Classroom or Naptime Keepsake

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A stuffed friend can make all the difference if your child feels anxious about school, or needs an extra snuggle at naptime. And when your child has a hand in making that stuffed friend, things are even better!

I am no sewer, so this craft was entirely new territory for me, requiring a sheet of cotton canvas from the craft store. First I asked Travis what shape he’d like his comforting keepsakes to be. The first was a small car, which we made small enough to fit in his school backpack. Then we traced a larger free-form shape for naptime, sort of like a cloud, but mostly abstract.

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Cut out your designs (you’ll need two of each, to be the front and back of the stuffie), and paint with fabric paint. This was a fun chance to use our paint roller! Let dry completely.

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You can decorate the keepsakes further before sewing and stuffing. Try gluing on pieces of felt, or coloring with fabric markers. Travis opted for the latter.

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Next it was time to stuff and sew! This meant a special trip to visit grandma and her sewing machine – Travis was ecstatic seeing the machine in action.

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At home, we finished the keepsakes with stuffing; Travis loved helping poke it into the furthest corners.

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He was so proud to set his naptime keepsake on his bed.

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Lastly we tucked the small car stuffie in his backpack, just in case he needs to give it a special squeeze at school.

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Cheesy Broccoli & Split Pea Soup

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This creamy soup might just convince your kids to eat their broccoli… and their split peas, too!

Ingredients: 

  • 3 tablespoons Earth Balance butter
  • 1 small leek, chopped
  • 2 small garlic cloves, smashed
  • 4 cups water or low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 cup green split peas
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 and 1/2 pounds broccoli florets
  • 1/2 cup plain unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 and 1/2 cups shredded Daiya cheddar
  1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the leek and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic.
  2. Add the water or broth, split peas, and black pepper. Bring to a simmer, then partially cover, reduce heat, and cook for 30 minutes.
  3. Stir in the broccoli and almond milk; simmer for an additional 10 minutes, covered.
  4. Let the soup cool slightly, then transfer to a blender and process until smooth.
  5. Return the soup to the saucepan and whisk in the cheese. Heat over low heat until the cheese is stretchy and mostly melted.

We like this with a few Gardein chick’n nuggets on the side!

Surprise “Juice” Cups

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The jell-o surprise waiting in these clear plastic cups is sure to delight your kids! It’s a fun way to discuss the difference between liquids and solids, and of course they also get to eat a tasty treat. My favorite vegan “gelatin” dessert is the jel dessert from Simply Delish.

First, I prepared one package of the dessert according to package directions – in this case, dissolving the powder in 1/3 cup cold water, then adding 1 and 1/4 cups boiling water. Make sure you use a flavor with the color of juice! I used raspberry.

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Pour the mixture into clear plastic cups and refrigerate for 1 hour, or until firm.

I called Travis over for a juice snack; that’s a special treat in this household, so he immediately trotted over. Just as he arrived, I pretended to spill one of the cups – oops Except nothing poured out.

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He was instantly delighted and intrigued, and had to test for himself if he could pour out the “juice.” He also wanted to know what it felt like (squishy)…

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…and if he could turn the cups completely upside down.

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He tried drinking through a straw next.

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But of course I had a spoon on hand, knowing the straw wouldn’t work.

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In sum, this game is sure to elicit giggles and delight.

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