Finally SUNSHINE activities!

Sunny fun in summertime. Great pic from


Ok, for the last few days we have had sunshine in West Virginia!  Maybe we will get some summer in after all!

So here are some GET OUTSIDE and HAVE FUN IN THE SUN activities for kids.

Get out there before it rains again!

Paint the Car!

On a sunny day, what can be more fun than painting your car?  No need for paper or canvas or anything.  Grab some homemade paint, pour it into buckets, and let the kids go wild.

When you are done, wash it off.

(and don’t forget to take pictures!)


Play in Water!

Ok, a kiddie pool is the quintessential fun summer water toy.  But yes, it can get old.  So here are some kick-it-up-a-notch suggestions.

Some things to add to the pool:


water color



measuring cups/recycled plastic jars/plastic bottles

squirt guns

adult sized house-painting brushes

shaving cream

corn starch

soap and bubble wands

corn-starch or potato-starch peanuts (that dissolve in water – not styrafoam which is a choke hazard)


Try these ideas to keep kiddies in the pool, getting nice and tired, all day long…


Big Art on the Grass!

Summertime means paint outside.  Throw down an old sheet, an old tablecloth (all cheap to find at summer garage sales), or old towels!  Make some homemade paint, and then let the kids go.

In the pic, the mom gave the kids some old cardboard for painting, but her sons went wild and painted all over the place.

Great idea from


And LOOK at the result!  Save the fabric to cover your table in the winter!


Paint with your FEET!


In the big art outside vein, don’t forget the fun of being barefoot!  Get paint on your kids’ toes, and make the greatest pictures.

more fun from

Make some homemade paint.

Grab an old sheet or towels or use paper bags from the grocery, or old cardboard boxes.

Put the paint in some old tubs for the kids to step in.  Or use brushes and let kids paint their own toes!

And Voila!


Make Plaster Casts!

great cast from

While your kids have painted toes, try mixing some plaster of paris (cheap at Walmart or a hardware store).  Follow the directions on the plaster that you buy!  And remember NEVER pour old plaster down your drain!

Mix the plaster according to directions.

Pour onto a paper plate.

Wait about two minutes, and then have your child press their foot into the plaster, but careful not to go to the bottom of the plate.  Help your child stay in the squishy part!

Wait about a minute, or less if you have a wiggly kid on your hands.

Gently help your child pull their foot straight up, leaving their print.  It is easy to smear, and this can still create a great piece of art, so no worries.

Let the plaster dry 24 hours and then peel away the plate.

Let your child paint the cast of their foot!

Hang a picture hook on the back to hang it on the wall.

And if you have a sand box, or sand tub, get super easy casts:

Just pour plaster into your child’s prints in the sand:

pic before casting from



Never forget the wonderful fun to be had with water balloons!

And watermelons with real seeds…


Enjoy the sunshine everybody!



Better Behavior? Childproof your room!


great pic from But! you can make your own gates, too!

When working with our younger clients ( the infant to 5 year old crowd), I am often helping parents set up their home life to create better behavior.   And one key is having a childproof area where your child can be safe, where you don’t have to yell “no,” every 5 minutes, and where you can sit and actually ignore your tyke and read the mail when you wanna!

So childproofing is key.  And no, childproofing doesn’t end at age 3, when kids are more safe from choke hazards.  Limiting space for your four or five year old is important (and that is how preschool and kindergarden teachers keep sane!)

How to do this, though?

First, you do need to remove all the items from your living or playing space that are easy to break:  think pictures, fragile lamps, glass coffee tables, lovely vases with flowers.  Get those items moved out of your childproof area, and know that in a few years, the little ones will grow up and you can move them back.

Second step is to assess your space.  Cover those outlets!  Think about gates over doors and second story windows!  Get rid of long extension cords, or case them in tubes.  The more your childproof space is danger-free, the more you can read your mail!

Third step is to limit exits.  I know this is hard in some trailers, those larger living room/dining room floor plans, and in homes with lots of balconies or porches.  This is where creative “gates” come in handy.  You can go buy expensive gates at Walmart, or you can make something yourself.  Have a handy old table you can turn over as a gate?  How about some old pallets in the shed?  I chopped up my old crib and used the wooden sides to make a gate in my old house, which had one of those dining rooms that flowed right into the living room.  I used hardware to bolt my gate to the walls and to limit access to the dining room, but be creative and consider everything from rope to bungee cords.  I had a super-duper climber, so having gates that are tall is important if you have a climber, too.

Once you create your gated, danger-free and limited access space, just monitor it daily for incursions.  Did you or a loved one leave some breakable glasses near the television?  Did the dog drag in a chew toy that isn’t choke-proof?  Did a ton of coins fall out of your purse?  Check daily, and once you do your spot check, set up your gates, and close access to exits, then you can relax in your childproof room.

And that is where the fun can begin.  If kids are in a safe space in your home, they are more free to explore their world.  You won’t be yelling as much, because they can climb on the furniture you have safely selected, and they can explore toys and their free play room without worries of choking, escaping, or danger.  You can ignore them while reading This Old House, or having a cup of tea, or sorting out your sewing box or your tool bag.  Yay!

Kids having fun:

another store link! don’t forget to build your own! Much cheaper! from

If this seems hard and overwhelming, it’s not.  A few hours of setting up your space will mean hours and days of more relaxed family life for you and for the kids.

If you need help, just ask us!

Sensory Issues and Fireworks



lovely photo from:

Hey there was a brief moment of sunshine today, so perhaps here in West Virginia we will have fireworks tonight.  Yay!

But for some families, fireworks and other loud events are difficult for children with sensitivities to noise and light and crowds.  So you wanna go to the fireworks (if it doesn’t rain!), but what to do about your kid or kiddies who hate the noise?

Well, there are ways to slowly help your child build up tolerance for loud noises and busy events.  If you are just starting to build up these “tolerance muscles,” then today you will have to go slowly and take it step by step.  However, as you slowly help your child learn to deal with more and more noise and bustle, you can slowly increase how much and how close you go to a noise-event like fireworks.

I spent many of my son’s early Fourth of July fireworks on a hillside past where the really loud fireworks could startle him.  If you are just starting today to try fireworks, this is the way to do it.  Sit far from the fireworks, away from the crowds and the biggest noise.  I helped my son hold his ears when he was little if he found the noise even too much from far away.

For crowds and bustle, this is another good strategy.  Sit far away from the crowd, but perhaps invite a few people to sit with you.  Lots of kids with or without special needs find fireworks overwhelming, so there are always other families grateful to you for providing a safe space.  Build up slowly, year by year, until your children can deal with larger crowds.

I know families who use noise-cancelling earphones for events, but these are not much protection from the boom sounds of many fireworks.  So, yes, if you use them, bring them along, but I still advise not getting too close and building up tolerance slowly.

And check in with your child(ren).  Even at a distance, when he was three and four, my son could not sit through an hour of fireworks.  I was the parent who took him home early, since I can take or leave fireworks.  If you are in a couple, and one spouse/partner prefers fireworks, then the other parent can be the taker-home parent!  If you both like fireworks, then best to share this:  one year, one parent takes home, and one year the other.

What about families like mine?  Two of mine struggled with the noise of fireworks and my youngest loved them?  And what to do as a single parent?  Well, strategize!  Can you go with friends who will bring your noise-loving child home after the display?  Can you do some fireworks at home with your noise-lover while the quiet one(s) get some downtime with books or videos?  Can another family member take the quiet-loving kids home instead?  Have a plan and be prepared.  Sometimes even noise-loving kids lose it on the fourth of July!

And talk with the kids ahead of time.  If you have noise lovers and noise haters, talk about how everyone gets a little of what they need.  If you are a family who all hates noise, then maybe plan on 15 minutes and then heading home – with a treat on the way!  Tell everybody that if one of you gets overwhelmed and melts down then you as a family have to take care of one another and go home.  After all, special needs or not, we all melt down.  We all need care.  That is what family is for.

With all these ideas, the Fourth of July isn’t so difficult and overwhelming for parents!  You can plan ahead, try short outings with lots of distance to the noise, and year by year slowly build up to getting closer.  Or you may be a family that decides that the Fourth is a great day to watch a movie together, to go on hikes or camping, or to go ride bikes or do puzzles around the table.

The Fourth of July can be a lot for noise-sensitive kids (and noise-sensitive parents).  But as a family you have the opportunity to make this holiday fun for everyone, with less stress, and more emphasis on being together and successful.  I hope these ideas help!

Happy Fourth of July to all our families!


Rainy Fourth of July Activities

Fireworks with paints! Just in case it rains again! image from


It is the rainiest summer in West Virginia!  I got my yard weed-whacked today, just before the rain came.  Sigh.

So with another rainy weekend looming, here are some fun July Fourth activities for the whole (indoor) holiday!



Make Some Indoor Fireworks


Grab some of your favorite paint recipes, or check the website for some of my fave recipes, and make some indoor fireworks.

Method One:

Get red and blue paint

White Paper

Seven plastic straws per child

Tape, rubber bands or string

Put the paper on the table.  Place paper plates or margarine tub lids out to hold paint.  Put the seven straws in a bundle, and fold back the tops to create an L shape with each straw.  Bundle the straws to look like a fireworks, and then tape them together.

images from

Let children dip the straws into the paint and then stamp their straws onto the paper.

Fun idea:  Add Glitter!



Method Two:

Get Red, white, and blue chalks

Get BLACK paper

water in cups for the chalk

Dip the chalk into water, and then scribble onto the black paper.  Simple idea, but check out the dramatic results:

image from crafty



Method 3:

Red, White and Blue paint

any color paper (white is in the pic, but try other colors, too!)

kitchen forks

bowls, margarine tub lids, or wide cups for the paint.

Dip the fork tines into the paint and rub onto the paper to make your own fireworks:

pic from




Make your own fireworks – in a Jar!

Get a mason jar or recycling jar out of your bin

Water – fill jar about 3/4 full

Mix 2 tablespoons of cooking oil with about 8 drops of different food colors.  Drip the food colors about the oil, and then let your kiddos mix the colors and oil together.

Gently tilt the oil into the water.  The colors drop out of the oil and mix together!  Water fireworks!

lovely pic from


Fireworks in a water bottle!

Use red, white, and blue pipe cleaners.

Use glitter or confetti, or star confetti if you have them!



Scrunch the pip cleaners into spiral shapes.

Add to bottle with confetti….

Pour water into the bottle and put the lid on (or hot glue the lid on if using inside!)

Fireworks in a bottle!

image from


Water Balloon Fireworks

Red, White and Blue Water Balloons

NON-TOXIC glow sticks



Let the kids light up the glowsticks.  Fold them gently into a roundish shape, and gently pull the water balloons over them.  If the glowstick breaks, it is NON-TOXIC, so no worries.  After the stick is in the balloon, add water!


how cool is this? from


And finally:

Fireworks Bubble Tubs

Fill a bucket, pan, pot, or even the bathtub with water and dish soap. Add Red and Blue food coloring (or Kool Aid), and stir it up!  BUBBLES!  Colors!  Fireworks in a tub.

pic from


I hope these ideas help everyone in the WHOLE Families community have a wonderful, safe, and rainy Fourth of July!  I’ll cross my fingers for fireworks and parades…. 🙂