It’s Butterfly Time Again!

It’s that time of year again when you might find those cool looking yellow and black striped Monarch butterfly caterpillars! We found our first one a couple weeks ago.

I brought the caterpillar inside and gave it it’s own cool apartment to live in. I gave it plenty of fresh milkweed leaves to munch on with a few drops of water on them and a stick for climbing to the top of its apartment . Within just a couple of days, it had gone into its chrysalis.

Then the waiting and watching began. Yesterday I noticed that the chrysalis was turning a darker color so I knew that the time for hatching was getting close. This morning when I got up, this is what I saw:

Hello, world! The new Monarch butterfly has arrived! πŸ™‚

This Monarch butterfly is a girl. After giving her a few hours to plump up her wings and dry off, I took her outside. As soon as I walked outside, she started fluttering excitedly around in her apartment! She was ready to go! I took the lid off, let her crawl up onto my finger and she flew off before I could even get her completely out of the apartment. Good bye, beautiful lady! We wish you well! πŸ™‚

The plight of the Monarch butterfly concerns all of us. Their population is really struggling. Their numbers are down 53% over last year for the ones that winter in Mexico. Those that overwintered in California this last year have decreased by 86%! So we need to try and help them as much as we can. Planting native nectar plants such as the common milkweed, swamp milkweed and butterfly milkweed. And avoid using pesticides. Let’s all help preserve these beautiful creatures!

Domino Cookies!

Let’s do one more post about fun things to do with dominoes. This time we’ll talk about making cookies to look like dominoes! Sound yummy?

I used a recipe that’s in an old Pillsbury cookbook. These cookies are simple to make and the kids could have fun helping you mix them up, bake them, decorate them…and then help eat them too, of course! Here’s a copy of the recipe:

First gather all the ingredients together. We use vanilla in place of the almond extract.

Here we are doing step #1 of the recipe.

Adding the dry ingredients…

Spreading the dough in the pan…

Spread the dough all the way to the edges of the pan. It will be a thin layer of dough. We also added sprinkles which the recipe doesn’t call for, but kids love sprinkles, right? (When decorating the cookies to look like dominoes, the sprinkles do rather take away from the domino effect, so you might not want to use them. But sprinkles are cool, so you decide. Ha!)

The recipe calls for 10-12 minutes of baking time, but our batch was getting a little too brown after just 10 minutes, so you might want to check your cookies at 8 minutes.

Allow the cookies to cool, then cut them into rectangular shaped pieces. I used a tube of purchased frosting for decorating. Just make a line across the middle of each rectangle cookie and add some dots to each side. Presto! You have dominoes!

Easy peasy! Domino cookies make a fun snack and go along with our other posts on learning with dominoes. Don’t forget to share your cookies! πŸ˜‰

Domino Stacking Fun

Have you heard about domino stacking? This is an activity that we used to do when I was little but I never knew it was called domino stacking until just a few days ago. The idea is to stand the dominoes upright on the end edge and line them up in such a way that when the first one is pushed over, it starts a chain reaction that causes all of the dominoes to fall down without anyone touching them. It’s a simple concept but it does take some patience and a steady hand to line the dominoes up correctly without bumping into one and setting the whole thing off before you are ready! LOL

Begin by lining the dominoes up in a line, leaving a little space between them but only enough space so they will fall into the next domino and they will all fall down in order. Hint: the dominoes with square corners stand up better than the ones with rounded corners.

You can set them up in any design you like, just make sure they will fall into the next domino in line.

After you have them set up, push only the first domino in the line so that it falls over onto the second domino.

Here’s another setup I tried.

I could have spaced the dominoes a little farther apart and it would still have worked too. This one goes down fast! Watch closely!

This spiral setup was fun to try. πŸ™‚

Just one more setup to show you and then you should try it for yourselves! I predict your kids will love it! This one kinda looks like an arrow. I was trying to make it go in 3 directions at the same time.

So dig out all your dominoes and have a family night of fun! Try out different setups and see what works. Get a little crazy and amaze yourselves at how awesome your setups are! πŸ™‚

Walmart Clearance Gem

I just wanted to share a quick tip on a neat looking item that’s on clearance at the Walmart store close to us. That’s the Crayola Crayon Melter.

While I have never used one of these, it looks like you put Crayola crayons in the Crayon Melter which melts the crayons and allows you to create melted crayon art. It is normally priced at $19.97, but is on sale for the clearance price of $10.

So if you have been looking for one of these, be sure to check in at your friendly neighborhood Walmart. 😊

Let’s Draw Bubbles and Juan the Hippos

Hello and welcome to another fun drawing post here at The Kids Niche! Today let’s try drawing Bubbles and Juan the Hippos. Doesn’t he/she look friendly and excited to meet you? πŸ™‚ You will draw the hippos the same until the end when you can decide if you want to draw Juan (a boy) or Bubbles (a girl)…or both! πŸ™‚ My grandsons named these hippos for me! πŸ™‚ Thanks, Hunter and Kendan!

Grab a piece of paper and a drawing utensil and let’s go! Starting with the top of her head, draw part of a sideways oval.

Next draw the area that will be Bubbles’ nose. Almost like another sideways oval but one side dips in.

Next is the area for her mouth.

She’s looking a little odd so far, isn’t she? So let’s start adding some things that will make her look like a hippo! We’ll add 2 small ears on the top of her head…and a little line inside each ear.

Next, draw 2 eyes and 2 little marks, 1 mark above each eye.

Now let’s draw in the details of her nose. Add 2 ovals and color them in for her nostrils. Add 3 dots close to each nostril.

Bubbles is looking much better, but we need to draw her mouth yet. Draw a second curving line close to the first one at the bottom. Add 4 teeth…or however many you want Bubbles to have. And lastly, add a line down the middle to divide her nose a bit.

Great job! Now you can draw a hippo! The finishing touches to make Bubbles, is to add eyelashes to her eyes and a bow on her head.

To make Juan the Hippo, you can add a hat to the top of his head. This hat even has a feather added.

Thanks for joining me today to have fun drawing hippos! πŸ™‚

Paper Packet Surprises

Are you looking for a little something to cheer up some kids that have been cooped up inside waaaaay too long? Here’s a fun idea for making packets out of paper and sticking a little surprise inside. Its a sure way to liven up an otherwise boring day. Or a way to send some little surprises to those grand kids you can’t be with right now…which is what I’m doing with the ones I’ve made. πŸ™‚

Let’s start out with a piece of paper, scissors and glue. Your paper can have a design on it or just be plain or solid colored. You can draw pictures, make designs or add messages to them. I decided to use some white printer paper and some scrap booking paper I had on hand. Depending on the item you would like to hide inside, how big you need to make the starting piece of paper. This one I think started out at 6″ x 8″. If you cut a piece of 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper in half to make it 8 1/2″ x 5 1/2″, it makes a nice sized packet.

Put a line of glue across one of the shorter ends.

Bring the other shorter end around so your paper forms a tube and glue the two ends together. Press it flat with the glued line in the center of the side. Like this picture…

It doesn’t matter if it’s exactly in the middle or not. Next fold in both long edges approximately 1/4″ or a little more and crease. Again, no need to be exact. Side #1…

And side #2 is folded up too.

Working with one of the folded sides at a time, open the folded edge up.

You’ll see 3 creases…the 2 creases on the outside edges need to be folded “out” and the center crease needs to fold “in”. It’s a little hard to explain this way, but hopefully the next two pictures will help you see what I’m trying to explain.

Do that for both folded sides. This makes your packet able to hold something inside it. Next apply a thin line of glue to ONE of the open ends.

Press that end closed and hold for a few seconds while the glue starts to work.

Slide your surprise inside the open end. Here are a few ideas that I came up with to use for surprises. Stickers…

Granola bar…

Small candy bars…

Color with water pages and a few Q-tips to use for painting…

Just fold the color with water page and it will fit nicely inside your packet along with the Q-tips.

How about a package of hot chocolate mix? I folded the end in on them to make them fit inside better.

Maybe some pom poms or pipe cleaners…

For older kids you might use a Sudoku puzzle page or another type of puzzle sheet. Gift cards would be awesome! Once you have your surprise inside, glue the other end closed. If you like, you can cut the ends with scrap booking scissors to give it a more finished look.

I added one more twist to my packets by writing a message on the outside of something the kids need to do before they can open the packet. For instance…”Sing a song”, “Do a somersault”, “Clap your hands”, “Hop on one foot”, “Do 5 jumping jacks”, or “Run in slow motion”. You can tailor the message to fit the age of the child you’re making the paper packets for.

Hope this craft will brighten your day! Thanks for visiting! πŸ™‚

Making a Paper Treat Box

Are you stuck at home and wishing you had some little treat boxes for your kids? You can make some with just a piece of paper and some glue or tape! Let me show you how. If you have card stock paper it will make a sturdier box, but I made one with printer paper, so you don’t need anything fancy. Using a piece of scrapbook paper will mean you don’t even need to color the box. Let’s start by making a 6″ square piece of paper.

Using a ruler, mark each side of the paper at 2″ intervals.

Draw 4 lines – 2 in each direction – across the box at the 2″ and 4″ marks.

Line your ruler up with each line and bend the paper up and run your finger along the ruler edge to make a crease in the paper.

Remove the ruler and press the paper flat to make a stronger crease.

Make a similar crease along each line for a total of 4 times.

Now we will make 4 small cuts. Using the following picture, cut on the crease between squares 1 & 2, then between 2 & 3, then between 7 & 8 and finally between 8 & 9 – ONLY up to the first crease!

Next turn your paper over. Color or draw on the squares EXCEPT for each corner square. You can make an X on the 4 corner squares so you’ll remember which squares to color.

Here’s an example of what it will look like after the correct squares have been decorated.

After you are finished decorating your box, it’s time to fold the paper up into a box. Begin by bringing up 2 opposite sides of the paper.

Fold one end square piece in until it matches up with the crease on the bottom.

Fold the end in from the opposite side so the 2 pieces meet and cover each other.

Using tape or glue, fasten the 2 pieces together.

Now fold the bottom square up to meet the box. Glue or tape it together.

Turn your box around and repeat the steps for the other side. And you’ve made a treat box! πŸ™‚

Fill it with whatever special goodies you have on hand and enjoy!

I’m sure it will bring a smile to your children’s faces. Thanks for stopping by!

Making Water Tattoos

Here is a kid-tested-really-awesome experiment that you’ll have fun trying out with your kids! Making water tattoos is something I had never heard of until last night when 2 of our grandkids sent us some videos of their experiment making them. I’m so glad they shared this experiment with us because it looked so cool that I had to try it myself and now I want to share it with you! Here’s what you need: a white plate or dish, a dry erase marker and some water.

Make sure you have a dry erase marker for this experiment.

Using the dry erase marker, draw some small simple pictures on the plate. The less complicated the better. I drew a heart and a spider.

Pour water very slowly onto the plate and watch your drawings. If it works, they will come loose from the plate and start floating! The heart I drew didn’t work, but the spider did! Notice how its in a different position floating on the water in the following picture.

Isn’t that cool??! πŸ™‚ Now, if you lay the back of your hand on top of the floating picture and press your hand down a bit, when you lift your hand you should have a tattoo on the back of your hand! The spider picture worked for me.

How fun is that?! πŸ™‚ Don’t worry if it doesn’t work the first time. Dry your plate off and try again. Make sure to pour the water slowly and beside the pictures you drew, not directly on it. Here are 2 videos our grandchildren sent us that show even better how to make water tattoos. πŸ™‚ Thanks, kiddos, for sharing this fun idea with us! πŸ™‚

Easter Egg Treasure Hunt

Easter is this coming Sunday, April 12th! Have you made your plans? Things will be different this year, won’t they? Lots of events have been canceled due to the Coronavirus pandemic but you can still have Easter fun even if you are stuck at home or stuck inside! Let me tell you what we did a couple years ago for Easter and maybe you can tweak it a bit to fit your situation. I was staying with our daughter and her hubby and kids while my hubby was gone on a business trip to China. It was cold and even snowing that week so I made up an Easter Egg Treasure Hunt for the kids. I started out with 96 plastic colored eggs and a 100 piece puzzle. I put the puzzle together, slid it carefully off the table onto a cookie sheet, put another cookie sheet on top of the puzzle so I could turn it over, then slid it back onto the table. I grabbed a pen and wrote the following rhyme on the back:

“Good job! You did it!

You stuck it out!

So now let’s see what

This hunt is about!

Could there be diamonds?

Or a brand new car?

Alas, no – we DO love you

But we can’t go THAT far!

So hidden close to where

I now reside

You’ll find the box

That holds your surprise!”

I then broke the puzzle up and put 1 piece of the puzzle in each plastic colored Easter egg. Four eggs needed to have 2 pieces inside in order to make the puzzle pieces fit in the number of eggs I had. I then hid the eggs around the inside of the house. When it came time to have the Easter egg hunt, the kids were off to find them in a hurry!

After they searched for eggs, they gathered together to count the eggs and make sure they had found all of them.

Once we made sure they had all the eggs, they took them to the dining room table and opened them and removed all the puzzle pieces. Then the whole family gathered around to work on putting the puzzle together.

When the puzzle was finished, they used the cookie sheet method again to turn the puzzle over so they could read the back and see what to do next. The part of the rhyme that says “So hidden close to where I now reside…” referred to the bedroom that I was staying in while I was visiting their family. The race was on once they deduced where the box with the surprise might be! They found it beside my bed. Inside the box was a new Tangle puzzle and a small Nerf gun for each kiddo, wrapped in tissue paper. They each got 6 “bullets”. In the bottom of the box was a piece of folded paper that read “Read this after opening gifts.” This message said…

“Oh, hey, wait! You’re not done yet!

There’s still another prize to get!

To reach your prize you must take out

Any bad guys hanging about.

But you must be careful with your aim

Because a wrong shot will end the game.

Teamwork is what you will need

To finish this task with all due speed.

3 minutes to shoot all the bad

But not 1 good guy can be had.

20 bad guys must go down

In order for you to reach the crown!”

There was a room set up with lots of small pieces of paper with stickers on them. 20 pieces of paper had dinosaurs on them which were the “bad guys”. And there were 20 pieces of paper that had puppy and kitty stickers on them which, of course, were the “good guys”. The pieces of paper were folded in half so they would stand up. The idea was for the kids to shoot and knock over all the dinosaurs within 3 minutes, but none of the puppies and kitties could be hit. If they knocked over a puppy or kitty, then they had to start all over with all the papers being set up again.

After the kids “shot” all the dinosaurs, they reached their prize – a new book for each one. I got too involved and forgot to take many pictures but here are some from after they finished their treasure hunt. This one is Grandma (me) trying to shoot a “bullet” through the Tangle puzzle hoop. Ha! (Grimacing always helps your aim…lol)

We had fun with our Easter Egg Treasure Hunt! I hope you can take the ideas that we used and tweak it to have a fun Easter at your house too! πŸ™‚

Sharing Coffee Filter Dancers

A friend of mine shared this really cute idea on her Facebook page today and I thought it looked so fun that I want to share it with all of you! What a great idea for something fun to do while staying home! Thank you, tiphero.com, for sharing this awesome project!

You’ll find the simple instructions here: https://tiphero.com/beautiful-coffee-filter-dancers?fbclid=IwAR3YZ2l46z2GpO3Se7lgPLrymJLimxmCEhQpT3kBnix62SBWcyCPVmtSCdg

Enjoy! I can’t wait to try it myself! πŸ™‚