Make a Masterpiece

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Here’s a fun way to turn the side dish at your next meal into arts & crafts! Not only will this cooking project engage children’s artistic side, but you might just get them to try a new food, too.

To start, I sliced a variety of veggies and fruits (yes, you can roast fruit), resulting in a hodgepodge of rutabaga, beets, apple, pear, and oranges. I tried to cut each item into different shapes, like triangular rutabaga pieces, semi-circle beets, circular orange slices, and apple wedges.

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I then set everything out for Veronika alongside a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and encouraged her to arrange the items however she wanted. She looked so proud as she chose where to place each piece of food.

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She especially loved the beets because they made her fingers pink!

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I demonstrated how some of the items could be arranged almost like images from a kaleidoscope (oranges surrounded by apple wedges were pretty, for example), but mostly I left the design up to her. She talked about the shapes as she worked; meanwhile ‘rutabaga’ and ‘beets’ were new vocab for her and she quickly latched on to these new words.

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When her design was finished, I drizzled with about 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkled with a dash of salt, then roasted at 400 degrees F for 30 minutes.

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The resulting mix made a perfect side dish to a winter meal! You can try this with any number of root veggies or fruits, and see what combination your little artists like best.

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Penny Playdough

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This simple twist on playdough play turns your toddler into a mini archaeologist!

Veronika has wanted to play with playdough every morning this week, so today I wanted to make it a little different. I took the loose change from my wallet (a mix of pennies, dimes, and nickles) and “buried” them in pieces of play dough. I made sure she saw so she knew that “treasure” was waiting for her, although you could also keep it a surprise.

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I then pulled out a variety of playdough tools, including plastic knives, forks, chisels, and spatulas. The challenge was up to her to see if she could dig to the coins!

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She immediately was into the game, testing the different tools to see which worked best. Or sometimes she just used her fingers!

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We tried burying the money in different ways, too, sometimes balled up in the middle, sometimes stuck in like little quills that she could pull out. “Help, help!” she pretended the little pennies were crying.

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This was a great game for imagination and fine motor skills, and kept her so busy for over half an hour!

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