Giant Medals

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The Olympics are well underway, and we’ve already had fun making our own bobsleds and dining on medal cookies. These medals aren’t for eating, but they make for fantastic pretend play if your little athletes want to climb up onto the podium!

First, find a circular object to trace for the outline of your medals – go for big here, the idea is a giant medal!

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Next, we piped designs onto our medals with puffy paint. Older kids can get very detailed with this – writing out 1st, 2nd, or 3rd, or the year, or making laurel leaf designs. Travis just adores squirting puffy paint, so I knew his would take forever to dry, and put together a few medals with a lighter hand on the puffy paint.

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Set aside to dry.

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Next our medals needed a metallic coat of paint. We only had silver and gold, but you can add a bronze or coppery-colored one if you have it!

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Again, Travis was heavy-handed on the paint, but I loved watching his enjoyment of the project, and set aside a few more useable medals. We left them to dry overnight.

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In the morning, we punched a hole into the top of each medal and threaded red ribbon through.

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And the medal goes to…!

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Olympic Medal Cookies

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On the heels of our Olympic crafting, we made edible medals to enjoy during the opening ceremony of the Games (and needed to taste test them today, of course).

The recipe is care of High Five magazine. It needed a few vegan tweaks (we don’t have the convenience of pre-made sugar cookie dough logs or colored frosting), but the tweaks were easy to make.

Start with a box of sugar cookie mix (try Cherrybrook Kitchen), and bake according to package directions. Travis loves being my helper when we pull out the stand mixer!

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Make sure the cookies are very round balls as you put them into the oven, so you have round medal-shaped cookies at the end. Let cool completely.

To prepare the filling, place 5 medium frozen strawberries (thawed) in a bowl and crush with a potato masher.

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Combine the strawberries in a food processor with 1/2 cup non-dairy cream cheese, 1 tablespoon powdered sugar, and 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract. Process until smooth.

Spread the strawberry filling onto half of the cookies; set aside the remaining cookies.

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Carefully guiding your child’s hand with a butter knife or plastic knife, cut strips of fruit leather into two pieces. Arrange the pieces over the strawberry filled cookies like the tails of a ribbon. Top with an additional cookie.

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From this point, you can have fun with toppings any way you’d like. We decided we needed to frost our cookies in yellow for gold medals. I added yellow food coloring to a store-bought vanilla frosting (try Dollop) in a plastic bag and kneaded until golden. Cut a small hole in the corner of the bag and pipe onto the cookies.

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Topping the frosting with sprinkles was Travis’s favorite part, eating sprinkles along the way of course.

Olympics kick off on February 9 – what sport will you and your kiddos be watching the most?

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Make a Speedy Bobsled

Bobsled (6)I love how timely the craft in our monthly issue of High Five always is. This month, Travis learned how to make a bobsled just in time for the start of the Olympics!

Of course it made no sense to put together a bobsled when Travis had no reference point, so first we watched a few videos of past teams. He was then super revved up to create one at home.

All you need is an empty toilet paper tube to be the bobsled, and a long piece of cardboard for the track. Ideally use a three foot long piece of cardboard as your track; I only had two feet in length, which worked just fine, but it meant our bobsled couldn’t race as far downhill.

Cut the tube open along one side, and then paint.

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I asked Travis if he wanted to paint his sled in the colors of a particular country. Actually, the red white and blue here isn’t America but Australia – he’s big into an Australia phase.

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I suggested making the track white for ice, but Travis wanted an Australian-flag colored track as well.

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We left the track and bobsled to dry while he was at school, and returned to an afternoon of Olympic fun!

To finish the sled, simply tape two plastic straws on the bottom (decorative washi tape was pretty, though not a must), with the bent parts of the straw pointing upwards like sled runners.

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Woosh! Action shot!

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We took turns launching the bobsled and rating its runs on a scale of 1 to 10. We give a gold medal to this craft, thanks High Five!

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O Week!

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Oh what a week we had (sorry, couldn’t resist!). Many O words are very common and simple ones (e.g. on/off, open, old), so it was challenging but rewarding as a parent to devise ways to turn everyday words into games. Here’s what we fit in this week:

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Olympics: Too big a word to pass up, even if the time of year doesn’t correspond to the actual Olympic games. Stage a toddler mini Olympics with “javelin” and “discus” throws, bean bag races, and more.

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Octopus/Ocean: I made Travis an octopus to swim around the apartment (which, admittedly, looked more like a jelly fish) by wrapping a Styrofoam ball in fabric and tying on 8 ribbons as legs.

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We then staged an “ocean dive” for the octopus and other ocean-y creatures, and Travis loved filling up a bucket with treasures from the “ocean.”

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Opposites: You can use pretty much any toy and a building block to demonstrate great opposites, such as on/off, up/down, or behind/in front of, but I highly recommend Bunny Boo, which is a great toy for spatial relationships. It fit my agenda perfectly for O week!

Aside from demonstrating opposites with a toy, quiz your toddler on what opposites he or she knows. Travis impressed me getting left/right and more. For preschoolers, consider turning it into a board game or card game of some sort.

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Oak: This word made for my favorite moment of the week. We started off reading As An Oak Tree Grows, by G. Brian Karas, and the next day we took a walk among oak trees. Travis loved connecting it to our story from the night before, and we crunched through all the acorns on the ground this time of year.

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Open: Simply set out collection of all the things around the house that your toddler can open and close (hey, more opposites!), including some that are a challenge for his or her fine motor skills, like bottle and jar lids.  Some favorites were his jack-in-the-box, turtle treasure box, and the mailbox we created back in X week!

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Obstacle course: We created such an intricate obstacle course that I devoted a separate blog post to it, but needless to say, this word is the perfect prompt for gross motor skills of the week.

Then we moved on to…

Fine art: Make Olympic rings (perfectly shaped like Os!) of course. See my Toddler Olympics post for more details.

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Food: Oatmeal raisin cookies got a happy yes. Olives got a very confused no.

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Books: A few titles from the library that fit our themes and games perfectly: Thank you Octopus, by Darren Farrell and Inside Outside by Lizi Boyd (another opposite!). We also read Old Bear and His Cub by Olivier Dunrea.

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Songs: On a whim, I played a download of an oboe sonata; who knew Travis would be so fascinated by the instrument? If you’re feeling ambitious, you might introduce your child to a YouTube clip of opera singers. More toddler-friendly, Travis loved watching My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean and Old Macdonald Had a Farm and we sang lots of rounds of Open, Shut Them (more opposites!)

Math: Ovals and octagons are the shapes we focused on this week. I made a simplified outline match – another convenient O word – tracing octagons and ovals in various colors and sizes. Travis nailed the game on the first try, and then wanted to try tracing on his own!

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We’re headed into N week next, so stay tuned.

 

Toddler Olympics

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Although not exactly timely, we had some random fun playing “Olympic games” this past week.

For an adorable version of toddler discus and javelin throw, mark a bull’s eye on a sheet of paper. Paper plates become your discus and plastic straws make the perfect javelin.

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Get the whole family in on the action and see who comes closest to the target! Or just have fun launching the plates all around, as Travis did.

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We followed up with a bean bag race. Our favorite version was crawling with the bean bag on our backs, seeing who could last the longest, but you could also try running from a start to finish line with the bean bag on your head, or see who can toss the most bean bags into a basket.

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Finally, we made an Olympic ring craft. Although I largely had to piece it together, it was great practice for Travis to see how a straight strip of paper can fold into a circle. Once our rings were complete, I showed him the true Olympic logo online, and he was delighted to see that ours matched, including the colors in the same places.

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What other toddler “sports” would you add? Please share in the comments!