# National Lighthouse Day

Happy National Lighthouse Day! Yes that’s a thing, and it feels appropriate that the “holiday” falls in summer, when beaches and shorelines are on everyone’s mind. Here’s a cute craft that Travis put together to celebrate.

Use white tape (or any light-colored decorative tape), to make two rings around a red plastic cup. This will be the base of your lighthouse. Turn the cup upside down.

Cut a door and windows from black construction paper and glue on to the cup.

Now place a battery-operated tea light on top. Cover with a small plastic cup (clear is probably best, but we had a yellow one that looked neat, too!). Your lighthouse is ready to shine.

Another fun activity? Have your child climb onto a stool (carefully!) and rotate around, flashing a flashlight. This is especially neat after dark.

Of course you’ll want to make story time all about lighthouses. Try Hello, Lighthouse or The Lighthouse Cat.

And if you can, take a trip to a real lighthouse!

We visited one close to home for a day trip full of fun pics and salty sea air.

# Kitchen Math

After a day of math out at the park, it was time for a day of math in at the kitchen.

Veronika and I played around with kitchen math in a few ways. For a simple intro to math concepts, I sat her down for snack and made it all about comparisons. We used three different foods: apple wedges, bananas (cut into circles), and olives.

We could discuss the circular shapes of the bananas and olives. The apple wedges were more like semi-circles! Or we could compare items; the apple was longer than the banana. The banana was bigger than the olive. And so on.

Next up was far messier math; involve your toddler in cooking! While making a cookie recipe, I set Veronika up with her own station for filling cups of flour and scooping. “Can you help me fill two cups of flour?” I asked her.

Of course she couldn’t really, but I could point out that some measuring cups were bigger or smaller than others, or use vocabulary like “half” and “third” ofÂ  a cup even though she’s a long way from understanding that.

We also pulled out the kitchen scale to weigh flour together. “I want to scoop!” she said, proudly reaching deep into the flour bag.

This of course made a giant mess, but I find that flour play is worth it once in a while. Plus your toddler gets rewarded with a yummy treat if you’ve really baked during the messy play.

Note: If you want to introduce measuring to your toddler with less mess, consider a recipe like granola or baked oatmeal.

Even toddlers can help prepare these easy cookies; your little one will love making the thumb indents that get filled with jelly.

Ingredients:

• 2 cups flour
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 cup applesauce
• 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/3 cup apple juice
• 2/3 cup melted Earth Balance butter
• 2 tablespoons plain almond milk
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• Jam for filling
1. Combine the flour and salt in a bowl; set aside.
2. Whisk together the applesauce and baking powder in a large bowl. Add the apple juice, melted butter, almond milk, and vanilla.
3. Slowly stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. The dough will be sticky but workable.
4. Using your hands, shape into 1 inch balls and arrange on baking sheets.
5. Press your thumb or a small measuring spoon into the center of each cookie to form an indent. Fill with your jam of choice.
6. Bake at 350 degrees F for 11 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

# Shaker Bottle

When you need to occupy a toddler quickly, it’s useful to have something on hand that’s both visually stimulating and makes noise, a double-dose of sensory play. This one ticks both boxes!

The toy is simple as can be: an empty plastic bottle filled with colored pasta and rice. To color the rice and pasta, fill a cup with 1/2 cup rubbing alcohol. Add the food coloring of your choice, then add the rice or pasta. Let soak, then transfer to wax paper to dry.

This method worked great on the rice, but not so much on the pasta, probably because I used a dark, whole-wheat variety. So I do recommend standard white pasta (and rice) for this project.

Once dry, add the pasta and rice to a clear, empty water bottle. Use hot glue to secure the cap.

Then just store the bottle in a cabinet and hand it over as soon as your toddler needs an activity! Veronika had seen the pink rice as I was pouring it into the bottle (a funnel makes this step much easier), and so she was eager to get her hands on the bottle and investigate. As I hoped, she loved the sound this made. It was like a giant maraca.

And then there was the visual stimulation, as she watched all the colored bits shake around inside.

Needless to say, this easy toy is a winner.