Teach Your Child To… Take a Cell Phone Photo

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This month’s how to from Parents magazine is both practical and fun. Teaching your child how to take not just any pic but a good pic with a cell phone will not only make them feel proud and artistic, but also comes in handy for all those times you want to be in the picture.

Parents did a great job of breaking this down into 5 easy steps.

First, I showed Travis where the lens viewer was, so he would understand not to cover it up with his fingers. No more thumbs in photos!

Next, we talked briefly about portrait versus landscape as the orientation. I told Travis to remember to hold the phone horizontal as the default.

Now it was time to line up a shot. A trip to a local art museum was a great chance for him to zero in on interesting subject and practice. He really started to get the idea of making sure the full object was in frame as he wanted, from top to bottom.

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The fourth task was to show him how to press the circle shutter button quickly, then release. Finally all he had to do was…hold steady! Not a bad shot!

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He was so proud making his way through the museum and finding items that were photo-worthy. And look: Mom even made it into a picture for once!

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Froot Loop St. Patrick’s Day Fun

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If ever there’s a day for rainbow cereal fun, St. Patrick’s Day is it. Here are a few ways we incorporated Froot Loops into the day to mark the holiday.

To start, surprise your kids in the morning by pretending a “leprechaun” visitor left behind a rainbow. I threaded Froot Loops in rainbow order onto a pipe cleaner, then inserted the ends into two “pots of gold” (vegan mini muffins), following a tip from Painted Confetti.

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Since Froot Loops aren’t vegan, I told the kids this was magical leprechaun food for decoration, not eating. Travis was too busy to care, since he was so busy peeking inside a homemade leprechaun trap to see if it was caught inside. Looks like the little fellow got away!

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Later in the day, Veronika and I used extra Froot Loops for a pretty rainbow craft. I drew the arcs of a rainbow with marker, and then dumped some of the cereal onto a tray. (Since it would be unfair to allow no snacking during a craft like this, I gave her a bowl of vegan cereal on the side for munching!).

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Working with one color at a time, we made a line of glue dots along that rainbow arc and found the right color cereal in the tray.

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Veronika stuck with it for a few pieces in each color, and I filled in the gaps. Preschoolers can try to tackle the full rainbow by themselves.

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Cotton ball clouds were the final touch!

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I loved the touch of magic that these projects gave to our holiday, leaving the impression that the leprechaun had really been there. If you truly want to wow your kids this St. Patrick’s Day, here’s one final shenanigan: Sneak downstairs before everyone else is awake and add a little green food coloring to the toilet bowl. Travis couldn’t believe this final bit of leprechaun evidence!

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Spring Swirl Fudge

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This recipe is basically pure sugar, but for one afternoon of spring fun it was the perfect indulgent treat!

In a bowl, stir together 1 (11-ounce) jar vegan vanilla frosting and 1 (11-ounce) can sweetened condensed coconut milk, until well combined. Spoon the mixture into an 8-inch baking dish lined with parchment paper. Squirt green food coloring on top and swirl with a skewer to disperse the color through the top layer. Veronika loved this part, delightedly helping turn our mixture green.

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For spring decorations, we added colorful sprinkles and Annie’s Bunnies & Blossoms cereal in flower and bunny shapes.

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The little bunnies were hopping over to smell the spring flowers!

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Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, until set. This won’t quite set like real fudge, but once chilled, you can slice into small cubes!

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If your family is not vegan, give the fudge this quick St. Patrick’s Day twist: Use 16-ounces melted white chocolate in place of the vegan frosting, and then decorate with Lucky Charms marshmallows instead of the bunny cereal.

Thermal Powered Flower

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Caution: This project uses real candle flame, so requires grown-up supervision. It’s worth it though, because it’s a neat way to show your child thermal power in action.

To set up, I printed out a template for a flower and traced onto yellow paper. Cut slits inward for each petal and fold them like the blades of a fan, all in the same direction. Set aside.

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Next, I trimmed a plastic straw to 3 inches and a wooden skewer to 4 inches. Stand the straw up in a little clay on a sturdy base. Attach the skewer to the flower with a little more clay. Slip the skewer into the straw, making sure it isn’t stuck in the clay below.

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Set out 4 tea lights and carefully light. As the air under the flower heats up, it will rise and – ta da! – the flower starts to spin.

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Note: Because our skewer and straw rubbed against one another, the most our petals really did was wave up and down and occasionally a little to the side. For better spinning power, attach a small screw eye at the top of the straw to hold it apart from the skewer. You can check out the full details here. This project still got a thumbs up from Travis though!