What Can Be a Hat?

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Veronika currently loves a little story from Hello magazine about babies wearing various hats, some that really are hats and some things that simply can be a hat (think baskets, buckets, or even old shoe boxes). That prompted this silly game as I was prepping dinner and needed to keep the kids briefly occupied.

What could they find in the kitchen that could be a hat? Pretty soon, the kids were modeling strainers…

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…and colanders!

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Travis loved that the colander was like a warrior’s helmet.

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Veronika loved looking stylish with the strainer at a jaunty angle! This led them to dig through the dress-up box for other favorite hats and head pieces. All of which meant, everyone was soon laughing and had stopped asking when dinner would be ready.

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What else in the kitchen could be a hat? Please share what your kids come up with in the comments!

Magnetic Puzzles

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Here’s a clever way to combine puzzle play with magnet play. It’s the perfect activity to engage any kid who loves to play with magnets at the fridge!

For the first round of the game, I took an old jigsaw puzzle and adhered a square of magnetic tape to the back of each piece. You could also set this up with regular magnets, but you’ll need to use hot glue to attach the magnets to each piece.

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Arrange on the fridge and let your little puzzlers go at it!

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It was readily apparent, though, that the jigsaw puzzle was much too complicated for Veronika, even though she liked moving the pieces around, so I quickly thought of an alternative that was more toddler-friendly.

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I encouraged the kids to draw their own puzzle on pieces of cardboard from a leftover cereal box. They both had fun drawing current favorite characters. Your kids can get quite creative with this part of the craft, using paint, stickers, glitter, or more!

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When the drawings were done, I cut each picture into 4 pieces, then added strips of magnetic tape to the back.

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Veronika loved that she could slot these puzzles together much more easily than interlocking jigsaw pieces.

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Puzzle solved!

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Crayon Slide

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It’s raining and it’s pouring… and we really miss the playground! So this morning, I surprised the kids by bringing our toddler slide in from the back patio, dried it off, and had it waiting for them after breakfast.

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My original intent was to turn this into a craft, too. I taped a long sheet of butcher paper onto the slide, and set out some crayons. The idea is that kids can hold a crayon as they slide down, in one hand or both, and leave a wiggly trail behind.

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It turned out that neither kid liked drawing on the descent. I tried taping together a bundle of crayons, thinking this might make it easier, but still they didn’t love the process.

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Instead, Travis and Veronika invented their own version of the game: they would slid down the slide, then scribble on the paper at the bottom, then race around to go again.

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I was so proud of their turn-taking!

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We had surrounded the slide with pillows to avoid any mishaps when falling, which meant the game turned into tumbling around on pillows, too. What a great way to bring an outdoor playground in!

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Eat Your Letters

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Veronika is fascinated with letters now, adding daily to the list of those she recognizes, and she loves pointing them out to me. “Letter C!” she said in the grocery store yesterday, spotting one on a sign. To reinforce her interest, I picked up a few grocery items with letters right on them!

My original plan was to buy Alpha-Bits cereal but couldn’t find it at the store. Instead, I purchased letter cookies from Earth’s Best, and letter-shaped pasta from Banza. For the cookies, I first spread peanut butter on toast slices to make them sticky, which turned them into little “easels”. I showed Veronika how to sort through the letters and spelled out simple words for her (love, cat), along with her name.

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I also held up one cookie at a time and asked what letter she saw. She knew some new ones from the last time I quizzed her, including H and D now!

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Big brother Travis quickly wanted to join in, eager to spell his name. We ran into a snag only because the kids were snacking, too, which meant we were soon missing letters we needed!

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After that, I dumped out the letter pasta onto a tray for Veronika to further explore. This was more like sensory play, but also great for learning. I again held up one letter at a time and asked her which it was.

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It turned out the pasta only came in five letter shapes, so we briefly sorted them, too. “Another S!” she said proudly, adding it to the pile.

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If you do find Alpha-Bits cereal, go ahead and arrange them on those peanut-butter bread slices, then finish up the activity by eating your open-faced sandwich!

Fizzing Colors!

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This variation on classic baking soda-and-vinegar eruptions had a beautiful artistic side to it, worked fine motor skills for my toddler (thanks to eye droppers), and came with a heaping dose of imagination (for my 6-year-old). Needless to say, big kid and little kid alike were enraptured until we’d gone through – yes – an entire box of baking soda and bottle of white vinegar.

Technically you don’t need to use that much. Fill a tray or pie pan with about 1 cup baking soda, or more if desired, then add drops of food coloring at intervals. The more you space out and vary the colors, the prettier the result!

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I then handed each kid a cup of white vinegar and a pipette and showed them how to squirt directly onto the dots of color.

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Of course fizzy reactions occur immediately, and the more your kids fill in the tray, the more it starts to look like a work of art.

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Then Travis wanted to trap a few Lego toys in the bubbles. Here’s where the imagination came into play, with a big game going on in his head!

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At this point, we dropped caution to the wind and started adding lots more of everything. First we squirted in additional drops of food coloring. Then, the kids started pouring in the vinegar straight from the cups.

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Their glee was so evident, and I loved watching them tackle the project together, seeing how many fizzy explosions they could make at once.

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Needless to say, it was a bubbly fizzy wonderland.

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This activity was so simple, but a delight for all ages.

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