I Spy Bottles

Photograph of an "I Spy Bottle" OpeningI spy with my little eye…a remarkably simple and entertaining craft! You can create this craft with discarded objects from around the house. All you need is an empty plastic bottle, some uncooked beans or rice and an array of unused trinkets. When complete, the “I spy bottle” can be interactive, with you and your child searching for and talking about the contents. It can also be a thought-provoking toy for kids to play with on their own.

Here’s how to make the “I spy bottle” in 6 simple steps.

1. Clean a clear plastic bottle and lid.
2. Gather small toys and trinkets. For example, you can add
pom poms, charms, birthday candles, paper clips, buttons,
coins or even old keys.
3. Take a photo or make a list of the items you plan to “hide” in the bottle.
4. Add the items to the dry bottle.
5. Add beans or rice to cover the items. (You may need a funnel.)
6. Screw on the cap and hot glue the bottle shut. Continue reading

Baby Doll Hair Salon

Elsa doll with hair in untangling liquidOver the summer I came across an Elsa doll at a garage sale. I have many young cousins who would love an Elsa doll, so I adopted her. There was only one problem — Elsa had badly tangled hair. Elbow grease and a good brushing alone weren’t going to be enough to free her knotted locks. So I searched online and found several suggestions on how to get the tangles out. Below, I’ve complied the best methods for restoring doll hair to a tangle free state. Feel free to try it out! It may save you some time and money and give you the opportunity to play with your child. You can have a blast running a baby doll hair salon together!

First, I brushed out what tangles I could from Elsa’s hair with a good stiff bristled brush. Then I mixed 1/4 cup of fabric softener with very hot water and put it into a shallow baking dish. I let Elsa’s hair soak for about 15 minutes in the mixture, then I rinsed the hair thoroughly with hot water. I avoided getting water down the neck of the doll, since it can get caught in the body cavity. If your doll still has massive tangles, you can add leave-in-conditioner to the doll’s wet hair. Add conditioner a few drops at a time and work it in thoroughly to prevent oily hair. I combed Elsa’s hair while wet with a wide tooth comb and let it dry. And voila! Elsa was restored to her original beauty.

Does your child also have a Disney princess doll or just love Disney princesses? If so, you can all read Disney princess library books together!

Beat the Heat

Photo of children playing in waterWow! The summer heat is already in full swing, and August is promising to be even hotter! One way that I like to beat the heat is to face it head on by going outside and splashing around. You can do this too by going to the beach or the pool to catch some waves, or you can even turn to your own yard! Here are some ideas that will help you cool off at home.

  • Freeze toys in ice cubes — Place small toys like plastic cars or bugs into your ice cube tray. Fill the tray with water, and freeze it overnight. Take the ice cubes outside, and see who can melt theirs the quickest.
  • Ice cube painting — Fill an ice cube try with food coloring and water. (This is a great time to talk about color mixing.) Put plastic wrap over the tray and add craft sticks or toothpicks to each cube. (This is optional, but it will make a great handle for painting.) When the cubes are solid, use them to paint on paper or fabric.
  • Target practice — Draw a target on the sidewalk with chalk. Wet down a few sponges, and toss them into the target!

What would summer fun be without a soundtrack? Personally, I stay cool by listening to the Beach Boys, which you can find on Hoopla or on CD at your local branch. Or you can get really creative and make your own summertime playlist on Freegal.
Remember to wear sunscreen and drink lots of water!

Visit Your Playgrounds Challenge

Photo of children in a yellow slideSince our Summer Reading theme this year is “On Your Mark, Get Set, Read!” we have been encouraging youth and adults alike to be physically active this summer. One great budget-friendly way to be active while having a blast is to go to the park. Did you know that there are over 40 parks with playgrounds in the Columbia park system?

To get more kids and parents out to Columbia’s parks, Columbia Parks and Recreation has initiated a “Visit Your Playgrounds Challenge.” To complete this challenge, your kids need to visit ten or more different parks in Columbia, filling in a tracking sheet as they go. This sheet can be found in the “Visit Your Park Playgrounds Challenge” form and can also be picked up at the Parks and Recreation office. The challenge goes from Memorial Day to Labor day 2016 (May 30 to September 5, 2016). You can find Columbia’s park locations in the Parks and Facility Guide. Continue reading

Family Games for Road Trips

Car TripOh, summer car trips. They’re those wonderful times when the whole family piles into a vehicle, heading off on a grand adventure! While the travel destination is usually exciting, the long hours in the car can become dull and monotonous. Want to spice up your family car trip? Here are some great games and ideas to make your next car trip journey just as fun as the destination.

  • Create a binder of activity sheets for each kiddo. Include road sign bingo, tick-tac-toe, stickers and coloring sheets. You can find TONS of free road trip printables online.
  • Choose a color or an object and then count them until you find 100 of that item. (Some examples include: American flags, statues, churches, red cars, etc.)
  • Create a fun interactive map for kids to keep track of the journey. Draw pictures of simple landmarks that are along the way. A homemade map is easy for kids to follow and gives them a clearer picture of how much farther there is to go.
  • Create a scavenger hunt. Give each child a list of items to watch for while driving.
  • Create a simple felt board memory game. Here is a link for a great tutorial.

Don’t forget the simple joy of reading out loud as a family. Stop by one of our library branches before you head out to pick up books or audiobooks for your trip! Just make sure that if you read print books, your reader isn’t prone to car sickness. The Harry Potter series, the Little House on the Prairie series and the Lord of the Rings series are great for family car trips. If you’ve already read those, check out these great family read aloud ideas.