Posts Tagged ‘children’s activities’

Bouquet of beautiful spring flowers on pastel blue table top view

The first day of Spring is approaching quickly. Monday March 20th marks the first day of Spring for 2023. The days will start getting warmer but there is still a chance for rain showers. If you find yourself stuck inside with your family and have little ones at home, this is the perfect time to work on DIY activities for Spring. I have just the activities for you!

Suncatcher Craft:


  • Paper plates
  • Hole punch
  • Scissors
  • Colored tissue paper (cut into small pieces)
  • Clear contact paper
  • Extra collage items (get creative with glitter, feathers, etc.)
  • String


  1. Cut the center of your paper plate out to create your frame. Then cut out circles from the contact paper. They should be slightly larger than the hole you cut in the plate.
  2. Peel off the backing from the contact paper and stick it to the back of the paper plate.
  3. Add tissue paper pieces, glitter, feathers, sequins and whatever else you’d like to use for your suncatcher. Push the pieces carefully onto the sticky contact paper, so they stick completely.
  4. Once your design is finished, peel the backing off another piece of contact paper and press it onto the open side of your suncatcher. Press firmly all around so that it sticks to the plate and the design.
  5. Punch two holes in the top of your suncatcher and string a piece of string through the holes. Find a sunny window and hang your suncatcher up to admire!

Homemade Playdough:


  • 2 Cups of flour
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • ½ cup salt
  • ½ to 1 cup water
  • Food coloring


  1. In a medium bowl mix together the flour, vegetable oil and salt.
  1. Add a drop or two of food coloring to the water.
  2. Add water slowly as you mix the dough to the desired consistency (Only use what you need).
  3. It is easy to add too much water as the mixture seems too dry until you mix it thoroughly. If you do add too much, simply add more flour to get the right consistency.
  4. The playdough is ready to use, you may use spring-shaped cookie cutters for added fun!
  5. Store the playdough in a sealed container when not in use.

If you find yourself inside on a spring day, try one of these activities to help brighten your day. It will keep the children busy, and they will have fun doing it!


Martelle, A. (2022, April 15). How to make tissue paper Suncatchers. The Artful Parent. Retrieved February 14, 2023, from https://artfulparent.com/how-to-make-tissue-paper-suncatchers/

Mcilroy, T. (2023, January 18). Homemade playdough without cream of tartar: 6 no cook recipes. Empowered Parents. Retrieved February 14, 2023, from https://empoweredparents.co/homemade-playdough-without-cream-of-tartar/

Author: Megan Taylor, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences/4-H Youth Development, Union County

Reviewer: Jennifer Little, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Hancock County

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A family reading children's books together.
My husband and I reading books with our son.

This past spring, my local thrift store offered a promotion where they gave away a free book to every child who walked through their doors on a specific day in April. While my son and I took advantage of the promotion, only later did I find out that this event was one of many planned across the nation the week of April 29 – May 5, 2019 in observation of Children’s Book Week! I had never heard of Children’s Book Week, but after doing a little research, I learned that this national literacy initiative was established in 1919 to celebrate children’s books and reading. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the initiative, and if you missed the spring celebration, you’re in luck! There is a second week of festivities planned in the fall, from November 4-10, 2019, during which schools, libraries, bookstores and more will offer events to cultivate and celebrate young readers.

Why is it important to encourage young people to read? First of all, reading to and with young children can help them learn language and early literacy skills. A recent study conducted at the Ohio State University, referred to as the “million word gap study”, found that children who are read five books a day enter kindergarten having heard about 1.4 million more words than children who are not read to.

Secondly, researchers are discovering more and more how reading to and with young children can shape their social and emotional development. In a recent study funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, researchers found that 3-year olds who were read books while waiting in a doctor’s office were significantly less likely to be aggressive or hyperactive than peers who were not read to. Furthermore, when researchers followed up with those children 18 months later, they found that the observed effects on their behavior had persisted.

When reading to and with children, adults can create opportunities to cultivate emotional intelligence and other positive behaviors in children. When adults pause while reading to ask questions about characters, children learn to think about how others feel and how their actions can impact others.

Books can be used to encourage other healthy habits in children, too. When I teach nutrition to preschoolers, I often use books to help expose children to healthy food(s) in a positive way. When children see friendly characters trying and enjoying new food, they may be more likely to do the same!

What healthy habits would you like to encourage in your children? Are there specific books you could use to help you do so? Whether you have certain books in mind or not, know that any time spent reading with the children in your life is time well spent. Check out these ideas for more fun ways to celebrate Children’s Book Week and cultivate young readers!

Written by: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Franklin County, lobb.3@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Pickaway County, treber.1@osu.edu


Barlage, L. (2019). What are you reading today? Live Healthy, Live Well, OSU Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences. https://livehealthyosu.com/2019/08/08/what-are-you-reading-today/

Every Child a Reader (2019). Children’s Book Week: 100th Anniversary Celebration Details. https://everychildareader.net/cbw/100th/

Klass, P. (2018). Reading aloud to young children has benefits for behavior and attention. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/16/well/family/reading-aloud-to-young-children-has-benefits-for-behavior-and-attention.html

Lindquist, S. (2012). Nutrition: Help kids eat better by reading children’s books. Michigan State University Extension. https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/nutrition_help_kids_eat_better_by_reading_childrens_books

Science Daily (2019). A “million word gap” for children who aren’t read to at home. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/04/190404074947.htm

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As the first day of school approaches, parents often start to think about routines for the new school year.  Routines can change or need to be adjusted with a new school and sometimes reestablished after the lazy days of summer.

Rush Boys Outdoor Human Handsome Backpack

Routines are an important part of a child’s development.  Routines do more than just keep us organized, they help our youth learn life skills, build their self-confidence, and teach team work and much more.  According to Healthy Children, children do best when their routines are regular, predictable and consistent.

Here are a few routines to consider as you head back into a new school year:

Morning Routine: having a routine in the morning can help families get to work and school on time, remember homework, lunches and other important items and be ready to face the day.  If your children struggle to get going in the morning allow them enough time to wake up before starting their morning routine. A morning routine should include time for breakfast.

After School: Routines after school can organize extracurricular and evening activities and still work in other necessary activities like homework and chores. Children that old enough to be home alone after school benefit from a routine and knowing what is expected of them.  Posting routines for all to see and follow may be helpful.  This also encourages autonomy as our children and teens start to move through the routines on their own.

Bedtime: An evening routine can help our children get their recommended amount of sleep.  Bedtimes may be different for our children based upon their needs and ages. A routine before bed can help children be ready. Build quiet time in and avoid screen time, close to bed to help your child be ready for restful sleep.   A nighttime routine could include reading time, singing together or just some time with each individual child to talk about their day.

Bed Lamp Bedside Pillows Flower Bedroom Ho

Other routines that are important and beneficial to children include meal, weekend and clean up or chore routines.  Routines look different in every family.  It’s important to be flexible when building a new routine for your family.  It may take time for family members to adjust and the new routine may need a few changes,  be patient and willing to adapt as needed and soon you will be seeing all the benefits of routines in your home.

Written by: Alisha Barton, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Miami County.

Reviewed by: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County.





Peaceful Parenting, OSU Extension



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Most schools have either finished up in the last week, or will be wrapping up in the next week or so. Initially everyone in the family is excited and there are lots of ideas of what to do – but it doesn’t take long and we hear those famous words “I’m bored! I can’t find anything to do!” As adults it isn’t our job to plan their days to the extent that schools do, with a new activity every 45 minutes, but we do need to keep them engaged so they don’t watch TV or play video games all day – everyday. Some parenting experts even suggest that a little boredom  isn’t a bad thing for children; it is a way for them to learn how to fill their own time and learn what makes them happy. Several of these experts suggest developing a family list of things to do whenever you say “I’m bored”. When children say “I’m bored” they need to pick something off the list to do. Depending on the age of the child this might include:

  • Playing cards or other games
  • Puzzles
  • Coloring or other crafts like playdough
  • Reading
  • Bubbles
  • Science experiments like making your own slime (Click here for recipes from Penn State).
  • Hula hoops
  • Playing dress up – chef, teacher, police officer, farmer, etc
  • Building sets or blocks
  • Music or dancing
  • Cooking
  • Gardening
  • Riding bikes
  • Sandbox time
  • Writing their own play to act out a book they read
  • Playing or caring for the family pet

If parents or grandparents work with children to do a little research, you can typically find a variety of activities that are offered in your area (with many at low or no cost) to include one or two days a week as well. You may want to select a day of the week that you will do one of these “away” activities, or develop a calendar that they can see to know which day you will do something next. Look for these activities from:

  • City parks or recreation – pools, craft sessions, fishing, free lunches, or lessons.
  • Museums or State/National Parks – Junior park ranger programs, historical reenactments, volunteer opportunities.
  • Free movie programs – at local cinemas, libraries, or parks.
  • YMCA or Boys/Girls Clubs – Day Camps, events or lessons (like swim, basketball, soccer, gymnastics, etc).
  • Summer Reading Programs and Events at Libraries – typically include reading programs for all ages, volunteer opportunities for teens, carnivals, crafts, and author events.
  • School or University Programs – many offer a week of special camps, often at a very low cost. In my area they include technology camp, art programs, Chinese camp, space camp, and summer sports camps.
  • Bowling – The Kids Bowl Free Program is offered at hundreds of bowling lanes around the country. This program allows children to bowl 2 free games per day and adults of families who participate can pay a reduced price as well. My family took advantage of this program for several years.
  • Extension or 4-H Programs – Check with your local university Extension or 4-H Office for summer camps or programs that are available. Some may require a membership, but others are open enrollment. Possibilities are Space Camps, STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math Programs, Cooking Camp, Babysitter Trainings, or traditional 4-H Camp.

Try these ideas for the “I’m bored!” crew and don’t forget it is OK for them to be a little bored. Children should use that time to develop their own hobbies and interests. Remember to limit TV and internet time to no more than 1 to 2 hours per day. Excessive TV viewing can contribute to sleep problems, obesity, behavior problems, and risky behavior.


Penn State Extension, http://extension.psu.edu/youth/betterkidcare/early-care/our-resources/tip-pages/tips/make-your-own-mixtures.

University of Michigan, Medicine, http://www.med.umich.edu/yourchild/topics/tv.htm.


Writer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County.

Reviewer: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County.

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Many people are experimenting with coloring or dyeing eggs with natural dyes – have you been thinking about trying it? My family has a tradition to dye eggs with onion skins that we always called “Bunny Eggs”. These beautiful brown/golden eggs have a marbled look that adults especially love. If you are interested in trying to dye eggs naturally here are a few tips:

  • Start by making hard boiled eggs – use un-cracked eggs that have been boiled in a covered pot for 4 minutes, then left in the covered pot (removed from the stove) for 15 to 17 minutes. At that point place pot in sink and cover with cold water, let eggs sit in cool water until completely cool. Dry eggs. If you can’t color eggs right away, refrigerate them.
  • To make your natural dye – place a small amount of your natural material in a pot of 2 cups of cold water and bring to a boil, and simmer for up to 10 minutes. Turn off heat and allow to steep for 30 minutes. Remove materials and cool in the refrigerator.
  • Once dye is cool – add hard cooked egg and 1 teaspoon of vinegar. Soak to desired color.
  • If you want to be able to eat the eggs, they must be kept refrigerated and only at room-temperature for 2 hours or less. These would not be eggs you would hide in the grass for example or someplace that animals could get to them.

Ideas for natural dyes:

Blue or purple – grape juice, red grapes, blue or blackberries, or red cabbage.

Brown – coffee grounds, black tea, or walnut shells.

Orange – ground cumin.

Yellow – orange or lemon peels, curry powder, or dandelions.

Pink – red beets.

Green – fresh cranberries.

Yellowish green – spinach.

Dark yellow/brown/rust – onion skins.

If you want a marbled effect to the dye, add 1 tablespoon of oil to the water before adding your egg in the dyeing process.

My family makes our eggs with onion skins wrapped around the raw eggs, with a piece of cheese cloth tied around it. Then the eggs are boiled. It takes a fair amount of skins, so you may need to buy a bag of onions. (Cheese cloth is usually found with canning materials or at the hardware to be used with staining of furniture.)

Hard boiled eggs that have been properly stored by refrigeration can be eaten for up to one week. Eggs are best not stored in the refrigerator door.

What natural egg dyes do you plan to try this year? I froze some cranberries and can’t wait to see what happens when using them to make a natural egg dye.


Penn State Extension, http://extension.psu.edu/plants/master-gardener/counties/adams/news/2015/dare-to-dye-differently-natural-dying-of-easter-eggs.

University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, http://jackson.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/04/03/dyeing-eggs-the-natural-way/.

University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension, http://lancaster.unl.edu/hort/youth/printer-friendly/coloringeggs.pdf.

Writer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County.

Reviewer: Tammy Jones, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pike County.

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School is out and it won’t be long before you hear that common theme from your children or grandchildren “I’m bored! There isn’t anything to do!” To stop summer brain drain, the research supported fact that most children lose part of their prior learning; it is a good idea to keep your children busy, entertained and educated. By planning ahead you will be ready for them. Ideas for low or no cost activities include:Education
• Check with your local library for a summer book or reading program. It may include special activities like magicians, craft programs, fun fairs, or animal programs.
• Look into free family movies – they may be available from your local movie theater, park system, or library.
• Visit the parks – find out if your community or metro park has a summer program. They often have fitness, craft, or fun days planned with community agencies. Even if they don’t have a program, it can be fun to picnic, hike, or feed the ducks.
• Investigate the MyPlate Kids Place – while we want to limit screen time to no more than 2 hours a day of TV, computers, or video games – MyPlate has games, videos and songs for combined fun and learning on rainy days http://www.choosemyplate.gov/kids/index.html.
• Go Fishing! – In most states children 15 and under can fish without a license – check to find out the laws in your area and visit that favorite fishing spot.
• Visit your State or National parks – while not everything they offer is free – many of their programs are free or low cost. Options include swimming, historical artifacts, nature trails, Park Ranger programs, even hiking virtual trails. A link to the National Parks is http://www.nps.gov/webrangers/ and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Kids site is http://www.dnr.state.oh.us/parks/kids/kidsintro/tabid/19445/Default.aspx.
• Cook together – let your children decide on a few recipes that you will make together each week. Good ideas might be a healthy snack, a new food they have never tried, or a food that reminds them of a time in history (or a state they want to visit or a theme for the week). For example – blueberries or sea food from Maine or Johnny Cakes if you are studying the Civil War. The Nebraska Department of Education has an A to Z list of vegetables and fruits with a variety of ideas http://www.education.ne.gov/ns/nslp/FFVP/BINDERS/Binder1-Food_Service_Resource/FactsNutritionSection.pdf.
• Check with your local College or University to see if they have a College for Kids program. This will likely not be free, but is guaranteed to be very exciting.
• Encourage your children to volunteer – at the food bank, community garden, library, picking up trash, for your church, or helping an elderly neighbor or family member.
• If you run out of ideas check out this Penn State brochure with over 100 ideas – 101+ Ways to Keep Kids Busy, Penn State, Better Kid Care, http://www.betterkidcare.psu.edu/PDFs/101KidsBusy.pdf.
Try to have ideas each week that involve science, art, reading, history, and physical activity.

Sources listed above.

Writer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County, barlage.7@osu.edu.

Reviewer: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, treber.1@osu.edu

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