Take Peekaboo To a New Dimension

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A few weeks back, we introduced peekaboo; now it was time to take the game to a new level! Peekaboo never gets old for babies, but as your baby gets older, you’re going to keep want to find ways to keep it novel and entertaining.

So whereas in the past I’ve draped a see-through scarf over Veronika’s head, today, I used an opaque (but lightweight) blanket. Prop your child up and drape the blanket over his or her head.

Quickly and gently lift one corner with a big happy, “Peek-a-boo!”

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Likely, you’ll get giggles and your little one will want you to repeat again and again.

Though to be honest, sometimes Veronika was more into the blanket itself, and the tactile feel of it over her head or in her hands.

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Then repeat the game with a favorite toy. “Peek-a-boo,” says her pudgy little bear.

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She eagerly awaited each reveal whenever the blanket hid the toy.

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When it appeared again, I’d greet it with, “There’s the toy!”

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As a reminder, there’s a purpose behind this classic. It’s one of the best and earliest ways to teach your child object permanence, so keep those peek-a-boos coming!

 

Food as Medicine

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Travis was very frustrated by a late winter cold, and wanted to know how best to feel better. It was a great way to talk about certain foods and their medicinal qualities!

First, I asked him how he was feeling – finally better! But he thought back to how he had felt in the past, and about a time he’d had a tummy bug – no fun.

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I asked him what foods he’d craved at the time, and he recalled wanting watermelon. I then gave him a little background on how past civilizations have used food as medicine, including Ancient Greece, China, and India. I thought all this info might be too dry, but he loved reading the numbers of how long ago these civilizations existed. 2000 years ago? 4000 years ago? Whoa.

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Now it was time to see if there was any truth to the claims that some foods are medicinal. We picked garlic for our research. Could it really help? Online sources seemed to back up the claim.

We tested it out with a garlic tonic: Mince 2 tablespoons garlic. Combine the garlic in a mug with hot water, a little lemon juice, and agave syrup to taste.

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Then we set out to cure his cold with a garlic bread recipe (our bonus recipe in this month’s Raddish Kids).

Ingredients:

  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 4 tablespoons Earth Balance butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 loaf French bread baguette
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegan Parmesan sprinkles
  1. Smash two garlic cloves; remove the papery skins and mince.Garlic Bread (3)
  2. Transfer the garlic to a bowl, along with the butter and olive oil. Microwave for about 45 seconds, or until the butter is melted.
  3. Meanwhile, slice the baguette into thick slices and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet.Garlic Bread (4)
  4. Brush evenly with the butter mixture. Sprinkle evenly with the parsley, salt, and Parmesan.Garlic Bread (5)Note: this gets a bit messy! Next time I’d line the baking sheet with foil.Garlic Bread (6)
  5. Bake at 425 degrees F for 6 minutes.

Did we feel better after eating the garlic bread slices? Hard to say they actually made his sniffles less, but his face sure had a big smile!

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Finally, we have relatives who have also felt unwell most of the winter, and decided to send along a care package of flu fighter cookies. Even better, if you have a nearby friend or neighbor who has been unwell, perhaps you can visit them with a cold-busting superfood.

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What do your kids crave when they’re sick? Please share in the comments!

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Flu Fighter Cookies

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We tend to think of ourselves as a healthy family, but somehow this winter has been one mild case of the sniffles after another. At least it was never more serious than that, but we’re happy warm weather is on the horizon. And we’re fighting off any lingering germs with this recipe. Okay, these cookies won’t really┬ácure the flu, but they do contain good-for-you foods like ginger, cinnamon, walnuts, and more.

Ingredients:

  • 2 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 and 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Ener-G eggs
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup vanilla non-dairy yogurt
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 and 1/4 cups dried cranberries
  • 1 and 1/4 cups chopped walnuts
  1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt. Set aside.
  2. Cream together the butter and brown sugar in a stand mixer. Add the Ener-G eggs, molasses, and yogurt; beat until combined.
  3. Fold in the oats, cranberries, and walnuts.
  4. Drop the dough by heaping tablespoonfuls onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake at 375 degrees F for 12 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Heart Pump

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For kids interested in the body and how it works, this visual representation of the heart is fantastic! It’s obviously simplified, but serves as a nice illustration of how this vital body part works.

First, we cut a red balloon in half. Discard the narrow tail, and set aside the other half.

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Fill a mason jar with water until about half full, and add 3 or 4 drops of red food coloring; Travis was thrilled we’d made “blood.”

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Stretch the top part of the balloon over the jar, making sure it lies flat.

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Cut two small slits in the balloon, about 1 inch apart. Insert straws into each, one red and one blue (Note: the color doesn’t really matter, but helps to differentiate). Tape the blue straw shut.

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Now press down on the balloon and your heart will “squeeze” the blood out through the straw “arteries”. Make sure you place the jar on a plate or tray, because the squeezing gets messy!

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Travis absolutely loved this, and had to pump the heart until our jar was all out of “blood.”

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You can wow your kids with quick facts, like how their heart really pumps in a similar way about 70 times per minute.

Here’s a quick clip of the action:

Mighty Chocolate Smoothies

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These power-packed smoothies are sure to send your kids off to school with some extra energy! Make a double batch because grown-ups love it, too.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup vanilla rice milk
  • 2 cups packed baby spinach
  • 6 to 8 chopped and pitted dates
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 and 1/2 cups frozen strawberries
  1. Combine the milk, spinach, and dates in a blender; process until smooth
  2. Add the cocoa powder and strawberries and blend again until smooth.

Bird-Nest Salad

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Tweet your way into spring with this cute little salad!

Ingredients:

  • 4 lettuce leaves
  • 1/4 cup shredded carrots
  • 2 tablespoons bean sprouts
  • 3 yellow tomatoes
  • Salad dressing of choice
  1. Arrange the lettuce leaves on a plate.
  2. Arrange the carrots and sprouts in the middle of the plate, so they look like a nest shape.
  3. Nest the tomatoes in the carrot bed as little eggs, and drizzle with your favorite dressing. We like this with a simple balsamic vinaigrette!

Happy spring!

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Secret Agent Kiwi Crate

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Travis’s current favorite show (Odd Squad), is about a team of kids who solve odd cases. So he couldn’t have been more thrilled than when he discovered his latest Kiwi Crate was all about being a secret agent. Needless to say, I barely had time to glance at the parent manual before we dove right in!

First, every secret agent needs a gadget, so Travis got to Build Your Periscope. This was a matter of folding the provided cardboard base…

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…peeling stickers from each of the two mirrors to attach

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…and securing it all with rubber bands.

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He loved peeking around corners! For a quick STEM lesson, explain to your budding agent how they are seeing the reflection of a reflection, as opposed to a simple mirror reflection straight on. You can also flip one periscope piece to see things upside down, or make it longer or shorter by sliding the pieces together.

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Next up, we got to Explore Secret Messages. There are two folders labeled “top secret”, one containing patterned paper and one with blank white paper. Use the provided markers to write messages on the patterned paper. The secret agent spy glasses (with red lenses) will cancel out the red lines that obscure the page so that messages can be detected.

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This was a bit tough to illustrate to a non-reader, but I helped him understand which colors showed up best by drawing a series of lines with the markers, then giving him the glasses.

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Next we took turns drawing pictures with the provided invisible ink and UV pen. The latter turns on with a switch, and was by far his favorite item in the kit.

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Our booklet recommended making an invisible map, so I sent him off on a hunt around the house. A real secret agent on the move! He soon proudly designed a map for me, leading to a “villain” we had to catch.

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Finally, every agent needs to Pack Your Briefcase. Travis helped insert brads and elastics as the clasp, and to set up a cardboard insert with elastic fasteners to hold his agent supplies.

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Now your little detective can store their markers (regular and UV!), as well as all the Top Secret folders and spy glasses.

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Travis paraded around with this briefcase the entire rest of the day, filling it with other items he deemed necessary for an agent. What fantastic imaginative play it prompted!

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We then delved into Explore magazine, which had us learning about other codes and doing fun find-it pages. Next we explored other ways to leave a secret message. First up was white crayon. Because Travis can’t read, this was most easily illustrated for him using his name. We wrote with white crayon on white paper, then painted over it with watercolor for the big reveal.

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You can also color over your white crayon with colored pencils.

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One neat idea is to send a hidden message to a friend. Wrap up a happy birthday message and give it to a friend with colored pencils so they can uncover the secret.

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Travis’s next code was made with lemon juice. First, squeeze a lemon – always fun!

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Dip a paintbrush in the lemon juice and write out your message. Once it dries, place a second sheet of paper on top and go over it with a hot iron (grown-up step).

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All will be revealed! We had fun making this a secret message for daddy.

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Finally, the booklet gave a lesson on fingerprints and the ways that secret agents use them. Travis was quite intrigued, and tested leaving his prints on our window.

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He copied the suggested fingerprint art, checking out his unique whirls and swirls.

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Then it was time to get creative – this print turned into a long-legged spider!

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In sum, Kiwi Co hit it out of the park with this one!

 

Baby Felt Play

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I can’t believe Veronika is nearly five months old, and getting to a point where games with her aren’t just about developing her senses, but also interactive! This craft is a perfect example; it was fun to put together while she played on her playmat, and entertained her nearly all morning while big brother was at school.

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To start, cut a long piece of felt from any one color. I only had short felt squares, so ended up tying together three strips of my base color.

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Using additional bright felt colors, cut out shapes. I kept these fairly simple, including circles, squares, triangles, stars, and diamonds.

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From here, there were so many ways to play! First, I simply let her explore with hands… and mouth.

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It was a fantastic toy while she was sitting in her high chair, keeping her hands busy as I prepped meals.

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Next, I lay her on a blanket and we concentrated on some early learning. Point out what your baby is looking at (“Look, a blue circle” or, “You’re touching the red star”).

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We also counted through the shapes a few times, all the way up to eight.

Then I challenged her gross motor skills, putting the felt a little out of her reach at tummy time.

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Her little legs started scrunching in an imitation crawl almost immediately. I gave her a bit of a boost and she was so proud when she made it to the felt.

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Finally, the toy is great for dangling. Veronika loved discovering she could pull off the shapes, one by one.

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Once the shapes are all off, simply thread back on to the long felt and begin again!

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Colorful Scarf Circle

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This activity takes all of two minutes to set up, but your baby will reap great benefits from it. It’s perfect for times when you want to visually stimulate a baby who can’t sit up yet; great for tummy time; and also encourages gross motor development towards rolling or crawling.

Here’s the set-up: lay a soft blanket on the ground, and simply surround it with pretty scarves. Before I draped each one down, I let Veronika see it and grab it if she wanted to, then added it to the circle.

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Now baby goes in the middle!┬áThe bright colors immediately caught her eye. Since Veronika isn’t rolling on her own yet, I nudged her gently to her side.

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From here, she could complete the roll, and seemed intent on getting closer to the bold blues and reds. If your baby is already rolling, he or she might enjoy rolling back and forth between these scarves for quite some time!

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Once on her tummy, she had plenty to look at, which was a nice way to shake up tummy time.

Back on her back, she enjoyed running her hands over soft fabrics, or grabbing on to the tassels, leading to great tactile play.

Scarf Play (7)Note: There’s also no need to wait until your baby is rolling for this game. I’ve been setting Veronika up in a similar circle of scarves since she was tiny. The only difference is that now the game is more interactive.

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Natural Mimic

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Infants are wired to mimic or mirror their adult caregivers, which leads to the beginnings of language, social skills, and emotional intelligence, just to name a few! So today, I really focused on letting Veronika mimic the bigger people in our household, in preparation for some milestones to come.

Of course, one of the easiest ways to encourage mirroring is to continue making faces at your child – big smiles are sure to be returned by your little mimic!

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More to the point, though, talk your baby through your day, and encourage him or her to join in. Today I sat Veronika in her high chair while her big brother ate meals. She got play food; he got the real thing.

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She got to hold a spoon just for fun; he used his fork for real.

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Pretty soon she was picking up the toy food, biting at the spoon – a natural!

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Later, I put her back in the highchair as I cleaned the kitchen. Veronika got her own cloth to “clean” her tray. She looked so excited to be involved in mommy’s activity, as I narrated my own counter wiping and cleaning to her.

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Another great opportunity is diaper changes. I talked Veronika through my actions, and she got her own diaper to hold.

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This mimicry is also the reason babies love toys that look like (a more colorful) version of your things. Veronika loves her set of car keys – so much like mommy’s!

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How does your baby mimic you? Please share in the comments!

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