Summer Recipes for Kids

Cool Summer Recipes For Kids
Guest Post by by Tawra Kellam

Try these recipes to help the kids chill out this summer!


Snow Cones

Crushed Ice
1 pkg. flavored drink mix (flavor of your choice)

Mix drink mix with half as much water as the directions indicate. Chill 1 hour. Just before serving, crush some ice. You can use either a snow cone maker or put some ice cubes in a plastic bag and pound with hammer. Pack ice chips into cups, pour chilled drink mix over the ice and serve. You can also use fruit juice boiled down to half with food coloring added.

Apple juice: green or red food coloring
Grape juice: purple food coloring

Frozen Grapes

Grapes (as many as you can get on sale)

Wash and separate the grapes. Drain and put on cookie sheet. Freeze. Store in freezer bags. Give to kids as frozen treats. Note: Do not thaw; grapes become mushy when thawed.

Frozen Bananas

skewers (optional)

Cut bananas in half crosswise. Insert skewer in the thicker end. Place bananas on a tray and place in freezer. When frozen, move to a plastic bag and keep frozen until ready to use.


nuts, finely chopped
peanut butter
melted chocolate
wheat germ

Allow bananas to thaw slightly. Put toppings in small bowls. Dip banana before each bite. Eat plain or roll or dip into any of the toppings. Use the wet topping first so the others will stick.


Play Dough

2 cups flour
2 Tbsp. oil
1 cup salt
1 tsp. cream of tartar
2 cups water
food coloring

Mix together all ingredients except food coloring in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture gathers on the spoon and forms dough (about 6 minutes). Dump onto waxed paper until cool enough to handle and knead until pliable. Store in a covered container or plastic bag. Add food coloring for different colors. Makes about 2 pounds.


Easy Finger Paints

1/4 cup cornstarch
2 cups water

Mix in saucepan and boil until thick. Then pour into a jar and add food coloring until the desired shade is achieved. Store covered in the refrigerator.


Finger Paints

1 pkg. unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup cornstarch
liquid dish detergent
food coloring

Dissolve gelatin in 1/2 cup water. Set aside. In a saucepan add cornstarch then slowly stir in 1 1/2 cups water until well blended over medium heat. Cook until it boils, becomes smooth, thickens and turns clear. Add gelatin mixture and stir well. Pour into containers and add a drop of liquid dish detergent. Add food coloring until you get the desired shade. Store covered in the refrigerator 4 – 6 weeks.


About the authors: Jill Cooper and Tawra Kellam are frugal living experts and the authors of the Dining On A Dime Cookbook. Dining On A Dime will help you save money on groceries and get out of debt, by cooking quick and simple homemade meals. For free tips & recipes visit

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Simple Toys – Healthy Minds

A Simpler Time

A Simpler Time. Photo courtesy of The Photography Muse

We moms know that our kids derive more benefit from playing with some toys than others.

The more simple the toy, the more I seem to relish watching my children playing with it. Seeing my son’s face as he makes something “just so” with clay or watching my daughter as she deliberates over her next chess move. You can almost see the neurons firing and connecting in new ways, making their brains bigger and better than ever.

That said, I do have to admit that there’s a time and a usefulness to other kinds of toys, too. Sometimes, we all just want to zone out for a few minutes and watch something dance across a screen. Those modern toys that spoon feed our children with entertainment without enhancing any particular skill have certainly not been banned from my home. In fact, I’ll be the first to admit that they are used daily.

Still, when you want to find something for your children to engage with that encourages greater creativity, you have more options, it seems, than ever before.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to choosing toys that encourage healthy mental development and motor skills.

First, let’s look at the downside of some of today’s toys.

* Toys based on movies might limit kids to using pre-fabricated plots and characters.

* There is growing concern over the toxicity of the plastics used to make toys. PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, is environmentally toxic to produce and contains chemicals (adipates and phthalates) that can leach into foods and, of course, into your child or baby’s mouth.

* Every toy has a life cycle, and when its time is up, it usually ends up in the landfill. More and more evidence points to the environmental toxicity of these plastics as they release harmful toxins into the environment. Of course, you can reduce this environmental impact by giving toys to other children when your kids have outgrown them. (Especially those giant chunks of plastic.)

* There is so much technology today. It’s a digital world, and children get caught up in it. Children can end up viewing the world through a screen.

What Kinds of Toys Enhance Cognitive Development?

Solid, simple toys are consistently shown to be wonderful for a child’s development. Here are some of our favorites:

* Legos. Can I tell you how much I love legos? Oh mercy me. Yes, they are plastic but might just be the best toy ever invented. I actually think that playing with Legos is how my kids meditate. If my 7- and 9-year old have a crazy day at school, they will shut themselves up in their rooms for 10 minutes and play Legos and – just like that – order is restored to their universe. It’s magic.

* Art supplies. Is there anything better than a well stocked art cabinet? (Here’s a checklist of essential art supplies for kids. ) Now that my daughters are 9 and 11, I would add a couple of things: namely, a hot glue gun and some popsicle sticks. You wouldn’t believe the number of afternoons my kids have creatively wiled away making jewelry boxes and dollhouses – of their own design.

* Basic wooden toys - also known as “folk toys” – are gaining popularity and are more widely available. A huge variety of wooden toys are available, such as wooden trains, airplanes, marble chutes, trucks, cars, and others. Not associated with any media, children are free to imagine with these toys and create their own world of make-believe.

* Simple wooden blocks put your child literally in touch with her environment. Various shapes, sizes and colors (although plain wood is fine, too) help your child learn how to manipulate his environment, create, and solve problems.

* Marbles have been a favorite of older children for decades. These attractive glass spheres can be used to play the game of marbles. They can also be run down creative chutes.

* Wooden or porcelain dominoes are excellent for teaching and reinforcing math skills. Setting them up carefully and then knocking them down at a prescribed moment enhances fine motor coordination.

* Chess, checkers, and board games
are timeless, fun toys for older children. Card games, too.

Here are a more Momscape resources to give you ideas:

Family Fun Ideas at Momscape

Lots of creative games, crafts, and activities. No batteries required.

Old Fashioned Children’s Games

A Momscape product pick

Back to Basics Toys
An online store and catalog company specializing in old-fashioned toys. They have Daily Deals and frequent coupon codes, which we are proud to publish here.

Mother’s Day Crafts for Toddlers

Choose a sunny spring day and get outside to create some crafts for the moms, grandmothers and other special women in your life. Your recipients will get some treasured keepsakes and you’ll get some meaningful moments with your toddlers.

Here are some simple and inexpensive Mother’s Day craft ideas, perfect for young kids:

Make paper flowers. Help your toddler make flowers from paper hearts that may be left over from Valentine’s Day. If you don’t have leftover hearts, you can help them cut out paper hearts from Mom’s favorite color. Arrange three to five hearts with the points at the center. Thread floral wire through the points and then twist the wires together to create the stem. Glue a large button or beads onto the hearts as the center of the flower. Your toddler can also create leaves by cutting them out of paper and gluing them to the stem. Place the flowers in a vase and set it on Mom’s tray for breakfast in bed.

Decorate T-shirts or tote bags – Purchase a pastel t-shirt or tote bag for Mom. Then, using paint specialized for fabric, let your children place their hands into the paint and press them into the fabric. Be sure to write down the child’s name and age on their handprint. You can also write the date on the t-shirt so Mom can see how the children have grown over the years.

Make a vintage label purse – Start with a plain wooden box, which you can find at most craft stores. Take labels, photos, drawings and messages, printouts – anything that represents the things that mom loves most – and decoupage them onto the cigar box. (Be sure that an adult paints shellac over the labels to protect them and keep them from coming off).

Make a simple birdhouse – There are many Moms who love to watch birds in their yard. Make a rustic bird house using a plain wooden birdhouse and then gluing twigs and moss onto it. You can also add other found items from your yard to make it look rustic. Hang the birdhouse where it can be seen from a window.

Make stepping stones for her flower garden - Help your toddler make stepping stones with a kit or small bags of concrete. Make the stepping stones in aluminum pie tins or plastic pails. Your toddler will have fun adding found items, glass beads or silk flowers to decorate the stepping stone. Don’t forget to write the child’s name, age and date in the concrete.

Make a coupon book - This is one of the easiest crafts your toddler can make. Cut a few sheets of paper in thirds and help them think of things to put on the coupons:  “One hour uninterrupted bubble bath,” “Clean up my room by myself” or “A flower garden bouquet.” Let your child think of fun things to use for the coupons. Your toddler will love decorating and illustrating the coupons, too.

Make promise plates - This is a creative alternative to the coupon book. You’ll need a couple of paper plates, some crayons or markers, a hole puncher, colored ribbon, and glue. Fold one paper plate and cut it in half. Let the children decorate the half of the plate how they like. Line up the decorated half and the whole plate and punch holes around the plates about an inch apart. Thread the ribbon through the plates leaving enough ribbon to make a bow at the top. Let the children think of ways to help Mom around the house and write them down on index cards. Put the cards that have been written on into the pocket created with the two plates and be sure to write “Mom” on the front.

And here’s a nice craft for slightly older kids. (No matter what the ages, you’ll want to exercise caution with these kinds of paints.)

Fingerprint Flower Vase

Kids love to pluck wildflowers, dandelions, even grasses and share a handful with mom or grandma. Here’s an easy vase they can make to hold their treasures.

You’ll need an empty jar and enamel paints, plus some newspapers to make your clean-up easier. Better yet, do this craft outside on a sunny day.

* Start with clean and dry glass jars. It doesn’t matter which type of jar is used as long as the label has been completely removed. You can also use glass vases.

* Read all of the instructions on the back of the enamel paint bottle so you know how it should be used.

* Instruct your kids to hold the jar by the mouth so she doesn’t accidentally touch the paint while its wet.

* Let the children choose a color. They can dip their fingers into the paint and decorate the jar or vase by making flowers with their fingerprints.

* Your child can make any number of flowers on the vase. How they decorate the jar/vase is entirely up to them.

* After they’ve made a circle of fingerprint flowers, they can go back with a contrasting color to make the center of the flowers.

* Follow the directions on the paint to let the paint dry. If this includes baking it in the oven, an adult would need to handle it. Drying time may mean allowing it to air dry before using it for the first time.

If you’re uncomfortable using enamel paints for this craft, you can use acrylic paints instead. The flowers will wash off, however, unless the project is protected by an acrylic sealer.

When the paint is dry, fill your new flower fingerprint vase with water and flowers.

More Mother’s Day ideas from Momscape:

Top Mother’s Day Quotes

Scrapbooking Ideas

How to Make Paper Flowers
Three easy paper flower crafting projects, just right for young kids and customizable for older kids and adults.

Mother’s Day Traditions
10 Memorable Ways to Celebrate Mom this Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day Gift Baskets
Great theme ideas to get you started on quick, inexpensive gift baskets for the moms in your life.

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas and Coupons

Happy Earth Day – Five Fun Earth Day Crafts and Activities for Families

“Earth Day was firmly established for all time on a sound basis as an annual event to deepen reverence and care for life on our planet.” Mr. John McConnell

Here are five crafts and activities to help you and your family do just that:

Earth Day Craft #1: Tin Can Herb Pots

You can make a pot for any herb you might use in your kitchen:  chives, oregano, rosemary, thyme, and basil are good choices. You can grow the herbs from seeds or buy the herb plants, depending on the patience level of your little crafter.

To begin:

1. Save a number of aluminum cans of different cans. Just make sure the edges aren’t sharp.

2. Completely wash out the can with soap and water and let it dry. Turn the can upside down and punch some holes in the bottom to allow for drainage.

3. Let your child decorate the outside of the can by using an acrylic base coat. They can then paint any design they like on the can. Be sure that any paints you use are safe for children. Next, an adult can spray the outside of the can with an acrylic sealer so the paint won’t come off.

4. Place rocks or pebbles in the bottom of the can and then add potting soil until the can is filled two-thirds of the way up the can.

5. Transplant a potted herb into the can and fill the rest of the can with potting soil. Gently pat the plant into the dirt, but don’t press too firmly. You want the plant to have some room for water to seep through. Place the can on a plate to catch any extra water.

6. If you’ve opted for seeds, fill the can nearly full with potting soil. Place a couple of seeds in the soil and then cover it with a thin layer of soil. Be sure to keep the soil damp, but not soaked.

One four-inch potted plant will probably make at least two, if not three, herb pots. Remind your little ones to take care of their plants.

If you have more than you need, why not give your earth day craft to a loved one this Earth Day? They’re sure to enjoy fresh herbs when the time comes to cook.
Earth Day Craft #2 – Make “LitterBugs” out of your Recycling

No one wants to be a litter bug but that doesn’t mean you can’t make some. Your child can do this by using sections of a paper egg carton and decorating them with recyclable items. Paint the egg carton or leave it its natural color. Glue on twigs, bottle caps or other items to create eyes, a mouth, hair or legs.

Here’s what your child needs to make her own litter bug for Earth Day:

* Paper egg carton

* Yarn

* Google eyes

* Bottle caps

* Tacky craft glue

* Newspapers

An adult may need to cut the paper egg carton in segments. Give your child one segment at a time so they can complete one litter bug before beginning a second or third.

1. Turn the egg carton segment upside down so the bottom is facing up. This will be the litter bug’s body.

2. Use recyclable items from around your home to decorate the bug. If you don’t have google eyes, why not use small caps from squeeze dish soap bottles?

3. Several twigs can be used for legs. Poke a hole in the carton to push the twigs through.

4. Use yarn pieces for hair.

5. A bottle cap can be glued on for a hat.

Another way for your child to create a litter bug for Earth Day is to use crumpled up newspapers as the base, or body, of the bug. Glue the various items you’ve found lying around your house onto the body. Give it hair, a bottle top cap, and eyes.

Let your child make several litter bugs this Earth Day. You don’t have to make them wait until Earth Day to try this craft. In fact, if you wanted, you could create a recyclable box for your child to keep items in for crafts. By doing this, not only will you encourage their creativity and fine motor development, you’ll also encourage them to recycle items rather than tossing them in the garbage.


Earth Day Craft #3 – Paper Mache Globe

Start by tearing newspapers into strips about 1/2 to 1 inch wide. Make a paste from one cup of flour and one cup of water. Blow up a small balloon; the rounder the better. Dip the paper into the paste and then wrap the strips around the balloon in several layers.

Allow the globe to dry for several days before you pop the balloon. Trace and then paint the continents onto the balloon. Allow the children to paint it and then let it dry again.

Earth Day Craft #4 – Pine Cone Bird Feeder

Find several pine cones from your yard or a local park. Tie a piece of string or yarn from the top so it can be hung up. Spoon some peanut butter onto a shallow tray. Roll the pine cone into the peanut butter or spoon some peanut butter between the layers. Then roll the pine cone in bird seed. Hang it from the branches in your trees to feed the birds. See how many different types of birds visit your yard.

Earth Day Activity #5: Plant a Tree in Your Yard

Determine what type of tree you are going to plant and where. Choose a sapling, but do not soak it prior to planting. You don’t have to remove the burlap that encases the sapling, but do remove the ties. Open the burlap sapling and clip the roots which circle the outer part of the root ball. Dig a hole two to five times wider than the root ball.  In the bottom and center of the hole, leave a planting base of undisturbed soil. Put the root ball on undisturbed soil flush to two inches over the top of the hole. Hold the tree while backfilling with dirt and soil. Remove grass and weeds within six inches of tree material. With excess soil, build a small boarder around the hole to add water down to the roots; then water and mulch.

More Family Fun Activities >