Lentils & Brown Rice

Lentils and Brown Rice

I used a rainbow of farm-fresh carrots for this recipe instead of just orange ones, but you can use only one color in a pinch.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup short-grain brown rice
  • 2 and 1/4 cups water
  • 2 peeled and sliced carrots
  • 1/2 cup dried lentils
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 vegetable bouillon cube
  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a boil.
  2. Once boiling, cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 40 minutes. Let stand, covered, for an additional 5 minutes before fluffing and serving.

Wind Direction

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Here’s a quick STEM experiment to teach kids how to observe wind direction… with some bubble fun thrown in!

First Travis helped make a bubble solution. The recipe was for an enormous batch (6 cups of water!) and I knew we would never use that much. Instead, I decided to make one-third of the recipe, using the following:

  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup dish detergent

My proportions weren’t exact, but we ended up with great bubbles so I guess it worked! Combine the ingredients in a jar and shake to combine, then let the mixture settle for at least half an hour.

Then it was time to head outside with the bubbles and a compass. I taught Travis how to locate north. He proudly then pointed to east, south, and west. So how could we tell which way the wind was blowing?

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Dip a wand into the bubble solution and see which way your bubbles go. Ours headed west, nice and lazily.

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So if our bubbles were floating west, I asked Travis where the wind was coming from. “East!” he correctly answered.

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This led to almost an hour of play on the patio, blowing bubbles, popping them against our screen door, and otherwise having a blast.

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Which means this is the perfect STEM activity for a summer day.

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Tub of Delights

 

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We love to make indoor sandboxes¬†and have played with multiple variations on the idea. This one was particularly fun because we combined three materials for the “sand” base: oatmeal, cornmeal, and rice.

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The other change I made today was using a larger, deeper bin (a storage bin from under the bed). The high sides meant easier clean-up at the end, and less mess on the floor!

As I layered in each of the three ingredients, I paused to talk about its texture with Veronika. Oatmeal was soft on our fingers. The cornmeal was finer and dusty, and the rice was smooth and pointy at the edges.

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Then we added scoops and funnels! Veronika loves to scoop and pour, whether with a measuring cup…

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…spoon…

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…or just her fingers!

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As you can see, the three ingredients didn’t stay in separate piles for long. For added fun, we then buried toys. I decided to make it a jungle theme and added wooden monkeys and a plastic giraffe and elephant. These were so fun to bury and then unearth. “Oooh, monkey!” Veronika said with true surprise each time she found one hidden under the cornmeal mix.

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I wouldn’t consider this an edible sensory bin, since the rice isn’t cooked, but at least you don’t have to worry if curious little mouths take a taste. Veronika quickly realized the texture wasn’t yummy after a little sample.

It all looked like so much fun that big brother Travis joined in!

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I loved watching them scoop and pour and imagine together. In sum, a great way to keep kids busy, and the high sides of the storage bin meant clean-up was a breeze.

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Watermelon Squish Bag, Two Ways

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Summertime just begs for watermelon in all its forms, and today we decided to use watermelon as a theme not just to eat but to play!

I made two watermelon sensory bags for Veronika and although these didn’t turn out exactly as I hoped, she still had lots of fun.

The first was a true watermelon bag. Using leftover chunks from a big watermelon we sliced into for snack, I placed cubes of fruit in a zip-top bag. Seal with green duct tape to prevent your toddler from opening (and to look like a watermelon rind!). Then squish!

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Veronika loved using this bag with her hands, crushing the soft cubes between her fingers. She also smashed at it with a toy hammer.

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Then we made a pretend watermelon in a second zip-top bag. Fill the bag with clear hair gel and add a touch of red food coloring for a pink tint. Unfortunately my red turned out to look more purple, so next time I would color it with pink tempera paint.

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As a result, the fact that we were trying to replicate a watermelon was lost on Veronika. Still, I added a few black seeds from the real watermelon, and she loved moving these around with her fingertips. Initially she thought they were bugs, but then she started saying “seeds!” as she squished at them.

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Arguably, she liked this “failed” squishy bag better, holding it, squeezing it, and occasionally even draping it on her head.

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So if the goal of a sensory bag is to keep a toddler busy, then this one was a winner.

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