Tofu Scramble

Tofu Scramble

This quick scrambled tofu comes together in moments. Savory soy sauce makes it a great option as part of a “breakfast-for-dinner” night; we love serving it with waffles on the side!

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 1 cup frozen spinach, thawed
  • 1 (15-ounce) package extra-firm tofu
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and onion, and saute for 5 minutes. Add the spinach and cook for 1 minute.
  2. Crumble the tofu into the pan, then stir in the soy sauce. Continue to cook for 7 minutes, until heated through.

Musical Animals

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Here’s a fun riff on Musical Chairs, although there are no winners or losers here: just music and stuffed animals and a way to get moving indoors!

To start, I set up several of the kids’ stuffed animals in a circle on the floor. Note: You can also sit every stuffed animal on a chair if you have enough chairs in your home. But the floor worked just fine in a pinch.

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Since our circle was on the floor, I opted for stuffies that could mostly “sit up” on their own, although that’s not a requirement. Then I set some jazzy music playing and told the kids to run around the circle of animals.

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When the music stops, everyone freezes and sits with the nearest stuffed animal in his or her lap!

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There’s no element of elimination to this game, as in normal musical chairs, but between music, freezing, and giving big stuffed animal hugs, this game is a reward in itself.

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Soon, the kids found some extra pillowcases in the closet and were tucking the stuffed animals into little “beds”. Veronika even leaned in to give this one a kiss!

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So it turned into a very cozy way to pass a cold morning.

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Cranberry Invisible Messages

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If your kids are no longer surprised by the way baking soda and vinegar react, they’ll be charmed with the way a new ingredient can reveal secret messages thanks to acids and bases: cranberry sauce!

First, I stirred 3 teaspoons baking soda into a little warm water in a paper cup. We used q-tips to write out “secret codes” on thick white paper. Travis wrote down the names of favorite characters, Veronika scribbled, and I made a few drawings that I knew would work well for the big reveal, like boats and suns.

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You can let the messages dry naturally, but hair dryers are so much more fun of course. Travis jumped at the chance to set the dryer to low and wave over the pictures.

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For the reveal, I emptied a jar of cranberry sauce into a container and smoothed it into an even layer. Press your pictures firmly into the cranberry sauce (but don’t submerge), then lift up to see what appears!

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Simply wipe off any excess cranberry sauce and the pictures are ready.

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Kids can end the activity here, or add color with colored pencils for a pretty final result if you want to add in a little arts & crafts.

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Natural Ice Boats

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I love finding ways to make the kids marvel at the beauty of winter, even on the coldest days, and these all-natural ice boats were the perfect activity! Technically you could make the boats any time of year, but the colder it is outside, the longer your ice boats will last!

To set up, freeze water in Tupperware containers until solid. Any size container is fine, although obviously smaller ones will freeze faster and cut down on waiting time if your kids are impatient. Before freezing, I added a stick to the center of each container as the boat’s mast; hold in place with a pipe cleaner twisted around the middle until the water begins to freeze.

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Once the boats were frozen solid, it was time to set them afloat! I considered driving to the nearest pond to set them sailing in a truly all-natural location, but couldn’t think of a way to keep the ice frozen in the car. Instead, we made a “pond” on a craft tray in the snow just off our back patio!

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For sails, we attached a few leaves from an evergreen bush, a nice pop of green against all the winter white.

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The kids loved seeing the little boats sail among the sea of snow.

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Even though it was below 30 degrees, the sun was strong enough that the boats melted on the patio once we set them down. That meant this turned into a little STEM lesson at the end as we watched solid turn back to liquid. And of course there’s zero cleanup with this activity!

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Water, sticks, and leaves all went right back to nature.

Rules of the Game

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This activity is somewhat of a repeat from when Travis created his own board game in preschool. But now that he’s older, we delved much more deeply not only into how to design a game from start to finish, but also talked about what made a game successful!

To start, we explored two classic games. First up was Dominoes, playing a round with the set we have at home. I had never actually read the real rules before, and when we looked them up online, they were so convoluted I confess even I didn’t quite understand! That was a good jumping off point to talk about what made a game fun and/or challenging.

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Next, Travis listened to a read-through of Jumanji, which is a fantastical game of course but a great way to talk about the rules, including what was similar to real-life games, and what was different. (Note: We also watched the movie, but there are scenes that are quite intense and I don’t recommend it for young children).

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After all that, it was time to design his own game! Raddish Kids had a lesson plan including an Inventor Inspiration Guide to help kids decide what to base their game around. This involved a ranking system based on likes (food, hobbies, favorite shows or books), but this was all too complicated for my first grader. Travis knew what he wanted to base his game around anyway: Star Wars!

We quickly came up with a game called ‘Race to the Death Star’. The shape of this iconic Star Wars base helped us decide how to configure the game, as a spiral of galaxies closing in on the Dearth Star in the center.

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I started gluing down squares of construction paper as the spaces on a large sheet of poster board, and we filled in the ideas as they came to us. Spaces contained events with either a boon (letting the player move forward) or a set-back (which required moving backwards). If a player landed on top of another player, that person had to wait in one of the corner planets until rolling the correct number on the dice.

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To make it through “hyperspace” between galaxies required an exact roll. All in all, it actually made for a great board game! Travis loved it so much that we immediately played 3 rounds. He decided on Lego figures as our playing pieces.

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As a final component of learning, we explored games that can be played virtually. Travis watched a suggested link of 20 games to play over Zoom, and then we really did Zoom his grandmother to play ‘Zoomed In’ (a game involving close-up images that players take turns guessing). This was such a neat bonding activity and the full video is worth a watch if your kids are currently Zooming relatives and friends.

There was lots more in the lesson plan from Raddish Kids, including suggestions to reinvent an old game with new rules, explore the idea of interactive books like Press Here, or learn the history of a classic board game. But my first grader was gamed out, so we’ll just be here busy playing ‘Race to the Death Star’!

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