If you’ve followed the blog at all, you know just how obsessed my 4 year old son, Finn, is with outer space. He wears his astronaut costume ALL. THE. TIME. In fact, when we were trick-or-treating this year for Halloween, we overheard a neighbor we didn’t know point to Finn and say, “I see that astronaut in the neighborhood all the time!” Yep, that’s my son. So, if you have a similarly space-loving kid, here’s some fun outer space activities and experiments to do with them!
In this post, I want to share with you how to do a DIY project with your preschooler. If you’re like me, whenever you’re refinishing a dresser or building a bookshelf, your first instinct when your little one comes around is to shoo them away. However, involving them in household projects is SO good for them and it can be a fun, bonding experience if we allow it!
Recently, Finn and I had so much fun with this DIY furniture painting project! We’ve had an unstained bench in our entryway for a few years now, but I recently decided to update that space. Originally, I’d planned to paint it white, but when I brought it up to Finn, he said, “Why don’t we paint it red? Like a fire station?” So, that’s what we did!
You might be wondering…Why in the world would you want to do a DIY project with a preschooler?!
If I wanted to get something like this done without my kids, I’d have to do it while they’re asleep or when someone is watching them. And I’m going to be honest, that’s just not how I want to spend my free time. Because of my chronic pain, I usually need to spend nap times resting/taking it easy or at least not doing something that would put strain on my joints. And sanding/painting/moving furniture is not very nice to your hands when your joints are prone to swell.
It’s good for him. It teaches him several useful, real-life skills. He has to follow instructions. It takes quite a bit of fine motor skills. It’s bonding. It’s fun. It builds his confidence in amazing ways. To be able to look at something in the house and say, “I helped put that together!” is a unique, wonderful experience for anyone – especially a child.
Yes, it did test my patience at times. There were, of course, things I had to do without him. But the end result was something we were proud of – and had created together! This is a big confidence booster for a kid (or an adult!).
So, if there’s a DIY project you want to do but haven’t done it because you have a preschooler sticking their nose in everything, maybe this will give you the confidence to let them assist you!
Here’s some tips for your next DIY project with your preschooler:
Prep in advance: lay down a drop cloth, get the paint and other tools ready, and get your mind ready! Ha!
Have an “obedience” talk: I typically have some version of this conversation before we do activities that could get messy or require him to pay attention more than usual. I make sure there’s no distractions, have him look me in the eye and say something along the lines of: “I need you to make sure you listen to my instructions and wait for me to tell you what to do.” I make sure he understands what we’re doing and if there’s anything potentially dangerous (or if there’s something I simply don’t want splattered across the house!)
Don’t do something that’s undoable: paint can be stripped, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend painting your front door with your preschooler!
Protect them: this goes without saying, but make sure you’re aware of what could be harmful or toxic to your child. Have them wear protective gear (mask, gloves, eyewear) if necessary. With most DIY projects, there are chemicals involved that children shouldn’t really be around. For example, I applied polyacrylic coating during Finn’s nap because I didn’t want him inhaling those fumes, even with a mask!
Give clear instructions and do it with them first: sometimes I’m guilty of assuming my kids know how to do things that I don’t remember learning. When I first handed Finn a paintbrush, instead of brushing the paint on the bench, he hit the bench with the bristles, as if he were hammering the paint into the wood. So I demonstrated how to paint and then took his hand in mine and showed him how to do it. He still wanted to hammer the paint in too, but I made sure he did it AWAY from me!
Trust them: part of the process of our children growing up is learning how to do things independently. Once we show them how to do something and then assist them in doing it, it’s time to let them try on their own. Most likely, they’ll “fail” in some way or another – but what matters is that they’re trying, they’re learning and they’re creating new neural pathways in their growing brains! At some point, we have to trust our children to do tasks on their own – and I think you’ll be surprised by how happy and confident this will make them.
Praise them: make sure you’re not just correcting them whenever they are learning a new task, or this will discourage them. Of course they need you to teach them how to perform the task correctly (or at least mostly correctly! Ha!) but don’t forget to praise them for their effort, their creativity, the fact that they’re being brave by trying something new, etc. It always surprises me how much my children bloom when they’re praised.
Take a deep breath: when you add children to most any project, it complicates things. It won’t go exactly the way you want it to go, and that’s OK. Take a deep breath, count to ten, take a break – whatever you need to do in order to be in a good mental space, do it.
Enjoy the process: relish the bonding experience between you and your child as you create something new! Not only is this an enjoyable memory, but you also have an “artifact” of that memory: your DIY project! This is so special and will make your child feel special, too.
I hope that next time you have a DIY project around the house, you include your little one in the process! Make sure you tag me on Insta with the end result. 😉
This super cute and fun summer craft is from our resident arts-and-crafts director: my sister-in-law, Amanda! And, of course, her sweet daughter, Lily. This tissue paper craft doubles as sensory play because what kid doesn’t love playing with tissue paper?! It’s also fantastic fine motor practice for your little one!
Supplies for Tissue Paper Watermelon Craft:
Card stock/thin cardboard or paper plate
Green, red and pink tissue paper
Black material for seeds (tissue paper, construction paper, paint, etc.)
This seed growing experiment is one of my favorites for so many reasons!
It teaches kids about how plants grow.
It gets them excited about vegetables (and fruit and flowers)!
It’s simple and inexpensive.
It’s genuinely incredible to watch these plants grow up close.
What you’ll need for this seed growing experiment:
Clear cups (glass or plastic)
Seeds of any kind
Paper towels (about 2-4 sheets, depending on the size of your cup)
Dry erase marker or permanent marker (to indicate the seeds on the cup)
First, pick out your seeds. We did pea, green bean, cantaloupe, radish and an assortment of wildflower seeds – but you can use any seeds you want! It was fun to take Finn to Lowe’s and have him pick out which seeds he wanted to grow.
Next, take your paper towels, wrap them around your hand so they form a tight spiral (so they can fit in the cup in an organized manner). Then, wet the paper towels so that they are moist but not soaking wet. They need to maintain some structure inside the cup. Then, place them in the cup so that they are snug against the edge of the glass. If the paper towels are falling down, just reinforce them with more damp paper towels.
Finally, stick the seeds on the outside of the paper towel so that you can see them through the glass. You can use your finger (or a pen) to create a small tunnel on the side of the paper towel so they can slide down the glass. You want to paper towel to be snug against the seed so that the seed gets the moisture from the paper towel. This will help it to germinate!
Then, mark your seeds (so you can remember what they are) and place in a sunny spot in the house! A central windowsill is a great spot so your kids can check on them every day.
If you’d like to make this into more of a formal experiment, here’s what we did:
Question: which seed will germinate (grow) the fastest?
Finn guessed that the green bean would grow the fastest because it was the largest. I “guessed” that the radish would germinate quickly because it was the smallest. (Also because I read online that it would! Ha!)
Keep track of the results and once the seeds have sprouted, you can do some more research with your little one about why they sprouted at the rate that they did. You could also have a “competition” on which seeds will grow the tallest or test different hypotheses based on how much sunlight or water your seeds are receiving.
Watching these seeds germinate was really amazing! It took a little patience at first, but once they sprouted I was amazed by how quickly they grew.
After they outgrow your cup, you can (very carefully) remove them from the glass cup and replant them. Note: the roots will grow into the paper towel so you have to be careful to gently detangle them.
It’s summer time! And what a strange summer it’s been so far…
Look, we ALL need some fun, de-stressing dates with our spouse this summer. Talk to your spouse and pick a day of the week to be your “date day” and then make it happen! Even if you don’t have a sitter, some of these can all be done from the comfort of your home. The rest are social-distancing approved.
Also, if you want more stay-at-home date ideas, I’ve got a whole year’s worth of ideas right here.
If you’re looking for a Father’s Day craft to do with your little one, you’ve come to the right place! My sister-in-law, Amanda (our resident Arts & Crafts Guru), created this adorable craft with her daughter, Lily. This would be a nice touch for a dad or grandpa who loves fishing! For more Father’s Day inspiration, check out the results of our Father’s Day Survey: What Dads Really Want for Father’s Day. Also, don’t forget to click through the crafts & gift guide from other mama bloggers at the end of this post!
Ah, summer time. Hot sun. Playing in the pool. Running through the sprinklers. Bare feet on the grass. Eating popsicles. It’s the best when you’re a kid.
I remember one summer we spent with a mom who these days be crowned a “Pinterest mom” – she had a different activity scheduled for every day of the week. It was awesome. We went to the beach, to the park, to museums and the library. We had a blast.
Sometimes I can feel overwhelmed or burdened to become this activity-planning, Pinterest-worthy mom. There’s a lot to live up to on the Interwebs.
However, I’ve made small, achievable decisions that have helped me to make my kids’ days fun, engaging and (sneakily) educational – that don’t make me feel overwhelmed. I hope this can help you too if you’re in the same boat!
Recently, for my father-in-law’s birthday, my sisters and I made a craft for him from the grandkids. It was insanely adorable – and incredibly well received. (There were tears. That’s a win in my book.)
Unlike my sisters-in-law, I’m not a very artsy person. So I will jump at any craft idea that is simple enough for me to handle with my rambunctious boys. This one is very simple – and I made it even simpler.
So you’re stuck at home during this quarantine and your kid is driving you crazy…what do you do?! I’m constantly in a state of searching for activities for my high energy kid, Finn. Aside from displaying the Gospel to my kids, it seems like my #1 daily goal is to get energy out of them! God did not grant me children who will sit quietly and color or read books all day. So I’ve had to learn the hard way how to get energy out of my boys through trial and error. This is some of what I’ve learned.
My strategy for the day is typically to feed them, get energy out of them, and then try to have some quiet time. I’ve found that they will play on their own more independently if those two needs are met. Our day starts with breakfast, a short devotional where we read a Bible verse together, and then trying to go for a long walk or some sort of activity (preferably outdoors) that will help Finn burn off some energy.
So, if you’re working from home because of this COVID pandemic, I highly recommend trying to feed and de-energize your kiddos before trying to get some work done. (Another helpful hint for working from home: try to get as much work done as possible BEFORE your kids wake up. Get the hardest tasks done first, right from the start of the day. Trust me. Try it. You can thank me later.)
A few helpful principles for wearing out your high energy child:
Utilize muscles that aren’t typically used – this is tiring for all of us!
Challenge them with activities slightly above their ability. If it’s too hard, they won’t want to do it. But if it’s too easy, they won’t burn off as much energy. It’s a balancing act!
Be okay with repetition – if something works, don’t be afraid to do it again and again…and again. You’ve probably noticed, kids love repetition.
When in doubt, go outside. Nature is somehow simultaneously stimulating and calming. God is amazing!
And just like that, Easter is upon us! Before having kids, I never thought I’d be into doing things like Easter crafts and Easter egg hunts. As a non-parent, I felt like those things took away from the power of the Cross and Resurrection. But now that I’m actually a mom, I can’t help it – we’re doing all the non-religious Easter activities! However, I still feel very strongly about not letting those things take place of what “Resurrection Sunday” is really about: Jesus.
My primary mission in being a mom is to teach my children about Jesus – whether it’s Christmas, Easter or the middle of June. We talk about Jesus all of the time, but Easter is a particularly special time to emphasize what Jesus has done for us.
So today we did a Jesus-centered Easter craft that was super simple and fun, and we also used that time to talk about God’s sacrifice of His Son and how much He loves us.