Pressed Tiles

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It’s rare that I can grab Travis’s interest for more than 30 minutes of crafting these days, so when this activity occupied us for nearly an hour, I knew we had a winner!

I came home with a new package of oven-bake clay, quite different from the white air-dry clay we normally use.

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Travis was thrilled with all the colors, and in no time he had an assortment in front of him for chiseling, shaping, and rolling.

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To make a lasting project, we used our collection of stamps – animal and pirate-themed sets worked perfectly – and pressed images into the clay. Once baked, I knew these tiles could be used for numerous games!

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For the cleanest method, press the clay into a square, cover with plastic wrap, and press the stamp on top.

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Travis didn’t always use the plastic wrap, which was just fine.

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He mostly did his own thing with the stamps and clay while I made an actual set of tiles we could use in the future. I confess my fingers hurt by the end from warming up so many different colors and flattening to 1/4-inch thick! Travis meanwhile pretended he was baking some of his in an “oven.”

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When it’s time to really bake the clay, arrange your tiles on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake according to package instructions – ours went in at 275 degrees F for 30 minutes.

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Now what to do with them! We decided we could use these as a more permanent version of our printable story cards.

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You can also play games with the animals, assigning them by habitat or finding other ways to sort them.

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If you want any of your tiles to be jewelry, make sure to poke a hole with a toothpick before baking. However you use them, these tiles are great for arts and crafts, fine motor skills, imagination, and more.

Power “Pancakes”

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It’s a bit of a stretch to call these pancakes; although they cook up the same way on a griddle, they are a bit too delicate to come off cleanly with a spatula, meaning you wind up with a fluffy yummy mound on your plate. Still, my son describes them as “much good” and they’re a great protein boost early in the morning!

Ingredients:

  • 2 large bananas
  • 1 cup silken tofu
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons Earth Balance butter
  • 2 tablespoons mini non-dairy chocolate chips
  1. In a blender, combine the bananas and tofu; process until very smooth. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the baking powder.
  2. Melt the butter in a griddle over medium heat. Add half of the batter, to make 4 small pancakes. Sprinkle the tops evenly with 1 tablespoon chocolate chips. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until heated through, then very carefully transfer to plates.
  3. Repeat with the remaining batter and remaining chocolate chips.
  4. Drizzle with maple syrup to taste for serving!

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Papier-Mache Mountains

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Papier-mâché projects are always such good goopy fun. It’s been ages since we last whipped up a batch of this simple flour-and-water paste, and this project was great for a cold afternoon.

First, find a cardboard base and grab a roll of aluminum foil, and enlist your kids into shaping the foil into mounds.

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They don’t need to look like perfect mountains; any tall or humped shape will do! Glue down to the cardboard base and let dry.

A layer of masking tape will help the papier-mâché newspaper strips adhere better, and also further helps anchor the mountain range to the cardboard. After a quick glance, Travis decided this step was way too time-consuming, so mommy took over.

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Next up: papier-mâché! We mixed 1 part water to 1 part flour for our goop, and ripped strips of newspaper.

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Layer the newspapers all over your mountains and let dry.

Finally, the mountains received a coat of paint – Travis’s favorite part by far.

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We ended up with very artistic mountains, including shades of blue and silver and black.

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And of course puffy paint had to make an entrance, because no paint project is complete without puffy paint in our house these days.

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Once the paint dried, we pulled out some animal toys from around the house.

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Now our animals could traipse about the Himalayas (or Rockies, or Alps)!

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