Creative Play for Kids

Encourage creative play for kids -- It's important!

A DIY Fishing Game and Pretend Play with Fort Magic (+GIVEAWAY!)

A DIY Fishing Game with a Fort Magic Canoe

The Fort Magic kit and pretend play go hand in hand in our household.

We usually build something—a submarine, airplane, fort, igloo—that then encourages all kinds of imaginative play over the next few days.

This time the kids started with a pretend play idea (a diy fishing game ) and decided to make something with the Fort Magic kit to go with it.

Note :: Check out the Fort Magic giveaway at the end of this post for a chance to win one of your own.

It all started when Maia and Daphne were sitting on top of the washer “fishing” with a piece of yarn…. 

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10+ Light Table Activities for Kids (Free and Low-Cost)

10+ Free and Inexpensive Light Table Activities for KidsWe have continued to use our DIY light table regularly over the past several months and believe it’s about the best thing I’ve done this year. Really. I wish I had put one of these together years ago!

I highly recommend you set up a simple light table for your kids!

If you’ve read my light table posts, you’ll know that our very serviceable light table is simply a clear plastic storage box (ours is from Target) with a string of white Christmas lights inside. The cord is skinny enough to slip out under the lid. And when we’re ready to take a break from exploring light and color on the light table, the box goes back into use for storage and the lights go back with the holiday decorations.

We still use the magnetic shapes all the time on and off the light table as well as some of the other toys and tools I wrote about in my light table post. Actually mostly just the magnetic shapes.

In addition, we have tried painting on the light table, playing with the cardboard dollhouse on the light table, checking out water balloons on the light table, and, of course, using water beads on the light table.

Light table play is both magical and educational.

While that first light table post was all about products we bought specifically for the light table, this post is all about light table activities that cost little or nothing. Many of them use materials you already have around the house!

10+ low-cost light table activities for kids

These ideas include art, play, science, and more!… 

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Magnetic Tiles for Kids (Comparison and Photos)

Magnetic Tiles in the window

I came across all these photos of the oh-so-colorful magnetic tiles in the window and had to share. This is from when the set of 100 Picasso Tiles I ordered had just arrived to supplement our set of 48 Building Brilliance Magnetic Shapes from Discount School Supply from Discount School Supply and we were perhaps a bit giddy with the abundance of colorful magnetic shapes to play with.

(Also, Daphne was home sick that week and had lots of time to build and putter quietly with them.)

This is mostly gratuitous photo sharing.

If you want to learn more about magnet tiles for kids, see my previous two posts on the subject:


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What to do with Water Beads

What to Do with Water BeadsWe love water beads. LOVE them!

I’ve been sharing some of our water bead play on Instagram and Facebook lately and have been surprised by how many people are either not familiar with them or ask what to do with water beads.

So, I thought I’d put together a post with

  • where to get water beads
  • how to hydrate them
  • and some of the fun things we do with them.

I’ll also link to some other posts around the web at the bottom of this post with even more ideas for what to do with water beads.

A quick note about safety: These water beads are safe for touching and playing with but NOT for eating. If you have a little one who still puts things in his mouth, then supervise very closely (as I’m sure you would anyway) or save the water beads for when he is older. I’ll include a couple of edible water bead ideas at the end of this post that might be better for children who mouth things…

Where to Buy Water Beads

We have bought water beads from a variety of places over time. I’ve found them in the toy section of a local drugstore for $1.99. Most recently, I’ve bought them through Amazon for a little over a dollar (with free shipping!). Those are the ones you see pictured here.

You can also apparently find them at the Dollar Tree (with a more limited color selection) or at a Michael’s craft store in the floral section (water beads are used as a vase filler).

You can buy a color assortment as you see here, single colors, or clear water beads.

You can buy a little packet like ours (plenty for family fun or a small sensory tub) or you can buy a large packet of water beads (if you wanted to fill a kiddie pool or use them at a party, maybe).


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Building a DIY Backyard Playhouse with Fort Magic

Paint Your Own DIY Backyard PlayhouseThe other day, when Maia and Daphne were off adventuring with friends and I had a rare few hours of kid-free time to myself, I cleaned the house from top to bottom I played with their toys.

The Fort Magic kit, specifically.

I put together a DIY backyard playhouse all by myself and enjoyed every minute of it.

(Note: See GIVEAWAY at the end of this post for a chance to win your own Fort Magic kit.)

I built the playhouse over the sandbox with the idea of creating some afternoon shade in what is one of the more popular kid spots in our yard. Maybe even some rain protection as we are getting daily afternoon showers.

I went in with a goal about shaping my children’s outdoor play space so they have:

  • Shade from the harsh afternoon sun
  • Protection from rain (maybe; as you can see from the photo we’re not quite there)
  • A fun playhouse to inspire the kids’ pretend play
  • A partially enclosed kid-size space for a sense of privacy and safety

My other goal was to try out an idea I’ve long had—cover the playhouse with a blank canvas and let the kids paint it.


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3 Unique Ways to Use Magnetic Tiles For Kids

3 New Ways to Use Magnetic Tiles for Kids - Fridge, Sand, WaterWe have had so much fun with the magnetic tiles for kids that joined our family 6 months ago. As construction toys for kids go, they are absolutely wonderful! My kids and their friends have played more (and longer) with the magnetic shapes than with any other toy in the house, hands down.

(If we were talking outside the house, it would have to be the hammock which is not a kids’ toy at all, but gets more use than anything else outdoors. Who would’ve guessed?! The kids do everything from swing and read books in it to hang upside down and practice flips and other gymnastics-type moves.)

But back to the magnetic shapes for now…

If a friend came to me and asked for a toy recommendation for their kids right now, I’d say buy a set of magnetic tiles.

I am about to order a second set and have to restrain myself from adding a third to my shopping cart.

We like them that much. (And according to some of you, the magnetic tiles get consistent use many years (and kids) later. Good to know…)

Last time I shared 7 ways my kids use magnetic tiles (many of them on the DIY light table).

Today I wanted to share some interesting new things my kids have been doing with the magnetic tiles…. 

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10 DiY Outdoor Games to Make with Rocks

10 DiY Outdoor Games to Make with RocksAre you beginning to make your summer bucket list yet?

How about adding some DiY outdoor games to play in the backyard or when camping?

Kids love games…

Kids love rocks…

Combine the two and you have a winning combination!

Creative, inexpensive, and fun

Games don’t have to come in a box and they definitely don’t need to be battery operated to be enjoyable. In fact the best games are sometimes the simplest. I think we all remember playing games outdoors as children with little more than simple natural materials, companions (siblings, friends, parents…), and our imaginations.

Here are 10 simple diy outdoor games you can make yourself with stones found in your backyard. Perfect to make with the kids this summer!… 

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5 Story Stones Ideas :: Storytelling with Rocks

Story Stones Ideas - 5 Ways to Make and Use Story Stones with Kids We’ve done a lot of rock arts and crafts in our home, but we have yet to make story stones. It’s on our activity list for this afternoon, though, and I can’t wait!

In preparation, I’ve collected a few resources and posts with story stones ideas…

There are so many ways to make story stones!

I’ve seen story stones made with acrylic paint, fabric collage, magazine collage, Sharpie oil-based paint pens, and Sharpie permanent markers.

(I haven’t decided which way to do it ourselves yet. Probably acrylic paint. But really, I want to try them all.)

And the sky’s the limit in terms of the items you depict on your stones. Or how you use your story stones to tell a story.

5 Story Stones Ideas


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Make Homemade Bubble Wands

Make Homemade Bubble WandsHappy Earth Day!

Today I have a post for you on making lovely homemade bubble wands.

We used the new and improved Artterro bubble wand kit, sent to us for review (and which also contains materials and instructions for making some fun garden art!), but if you’re feeling crafty and resourceful you could make bubble wands without a kit.

If you’re a craft store junkie (who, me?) with more time than money or just like working things out, then go the DIY route.

But even hard-core DIYers like me enjoy a good kit now and again.

The Artterro Eco Art Kits are my kind of art kit.

They contain beautiful, high quality materials, are accompanied by inspirational idea-filled brochures, and are made and packaged with the Earth in mind. But the real kicker for me is that while they are KITS, they are still wonderfully open-ended. There is no right or wrong way to create bubble wands or garden art or any other art or craft in the Artterro kits (and we’ve tried just about all of their art kits at this point)…. 

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The Fort Magic Fort Kit for Kids

Fort Magic Fort Kit for Kids I wrote about Fort Magic a few weeks ago.

About a fort kit for kids that has turned our house into a creative construction zone—in such a good way. It has added a new level of family interaction and collaboration during the building phase and has inspired all kinds of imaginative play afterward.

This fort kit for kids has just been announced as a winner of the Dr. Toy’s Best Classic 2014 Toy Award! Plus they will be featured on the TV show Shark Tank tomorrow (Friday, April 18th) at 9pm EST.

If I had a blog post for every time we built something new with Fort Magic, you would be reading about nothing but construction on The Artful Parent.

We’ve made a:

  • Castle
  • Fort
  • Submarine
  • House
  • Teepee (in the backyard)
  • Series of tunnels (in the front yard)

Here are a few photos of various things we’ve built with this fort kit:

Fort Magic Fort Kit for Kids Artful Parent… 

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