Parenting Wins -- Recycle Crafts Part 2!!!

Posted on June 20, 2016 by Mary Harper Dick | 0 comments

As I continue in my quest to keep my kids' creative juices flowing, I wanted to share some more fun recycle-crafts projects.  This time we're answering the question:  What can I make with toilet paper, paper towel and wrapping paper rolls?!?

Rain Maker:  This works especially well with longer rolls.  Simply wrap one end of the roll with tin foil (using tin foil is important. It helps make the rain-like sound!) and make sure it is secured tightly with string, a rubber band or tape.  Take a long piece of tin foil and scrunch it together to create a long, tin foil snake.  Place the tin foil snake in the center of the roll.  Fill the roll ¼ of the way with uncooked rice.  Then tightly wrap the other end of the roll the same way as the other end.  To ensure that the rice does not break through the tin foil, I like to also cover both ends with tape or fabric. (Something that cannot be penetrated by little fingers…I have learned this the hard way!)  Then, as your kiddo turns the rain maker up and down, it sounds like rain.  This also makes a neat instrument!

Paint stamps:  You can be creative with what shapes you mold or cut your toilet paper rolls into.  I like to cut them in half so I can get two stamps out of one roll!  Let the kids go wild with creating shapes of their own to paint with! And have fun!!

Marble track:  Gather up your toilet paper rolls!  Once you have a good amount collected, tape them to a wall or a box where your toddlers or young kiddos can reach.  Arrange them in a fun way that will allow a marble or puff ball to travel down the rolls!  This is lots of fun for both little and big kiddos!

Maracas:  I’m all about making instruments.  The fun starts with making it, then it continues as you play and dance with it all day!!  Simply let your kiddos decorate a toilet paper roll.  Then, seal one end tightly with fabric, tin foil or whatever strong material you have on hand.  I prefer to use tin foil cause of the fun sound it makes.  But make sure to cover the tinfoil with tape so the kids can’t break through it and get beans all over your home!!  Fill the roll with some dry beans or pop corn kernels. Then secure the other end.   Now put on some music and let the fun begin!!



Posted in Parenting Wins!

Parenting Wins - Recycle Crafts!!!

Posted on May 23, 2016 by Mary Harper Dick | 0 comments

With my kiddos climbing the walls as we head into the summer, I find myself needing extra doses of creativity to find ways to help my kids get their creative juices flowing.  Often times for kids, the easiest way to find entertainment is to sit down in front of the TV or Nintendo and mindlessly be entertained.  While these things have value in some cases, I really try to encourage my kids to use their imaginations and to be creative.  This is so beneficial for kids!!  And it is super fun to see what amazing creations kids come up with when given the opportunity to be creative. 

It is also a big win-win when you can find ways for your kids to be creative with things you already have around the house or can get at the dollar store!  Here are a few ideas!

Shoe Boxes:

I rarely throw away a shoe box.  There are so many ways you can put a shoe box to good use:

Leprechaun Traps:  Every year we make leprechaun traps the night before St. Patrick’s Day. With a bit of green paper, St. Patty’s day stickers and some markers my kids have made some especially awesome traps!! They get better every year!

Treasure boxes:  With a few packs of jewel stickers, glitter glue, markers and paper your child can have a blast making a treasure box which can hold their many special treasures.  If your kids are anything like mine, they collect trinkets and little toys from all over that they are simply unable to part with.  These “treasure boxes” can be a perfect place for them to keep these special items! 

Mailboxes:  A mailbox or a box for Valentine’s Day:  We love to make new mailboxes and then write and send notes to each family member.

Diorama:  With random items we found around the house Jane and I made scene of a castle in an enchanted woods! We had a blast!


    Moving Boxes:

    Box huts: Being in the military, our little family has had several opportunities to move and collect all different shapes and sizes of moving boxes.  Most of which, we are anxious to get rid of.  However, I always like to reserve several large boxes to make cool box huts out of!!

    I even made a particularly awesome box castle for one of Jane’s birthday parties!!  I covered it in pink wrapping paper and had fun adding all sorts of castle-ish details!

    You can really make your “box hut” into any fun shape you want which will encourage your little one to have fun imaginary adventures…a rocket ship, race car, cave, castle, house, etc etc.  The possibilities are endless!!!

    Drive-in Movie Night:  Have your kiddos each decorate their own box cars any way they want. Then put a comfy blanket and a pillow in it.  Pop some popcorn, grab some treats, and let your kiddos watch a favorite family movie while sitting in the cars!!!

    Scenery for a play:  Cut the large moving box so it will lay flat. This will create a large area for drawing.  Allow your kids to draw whatever fun scenery they want on the box then when they stand it up next to a wall, it can be the back drop for a play!! Fun!!

    Puppet stage:  Those tall moving boxes are perfect for a puppet stage. Simply cut out a large hole on one side of the box near the top and a small door on the back of the box and let the kids decorate it as they please.  And then you will have a perfect puppet stage!

    Have fun being creative with your kiddos!!


    P.S. I love to hear from you, so email me at!

    Posted in Parenting Wins!

    Parenting Wins in the Waiting Room - The Brain Challenge!

    Posted on February 14, 2016 by Mary Harper Dick | 0 comments

    Have you ever had to wait for an absurdly long time in a waiting room?  Hasn’t everyone?  For some mysterious reason, every waiting room I have ever been in has always lived up to its name and has required me to wait in it for an excessively annoying amount of time.  These long waits become particularly bothersome when you have small children with you...  Believe me, I know from personal experience.

    Due to the fact that I have found myself caught in a long-waiting episode, in a dull and boring waiting room on so many occasions with my kids, I have been forced to get creative with my methods of entertaining them. The novelty of being in a new place littered with a few shabby toys and books, surrounded by unfamiliar humans wears off pretty quickly. Thus I have often found myself in the middle of a roaring battle between allowing my children to be the crazy, energetic kids they are and the need to prove to all the stink eyes shooting in my direction that I am actually a good parent who has control over my children.

    Here is the solution that has emerged from my many waiting room battles…Brain Challenges!!  It has been my experience that every kid loves a challenge and rises to the occasion, so this little game has worked swimmingly as a means to pass the time in the ever-familiar waiting rooms of the world. 

    Here’s how we play:

    I give each one of my children, in turn, an age appropriate math, science or English question to answer and we keep score…it’s that simple!

    My kids love the challenge and have a grand time watching me try to stump them over and over again.  Meanwhile, the waiting room minutes are ticking away while my kids remain subdued and engaged in learning.  And the stink eyes of the room are all wafting in the direction of the lady in the opposite corner having an obnoxiously loud phone conversation and safely away from us!  For heaven sakes if that isn’t a win, I don’t know what is!!

    I hope this little tip saves you from all the stink eyes in your next waiting room…enjoy!!

    Posted in Parenting Wins!

    Winter Wins - How to Stay Active (and Sane) Indoors!

    Posted on January 11, 2016 by Mary Harper Dick | 0 comments

    Ahhhhh!  With Christmas over and all the holiday excitement gone, we are left with just winter…cold, short days where the kiddos can’t get outside to release all that exuberant energy.  How can magical moments happen when kids are too wild and unable to properly release their energy and parents are going crazy trying to handle it!?!   Here are a few fun suggestions to pull out in times of extreme need that may be able to infuse some fun and magic into a cold, wintry day!!

    Indoor Obstacle Courses!

    By simply using things you have around the house you can create a fun and challenging obstacle course that will help kids expel some energy.   Here are some ideas for your courses:

    • Use string to make a laser course
    • Gather items that get progressively taller to jump over
    • “Mountain Climb” up the stairs
    • Walk backward and/or forward on a straight or zig-zagged line
    • Using only paper plates to stand on, slide across a rug or a carpeted room without falling
    • Tip-toe across a room
    • Do a number of jumping jacks
    • Do zig-zag hops on either side of a string or a jump rope
    • Do forward rolls
    • Crab walk
    • Using tape, make circles or squares to use as a hop scotch or have kids take large steps into

    You can make your course large or do many small ones.  You can time your kids or see how many challenges they can complete.  Either way, your kiddos will love being challenged and getting out some energy.



    Dance Parties!

    My kids love to dance.  If I turn on some good music and promise to take a video of their awesome moves, they will dance their little hearts out - releasing all sorts of energy along the way!!



    Play “Action Add-On”

    This is a memory game:  The first player does an action; the next player must do the action of the first player and then add on his/her own action; the third player then does the actions of the first two players in order and then adds another action.  The game continues until someone forgets one of the actions in the series.  And then you start again!!

    Bring back a classic game - Twister!

    Twister is a game I played and loved as a child.  I have had so much fun watching my kids enjoy this game as much as I did as a kid.  It is a great way to challenge your body, stretch out muscles and help children learn colors and the difference between right and left!  Plus, it is just fun!

    Have fun and stay active…for mom and dad’s benefit as much as your child’s!!


    I love hearing from you!  Email me at or leave comments below!

    Posted in Parenting Wins!