Category Archives: upcycle

Easy Toddler Activity: Paper towel roll Engineering



I am a hoarder of toilet paper rolls, plastic food tubs, and paper towel rolls…to name a few. This activity used up my paper towel rolls in a completely satisfying way, ha! The great thing was that it was so easy – all you need is the rolls and some tape (I used masking tape that comes off easily). I also used a big piece of saved packing paper to make cleanup even simpler, instead of taping the tubes directly to the wall, but definitely not a must.

We built tunnel slides for little balls – we used those little poof balls that you get at craft stores, but marbles would also work well for an older kid who will definitely not put them inside a mouth. Now, I can feel like I am encouraging my daughter to be anything she wants to be – including an architect or engineer, since I’m giving her the types of toy experiences that build those skills sets and encourage her that having fun doesn’t have to revolve around dolls or kitchen toys, ha! Plus, this is a lesson in problem solving, since the ball only rolled through to its final destination when we placed the rolls in the right types of ways – close enough together that the ball didn’t escape out the side and at a high enough angle to keep up its momentum for reaching the bottom.

As you can see, we started with one tube at an approximate 45 degree angle, then we added one straight down to establish a finish point, and from there, we enjoyed all types of trial and error – my Honey had to weigh in when he got home. We left up our slides for a few days of on-and-off experimental play.




1. paper towel rolls that have been used up and saved (at least 3, depending on how old your kid is)

2. small ball that will fit, or pom-poms

3. tape – preferably masking tape, in my opinion, or anything that won’t leave residue on your wall and is easy to peel off

Setup: 10/10

All you gotta do is save up some used paper towel rolls, or toilet paper rolls would work just as well! Then, gather some tape and a little ball or fuzzy pom-pom.

Entertainment: 10/10

Pen Elaine was excited to see where the “ball” ended up with each test run, after adding or angling or taking away paper towel tubes. She loves tape, in general, as well…haha. We made a little “nest” for the ball to land in at the end of the slide, too, that was fun for little feminine heart.

Education: 10/10

I feel like a good mom on this one – encouraging a variety of skilled play for my daughter with opportunity to explore play that builds engineering skills. This activity encourages problem-solving, math concepts, and fine motor skills.

Cleanup: 10/10

Since I even taped my tubes to a paper (taped to wall), the cleanup was simply tear off and roll off for the trash.



Mommy & Me Class: {easy, DIY} Ice cream & Chalkboards


So we had our last Mommy & Me class of the semester, and it was kind of sad and sweet and nostalgic…even though we’ve only been together for 3 months, we had such a fun, faithful group!

For our grand finale, we made chalkboard trays that are also magnetic, and we made homemade ice cream in plastic bags – so cool!


CRAFT/ACTIVITY #1: DIY lightweight, magnetic chalkboards!

I bought these metallic trays in the party goods section of dollar tree – just a buck!

Then, we used chalkboard paint (can be bought at craft stores, home improvement stores, or even walmart) to paint 2 or 3 coats.


Since these are metallic trays, they are also great for magnet play, as well as coloring with chalk…how about tracing shape or letter magnets with chalk?! If you can’t find these one dollar trays, just use an old cookie sheet to paint with chalkboard paint. Since it’s a rimmed sheet, these are great for playing in the car, with some chalk or just some fun magnets – or paint on a little person and get a set of magnetic clothes.



CRAFT/ACTIVITY #2: Homemade ice cream in a plastic bag



  1. 1/2 cup milk (we used whole)
  2. 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  3. 1 Tablespoon sugar
  4. 4 cups crushed (or cubed) ice
  5. 4 Tablespoons salt
  6. 2 quart sized (or larger) Zip-loc bags
  7. 1 gallon size Zip-loc freezer bag (optional, duct tape for sealing)
  8. a hand towel or gloves to keep fingers from freezing as well!


Put the first three ingredients into one of the smaller bags, then put that bag into the other smaller bag to keep anything from leaking out! These are easy, safe ingredients to let little fingers pour into the bag…or you can do this step ahead of time.


Now, place the small bag of ice cream ingredients into the gallon-sized bag, then fill with the ice and sprinkle in the salt.


Here’s what you’ve got:


Now, for the fun part – your kiddo will get a kick out of shaking and massaging the ice around the inner bag. This is coooold though, so get out some winter gloves or hand towel. Five to eight minutes is adequate time for the mixture to freeze into ice cream – of the soft-serve varitety. 🙂


For an extra treat, add in some mixins at the end, such as crushed oreos or sprinkles, before eating.


No special equipment necessary!


Easy Toddler Activity: Markers & a Box



I saw this idea via Pinterest from LessonsLearntJournal and looooved it! This is a quintessential easy toddler activity and so fun and even portable! All you need is a big box and washable markers…just add toddler!

We get our diapers and wipes in the mail, so we have no shortage of big boxes. I saved this one for a “rainy” day; actually I threw it in the trunk when we were going to spend the day visiting family who don’t have any kids at home yet. It was perfect – not only did it keep Pen Elaine occupied but also contained in a non-childproof-home, ha!


She loved having her secret space…


turned out she was using that secret space to draw more on herself than on the box, but that’s okay 🙂

Furthermore, drawing at different angles – as in on the ceiling or on a vertical surface (like an easel) is good for motor development and fine motor skills.


Happy Easter!



Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime.
-Martin Luther



Mommy & Me class: Easter Week



This week, Brenda gave us an adorable idea for an Easter week lunch for kids!

Fill plastic eggs with bite-sized foods…some ideas:

carrot sticks, sesame sticks, pretzels, cherry tomatoes, cheese cubes, turkey cubes, blueberries, blackberries, m&m’s, cut up cucumber, marshmallows, peanuts…

(For lunch box size, cut carton in half or buy a six-pack of eggs carton)


For an easy telling of the story of Easter with plenty of hands-on fun for young kids, we made a 6-egg version of Resurrection eggs:


Egg #1: (some coins) Then Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve apostles, went to the chief priests, and asked, “How much will you pay me to get Jesus into your hands?” And they gave him thirty silver coins. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray Him [to hand Jesus over to His enemies]. Matthew 26:14-16


Egg #2: (white cloth to symbolize His innocence) The chief priests and, in fact, the entire Jewish Supreme Court assembled there and looked for witnesses who would lie about Jesus, in order to build a case against him that would result in a death sentence. But even though they found many who agreed to be false witnesses, these always contradicted each other. Matthew 26:59-60

Egg #3: (piece of rope/twine) Then Pilate took Jesus and flogged [whipped] Him. John 19:1

Egg #4: (cross cut out of sandpaper) So they took Jesus, and He went out, bearing His own cross, to the place called the place of a skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. There they crucified Him, and with Him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. John 19:16b-18


Egg #5: (stone/rock) The next day – at the close of the first day of the Passover ceremonies – the chief priests and Pharisees went to Pilate, and told him, “Sir, that liar once said, ‘After three days I will come back to life again. So we request an order from you sealing the tomb until the third day, to prevent his disciples from coming and stealing his body and then telling everyone he came back to life! If that happens we’ll be worse off than we were at first.” “Use your own Temple police,” Pilate told them. “They can guard it safely enough.” So they sealed the stone and posted guards to protect it from intrusion. Matthew 27:62-66

Egg #6: (empty) Early on Sunday morning, as the new day was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went out to visit the tomb. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, because an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and rolled aside the stone and sat on it. His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow. The guards shook with fear when they saw him, and they fell into a dead faint. Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He has been raised from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come; see where His body was lying. Matthew 28:1-6




Easter week countdown: Jesus teaches the people




Palm Sunday

Monday: Jesus cleans out the temple

Tuesday: Jesus anointed with expensive oil/perfume

Wednesday: Jesus teaching people



I don’t know anything specific that Jesus did on Wednesday of Holy Week, other than that He was spending time with people and teaching them about the good news and the love of God. However, Wednesday night, I believe, is when Judas goes to the Jewish leaders to betray Jesus. What is amazing about this day, though, is that Jesus knew His time was coming to go to the cross, but He still spent time loving on people and reaching out to them at our human level. Having small children, I am frequently reminded of my humanity and my shortcomings and how easily my emotions are aroused or swayed. I was reminded of my own goofiness when attempting the above Easter craft to make sheep out of handprints and cotton balls…those are supposed to be sheep… that are cute and not creepy.

Isaiah 53:6:

We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
    each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.




Mommy and Me class: Counting down days and making the most of Time





 Understanding time and the passing of time is a tricky thing for young children. Perhaps as a kid on a long trip, your parents responded to the tenth question of “are we there yet” by giving you the remaining time in kid shows – like mine telling me we had one “Mr. Rogers” and one “Sesame Street” until we would arrive at Grandma’s house. Young kids can remember events, but even knowing which event happened more recently is something that develops over the first 5 years. Kids don’t have a grasp of days and weeks and when things happen in time until the kindergarten year, between 5 and 6 years, when they make big steps of progress in their understanding. However, talking about time and days and using visual tools can help them on this journey of development.


Craft/Activity #1: Reusable Felt (Countdown) Chain by TipsfromaTypicalMom




This is an easy project of cutting felt into strips; I got horizontal strips out of one 8.5 x 11″ sheet of felt from Hobby Lobby. Then, you sew a button about half an inch from one end with a corresponding slit (very small cut with scissors, since it will stretch a bit) on the opposite end, about the same distance from the edge. Now, you repeat for as many links as you want your chain to have – I made 20. It would be fun to make a red and green one for Christmas, or different shades of pink for a little girl’s birthday countdown, etc. Mine will be all purpose, ha, currently being used for Easter countdown!




Craft/Activity #2: Toilet Paper Roll Watches by RedTedArt

This is super fast and easy! One toilet paper roll can be made into 3 watches – just cut one into thirds. Then, use construction paper to cut a circle and draw on a watch face, complete with hands, and glue onto toilet paper roll band. Then, we cut a slit along back of band to make the band into a “cuff” that was easily slid on and off. Pen Elaine decorated her bracelet all up with markers. Done!

We talked about a number of uses for this project – for instance, set the “time” for dinnertime or naptime or “time to go” for your child to match up to the clock – you could even draw a digital watch instead of the numbers and hands. Another sweet use that we discussed was to draw the time that you are going to return and pick up your child when leaving them in the nursery or someone else’s care. Even if your child is too young to match the time on their “watch” with a real one, the watch can be a reminder and assurance that you will be picking them up at some set time (whether or not they understand what that time is).







Story Recommendations:

Paul and Barnabas singing in jail – found in Acts 16:11-40 – This is the story of how Paul and Barnabas chose to make the most of hard days, being in prison, by singing praises to the Lord instead of just waiting to move on to the next season of their lives…When teaching kids about time and counting down the days to exciting events, it’s also a good time to remind ourselves to make the most of the present, even a time of waiting! Paul and Barnabas not only were joyful in jail, they stayed in prison after a miraculous earthquake removed their chains. Knowing the jailer would be killed for “allowing” prisoners to escape, these godly men stayed and shared the hope of salvation from Jesus Christ, leading to salvation for the jailer and his family.

Ephesians 5:15-17 “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, 16making the most of your time, because the days are evil. 17 So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is…


Song Recommendations:

Ten in the Bed

 Days of the Week Song

Sally the Camel