Sometimes you need something new. Maybe your family just finished your last new read-aloud book. Maybe it’s a rainy day and you’re stuck inside. Or maybe little Ben just collapsed beside you declaring that he’s so, so, so bored.
We have your back! These DIY recipes are quick and easy—they only require 5-20 minutes of active prep time, and you probably have most of the ingredients already. These activities are ideal for ages 2-6, but older kids (and parents) can always join in.
Feel free to adapt these recipes to fit your needs. So choose a project below and get ready for some simple, earth-friendly fun!
In our busy world, it can be tough to find quality time away from screens. Whether it’s a snowy afternoon or a hot summer day, these activities will give your little ones a chance to engage in creative play. And most of these projects can easily store away for another use.
Must-Have Materials:Flour, table salt, water
Optional Materials:Food coloring or washable paint
Prep Time:5 minutes
Playdough can keep kids (or adults!) happily entertained for hours. Instead of buying additive-filled dough stored in plastic containers, why not make your own? This recipe comes together in one bowl with a few basic ingredients.
To make this playdough, you’ll need a large bowl and a mixing spoon to start. Stir together 1 cup of all-purpose flour and ½ cup of table salt. Then gradually mix in ½ cup of water. Once the dough begins to come together, knead it with your hands until it’s smooth and well-combined.
You can split the dough and knead in food coloring or washable paint for even more fun! To store it, refrigerate and refresh with a bit of water for up to a week.
2. Sandpaper Yarn Collage
Must-Have Materials:Sandpaper, Yarn
Optional Materials: Tape, cardboard
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Do you have sandpaper lying around from past DIY projects? Finally, a way to put it to use! This fun, mess-free art project is perfect for kids of all ages. Yarn sticks to sandpaper like velcro to make unique designs.
Prepare a piece of sandpaper of your desired size. The lower the grit number, the more “sticky” it will be. For extra stability, tape the sandpaper to a piece of cardboard.
Next, cut pieces of yarn in multiple colors and lengths. For an added layer of play, use this printable template from Momtastic to create patterns for your kids to follow. Then let their imaginations loose to create colorful yarn collages.
3. Grow-Your-Own Seedlings
Must-Have Materials:Seedlings (make sure they're shallow-rooting plants like chives or watercress), soil, egg shells, water
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Mess Meter: 2/5
Sometimes, there's nothing more therapeutic than watching little seedlings thrive. You can grow any small seeds in egg shells with the addition of a little soil and water. Just make sure the plant you're growing has shallow roots :) It's a wonderful Easter activity too!
The above photo is of some chive seedlings, watercress is also another great herb to grow in your little broken egg shells.
Make sure you wash your shells and your hands thoroughly.⠀
4. Two-Ingredient Moon Sand
Image Credit: Happy Mothering
Must-Have Materials:All-Purpose Flour, baby oil, large bin for play
Optional Materials:Spoons, measuring cups, castle molds
Prep Time:15 minutes
Mess Meter: 5/5 (but totally worth it)
Note: Gluten-free flour won’t work for this recipe, so keep that in mind if you have allergies in your family.
Take a trip to the beach—or the moon—without ever leaving your house. This moon sand is perfect for making shapes, castles, or just squishing between little hands.
To create your moon sand, add one cup of baby oil (or other oil) to 8 cups of all-purpose flour. Using a dough blender or your hands, work all the oil into the flour. You’ll know you’re finished when the moisture is evenly distributed and the flour feels like damp sand.
Give your little ones spoons, measuring cups, or castle molds to complete the DIY beach day. This clay is equal parts fun and messy, so you may want to set up for play outside or over an easy-to-clean surface.
The Little Things
Having fun and being creative are key parts of a well-balanced life. These DIY recipes are a great place to start. But don’t let it end there! Find ways to incorporate fun, wellness, and earth-friendly choices into every day.
Your efforts don’t have to be big or fancy. Some of my most vivid childhood memories are of playing with bubbles or having “picnics” on the front lawn. (And most of these picnics were nothing more than little cups filled with chocolate chips and water.)
If your family has any tried-and-true zero-waste activities, please share them with us! We love trying new things. As always, love and good wishes from our families to yours.
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Writer, baker, and lover of nature.
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