Explore with Me Panda Crate

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As with her past Panda crates, Veronika is a little old for the items that arrived this month from Kiwi Co., but they could also be tailored to fit her age. This month’s topic – making sense of the spatial world around us – included fun toys and innovative game ideas. I would recommend this crate for babies 8 months and up.

One: Fabric Tissues

These black and white tissues featured fun patterns, slightly different on each one. They didn’t make any crinkly noise, which I expected, but had a nice thickness that makes them more durable than regular Kleenex.

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In addition to just being fun to play with, Panda intends them to help with the idea of object permanence. Although old hat for my seventeen-month-old, the concept never grows stale! We hid her favorite toy and she was so pleased when she uncovered it.

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You can also stack the tissues, and encourage your child to lift one and reveal the one beneath.

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In this way, they can also be used in conjunction with…

Two: Tissue Box

This soft “tissue box” comes in the shape of Poppy Panda, and has nice heft to it thanks to a bean bag-like filling in the bottom. You can use the box to hide any object, like a toy car, but it’s really meant for the fabric tissues.

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Layer these in such a way that when you pull one, the next pops up.

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Veronika recently played this game with real tissues, so I appreciated that now we can do it without the waste of paper! It’s also a great object for self-directed play since you can leave the box out with the tissues dangling tantalizingly.

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Three: Bead Maze

Panda’s version of this classic toy had a few fun twists. We could talk about the colors and shapes of the beads and you canuse directional words related to the little Poppy Panda at the base.

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“The beads are above panda,” I said to her, or, “Panda is below the beads.” Since Veronika is older, I challenged her to follow directions too, like moving the yellow bead from one side to the other.

Four: Coin Box Puzzle

This item was the biggest hit in the crate. Veronika loved fitting the “coin” circles into the box, both through the large opening on top and the smaller slit on the side, which took a few tries.

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Then I challenged her to get the coins out. Dump! The toy is also good for counting out up to four, as the coins go in the box.

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Five: Board Book

The board book this month featured cute illustrations and was all about directional words (up, down, around, over). It would have been nice if the book included cut-outs and grooves to trace or flaps to lift; as it was, there was nothing really novel about the book for Veronika.

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Wonder Magazine contained stage-by-stage developmental advice, and reminded us of past games we’ve played having to do with body awareness, spatial language, textures and spatial objects. There was a useful article about making safe spaces for little crawlers and walkers, including the idea to rotate toys and game ideas like a Tupperware drawer.

The online singalong for this crate was to Itsy Bitsy Spider, featuring lots of spatial words of course!

Beyond the Crate suggestions included those we’ve already done, like What’s In the Bag?

Of course we had to play peek-a-boo, but with a twist: a Peek-a-Boo Parachute! I lay Veronika down and let a scarf fall onto her head gently. Where’s Veronika?

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Peek-a-boo!

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She giggle giggle giggled for this version, and then needed to cover me…

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…and her Baby!

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For books, we read:

  • Over, Under & Through, by Tana Hoban
  • Yellow Ball, by Molly Bang
  • Hide and Seek Harry: On the Farm, by Kenny Harrison

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Kindergarten Home School Week 4: Wednesday

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Hurrah for a successful day. Between innovative assignments and an interest in the topics, Travis did great today. There was also ample room for toddler activities, whether getting little sister busy with socks or pausing for a toddler gym video class.

9-9.30: ELA. Today Travis made words with his feet! Write out a few words (consonant-vowel-consonant) with a separate letter per sheet of paper, and arrange them on the floor. I wrote out: pig, wig, cat, mat, hat, van, and can. Now Travis had to spell the words by stomping on them! This was very silly of course, and the kids both loved crumpling up the paper when we were done.

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9.30-10: Math. Today was about estimating and counting to 100. First Travis pulled a handful from a pile of pennies. I asked Travis to estimate how many he had, which he struggled with for a moment before coming up with 10. It was really 11! He pulled a second handful and I asked if it felt like more or less. He said less and estimated 5, for a correct answer of 8.

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We then grouped the pennies into 10s, which let us skip count to 100. For a little exercise, we counted by 1s to 100, alongside a movement video.

10-10.30: Travis did Lexia for 20 minutes while baby sister had a “gym” class.

10.30-11: Free play/snack. Too rainy for outdoor recess!

11-12: Science. We watched a video of a sunflower book, after which he cut out the steps in the life cycle of a a sunflower. First he ordered them, then glued them down in a booklet and colored them in, thinking about the realistic colors of dirt, sky, flower petals etc. We even sent a video of it to his teacher!

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Travis also colored in our state bird (the chickadee) for Draw a Bird Day – yes that’s a thing!

National Draw Bird

12-1: Lunch/free play.

1-1.30: Library. There was a rhyming activity online for what would have been his special today, and we watched our town librarian read a story video. Travis rounded out the half hour with a few games from PBS Kids online.

2-3: We tacked on our own extra-curricular: cooking! This counted as music, too, since we didn’t just make blueberry bars, we made blues-berry bars.

It was too rainy to get outside, so we got out our wiggles with a Go Noodle dance. We capped off the day with puzzles (48 pieces, a first for Travis!).

Blues-berry Crumb Bars

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What a clever and fun riff this was from Raddish Kids: making a blueberry dessert and enjoying blues music while we cooked!

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Ingredients:

For the crust:

  • 1 and 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance butter
  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
  • 3 tablespoons water

For the filling:

  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 lemon
  1. To prepare the crust, combine the flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Cut the butter into small pieces, and add to the bowl. Travis loved dropping these in like craters on the moon! Use your fingers to mix until the dough is crumbly.Bluesberry Bars (1)
  3. Whisk together the flaxseed and water to make 1 flax egg. Add to the bowl and stir; it will still be dry and crumbly.
  4. Press 1 and 1/2 cups dough into the bottom of an 8×8-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bluesberry Bars (2)
  5. Meanwhile, prepare the filling: Mix together the blueberries, 1/4 cup sugar, and cornstarch in a bowl. Squeeze the lemon over the blueberry mixture and stir to combine.Bluesberry Bars (3)
  6. Spoon the blueberry filling over the dough. Sprinkle the remaining flour mixture on top. Bake at 375 degrees F for 43 minutes.

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Cut into squares to serve!

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Travis honestly loved the raw dough more than he did the final result, but either way he enjoyed making these. Don’t forget to serve up fun facts from the recipe card, like the roots of Blues music and an interesting blurb about why restaurants play music for ambiance.

Full and Empty

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In the category of everyday objects that can entertain your toddler, look no further than the sock drawer!

I set a large kitchen bowl on the ground and gave Veronika a pile of socks, including her own and big brother’s. More is better for this game, so separate the socks from bundled pairs.

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Now it was time to fill it up. She actually picked up the bowl and turned her back to me so she could do this on her own, without my help!

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I started out saying, “Look, the bowl is empty.” As she filled it, I added, “You’re filling up the bowl. The bowl is full!”

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Then we gave it a big dump upside down. “The bowl is empty!” I said again.

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If you want to be extra silly, dump it right on your toddler’s head! Of course it didn’t stay empty for long. Veronika busily loaded the socks in a second, third, and even fourth time.

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This was such a great way to keep her occupied!

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