The Volcano Kit

Crappy Papa is watching the kids while I work for a few hours. They have just returned home from the craft store. 

I hear them come into the house, brimming with excitement.

They show me what they picked out:

volcano 1

They can hardly contain themselves. They finally got the volcano kit that they’ve been asking for. 

I’m thrilled that Crappy Papa got it for them. Because now I don’t ever have to. 

I go back to work in another room and they get started:

volcano 2

They have to build the volcano from scratch. Plaster is involved. This is serious. 

They get to work and time goes by.  A long time in child-time. About five minutes. 

And the volcano looks exactly nothing like a volcano:

volcano 3

Crappy Papa has lost them. 

He decides that he’ll just finish building it himself. He’ll do it really quickly. 

volcano 4

Or not.

Finally, I check in with him:

volcano 5

It does look like a volcano now. It only took an entire day.  

volcano 6

volcano 7

The good news is, it is finished! 

Except it has to dry overnight before they can erupt it. 

But early the next morning, the kids’ interest is renewed! Nothing like a volcano eruption before breakfast.

They can’t wait to see this:

volcano 8

But when we erupt it, it really only does this:

volcano 9

And they walk away, asking “What’s for breakfast?”


We love family projects. This is just one of many failures. Would love to hear about any fun, non-painful family projects you’ve done so I can steal your ideas and my family will think I’m a brilliant treasure trove of creativity. Which I am. But I’m also lazy. This means I tend to think up great ideas but continue to sit on the couch.  

We signed up for Kiwi Crate* a few months back (a box of craft projects sent monthly – all supplies included) and I love it. Each box holds a few hours of happy, occupied children. However, it only comes once a month and as Crappy Boy said, “I wish these Kiwi boxes came more than once in a billion years, Mama.” 

So additional ideas welcome. Except volcanoes. We are firmly anti-volcano. 

*Yes, that link up there is an affiliate link. If anyone purchases I’ll get a bit of coin which will then pay for our own KiwiCrate subscription. Like stealing candy from a baby! Babies shouldn’t have candy so I’m doing a service here.    

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166 Responses to The Volcano Kit

  1. Cole says:

    I am now running off to check out Kiwi crate – winter is coming!

  2. Well, there was the body model that was for age 15 and up. Every tiny piece had to be painted. Then there was the super expensive telescope that even Ren (a.k.a Dad) can’t figure out how to use. Many a fun night spent in the cold, up past bedtime, trying to see anything but blackness. And finally, there’s the microscope. This one’s pretty cool, actually. Only problem is that there are microbes involved. Oh, and did I mention my kids are 7, 4, and 1?

  3. Shira says:

    BabbaBox is another great monthly subscription box of crafts. My daughter loves them. Anything you would need for the crafts is included in the box.

  4. Karin says:

    Our quality-tested version of a volcano that was a hit with my 4&2 year old boys: empty a box of baking soda on a cookie sheet. Give each boy a cup of vinegar. I put food coloring in mine to make it more fun. Let them put the vinegar on the baking soda. Bubbles! Fizzing! Then let them use spoons to play with the mess. If you’re really with it you could give them eye droppers for the vinegar to make it take longer. Easy. And then I dumped it down my garbage disposal, that’s like cleaning.

    • Christine Roeske says:

      Dang, woman, that’s a great idea!

    • Nancy says:

      I love this idea! Can’t wait to try it with my 2 & 3 year olds.
      “And then I dumped it down my garbage disposal, thatโ€™s like cleaning.” My favorite part!

    • amber says:

      “that’s like cleaning” lol perfect!

    • Edie says:

      Karin – You. Are. So. Freaking. Awesome.

      I have two almost-four year olds. During the summer I had them lie down on cardboard (I save Ikea boxes), I outlined them, then I drew in lines for clothes and let them colour/paint/glitter to their hearts’ content. It actually turned out awesome (but none of these things take up as much time as you hope). We also made caterpillars out of egg cartons. And salt dough, of course. My kids also just like a container and soapy water outside with which to wash dishes/the floor/themselves.

    • Mandy P says:

      Awesome idea! I am totally stealing that one!

    • Olivia Bucks says:

      We do this too. It is the perfect project for dinner prep time when my son is driving me nuts. I set him up at the end of the counter with a measuring cup of vinegar and a bowl of baking soda and an empty bowl with various spoons. Keeps him busy for a long time.

      Giving him a bowl of “cloud dough” at dinner cooki.g time is great too… Baby oil and flour.

    • Kathleen says:

      That sounds great – I may try it out tonight!

    • Lauren says:

      the simplicity of this project won me over (2 common household items? awesome)… but calling it “cleaning” made my day! We’re doing this as soon as naptime’s over!

    • Jenn says:

      Shaving cream is another fun, “cleaning” project. Have them play with it on your table–it will never look cleaner and shinier. Or in the bathtub. Super fun. I like to do fingerpaints first, then the shaving cream to clean it up.

      • Melissa says:

        We do shaving cream paint outside on the windows — then when we rinse it off, I’ve “cleaned” the windows. The kids are busy for an hour and I get clean windows. Win-win!

    • Stephanie says:

      Ooh, my 4 year old just did this – Rainbow Volcanoes!- in his preschool class today! He loved it and I’m going to try at home!

    • This was going to be my suggestion! We use medicine droppers and syringes to squirt the colored vinegar. My son really loves this one.

    • emily g says:

      I know we’re supposed to offer up our personal fun time craft ideas, but can’t they all be dual purpose like this? You get to play AND make cleaning easier for me! Yay!

    • Mindy Urquhart says:

      We did a volcano right in the sandbox – heap up the Sand around a plastic cup, dump in the baking soda, then pour in the vinegar. It’s a great two-fer because you make sand castles AND do a volcano!
      Plus super easy clean up ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Rachel says:

      I do this too, but to craft-ify it (and to extend the amt of time they are busy w it) I get them to make a mountain out of green and brown plasticine over a plastic cup first. They could even make flowers w other colours. I pour baking soda in the plastic cup, then let them go crazy w the vinegar. This activity was a hit w all 3 of my older kids, ages 3-9

  5. Ann H says:

    When I was little, my dad and I made a pinata from scratch. We went to the library and got a book on how to make one (now I am sure you can google it!), then the supplies and everything. My mom and sister had Girl Scouts Monday nights (I was Monday afternoons) so it was great Daddy and Me time. I think it took us a few Mondays to do it, but it was fun. And I think they still have it and get it out at Halloween – it was a pumpkin and I could not smash it after all that hard work!

    We also made a bubble machine for the science fair one year. The gym floor was covered in bubble goo. It was great.

    I cant wait to do these with my little munchkins!

    • katja says:

      Yes, going to the library to look for a book on how to make something was like an adventure in itself!

  6. Amy says:

    LOL we have too many projects gone awry like that to count. Some are just so much work and take literally days! Hard to have that long of an attnetion span.

    We love Kiwi Crate, we got one as a gift from grammy.

  7. Mel says:

    You could do the really awesome Mentos & Coke volcano! That would get everyone excited! Just be sure to do it outside because the fountain gets a little high and it can get pretty messy and sticky!

    • Dawn Robinson says:

      The pros (if you can call them that) actually use diet coke for that very reason – no sticky!

  8. Laurie Hughes says:

    Ours usually involve cooking because I am not at all crafty but I can cook like nobody’s business. We tried to make cheese. The directions said “Mozzarella in 30 minutes!” Ya right! The kids lost interest as soon as I brought out the thermometer to see if the milk was the right temp. 2 hours later it still isn’t cheese and I have given up. 4 hours later the kids come down stairs and ask where the cheese is. I told them it was at the store.

    • Samantha says:

      “At the store” – I literally LOL’d ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Laura says:

      I would think you’d need special milk for mozzarella? Maybe that was the issue? Non-homogenized and maybe VAT (low-temp) pastuerized?

      Which we buy anyway because it’s better tasting and better for you! I never knew until I started researching what milk might be best for my son (yes, I’m a little analytical…), but apparently homogenization isn’t good for us! And all just to save us from shaking it…! Big university studies and other reliable sources seem to point it *and* skim/1% milk being worse for us than 2% or whole because of those processes and what they do to the fats in milk. Just sayin’, in case anyone else wants to look into it..! Natural milk for the win! ๐Ÿ™‚

      • HM says:

        I love the ‘natural’ milk too (the actual meaning of natural, not the unregulated ‘processing term’)… except I end up stealing the cream that floats to the top and use it in coffee or sprinkle sugar and eat it with bread! Then my kids complain about the rest of the now low-fat milk!

  9. Tia says:

    I love the Crafty Crow for ideas:

  10. Tabitha says:

    I’m with Karin ๐Ÿ™‚ I know of an “easy” volcano to make… Baby food jar, use playdoh to form a volcano around it. Put baking soda in it, then pour vinegar in it ๐Ÿ™‚ Add red food coloring to the vinegar, makes it look like lava.

    • neal says:

      I might actually try this one.

      • Megan says:

        This works really well if you have a tiny vase/bottle with a fat bottom and skinny neck, because the fizz builds up and then comes out fast and high when it reaches the neck. Of course, it’s pretty cool anytime.
        Also, if you paint with water on a tan file folder and then sprinkle baking soda on it, it turns pink where the water and baking soda touch. It’s a little delayed, but it’s really cool to watch it change colors. You can also make a baking soda mixture to paint with – thin, not goopy, so it’s theoretically less mess unless it gets tipped over.

  11. Angela says:

    We recently made tissue paper and glue vases. They turned out great but it was one that I had to be right there helping out or it would have been a glue mess.

  12. Nate says:

    I have started doing Pepakura with my 2 year old, she mostly likes the end results over the projects themselves. That and Legos, she loves those freaking things to death. Age recommendations be damned.

  13. Georgia Sabovich says:

    Here’s an idea my teenagers came up with. Pour a bottle of little brother’s magic bubbles into the jacuzzi, and turn on the jets. Oh, boy! I wish I could post the pics here. Let’s just say my patio (and all the teenagers) were squeaky clean afterwards!

    • Sara W says:

      We’ve done this in our jetted tub. It makes movie star bubble baths that take over an hour to die down. Unless you are 4, then it takes about 3 minutes. But the great thing is that you can just turn the jets on again and the bubbles magically reappear!

  14. Jak says:

    alka seltzer rockets …… Take a film canister put half a tablet of alka seltzer and fill with water put lid on quickly and place lid side down outside and once the alka seltzer dissolves the pressure causes the film canister to fly into the air… Little boys love it …. We did this with our VBS kids this summer…..kindergarten aged kids…. Was a ton of fun….

  15. Sophie C says:

    Homemade Slime!!! This kept BOTH my kids entertained for DAYS AT A TIME. DAYS!

  16. Patti says:

    Your fine print made me LOL. Through my nose. While drinking Coke.

  17. Joel Kohler says:

    If you took a small liquor bottle, like you get on airplanes, and put plenty of vinegar in it, then put a water balloon on it with a plenty of baking soda in it around the neck of said bottle without letting it mix with the vinegar — you know what I’m talking about here — then taped the balloon very securely to the bottle, you would get a small explosion when you tipped up the balloon to mix the ingredients. (You need “plenty” of each ingredient to make sure there’s enough pressure to break the balloon.) No surprise there. BUT, if you took this device, and dropped in into the tube of the plaster volcano just as you begin the boring normal reaction, THEN you’d get an awesome explosive eruption, instead of just a boring oozing eruption. If you aren’t feeling adventurous, you could do this outside.

  18. Sara says:

    We’ve made several different colors of slime…
    My just-turned-five-year-old will even play with it later using cookie cutters and the like. He once crafted me a replica of the female internal reproductive system with it, too (I took pictures of that one for FB).

  19. Misty Pratt says:

    Got so excited about those Kiwi crates, until I realized they only ship in the US…boooo! (and p.s. homemade slime is DEFINITELY the best!! Just make sure it doesn’t get anywhere near clothing, carpets, or any other type of fabric)

  20. Leah says:

    This volcano works, but you HAVE to do it outside! One part sugar, one part saltpeter. Mix them in an empty shallow can, then throw a match in. WHOOSH! (I leaned that when I was 8 years old in museum school ๐Ÿ˜‰

  21. Jo says:

    We did a v successful Harry Potter Potion Party – about 20 mins of activity, just right for 6 year olds! Nice and Halloweeny too.

    each kid gets a plastic cup and stirring straw. You give them a cup with bicarb of soda in it, couple tablespoons. Then they add glitter, party decoration bugs, you know the little sequin spiders etc that are meant for decorating tables? I got gloopy purple pearlescent bubblebath,v cheap. What else? Anything you can think of, and some food colouring. They mix it up into a satisfying gunk, then you go round with the vinegar! It bubbles up really well, foam and froth. Prepare for spills and mess, but it makes it better. Then they poured it all into a big cauldrony pot and stirred it up.

    We also tried mints in diet coke but it didn’t work, sadly. the anticipation was fun, though.

    • Dawn Robinson says:

      Did you use 2 liter or 3 liter bottles of diet coke? We found that the neck on the 3 liter bottles is too wide. 2 liter bottles worked much better for us!

  22. neal says:

    I like to give my daughter a permanent marker and say,

    “don’t stop until every wall is covered in anarchy symbols, or you get bored, whichever comes first.”

    Anyway, that appears to be what she hears. Usually I just said something like, “be good while I take out the trash.”

    Another mis-communication we have is when she hears me say “empty all the glitter containers over the carpet. And make sure you really spread it around evenly.”

    So, now I’m working on de-crafting our house. Maybe I’ll make one exception and let her play with a stick outside. She can use it to dig “bunny nests” in the lawn.

  23. Julie says:

    I haven’t tried this yet, but it’s on my list to do. Edible playdough! (Peanut butter, but if you have allergies maybe it would work with sunbutter or something? No idea…)

    Simple fun idea, just requires a hook in the ceiling – pulleys!

  24. Adriane says:


  25. Chanda says:

    Equal parts elmers glue and shaving cream will make puffy paints. You can add food coloring if desired, just use slightly less glue.

  26. Sara W says:

    Easiest (and edible) project ever. Put some sprite (or any other clear soda pop) in a glass cup. Drop in a few raisins. Does not sound exciting, but it gets better. The raisins will instantly sink, then they will float, then they will sink again, then they will float. What happens is that they automatically sink, then they get covered in bubbles from the soda that buoy them up to the surface. Then the bubbles pop when they reach the top so they sink again. This happens for a few minutes. It’s just a short fun one and I think I was way more excited about it than the kids were. They were just excited to get some soda! Here’s a link to another of our favorites.

  27. Christine says:

    When my girls were two and four I bought one of those do it yourself Mosaic kits from Michaels. I thought it was fun and they didn’t wander off. One time we made pinecone angel ornaments and that was fun too. I don’t do regular craft time with them though. I wish I did.
    We tried tie blankets but that took way too long. Even with precutting they got bored with all the knots and I had to finish them by myself. They got bored with latch hooking too. Mine is finished, the nine year old’s is about half and the six year old’s is about a quarter.

  28. sprinke says:

    This isn’t a project, but if you have enough outside room … STOMP ROCKETS. Keeps the kids entertained for hours. Oh, and exercise.

    • Rachel says:

      I am on my 20th refill (keep losing them in the trees). My brother gave it to my son, we sent him and his cousins outside and didn’t see them again for two plus hours. Now we take it to the park and kids just gravitate to him. Love the stomp rocket.

      • Lmevans says:

        Our Cub Scout Leader makes stomp rockets with the kids. The kids make the tubes out of construction paper rolled into tubes with playing cards cut into triangles taped on one end for the base of the rocket. She uses rubber tubing taped to a 2-liter bottle on one end, and a pvc pipe on the other for the launch. I’m sure there’s real directions somewhere on the internet. The boys would stand outside for hours and launch them if they could. They also love making the rockets which are quick and cheap.

      • JP says:

        They are easy to make by just rolling up paper, and folding the top over. Ours work better than the foam ones that came with our set.

  29. Michelle says:

    Soap clouds- microwave a bar of plain Ivory soap for about two minutes and watch it expand. When it cools down a little you can play with kind of like playdoh and mold it. Entertained the 6 year old for 15 minutes and the 4 year old for 30+ minutes.

  30. Frances says:

    Not craft related, but I have stolen candy from a baby, when my then 1 year old found a blue Skittle in the couch cushions (likely left over from when I was craving then like crazy at the end of my pregnancy). I freaked and dug it out of his mouth. He was not happy, and it wasn’t easy!

  31. Melanie says:

    You could always go the Mentos-in-a-2L-Diet-Coke route. It’s a cheap outside “project” and it never ceases to amuse!! And you can do it within the time frame of a 2 year old’s attention span.

  32. Robonanny says:

    Get the boys to help you mix chocolate fairy cakes… Push a thick skewer or a chopstick through the middle to create a hole for the lava to travel through.

    Take boys, cakes, and a couple of medicine syringes and a supply of strawberry syrup outdoors. Boys will quickly work out if they squirt too hard, the syrup will go way too high (but that’s half the fun) and if they push more gently, they will get bubbling lava.

    Edible volcanoes are the best, right?

  33. joanne says:

    shrinky dinks!

  34. Rachael says:

    We sign up for the “Build and Grow” projects 2x a month at Lowes. This month the first one is a Ghoul Bus – all pieces, stickers, nails, etc provided FREE. Four kids in our house, and one pregnant momma means we pick them up, including our patches (you get a cool workers bib thing you can put your patches on like Boy/Girl Scouts) and then assemble at home. There’s no way my kids could all function at the actual put together site at Lowes. It’s just too much!

  35. Karin says:

    Favourite activity for the kids (two 3.5 year olds and a 18 month old) were photo scavenger hunts. I wandered around the place taking photos of objects/places the kids would recognize. Then printed the photos onto paper, and tucked the first one in my pocket, then went to where that was a photo of (in this case, the deck chair) and hid photo number 2 there (of the dogs food bowl) then went to the dogs food bowl and hid photo number 3….. and so on. Did about 20 photos, and the last one was of the sandbox where I had buried a Tupperware box with some dollar store toys in it. Great fun, kids loved it, and it can all be re-used endlessly, just change the order of the photos around randomly. If not nice weather, just use the indoor ones, if nice weather, just use outdoor ones.

    Endless possibilities, and has become a family favourite – everyone has a set for their house to entertain the kids when there.

  36. Debbie says:

    I just know the combo of baking soda and vinegar rocks. Once, in desperation to get my son to take some icky medicine, I told him he could squirt vinegar in my mouth (I had some baking soda on my tongue.) He got to watch me literally foam at the mouth. It was nasty, but he took his medicine.

  37. Larissa says:

    When I was a nanny for two boys age 2 and 4 we did lots. But the ones they liked most were graham cracker gingerbread houses and haunted houses. I used two sheets of construction paper for each house, and cut the walls out like pop ups. Then we took apart a cotton ball for webs and used tissue paper ghost, was a hit. We did lots of bendaroo crafts, painted rocks and made our own bored games and all the peices. I basically just went to work with a bag of art supplies each day and let them help me come up with ideas. My mom made hhot air ballons with them that they decorated and released the day of the balloon festival. To name a few.

  38. Jennifer says:

    I am literally crying right now…this was hilarious! The looks on their faces when they lost interest and the actual eruption are brilliant! Awesome as always!

  39. Jenn says:

    We made oobleck yesterday! It’s a liquid that sometimes acts like a solid. Just mix 1c water and 1.5c corn starch or so until you can squeeze it into a clump in your hand, then when you let go it ‘melts’ back into the bowl. We added a couple drops of food coloring for fun and the kiddos played with it on the porch so I didn’t have to clean up the mess. You can also lay down a speaker, cover it in plastic wrap, and pour some oobleck into the cone to make it dance to music!

    • Chrystal says:

      This is my favorite. Ever. I clean up their mess then sad what’s left for me to play with. Great distraction from dishes, laundry and a dirty house. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  40. So your kids want an honest-to-goodness EXPLODING volcano, do they? Coke and Mentos – that’ll satisfy them!

  41. Rachel says:

    Okay I did a kiwi crate. Maybe it is the weather (raining this morning) but sounds perfect for a weekend project on a cold weekend day as we head to fall/winter. I think I will suggest a subscription to my parents for the holiday gift. Thanks! I hope you get credit for my order I did it through your link.

  42. Kim says:

    ACK! What’s going on with your site? It’s freaking me out! lol It changed from when I commented to when the comment posted. AHHHHHHH….make it stop! lol

  43. Bronwen says:

    We had loads of fun making a giant marble race using boxes, tubes from gladwrap (clingfilm) containers like yoghurt pots, and pingpong balls. You stack the boxes up, cut holes in the containers, and attach the tubes and containers any which way you like, so long as the pingpong ball will actually, you know, race down it from one tube or container to the next. We had loads of fun building it, but unfortunately I just used tape to put it together, and as soon as we started to use it, it started to fall apart. If you used better tape than I did, one that actually stays stuck, it could totally work

  44. Christine E. says:

    You can try going to a hobby store… and get a build your on plane kit. They have kits for several age ranges. They also have build a car kits too.

  45. Elle says:

    I decided it would be fun, educational, and a great way to use up a stack of magazines, to create a ABC book with my nearly four year old…first page, cut out all the A’s we could find in magazines then cut out all the pictures of things starting with A we could find….our A page contained about 5 apples, and NOTHING else…took hours and neither of us had any interest in starting the B page

  46. Maggie S. says:

    Apple stamped tote bags. Per Martha Stewart.

    Those woven potholders. Like leave it to beaver times.

  47. Angela says:

    LOL so funny.

  48. Claire says:

    I’m so jealous of you having those Kiwi Crates. Here in the UK we are a deprived nation.

  49. A-Man-Duh says:

    You can make gak from borax and tempera paint in a ziplock bag. Just squish it up until it’s blended and smooth. Or the floating egg in salt water is always fun. ๐Ÿ™‚

  50. Kathy says:

    My son and I once spent about two hours with the supremely satisfying task of lighting a tea light, putting a glass jar over the top and waiting for it to go out. Repeat with glass jars of all different sizes and note how the time-till-it-goes-out varies. Seems too simple to be true, but he loved it. Then I repeated it with a friend’s home educated science class (every fortnight she did all these clever demonstartions and experiments with microscopes etc, and my single educational offering was “light this put the jar over..”) All the kids there loved it too. Weird but true.

  51. Kylie says:

    This is my friend Kathreen’s blog, she sells downloadable science & craft stuff that is cool for kids. I haven’t bought it yet because my little monkeys are too young to have any attention span yet. But I will be seeing her soon when I go to visit my home town next month & will tell her I put her on here in your comments…

    Little misses 3.5 & 1.5 are both too sick for school & creche, so I’m trying to do fun stuff to keep them away from all day dvd syndrome. Mostly it involves making mousse au chocolat. We also make caterpillars from plastic bottle tops strung onto elastic. They choose the colours, I sit there punching holes & threading…But then they are happy for ages when they have new caterpillars…

  52. Olivia says:

    I didn’t read all the comments but if someone hasn’t told you about 2-liter bottles of Diet Coke and dropping Mentos candy (dropped in them), definitely do it! Entertained my kids for oh well 20 minutes maybe.

    Oh and seperating eggs (yolk from the white) with an empty water bottle. Squeeze the water bottle a little over the yolk in a small bowl and it just sucks the yolk right up. The kids loved that too and tried to beat each other on how many times they could do it before the yolks broke.

  53. Ashley says:

    We had a “volcano week” at the end of the previous school year (homeschool…meaning that I get to do all the projects with my kids) and found that the easiest, most gratifying volcano is just to take a 2-liter bottle of strawberry soda outside and let the kids bury it up to its neck in mud until they are satisfied that it looks like a volcano. Then just open the top, drop in a few Mentos and stand back! (far back)

  54. Sandy says:

    Bad-idea projects don’t stop in childhood, or even at age 38. At the other end of the age spectrum: we just got a fireplace soapstone stove installed, and I am trying to build the first “little fire”, which is required to season it to not ruin its soapstone walls… after three little fires, it will be ready for its first real fire. But it’s just like your volcano project, taking forever and not going well at all, and my newly renovated/painted/redesigned house is now FULL of stinky SMOKE! AAAKKKK! Even with all the windows open, and cold air hitting us, the cats and dog and I are choking, and the fireplace installer is on the phone saying, “It’s supposed to emit a little bit of smoke as it cures.” Cures what? Living too long?

  55. Femke says:

    I’m in Australia so no kiwi-crates but our national science research organisation has a stack of experiments on their website and some of them are a bit crafty and they have a weekly (Friday, just in time for the weekend) e-newsletter with an experiment each time. The experiment site is and to sign up for the newsletter (free) go to
    They do a Maths one too but it’s for 10 year olds and up mostly.

  56. Ooh, I’m going to sign my daughter up for Christmas! Thanks for the idea, and I’ll be sure to use your affiliate link!

  57. That Kiwi Crate idea is awesome. Even if it has stuff in it you already have, ANYTHING that arrives new in a box always beats something that is already lying around the house.

    Totally kicking myself for not coming up with that business model myself…

  58. Leigh Ann says:

    Homemade silly putty. Glue, borax, water, DONE. Quick to make, and hours of playtime.

  59. Beth says:

    Ooh ooh oohh! I have a blog for you! You have to visit Busy Crafting Mommy…she has the best ideas. She has a section on Miss Meghan’s Crafts

    I love it!

  60. Ceri says:

    check out Play at Home Mom… they have awesome ideas.

  61. deneen says:

    my kids are bigger now so we have a whole room for crafts but when they were small i had a tupperware bin about half a laundry basket size with all kinds of krafty things from the $ store … and a separate one for colouring and markers. Endless hours of fun and creativity … esp when mama was nursing or baby was sleeping or it was raining. we would fill it together on a monthly trip to Dollarama and i would throw in some treats once in a while …

  62. Lia says:

    I made my own volcanoes at home with a bit easier method as a kid (lets say age 8). Take a paper plate and go out in the yard and find some dirt. Get the dirt moist but not soaking wet. Build a volcanoesque mound on the paper plate. Obtain something similar to a test tube (I had one from a kids science kit but something else will work just as well). Stick toys on the dirt mound as victims of the volcano for extra fun. Add baking soda. Add vinegar. Food coloring can be used to add realism but for me all I cared about was the polly pockets about to be buried. That’s about it. It was all self-done, no waiting time, got me to play in the dirt, and the mess was outside. The downside is I totally lost some toys when I’d forget about them for days in the volcano sludge.

  63. Bex says:

    My son got a catapult kit with his birthday money when he turned nine. He set the whole thing up by himself and went to town for two days trying to knock over the paper monsters it came with. Now, my 4 year old uses it to knock over lego men that he sets up in a line on the hearth. You never know what kids are going to like. They could be so excited by something for ages, and then after they get it, they could care less. In your case, it would definitely be my husband who was more excited about the volcano. He is a geologist though. And if it didn’t work the way he wanted, he would have researched a better way to make the thing blow. Fun times.

  64. Has anyone mentioned vinegar and baking soda rocket launching?

  65. Lynn says:

    Our failed craft began when I saw an archeological “dig” which was really packed sand with bits of plastic bones embedded in it. It was supposed to take a long time so I thought it would be a fun quiet activity to leave out for anyone to scrape and brush whenever the urge struck. Unfortunately, it got opened by a sitter who thought it took too long and she took the kids outside with the block of sand and smashed it on the sidewalk. It took my two children 2 minutes to find the scattered bones. Yeah. A project that was supposed to cultivate patience and excitement with a slow reveal over weeks was ended in mere minutes.

  66. I know a very fun one. Pour a dish of milk. Add a few droplets of different colors of food coloring in different sides of the bowl- like one red, one yellow, whatever you have, just don’t let them touch.

    Then take a cotton bud (q-tip) and take one of the ends and rub it on your top of the dish soap bottle where the buildup is. I guess if your bottle is all clean you could pour a little on the q-tip. But who cleans that?

    Anyway, then touch the soaped q-tip to the middle of the bowl of milk and the many many minutes of fun begin!

  67. Stacey says:

    You had a billion comments in this one so someone may have mentioned this already. I find gobs of fun science projects to do with my 19 month old daughter on Pinterest. The most recent one was putting a bar of ivory soap (has to be ivory!) in the microwave for about 2 minutes. Hubbie likes watching it grow and kiddo loves tearing it apart! I then put the remainder in the food processor with a small bit of warm water and pressed the soap flakes into a metal cookie cutter. It acted as a mold. Now we have pumpkin and acorn shaped soaps and my sweet girl lives washing her hands with them!

  68. Fuchsia says:

    We did a bathroom sink volcano. It involved a mason jar with baking soda and a small cup of vineager. She was thrilled. And managed to use up all the baking soda and vinegar in the house in about 10 minutes. At least the mess was contained!

  69. Laura says:

    I can’t vouch for any of them, but I found this list of 10 monthly subscription box type things, in case anyone else would like to see it:

  70. James says:

    This coming Christmas we’ll be painting Nutcrackers, which will be our third year doing so. The kids and my wife and I each paint a plain wooden dollar store figure, and we display them on top of the piano during the holidays. When the kids grow up & move out, we’ll give each one the Nutcrackers they painted each year.

  71. Betsy Luczaj says:

    We are a science living family so we do density experiments. Oil is less dense than water, honey is denser than molasses,. Get baby food jars and layer some liquids!

    As an aside, my hubby did volcano experiments with balsamic vinegar. $12.00 volcano eruption…

  72. Linda R says:

    Kiwi Crate looks awesome! Now… gotta wait a bit for the 17 month old to catch up (or maybe I should just start practicing now….).

  73. Rebekah says:

    My 3.5-year-old daughter and I painted her room green last week. She loved it and actually did a pretty good job! It took us 3 days, 30 minutes each day, and she did about everything she could reach and I did the rest. All we used was a paintbrush each, the can of paint, a sheet of thick plastic, and wet wipes. Oh, and specifically designated paint clothes and hair ties for her. She likes to tell everyone about how she painted the room green. ๐Ÿ™‚

  74. brenda says:

    Easiest oobleck/gak: glue and finger paint, dump on cookie sheet and let kids mix. Some one already mentioned corn starch and water, I second that. After Easter,save dyed egg shells, crush and glue on cardboard for mosaics. Tissue paper between two layers of clear contact paper (sticky plastic) makes great sun catchers, and is mess-free. Toilet paper tubes, staple one end, fill with beans, staple other end going in the opposite direction…maracas! Pom-poms glued on Popsicle sticks make great hungry caterpillars. Collect acorns and sticks, wrap with jewelry wire, hang from a grapevine wreath….make awesome cool mobile. That’s all I’ve got off the top of my head!

  75. Raven says:

    I love your posts! This one brings back so many memories of difficult, frustrating, or otherwise not age appropriate activities. We are currently struggling through building a dinosaur (tiny sized apatosaurus) from chicken bones, following the “simple” directions in a book written by a paleontologist. We bought the book when our first son was 10 or so,now he’s applying for college. The younger sibs are now taking up the torch…maybe we’ll have that model by the time the kindergartener goes off to college… (or they put me away in a nice padded room of my own)

  76. Michelle says:

    This takes planning an overnight ahead, but is awesome in the summer. I got one of those Toobs with all sorts of actic figures in it.
    You can use any little plastic figures you have around though.
    Then, I put them in various tupperwares, bundt pans, jello molds, etc. I put water in, that I colored with food coloring. Then I froze it. Next day, when it was 90 out and humid, I popped 2 out of their containers and gave 1 to my 2 year old and 1 to my 4 year old, some metal spoons and they excavated. Seriously, it was 30-45 minutes of intense chopping of ice. They loved it.

  77. Erin says:

    Have you done the one where you put like 1/4 of a bar of Ivory soap in the microwave and watch it expand? It’s super cool and easy and it makes your house smell like soap.

  78. Susan Rehm says:

    We love Kiwi Crate

  79. Janelle says:

    I’m sure someone else has said it, and that you’re already all over it… but Pinterest is a treasure trove. And Pinstrosity is the way to laugh at….er, learn from… other people’s disasters. Any time I manage something brilliant these days my girls / hubs automatically ask: Pinterest?! I felt very smug when I created something ALL MY OWN. Alas, it was not a kid-creation thing, so I can’t help you there at the moment.

  80. Susan Rehm says:

    We subscribe to Kiwicrate as well as several other craft kits.

  81. Jen says:

    Water garden. This was my then 18 months old idea. I’d dumped the air plants in a bowl of water (because I’d forgotten to water them for that long). He saw them. He thought sprinkling in the pebbles they usually sit on was a fantastic idea. I went with it. I gave him shells and plastic animals. (He liked the shells).

    Now he is two, and on the mantlepiece we keep a collection of assorted rocks, pebbles, stones, shells, woodchip, seeds, seedpods, spices – all for the making of ‘beautiful’ watergardens. I put it all out on flat dishes and put a clear pyrex bowl of water in the middle. I keep trying to add plastic animals but he’s really not interested. It’s all in the making (and the splashing).

    Cons: my airplants are dying from overwatering.
    Pros: I get to wash the dishes and clean our galley style ‘functional’ kitchen without having a toddler scream and sob at me from the other side of the gate.

  82. Callee S. says:

    so i read this in a magazine and i can’t wait to do it this winter (yep has to be done in the winter :D) you take balloons and fill them with water and food coloring…place them outside and let them freeze…take the balloons off and then you have colored “marbles”…cute decorations and fun…:D

    also you can check out Kelly Kits…it’s is a $10 monthly subscription and comes with a craft…it comes with everything you need for two kids to do a craft…might be nice to go in between the kiwi kits

  83. Mrs J says:

    Hi there, this was hilarious (and very similar to the sorts of things that happen in our house) – we tried the vinegar and baking soda volcano with a funnel to try to contain it, and it was pretty average – daughter and husband EXTREMELY underwhelmed.

    A site no-one seems to have mentioned is the Magical Childhood site,
    Where the lovely mum who writes it has a new 10 ways to make the day magical every week. Lots of inexpensive and clever ideas to do with kids.

  84. Mrs J says:

    I’m not sure what happened to the link I tried to post to that site – I’ll try again:

  85. Sandie brown says:

    A per cut easy assemble gingerbread house that would not stay together. The glue(frosting) didn’t work, the gum drops slid off. It looked pitiful. We displayed the lopsided home & laughed everytime we looked at it.

  86. DIY Fizzy sidewalk paint! Would work in the bath as well, AND the vinegar and baking soda would help clean! BONUS!
    (There’s also a fizzy Pixie Stix recipe. That was before we went dye-free though. Now I’d have to reformulate based on dye-free drink mixes that come sweetened.)

  87. Kara W says:

    Put milk in a shallow dish and add a few drops of dish soap. Then add several drops of several different colors of food coloring and watch what happens. It has something to do about separating the fat and what not from the milk. It looks pretty cool. Have fun!

  88. Molly says:

    dyeing play silks are pretty much the easiest craft out there, and one of the most fun. you can use kool-aid as the dye and prepare it before-hand so kids don’t get bored (i put it in rubbermaid tubs usually – one per color). you can buy undyed silks online for pretty cheap. dyeing things is endlessly exciting for kids ๐Ÿ™‚

  89. Louise says:

    These ice decorations are a great idea, especially with winter approaching fast. She also has some other great ideas scattered around her blog

  90. Littlefoot says:

    I can’t believe I actually read every comment! I am an artsy person, so I’ve been wanting to do some crafts with my kids for a long time. Haha I even took a snapshot of all the ideas I like. I can’t wait to try some of these; my almost-2yo and almost-1yo are in for a messy time!

    And I love the drawing of the kids when they’re bored, lol!

  91. Hope says:

    First Comment Ever. But I love crafts with kids… we have done a Volcano (not the plaster kind)! One of our favorites is building robots or “garages” out of boxes and tubes (TP rolls, kitchen rolls, wrapping paper rolls, cereal boxes, etc..). Also, you can find make your own Pinatas on the web. That would be fun and involves candy… Woo Hoo.

  92. Claire H says:

    I’ve not managed to read every reply, so apologies if this is repeating something that’s been said already!

    My kids love homemade goo: give each child a bowl with some cornflour in it. Slowly add water (an adult prob needs to mix it in, it’s hard work) and a few drops of food colouring and you’ll soon have bowls of stretchy goo with an amazing texture. The kids absolutely love this and it costs next to nothing.

  93. Psyched! I ordered it, and when you get to the checkout screen it lets you select the month you want your subscription to start. That’s great, because I’ll forget if I wait till December to order it (since I’m having a c-section on 11/26 I’m expecting my brain to be mush) and I don’t know how I’d convince my 2.5yo it’s a Christmas gift if she starts getting it in October.

  94. Sharee says:

    As a follow up, PBS has a great short documentary on their website about the volcano in Hawaii. My boys (4 and 6) loved it.

  95. Chrissy says:

    When we do volcanoes I take a small vase (those skinny ones that are intended to make a single rose look class rather than cheap) and I put baking soda and a bit of liquid dishwasher detergent in the bottom (the detergent isn’t necessary for the reaction, just for thickness of the “lava”) obviously we add food coloring too. Next, I put this in some sort of baking pan, whichever my hand lands on first, and then we fill the pan around the vase with little plastic animals and dinosaurs. Then we kill the dinosaurs with lava. a lot of baking soda with a lot of white vinegar equals a pretty impressive “explosion” which we repeated at least a dozen times before we ran out of room for lava in our pan. ๐Ÿ™‚ (this is also cheaper than a kit from a craft store!).

  96. Chrissy says:

    oh and for a human body I took leftover rolls of wrapping paper and unraveled them so the plain part was up. Then I had each of my boys lay down and I traced them (unto their own papers). Then we (okay okay, mostly me) added in all their organs and intestines and stuff, and then we drew food and cut it out and moved it through their digestive system! This was like free as there is always leftover unused paper laying about! They LOVED moving the food through and watching it become poop!

  97. Cynthia2 says:

    My parents gave my son a volcano just like that for his birthday. He loves it, though, but the building it process was definitely long.

  98. Candace says:

    I hate it when those things your kids are counting on to be “super awesome!” aren’t. That’s why I don’t buy my kids those things anymore. I’m really just helping them out but avoiding an inevitable let down. ๐Ÿ™‚

  99. Rani says:

    I have four sons, 11, 7, 3, and now 11 month old, and over the summer we did science projects I found on youtube and pinterest. We made oobleck, this was my favorite, foam that poured out of bottles, played with water beads (not my favorite because they smashed them into the carpet and I found a few that got missed in my sons diaper), filled balloons with water beads or colored water and let them break them open in the tub. I focused on things that would interest the 3yo because I wanted him to play too and the older boys loved it. I would announce it was time for a science project making sure I could explain what was going on with the reactive ones. We all had a blast.

  100. wendy says:

    Ha, Amber, I know you’re NOT “sitting on the couch” as you claim.

  101. SeriousCakes says:

    I highly recommend Legos. Hours of fun and I do mean hours. Not the sets that are so stinking expensive and strip all creativity. My husband still had a ton from when he was growing up so my girls inherited them but he also has purchased stuff on ebay. Again, not sets or kits, just loose Lego pieces that kids can use their imagination to create anything they think up. My girls go through phases where they’ll build something every single day for a few weeks, then they lose interest and we put them away for awhile. After a month I’ll bring the boxes back into the living room and it’s like a brand new toy!

    And I know it’s messy but watercolor paints and play dough also keep my girls occupied for hours.

  102. Woolies says:

    What ever happened to Hide & go seek?
    We used to play with the entire neighborhood. It went on for hours. I even played.

  103. Stephanie says:

    We created a visual felt calendar to reduce questions and help my four-year-old son understand days, weeks, and months.

    I created an instructable here:

  104. Lezlie says:

    We built a marble run with sticks, toilet paper tubes, and a box base. I admit to becoming more “Get away from my project” than I should have with my 2 and 4 year olds, but we all enjoyed it, anyway. It was a perfect indoor winter fun project.

  105. One thing that has seemed to be a hit at our house is simple homemade play-doh. We make a Kool-Aid version. It’s fun to make and to play with once it’s done! This recipe is a little different than the one I’ve made, but this is probably better because the one we’ve made took a WHOLE FREAKIN CUP OF SALT! And you can make oodles of different colors/flavors/whatever.

    Currently we’re making a “Halloween Tree” out of a tree branch to hang some cute little pumpkin bells I’ve had laying around the house forever. My daughter has about exploded waiting for me to go get the rest of the supplies for it (sparkly paint and a bucket to put it in). So far we’ve gotten as far as seeking out the tree branch and bringing it home without anyone getting their eyes poked out. Not sure how it’s really going to turn out. We’ll see if I regret even opening my mouth about it!

  106. Jo says:

    You know what looks like it could be a super fun monthly thingy – Little Passports (they have a .com website). I haven’t tried it myself; my kiddo was slightly too old to be interested when I discovered it, but I have friends who like it. Each month you get a mailing of fun activities and a “letter” from two characters who are globetrotting here and there.

  107. jules says:

    this reminds me of last year when my fella decided he wanted to make a papier mache dinosaur landscape for the kids to play with their dinosaurs. just cut and paste the expression on your kids faces onto mine (who seem to be v similar age) during the whole process. when it was finally finished, our cat pissed on it. twice.

  108. Melissa says:

    Sidewalk Chalk Paint
    Stir equal parts of corn starch and water and add a few drops of food coloring. Take it outside with paint brushes and create a masterpiece. It washes off just like sidewalk chalk does.

  109. I taught preschool and we made these volcanoes during class. One little boy took the eruption thing literally and was scared it would explode with much fire and sound. Even after watching other kids erupt their volcanoes (from a safe distance) he was still too nervous to try his own.

  110. Kika says:

    the easiest thing: fill 1/4 of a plastic bottle with vinegar, and use a funnel to put 3tbsp of baking soda into a balloon. carefully, place the balloon on the opening of the bottle. when you flip the balloon, the soda drops into the vinegar; the bubbles push the air up and the balloon fills up!

  111. Lynnae says:

    late to the party here, but we’ve had success making bird feeders out of pinecones… just spread some peanut butter on a pinecone and roll it in sunflower seeds. tie a string to the top and hang it from a tree! (just make sure it’s somewhere that you aren’t concerned about gardens being dug up… squirrels apparently like these even more than birds)

  112. stasi says:

    Fill an empty water bottle (the voss glass ones are good) half with water, half oil (whatever cheap GMO crap you’re no longer willing to cook with). Put a few drops of food coloring in (it will be entertaining as it slowly sinks through the oil then explodes in the water!). Then add quartered alka seltzers, one at a time. It makes a lava lamp effect. My kids (4 & 2) couldn’t get enough. Their dad had previously failed at a volcano as well. I definitely found this idea somewhere online but I forgot where.

  113. Autumn says:

    Sometimes I wish I had kids.

    Then I meet another one in real life and wonder, “Is ‘the womb’ another word for Hell?”