With no camp or school program for Hannah this summer, and Mama still trying to get some work done, it’s hard to fight the temptation to let her sit in front of the TV for hours while I get stuff done. And I will admit, there are days when that happens. But aside from our summer field trips, I’ve been turning off the TV and trying to put different activities in front of her to stay busy and engaged.

I bought Asia Citro’s 150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids last summer on the recommendation of a very crafty friend. And then another crafty friend and fellow GeekMom recommended her book to me again not long ago. I’d bought the book, stocked the closet with supplies, and even made H a splat mat for messy play. But from a sensory perspective, H just wasn’t ready for a lot of the activities last year. She wouldn’t touch foam, or slime, or wet things, or a bucket of beans. This year she is open for anything, though, and it’s been amazing.

I bought 2 underbed plastic storage containers, one for upstairs and one for downstairs. And some disposable roasting pans, all to try and contain some of these activities and protect the rest of the house. So far she’s gone to town with shaving cream and some food coloring, which made for awesome messy play.

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And some fun backyard cleanup while she hosed down herself, the mat, the roasting pan, the bucket, and most of the grass and patio. I went out to finish hosing everything off of her. Bonus for her: no bath that night! And the whole thing kept her busy for about an hour of much needed Mommy work time. DSC01863

Then I dyed some white navy beans with food coloring, another cool activity from the book. $4.50 worth of little white beans, and my fancy Wilson gels. I put a cup of beans in 7 different Ziplocs and added food coloring, then shook them up really well.

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I spread them out on a cookie sheet to dry overnight.

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Next time I’m using cheap dyes or making some all natural dyes, it took forever for the gels to dry. I ended up baking them in the oven for almost 2 hours at 275 to get the darker colors to dry. So now they also smell like nutty roasted beans, because they are.

This time I just put a white sheet down in her room because the splat mat was still drying.

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DSC01935She got out her toy pans and scooped these up, played with her dinosaur figures in them, practiced her counting. Plus they’re just gorgeous to look at, who could resist this rainbow?

I’m going to try out more projects from this book and Asia Citro’s two newest books, and I’ll be writing them up on GeekMom this summer, too. It’s a fabulous book.