Rainy Day Fun: Puddle Painting


We have had lots of rain here these past couple weeks.  Many of the storms have been thunderstorms, keeping us indoors, but on the days we could get out, we’ve had lots of fun puddle painting!


Rainy Day Fun: Puddle Painting


Want to try it for yourself?

First you need some puddles, either provided by rain or by the garden hose.

Then, with a bit of sidewalk chalk and creativity… you have all you need for some beautiful puddle painting!

puddle painting -- fun rainy day activity


We have used wet sidewalk chalk to decorate the driveway before, but when you have a layer of water sitting there, the chalk swirls and blends in a beautiful display of color.

The pictures really don’t do it justice.


puddle painting


This simple activity had us busy for over an hour of much needed time outdoors this week.


Do you have a favorite rainy day activity?

I’d love to hear about it!


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Check out our other sidewalk chalk ideas!

Nature Study: Going on a Bug Hunt!


Do your kids like bugs as much as mine do?

For this week’s summer nature study, we’re going on a bug hunt!

Nature Study:  Going on a Bug Hunt!


What’s great about this is that you don’t have to go far to go on a bug hunt.  A simple trip around the backyard will provide you with a variety of creepy crawlies to check out and explore, as long as you slow down and really look.

My daughter was thrilled to find these “rainbow beetles” shortly after we started our nature walk.  A quick peek in one of our bug books verified that they are really Japanese Beetles.

My little scientist enjoyed watching these colorful bugs for quite a while.


bug hunt nature study


Our next find was actually right on our back porch.

I loved watching my 6 year-old turn to the picture index in the back of his beetle identification book to locate its name.  I have to say it was a new one to me, but he remembered seeing its picture there before.  Kids have amazing memories!


identifying bugs in bug study


When going on a bug hunt, don’t forget to keep an eye out for evidence that bugs are around!  You might find chewed up leaves on a plant, a mound of dirt from an ant hill, or even an exoskeleton!


cicada found in bug hunt


This cicada exoskeleton led to a whole discussion of how many insects molt and change over time as they grow.  We even had to stop exploring for just a bit to find some pictures online of a cicada molting. That’s the great part of a nature study — there are always more questions that come up and you get to discover those answers together.  Sometimes those questions lead to a mini unit for us in homeschool.


Finally, we found several of these brown beetles during our bug hunt; they are my son’s favorites.

beetle in bug study


After using our magnifying glasses to get a closer look, counting their legs (6) and reviewing their body parts, he decided he had to keep a couple overnight as “pets.”

My kids are always keeping bugs as pets for short periods of time.  They used to get my good storage containers out to do so, which always made me so happy.  (Note the sarcasm in that statement.)  I have finally come up with a solution:  I poked holes in lids of several old, clear, plastic Ziplock containers.  I wrote “bugs” on the sides with permanent marker and stuck them in the lower kitchen drawer next to the good containers.  Now they grab these to use for bug homes instead.

Looking for a different alternative?  Amazon has tons of bug houses for your nature explorer to use, some even come with their own magnifying glasses.


Other items that you may want to take on your bug hunt:


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Check out our previous  Nature Study posts!



Make a Shark Cake!


For my son’s shark-themed birthday party, I was given the challenge of creating a 3-D shark cake.

With Shark Week coming up, I thought I’d share the how-to for those interested in creating their own “jawsome” cake.


How to make a shark cake


To make our shark cake, I used 2 boxed cake mixes, baking them together in a 16 inch round cake pan.  (Definitely the biggest cake I’ve ever made!)

Once the cake was completely cooled, I cut it into a yin-yang shape (or 2 paisleys side by side).*

One paisley shape became the base of the shark.

I cut the circular end off the second paisley and used icing to attach it on top to create the shark’s head.

I cut the end off the second paisley and then cut it in half horizontally to create the shark’s fins.


how to make a shark cake

(Note: I’m not a professional baker.)


Finally, I cut a triangular piece from what was left to make the shark’s tail and another to be its dorsal fin.  (Tip:  Use a serrated knife to tapper the sides of your triangles so they are thinner on top.  Definitely helps them stand up better!)

I used icing to stick the various fins and tail onto the shark’s base.  Then I covered the shark with blue icing.  (The birthday boy’s color of choice.)

The eyes were created by slices of marshmallows and a raisin stuck together with a toothpick.

The teeth are marshmallows that I cut into triangles with a pair of kitchen shears.

The tail was a bit of a problem at first…  That’s how I first discovered that tapering the triangle is crucial!  Since I made the cake the day before the party, I used a marshmallow on both sides of the tail as well to keep it up overnight.  A bit of icing easily covered the marshmallows.  If I did it again I would just save the tail piece and some icing and add the tail before guests came to the party.


How to make a shark cake



In all, I used 2 1/2 cans of icing for our cake.  If you use a 14 inch circular pan instead you might be able to go with just 2 cans of icing.  (It always helps to have extra on hand if needed.)



  • *Pound cakes are much easier to shape.  However, my son wanted a moist chocolate cake…  I have found that freezing the cake before trying to cut it really helps!
  • A foundant icing leaves a clean, smooth look and can really cover mistakes in the cake.  Again, not what the birthday boy wanted here.


Looking for more shark party ideas?

Be sure to check out our shark party games!

Shark Party Games


This past May we had a shark-themed birthday party for my son.  These shark party games would be perfect at a birthday party or for family fun during Shark Week. 


shark party games:  perfect for Shark Week or a shark birthday party


The first game we played was “Feed the Shark.”

I created this simple ball toss game with a large piece of cardboard.  (Want to see more detailed directions on how to make your own cardboard ball toss?  Check out our Feed the Monster game.)

To feed our shark I taped tissue paper tails to some pretend snowballs we have to make fish.  (I like to go with the idea that simple is best!)  You could also use plastic ball pit balls if you have some on hand, or just borrow a few rolled up pairs of socks.

simple shark ball toss game


The kids had fun tossing fish into the shark’s mouth.


"Feed the Shark" party game


And afterwards it made a fun picture opportunity!  (Perfect to print out and hand to party guests as a fun souvenir.)

kids shark party idea


Another very simple party game we played was “keep the shark away.”

I used a permanent marker to draw shark faces on blue balloons.  The kids had fun keeping the balloons in the air, not letting them touch their bodies, using pool noodles I had cut into pieces.

"Keep the shark away" party game


Next, a board we had out in the barn became a fun plank for our “Walk the Plank” game.

To give it a shark twist, I cut a piece off our blue plastic tablecloth and put it under the plank as water.  Then I made some shark fins.

shark party game:  walk the plank


Finally, we had fun saving the sharks and other sea animals in the Save the Sea Animals game I posted about earlier.

Save the sharks!  kids shark party game



There you have it, simple and fun shark-themed party games, just in time for Shark Week!