September 30, 2011

Candy Corn Cupcakes

Here's a really cute Halloween version of the Rainbow Cupcakes we made in the spring.  They're really simple to make and don't require any kind of fancy baking skills.  Plus, because they only have three colors instead of a full rainbow, they're not nearly as time consuming as the rainbow ones.

Here's how you make them:

1.  Make up a batch of regular white cake batter using your favorite recipe (or your favorite box of Betty Crocker white cake mix!).  Divide the batter evenly into three bowls.

2.  Leave one bowl white, but use food coloring to color the other two bowls yellow and orange.  (Mine took a LOT of food coloring to get the bright colors I wanted, probably 20 drops or so in each one!)

3.  Spoon the batter into your cupcake liners in layers, first the yellow, then orange, and finally white.  You'll want to make sure you get the batter of each layer all the way up against the sides so the layers are clearly visible when you peel back the wrapper.  (I accidentally overfilled with the yellow and orange so I just had a really narrow white layer)

4.  Bake as directed.  Let cool, then peel off the wrappers to reveal your candy corn striped cupcakes.  Frost and decorate however you'd like.  (My kids don't like frosting, so I just added a little whipped cream and a real candy corn or two.)

That's it!  Some super cute cupcakes that are super easy to make!

Mini Marshmallow Shooters (or Pom Pom Poppers)

A few months ago, when I was first introduced to Pinterest, I came across this idea from Real Simple.  I thought it looked like something the kids would enjoy, but we just never got around to doing it over the summer.  Then this week the kids had a day off school and it was the first day it didn't rain in what seems like ages!  I gathered up some balloons, plastic cups, mini marshmallows and pom poms and we had a great time.  These little contraptions are really easy and inexpensive to make, but boy, can they really launch a marshmallow!

Here's how we made ours ( I made a few small changes from the original idea)

You'll need:

* plastic cups (ours were 9 oz)

* balloons ( ours were 12")

* mini marshmallows (or pom poms)

* scissors (not pictured)

And here's what you need to do:

1.  Cut the bottom part off of your plastic cup.  I found it worked best to double up the cups and I cut off the bottom third.

See how there's two cups nestled together?

 2.  Tie a knot at the end of your balloon and cut off about 1/2" from the other end.

3.  Now stretch the balloon over the end of the cup.  I found it worked best to put the balloon on the top part of the cup where the lip is, otherwise the cup would bend too much when I put the balloon on.  Perhaps if you have a sturdier cup, you wouldn't need to use two cups together and you could put the balloon on the cut end (like in the original), but our way worked really well for us.  (UPDATE:  A commenter said she used a empty yogurt container and it worked well ~ good idea since some brands tend to be pretty sturdy, plus you're recycling!) 

That's it!  Now it's time to do some launching!  Just put your marshmallow inside the cup on the knotted center, then aim the cup away from you, pull back on the outer knot and launch away!

**NOTE** The marshmallows went MUCH farther than the pom poms, but I have enough problems with food in unwanted places inside the house.  There was no way I was going to intentionally encourage the kids to shoot more food around!  Therefore, my rule with these fun new toys was marshmallows outside, only pom poms inside.  (I know I'll still be finding pom poms in hidden corners for the next several months, but at least they won't be covered with ants!)

Check out the fun we had at a local park (our backyard was too much of a muddy mess)

Ready to launch!

We drew a launching line with sidewalk chalk.

He loved it!

Several marshmallows in at a time don't go as far, but it was fun to watch them burst out.

We also shot a pom pom straight up in the air, then tried to catch it in the cup.

It's a little tough to see, but we drew targets in chalk on the cement.

He's marking the spot where my marshmallow landed ~ Look how far it went!!!

 These were so inexpensive and easy to make and sooo much fun, that we'll definitely be launching some more marshmallows (outside, of course!) and pom poms (inside, but not at each other!) soon!

September 29, 2011

Guest Post: MESS FOR LESS ~ Watercolor Resist

I'm thrilled to have a guest host here today at Come Together Kids.  Because I didn't start this blog until my kids were a bit older, I haven't shared too many ideas geared more for the little ones.  It's not that I didn't do crafts and activities with my kids when they were younger, I was just way too exhausted and overwhelmed to even think about sharing them on a blog! 

Well, that's why I'm so excited to introduce you to Mess for Less.  Like me, Vicky has three children and likes to do inexpensive, yet fun, activities with her family.  However, she blogs about those fun activities while having three-year old TWINS and a toddler!  I know!  Amazing, isn't it?
Mess For Less

Here she is with a fun craft that her three-year olds really enjoyed (and I know my "bigger" kids would love too!)

Hi Come Together Kids readers!  I am Vicky from Mess For Less, a blog of kids crafts and activities.  Laura asked if I would share a project with you all and I am so excited to be here!  I have 3 little ones (three year old twins and a twenty month old) and was a teacher before having kids.  I've been lucky to have had lots of great experiences while teaching, and I hope to use some of that inspiration to help my children grow and learn.  I am all about fun, hands-on activities that can be done on a budget.  Most of my projects can be done with items you already have at home.

The project I am going to share with you is one I re-purposed from my teaching days called "Watercolor Tape Resist".  Years ago, when I did this project with elementary-aged kids, I used blue painter's tape.  I would recommend this to you.  I didn't have any blue painters tape the day I wanted to do this, so I improvised and used masking tape.  I figured maybe it would stick a little more but it wouldn't be too bad.  It stuck a lot!  But it wasn't too bad.  If you plan on using these as art, you would want to use the painter's tape for sure.  But for my purposes, the masking tape worked, though it tore the top layer off of some of the paper. Supplies you will need:  white paper (I just used copy paper), tape, watercolor paints, brush and water.  Before the activity, you will want to use your tape to make whatever shapes or designs you wish on the paper.  I started out with a triangle and square and then moved on to some lines, and  finally my favorite, the checkerboard pattern.  Don't worry about being too exact with any of these.  The end result will be cool no matter how straight the lines or perfect the shape.  I promise! 

I gave the kids the taped paper and some watercolors and encouraged them to to paint over the tape.  I tried to explain that when the paint dried we would peel the tape off and see the design underneath, but I am not sure if the girls got that at all.  They just had fun in the whole process of painting on the tape.   A little background for Come Together Kids readers: my twins are total opposites.  "A" is the more of a follow the rules type  while "B" is a free spirit who likes to do her own thing.  As an example,  here is "A" carefully painting over her shapes.  

"B" had lots of fun painting her shapes.  So much fun that she did not want to stop after she was done.  All you can do with "B" is try and encourage her.  If she senses that you do not want her to do something then she will dig in her heels and do it more.  Can any of you relate?  Anyway, I normally never want to shut down my kid's creativity, but "B" kept on painting the same spot on the paper over and over again and I knew that soon a hole would form in the paper.  I asked her if she wanted to paint a new paper but she was adamant and kept working on her shapes. 

If I have learned anything in my three years as "B's" mom it's that sometimes it's better to let her do her own thing in her own time.  After a little longer, she was done painting her shapes.  Here are the results, holes and all. 

I love how you can see the girls' different approaches to art (and possibly life!) in their work.  As they painted their tape lines, you can see that "A" was careful to paint her entire paper while "B" was just interested in painting right over the tape.  

"A" working on her checkerboard pattern. 

I just love the finished "tape resist" artwork!  I mentioned earlier that it was tricky to get the regular masking tape off in spots and I would use painter's tape in the future.  You can't see it in the photos, but in a couple of spots a layer of paper was taken off with the tape.  But you live and learn right? I am going to have so much fun with this in the future.  Think of this project as a jumping off point.  There are so many possibilities about what you can do with this technique.  You can change it up in many ways depending on the age of the child.  I have seen people do their child's name in tape so when they peeled it off they had a pretty name painting.  You can do various shapes, letters, numbers, and patterns depending on what you are teaching and learning.  Experiment! You are only limited by your imagination.  And your lack of painter's tape.  

If you have liked what you've read here, I hope you will come visit us at Mess For Less for more ideas.  We are really friendly and we don't bite.  We'll, OK, my twenty month old sometimes bites.  But only if you try and take her toys away from her.  You wouldn't do that would you? 

Thanks, so much for sharing this fun activity, Vicky!  I'm inspired to do something similar with my kids soon.

And definitely go check out Mess for Less!  Here are just a few of the other cool activities her girls have done...

Fruit Loop Towers

Foam Window Clings

Bubble Wrap Prints

September 24, 2011

Birthday Balloon Pop

Today, my "baby" turned 6! 

(I guess I have to face the fact that 
my baby isn't a baby anymore!)

For a few years now, on their "real" birthdays (their parties are often several days later), my kids have enjoyed a special Birthday Pancake to start their day.  Made in the shape of the number of their new age decorated with a bit of whipped cream and sprinkles, it's a simple little tradition that they just love.

This year, I decided to add a new little activity to our birthday traditions ~ a Birthday Balloon Pop!  I came across the idea a few months ago at Increasingly Domestic and knew my kids would love it.  Well, boy, was it a hit today!!

It looks like a fairly ordinary bunch of balloons, 
but they're hiding a special surprise!

In each of the six balloons, is a dollar bill!

Armed with a pin, my daughter had a BLAST 
popping her balloons and watching the dollar bills 
float down to the ground.

Without a doubt, we'll be doing this for every birthday from now on!  (Her big sister is looking forward to her chance in a few weeks when she turns 9!)  

Check out this smile 
as she gathered up her birthday loot! 

Thanks so much, Amy at Increasingly Domestic, for this awesome idea!

Sharing the balloon popping fun at:

September 23, 2011

Party Ideas

What better way to come together 
with your kids, family and friends
than with a good party!

Let this on-going collection 
be your "Party Central."
Link up your posts for whole party themes 
or just for the cakes and cupcakes, 
decorations and favors,
or anything else party-related.
It can be any kind of party ~
Birthday, Holiday, or other Special Occasion ~
as long as it relates to families and kids.

It will continue throughout the year, 
so come back often 
to link up new posts or check out new ideas.  
I'll showcase your ideas periodically 
in my "Five Fun Ideas..." posts.

A few guidelines:
1.  Please link to your specific blog post relating to PARTIES  ~ themes, foods, activities or decorations.
2.  Please do not link to an Etsy shop, business, or someone else's post.
3.  Finally, the more people who link up to this party, the better it will be.  Please help me spread the word by linking back either with a text link or by grabbing a button.

Come Together Kids

Donut Hole Acorns

To celebrate the First Day of Fall today and inspired by this cute idea at Family Fun, the kids and I made some super cute acorn treats out of donut holes.

Aren't they cute?

They were really easy to make and the kids loved helping.

Here's what you need:

* Donut holes

* chocolate frosting (or peanut butter)

* chopped nuts (or sprinkles)

* pretzel sticks

Here's what you do (it really doesn't even need explaining!)

1. Dip your donut hole in the frosting, 
then in the nuts or sprinkles...

2. Add a piece of a pretzel stick as a stem...

3. Put them on a cute plate and enjoy!

*NOTE* ~ We used the boxed glazed donut holes, which, although delicious, had the tendency to crumble a bit when we were dipping them.  When I do it again, I may use some "sturdier" donuts.

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