30 Fall Family Fun Activities

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I love the start of a new season. A fresh start is just something that inspires me.  With Fall right around the corner, I've been thinking of how we can make the most of this season.  I've been thinking of the fun family memories always made around the holidays.  And I AM EXCITED!! Here is a list of some of the activities we might try to squeeze in on our family fun days this fall:

  1. Carve a pumpkin
  2. Paint Pumpkins
  3. Go to Pumpkin Patch
  4. Go to a Football Game
  5. Roast Pumpkin Seeds
  6. Go and a Hayride
  7. Have a bonfire
  8. Take Fall Pictures
  9. Start a Thankful Journal
  10. Play in leaves
  11. Cook in your crockpot
  12. Visit a Farm
  13. Make S’mores
  14. Go to a Fall Festival
  15. Go to an Orchard
  16. Fall Colors Nature Hunt
  17. Donate to a Food Drive
  18. Check out Fall Books from the Library
  19. Use leaves for a craft
  20. Bake Pumpkin Bread
  21. Go to a Fair (TX State Fair)
  22. Collect Acorns
  23. Visit the Farmer’s Market
  24. Go on a Hike
  25. Make Applesauce
  26. Bake an Apple Pie
  27. Make Pumpkin playdough
  28. Make Pumpkin Moon Sand
  29. Decorate for Fall
  30. Make Halloween Costumes
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Morning Routine for Work At Home Moms

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This blog journey is the second time I am attempting to work from home. The first time was for the first two years of my daughter's life. I did not flourish (at all) working from home then. Thankfully, I learned a lot from my mistakes, and this time around I feel like I'm doing a better job of finding the organization and balance that a side hustle needs. The main reason I feel like this is because of my morning routine.

Routine Means EVERY Day

The most important thing you need to take away from this post is that this is a ROUTINE.  This is not something I do once a week.  I TRY to do it every single day...that is really the only way this will be successful.

Wake Up EARLY

The other most important thing you need to take away from this post is that you have to wake up BEFORE your kids.  Before baby #2, I knew my oldest was going to sleep till at least 8am every day.  This meant that I did not have to wake up that early to get up before her.  Now that my little firecracker baby #2 is here, I know he's gonna wake up around 6:30.  Honestly, if they were not sharing a room, I would make him stay in his bed till 7:00, but that doesn't work right now with big sissy still trying to sleep in the room. So I've learned the hard way over the past few months, and I now wake up by 5:30.  I know it is EARLY. But you get used to it.  I think the thing that helped make it easier for me was to realize that it was more important to have a successful day with my kiddos than to have those few more minutes of sleep.

Benefits of a Morning Routine

First and foremost adults and kids know what to expect when there is a routine in place, and you are able to plan around that routine.  If you know that your kids are gonna wake up at 7:00, then you can plan how early you need to wake up based on that time.

Like I said earlier, I have never loved mornings.  It is really important to me to be able to wake up before my kids so that I can wake up slowly.  If I wake up the same time as the kids, I spend the rest of the day feeling tired and like a walking zombie...I NEED the time to sit and drink coffee so I can fuel up for the day!

Lastly, waking up early helps me to not start the day out behind. When I wake up before the kids, I am able to be prepare for the day ahead. I am able to get my head on straight and know what I am trying to do when.

Break Down of My Morning Routine

  1. Quiet Time/Bible Study-I just spend this time studying God's word. 
  2. Make To Do List and Look Over Planner-I make my to do list for the day if I didn't do that the night before.  Then I look over my planner to make sure I'm not missing anything coming up.
  3. Start on To Do List-Then I just start to tackle that to do list until the kids wake up. Once they wake up, I leave it to rest until nap.
  4. Morning 5- I read about this years ago, and I've really been doing this for about 2 years now.  It has made such a huge difference in my life.  I have identified the 5 things I need to do each morning to make me feel like I had a successful day as a mom and a wife.  My morning 5 includes a quiet time for myself, bible story with the kids, unload the dishwasher, make beds, and spend time with my kiddos.  Making sure I do these things first thing every morning helps set me up for success. AND, if I don't accomplish anything else that day, I still feel successful.

Exceptions to My Routine

As always, there are exceptions to every rule.  Although I do my very best to make myself get out of bed before the kids every morning, there are days that sleep is more important that my to do list.  For example, when I was pregnant with baby #2, I hardly ever woke up before my oldest.  Sleep won that war, hands down.  When I have spent the majority of the night up and down taking care of a sick or teething baby, sleep wins. And when we are traveling or just completely out of our routine, sleep wins.

Give yourself grace in these times.  We are not robots.  We are sinners living in an imperfect world where things go wrong. It is what it is.  Do your best to drag yourself out of bed, but don't beat yourself up if you just need some more sleep.

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Fine Motor Skill Practice

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Offering activities that encourage fine motor skill development should be a very high priority for you.  Fine motor skills help kids learn to write, and that is very important. BUT, we use fine motor skills in so many daily actions.  For example, tying shoes, zipping pants, feeding yourself, fixing your hair...the list could go on and on.

I've come up with 15 low prep and budget friendly activities to help encourage fine motor skills in your little one.  These can be used for any age, really.  Just adjust the activity to your child.  These do not take very long to set up.  I think the bigger battle is being intentional and making yourself set them up. Also, I buy most of my supplies for activities like this at the dollar store.

One big tip I have for you is this: plan and prepare lots of activities at one time.  Then plan to do 1 or 2 or even 3 each week.  I have found that this really helps me to cut down on the time.  And when we have a moment that needs to be filled, I am ready to go with a new activity.

So first things first.  Here's a list of supplies for you:

  • spray bottle
  • ice cube trays
  • tongs/tweezers- look in the school section where you can find age appropriate tweezers
  • pompoms
  • stickers
  • construction paper
  • beans
  • animal figures
  • foam letters
  • bin or bucket for sensory activities
  • measuring cups
  • measuring spoons
  • small plastic pitcher
  • bowls
  • scissors
  • straws
  • pipe cleaners
  • beads
  • toothpicks
  • q tips
  • Colander
  • fake flowers
  • rice
  • paper shred
  • playdough

That's 25 items.  If you go to a dollar store, that means you only have to spend $25! And I have 15 activities for you with these supplies! Just think, if you actually get to 3 of these a week, they will last for 5 weeks! And then you can repeat these over and over.

**If you want to splurge and spend an extra $5, go ahead and grab some shoe size bins to keep all of your supplies in.**

Spray Bottle Fun

Fill a pray bottle with water and have your child practice spraying it in the bath tub.  Or spray on the driveway to make art with water! If you have sidewalk chalk at home, write letters on the ground.  Have your child spray all the e's with the water.  Or do shapes or pictures.  OR let your child spray you! Make it fun!

Pom Pom Fun

There are endless possibilities with pompoms! Grab your ice cube trays and have your child work on the pincer grasp by placing individual pompoms in each cube.  Or add in tongs and have your child pick up the pompoms with them to place in the ice cube tray...this is a great opportunity for pattern practice.  You could also have them sort the pompoms by size and color.

Sticker Fun

Just having your child play with stickers is TONS of fine motor skill practice.  We like to place some stickers on a page and then draw to complete a picture.

Trace with Stickers

This one is great as they get older.  Draw a line, and have child 'trace' the line with stickers (use circle stickers).  You could incorporate shapes, letters, name practice.  Whatever you want.  I've even drawn pictures before with place to place round stickers.

Bean Sensory Bin

Fill you bucket with beans. Add in ice cube trays, spoons, measuring cups, bowls, animal figures or foam letters, whatever items you want.  Have your child practice scooping, pouring, and exploring.  Just let them play!

Water Pouring Fun

Fill bowls, plastic pitcher, and sensory bin bucket with water.  Have your child practice scooping and pouring. If you are worried about a mess, do this outside or even over in the bathtub or shower.

Paper Tear

Have your child tear paper.  That's it. Simple, and GREAT fine motor/pre writing activity.

Scissor Fun

Have your child practice cutting with scissors (adult supervision required!!).  Practice cutting plastic straws and strips of paper.

Threading Fun

Have your child use those straws they practiced cutting with scissors by threading them onto a pipe cleaner.  Once they have mastered this, have them use beads to practice threading.

Toothpicks and Food

Ok, this one is obviously a bit risky! Only do this if you feel comfortable that your child will follow your safety directions.  Have your child poke some of their lunch with toothpicks! Great for fine motor skills. This is a great way to encourage eating fruits and veggies, also!

Q Tip Painting

This one is simple.  Just have your child paint with q tips. You can print out coloring pages online that have pictures made with circles the size of qtips.  Have your child dip the qtip in paint and then make a dot in each circle on the page.

Colander Boquet

Have your child decorate a colander with fake flowers.

Rice Bin

Fill your sensory bucket with rice, ice cube trays, measuring cups and spoons, preschool tweezers, and foam letters. Have your child play in this sensory bin however they want.  If they are having trouble playing, give them some directives such as, "Can you feel the ice cube trays with rice?" or "Grab the letters with your tweezers and place them in the ice trays.".

Paper Shred Bin

Hide animals and foam letters in a bucket filled with paper shreds.  Have your child use their tongs to find the letters and and animals.

Playdough Fun

Any kind of playdough play is great for fine motor skills.  Check out this article if you want some ideas.

***Adult supervision is always recommended for all activities.

Preschool Lunchboxes and Necessities

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Budget Friendly

This is the one we currently own. This Bentology box has been really great, and has held up a year with almost no signs of use.  We use it at least 3 times a week if not more, and stick it in the dishwasher every single time.  I'm impressed with how well it has held up.  My only complaint is that *sometimes* there are some leaks...not often, but I feel like I should include this here.

Most Popular

I have been really interested in the Bentgo lunch box for years...it has over 3,000 reviews on Amazon! It is dishwasher and microwave safe, has easy access for littles, is leak proof, and has the perfect sections for the perfect portions.

Splurge

If I was going to splurge on a lunchbox, it would be this one...it comes with a pretty good price tag, but I think it would probably be worth the splurge.

Lunch Box

Obviously a lunch box is pretty high on the list for packing a lunch for school.  I found this one on Amazon for a great price with great reviews.  There are tons of color options, also.

Ice Packs

And, please make sure you always put ice packs in the lunch.  Food safety, guys.

Water Bottle

I think this is going to by new purchase for this year.  My 4 year old likes cold water (insert eye roll here), so this will help keep it cold.  Again, great reviews on Amazon.

Baby Sleep Products We Can't Live Without

I know how weird this is going to sound, but I am so passionate about the topic of baby sleep.  I can't help it.  It has just been such a huge blessing to me as a mom.  I want others to experience that blessing, as well.

We all know that every baby is different and different things work for different people.  But today, I want to share with you the FIVE baby sleep products that BOTH of my kiddos have loved.  These 5 things have really helped both of my littles to learn to love to sleep. Click the picture to go directly to the product.

Noise Maker

This goes number one on my list for a reason.  If you don't buy anything else to help your children sleep, buy this.  This is great for all ages (even adults)! Not only do noisemakers help newborns adjust to life outside of their mother's womb, noisemakers also help block out noise that might disturb older babies, toddlers, and preschoolers while they sleep.  I have found that by only using the noisemaker while sleeping helps teach my kids that if the white noise is playing then it is time to sleep. This is my favorite noisemaker.

Sleep Sack

I also think a sleep sack is very important.  First, it helps you know that your child is warm without the risk of a blanket in the bed.  Second, it helps those older babies not able to move around quite as much. And, third, it is just another tool to use to signal bedtime.  My eight month old's eyes start getting heavy the second I turn on the noisemaker and zip him into his sleep sack.

***If you have a newborn, I suggest using the Miracle Blanket swaddle, and I absolutely loved the Magic Merlin's Sleep Suit from three to 6 months. At 6 months (or whenever baby starts to roll in the Magic Merlin's Sleep Suit), I like to start using a regular sleep sack...I prefer the Halo Sleep Sack***

Paci

I know that some people are just completely against pacifiers, and that is OK. BUT, I am not against them...I am very much FOR pacifiers.  Both of my kiddos have loved the Wubanub. Any pacifier you want to use is fine.  I like to offer multiple wubanubs in the crib.  That way if the baby rolls to the other end of the crib while sleeping, they have a better chance of finding a wubanub when they wake in between sleep cycles. I also offer opportunities to practice independently placing the paci/wubanub in their mouth.  It is a glorious day when they place that paci in themselves for the first time!!

Night Time Diapers

When my first was a baby, a friend from church shared this tip with me...it literally changed everything.  Not only do we use night time diapers every single night, but we use one size up from what they normally wear.  So if your baby wears a size 3 diaper during the day, put them in a size 4 night time diaper.  We only ever use Pampers Baby Dry or Target brand Night time.

Comfy Pj's

Lastly, I really notice a difference when my kiddos are in really comfy PJ's.  My personal favorite are the Cloud Island Brand from Target, but they don't have 12 month in the footie pj's, so I like the Carter's ZIP UP sleep and play sets also. We're really loving the footless ones in this summer heat!

And that's a wrap! Those are my top 5, can't live without baby sleep products. Comment with questions! And, as always, follow on Instagram for daily tips!

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**Stay At Home Momming is part of the Amazon affiliate marketing program. This means that if you click and/or make a purchase through certain links on this site, I may receive a commission from the purchase. All opinions are my own.**

  

Playdough Recipe

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One of our favorite things to do is to play with playdough.  We always have plenty of store bought on hand, but we LOVE to make our own.  I actually like our homemade version better than the store bought, so here is the recipe:

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What You Need:

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  • 1 packet of Jello
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 tbsp Salt
  • 2 tbsp Cream of Tartar (this time I only had 1 1/2 tbsp, but that worked just fine)

What You Do:

This is very simple.  First, mix all ingredients into a saucepan. Second, stir your mixture over medium heat until a ball of playdough forms (takes about 5 minutes).  Let the playdough cool.  Kneed playdough with extra flour until it is no longer sticky. And, lastly, have fun playing!

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If you need ideas for how to play with playdough, check out this post! As always, thanks for reading!

Kindle Fire Kids Edition with Freetime Unlimited Review

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I have been wanting to write a post about kids and screen time for a while now, and then follow up with a post about how much we love our Kindle Fire Kids Edition with Freetime Unlimited. But, in honor of Amazon Prime day, I decided to go ahead and write about how much we love our Kindle Fire Kids Edition.

Kindle Fire Kids Edition

Picture is linked to product.   Original Price $100       Prime Day Price $70

Picture is linked to product.   Original Price $100       Prime Day Price $70

Picture is linked to product. Original Price $130        Prime Day Price $90

Picture is linked to product. Original Price $130        Prime Day Price $90

Picture is linked to product. Not Included in Prime Day   

Picture is linked to product. Not Included in Prime Day

 

The Kindle Fire Kids Edition comes with a year subscription to Freetime Unlimited, a wonderful case for protection from those precious little ones, AND a two year warranty...Really, we started having a problem with ours charging, and Amazon replaced it for us! The Kindle Fire Kids Edition come in 7", 8" and 10". The bigger the screen, the better the resolution and more storage you get.  We have the 7, and are completely happy with it. The above pictures have links to each product.

**We did decide to add this Micro SD card to expand storage.**

Freetime Unlimited

Freetime is a subscription (one year included with purchase of Kindle Fire Kids Edition) to unlimited access to TONS of books, educational games, and tv shows. This is seriously so kid friendly, and you are able to personalize for your child.  We have ours set for the 3-5 year old age.  You can also set daily goals and time limits, block entertainment content until all daily educational goals are met, or even blog specific content you do not want your child exposed to. How cool is that? The ability to personalize makes this even more developmentally appropriate.

You actually do not have to have a Kindle Fire Kids Edition to have Freetime Unlimited.  Freetime Unlimited is actually compatible to many different devices including Fire, IOS, Android, Kindle, and even some Amazon Echo's

Click on these pictures to either buy a 1 year plan and save 40% or to try a 1 month FreeTime Unlimited.

Safety

As I stated earlier, there are so many ways to personalize your child's FreeTime Unlimited profile.  I absolutely love the safety that this brings to your child having access to a tablet.  This world is scary, friends.  Anything connected to the internet could potentially be very dangerous for our kids, but this feature adds another level of safety.

**Sidenote--Personalization aside, I think you should still keep a VERY close eye on what your child is doing on any tablet...no matter how safe it is.**

Books

There are SO MANY books included in the Freetime Unlimited Plan.  There is a huge variety of books ranging from Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? to Big Sister Dora! and Disney Princess books. I prefer to read actual books to my kids, but this is great for offering variety and especially when traveling. 

Educational Games

I think I was most impressed with the Educational Apps collection when we first bought the kids' kindle. There are several Daniel Tiger Apps, which we love...always great for character development. There are also lots of great Math and Reading apps.  And, of course, there are apps that, in my opinion, serve no purpose...but, used with discretion, these are not harmful.

Shows

While there are no Disney shows available in Freetime Unlimited, there are lots of PBS show and other favorites.  Some of our favorites are Daniel Tiger, Chloe's Closet, Team Umizoomi, and Mother Goose Club.

Traveling

Lastly, I just want to say how wonderful this has been when traveling.  We have traveled a good bit the last two years, and I am so thankful we have had this...for car rides and plane rides. And BONUS, you can connect headphones.  I suggest these.

Also, if you buy a Micro SD card, you can download shows, books, and apps to that so you can have access to them while away from WiFi.

ABC Mouse and Netflix

You can also exit out of the kid profile to access regular apps.  Don't worry, you have to have a passcode to do this.  I love that we can access ABC Mouse and Netflix from the main screen.  We have also downloaded shows on Netflix for travel days.

**You can actually set the profile to allow certain Apps (like ABC Mouse and Netflix) from your regular screen to show up in the FreeTime.  We prefer to keep them seperate, but this could be useful information for some of you.**

If you have been considering buying a Kindle Fire Kids Edition for your kids, take advantage of Prime Day.  You could give it now before your next summer trip, or you could save for a Birthday present or Christmas Present.  Or if you already have a tablet, you could just try out the FreeTime Unlimited free trial or 40% off the year long subscription.

**Stay At Home Momming is part of the Amazon affiliate marketing program. This means that if you click and/or make a purchase through certain links on this site, I may receive a commission from the purchase. All opinions are my own.**

5 Stay At Home Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Some days at home fly by, and at the end of the day I honestly cannot tell you what we did all day.  BUT, some days at home drag...you know the days when you think it is lunch time but you look down at your watch to see it is only 9:00 am...  These are the days that I just need some go to activities.  Activities that fill the time in a productive way and get us through the day.

Today I plan to share with you the 5 activities we go back to ALL THE TIME.  These are not hard to set up, and offer lots of open ended playing/crafting.

Magna Tiles

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OK, I've mentioned these in so many of my posts (and I don't have that many!), but, seriously, we use these ALL THE TIME.  They are the perfect for preschoolers.  I think one of the reasons I like these so much is that this is something that Emma is able to be successful in.  They are so easy to build with. We normally just build on the floor, but there are lots of other options as well.  These tiles stick to the garage door, so they can easily become an outside activity. I saw on Instagram where someone cut up a cereal box in the shapes of these tiles and created a puzzle with them.  Here, you see that we built off of the fridge.  This just gave a little variety and 'newness' to an old activity.  

Rice Bin

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I talked about how much we love our rice bin in 5 Ideas for Sensory Fun.  This really is our go-to.  We love it.  Sometimes this only lasts for about five minutes, but sometimes Emma will play in the rice bin for an entire hour.  You can get all of the necessary materials at the dollar tree. All you need is a plastic tub, rice, measuring cups and spoons, ice trays, scoops, funnels, foam letters.  We especially love these handy scoopers from Learning Resources. Anything you want to add in is perfectly fine! 

Painting

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We paint at least once a week, if not multiple times a week.  This is just a good way to get our creative juices flowing.  Sometimes Emma does this while I am doing chores, but sometimes I sit down and paint with her.  She, of course, loves when I sit with her the best.  I'm always surprised by the conversations that take place when we are sitting next to each other creating.

Here are a few tips:

  • Offer 4-6 colors
  • Spread out a vinyl table cloth underneath
  • Set out one paint brush for each color paint
  • Give suggestions if they ask what they should paint, but don't give any instructions. Let this be there thing.
  • Always ask them about their painting in the end.  "Tell me about your painting!" "I love your painting. What's your favorite part?" "My favorite part is..."

Puzzles

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This one is not very open ended, but puzzles are a go-to for me when I need to do something and Emma is right under foot.  Puzzles normally distract her for at least 2 minutes...just kidding...they last longer than that.  We love all sorts of puzzles.  This is a great activity for fine motor skills, cognitive development, problem solving skills, and SELF ESTEEM.  Emma is always so PROUD when she works hard to figure out how a puzzle fits together.

**Side note-Emma did not enjoy puzzles for the longest time.  The ONLY way she became interested in them was from a game on the Kindle.  No kidding.  I think this helped her learn the concept of fitting the pieces together.  Once she mastered this on the tablet, we moved back to floor puzzles.  Now that is her first choice.  It just took a little work and encouragement to get there.**

Art Box

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I've shared about our Art Box on Instagram before (click here to follow if you don't already).  This is an easy concept.  I have a box of art supplies. Emma gets to use the art supplies however she wishes.  She always has a new idea.  My only rule when we have this out is that everything has to stay in one place, usually on the coffee table or kitchen table.

This is what is in the box:

  • construction paper
  • paper plates
  • scissors
  • glue
  • popsicle sticks
  • googly eyes
  • yarn
  • plastic straws
  • toilet paper rolls
  • foam sheets
  • anything random I feel like recycling

I hope this gives you some ideas for those days at home that are dragging. If your toddler or preschooler don't like some of these activities, pick something else.  Just always have at least five activities you can pull on on those long days.  It helps SO MUCH!

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Process Art for Preschoolers

Process art is a favorite activity around here...really any kind of art is a favorite.  But today we are talking about process art.  Process art is creating art without having an end 'product' in mind. It develops so many different skills.  I have seen first hand how process art just really encourages creativity in a preschooler, and that is my favorite part.  We live in a world where we are told how things should look, so I think teaching kids to be creative plays a huge role in teaching them to think for themselves. It is an opportunity for them to decide what they want their art to look like.

There are so many great ideas out there for different ways to incorporate process art.  Just do a quick pinterest or google search and you will immediately have tons of ideas at your fingertips. Our favorite recent process art experience gave us a full afternoon of fun.  Here are the details:

What you need:

  • butcher paper
  • paper plates (for paint)
  • paint (we only used 3 colors)
  • ice cream cones
  • forks
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What to do:

Set all materials out and let your child create.  The point of this is to not really give any instructions.  The only instruction I give is that the entire piece of paper needs to be filled. As you can see in the next picture, sometimes we start out really slow.

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After encouragement, Emma almost always gets really involved in the 'process'. She really enjoyed this out of the box process art experience.  I really enjoyed watching her creative process come to life. 

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I really encourage you to set up a process art experience for your kiddos.  This was a great afternoon activity that we all enjoyed. 

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