Homemade Gak

How many others remember Nickelodeon, both their TV shows and their products, vividly from their childhood? Gak was one of my favorites. I vividly remember the ‘fart’ noises it made when squished, and the way my parents cringed at the thought. It stretched, it squished, it oozed. Remembering all the fun I had had as a child, I really enjoy bringing some of these toys back for my own kids to play with and enjoy today. Being a mother to 4 boys, I knew I couldn’t go wrong with any toy, or substance, that emits any noise slightly resembling flatulence. I found this recipe from Lil Luna. My boys, young and old, literally spent hours playing with the stretchy, gooey gelatinous substance. Even my teenager traded the iPod in for some good old-fashioned hands on fun with something ‘yuck’. I’m especially fond of any toys, activities, or crafts that get all four playing together. They actually cooperated, shared, and just got to enjoy each other’s company. Our first batch was yellow, but yours can be any color your heart desires. Mix and match your food coloring. Experiment, but most of all have fun!

Homemade Gak

4 Sons 'R' Us: yellow Homemade Gak being pulled upwards from a clear tub

  • 2, 4 oz, bottles of Elmer’s Glue
  • 1 tsp borax
  • water
  • food coloring

Directions

  1. Empty both bottles of glue into a bowl. 
  2. Fill bottles with warm water, recap, shake, and then empty into the bowl.
  3. Add a few drops of food coloring. Stir and set aside.
  4. To another bowl, add 1/2 cup of warm water. Add in the borax and stir until dissolved.
  5. Pour the borax mixture into the glue bowl.
  6. Begin by stirring with a spoon. Once it becomes super stringy, begin mixing and squishing by hand. It should be pretty gelatinous by this point.
  7. Let the kids play with it for a few minutes and it will become the perfect gooey consistency.

Even better, when you’re done, your Gak can be stored for play at a later date.

4 Sons 'R' Us: Homemade Gak

Homemade Cold Medicine

Ever feel a cold creeping up and need to knock it out before it has a chance to take hold? This homemade cold medicine can nip it in the bud.

Designed to tackle coughs, congestion, and a sore throat, it surpasses anything I’ve ever gotten from the store and it’s my go-to recipe when someone in my house starts feeling sick.

Even better, I don’t have to wonder is it safe? Is this actually the proper dosage?  How many hours has it been? What is 2% of “asdlkjasdklh” for?

All four major ingredients are known for their different healing and therapeutic properties. When combined they’re a cold-kicking powerhouse.

I always keep some on hand stored in the fridge, especially during the winter months when my kids are more prone to catch something.

Give it a try for yourself next time you or your loved ones have got the tell-tale signs you’re coming down with a cold.

4 Sons 'R' Us: Homemade Cold Medicine in a small wide mouthed glass jar with a silver colored spoon

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Homemade Cold Medicine

Ingredients

  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1 tbsp organic apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp raw honey local is best*

Instructions

  • In a small jar, combine vinegar and water.
  • Dissolve cayenne and ginger into the liquids.
  • Add honey.
  • Shake well.

Notes

Dosage: Adults should take 1 tbsp as needed. I give my kids** 1/2 tbsp as needed for cough/congestion.
*Some research suggests that consuming local raw honey can help allergy sufferers find some relief. Raw (unprocessed) honey still contains enzymes and pollen. Local honey contains pollen from plants in your vicinity that you're constantly exposed to and that might be causing or triggering your allergies. Essentially, ingesting the local pollen, in small doses, over a prolonged period of time would act as a natural vaccine.
**WARNING: Children under 12 months of age should NEVER consumer honey, raw or processed, as there is a risk of Child Botulism (bacterial illness). Further, honey is acidic and the practice of keeping it sitting in the mouth for prolonged periods of time may erode dental enamel.

 

Simple Sensory Bags

Sensory play is a wonderful opportunity for young children to explore the world around them using their five senses while also honing their fine motor skills. My boys have always been very touch and texture oriented, and sensory bags have been a wonderful way to encourage them. Below are two examples of some of the sensory bags I’ve made for them to play with. It’s so neat to watch their little fingers as the discover how the different items in the bag feel, and watch their little fingers work to move them around. I always find myself wondering what they’re thinking and what conclusions they could be drawing during play as they become engrossed in the activity. Sensory bags are a wonderful quiet time activity. Perfect for tummy time, or anytime I need to get a little one to sit still, but still need to keep them engaged. The possibilities on themes is endless. Get creative, play with it, and see what kind of sensory bags you can come up with. Or just copy these.

Simple Sensory Bags

simple sensory ziplocking bag filled with green goop various red buttons and frog figurines

Frog Pond

  • quart size, ziplock freezer bag
  • aloe vera gel
  • frog figures, I found an 8 pack at the dollar store
  • assorted buttons
  • 4-6 decorative glass beads
  • duck-tape

simple ziplocking sensory bag with blue goop and plastic star & heart pieces and various sized black buttons

Princess

  • quart size, ziplock freezer bag
  • hair gel
  • princess party favors (any type as long as there’s no sharp edges to puncture the bag)
  • assorted buttons
  • 4-6 decorative glass beads
  • duck tape

Directions

  1.  Squirt gel into bag until desired fullness is reached. Remember the bag sill has to zip and the edges be duck-taped without being so full it will pop when played with, about 1 1/4 cup of gel should be sufficient.
  2. Add in trinkets of your choosing.
  3. Compress bag gently to remove any trapped air and seal tightly.
  4. Duck tape all outer edges of the bag to make sturdier and guard against leaks.
  5. Use as a tummy time mat or lap activity and let the little ones explore and enjoy.

Easy Edible Finger Paint

Last month I found an entire box of boxes of vanilla pudding marked down to pennies at the grocery store. I purchased it knowing I would find multiple uses for it later. Plus, I realized it would have been almost mean not to take it off their hands since they were practically giving it away. One day, my 3 year old was begging me to ‘paint’, but I was out of actual finger paint with no intentions of going to the store that day. I remembered someone telling me about making a safe edible finger paint from Greek yogurt and food coloring, and thought why not? Instead of Greek yogurt, the pudding served as the paint base. This recipe and activity was a success; kid tested and baby approved! It dried just like normal paint. It almost resembles a water color painting. It’s great for kids of all ages, even age appropriate infants since it’s perfectly safe to consume, yummy even, when they stick their hands in their mouth. What toddler wouldn’t be amazed to have the activity also be the snack?

Easy Edible Finger Paint

edible finger paint in glass baby food jars

  •  1 package vanilla instant pudding
  • food coloring

Directions

  1. Prepare pudding according to the package directions.
  2. If you’re trying for several different colors, separate the pudding into several bowls or containers.
  3. Add in drops of food coloring until desired color is reached.
  4. Paint on white paper.
  5. Let artwork dry. Voila!

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

In my effort to cut costs everywhere I can, and to be as all natural as possible on our families budget, I decided to stop buying store bought dish detergent and see if I could replicate it for minimal cost and still get great results.

This at all natural homemade dishwasher detergent uses only 3 ingredients, which I keep on hand and only takes a few minutes to whip up.

Using equal parts of the two main ingredients, I can make as much or as little as I need.

My favorite part, each load only costs pennies!

My dishes even seem to be cleaner than when I previously used a store bought detergent.

A cheap way to achieve sparkling results? Yes, please!4 Sons 'R' Us: Homemade Dish Detergent in a ziplocking bag on a brown background

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Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

Ingredients

  • borax
  • washing soda
  • lemon flavored kool aid packet optional

Instructions

  • Mix equal parts borax and washing soda together. Make sure it’s equal parts.
  • If using, add in kool aid packet.
  • Stir until all ingredients are evenly combined.
  • Transfer detergent into a storage container.
  • Use 2 tbsp per load.

Notes

The kool aid packet is just for scent purposes, and without it the detergent will still clean just as well.
I couldn’t ask for, and haven’t found, an easier all-natural recipe for dish detergent and for only pennies per load!
*For best results, rinse dishes thoroughly before loading them into the dishwasher. This isn’t an issue for me since my husband is a stickler about rinsing dishes pre-wash. Also, to avoid an streaks try using a rinse aid. If needed, I use plain white distilled vinegar as an all natural rinse aid.

4 Sons 'R' Us: Homemade Dish Detergent in a ziplocked bag with name and directions for use written on it