Cardboard Dinosaur Cave

More Dinosaur FUN! We have had a few deliveries from online vitamin shops and Amazon lately which usually come with a good size box and tons of brown construction paper. I knew it’d be a waste to just recycle them and/or use the box as my recycling bin…. Light bulb moment: A dinosaur cave for the kids to pretend play with! So after looking on Pinterest a bit and using whatever creative juices I had left with this mummy brain of mine….I came up with this!

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My biggest challenge was finding the time to do this fun project. I had so many ideas but I lacked the patience and wanted to get this done. I figure I can always add to it later on or just build another one and call this the ‘test pilot’. I’ve had this material for two weeks already and I just want to get this to a playable state!

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What I used:

  • A good sized box – spacious enough for your dinosaurs to play in
  • Brown butcher paper or construction paper – you get a lot of these from deliveries or buy them at Lowes, Home Depot, Bunnnings, or any art supply stores
  • Tape
  • Stapler – up to you. You might worry about little fingers getting pricked by a loose staple
  • Hot glue gun & glue stick
  • Egg carton – brown preferred but you can paint them
  • Rocks, leaves, bones (homemade), dinosaurs, etc

I would have loved getting craft felt to line the floor of the cave. You can even use some craft moss or fake grass depending on budget. I was thinking of gluing dried used coffee grinds as an idea. But if you read my Homemade Sand blog entry, you’d know I have trouble accumulating enough coffee grinds in a reasonable amount of time!

I’d love to make a little plateau or hill with the egg carton lid as well. Cover it with mache to blend into the backdrop. Another idea was to create an anchialine pool (aka cave pond).

Later on, I’d like to make an erupting volcano to accompany this cave on a dinosaur playing sort of day!

I didn’t have a chance to document this project with too many photos.

I simply crumpled the construction paper up to a shape I liked and started adhering it to the box to make it look like a cave. My little man helped supervise telling if it looked good or not haha. I used stapler, tape and glue gun to complete the project. I would have loved to make use of paper mache to harden the lining and the cover of the box but I lacked time and patience 😉

In this photo, I’m making stalactites out of the pointy bit inside an egg carton. Use hot glue so it sticks more easily.

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I left the remainder of an egg carton inside the cave for the kids to play with. N was pretending her little dinosaur was eating one of the egg cups 🙂

J said they were dino eggs!

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Then I put my premade dinosaur bones inside the cave along with the more lively dinosaurs.

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The kids loved it!

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I’ve been wanting to do a Dinosaur themed day for the kids and I will definitely incorporate this awesome cave into it. Hopefully I’ll find some time to incorporate some of those upgrades I had mentioned!!

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St Patrick’s Day – 5 fun activities with toddlers

1. Leprechaun’s Gold Hunt

I did a simple activity with the kids searching for piles of gold our little leprechaun friend has hidden in our house.

I cut up some green clover stickers

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Then I made a little rainbow pompom and green clover trail that the leprechaun has left behind.

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Then hid piles of gold

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Easy, simple and lots of fun for the kiddies. They loved counting their loot!

2. St Patrick’s Day Edible Sensory Bin

Our kids. No, KIDS love jelly (aka jello). Bonus: it’s got a color for EVERY occasion! Green jelly it is!

What I’ve added into our St Patrick’s Day sensory bin:

  • Green Jello
  • Whipped Cream
  • Green sprinkles
  • Marshmallows
  • Gold coins (we used chocolate gold coins – none was eaten though)

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Instructions: Put everything together and let them go nuts! It is a bit of a sugary treat. So be warned if you worry about having hyperactive children in the house! Yet, what’s the big deal if it’s only once in a while if you can allow it? I, personally am borderline diabetic so I’ll be watching THEM with a careful eye they don’t “sample” too much!

A good tip is to feed them right before the activity so they’re less likely to gorge themselves with sugars and lollies!

Another good tip is to let your child know they can only taste 1 of each (limit is up to you of course). J was really good about that and N was just not interested in tasting!

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The first sampling haha

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Josh found all the coins and sorted them. We also counted his loot together

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We even tried to stack the marshmallows. Do you want to build a snowman?

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Then Josh wanted to make small bowls of Leprechaun breakfast.

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3. Rainbow Pot of Gold – mosaic using paint sample tiles

If you child need some guidance with the rainbow colors, I’d start them off by putting a few color tiles on the paper for them. I even showed the kids pictures of rainbows on my laptop as a visual example. You can even draw lines across the page so the kids know where to glue their tiles in. Label each line with the colors of the rainbow if you are teaching them to read.

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4. Green Puffy Paint Shamrocks and Mosaic Shamrocks

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Instructions can be found here in our previous post.

5. Attend Local St Patrick’s Day Festivities

We live in Dublin, California and they have an annual St Patrick’s Day celebration. This will be the city’s 32nd annual festivity and it will be held on the weekend of March 14, 15 (10 AM – 5 PM) we are really looking forward to all the fun!

Festival, parade and other details can be found at the Dublin official website.

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Homemade Sand – natural ingredients and safe for tots!

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I found a great recipe for homemade sand on How Stuff Works

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups dried used coffee grounds (sun or oven dried)
  • 2 cups cornmeal
  • 1 cup flour (I used wheat for darker color)
  • 1/2 cup salt

I found it quite difficult to drink that much coffee at such a short amount of time so for my batch, I had less coffee. Maybe about 2 cups. Since this is reusable sand (if you don’t get it dirty or wet), I figure I can always add more dried coffee later on. I just couldn’t wait 🙂

Make sure the used coffee grinds are completely dry before you add it into your mix. It may get moldy and/or clump up with the rest of the sand mix.

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I’ve added some colorful beans to add to the texture for the kids to play with.

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Simply store it in an airtight container or cover with plastic wrap for later usage!

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Homemade Fizzling Easter DINOSAUR and Bird Eggs!

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As some of our readers already know, our kids are big dinosaur fans. They both love the excavation kits they have at kids toy shops. J has been super obsessed with eggs lately. I guess if you think about it. It’s pretty magical to a child. Such a pretty, fragile, yet sturdy thing can possibly hatch into a little creature such as a bird, lizard, or FLYING REPTILE! Not to mention it’s quite nice as breakfast 😀

To make the fizzling dinosaur / bird eggs, I used the following ingredients:

  • 1 cup bicarb aka baking soda (keep it handy in case you need more)
  • 1/4 cup corn meal (to add grainy texture. Some site suggest instant coffee but I didn’t want my eggs to look brown)
  • 1 tsp dish detergent (make EXTRA bubbles)
  • 1 tbsp conditioner (I had apple scented ones yum)
  • water (if necessary)
  • food coloring (gel if you want it to have a marble affect)
  • small dinosaur and/or bird figurines

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After you mix all (not food coloring and the figurine!) the ingredients together in a large bowl, see how you like the texture. You don’t want it too crumbly or it will be hard to mold and hold the shape. You will need to add a touch of water if that’s the case. If it’s too wet, then add more baking soda and corn meal.

Then I take a small handful out of the mixing bowl and into a smaller bowl to create one egg. I flatten it slightly and add a drop of each color I wanted. I used colors similar to the creature I’m placing inside the egg. Then i start mixed each color separately and then together. Get ready to have rainbow colored hands! Wear a glove if you prefer.

MAKE SURE you wash your hands and dry then between each egg so there’s no color transference!

If you don’t have gel coloring, normal food coloring works too but it will be a more even color instead of marble. I tried that with one of the eggs and that’s what happened.

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After I’m happy with the coloring of my egg shells, I flatten out my dough like a fat, oval pancake and place my creature in the middle long ways (think egg shape). I can’t remember which dinosaur this is…

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Then I fold and mold the dough around my creature. This one below is a kookaburra 🙂

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Keep molding and molding making sure it’s completely covered and nothing is poking out. Add a bit more dough from your main stash if you need to. Shape it like an egg with your hands. Place your completed eggs on a baking sheet and place it in a dry spot to harden overnight. My perfect location had been above the fridge for many projects. It’s also a good spot to hide from my little gnomes with their gnome-heights.

If your dough is a little more damp, it will take a little longer to dry. Just have a feel.

Tada! Aren’t they pretty?? The pastel colors are very Easter-esque!

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Easter Egg Hunt!

Here comes the fun part with the kiddies!

While my husband distracts the gnomes, I went and hid the eggs in the family room (pretty easy locations for little tots). As it can get a bit powdery, you may want to keep the eggs off furniture that is hard to clean off of.

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After finding their eggs, they brought it out onto the balcony where I had a plastic tray and some tools ready for them to excavate!

The eggs are pretty easy to break open and they loved feeling the sandy texture. We use spray bottles filled with vinegar to make them EXPLODE!

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Watch the colorful foam grow!

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In the end, we dumped the foamy mixture down our kitchen sink. Acted as a drain cleaner!

Bonus 😉

Then N surprised me and found the book in which the little dinosaur figurines came from and was pointing at the baby dinos hatching from eggs!

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Pretend Play – Shaving and Putting on Makeup!

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I’ve been working on this project for about a month now. The kids often show interest in daddy shaving and mummy putting on makeup / nail polish. I started to look into how to make play-makeup. I can make real makeup out of everyday items like baby powder, saffron, cinnamon, etc. However, since N is still quite young, I wanted to make makeup that’ll a) be mess-free b) last c) seems real d) safe.

I saw many sites using nail polish to create fake shadows, powders, and blush. I didn’t really like the idea of using polish in case somehow she ingests some. However, since I couldn’t find a better alternative for the time being, I decided to just keep an close eye on her when she plays.

If you have some used up makeup, clean out the containers and this can be a fun project! I actually bought cheap makeup with containers that suited my criteria. I don’t have that much makeup and none of them were running empty!

After cleaning it out, I pour cheap nail polish into the little sections. You can buy them quite cheap at the shops so you have the colors you want or you can use ones you have already that you’re willing to use up!

Isn’t this pretty? I actually mixed the lightest and the darkest colors to make the middle one. So no need to buy too many new polish!

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Make sure you leave it in a well-ventilated spot to dry / solidify as it will stink up your house! DO NOT leave the lid closed, as it will MELT the lid! Yes, I learned it the hard way…but fear not, I covered the lid with pretty stickers to customize it for my daughter. Leave it overnight to make sure it is thoroughly dried. You may have to top it up with more polish as it will shrink. Then I did the same with the blush.

With her lipstick, I had a few ideas and due to limited supplies, I opted with option #34. Haha. If you have the tools, one of my ideas was to use a wooden dowel and shape it into a lippy. Color it the color you want with child-safe paint. Make sure it’s the right size for your lipstick container. Then glue it into the container.

As for me, I merely bought a child-friendly lip balm, cut it off and pushed it into my empty container 🙂

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This was her absolute favorite out of the lot!

Here is the whole set completed:

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I put it in a pretty little bag for her to keep them in.

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Shaving Like Daddy!

With J, I really want to make him a traditional shaving kit. I could have made something if I had a proper workshop haha. Buuuut I don’t and somehow I got lucky and found EXACTLY what I was looking to make at Target. It was a traditional shaving kit (without the brush) for less than $20. I gave daddy the blades and kept the shaver (with no blade installed) and shaver stand for J. Then I bought a kabuki brush for $5.

Now, I need shaving cream and a cup! Easy. Whipped cream and toy cup. Done.

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Too much fun!!!

Happy Chinese New Year – lion dancer mask made from coffee filter art and egg cartons

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Happy Chinese er…or Lunar New Year everyone!!!

Now, I’d like to say we are traditional and doing it up with the festivities. Unfortunately, that’s not the current case! We’ve just moved from Australia to the States. Yes, we are physically closer to our Chinese side of the family now, but with work, NY day on a weekday, grandparents’ car’s in for repairs, AND extended family just had a new baby so it’s all a bit difficult to get everyone together. Luckily, we will be able to drive down to Popo and Gong gong’s house this weekend and celebrate with them then!

If you saw my previous blog post, you’d seen that the kids made some beautiful coffee filter art. Coffee filter watercolors!

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Yesterday, after the filters were dried completely, I made them into an over-sized carnation! Beautiful and perfect for maybe Mother’s Day in the near future??

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Ok so went off track there a bit. Haha but I thought I’d throw that in there.

SO! I really wanted to make something for New Year. I looked and and researched and with the materials I had in hand, I decided to make a Lion Dancer Mask! It took me a lot longer than I had planned. Nearly the kids’ entire nap. This is because I wasn’t 100% sure if I wanted to make it into a puppet, a figurine, or a mask!

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I layered the filters like I did with the carnation and stapled the middle to keep it together. Then I lined two egg carton cups in the middle to make my lion’s FIERCE eyes.

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Then I scrunch up the middle to frame the eyes.

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Then color in the iris with permanent marker. You can use googlie eyes if you prefer. Or buttons?? Fun to explore various options! I also used another egg section to make it into the red nose. I used tissue paper to cover the nose. Again, try different options! Use buttons, bottle caps, whatever you like!

For the whiskers I used a green pipe cleaner. Easy.

I also made a mouth out of colored construction paper.

I used glue and staples to put everything together. I’m sure you can find other more practical options. Please make sure to share if you do!!

Glue the face onto a paper plate and adhere a stick behind it. Tada! A mask.

You can even attach this to a sock to make it into a sock puppet or attach the rest of the egg carton to the head and make it into a stick puppet? So many ideas….so little time….the kids woke up. 😉

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Indoors Play – stuck at home waiting for my new Dyson!

It’s been a rough few days for me. It’s not because the kids were acting up more than usual or I lacked more sleep than usual. It just seemed with a little bit of this and a little bit of that, became a recipe for “bad days.” To top things off, it hasn’t been warm or sunny enough to take the kids out. Not that I could anyway because I’ve been patiently waiting for the delivery of my very first Dyson vacuum. Yes, it’s a bit sad…but I’ve been really excited about my new vacuum! I’m not exactly fond of the act of vacuuming, but I’m not big on picking up crud off the floor by hand either.

So here are a few activities I’ve drummed up with the kids for the days of waiting:

Day 1: vacuum due to arrive but somehow UPS decided I was not available 2 feet away from the door watching telly while my kids were napping.

  • Played with our tent AKA rocket ship AKA bed

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  • Coffee Filter Art – coloring the filters with color pens and seeing what happens when you drip water on it with an eye dropper. I’m going to use these beautifully colored filters to make something else! Keep your eyes peeled!

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  • Crayon Rubbing – using leaves and dinosaur stencils

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  • Homemade Light Box – okay we actually did this on the night before Valentine’s Day but this would be a great relaxing activity right before the kids’ nap or bed time.

You can find many instructions on how to make your own. There are a few different versions out there. However, with limited supplies, I simply emptied out one of the kids’ clear plastic toy bin, flipped it over (Our lid is a solid white. If you have a clear lid, you can use that as the table top) and placed two small LED lights underneath. We used battery operated ones from Target about $5 for two. Since we were going with the Valentine’s theme, we looked for mostly red items to look at like plastic shot glasses, J’s dinosaur tracing, plastic cocktail stirrers, and hearts I had cut out using tissue and construction paper. Look how pretty it all turned out!

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Day 2: Where is my vacuum?! Online tracking said attempt was made around 3pm but receiver was not available (I was sitting a couple feet from the door watching TV while the kids napped). FAIL!

So another day of waiting around…

  • Colored Noodle and Jelly Sensory Play!

I boiled and colored some noodles with food coloring and added to a big bowl of jelly for the kids to play with this morning. Being that we are in a unit and don’t have a backyard (plus it’s a bit chilly this morning), I set it up in our kitchen. It’s genius really. It contains the mess in a waterproof area and the kitchen sink AND bin are within an arm’s reach! Oh, I also lined a plastic lid (or plate) with aluminum foil. At the end of their activity, I just rolled up the foil and all the perishables went into the bin. Easy.

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Still no UPS…

  • Legos Race Track

Ok, we only have a small collection of Mega Blocks so I only created a “Finish Line” that had a RED, BLUE, and GREEN finish. The kids had a blast shooting their cars down the lane towards the finish line. We guessed which color the cars would end up and we tried to aim our cards towards a color of our choosing.

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Hurrah! Mummy’s Dyson’s HERE!!