Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Fluffy rainbow clouds of joy on a sick day (plus a $100 giveaway!)

fluffy dyed cotton balls in tray - colorful cotton ball art collage

Do you need something easy and fun to do with kids on a sick day? It doesn't matter whether they have the cold or you do — sometimes you just need a simple activity to keep everyone busy and happy for awhile! I've got just the fluffy colorful fun for you.

This is the last post in my three-part series on the topic of sick days and kids for Children's Mucinex. My first post offered my go-to tips for helping your family survive cold and flu season, and my second post shared seven simple ways to turn sick days into fun days.

I got the inspiration (pinspiration!) for today's craft from the ever-creative Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom.

However, I've tweaked the recipe a little to account for Northwestern winters. You see, the recipe as written calls for two hours of drying time in the sun (what's that again?) … but mine took two full days indoors away from the drizzle outside. My fellow Seattleite Shannon had the genius suggestion to try rubbing alcohol instead of water. Presto change-o: Now the cotton was ready to work with in just a few hours!

I took these pictures the first time I made these with plain water, so I'll point out the differences. For one thing, water yielded (for me) pastel colors, but rubbing alcohol made them really vivid and bright. Both are pretty and kid-approved! So if you don't have rubbing alcohol around, just allow for about twice as much water as rubbing alcohol and some extra drying time.

spraying vinegar into little containers - colorful cotton ball art collage

Spritz a few squirts of vinegar water into small cups or bowls. I used yogurt containers we make frozen yogurt-sicles in. If you don't obsessively use vinegar and water in a spray bottle all the time as your go-to cleaner, then you can dribble a little from an actual vinegar bottle. Whatevs.

holding food coloring in gloved hand - colorful cotton ball art collage

No, I don't have fancy food-based organic dyes. But we use food coloring so rarely, I wonder if I'll ever use these up! Wear gloves, or you will have very colorful fingers.

dye and vinegar in containers - colorful cotton ball art collage

Pour about 1/8 of a cup of rubbing alcohol into each cup,
and then add 10 drops of food coloring.

putting white cotton balls into dye - colorful cotton ball art collage

Floof in (yes, that's a term) 12 to 15 cotton balls.
Note that I used a lot more of water than I used of rubbing alcohol.
Mostly because I'm cheap, and rubbing alcohol
costs at least 50 cents a bottle, yo.

cotton balls soaking up dye - colorful cotton ball art collage

Squoosh (yes, that's a term, too) the cotton balls on in there and
stir and swirl them around to absorb all the dyed liquid evenly.
With the rubbing alcohol, you won't even see the top of the water like in this picture, because there's less liquid and it will absorb more quickly.

cotton balls in different colors soaking up dye - colorful cotton ball art collage

Once the cotton balls have absorbed all the liquid, you can remove them.
I found the rubbing alcohol also helped them absorb the colors more thoroughly
and evenly. (Thanks again, Shannon!)

lining baking sheet with cloth rags - colorful cotton ball art collage

Pick a place to lay them out to dry. If the surface is dear to you,
line it so you don't stain it like a rainbow pooped on it.

wet dyed cotton balls drying - colorful cotton ball art collage

Our old baking sheet had it coming, so I didn't worry. I want to point out here how much fun you can have with just four bottles of food coloring. The package had all these secret scientific (not really) formulas for mixing cool colors, so I took advantage: jungle green (it really did call it that), aqua, purple, orange. You can probably guess and experiment if your food coloring doesn't give you guidance — add a drop of blue to several of red to make purple, and skew greens more lime by adding drops of yellow. Add a drop or more of green to blue to steer it toward turquoise. Have fun!

cutting cotton balls in thirds - colorful cotton ball art collage

Check back to see if your cotton balls are dry. If you've used water and live in a humid client, do so obsessively for multiple days. If you've used rubbing alcohol, it should take just a few hours, though you might want to prepare this after the kids go to bed and let it dry overnight. The cotton balls are dry when they don't festively smear your fingers.
Cut or tear your cotton balls into thirds.

fluffing cotton balls - colorful cotton ball art collage

Fluff them out. The fluffier and smaller the pieces, the longer this craft will last!

boy's hand holding colorful cotton balls - colorful cotton ball art collage

By this point, Mikko wanted to know what the heck I was up to. Remember that this baking sheet o' colorful fluff had been sitting there drying for two days,
so his curiosity was well and truly piqued.

boy fluffing cotton balls - colorful cotton ball art collage

I told him we were going to do a craft, and he was really excited.
Then I asked him to help me, saying his assistance would speed things along
and mentioning that I was going to write about it for my blog.

boy and mama fluffing cotton balls together - colorful cotton ball art collage

The clever little entrepreneur — who earns pennies per mailing label when he helps his dad get DVDs ready to sell — seized onto that and started negotiating with me.
He'd help me fluff … for a price. We settled on a nickel.

fluffy dyed cotton balls - colorful cotton ball art collage

He did a good job for those wages, no?

boy squeezing glue on paper - colorful cotton ball art collage

We spread out our paper and squirted regular ol' white craft glue all over it. Go ahead and cover the whole sheet, because it dries clear, and that way your kids can put the cotton wherever and know it will stick. You might even brush it out to spread it evenly, but I'm not that particular. (Meaning, I don't feel like washing an extra brush if I don't have to.)

boy placing cotton balls on paper - colorful cotton ball art collage

Then it's time to glue some cotton!

boy and mama working on art project together - colorful cotton ball art collage

We worked together. I tried to make mine vaguely representational.
You can compare this with the child's artwork at the inspiration source and see
I have a lot to learn before I'm at her level.

boy's art project - colorful cotton ball art collage

Mikko went wholly abstract.
It made it almost more of a sensory project, which was cool.

toddler working on art project - colorful cotton ball art collage

Alrik was really feeling crummy, but the idea of an art project perked him up.

toddler not sure about art project - colorful cotton ball art collage skeptical dubious angry annoyed sick


toddler smiling at mama's side - colorful cotton ball art collage

He preferred watching rather than gluing, because — smart kid — he doesn't like sticky hands. But I do like that this project can be accomplished by all ages.

boy holding up art project with weird smile - colorful cotton ball art collage

When Mikko was done, he at first refused to pose with his art. I told him letting me photograph it was part of his work deal, and he demanded another nickel.

boy holding up art project with weird smile - colorful cotton ball art collage

I told him fine but that these smiles weren't cutting it.

boy holding up art project with weird smile - colorful cotton ball art collage

He tried harder.

boy holding up art project with weird smile - colorful cotton ball art collage

A little more…

boy holding up art project with smile - colorful cotton ball art collage

All right, good enough. Here's your money, kid. You earned it.

finished art project by mama - colorful cotton ball art collage

My finished masterpiece was of Mikko and me enjoying sunset at the beach.
You totally get that, right?
(Those glue lines really did dry clear, by the way.)

toddler's finished art project - colorful cotton ball art collage

Alrik's artwork was more minimalist.
That's what you get when you've inherited your mother's OCD.

gluing art project panels together - colorful cotton ball art collage

Mikko then had this awesome, totally uncompensated idea to
join our pages into one brilliant panel.
We glued it together and let it all dry on the floor.

finished long three-dimensional art project - colorful cotton ball art collage

The next day, it spanned the length of our mantel
and added three-dimensional cheer to our sickroom!

boy's art project - colorful cotton ball art collage mikko m5yo

But sometimes colorful cotton balls aren't enough to bring a smile to your kids' faces. If your children are feeling under the weather, you might need to turn to an appropriate use of over-the-counter medicine. In our household, we don't use medications often, but I like to know there's child-specific Children's Mucinex Multi-Symptom Cold available when cold symptoms are keeping Mikko from sleep or making him just way too miserable. Children's Mucinex Multi-Symptom Cold relieves symptoms of congestion and coughing due to colds, letting Mikko continue his active day and get restful sleep at night to support his immune system's hard work.

Children's Mucinex Multi-Symptom Cold When your child has a bad cold, you both can feel miserable. Children's Mucinex is the #1 children's brand for relieving congestion* and provides fast acting relief from your child's worst cold symptoms. Try Children's Mucinex Multi-Symptom Cold if your child needs relief from stuffy nose and chest congestion.

Always use Children's Mucinex Multi-Symptom Cold as directed. (*Based on IRI unit share data for the 52 weeks ending November 2012)
Always use Children's Mucinex Multi-Symptom Cold as directed, which means following all the warnings and information on the product, not using any more than directed, and using only for children 4-12 years old. If you are unsure about using Children's Mucinex Multi-Symptom Cold, please consult your pediatrician.


You can get a coupon for $2 off your next purchase of Children's Mucinex Multi-Symptom Cold on!


I'm also very excited to once again give away a $100 CVS gift card, so leave a simple comment to enter to win! And check my other posts in the series to enter there as well.


Comment below with an answer to this question to enter the giveaway: What activity makes your child (or you!) smile when under the weather?

Please leave a valid email address in your comment so I can contact you if you win!

  • No duplicate comments.
  • You may receive 1 total entry by leaving a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post.
  • This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me; otherwise a new winner will be selected.
  • The Official Rules are available here.
  • This sweepstakes runs from 3/6/2013 – 3/31/2013

Be sure to visit the Children's Mucinex Multi-Symptom Cold page on, where you can read other bloggers’ reviews and find more chances to win!


Mami2jcn said...

We watch Nick Jr.

mami2jcn at gmail dot com

Sarah Hull said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sarah Hull said...

When my son is under the weather, I like to break out the lollipops, books, we snuggle on the couch and watch some fun shows! If he's congested we'll grab some fun toys and close ourselves in the bathroom with the shower running and play together in a steamy bathroom.

SHull2319 at gmail dot com

Anonymous said...

When my kids are under the weather they love to play go fish or finger paint

Barrie Latin Community Centre said...

Just cuddling on the couch and watching TV

Carmen Q
nemesis_33012 at yahoo dot com

Ash said...

My son loves to watercolor. It's relaxing and something he can sit on the floor and be comfortable doing


kellyr78 said...

My kids enjoy looking through magazines and books with me.


Jo said...

We read together and / draw together. He loves it and it is a calming thing to do!

bvbabybv at gmail dot com

benz1171 said...

Watching his favorite DVD's. benz1171(at)hotmail(dot)com

SAPsMaMa said...

Making bread or other goodies together :)

mphin278 at yahoo dot com

crystletellerday said...

watching tv and sleeping

Unknown said...

My daughters love to bake with me :)

Unknown said...

we watch movies, if they have a little more energy we may do crafts

misaacmom at gmail dot com.

Amanda said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amanda said...

We watch my kids' favorite movies when they are sick.

onlychocolate4me at gmail dot com

JC said...

We watch cartoons with snacks.
tcarolinep at gmail dot com

vivaciousgold said...

we love playing hide n seek under the covers or watching spongebob and thomas dvds snuggles under the cover


Jamie said...

Smoothies make my kiddos smile, especially when they are sick. Thanks for hosting!

Dionna @ Code Name: Mama said...

Making blanket forts together!

Ginger said...

I like to watch TV and knit.

Ginger said...

I like to watch TV and knit.

Ashley said...

Watching movies.

hewella1 at gmail dot com

Unknown said...

I babysit my 3 yr old grandson when he is sick. I have this magnetic dart board that he loves to sit on the couch and us take turns throwing the darts. The last time he was sick, he was at one end of the couch and I was at the other and he said "I need you Mim". I said you better come sit on my lap then. I held him for 4 hours while he slept. Best 4 hours I've ever spent. xo Vicki

Mysharona said...

Watching movies makes them feel better.

Unknown said...

Watching a fun movie makes them feel better.
jslbrown_03 at yahoo dot com

Elena said...

We like to watch cartoons

peg42 said...

When my kids aren't feeling well, I like to cuddle with them on the couch or in bed and we'll watch movies together.
Thanks so much.

Anonymous said...

We cuddle and watch UP

Anonymous said...

We cuddle and watch UP

PAIGE said...

My daughter loves to watch The Parent Trap in her room over and over again when she feels crummy. She knows the words by heart.

dlhaley said...

When my daughter was young, we would watch her favorite movie and then play board games.

Stephanie said...

ipod and making a bed on the couch
tvollowitz at dot com

Unknown said...

Watching movies and reading books

Julie Greenwood said...

Pulling out the "rainy day" craft box makes my daughter smile when she's sick too.

clc408 said...

My kids always cheered up when they looked at picture books.

sweepmom said...

Watching silly you tube videos makes my son smile when he is sick.

Unknown said...

My daughter loves to paint and do puzzles when she's not feeling well.

Princess Golden Hair said...

my son loves to color when he's not feeling well

teechbiz at gmail dot com

llinda29 said...

watching sponge bob always gets a smile

Barbara Montag said...

Eating my homemade chicken soup and watching kid's movies on Netflix.
Thank you.

barbara dot montyj at gmail dot com

The Fam said...

Loves of DVDs from the library are watched!

shannoncarman at yahoo dot com

d schmidt said...

My children love to play with Play Doh and color when unwell

Unknown said...

Snuggling and watching a movie :)

Anonymous said...

Watching movies makes my children smile when they are under the weather.

Sherry Butcher said...

When my kids were little, they wanted to sleep and be read too. Later it was them doing the reading.

Unknown said...

We love to build blanket forts.

Gina said...

Eating popsicles, snuggling & playing with the Kindle.

Gina @ MoneywiseMoms said...

No matter how sick my twins get, they'll always perk up when we do playdough together.

Stephanie Ann said...

we love to snuggle & watch movies, or do puzzles!

Tracey said...

Tristan likes when I read to him or we play I Spy.

Unknown said...

We like to snuggle and watch a funny movie

Monique said...

Snuggling. Plain old snuggling with mama keeps them satisfied when they're under the weather.



kathie said...

Tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches make her smile.

Michele P. said...

she likes to draw, so I give her some drawing pencils and paper and let her draw something she enjoys.

micaela6955 at msn dot com

ky2here said...

Hi uncle got him a drum as a joke against me. I put it up and won't let him play unless his uncle is present (and hopefully hungover). So sometimes the drum comes out on sick days.

ky2here at msn dot com

smilekisses said...

The game Uno Attack.
dolniaks at consolidated dot net

tarter95 said...

Watching movies and eating popcorn.
tarter95 at hotmail dot com

marcia goss said...

We like to snuggle on the couch with pillows,blankets, and a movie.

Maria Ivey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maria Ivey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maria Ivey said...

My daughter loves to draw and color.

lilydom76 at msn dot com

Karen said...

Snuggling under a blanket and watching cartoons. said...

We snuggle up w/ a pile of their fave books.
Diane Baum

desdun31 said...

We cuddle up on the couch with her favorite blankie and watch Finding Nemo...she loves that movie!

Desiree Dunbar

Unknown said...

My son and I love to sit out in the front yard in lawn chairs. I don't know when we started doing this, but he's six now and we just lay back and talk or lay back and watch the sky. Its really a great bonding time for us.


Unknown said...

WOw that is just such a cute idea.. love it. we normally watch tv, eat soup and drink clear liquids.

sparkedcat said...

The best activity is to make homemade chicken soup with help from the little one.

Kathy P said...

my kids always loved to fingerpaint

loni broesch said...

Watching movies

trippyjanet at gmail dot com

Kim (Randominities) said...

My girl watches the wizard of oz when she is sick.

brendaelsner said...

My kids love to cuddle and watch movies when their sick.

Angel Jacklyn said...

Getting to stay home from school... that does it!

Charity/CC said...

My son loves to his puzzles.

ccboobooy at gmail dot com

daveshir2005 said...

She likes to have some jello

Charlotte said...

Watching old tv shows or cartoons.

slehan said...

Being read to from favorite books.
Thanks for the contest.

slehan at juno dot com

Anonymous said...

A warm bath & Hot Chicken Noodle Soup.

Aleksandra Nearing said...

My daughter loves to paint and work on a glue collage of buttons and little colorful papers.
aleksnearing gmail com

maryjaco1 said...

Very neat craft idea
Lots of chicken soup and tv in bed.

pauline15 said...

For my kids, it's movies and sprite with some baskin robbins ice cream!

cassandra marquez said...

We play boardgames :)

clynsg said...

When they were little, usually just some extra cuddling and being read to would make them smile at least a little.

cgclynsg0 @ gmail dot com

Gina F. said...

We watch movies and eat popsicles.

ginaferrell26 at yahoo dot com

susan1215 said...

My daughter likes to read and watch her favorite movies.

s2s2 at comcast dot net

cman said...

Favorite treats, toys and movies.

/\Heather/\ said...

Stuffed friends and movies while snuggling under a blanket.

IcyPinkLemonade said...

I like to watch something funny

liliesrnice said...

We usually cuddle together and watch cartoons.

bettycd said...

When really sick, my kids appreciated the comfort of snuggling up and reading over and over the old fave books. They didn't need to follow the story line, they knew where it was going and could drift off to sleep.
tjandbcd at optonline dot net

candy said...

Mine love to snuggle and Listen to me make up a story with them and and favorite stuffed animal wilcarvic

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