Mommy Style Monday: Water Beads

Water beads are a fun, simple and inexpensive activity for younger children and there are so many ways to play with them!

There is something about January that I really dislike.  If my daughter’s birthday wasn’t during this month, I would be totally fine to just get rid of it all together.  I’m not sure where you live, but here in Utah we tend to get a lot of cold, overcast, snowy, rainy, slushy days in the winter.  My kids live for the outdoors, so wintertime is hard on them (and me).  I am a warm weather, sunshine loving person and can get a little bit of seasonal depression during this time of year.  I’ve found that staying busy is a big help and trying to rotate through a variety of activities helps my kids from going too stir crazy. *wink*

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

Last year, I saw a friend of mine post some pictures on Facebook of her kids playing with water beads.  I’d never heard of them before but they looked awesome and just the thing to keep my kids entertained.  I found some on Amazon for cheap and threw them in with whatever else I happened to already have in my cart.  (Please tell me I’m not the only one who does this!)

When they came in the mail, I was shocked at how small they were!  They are literally these hard, tiny little beads that came in about 12 different colors.

Water beads are a fun, simple and inexpensive activity for younger children and there are so many ways to play with them!

I grabbed some bins I already had from the dollar store that I purchased when I did my post on 3 ways to paint with toddlers and preschoolers (another great way to keep kids entertained!) and grabbed about 15 or so beads from 4 of the bags and put them in one bin and put about the same amount of 4 different colors in the second bin.  I added some warm water to each bin, filling it about halfway and left them to do their thing.

Water beads are a fun, simple and inexpensive activity for younger children and there are so many ways to play with them!

I was totally amazed when I looked at the beads about 10 minutes later and they were already growing.  Rather than feeling hard, they had started to soften a bit around the outside and they looked a little bit blurry.   (No, that’s not your vision playing tricks on you.  This picture is what they actually look like.)

Water beads are a fun, simple and inexpensive activity for younger children and there are so many ways to play with them!

10 minutes after that, they were even bigger and looking a little bumpy.  I showed my kids and they were equally impressed.  Both of them wanted to start playing with the beads right away, so I let them for a little bit.

Water beads are a fun, simple and inexpensive activity for younger children and there are so many ways to play with them!

Since I wasn’t sure how long it would take for the beads to grow to their full size, I left them in the bins overnight.  The next morning, the water was halfway gone and the beads were each about 1/2″ in diameter.

To set up for our activity, I got some extra bath towels and folded them in half, draping some off the edge of the table.  Then I put the bins of beads in front of my kids and let them go to town!  I gave them some measuring cups and bowls to play with as well.  They loved it!  They measured and poured and bounced the beads for a good 45 minutes.  Their clothes got a little wet but the towels did soak up most of the water.  And I have to admit that I had fun putting my hands in the bins and rolling the beads around.  They are so soft and slippery and squishy!

Water beads are a fun, simple and inexpensive activity for younger children and there are so many ways to play with them!

Water beads are a fun, simple and inexpensive activity for younger children and there are so many ways to play with them!

Water beads are a fun, simple and inexpensive activity for younger children and there are so many ways to play with them!

Water beads are a fun, simple and inexpensive activity for younger children and there are so many ways to play with them!

If you happen to have a light table, these beads would be a lot of fun to play with in a clear container on top of one.  If you don’t have one, you can make your own.  (Check out this tutorial from The Artful Parent.  The same post has tons of ways you can play with water beads!)

A word of caution for those of you with small children: watch them carefully and if they are prone to putting things in their mouths, this might not be the right activity for them.  We got these about a year ago when my kids were 4 and 2 and now they are almost 5 and 3.  You know your kids best.

One of the great things about water beads is that you can keep using them.  We had ours out for about a week and I just added a little bit of water to keep them plump.  After that long, the kids lost interest and the bins were just taking up space on my counter.  When you’re done with them, grab a towel and pour the beads onto it.  The towels will slowly start to soak up the water from the beads and after a couple days they will have shrunk down and dried out.  As they dry out and become smaller, I like to separate them into piles by color.  (I am a little OCD and just putting all the beads together in one bag would drive me nuts!)  I kept the original bags they came in and just put them back in there when I was confident they were completely dry.

If you’re looking for more fun indoor ideas for your kids, check out the links below for more ideas from some super creative moms!

 Kiana  |  Glitter & Donuts
Madeline  |  CaseyLand
Rachel  |  Tutus and Heels
Noelia  |  You Can Call Me Noe
Michelle  |  The Mumsy Blog
Kahana  |  A Beautiful Life
Monica  |  It’s All About

Midway Ice Castles {plus a GIVEAWAY!}

The Ice Castles in Midway, UT are breathtaking and absolutely incredible to see in person!  Read more about how to plan your visit.

I’ll be totally honest: winter is definitely not my favorite time of the year in terms of the weather.  I get super jealous of those of you who live in places where it’s warmer in the winter and always wish I could just hop on a plane and visit for a weekend and soak up some vitamin D.  I didn’t include ‘sunshine’ as part of my blog’s name for nothing! *wink*  That being said, there are some things about winter that I do enjoy because there isn’t any other time of year to experience it (at least not where I live).  One of these things are the Ice Castles in Midway, UT.

I received complimentary tickets to visit the Ice Castles but all opinions are 100% my own.

Ice castles.  Doesn’t that sound like something directly out of Frozen?  Even if you’re not a fan of the movie, I promise that these ice castles are breathtakingly beautiful and almost seem otherworldly.  The castles are formed using icicles that have been grown by a crew and are slowly added to the structure and replaced throughout the event.  By the time the structure is complete, the walls are 10 feet thick and about 20 feet high in some places!

The Ice Castles in Midway, UT are breathtaking and absolutely incredible to see in person!  Read more about how to plan your visit.

The Ice Castles in Midway, UT are breathtaking and absolutely incredible to see in person!  Read more about how to plan your visit.

The guy who created the Ice Castles concept is actually from my home town so most years they have an event here in Utah.  However, they’ve slowly expanded over the years and are currently in Midway, UT; Lincoln, NH; Stillwater, MN; Wisconsin Dells, WI and Edmonton, AB (Canada).  So if you live near any of these places, be sure to visit because this is truly an amazing and fun family experience you will not want to miss!

My family and I visited the Ice Castles last year in Midway and our kids loved it!  We knew we wanted to go again this year so I signed up for their email list so I could get notices about when it would be open.  When it did, we got tickets right away because they tend to sell out quick!  We decided to go this last weekend as a family and invited my brother-in-law, his wife and their two kids to come with us.  My kids love spending time with their cousins!

The Ice Castles in Midway, UT are breathtaking and absolutely incredible to see in person!  Read more about how to plan your visit.

When you first walk into the Ice Castles through a somewhat narrow (but tall) tunnel, it literally makes you stop and just take a look around.  It is nothing like you’ve ever seen before.  The walls are so high and the ice is a beautiful blue color.  If you look up through any of the tunnels, you will see hundreds of icicles above you.  (Don’t worry, they won’t fall!)  We went in the middle of the day.  The sun was shining and it was surprisingly warm, which was great because then our kids could enjoy the time there.  But they are also open until later on at night and if you go then, they have brightly colored lights that are inside the ice walls!

The Ice Castles in Midway, UT are breathtaking and absolutely incredible to see in person!  Read more about how to plan your visit.

The Ice Castles in Midway, UT are breathtaking and absolutely incredible to see in person!  Read more about how to plan your visit.

My kids’ favorite areas were the fountains, kid-sized ice slides and the ice benches.  They also have an ice slide for bigger kids and adults, but be aware that they don’t allow lap riders or doubles.  My brother-in-law’s family went down the slide but our kids were too little.  It looked like so much fun and everyone who rode it had a smile on their face.

The Ice Castles in Midway, UT are breathtaking and absolutely incredible to see in person!  Read more about how to plan your visit.

The Ice Castles in Midway, UT are breathtaking and absolutely incredible to see in person!  Read more about how to plan your visit.

The Ice Castles in Midway, UT are breathtaking and absolutely incredible to see in person!  Read more about how to plan your visit.

The Ice Castles in Midway, UT are breathtaking and absolutely incredible to see in person!  Read more about how to plan your visit.

As far as what to wear and bring, I definitely recommend dressing your kids in snow pants, boots and gloves at the very least.  The ground is uneven due to the ice and snow and came up to my ankles in some places.  You won’t want to bring any strollers or wheelchairs because of this.  I saw some families with small children bring sleds to pull their kids around on which I thought was a great idea.  Also make sure to bring a camera because the opportunities for pictures are plentiful.  There are so many little alcoves and tunnels and towers to take pictures of and in front of that you’ll be sorry if you miss it.  I’d be cautious about bringing any super nice cameras though (refer to the comment about uneven ground).

The Ice Castles in Midway, UT are breathtaking and absolutely incredible to see in person!  Read more about how to plan your visit.

The Ice Castles in Midway, UT are breathtaking and absolutely incredible to see in person!  Read more about how to plan your visit.

The Ice Castles in Midway, UT are breathtaking and absolutely incredible to see in person!  Read more about how to plan your visit.

If you’ve wanted to visit the Ice Castles, but haven’t been sure it’s worth the drive, take my word for it that you and your family will love it.  You can check out ticket prices, hours, directions and more on their official website by clicking HERE.

Also, I’m super excited to be able to do a giveaway for 4 tickets to visit the Midway Ice Castles courtesy of the Ice Castles!  These tickets will cover the entire cost of 4 tickets no matter the price, day or time you go.  Please note that this giveaway is for the Ice Castles in Midway, Utah so please enter only if you  are able to use them at this location.

The Ice Castles in Midway, UT are breathtaking and absolutely incredible to see in person!  Read more about how to plan your visit.

To enter:

  • Follow Sunshine & Munchkins on Pinterest (required)
  • Visit Sunshine & Munchkins page on Facebook (required)
  • Follow Sunshine & Munchkins on Instagram (extra entry)
  • Leave a blog comment below (extra entry)

The giveaway will be open from today, January 4, 2017 to Tuesday, January 10, 2017 at 12am MST.  The winner will be announced on Facebook on Wednesday, January 11.  Good luck!

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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?

12 Fun Ways to Teach Your Child the Alphabet

12 Fun Ways to Teach Your Child the Alphabet--these activities feel more like playing than learning so they'll want to do them!
This post originally appeared on Muddy Little Toes where I was previously a co-contributor.

One of the first songs I remember singing to my daughter was the alphabet song.  I’d sing it while changing diapers, in the car, during bath time, waiting for dinner…pretty much all the time.  When she was about 20 months, she started singing the song on her own with a little help here and there.  By the time she turned 2 years old, she knew the song and could recognize some letters (mostly the ones in her name).  Currently, she is 3 (turning 4 in January) and she knows all the letters by sight, can write about half of them, and knows 3/4 of them by sound.  I’m not telling you this to toot my horn or say that I’m a great teacher when it comes to letters.  But there are some tools I’ve used that have proven to be successful for my daughter, and my son is starting to catch on as well (he is 18 months).  Check out the list below and see if anything catches your eye!

Sing the ABCsI mentioned this one already, but I wanted to include it as part of the list.  This is the simplest way to expose your kids to the alphabet.  Most babies and young children like songs and music and catch on quickly.  Even if you only sing the ABCs anytime you change their diaper and they’ll hear it at least 5 times a day.

12 Fun Ways to Teach Your Child the Alphabet--these activities feel more like playing than learning so they'll want to do them!

Watch Sesame Street alphabet videos
Say what you will about letting small children watch tv, but it was something that I allowed my daughter to watch for maybe 10-15 minutes a day when I needed to distract her while I got dinner ready or used the bathroom or straightened up the house.  I wanted to make sure that any exposure she had was educational, so I simply subscribed to the Sesame Street channel on YouTube and let her watch alphabet videos and other songs.  Before long, she’d ask for the “elemeno” song and would try to sing along.

Sidewalk Chalk (3 variations)

  1. In Order: Write the alphabet out on the sidewalk, driveway or patio with chalk.  I got into a habit of doing this almost every time we went into our backyard in the summer (starting when my daughter was about 18 months).  She didn’t pick up on a lot at the beginning but just seeing the letters consistently helped her recognize them more easily as she got older. 
  2. Mixed Up: Write all the letters of the alphabet on the sidewalk, driveway or patio with chalk.  Then quiz your child on where any given letter is.  This is an activity to be used once your child is older, probably 3+.  It stimulates them mentally and physically since they are walking/running to each letter. 
  3. Trace Letters: Write all the letters out on the sidewalk, driveway or patio with chalk.  Give your child some chalk and help them trace the letters as you tell them what the letter is.  Not only does this expose them to the letters, but it also helps strengthen their fine motor skills which are important for activities like writing.
12 Fun Ways to Teach Your Child the Alphabet--these activities feel more like playing than learning so they'll want to do them!

Bath Crayons
This is really just another way to help introduce letters to your child.  It is fun for them because the get to color in the bathtub, but it’s also an opportunity to teach them where they (generally) won’t run away from you.  You could do all of the same activities as you would with bath crayons as you do with the sidewalk chalk.

Foam Bath Letters
Foam bath letters are similar to bath crayons but nice because the are reusable and cheaper than bath crayons.  The same activities used with chalk and crayons can be used with these as well.

Refrigerator Magnets
I bought some inexpensive letter magnets from the dollar store and wrote out the alphabet on a piece of construction paper and stuck it to the fridge.  Then I gave my daughter the letter magnets and told her to find the letter that matched the one I had written and place it on top.  She loved this activity and has asked me to do it multiple times.

Alphabet Books
This is kind of a no-brainer, but alphabet books are awesome tools to help your child learn their letters.  My kids love the ones that have the letter and objects that start with that letter surrounding it.  I think it’s a good way to help them make an early connection between letters and reading and the objects around us.

12 Fun Ways to Teach Your Child the Alphabet--these activities feel more like playing than learning so they'll want to do them!

White Board
When you feel comfortable letting your child use markers, a white board is a good indoor activity to use to help your child practice recognizing, tracing and writing letters.  (We’ve also used our white board for shapes and numbers.)

Letters of Their Name
The first letters my daughter became familiar with were the letters in her name.  I would write her name over and over and we’d practice saying each letter.  She got to the point where she could recognize those letters in books, on signs, cereal boxes, etc.

Pencil/Pen and Paper
Recently, my daughter has been asking for pen/pencil and paper to practice her letters.  Sometimes we’ll write the alphabet and other times we’ll write words or names.  We started with her name and we’ve expanded to writing my son’s name, “mom” and “dad”.  This is another activity that helps strengthen their fine motor skills.

12 Fun Ways to Teach Your Child the Alphabet--these activities feel more like playing than learning so they'll want to do them!

Leap Frog
Once your child hits about age 3-4, letting them watch the videos put out by Leap Frog may be something you want to look into.  They cover everything from letters to numbers to reading.  I really like them because they are simple, straightforward and they use music to supplement the learning, which kids love.  My two favorites are Letter Factory and The Amazing Alphabet Amusement Park.
 

Bananagrams
Another activity we’ve been doing recently with my daughter is using the game Bananagrams to quiz her on letters.  We also spell words with the letters or ask her to spell some of the words she knows. It’s just another activity to help with letter recognition.

I hope you found something that you think will help your child learn their alphabet!  Keep in mind that all kids learn at different rates and what works for my kids might not work for yours.  But I think the key is consistency.  If you are working with your child on a fairly regular basis, they will catch on eventually and at their own pace.

What have you done with your kids to help them learn their alphabet letter and sounds?  I’d love to hear your ideas!

Kid Science: Dancing Rice

This post originally appeared on Muddy Little Toes where I was previously a co-contributor.
How are you surviving the winter?  After snowing all day yesterday and racking up another 10 inches of snow, I am so ready for spring to come.  Only 47 days left!  (But who’s counting?)  You might remember a fun activity I shared a couple of months ago called Color Explosions involving baking soda and vinegar. (If not, you should totally check it out because it’s so much fun!)  I thought I’d throw another baking soda and vinegar experiment out there for you and your kids to try out!  This activity takes basically no prep time at all and uses ingredients you already have at home: water, rice, vinegar, baking soda and food coloring.

First, grab a clear container, such as a glass, and fill it with water so there is about an inch or so of space left at the top.  Add 1-2 teaspoons of baking soda and stir it around.

Sprinkle some rice into the water.  (I’ve found that minute/instant rice works well since it’s not as dense.)

Add 1-2 tablespoons of vinegar to the water.  After a short period of time, you should start seeing the rice “dance” up to the top and then sink back down.  This is due to the carbon dioxide bubbles sticking to the rice and the gas being released once it reaches the top.

You can also add a drop or two of food coloring into the glass for another aspect of visual fun.

Once the rice stops dancing, try adding a little more baking soda and vinegar to the water to see if you can get the reaction going again.

Notes:

  • The larger the container is that you use, the more baking soda and vinegar you’ll have to use to get the reaction going.  So if you find that nothing is happening, try adding a little more of each.
  • Try using different items and see if you can get them to “dance”, such as small pieces of spaghetti or raisins.
  • For older kids, it would be fun to turn it into a real “experiment” by teaching them about why the rice “dances”, having them make notes about how much baking soda/vinegar it takes to get different items to dance, trying different kinds of rice to see if they “dance” differently, etc.
  • Let your kids do as much of the activity as possible.  They will love being the ones to create the reaction!

I hope you have fun with this activity!  (Maybe it will help you from going crazy while your stuck inside this winter like we are.)

What baking soda and vinegar activities have you tried?

150+ Christmas Coloring and Activity Round Up

The last few days in our home have been filled with crying, whining, fighting, cabin-fever crazy kids.  It seems like the closer it gets to Christmas, the more the bad behavior increases.  Maybe we are all just sick of being with each other day in and day out since the weather turned really cold and we are stuck indoors more often.  I am usually a pretty patient mama, but lately I have been prodded and poked and pushed to my limits.

One thing that I always have in the back of my mind is trying to come up with new activities to keep my kids entertained.  Since my kids are still small, they need more guidance and instruction when it comes to the activities we do.  My daughter is only in preschool but her teacher follows the same schedule as the school district, so the kids are out the whole week of Christmas.  This can lead to less merry and more scary when it comes to everyone being at home together.  So I thought that doing a fun round up of Christmas/winter coloring pages, activities and crafts might be just the thing to keep us all sane.

(To print out a page, just click on the title of the picture and follow the website’s printing instructions.)

Coloring and Activity Pages

Mickey and Friends Winter Day Activity Book : Disney Family

Disney Fairies ‘Secret of the Wings’ Activity Page : Disney Family
Mickey and Goofy Christmas Coloring Page : Disney Family
Vintage Mickey and Minnie Coloring Page : Disney Family

Prep & Landing Elves Coloring Page : Disney Family
35 Frozen Coloring Pages : The Kids Coloring Pages

Olaf Coloring Page : Colouring Page
Sven Coloring Page : Fan Pop
28 Christmas Coloring Pages : Free N Fun Christmas

Charlie Brown Christmas Coloring Page : Cartoon Jr
Merry Christmas Coloring Page : Activity Village
4 “What I Love About Christmas” Coloring Pages : Lil Luna

Tigger Christmas Coloring Page : Cartoon Jr
78 Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer (1967 version) Coloring Pages : Coloring Book

Games

Christmas Word Scramble : About Home

Christmas Mad Libs : Classroom Jr.

Christmas Bingo : Crazy Little Projects

Gingerbread Man Dice Game : Kinzie’s Kreations

Crafts

Candy Cane Ornaments–made from pipe cleaners and beads : The Fountain Avenue Kitchen

Origami Christmas Tree : My Lifebox Designs

Paper Strip Christmas Tree : Rudy and the Dodo

Coffee Filter Snowflakes–buy these cheap from the dollar store : Heart of Wisdom

Color and Build Your Own Snowman : Printables 4 Kids

What are your favorite indoor activities to do with kids?

Reindeer Day

Reindeer Day--fun crafts and activities to do with the kids centered around reindeer

There is something so magical about reindeer.  Maybe it’s the thought of them flying through the air pulling Santa’s sleigh.  Or Rudolf’s red nose.  Whatever it is, my kids can’t get enough of them.  So I decided to put together a couple of fun activities and create a “Reindeer Day” for them.

My kids are still fairly young (21 months and almost 4), so I had to keep it simple.  We spent a total of about 3 hours doing these activities over the course of the day, however, if you didn’t want to do reindeer activities all day, you could choose any one of these, or split it up across a few days.

Hand Print Reindeer

My kids loved this activity!  They are super hands on and don’t mind getting a little messy, so paint is right down their alley.  They thought it was so fun to create a reindeer using their hand prints and some paint.

Step 1: Gather your supplies–We pulled out some blue construction paper, acrylic paint (white, red, brown and black), googly eyes, red or black pompom balls, bells and glue.  You will also need a foam brush, paper plate and paper towels or baby wipes.

Reindeer Day--fun crafts and activities to do with the kids centered around reindeer

Step 2: Squirt some brown paint on your paper plate, grab your foam brush and paint the palm of your child’s hand (just one hand!).  If they are old enough, you could let them do this part themselves.  I had to make sure and use a little more paint on my kids’ hands since acrylic starts drying quickly.  They thought this part was so funny and kept squishing their hands to feel the paint.

Step 3: Have your child press their hand onto the paper and push on the fingers to make sure the paint touches the paper before lifting it off.

Reindeer Day--fun crafts and activities to do with the kids centered around reindeer

Step 4: Turn the paper 180 degrees so the hand print you just did is upside down.  Repeat steps 2 and 3, making sure to leave just a little space between the prints for the collar.

Step 5: Let it dry for 5-10 minutes, depending on how much paint there is.

Step 6: Squirt a little bit of red paint on to the plate and using the pointer finger, dab a little on the end and put it in between the two prints to create a collar.  Let dry.

Step 7: Glue the eye on the head, the bell on the collar and the pompom on the nose (or use black paint/black pompom if you don’t want a Ruldolf reindeer).

Step 8: Squirt some white paint on the plate and use the pointer finger to dip it in and make “snowflakes” all around the reindeer.  Let dry.

Reindeer Day--fun crafts and activities to do with the kids centered around reindeer

Reindeer Dust

I remember the first year my family did reindeer dust.  It was freezing cold outside, but we ran out there with a handful of dust, threw it in the air and ran back inside.  Sure enough, the next morning we’d been visited by Santa himself. *wink*

Reindeer dust is a fun family tradition, so remember to share the love with your friends and neighbors!  We gave some out with our cookies that we took around the neighborhood.  What kid isn’t going to be excited about a little reindeer dust to help Santa find their house on Christmas Eve?

Step 1: Gather supplies–We used glitter and (uncooked) oatmeal to make the “dust”, a couple of bowls and spoons to stir it up in and sandwich bags to store it. *Tip: You could use decorative sprinkles instead of, or in addition to, glitter.

Reindeer Day--fun crafts and activities to do with the kids centered around reindeer

Step 2: Pour about 1/4 cup oatmeal into a small bowl.

Step 3: Add glitter/sprinkles.

Reindeer Day--fun crafts and activities to do with the kids centered around reindeer

Reindeer Day--fun crafts and activities to do with the kids centered around reindeer

Step 4: Stir it around.

Step 5: Pour it into a bag and seal it up.

Step 6: Print off this cute poem (yay for free printables!) and attach it to the bags of reindeer dust.

Reindeer Day--fun crafts and activities to do with the kids centered around reindeer

Reindeer Movie

Reindeer Day--fun crafts and activities to do with the kids centered around reindeer

We watched a new one we found on Netflix called Little Brother, Big Trouble: A Christmas Adventure (2012) about a reindeer who goes on a journey to save his soon-to-be little brother reindeer.  It was cute and my kids liked it too.

Here are a few other options:

  • Rudolf, the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)–classic version
  • Rudolf, the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1998)–animated
  • Prancer (1989)–live action
  • The Flight Before Christmas (2008)–animated, prequel to Little Brother, Big Trouble

My kids really enjoyed having a reindeer themed day!  I enjoyed that the activities didn’t cost much, since I already had everything on hand.  We will definitely be doing this again next year and maybe even adding a couple of new activities.  I hope your kids/grandkids enjoy this as much as mine did.

Do you have themed activity days?  Are there any that you’d like to start?  What activities would you add to your own Reindeer Day?