Creative Play for Kids

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

Make Homemade Bubble Wands (+ GIVEAWAY!)

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 (+GIVEAWAY)

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 ABC.com 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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A Build A Fort Kit for Kids by Fort Magic (+GIVEAWAY!)

A Build a Fort Kit for Kids by Fort MagicWe had a submarine in our house last week.

A big one.

This week it’s been a house, a tattoo parlor (I relaxed while Daphne and Maia each painted designs on my arms and shoulders), a hide-out, a store, a restaurant, a reading nook, and a place to snuggle in sleeping bags for family movie night.

The amount of pretend play in our house has always been pretty healthy, but it’s been taking a whole new level recently with the arrival of a hefty box on our doorstep.

The kids were excited to open it and find a build a fort kit for kids sent to us by Fort Magic, one of my blog sponsors…. 

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Playdough Pretend Play Ideas

Pretend Play Ideas with Playdough - Cupcake decorating and more great ideas for pretend play with playdough

I don’t have a big post for you today; just wanted to share some photos of the kids’ recent playdough creations and combine it with a list of more pretend play ideas for kids using playdough.

I don’t know about your kids, but when my kids play with playdough, it usually turns into a pretend play fest more often than simply sculpture or art…. 

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Fun Kids Wall Decals by Pop and Lolli (Plus a GIVEAWAY!)

Seriously Awesome Kids Wall Decals by Pop and LolliHave you seen the kids wall decals by Pop and Lolli? In a word, they are AWESOME.

In a few more, they are:

Extra large
Extra colorful
Extra creative
Extra happy
Extra fun

I’ve been inviting Mia, designer and owner of Pop and Lolli, to join The Artful Parent as a sponsor for the last couple of years. I think that she, her business, and her mission are that awesome, and I’m so happy to share them with you today.

Here’s what she says about her wall decals on her about page:

“I like to call it my PICTURE POETRY. Experiencing design as an opportunity for expression and exploration – something every kid deserves.”

I’m in love!

In fact, the whole about page is so interesting, I recommend you head over and give it a read.

Here are some of my favorite kids wall decals by Pop and Lolli:

world map kids wall decal

I LOVE this iconic cultural world map!

Coloring Book Wallpaper for Kids by Pop and Lolli

Coloring paper wallpaper!

Dress Up Boy Wall Decals and Accessories by Pop and Lolli

Super fun wall stickers to dress up and accessorize boys. Plus some girly girl wall stickers, too.

puzzling tiles wall decals

Don’t you think these mod repositionable puzzle tiles would be equally fun for adults as for kids?

I could go on and on. Basically I love just about all of Pop and Lolli’s wall decals! They are so FUN.

While they aren’t cheap, they are high quality, large, wall decals that are repositionable and eco-friendly.

(See this video for a demonstration of the stickers.)

Pop and Lolli is an Artful Parent sponsor. All opinions expressed are my own.

Giveaway!

Pop and Lolli is giving a $50 gift certificate to one lucky reader. To enter this giveaway, head over to Pop and Lolli and have a look around then come back here and leave a comment to this post by Sunday, March 2nd at 11:59pm EST about your favorite Pop and Lolli wall decal or product. After you leave a comment, come back up here and tell the rafflecopter widget that you left a comment and are entering the giveaway. Giveaway is open to readers everywhere. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Construction Toys for Kids :: 7 Ways My Kids Use Magnetic Tiles

Construction Toys for Kids - 7 Ways my Kids Use Magnetic Tiles


Building Brilliance Magnetic Shapes
are a set of construction toys that my kids have been using and loving  for the past month and a half.

And brilliant is right. These magnetic tiles are an awesome kids construction toy with sturdy, brightly colored translucent plastic that beautifully catches and filters both sunlight as well as artificial light. We especially like to use ours on our simple DIY light table.

They are brilliant in more sense than just that one, though.

Any toy, construction or otherwise, that captures my kids’ imagination day after day after day for over a month is brilliant. (I know many parents would agree with that assessment.) And it’s not just my kids, but every kid who comes to our house.

These magnetic tiles are so open-ended that they get used in all kinds of ways–not just for building castles and towers. With magnets along each of the edges, kids can construct any number of interesting shapes and the magnets help hold the tiles together. Brilliant!

Here are 7 Ways My Kids Use Their Magnetic Tiles:

  1. Construction
  2. Pretend Play
  3. Light Table Play
  4. 2-D and 3-D Design
  5. Color Mixing
  6. Exploring Magnetic Properties
  7. Building and Learning about Shapes

I want to go through this list one by one and share pictures of each in action…

Construction Toys for Kids Magnetic Tiles

#1 – Construction with Magnetic Tiles

This is the biggie, and obviously what the magnetic tiles were made for. I love how the variety of shapes plus the magnetic aspect of the tiles allow the kids to really get creative with their building.

Construction Toys for Kids Magnetic Tiles

#2 – Pretend Play with Magnetic Tiles

I wasn’t expecting this at all, but the magnetic tiles have been used nonstop for a variety of pretend play scenarios. Besides buildings and castles that are then incorporated into pretend play, they’ve been used for roads, slides, animal carousels, barns, fences, and, as you can see in the photo above, food stalls.

Construction Toys for Kids Magnetic Tiles

#3 – Light Table Play and Exploration with Magnetic Tiles

Yes, a lot of the play and building with the tiles have been on the light table, just because they are just so lovely in the light.

Construction Toys for Kids Magnetic Tiles

#4 – 2-D and 3-D Design with Magnetic Tiles

While a lot of the designing with the magnetic tiles has been three-dimensional, there’s been a fair amount of two-dimensional designing done as well.

Construction Toys for Kids Magnetic Tiles

#5 Color Mixing and Color Sorting with Magnetic Tiles

Pretty self explanatory, right?

Construction Toys for Kids Magnetic Tiles

#6 Exploring Magnetic Properties with Magnetic Tiles

How close can you get the magnets before they attract each other and click together?

Construction Toys for Kids Magnetic Tiles

#7 – Learning about Shapes with Magnetic Tiles

Love this! The 2-dimensional shapes of the tiles–triangles, squares, rectangles, and trapezoids–can be combined to form 3-dimensional shapes, including pyramids, cubes, and prisms.

Construction Toys for Kids Magnetic Tiles

I initially thought the price tag on these Building Brilliance Magnetic Tiles was a little steep. But I’m a convert. These are completely worth it!

Construction Toys for Kids Magnetic Tiles

My kids even combine them with legos and other construction toys!

You may have seen similar magnetic tile building products with different names, such as Magna-Tiles. I haven’t tried them myself, so don’t know how they compare, but can say that these particular Building Brilliance Magnetic Tiles are well made and seriously awesome. Plus their price tag is lower than the others I’ve seen (thanks, Discount School Supply!).

Discount School Supply, is one of my blog sponsors, and sent me a box of the Building Brilliance Magnetic Tiles for free to try out and review (at my request). But as always, all opinions expressed are my own.

This post contains affiliate links.

GIVEAWAY :: Building Brilliance Magnetic Tiles 48-Piece Set

Discount School Supply is giving away a 48-Piece Set of their Building Brilliance Magnetic Shapes to one lucky winner. To enter, leave a comment to this post by Monday, February 24th at 11:59pm EST then come back up to this rafflecopter widget and tell it that you are entering the giveaway and that you left a blog comment. This giveaway is open to readers in the United States. Winner will be chosen randomly by rafflecopter and announced here on Tuesday, the 25th. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Small World Playdough Play for Kids

Small World Playdough Play for Kids -- What a fun way to incorporate playdough into a pretend play for children!

We gave some small world playdough play a whirl recently in between snow play sessions outside. While we often use playdough for modeling, creating, and just as a great sensory experience, the kids also use it for pretend play. This most often means they make food out of the playdough for tea parties, cupcake stores, or living room picnics, but this time they incorporated figurines for some small world play.

Playdough Play for Kids

It started off fairly simply, with a few princess figurines, a few little animals, a couple sets of wooden snowmen and trees (from Mama May i), some snow (polyfill stuffing that came with the snowmen), and some wood craft sticks.

Small World Pretend Play for Kids

The snowmen and trees were placed on the edge of a frozen pond (a a blue art mat) with a fawn looking on.

Small World Playdough Play for Kids with Figurines

The kids used the playdough as bases for the trees and figurines, as hills and other land forms, as houses, and more.

Small World Playdough Play for Kids

I love how the playdough was seamlessly incorporated into their small world play, adding a new level of creative play to the entire experience.

Small World Playdough Play for Kids

The playdough also provided a base for what was first a house built out of the wood craft sticks, then a teepee.

Have your kids incorporated figurines and such into their playdough play? If not, you might want to try setting out some animal and people figurines, matchbox cars, etc out with some playdough and a few open-ended add ins (polyfill “snow,” wood craft sticks, pipe cleaners, toothpicks) and see what they come up with.

We used our favorite homemade playdough recipe, but you could use any playdough, homemade or commercial, of course.

This post contains affiliate links.

DIY Painted Magnet Sticks for Creativity on the Fridge

Creativity on the Fridge with DIY Painted Magnet Sticks - Easy for kids to make with wood craft sticksWe made some simple magnet sticks last week and they have been inspiring way more creating and creativity than I could possibly have imagined. Making them was a creative activity in itself, and yet the magnet sticks are one of those products that inspire open-ended play and creative expression.

This was a project Daphne and I worked on together when Maia was at school. She was looking for a magnet to hang her latest drawing on the fridge but couldn’t find one that wasn’t in use. I took down some older papers, handed her the free magnet, and made the offhand comment that maybe it was time to make some new magnets.

I should remember not to make comments like that unless I intend to follow through.

I couldn’t find any of the round wooden disks that we’d used to make magnets in the past (a project in The Artful Parent book), so was about to say we’d have to wait for another day when I remembered some magnets made with wood craft sticks that I had seen on Pinterest. I knew we had some of those!

And so, on the spur of the moment, Daphne and I made a slew of painted wooden magnet sticks for the fridge.

Here’s how:

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Toys and Tools for the Light Table

Tools and Toys for Light Exploration -- And for  Inspiring Creativity on the Light TableAt the end of my post yesterday about the heart suncatchers, I promised to share what else we’ve done so far with the light table.

Thank you first though for your ideas for light table play, both in the blog comments and on facebook! I can’t wait to give those a try with my kids!

As I mentioned yesterday, our light table is a super easy DIY version (a clear plastic storage box with white Christmas lights!), and we’ve only had it for about a month.

That said, here’s what we’ve tried so far:

Note: When I finally decided to make the light table, I placed an order with Discount School Supply for some things I thought would be fun to try on the light table, so these items are all from there, although some you might be able to find elsewhere.

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From Cardboard Box to Lighted Dollhouse

Make a Lighted Cardboard Dollhouse -- An easy and fun collaborative art project to do with your kids!We’ve been building and decorating dollhouses with cardboard this past week. Mostly Daphne and me, really, with a few cameo appearances by Maia. It’s been a nice change of pace from all the 2-dimensional creating we often do around here and the kids are loving the finished dollhouses!

We added stained glass windows, as we did last time, as well as a string of lights, so they are extra lovely for low-key playtime in the evening before bed or first thing in the morning.

The girls have moved their little figurines in, as well as some horses and unicorns. And made beds out of my silver flats padded with socks.

The little mail boxes you see are from the $1 Spot section of Target and have been used for delivering Valentine’s and notes between dolls.

Here’s how we made the cardboard dollhouses:

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