Mess-free Art Activities


Art seems to be the one activity that gets put off because it can be so messy! I share those sentiments, but perhaps I can provide you with some ways to have your child(ren) do art without causing a huge mess.

Paint squish bags- Put in a sandwich bag two different colors of paint. Close and seal with masking tape. Allow your child to squish it and mix the colors. Little ones love this activity!

Pringles Can Painter- Line an empty Pringles can with a piece of white paper. Put paint on a golf ball and the put it into the can. Roll the can around several times. Take out the ball and wipe off the excess paint. Add another color to the golf ball and repeat the process. Take out the paper and enjoy the design that has been created.

Stamp Art- Stamps can be fun to use and will not be messy if you put the stamps and paper inside a tray.

Pipe Cleaners make great 3-D pictures or models. Your child can make their design and then either glue them on to construction paper or stand them upright to make a free standing model.

Summer Activities for All

Yay! Summer is here and it’s time to explore! This week I will feature local parks, but even if you don’t live in Cincinnati, you can still find a park near your home. Better still, come for a visit to our town!

  • Go on a nature walk/hike. Take along a notebook and find a spot to stop and draw something is of interest. It can be a plant or an animal such as a bird. Pack some identification books to help you with unknown plants and animals.
  • Play on a new playground. Tired of the same ol’ playground in your area? How about finding a different one to take the children to play? It will seem like a mini vacation, but you’ll be home in time for dinner. 🙂
  • Exercise! Pull the plug on the video games and electronics and go for a bike ride or a long walk. Both of the Hamilton County Parks I have listed below also have horse trails if you feel adventurous.


Local Parks

The Cincinnati Parks Foundation has three amazing parks along the Ohio River that are family friendly and give your children the chance to run and play. Not only is there a playground along the walkway, but there are a few large water fountains that your children can play in, and a carousel you can pay to ride. The Waterfront Parks system consist of three major Cincinnati Parks: Theodore M. Berry International Park,  Sawyer Point & Yeatman’s Cove and the  Smale Riverfront Park that is by the Great American Ballpark so you can go and catch a Reds game after you are finished playing.

Hamilton County Parks has done a fantastic job of providing green space in the greater Cincinnati area.  There is a motor vehicle fee to get into the park and you may either purchase a day pass for $3.00 or an annual pass of $10.00 that will give you access to all of the county parks and includes discount coupons to use throughout the park system.

Parky’s Farm has a fully functional farm with horses, goats, chickens,sheep, and bees. There is a garden for children to see and trails to meander along. The barn and outdoor pens allow children to see the animals up close.  If you take some extra money with you, your children can take a horse ride or play in the indoor playground.  Parky’s Farm is a part of Winton Woods that has an outdoor spray park and playground. Bring along a fishing pole to cast your line from either shore or a rental boat. There is also a pontoon boat to take a cruise along the lake. If you’d like to spend the night, there is also a camp site or small cabins to rent.

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Miami Whitewater Forest is  beautiful and is the largest park in county. While it does have an amazing lake with fishing and boating, and a beautiful golf and frisbee golf course, it has something that no other county park has that is quite so nice.  It has a 7.8 mile hike/ bike path that meanders through the countryside (where I grew up) and has spurs off it as well so you can extend your biking experience if you like. If your children are not able to go on the long bike trail, there is a shorter inner trail that is 1.4 miles long.

My friends have a bike shop called West Trail Bikes and it is a quick jaunt off the bike path to their place on New Haven Road. You can rent or purchase a bike if you would like something different than the rentals that are offered at the park. There is a quaint country shop adjoining their shop and a little grocery store (that I worked at when I was in college) where you can get an ice cold drink and a snack. You can hop back on the bike trail at several points from the town of New Haven.

If you have never been to Miami Whitewater Park, make a day of it. Pack a picnic lunch, your swimsuits for the spray/ water park,  and a pair of binoculars for wildlife watching while you are hiking the many wooded trails. I don’t think you will be disappointed!

Metro Parks of Butler County has 10 great parks, but the newest park called Voice of America MetroPark is the one with which I am most familiar. There is a nice playground that is next to the air conditioned Wheelhouse, which has bathroom facilities and a vending machine to get snacks and drinks.

There is a nice sized lake and a walking/biking path along it. Fishing is allowed in certain areas and there are benches along the way to stop and rest or just enjoy the nature you will see. During the winter there is also a sledding hill, so be sure and visit then too!

Safety and Manners Books

51TsXHfXeaL._AA160_I found these darling books for you to read to your early elementary students. The first one by author Margery Cuyler is called Please Play Safe! The book first gives a scenario of the wrong way to act and then takes the scenario and gives the right way to act. It not only includes safety, but also ways to treat others. This can lead to great discussions to have with your child about the playground and being a good neighbor while there.

51wH13KI7QL._UX160_Another book in the series is called Please say Please! Here Penguin has guests over for dinner  and his friends need some help in using etiquette. Just as the other book has a poor behavior scenario and a proper behavior scenario to follow, so does this book. This is a great book to use before going to Grandma’s for dinner!

18 Activity Bag Ideas


Doctor’s appointments or traveling in the car for long distances provide children with the opportunity to practice being patient and waiting. But, these periods of time can be longer than anticipated and is a perfect time to have an activity bag along for your child(ren). Some items to include are a folder to put papers in, a large gallon bag to put the individual activities inside and a bag to keep all your goodies organized and portable. Keep in the car so you aren’t spending extra time looking for it. Here are some items to include for your bag:

  • Travel size games such as Connect Four or Checkers
  • A book
  • Drawing pad
  • Pencils, both colored and regular
  • Washable markers
  • Math worksheets for extra practice
  • Mad Libs are a fun way to practice parts of speech with fill-in-the-blank stories. Print off a few for an entertaining and educational activity.
  • Hidden Pictures were the only bright spot I remember when I was little and going to the doctor’s office. Now you can have some of these from Highlights to add to your child’s bag.
  • Small Lego set
  • Rubber bands to make friendship bracelets
  • Stickers
  • Stationary cards to write a note to a friend or family member
  • Action figures or small dolls

If you have little ones include the following:

  • Large popsicle sticks with velcro on each end of the stick so they can be used to connect to other sticks. These can be colored for your precious one to match.
  • Duplos
  • Chenille sticks (pipe cleaners) can be used to create various shapes. You can have several shapes already made and trace onto paper so they can match the shapes. This activity can be extended by tracing with various colors and have coordinating colored shapes they match.
  • Pom Poms are great for matching and making things. Put them in a snack bag or a large medicine bottle.
  • A few favorite books

10 Indoor Activities for Preschoolers

imagesRunning and jumping are natural extensions of what preschoolers are all about, but sometimes it can be a bit much when having to stay inside. With just a little guidance  those wiggles can be a lot of fun. What are some ideas that you can do with your preschoolers? Here are some to try.

Bubble blowing is a lot of fun to do indoors. Try this activity during bath time. The soap bubbles dissolve in the water and no sticky mess to clean up.

Building with wooden blocks is a tried and true activity. Keep the blocks in a large bin for easy clean up and storage. Have a contest to see who can build the highest or the widest structure.

Sock toss is always fun when folding laundry. Set up the target, which can be the laundry basket. Socks can be either individual or made into a sock ball.

Hide and Seek can be played by hiding a stuffed toy and then walk through the house with your little one saying if they are “hot” (getting close to finding it), or “cold”, going further away from where it is hidden.

Create an indoor fort was one favorite activity my boys loved to do. Get an old sheet or two and drape over a table.  Put favorite books and a snack for your preschooler to enjoy.

Simon Says can be a game to introduce or reinforce body parts. How to play is that when you says “Simon Says”, each person must do what has been commanded. For instance , Simon Says, “Touch your nose.” If you do not say Simon Says, but give a command,the person who did it is out. But, with little ones I wouldn’t say anyone is out. I just remind them of the rules and keep going.

Hand puppets with your odd socks keeps preschoolers entertained for quite awhile. Allow them to decorate with googly eyes. Read a favorite book to your child and have them act out the parts of the book or have free play.

Post Office I just thought of this as I was throwing away junk mail. Let your little one play mail carrier. Save your mail for a few days so that this can be played. Make  mailboxes from old shoeboxes. Decorate the box and have your preschooler practice their name and address by writing on it with crayons or washable markers.  Sort the mail into magazines/ catalogs and envelopes. Put the mail in a bag and then deliver it to the mailboxes.

Grocery Store is so much fun for little ones. Save your empty cereal boxes, soup cans (cleaned, of course!), and paper products such as paper towels and napkins. Have one person be a cashier and the other person be the customer. Either purchase play money or make your own out of green construction paper.

Statue Game is a game for moving and listening. Play some music and have your little one move around. Pause the music and have your preschooler “freeze” like a statue. Start the music again and have your little one move again. Practice fact movements when the music is fast paced and moving slowly when the music is slower.

Have fun!