Category Archives: Recycled Art!

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…. 🙂



Weekly Activities: Soda Can Recycling

I love using soda cans to make crafts with kids.  They are free after you drink your soda; they are easy to cut; they last forever, and they are so CUTE!

Here is a round up of soda can crafts, some for the wee ones, and some for the older crowd!   Moms and dads find themselves liking these, too!

First of all:  How to cut a soda can for crafting!

This video uses scissors and a craft knife; I have used scissors alone to cut cans, and it works fine.  Just poke a hole with a sharp point in the scissors, and cut.  I have never been cut too much from cutting cans, but if you let the kiddies do some cutting, you might want to use gloves or cut the can up first, and then let kids do the rest!

Soda Can flowers


super easy soda can flowers from


This is the easiest soda can flower, super simple for wee ones!  For the littlest folk, mom and dad do the can cutting, and let the toddlers and 2-year-olds do the paint!


Soda Cans


Paints – for outdoor use, try acrylic, or spray clear acrylic on after the kids’ painting dries.

Cut off the top of the can, but not the bottom.

Cut down the can to the bottom, making “petals.”  Try different widths and shapes of petals like the picture.

Flatten out the petals.


You can attach the flowers to dowels for the garden, or use to decorate around the house.


More Flowers

lovely magnet flowers from



Soda Cans, with both ends cut off and the middle flattened

Paint if you want!

Brads for scrapbooking


Cut out three flowers of slightly different sizes:

detail from



Paint if you wanna!

Layer the flowers and insert a scrapbook brad into the center of all three flower shapes.



Soda Can Lanterns (for older kids)

awesome lanterns from


Take an empty soda can and fill with water.

Freeze for about six hours.

Make twelve dots with a marker around the top and bottom of your can.

Draw a line from a dot at the top of the can to the dot just behind the same one as you just drew but at the bottom .

drawing of the soda can lantern details from:


After drawing the lines, use the craft knife to cut the lines.

Let the ice melt!

Slightly twist and flatten the can to create the lantern shape.

Punch two holes in the top for a wire to hang, or use the tab if still intact!



Pop Tab Bracelets (or belts if you are inspired), for older kids





Flattened soda can portraits – super fun for all ages!

Who says you have to have perfect soda cans for art?

from blog


Take flattened soda cans.

Paint them.

In the pic above, older students then glued their soda cans onto collages they made with junk paper.  And you can do that, too!


another kid version from

Just glue the pic onto a piece of cardboard (and let the kids marker and paint it first, too)

How cute are these?

Be as wild as you want:

from the




Soda Can Dog Tags

For little ones, cut out the dog tag shapes from your soda can; for the bigger kids, let them cut their own.

Use a hole punch or your scissors (I have done both) to make a hole to hang the dog tag.

These in the picture are left unpainted.

Or paint!

Use sharpies!

Glue on them!

Soda Can dog tags, like the flowers above, are a great blank slate for kids to make art!; the original crafter used an expensive cutting machine; I find scissors work fine!


Feeling inspired!  I was at a picnic this weekend and came home with dozens of cans, and am working on flowers!  Please share any fun ideas you find.


Get out there, get your kids, and get making summer art!

What to do with Paint!

Your child dislikes touching fingerprint or playing with paint?  Try some of these ideas with the homemade paint recipes I posted two weeks ago…


straw paint photo courtesy


Paint with straws!

Get paper.

Get straws.

Mix some food coloring homemade paint.


See pic above for the idea!  Use food coloring and water paints, and let the kids drink this to their heart’s content.



Toy car or truck painting!

Get paper.


Find some matchbox cars or play trucks.


Mix some paint.


Let the kids explore!


truck painting photo courtesy of




Marble Painting

Get marbles.

Get paper.

Get a box to put the paper in.

Mix some homemade paint.


Put the paper into the box, and pour some blobs of paint onto the paper.  Put marbles into the box and then let kids tilt and wiggle the box to create marble tracks through the paint.

marble paint photo courtesy of




Feet painting!


Get some paper.

Make some homemade paint.

Get some kids with feet.

Tape the paper to the floor – outside is easy, inside put lots of extra paper down around your art paper – and squirt paint onto the paper.  Get kids with bare feet and let them walk, squish, wiggle and slide through the paint.

If inside, have some towels and water pails ready when the fun is done!


feet painting photo from



Fruit painting!

Get some apples, oranges, pineapple, or strawberries.

Get some paper.

Get some bowls or margarine tubs.

Make some homemade paint.

Let kids dip the fruit into the paint and make prints – or smears – or globs.


All is good.


photo courtesy



So start thinking of fun things to do with paint!  Try feathers, sticks, rocks, q-tips, balloons, potato mashers, forks and spoons, corks, potatoes, pasta….  whatever you can dream of and have around the house!


But get painting!  


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 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.