Scarecrow Craft Challenge

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This month’s craft challenge from Highlights was a chance for Travis to raid the recycle bin: what fun! Anything that normally might be off limits or taboo always seems to appeal to kids, it seems.

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Travis first pulled out an empty gallon water jug. This would be perfect for the face! He proudly drew on features with a marker.

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We found an empty brown bag that would be just the right size for the body. Crumpled newspaper worked perfectly as stuffing. I tied the handles of the bag tight to seal in the newspapers.

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He decided that empty soda cans would make good arms and legs for our stubby little fellow. I knew waiting for regular glue to dry would frustrate him, so swooped in with the hot glue gun.

We finished by decorating the brown bag torso with marker “clothing”. This was a great chance to watch Travis’s imagination at work! What might your recycled scarecrow look like? Please share in the comments!

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Counting Fish

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Veronika was gifted an adorable counting fish game, which reminded me of a rhyme I used to sing for big brother Travis.

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Both the tune and the counting elements are fun in this one, and Veronika is at a great age for counting rhymes. As we played with the fish, I sang:

One, two, three, four, five,

Once I caught a fish alive.

Six, seven eight nine, ten,

Then I let him go again.

 

Why did you let him go?

Because he bit my finger so.

Which finger did he bite?

This little finger on my right.

We counted out the fish one by one to the words…

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Or practiced letting the fish go when I sang that line.

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In sum, this is an adorable one to add to your repertoire, if you’re in need of new songs!

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When You Do This, I Do That

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Here’s a silly cause-and-effect game to play with your baby, one that had Veronika in fits of laughter.

First, I touched my nose, and then encouraged Veronika to reach out and do the same.

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Whenever she beeped my nose, I stuck my tongue out. After a few repeats, she got the idea that her action “caused” my tongue to pop out. Add silly sound effects and your baby will love it!

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Another fun one is to puff your cheeks up with air. I encouraged her to “unpop” my cheeks. When her hand brushed my cheek, I acted like the force made all the air come out.

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Again, big giggles.

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These kinds of cause-and-effect games are great for teaching your baby about the concept, plus reap lots of laughter as the reward.

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Socialize Online

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Whether there’s a big event that far-away relatives can’t make it to, or whether you just a weekly standing date for face-to-face time online, I was reminded today how powerful it can be for children to socialize online with family they don’t often see.

Today’s post is simple: don’t forget the value of screen time when it comes to keeping in touch. I sat Veronika on my lap and dialed relatives who couldn’t make it to an event. They got to admire her party dress, and catch up!

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If you make this a weekly habit, even family who live far away can be regular figures in your baby’s life. And big siblings benefit, too!

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Do you and your baby Skype or Facetime with a relative? Please share in the comments!

Morphing Monster Clay

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Yesterday Travis made monster slime. Today, we morphed it into monster…clay!

You’ll need to start with the slime recipe, whether or not you’ve made a monster jar to hold it in. As a reminder, that’s stirring together 1/2 cup glue, 1 tablespoon baking soda, and a few drops food coloring of choice. Add 1 teaspoon contact lens solution.

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Place the slime in a large bowl. Add 2 tablespoons white vinegar and 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

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Travis loved that we were dissolving the monster – scary! Begin adding 1 and 1/4 cups cornstarch (that’s 20 tablespoons!) 1 tablespoon at a time. Eventually you’ll have a clay you can work and mold with your hands. This comes out exactly like the model magic you can buy at the store!

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Travis loved the non-goopy texture since he doesn’t always love sticky and slimy projects. Soon he was rolling up monster snakes.

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And he told me this was a mummy!

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Have fun making multiple colors and see what spooky Halloween monsters your kid will create.

Monster Slime

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The slime craze isn’t over yet, and it seems like there’s always a way to make it new and novel for kids. Travis went bananas for this slime monster he could trap in a jar!

To make the slime, stir together 1/2 cup glue, 1 tablespoon baking soda, and a few drops of food coloring. We decided on an orange monster, so mixed together some red and yellow drops.

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Add 1 teaspoon contact solution and your slime will seize up right away.

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Travis loved watching it stretch. And even better, capturing the beast in its jar!

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To add monster facial features, we cut out shapes from white and black felt and glued on.

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Eek, a monster!

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If you like, make a whole batch of these and decorate a windowsill for the upcoming holiday.

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Oatmeal with Sauteed Plantains

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Put a tropical spin on your kids’ morning oatmeal and everyone is sure to wake up on the right side of the bed!

Ingredients:

  • 1 yellow ripe plantain
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Earth Balance butter
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 2/3 cup quick oats
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  1. Peel and slice the plantain into 2-inch pieces. Transfer to a plastic bag and add the brown sugar; seal and shake to coat.
  2. Melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the plantain and cook for about 4 minutes, until browned on all sides.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the water and apple juice in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the oats and cinnamon and continue to cook for 1 minute, until thickened.

Top the oatmeal with the plantain slices to serve!

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Toppling Tower

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Chances are you have lots of empty snack boxes if you have kids. Instead of recycling, set them aside and build up a collection. Now you have all you need for building towers with your baby!

For about a week, I saved every empty snack box and cereal boxes. Tape the tops closed, if needed, so no edges stick out. First, I dumped out the bag in front of Veronika. Instant fun!

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Then we got building. You can encourage your baby to place one box on top of another, but don’t be surprised if the preferred activity is knocking down! This post is called toppling tower, after all.

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We even got into some pretend play and made a garage for her vehicles.

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Add in real building blocks to make the structure more complicated (soft foam ones are my favorite for this age).

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This tower, too, needed to be toppled of course.

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This kind of early STEM activity will help build new connections in your baby’s brain, plus provide lots of enjoyment!

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Kaboom!

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Picture This, Sing That

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At just-shy of one year old, Veronika has very firm opinions about her favorite songs, and your little one no doubt does, too. Make it easy for pre-verbal kids to pick a song with visual clues!

For this activity, I went to the print shop to get brightly-colored high-quality images of a few favorite tunes. There was a cute spider for Itsy Bitsy Spider, a bright yellow bus for Wheels on the Bus, and a farm scene for Old Macdonald Had a Farm. I showed her one image and then sang that song.

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Pretty soon, she made the connection between image and song.

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Her big smiles made it clear she was having fun.

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Wheels on the Bus is her hands-down favorite. She saw the yellow bus and immediately began swishing her “wipers”.

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Later, I gave her the choice of all three pictures in the playroom. Sure enough, she selected the bus right away, so we sang that one.

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To add to the visuals, you can even add props! Soon she was scooting a bus back and forth as we sang Wheels.

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And playing with animals as we sang Old Macdonald.

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What’s your baby’s favorite song? Please share in the comments!

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Glow-in-the-Dark Croquet

Glow Croquet (9).JPGNights are getting longer, which means finally the sun sets before Travis goes to bed. That opens up whole realms of possibility for games we can play! To wit, put those glow-in-the-dark-sticks and bracelets (ubiquitous this close to Halloween!) to novel use with this game of mini croquet.

First, we painted a piece of large cardboard. Travis chose a sparkly blue, thinking that would look like a starry night sky against our glowing wickets. Paint two coats and let dry.

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Glue on paper straws around the entire rim of the cardboard as bumpers; let dry.

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At first, we made straw mallets by cutting a 2-inch piece of straw and gluing crosswise on a second straw to form a T. These didn’t hold up well, so read on for our quick fix.

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To make the wickets, poke holes in the cardboard. Activate 4 glow bracelets (or up to 8 if you want more wickets!) and insert into the holes, bending each one into an upside-down U.

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Add arrows with white-out or white paint showing the direction of play.

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Have each player select a different color pom pom for their ball. Now take turns whacking through the wickets and see who reaches the end first!

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As mentioned, our straw mallets didn’t hold up well. No problem! We snapped a few regular glow sticks to activate them, and used these as the mallets.

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Needless to say, Travis was smitten with the game. Anything that glows is always a hit!

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