Paint Paint Paint! May 27 – June 3

DIY bath paints from

Make your own paints and save $$$$$


So many fun pinterest kid activities require paint.  And paint at Walmart or Michael’s can cost up to $4 a bottle!  YIKES!

So here are cheap and easy, make at home paint recipes to use all year long!  Base ingredient is food coloring, so when I see food coloring on sale or have a good coupon I stock up!  When you have food coloring, you always have paint.  (For the adventurous, Discount School Supply and Oriental Trading have liquid watercolors in large bottles and great colors…  I have used both, and prefer Discount School Supply.  I have no affiliate links to either company, so just saying they make a great product.  Or try Amazon!)


So here are the recipes!


DIY Bath Paint

1/2 cup Johnson’s Head to Toe body wash

1/2 cup corn starch

a few spoonfuls of water (add slowly)

food coloring


Mix the ingredients together and add water slowly until a runny paste that sticks to the tub but is not too runny…  Then put into ice cube trays, old yogurt tubs, margarine tubs – whatever you have handy.  Finger paint or buy cheapie paint brushes.  Just give to kids in the tub and have fun.



Condensed Milk Paint


One of the easiest, creamiest, and safest to eat of all DIY paint recipes:  condensed milk paint.


Simple:  mix food coloring into small pots or tubs of sweetened condensed milk.    Keep this one covered in the refrigerator, and it will last several weeks.


Doodle Paint


Another simple paint, but be sure to wash brushes thoroughly!!!

Mix food coloring into white glue (such as Elmer’s or Rose’s).  Use in squeeze bottles (save your ketchup and mustard tubs!!!) or use with brushes, but the glue will dry so do wash everything well!  Store the glue paint in tubs and use again and again.


Homemade powdered tempera paint

Powdered tempera paint is used in SO many fun paint recipes.  But it is not cheap, and not easy to find at that.  But you can MAKE YOUR OWN!  fun fun

Get cheapie colored chalk at the dollar store or Walmart, and buy some good ziplock bags as well (you will need them).  Put one color of chalk in each bag, and then get a mallet or hammer and smash the crap out of the chalk.  This is a fun activity all by itself!  After crushing, store in plastic tubs.  When you use powdered tempera to make other recipes, be sure to wear a mask, as airborne powders are not good for your lungs!

To make a simple paint, simply add water (wear masks until mixed!) and maybe a little kool aid for scent!  Once mixed, paint away.


Kool Aid Paint

Mix water, Kool Aid, and corn starch into whatever paint consistency you need.  Lots of water makes a thick watercolor paint. More corn starch makes a thicker, tempera style paint.  Make extra thick paint and you will get a paint to put into squeeze bottles (remember save those ketchup bottles!).  Store these in the fridge, and if they separate, just stir again before using!


It looks to be a rainy week here in West Virginia, and is raining as I write today!  This is the best kind of weather for fun indoor play, and paints of all types are easy and cheap ways to get kids messy and exploring.  Let them paint and get a cup of coffee.


For a fun rainy week activity, try putting pictures made from your homemade paints out in the rain, and create neat impressionist-style watercolor prints!  Don’t forget to don rain gear and go for a rainy spring walk.  Kids and puddles don’t last forever.


Fun and Free! May 19 – 26th!

Ok, last week was fun and free for spring….  this week I add to the ideas for fun stuff with easy exploding paint, recycling crafts, and fun outdoor adventures!  Enjoy!

erupting ice chalk! easy and cheap! from


Ok, erupting sidewalk paint you make at home??  How cool!


Take 1/4 cup cornstarch

1/4 cup baking soda

some food coloring – use different colors!  have fun!

1/2 cup water


Mix ingredients together and spoon into ice cube trays to freeze!  Once done, get outside and use the melting mess to make wonderful art!  If you don’t have sidewalk, you can use cardboard boxes from the supermarket instead.  Let kids blend, play and explore melting colors.

After the coloring is done, give kids squirt bottles of vinegar and let them squirt their creations!  Instant exploding color, plus oozing paintings.  How much fun is that?  If you wanna save the resulting art work, use plain paper to print over the oozing mess, and voila!  Exploding refrigerator art!


Jellyfish in a bottle!

All the steps are here! Enjoy! from


Toilet paper tube fish kite!

Supplies are simple:

toilet paper roll

cut up colorful plastic bags (I love the bags from Sheets)

markers or construction paper or crayons

don’t try to be this clean – let toddlers be messy. Add an eye or use a marker after the fun! from


Decorate the toilet roll with cut up plastic bag fish scales – or use markers, paint, food coloring, or any fun supplies you have.  Add a white paper with black marker eye – or draw one!  Or color one!  Or use paint or anything else you have!  The fun is the goal!

Cut strips and strings from the leftover plastic bags, and glue, staple or tape the strings to the end of the roll, creating lovely fins!  You can hang these from strings, wire, yarn, or anything handy!  Let kids run about in the wind and watch their carp fly!  And when they break (which they will), make some more!


Get OUTSIDE activity!  for rainy days!

A super fun activity for outdoors in getting outside in spring showers!  Don’t think you need lots of supplies to enjoy time with your kids.

So on a rainy day when kids are bouncing off the walls, go outside and take a walk.  A definite plus for this activity is old, broken umbrellas for carrying, but I’ve walked with kids in rain gear and boots.  Or just throw on some coats and plan on doing laundry when you get home.

Rain makes for wonderful play.  Explore puddles, (do jump!), watch rain in street gutters or your house gutters if you’re in the country.  Stand under trees and see what happens to the rain – pine and spruce and hemlock give more protection than a redbud, for example!  While out there in the mud, find sticks, throw them in a stream, build stick and grass boats, watch water run downhill, and enjoy being outside!  Kids are learning so much when they are outside with you!

And don’t think this is for toddlers alone.  I have walked my church youth group around in the rain, and they loved it!  Teens like time with grown ups, even though they don’t admit it!


So there you have it:  a week of fun activities!  Get out and enjoy parenting!

Fun Activities May 11 – 18th

Matchbox Car Toilet Paper Tube Maze


Almost every home we visit has matchbox cars or something similar. And everyone seems to use toilet paper. So here is a craft for you: use your TP roles, some scrap cardboard and duct tape to build a maze that will grow and expand – and be cheap to throw away when your kids destroy it – which they should! Kids need to explore, and cheap, recycled crafts are the thing to use for fun and educational destruction.


pic from “a happy wanderer” bloodspot



Toilet paper rolls

Scrap Cardboard

Duct Tape


Somewhere to lean the finished project!

So take your toilet paper tubes, and cut them in half. (older kids can help with this, or cut ahead of time)   Find a large piece of scrap cardboard (every appliance store I have ever visited will give me cardboard boxes) or ask Walmart for some large scrap boxes and they will happily share.  Or save your own.

Use the duct tape to arrange and secure the TP half-rolls to the scrap cardboard.  Have your kids help!  This should be fun.  Arrange the half-tubes in any pattern you want, and encourage exploration.  Kids want to create mazes that won’t work, in that the cars won’t roll down the tubes properly.  That is the point!  By arranging and re-arranging the rolls, kids learn important things, such as “match box cars won’t fly across a cardboard box for two feet without more support.”  This is physics and math.  And the more they explore the less trouble they are in.

So I am showing you a picture of what the “finished” maze can look like, but please please don’t make this for your kids.  And don’t worry about buying balls, matchbox cars are fine!  This is a fun activity for you and kiddie to do together….  and btw, my teenager youth group loved this activity, too, and worked at it for hours.  So teen Vacation Bible school teachers, pay attention!


Recycled Board Game!


There are tons of used kiddo board games out there – check Goodwill, flea markets and garage sales.  All are missing pieces, have chewed up corners, and falling apart boxes.  But they make a fun activity.

here a mom did the fun work, but you can use dominos or scrabble tiles (if child is over three – scrabble tiles are not choke-proof) for your child to make into a game that is about them! From




Chewed up old board game or dominoes or scrabble tiles if your child is over three years old (scrabble tiles are not choke-proof!)

Pictures of any sort or kind

Scissors – or tear pictures with little kids

Paste (mix flour and water to thick consistency)

Markers if you wanna color

Paint if you wanna paint!

Find one of your own chewed-up board games, or get one cheap at flea markets…  and then let kids have fun with them.

You can cut up junk mail, kids’ art work, old photos, and use a homemade paste or store-bought glue to affix the paper to the game:  re-make that chewed-up board, cover up the old cards from a monopoly set, color over matching picture tiles.  The idea is to make something and have fun!

Older kids can create their own, new, self-designed game.  Younger kids create lovely messes.  All is good and fun.  Just remember: the idea is to have a good time!

Here a family glued pics over a Clue game to make their own new board game… but with little kids, remember to make way more mess than this!! Original post at:


Make Mud!

Ok, this is not just for little ones!  Mud is so much fun, and families buy expensive play doughs forgetting how much fun the original clay really is.  Do this inside (in the tub works) or better yet, outside!

mud and grass:  hours of fun  picture:  personal collection, copyright Claudia Neely

Ingredients are simple:



(if inside, some container or bucket to hold the mud)

optional:  old pots and pans, muffin tins, margarine tubs, yogurt cups, spoons, spatulas, boxes from the trash or recycling, pots, seeds…  whatever is cheap and easy!


Mix ingredients, stir.


And enjoy!


Mud should keep your little ones super busy for hours.  If you have a kiddo who is sensitive to textures, mud can be challenging, so adjust YOUR expectations accordingly.  Allow your sensitive kid to stir mud with spoons, sticks, an old ruler.  The more you participate in mud and have fun, the better your child will see that mud matters.


Flower Walk

Ok, it is MAY!!!!!  After this snowy winter, it is great to get outside!  So GET OUTSIDE!

Walking with children is a wondrous activity.  Yes they look at every rock on the path.  Yes they find every stick amazing.  Yes each dandelion is cool.  But isn’t that the wonder of kids???  They remind us that yes, every rock is amazing.  So go outside with the kids and enjoy them and the world.  They will show YOU amazing things.


You and kids.


Maybe a bag to collect stuff.

smelling the roses… pick with permission. Pic from private collection, copyright Claudia Neely

Take the kids and go walk somewhere with lots of wild flowers.  Try a park, your neighbor who hasn’t mowed (guilty of this myself), or just your neighborhood.  Go walking and look at flowers, and suggest collecting the wild ones in bags:  find dandelions this week aplenty, violets, buttercups, and anything else that is weedy and pretty.  Bring the flowers home to enjoy – as a bouquet, as a mishmash mess (some kids scrunch their flowers and this is ok), as fun supplies for your mud activity (see above).

Warnings:  don’t pick flowers on state or national lands, and don’t pick your next door neighbor’s prized peonies.  If in doubt, don’t pick.  There are always plenty of nice weeds, so if your little one is heading to pick grandma’s favorite rose, just re-direct your kiddo by saying, let’s pick this one over here!  Usually works.

The fun of flowers is that weeds are plentiful, fun, and many even edible (dandelion leaves are, buttercup leaves are, and violets are)! Best of all, enjoy the fresh air, the fun of walking, and the knowledge that your child will be worn out and sleeping soon.


So there you have it!  HOURS OF FUN activities, for you and child/ren, no matter the age!  The point of all of these ideas is to spend time together, to get your child/ren active, to have fun.  This is not “make a masterpiece” time.  It is FAMILY FUN time.

Weekly Activities! Easy fun for busy folk! A new weekly series.

Driving all over the state of West Virginia, we work with super active and busy families who are coping with autism, trauma, and other related developmental disabilities and diagnoses.  And everyone is struggling when kids are bored and tired… true for families with teens or families with 12-month-olds.  Everyone looks forward to us visiting because we bring fun new stuff (which is why we call our work PlayBA!)  I am often trying to leave craft and activity ideas for families to use between our visits, and encourage Pinterest use!  Still, finding and sorting activities when you are tired and kids are crying and dinner isn’t done can be a struggle.

So now this is our new weekly blogpost:  a week of activities for you and your child.  Ok, many activities are preschool friendly, but with a little adaptation lots of these are fun for older kids, too.  If your positive behavior support plan requires your teen to do some kind of activity other than computers/videogames, then here is a resource for you, too!

So check our blog weekly andgirl toddler painting


I will set you up with a week of fun activities.  I will encourage you to use your trash and recycling for most activities (cheap cheap cheap!), and make the cheapest, Walmart-available crafts supply recommendations as I can.

Because it’s not about spending money on kids or teens (despite what they tell you!).

It’s about spending time with them.