Little Passports: China

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Travis journeyed to China with this month’s delivery from Little Passports. On the night it arrived, he affixed the country sticker to his suitcase and passport, found China on the map, and dove into the information online and in the booklet.

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The booklet had a nice variety, including riddles to solve about Chinese inventions, calligraphy to trace that Travis really enjoyed, and a panda picture puzzle.

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Souvenir:

One let down this month was that the “souvenir” inside wasn’t a toy. Instead, it was his own pair of chopsticks. Since he recently received chopsticks from Raddish Kids, it wasn’t the best timing.

Further Activities:

Further activities with this kit had some hits and some misses. Travis was not a fan of a symmetry drawing of the Forbidden Palace, with 8 hidden differences for kids to spot. Admittedly, these were tough to find! We turned it into more of a lesson on what “symmetry” means, and I colored the differences in red for him.

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Much better though was making our own Terracotta Warriors! To prepare the clay, Travis helped mix up 3 cups flour, 1 cup salt, and 1 and 1/2 cups water.

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This mixes quickly into a very workable “clay”. Press onto the provided template and you’ve formed your own mini warrior.

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It was tough to sketch true details with a toothpick, but that hardly mattered. Travis soon had so much fun making his blobs of clay battle and jab at each other with toothpicks instead. What brave warriors!

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We did set aside two of our figures to truly air dry, which will take about 2 days.

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Meanwhile, we turned to the materials for a Chinese New Year red envelope craft. First, sew together the two pieces of provided red felt using a helpfully illustrated whip stitch. This was tricky for Travis, so I took over after a few stitches.

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He then loved assembling the provided felt stickers in the shape of a pretty fish. Add the Velcro closure, and it’s finished.

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As a surprise, I filled it with a few chocolate treats while he slept!

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Recipe:

As always we ended with a recipe, this time for Chinese dumplings (jiaozi).

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I’m not going to lie; this recipe was time-consuming, messy, and impractical with small kids in the house. Travis lost interest quickly, and I did my best to finish up and at least give him a taste of China.

Ingredients:

For the dough:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 and 1/4 cups water

For the filling:

  • 1 and 1/2 cups minced cabbage
  • 1 cup ground meatless crumbles (such as Lightlife)
  • 1/2 green onion, minced
  • 1/4 cup bamboo shoots, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons sesame oil
  1. To prepare the dough, spoon the flour into a bowl. Make a well in the center and add the water, stirring until combined. Turn onto a floured surface and knead, then roll into a ball and let rest for 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the filling: combine the cabbage and remaining ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. Divide the dough into thirds. Working with one portion at a time, roll to about 1/8-inch thick on a floured surface. Use a round (2.5-inch) cookie cutter to cut out circles. Fill each with 1 tablespoon cabbage mixture, then fold over into a half-moon shape and pinch the edges. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.
  4. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add half of the dumplings. Stir and cook until the pot returns to a boil. Add 1/2 cup cold water; let the water return to a boil again and then the dumplings are done!
  5. Remove with a slotted spoon and repeat the cooking process for the second half of the dumplings.

Serve with extra soy sauce and sesame vinegar on the side for dipping.

Halloween Countdown Day 4: Crepe Paper Mummy Wraps

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Here’s another classic Halloween game that your children are sure to love as much as you did as a kid! Wrapping people up in crepe paper will always elicit giggles and get everyone in the Halloween spirit (heh).

Just grab a roll of crepe paper and start wrapping. Both my kids were eager little mummies, standing still with such curiosity while I wound around them. Travis went first…

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…and Veronika immediately needed a turn!

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They loved trying to walk with their legs tightly bound.

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And to break free from the grave, of course!

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And then they thought it was hilarious to wrap up mommy, and watch me stumble about.

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As a bonus, all that leftover crepe paper is sure to be a hit with the kids, too! No crepe paper? No problem! Grab a roll of toilet paper to do this activity instead.

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Interpretive Pumpkin Painting

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Veronika and I did a quick abstract art project today to help her paint her first “pumpkin”!

I love art at around age 2, because toddlers are just beginning to tell you what they’re drawing, even if you can’t always see it. So I thought it would be fun to guide Veronika through a jack o’ lantern painting. I set out watercolor paper along with orange and black paint.

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“A pumpkin starts as an orange circle,” I told her. Of course her pumpkin was going to be “abstract”, but she loved dabbing the orange on the paper.

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She quickly was more interested in black paint, pressing the brush firmly onto the paper, which almost made black triangles. So I showed black triangle eyes on my pumpkin!

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As she worked on her “pumpkin”, I worked on mine. Often, I find myself jumping in with my kids’ artwork, and this project was the perfect reminder to let her take ownership of her work.

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She told me she was drawing a black square, and we talked lots about shapes and colors as we worked.

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In the end, we had a perfect toddler pumpkin painting, and a mommy one to boot!

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Emotion Eggs

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Here’s a cute way to talk your toddler through different facial expressions, as he or she learns the vocabulary and proper outlets for all our various emotions!

Using old plastic Easter eggs, draw mouths in several expressions on the bottom half of the eggs, and eyes and eyebrows on the top. I had one each for: happy, silly, sleepy, and angry.

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We started out with the eggs in complete sets, and I helped Veronika identify each. “Angry” had turned down eyebrows with a frown, while “Silly” had winking eyes with a tongue sticking out, and “Sleepy’s” mouth was in a big O for a yawn.

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I named each emotion for Veronika and she giggled at the silly ones and looked very serious for others (e.g. angry and sleep).

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Next, we scrambled the eggs up! See if your toddler can mix and match to find the eyes and mouths that go together. This wasn’t always intuitive for Veronika, but she did certainly know what she wanted to find the most in our pile.

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“Let’s find the angry face!” she said. As with a recent Panda crate, she’s drawn to the sad expressions, perhaps because these are the scariest for a toddler to sort through.

Needless to say, the eggs were also great fun to put together in mismatched combinations. And then of course she wanted to draw on them too. This activity made for good play and for an ever better tool in social emotional learning!

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