Gallant Challenge: Lived It, Learned It

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Travis always loves the Goofus and Gallant page of Highlights magazine and the inspiring stories of kids with Gallant moments. We’ve even tried to replicate some.┬áToday, it was his turn to be the Gallant kid and inspire others, because the challenge was…to share a Gallant learning moment and impart that wisdom to other kids.

Travis and I read the challenge and then I asked him to think about just such a teachable moment that he has experienced.

He decided he’d write about times at the playground where his friend is sad. Saying “I’m sorry”, he’s learned, helps make things better.

He drew a picture, including the rocks that they like to play on at the playground. I helped him use creative spelling for the word “sorry”, then wrote out the full story on the back of the page.

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For full ownership of the project, he even affixed the stamp before we mailed it off to Highlights. Travis was so proud to share!

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String of Floaters

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It’s never too early to introduce a little science at tub time! Older toddlers will love experimenting with what sinks and what floats, and perhaps understanding a little bit of why. But for my one-year-old tonight, this activity was more about delighting with the visual of flotation!

Gather items around the house that float: corks, Styrofoam, and wooden beads are all perfect. I strung these items together in one big line. Now it was ready to be a boat!

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Veronika loved towing the items along, running her fingers over each of the different materials and dragging them through the water.

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I also cut a sponge into a few different shapes, like rectangles, diamonds, and triangles, and added these pieces to the tub.

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Veronika loved grabbing the sponges and discovering she could squeeze them. Then she began scrubbing at the Styrofoam with the sponge pieces; cleaning and learning, what a double win!

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We will definitely get good mileage out of this homemade tub toy. As always, make sure water play is 100% supervised.

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Yogurt Berry Parfaits

Yogurt Parfait

If your kids wants a novel twist on yogurt for breakfast, try these easy fruit-filled parfaits! We like them best with almond milk yogurt. Wheat germ adds an extra healthy kick.


  • 1 (5-ounce) vanilla non-dairy yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon wheat germ
  • Mixed berries to taste
  1. Stir the wheat germ into the yogurt in a small glass.
  2. Spoon berries on top to taste, and serve!

Note: You can also alternate layers of yogurt and berries, for a pretty presentation.

Walk Like a Wheelbarrow

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If you’re from a certain generation, chances are you remember wheelbarrow races in the backyard as a kid! It’s a classic that never grows old, even with little babies.

Back when she was learning to crawl, I propped Veronika up slightly with a towel for a sort of modified wheelbarrow. Now, she can fully support herself on her arms, and I turned it into a silly game to reach her stuffed animals.

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Those stuffed animals had her motivated! It took her a moment of hesitation, but once I had her palms on the ground and her ankles in my hands, she began walking her little hands forward. What a great strength-training exercise!

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And she had three soft friends waiting to play at the end of the race.

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Here’s a crafty spin on tic-tac-toe, with quite a few twists! The game was just the thing to keep us busy on a cold morning inside.

To make the playing board, cover the non-magnet side of magnetic paper (available at craft stores) with colored tape; cut the paper into strips, making 4 pieces total.

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To make the “doughnuts”, cut 10 circles from brown craft form and cut out the centers. Decorate with puffy paint as frosting!

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This was definitely Travis’s favorite part, getting into the idea that he was an icer at a bakery. We got creative and decorated all 10 differently, but for more accuracy, you might want to decorate 5 with one pattern and 5 with another. We just had to remember whose playing piece was whose!

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Let the puffy paint dry completely (this might take a while, if your kids were enthusiastic with their blobs of paint!). Attach a strip of the magnetic paper to the back of each doughnut.

To play the game, attach the colored magnet strips to a baking sheet as the board.

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Start tossing doughnuts onto the sheet.

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The first player with 3 in a row wins! Hmm, there might have been a little cheating and reorienting going on, but Travis loved the challenge.

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Prefer your tic-tac-toe a little more traditional? Check out a few versions we’ve made in the past!

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Shades of Nature

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Here’s a fun twist for your next nature walk, as the last few days of vibrant fall colors leave us behind. Bring along some paint chips (these are free at any local hardware store) and hunt for fall colors!

Travis and I stopped to pick up paint chips in the morning, making sure we selected lots of yellows, oranges, reds, and browns. Next stop: a local trail!

Travis noticed lots of browns right away, spanning from dark brown leaves…

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…to light brown grasses.

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Our local area is past peak leaves, but we managed to spot some deep reds left in the bushes..

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…as well as fallen yellow leaves.

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Our favorite was these orange beauties!

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In sum, this was a nice way to add purpose to a weekend family stroll, and Travis enjoyed playing color detective!

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Holey Hand

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This simple trick is a tangible way to show kids how each eye sees the world in just a slightly different way. Kids will marvel at the fact that the brain blends together two views into one picture once they have a “hole” in their hand!

All you need to do is hold an empty paper towel tube up to the left eye, holding it in the left hand. Leave both eyes open, and place the right hand directly in front of the open right eye. Slowly begin moving that hand forward, keeping it against the side of the cardboard tube.

Ideally, you’ll start to see a hole in your hand! I had to help Travis with a few mechanics. At first he zoomed his hand forward too fast.

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Then it wasn’t quite at the right angle.

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But then I got a big smile and laugh once he had the trick of it down. Grown-ups, you’ll want to try this, too!

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Jiggly Rainbow Cups

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Here’s a cute way to “taste the rainbow”, as the old slogan goes! You’ll need jel dessert in all colors of the rainbow. Jell-o of course comes available in everything from red to purple but is not vegan. Instead, I prepared a big batch of Lieber’s clear unflavored jel dessert. We divided it among 5 cups, and used food coloring to make:

  • red
  • yellow
  • green
  • blue
  • purple

This was a great refresher on color mixing, since I only had food coloring in primary colors!

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I also had Simply Delish’s orange flavored jel dessert, so we used that for the orange layer.

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Now you’ll need to layer your dessert. We spooned a layer of purple into a cup and placed in the freezer for about 15 minutes to speed up the setting process.

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Continue adding layers and freezing briefly until you have a full rainbow.

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Unfortunately our three dark layers (purple, blue, green) and three light layers (yellow, orange, red) sort of blended in with one another. Shining a flashlight helped reveal the distinction!

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Meanwhile Travis thought this was just the best dessert ever. Of course there was the obligatory poking and squishing that must happen with jel desserts.

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Then it was time to spoon through the layers, and he kept me updated on his progress: “Mom, I’m up to the yellow!”

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A super fun way to play with rainbows.

Peanut Butter Play Dough

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I guarantee this is the yummiest play dough your kids will ever play with, and it’s unbelievably easy to make!

In a bowl, combine 6 large marshmallows (we use Dandies) and 4 tablespoons peanut butter. Microwave for about 15 to 20 seconds, until the marshmallows sotfen. Stir together.

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Add about 2 to 3 tablespoons powdered sugar, stirring with a spoon to combine and then working the dough with your hands until it is no longer sticky. Although there were still some chunks of marshmallow visible, our dough worked great.

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I had intended this as a sensory project for Veronika, but big brother Travis loved it, too! First Veronika just enjoyed picking up the dough…

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…and was delighted when she noticed it tasted sweet!

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Her favorite thing to do was poke at it with craft sticks, or tap it with her fingers.

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Meanwhile, Travis had fun forming the dough. We rolled it into snakes and patted it into flat pancakes.

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Then we used leftover Halloween cookie cutters. It made fantastic shapes!

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Note: Make sure to cover the play dough if you want to play with it over multiple sessions, as it will dry out and become crumbly.

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Corn Meal to Explore

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It’s getting too cold for outdoor sandboxes, so today I made one for Veronika indoors… with corn meal! I simply dumped an old container of corn meal on a pizza pan, set out a few scoops, and let her begin to explore.

The scoops themselves seemed to delight her with their bright colors, First she just wanted to play with these…

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…but soon found her way over to the corn meal.

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Unlike anything gloppy, she had no hesitation getting fingers in dry corn meal. She picked up little light fingerfuls and watched it rain down into a cup, then dumped them out and started over.

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What fine motor skills! Next, I added cars, because you can make great tracks through cornmeal. If you have any toy construction vehicles like dump trucks or diggers, this is the perfect way to use them. But for Veronika I added a few favorites: a fire truck, school bus, and mail truck.

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She loved vrooming them in the corn meal, especially once she had a thin layer of it on the floor.

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I let the happy play continue until we had to leave the house.

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To clean up, I dusted off her pants, swept the cornmeal into the dust bin, and that was that!

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