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Farm Play Dough Tray

Every week (or every other week depending on how busy we are!) we try to do a different play dough theme that fits in either with something we are studying in social studies or science, or with a holiday or seasonal theme.

This week we are learning about cows and milk in science, so a farm themed play dough tray was the perfect match.

farm play dough 3

This week our play dough includes homemade play dough using recipe number one from this post.  While this recipe does require stovetop cooking and cream of tarter, the texture is just like “real” play dough and doesn’t mold or get weird after a few months.  I always make a double batch so that we have plenty to share in case we have a friend over.  I use gel food coloring from the baking section at the craft store (Wilton 601-5580 1/2-Ounce Certified-Kosher Icing Colors, Set of 12), mainly because that is what I have on hand (rather than liquid food coloring).  The amount of gel I use varies based on how saturated I want the color to be.  One time I made black play dough and it took almost the whole container of black gel to get a nice dark black, but with other colors you don’t need to use nearly as much.

For accessories, I included animals from the Safari Ltd Down On The Farm TOOB and Safari Ltd Farm Babies TOOB.  I also included rocks, drift wood, faux plants/flowers, fence sections (similar here 18 X2 IN. NAT. PICKET FENCE) , and plastic leaves from the craft store (these are from Hobby Lobby but most craft stores should carry similar items).  I also added a few trees from the Safari Ltd Trees TOOB.  The tray is from a dollar store.  I’ve also seen similar ones at party supply stores.

My boys had a great time building their farms with animals and fences.

farm play dough 1

The textured rollers in the front are Center Enterprise CE6665 READY2LEARN Paint and Clay Textured Rollers (Pack of 4).  The blue and red palm rollers are also fun for making texture on play dough (Center Enterprise CE6671 READY2LEARN Set 1 Palm Dough Rollers (Pack of 3)).

While both of my boys enjoyed this farm play dough try and played with it for more than half and hour, my youngest always enjoys them the most and comes back to play with it several times during the week.

farm play dough 2

We generally stick with one color of play dough so we can reuse that color for future play dough trays (aka no other colors get mixed in!), but this set would also be great with some brown play dough to represent dirt.

Have you tried play dough trays?  What themes have you used?


In a few hours, tallies from the polls will start rolling in.

Anxiety is high, our nation is divided, emotions are on full blast.

In the morning tomorrow, we will rise and go to work, we will rise and meet up with friends, we will rise and turn on the radio or the TV, we will rise and run errands, we will rise.  A new president will be elected and there will be those claiming victory, those enduring defeat, and those who didn’t like the choices to begin with.  When you rise tomorrow, when you head to work, when you encounter a friend, when you chat with the check out clerk or a stranger in line — choose love.  Choose words and thoughts that express love.  Rather than dividing our nation further, choose to come together in love.

What if your social media post tomorrow wasn’t about celebrating “your” candidate’s victory but instead embracing those who didn’t see the outcome they wanted to?  What if your social media post tomorrow wasn’t complaining and anger towards “the other side” but instead expressing hope for our nation to come together as one?

I do have hope that this nation can overcome its divide.  I have hope, that no matter who is declared president while I am sleeping tonight, that tomorrow we can put our differences aside and attempt to heal the rifts that this election season has wrought upon our nation.  I have hope that we can begin to see our different opinions and beliefs not as building blocks of anger but as tools for compromise.  I have hope that we can open our eyes and realize that just because someone holds a different system of values doesn’t mean that they harbor hate towards others.  I have hope that we can learn to love one another, love everyone, no matter their opinions, beliefs, history, mistakes, lifestyle, morals, or values.

The reason I have hope is simple.  Tomorrow morning, when I wake up, my ruler will be the same.  Jesus will still reign as King.  God is still in control.

Jesus calls us to love.


How to Paint the IKEA Kura Bed

(I have some old posts I have been unable to move to this new site. Please pardon the virtual dust and the fairly plain blog for the time being!)

My two boys share a tiny room on the second floor of a house with sloped Cape Cod ceilings. Which works very well when you have a three year old in a toddler bed and a 1.5 year old in a crib. However, when your older son starts to complain his bed is too small (might have something to do with the 5-10 books he sleeps with each night…) and then you hear him (on the monitor) telling his little brother that he (little brother) sleeps in jail (i.e. crib)… You start to think maybe it’s time to improve the bed situation.

The challenges in their room are the size (TINY) and the sloped ceiling (which starts to slope at 54-55″). Two twin beds are out of the question, they would barely fit. One shared full bed? I’m certain there wouldn’t be much sleeping going on.  So, the best option for my boys was the Kura Bed from IKEA.  Older son on the top, younger son on the bottom.

IKEA Kura Bed

Now, let’s be clear…  I am fully aware that IKEA advertises this bed as either a low bed or a high bed (loft).  Not a bunk bed.  However, in theory, if it is used as a loft bed with a play space underneath, it is (in my opinion) just as safe to have a child sleep under it.  Additionally, IKEA advertises the top as being for 6 years of age and older.  My three year old sleeps on a regular bed that is this tall (with bed rails) at his Nana’s house, so I am not concerned about the height.  He is a very cautious boy and I don’t even think he would consider any daredevil moves on the top bunk.  I am also aware that there potential issues with putting a mattress directly on the floor.  The main issue being moisture and mold.  We encase our mattresses in waterproof/bug proof covers, so mold is rather unlikely in this situation, but if you flip the mattress up once a week or so to let it breathe, there shouldn’t be any issues. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s move on…

Before embarking on this project, I did a lot of researching, pinning, and planning.  I determined that I needed to paint this bed white because… Well, I love the color white.  It’s my favorite color.  Plus, all the other furniture in the room is white (and coincidentally from IKEA) and I suspected the wood color of the bed wouldn’t look great with the color of our old wood floors.  Once I made the decision to paint,  I specifically researched whether or not to sand and what type of paint to use.  Some people sanded, some claimed you didn’t need to, and some said you could use primer instead.  Some used spray paint and some used regular paint.

Working backwards with my decisions, I decided to use regular paint.  I personally am not a huge fan of spray paint for several reasons — It’s messy, it has to be done outside (for ventilation reasons, plus I don’t have a large enough space in my house to spray where I’m not worried about overspray ending up on my floors or walls), and honestly I’m just not great at spraying without getting any drips.  To make things easy, I grabbed one of the white panels and one of the wood pieces from the IKEA box, took it to the hardware store, went to the paint counter and said, “Hey, I need to paint this wood and I need it to be exactly this shade of white.  What do you recommend?”  Maybe there’s a better way to do it, but it all worked out.  He helped me select a paint with a primer built in, color matched it to the white panel using that fancy color matching machine they have, and presto, I had a gallon of paint in the perfect white shade.

A few notes.  YOU DON’T NEED A GALLON.  You should only need two thin coats on everything if you are painting it white, and when I was finished I had not even used one quarter of the gallon.  I honestly think you can get by with a quart if you paint two thin coats.  Also, please consider that ALL WHITE IS NOT THE SAME.  That’s right, you can’t just go buy any old white paint and have it match the panel.  Now, that may not bother you, but if you are like me and you see the tiniest variances in color… go through the trouble of hauling that panel in with you to get it color matched so you can get the white paint as close as possible to the panel color.

(Let’s take a moment to pause and reflect on what a wonderful thing it is that the panels are no longer blue.  THANK YOU IKEA.)

blue panel Kura Bed

Seriously.  What a pain if I had to paint the panels too… Moving on!

Eager to start, I tested the paint out on the wood pieces without sanding them.  After drying, it scratched right off.  I had some fine grit paper handy, so I roughed up the clear coat finish and then painted.  It still scratched off a bit.  So, I decided it was time to pull out the big guns.  Coarse grit sand paper.  Now, I used 60 grit because that is what I had handy, but I think 80 would work fine as well.  My final verdict on the not-sanding vs. must-sanding debate: sand. Sand all of that clear coat off of the wood.  All of it.  If you want to follow up after the coarse sand paper with a fine grit to smooth it out, be my guest — but after 4 hours of sanding in 85-90 degree heat with a mask over my face, I didn’t want to look at anymore sandpaper.

Sanding IKEA Kura Bed

I highly recommend using a sanding block like this, makes the job much easier.  (Un-sanded wood on the top, sanded wood on the bottom of the photo.)

After sanding, I covered my dining table with a drop cloth (because who actually eats at their dining table… its for crafting, right?) and laid out all of the pieces.  Time to paint.

Now let me introduce you to the roller you NEED to do the painting with.


Go to Lowe’s and get this roller — it’s called the WHIZZ Sample and Touch Up Mini Roller Kit.  It is the PERFECT width to paint the sides of the wood pieces of the Kura Bed.  Trust me, totally worth the $2-3 splurge even if you already own approximately 87 paint brushes and 26 paint rollers.  (But who’s counting?!)

Paint one coat on each piece on the first side, let dry 1-2 hours, paint a second coat on that same side, let dry several more hours (overnight), and then turn all the pieces to the second side.  Repeat with two coats on each side.  This roller will make such quick, neat work of the painting.  Keep it fairly dry and make the coats thin to avoid drips.  The roller will even get the paint on the beveled corners without any extra work.


(Barefoot late-night painting.  And look at that beautiful little roller… did I mention its perfect for painting this bed?)

Now all thats left is assembly.  If you were smart, you noticed while painting that five of the pieces had numbers on them and you transcribed the numbers into one of the little holes/indents in the side of piece where they wouldn’t get painted over.  Definitely do that, it will help with assembly.  I didn’t notice until I had painted over two of the numbers.  Oops.

Get yourself a helper for assembly.  Preferably another adult as there are several steps that are best with two tall-ish strong-ish people (i.e. someone over the age of 3 or 4…), but sometimes you have to take what you can get…

My Helper

Safety first, people.

After 1-2 hours and hopefully not too many injuries (I only got two bruises and bumped my head three times), you will have a beautiful painted Kura Bed.

White Painted IKEA Kura Bed

So white.  So lovely.

(More photos of the finished room to come… Once it is finished!)

Thanks for sticking with me through that lengthy description/tutorial.  Short version?

Buy IKEA Kura Bed, color match paint to white panels, sand with coarse grit paper, paint with this awesome tiny roller, assemble.  Done.