Build Your Own Tacos

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When Travis came home for lunch today, we set up a whole taco assembly line in the kitchen. He loved the hands-on nature of this recipe, care of his final issue of High Five magazine.

Ahead of time, I cooked a package of Gardein chick’n strips, and let cool. Travis helped shred the chicken, and we sprinkled it with 1 teaspoon taco seasoning. Microwave for 1 minute to rewarm.

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Meanwhile, warm up hard taco shells according to package directions. Travis then got to hone his knife skills; together we chopped a tomato and a little lettuce.

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Time to assemble! We made a big line with everything.

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In goes:

  • Gardein chick’n
  • Tomatoes
  • Lettuce
  • Shredded Daiya cheddar
  • Non-dairy sour cream
  • Guacamole
  • Mild salsa

Travis loved it! We made one version that was a stuffed taco and one that was more like nachos.

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If your kids don’t like Gardein chick’n, try the recipe using black beans and roasted sweet potatoes as the base instead.

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Squeeze Your Own Juice

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In the February issue, Travis’s High Five magazine gave us pretend hot chocolate … But real orange juice! Travis had an absolute blast with this easy squeeze-your-own project.

First, he helped me peel two big oranges. He was very interested in the peel, and what it felt like, since normally I present him with oranges already cut up.

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Next he proudly put all the orange wedges into a large zip-top bag.

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Seal the bag tightly, making sure the air is out, and then squeeze! Travis went wild with the squishing and mushing.

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Once it looks like you have enough juice in the bag, place a strainer over a cup. Let the juice trickle into the cup, reserving the solids in the sieve. Travis was very pleased about this step, since he always tells people he doesn’t like orange juice with pulp.

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(Note: we found that it was easier to get the last of the juice out of the orange segments squeezing them directly in the strainer, rather than still in the bag).

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Time for a taste test!

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Travis loved it, deciding it was kind of sweet, and the freshest orange juice he’d ever tasted.

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Next we got a little scientific with the project, wondering what would happen if we squeezed a grapefruit instead. Travis surmised that since the grapefruit was bigger, we’d have more juice.

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Ding ding ding! He was correct.

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Thanks for the great burst of citrus on a cold winter’s day, High Five. This was such a neat way to show kids where their boxed juices come from.

Pretend-Play Hot Cocoa

fake cocoa (6)Ok, so this cute little craft won’t really warm the kids up during the polar vortex, but it will get their imaginative juices flowing! We loved this pretend play idea from High Five magazine.

I set up a table for Travis with all the materials we’d need: newspaper, brown paper, cotton balls, and big mugs for our “cocoa”.

First we needed to wad up a piece of newspaper for each cup.

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Stuff in a mug to make a base.

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Next, rip brown construction paper into pieces; smaller is better. Once you have a lot of pieces, crumple each up.

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Add these pieces to your mug, and you’ll have a chocolaty cup of cocoa!

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Travis loved adding “marshmallows” (soft cotton balls).

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We thought it would be neat to trick his dad with this one, telling him we’d made him cocoa. Surprise! It wasn’t really meant to drink.

We also set up a little cafe for a few stuffed animal friends.

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Travis did tire of the game rather quickly after that, but some kids may want to run their “hot cocoa stand” for a while. Have fun serving up drinks, making a full cocoa cafe, and more. I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

 

No-Cook Overnight Oatmeal

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Let’s face it – mornings are crazy, amiright? High Five magazine must know it, because Travis’s January issue featured a great recipe that kids can help make the night before. Shake up these no-cook oats, and they’re ready to go for breakfast!

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup plain non-dairy yogurt
  • 1/4 cup non-dairy milk (we used coconut)
  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Handful of dried apricots or raisins
  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a jar with a tightly-fitting lid.no-cook oats (2)
  2. Seal the jar and shake – kids will love this step!no-cook oats (3)
  3. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours, or overnight.

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In the morning, simply uncap the jar and voila – breakfast is served. You can serve cold like muesli, or warm it briefly in the microwave.

 

Fluffy-Paint Collage

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We tend to think of sensory art projects as toddler games, but sometimes, even four-year-olds just need to get messy! Queue this shaving cream paint project, a great suggestion from High Five magazine, that absolutely delighted Travis.

To make our fluffy paint mixture, we first mixed 1/2 cup white glue with 1/2 cup shaving cream (thanks Daddy!) in a bowl.

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Stir until combined. Divide the glue into cups (as many different ones as you have colors). Add drops of food coloring, and stir until mixed.

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Travis loves to play mixologist like this!

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We smeared our puffy paint over two thick pieces of watercolor paper (card stock would work, too). Let dry completely.

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Travis loved this step so much he requested extra cups of shaving cream to stir and tint with color. I was happy to oblige!

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Later in the afternoon, it was time for some fine motor skills. First, we had to check out how the dried paint felt. Very puffy!

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We cut the puffy pictures into pieces.

fluffy paint (10)Travis was proud to cut his paper any which way, and I made a few more exact shapes – circles, squares, triangles etc.

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Choose a piece of colored construction paper for a background, and glue down the pieces with clear glue for a creative collage. Older children may want to be very deliberate, and design flowers or other motifs. Travis just loved making piles of clear glue!

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Once again, he loved this step so much that when we were done, he asked for extra paper to cut up and glue down. I loved seeing him so busy!

 

Pumpkin Mac and Cheese

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It’s not fall until you’ve made a pumpkin-flavored something, and this spin on mac ‘n’ cheese from High Five magazine is a great way to sneak veggies into your kids’ dinner!

Grown-ups: To start, cook 8 ounces macaroni pasta according to package directions; drain and set aside.

Meanwhile melt 2 tablespoons Earth Balance butter in a saucepan. Whisk in 2 tablespoons flour and 1 cup non-dairy milk. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

Now the kids can join in! Whisk in 1 cup shredded Daiya cheddar…

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… along with 1 cup canned pumpkin, 1/2 teaspoon mustard, and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg. Travis loved smelling and taste-testing the mustard and nutmeg!

Pour the pumpkin sauce over the macaroni in a 9×13-inch baking dish, stirring to combine.

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Bake at 375 degrees F for 25 minutes. Little sister’s onesie even matched!

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Toasty Fall Treats

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These adorable little toasts, the recipe in our October High Five magazine, make a great snack – simply vary the shape to make them appropriate throughout the entire fall!

For our first toasts, Travis chose pumpkin- and leaf-shaped cookie cutters. Adults: toast 1 slice of bread per each shape.

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Travis loved helping press the cookie cutters into the bread, and seeing the shapes pop out.

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Next came spreading them with red-pepper hummus, giving a nice autumnal hue to our snacks.

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I cut up small strips of red and yellow peppers for him to arrange on the toasts as decoration, including red color for our pumpkin’s stem.

Okay, the leaf veins were care of mama.

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Closer to Halloween, make a ghost toast! Use a ghost-shaped cookie cutter and spread with non-dairy cream cheese. Add eyes and a mouth from cut black olives.

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Once we’re into November, consider a turkey version. We spread with red-pepper hummus again, and used bell pepper pieces for tail feathers and a beak.

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Happy snacking!

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Night Sky Mobile

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How perfect that our September issue of High Five magazine included this decoration for a child’s bedroom – we’ve just moved to a new home, and making this craft not only made Travis so proud to decorate his new space, but also feel safer at night in the unfamiliar setting.

To start, I drew a crescent moon and two stars on white craft foam and cut them out.

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No pinterest worthy shapes here, but Travis didn’t mind an askew star or two, plus wanted to try doodling his own!

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Then came the novelty factor of the project: glow-in-the-dark paint! The only non-toxic version I could find was actually face paint, but it seemed to do the trick.

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Travis loved painting on a layer before we let the shapes dry, and then repeated with a second layer.

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In fact, he thought the paint was so neat that he wanted to make a glow-in-the-dark picture before we put it away.

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Next up was punching a hole in the top of each shape once they were dry.

I mostly did the final assembly solo, threading string through each shape and attaching to the perfect stick we had found on a walk in the new neighborhood. This step would be great knot-tying practice for little fingers.

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Finally, tie a long piece of string to both ends of the stick, and hang from a peg in your child’s room. Ideally, it will be some place that the sun hits during the day, for optimal glowing at night.

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Sweet dreams!

Sweet Strawberry Pizza

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Pizza for dessert? Yes please! We absolutely had to try this recipe from High 5 magazine. It can take some searching to find frozen pizza dough that is vegan, but Wholly Wholesome and Gillian’s both fit the bill. Be sure to thaw the dough ahead of time, or you’ll be caught with frozen dough when you promised your little chef that it’s pizza time!

Adults: First line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Next, I enlisted Travis’s help to roll our dough into a large oval. The dough was a little finicky, but between rolling, patting, and stretching we got it into a rather free-form oval/rectangle on our baking sheet.

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Travis loved the next step – brushing 2 tablespoons melted Earth Balance butter over the top of the dough – this was like painting with butter!

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I had sliced 12 strawberries for him ahead of time, so all Travis had to do was arrange them over the top of the dough. I stepped in just to make sure they didn’t overlap too much, but otherwise left this step up to him.

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Finally, we combined 2 tablespoons coconut sugar and 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon in a small bowl, and sprinkled evenly over the strawberries.

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Adults: Bake the pizza at 375 degrees F for 23 minutes. Dessert is served!

Shoes for Sale

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This idea from High Five magazine was too adorable not to play! Use any blocks or boxes you have on hand to create the racks for your shoe store – ideally, I wish we’d had bigger blocks to utilize!

Once we had our “shelves” arrayed, I asked Travis to help gather shoes, and he was so excited to bring pair after pair from his closet. The game became even more exciting when we added in mommy and daddy shoes.

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Now all you need is a little imagination (though a toy register helps too!). Travis loved “beeping” shoes at checkout, and helping me try on pairs before we reversed roles.

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What would you construct your shoe store out of? Please share in the comments!