Sitters Unlimited of Southern CA

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Archive for the ‘Elementary Age’ Category


Make Your Own Plastic Beads with Recycled Soda Bottles

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This is one of those crafts where the process is just as much fun as the finished product. And anytime that we can combine a fun craft, using free materials, that is also eco-friendly, we get ultra excited.

Start by using a knife to cut the top and bottom section from a clear plastic soda bottle.Use scissors to cut down the middle of the resulting tube to make a rectangle. If there are any portions where the glue from the label is hanging on, just trim those portions away.

Use Sharpies to draw or write whatever you like on the inside of the rectangle.

Cut this rectangle into strips anywhere from 1/4-inch to 3/4-inch wide following the curve of the plastic so that the strips will roll inward.

Preheat an oven to 300 degrees F.

Roll each strip around a pencil (or pen) and tie with a piece of string or twine. Don’t use tape because it will melt in the oven. Please the strips on a foil lined cookie sheet. Bake at for 2 minutes.

Take the pan out and slide the string off of one bead. If it stays curled up then the beads are ready. If it doesn’t stay curled up then put the tray back in the oven for another minute or two.

When the beads have cooled trim off any ragged edges.

No go use your beads to make a bracelet, a necklace, or string them up to make long strands that you can use to decorate a Christmas tree, or hang in a doorway or window.

Note: you could use colored plastic bottles and skip the Sharpie step.


Rainy Day Activities For Kids

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If you’re afraid you’ll go stir crazy with your little munchkins running around the house all day check out these ideas, many submitted by parents:

Hanging Out on the Homefront

Sitters UnlimitedKid Crafts.

Treasure Hunt – hide 10 to 50 small similar objects such as marbles, beans, plastic eggs, army men … Whoever finds the most gets to be the one who hides them for the next round.

Magazine Scavenger Hunt – make a list of items for the kids to find, give them a stack of old magazines and let them go for it. First one who finds all items on the list gets to choose what’s for lunch or dinner, depending on what time of day you’re playing.

Indoor Ball Games – place a coin or a bean inside a balloon, blow it up and you have an indoor friendly ball to use for catch, soccer, volleyball …

from Twitterer @Teach_Preschool
We play an inside relay. I make a list of 10 actions for example “Go upstairs and knock on the bedroom door”. We time how long it takes each child to go through every action on the list. Then we make a new list and play again. Other actions: jump up and down five times, sing mary had a little lamb, give everyone a hug, walk down the hall backwards …

Activities For Kids in Hotel Rooms – COMING SOON


Cabin Fever? Get Out of the House

From Twitterer @leighsarti
Dad Tip of the Day: Raining outside? Take your kids to the bike store and have them ride all the different bikes. Fun, free and you stay dry.

from Twitterer @mamarenew
Put on the rain gear and go out for a walk in the woods! Count the slugs …

Pet Store Window Shopping – hang out at a pet store where they can pet puppies, hold hamsters, gaze at strange looking fish …

Toy Store Hang Out – find a toy store in your area that has hands on demos.

Download Mom Maps to find kid-friendly places near you.

Check out your area for children’s museums such as:
Pretend City in Irvine, CA
Discovery Science Center in Santa Ana, CA

Kids Bowl Free at participating locations throughout the U.S. all summer long.

Take the family out for a meal at a fast food restaurant that also has an indoor play area. Take a book and relax while the kids go crazy climbing through tunnels, sliding down slides, and climbing rope walls.

Family Favorite Rainy Day Movies

Your Own Rainy Day Ideas

If you have a favorite rainy day activity or idea please help us out by adding your comments below.


Beautiful Butterflies From Coffee Filters

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This is a fun craft that kids from toddler age thru elementary age will enjoy. I’ve even had teens get a kick out of this one.


  • pipe cleaners (assorted colors)
  • coffee filters (large size)
  • water-based markers
  • small spray bottle filled with water (optional)

Give each child a coffee filter and have them color on it with markers.

Hold up the coffee filter, and spray with water or dip fingers in water and shake them at the coffee filter. Watch as the colors spread and run together.

Once the filter is dry, bunch it in the middle and wrap a pipe cleaner around it. Make sure you leave a little extra pipe cleaner to make two antennas.


Stretchofoam Recipe

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I don’t claim to have come up with this recipe but it is an old standby in our Fun Activities For Kids Book which we give out to all of our prescreened babysitters here in the Orange County and San Diego County offices. Just a word about this book which I think is unique to the licensed babysitting agency business. Our Fun Activities For Kids Book is chock full of summer activities for kids, cool kid games, outdoor activities for kids, fun arts and crafts activities. The following Stretchofoam recipe is one of several goop and slime recipes in our book.

Fill a coffee mug with about a quarter inch of acetone. Acetone is the key ingredient in nail polish remover.

Place Styrofoam in the acetone. It should fizzle. Keep adding more Styrofoam until you have a good sized blob. At this point you can pick it up and play with it.

You can wash your Stretchofoam if you don’t want to get acetone on your hands. The acetone might dry your hands out, but washing it will cause it to lose some of it’s stretchy properties.


Homemade Book Cover

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Construct a cover for a homemade book from salvaged cardboard. You can wing it or check out the ideas on the web sites below:


Kids Craft: Using Outdated Jewelry

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These kids craft projects are super simple. Instead of throwing away outdated or broken bead necklaces use them to make any of the following kids craft projects.

Candle Tray

Glue large beads of the same size to the four corners of a piece of tempered glass or under the bottom of a clear drinking glass. If you wish you could also glue beads along all four edges of the top side of the glass piece to create a lip for your tray or along the top edge of the glass for an embellishment. Set votive candles or tea lights on glass tray or inside drinking glass.

Light & Fan Pulls

Remove the cheap-looking metal bell at the end of your light and/or fan pulls and replace them with beads which have a hole large enough for the chain to fit inside. Squirt a little glue into the hole and insert the chain. Secure with tape if needed until glue dries.

Shade Pulls

Remove the tacky plastic pulls from your window shades and replace them with several beautiful beads. Secure with a knot under the bead or a drop of glue.

If you have your own ideas for a kids craft project, please share it with a comment.


Make Your Own Shrinky-Dinks

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Get ready for a cool crafts for kids project, which is a great indoor activity for children. Remember Shrinky Dinks? Well did you know you can make your own Shrinky Dinks from styrofoam trays that are packaged with supermarket meat and veggies. That’s right, those trays make a great styrofoam craft project.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Wash and dry your tray(s). Draw simple pictures on the bottom of the tray. Coloring pictures with permanent markers is the easiest way to do this but you could also use colored pencils. Don’t color with crayons though as they will melt in the oven. Cut around the outline of each picture and place each shape on a cookie sheet or piece of aluminum foil.

Place shapes in the oven for a few minutes. When they stop shrinking take them out of the oven.

You can make your own jewelry by by punching or cutting a hole in the top of each shape before putting them into the oven. When your shapes have cooled thread the Shrinky Dinks onto yarn or colored string.

Note: You can use a Styrofoam plate instead of a meat tray, however it will curl up so that your picture is inside. This can be half the fun though, when you end up with a secret picture inside a tube that you can see when you hold it up to your eye. Tip: you can cut away the turned up edge of the plate before placing it in the oven and it will not curl up.

Now that you know how to make your own Shrinky Dinks you’ll never throw away another styrofoam tray again. Right?


Kids Crafts Projects Using Old Appliances

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In the interest of home safety for children, before starting this kids craft project, make sure to check all pieces you’ll be using in this kids craft project for rough or sharp edges and do not give children anything that is small enough that it could be inserted into their mouths, ears, noses, etc. That said, an old appliance can be a treasure chest for the artist within you or your child.

Use the “inards” for craft projects such as:

  • Toddlers can stick the parts into balls of clay to make “machines” or “aliens”. Make sure that you wean out any parts that are sharp enough to hurt a child.
  • Glue parts to inexpensive frames to decorate a techie’s room.
  • Glue parts around the edge of an unframed mirror.
  • Attach jewelry backing to parts to make brooches, barrettes, necklaces, earrings. You can find jewelry backings at craft stores or use your own jewelry that you no longer like.

Credit Card Crafts – Crafts For Older Kids

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More fun kids craft projects at Fave Crafts Blog! If you’re looking for crafts for older kids this article on how to re-use all those unsolicited credit cards we all receive in the mail will give you lots of ideas for crafts for older kids. Check out these ideas: Credit Crunch Bracelet, Mosiac Picture Frame & Guitar Picks.


Kids Craft Project Using Recycled Paper – Make a Bookmark

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Here’s another fun craft for kids using recycled materials. In my opinion the best kinds of craft projects for kids are those that use recycled materials. Your little reader will have fun making his or her own bookmark using recycled paper cardboard.

Using a ruler and pencil, draw lines on your cardboard 1 ½-inches to 3-inches apart. If your cardboard is longer than six inches draw a line at six inches to mark the length of your bookmark.

Place the cardboard on a surface that will not be damaged by a knife, such as a cutting board, a piece of thick cardboard, or a pad of newspaper. Use an Exacto or craft knife to cut along the lines you’ve marked.

Decorate and leave as is or cover with clear contact paper to protect your design.

Optional: punch a hole in the top of the bookmark and attach a tassel, a charm or a button on a length of several strands of embroidery floss or thin ribbon.