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Easy Craft: Get Creative With Cardboard Boxes and Build a Train

Thanks so much to my friend Annie at {Kidlist} for sharing this post with me. If you have friends or family members who live in the near west suburbs, make sure they check out her wonderful site.

Annie of {Kidlist} made this train for her son's birthday out of cardboard boxes. Photo courtesy of {Kidlist}.Kids love playing in cardboard boxes. It ignites their creativity and gives them a place to call their own. The problem is, who buys something huge like a stove all the time?

I decided to make a cardboard train (pictured here) for my son Elliott's birthday a couple years ago ... yeah, it was probably too elaborate, but I had fun doing it. The kids would have had just as much fun if it was a plain brown box and they had the opportunity to draw on it! 

When I started the project I called so many places for boxes, basically any store that sells appliances within a 20-minute drive, and Best Buy was the only one willing to give me a tip. They have a warehouse where Interstate 355 meets Interstate 55 and the people there were so nice. I called ahead and they saved some great boxes for me! I pulled up to the dock door and a guy loaded them on my car roof.

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Easy Craft: Let's Bring Back May Day Baskets!

We have a rare Saturday post today, and it’s an idea for an easy craft from my friend Maegen, the creator of Sounds Fun Mom. Her site is an awesome resource for young families in the “Sound Sound” area of the Seattle suburbs – if you have any friends out there, please pass the word!

When I was a little girl, my sister and I loved to celebrate May 1st by making paper cones and filling them with flower bouquets for our neighbors. Part of the fun was making them, and part of the fun was getting to ring the doorbell and run!

Photo by Alyssssyla on Flickr.I’ve discovered that most people in the Seattle area don’t have this tradition. Maybe my mom brought it from the Midwest, or maybe it’s just fading away because the stores haven’t figured out how to market it. Either way, I say: Let’s bring back May Day! It’s such a simple craft and such a sweet way to mark spring.

To be official, you’ll want to wait until Sunday, but round up the supplies now (you probably have most around the house). And, I suppose this goes without saying, but if you’re going to do the doorbell and run method, choose a friendly neighbor!

We make ours like this one from Kaboose. It’s basically a decorated paper plate shaped into a cone and stapled. You’ll want to get some ribbon to make a little handle for the door. The cheap, flimsy plates actually work best, and in a pinch, construction paper will work, too. Then fill it with some lovely flowers and find a neighbor to give it to! Of course, if you want to channel your inner Martha and pretty it up, feel free.


An Easy Earth Day Craft: Yogurt Smoothie Vases!

In honor of Earth Day, one of our regular contributors, Tracy Richter, shared this fun craft that she and her young sons enjoyed this week.  Thank you, Tracy!


Vinyl tablecloth (this can get messy)

Yogurt smoothie bottles

Non-toxic school glue



Newspaper or grocery store ads

Craft ribbon or twine

Spring flower stems



Step 1:  Save those Smoothie yogurt bottles (yougurt cups can work too)


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Easy Activity: Edible Play Dough

My daughter and I spent yesterday afternoon in Wheaton, and dinner at Chik-fil-A was too tempting to pass up. I like how their kids’ meals come with a book as the “prize,” and that you can substitute a generous fruit cup for the (admittedly tasty) waffle flies.  

Enjoying edible play dough with the friendly Chick-fil-A employee.Anyway, last night they had an employee set up at a table offering kids “edible play dough” to play with. The dough (made from cake mix) is sweet and very rich – but Johanna got a kick out of eating a bit while I stressed that this was “special” and that we couldn’t eat the stuff we have at home. (I'll let you know how that turns out.) This play dough was pliable, a bit greasy and sticky and made some great shapes. Tt was particularly fun to make a “hot dog on a bun” that Johanna could then eat. I thought I’d share the recipe that the restaurant handed out.



1 box name-brand white cake mix

1 stick of softened buttered or margarine (not melted)

Approximately 3 tablespoons of water (give or take a few drops)

Food coloring (optional)

Flour – have some on hand just in case too much water is added


Mix dry cake mix and margarine/butter in a large bowl. Once it is well mixed, add water 1 teaspoon at a time until you get the desired consistency. Finally, you can add food coloring if  wanted before handing it over to the kids.


Who Needs a Sand Box When You Can Have a Rice Box?

Today we have a guest "indoor activity" post written by the editor of Local Fun for Kidsa new website that is helping bring more attention to locally run parenting sites across the country, including Go West Young Mom. The blog has lots of recipes, crafts and more fun ideas, too, so make sure to add it to your bookmarks. -- Tara

Photo courtesy of Local Fun for Kids.My little guys love playing outside, and one of my 3-year-old son’s favorite activities is playing in the dirt with his trucks. As soon as spring rolls around, he will be out there again digging for hours and covered in dirt and mud. As long as he's happy, that's fine with me.

He recently got a Caterpillar remote control digger for his birthday.  But, how much fun is a digger, if you can't dig?  So, I pulled out a medium-sized storage container, and put some green felt on the bottom, which makes it a better surface to drive the digger. I then poured in the some blue and green rice, which was dyed with food coloring a few days earlier.  If you’ve never colored rice before, you can find an easy how to guide here.

This little ‘rice box’ was such a hit!

If you have a girl who is digger-less, you could still use this idea but make it a beach for Barbie.  But, you don't really need a theme at all. You can just use some cups and spoons and let your child play in with the rice like they would with sand.

This is such a great indoor alternative to outdoor digging. Plus, it's heck of a lot cleaner that an indoor sand-box. Will you get grains of rice out of the 'rice box'? Yes. But it is so worth it. My kids have already spent hours playing with this.

It would also be a great activity for a breastfeeding mama who needs to entertain her little one while she's nursing.  You could save the 'rice box' as a special treat that your little one can only use when you're nursing the baby.  Try it!

This is such an inexpensive & easy indoor activity for kids.  


Making Your Family Movie Nights Worthy of a Red Carpet!

Crystal Rutherford follows Go West Young Mom, and when I read on her personal blog a mention of their “Family Movie Nights” – along with amazingly fun photos – I just had to know more! So I asked Crystal if she could write a bit about how the idea for the movie nights came together and how she plans for them. With the Academy Awards on Sunday night, I thought it would be a perfect time for all of us to get inspired on how to make watching movies together at home a truly special occasion. Thanks so much to Crystal for this great reader contribution.

The table set for "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs" movie night. Photo provided by the Rutherford family.We started movie nights about a year ago after my son had his adenoids removed.  Per doctor's orders, Hayden had to take it easy for 7 to 10 days. But as expected with any 3 year old, after a few days he was sick of taking it easy, as well as watching movies, so I had to try to make things more interesting for him.  When I was teaching, as a class reward we would have a “Movie Celebration.” I remembered how excited my students were when I gave them printed tickets as they entered my classroom, so I figured I would try it with Hayden.  

So I planned our first themed-family movie night!  I chose “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,” which was really easy to plan a dinner for: Spaghetti & meatballs, giant broccoli spears, and puffy rolls. Of course we had to have gummy bears, and for dessert we enjoyed yummy “hamburger cupcakes.” Hayden was so excited when my husband gave him the printed movie ticket, as well as when he saw the fun food on the dining room table, that we have now made it a tradition.

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