Shaving Cream + Toys Sensory Play

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One bin full of shaving cream plus a few toys = a whole lot of seriously messy fun.

We love playing with shaving cream around here, and today we made it all about shaving cream and trucks since we’d just been to the car wash. Pretty much any washable toys will have fun in your bin though – think Duplo people, plastic dinosaurs, toy animals etc.

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Travis’s trucks drove through great big mounds of shaving cream – was it a construction site or a snowy day?

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One of his favorite parts was sending all of the trucks through the “car wash” after, and rinsing the shaving cream from each.

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He also loved just dipping in his fingers of course! The perfect follow-up game after an outing to the real car wash.

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Quick Tofu Breakfast Burrito

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This recipe might be labeled as a breakfast burrito, but we don’t care when we eat it – it makes an equally delicious lunch or dinner. Whenever you make it, it sure is quick!


  • 1 (1 lb) package firm tofu
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup mild salsa
  • 4 whole wheat flour tortillas
  • 4 slices Daiya cheddar
  • 1 avocado (optional)
  1. Cut the tofu into 1/2-inch cubes (or crumble, if preferred). Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat; add the tofu and saute for 2 minutes.
  2. Add the salsa and cook for an additional 3 minutes.
  3. Warm the tortillas, and layer each with about 1/2 cup tofu mixture and 1 slice of cheddar. Add slices of avocado if desired, then roll up to serve.

Chickpea Soft Tacos

Chickpea Soft Tacos

This fast taco recipe works for the whole family. For toddlers who like simple tastes and flavors, stick to the ingredient list below. For older kids and adults who prefer a little kick, sprinkle a taco seasoning packet into the chickpea mixture while it simmers!


  • 1 (15-ounce) drained and rinsed chickpeas
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 ounces tomato paste
  • 4 whole wheat flour tortillas
  1. Combine the chickpeas, water, and tomato paste in a skillet. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally – most of the liquid should be absorbed.
  2. Mash the chickpea mixture with a potato masher or fork until about half mashed, then divide evenly among the 4 tortillas.

My toddler likes to stop there, but older kids may want to add shredded lettuce, sliced olives, shredded vegan cheese, or non-dairy sour cream!

Disappearing Coin Trick

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We’ve been having fun with simple magic tricks lately, most of which grown-ups need to perform for kids at Travis’s age. But with a little help, even preschoolers can pull this one off, and trick everyone from friends to adults!

Place a coin under a clear glass. After testing out a couple different ones, we found that a clear plastic cup worked best.

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Have your rapt audience watch from the side as you fill the cup with water – thanks to the way the water bends the light, the coin will appear to disappear!

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Look straight down into the cup to discover the coin again.

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Travis had so much fun with this – not just his thrill for the disappearing coin, but also with the mechanics of pouring the water into the cup and seeing what happened over and over again.

A great first magic trick for kids!

Glow Sticks and Balloons

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We’re having a dreary wet Memorial Day, but we’re not letting that stop the fun! In lieu of a parade or fireworks, we created our own display at home!

Enlist your child’s help in snapping glow sticks – Travis’s face lit up for each new one we set aglow, no matter how many times he’d seen it happen.

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Slightly blow up a balloon to let it stretch out a bit, then carefully insert a lit glow stick into each.

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Blow up the balloon the rest of the way and tie off.

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Let the illuminated fun begin! For the best results, dim the lights or wait until dark.

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Patriotic Rocks

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A very happy Memorial Day to all, and a sincere thanks to all those in our country who serve or have served. We had a very patriotic weekend, catching a local Navy parachute demonstration in honor of the holiday. Travis was smitten, so we brought the patriotic sentiment back home with this easy craft.

Take a walk to collect a few rocks, and then lay them out with red, white, and blue paints.

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Older children will definitely have fun drawing replica American flags on their rocks, but for a three-year-old, simply decorating in the colors of our flag was a joy.

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He liked choosing which colors should go where!

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I added a few lines of paint to a few rocks so that they more closely resembled our flag.

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Let the rocks dry, then proudly display as holiday decorations. These would be great for the 4th of July, too!

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Savory Corn Oats

Savory Corn Oats.JPGTired of eating only sweet foods for breakfast? Give your morning bowlful a savory update with this easy recipe!


  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar
  • 2/3 cup corn kernels
  • Avocado (for garnish)
  1. Combine all ingredients except the avocado in a saucepan and simmer until thick (about 10 minutes), stirring frequently.
  2. Remove from heat and garnish with the avocado, if desired.

Older kids might like additional garnishes such as fresh cilantro as well!

Phoneme Week 4: ND


For our fourth letter pair in our phoneme journey, we started out tracing N and D on our Usborne wipe-clean alphabet cards. This was sort of an odd sound to explain to a child, a sort of -und pronunciation. Perhaps because of that fact, it wasn’t as exciting a phoneme for Travis, and he was less interested in the flash cards that accompanied our week. But here’s what we did for fun and learning anyway!

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Phonics Book of the Week: Underpants for Ants, a hilarious gem from Usborne’s phonics collection. In addition to uNDerpants, you’ll find the words: haND, caNDle, haNDle, graND, and woNDerful.

Guiding Theme: baND

ND (3)This turned out to be a happy coincidence as the suggested guiding word from Letter of the Week, since Travis’s favorite thing in the world is music! We set the stage by playing two songs to get in the band mood: “Oh When the Band” and “Seventy-Six Trombones.” You can march to Sousa music, or perhaps even draw to Sousa music, having your child draw slower or quicker according to tempo.ND (4)

  • We Made:

  • We Learned:
    • For science of the week, we talked about a different word, wiND. Explain to your child that wind is moving air, and have fun experimenting! We discussed how tornadoes are one of the fastest types of wind, and made a tornado in a jar! Tornado Jar (5)
    • Our math of the week also focused on a different word – caNDy. What child wouldn’t want to count candy colors? You can sort them into separate piles by color, first. Travis seems to lose track of things when I ask him to count higher than 4, so we didn’t even bother with lower numbers this time. After some prompting, he was able to get the correct number of bears on index cards. ND (22)
  • We Visited:
    • A bluegrass band for Mothers’ Daymom day (13).JPG

Other Words of the Week:

  • Land: Listen to “This Land is Your Land” – a patriotic song to add to your baND’s repertoire, of course!
  • Sand: This word was arguably the biggest hit of the week. First we simply scooped sand in an indoor sandbox, always a favorite game. ND (19)Then we made a sand and ice comet and sand art. If it’s nice outside, look for sand ant hills. Indoors, you can draw on sandpaper with chalk.ND (23) Finally, we built a sandpaper sandcastle, an activity we’ve done before, but nearly a year ago. Sandpaper Castle (1)It was neat to do this now, with Travis much more in charge of where each piece of his sandcastle went on the paper!Sandpaper Castle (4)
  • And: We read two books prominently featuring this word in the title: Above and Below and Town and Country. These two books really emphasize the and!
  • Hand: I tried all week to convince Travis to paint with his hands, to no avail! At the very least, cuddle up for a silly read of Dr. Seuss’s Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb.
  • Pond: Go for a gorgeous pond walk of course! Pond (1).JPGWe continued the fun at home by making pond play dough:Pond Playdough (11)
  • Fond: We made photo prints of special relatives in Travis’s life, and discussed how we can be fond of people and things – like music and bands of course. This would also be a great chance to put together a family tree.ND (30)
  • Bond: What things are able to make a bond that holds items together? We had fun exploring both glue and magnets, to see what had the strongest bond. ND (27)Then snuggle up and talk about how there can be a bond between two people as well!ND (29)
  • End: Give your child a fit of the giggles at storytime by starting all the bedtime books at the end one night this week. Travis thought this was very silly, and then I asked him to help me go back and start at the proper beginning.ND (25)
  • Bend: Your body can bend of course! Get in some exercise of the week by bending down to touch your toes in a yoga pose or two. Then pull out that classic toddler activity, bending pipe cleaners through a colander.ND (24)
  • Send: You can make an easy gift to send to someone special with this coaster set. The pop it in the mail and send on … who better than to graNDparents?Coaster Gift
  • Lend: Even if you’re a regular at your local library, talk some time this week to explain to your child how lending works. Since we’ve often borrowed books, we made this week’s trip special by taking out a movie, a true treat!
  • Find: You’ll have a blast with Usborne’s Big Book of Things to Find and Color. I purchased the book thinking it would be a bit advanced for Travis, but he surprised me making some terrific fiNDs, i.e. the empty bird cages on one page in particular. ND (7)We also read Find the Puppy, a book that’s meant for the littlest little ones, but which even preschoolers get a kick out of. Then play good old-fashioned hide and seek and fiND each other! Now where could Daddy be…?ND (12)
  • Wind: In addition to our science of the week, we just played around with wind in general! For example, if we set up a fan, what would blow and what wouldn’t.ND (13) Could we also scatter tissue paper across a tabletop with our breath? ND (14)Then head outside and hold up tissue paper into the wind – Travis loved the way it twisted and turned! ND (15)For a neat art project, drip a little liquid watercolor onto a piece of paper. Blow through a straw to scatter the watercolor into gorgeous patterns.ND (16) We tried to make wind chimes although they weren’t very sturdy!
  • Grand: Two great songs feature this word, so be sure to give a listen to You’re a Grand Old Flag and The Grand Old Duke of York.ND (17)
  • Sound: Talk about the sounds you hear all week – then delve into some of Usborne’s great sound books, such as First Book About the Orchestra and Garden Sounds. ND (6)To finish our focus on the word, we made a string telephone to explore the properties of sound!String Phone (3)

Pond Play Dough

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This was an activity that first got botched, then turned out to be fun with a plan b, and then which we finally made correctly!

My first batch of homemade play dough didn’t come together quite right – I think because I ought to have left it on the heat a little longer. But I had already promised Travis “pond-scented” play dough, so thinking quickly we added tea tree oil to the store-bought play dough we had at home.

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Travis was fascinated by the way it smelled, and soon our play dough became lily pads and water for frogs and fish to play around on.

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For extra gooey fun, I pulled out the botched batch of play dough anyway. Travis loved the way the frogs sank into it and left impressions behind. Goopy but a good time!

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The next day I pulled up a more foolproof recipe. In a bowl, combine:

2 and 1/4 cups flour

1/2 cup salt

2 tablespoons cream of tartar

3 tablespoons oil

1 cup boiling water

Travis helped combine all the ingredients, except the water, which I poured in last (definitely a grown-up step). Let your dough cool slightly, then need until smooth and workable.

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We added natural food coloring for a blue pond.

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And then of course the tea tree oil.

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And had fun all over again!

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Tornado in a Jar

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Show your child the whirling power of wind with this tornado-in-a-jar. They are sure to love adding the ingredients and watching the results!

First we needed to put our tornado together. Travis helped pour water into a mason jar until it was about two-thirds of the way full…

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Then we squeezed in a little dish soap…

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A few drops of food color…

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And glitter. (Because of course a tornado needs glitter – but actually this will help make it easier to see the water swirling around).

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Travis had seen some clips of big tornadoes online, so he had a reference point when we turned our mason jar upside down and spun it a few times to create a tornado effect. Glue on the cap if you’re worried your child will try and open it up to explore the contents of the tornado, of course!

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