Tabouli Salad

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There are a few twists to this take on tabbouleh: quinoa instead of bulgur wheat, flat leaf parsley instead of curly, and the addition of cannellini beans for a nice protein boost.


  • 3 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 cup cannellini beans
  • 1 and 1/2 cups chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 chopped tomatoes
  • 3 chopped green onions
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl, stirring to combine.
  2. Cover and chill for at last 2 hours before serving.

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Paper Lanterns

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This is exactly the kind of craft I’d expect Travis to come home with after a long day of camp… if it was open! In other words, it was perfect for a Camp Mom morning.

Some of this required grown-up help for a 6 year old, but your older “campers” can do the project mostly solo.

First, use paint (or paint pens for faster drying) to color on sheets of construction paper. I helped Travis understand that larger designs would work better, as we were coloring the outer decoration of the lantern.

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Let dry and then cut into an 8×5-inch rectangle. (Note: You may need to make your rectangle slightly larger or smaller, depending on the size of your plastic cups).

Next, cut a hole from the bottom of a plastic cup with a craft knife. Use hot glue to glue the top rim of this cup to the top rim of a second plastic cup.

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Now, use the craft knife to cut slits along the painted paper, spaced about 1 inch apart and making sure to leave a 1/2-inch border at top and bottom.

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Glue the paper around the plastic cups, pushing down slightly so the decorated slits puff outwards. Let dry.

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At night, insert an LED tea light! Travis was thrilled watching them glow, and of course wanted to use them as nightlights in his room.

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Park Yourself

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This activity was great for mapping skills. And although Travis has recently practiced making maps, today the idea was to follow one instead!

That means that the set up is a grown-up step. I drew a map of town for Travis from the park to a near-by intersection where we could leave the car. I made sure to include a legend box, lots of details like street names and symbols for main buildings, and more.

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When we arrived, the first thing he had to do was orient us! Travis immediately picked out where we were based on the logo for a coffee cup I’d drawn. But now he faced a dilemma: which way to go.

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There was so much to love about the process that followed, little things I realized we’d never touched on before like reading the street signs to assign a name to each street, or understanding how to orient yourself in 3-D space based on a 2-D drawing.

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In short order, he puzzled out the map and we arrived. Now it was time for much deserved play!

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This turned into an unexpectedly awesome day in the park. The kids loved running through the grass…

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…waving to cars through the fence…

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…finding clovers, and more.

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Grandmother’s Glasses

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I love nursery rhymes that lend themselves intuitively to hands-on play, and this one definitely fits the bill. If you don’t know this rhyme, here are the words:

These are grandmother’s glasses,

This is grandmother’s hat.

See the way she claps her hands

and folds them in her lap.

These are grandfather’s glasses,

This is grandfather’s hat.

See the way he folds his arms

and takes a little nap.

For grandmother, use a high, soft voice, and for grandfather, use a low, loud voice. You can also mime all the gestures. Circle your fingers over your eyes for glasses, pat your head for the hat, and copy the arm movements of each grandparent.

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But for extra fun, today we turned the rhyme into a prompt for dress-up! I put on a different pair of sunglasses and silly hats for grandmother and grandfather, first on me, and then on Veronika.

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She loved modeling all the accessories! And she got the giggles when dolls dressed up, too, to get in on the action. Long after the nursery rhyme fun was done, she was busy playing dress up.

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Super Simple Color Collage

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This is a great activity for a toddler who has just learned his or her colors, and it’s quite simple to set up. I laid out pieces of construction paper, and for each one I tore up scraps of paper in the same color and arranged them on a tray.

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So as not to overwhelm your toddler with too many colors at once, I recommend starting with one background color at a time. “What color?” I asked her, pointing to the paper. “Red!” she said.

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She was way more into the glue stick I gave her than in selecting which color of scraps to add from the tray, but I guided her back when I could. “Let’s add the red scraps!” I suggested simply, reinforcing her knowledge that the paper was red.

In this way, she worked through adding red scraps to red paper, yellow scraps to yellow paper, and so on.

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Towards the end, I made it sightly harder and showed held up a scrap of paper. “Which color should we glue this one on?” I asked. She’d gotten the gist, now, to glue green onto green.

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So as the title suggests, this activity was simple to set up, simple for a toddler to do, and simple to clean up. The trifecta!

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