Simple Science: How to Make a Volcano with Kids

While we were studying rocks and volcanoes during one of our homeschool units, we made a simple volcano using household items. Making a volcano with kids is an easy and fun science activity. Little ones are fascinated by the fizzy “lava” and can’t wait to do the activity again.

How to Make a Volcano with Kids


  • small disposable paper cup
  • playdough
  • baking soda
  • vinegar
  • food coloring

There are lots of ways you can make a volcano, but I have found it easiest to have something you can place the baking soda in. I cut the small disposable paper cup in half, about 2 inches from the bottom.

Cut the cup

Next Jonah used some old playdough that was starting to dry out to make a base for the volcano. He placed the bottom part of the cup on top of the playdough blob.

build the volcano1

He used more playdough to build up around the base and make it look more like a volcano.

build the volcano2

Once the volcano is ready, take it outside. Pour a little baking soda into the top of the volcano.

baking soda

Pour vinegar in a cup.

pour vinegar

Add a drop or two of red food coloring.

red food coloring

Pour the red vinegar into the top of the volcano and watch what happens!

volcano explosion

Jonah loved this! He has worked with baking soda and vinegar before, but he didn’t remember how the two react to each other. He was excited because he was allowed to do all the steps by himself and took ownership of his learning. He wanted to see the fizzing volcano more than once, which led to an afternoon of giggles.

 Volcano Books to Read

Volcanoes! (National Geographic Readers)

The Magic School Bus Blows Its Top: A Book About Volcanoes

Volcano: The Eruption and Healing of Mount St. Helens

Volcanoes For Kids: Fun Facts And Pictures Of Volcanoes

Want more Simple Science Activity Ideas? Follow my Easy Science Activities Pinterest Board!

Want more fizzy fun? Visit Teaching Mama for 5 Baking Soda Experiments.

Ultimate Guide to Christmas Crafts for Kids

When I was a little girl, the days before Christmas were full of crafts and baking projects. Now that I’m a mom, I’m trying to make the same memories with my boys. As I’ve been searching for crafts to go along with some of our favorite Christmas books, I’ve found a few gems that I just had to share with you.

Ultimate Guide to Christmas Crafts for Kids


Truth in the Tinsel is an absolute favorite at our house. There are 24 crafts, one for each day, to help your little one learn the story of Jesus’ birth and countdown to Christmas. (It isn’t too late to start! There are alternative schedules for you.)


Baby Jesus Softie Playset | Grace Covers Me Using pantyhose, make a soft Baby Jesus with a manger and swaddling cloth to play with and act out the Nativity Story~Perfect for toddler play!

Baby Jesus in a Manger | Crafty Mama Using craft sticks and common household items, this craft is simple enough for even young tots

Popsicle Stick Manger Scene | Casa Camacho Similar to the one above, but different. Super Cute!

Nativity Craft | Confessions of a Homeschooler Make a permanent nativity display with flowerpots

Stained Glass Jesus Craft | Confessions of a Homeschooler  Use up your old crayons and make a beautiful stained glass display.

J is for Jesus Craft | Muffin Tin Mom An adorable reminder that Jesus is the reason for the season. Ties in very well with the book,  The Legend of the Candy Cane .

Coffee Filter Angel


Coffee Filter Angel | Motherhood on a Dime Using simple materials you probably already have in your kitchen, children can make an adorable ornament or present topper

Sparkly Paper Plate Angel | Crafty Journal Use a paper plate to make an angel

Angel Ornament Craft | Amazing Moms Buy a pack of paper doilies to make this adorable angel and save the rest of the doilies for Valentine’s Day.

Handprint and Footprint Angel | Tots and Me Preserve those precious handprints and footprints with this simple angel craft

Christmas Angel Egg Carton Craft | Meaningful Mama Super cute way to recycle egg cartons and decorate the tree!

Canning Lid Angel Ornament | Kix Cereal Blog Bet you have everything you need for this super easy angel ornament!

Christmas Trees & Wreaths~

Scrap Ribbon Tree Ornaments | Fireflies & Mudpies Ribbon and a twig–so simple!

Coffee Filter Christmas Tree | I Can Teach My Child

Pinecone Christmas Trees Ornaments | Mama Jenn Turn this craft an entire memory-making experience by taking a nature walk to gather the pinecones.

Birthday Hat Christmas Tree | JDaniel4’s Mom Use a leftover birthday hat and some felt to create a mini Christmas tree kids can decorate (without Mom rearranging the ornaments!)

Paper Plate Christmas Wreaths | With or Without Nap Using a simple paper plate and whatever you can find in your craft supplies, the kids can make a wreath for their bedroom door

Paper Strip Christmas Trees | Whatever Paper and glue…easy.

Fork Printing Christmas Trees | House of Baby Piranha We love printing with household objects dipped in paint. I love the textures from the fork on this craft!

Printing Holiday Trees | Creativity First Printing with toilet paper rolls to make a tree. Kids will love this!

16 Christmas Tree Crafts | NurtureStore  A collection of Christmas Tree crafts

Bubble Wrap Trees | No Time For Flashcards Who doesn’t love bubble wrap?

Christmas Tree Sewing Lesson | Pink and Green Mama

Easy Christmas Tree Ornament | Ginger Snap Crafts It doesn’t get any easier than popsicle sticks and buttons.

Lacing Tree Ornaments | Happy Hooligans Great way to practice lacing for a fine motor Christmas craft double whammy.

Paper Bag Gingerbread House

image credit: Motherhood on a Dime; used with permission


Simple Paper Bag Gingerbread House | Motherhood on a Dime   Sugar-free way to decorate gingerbread houses and let your tot’s creative juices flow. This craft could be used in imaginative play or the sensory box after it is finished.

Paper Bag Gingerbread House Craft | Little Wonders’ Days Different than the one above, and oh, so cute!

Marble Paint Gingerbread Man | Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas This is like two craft activities in one! Let your little one enjoy marble painting, then turn it into a gingerbread man.

Gingerbread House Greeting Card | Hands On: As We Grow (guest post by Red Ted Art) Make as a card or a stand alone project. No matter what you decide, you’ll love this gingerbread house that will stand the test of time. The best part? Less mess!

Paper Bag Gingerbread Ornament | The Educators’ Spin On It So simple, but so cute!

Candy Canes & Peppermints~

Christmas Marble Painting Candy Cane | Crafts and Art for Children Let the kids marble paint and then turn it into a peppermint or candy cane

Candy Cane Crafts | Crafts and Art for Children A collection of links to Candy Cane Crafts

Puzzle Piece Candy Cane Ornament | Anders Ruff Use a puzzle that’s missing pieces and turn it into an adorable candy cane ornament


Handprint Snowmen Ornament


Handprint Snowmen Ornament | Happy Brown House

Plastic Plate Snowman Snow Globe | Relentlessly Fun, Deceptively Educational  Kids can make and preserve their own snow globe scene with a simple clear plastic plate

Jingle Bell Snowman Ornament | Ramblings of a Crazy Woman I love this simply adorable craft. The snowman in his pom-pom earmuffs is too cute!

Puff Paint Snowman | House of Baby Piranha Kids will love messy crafting with the puffy paint! We’ve done this before, and Jonah loved it!

Easy Peanut Butter Jar Snowman | Mama Jenn Even tiny tots can help with this one by stuffing the jar with the fiberfill or cotton balls! I think my youngest would love this one.

Glue Snowman Ornament |Pink and Green Mama Kids love to mess with glue. This looks so easy and fun!

Quick & Easy Snowman Ornament for Kids | Crazy Little Projects So stinkin’ easy. I knew I saved baby food jars for a reason!



Coffee Filter Snowflakes | Happy Brown House No need for fancy folding techniques, use a coffee filter instead!

Puzzle Piece Snowflake Ornament | Lisa’s Craft Blog Use an older puzzle that is missing a few pieces to make an adorable ornament.

Snow Globe | Vanilla Joy  Kids + Glitter…need I say more?

Beaded Snowflake Ornament | Confessions of a Homeschooler This one is better suited for older kids that can handle a sharp pin.


Other Crafts~

Pine Cone Elves | Pink and Green Mama These are adorable! Dare you to only make one.

Drinking Straw and Bead Stars |Pink and Green Mama

Toy Soldier Ornament | Fireflies & Mudpies How many times can I say adorable in this list? ADORABLE.

Clay Christmas Owls | Paging Fun Mums Owl lovers will think this is a hoot! (I couldn’t resist.)

Egg Carton Jingle Bell Flowers | The Crafty Crow Gotta love egg cartons. Who knew there were so many things to make with them?

Candle Ornament | Silly Eagle Books Perfect for toddlers and preschoolers!



Our family does not celebrate Santa, but I know most people will be expecting to see him on this list. I found a link to a round-up of Santa & Reindeer crafts to help get you started.

15 Santa Crafts for Kids | Life in Texas

15 Reindeer Crafts for Kids Life in Texas

Toilet Roll Reindeer | Happy Hooligans Two words: googly eyes.

 Bottle Cap Reindeer | The Country Chic Cottage We may not “do” Santa, but these would be on my tree if we did.

Craft Supplies

Want more Christmas Crafts for Kids? I’ve set up a Pinterest board for them and will continue to add to it. Feel free to follow!

Follow Sara @ Happy Brown House’s board Christmas Crafts for Kids on Pinterest.

Happy Crafting!

This post is a part of the iHomeschool Network’s 25 Days of Christmas – Ultimate Blog Hop. Be sure to click on the calendar to see all the other Ultimate Christmas links!


10 Favorite Toys for Fine Motor Skills

10 Favorite Toys for Fine Motor Skills

While I try to set up frugal  fine motor skills activities from common household items as often as I can, there are times that we purchase items, receive them as gifts, or even dig them out of our own childhood closets for fine motor fun. I thought I’d share some of our favorites with you!

The Lauri Toys Primer Pack is one of my favorites because it comes with several activities in one box that can be used in a variety of ways. Lauri Toys are some of my favorites. They are made of soft rubber so they don’t make noise and you can request replacement pieces if you lose a piece.

The Alex Toys Learn to Dress Monkey has eleven self dressing activities on the stuffed animal. Kids will learn to snap, sip, button, tie, and more~all skills they need for the rest of their life.

We love the Melissa & Doug Deluxe Latches Board! Curious fingers love to explore the latches, locks, and clasps to see the hidden surprise.

The Etch A Sketch is a classic, but it really does promote fine motor movements! Kids are drawn to the “magical” pictures that appear and manipulating the knobs.

Mr. Potato Head is out often at our house. We have a tub full of Disney character pieces we purchased on a trip to Disney a few years ago and they still make a weekly appearance on Jonah’s bedroom floor. Kids love to make up silly characters, but what I love about Mr. Potato Head is the open-ended play and fine motor skills it encourages.

Ker Plunk makes Jonah sit on the edge of his seat in anticipation for the marbles to drop and then startles him when they finally do. It keeps us laughing as we give our fingers a workout.

When I was a little girl, Perfection would make me so mad because I could never beat the timer, but then I became a grown-up with a small obsession with fine motor skills and my attitude changed. We found Daddy’s old game at his grandmother’s house and let Jonah play a modified version. He places the shapes in the holes and then sets the timer to watch them pop out as a reward when he’s finished. He thinks it is hilarious. Try it with your preschooler and see what they think!

We play Ants in the Pants often around here, too. Sometimes Jonah likes to just play with the ants and see how far he can make them jump. Maybe another reason he likes this game so much is because he beats me every single time.

Little Asher can often be found exploring the Melissa & Doug Shape Sorting Cube. While he can’t match up the shapes on his own yet, he loves for me to show him where to place them and then claps every time.

Jonah received a set of LEGO Ultimate Building Set for his birthday and now he’s got Lego Fever. I’ve joined the ranks of moms who are diligently checking the floor for lost pieces and praying the toddler doesn’t find them first. There is no denying it–legos are perfect for fine motor skills!

What would be on your list?

This post is a part of the 10 day series, Developing Fine Motor Skills. This series is part of the iHomeschool Network Hopscotch. To see the list of the topics from the other bloggers, visit iHomeschool Network. There are some fantastic topics and giveaways!

Don’t want to miss a post in the series? Subscribe by email or RSS. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

100 Household Items for Fine Motor Skills

100 Household Items for Fine Motor Skills from @happybrownhouse

To you it may look like just another utensil drawer, but your house is full of tools to develop your child’s fine motor skills. Kids love to use these tools because they are “grown-up” tools and often “off-limits,” but I’m a believer in allowing our children to practice and explore while supervised. I’ve found that when I trust kids to use grown-up tools (after proper training), they usually rise to the occasion. Sure, the tape may be wrinkled and the yarn might be twisted in a knot, but if we never let them try, they’ll never have a chance to succeed.

I’ve compiled a list of items from my home that we have used to help develop fine motor skills. Some of the items listed are the main tool, others are items that we used in combination with the main tool. For example, I’ve listed coffee filters. We’ve used these for cutting snowflakes during the winter and for spray bottle art. Either way, I hope this list encourages you to look at your house in a new way and see the potential for fine motor fun in the ordinary.

DIY Chopstick Tongs and pom pom transfer from @happybrownhouse

In the Kitchen

  • Tongs
  • Wisk
  • Garlic Press
  • Cookie Scoop
  • Pizza Cutter
  • Toothpicks
  • Colander
  • Chip Clip
  • Ice Cube Trays
  • Can Opener
  • Corn Cob Holders
  • Skewers
  • Vegetable Peeler
  • Straws
  • Pasta
  • Measuring Cups/Spoons
  • Funnel
  • Ziploc Bags
  • Foil
  • Plastic Cling Wrap
  • Contact Paper
  • Recycled containers
  • Coffee Filters
  • Cookie Cutters
  • Rolling Pin
  • Silverware
  • Ice Cube Trays
  • Muffin Tins
  • Cookie Cooling Rack
  • Toothpicks

Piggy Bank Fine Motor Skills practice from @happybrownhouse

Laundry Room

  • Clothespins
  • Dustpan
  • Hand Broom
  • Squirt Bottle

Twisting nuts and bolts for fine motor skills practice from @happybrownhouse


Using hole punches to develop fine motor skills @happybrownhouse


  • Paper
  • Post-it Notes
  • Paper Clips
  • Bulldog Clips
  • Rubber Bands
  • Tape Dispenser
  • Stapler
  • Staple Remover
  • Hole Punch
  • Letter Opener
  • 3 -Ring Notebooks (opening and closing them)
  • Folders (manipulating 3-prongs)

 Focus on Fine Motor Skills~Cutting from @happybrownhouse


DIY Lacing/Sewing Cards from @happybrownhouse

Craft Cabinet

  • Pipe Cleaners
  • Playdough
  • Paintbrush
  • Squirt Bottle
  • Stickers
  • Scissors
  • Pom Poms
  • Scrapbook Punches
  • Plastic Needle
  • Plastic Canvas
  • Embroidery Hoop
  • Zipper
  • Pins/Pincushion
  • Yarn
  • Markers
  • Colored Pencils
  • Crayons
  • Chalk
  • Watercolors
  • Paper
  • Tissue Paper
  • Ribbon

Ribbon Weaving activity for preschoolers from @happybrownhouse


What else would you add to the list?

This post is a part of the 10 day series, Developing Fine Motor Skills. This series is part of the iHomeschool Network Hopscotch. To see the list of the topics from the other bloggers, visit iHomeschool Network. There are some fantastic topics and giveaways!

Don’t want to miss a post in the series? Subscribe by email or RSS. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

Focus on Fine Motor Skills~Twisting

Developing Fine Motor Skills Series from @happybrownhouse

Twisting items is a tricky little skill that we depend upon most often when opening containers. It is a life skill, really~you have to be able to open the milk jug or the peanut butter jar to quiet your growling stomach. Without the twisting skill, we’d all be walking around really hungry.

Twisting Station

Repurpose a few empty water bottles, juice containers, jars, etc. by setting up a Twisting Station. Allow children to practice opening and closing the containers. To make it a little more fun, provide objects to place inside the containers. Or, better yet, add the Twisting Station containers to the sensory tub. Provide some scoops and funnels for them to fill up the containers with the rainbow rice, beans, etc. and let them go!

Nuts & Bolts

Gather nuts & bolts for your little one to practice twisting. If you provide several sizes, your child will have to math up the correct nut and bolt before twisting. This is trickier than it looks for little hands!

Twisting nuts and bolts for fine motor skills practice from @happybrownhouse

Twisting nuts and bolts~fine motor skills @happybrownhouse


Similar to using styrofoam for hammering practice, why not let your child practice using a screwdriver with styrofoam? My son gives this activity two thumbs-up. He’s a big fan of using Daddy’s tools!

This post is a part of the 10 day series, Developing Fine Motor Skills. This series is part of the iHomeschool Network Hopscotch. To see the list of the topics from the other bloggers, visit iHomeschool Network. There are some fantastic topics and giveaways!

Don’t want to miss a post in the series? Subscribe by email or RSS. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

Focus on Fine Motor Skills~Lacing

Lacing is a classic fine motor activity for preschoolers. Manipulating the string in and out of the holes takes a lot of effort for little fingers. It strengthens dexterity, hand-eye coordination, and the pincer grasp. Sometimes this activity can be frustrating for them when the string falls out of the hole before they can grab it with the other hand; it builds patience and perseverance.

Pool Noodle Lacing

Last summer I cut up pool noodles to make giant foam beads for Jonah to practice lacing. I added letters and numbers to the beads to help target certain learning skills we were focusing on during our school time. He had an easier time lacing with the larger pool noodle beads than the smaller beads we had tried in the past. If you have a young preschooler, the large beads may be a great starting place for your child. The foam beads are easier to manipulate because they don’t roll around as much and the holes are larger for the string. (You can see the full tutorial I wrote over at Totally Tots.)

Pool Noodle Lacing Beads from @happybrownhouse www.happybrownhouse.comRibbon Weaving

One of Jonah’s favorite things to do when he was three years old was Ribbon Weaving with a cookie cooling rack. It was so easy to set up that he could set it up himself! We stored all of the ribbon pieces in a bag in the activity cabinet, so he could pull it out whenever he wanted. For older children, have them create a pattern with their ribbons.

Ribbon Weaving activity for preschoolers from @happybrownhouse

 Lacing Cards

Lacing cards are easy to make. Basically, you need something with holes and a string. You can use toilet paper rolls, recycled cardboard or cereal boxes, plastic baskets with holes, and more to make free lacing activities. Use your imagination!

I made lacing cards using plastic canvas from the craft store. To make the activity a little more advanced, I introduced a plastic sewing needle for Jonah to explore “sewing” with yarn. He had fun with this, but also found it much more challenging.

DIY Sewing/Lacing Cards from @happybrownhouse

DIY Lacing/Sewing Cards from @happybrownhouse

Other Lacing Tools We Use and Love

Melissa & Doug Primary Lacing Beads

Lauri Toys Dot-2-Dot Lacing Shapes

Lauri Toys Lace and Link Letters (Uppercase)

Lauri Toys Lace and Link Letters (lowercase)

This post is a part of the 10 day series, Developing Fine Motor Skills. This series is part of the iHomeschool Network Hopscotch. To see the list of the topics from the other bloggers, visit iHomeschool Network. There are some fantastic topics and giveaways!

Don’t want to miss a post in the series? Subscribe by email or RSS. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

B is for Bugs {Free Printable}

Our life has been full of creepy, crawly bugs lately.

We’ve watched caterpillars grow and change into butterflies. We’ve stopped to watch a parade of ants and then watched them problem-solve when the sidewalk chalk paint interrupted their procession…And don’t even get me started about the war the Mr. has been waging with the wasps around Happy Brown House!

We’ve made Stained Glass Butterfly Art and Spider Web Snacks.

And just when I thought I couldn’t handle anymore bugs….we did some more.

Bug Fingerprint ArtTo be honest, I’m so glad we did. I love that I have his fingerprint drawings from his last night as a four-year-old…forever.

B is for Bugs Fingerprint Art Printable

Since we’re celebrating a birthday around here, I thought I’d share a little present with you!

Free Download: Bb is for Bugs Fingerprint Art Printable


This printable is FREE of charge and you are welcome to download it for you personal and/or classroom use only. However, free or purchased printables are NOT to be reproduced, hosted, sold, or stored on any other website or electronic retrieval system (such as Scribd or Google docs). My printables are copyright protected and I appreciate your help in keeping them that way. :)