Rainy Days = Puzzles and “Tea”

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With Sandy bringing us days of rain here in Virginia this is what our house has looked like most of the time. Big B loves puzzles! They are his favorite activity rain or shine, but rainy days are special… it means puzzles and “tea.” While I drink my green tea Big B drinks warm water that is slightly flavored with apple cider mix, which he believes is tea (as you can see from the photograph he is going through a bit of a straw phase).

The weather is getting colder as we get closer to winter, so I am working on a large post for the blog, and for my own purposes, of fun indoor activities to do with your kids when you are stuck inside. What is you and your kid’s favorite indoor activity/craft? Feel free to post links in the comments.

 


Creating a Mind Jar

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I have been wanting to make Big B a mind jar for a long time. It’s a great way to introduce mediation to young children and can help calm your child if they are upset and just need a timeout.

Materials:

  • Jar
  • Water
  • Glycerine
  • Soap
  • Glitter

Start by filling your jar 3/4 of the way with warm water. Fill the rest of the jar with the glycerine. The glycerine changes the density of the water and keeps the glitter from falling to the bottom too quickly. Drip a few drops of soap into the mixture. This should help keep glitter from getting stuck on the surface of the water. Close the lid and shake to mix everything up

Add glitter.

Explain to your child that when you shake up the jar the glitter represents all of the bad/upset thoughts and feelings swirling around in their head, but if they sit calmly, and just watch the glitter fall that they will begin to feel better.  Instruct your child to watch until all of the glitter has fallen to the bottom.

I have found this to be very helpful with Big B. He enjoys watches the glitter fall and is instantly calm. There have been a few times in the last few days where he started to get wound up or hyper, and I asked him to go do his mind jar. He would go happily, with no fight, and come back to the room ready to play more calmly. We have been using it for a short while and I have seen some great results.



Cooking With Your Kids: Pumpkin Bread

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This week Big B and I tried this Pumpkin Bread recipe from Simply Recipes. It involved a little more help from me than some of our past recipes but Big B was extremely excited about the outcome.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (although I skipped this stepped)

Preheat over to 350 degrees. Sift together the flour, salt, sugar, and baking soda

Mix the pumpkin, oil, eggs, 1/4 cup of water and spices together.

Combine the wet and dry ingredients. This is where you would add the nuts… I am hoping to serve this at our next co-op meet up and we have allergies within the group

 Pour into a greased 9x5x3 inch loaf pan. Bake 50-60 minutes until skewer comes out clean when poked into the loaf.

Big B loves it and I have to say that I am really loving doing this series!!

Few things say fall to me more than pumpkin recipes. This pumpkin bread recipe really kicked our fall season off right!



Great Children’s Books About Nutrition

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Big B and I have spent the last week checking out piles and piles of books from our local library. I have been on the hunt for books that I could read to him about nutrition. I searched our library’s site using terms like “food,” and “nutrition.” I even looked for other lists online… and I found there weren’t a lot of good options out there. Books that were touted as “good nutrition” books featured children who wouldn’t eat their veggies and that STILL wouldn’t by the end of the story. Some were even stories about how children hid or got rid of their veggies so their parents thought they were eating them, and while a lot of these books were cute it really wasn’t the message I was trying to send.

Big B loves reading, and loves having books that go with our lessons. So, I was on a mission to find good children’s books about nutrition. The following is list of the truly good nutrition books that I found. I promise by the end of each the kid eats their veggies!

(Click on the image to be taken to the book on Amazon)

This has been one of my favorites so far. It features a fruit or veggie for each letter in the alphabet. It’s beautifully illustrated and Big B has really enjoyed looking through it. One of the great benefits of this book has been that Big B has shown interest in trying the fruits and vegetables in the book that he hasn’t heard of… that might be a different story once they are in front of him, but it’s worth a try.

This book is a great example of why you should try something before saying you don’t like it. If you are having a hard time getting your child to try new foods read them this book and explain that if he never tried the green eggs and ham he wouldn’t have found out that he liked them!

This Eric Carle book is beautifully done. It takes your child through the entire process of making a pancake; from gathering wheat, eggs, milk, making butter and finally cooking. This is a great way to show your children where their food comes from!

This is a sweet book is about a little pea that doesn’t want to eat his dinner of candy but does in order to get his veggie dessert!

In “The Monster Who Ate My Peas” a little boy learns a lesson about making deals with monsters who offer to eat his peas.

A dramatic little boy tries to convince his parents that he can’t eat peas because they will turn him into a monster!

This Eric Carle book takes you through a week of food and is set to a song.

I hope your little one enjoys these books as much a Big B did!

** This post contains affiliate links **


Food Portioning Activity

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I recently ran across this food portioning graphic from ChooseMyPlate.gov. I felt like it was a better, more age appropriate way of showing Big B how much of each food group he was supposed to eat in a day. I created this food portioning activity in order to give Big B a visual of how much of each food group that he should have on his plate

While I will eventually introduce him to the food prymid, I didn’t think he was old enough to understand the concept just yet. This is visually done in a way that is easier to understand.

With this activity I used the same laminated foods that I used during the “Good Food Choices vs. Bad Food Choices” activity, however I think the activity would have been easier if all of the foods were the same scale.

I gave Big B the food pieces and explained how they fit into the different categories. He had been exposed to the food groups before but we went through a quick reminder. He then built a plate…

 



Good Food Choices vs. Bad Food Choices – An Activity

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I believe that it is incredibly important to start teaching children about nutrition at a very young age. That is why I have decided that it’s the perfect time to start a nutrition unit with Big B, and to kick everything off I have come up with a simple activity that helps children tell the difference between good and bad food choices.

The biggest hurdle I encountered during this activity was teaching Big B that not liking a food doesn’t make it bad for you. He kept trying to put green beans in the “bad” column because they are “yucky.”

I started out by cutting food items out of grocery store ads and magazines. I tried to focus on foods we often have around the house and that Big B would recognize. I laminated the foods so we could use them on several projects throughout our nutrition unit. Then I took a small poster board, drew a line down the center, and labeled the halves “Good” and “Bad (Should be Limited)”

When we sat down to do the activity I explained to him that the left side was for foods that were good for him, that nourished his body and helped him grow, and that the right side was for foods that were not good for you, that should only be eaten as a special treat and that would make you feel bad if you ate too much. We then spent time identifying the different foods in the pile.

Once the foods were identified he placed them in the corresponding column.

We went through each one in the pile. I would tell them how the good foods helped him grow.

Overall he seemed to pick up on the concept pretty quickly, but we will likely return to the activity a few times over the next few weeks, until the green beans and lettuce stop making their way into the bad column!



Cooking with Your Kids: Apple Pie Frozen Yogurt

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When it comes to my “Cooking with Your Kids” series, I try to find recipes where the child can do most of the “cooking” themselves. I want the child to be the chef and the adult to be the helper. This Apple Pie Frozen Yogurt recipe is a perfect example of that.

I have heavily tweaked my Apple Pie Frozen Yogurt recipe from this recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Unsweetened Apple Sauce
  • 1/2 cup Plain Yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/4 tsp Cinnamon
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Pinch of sugar (because I found it tart but my son loved it as it)

Have your child scoop the plain yogurt into a 1/2 cup measuring cup:

 So, you might not want to let your child think this is ok to do during the cooking process, but it was just too cute:

Next, have your child scoop the apple sauce into a 1/2 cup measuring cup. We just used the same cup:

Again… eating while he is cooks:

Help your child add the spices:

Stir together ingredients. Just look at that concentration and anticipation:

Add everything into a freezer safe container:

Put the yogurt mixture into the freezer. Allow to freeze for about an hour, stir, put back into the freezer, then continue to stir every 15-30 minutes until you are happy with the consistency. Scoop into bowls and serve. Like I stated in the ingredient section, I found it tart and had to add some sugar to mine. Big B literally sucked it down without the sugar.

While your yogurt is in the freezer clean up! Again, bad mommy moment…

I hope you enjoy!!



Nature Paintings!

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Nature paintings are a quick and easy craft that can be done with children of all ages.

This is a project that I actually used to do with my students, back when I was teaching high school art. I would generally do it during that time of year when the kids were especially antsy from having too many days straight of just sitting in their desks (usually the week before spring break). I would take them on a walk and we would explore the textures of nature. We would talk about how to recreate that texture in drawings, paintings, or printmaking. We would also pick up nature items along the way and bring them back to the classroom to use in the art making process.

This is one project that I feel can be done with children of all ages! I did this craft with my 3 year old son last night, as the closeout to our fall unit. He loved exploring the textures of each item and how that texture effected the way the paint applied to the paper.

The craft is simple. Take a walk with your child and collect nature items (leaves, rocks, moss, grass, pine needles, etc.). Lay out different colored paints and just let them explore. I showed my son how to brush paint onto a leaf, then make a stamp of the leaf, but he was far more interested in just dunking the nature items and pressing them onto the paper.

The two paintings above, in the cover photo, were done by Big B!


Fall Tissue Paper Suncatchers

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I recently decided that I would like to do window displays for each of the units that I cover, and although we are nearing the end of this year’s fall unit I wanted to do a quick window display with Big B. So we created these Fall Tissue Paper Suncatchers. It’s simple and looks, in Big B’s words, “awesome!”

Materials:

  • Contact paper
  • Fall colored tissue paper
  • String/Ribbon

Start by laying a piece of contact paper sticky side up in front of your child. Give them fall colored tissue paper and instruct them to tear the paper up and  place the pieces on the contact sheet.

When your child is done adding the tissue, paper place a second contact sheet, sticky side down, on top of the tissue paper, and have them smooth out all of the air bubbles.

Print out a clip art picture of a leaf (or get a real leaf from your backyard)… I picked an oak tree, since that is what we have around our property. Use the clip art leaf as a stencil and cut the leaf shape out of the contact paper.

Put a hole through the contact paper and tie a string to your leaf, so it can be hung… And there you have it, a super easy window decoration with great results!

 



Cooking With Your Kids: Baked Apple Chips

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What’s more “fall” than cooking with apples? This week Big B and I made Baked Apple Chips for our weekly cooking activity. He was able to do most of the recipe of himself. I only had to cut the apples.

Ingredients:

  • Apples
  • Cinnamon
  • Sugar

Preheat your oven to 225 degrees and line a cookie sheet with wax or parchment paper. Cut your apples as thin as possible. I had do it with a knife and had a very hard time getting them really thin. Thin or thick, it still comes out tasty, so don’t worry if you can’t seem to get them very thin. We used 4 apples and it seemed like more than enough. I laid the cut apples on a cutting board and gave Big B a blunt round object to remove the core of the apples pieces. I didn’t have a small enough cookie cutter, so I removed the bulb on the baster and let him used the large end to cut out the core… you got to get creative sometimes.

In a bowl mix 1 part cinnamon to 4 parts sugar. Sprinkle the cinnamon/sugar mix “evenly” over the apples, then lay the apples on the cookie sheet.

Cook the Apple slices for one hour. If your slices are on the thicker side, like mine, you might need to cook them longer. I added an extra ten minutes to mine.

Finally comes the clean up! Very important!

When you are done you have a nice, healthy snack that is great on it’s own, or wonderful when added to the top of ice cream, pancakes, or french toast.