Unschooling | Why I Avoid Homeschooling and Public Schools

I always knew I would never send my children to public school. Schools have a way of making people lazy. And stupid.

Maybe that rubbed you the wrong way or maybe you agree whole heartedly. Let me start off again by saying this.

A child is already a natural learner. The entirety of their days are spent questioning, exploring, and learning how to interact in their environments.  They have a self propelled need to understand how to communicate with those around them and figure out what works, and what doesn’t.

The moment you send them off to school that will all fade away.

boy disheartened by life, no motivation or fulfillment

For by putting someone else in charge of their learning you are telling them they are incapable of learning on their own. You are instilling a reverse effect of a great characteristic we all seek in others. To be self starters, to think for yourself.

What is the first thing children learn from school?

First, that learning is separate from living. “You come to school to learn,” we tell him, as if the child hadn’t been learning before, as if living were out there and learning were in here, and there were no connection between the two. Secondly, that he cannot be trusted to learn and is no good at it. Everything we teach about reading, a task far simpler than many that the child has already mastered, says to him, “If we don’t make you read, you won’t, and if you don’t do it exactly the way we tell you, you can’t”. In short, he comes to feel that learning is a passive process, something that someone else does to you, instead of something you do for yourself.

School is Bad for Children by John Holt

This is not what I intend for my children. I believe in them and I want them to believe in themselves.

Why Homeschooling Didn’t Work

I spent hours a day for months at a time figuring out curriculums. Researching all the websites, I was filled with passion and hope for our families learning endeavors.

But there was a big problem.

My kids weren’t interested in what I was teaching them. After a few minutes they were bored. And I was frustrated. There were growing conflicts in the family after just a few weeks of our miserable homeschooling experience.

The big flaw in this, I started to realize, was that I was just bringing school into my home. Didn’t I want better for my children? Didn’t I trust in their learning capability?

I wanted to validate their interest, not force my ingrained ways on them.

Hadn’t I myself, spent years unlearning self sabotaging habits from my childhood and early adulthood?

So why was I replacing their natural curiosity with a curriculum, their own beautiful creativity with an art lesson plan, and their own wired instinct to learn with memorization?!

So back to researching. And I found Unschooling. Instantly I was hooked. Enthralled, I couldn’t stop reading accounts of children who were in different stages and parents who had gone through it and were living in it. After, I felt a great pressure release from my chest.

I also found through my research that there were so many former teachers who were going down this path. It was amazing to hear their input and reasoning. I was especially inspired by Nicole from Unschoolers.org and her story.

So What Is Unschooling?

For us it is simple. It is interest-based learning. Child led interest with parental guidance on how to go about it in the most fun and successful way possible. I have found my children are already interested in most of the things other children “have” to learn.

By finding activities that activate this “learning mode” we spend most of our days playing, exploring, and learning their newfound interest together. On any given day I will encounter a storm of Why’s, How’s, What’s and Can I’s. How I approach and answer these questions leads us down amazing paths of discovery.

unschooling kids, playful learning, teach children at home
The kids cleaning their treasures from a beach exploration day. After cleaning them we identified them by searching on the phone and comparing pictures in Childrens Sea Life books. They even went on to create a multi medium painting of the ocean for me that included sand, shells, sea grass and paint. Talk about playful learning.

Let me make this clear. Unschooling is not Unparenting.

In fact, I would say it is more along the lines of hardcore parenting. Starting Unschooling is TOUGH. You don’t get to rely on courses to tell you what to do (though I do get guidance from quite a few), and it takes an immense amount of patience, trust, and dedication.

Now every single part of our day is a learning experience. I find teaching moments in every part of our day. And our days have become full of adventure and exploration.

You may like my post on How we use the beach to Unschool

Through this Unschooling Life, I have found hard rules now seem very limiting and encumbering. Especially when it comes to how we naturally learn. So instead, we are living by a new rule: Principles over Discipline. I love how Pam at LivingJoyfully describes it.

This was and still can be very challenging. At first it was a maze and quite uncomfortable. But that is all for a different blog post.

One thing I will say now is, it is a constant learning experience for everyone involved.

This way of Unschooling is teaching me to live intentionally and purposefully. To think about Why I am asking something of them, or for them to act a certain way. And most of the time when I take the time to answer all these Whys, I find that it is not something I need to be worried about or try to control at all.

And I love every time my children impose these “why moments”. For they force me to expand my mind and teach me something.

That’s right my children are teaching me.

Teaching me to live with wild abandon again.

To live without societies judgements holding me back from doing things that bring me joy. And thus enabling me to set out on a path of A Life I Believe In.

These children of mine are full of life and wonder. And all day they set out to share that light with others, and are learning how to make it fit in with the ways of the world.

My biggest hope for them is to stay this alive. Not to live as someone else (even me) has told them to. To live boldly, freely, with full hearts and minds.

Welcome to Our Unschooling Journey

adventure family travel with kids

Want to Follow along? Make sure to subscribe to watch our story unfold and get helpful Unschooling Tips and Real Life Experiences.

Sea Life Park | Great Family Activity for Young Kids | Oahu Hawaii

We have been to Sea Life Park a few times now. We were lucky enough to snag an annual membership for the entire family, less than the price of normal tickets, for Black Friday. Since the park is supposed to focus on educational and interactive programs, I figured it would be a great unschooling adventure for the family.  

When you first get to the park, you walk down a paved area that spirals down around a large tank. Here you will find Shark, Manta Ray, and other large native Hawaiian fish.

We take our time in this area as the park is small and the kids could sit and watch the sharks swim by all day. Most of the sharks in here are quite beat up and have noticeable deformities. As you will find with most of the animals through Sea Life Park.

unschooling field trip to sea life park, girl looking at shark, oahu hawaii family activity with children, bold image
“Mano” is the Hawaiian word for shark, and they are considered one of the protectors of the islands. 
During our visit we learned that the park is an animal rescue and rehabilitation center, and that most of the animals are on a quick heal and release rotation. That changed my outlook entirely and made me feel much better about the park.

The tanks are small and seem a bit run down for the price of the park and extra exhibits. But during both of my visits the animals seemed well- loved and cared for.

penguin and trainer at sea life park, family activities with young kids, travel oahu hawaii, unschooling, world schooling
Aloha can mean both hello, goodbye and love, but can also be used to convey kindness, mercy, and compassion.

After you leave the shark area you come to the turtle tank. At certain times of the day you can purchase a small cup of vegetables to feed the large honu. There seem to be a lot of turtles in such a small area, but the tank seemed maintained and it was a thrill for the children to feed them.

sea turtle honu at sea life park, family activities with young kids, travel oahu hawaii, unschooling, world schooling
The Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle, known as “Honu,” symbolizes good luck, endurance and long life.

I would recommend snorkeling along the islands for a natural experience with these amazing creatures. You can read my post about our favorite snorkeling spot for children at Hanauma Bay here.

sea turtle honu at sea life park, family activities with young kids, travel oahu hawaii, unschooling, world schooling
The Honu can show its form in that of a guardian spirit, or Amakua

The Bird Sanctuary is The Best Spot in Sea Life Park

My kids absolutely loved the bird sanctuary here at Sea Life Park. It is a medium size enclosure that has hundreds of different kinds of birds (mainly lovebirds ands cockatiels) flying free. They have honey and bird feed sticks you can hold so they will eat, quite literally, right out of your hands.

bird sanctuary at sea life park, family activities with young kids, travel oahu hawaii, unschooling, world schooling
 E ʻai kākou or Let’s eat! in the Hawaiian Language

As someone who has been bit by one of these little rascals (right on the nose!!) I was super nervous to go in here with the kids. But that is why I love being a mother and adventuring with my children. They get me out of my comfort zone. We can start small with bird sanctuaries. I am sure it will only get worse as they get older!

Luckily for me these guys were very relaxed and used to people roaming their environment, sticking there hands in their little bird faces.

Cooper even got lucky and had a lovebird become his BFF for the day. Willow was extremely jealous, but try as she might, she couldn’t get a bird to ride on her head.

bird sanctuary at sea life park, family activities with young kids, travel oahu hawaii, unschooling, world schooling
Just call this guy Hei Hei !!
Heihei” in Hawaiian means ‘disturbance’ or an ‘interruption from the norm.’

Another great spot in Sea Life Park is the Discovery Reef Touch Pool

unschooling children at sea life park, family activities with young kids, travel oahu hawaii

Here the kids can touch and feed a number of fish and even watch a shark feeding. Just walk up and grab a piece of lettuce to get the fish to come over!

It can get a little crowded as this part is only open a few times through the day. It is a worthwhile spot to visit though. My husband may have enjoyed this part of Sea Life Park the best. But he’s a fish lover.

The Dolphin Show

We enjoyed seeing the dolphins and the kids loved how smart they were. Seeing them talk and wave were a joy but the real fun was when they would throw their trainers out of the water and take them around the tank.

dolphin show at sea life park, family activities with young kids, travel oahu hawaii
The Hawaiian name for dolphin is nai’a

They even introduced a one of a kind dolphin and whale hybrid, what they called a Wholphin! I really wish I would have paid more attention to this as it was fascinating. As intrigued as I was, I only caught about half of her presentation. Kids always pick the perfect time to need something.

The only thing that threw me off about this was how lonely she seemed. She was kept separate from the other dolphins and when we walked by her tank she swam in circles peeking her head up at the other tanks every time she went by.

dolphin swimming at sea life park, family activities with young kids, travel oahu hawaii
Nai’a at Sea Life Park

Did I depress you? Sorry about that. Zoo’s and Aquariums always seem to do that to me too.

But nevertheless, we had a great experience with the kids here. They were able to learn quite a bit about the animals and we loved the interactive parts. We watched seal shows, learned about the native marine life and I got to talk to the kids about animal treatment, what they thought of how Sea Life Park handled it, and how they would do it differently. Deep stuff.

There is even a little playground in the center of the park. And You Know the kids gravitated to it off and on and over and over again.

There is so much more you can do here for additional charges that we haven’t done yet. You can swim with and feed the dolphins in their tanks. Feed the monk seals, and more.

For food their is a little outdoor restaurant called Pinky’s that seems to have hosted a multitude of a famous people, as their pictures adorn all the walls. They serve the typical eats like burgers and hot dogs, beer and other beverages.

We pack a lunch most times or go to one of our favorite spots down the road BYO Bowls.

If you haven’t subscribed yet, then make sure to add your email below to keep up with our adventures!

Have you been to Sea Life Park? What is a favorite marine animal experience you have had?

Discovery Center | Fun Family Activities | Oahu Hawaii

As far as family activities, there are more than beaches and hiking when in Hawaii. If you find yourself on Oahu and craving a day of air conditioned fun, where the kids can be entertained, than let me show you a little slice of heaven.

What To Know

Tuesday through Friday…..9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday……10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Closed Mondays 

ADMISSION

The Discovery Center is a bit pricey with general admission running $12 for anyone over 1 year. If you are local or military it is $10. Is it worth it for the price? Look on and judge for yourself.

The only other part that is a total bummer is the outside of the building. There is a homeless encampment directly out the doors and across the street and it can make you feel a bit uneasy right off the bat. Sadly, you will find that through most of downtown and Oahu in general.

Once inside you will be transported to another world of magical discoveries.

The first room you come to in the center is one of my favorite. It offers an immersive water play area that also has a gated tot section. Here the kids get to learn about nature, rainforests, natural resources, and how to take care of our environment.

water play hands on science unschooling group educational learning childrens discovery center oahu hawaii

There are clouds that rain down the mountains and travel to the lower pond. Here kids can fish and play hands-on with ocean and water related toys.

water play hands on group educational learning childrens discovery center oahu hawaii

There are splash guard aprons to wear if you don’t want to worry about your littles getting to wet. There will be splashing. This is also a great environment to learn about sharing and cooperating with other children.

There is a tree house the kids can climb to look down on it all and tons of little interactive activities. We may have spent way too much time playing with the smoke dome. This room closes earlier than the rest of the center so make sure to come early and make it your first stop.

Once you leave this room there is a multitude of other rooms with hands on play to explore.

family fun hands on science unschooling kids educational learning childrens discovery center oahu hawaii

There is fun mirrors, magnetic play, hidden rooms, a room to play indoor baseball, a stage to dance on that gets shown on a big screen. And that is just the beginning of the kids activities.

family fun hands on science unschooling kids educational learning childrens discovery center oahu hawaii

This room held thousands of these blocks to build whatever you could imagine. There were bins full of humongous blocks, small blocks, magnetic blocks, and building blocks.

While the boys built and destroyed, my daughter and I took our turn at being a vet. This little room had clipboards with pictures of animals in the room. There was info showing what was wrong with them and how to treat them. We would find the animal and administer shots and medicine or give them a good teeth or ear cleaning. She loved it.

family fun hands on activities unschooling kids educational learning childrens discovery center oahu hawaii

There were many other rooms in this area where kids can be a grown-up for a day, and learn how a community functions. They can dress up and play a fireman, a banker, a mechanic, a doctor, and more.

The kids loved dressing up as little chefs and cooking for us. We sat down at the diner and ordered food from the menu. The menus showed pictures of what the meal consisted of and our chefs were able to go to the pantry and find all the ingredients. There was a stove for cooking and all the pots, pans and utensils needed for a kids kitchen.

In the doctors room, there were babies to take care of, beds for sick daddies to get shots, and even an x-ray machine.

The kids knew all about grocery shopping and were eager to show they could take care of the food picking. The cart was loaded with fish, ice cream, and chocolate milk. Apparently that is all you need.

Dressing up as a fireman is tough work. It may be a job in itself. Cooper loved putting on the whole outfit and running around pretending everything was on fire. There is also a big “truck” to sit in, drive, and climb around in the back. The area was even complete with a slide down pole. Though it is blocked from the top for obvious safety reasons. Dang.

Once fireman duty was over it was time to learn how to keep up a car as a mechanic. I had lots of experience with broken cars when I was young from driving my first beater. Where was my little mechanic then?!

When it is time to get out from under the cars they can go up in the sky! Cooper made the cutest pilot in the plane room, and willow pushed the beverage cart down the aisle to serve the seated guests.

The huge bubbles is the main attraction for our family. At one point during our second visit my husband actually said, can we just get to the bubbles already! Yes babe, lets go blow some bubbles!

In this area you can also learn about what makes living in Hawaii so special. From the plantation days to modern Hawaii, there is a lot to learn and discover.

Explore a rainbow of cultures, countries and celebrations from different parts of the world. Take a trip to far away places and experience how life is similar and different in other areas of the world.

A great family activity, there is so much to see and do here. I recommend making a day of it. We came the first time when rain cancelled some of our outdoor family plans and we couldn’t have been happier.

With rooms for all ages you can bring the whole family. Even mom and dad will have a blast here and I promise you will fill up your camera roll with all the cuteness.

family activities toddler fun hands on  unschooling kids educational learning childrens discovery center oahu hawaii

Have you been to the Discovery Center or one like it? We are always looking for childrens museums and family activities all around the world so don’t hesitate to share your favorites!

Bishop Museum Family Field Trip with Young Children

The Bishop Museum Is a great experience for the whole family. Immerse yourself in Hawaiian culture, History, Art, and Science with kid friendly hands on activities in a beautiful setting.

The Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum located in the Kaliki district of Honolulu is quite impressive. The museum itself is stunning. Built in the Richardsonian Romanesque architectural style and is home to over 24 million natural history specimens and Polynesian cultural artifacts. 

There is something for everybody in the family here at the different buildings and immaculate grounds.  There is a Planetarium (the oldest in Polynesia), The Sports Hall of Fame, Art and History in the Hawaiian and Pacific Hall, Science Adventure Center, Libraries and Archives, and Native Hawaiian Gardens.  

Before we go any further though I would like to say maybe I am not accustomed to Museums because I thought it quite odd but intriguing all the creepy, morbid, and nude “gems” we found throughout our time here. The kids and I were fascinated around every corner to say the least. Be Forewarned.

The first part of the museum we explored was the planetarium. An educational and research facility devoted to astronomical sciences. They had great hands-on activities for the kids including a small sand bin to shape the earth and build mountains and ravines, that was even equipped with a water shower to fill the oceans you create. There was also small robot arms to control and gravity bowls to throw weighted balls in. Not to mention the planetarium itself!

After that we headed over to the Pacific and Hawaiian Complex Hall that starts off immediately impressive with large hanging marine life like a massive shark and even larger Complete sperm whale skeleton and life like mold. 

These structures were once dubbed “the noblest buildings of Honolulu” and it is easy to see why.  The walls are adorned with a multitude of gorgeous Koa wood display cases. Today this wood is worth more than the original Bishop Museum buildings! 

Each little divet showcases different aspects of Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders history. You will find hand carved statues, replicas of the old ways of living, and plenty of things to make your kids oooh and aahhh. 

My son especially loved seeing all the wayfarers, ships, and other water craft. The collection of tools, old photos, and showcases of expeditions uncovering the old boats was expansive and instilled a sense of wonder in my little ocean lovers. 

There was plenty to keep my touchy kids needs met here also with lots of interactive displays.  There were microscopes to look in, string to weave, ships to build, dress-up in native clothing, and pattern blocking. 

After you wind your way through the four stories you will find yourself on the top floor where you will finally get to come face to face with the behemoth of the sperm whale they pieced back together from the ocean floor. It was truly impressive to see and my kids couldn’t get enough.

When we made our way to the little building that housed the art exhibits things got a little odd but we laughed a lot and thoroughly enjoyed the little bit of time we spent in the dark rooms filled with odd little and big findings.  The art ranged from graphic photos and statues, to large pieces that made you ponder their existence. 

After all the excitement we settled down some in a breezy shaded pavilion in the Native Hawaiian Garden. We were the only ones there so I didn’t mind my kids running about like crazies after all the quiet observing they had just underwent. I decided to skip the cafe and instead we chowed on our favorite quick fuel. The Perfect Bar, oranges, and bottles of water. This is not an ad. I am just seriously in love with these organic protein bars. 

And finally we made it to our favorite part of the day.  The science adventure center.  Designed as a learning center for children, it includes tons of interactive exhibits focused on marine science, volcanology and other related sciences. 

Right when you walk in you are greeted with a large wall covered in shiny disc that show you the impact of air by turning the windmill and  beating on a drum. The kids Loved it. 

You will also find all kinds of creepy crawlies like beetles, insects, birds, and butterflies. This was one of the oddest encounters but my children were quite fascinated.  The hands presenting dead birds. I was happy to get on to the Volcano play room right ahead. 

The volcano had caves, a small slide and when you made you way to the top it was interactive when you pushed buttons to see the effects of gases and geysers.  This was definitely geared to the younger crowd though. I can’t imagine older children being nearly as excited as we were. 

We also got to walk through tunnels of black light painted walls that seemed other worldly that led to a cavern seeming room that made you feel as if you were under the ocean.  Here we met at the “hot spot” and got to watch a live showcase of pouring hot lava.  I learned that my Leo Gemstone Peridot, is actually gem grade lava crystals! Fits right in with my fiery nature…

All-in-all, it was an incredible learning adventure for my children and I.  There was so much to do and see and the kids had a blast exploring the beautiful museum as much as I did. I can see why this is at the top of the must do lists of things to do on Oahu with kids! 

Visit their website for up to date hours, prices, and exhibits.

Have you been to the Museum? If not, I hope this post made you want to go! Let us know if you enjoyed it as much as we did!

Learn + Play Beach Days| Unschooling

Some of the Best Dreams are made in the Sand and Sun

Beach days can be much more than just play and relaxation in the sun.  There are a multitude of ways to make it a learning experience for your toddlers and preschoolers.

After tons of research into trying to find curriculum for unschooling, I realized that was quite an oxymoron, and I would probably have to look at this homeschooling thing another way.  Thus begins my story of hoarding all the knowledge from as many different homeschooling stories, families, scenarios, and learning methods as I can find. 

One little curriculum I am very glad I purchased is called The Peaceful Preschool and it has a multitude of great ways to incorporate playful learning into your days. 

I went with the Ocean Guide because I have always been a beach baby myself and I don’t plan on ever being too far from the ocean for too long.

Here is some of the ways I use the simple curriculum to teach my babes phonics, counting, fine motor skills, large motor skills, practical life skills, and art all at a leisurely day at the beach and evening at home. 

Just playing in the sand and sun is a great way to get out the energies of my always overly energetic children and to build bonding relationships.

homeschool kids bonding at beach
Brother and Sister Playing Happily Together is Always Good Learning

It also builds on 

  • Physical development: Children playing with sand and water are practicing eye-hand coordination and using fine motor skills to scoop, sift, funnel, and pour.
  • Social and emotional skills: The beach is such a great place for my children to practice cooperative play and sharing. It also helps them explore and enjoy the sensory experience of manipulating fluid and solid materials. Digging in sand or splashing water also provides an acceptable way for them to vent anger or frustration when the cooperating gets a little too tough.

After letting them have some much needed wild and free time where I get to sit back and see what kind of things are coming to them naturally we had some guided play time. There are lots of fun ways to promote learning without them knowing they are doing anything but playing.

children learning about fish in homeschool day at beach
Getting an Up-Close Experience with A Fish Caught in Net
  • Phonics Tracing letters in the sand, arranging shells into letters, pointing out and finding things around you and their letters ( what do you see that starts with B) 
  • Counting seashells or other treasures, asking them to build 3 sand castles, or dig 5 holes to put 2 seashells in. Count the people around you or point out that there are 3 girls, or 6 other children swimming.  Finding numbers is easy. Sneak in a few counting exercises throughout your time on the beach instead of all at once so they don’t get burnt out or catch on to your sneaky teachers ways.
  • Fine Motor Skills will come naturally at the beach.  Try giving them funnels and measuring cups, burying small items in the sand or asking them to place seashells on sand castles, build shapes and letters or numbers with shells or small toys
  • Large Motor Skills Fly a kite, building sand castles, play with beach balls, have them put on their own floats and go for a swim, pretend to fly like a seagull, or inch across the sand like a sea turtle
  • Practical Life Skills have them help pack the beach bag and decide what should go, fold the towels, discuss beach safety, have them apply sunscreen themselves or say the body parts of where you are applying and why it is important, pick up trash found on beach and take home to recycle or throw away, check the tides and discuss low tide and high tide

Our favorite afternoons on the beach are simple strolls collecting treasures. We love to bring a basket and find as many different varieties of specimens as possible. We also collect sand to bring home for lots of different play and science experiments. 

Baskets full of Beach Treasures

Once home we will look through ocean encyclopedias or use the home computer to identify all the fun things we found.  

After we know what we are working with we mix a cleaning solution of warm water and dish soap or a touch of bleach and grab a toothbrush or straw cleaner to scrub our treasures clean. 

We use the shells, sea grass, broken bits of coral, and other fun treasures as painting and art materials, for wind chimes, fun class materials for forming letters, numbers and shapes. 

Baking the sand makes for a great science and kitchen lesson in one. Learning about temperature safety, while learning kitchen etiquette and cleanliness, hypothesizing about how long it will take to go from wet to dry, and guessing whether it would burn or not, were all part of the fun in drying and sanitizing the sand for future play. 

On this day we glued some of the sand we prepped to a piece of paper and then painted the ocean and sky. We also glued some small pieces of shells and seaweed after it was all dry. In retrospect we should have painted first then glued the sand but that was part of our learning process and I didn’t mind that I got to explain that to them as we learned it together. 

Learning at the beach is really quite easy and there are so many options.  I like to take it slow and not do to much in one day, or push to much at one time as it seems to fustrate everybody and take away from the learning and just plain happiness of the experience. 

So grab up your kiddos and get to the beach for a great day of playful learning!

Let me know some of your favorite beach day activities and if you homeschool I would love to hear how you incorporate learning in your nature play!

Lazy Rainy Day Play Doh Experiments That Are Incredibly Easy

Some days I have no patience and a zero mess tolerance. These simple Play Doh creations are extremely easy to make, have simple and safe on hand ingredients, keep my children engaged in a creative sensory learning environment, and is hassle free when it comes to a quick clean up!

close up of boy holding homemade play doh and step by step instructions of how to make it

Since we have adopted a less is more attitude lately we don’t have a lot of toys or extras around the house. This minimalist lifestyle has not hindered us a bit. In fact, we are able to find so many different ways of getting creative and find most of our time happy and discovering outside. Unfortunately, rainy days happen even in paradise and this mama doesn’t always have a plan or patience to quite deal with 3 energetic little ones, especially when there is something I am obsessing over to get done.

You don’t need a plan, patience, or a lot of time

to get your kids in a good place of engaged, creative learning so you can sneak some time for work, relax, or play. I personally end up doing all three every time we do these fun experiments. The kids and I get to connect through fun sensory play together before I sit and zone out watching them and wonder at their ways, before finally letting them have at it while I do housework, write, or catch up with my photography or blog.
All it takes is finding some simple kitchen and/or nature ingredients and gathering a few household supplies.

Supplies

  • Large Mixing Bowls
  • Rubber Spatulas
  • Bed Sheet
  • Beach Toys
  • Sensory Toys (beads, sticks, etc)

Ingredients

  • Flour
  • Cornstarch
  • Baby Powder
  • Sand
  • Oils ( coconut, olive, baby, etc)
  • Clear Handsoap
  • Conditioner

Does that look like a lot of ingredients to you? Pick 1 solid and 1 liquid and have at it. I find myself looking at all the perfect moms and there perfect play-doh recipes on pinterest and I love them for all of the amazing inspiration they give me… BUT

I’m just not that bright, colorful, perfect mama everyday

engaged learning and hands on fun with homemade play doh
Hands on Fun

But my kids don’t care how pretty play-doh is. They care that we made it. They care that we get to play with it together. And most of all they care that they are free to make messes, build, and destroy their creations at their own whims.

We started with our large mixing bowls and rubber spatulas, 1 solid and 1 liquid.Our first attempt and favorite was inspired by this post for 2 Ingredient Fluffy Cloud Dough from Southern Plate. Since I’m not usually one for measuring but prefer to go by eyeing and testing I figured we couldn’t go wrong with this recipe.

For this soft fluffy fun stuff all we did was throw corn starch in a bowl then add some cheap conditioner and start mixing. It always starts off a little crazy and you will think you surely did something wrong. Once you start seeing it clump together just start kneading with your hands and Viola. Play-Doh. I’m not sure if this is magic or science but we are going with both for now.

My daughter picked pink strawberry suave since she is slightly obsessed with pink and my son picked a blue suave conditioner that smelled like ocean breeze. These actually weren’t bad and made the end result a soft, cool to the touch, faintly sweet smelling concoction of fun.

Some of our experiments did not turn out as easy but were still pretty manageable. Like I said, you will come to a point in most of these recipes where you wonder how this will work. When we mixed corn meal and baby oil it was pretty sticky at first. Then we added some hand soap and it was worse. Until it wasn’t. The oils will absorb after enough kneading and even this ridiculous mess of yellow that seems to be completely covering my hands worked up nicely. 

The possibilities seem pretty endless when it comes to experimenting and playing. We loved making pumpkins, snowmen, animals, and shapes. The kids especially loved when I made something and they could destroy in some hilarious new way.

To make sure to keep it an easy to clean and stress free environment for you, just throw down a bed sheet. Our wrinkly sheet from the garage was a wonder and shook out easy outside. Bonus if it is raining for sweet mother nature will clean up the rest for you. It is also extremely easy to sweep off a tile floor.

Snowman made out of homemade play dough, photography of childhood imagination
Snowman in July … Why Not
beach toys for play with diy play dough, creative childhood play
No Shirt, No Shoes, No Worries .. Just Play Kinda Day

The point of this post isn’t to show you how to make play-doh though. It is to let you know that it doesn’t have to be perfect. It can be a little messy and unmeasured and you still can’t fail. Because what it is really about is finding a brief moment to step away from “the rest” and connect with the kids.

For me on this day I was having a rough go. I’m not sure we even got dressed. I had a few million things that I wanted to accomplish and felt the weight of it all with the pressure of being cooped up inside on this rainy day. When I started taking it out on the kids I knew I needed to cope with what I could. The world would wait like always.

20 minutes and a few things thrown together from around the house and I was in a much calmer state of mind. The kids were engaged and happy and I was able to chip away at the mountain of wants, needs, and goals that will always be there.

To look back and see the pictures of my smiling happy babies I get so emotional. Once upon a time I wouldn’t have been able to step out of whatever situation I was obsessing over and would have resented the time the kids were taking from me. I am so grateful for the days I am strong enough to look at a situation and know it can wait just a few minutes.

image of a smiling happy boy
smiling happy girl with bright beautiful blue eyes

Because these smiling faces right here are what it is all for anyway.