Chopstick Challenge

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After preparing a meal of homemade sushi, Travis was eager to learn how to use chopsticks. I remember learning this same skill as a child, and how tricky it can be! Here were a few fun games (hint: there’s candy involved) that honed his skills.

First up was simply showing him proper form, with the chopstick wedged between thumb and pointer finger. Then I showed him how to place the second chopstick between thumb and forefinger and to use the middle finger on top like a little lever.

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It was tricky, but he was a good sport about it! For the games that followed, he did revert to a typical first-timer move, pinching the items between two chopsticks with one in each hand instead.

His favorite was Color Sorting because of course we used candy.

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Choose any candy with multiple colors and move them from a jumble into color-sorted piles.

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The reward of course was eating them.

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Next up was a Pick-Up Relay. You can play this as a true competition, moving items from a full bowl to an empty one and seeing who’s fastest, but Travis and I worked as a “team”. He tackled the easy item (mini Dandies marshmallows) and I handled the hard one (marbles – tough even for grown-ups!)

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Then we played a Passing Game. Using chopsticks, we passed a rubber band back and forth. Travis loved this one!

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Finally, we played Chopstick in the Hole. Tie a string to a chopstick and then the other end to a player’s wrist.

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The goal was to lower the chopstick into an empty water bottle. There may, in fact, have been some cheating involved.

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But Travis was still so proud!

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Hummus & Mango Sandwich

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You can introduce new flavors in kid-friendly sandwich form with this fun, easy lunch. It’s a great one for school lunchboxes, if you’ll be packing those up again soon!

Ingredients:

  • 2 slices whole wheat bread
  • 1 tablespoon hummus
  • Mango slices
  1. Spread the hummus on one of the bread slices. Top evenly with thin mango slices to taste (you’ll probably want about 1/8 cup per sandwich).
  2. Top with the remaining bread slice, and cut into triangles to serve.

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Japanese Edamame

Japanese Edamame

Here’s the perfect quick side dish to complement your next homemade sushi night!

Ingredients:

  • 1 (10-oz) bag frozen edamame in the pod
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the edamame and salt, and cook for 5 minutes. Drain in a colander.
  2. Heat the sesame oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the edamame and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the soy sauce and cook for a final minute.

 

Homemade Sushi Rolls

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I didn’t make sushi until I was in my thirties, so needless to say, I was impressed and thankful to Raddish Kids for introducing this recipe to my 6 year old in this month’s Ticket to Tokyo kit. Travis was so proud to receive a bright red sushi mat as this month’s souvenir, and absolutely adored both the making of and eating of this recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups sushi rice
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 6 sheets nori seaweed
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrot
  • 1/2 English cucumber, julienne-cut
  • 1 avocado, julienne-cut
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, julienne-cut
  • 1/2 cup hearts of palm, chopped
  • Soy sauce, for serving
  1. To make the rice, combine the sushi rice and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat, and simmer on low for 20 minutes.
  2. Spread the warm rice on a baking sheet. Stir in the rice vinegar with a fork and let sit for about 10 minutes to cool.Homemade Sushi (2)
  3. Meanwhile, prep all the vegetable fillings. Travis loved the mise en place, as well as taste-testing all the veggies! Homemade Sushi (1)
  4. Place a sheet of nori on the sushi mat. Add 1 cup sushi rice, and use moistened fingers to press into an even layer, leaving 1 inch at the top.Homemade Sushi (4)
  5. Select your fillings, then roll the mat up over the nori until the bottom edge meets the rice. Homemade Sushi (5)
  6. Tightly roll up by hand, then roll the mat over the completed sushi roll one last time to squeeze it tightly into a cylinder. Cut into slices, and repeat with additional nori, rice, and fillings.Homemade Sushi (6)
  7. Serve with soy sauce on the side for dipping!

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The recipe card featured fun extra tidbits, including various types of sushi and sights to visit in Tokyo. To complete the immersive experience, we listened to a playlist of Japanese music as we cooked!

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Even little sister Veronika was eager to try out chopsticks, and devoured this recipe.

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Fly Swatter Painting

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This art project is messy, so you’re going to want to take it outside. But I can happily report that it’s worth the effort!

I placed a long sheet of craft paper on our back patio, securing the corners with heavy rocks so it wouldn’t blow away. (As an alternative, you could clip craft paper to a fence or other outdoor surface that is upright).

Then I set out a tray with several different colors of metallic craft paint. You’ll need a nice puddle of paint for this project to work well, so don’t worry if the colors mix together.

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I dipped our fly swatter in the paint, making sure to coat it evenly, then showed Veronika how to say “Whap!” and slap it down hard on the craft paper.

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Well of course now “Whap!” was the most fun thing in the world to say.

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Dip and whap, dip and whap, dip and whsp.

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She loved every bit of this project, both dipping the fly swatter in paint, and seeing the marks she made.

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She wanted to whack the fly swatter against the rocks, too!

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Her little feet paraded all around the craft paper, making sure she covered her big canvas.

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As a bonus, our fly swatter happens to be flower-shaped, so it made beautiful prints!

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This project likely won’t get you a lasting work of art. But Veronika sure loved the process!

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Car Wash

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This is one of those activities that turned out to be just beautiful. I had originally intended the game for Veronika after a morning trip to have our real car inspected, but big brother Travis was eager to join in, too!

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We have a kid-sized Mustang that was perfect for the activity, but truly any kid “vehicle” would work, whether toddler ride-on toys, old tricycles, or bikes! Pull out the buckets, sponges, mild dish soap, and rags, and set your washers to work.

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Both kids immediately loved dipping little sponges in the bucket of soapy water and scrubbing gently all over the car.

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Travis focused on the exterior…

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…while Veronika liked cleaning the seats!

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When it was all soaped up, we rinsed with the hose. Then it was time to towel dry.

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And then of course we took the car for a spin!

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This was watery, soapy, sunshine-y summer magic at its best.

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Beachy Creature Feet

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It’s just about the end of summer, which means by next year any current flip-fops are not going to fit your kids’ feet anymore. So here’s a fun way to transform those flippies as the season winds down!

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I had each of the kids select which kind of “creature” paws they wanted, care of a few suggestions in Highlights magazine, then helped trace and cut the shapes out on craft foam.

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If your kids truly won’t be wearing their flip-flops again, you can use tacky glue to adhere the foam, as well as additional foam dots or stripes for decoration. If you want a more temporary version (we still have a few beach days left!) use double-stick tape for a fun, reversible transformation.

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They loved stomping around as creatures for a little bit!

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I’d say these were the cutest critters on the beach.

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