Pretend Play Tea Party

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Veronika is really starting to enjoy dramatic and pretend play, so today we staged a proper tea party! I thought we might set the scene by dressing her in a fancy dress and shoes…

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…but nope. Veronika wanted to wear a bathing suit! For easy to clean “tea”, I skipped anything liquid and instead used blue crinkle paper (available at craft stores).

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She loves this material, and soon it was brimming out of our tea pot and cups.

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That’s one big pot of coffee she’s brewing!

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She loved stirring through the tea, and of course her dolls all wanted a cup.

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We then added little white pom poms to be sugar cubes, either in the cups or in the sugar bowl.

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Did she always understand the imaginative part of the game? At two years old, of course not. But between the sensory play and the dolls and all those cups to fill and dump out, she had a great time.

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Tea Party Dough

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Veronika adores her two dollies these days (or as she happily says, “Baby!”). So I thought today I’d set up a tea party for her and the dolls. This super-sugary dough can really be eaten, adding a new dimension to the pretend party!

To prepare the dough, stir together 1 cup almond butter (or peanut butter), 1 cup corn syrup, 1 and 1/2 cups powdered sugar, and 1 and 1/2 cups powdered milk. For a vegan alternative to the milk, I used a bag of vanilla protein powder I had on hand, which worked perfectly as a substitute. The dough comes together great, neither sticky nor gooey!

Tea Party Dough (!)

I set out tea cups and plates and made sure to serve everyone.

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Veronika immediately leaped into the pretend play, helping to feed the dollies.

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She was quite pleased when she realized the dough tasted delicious.

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Candles were a wonderful addition to our play. I showed her how she could put them in the dough. It was far more fun to pull them out, of course.

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And she tried to feed the candles to the dollies as little treats!

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We also used cookie cutters, pressing fun shapes into the dough.

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In sum, I love that she’s now at an age where sensory play and imaginative play are starting to intersect.

Teddy Bear’s Picnic

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As a follow-up to yesterday’s real (breakfast!) picnic, today Veronika and I moved the play inside with some teddy bears (and other stuffed friends).

I’ve often tried to follow a gender-neutral parenting method, and Travis and I have had our share of tea parties (sometimes with cars as guests). But I have to admit, I’m excited for moments of being a “girl mom” and imagining many tea parties with Veronika to come. Today was our first!

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Nine months old is definitely not too young to introduce imaginative play; in fact, it’s perfect timing! Your baby won’t “get” it yet, but will love imitating your motions, and the concepts will start to sink in.

First, I just laid out the tea set. Veronika was intrigued…

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I set out a cup and plate for each guest at the party. Hmm, who were these new friends?

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Then I made made a big show of pouring tea for each guest, and making sure everyone had a sip.

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Now Veronika loved it!

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Then everyone got yummy real snacks.

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(Although sometimes plates are even yummier).

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She was so happy with the whole interaction, and kept playing even after I walked away.

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T Week!

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Letter T stands for so many things that Travis loves anyway that we barely had time to touch upon all the words I hoped during this week. I’ve listed highlights below, but further suggestions at the bottom of the post may suit your child’s interest more. Either way, T week was Terrific!

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Trains: We play with train sets all the time, so to keep things fresh, I pulled out old toys that had been relegated to the “baby bin.” It had been long enough that he was delighted with an old plastic train, Thomas the Train “rail rollers” and more. We live in a town with a real train station, so took a stroll by the platform (and got to see a freight train pass!). You might consider a field trip to your local station or even a short ride from station to station if you have time.

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Telephone: Much as with old trains, a few baby toy phones had been put away, but he showed renewed interest when I pulled them out early in the week. Aside from just letting your child press buttons and dials, phones make for great games. Bring a toy phone in the car and ask your child to call the place you’re going, or ask them to “call” a family member and see what he or she says!

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Teddy Bears/Tea Parties: I’m listing these two together because how could we not have a t-errific teddy bear tea party and listen to the song Teddy Bear’s Picnic? Travis adores the song, which I’ve played a few times in the past, so we recreated the fun with our own picnic. He played games of Ring Around the Rosie with teddy…

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…And we even crafted teddy bear ears for him to wear, a simple craft of crayons, paper, yarn, and a stapler.

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Tree: Our T week overlaps with the beginning of autumn and fall foliage in our area, a nice coincidence! We attended a beautiful program for toddlers on Monday morning featuring a nature walk through the trees. Travis was fascinated that he could step on trees in places where the roots poked through the ground. Look for similar nature programs in your area, or just head outdoors for a walk and talk about the trees!

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Trucks: Another everyday favorite that we paid a little extra attention to this week. To keep things novel, I pulled out bubble wrap and taped it to the kitchen floor so our trucks could pop and vroom over the bubbles. Don’t be surprised if your child wants to then jump on the bubbles with bare toes! And of course trucks were great for loading up and carting toy tools.

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Tent: There’s lots you could do with this word, depending on your child’s age. Preschoolers may enjoy an overnight “camping” out in the living room with a toy tent (or makeshift tent of blankets), but Travis is too young for that. He did love helping me construct a tent using old baby blankets. We even had a handy campfire set (thanks to Koala Crate!) to play with underneath.

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Tennis: For gross motor play, introduce the idea of this racquet sport, using toddler-friendly paddles. Attach a wooden stick to a paper plate, then have a rally with balloons! I wish I could have gotten some action shots, as this was the most magical moment of our week, but Travis was moving too fast!

A few final ideas:

Fine art: We put together a double-T project: tissue paper triangles! This was a little advanced for Travis, but I’m glad we stuck with it. After originally wanting to smear glue everywhere, he got the concept of spreading glue only inside the triangle. You can stick on the tissue paper with a neat trick: wrap around the end of a pencil, then stick the pencil on the glue and pull up, leaving the tissue paper behind. After watching my example, he tried it himself and got quite good at it! Our final creation wasn’t perfect, but perfection was not the point of course.

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Food: We enjoyed a few T-treats: tangerines at breakfast one morning, tomato toast for a snack, and a tofu taco at dinner one night!

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Books: I used very few books from the library this week, as favorites like Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle and train books live at home already. Travis also enjoyed Trucks by Anne Rockwell and The Tree by Dana Lyons.

Songs: Aside from the aforementioned “Teddy Bear’s Picnic,” Travis loved watching Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. He has a toy star that he “twinkled” along as we watched. “I’m a Little Teapot” was fun to sing during our tea party, teaching him the actions for handle and spout.

Math: Triangles of course! We did so many triangle activities that I compiled them into a separate blog.

As mentioned, there are many great T words we couldn’t get to. You might also want to play with any toys/books you have featuring tigers or turkeys, or play a Turtle game!

We’ll S-see you for S week…