If you’re having trouble making meals (or cleaning up after them) with a baby around, then it’s time to rearrange one of your cupboards!

When Travis was little, I used to keep an entire bin full of Tupperware and other safe items (small loaf pans, spatulas, various gadgets) that I could pull out for him.  Today I made a simplified version of that for Veronika, clearing out one cabinet and filling it with our motley collection of food containers.

She was thrilled! You could just tell she was so proud that she got to rifle through mommy’s kitchen.

There was immediately lots of reaching, bouncing (which is how you know she’s happy), and tapping the items against the cabinet.

This is also a quick opportunity to use language about putting things in and taking things out.

She gazed at me as if to say, “Mom, I’m helping out in the kitchen today!”

Don’t be surprised if big siblings want to join in (although Travis preferred metal items to plastic ones).

I also filled a small cardboard box with a few items for her to scoop up, including pom poms and soft balls.

This little busy box added fun variety.

In sum, having a child-safe cabinet will keep your whole crew busy while you cook!

Bugs vs. Birds

To slip some subtle math and science into your child’s next summer nature walk, turn it into a tally hunt for bugs and birds. I told Travis we’d be counting both, and asked him whether he thought he would find more birds or bugs. He quickly replied birds, but then thought about it for a moment; we passed a bunch of flowers, already teeming with five bees. “Bugs!” he guessed.

To prepare a little scientific notebook, print out a picture of a bug and a bird, and tape or glue down to notebook paper. Now you can tally as you walk.

This will also be a great lesson on tallying and making marks in groupings of 5 (good for skip-counting!).

As we walked, Travis sometimes forgot to count, since there was so much else to see. Eventually we decided he would look out for bugs, and I was in charge of birds.

It quickly became apparent that bugs were far more abundant…so much so we eventually stopped our tally at around 35. Although hard to see, the picture above shows two beautiful dragonflies perched on a limb.

In short, this game is a great way to get your little one noticing nature on a closer scale, as well as to think about the differing populations of species within an area.

Tessellations

Tessellations are geometric patterns that perfectly fill an area with no overlaps. I remember making them using a computer program back in middle school, and marveling at the way the patterns could rotate or connect. Here is a highly simplified version that even a kindergartner can grasp, which can gently introduce your child to the concept.

To make your tessellation, draw a line along one edge of a post-it with marker, in any shape, as long as the line extends from corner to corner.

I had to help Travis a bit with this slightly odd instruction.

Cut out along the marker line, then tape that piece onto the front of the post-it. Your tessellation is ready to go!

Now trace this in a line across a piece of paper.

Once you’ve filled in the paper, color each portion, ideally in a pattern.

Travis did great careful work to color within the lines, and thought the final result looked a bit like the scoots on a turtle shell!