Santa’s Sleigh Automaton

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I originally purchased this special holiday crate from Kiwi Co thinking it would be fun to put together with Travis. It turns out that it was so complicated even mommy had trouble with it! But we now have a very cool decoration to last until the holiday is over.

The sleigh works as an automaton, a machine that is pushed into motion, and the instruction booklet included neat STEM learning about other examples of automatons (think jack-in-the-boxes or vending machines), and also a detailed explanation at the end about how you’ve built a “cam”. Here’s a rough outline of what we did:

First we made a frame, slotting together the provided wooden pieces and foam stickers to help hold them in place.

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We then needed to build the crank part of our cam by attaching wooden circles to a crank in the proper order.

Next up was the part of the cam that would go up and down. This required fitting plastic rods into the wood stand, securing them onto a paper square at the base, and adding a paper straw and foam donut to hold them in place. Here is where the machine seemed a bit faulty, with the paper squares not staying firmly on the wheels of the crank. Hmmm…

But we forged on, adding the felt reindeer, Santa and sleigh (quite tiny!) to each of the plastic rods. Secure them all with the provided string for a leash.

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There is a decorated backdrop with felt houses and trees to attach. Now Santa’s sleigh and team are ready to fly!

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Travis does indeed enjoy turning the crank, so there is holiday magic (and science!) to be had in the final product.


Frozen Treasures

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Ice play is fascinating for babies and it doubles as a first science lesson on the states of matter (water into ice or vice versa). This little activity is also a puzzle for your little one to figure out!

You’ll need to prep the night before you want to play the game. I cut an old soy milk carton in half, and cleaned it out. Fill with water, then add a few plastic toys. Toy farm animals were perfect! Place in the freezer until completely solid.

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The next day I presented the little cube of ice to Veronika. She touched it immediately, then withdrew her hand, quite surprised. It was cold!

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I removed the outer carton layer, and posed the question to her of how we could free piggy and the other animals. Big brother immediately swooped in and wanted in on the action.

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We tried pouring warm water over the ice first. Veronika loved the cup, and wanted to be a part of every pour!

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This made the game great for action words (pour, tip), and great for talking about what was happening. I asked Veronika about how the temperature of the water was changing, from warm to cold once the ice touched it, to warmer again when we poured more from the cup.

Travis wanted to try a little chisel, too, but we decided we liked the warm water method better.

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Finally, the animals were free!

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Honestly by that point Veronika was more into the tools we had used than the animals themselves, but she was busy and happy, which meant mama was too.

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We took the final chunk of ice up to bath time to watch it dissolve – good fun!

Musical Nursery Rhyme Dance Party

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We’re filling a snow day today, which made it the perfect day to set aside some quality time for musical play.

Of course you can always just grab an instrument and play, and in that vein, I laid out every instrument we had at home.

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For some more structured fun, I went through a repertoire of nursery rhymes with Veronika! We started out with Where is Thumbkin. I held up my fingers for the verses, as she played along on the maracas.

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Next up was Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes. Make sure to touch each body part, and shake an instrument in between verses!

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The Itsy BItsy Spider was fun with a rain stick for the rain.

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Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star was beautiful on cymbals.

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You’ll probably find that there’s a perfect instrument for each song! For example, bang or rub on a drum for Pat-a-Cake. Or you can simply get up and dance, as I did for The Hokey Pokey while she looked up at me and laughed!

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We added other favorites like Wheels on the Bus, If You’re Happy and You Know It, and I’m a Little Teapot.

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Whatever instrument strikes your little one’s fancy is just fine; there’s no wrong way to play this game. Or simply pick him or her up and dance! This is a great way to pass some time with a one-year-old at home.

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