Balloon Hovercraft

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This balloon activity is a simple but neat way to demonstrate friction. Similar to an old balloon propeller experiment Travis tried, it illustrates Newton’s third law (that for every reaction, there is an equal and opposite reaction). So when the air from the balloon is allowed to escape, the it propels the CD forward. Consider it for a quick science class if you’re homeschooling this week!

I raided my old CD binder for the project, which had the kids immediately intrigued. This is not technology they see often anymore.

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Hot glue a pop-top water bottle cap to the middle of the CD, making sure the seal is air-tight.

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Fit a balloon over the bottle cap, then blow through the hole in the bottom of the CD to inflate the balloon. This definitely takes some lung power!

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Immediately seal the pop-top. Place the balloon on a flat surface, and lift the pop-top. As the air rushes out, your balloon will go forward, which had big wow factor every time.

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We never managed to create enough energy to have the CD actually lift and hover, but please share in the comments if you do! We did get it to zoom, though, which you can see in this quick clip:


Blueberry Pancakes

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These pancakes have lots of sneaky good-for-you ingredients, like rolled oats, flaxseed, and of course fresh fruit. The result is thick pancakes that take a little longer to cook than a standard recipe, but make for a hearty breakfast.


  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Scant 2 cups almond milk
  • 1 and 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 2 Ener-G eggs
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  •  1 pint fresh blueberries
  1. In a bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, and flaxseed; set aside
  2. Pour the lemon juice into a measuring cup and add almond milk to equal 2 cups. Let stand for 5 minutes.
  3. Combine the almond milk mixture in a bowl with the oats. Whisk in the Ener-G eggs and canola oil.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and fold in the blueberries.
  5. Cook on a hot griddle for about 4 minutes, or until bubbles cover the top. Flip and cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes.

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To be honest, the blueberries were a bit of a miss, and mostly my kids ended up with purple-stained fingers from picking them out. Next time I would use strawberries, bananas, or even chocolate chips!

To wit, slices of ripe banana were deemed delicious in our second try:

Chocolate chips were a great variation, if not quite as healthy. For this round, I stirred 1/3 cup mini chocolate chips into the batter:

Similarly, fresh strawberries made much less of a mess than the blueberries, and everyone declared the switch a big hit:

Strawberry Pancakes

Chair Maze

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This game is perfect when you want your toddler to fit in some gross motor play, but can’t get to the playground. I simply set up chairs all around her playroom, and encouraged Veronika to come on over.

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You can see her glee!

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I thought she might need to be enticed with a “hunt” for rings from a stacking toy, but she needed no encouragement. Instead, she just scrambled on up.

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Once on top of the chairs, she proudly swung her legs. She knew this was big brother’s chair!

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She still needs help with climbing down safely, so this was great practice.

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The highchair was perfect for crawling under, of course.

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She spent a little while scrambling up and down and all around, but then I needed to give her a way to play that required less supervision. This time, we lined the chairs up in a train with stuffed animal passengers.

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She loved making sure everyone was in their proper seat.

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This kept her so busy that I didn’t worry about her climbing into a chair and falling off while my back was turned. A low, soft orange chair was the perfect place to cuddle up with her train companions.

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“Hello!” she said to the big white dog in the next seat.

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How does your toddler get exercise indoors? Please share in the comments!

Fun with Kleenex

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Going stir crazy and need to occupy a toddler? Look no further than a box of tissues. Seriously, that’s it. This is what I call a “sacrificial tissue box” and sometimes it’s exactly what the doctor ordered.

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Put the box on the ground with the first tissue sticking out, and your toddler will immediately think they’ve gone to heaven. Veronika pulled out only a couple at first, and tried to clean the floor.

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Then she discovered the great joy of pulling out one after another, making a big pile.

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Then we got silly. I put some on my head and pretended to sneeze them off, which she quickly imitated.

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You can also pick up big handfuls and have them drift down like “snow”.

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She also lifted a tissue to her face and pretended to blow her nose just like mommy. “Mommy nose!” she said.

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Aside from those interactive moments together, the real beauty of the tissue box is that it can occupy a toddler solo for quite some time.

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The game needn’t end just because the tissues are gone. Re-purpose the box by stuffing in tissue paper. For this version, I started out with the tissue paper wadded up.

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These were hard for her to pull out though, so we ripped each portion into smaller pieces, which she could stuff in and pull out again.

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Scarves would work, too!

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