Fairy Bread

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If children could invent a snack, Fairy Bread would probably be it. This treat, apparently popular at birthday parties in Australia, sure made our after-school snack feel like a treat!

Spread Earth Balance butter on slices of white bread. Trim off the crusts.

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Sprinkle with rainbow sprinkles to taste, then cut into triangles. I prepared the first slice for Travis, but let him be in charge of the sprinkles for the second.

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Clearly this indulgence is meant to be a once-in-a-while treat, but it sure put a big smile on his face today!

Magnetic Letters & Play Doh

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I’ve hesitated to give Veronika play doh until now, full knowing she would do a taste test. But we received mini containers of it as a birthday party favor so we had some (very!) supervised play doh play today. Note: I highly recommend the all-natural eco-dough as an alternative or a homemade batch in a pinch!

Today, I pressed the vivid play doh colors into flat pancakes on her high chair tray, and showed her how she could smoosh magnetic letters down into the pile.

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She tried this a few times, but then was far more into the little play doh containers themselves!

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She did indeed reach her little fingers in and give it a taste, which earned a quick firm “no”.

There was lots of opportunity to talk about colors here, both in the play doh and the letters, as well as to have fun with the letter prints that appeared when we lifted a letter up.

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This was a nice first intro to the material, which I know she’ll play with lots more as childhood continues! Don’t have play doh at home? Here’s another way to play with those magnetic letters!

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Split Pea Curry

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This protein-packed vegan curry introduces your toddler to new flavors and spice without overwhelming little taste buds.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup split peas
  • 2 baking potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1/2 cup carrot, chopped
  • 1 cup cauliflower, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
  1. In a large pot, combine the split peas, potatoes, carrot, cauliflower, and garlic.
  2. Add the water, tomato sauce, and curry powder, stirring to combine.
  3. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then continue to cook for 1 hour, or until the split peas are very tender. Let cool before serving.

Split Pea Curry

Knight Light

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Travis still complains of bad dreams, though we’ve tried everything from worry dolls to dream catchers to fancy night lights to make his room feel safe and cozy at night. The fun play on words earned a laugh when we spotted this craft in Highlights magazine, so it was worth a try to see if Sir Lights-a-Lot can guard against bad dreams!

Cut gray cardstock to size so that it fits around an empty oatmeal container. Glue on and let dry. Cut a hole through the paper and container once the glue is set.

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Cut a visor shape and a feather plume shape from additional cardstock. We used a fun bright orange for the feather! Glue these onto the container. (Alternatively, poke two brads through the visor to attach over the hole).

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Attach wiggle eyes to the ends of curled black pipe cleaners and glue on so they dangle down and show through the visor. This step was a bit tricky, and I found it was easiest to use hot glue.

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We added a few lines of blue washi tape for a decorative finish. What a brave knight!

Come nighttime, we inserted a tea light and set him to keep watch.

Clothespins + Empty Box

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This is one of those classic games for toddlers that checks all the boxes: only two supplies needed, great for fine motor skills, and endlessly entertaining.

For Veronika at 14-months-old, I used clothespins that simply slot on (without a hinge). Older toddlers can definitely work their pincher grip here with the kind that pinch open and shut!

I set a few of the clothespins along the rim of an empty stacking box, and she immediately began pulling them off and dumping them into the box. This was great fun!

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Soon she wanted to imitate my ability to hook the clothespins on. This took a bit more coordination, turning until the slot lined up just the right way. She was so proud when she made it work!

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It kept her busy and concentrating for quite some time.

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Another fantastic toddler activity that you can put together in a, well, pinch!

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Toddler Chick’n Dinners

 

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Here are two ways I love to serve vegan chick’n strips to my Baby Led Weaning toddler for a full meal.

Parsnip & Chicken Dinner

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Peel and chop 4 small parsnips. Cover with water and bring to a boil; continue to cook for 20 minutes, until very soft.

Drain and return to the pan, then add 1 teaspoon Earth balance butter and mash until smooth. Serve with finely chopped Gardein chick’n strips.

Chicken, Sweet Pea, & Sweet Potato Dinner

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Microwave 1 sweet potato for about 6 minutes, or until very tender. Let cool slightly, then scoop the flesh from the peel and mash to desired consistency.

Serve with finely chopped Gardein chick’n strips and cooked green peas.

 

Animal Puppet Craft Challenge

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More and more I’m watching Travis take the lead when it comes to the monthly craft challenge in his Highlights magazine. This morning, I presented him with an empty paper towel tube, a few craft sticks, and construction paper, with the challenge to make an animal puppet. It didn’t take him long to get creative!

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He could immediately see how the tube would work as the body. Whereas I had envisioned the sticks only as a handle for a puppet, Travis figured his animal would need arms. As soon as he held the sticks out to the side of the tube, he declared, “A bird!”

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Now we knew we needed construction paper “feathers” for the wings.

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I helped him cut these out, along with a head and beak.

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A second little winged creature looked a bit different without the circle face. Travis declared this one was a bat! He couldn’t wait for them to dry so he could flap his puppets around.

 

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What animal will your kid come up with using only these materials? Please share in the comments!

Small Toys in an Empty Wipes Container

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Today Veronika and I circled back to a game we played when she was much smaller, back then using fabric scraps. Now, with strong toddler hands, it was time to put toys in an empty wipes container!

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To kick off the game, I used pieces of toy fruit that Velcro together. I showed Veronika how to stuff them down into the container, and she was an eager copycat.

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Then we lifted the whole lid and dumped the fruit out. Next up: magnet letters! She loved making these disappear into the container, and of course we named each letter as it went in.

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We followed up with foam puzzle pieces. This time she was much more interested in taking out. Doing so requires strong hand muscles, in order to reach past the flap in the container, grip the item, and tug it out.

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Don’t be surprised if your little ones gets silly and wants to see what else fits inside. A chocolate bar?

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Finally, we played with a set of plastic bugs. Perhaps because of all the tantalizing legs and antennae, these were her favorites to put in and out.

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A very simple game that will entertain a toddler immensely!

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Wish Upon a Star

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We teach babies so much about stars, whether through songs, books, nursery rhymes and more, which has always seemed strange to me. Real stars (those distant fiery balls of gas) are not something our little ones can comprehend, and let’s be honest: they rarely even see those glowing points of light since they go to bed early!

And yet stars in the night sky have great meaning for humans, and always have, so today Veronika and I devoted some play specifically to stars.

We started off with a read of a few board books about stars, namely Touch the Brightest Star and How to Catch a Star. As we read, I opened up a can of glow-in-the-dark stars for her walls.

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These were like magic to her. She loved to pick up handfuls of them and we “twinkled” them up in the air as I sang “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”.

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Of course put a few up on the walls, for bedtime magic!

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We finished by watching a video of “Twinkle, Twinkle”. Now when we pop outside after dark, I hope she’ll begin to make the connection with the stars we see shining in the sky.

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Before you know it she’ll be wishing on one!

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Ooey-Gluey Colors

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It’s not often that I find an art project for my 5-year-old that feels refreshingly new. This artsy idea from Highlights magazine had definite goo factor that appealed to him!

First, drip school glue all over the clear acrylic cover from an empty photo frame. We used an 8×10 frame for maximum work space.

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Drip food coloring over the glue, ideally with some restraint, although Travis loved making big puddles of color.

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Finally, use a paintbrush to smear it all together.

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The colors will swirl and mix in neat ways and make little bubbles on the acrylic. This is a fun chance to experiment with different brushstrokes.

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Let dry completely, then insert back into the photo frame (gooey side in) for instant art. These look particular pretty when the sun hits them through a window, acting almost like a suncatcher.