Coral Reef Diorama

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Today, Travis and I did an activity in conjunction with our Taste of Thai recipes to help him learn about the coral reefs of Thailand.

There was a lot in this lesson that was new for Travis, including guided imagery, but first I had to set the stage! I asked him if he knew what a scuba diver was and he correctly answered someone who dives underwater (thanks Fireman Sam!).

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I showed him an included picture with scuba gear and then we mimed climbing in to all this equipment. Shimmy shimmy into your wet suit! This part was silly and fun.

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Next up was our imaginary trip: a guided imagery about scuba diving in a coral reef. I knew this would be a bit of a challenge for my four-year-old, so instead of asking him to sit quietly with eyes closed, I had him paint a box blue for our upcoming diorama while I read the scenario. This allowed his hands to keep busy as he listened, and he liked the process!

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For a simple, little-kid diorama, we made a version using play dough blobs as the base onto which we could add shells, fish stickers, and fake coral.

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To make the coral, thread beads onto pipe cleaners – great for fine motor skills!

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While we worked, I played Raddish’s suggested video in the background so he could see real examples.

Travis’s favorite part was using play dough to make the body for snails and hermit crabs who could live in our shells from the craft store!

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He was so proud when he thought one of his shell creations looked like a narwhal.

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Meanwhile, I made a few more tropical examples for him to see.

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Bigger kids can delve a lot further into this homeschool lesson. Raddish also provided a list of discussion questions about the coral reef and links to further reading about what they are and how to protect them.

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But for my preschooler, this simplified lesson was good fun!

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Here’s a fun and simple sensory jar for your baby: an instant snowstorm no matter the season!

Fill a small plastic water bottle about 2/3 of the way with rubbing alcohol. Drop in a few things to swirl in the snow; small buttons are fun, and I also added gold and silver sequins. Next add about 2 teaspoons white or silver glitter. Fill the bottle the rest of the way with vegetable oil.

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Note: you can also tint the alcohol blue with food coloring if you want, but I found that this makes it harder to see the “storm” and preferred a clear version.

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For security, duct tape on the lid. Now swirl for your baby!

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This works well if you roll it on the ground in front of him or her.

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Veronika also loved looking at it up in the air though.

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And wanted to snatch it from my hands!

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If you’re trying to encourage a first crawl, roll the bottle along the floor and see if your baby will go after it!

Ask Direct Questions

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So you know your baby is learning to talk (well, babble that is, for now!), but now it’s time to teach him or her to have a conversation! This activity prompt helped me remember to guide her gibberish towards her first real give-and-take in language.

Today, whenever asking Veronika a question, I made sure to truly ask her. Make eye contact, and slow down your words. If the question pertains to a direct object (a bottle, a toy), pause and show it to your baby.

“Which toy would you like Veronika?” I asked. “The puzzle or the bumble bee?”

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I gave her a moment to select her choice, both vocally and by hand (and mouth!).

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The real key is to pause and wait for an answer. You might not get one at first, but soon, your baby will realize that this silence is meant to be filled.

“Would you like a rice cake, Veronika?”

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“Would you like some oatmeal, Veronika?” That’s a no thank you!

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Keep this up, and it will not only teach your child the fine art of back-and-forth in conversation, but also help them feel capable and important for making decisions.

Pad Thai Noodles

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Travis was so excited for his latest Raddish Kids box, the Taste of Thailand, that it meant a special trip to the grocery store and racing home to get cooking! As we shopped, we brought along the Thai ingredient scavenger hunt, tracking a down a few items not in the recipes, too, like bird chiles and fish sauce.

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We debated which of the three recipes to make first, and settled on the most iconic: Pad Thai Noodles.

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First, cook 8 ounces wide rice noodles: bring water to a boil and add the noodles. Turn off the heat and let stand 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water.

Meanwhile, we smashed, peeled, and minced two garlic cloves and placed in a bowl.

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Slice 4 green onions and add to the bowl. For this step, I still have Travis hold the handle of a knife with me and guide his hand so he can feel the motion.

Squeeze the juice from two limes and add 3 tablespoons to the bowl. Travis wanted to sip the leftover lime juice! He was thrilled discovering all the smells and tastes of the Thai kitchen.

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Next, add 1/3 cup brown sugar and 1/3 cup soy sauce to the bowl. Travis used the whisk (his keepsake from his kit) to mix this all together!

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Heat 1 tablespoon canola oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Crumble in one-third of a package of firm tofu. Add 1/4 teaspoon turmeric and cook for 2 minutes.

Add the cooked noodles and the sauce; continue to cook for 3 minutes.

Add about 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (i.e. the leaves from one small bunch), 1 cup sprouts, 1 cup shredded carrot, and 1/2 cup chopped peanuts.

Travis was so proud!

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“I love Thailand [sic] food,” he declared, dining noodle by noodle. As he ate, we read more about the skill of whisking. We also discussed the mix of the five flavors in the dish, and I helped him figure out which ingredient added which flavor for the “perfect harmony”. He correctly identified lime for sour, brown sugar for sweetness, etc.

Stay tuned for more Thai recipes soon!