Popsicles & Play Dough

February vacation is here, the snow is falling like crazy, and I have had enough of my kids literally climbing all over me and telling me they’re bored.  It’s only been 2 days!  So I pulled out an old simply busy standby that we did when Em was first learning her numbers, with an added degree of difficulty for Jax: Popsicles & Play Dough!

Popsicles & Play Dough @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Basically have the kids knead and roll some play dough into a long line, then give them a bunch of Popsicle sticks numbered 1-20.  Em got 1-10 and Jax 1-20.  Then ask them to put them in order, standing upright in the play dough.

Number Line @ Rub Some Dirt On It

This is great for numeral recognition but also fine motor skills.  The kids learned that they had to pinch the play dough around the sticks to get them to stand up.  Then we added some extra challenges–numbers 11-20 and putting them in color order (by writing the colors on the back)–and I introduced Jax to the concepts of odds and evens by writing an O or E at the bottom of the sticks.  Differentiated fun for everyone!

Popsicles & Play Dough Fun @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Of course when this was done they continued to play with the play dough, which I don’t usually love, but on a snowy day when they have had little more to say than I’m Bored! I was glad for some simple, quiet fun!  Only 5 more days of vacation to go!

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Raining Hearts Math

This is my favorite Valentines activity yet, and I have had oh-so-many favorites.  Based on one of our favorite books, The Day It Rained Hearts by Felicia Bond and a great idea I found here, the kids and I did some snipping (as Em calls cutting), pasting, and a bit of math and writing as well!

Raining Hearts Math @ Rub Some Dirt On It

While I assembled our materials (construction paper, card stock, markers, glue, scissors), Jax read the book to his sisters.  He is such a sweet and smart big brother!


Then I let the kids pick out which pattern they’d like for their umbrella as well as what color hearts they’d like (Jax chose red, Em chose purple, of course).  I let them cut out their own umbrellas and glue them to the paper while I cut out the handles.  Then I impressed the heck out of them by showing them how to make many little hearts by folding paper; every time I made the final snip and a bunch of hearts fell onto the table, Jax and Em gasped like there were fireworks.

They pasted their hearts above their umbrellas as though it were raining…


…and then we did a bit of math, just for fun.  Jax says he really loves “hard math, like 11 +12,” so we counted the red and purple hearts and wrote it out.  Just simple addition, but it is a first for Em to see it written out that way.



They both wrote in their numbers and colors, which is more writing than Jax usually does in one sitting.  It’s all in capturing his interest, I suppose!  Don’t they look wonderful?  I just love that Em chose to make a cheetah umbrella.  She’s a sassy one, that girl.


 Take cover, everyone!  It’s raining hearts!

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Upcycled Holiday Scrap Letters

Upcycled Holiday Scrap Letters @ Rub Some Dirt On It

I began the serious job of wrapping Christmas presents last night; with several holiday celebrations on different days, I have to make sure I don’t leave any gifts behind.  I also like to keep the gifts for people we won’t be seeing until later on Christmas Day in the back of the tree so that the kids don’t manhandle them or get disappointed when they keep grabbing gifts for family and friends who aren’t there.  As I was knee-deep in wrapping paper, boxes, and tape, I was reminded of a fun craft the kids and I did the other day (that I discovered here), and how I should have waited until after Christmas so I could have upcycled all our cardboard and wrapping paper, ribbons and tags into a kickass holiday collage!  I will do this next year, but you, lovely readers, still have time to plan!  So here’s what you need.

Cardboard cut out (in our case, we cut out the first letters in Jax and Em’s names), glue, scraps of wrapping paper, cardstock, doilies, tags, etc.  Then just let your kids cut, rip, tear, and glue to their hearts content all over the cardboard!

Upcycled Holiday Scrap Letters @ Rub Some Dirt On It

If you have a fine motor loving kid like Em, this will be a real delight and may take most of a morning.  Jax was less enthusiastic, but we had success nonetheless.

Upcycled Holiday Scrap Letters @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Then just clean up the paper that hangs over the edge of your cardboard and make sure no brown spots are showing, and you have a sturdy collage of color that you saved from the trash or recycling bin (at least for a few days).  And the kids were really proud of their handiwork!

Upcycled Holiday Scrap Letters @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Upcycled Holiday Scrap Letters @ Rub Some Dirt On It

So don’t toss all your trimmings and wrappings straight into the fire on Christmas Day–put a few aside for when your kids inevitable crash from the holiday hysteria and need a little downtime!  And you need a break!

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An Autumn Tree, 2 Ways

Autumn Trees 2 Ways @ Rub Some Dirt On It

I haven’t mentioned it here, but JDubbs and I decided to pull Em out of her preschool.  It just wasn’t a great fit for her personality, and since she has another year of pre-K next year, we thought that extra time home with Mommy and her baby sister (whom she adores) might help her gain the confidence to tackle pre-K next year with a bit more swagger.  She’s doing a couple different classes at The Purple Crayon in Woodstock and I am making an effort to do at least one significant arts and crafts project a week, since she loves getting her hands dirty with paint and cutting with scissors.  I was inspired by a couple different ideas I found here and here to create non-traditional autumn trees–one with the leaves made from stamping with a cork, and one dabbing with Q-tips.  Em is proud to hang her artwork up next to all the creative projects Jax brings home with him from school.  I think it helps her feel a little more like she is keeping up with what Jax is doing, which we all know is key around here.

So basically, we did these on two separate days, one in the afternoon when Jax was home and one just the two of us when H was napping.  I traced a circle for her to keep in mind for the shape of the Q-tips tree, and I wish I had done the same for the cork tree because it became kind of a stamping free-for-all.

Autumn Trees 2 Ways @ Rub Some Dirt On It

I made the trunk and branches first, under her direction. She also insisted we add some purple birds to her tree, and had some leaves falling to the ground.  This Vermont girl knows what autumn looks like, as you can tell from my post the other day.

Q-Tip Autumn Tree @ Rub Some Dirt On It

For the cork tree, again I made the trunks and the kids stamped to their hearts content. I tried to have a different cork for each color so they didn’t get too messed up (and believe me, after days like the other day, plenty of wine has been consumed to make this possible).  Of course in the end they smeared the colors together, but the different corks definitely helped postpone the inevitable.

Cork Autumn Trees @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Cork Autumn Trees @ Rub Some Dirt On It 2 Autumn Trees @ Rub Some Dirt On It

What creative ways have you and your loved ones celebrated autumn trees in paint? We still have plenty of time to make more before winter officially arrives!

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Our Gratitude Tree

Gratitude Tree @ Rub Some Dirt On It 2

Last year, the kids and I made Gratitude Turkey Treat jars, which were a nice, simple way to introduce the idea of thankfulness to them.  This year they understand the concept more clearly so I decide to take it up a notch and make a Gratitude Tree, where we can write down all the things we are grateful for, once a day for the month of November on leaves.

Remembering a fabulous Cocktails & Crafts held by my friend Heather, I wrote the words “Give” and “Thanks” on pieces of white paper in white crayon.  Then the kids painted over them in watercolors, at which point the words reappeared.  They were totally enthralled to see the word “appear” out of nowhere!  I used my trusty butcher paper to cover the floor and the big kids had a grand time together, painting away.


2 Then I cut a tree out of more butcher paper and hung the signs above it.  Using some foam leaves I bought at JoAnn Fabrics on clearance, the kids alternate telling me what they are grateful for every other day.  So far, Jax has been grateful for his birthday presents and Em for her princess puzzles.  What’s nice is that there’s 30 days worth of gratitude, so hopefully they kids will have an opportunity to realize there is more to life to be grateful for than toys!


There’s plenty of time left to make a Gratitude Tree of your own!  It’ll brighten up your home and keep the spirit of the Thanksgiving season in mind.  I’ll put an updated picture up at the end of month to show all our gratitude.

Gratitude Tree @ Rub Some Dirt On It

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Fun Fall Button Art

This may sound strange, but I always love a good button craft.  Buttons make my heart happy.  So I bought a few packages of autumn-colored buttons at Walmart and asked the kids what they wanted to do with them. Fall Button Art @ Rub Some Dirt On It

We had a lot of fun doing a similar craft last year, but this year Jax wanted to make an autumn tree with colorful button leaves.  We went outside to look at the colors and leaves to get an idea of what our art could look like, and Em found the perfect beech leaf.  She decided she just wanted to make a leaf, so their creativity parted ways but I liked that they both had a vision of what they wanted.  I set out a bowl of buttons each, drew the outline of a maple tree for Jax (he was very specific) and traced the beech leaf for Em.  Just add Elmer’s glue and they were busy, content, and artsy.  Love it.


3 2

And in the end, we had some beautiful autumn artwork to spice up our kitchen!

Fall Button Art @ Rub Some Dirt On It (2)

Fall Button Art @ Rub Some Dirt On ItI love how Jax wanted a few button “leaves” on the ground, just like outside, although he did add  a rogue blue leaf.  These Vermont kids sure love autumn.  With fun like this, who can blame them?

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Coffee Filter Butterfly Mobile

 This summer I must admit, we kept the crafting to a minimum because a) I had a baby b) we spent so much time outside, who wants to be inside with gluesticks and construction paper? and c) there isn’t a major holiday that screams handmade decorations! to me in the summer months.  Fourth of July comes and goes and all I want to do is drink margaritas and eat hot dogs, not decoupage furniture or scrub glitter glue off my kitchen table.  Then fall arrived and the kids are in school, crafting like mad, so I don’t feel like inundating them with more when they get home.

For some reason, though, I was thinking about the coffee filter butterflies I made with Jax years ago and realized I never made them with Em.  Compound that with the fact that my kids have been coming home with caterpillar- and butterfly-themed work from preschool, and I figured now would be a great time to dust off an old favorite, with a new twist.

Coffee Filter Butterfly Mobile ~ Rub Some Dirt On It

A coffee filter butterfly mobile!

So while they kids were watching TV on Friday, I got everything situated for watercolors at the kitchen table, complete with laying down my ever-useful butcher paper to protect the table. Then when their show was over, everything was ready and no kids were left unattended with bowls of water or paint.  Finally, I gave them the green light to paint the coffee filters and watched their creativity unfold.



At first I couldn’t believe how well they were behaving! They were quiet and engaged.  They painted for so long–longer than Jax has ever painted in one sitting before.  I thought that maybe they would each paint one or two filters, but they kept asking for more and more until they had painted eight in all!  The first go round was splotchy, but for the last few they covered every inch of that coffee filter, making vibrant and beautiful butterflies!



As always, H was such a good sport about being left out of the crafty fun, but now that she can sit in the high chair and feel like part of the action, she’s a lot less cranky when I leave her alone for extended periods of time.  Baby girl loves watching her brother and sister at work!


Plus a cold spoon always helps!

After the coffee filters dried, I had the kids choose which pipe cleaners went with which butterflies and I folded them like a fan and then secured them with the pipe cleaner bodies and antennae.  Then I used yarn and hung them from a wire clothes hanger, which I hung in their closet doorway, and now we have a butterfly mobile as a fun, homemade decoration in the kids’ bedroom!


For a kid like Jax who is always reluctant to do fine motor work, this craft was a hit!  Plus it was fun to display their art in a different way.  Keeping a bit of bright summer beauty with us through the autumn season, and maybe even getting back on the crafty track.

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