Prev Next

Ideas for Bubble Making, Sidewalk Chalk & Playdough: Mixing up Outdoor Fun Burns Daylight.

By Melissa Summers

It’s almost July which means I’ve made it through two weeks of summer break without killing anyone. Wow, I’m amazing. In this time frame I’ve also made it through several jars of play-doh, a few gallons of bubbles and more quarts of sidewalk paint than I’d like to add up. While at Target yesterday looking for more bubbles and chalk I thought, “Hey! Instead of paying for this, maybe we can make a project out of creating these things and burn additional hours of daylight.

playdough.jpgLast week at a playgroup (where adults consumed alcohol, no one was maimed) 10 kids gathered around a table for over half an hour playing nicely together. Of course by the time they were done the play doh was a little dried out and smooshed together into one ball of many colors. Homemade play dough is cheaper than store bought and easier to use, in my opinion. Here are several recipes to make with your kids and check out this clever idea for coloring play dough.

chalk.jpgSidewalk chalk and paint is a continual hit in our house. I can usually find pretty good bargains on sidewalk chalk but the way my kids and their pals plow through the sidewalk paint makes my debit card weep. You can make your own sidewalk chalk using powdered tempura, water and plaster of paris. I think my kids will have fun thinking of items to use as molds for their chalk. Chalk paint is even more simple to make, which is ironic since it typically costs substantially more than regular sidewalk chalk. Just mix cornstarch, water and food coloring. Make a big batch because kids love this stuff.

bubbles.jpgAt another play date, ten kids, ranging from 2 to 8 years old, spent over an hour taking turns blowing bubbles for each other and chasing the bubbles. It’s nice when I see our kids taking joy in such simple activities because sometimes I think they’ve had their imaginations sucked out by the television. Not only did the kids spend an hour entertained, they also used up a 64 ounce container of bubble solution. This site has several bubble recipes to make with your kids. Put the bubbles in a large plastic jug and let them have at it.
I have a few goals for my kids this summer. I want the kids to have a reasonable amount of fun, I want to burn as much daylight as possible each day without wanting to kill anyone. I also want them to develop more independence, not relying on me to do everything for them. A large part of this goal is going to involve me letting them make messes and do things their own way. I’m thinking letting them make bubbles and sidewalk paint and do whatever they please with them is a good start. As long as it’s all done outside.

Melissa Summers
About the Author

Melissa Summers

Melissa Summers was a regular contributor writing Melissa’s Buzz Off.


Melissa Summers was a regular contributor writing Melissa’s Buzz Off.

icon icon
chat bubble icon


  • CinAA

    June 28, 2007 at 4:36 pm

    So, tell me more about this sidewalk chalkpaint concept. Do you give them paintbrushes? How long do those last before all the bristles are scraped out onto the sidewalk?
    We’ve been doing chalk and bubbles, and also water balloons. They think I’m the best mother ever for that, even though I make them pick up the scrids of popped balloon off the lawn.

  • Anonymous

    June 28, 2007 at 5:00 pm

    You can also add glitter to homemade playdough for an added touch.

  • gabrielle

    June 28, 2007 at 5:40 pm

    Hooray! You have successfully combined 3 of my kid’s favorite things to do outside and showed me how to do it cheaper, all in one post. Now the college fund is safe, and our sidewalk can still remain bright and painted with pink and green trains all summer. You rock!

  • melissaS

    June 28, 2007 at 6:56 pm

    I love the glitter idea because my kids LOVE LOVE LOVE glitter and I HATE glitter because we look like the Solid Gold Dancers after a session with it.
    CinAA: Water balloons, genius. Next playdate I’m doing that and everyone will love me and think I’m the best mother even though I’m the laziest of all my friends!
    As for the paint, I’ve, so far, only used the store bought kind with the art brushes we have in the house and they haven’t particularly ruined them.
    I put the paint onto plastic disposable plates or the tray from bubbles (a large one).
    Sometimes they like me to do the outline for them in regular chalk (“Draw me a butterfly!”) and then they color it in with the paints. That’s worked out best actually because otherwise they just glob paint on the sidewalk.
    Of course they can do that and I should just relax already…..

  • Anne B.

    June 28, 2007 at 8:16 pm

    You can make the sidewalk chalkpaint with corn starch, water and food dye. Just use equal parts corn starch and water (at least 1/4 cup each) and add the dye until you get the color you want. We used those cheap 1″ wide paintbrushes you can get at Home Depot and also some small sponge rollers to paint with. My boys did that for hours and hours last summer. It was fun to see their creations days later on the front walk.
    This summer, since we live in North Texas and it has poured just about every day for the past 2 weeks, we are just sitting around inside trying not to hurt each other.

  • Jenn

    June 28, 2007 at 9:19 pm

    Wow, my kids were doing sidewalk chalk today, and i was so glad they were just staying in one place that I nearly wept. I love your blogs, Melissa, they’re just great. Hang in there, and keep writing. I am stuck in a similar situation to yours—your blog helps so much!

  • andrea from the fishbowl

    June 28, 2007 at 10:51 pm

    Hmmm Chalk paint. I’m going to try that one. Maybe after I make some slime.. 🙂

  • Patty

    June 28, 2007 at 11:23 pm

    I used to be a preschool teacher. Sometimes we would buy paste food coloring from the cake supply store. Those colors are brighter, there are more choices, and (of course) they’re more expensive. We would do black playdough with glitter!
    I also used to make gray playdough, have the kids make a small ball, smash it on the table, and then use our small, rubber dinosaurs on their sides to make an impression. Bake them in a very low oven until hard and you have…fossils!

  • Flydaddy

    June 28, 2007 at 11:56 pm

    About the storage of the bubble solution: don’t use an old milk jug. They are too thin. Ask the cupboard over my fridge how I know this…
    Use an old auto windshield washer solution bottle (heavy plastic with rubber gasketed lid- good stuff!

  • Laurie

    June 29, 2007 at 8:57 am

    We put some paint in squeeze bottles and let the kids squeeze it out to ‘paint’ with it…like those squeeze ketchup bottles? I found some for $1 at Target….

  • Skorky64

    June 29, 2007 at 1:30 pm

    When we were little, Dad gave us his big old ratty paintbrushes, and we’d “paint with water” on the driveway. The best thing about it was that it evaporated quickly, so we always had fresh canvas to work on. God, we loved it!
    As long as we didn’t make the mistake of using one of his good paintbrushes. We only made that mistake once.

  • painter

    June 30, 2007 at 11:38 pm

    Please don’t use tempura – save that for eating at the nearest Japanese restaurant. Use tempera paints, instead. They make for much prettier colors.
    We used to “paint” with water, too, Skorky!
    [Edit: Ha! Woops]

  • My Minivan Is Faster Than Yours

    July 1, 2007 at 7:00 pm

    My son slipped (understatement), cut his forehead and needed the Derma Bond glue at the ER to close the wound. The next day he was playing with gold glitter glue on his fingers, touched his boo boo, then spent the next 7-10 days with gold glitter glue stuck to his head. There has to be an arts and crafts project in there somewhere!