Peppermint Sugar Crystal Sticks

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If your kids love rock candy, they’ll be intrigued by this method to make it at home. Unfortunately, our spate of bad luck with crystallization projects continues, but here’s a step-by-step guide. I’d love to hear if your kids are successful with this one!

First, bring 1 cup water to a boil in a saucepan. Stir in 2 cups sugar and continue to cook at a boil until the sugar dissolves.

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Carefully pour the mixture into two small mason jars. Add a few drops of peppermint extract to each. Travis loved the way this smelled! Next he added a couple drops of red food coloring to one and green to the other.

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Ideally, use lollipop sticks to grow your crystal candy. We had to improvise and used toothpicks instead, which may explain our poor results. Dip these in the peppermint sugar solution, then roll in regular sugar. Use a clothespin to suspend them in the red and green liquid, making sure they don’t touch the sides or bottoms of the jars.

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Now wait!

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We did see a little bit of crystallized liquid form near the surface of the jars after about three days, which we could skim up with a spoon, but nothing crystallized on the toothpicks.

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Well, that didn’t deter Travis from spooning up some sugary liquid for a quick snack!


Shoe Box Train

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We had a few leftover boxes around the house, so it felt like the perfect day to make Veronika a cardboard train. Okay, technically none of these were shoe boxes, but I use the term in the title because they were all about that size. Use any similarly-sized packages for this terrific tot train.

To put it together, simply puncture holes in the sides of each box, and attach them together with yarn or string.

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To make even this part fun, I made lots of drilling and clanging construction sounds as I worked.

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Veronika wanted to hold a pair of safety scissors to get in on the action! Once our train was complete, it was time to load up passengers. Some stuffed animal friends happily climbed aboard at the station.

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I showed Veronika how to hold the yarn so she could pull the train along with her as she walked forwards. I realized this was the first time she’s used a toy that pulls, rather than pushes, so it was great for her motor development.

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After a while, she did prefer to push the train cars along, which was just fine too.

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Station change! Next it was all aboard the dinosaur train.

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There were so many elements to this game that I loved, whether watching her busily load the passengers in and out, the way she said “roar!” to the dinosaurs, or how determined she was to make the train move. She even decided to test out a seat for herself!

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Motor skills, imaginative play, and so much more, all thanks to a few upcycled boxes.