Tissue Paper Night-Lights

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This is such a beautiful craft for any child afraid of shadows in their room at night. Not only will they feel the pride of having put it together, but the result is comforting and beautiful!

First we needed to tear multiple colors of tissue paper into small pieces. Any excuse to rip through tissue paper is welcome in this house!

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Once we had a pile of scraps, we mixed together glue with a splash of water in a cup.

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Travis loved painting every inch of our mason jar with the glue mixture – so much so that he wanted me to layer on the tissue paper while he continued to add more glue. He wasn’t content until every inch was covered!

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We set our mason jar aside to dry, and by naptime, it was ready!

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Use any battery-operated tea light, and place inside the jar. Travis loved taking the tea light in and out and screwing on the lid, testing the nightlight in several parts of his room until he found his favorite. What a success!

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Planting Felt Flowers

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Our recent Garden crate from Koala Crate had us excited about flowers, so we put together a second make-believe gardening activity.

Preparation was largely a grown-up job for this one: Cut flower shapes from felt (use a template, so they are all the same size) and glue two pieces of felt together for each flower, leaving an opening at both the top and bottom.

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For the stems, we painted craft sticks green – these could then be inserted into the bottom opening of each flower.

Travis’s favorite part of the set up were the pipe cleaners we used for the flower stigmas. Twist each pipe cleaner around a pencil until it is a tight coil – these were a delight to play with even before we inserted them into the top opening of each flower.

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Now we just needed a garden; we painted an old shoebox brown and let it dry before I cut small slits in the top with a sharp knife.

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Planting time!

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Tofu Tender Supper

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There are days in your child’s culinary life that definitely feel like milestones – the first bite of solid food, obviously; the first cupcake; the first time they use their own fork. Tonight was the first time I made a complete meal for my almost-three-year old – not just an entree paired with a random steamed vegetable, but a main dish with two sides. He devoured all three components, making this a hit we will return to again and again!

Ingredients:

For the tofu:

  • 1/2 (14-ounce) pkg. extra-firm tofu
  • 2 Ener-G eggs
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  •  Cooking spray

For the sweet potatoes:

  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

For the coleslaw:

  • 4 cups packaged coleslaw mix
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  1. To prepare the tofu, cut into 3 slices crosswise, and then cut each slice in half lengthwise – you’ll have 6 (3×1-inch) sticks. Pat dry with paper towels.
  2. Prepare the Ener-G eggs in a shallow bowl.
  3. In a separate shallow dish, combine the breadcrumbs, Old Bay, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Dip each tofu piece in the Ener-G mixture and then in the breadcrumb mixture. Arrange on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Lightly coat the tops of the tofu with cooking spray and set aside.
  4. To prepare the potatoes, peel and cut into 1/2-inch thick wedges (alternatively, leave on the peel, but scrub well before slicing).
  5. Toss the potato wedges with 1 and 1/2 teaspoons olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, the rosemary, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Arrange next to the tofu on the baking sheet.
  6. Bake at 450 degrees F for 25 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, prepare the coleslaw: Toss together the coleslaw mix with the final 1 and 1/2 teaspoons olive oil, the vinegar, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper.

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Garden Crate

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We received our Garden-themed box from Koala Crate this month – perfect for summertime! This kit was very much about Travis playing with the items in his own way, not necessarily as “intended”, but there’s nothing wrong with a crate that simply prompts ideas and play!

As always, Travis was eager to lift the lid and see what was inside this time around. The first project, a Gardening Apron to decorate, was a huge hit – not so much to decorate, but to try on and to put the gardening tools inside of.

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The kit came with string and felt flowers/leaves to decorate the apron, but he preferred to scoop the felt items and pretend he was planting them (cupcake liners made great “flower pots”!).

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I finally coaxed him into helping decorate the apron as intended, which was good lacing practice, before I finished it for him. You’ll notice that he adorned the apron with pencil scribbles as the finishing touch, in the photo at the top of this post!

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Travis also did things his own way when it came to building the Growing Plant; he loved squeezing drops of the provided glue, meant to glue on tissue paper flower buds, but instead he wanted to stick the cardboard leaves together.

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I let him have fun his own way while I pressed on the “flowers” so he could see the final, intended result.

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Once the glue dried and it was time to slot the cardboard leaves and stems of the plant together, he decided we should “drill” it together!

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The final “project” this month was a bit of a disappointment – a book to read along with the growing plant, rather than another craft, which I felt could have been included in Imagine magazine. However, the story is a nice vocab builder, and touched off discussion about plants and gardening.

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The biggest hit by far? The provided recipe to make your own, homemade lemonade!

Mint Lemonade

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Just in time for the hot days of summer, we received this homemade lemonade recipe from Koala Crate!

To start, have your child squeeze one lemon half into a cup.

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Add 2 tablespoons powdered sugar, and let your little sous-chef stir until the sugar is dissolved.

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Now it’s time to add fresh mint – and fresh is the key word here! If you have your own herb garden, so much the better. Our next best option was a mint plant from the grocery store; Travis loved selecting three leaves before adding them to his cup and muddling.

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Adults: Fill the cup the rest of the way with water (about 5 ounces) and stir.

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Add a straw and enjoy summer in a glass!

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Painted Hydrangeas

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We needed a quick craft pick-me-up for the afternoon, and just about all I had on hand was a bouquet of white hydrangeas. They turned out to be the perfect canvas!

Simply set out the blossoms, along with watercolors.

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Liquid watercolors will provide the most vibrant color, but after this mama tipped over a cup of a very bright pink (and this stuff stains, folks), we decided to play it safe with Crayola’s watercolor paints!

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Travis liked seeing all the different colors appear on our white flowers.

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These would make a great centerpiece for a summer dinner al fresco!

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Sponge Balls

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If it’s hot and the kids need a novel way to get wet, look no further than this update on a classic water balloon fight.

Place three different colored sponges in a stack, and cut each sponge into three strips – you’ll end up with three piles that look like a rainbow layer cake. Secure each pile with a rubber band in the middle, and fan out the sponges slightly – now you have sponge balls!

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Grab a bucket filled with water and go wild.

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See who can throw their sponge ball the furthest, have fun dipping them into the bucket and squeezing the water out…. or get each other wet with a gentle game of sponge ball tag!

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Perfect on a hot summer day!

Whatta Melon Smoothie

Whatta Melon Smoothie

Credit for this fun recipe goes to Family Fun magazine. I recommend purchasing a whole watermelon since you will need to cube and freeze 2 cups worth for the recipe – that way your child will have a visual of the green rind, black seeds, and pink flesh.

Ingredients:

  • 2 kiwi fruit, cubed and frozen
  • 1/2 banana, frozen
  • Handful of fresh spinach
  • 1 and 1/2 cups vanilla coconut milk, divided
  • 2 tablespoons agave nectar, divided
  • 2 cups frozen cubed watermelon
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • Mini non-dairy chocolate chips (such as Enjoy Life)
  1. In a blender, combine the kiwi, banana, spinach, 1/2 cup milk, and 1 tablespoon agave; process until smooth and green – the more spinach you use, the greener it will be! Pour into the bottom of smoothie glasses.
  2. Rinse out the blender and add the watermelon, strawberries, remaining 1 and 1/2 cups milk, and remaining tablespoon agave. Process until smooth.
  3. Spoon the watermelon layer over the green layer – ideally the two won’t mix, but we still got a layered, slightly mixed-up effect.
  4. Top with chocolate chips for the seeds!

 

 

Popsicle Stick Pirate Ship

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Travis has been learning about pirates lately (he now does a mean “ahoy matey!”), so to bring the fun alive, we made this little ship to join us at bathtime.

To make the raft, glue 8 craft sticks lengthwise across 8 additional sticks crosswise. Once the glue dries, it will hold everything in place. In retrospect, I recommend painting them first, or purchasing ones that are already colored.

Putting the craft stick raft together like this is largely a grown-up step, because it’s tricky to line up both layers. Travis helpfully added a few squirts of glue before I finished.

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To make the mast, you really need a hot glue gun, with which you can glue one craft stick upright on the raft. Failing that, I quickly decided to use a toothpick instead, which I could wedge in the tiny space between two of the craft sticks.

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Use glue to add any fabric scrap to your mast as the sail.

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As the finishing touch, add a pirate or two!

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Ahoy mateys, time to sail.

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Clay Flower Pots

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This project couldn’t be simpler, but kids will love playing with the clay and watching their decorations take shape! A great summer craft, especially if you’re teaching your little ones about gardening.

Use any small terracotta pot as the base. I ended up wishing that I had several on hand, because Travis covered his first with clay designs so quickly; consider picking up a few at a craft store ahead of time!

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For the clay, we used Model Magic – it’s easy to work with, mess free, and will air-dry in a few days.

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Travis loved just smooshing on big designs, but older kids can be more deliberate in their art, creating flowers or mini clay gardens. I added a few details as examples.

One cool result of Travis smooshing all the clay onto the pots was a swirled, marbled effect.

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These pots would make a great summer gift for anyone who loves to garden!