Hot Wheels Fireworks Painting

With the 4th of July just a few days away, I thought it would be fun to do a patriotic art project with Tommy.  The problem is, he has been so obsessed with playing with his toy cars lately that it is hard to get him to want to do anything else. The cars have been sitting next to his plate during meals, riding along with him in the car seat and stroller, going swimming in the bathtub… he even insisted on taking “green car” and “yellow car” to bed with him a couple nights ago and fell asleep clutching one in each hand.

So, I decided to let his cars come to the art table with us… and we ended up making fireworks painted with wheel tracks! We kept it patriotic and coordinated by using a red car for the red paint and a blue car for the blue paint. Fun, festive, and he didn’t throw any fits because he got to play with his cars throughout the entire project! Hooray!

Hot Wheels Fireworks Painting

For this project, you will need:

  • Large sheet of white paper
  • Blue and red water-based washable paint
  • Palette or plate (for paint)
  • Two Hot Wheels cars (or other small toy cars)

To make your Hot Wheels fireworks painting:

1. Grown-up: Lay the sheet of paper on a flat surface. Squeeze a bit of each color of paint onto your palette and wiggle the palette a bit so that the paint spreads out to form flat puddles rather than globs.

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2. Child:  Take one of the Hot Wheels cars and drive it right through the red paint puddle. Then, drive the car across the paper so that the paint transfers from the car wheels onto the paper. Drive the car through the paint again and then roll it onto the paper again, fanning the tire tracks out from a central point to make a fireworks shape.

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3. Child: Repeat step 2 with the other car in the blue paint and make as many fireworks as you wish.

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4. Grown-up & Child: Set the painting aside to dry, and be sure to rinse the paint thoroughly from the bottom of the cars so that you don’t end up with paint tracks on your carpet and furniture! (Just regular hand soap and water in the bathroom sink worked for us.)

OPTIONAL: Once the paint is dry, trace over some of the fireworks with glitter glue to add a little sparkle!

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Have fun with this project, and don’t forget to share your results with us for a chance to be featured on our Instagram and Facebook pages!

To submit a photo on Instagram, tag @makelearngo or send us a direct message.

On Facebook, send a message to Make Learn Go.

Or e-mail us at makelearngo@gmail.com.

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Countdown Calendar for Out-of-Town Parents

My husband travels quite a bit for business, but it’s usually only one or two nights once or twice a month. This past week, though, Dada went away on a week-long “man trip” to hike and mountain bike in Utah, and I was worried about how  little Tommy (23 months old) would handle it. He LOVES his time with his daddy and has certain routines that revolve around their time together, so I knew that 7 nights with just mommy would be a challenge. T will ask for Dada every night when he expects him to come home from work and then again in the morning when my husband routinely gets him out of his crib and changes his diaper while I slowly drag myself out of bed.

In an effort to help T understand that Dada was going on a trip, I brought him to the airport with me to say goodbye and send him off. I explained to him that Daddy was going on an airplane and would be home in seven days. He said his goodbyes and seemed okay with it, and I realized that he did understand that Daddy was traveling when we were out later that day and he kept pointing at airplanes in the sky and saying “Dada! Dada!”

But when we were at home later that night, he started looking around the house for Daddy and getting upset. I knew that there had to be a better way to help him understand that Dada would not be home for a few more days, but that he would indeed come home eventually. So, I decided to make a little countdown calendar.

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I just drew a simple calendar with the days of the week from the day Daddy left to the day that he would return (Monday through Monday). Then, rather than listing the actual date, we counted down the number of nights left until he would return. On the final day, we pasted a picture of Daddy. Then, each morning when T woke up, we would go to the calendar and put an X through the previous day. Any time during the day that Tommy asked for Dada, I would take him to the calendar and point to the number and ask him “How many more nights until Dada comes home?” and he could look at the calender and tell me.

After the second night with the countdown calendar, he understood what was going on and stopped looking for Dada at bedtime and in the morning, and instead would tell me “Dada airplane” or “Dada bye bye” or “See you soon Dada.” It made him excited to see the days getting crossed off and was a great visual to help him comprehend that each day that passed was getting closer to the day when he would get to see his daddy again. On the final day, he kept shouting “One day Dada home!” to all of our friends and neighbors.

We will definitely be doing this from now when my husband goes out of town, and it would also be a great idea if we ever get a chance to go on a getaway together and have to leave him overnight with a babysitter or relative. It could work, too, for a little one with a sibling going away for summer camp, or even to look forward to an event, like a countdown starting the week before grandma comes to visit or a birthday countdown.

Do your little ones have a hard time when a parent goes out of town? What are some tips that help you pass the days? Share in the comments!

Play Dough Easter Eggs & Butterflies

Play Dough Easter Eggs & ButterfliesPlay dough is something we play with a lot. We love it because there are endless possibilities to the things you can create and different ways you can play with it. My little Tommy really likes to roll out his play dough and use cookie cutters to make different shapes. So when I saw some fun Easter-themed cookie cutters out at our local Kroger, I made sure to grab a couple! I picked out an egg shaped cookie cutter and let T choose one. He chose a butterfly.

When we got home, we picked out some some bright colors from our play dough stash and got to work rolling and cutting out our fun Easter shapes.

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We used some brightly colored pony beads (left over from our Easter Egg Color Sorting activity) to decorate the eggs and butterflies.

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He also liked using these little Crayola Model Magic Press N’ Pop Texture Tools to stamp shapes into the play dough.

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It was such a simple activity, but  and it kept the little guy entertained for a long time! He had lots of fun choosing which beads to use to decorate, and it was another opportunity to work on learning colors. Picking up and placing the little beads was a great activity to sharpen his fine motor skills, and trying to pick the beads out of the dough afterwards stepped it up to a bigger fine motor challenge.

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Next time we try this, I want to add pipe cleaners to make antennae for the butterflies. I also saw a cute cookie cutter shaped like a bunny’s head that could be fun, too- maybe with googly eyes, pipe cleaners or toothpicks for whiskers, and a bead or button for a nose).

Try it out, and let us know how you decorate your Easter play dough creations!

Take a minute to check out my simple solution for How to Fix Dried Play Dough.With a few minutes and one magic ingredient from your kitchen, play dough that was accidentally left out overnight will be as good as new!

Don’t forget to check out some of our other fun Easter crafts and learning activities that you can do with your little one:

And if you’re still trying to figure out what the Easter Bunny is going to bring this year, here’s our helpful list of Easter Basket Ideas for Toddlers & Babies.

Cotton Ball Bunny & Lamb

For those of you who didn’t know, I am a mama by day and a freelance illustrator by night (and nap time!). The other night as I was finishing up a project to send over to a client, I came across this little lamb sketch that I did a few years ago. With springtime and Easter on my mind, I instantly thought up an adorable craft that my little Tommy could make using this drawing as a base. Of course, no Easter craft involving fluffy white baby animals would be complete without a bunny, so I whipped up a little bunny drawing to go along with it!

Cotton Ball Bunny & Lamb

For this project, you will need:

  • Little Lamb & Little Bunny (<—click the links to download .pdf files)
  • Printer (with black ink or toner… no color printer necessary)
  • White 8.5 x 11″ printer paper (or card stock)
  • Cotton Balls
  • Liquid Glue
  • Stickers & markers (or whatever you want to use to decorate your picture)

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To make it:

  1. Grown-up: Print the Little Lamb and Little Bunny .pdf files. (I printed on white card stock to make this a little more sturdy to withstand the glue and weight of the cotton balls.)
  2. Grown-up & Child: Squiggle some glue onto the body of the little lamb and let your little one help place cotton ball “wool” all over to make the lamb cute and fluffy.
  3. Child: Decorate your picture with colorful stickers, color the background, and add words or designs to make it your own.
  4. Repeat steps 2-3 with the Little Bunny printout.

These printouts are free for personal use, but please remember that I am the artist and I retain the copyrights to the artwork. These art files (along with any other art or photography that I post on makelearngo.com) cannot be copied, reproduced, or sold without my permission. If you have any questions about this, please e-mail me at makelearngo@gmail.com. Thank you!

When you make this with your little artist, don’t forget to take a picture! Tag @makelearngo on Instagram, send a message to Make Learn Go on Facebook, or e-mail your photo to makelearngo@gmail.com for a chance for your child’s artwork to be featured on our Instagram and Facebook pages!

And don’t forget to check out some of our fun Easter crafts and learning activities that you can do with your little one:

And if you’re still trying to figure out what the Easter Bunny is going to bring this year, here’s our helpful list of Easter Basket Ideas for Toddlers & Babies.

Dot Art Rainbow

I featured this project on Instagram (@makelearngo) and Facebook (Make Learn Go) last week, but never got around to posting about it here on the blog. We did this project while learning about rainbows before St. Patrick’s Day, but this is a great project to do any time of the year! It’s a fun way for your child to work on color recognition and color matching as well as hand-eye coordination.

(For another fun St. Paddy’s Day craft your child will love, check out our Tissue Box Leprechaun Trap!)

Dot Art Rainbow1

For this project, you will need:

  • Plain white sheet of paper
  • Markers, crayons, or colored pencils (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, & purple)
  • Dot markers (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, & purple) – we love Do-A-Dot Art! Markersrainbowart2

To make the dot art rainbow:

  1. Grown-up: Draw a thin arc in each color of the rainbow to make the template for your child to stamp over.
  2. Child: Choose the correct color of dot marker to match the first arc of the rainbow.
  3. Child: Stamp over the arc with the coordinating color of dot marker, trying to keep the dots following along the line as closely as possible. Continue until the entire arc is covered in dots.
  4. Child: Continue steps 3 & 4 with each arc until your rainbow is complete!

So easy, fun, and educational! Go get to work with your little artist, and share a picture with us for a chance to be featured on our Instagram and Facebook pages!

To submit a photo on Instagram, tag @makelearngo or send us a direct message.

On Facebook, send a message to Make Learn Go.

Or e-mail us at makelearngo@gmail.com.

How to Fix Dried Play Dough

My little guy loves play dough! We have been using this awesome homemade play dough recipe (#1 on the list from We Love Being Moms). It’s so easy to make and has a great texture like the store-bought kind that is not too crumbly or sticky.

But T now knows how to open up the play dough by himself, and of course he doesn’t always remember to put it away when he’s done… this morning I found a bunch of play dough that he had rolled out to use with cookie cutters and left sitting out overnight. It had dried out a lot and was really crumbly with hardened bits all over the top. But, with just one magic ingredient plus water, and 3 simple steps, our dried-out play dough was as good as new!

Fix Dried Play Dough

The magic ingredient? Cream of tartar!

There were two different colors of play dough that were left out- I did one with the cream of tartar and one with only water. The one that I tried to revive with water only was so gooey and slimy afterwards that I had to toss it, but the one with the cream of tartar mixed in was perfect! You really would never know that it had ever dried out!

How to fix dried play dough:

1. Roll the dried play dough into a ball and knead it in your hands for a minute to break up the dried layer on top and soften it up a bit.

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2. In a bowl, mix together 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar with 1 tablespoon water.

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3. Add the ball of play dough to the bowl and roll it around, kneading the dough with your fingers so that you soak up all of the liquid into the dough.

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4. Take the dough out of the bowl and knead with your hands for a minute until it starts to feel softer and less wet.

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5. Pop it in the microwave for 20 seconds. Then just squish in your hands a couple times and it will feel soft and ready to play with again!

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No need to ever toss dried play dough again! Hooray!

Tissue Box Leprechaun Trap

At 20 months old, T is still a little young to fully comprehend the magic and excitement of leprechauns, the Easter Bunny, and Santa Claus… but I LOVE celebrating holidays, so I am trying to introduce him to some fun little traditions. With St. Patrick’s Day around the corner, I thought it would be fun to make a little leprechaun trap together. We used only materials that we had around the house to make this cute little contraption, and T had a lot of fun making it with me!

Tissue Box Leprechaun TrapTo make this project, you will need:

  • An empty tissue box
  • Green acrylic or craft paint
  • A handful of cotton balls
  • Non-toxic liquid glue
  • Clear tape
  • Foam strips & 2 paper clips or pipe cleaners (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, & purple)
  • Stickers to decorate
  • A few blocks (or get creative using other toys or items to make a ladder or stairs leading up to the top of the trap)

Make this with your own little artist in 5 easy steps:

1. Grown-up: Paint the tissue box green. This part will go much faster (and be a lot less messy) if do it for them. Plus, the paint I used wasn’t non-toxic so I didn’t want T getting it on his fingers.

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2. Grown-up & Child: Construct your rainbow. (I wanted to do this part with pipe cleaners, but we didn’t have any, so I cut strips from foam sheets I had in our art bin.) Let your child help lay out the colors of the rainbow in the right order. Stack the foam strips on top of each other and poke a paper clip through each end to hold it together. Then tape one of the paper clips to the underside of either side of the tissue box opening. Fan it out to get a nice curve to your rainbow. (If you’re using pipe cleaners, just put the colors in order, twist the ends to hold it together, bend the ends and tape to the underside of the box opening.)

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3. Grown-up & Child: Squiggle some glue onto the top of the tissue box and let  your little one help place cotton ball “clouds” all over to cover the top of the box.

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4. Child: Let your little artist decorate the sides of the box with stickers. (We found some fun St. Patrick’s Day themed stickers for $1 at Big Lots.)

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5. Child: Stack the blocks to make a staircase leading to the top of the leprechaun trap. Now it’s ready for your leprechaun to visit on St. Patrick’s Day!

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This was such a fun and easy project to make! Maybe if we are lucky a little leprechaun will visit our trap on March 17th and leave a few gold (chocolate) coins behind!

Now it’s your turn! Go make your own leprechaun trap, then come back here and tell us about it.

For another fun St. Paddy’s Day project to do with your little artist, check out our Dot Art Rainbow!

Painted Initial Art

I have been continually working on some sort of art project for as long as I can remember. I spent most of my spare time as a child making crafts and drawing, I was an AP art kid in high school, I graduated with a BFA in Illustration from the Academy of Art University, and I have worked professionally as an illustrator, graphic artist, and portrait artist. So, naturally, I was thrilled (and may have even shed a tear) when I gave Tommy his first set of crayons at 10 months old and watched him go to town scribbling his own little masterpiece. I have it hanging in my studio above my drafting table. 🙂

Tommy Art 4-29-14I have since introduced him to a variety of artistic tools, including markers, watercolors, stickers, tempera paints, Do-a-Dot markers, and colored pencils. There are few things that bring me more joy than watching my little boy create. The frenzied look in his eye as he brushes paint onto paper is my absolute favorite. So, I had these three little 6×8″ canvas panels sitting in my closet full of art supplies and thought that they would be the perfect starter canvases for my little Picasso. And, at 20 months old, he is currently obsessed with his ABCs, so that is where the idea for these painted initial canvases started.

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To make this project, you will need:

  • 3 blank canvases (or however many you want to make)
  • Washable, non toxic tempera paint (and any other art supplies your child wants to use)
  • Palette (or plate, or plastic lid, or whatever works)
  • Masking tape
  • Paint brushes (or little hands that can get messy)
  • White acrylic paint (for touch-ups)

Make this with your own little artist in 5 easy steps:

  1. Grown-up: Create one letter on each canvas with masking tape. I did Tommy’s initials, TJA, but this could also work well for a kid with a short first name if you want to spell out the whole name. Be sure that the tape is stuck firmly to the canvas and that edges are clean, as this will be the negative space that creates the initial on each canvas. For curved letters, use scissors to cut the tape into rounded edges.
  2. Grown-up: Squeeze a few different colors of paint onto your palette and line up the taped canvases side by side to prepare your artist’s work area.
  3. Child: Let the artist get to work spreading tempera paint over the canvas. My little artist started by using brushes of varying sizes and then decided that he would rather use his hands. He also chose to go for a mixed-media approach and added a few touches of Do-a-Dot markers and Crayola Ultra-Washable Markers. Encourage the artist to fill any spots of bare canvas bordering the areas masked with tape so that the letters will really pop when it is done.
  4. Grown-up:  When the artist’s job is done and all paint is dry to the touch, gently peel off the masking tape to reveal the letters. Touch up any sloppy edges with white acrylic paint.
  5. Grown-up: Let dry and hang the artwork for all to enjoy!

This project was simple, fun, and an adorable solution for the blank wall above Tommy’s crib. Now every time he wakes up, he smiles and points at his artwork, shouting “A!” (his favorite letter). I think it really makes him excited to see the art that he created on display. It was also a fun way for him to learn about self-expression, letters, and colors.

Now it’s your turn, go make it with your child, and share your results with us when you’re done!

Welcome to Make Learn Go!

As a mother to a VERY busy little boy, I have found that boredom is a luxury that our family cannot afford. If I fail to provide him with an activity to keep him occupied, he will put his mischievous mind to work and find something to do… which usually involves climbing on, tasting, or throwing something that he shouldn’t. While my first impulse is usually to scold him for misbehaving, I have often found myself impressed by his curiosity, determination, and ingenuity. I have witnessed him discover gravity by tossing pasta high into the air and watching it crash onto the carpet. I have watched him exercise his problem solving skills as he rearranged blankets, pillows, and furniture in order to climb on top of a table to reach my can of Diet Coke. I have seen him exhibit patience, courage, and humor as he hid behind a curtain of cardigans in my pitch-dark closet waiting for me to find him so that he could pop out and say “Boo!” And as he engages in these “naughty” behaviors, I have seen a variety of looks on his face ranging from pride to wonder to sheer delight.

I have learned that for us both to get the most out of our days together, I need to train my brain to work more like his. I need to think creatively and find the excitement in the things that he does. While setting appropriate boundaries for his safety (and my sanity), I need to encourage him to explore the world around him in a way that is exciting for him. So, any time that I see him beginning to get restless, I know that it is time for us to do one of three things: 1. Make something, 2. Learn something, or 3. Go somewhere. I have learned that it really doesn’t take a lot of fancy tools or special skills to make him happy and help him grow and learn. All that it takes is for us to work together to keep our days creative, fulfilling, and active. Because sometimes, a toilet paper roll is more exciting than a $30 toy with lights and sounds.

I hope to be able to share some of our adventures with you and that you will share yours with us.

Ready? Make, Learn, Go!

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