Summer Boredom Bucket List: Day 4

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Welcome to the fourth day of your handy summer list for beating boredom. Without any further ado…

Idea 13: Make a Matching Game. Really, this prompt from Highlights is the card game ‘Memory’ by another name, but the idea is to lay down pairs of matching cards, then see how long it takes to find all the matches if you only turn over two cards at a time.

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If your child is older and playing solo, then yes the game can hopefully occupy him or her for quite some time! I didn’t exactly get a break, because Travis immediately wanted us to play together. He also was so into the game that he didn’t want to add the element of timing the task. “Let’s just play!” he insisted. Through three rounds in fact. So while I can’t say that this bought me any time to myself, it did bust his boredom!

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Idea 14: Writing Redo. First, I challenged Travis to imagine a scene from a favorite movie and give it a different ending. He went right to Star Wars of course, and imagined that young Anakin didn’t win his pod race. (Think about it Star Wars fans; in such a scenario, there might never have been a Darth Vader). Now we combined it with a second prompt from Highlights: to make a scroll. I taped 4 pieces of paper together so Travis had a long scroll to work with.

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(Little sister got one, too!)

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He loved adding details including Jar Jar Binks feeling sad at the finish, mountains and droids in the background, and more.

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This little prompt is great for kids to hone their own storytelling skills, whether you have them use a book or a movie as the starting point.

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Idea 15: Doodle Your Day. When the witching hour hit between dinner and bedtime and Travis was sort of flopping around aimlessly, I suggested that he go back and doodle his day. He’s been into drawing stick figures lately, so I knew these simple sketches would be right up his alley, especially with a new special pen!

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This exercise was great not only artistically, but also for thinking back through his day. “What do we normally do first?” I prompted. “Lunch?” “Well no… What comes before that?”

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As he drew, he honed his skills both drawing and recollecting. “Here we are at the restaurant, but our faces are circles because you can only see our heads sitting around the table,” he explained.

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Idea 16: Learn How Something is Made. When I suggested to Travis that we find a YouTube video of how something was made – anything! – Travis chose Lego (of course). We watched a fascinating video on the machines that make the Lego pieces themselves (over 1.7 million in an hour!), followed by a more detailed clip about the designers who get to create new sets. A dream job in the making perhaps? Needless to say, this was an instant boredom buster because once the video was done, he trotted over to his Lego sets to play designer.

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What would your child want to learn about? We’ll be back tomorrow with more boredom busters!

Campfire S’mores Pie

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This decadent pie riffs on the classic summer trio of graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate. For vegan marshmallows, look no further than Dandies. We originally wanted to make our own graham cracker crust, but I couldn’t find vegan grahams in any store in town. That meant we used Mi-Del’s pre-made graham crust, and although I’m thankful to the company for this vegan product, I was sorry that Travis and I missed out on preparing some of this Raddish Kids recipe together. At least we still had the filling to prepare!

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If you do find vegan graham crackers, start with the following: Heat 6 tablespoons Earth Balance butter in the microwave for about 30 seconds, until melted; set aside. Place 12 graham cracker sheets in a zip-top plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin until you have fine crumbs. Add the crumbs and 1/3 cup sugar to the melted butter, stirring until combined. Press the crust into the bottom and up the sides of a pie pan.

Here’s where we picked up with the filling! In a saucepan, whisk together 2 cups plain non-dairy milk, 1/4 cup sugar, 3 tablespoons arrowroot (or cornstarch), 4 teaspoons cocoa powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

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Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Continue to cook for 1 minute, whisking frequently.

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Remove from heat and stir in 2/3 cup non-dairy chocolate chips, 2 tablespoons Earth Balance butter, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Spoon the filling into the crust; cover and chill for at least 4 hours.

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Just before serving, remove from the fridge and top with 2 and 1/2 cups mini marshmallows. You’ll notice my very proud and excited sous-chef!

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Bake at 450 degrees F for 6 minutes. The marshmallows were puffed and just lightly browned, exactly as Raddish’s recipe card feature on the “three stages of roasting marshmallows” said they should be.

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We loved that this recipe used both cold and heat, two different “elements” to transform the ingredients. And of course we also loved the taste. Don’t expect slices to come out neatly, but do expect them to come out delicious!

Rotating Picture Tale

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Here’s a fun way both to teach the notion of story as narrative and to ensure it’s tailored to your toddler’s interest.

First, I sat down with Veronika in my lap to go through a few old catalogs and magazines. The idea was to pause whenever something caught her interest rather than to lead or guide her. Of course, I knew there would be lots for her to like, having selected a toy catalog to flip through first!

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She definitely had favorites, zeroing in on faces. “Baby!” she said with delight, looking at the images of dolls.

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“Baby’s having a diaper change!” I made note of whatever she liked the most, then cut these out with scissors and glued each picture onto a square of white paper.

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Once the glue dried, we had a story we could tell over and over. I let chance dictate, shuffling the cards and then laying them out one by one. Each card was a new element of the story.

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As a result, there were lots of parades and tea parties and stories about animals blasting off in rockets to outer space, thanks to the particular pictures we had to work with. When the first story finished, I shuffled the cards and we did it again!

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She loved curling up in my lap for this, making it a special bonding moment, too. She also would grab for her favorite pictures and hold them as the story unfolded. “Horse!” was a big favorite.

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Older siblings might want a turn weaving a tale for a little sib, too, which will in turn hone those creative writing juices!

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Water Balloon Catch and More

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It isn’t summer until you’ve pulled out the water balloons! Today Travis and Veronika both wanted in on the action, so we included both toddler-friendly and bigger kid ways to play.

For Veronika, it was all about introducing this fantastic summer activity, since she was too little last summer. She was amazed watching me fill the balloons, and squished one around in her hands with delight as soon as the cold water filled it.

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Try and teach your toddler to catch with gentle tosses back and forth. A hot morning means it’s no problem if one explodes in the process!

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Then try a little target practice. I drew a chalk target on the patio, and encouraged Veronika to toss her water balloons right on top of it.

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She wasn’t exactly on target, but she sure loved the splat they made no matter where they fell!

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Big brother Travis needed something a little more sophisticated. Cue the water balloon pinata! I had envisioned making this out of five or six water balloons, filled and strung up from a tree.

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But he was so impatient for the fun to begin we only had a two-balloon pinata. Take a whack with a baseball bat and watch the explosion!

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After that I simply made Travis a big pile of filled balloons to do with as he saw fit.

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He squished them, he squeezed them, he bounced them, he imagined they were a water balloon family, he smooshed them between his toes. And more!

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What’s your child’s favorite water balloon activity? Please share in the comments!

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