Sprinkled Candy Bar Wrappers

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The fun shredded paper “confetti” on these DIY candy bar wrappers makes them perfect to give as a gift! To wit, we made this craft today to gift on Father’s Day.

To start, you’ll need lots of tiny pieces of paper. This would be a great chance for preschoolers to work on their cutting skills, but for Veronika, it was about playing with the pieces after I cut them!

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I then wrapped two chocolate bars in additional sheets of construction paper. We chose orange and blue, for the colors of daddy’s favorite sports team of course.

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Next, a grown-up will need to make a design or word on the top of each wrapper. Ours featured a heart on one and the letters D-A-D on the other.

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Then Veronika sprinkled our paper “confetti” down on the glue. Tap lightly over a trash can to remove any excess paper pieces and let dry complete.

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The DAD version was a little harder to read than we’d hoped, but the heart was clear as could be, and needless to say daddy loved them!

Find Out What Absorbs Water

I love games that combine nature play and fresh air with a little sneaky STEM thrown in, and this idea from Hands on as We Grow fits the bill!

To start, I sent Veronika hunting around the yard to find treasures. With some mommy help, we then sorted these into the compartments of a large muffin tin, including flowers, grass, leaves, wood chips, and dirt. We also left one compartment empty.

I then handed over Veronika’s watering can and encouraged her to water her items!

It immediately becomes clear that the effect of the water is not the same on all the nature items. Some, like the grass and flowers, are soon just sitting in puddles of water.

But for others (spoiler alert: wood chips and dirt), the water wasn’t there for her to see any more. It was time to introduce new vocabulary: the dirt had absorbed the water! The flowers and grass had not.

Of course the STEM lesson is advanced for my two year old, but half the fun here was just in pouring the water from the can, stirring items around, and enjoying a warm morning on the patio!

Carrot Pineapple Salad

Carrot Pineapple Salad

This salad is a fun spin on regular carrot-raisin salad. Thanks to the addition of blueberries, it turns a bright bluish-purple!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups shredded carrots
  • 2 cups canned crushed pineapple
  • 1 cup freeze-dried blueberries
  • 1/4 cup vanilla non-dairy yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  1. Stir all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

Note: If you have young toddlers, you can steam the carrots first so they are tender instead of crunchy.

Mixing Colors on the Window

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Take advantage of a sunny day for this no-mess color mixing lesson, a great idea spotted over on Hands on as We Grow!

We had a new set of paints that came in silly scents – think red strawberry, yellow pineapple, and blue blueberry – so Veronika couldn’t wait to test them out.

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I poured each of the three primary colors into a small zip-top plastic bag and sealed tightly, then showed Veronika the magic that could happen when we held them against a sunny window. Red alone was just red…

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…but if we held the yellow and red together, we saw orange!

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The effect is best when the paint layers aren’t too thick, so you can see both paints and the sunlight pouring through, creating the color mixing effect. Veronika especially loved when we made her favorite color, purple!

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Chances are your toddler will delight in using these as squishy bags for a while, too, which means we fit in our learning and our sensory play!

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Cosmetic Wedge Stamps

If your child loves stamp art, here’s a perfect way to create stamps at home, with some shape learning thrown in! Make-up sponges often come in bulk packages, so I simply grabbed a few from the bag and set them out alongside trays of paint.

Our sponges came in triangles, and I trimmed a few so we also had small diamonds and triangles in different sizes. If you want to get fancier, cut out hearts or other shapes, too!

Veronika then surprised me, by holding the sponge by one triangle point and dipping the flat bottom of it in the paint. So her prints came out as rectangles!

You can cover a sheet of paper just for fun, or fold thick paper in half and decorate just the front, in which case this would make a lovely card for a relative or friend.

Shampoo Science Lab

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When your bottle of baby shampoo is near the end, never fear: you have the perfect amount left to make a mad scientist lab!

To set up a mini “laboratory” for Veronika today, I first poured the remaining shampoo into a glass measuring cup, then added other tools and ingredients. Think: beakers, measuring cups, whisks, and basters, along with other ingredients like baking soda, white vinegar, and water.

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Now it was simply time to mix and match! I demonstrated for Veronika to start ,adding some baking soda and some vinegar to the cup with the shampoo for a fizzy reaction worthy of a witch’s cauldron. But then it was up to her!

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She loved pouring water into all the various cups and containers, especially once we tinted it green and yellow with food coloring.

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The baster was a big hit for sucking up one potion and transferring it from container to container. Incidentally this is great for fine motor skills, too.

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Even once we neared the end of play, and I began rinsing out the cups and spoons, she loved getting her hands soapy and tracing the leftover baking soda in the bottom of the tray.

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What’s your little scientists favorite concoction? Please share in the comments!

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Gross Motor Color Game

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When it rains outside, I love to have props on hand so the kids can squeeze in their gross motor play indoors, no playground equipment required. One of the easiest items are plastic cones, and we have a set that comes in all the colors of the rainbow. That means not just gross motor skills, but color review for Veronika, too!

To start, I set up the cones in rainbow order, bringing an instant smile to her face and a pop of color to a gray morning. I encouraged her to run along the line of cones, but she had her own idea. She wanted to straddle over them! This was such fantastic gross motor work, and she repeated up and down the line several times.

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Then we spaced them further apart so she could jump or hop from cone to cone. Then we lined them up in a tight line for more straddle practice.

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I encouraged her to try other moves, too, like balancing with a foot atop one cone.

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If you have older kids, consider placing the cones all over your house. Then call out directions and a color (run to red, hop to orange, tiptoe to yellow, etc.) and see who gets there fastest.

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Meanwhile, Veronika was soon involved with the cones in an imaginative game of her own creation, which means they helped fill the whole rainy morning indoors.

Spin Art with No Spinner

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Forget fancy spin art machines; there are so many fun ways to replicate the equipment at home, ranging from the messy to the messier. Even better, today we found a way to make “spin art” with almost no mess at all!

To start, I set out various colors of paint along with thick white paper and small paper plates. I invited Veronika to choose which colors we should use on our first plate.

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She picked red, yellow, and orange, which I dolloped in the center of the plate. Flip over and press your hand firmly in the center, then twist your hand to rotate the colors around in a circle.

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Lift up for the big reveal!

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After making a few prints this way, it became clear that it was easier for Veronika’s little hands if we put the paint on the bottom of the plate, then rotated from on top. See which method your child prefers, based on age and strength.

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You can work in some color mixing for a quick art lesson, as we did with red and yellow paint.

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Or just add colors in a random way and make pretty designs. Either way, Veronika marveled each time that we lifted off the plate and she saw that we’d made a circle. We were definite fans of this variation on spin art!

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Green Salad with Vegan Caesar Dressing

Silken tofu is the perfect substitute for mayonnaise as the base of this creamy, rich dressing.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (16-ounce) package silken tofu
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 4 cups torn green leaf lettuce
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1 (4.5-ounce) package seasoned croutons
  • Shredded vegan Parmesan, for serving
  1. Combine the tofu, garlic, Dijon, and lemon juice in a blender; process until smooth and creamy.
  2. Combine the lettuce, tomato, and croutons in a large bowl. Pour about 1/2 cup dressing over the salad; reserve the remaining dressing for another use.
  3. Divide into serving bowls and sprinkle each serving with the Parmesan, if desired.

Sidewalk Chalk Fun

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Sunny days call for sidewalk chalk! Here are two fun ways Veronika played with chalk today.

The first was a take on the old game of Simon, a handheld memory game that repeats a sequence increased by one step each time. But nix the technology and you can play Simon on the sidewalk, too!

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First, I drew a full rainbow of colors with chalk (rather than just the original Simon’s four colors), which was great for a quick ROYGBIV review. Then I had Veronika stand in the center and called out, “Stand on purple!”

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She jumped to purple, and then went back to the center. “Stand on purple, then stand on orange!” I instructed.

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At age 2, Veronika’s limit was about 3 steps (we made it through: purple, orange, green), but big kids can not only act out longer patterns, but also see who can remember the most steps!

Then we noticed our shadows behind us, short and squat and funny in the afternoon sun. I invited Veronika to trace mine (though it was a rough approximation, of course).

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Use chalk to fill out your new chalk friend with an outfit and a silly face.

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It’s also fun to trace the shadows of other objects, so next we tried her Duplo doll. Shadows were so short that this one barely showed up, but we colored in the doll’s outfit, too.

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I caught Veronika sideways, so traced her shadow this way before we added silly clothes and features.

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For older kids, consider coming back and making these sidewalk “portraits” throughout the day, watching them change from tall to short to tall again. You might also try having your child “fit” his or her body back into their shadow, almost like a puzzle piece!

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