Listen with Me Panda Crate

Panda Listen var

Veronika’s latest from Panda Crate was all about listening. Panda used music as a guiding theme to highlight the developmental milestones around this topic, in a crate that would suit babies 6 months and up. At 15 months, Veronika quite enjoyed the toys and activities in this bundle!

One: Loud and Soft Shakers

These streamlined shakers conceal what’s inside, but give a shake shake and your toddler will trot right over. One is billed as “soft” and one as “loud”, though as a small complaint I would have made the difference between them more pronounced. Still, shake them close to your toddler’s ear and talk about the dynamics.

Panda Listen (1)

Hand them over to your little one and see how he or she plays. Veronika liked to shake them of course, but then also discovered she could roll them on the floor.

Panda Listen (21)

Or bang them on the floor and keep a beat!

Panda Listen (2)

Of course then we needed to put on some music and shake along to the rhythm. These will be a great addition to her bin of musical toys.

Two: Panda Squeakers

Squeak squeak, these two adorable panda heads that squeak when squeezed were a big hit.

Panda Listen (8)

Veronika wasn’t able to make the sound herself yet, but loved trying!

Panda Listen (9)

For babies who are still learning about object permanence, the provided bamboo “tree” will help teach the notion. Slip a panda inside, give it a squeak, and see if baby can find panda.

Panda Listen (7)

For Veronika, the trunk was more fun for putting the pandas in and out of their abode. Note: The side hole is smaller, so is a bit tricky and gives a toddler some problem-solving practice!

Panda Listen (11)

Three: Pull-Back Car

A definite favorite, this little wooden car has a wobbly panda who sits inside. Veronika was only disappointed she couldn’t pull it free!

Panda Listen (6)

Show your baby how to pull the car back then release, at which point it zooms forwards. This perplexed Veronika the first few times she had to trot after it, but soon she was loving it!

Panda Listen (4)

For the auditory purposes of this crate, make sure to lift up the car and let the wheels  whir right up by your little one’s ears. We also had fun seeing if it moved differently on different surfaces, like her alphabet mat.

Panda Listen (5)

Four: See-Through Roller

The visual aspect of the beads made this rattler Veronika’s preference over the loud/soft shakers. She could shake it…

Panda Listen (12)

…or turn it into a drum by tapping with a baby spoon.

Panda Listen (14)

It’s also great for rolling back and forth to each other on the floor.

Panda Listen (15)

Five: Chunky Board Book

Finally, we read this month’s book, Panda’s Friendship Band. As we read the rhyming words, I tapped Veronika’s hand on the pages to the beat.

Panda Listen (17)

The story features tons of fun onomatopoeia, and she was copying along with silly lines like “oompah oompah” and “roo roo roo”.

Panda Listen (18)

I always love a book that gets her to sit still and read!

Panda Listen (19)

Wonder magazine focused on listening milestones, which were a reminder of games we’ve played like special songs to go with different parts of the day, or walking around the house to name everyday sounds. Then we played a game of tempo dance, dancing along to a favorite song but mixing up the rhythm so it was slower or faster than she expected.

Panda Listen (23)

We also loved singing along to Panda Bear, Panda Bear, (to the tune of Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, Turn Around) with Veronika mimicking the gestures!

Panda Listen alt

One of the Beyond the Crate suggestions happened to be a recent hit (pun intended!) around here: a Jam Session on pots and pans. If you haven’t done this recently, try it out, whether on pots or on oatmeal canisters. You can also drum a rhythm and see if your baby will copy.

For some reading fun, we read the following three recommendations:

  • Quiet, Loud by Leslie Patricelli
  • Toot, Toot, Boom! Listen to the Band by Surya Sajnani
  • We Are Music by Brandon Stosuy

Panda listen alt

Swedish Meatballs

Swedish Meatballs (6)

Travis and I got into a hygge Scandinavian mode making these Swedish meatballs tonight, complete with Swedish music in the background in a playlist provided by Raddish Kids.

Swedish Meatballs (1)

I appreciated the company’s thoughtful provision of a vegan alternative to ground beef, using sauteed mushrooms as the base of the meatballs instead.

Swedish Meatballs (2)

Ingredients:

For the meatballs:

  • 24 ounces button mushrooms
  • 2 Ener-G eggs
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice

For the gravy:

  • 3 tablespoons Earth Balance butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 and 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup plain non-dairy creamer
  1. To prepare the meatballs, chop the mushrooms  and then saute for about 20 minutes, until the mushrooms are very tender and the liquid is evaporated.
  2. Combine the mushrooms in a large bowl with the Ener-G eggs, breadcrumbs, oats, salt, onion powder, and allspice. Transfer the mixture to a food process or blender and process until finely minced.
  3. Line a baking sheet with foil and coat with cooking spray. Shape the mushroom mixture into 1-inch balls and place on the baking sheet; bake at 450 degrees for 12 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare the gravy: melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the flour; cook for 3 minutes, whisking frequently.
  5. Add the vegetable broth. Continue to cook for 3 minutes, until thickened. Turn off the heat and stir in the creamer.

Swedish Meatballs (3)

Now Travis got to test out the tongs that came with this month’s kit!

Swedish Meatballs (7)

Transfer the cooked meatballs to the gravy, and let warm over low heat. You can serve the meatballs with a little bit of cranberry jam for garnish, if desired. We actually added a dollop of mixed berry jam!

Swedish Meatballs (5)

In addition to the Swedish music, Travis had fun with the recipe card’s tidbits about Viking history, and a true-or-false quiz about Swedish facts.

Watercolor for Toddlers

Watercolor (7)

It may seem like a recipe for disaster, but don’t be afraid to use a washable watercolor with even the youngest toddlers (just save the liquid watercolors for bigger kids!). Today it was Veronika’s turn to experiment with this medium.

In all honesty, she was an imp about the whole craft. Much more so than pressing the brush to paper, she liked to squeeze the brush…

Watercolor (6)

…paint on her hands…

Watercolor (3)

…dip in her fingers…

Watercolor (2)

…and even lift the bristles to her mouth with a cackle one time.

Watercolor (1)

To excite her about setting the brush to page, I drew a simple picture with crayon and then showed her how to paint over it. Kids will love the way the color runs off the wax instead of adhering, leaving pretty pockets of color.

Watercolor (4)

For extra fun, we moved the art to a bigger canvas. First, I laid Veronika down on a large sheet of craft paper and traced her. This got giggles!

Watercolor (9)

The idea is to let your little one fill in “self-portrait” features with the watercolor. Obviously at 15 months old, Veronika had only a rudimentary understanding of what we were doing, but I showed her how to paint on pants and a shirt, and a few cartoonish facial features.

Watercolor (12)

Really she just loved exploring the medium, dipping the brush in the water, watching how it could swirl the colors from dry to wet, and testing it with her fingers.

Watercolor (11)

In conclusion, Veronika was a bit too young for this first foray into watercolor, but I did enjoy introducing it; you have to start somewhere! I would definitely repeat this activity when she’s older, especially the self-portrait part, which older toddlers can tackle with greater care.

Watercolor (13)