Paper Bag Whale

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On the heels of our jellyfish, Travis and I wondered what other sea creatures we could make at home. Would it be possible to turn this plain brown bag into a … great big gray-blue humpback whale?

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The first order of business was to stuff the bag with crumpled newspaper – a sure hit for any toddler. Leave a little room at the end of the bag so you can cinch it closed, tying it shut with string. Give the “tail” a slight rip so it looks even more like a whale’s tail.

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Travis didn’t quite understand what we were aiming at while stuffing the newspaper, thinking he was helping with the trash, but once I presented him with the closed bag and paint, he was so excited to discover we were making a whale. I set out one cup of white paint and one of black, and together we produced a wonderfully gray “humpback.”

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This was by far the largest surface Travis has ever had to cover with paint, and he loved every moment, especially seeing how the white and black interacted.

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I took us off to the park, knowing he’d be impatient for the whale to dry. Once we were home, Mr. Whale had quite a lot of swimming to around the apartment!

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Between the whale and the jellyfish, we’ve certainly had a lot of sea creatures in the house! To continue the fun, I staged a “deep sea dive,” placing blue blankets across two stools as the ocean.

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Underneath, I set up his various bath and beach toys in the shape of sea animals – and then Travis was the scuba diver, diving in to see what treasures he came up with! He was very proud to surface with a fish:

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And, of course, whale. This makes for a great game on summer days when you can’t make it to the actual beach!

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Rainbow Couscous Salad

Rainbow Couscous Salad

This vibrant summer salad features nearly ever color of the rainbow. Have fun finding the colors while your child eats!


  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 1 cup corn kernels
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar
  • 1 cup uncooked Israeli couscous
  • 1 cup chopped baby spinach
  • 1 (15-ounce) drained and rinsed can chickpeas
  • 1 cup quartered grape tomatoes
  1. Combine the zucchini, corn, and canola oil in a baking dish; bake at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes. Let cool slightly.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk together the dressing: combine the olive oil, lemon juice, and agave in a small bowl. Set aside.
  3. To cook the couscous, bring 1 and 1/4 cups water to a boil. Add the couscous, cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. In the last minute or two, add the spinach to wilt it slightly.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the zucchini mixture, dressing, couscous mixture, chickpeas, and grape tomatoes, tossing to combine Serve at room temperature.

Toothpick Drop

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This game couldn’t be easier, but is fantastic for developing fine motor skills. It sounds almost too simple to be true, but I promise it will fascinate your toddler. Are you ready for the easy instructions?

Dump a pile of toothpicks on the floor, preferably in a variety of colors:

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Give your child an empty spice jar (or any lid with small holes) and show him or her how to drop the toothpicks through the holes.

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All cleaned up? Remove the lid, dump out the toothpicks, and start all over again!

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If you have colored toothpicks, the game is a great way to talk about various colors as well, or make a game of finding a blue one, etc. Do make sure to supervise this one closely, since toothpicks are sharp!

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