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Clean, Safe, and Inexpensive Ideas

Afternoons and Sundays can be long. Quarantine can be endless. Here are some relatively clean, safe, and inexpensive ideas to keep your little people busy for a while

Tip: Write out the recipes and simplified directions in large print, so reading-level kids can do most of it on their own.


Coffee-filter Dancers

To make two dancers, you’ll need:

  • Crayola markers
  • 2 white 6-inch coffee filters (you can usually find these at the dollar store)
  • 2 12-inch pipe cleaners
  1. Color coffee filters using the Crayola markers. It’s okay if there’s some white space, as the colors will run.
  2. When done, lightly moisten your fingers and drip water onto the coffee filter. Make sure they’re fully moistened, but not too wet. (You don’t want it to take too long to dry.)
  3. Allow the coffee filters to dry. You can let them dry overnight or place them in the oven on the lowest temperature for 5 minutes. Don’t leave them in the oven or the sides will curl up.
  4. While you’re waiting for the filters to dry, shape the pipe cleaners. Lightly bend one pipe cleaner in half to form the dancer’s body. Create a circle for the head in the center of the pipe cleaner, at the point where it is bent, by twisting the two sides together about an inch down the length.
  5. Twist the second pipe cleaner at midpoint around the center of the body to create a bodice, then twist each side to create arms.
  6. Once the coffee filters are dry, fold one multiple times to form the dress for the dancer’s bodice. Cut a little piece off the top for the pipe cleaner “head” to fit through.
  7. Make two small slits on the top, on either side of the hole, to make room for the arms. “Dress” the pipe cleaner with the dress.
  8. Use a tiny rubber band to hold the dress in place.

This was a win-win project. No mess at all, so I was more than happy for my kids to make a ton of these. It kept them busy for ages!

DIY Jelly Soap
  • 5 tsp of unflavored gelatin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ cup boiling water
  • ½ cup body wash
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • Molds (plastic cups or plastic shot glasses)
  1. Combine gelatin, salt, and boiling water using a whisk until gelatin is dissolved. Add in the body wash and food coloring, if using, and mix again.
  2. Using a spoon, remove as much froth/bubbles as possible.
  3. Pour into molds/plastic cups/shot glasses.
  4. Refrigerate for at least two hours. Keep them in the fridge until ready to use.
  5. Let the kids bring them into bath, and watch it turn into a bubble bath in minutes.

Our favorite was a pink, rose-scented body wash!


Scavenger Hunt by Colorhttps
  • White paper (one per child)
  • Magic markers
  • Plastic bag (one per child)


  1. Color 9–12 different colored squares on each piece                      of paper using magic markers.
  2. Give each child the colored sheet of paper and a bag.
  3. Instruct them to collect something from around the house that matches the color on the paper, the more creative the better!

I challenged the bigger kids to find something that fits into the little square I drew on the page. It made it a little more challenging for them, but they loved it!


Cardboard Face Challenge
  • Large sheet of cardboard
  • Scissors
  • Blindfold
  • White or colored paper
  • Scotch tape
  • Markers


  1. Cut two arm-size holes on a large piece of cardboard.
  2. Above the holes, draw a large circle to form the face.
  3. On the white or colored paper, draw and then cut out facial features: mouth, nose, eyes, ears, hair. They can be silly looking.
  4. Stick a loop of Scotch tape on each facial feature.
  5. Blindfolded, each child should slip their hands through the holes and try to stick the correct facial feature in the correct place using their fingers only to feel the shapes of the cut-out.

My kids turned this into a game and timed each other to see how long it took for each of them to find all the facial features.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 731)

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