the rest.

American Fork Canyon: Granite Flats Campground--a review of this beautiful campground in American Fork Canyon, UT.

While waiting for dinner to cook, I took the kids exploring on the various paths around the campsite. There were a lot of little trails but most of them just wound back to our campsite or the others nearby. My kids loved looking at the flowers, ants and squirrels that were everywhere. After dinner, we roasted marshmallows and made s’mores. Then we were homeward bound since we didn’t want to get caught behind the campground gate when it closed for the night. On the way down, I took a couple pictures of Tibble Fork and was reminded of how beautiful the area is and how lucky I am to live so close by.

American Fork Canyon: Granite Flats Campground--a review of this beautiful campground in American Fork Canyon, UT.

Some things you’ll want to keep in mind if you decide to go up American Fork Canyon:

  • There may or may not be a fee to get up the canyon, depending on your destination. Since my brother-in-law had paid for a campsite, there was no fee for us to drive up there. If you are going up to a picnic spot or to hike, there will likely be a fee. The fee starts at $6 for 1-3 days and goes up to about $45 for an annual pass. Every once in a while you get lucky and the fee station is closed. 
  • When the sun goes down, it gets chilly because of all the trees and the higher elevation. When I left just before 9pm, the temperature was about 60 degrees. When I got out of the canyon, it was 80 degrees. So make sure to dress accordingly and bring a sweatshirt and pants if you tend to get cold (like me!) 
  • The roads are narrow and wind around quite a bit so if you or your kids tend to get motion sickness, make sure to take some Dramamine or something to distract while driving up. It’s definitely worth the drive, though! 

Directions:From I-15, you take the Highland/Alpine exit. Go east on Highway 92 for 8 miles to mouth of American Fork Canyon. Go 5 miles up the canyon to the fork. Take a left to the North Fork/Forest Road 85 to Tibble Fork Reservoir. Stay on paved road as it turns left past the parking lot. Go about 1 mile to Granite Flats campground.

If you are interested in getting more information on the different activities and recreation, you can visit this website.
 

If you are interested in reserving a campsite, you can go here.

Do you have a favorite canyon or camping spot near where you live?  I’d love to hear about it!

46 Ways To Have Fun This Summer {plus a FREE printable}

46 Ways To Have Fun This Summer {plus a FREE printable}

I am totally one of those people who LOVES to-do lists.  I get a ridiculous amount of satisfaction when I put a little check mark next to something that is on my to-do list and sometimes I even add things to my to-do list that weren’t there when I first made the list, just so that I can check it off.  Eat breakfast?  Check!  Brush teeth?  Check!  Make sure kids eat their veggies at dinnertime?  Double check!  (‘Cause ya know, I have two kids…) *wink*

So it should come as no surprise that I’m also a big fan of bucket lists.  These are really the best kind of lists because they are all things that you want to do instead of things you have/need to do.  And really, what better time to make a bucket list than summertime?

46 Ways To Have Fun This Summer {plus a FREE printable}
Boating and playing on the beach at a local reservoir

Our family has a lot of things we like to do during the summer.  But sometimes I forget to plan something for the weekend or my husband’s day off and then we end up either scrambling to find an activity or staying home and cleaning up the house or yard.  So in order to make sure we actually do lots of fun activities this summer, I’ve made a bucket list for our family.  It’s all centered around activities we can do with our kids.

46 Ways To Have Fun This Summer {plus a FREE printable}
S’mores up the canyon with family

I think that by creating a list of activities to draw from, we can do more with the time we have together.  We are more likely to be intentional with our time since we know we don’t have a lot of it available when my husband is home.  And planning ahead or having something to draw ideas from helps too.

46 Ways To Have Fun This Summer {plus a FREE printable}
Chalk Art Festival

In case you’re having a hard time thinking of activities to add to your own bucket list, I’ve created a printable for you to, you know, print out and put somewhere you’ll see like your fridge.  (Click HERE to print.)  When you do something, mark it off with a sticker, an X or a check mark.  You could even include the date you did it and then save your bucket lists from each year with a picture of each activity.  I think that would be a really fun summer scrapbook idea!

46 Ways To Have Fun This Summer {plus a FREE printable}

Of course, when it all comes down to it, it’s not the check mark I get to put next to an activity once it’s been done (although, yes, satisfying).  It’s the memories and time spent together.  I’ve been feeling more and more that time goes by so fast and the time we have with our kids is really pretty limited.  So go ahead and check out my bucket list or make one of your own and see how many memories you can make this summer!

What’s on your bucket list?

Bubble Snake

Bubble Snake: My kids love making these bubble snakes and I love that they are free to make!

The weather here in Utah has been pretty crazy lately.  It will be sunny and 80 degrees one day and the next will be rainy and 60 degrees.  My poor kids ask me every morning if it’s going to be a warm day outside so they can play in the yard.  Thankfully, today the answer was yes and they were outside as much as they could be playing on the swing set, jumping on the trampoline or splashing in the water.

One of their favorite things to do outside is blow bubbles.  We go through more bubbles than almost anything else they play with.  (This could also be due to the fact that they tend to spill the bubbles…)  While my son was napping, my daughter and I made a little contraption that when you blow into it, a stream of bubbles comes out the other end.  We call it a ‘bubble snake’.  It’s really simple and costs practically nothing to make.

What you’ll need:

  • sock
  • empty waterbottle
  • scissors
  • duct tape

Bubble Snake: My kids love making these bubble snakes and I love that they are free to make!

First, cut of the bottom inch of the water bottle.

Bubble Snake: My kids love making these bubble snakes and I love that they are free to make!

Then cut the sock below the heel.  You may need to cut a little more off depending on the size of the sock and the size of your waterbottle.  Just keep trimming until it’s about an inch or so below where the bottle starts to taper towards the top.

Bubble Snake: My kids love making these bubble snakes and I love that they are free to make!

Use some duct tape to secure it to the bottle.  Make sure you pull the sock tight so that it’s not baggy at the bottom.  This will create a better bubble snake.

Bubble Snake: My kids love making these bubble snakes and I love that they are free to make!

Mix up some ‘bubble juice’, as my kids like to call it, by putting some water and liquid dish soap in a shallow bowl or container.  You can also use the pre-made stuff from the store, but I think the homemade kind works better for this activity.

Put the bottom of the sock in the soapy water and then blow through the top.  Don’t suck back in otherwise you’ll get a mouthful of bubbles (not that I know this from experience or anything…).

Bubble Snake: My kids love making these bubble snakes and I love that they are free to make!

My kids love this activity.  They will take turns making bubble snakes while the other one will try to pop them.  Super fun.  Super cheap.  Super easy.  Definitely my kind of kids activity.

Bubble Snake: My kids love making these bubble snakes and I love that they are free to make!

Bubble Snake: My kids love making these bubble snakes and I love that they are free to make!

Bubble Snake: My kids love making these bubble snakes and I love that they are free to make!

I hope you have fun!

Keeping Toddlers Busy While Waiting In Line at Disneyland {and other theme parks}

Keeping Kids Busy While Waiting in Line at Disneyland {and other theme parks}

When I was planning our family vacation to Disneyland, I knew I was going to have to come up with some ideas for keeping my kids (ages 3.5 and 18 months at the time) busy while standing in line for the rides.  Knowing how hard it can be to keep them out of trouble while standing in line at the grocery store, I knew I’d have to have a few tricks up my sleeve so we didn’t all go crazy. *wink*
Below is a list of items that I had with me while we were at the park.  Many of them I picked up at my local dollar store before leaving on our trip because if they got lost or damaged, I didn’t want to feel frustrated at having to replace it.  Also, I didn’t bring all of them with me each time we went to the park.  I brought a few items to the park in the morning and then packed a few different ones when we came back in the afternoon.  That way, the kids weren’t bored with everything I had brought within a short time of being there.

  • Bubbles: I bought a small 3 pack and just took one with me each day we were at the park.  I haven’t met a kid who doesn’t love bubbles and it definitely kept my kids entertained, as well as a few others who were in line.
  • Cars/Trucks: There were four small trucks that came in a pack.  I brought one for each of my kids and kept the others at the hotel in case the kids lost or ruined them.  They loved to drive the cars on the ground, the fences and themselves.
  • Small Notebooks and Crayons/Colored Pencils: I found some little notebooks at the dollar store and a couple packs of crayons so the kids could each have their own.  This came in handy especially when one parent had to wait with one child while the other parent went on a ride with the other child.  You could also ask them to draw the things around them or their favorite Disney character.  Some other options would be to play hangman, tic-tac-toe, practice spelling words, writing their name, etc.
  • Glow Sticks: We used these when we were at the parks later at night in the dark.  The kids loved swinging them around and wearing them.
  • Small Books: I found a couple of Disney board books at the dollar store and brought them with me to the park in the evening when we went to watch one of the shows.
Keeping Kids Busy While Waiting in Line at Disneyland {and other theme parks}

Keeping Kids Busy While Waiting in Line at Disneyland {and other theme parks}

I also tried to keep them engaged by playing games, including the ones listed below:

  • I Spy: There is so much to see at Disneyland and other theme parks with all of the colors and characters and carts full of food and toys.  Playing I Spy is a fun way to help kids pay attention to their surroundings and be observant to details.
  • Counting Items: If your child knows how to count, or is learning to count, then having them count any given item you see around you might be a good way to keep them busy.  My daughter loves counting things and it also gives her good practice with her numbers.
  • Play with Other Kids: If there were other kids in line by us (which was most of the time), we’d let our kids play with them in line.  It kept them all busy without us having to do much besides keep an eye on them.  I guarantee other parents will be glad their kids are being entertained too.
Keeping Kids Busy While Waiting in Line at Disneyland {and other theme parks}

Lastly, we kept them busy by giving them small snacks or pieces of candy.  When we’d park our stroller, we just grabbed a couple bags of snacks to keep handy while waiting in line (since they would inevitably get hungry the moment we were away from the bulk of our snacks).  We also had a bag of individually wrapped Lifesavers Mints that they liked to suck on and would curb their hunger a little bit if we didn’t have access to more snacks.

I hope some of these ideas are helpful to you and your family on your next trip to a theme park!

What are some ways you keep your toddlers busy while standing in line?  Please share!