Welcome ROCmommas, ROCpoppas, and Friends!

Have fun with your kids - that's what it's all about. If you're looking for fun places to go in Rochester, NY (ROC), awesome
crafts to make, and yummy treats to bake with your kids - as well as some ideas for Date Nights - then you've come to the
right place. Welcome to ROCmomma. Happy reading, and please share your comments. Thank you!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Fun Dough! (Simple, Quick, No-Cook Recipe)

The weather keeps teasing us here in Rochester, NY! It warms up, we play outside. The next day it's back to 17 degrees with chilling gusts of wind. Who wants to play outside in that?! We just want Spring to get here already.

While we await the big thaw, we keep testing out indoor activities. My four-year-old wanted to make cookies; but then I will spend the remainder of the week eating all the cookies. It all goes down like this:

KID: Mommy, can we have some cookies?

ME: You have to eat your lunch, and then you can have a cookie. (When Kid is not looking, sneak a cookie and shove into mouth. Repeat as necessary.)

Using my masterful skills of misdirection, I asked if he wanted to make some "messy stuff" instead - which is usually saved for outdoor play, where messes do not matter. But desperate times, ya know?

We decided to make some homemade play dough, instead of cookie dough. A quick search for recipes yielded this simple, no-cook version. Bonus: we had all of the ingredients on hand.
To make this version of fun dough, you'll need:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 3 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1 envelope of unsweetened Kool-Aid OR sugar-free Jell-O
  • 1 cup boiling water
1. Mix together the flour, salt, oil, and Kool-Aid or Jell-O in a bowl.
2. Pour in the boiling water; mix well. Once cool enough to handle, AN ADULT should knead the dough until smooth.
3. Have fun with your fun dough! Be sure to store in a sealed container after playing. Storing in the refrigerator will extend the life of the dough. However, our dough has been in containers on the counter for a week and it is fine. 

Since the original request was to make cookies, and since all of the ingredients in this fun dough are edible (NOTE: the dough is technically edible, but it will taste awful), we used the rolling pin and the real cookie cutters.

Of course, with my boys it always comes back to cars. Or dinosaurs. Or both. The dough quickly became a roadway for trucks, and eventually a landscape for dinosaurs!
What do your kids like to do with fun dough/play dough? Post a Comment below and let us know!

I hope you have fun with this quick and easy fun dough. As always, thanks for reading.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Snow Day Fun: Playing "Home School"

We all know how to create one: Wear pajamas inside out. Keep a spoon under your pillow. Put ice cubes in the toilet. Spin around three times with your eyes closed and say, "Snow day, snow day, snow day."

But once that wish comes true, how do you keep kids entertained? Especially if it's too cold to actually go outside and play in the snow? (It's every parent's nightmare.)

We found out about the last snow day on the evening before, so I had a little time to plan and prepare. First, I asked my kids if they had any ideas. They had one; they wanted to play school. What kinds of activities did they want to do at our school? Of course, we had to recreate my first-grader's daily classroom schedule. In order.

ROCmomma's Tips for a Fun Snow-Day Home-School:

  1. Assemble a supply bin with glue sticks, markers, safety scissors, crayons, and pencils
  2. Gather materials for your first couple of activities
  3. Print out & hang up the ROCmomma Circle Time Materials; print worksheets from links below


1. LEGO Challenge - We started on a creative note. The boys were each given a LEGO base plate, a marble, and a tub of LEGO bricks. The challenge was to create a marble maze, with one entrance and one exit for the marble. Once they finished building, they had even more fun guiding the marble through the maze!

2. Math problems - My first-grader wrote out four math problems for each of us to solve. (7+3= __, 7+1=__, 3+3=__, and 3+1=__) He wrote the problems three times so we each had our own worksheet, and then set them up around the table with a pencil for each of us. My little future teacher!

Have some books handy in case one child is finished before the others.

1. Calendar, weather - go over the days of the week, months of the year; fill in the date and weather
2. Month/season worksheets - try these free printable winter worksheets from Learning 4 Keeps

There are five different activity stations; each person does one activity and will have the opportunity to do more later.

1. Computer Station: We set up the laptop so the kids could read/listen to the Pocoyo e-book "Baby Bird's Birthday Party" and play games on the HITN Early Learning Collaborative
2. Word work/writing: Word Detective worksheet (page 11 in the Freebie Word Work Activities from TeachersPayTeachers.com); Letter Grab Bag (pages 24-25 in the Freebie Word Work Activities)
3. Writing Journal - Provide some paper and pencils, and ask them to write (or draw, depending on the ages).
4. Read to someone
5. Read to self
The Daily 5,  Station 1: Playing Pocoyo games on the
Early Learning Collaborative web site
The Daily 5, Station 2: Word Detective worksheet
We wrote "___OT" on a piece of paper and the kids brainstormed "-ot" words while I wrote them down. Then we reviewed the list together. Finally, each child selected one word from our list and used it in a sentence.

Station activities are the same as above; each child selects a station they have not yet completed.

A well-deserved break for everyone! Choose a favorite song (You TubePandora, or Songza are good options if you don't have a particular song in your music library) and have a mini dance party. We are big fans of Cha Cha Slide and Happy.

Same as above.

1. Visit BedTimeMath.org together on the computer and complete a few problems together.
2. Math worksheets - try these free printables from TeachersPayTeachers.com

Be creative and get the kids moving:

  • Use painter's tape to create a hop scotch board on the floor; use a bean bag or small stuffed toy as the marker.
  • Play Simon Says.
  • Play balloon volleyball.
  • Play Freeze Dance.
  • Set up empty water bottles in the hallway; roll a ball for indoor bowling.
  • Play a physically active game on Xbox Kinect, Wii, etc.

My boys love the Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne. They snuggled together and we read "Afternoon on the Amazon" from cover to cover.

Write about your snow day (pre-school variation: draw a picture of your snow day).
Make snowflake rubbings! Perfect for a snow day.

Materials needed: hot glue gun & glue sticks (OR yarn & craft glue - as per the original instructions on Relentlessly Fun, Deceptively Educational), scraps of cardboard (an empty cereal box works well), construction paper, crayons

1. ADULTS ONLY: Use a glue gun to draw snowflakes on scraps of cardboard. (OR use the craft glue and yarn, per the original instructions)
2. When cool, instruct children to place construction paper on top of the snowflakes and use the crayons to create rubbings of the snowflakes. Children may then continue to decorate the page with additional drawings, etc.


Ask each child to select one thing from the house that is special. Sit together and take turns talking about the item and why it is special.

Sit together and talk about what we learned today. If your kids have a goodbye song from school, ask them to teach it to you.

I was actually shocked that my kids completed ALL of these activities! We made the list the night before, and I prepared for all of them, but figured we would skip a few here and there. Oh no. They kept me on task and made sure we followed the list. In fact, my six-year-old kept tabs on the clock as well. School is over at 3:00, so we were not allowed to be finished until 3:00.

This was such a fun day for the three of us, and I'm glad we did it. If you're looking to fill an entire day with lots of boredom-busting fun (and a little learning, too!), then try out these snow day home-school activities. Be sure to Post a Comment and let us know which one your kids liked best! As always, thanks for reading.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Three Easy, No-Prep, Super-Fun Scavenger Hunts

We are big on scavenger hunts lately! My four-year-old asks me daily, "Can we make a list and find stuff?" That would be a scavenger hunt.

Last month, we stayed at a house in Lake Placid with a few other families (11 adults, 8 kids ages 1-8). We try to get the kids out of the house during the day, but once the sun goes down it's cold…so I even brought a scavenger hunt there as one of the activities to keep the kids occupied in the house. Worked like a charm.

As you can imagine, we are amassing a variety of scavenger hunt challenges around here. What else would I do but SHARE THEM with the awesome ROCmomma followers?

These are all fairly generic so anyone can use them in just about any home. There are links to print each scavenger hunt page (PDF file) within the captions below.
Free Printable: Super-Fun Scavenger Hunt
Free Printable: AWESOME Scavenger Hunt
Free Printable: Extreme Scavenger Hunt Challenge!

Looking for more scavenger hunt variations? Check out these indoor and outdoor ideas on ROCmomma's Time for a Scavenger Hunt.

Have fun using Scavenger Hunts to fill in the last few wintry days before Spring is finally upon us! Hopefully, that's not just wishful thinking. As always, thanks for reading.

Monday, March 3, 2014

ROCstar Moments in Child's Play

Testing out ideas pinned on Pinterest provides an excellent opportunity to teach kids an important lesson: IT IS OKAY TO FAIL.

Failure can even be fun!

The past few days have been full of "ROCstar Moments" for me. Have you seen those "Nailed It" photos on Pinterest, Facebook, et cetera? Yeah, kind of like those.

I pinned three ideas to try out with the kids. They looked like fun, and seemed to be simple enough:
  1. Kool-Aid Rainbow Slime
  2. Water Beads
  3. Fizzy Ice Cubes

First up, we tried the slime. In an effort to save money, I bought the generic fiber supplement rather than Metamucil. That was a mistake. I mixed the ingredients, microwaved it as long as the instructions said, and was left with pink water. No trace of slime. Oh yeah; who's a ROCstar?!?

Lesson Learned: When trying out a new activity from the web, link back to the original source if possible. Occasionally, the original lists an important note that the second-hand blogger did not carry over. 

Example: When making Kool-Aid Rainbow Slime, it is important to either buy Metamucil or a generic fiber supplement with psyllium as the active ingredient. No psyllium? You're simply left with colored water. Colored water = not nearly as much fun as colored slime.


Second, we tried to make water beads. These looked so awesome, I couldn't wait to try making them! On Growing a Jeweled Rose, these looked like fabulous, colorful, squish-able marbles. Here's what our water beads looked like:

Colorful and squish-able? Yes. Fabulous and marble-sized? Not so much.

We still had fun with them. I had bought two packages of tapioca pearls because I wasn't sure how much we would need for this misadventure. While I cooked one package, my four-year-old had fun playing with the uncooked package.
We scooped the cooked tapioca into bowls then added food coloring and different colors of Kool-Aid powder or sugar-free Jell-O. There wasn't a huge selection of Kool-Aid colors available, so I thought we'd give Jell-O a shot. (pun intended)
After they cooled off in the fridge for a bit, we started to play. TIP: Place a large drop cloth or plastic tablecloth in your play area, and keep a couple of old towels handy.
We added water so they were free-flowing, instead of gelatinous blobs.

You can store the Water Beads for up to three days in the fridge. However, once the colors are mixed together the beads look like a stand-in for brains in a zombie movie.
Lessons Learned: Follow the blog post and search for large, instant tapioca pearls. Small, non-instant ones take three times as long to boil. Plus they are miniscule.


Lastly, we made a batch of Fizzy Ice Cubes. We mixed the water, baking soda, and spooned it into ice cube trays. Then we sprinkled different Jell-O powders on top and used a toothpick to mix in the colors.

The next day we popped the cubes out into a container of water and waited for the fizz…

There was no fizz.

I had lemons in the fridge and added a few slices to initiate a reaction. Nothing. So we added the water beads and just played until it looked like this:

Yes! Nailed it! I mean, doesn't that look like something you want your child sticking his or her little hand into, playing, and splashing?!? Definitely.

Determined, we tried once more. This time we poured the cubes right into a vinegar bath. We even spooned some extra vinegar on top of the cubes. Success!

TIP: Use a drop cloth or plastic tablecloth to protect your play area, and keep a few towels handy.

Lesson Learned: Fizzy Cubes (with baking soda) need vinegar in order to actually fizz. Duh! I knew that. After all, we only made a zillion volcanoes in the backyard last summer. Sheesh! Also, read directions carefully. Somehow I completely missed the "vinegar" part of the instructions. Oops.

I hope your adventures in Pinterest, crafts, and science experiments are much more successful. If not, Post a Comment and share your misadventures! As always, thanks for reading.

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