PB&J Smoothie Pops

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So many schools are peanut butter-free these days, and I can’t slip this vegan staple into Travis’s snack bag any time soon. So we’re sneaking peanut butter and jelly into other times of the day! These smoothie pops are perfect for an afternoon snack – or even breakfast on a hot morning.


  • 1 cup strawberries
  • 1 cup sliced banana
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon strawberry jelly
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.
  2. Pour the mixture evenly into 6 popsicle molds; freeze for 8 hours, or until set.

Smoothie Pops (2)

Unmold and enjoy!


Phoneme Week 8: NT

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We’re still moving slowly through our phoneme pairs (my original iNTent to spend two weeks on each phoneme was ambitious, at best!), but I’ve decided it’s nice to have a poster with a specific letter pair up on the wall for closer to a month. Travis truly gets used to the sight of each pair and can identify the sound. Start off your lesson by tracing N and T (we like Usborne’s wipe-clean alphabet cards), and then dive iNTo the rest of these ideas.

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Phonics Book of the Week: We kicked things off with a read of Underpants for Ants, before realizing – whoops! – we already read this one for ND week. It doesn’t feature NT words other than paNTs and aNTs, but how could we not enjoy such a silly story a second time around?

Guiding Theme: PriNT

Don’t get hung up on one definition of this word; think of its multiple uses (the printed word, prints you make on paper, the printing press, printing as in handwriting), and play around. If you’re lucky enough to live near a newspaper printing plant that gives tours, by all means go! We started out simply by testing all the different ways we could print Travis’s name on paper, including felt-tip pens, crayons, pencils, and alphabet stamps.

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We Read:

We Made:

  • Sun Prints. Although an activity we’ve done before, Travis is nearly a year older and sun prints were infinitely cooler this time. We gathered colored paper and a variety of objects, such as toy tools and Duplo, then left them to sit in the sun for a few hours.Sun Prints (6)We were most curious to see how the bugs would come out – was the sun strong enough? Sun Prints (4)Travis loved lifting the toys for each reveal.Sun Prints (3)
  • Potato Prints. Cut potatoes in half (I find that Yukon golds or red potatoes work better for small hands than large russets). Potato Prints (3)Either whittle a shape using a knife, or press out a shape with a cookie cutter. Potato Prints (4)Present your child with trays of different colored paiNTs, then dip and priNT away!Potato Prints (2)
  • String Roller Prints String Print (7)
  • Shaving Cream Prints Shaving Print (7)
  • Flower Prints Flower Prints (6)

We learned:

  • For science of the week, we focused on elephaNTs. First, I staged a huNT for the foods these big tall animals eat – fruits and peanuts placed up high… NT science (3)…and “hay” and “grass” (uncooked noodles) hidden down low. NT science (2)Travis loved cracking open whole-shell peanuts! NT science (4)We finished with an informative read of Usborne’s Beginner non-fiction book on Elephants, including mind-boggling facts about how much they weigh.
  • For math of the week, I simply pulled out all our couNTing books. 1, 2, 3 Make a S’more with Me by Elizabeth Gauthier lined up perfectly with another NT word (teNT). We also enjoyed Counting Dogs by Eric Barclay, Let’s Count from Sterling Children’s, and Usborne’s Count to 100. NT week (20)These are all great books for having your child count along on each page.NT week (21)

We Ate:

  • aNTs on a log NT week (26)

Other Words of the Week:

  • Ant: Well, I guess I can consider it appropriate timing that we had real ant visitors waiting for us in our new home! I much prefer my ants virtual though, and we had fun listening to an old favorite – The Ants go Marching.NT week (3)We read up on ants in National Geographic’s slim volume for beginner readers, and then we hiked like ants in our new backyard. Ant Trail (2)Finally – for super-cool mom points – we headed to an ant hill well away from home, sprinkled sugar on the ground, and watched the ants go to town. NT week (11)
  • Aunt: Thanks to timely visits from relatives, Travis got to see several aunts during our NT lessons, which was a nice prompt to discuss all the aunties in the family. One nice idea is to make a family tree and highlight the aunts this time.
  • Plant: First we read Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert, then we made plantable paper, which we’re still waiting to see bloom! We also had fun performing simple science with plants. A stalk of celery in a jar of blue-tinted water let us easily see how water creeps up a plant stalk. NT week (29)Next we covered a potted plant with a paper bag and observed it four hours later, shaking the bag a little. Water had condensed on the inside of the bag, allowing Travis to see how some water evaporates off a plant!NT week (30)
  • Mint: Aside from peppermint sticks at Christmas, Travis isn’t used to this flavor. Have a taste test and introduce your child to fresh mint leaves compared to a mint candy, and see which they prefer!NT week (8)
  • Elephant: In addition to our science on elephants, we needed a little art! My intent was for Travis to make a mosaic elephant using foam squares as the “tiles.” (Buy the kind with the sticky backing and you won’t even need glue). I drew an elephant shape free-hand on construction paper, but Travis quickly tired of the task with the foam squares. Mosaic Elephant (4).JPGAs a result, our elephant turned out more spangled and feathered than mosaicked. Either way, it was quite beautiful. Mosaic Elephant (5)For a final dose of fun, we listened to the Elephant Song and did our best to shake down the jungle.NT science (5)
  • Cent: We played with the coins in Travis’s piggy bank, which always leads to inventive games of shop keeper or grocery store, and is a great way to gently introduce cent denominations.NT week (5)For older kids, you can also make a basic chart of the different coins and their values, and turn it into a matching game.NT week (6)
  • Tent: This word gave us the biggest laugh of the unit – we tested the strength of paper by comparing a paper tent to a paper cylinder. Strong Paper (9)Then we set up his play tent for many a game. NT week (15)Perfect for storytime throughout the weeks that NT was on our wall. NT week (19)Finally, a field trip to a local state park let Travis see real camping tents set up for the first time!NT week (14)
  • Hunt: Be sure to stage a treasure hunt before your NT unit is over. I drew pictures of furniture (with negligible skill, ha) and rolled each up like a map. NT week (12)Place a small toy in each spot, along with the map clue for the next prize! NT week (13)You can also go on a rainbow hunt in any garden. Rainbow Hunt (2).JPGSimply bring along a bucket of paint chips and see if you can match up all the colors of the rainbow on a pretty walk.
  • Paint: No doubt you already do enough ordinary painting with your child, so make it novel this week. Need inspiration? First paint with a balloon.Balloon Paint (3)Then try painting over salt!Salt Painting (7)Of course, you can’t go wrong painting at a regular easel; Travis said this picture was of dragon’s teeth. NT week (17)And he had fun exploring the thickness of different brushes.NT week (18)