I have 2 and 5-year-old boys. Being at home with them for the past few months has been the absolute best and hardest moments of my parenting career. I can say with certainty that my kids do best with a schedule, and ideally, a project. When left to their own devices, the house quickly resembles a war-torn battlefield, and the TV, left on all day, plays random videos from questionable youtube stars.

For us all to regain a bit of sanity, I've decided to try a new project each week that lasts longer than a few minutes. The following 3 activities have been surprisingly fun and rewarding. Seeing their little minds work when they discover something new has been absolutely amazing.

Painting Rocks and Spreading Joy

Nicole McCulloch

Supplies Needed:

The premise is simple. Gather a few rocks, the smoother and flatter, the better. I took my kids to "hunt for rocks," on one of our many afternoon quarantine walks. They loved looking for them and felt very accomplished when I told them they found a good one. Once we had close to 10 rocks, we took them home and washed them off outside with the hose.

Once dry, the fun begins. We used markers, watercolor paints, and googly eyes to create our masterpieces, but there are tons of other options and even this kit on amazon.

Once painted and glued, we took a moment to admire our work, and then let them dry overnight. The next morning we gathered the rocks in a wagon and set off on a walk to pass them out to neighbors. We walked by each house and left a rock on the front steps. We talked about spreading kindness and joy and giggled, thinking about the expressions on people's faces when they opened their front door to see a smiling googly eyed rock staring back at them.

Over the next few days on our walks, neighbors would stop us and thank the boys for the gift. They were proud of what they created and happy that they could make other people smile. It was a fun project, and surely something they will remember.

Tie Dye, Man

Nicole McCulloch

Supplies:

  • Tie Dye Kit– I bought this one from Amazon. The kit comes with 5 colors, 40 rubber bands, and bottles to mix the colors. It also included a booklet of 8 different tie dye looks, and how to achieve them.
  • T-shirts, socks, underwear etc. Whatever you want to tie dye.
  • Plastic gloves, latex ones work well.
  • Paint brush (optional)
  • Something to protect your table or workspace - I used an old towel, a plastic table cloth, and gave each boy a plastic bin as their workspace.

My boys love all things art and coloring. I knew they would be excited about this project, but when I showed them pictures of all the different types of tie dye possibilities, they lost their minds. The kit I ordered on Amazon was super easy to use and relatively mess-free. The colors were easy to mix by simply adding water, and the booklet that was included gave us lots of ideas and information on how to make our shirts. We ended up doing socks and underwear too, which was fun, and made the boys laugh.

Nicole McCulloch

My oldest decided on the rainbow ombre design, which I was nervous about. We got a paintbrush to help blend the colors, and it turned out better than expected.

After we were done dyeing, we let them dry overnight and then washed them each separately in the washing machine. The boys were excited to see their final creation, and still pick out their shirts to wear every chance they get.

A Butterfly Garden

Nicole McCulloch

Supplies:

My mom sent me this kit for something to do with the boys this summer. I was more than a little skeptical because I am not a bug person, and yes, that includes caterpillars and butterflies. The kit came with a small clear jar of 5 caterpillars, and a note that guaranteed we would get at least 3 butterflies.

We set the jar out, not in the sun, and we watched the caterpillars crawl around for a few days. Finally, after about 7 days, a few caterpillars crawled to the jar's ceiling and created cocoons. We transferred them to the Butterfly Garden that came included in the kit and waited. The boys were excited to jump out of bed each morning and run over to check on the status. Finally, one morning I heard them scream with excitement, a butterfly had finally emerged. I loved seeing their faces as they stared in wonder at the tiny miracle that had occurred. 

We don't have any pets (yet), but now our butterflies are all we need. We have Elsa, Mal, Evie, and Peppa– and I've actually started to like them.

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