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17 mess-free summer craft ideas for kids

From paper plate bunnies to macaroni necklaces, there's something for everyone.

mess-free summer craft

Summer is here and I'm so excited to bring on the crafts. But if quarantining at home with my kids has taught me anything, it's that crafts are fun, but they are much better when they don't require a huge clean up. I'm not complaining, but if I have to scrub paint off the wall one more time, I won't be happy. If you're looking for screen-free activities that don't create a lot of mess, you've come to the right place.

Try these 17 mess-free crafts to develop and hone your little one's creativity skills:



1. Macaroni necklaces

@macaronikid

Kids can turn their favorite food into a work of art.

2. Bead necklaces + keychains

joann.com

Crafts are much better when you can wear them.

3. Color by number

@serene.creative.art

Learn colors and numbers at the same time.

4. Shoe lace projects

@okuloncesiogretmenlerinet

Turn old shoe strings into a craft that also teaches fine motor skills.

5. Paper plate bunnies

joann.com

Bunnies are much more fun when made of plates.

6. Basket decorating

Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

Decorate your favorite storage basket in beautiful summer colors.

7. Tissue paper animals

@cognitivelearningtools

Kids will have tons of fun making animals with tissue paper.

8. Bubbly wrap noise making

@junior_j_at_play

Pop goes the bubble wrap!

9. Rainbow cards

joann.com

Make cards for family and friends you haven't seen in ages.

10. Sponge ring pulls

@play.with.arda

Cut slits into a sponge to hide small objects.

11. Paper chains

@magiclittlemama

Here's a challenge: See who can make the longest paper chain.

12. Spoon art

@lifewith3_smallwoods

Don't just stop with one spoon, create an entire spoon family.

13. Stick wind chimes

joann.com

Wind chimes are fun for every age to create and you can actually use them outside.

14. Paper bird wings

@ureadyteddy

Playing dress up has never been cooler.

15. Yarn butterflies

joann.com

Older kids will enjoy this slightly advanced craft that takes a little more focus.

16. Spirit frames

joann.com

Create summer frames to display new words or sentences learned (or just a positive message!).

17. Felt animal masks

Jessica Rockowitz on Unsplash

Bring out their inner animal with these simple masks.


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One of the main reasons we launched the Motherly Shop is to help take some of that stress away. We've tracked down the best brands and products developed by people (and in many cases, women!) that truly work to serve the needs of real mamas, especially throughout the overwhelming transition into motherhood.

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14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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10 photos to take on baby’s first day that you'll cherish forever

You'll obsess over these newborn baby pictures.

Bethany Menzel: Instagram + Blog

As you're preparing for baby's birth, we bet you're dreaming of all of the amazing photos you'll take of your precious new babe. As a professional photographer and mama, I have some tips for newborn photos you'll want to capture.

Here are the 10 photos you will want to take on baby's first day.

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