Giant Alphabet Mat

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This giant alphabet mat turns letter-learning into big fun. Much bigger than our alphabet parking lot, it’s a great visual and physical way to engage children with learning the alphabet. You can tailor the games on the mat to suit everyone from 2-year-olds to preschoolers!

First, lay an unused shower curtain liner on the floor and make circles for all the letters of the alphabet; I traced a plate to make the circles even. Write in the upper and lower case letters in each circle.

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Your possibilities for play are almost endless, from here! First, try walking along the letters as you sing the alphabet song. You could also ask toddlers to toss bean bags into a designated circle, or ask them to hop to a specific space, if they are just learning their letters.

Travis still mixes up a few tricky lowercase letters, so our best use for the mat was to have him find the right spot for our set of lowercase magnets.

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Because we’re into all things cars over here lately, he decided the best way to play was to load up his jeep and have it deliver each letter – whatever works!

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Another great variation for pre-readers and kids learning to recognize the sound each letter makes is to find a toy in your home that starts with each letter.

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I will confess: Travis wasn’t nearly as interested in this giant playing board as I thought he would be. But we’ll set it aside and try it again another day. Let me know what your kiddos think of the mat!

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White Bean & Quinoa Pizza Burgers

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This complete little meal features hefty quinoa burgers and roasted broccoli on the side. I have a hard time finding vegan burger buns at our local grocery store, but we like to serve these on sandwich rolls (try O’Dough’s sub thins) cut in half so they are closer to the size of the patties.

Ingredients:

For the broccoli:

  • 3 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  1. Toss the ingredients together on a baking sheet; roast at 425 degrees F for 20 minutes, until browned and crisp at the edges; set aside.

For the burgers:

  • 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 and 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 Ener-G egg
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 buns or sandwich rolls
  • 4 slices vegan cheese
  • 1/2 cup marinara sauce
  1. While the broccoli roasts, place the beans in a large bowl and mash until nearly smooth.
  2. Add the quinoa, Ener-G egg, Italian seasoning, and black pepper. Shape the mixture into 4 patties.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the patties and cook for 10 minutes, turning over halfway through. The burgers are delicate, so use care when flipping!
  4. To serve, place on buns or rolls. Top with your favorite sliced vegan cheese and spoon about 2 tablespoons marinara sauce over each patty. Serve with the broccoli on the side.

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