Little Passports: Spain

Travis was off to Spain with Little Passports this month, eagerly cracking open the envelope from “Sam and Sofia,” pinpointing the country on the map and adding his suitcase sticker.

In terms of our unboxing review, though, the booklet this month was tough. It included tricky tasks like a crossword and a grid to copy a Picasso painting, both of which were beyond his 1st grade level. Travis did help tally up treats from a Spanish market on another page, but overall seemed a bit overwhelmed by the booklet.

Souvenir:

On the other hand, the souvenir was a mosaic art sticker kit, based on the mosaics of Antoni Gaudi, and I’ve never seen Travis so into an art project! He insisted on completing the lizard shape he chose, meticulously working his way through the color-coded foam stickers.

He was relentless until every square was filled!

Further Activities:

Based on Little Passport’s blog, it looks like the Spain package used to include a craft for felt tomatoes, to mimic the annual La Tomatina festival. We cut circles of red felt, topped them with a tablespoon of dry lentils (dry rice would work too), and hot-glued a second circle of felt on top for a quick version.

Take aim at each other with your fake tomatoes, and watch them splat!

We also wanted to further explore Picasso, so made a quick craft that was a riff on his painting La Punchinello.

Cut out semicircles for heads and triangles for the bodies, arms, and legs, then arrange on construction paper and glue down. Travis added facial features with colored pencil to complete his funny little clown!

The recommended add-on for this kit was the Barcelona: City Trails guide book, filled with facts and info about the city. Instead of purchasing it, we checked out a copy from the local library! Of course, throw on some flamenco music to listen to during all of the above, and you’ll have loads of Spanish ambiance in your home.

Recipe:

We couldn’t leave Spain without trying tapas, of course. You can make this dish part of a larger spread, with items like Spanish olives or sliced vegan chorizo, for a complete meal.

Ingredients:

  • 6 red potatoes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons water
  1. Cut the potatoes into bite-sized pieces and place in a large bowl. Drizzle with the olive oil, stirring to coat.
  2. Spoon the potatoes onto a baking sheet lined with foil and sprinkle evenly with the salt. Roast at 375 degrees F for 30 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, paprika, garlic powder, and water. Add the potatoes and toss to coat. We decided these were best served warm!

Vegan Fish Tacos

Use the fishless filets from Gardein (or other favorite vegan seafood of choice) for this fun spin on taco night. If you want to up the heat, add 1 seeded and chopped jalapeno pepper to the sauce.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup non-dairy sour cream
  • 1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 limes, divided
  • 1 (10-ounce) package vegan fish
  • 1 (10-ounce) package coleslaw mix
  • 8 corn tortillas
  1. To prepare the sauce, whisk together the sour cream, mayonnaise, dill, oregano, salt, and juice from 1 lime in a bowl. Set aside.
  2. Arrange the vegan fish in a baking dish and squeeze with the juice of the remaining lime. Bake at 425 degrees F for 20 minutes, turning halfway through. Cool slightly and then cut into bite-sized pieces.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the coleslaw mix in a skillet over medium-high heat to desired tenderness. Toss the wilted coleslaw with the sauce.
  4. To assemble, warm the tortillas according to package directions. Arrange the fish and coleslaw mixture over each tortilla to taste, then fold up and serve!

Destructive Artsy Things to Do

Toddlers love to destroy things, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing! Those destructive urges often hone creativity, fine motor skills, imagination, and more. Many thanks to Bounce Back Parenting, which was the inspiration for most of the following ideas, all of which led to a great morning of destruction.

One: Rip Up Paper

First up was ripping paper, and I find that it’s easiest for Veronika if I make a small tear, then let her finish it. The ripping is great fun and it led right to…

Two: Dip Paper in Water

Veronika loved watching the changes that took place as soon as the paper hit the water. The texture changes, the color gets darker, and we even discovered that it was easier to rip! While she was at it, she wanted to pull something else apart, which led to…

Three: Tear up an Old Art Project

She couldn’t resist pulling the strands of yarn off a recent project, and then of course needed to see how those felt once wet, too. Pretty soon that led to wet fingers and toes. “It’s like a sprinkler!” she said. We quickly mopped up and headed to the living room for something a little less wet.

Four: Crumble Paper for Target Practice

I gave Veronika a few types of paper (paper towels, notepad paper) to crumple into little balls, the tinier the better. Then we could slam dunk them into a toy bin!

While that notepad was out, it was time to…

Five: Scribble on a Scribble

I made one line with a pen, then invited her to add to the drawing! Veronika loves to draw like this, so seriously that she looks like a mini studio artist. “I’m not done yet,” she told me, adding more squiggles and lines.

Six: Water on Chalk

The sun was shining, so we took our next bit of destruction outside. Chalk is fantastic because your child the instant satisfaction of watching chalk marks instantly disappear under just a little water. As a bonus, chalk is really fun to use on wet pavement.

Seven: Dry-Erase Board

Along the same vein as erasing chalk with water, other things are fun to erase, too! We headed back inside and I showed her how she could magically swipe away mommy’s dry-erase board with a paper towel.

Since she was already seated in the highchair, that led to…

Eight: High Chair Tray Scribbles

Yup, I let her draw right on that high chair tray! Use washable markers and watch your child’s eyes pop when he or she is allowed to scribble directly on the tray.

Then, simply hand over a damp paper towel, and watch the marker magically swipe away.

Nine: Styrofoam Destruction

For the grand finale in our day of destruction, I set up a block of Styrofoam on our craft tray, along with her toy tools, and told her she could chisel away. It as tough for her to crack into the block, so I made a few divots and holes and then she could work on making them deeper. She even tested out the real screwdriver (but be sure to supervise any play with grown-up tools closely).

She loved the tiny pieces that resulted, more so than the act of destruction, pretending to “feed” them to her stuffed puppy.

Chances are that toddlers will love clean-up from this activity, too, when it’s time to pull out the vacuum and get up all those Styrofoam bits!

What’s your favorite destructive thing to do with a toddler? Please share in the comments!