Third Birthday Party: Daniel Tiger

Veronika is three! Daniel Tiger is such a natural theme for this age, since almost every preschooler is going to be familiar with that friendly tiger face. The birthday girl needed attire to set the stage, of course, sporting a personalized Katerina Kitty Cat t-shirt printed with her name and age.

Daniel Tiger invitation templates are easy to purchase online, making invites a cinch!

You can likewise find Daniel Tiger party supplies with ease. We ordered from Birthday in a Box for a tablecloth, plates, napkins, and party hats. Red and yellow balloons from the local toy store kept up the color-scheme, along with red plastic utensils and serving bowls, and yellow napkins. If you have any Daniel Tiger toys or figures, add them to the display!

Because kids at this age still tend to engage in parallel play rather than directed activities, we set up four stations that the little guests could rotate through at their own pace. The stations included:

O the Owl’s Reading Nook

Miss Elaina’s Music Shop

Daniel Tiger’s Craft Table

and Katerina Kitty Cat’s Dress-up Box

That left Prince Wednesday’s royal feast for the final touch!

For a mid-afternoon party, we kept the noshes simple. We needed a big fruit salad in keeping with the show’s frequent fruit banquets in the enchanted garden. We added chips and dip and then dessert, including store-bought vegan vanilla cupcakes and a homemade pumpkin cake for fall flavor. Spiced Pear Cider was the perfect beverage!

Plus there was an autumnal selection for the grown-ups:

Finally, friends went home with trolley-shaped treat boxes. The items inside featured trinkets that Daniel Tiger might enjoy, including a colored pencil for craft time, a bouncy ball for playground play, a magnifying glass for nature walks, bubbles (not shown), and a few candy treats (Smarties and lollipops).

Veronika declared the party grr-ific!

 

Fall Birthday Treats

The flavors of fall lend themselves perfectly to drinks, desserts, and other treats for special occasions. I prepared the following two recipes as part of Veronika’s third celebration, but they would be equally at home at a grown-up birthday party or other fall gathering!

Pumpkin Poke Cake:

  • 1 (15-ounce) package yellow cake mix
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
  • 1 (12-ounce) jar non-dairy caramel topping
  • 1 (11-ounce) jar sweetened condensed coconut milk
  • 2 cups non-dairy heavy whipping cream (such as Silk)
  1. In a bowl, whisk together the cake mix and cinnamon, then add the pumpkin and stir until moist. Spoon the batter into a greased 9×13-inch baking dish; the batter will be thick.
  2. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes, or until a pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely.
  3. Using the handle of a wooden spoon, poke holes all over the surface of the cake. This is a fantastic step for kids to join in! Reserve 1/4 cup caramel topping for later, and stir together the remaining caramel topping and condensed coconut milk. Pour over the cake and into the holes, spreading evenly.
  4. Meanwhile, beat the heavy cream with a stand mixer until medium peaks form (about 3 minutes). Spoon over the cake, spreading evenly, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.
  5. Just before serving, dust the cake with additional cinnamon to taste and drizzle with the reserved 1/4 cup caramel topping.

Slow-Cooker Pear Cider

Ingredients:

  • 8 pears
  • 1 orange
  • 6 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon whole cloves
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  1. Cut the pears into quarters and place in the bottom of a slow-cooker. We used a mix of red Bartlett and green Anjou pears, for a beautiful color contrast.
  2. Peel and slice the orange and add to the slow-cooker, along with the cinnamon sticks, ginger, and cloves. Cover and cook on high for 4 and 1/2 hours.
  3. Srain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl or pitcher. Stir in the vanilla and maple syrup, and chill until ready to serve.

The cider can be served warm or chilled.

Spooky Halloween Science Kiwi Crate

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The kids have been loving Halloween-themed crates from Kiwi Co this spooky season, and we had time for just one more before the big night. The final crate we unboxed featured multiple projects, all relying on static electricity. The crate was the perfect combination of the explicable (science!) and the supernatural (witches, and ghosts, and eyeballs, oh my!).

The first experiment was Rolling Eyes. Travis helped wrap foam balls with foil, then attach cooper sticker dots at the top. The eyes are then placed inside a spooky box graveyard covered in clear plastic.

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Travis loved rubbing the provided fabric square across the plastic for a slow count of 15 seconds. Let the eyeballs drop and… They roll! One half of the eyeballs is repelled by the static charge and the other is attracted, meaning they skitter about on the surface.

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This was frightful and delightful to watch!

Next up, Travis made Dancing Ghosts. He decorated the provided thin paper shapes, which then attach into wooden gravestones and trees with foam dots.

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We pressed the provided air-dry clay down into a wooden base, and then all the spooky wooden parts can stand upright. Travis even arranged a skeleton out front!

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This time, we rubbed the fabric square on the provided wand. Once again, your child will generate static electricity, and when it’s held near the tissue paper ghosts and bats, they “rise up” from the grave.

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The final experiment didn’t work well for us, but the idea is to slide two provided lightbulb wires through the eye sockets of a tiny wooden pumpkin. Blow up a balloon and rub on your head for static electricity, then hold the balloon near the tips of the lightbulb wires, and the eyes should flicker! We must not have generated much electricity, because we only got a faint spark or two.

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To test out a few other ways that the static electricity on the balloon could work, we held it near running water (spoiler alert: the water bends away) and used it to separate salt and pepper! If you sprinkle salt and pepper on a plate, then hold the static-y balloon over them, only the pepper will rise up because the salt is too heavy!

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What other static electricity experiments have you tried? Please share in the comments!

Puking Pumpkin Science

Kids won’t be able resist a Halloween-themed STEM project that’s all about, yes, throw up! Needless to say, this holiday crate from Kiwi Co was a big hit.

You’ll need to start with a carved jack o’ lantern, which is not provided in the crate itself but certainly not a problem in the fall! We picked a medium pumpkin at a local farmstand and the kids loved first gutting their victim (er, scooping out the pumpkin seeds). Little did poor Jack know he was about to get sick!

Travis helped prepare the pumpkin according to the crate’s instructions: three scoops of provided baking soda, 1 scoop of foaming gel, and the color of choice (he picked blue).

In the provided beaker, the kids shook together 1 scoop of citric acid and another spoonful of color.

Add water and then slowly pour the contents of the beaker over the baking soda mixture in the pumpkin and… poor Jack!

He clearly was not feeling well.

Needless to say, the kids were entranced. They loved scooping up the bubbly foam and pouring it back into our poor patient.

And then of course they needed a repeat. This time Travis decided to mix yellow and blue for green puke. Poor Jack was up to his eyeballs!

Grown-ups might have to get over the “ick” factor on this one, but kids are guaranteed to love it.

Halloween Luminaries Kiwi Crate

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Years ago, Travis unboxed a crate from Kiwi Co. to make Halloween luminaries. The company has since updated the project, and this time big brother and little sister both got to help out! I recommend this crate for ages 3 and up. Apologies for the dark photos in the project, but we made it after dark, naturally, for extra spooky points.

To start, pour the provided glue into a little dish and use the sponge brush to dab glue all around one of the four provided plastic jars. This was a fantastic way for little hands to use glue without getting (too!) messy.

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Next the kids had to decide which creature they would create on each of the four clear jars. Purple tissue paper squares went on one for a bat, black for a spider, white for a ghost, and green for a monster. (We didn’t opt for the final option: orange for a pumpkin).

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The kit then includes sticker accessories depending which creature your kids have chosen, or they can mix-and-match for a crazy creature of their own creation! Travis loved winding pipe cleaner around rim of the bat jar, then adding bat wing stickers.

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Meanwhile, Veronika proudly gave our ghost a cute sticker face. The spider was the most complicated, for which we threaded the provided eight legs onto a black pipe cleaner and wrapped around the jar.

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Whichever creature you choose, insert one of the provided tea lights into the jar and set these spooky critters aglow on a doorstep or window. These are sure to delight without too much fright!

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Squiggle Cookies

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Let’s face it: any food that has a silly face is infinitely more fun for kids to eat. This “cookie” recipe from High Five comes together so easily, and turned out to be a fantastic sibling project that both my kids adored!

To start, I prepared a batch of vanilla frosting, then divided it among three zip-top plastic bags. The kids’ job was to add drops of food coloring, then seal and mush with their hands until all the color was incorporated. I loved watching big brother Travis coach Veronika through this step.

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Next, separate graham cracker sheets into individual rectangles. Travis decided we should leave some of the sheets intact so we could have a family: Big mommy and daddy rectangles, and smaller baby ones!

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Snip a small hole in the bottom corner of each frosting bag, then pipe the frosting onto the cookies. This step was tricky for Veronika, but Travis loved being in charge while she got to take an early taste test.

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Raisin eyes were the finishing touch.

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Travis proudly added the decorations to the Daddy Rectangle.

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It’s hard to say which part the kids enjoyed more: making these cookies or eating them!

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Bat Puppets

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This craft, care of Veronika’s latest High Five magazine, hits just the note between cute and spooky for preschoolers celebrating Halloween.

To start, paint empty toilet paper tubes (or paper towel tubes cut in half) any color your child desires. You can stick with a classic Halloween orange-and-black theme, but Veronika chose a sparkly mix of purple and yellow glitter paint!

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High Five recommended using black craft foam for the wings, but colored construction paper was a fine substitute. Cut a semi-circle for each wing, then make three tiny semi-circle snips along the bottom to make a ragged bat wing edge.

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Finally, cut small triangles for fangs and glue on to the tubes, along with the wings and wiggle eyes.

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I loved that our resulting bats had quirky preschooler style, whether eyes that were slightly askew or an extra eye on a bat wing. This meant Veronika truly had ownership of the craft… and made our bats a little extra spooky, too!

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Squash Spirits

Use butternut squash to make this adorable family of ghosts for your front porch this Halloween season! The novel shape is a fun twist on a standard round pumpkin.

Since butternut squash come in a pale peach color, though, first we needed to make them a ghostly white. Veronika loved helping paint the “baby” squash while I painted two larger ones. Just use caution, as you will need to use acrylic paint for this project rather than washable tempera paint.

We let the paint dry before adding a second coat of white, then let dry completely again.

To set up the squash squad, one received a top hat to wear and another got glasses. (Note: Our accessories were care of Mr. Potato Head, but doll accessories would work, too!). Finally, Baby Squash got eyes with permanent black marker, and the family was ready to haunt our steps.

BOO!

Water Wows

Here are two fun ways to sneak in some STEM learning about states of matter and water, one project involving water in the frozen state and one liquid!

First up was Catching Ice Cubes, a classic trick based on the fact that salt melts ice. I placed a few ice cubes on a tray and challenged Travis: Could he pick one up with a string? He gamely tried looping string around the slippery ice, but to no avail.

Next, we placed the pieces of string across the ice cubes, and then sprinkled each with a small mound of salt.

Count – slowly! – to thirty, then gently lift the string. The ice lifts up!

Now it was time to play Pinching Water with water in its liquid state. Ahead of time, I used a hammer and nail to make two small holes near the bottom of an empty and clean soup can. The holes should be about 1/2 an inch apart.

Tape over the holes with masking tape and fill the can with water. I removed the tape and Travis put his fingers near the two sprays of water. They pinch together into one!

This is a neat way to show the “magnetic” or sticky property of water molecules. which then split back apart if you move your finger further away. Travis also thought it was fun to plug up one hole and watch how the flow changed.

For even more fun ways to play with “sticky” water, check out some of our old favorites.

Light-Up Haunted House Kiwi Crate

We haven’t unboxed a Kiwi Crate in a long time, but couldn’t resist this Halloween-themed crate for some spooky STEM learning: a Light-Up Haunted House. I would recommend this particular project for ages 5 and up.

To start, Travis loved being in charge of the electronics, which meant inserting the battery into the provided battery pack, attaching wires into the LED strip, and then switching the on-off button to test it out. Sure enough, the LED lights glowed an eerie green!

The house comes together easily thanks to provided cardboard sides, a foam base, and vellum sheets that attach over the window openings with clear stickers.

The roof was a bit trickier, requiring some grown-up assistance to fold the gabled rooftop and then attach to wooden roof pieces with pieces of sticky foam.

While I put the finishing touches on the roof, Travis and little sister Veronika both loved using the provided markers to color in the spooky paper shapes: bats, pumpkins, cats, gravestones, ghosts, and more!

Truly the house is meant as decoration, but the kids loved it more to “play” haunted house, moving the ghost and cat figures in and out of the creaky front door.

Kiwi provided a few other elements to raise the spooky factor, including a cotton ball to pull apart for cobwebs and rickety wooden fence pieces to place out front.

Whether to play with or just for haunted decor, we give this kit a big thumbs up.