Have you been as naughty as we have with the Easter candy this year? Kinley and I have polished off a giant bag of Starburst jellybeans, two bags of those crunchy shell Cadbury eggs and wayyyy too many purple bunny Peeps already this year, and we are still a week away from the actual ginormous candy-explosion of a holiday.
Our never-ending supply of yummy purple bunnies totally inspired this project. I know lots of people don't love the taste of them as much as we do, but I think we can all agree they are pretty much the cutest candy ever created! Kinley always apologizes before biting their cute little ears off :)
I've been dreaming up a Peep project for her for a couple of weeks, and the paint and "sugar" combo I finally came up with was such a hit I knew I had to share it with you! I think any kiddo, big or teeny, would have fun with this one. The textures are just so much fun and the final product looks good enough to eat!
I used to make little yellow chick Peeps with the babies at daycare which were adorable, but I sprinkled real sugar on them and they always ended up a giant sticky mess. For our at home bunny version, I decided to try tinting Epsom salt. I was hoping it would give a sugary-crystal texture, and it totally worked!
To make each color of Epsom "sugar", you'll need:
- 1/2 cup Epsom salt
- 1/2 tsp rubbing alcohol (or vinegar--I actually used vinegar, but it left a little funk. I'll use alcohol next time, for sure.)
- food coloring or liquid watercolors (I used our homemade liquid watercolors.)
I made these the night before we actually made our Peeps because the salt needs a little time to dry out. For each of the four colors I made, I just put the salt and vinegar in a little bowl and then squirted watercolor in and stirred and mixed and added more watercolor until the color was the exact shade I wanted. Then I dumped each bowl of tinted salt onto a paper-towel lined plate to dry. In the morning, Kinley and I just crumbled up the colored salt cakes and put them back in the little bowls I mixed them in and we were ready to roll.
Pretty simple, right?
We couldn't just paint with regular old paint when we had such realistic sugar. I mean it probably would've turned out pretty cool, but wouldn't super fluffy amazing marshmallow paint, be even better? Definitely :)
To make the coolest, fluffiest paint ever, you'll need:
- white school glue
- shaving cream
- liquid watercolors or food coloring (I used our homemade liquid watercolors again--they are completely washable which is super awesome for messy stuff like marshmallow paint! Good luck keeping your own hands out of it, let alone your kiddo's! It's irresistibly fluffy :) )
So, the idea is to mix equal parts glue and shaving cream, but there's really no way to mess this stuff up, so just eyeball it. That's what I did -- I just dumped a whole regular-sized bottle of glue in a mixing bowl and squirted in some shaving cream and mixed it up. It wasn't fluffy enough to qualify as marshmallow paint at first, so I added more shaving cream until it was the perfect texture.
When it was perfect, I just separated the paint into four bowls and added liquid watercolors again until they were the shades of pink, purple, yellow and blue I was looking for.
All set and ready to get our Peep on, we headed up to the schoolroom. I was anticipating the big gigantic mess that was about to happen and had already spread our trusty party tablecloth on the school table to catch all the sugar and marshmallow awesomeness. I had four white cardstock Peep-shaped bunnies waiting for each of us, our heavy-duty paintbrushes, and some transparent tape to stick our bunnies to the table while we decorated them. (I didn't make K wear a smock for this one 'cause I already knew the watercolor paints wash out really easily, but if you used food coloring to dye your paint, you will definitely need to break those babies out.)
Just like at the actual Peep factory, marshmallow first, then add sugar! :)
We both had sooo much fun with this process! Kinley asked the entire time we were Peep-ing if we could do it all over again the next day. She LOVED it! She wants me to note that the only thing that would make this paint even better is if it smelled more like marshmallows and vanilla and less like "Daddy in the morning" :) There is just something so fun and satisfying about the completely different textures of the super fluffy paint and grainy salt. We figured out the best way to get lots of "sugar" to stick to your bunny is globbing on tons of marshmallow paint. And that's fun, just check out this little happy face if you don't believe me:
To make the little eyes and nose, I just used a hole punch and some brown construction paper. Since the paint has glue in it, you might not even have to do anything to stick them on except press them down onto your bunnies if you don't wait too long like I did.
We had some extra tinted salt leftover, so I used it to make Kinley a salt letter-writing tray, finally. One of my teacher friends recommended trying one a few months ago because K detests anything that remotely resembles writing practice, but I wasn't in a major rush to get one fixed up for her because I just knew she wouldn't care about it at all.
Man, was I wrong. It was, and still is, a major hit! I was so shocked when she sat down and wrote every letter of the alphabet (upper AND lowercase) with her finger, and then asked if she could work on her shape flashcards. I was slightly worried that her body had been taken over by a writing-practice-loving alien :) She did the same thing again today, too. This salt tray thing is no joke, man. It's a miracle worker!
I just used the wooden tray our Melissa & Doug letter magnets came in and lined the salt side with pretty pink scrapbook paper to make it a little more enticing. I also printed out and laminated these adorable free alphabet flashcards from the ultra-cool Mr. Printables website. (If you haven't ever been there, you better make sure your ink cartridges are full because you are gonna want to print ALL THE THINGS!!) I had to trim them down a little to fit in the slot, but they are soo super cute.
We had extra marshmallow paint left, too, and K had plans for that before clean-up was even underway. She's been super in to potion-making lately, and after our Peeps were finished and our schoolroom was back in order, she took the paint and headed out to the patio with the stuff she requested for her experiments: a squirt bottle full of vinegar, a ramekin of table salt, a container of water and two pipettes, a wooden spatula, and a big empty container for mixing. She had the scientific time of her cute little life out there while I got the dishes done. She kept running over to the window to show me all of the cool mixtures and reactions and I'm not sure who had the biggest smile...proud momma me or excited little scientist her? :)
I'm also not really sure which part of this spectacular day full of Peep fun was the biggest hit. We used all the parts of this craft...didn't waste a single bit! :)
I hope you have as much fun as we did with all of these fun things. If you give Peep day a try at your house, you'll probably want to have some actual Peeps on hand or at least some marshmallow creme in your cupboard because, trust me, you will need some after playing with that paint :)
As usual, if you try any of this stuff and post it to Instagram, tag me (cara.raisingkinley) and I'll be there in a jiffy to like it. It makes my heart so happy to see other families having fun with ideas that we've shared!
Happy almost Easter, Peeps! :)
**This post contains a few affiliate links, but as always, I only link the actual products we use and know to be of great quality.