Threading Cereal on Pipe Cleaners

Cheerio Pipecleaner (2)

Veronika and I have been working our way through classic toddler activities lately; she’s at that tricky age between having developed the gross motor skills of a one-year-old, but not yet ready for the understanding or fine motor skills of an 18 month old. I remember this period feeling particularly tricky to fill with my older son, but this time around I’m prepared!

Hence, the emphasis on classic games lately. Today, I sat her down with a big blob of play doh on her highchair tray, but the play doh was only an anchor, not the point of the game.

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Insert pipe cleaner pieces into the play doh base. Now show your little one how to thread o cereal onto them (we like the Morning O’s from Whole Foods 365).

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Veronika quickly got the idea, although she loved lifting the cereal off to eat it more than she focused on threading it on.

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That, of course, turns this activity into snack time, too, and there’s nothing wrong with that!

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The pipe cleaners are also fun to lift in and out of the sticky play doh base.

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Needless to say, it’s a great way to keep a toddler busy during meal prep.

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The Scribble

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It was bound to happen: Veronika discovered that she can color on the walls (luckily with washable crayons!). So here’s an ingenious hack to foster your toddler’s artistic impulses with a safer way to color.

I used magnets to hang a large sheet of craft paper on the fridge and sat Veronika down in front of it with a few markers. She didn’t need me to tell her to start coloring; she immediately launched into the art of the scribble.

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Aside from one mommy stick figure, this drawing was 100% Veronika’s. She loved switching up the colors.

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She also was very focused on putting cap to marker in between colors, a great chance to work those fine motor skills!

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As she drew, I talked about how the color on the paper was a “yes” (use sign language here to reinforce the idea!), but that other places were a “no”, like the floor or her hands.

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This will help a toddler start to learn that art belongs on paper, for now at least!

As for those crayon marks on the wall, here’s an ingenious trick: Heat the area with a hair dryer for about 30 seconds to melt the wax. Then scrub off the remaining streaks with soap and water. Ingenious!

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Matoke (Plantain Stew)


This hearty stew brought international flair to our kitchen tonight; the plantain-based dish is similar to those traditionally served at birthday celebrations in Kenya, a nice little addendum to some birthday learning Travis has recently enjoyed.


  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 8 ounces meatless crumbles
  • 3 ripe plantains, peeled and chopped
  • 2 baking potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cups water
  1. Heat the canola oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the tomatoes and meatless crumbles; cook for about 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in the chopped plantains and potatoes, then cover with the water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, until the potatoes are very tender.