Toddler Valentine’s Day Treats

Valentines Cupcakes (5)

Valentine’s Day is full of sweet treats, and here are a few food ideas that even a toddler can help out with… or just enjoy!

Edible Valentines (4)

Edible Valentines: This first idea comes from the classic Toddler’s Busy Book. I tinted a little store-bought frosting pink with food coloring and showed Veronika how to smear this onto graham crackers (Nabisco’s original are vegan).

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Since candy hearts are not vegan, we topped the graham crackers with the seasonal gummy hearts from Annie’s bunny packs! This made for an adorable craft project and snack rolled into one.

Edible Valentines (2)

Valentine Cupcakes: What would Valentine’s Day be without a little chocolate? For this toddler-friendly baking project, I simply whipped up cupcakes from a dairy-free chocolate mix. The Valentine twist, though, is to make them heart-shaped. After spooning the batter into cupcake liners, place a marble at one edge of each liner which will indent it like a heart!

Valentines Cupcakes (3)

And of course Veronika loved playing with leftover marbles and liners.

Valentines Cupcakes (1)

The effect wasn’t quite as pronounced after baking, since the cupcakes rose so high in the liners, but we could still sort of see them as hearts. Veronika loved helping spread on chocolate frosting. In general, frosting cupcakes like this is a perfect toddler skill in the kitchen.

Valentines Cupcakes (4)

We added a few final decorations (like more of those Annie’s hearts). Sprinkles would look pretty, too!

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Sweetheart Sandwiches: Next up, I made little sandwiches which are perfect for a snack or lunch on Valentine’s Day. For the first version, I stirred a little cinnamon into plain non-dairy cream cheese.

Sweetheart Sandwiches

For an alternate version, turn it pink! Use strawberry flavored non-dairy cream cheese (such as Kite Hill), or just tint plain cream cheese pink with food coloring, then stir in a little agave nectar. Finally, use a heart shaped cookie cutter to make a heart.

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And for a final edible treat, I spelled out L-O-V-E for the kids’ Valentine breakfast, thanks to this sweet idea from Parents magazine.

Edible Valentines (7)

On a large plate, form an L from tater tots, an O from a kiwi slice, a V from a toasted waffle cut with a heart-shaped cookie cutter, and an E from raspberries. The kids’ reaction to all these goodies? They loved ’em!

Edible Valentines (5)



Learning with Blocks, Three Ways

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I love when I can draw Veronika’s attention to her blocks in novel ways, and here were three ways to grab her attention today. As a bonus, all of them involved different types of learning!

For the first, I typed up the alphabet in big letters and printed out the page, then cut it apart so each letter was an individual square. Tape one letter per one of your child’s building blocks, and each block becomes its own specific letter!

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As I taped them on, we said the name of each letter and its phonetic sound, and sang through the Alphabet Song several times. Then it was time for her simply to play! But as she built towers, I named the block she was holding. “Oh, you have the G block!” I could say, or, “B block is on top of A block!”

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I plan to leave these little labels on so that her familiarity with each letter symbol increases every time we dump out the bin of blocks.

Letter Blocks (5)

For the second novel way to play, we focused on two different skills: counting and listening to instructions. Thanks to a great tip from Hands on as We Grow, I used the cards from our Candyland board game to give her specific directions.

Listening with Blocks (1)

Draw a card and ask your toddler to hand across whatever appears on it. “Can you find me one blue block?” I asked her, holding up the Candyland card with one red square. She was an ace at handing me one block of the appropriate color, whether the green, yellow, or red that followed.

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Things got a little trickier for her when I pulled a double color (a kid favorite when playing Candyland, of course).

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“Can you hand me two red blocks?” I asked. She seemed confused, so I pointed to the squares on the card. “One, two!” and then lined it up with two blocks. “One, two!” I repeated. It was hard for her to focus on this challenge, so we turned to game number three…

…which was actually a repeat of a block puzzle game we played a few months back, but last time I made the puzzle much too big. Tape out a small square or rectangle on the floor with painter’s tape and show your child how to arrange blocks in, puzzle-piece style!

Block Puzzle (1)

Veronika especially liked when there were small spaces to fill, like the semi-circle that completed an archway or a small circle inside a square block.

Block Puzzle (2)

Not, bad, with a little mommy help! Older kids can make their taped areas progressively larger as they grow more skilled at this.

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How does your toddler learn with blocks these days? Please share in the comments!

Baking Soda-Powered Boat

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Here’s a fun way to propel a boat forward, thanks to the fizzy reaction between an acid and a base. It’s an easy and quick STEM lesson with an automatic payoff.

The set-up requires a little grown-up work. First, cut a small hole in the bottom of an empty water bottle. Cut a straw in half and insert into the hole, then close up any open gaps with hot glue.

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To make the “fuel” for the boat, pour a little vinegar into the bottle. Make sure the straw is on the top of the bottle as your pour, so none spills out. Now spoon in a little baking soda, but don’t let the two substances mix yet! Screw on the bottle cap, then set your “boat” down in a basin or bathtub filled with water. The acid and base mix, and the boat zooms forward.

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Note: Make sure the straw is in the water for this part, or the experiment won’t work as intended. We learned this after round one!

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Next time, we would do this experiment with a larger water bottle (making it easier to keep the baking soda and vinegar separate until the right moment), and we’d also do it in the tub so the boats have more room to zoom. But Travis still loved watching the little motion we achieved!