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Veronika is old enough that today I thought I’d test if she was ready to build blocks up, not focus on knocking them down.

Whether you have a classic wooden set of blocks or foam ones, or something in between, blocks are a toy that never goes out of style, and they are so fantastic for children’s development. Today we mixed her foam set (consisting of multiple shapes) and added in a few wooden square blocks.

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I handed her a block and mimicked placing it on top of another to start a tower. To my delight, she was game to build!

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Her towers never made it more than three high before the temptation to knock over was too great, but any building at all was a definite first.

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Since she’s older, we also worked on some learning concepts with the blocks. First I sorted them by color…

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…and then by shape.

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You can add in new vocab, too, perhaps “straight” or “pointy”.

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She really loved inserting circular blocks into the holes of square ones, which I loved watching.

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As a final element to today’s play, I introduced the notion of imagination. What if our blocks weren’t blocks but… cars? I made one go “vroom vroom” along her play mat and she immediately took me up on the idea, running a block back and forth.

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How about a choo choo train? She loved this version, too.

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I can’t wait to see what she builds or imagines in the future, whether her blocks become mountains or castles, animals in a pen or something else entirely.

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How To… Help Yourself Feel Better

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Highlights magazine appears to have a new feature, a “How To…” page each month explaining how to do anything ranging from the fun (snow forts!) to the practical. I loved this month’s tips on how kids can make themselves feel better, which made for a nice pause with Travis.

We ran through three techniques kids can use to calm down. First up: Bubble Breaths. The idea here is breathe in through your nose, then out as if blowing a big bubble. He loved practicing this one!

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Next we practiced The Squeezer (as seen at the top of this post). Clench fists for a count of 10, then release and count to 10. Repeat as needed.

Finally, we discussed the tactic of Watch It Go, which involves imagining a cloud full of upset feelings. The cloud fades away as you count backwards from 10, until at 0 it disappears.

As an added bonus, we made a list of things Travis likes about himself or is good at.

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What a nice self-esteem booster for him! He and I brainstormed ways he can help friends feel better, too. Overall, this activity was quite the mental health break. Thanks Highlights!

Fairy Bread

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If children could invent a snack, Fairy Bread would probably be it. This treat, apparently popular at birthday parties in Australia, sure made our after-school snack feel like a treat!

Spread Earth Balance butter on slices of white bread. Trim off the crusts.

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Sprinkle with rainbow sprinkles to taste, then cut into triangles. I prepared the first slice for Travis, but let him be in charge of the sprinkles for the second.

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Clearly this indulgence is meant to be a once-in-a-while treat, but it sure put a big smile on his face today!