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Spread the Happy, Not the Virus – Ideas to keep the kids busy!

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Looking for something? All of my QUARANTINE: SPREAD THE HAPPY ideas are below!

These past few days weeks, have certainly been crazy. Coronavirus fears and attempts to “flatten the curve” of spread have most of us at home. Together. Nonstop.

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“Unprecedented” “Historical” “Tragic” “Hoarding” “Panic” “Covid 19” “Deadly” – this is what has been filling up my feeds. My news. My morning shows. The radio. The papers. EVERYWHERE. And while important & factual news is absolutely necessary right now, it is still scary. Most especially to our children. Can you even imagine being a child right now? “Why am I not going to school?” “Why isn’t daddy going to work?” “Why is mommy so worried?” “Will we get the Coronavirus?” “Will Grandma?” “How come I can’t leave the house?” If our heads are spinning in the questions of the unknown, what in the ever-lovin’ world are their lil’ everything-absorbing brains doing?! I’ve seen some informative & great suggestions for navigating a scheduled, regimented homeschooling environment, but honestly, that’s not for us. We’re a bit more laid-back. A bit more “chill” as my not-so-little ones would say. 

Don’t get me wrong. I love my family. I really do. But there’s a reason I never signed up for homeschooling. And that’s because I totally stink at it!

But, I’m giving it my all. I’m trying like heck to limit their snacks to a maximum of 20 per day, make sure everyone has at least brushed their teeth by lunch and close the day knowing they did something academic. I know, it’s not stellar. But, it is what it is.

What I am good at? Crafting. Creating. ReImagining. Empathy. Caring for Others. These are things I can teach my kids all day long without breaking a sweat. These are life lessons that I can provide them with during these strange and unusual days of our life.

I will be sharing some of these ideas with you right here. Because I want to Spread the Happy, Not the Virus!

How will your family #spreadthehappy? What are YOU doing to get through these next few days, weeks, months? What fun ideas have you thought of to keep the kids engaged & busy? What about for your community? Your elderly neighbors & friends? How can WE help? What can WE do while following the rules of social distancing?  Send me a message HERE and let me know!

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Canning Jar Bird Feeders

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Feed the birdies!

This will make about a dozen bird feeders. You can halve the recipe to make less or double it to make more. But honestly, given the current situation and the fact that we’re all stuck inside (stinkin’ Corona Virus!) they make adorable gifts. Put ’em in a paper lunch bag – ’cause we’re certainly not using those right now – and place at the doors of your neighbors. Spread the happiness – feed the birds & make a friend smile!

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What you need:

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 1/2 cups wild bird seed
  • 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1 envelope non-flavored gelatine
  • 1/2 cup water
  • mason jar lids, applesauce jar lids, spaghetti sauce jar lids – you’ll need 12
  • twine, yarn, string, rope, whatever you’ve got!
  • parchment paper

Mix the first 5 ingredients together thoroughly.

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Tie your twine onto your 12 jar lids. Make sure your strings are long enough to tie around wherever they may hang. A little piece of tape on the inside will help hold the twine in place while you’re filling the lids up.

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Lay your jar lids on a piece of parchment paper – newspaper will work just fine if your lid is closed in the back (like an applesauce jar lid or spaghetti sauce jar lid). Grab a handful of your birdseed mixture and smash it down with your hands into the lid (it will be sticky, so you may want to spray some cooking oil or rub a bit of coconut oil on your fingers and palm to keep the seeds from sticking too much). Allow the feeder lids to sit a few hours or overnight before hanging.

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DIY Postcards

Fun Fact: did you know Girl Scout Cookie boxes make perfect postcards? As long as the card height is between 3.5″ & 4.25″ & the length between 5″ & 6″, you are following USPS postcard regulations AND the box also meets regulations for thickness!!!! Say whaaa? Glue on a colorful piece of paper to the front (or plain white printer paper; cut accordingly to match the cardboard) & have your kids draw a fun picture or design.
Use a black marker to separate the message & address sections on the back (I added the address lines). Fill ’em out & mail ’em out or deliver to neighbor’s doors – if you really love them, I suppose you could maybe consider sharing your cookies, too. But that’s just a maybe… ♥️

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DIY Playdough

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DIY Playdough

Ingredients

  • 2 cups white flour
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 3 tbsp cream of tartar

Instructions

  • Combine ingredients in a saucepan on stove top.
  • Over medium heat, stir continuously until a large ball forms.
  • Remove from heat and allow to fully cool.
  • Knead cooled playdough and add food coloring gel to make desired colors.
  • Store in ziplock bags or airtight tupperware.

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Corona Chronicles – A DIY Journal

In alllll my free time lately just sitting around doing nothing, I’ve been thinking a lot about the fact that these next few weeks, and whatever occurs during them, are going to be the stories that our children tell their children. So much so I decided today that it was time to start record the feelings and thoughts of all my littles and not-so-littles. Even though we are all in this house together all day, everyday, I really wasn’t quite sure where each of them were on the Freakin’ Out Scale. What I love most about this book is that it’s full of their thoughts, their words, their pictures. A scrapbook of sorts to remember this wonky and wild time of our lives.

I guess the concept is more of a simple journal, really. Created with construction paper, plain printer paper, crayons and markers. Something that can be added to daily (let’s be real, prob more like every other day or 3).

I was honestly surprised at the kids’ willingness to participate in my latest Mom Craft Scheme. And I was even more amazed at the different takes on what’s going on. Every child had a completely different point of view. Some serious. Some light hearted. Some down-right funny. All memorable and worth documenting.

“I miss my friends at school. I hate the virus. But I like staying at home.” – if these words from my sweet, toothless almost 8 year old don’t accurately describe how we’re all feeling right now, I don’t know what the heck would!

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TP Flower Bouquet

I found 2 packages of TP at the store today and felt it was my civic duty to share them with those around me – thus my original TP Flower Bouquet was created! We walked around our neighborhood delivering these beautiful delicacies to the doors of our neighbors. It brought all the laughs and smiles we were hoping for!

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Stress Relief Balls

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Are you feeling the stress of all this social distancing?! These just may be what you need!

If your fun and colorful DIY playdough from above has been all squished together into a not-so-pretty shade of brown like ours, this idea will give you another use for it!

All you need are a few empty balloons, some yarn and a sharpie marker!

Fill the balloon with the playdough by stretching the opening with your fingers and having a helper push the playdough into the forced opening. I used about a 1/4 of a cup playdough for each balloon.

Knot the balloon closed, tie yarn around the knot for fun “hair” and give your stress ball silly faces using the sharpie marker.

Now go squeeze that stress and anxiety away!

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Start Your Summer Garden!

Now is a great time to start those summer veggies! In light of not being able to leave home, we improvised & used our extra bathroom Dixie Cups (with drainage holes poked into the bottom) for the containers! Fun paper straws & painter’s tape make great plant marker flags – Just make sure you use permanent markers & not washable! Trust.Me. This is definitely one of those “do as I say not as I do” moments.

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Corny Caramel Snack

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This is the perfect homemade caramel popcorn. Sweet & crunchy, easy to make & plenty to share! The recipe was passed down to me by a dear friend. It’s a fam favorite! Enjoy!

Corny Caramel Snack

Caramel Popcorn

Ingredients

  • 3 qt popped corn – about 3 bags plain or lightly buttered works best
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup cashews or party nuts optional

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 250°
  • Put popped corn in a large, buttered pan. Pick out un-popped kernels & place in oven to keep warm.
  • Melt butter in a saucepan. Stir in brown sugar, corn syrup & salt. Bring to boil, stirring constantly.
  • Slowly boil without stirring for 4-5 minutes.
  • Remove sauce from heat. Stir in baking soda & vanilla.
  • Remove warm popcorn from oven & mix with sauce.
  • Bake caramel covered popcorn for 1 hour @250° stirring every 15 minutes.
  • Remove from oven, cool completely & break apart.

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Homemade Sidewalk Chalk Paint

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Homemade Chalk Paint

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup baking soda
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 3/4 – 1 cup water
  • gel food coloring

Instructions

  • Combine soda, cornstarch and water. Mix thoroughly.
  • Separate into sealable containers & add gel food coloring accordingly.
  • Soda and cornstarch will settle to the bottom of container. A quick shake or mix-up will fix it.

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Gumball Machine

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What cuter way to display a bit of candy on the kitchen counter? And what better way to bribe the kiddos to get their school work done?!

* 1 Red Solo Cup
* 1 Plastic Spoon
* 1 DIY Plastic Snow Globe Jar or Ornament
* Gumballs (or Skittles, M&M’s, etc)
Fill plastic snow globe with candy & screw on lid. Hot glue the lid of snow globe to bottom of Solo cup. Cut handle off plastic spoon & hot glue spoon round onto front of Solo cup. Glue 3 candy pieces to the spoon.

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Bouncy Galactic Balls

I have to admit something to you guys. I’m not the “Fun Slime-Making Mom“. I despise slime. I just.can’t.handle.the.mess. It’s not my favorite thing. When they bring it home from school or from a friend’s house, I cry inside. I rarely say yes when my kids want – no, beg – to make it. Even though we typically always have the ingredients. Phew. There. I’ve said it.

Buuuut, these Bouncy Galactic Balls are more my speed. They’re simple to make, easy to clean up and make little mess during play. That, my friends, is what I’m talkin’ bout!

Bouncy Galactic Balls

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1 tbsp Borax
  • 2 tbsp glitter glue or 2 tbsp clear glue with food coloring

Instructions

  • Mix the hot water and Borax together in a bowl
  • Drop glitter glue into water. The glue will begin to harden. After about 15 seconds, grab the blob of glue and squeeze with your hands until there is no more liquid dripping out of the blob. Shape the blob into whatever form you like. Allow to air dry for about an hour and then bounce and squeeze away!
  • As long as the water is still warm, you can continue to use the same water/Borax mix for different colored glue.
  • If you do not want to wait for the blobs to dry, adding a tbsp of corn starch to the glue before dropping it into the water will quicken the dry time (but also clouds the color).

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Quarantine Study Area

Need a way to keep the kids focused on school work while at home during quarantine? Help keep them organized & on track with a tri-fold project poster board. You can cut 1 board in half width-wise to make 2 study areas. Plus, everything can be found at the Dollar Store!

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Milk Magic

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Supplies: Milk, Cotton Swabs (Q-tips), Food Coloring, Dish Soap

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Pour about ¼ inch milk on plate or in shallow baking dish 

Add drops of food coloring all around in the milk (use different colors!) 

Dip the tip of a cotton swab into dish soap. Place the tip into milk, leaving it in the same place for about 15 seconds 

Watch the colors expand, move and mix 

The Science Behind It:

Milk is made of proteins, minerals and fats. 

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When the dish soap combines with the milk, the fat begins to break up which leads the soap molecules to attempt to attach to the fat molecules in the milk. The food coloring allows us to watch all this cool movement taking place. 

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Breakfast Popsicles

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Popsicles for breakfast? Why the heck not?!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups vanilla yogurt or greek yogurt if you prefer
  • 1 cup flavored milk strawberry, chocolate, or regular milk depending on the flavor of your cereal
  • 1 cup dry cereal
  • 1 large banana or 2 small – banana is optional

Instructions

  • Using a mixer, mix the banana until mashed and smooth. 
  • Slowly mix in yogurt and milk to mashed banana. Continue mixing until blended.
  • Next add the cereal. To avoid crushing the cereal, it's best to stir it in by hand.
  • Pour into popsicle molds. I was able to fill 2 8-count popsicle molds with this recipe.
  • Freeze overnight. Enjoy in the morning!

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Crazy Cool Sunglasses

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Spruce up a pair of cheapo, plain dollar store sunglasses to make some crazy cool shades.

All you need for these novelty glasses:

foam shapes, felt shapes, small dinos, small plastic bugs, pom pom balls, googly eyes or whatever else you can find that can be hot glued onto the frame of your shades

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Play With Your Food!

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We’ve been eating a lot of not so great food lately. And by we, I mean mostly me. I mean, it’s been fun and all, but I figure I better start throwing a few more fruits and veggies at these little humans and it turn, eating a bit more myself.

We created these fun people – veggie versions of ourselves actually –

The results had us laughing and giggling and eating cheese and munching on carrots and crunching on cucumbers and biting into broccoli. So, basically we had fun and ate our veggies. Plus, it took up like an hour of our 7600 hour day (or so it seems lately.)

Oh, and yes, one of the veggie guys has a sword. Because he’s cool like that.

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Yogurt Fruit Dip

Sometimes you just need some colorful fruity dip in your life. It just makes everything better. So, go grab a box of your favorite fruit jello flavor from the pantry and mix a little bit into your vanilla yogurt (or greek yogurt) until it’s the flavor – or color – you want. Clean & slice your fruits and enjoy!

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Paper Hot Air Balloon

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My girls and I created these Hot Air Balloons for neighbors. We filled them with popcorn and attached a note that simply said to let us know if they needed anything. We left them at the door of all our neighbors and friends.

You need card stock or construction paper, 3 paper straws per balloon, paper cups or bowls and hot glue.

Glue the top inch of the 2 paper straws to the inside of the paper balloons.

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