National Pick Strawberries Day

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I love learning of random “national holidays” like this one and tailoring the kids’ activities to them. This year, unfortunately, we couldn’t pick our own strawberries to mark May 20. Still, even amending our outing for social distancing made the afternoon special and exciting.

First we headed to a local farm stand that is selling “curbside” with an honor system from their porch!

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This was a fantastic opportunity just for the kids to view the fields, smell fresh herbs in pots, and have an understanding of where food comes from.

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Could we actually pick our own strawberries? Not today, but I picked up a case of strawberries from the market, and it tricked Travis! “Someone picked these today!” he said proudly.

When we got home, Travis so carefully helped rinse the strawberries (and fresh basil we bought to go with them!)

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The snack that followed was a strawberry love fest. Ok, so we didn’t actually pick them, but we sure celebrated them today.

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Berry Good Muffin Bites

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Is it just me, or does everything taste better when it’s in miniature form? These adorable muffin bites are almost too cute to eat. Almost. Serve these as part of a brunch, or throw a couple in a lunchbox for a sweet snack.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 Ener-G eggs
  • 1/3 cup agave nectar
  • 1/4 cup melted Earth Balance butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup crushed freeze-dried strawberries
  • 1/3 cup plain non-dairy yogurt
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, Ener-G eggs, agave, butter, vanilla, and lemon extract.
  2. Fold in the flours, baking powder, and crushed strawberries.
  3. Divide the batter evenly among 24 mini muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400 degrees F for 11 minutes. Let stand in the pan for 8 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.
  4. To prepare the glaze, whisk together the yogurt, powdered sugar, and lemon juice Drizzle over the cooled muffins.

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Strawberry Picking and Basket Weaving

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Summertime! This season is synonymous with so many things, and one of those is berry picking. Last year we headed out late in the season for blueberries. This year we made sure not to miss the strawberry window. Kids will love gathering the sweet red berries, and discovering the baby green strawberries still on the plant.

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The fun doesn’t end at home: Fruit baskets are great for fine motor skills! We picked a few pretty colors of ribbon and wove through the holes in the basket.

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If you already have strawberry crates at home, do this project ahead of time, and bring your one-of-a-kind basket when you do your picking.

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Then of course comes the bonus: strawberry vanilla pancakes for breakfast.

1 cup flour

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 Ener-G egg

1 cup vanilla almond milk

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 cup chopped strawberries

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl.

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Cook on a griddle or skillet for 3 minutes until bubbles form on the top. Flip over and cook 2 to 3 minutes on the other side.

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Pancakes have never tasted so much like summer!

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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!

S Week!

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Welcome to our S week of play! As always, thanks to Letter of the Week for some of the ideas below. Travis was funny about the letter, since my prompts that a word began with a “sss” sound made him think we were in C-week for soft c words. It turned into a joke, me pointing to our S poster, and him still saying “C!” Confusion aside, here’s some of the fun we had.

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Shadows: We kicked off the week with shadow dancing! It was such a magical moment that it merited a blog post all its own, so please check out the link above. Shadows are also great for making animal shapes against the wall, or just observing as you walk outside in autumn sunlight.

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Sun/Sail/Sand: A few Summer-y words made it a beach-y week here in the fall. Cute sun projects included making a sun on a stick (a yellow painted paper plate with orange construction paper for the center)…

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… and magic sun prints.The result was cool even for me as a grown-up!

We then set up an indoor beach day with blankets for water and sand (with our sun on a stick of course!) and pulled out sand toys for make believe inside. To add to the s-themed fun, we turned one of his blankets into a “sailboat” and sailed around the room.

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Meanwhile, there was so much to do with sand that I devoted a blog post to it. For simple sand play, just fill an indoor bin with a layer of sand and set out cars and street signs, then have your child draw roads through the sand with a stick or spatula.

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Soccer: This word was perfect for our gross motor play of the week. Get outside and kick around a ball!

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Shaving cream: As simple as can be; have some good old goopy fun and finger paint with shaving cream. Your toddler will thank you.

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Stars: We had fun making a starry starry night painting, using both cookie cutters and sponges in the shape of stars to stamp onto construction paper. Travis added moons too, making for a very creative night sky! To continue the star fun, put together a toddler-sized pair of binoculars and head outside to spot the real thing before bed.

A few other things we did this week:

Fine art: Make a sand anthill! You could do this by sprinkling sand onto glue and pressing down, but we used sandpaper for our hill, and added thumbprint ants. Travis had so much fun that our anthill was soon teeming with denizens.

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Food: Lots to choose from… we enjoyed both whole strawberries and strawberry pancakes for breakfast, and had soup one afternoon for lunch.

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Books: It wasn’t the right time of year to play games in the snow, but we talked about the word with the help of two books: The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats and Cat and Mouse in the Snow by Tomek Bogacki. Travis also enjoyed Sea, Sand, Me! by Patricia Hubbell and No Sleep for the Sheep! by Karen Beaumont.

Song: It was a no-brainer to introduce Travis to the Snowman, one of the most magical videos from my own childhood! More properly an instrumental video than a song, this classic hasn’t lost any of its beauty. Travis’s smile when the snowman came to life was priceless.

Math: I gently introduced the concept of subtraction with the help of a few more stars. Cut out paper stars and have your child make “shooting stars” flutter away one by one, counting how many remain. I promise it’s a coincidence that Travis was in his star pajamas!

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There’s always lots we can’t get to of course. You might also want to play with snakes or go on a safari, or have soapy fun with dish soap. Please add your other S ideas in the comments!