Pounded Flower Bookmarks

Last week I wrote a guest post on The Crafty Crow where I shared instructions for making Pounded Flower Bookmarks. This high-energy (and very loud) art activity tied in with one of our favorite kids+art books, A Day With No Crayons.

The set-up only requires a handful of colorful flowers, a pounding tool (like a rock or hammer), watercolor or other heavy paper, wax paper, a hole puncher, and ribbon. My daughter couldn’t get enough of this project, probably because she has big energy and lurved all that pounding.

Special thanks to Cassi for inviting me to join her on her fabulous site. If you don’t already know about The Crafty Crow, Cassi curates an incredible selection of beautiful crafts and process-based activities for children from around the web. Definitely a site to bookmark! Click here to read the full post.

Land Art with Children

We were invited by Rashmie of Mommy Labs to join Forest Fiesta, an online celebration of World Environment Day (June 5) with her and about twenty other arts and education bloggers. This year’s host country was India, and Rashmie came up with the inspired idea to act as our Indian blogging host. Thanks, Rashmie! When you reach the end of this post, you can click around and see the forest creations made by my friends and their children from around the globe.

The theme of this year’s World Environment Day, sponsored by the United Nations Environment Program, is Forests. According to the UN, it’s the “most widely celebrated global day for positive environmental action.”

And with that, I’d like to share our positive environmental action with you…

Before heading out, we spent some time looking at pictures of inspirational land art, with a vague plan to make something monumental from nature.

It was a gorgeous, sunny day at a nearby farm that has a beautiful forest of trees and a creek that runs through it. I packed a little investigator bag for N, and she was delighted to find a magnifying glass in it. Aside from the photo, it didn’t get much real use, but it was a fun way to begin our adventure into the forest…

We took a hike through the trees and marveled at the patterns made by the sun and leaves.

Once we got into the forest, we noted the abundance of moss. Both of my kids loved feeling it’s texture. I adore the look of moss and lichen, so we brought a little bit home for this year’s fairy garden.

N spotted these colorful leaves caught by a log in the stream, and she asked me to take this picture.

We played with the creek’s current, and sent leaves and flowers down different parts of it, noting the various speeds at which the objects moved.

And then we stumbled upon the bridges! Forget nature for a minute — these bridges make LOUD sounds when you run across them! N took her shoes off, made herself right at home, and must have run across these bridges for almost an hour!

Meanwhile, Baby Rainbow enjoyed the experience of digging into the dirt and leaves. And this is when the abundance of leaves gave me this idea…

…to build a leaf path! Do you see it there? N was careful to walk around it as she exited the bridge.

She stopped periodically to help me gather yellow leaves and lay them down, but mostly she wanted to RUN! I think she’s a kinesthetic learnerWhat kind of learner do you think your child is?

When hikers approached to cross the bridge we’d sit down together and engage them in conversation or eavesdrop on their conversations, and this was where the fun came in.

A mother with two boys walked by, did a double take when she saw the path, and then stopped to take a photo of it. Her boys ran over and we overheard a loud, “cooooool.” (Score — I think we managed to execute a “positive environmental action”)! We chatted with a couple of women who asked us who made it. We did! And if we’d heard of the artist Andy Goldsworthy? We had, and he was actually our inspiration! They also mentioned that they were impressed with the scale of it, and never would have thought to stop and make something like this themselves. (Small children make us slow down and do crazy things, no?!).

N loved the interactions and attention that we brought to the environment and ourselves through this action, and it prompted her to make her own piece of land art…a circle!

If you’ve made land art or have a favorite link to share, I’d love to hear about it (and you can add a picture to your comment)! I was actually surprised that i didn’t find a lot of land art by kids online. Maybe this will be my next Creative Challenge?!


This post is shared with It’s Playtime


How to Set Up a Mud Pie Kitchen

This may not look like much, but we’ve been testing our mud pie kitchen and getting a fresh perspective on what works. It used to reside in another part of our yard, and I thought that moving it might make it more accesible. And it did!! I fashioned the stove/sink from two wooden crates I found at a craft store last summer. Next, mud pie tools were gathered from our sand box: buckets, bowls, and a jello mold picked up at a second hand store for a dollar. We got the measuring cups at our last trip to IKEA, and carried pots and pans outside from the indoor play kitchen.

I filled the big green tub with water and we called it the “sink,” and N got busy making soup. She owned the kitchen right from the start and there was no end to what she wanted to create.

The sink got muddy pretty quickly, so she requested another pail full of clean water. Some kids love the mud, mine tolerates it.

The kitchen was set up next to some flowery bushes, which made for a convenient food pantry.

She carefully pressed flowers into the mud like sprinkles on a cake. The contrast was gorgeous. We started this pretty late in the day, and she would have played out there all night if she could have. She actually told me that she wanted to skip dinner because she wasn’t hungry. So I guess the whole test kitchen thing went well!

When she was all done, we poured the dirt back into the ground and the kitchen is ready for our next cooking adventure.

What I learned about making a Mud Pie Kitchen

  • The Mud Pie Kitchen is an incredible way to encourage imaginative play, which can lead to creative thinking, curiosity, and experimentation
  • The kitchen does not have to be elaborate to work
  • It should be child-height
  • It’s nice to have multiple levels or surfaces to work on
  • Set it up directly in or next to dirt/mud/sand
  • Have a water source nearby
  • Fill a large container with water
  • Useful tools: spoons, bowls, spades, colander, pitcher
  • Use real kitchen tools to reinforce that play is work (to children, it is!)
  • Include something fancy like a jello mold
  • If there aren’t natural materials nearby (like flower petals), forage for them ahead of time

See our Mud Pie Kitchen Series

Mud Pie Kitchen Ideas

Shopping for Mud Pie Kitchen Accessories

How to Make Popcorn on a Cob

How to make popcorn from a cob | a TinkerLab® Experiment

How to Make Popcorn on a Cob

This post contains affiliate links.

This is a fun activity in the fall months when dry corncobs are abundant. We recently visited a local farm and after actually milling dried corn into animal feed they sent home with organic cobs of dried corn to make into popcorn. Did you know that it’s perfect for popping? I didn’t, so for us this was a true, yummy experiment.

If you don’t have a source for dried corn cobs like we did, Sur la Table makes a cob that you can buy online.

Supplies for Making Popcorn from a Cob

Dried corn cob like the Sur La Table Farmer’s Popcorn Cob

Paper Bags


Before you start

Begin by asking some questions about popcorn and how it’s made.

What happens when we put dried popcorn and oil on the stovetop?

What happens if we put dried popcorn in the microwave?

What do you think will happen if we microwave this dried corn cob?

Make Popcorn with a Dried Corn Cob

Place the cob in a brown paper lunch bag.

Fold the bag up a couple times to keep the steam in

Cook the cob in the microwave. Set it to a popcorn setting if you have that.

My little one (with face paint) was so excited when it started popping in the microwave. We cooked it on the popcorn setting, which is about two and half minutes long. As with any other popcorn, open the microwave door when the popping sounds slow down.

We opened it up for a peek, and it was gorgeous.

Marvel at how much popcorn came off of one little cob!

The ends of this ear didn’t pop off and actually singed up a bit.  My daughter loved the whole process, right on down to eating the corn.

The Popcorn Book and Popcorn Breakfast

To extend this into a fun literacy moment, read The Popcorn Book by Tomie de Paola. It’s funny, and an instant childhood favorite. My kids love it.

When we read the book we learned that “The Colonists like it [popcorn] so much that they served popcorn for breakfast with cream poured on it.” Try turning your popcorn into an old fashioned breakfast treat with Popcorn Cereal. 

Corncob Popcorn Experiment. All you need is a corncob, paper bag, and a microwave. So fun!

More Fall Ideas for Kids

Make Leaf Critters

Check out this “bucket list” of ideas to try this Autumn

Paint coffee filter suncatchers, shaped like leaves.

Make this beautiful fall lantern from crayons.

Preserve your leaves in glycerin.

Six Ways to Take Art Outdoors

The weather is heating up over here in Northern California, and we’re spending most of our time outdoors. If you’ve been following my dilemma about coaxing my daughter into our garden, I’m thrilled to share that we spent about an hour puttering and potting out there this afternoon, and this was after we spent three hours on a hike through the forest!! In this spirit, I’d like to share some of my favorite outdoor art-making finds, which I hope will inspire you as much as they inspire me! And if you have a favorite artsy outdoor idea, you’re welcome to share it in the comments below!

1. For all the kids who like to mix, brew, sift, and invent: Potion Making from the brilliant Jenny of Let the Children Play.

2. You just can’t go wrong with a vinegar + baking soda concoction, which is why you’ll want to make up a huge batch of Fizzing Sidewalk Paint from Rachel of Quirky Momma. I’m saving this one for our annual family reunion. Fun!

3. Here’s a beautiful twist on the traditional bird feeder from Saltwater Kids. And wouldn’t these make for nice kid-made summer gifts?

4. Do you have tons of roses (and two adorable kids)? Make rose petal fairy perfume from Anna at The Imagination Tree

5. This oversized version of “marble painting” has been on my list since last summer. My daughter was barely two then, but now I think she’d love the challenge of rolling all sorts of balls around in a kiddie pool. Now we just need a pool! From the always inspiring Jean of The Artful Parent.

6. I have a thing for inexpensive, simple art materials, and this one makes me swoon. All you need is a plastic shower curtain, which can be found at dollar stores, and a laundry line or rope+laundry clips. Oh, and paint too! From Pop-Up Adventure Play (private site). Check out this post from A Mom with a Lesson Plan for another way to do this indoors.

What are your favorite outdoor art making ideas?