Thursday, July 31, 2014

Making a Healthy Rainbow Pizza Together

My daughter loves helping out in the kitchen. We love making new, fun AND HEALTHY things together. This time we decided to try a rainbow pizza. I'd seen a few recipes, but ultimately created our own (and no we don't have a blue, indigo, violet on this pizza rainbow).

I think it's so important to allow kids the opportunities to work with you in the kitchen. They can learn so many skills they will need their whole lives like measuring, mixing, preparing, etc. For the rainbow pizza my daughter was actually able to be a lot of help. She sprinkled the flour on the pan, spread the pizza sauce on the crust, sprinkled the cheese, and added on the toppings.

This is what it turned out like once it was finished!

Healthy Rainbow Pizza with Kids:

- Flat bread pizza crusts (we get the frozen kind from Trader Joe's) you could make your own, or even use another type of pizza crust I suppose. Flat bread is delicious though.
- Pizza sauce (make your own, or use one with minimal processing and ingredients, the more veggies in it the better!)
- Shredded cheese. (we're dairy free and we used a soy cheese mixture)
- Broccoli florets, chopped
- Yellow pepper, chopped
- Orange pepper, chopped
- Grape tomatoes, cut in half

For the temperature to bake it at and cooking instructions such as those you should refer to the instructions for your pizza dough.

Of course for the toppings you spread on the sauce, sprinkle on the cheese, then put the toppings on in a rainbow order. Don't forget to let your kiddo be involved as much as possible!

Healthy Dinner

Need some new ideas for healthy toddler or kid meals? I will be posting some!

This is a favorite meal for my kiddo. Both her and I feel good about her eating it and think it's very tasty!

This meal has a grain, protein, and fruits that have various health benefits.

- Cooked cous cous
- Fried tofu
- Sliced strawberries and kiwis fruit salad (with wheat germ, that I forgot to put on before taking the picture).

All of this is pretty simple to make. To fry the tofu I just cut extra firm tofu into strips or dices and then coat them in grapeseed oil before putting them in the pan. Then I just cook them until they are a bit firmer on both sides.

I bet your little one will gobble it all up!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Potato Masher Prints

We love to paint! Painting with fingers, and painting with paintbrushes is fun and great..but it's also wonderful to think outside of that and paint with new and exciting things! Painting never gets boring, but some kids will appreciate the changing it up factor of giving them new things to paint with. Little changes just totally bring familiar activities to a new life!

For this super fun painting session we used potato mashers to create our prints.

Doesn't this look fun? You can get a potato masher from Dollar Tree for just a dollar.

We talked about how our prints we were making were abstract suns for summer time. You can use any color and make anything you want! Get creative!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Simple Oat Sensory Bin

In case you're wondering, the water mark underneath the title for the picture above is the name of my old blog. It's 100% my photo and my sensory bin. :)

Anyway, I just shared a fairly simple sensory bin that's great for measuring, scooping, and pouring/transferring just like this one is. Check it out here. All you have to do to make it is put some dry oats into a sensory bin and provide a measuring cup or spoon and another container along with it. Your toddler will dig in just like mine did!


Wheat Germ Sensory Bin

So if you follow my blog, you know that my daughter likes to eat wheat germ.. but what you may not know is that it is also fun to play with! Introducing our Wheat Germ Sensory Bin!

All you need for it is a container of wheat germ put into a sensory bin really. But that would get a little boring after a while, after getting to just feel the initial new textures. Kids  love transferring so I provided a measuring spoon and another container for Charlie to transfer the wheat germ into. This went on for a while, transferring back and forth and so on.

This is good for strengthening practical life skills like measuring, scooping, pouring, etc. As well as the many benefits of sensory play that the wheat germ itself is providing.

And when is it not fun to put a baby in your sensory bin?!

Frog Word Wall

This Frog Word Wall is great to put up on your bulletin board during a pond animals/habitat theme. And it's super cute!

The Dollar Tree has such cute cut outs of things and I picked up these frog ones before we made this. Then I used a few different colors of index cards, a Sharpie, and scissors to make the words. The words were
  • Toad
  • Frog
  • Hop
  • Ribbit
  • Pond
  • Amphibian
  • Lilly Pad
  • Tadpole
  • Long tongue
  • Fly
  • Croak
  • Green
You can read these words with your child and discuss them and how they apply to frogs. You can talk about how toads and frogs are "cousins" and how they are both amphibians. Then you can talk about the things they do like hop, ribbit, and croak. You can both practice your ribbits and croaks, and even your hopping like a frog. My daughter loves doing this frog yoga pose

The habitat words are important because you're probably focusing on a pond theme. You can discuss how there are lilly pads in the pond that the frogs go on and how they catch flies with their long tongues.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Learning Bones With Dolls

I think that using a baby doll is a really easy way to make learning the parts of the body fun. We did this last fall when we were doing a unit study on bones. My daughter got a kick out of it and definitely retained the information. It's a little hard to show all the bones on a doll (such as the clavicle) but some bones can certainly be taught with one.

We used our Cinderella baby doll. Other than a baby doll, you'll need some Post-it Notes, scissors, and a Sharpie. We decided to focus on some bones in the leg. I took a few Post-it Notes and wrote down the names of the bones on the top (where the sticky part is,) cut them down to size, and then stuck them on the doll with my daughter.

As you can see we did the femur, patella, and tibia on the front side. This is a great way to learn the names of the bones in a fun way, like I said. But it is also great for kids in the emergent reader or even reading phase. This activity helps improve vocabulary and early literacy skills because it has the words written out to be read and seen.

Wheelie Car Playdough

We like to make all different colors of play dough here and think up new ways to use it! A fun idea I had was making a playdough road for the Wheelie Cars to drive on!

My daughter had a lot of fun making prints from the cars and their tires in the playdough as she helped them get across the road. All you'll need for this is a batch of black play dough. You can easily whip up your very own (kids love being apart of this process). 

Black Playdough/Wheelie Car Playdough Recipe:

- 1 cup of flour
- 1 cup of water
- 1/4 cup of salt
- 1 TBSP vegetable oil
- 1 TBSP lemon juice
- Black food coloring

Step 1:
Get our all the ingredients with your child and then put them all in a pot. Have your child stir them together until they are pretty will mixed.

Step 2:
Put the pot on the stove over medium heat, stirring CONSTANTLY with a wooden spoon. Once the playdough starts to form a ball, remove it from the heat.

Step 3:
I like to transfer the playdough to a bowl to allow it to cool for a minute while I wash the pot before the leftover playdough dries to it.

Step 4:
Knead the dough until it is no longer sticky.

Step 5: 
Play, play, play!

Step 6:
When you're finished playing store the playdough in an airtight container (we use Ziploc bags) until you're ready to play with it again.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Seaweed Sensory Bin for Babies

Isn't this bin cute and inviting? What baby or even toddler wouldn't like it? All you'll need for the base material is some Roasted Seaweed Snack from Trader Joe's. I'm sure there are other stores that sell something similar as well. This one is great because it provides a new texture for babies. It's crunchy, very thin, and a bit oily. Definitely some new textures to experience. Then just add in some bath toys that would be in a pond/ocean/body of water.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Dinosaur Footprints Painting

Kids normally love stamping prints of things with paint! So if you're doing a dinosaur theme and have some plastic toy dinosaurs around the house why not try doing some of their prints?

I gave my daughter her T Rex and a dish of paint that we mixed together using brown and red washable tempera paints. She wanted the color to be close to what the color of the T Rex was.

Once she had everything in front of her she got right to stamping the dinosaurs footprints. During this we talked about T Rex and what he might have been doing walking around.

She loved seeing the dinosaur prints she made!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Teddy Bear Picnic

So, as some of you may know, Teddy Bear Picnic Day was on July 10th. We did have ours that day, but we've been so busy I haven't gotten a chance to post about it. I'm going to do so now for ideas for next year, or a teddy bear picnic any day! My daughter liked it so much we'll definitely be doing it more than once a month.

Invite your child's peers if you'd like (we did but they couldn't make it). What's important is that every child at the picnic has a teddy bear attending with them.

I made sandwiches of sunflower seed butter and honey in the shape of teddy bears. I also cut slices of dutch goat cheese in the shape of teddy bears. I gave some bears from a package of Full Circle Organic Animal Crackers. I also had out some frozen pineapples that were our bees. July 10th is also Bee Day.
We also had some gluten free pretzels and special cookies for a treat.

Set up:
I put out the Teddy Bear Picnic book on my daughters picnic table. The food was on picnic table printed paper plates, and there was also napkins of the same print. I found them both in the $1 section of Target and they really added to the picnic theme. Also had a drink of course. And my daughter brought her teddy bear of choice with her to eat.

We read the Teddy Bear Picnic book several times, as well as listened to the song. Our favorite version is on the Little People CD, but there is several on Youtube.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Caramel Playdough for Pretend Play

Do your kids like to have pretend play tea parties or bake shops? If so, this playdough will make a perfect sensory addition to their dramatic play!

Add all the ingredients to a pot and stir together with a wooden spoon. Once combined, put the pot on the stove over medium heat and stir continuously with the wooden spoon. Once a ball forms you can take it off the heat and transfer the playdough to a bowl. Once it's cool enough to handle knead it to the perfect consistency. It will feel a bit sticky at first, but after kneading it will be perfect!

When you're ready to use it in play time you can lay out the whole ball of it, lay it out flattened down, or in little bite-sized pieces ready to use for pretend play. You can set it out with the tea set as an invitation to play as well.

When not in use store in an airtight container like a Ziploc bag. It should keep for a few-several months.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Butterfly Bath with Create a Butterfly Bath Paint

 This butterfly bath itself couldn't be more simple and frugal! There's not a whole lot to it, because the bath paint that I created is the main focus.

All I did was color the water with neon green food coloring, and put up some craft foam butterflies on the wall. You can buy these from Dollar Tree, or cut your own out of your own craft foam. All you need to do is get them wet and they magically stick to the walls of the tub. Drying is easy too and they can be used again and again for baths, or used again for a craft.

Now for the bath paint. We went to a place the other day where we got to see lots of different types of butterflies, so that experience is very fresh in my daughter's mind! We took home a brochure from there that has several different butterflies on it with pictures and names. Well after looking at that yesterday I had decided we needed to make bath paint to create these gorgeous creatures ourselves on our shower walls! So, I used a tray with multiple sections from Dollar Tree, and made black, neon blue, neon green, neon pink, and orange bath paints. To make the paints you just need shaving cream and food coloring. Squirt a little shaving cream into each spot on your tray, or into each bowl, whatever you're using. Then you squirt some food coloring into each one (one color each) and mix that in one by one, rinsing paint brush or makeup brush in between each color.

These were the colors of some our favorite butterflies, so with these we could make them! The orange and black for example made the Orange Tiger butterfly. The black was needed a lot for body and antennae of the butterfly, so that's why I put that color in the middle. I also sat our plastic Monarch Butterfly that we got from the gift shop on the paint for pizzazz. 

My daughter was so excited about this bath. I'm sure your kids would be too!

International Kissing Day Messy Sensory Play

In honor of International Kissing Day today I made this adorable messy play sensory bin for my daughter! It was great to take outside and beat the heat with since there are ice cubes involved! 

Isn't it adorable?

My daughter got right into exploring it, feeling the ice cubes and squeezing them through her hands with the shaving cream. She's done this type of play before so she knows what to do!

Looking at the ice cubes as they start to melt.

Even once they all melt the shaving cream and water mixture is cold and fun to play with for a long while after!

To make this bin you'll need:
- A bin
- Shaving cream
- A ice cube tray of lips
- Water
- Hot pink food coloring

All you need to do is fill the ice cube trays with water, add in some pink food coloring to each and stir it in. Then pop those in the freezer. Once frozen, fill your sensory bin with shaving cream. Then put the lip ice cubes on top of the shaving cream.

Take this bin outside, set on top of a towel if you want. Bring out some paper towels and have the kids wear some tshirts or something in case the food coloring stains. Clean up is easy everything will wipe off with a paper towel. Then you can rinse the contents of the bin off in the sink and it'll all go right down the drain.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Summer Bucket List

Here's our bucket list for this summer! We plan on having lots of fun this summer, and I'm sure you do to so hopefully you can find some ideas you like on this list.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Smiley Face Tape Resist

Is this not adorable?

My daughter loves doing tape resist painting, and this great idea came to me one day! Smiley face tape resists! I got out a piece of white cardstock paper and some masking tape. I ripped off some pieces of masking tape for the two eyes of the smiley face, and then I ripped some more off for the mouth. Putting the mouth on curved for a smiley face was a bit more challenging then the eyes were, but I just curved in some places and overlapped a bit. It turned out so cute after it was all finished.

Once the tape was on I gave it to my daughter along with some yellow paint! She got to work finger painting all over it, covering the whole page, just as she was supposed to do!

Once your child is finished painting let the artwork dry. Once it's dry carefully peel off the tape to reveal the gorgeous smiley face!

4th of July Patriotic Messy Noodles Sensory Play

I made this last year and am not able to find a picture of just the bin set up before the kids got into! I appoligize, but I think you'll still get this gist from these!

So, cooked angel hair pasta is a wonderfully messy sensory play activity and it can be turned patriotic which makes it perfect for the 4th of July tomorrow!

It's really easy to make too.

Step 1:
Cook an entire box of angel hair pasta.

Step 2:
Drain it, and let it cool a little bit. You don't have to wait until it's completely cooled though.

Step 3:
Divide it into three sections for your red, "white" and blue.

Step 4:
Get out 2 gallon size Ziploc bags. Add one section of your cooked pasta to one bag, and another to the other. These will become your red and your blue.

Step 5:
Add in a little bit of vegetable oil to each bag mix it around a bit to coat the noodles. Then squirt in quite a few drops of red food coloring into the first bag and zip it up and shake/squeeze the bag all around to coat all the noodles with color. This part is fun to have little ones help with! Repeat with blue food coloring for the next bag.

Step 6:
On separate pieces of foil paper, laid out in a sunny spot, put the colored pasta to dry.

Step 7:
Once dry put in the bin in a red, white and blue order.

Step 8:
Let the kids play with it and watch them be amazed and have so much fun!

4th of July Patriotic Sensory Dough

Here's an awesome, easy to make, fun to play with sensory dough for the kids to play with on the 4th of July. If you bring this to a party where children will be playing, it's sure to be a hit! I did last year and it was loved by many!

You'll need:
- A big box of baking soda
- A packet of cherry Koolaid
- A packet of ice blue raspberry lemonade Koolaid
- Dry pasta, I used rigatoni 
- A bin
- Another bin, because kids like to transfer!

It's really simple to make. All you have to do is pour the baking soda into your bin until you've reached the desired amount that you think you'll be needing for the kids to play with. Then you SLOWLY add water and mix around with your hand until it becomes moldable but still crumbly. If you add to much water it will quickly become all liquid. Next, separate it into thirds. Put one third in one bowl, another third in another bowl, and you can leave one third in the bin since it is staying white, but you'll want that third in the middle. (the picture shows what I'm talking about). 

Pour the packet of cherry Koolaid into one of the bowls of sensory dough and mix it in until it's all colored. Repeat this process with the ice blue raspberry lemonade Koolaid packet and the other bowl of sensory dough. Then add both doughs back into the bin, in the red, white and blue order.

Now, you can omit the hard, colored pasta if you want, but I think it makes it funner and cuter as well as adds more texture elements for more sensory play. All you have to do is put some of the dry pasta into a ziploc bag, add in a little bit of vinegar or alcohol, shake it around so they're coated, then add in a few drops of food coloring and shake it all around again until all colored. Then lay them on a paper towel to dry for a little while. You'll obviously use two separate plastic bags to make the colored pastas, and red food coloring for one, and blue food coloring for the other. Once they're dry lay the red pasta on top of the red dough, and the blue pasta on top of the blue dough. I overlapped into the white a bit, because that's the look I liked!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Our Favorite "I Love You" Books

It's no secret that we love books at our house! And what could be better for building a toddlers sense of self, and helping develop a strong bond between parents and children than books about the love you have for them? I gathered up our favorite ones here for you, and am providing links so you can look into purchasing them if you want. 

Now, these are ordered in the way they are in the picture from left to right, not by which one I like the most. I will say that my absolute faves are Yummiest Love and You Are My I Love You.

1. I Love You, Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt  This is a little board book where a little boy asks him mom if she'd still love him if he was all these different atrocious things, and of course the mother would love him no matter what.

2. Wherever You Are: My Love Will Find You by Nancy Tillman. This book is just lovely and heartwarming. It makes children know that no matter where they are, no matter how old they get, under any circumstance their parents love is with them always.

3. The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn. This is a very good book for a child who may be going off to preschool, or daycare, or starting a new activity where they will be separated from their parent for short amounts of time. I've seen many corresponding activities to go with the book to take it a step further too and make kids feel even more secure. The best part is, you can give your little one a kissing hand of their very own to use!

4. I Love You More by Laura Duksta. We just got this book recently and I was so excited to finally have a copy of our own! It's a flip-sided book and one side is a mother describing her love for her son in cute little ways that toddlers and preschoolers will delight in hearing. The other side the son describes how much he loves his mother, again with really cute comparisons using things kids are aware of in their lives. It's very cute to have this book include a lot about the parent child relationship and how the child loves their parent more than anything as well.

5. Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney. I think all of you probably know this book already! It was mine when I was younger. The characters are lovable and the illustrations are cute. Kids will crack up about trying to love you as far as they can reach, and hop, etc. after reading this book. And then you can always tell your children that you love them to the moon and back, and they will remember reading this sweet book with you.

6. You're My Little Star by Julia Hubery. This book has a touch and feel soft star on the front cover, and then adorable illustrations throughout. Read this to your little one to make them feel like they are the light of your life, since they are!

7. You Are My I Love You by Maryann Cusimano Love. This is a very close favorite of mine with Yummiest Love. Reading it to my daughter made me tear up a bit and made me laugh a lot too. Every word of it is so true. Phrases like "You are my quiet place, you are my wild" every parent can relate to in the most loving way. Each phrase is better than the last!

8. I Love You Through And Through by Bernadette Rossetti Shustak. This is such a cute book that my daughter absolutely loves. It's got glossy board book pages, and such cute illustrations. It's also educational and teaches some opposites and body parts in a fun way that kids aren't suspecting, all while making them feel loved!

9. On The Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman. This book is by the same author as Wherever You Are My Love Will Find You. It's a great one to read to kids every year on their birthday, or when just reminiscing about when they were born and were babies. It's sure to make kids feel special with the descriptions of how all the animals and the moon were doing things just for them on the night they were born.

10. Yummiest Love by Lisa McCourt. You would never know that the author of I Love You, Stinky Face is the same author of this book, they are very different! I saved my favorite for last. It's the absolute best book I've ever read. It's very humbling and a book that reading to your children makes you feel even more thankful for them than you already are. It makes you feel so lucky to have a little bundle of joy, and I can tell when I read it to my daughter she's feeling all the love that I am. It's just a marvelous read that words can't really describe. I definitely recommend it more than anything.