Mini Bots

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Travis built a robot today! Armed with a few specially ordered items, even younger elementary kids can do this project. My kindergartner needed adult hands for a lot of the steps, but could understand the process behind creating a simple circuit.

To start, we used sandpaper to smooth one side of a cork so it would sit flat once the robot was complete.

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Using an Xacto knife, I made a slit in one end of the cork; this was for a 3V battery to slot into. Initially I made the slit such that the battery would sit horizontally, but we later changed it to vertical for ease of attaching the wires.

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On the opposite side of the cork from the battery slit, I cut a square large enough to fit a pager motor. Hot glue the motor in place for security.

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Attach two wires (about 3 inches long), one on either side of the pager motor. Secure with masking tape. I used a thin floral wire for this step.

Now poke both ends of an LED light into the cork, taking note of the longer (anode) side and shorter (cathode) side. Wrap the wires that extend from the pager motor around each leg of the LED, and continue along until they reach the 3V battery. Tape it all securely in place with masking tape.

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Every time you touch both wires firmly to the battery, it will kick into action. The light lights up and the motor starts whirring! If you have trouble, go back and check that all your + sides are aligned, as well as all your – ones.

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Your child may want to decorate their mini bot with wiggle eyes or pipe cleaners for personality, but Travis loved it just like this! Here it is in action:


A Box to Extend Train Play

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Chances are you have lots of extra boxes these days; certainly we’re having more items delivered in this time of social distancing, and are so thankful to the fearless delivery folks out there! We put one such box to good use this morning by making it a tunnel for Veronika’s trains.

The set up was simple (although you could get really detailed and crafty with this if you have the time). First, I cut a few holes to be tunnel entrances and and exits.

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Next, I placed a strip of masking tape on the top as a road. Little bits of orange tape down the center served as the lane divider.

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I put the box on the ground and showed Veronika how she could make a train enter through one hole…

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…and pop out through another!

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She loved it, although she seemed mildly disappointed that she didn’t fit in the tunnels herself. Soon she was happily chugging trains to and fro.

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The road on top was a big hit, too!

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The box happened to be the perfect height for her to stand and zoom her cars around, which interested her almost more than the trains.

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This is a great way to keep your toddler busy, even if trains aren’t necessarily his or her “thing”!

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Banana Yogurt Milkshake

Banana Milkshake

This milkshake uses non-dairy yogurt and almond milk for creaminess, instead of ice cream. It’s the perfect healthy treat for after (home) school!


  • 1 banana
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 8 ounces vanilla non-dairy yogurt
  • 1 cup vanilla almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.


Bear in the Basket

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This simple game is pure delight for a toddler! I put Veronika in her crib, which startled her momentarily since it’s not a place she normally plays. Surprise turned to excitement when I added all her stuffed animal friends.

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I placed a basket below the crib (a laundry basket would be perfect, or any old storage box like the one I had on hand), and then showed her how drop in a stuffed animal. “One, two, three, whee!” I counted. The first animal jumped in.

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Well she had to see what this was all about!

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She was eager to copy me, parroting my words and holding an animal over the railing. Sometimes she didn’t realize she needed to let go with those little fists; there’s a cognitive step of cause-and-effect here that’s great for motor skill development.

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Here goes reindeer!

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Once the basket was full, we tossed the animals back in the crib…

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…and played again.

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She was happy to play so many rounds of this game.

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Or sometimes to pause for a hug.

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Just for the heck of it, we extended the stuffed animal play with a dry animal bath tub!

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This oldie-but-goodie never grows old. Simply throw all the stuffed animals in for a soft landing and add one toddler.

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