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Frugal Fun at Our House: Pudding Finger Paint

Remember all those Kraft coupons which were available not too long ago? I used the $1/3 Jell-O pudding coupons at the Double Dollar coupon sale at our local grocery store to buy a number of boxes of pudding for pennies per box.

In addition to making some , I used the pudding last week for a creative homeschool project. We mixed up some of it, donned some of Daddy's old t-shirts, and used it as finger paint.


In addition to just letting them play and draw and have fun with the finger paint, we also practiced writing the letters we're currently working on.



And then, since the finger paint was edible, the girls got to make pudding mustaches, too!



It was a fun activity–and it only cost a few pennies! Who says fun can't be frugal?

*****More Ideas******

::If you don't have extra pudding on hand, you can also make finger paint with Kool-Aid (see instructions ) or corn syrup and food coloring (see instructions ) or corn starch, sugar, and food coloring (see instructions ).

::I'm hoping to try and soon. Do you have any other links to frugal, fun, and educational activities for toddlers?


Many of you have asked for more specifics about what we're using for homeschool curriculum. We're doing the this year for our homeschool lessons and we're thoroughly enjoying it. It combines the best of Charlotte Mason's philosophies of education and Classical education and teaches it all from a Biblical Worldview.

Not only have I found this curriculum to be academically strong, it's fun–as learning should be, especially when you are 2 and 4 years old. The girls are loving it and they often beg if we can please "start doing school" as soon as they get up in the morning. I hope they never lose their excitement!

In addition to My Father's World, we also add in lots of extra reading from and great classic read-alouds (we're reading through the Little House on the Prairie series right now) throughout our day because we just can't get enough of good books around here! We've found along with our local library to be excellent sources for very inexpensive or free books.

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  • says:

    “Writing” in pudding, salt, and shaving cream are three of my favorite early learning activities!

  • says:

    Cute idea! I love that this is a frugal and non-toxic way to do finger painting. I’m going to try this with my little guy. Thanks!

  • Lynne says:

    How fun, we start MFW K next week! Glad to see you all enjoying it!

  • Roxanne says:

    MFW is a good choice 🙂

    Being a twaddle-free mom, you should enjoy this story:

    Last week I was at a used book sale with my just turned 3yo. Before it started a lady was asking my daughter what books she liked to read…Dora, Disney, etc. My daughter said, “I like Curious George and Dr. Seuss.”

    When we got into the sale, searching for good kid books, my daughter picked up a book she had never seen before, and said, “Look Mom, an Eric Carle book.” She knew the author because she recognized the style of illustrations.

    Made this homeschool momma’s heart so proud!

  • Bethany says:

    Well, I don’t have a link for this, but sometimes I’ll pour a bunch of dry beans or lentils or something like that into a large jelly roll pan and my boys like to drive their cars in it. It makes cool roads. I don’t know if girls would find such an activity equally enjoyable, but you could modify the general idea. 🙂 In either case, it’s a nice tactile activity. A bit like sand, but not as messy.
    Have fun!

  • Jennifer says:

    Cute pictures and I love the links you provided, too. Thanks! 🙂

  • says:

    It’s already been mentioned, but shaving cream is a fun one to use. I teach in the public schools, and at the end of the school year I buy several cheap cans of shaving cream. My students spray it all over their desks and I let them play, but then they also draw geometric figures that we’ve learned in math (I teach 5th graders). Not only is it fun and messy (even for big kids), but it also cleans the desks. Saves me a step when I pack up my room for the summer.

    You could also get some colored pipe cleaners from the dollar store and have your girls form letters from the straight sticks. Kathrynne could make the letters and Kaitlynn could sort by color…

    You could also buy the colored pom=pom balls and have them glue them on paper to form letters.

  • says:

    I forgot to ask but which Little House book are you on now? Aren’t those the best?!?!

  • says:

    Yay! As a former kindergarten teacher turned SAHM, this makes my heart swell! Good job mama! You can also use salt trays, shaving cream, and hair gel in a ziploc baggy to change it up a little.

  • says:

    With your mention of twaddle-free books, I thought I’d point out this link to the top 100 picture books:

    It’s a GREAT list and may give more ideas for your family to check out.

    I’m not completely anti- the Disney, Dora, etc. stuff. We may have something Sesame Street on the shelves and I know we have “There’s a monster at the end of this book” (one of my favorites growing up). But for the most part I avoid them because my son just doesn’t relate. The characters mean nothing to him and there are many better books to read over and over and over.

  • says:

    Adorable 🙂 We are starting MFW Creation to Greeks next week!

  • says:

    Similar to what Roxanne posted, you can also used uncooked rice. I have two bins like this, one with an assortment of dried beans & one with rice. The one with rice I’ve added just a few beans for a different texture. It CAN be messy if your kids get too crazy with it like my son tends to. Now I put him on the back deck at his little table. Thanks for the homeschooling info. How did you decide what curriculum to use? I get overwhelmed just looking at all the different choices.

  • Julianne Hendrickson says:

    what a great kinesthetic activity!!!

  • says:

    Oh we used to love to do alphabet magnets on cookie sheets. I made a mini indoor clothesline that they used with alphabet flashcards and clothespins to spell. Such a fun age! If you get a chance, check out Chasing Cheerios, she has tons of great hands on ideas for your kids ages!

  • dona says:

    Not only is a “bean box” fun but you may also like a rice box. I keep one at just pull it out every now and then for an outdoor activity. They love digging their hands into the beans or rice and yet it is not as messy as sand. We keep measuring cups and plastic bottles in ours.

  • Honey says:

    Here’s a guest post I did recently for this topic:

    Great idea to make it edible!

  • says:

    That’s cute! I remember doing the same thing in school.

    When I taught summer camp, a big favorite with the toddler crew was when we would make colored bubbles and then blow them onto a big white sheet to make a design.

    We would also tye dye a coffee filter using kool aid, let it dry and then use a clothes pin to kind of scrunch it up in the middle to make a butterfly. Here’s a link that kind of shows what I mean:

    Speaking of butterflies we would also make butter by taking turns shaking a container of whipping cream.

  • says:

    How fun! I’m going to check out your links. I love ideas like this. I think learning should be fun (and if you are the teacher, it helps Mom too doesn’t it?!) You can check out some of my ideas ideas if you like – I have links to toddler, preschool, inexpensive ideas on the sidebar!

  • Jenni says:

    I do this with food colored vanilla pudding or koolaid too – both for the tactile experience as well as learning color mixing – blue/yellow = green, red/yellow = orange etc. we also mix koolaid packets and table salt for safer sand art pictures.

  • Sonia McNeely says:

    Made the Peanut Butter Play Dough this afternoon! My 3 & 1 year old loved it! It was really tasty. Just a warning that after they have played with it for a while it does get a little mushy. The mess was defiantly worth it! Thanks for the great suggestions and tips. Our truck is in the shop and the kids and I were starting to go a little stir crazy!

  • says:

    Fun – I’ve seen this idea suggested before, but we’ve never tried it. I’ve just been reading through our copy of MFW Kindergarten as well – we’re planning to start in a couple of weeks!

  • says:

    We have some good pics of similar activities. 😉 Love the peanut butter playdough idea!

  • Karen says:

    I have 2 children just a tad younger than each of your older two. It was fun to hear that you chose MFW-K as that is what I also ordered for my 4 y.o. son for this year. The boards said that most boys are not ready at 4, but it looks like exactly what we are looking for. I know you are understandably not posting as much, but would love to hear how it’s going whenever you get a chance.

  • Kathi says:

    You might want to try this link it is for Five in a Row which is more early elementary level but once you see the FIAR “system” you can adapt to younger or older age levels. There are actually books for Before and After Five in a Row if you are so inclined.

  • says:

    What a great idea – THANKS – I am linking your post and will be trying it tomorrow with my kids!!

  • Jan says:

    oh you are brave- that would be all over everything at my house! 🙂

  • says:

    I taught my son to write his name in the sand at a park using a stick. He had a hard time holding onto a pencil/crayon properly and it made forming letters hard for him. But, with a stick in the sand he did a great job!

  • Krista says:

    We are starting MFW Kindergarten right now too! I have 5 and 3 year old girls who are loving it. We are doing the Creation unit now, will take a good month break while I am having Baby girl #3, and then will pick back up! I will enjoy reading your thoughts on it throughout the year! 🙂

  • Renee says:

    Great idea, Krystal. What child is going to turn down the chance to play with their food? My mom had me practice cursive letters with a spoon while stirring food on the stove when I was a few years older than your two students.

    I’ve heard nothing but good things about MFW, and am almost sold for when we start school with my 20 MO.

    Thanks for your wonderful website, from a long-time lurker.

  • says:

    This is a great idea. My kids are goin gto be so excited when I pull out the pudding and baking sheets tomorrow!

  • says:

    It’s so fun to see the kids having fun. I just posted yesterday on some ideas I’ve used over the years for frugal fun ( including chocolate pudding finger paint! 🙂 ) You’re welcome to come check it out:

  • says:

    The pudding idea is a great one! So much easier than paint!

    Some Cheap Ways We Have Fun Link:

  • says:

    Great ideas! Thanks!

    I’ve done MFW K four times now and love it dearly. The little proverbs are seared into our hearts forever; our faves: (T) I don’t give up; I perservere. (O) Even the octopus praises the Lord. : )

    We would review them every week and at the end of the K year, would actually have them recite all of them from memory (hold up the card, they say the proverb) — then they got a special one-on-one restaurant trip of their choice. It was like we could see their confidence and maturity grow before our very eyes when they found they could memorize all of those.

  • says:

    I have worked with toddlers for years and I love Oobleck! Mix cornstarch and water and, voila!, you’ve got lots of fun. It’s educational as it allows toddlers to explore the concepts of solids and liquids (oobleck is both).

    Another idea: If you have a sandbox, fill a spray bottle with water and add a drop or two of food coloring. Allow your child to spray the sand. When finished, simply turn the sand and the colors will disappear.

    Grab a Kool-Aid packet, some thick paper, and an ice cube. Sprinkle some Kool-Aid on the paper and allow your child to “paint” with it using the ice cube. So much fun.

  • Gayle says:

    I remember growing up my mom would let us glue dry beans of different sizes and colors & different shapes of pasta to cardboard or stiff paper to make pictures. You could try that with letters, shapes, etc to make it educational.

  • says:

    I am always looking for book suggestions for my voracious readers. (Even our 10 month old will sit and listen to books for a long time if you put a small toy in front of her to go with it!

    We are starting a mix if preschool and kindergarten this year for our just turned 4 year old as she keeps asking for more! We are using Saxon Math K (which looks like a good mix of kindergarten and preschool but more preschool), the Rod and Staff preschool a-g series, Alphaphonics, and lots of reading and crafting time (I stuff envelopes with drawings and crafts and send them off to the grandparents – it helps the I can’t bear to throw it out but have too much paper problem!)

  • says:

    In case my ‘baby blogging break’ might’ve distracted you or any of my readers, I’m back to blogging at .

    I’m schooling a 5, 3 and 2 year old this year, and after our move in a couple of weeks, am hoping to get back into school with our little ones, and will be posting what we do here.

    Hands-on is really important to children, especially to assist their learning. Hop over sometime and maybe you’ll find some new ideas to use yourself!

    The archives on the site contain lots of homemade teaching ideas for budget keepers!

  • Beth says:

    Thank you for posting this information! I know that this blog is more money-related, but I have always loved your ideas and thoughts on mothering/training children. I am constantly looking for more resources as I train my daughter. Thanks for giving us a glimpse into your personal life!

  • says:

    I am us My Father’s World with my 6th grader for the third year. I just love it. Can’t wait to get my little ones up in the curriculum.

  • says:

    I just did this with my almost-3-year-old a few weeks ago…and she LOVED it. Chocolate + Art = a very happy preschooler. 🙂

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