Friday, August 31, 2012

Pancake Topper Taste Test (Who Needs IHOP?)

Does anyone else have a Sunday morning brunch tradition? Does it involve pancakes?

How about making your weekend pancake family tradition a bit more exciting with a pancake topper taste test? We did a very simple one recently, but you can certainly get really creative and fancy (or do a Waffle topping taste test instead) -- I'm thinking whip cream, cherries, berries, apple get the idea.

I used 4 items we had on hand: maple syrup (of course - the real stuff), agave nectar (recently on sale at Sprouts), orange blossom honey from a local farmer, and applesauce.

Our pancakes were actually corn pancakes made from a corn muffin mix (that's my toddler's favorite pancakes).

The winner: ORANGE BLOSSOM HONEY! (Although, Wild Thing liked the Agave Nectar bottle the best -- yes, these things also matter very much to a toddler - he also seemed to like that the most after the honey, so maple syrup actually came in at #3).

The top left-hand corner had the pancake w/honey - clearly eaten the quickest.
I think honey goes especially well with corn mix pancakes.

What's your favorite pancake topping? Or, simple share your favorite pancake tradition or recipe - we'd love to add your pancake creativity or tradition to our next pancake making or testing experience.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Kid's Co-Op: We Love Maps! Link Up + Play

Wild Thing loves maps. It all started when my brother (AKA "Uncle Thomas") moved to Thailand, and we explored Google Maps to see where he now lives for our Mama Smiles Exploring Geography: Thailand post.

We've discovered some
map activities that really come in handy in a pinch (like a hotel where run around room is limited) or at the kitchen table while I make dinner. 

That's why from last week's Kid's Co-Op, I absolutely loved the "Where in the World is your Food From?" map activity from Kid World Citizen.  

Since we live in Southern California and are able to support local farmers, I would love to use a State of California map and look at all the distinct places in our own state that allow us to eat healthy and delicious fruits and vegetables that require less transit! 

What are your favorite map activities? Please share!


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Teaser for Tuesday

I've got A LOT going on right now, so I'm just sharing a little Teaser for Tuesday...

...Are you intrigued? Find out what this bag means/represents next Tuesday when I (finally) feature another Ten for Tuesday post with Ten Ways to Go Orange!

You might also like:
All You Need Are Sticks!
Ten Tips for a DIY Comic Book
In Honor of Imagination

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Kids Co-Op: Book Giveaway + Link-Up

Earlier this week, I posted the food, art and pretend activities we did along with the Kevin Henkes book Little White Rabbit as part of the Summer Virtual Book Club. There's also a great Kevin Henkes Book Giveaway sponsored by Harper Collins being hosted by several other participants in the Book Club, including Summer Virtual Book Club host/coordinator Toddler Approved

If you head over to her site, you can enter for a chance to win Chester's Way and see the list of all of the other blogs participating in the giveaway. The giveaway is my Kids Co-Op member(s) feature for this week. 

I wasn't brave enough to take on a giveaway myself, but wanted to share this great opportunity to get a free book or 2 (or 13) for your home library.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Summer Virtual Book Club for Kids: Kevin Henkes Blog Hop

We've enjoyed being a part of the Summer Virtual Book Club these last few months, starting with  Mo Willems in June and then Audrey Wood in July. It has helped us explore new authors as part of our #SummerReading.

This month's author is Kevin Henkes, and we read the book Little White Rabbit.

When possible, I like to try and Eat, Draw, Learn! with books, like we did with My Abuelita for Cinco De Mayo. This format worked again with this great book - perfect for my toddler. This book would be great for Easter too!

1. Eat - Often when it comes to the eat portion, we would do a cooking activity, but this time we kept it simple: bunny animal crackers and then trying out different vegetables that rabbits like to eat, such as carrots, radishes and lettuce. (Wild Thing really only went for the carrots!)

2. Draw - Art Activity - When I read this book, the possibilities for an art activity really excited me. The little white rabbit explores his world and wants to experience what he sees. First, he thinks of what it would be like to be green, like the other animals in the grassland. Next, he wants to be tall like a fir tree, and then completely still like a rock. He also pretends he can fly like the butterflies. Finally, he hops home and kisses his mother! 

We made our Little White Rabbit with cotton balls.
Then we turned him green with food coloring...
...and paint.
Next, we put the rabbit tall in a fir tree using a branch.
Wild Thing loved examining rocks to make our stone rabbit.

A bonus aspect to this book for Wild Thing was that it allowed us to incorporate outdoor elements into our art - taking art outside keeps my toddler way more engaged then sitting at a table indoors. We love art that we can do outside

3. Learn -We did a lot of counting as we read the book: counting the green things on the green page, counting the butterflies as the rabbit pretends to fly with the butterflies and counting the other rabbits in the book.

Finally, we loved pretending to be the rabbit. First, we hopped and hopped like a rabbit and then hopped and hopped like a frog when we pretended to be green. Next, we stretched tall like a fir tree, curled up and got really still like a rock and then flapped our arms and flew around like a butterfly. Finally, Wild Thing kissed me just like the rabbit in the book -- how perfect! This pretend play allowed us to retell the story - great for Early Literacy.

We've decided to keep the Book Club for Kids going throughout the school year. September's author: Lois Ehlert, which really excites me as we love Eating the Alphabet from A-Z! We've already done a great P is for Peas activity and can't wait to read another of her books too! 
Enjoy our blog hop - some participant have Kevin Henkes book giveaways!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Lavender Playdough: How I Learned to Love Playdough Play for Baby & Toddler

The Imagination Tree and Famiglia and Seoul convinced me that I should give Herb Playdough a try. I loved that the recipe from The Imagination Tree required no cooking, just boiling hot water (so having Wild Thing help required close supervision). For the herbs, we used primarily lavender, and a little rosemary and dried basil. We made this a couple of weeks ago, but it still smells so good every time we get it out -- and I just keep it stored in a bag on a shelf in the kitchen.

I used to avoid playdough with the baby, but really enjoyed discovering great ways for the baby to play with the playdough. Plus, when we make it ourselves at home with safe ingredients, I don't have to worry if a little goes in his mouth and I have to remind him that the playdough is not to eat. (If he eats a little, he's eating flour, salt, herbs and water -- no biggie!)

Putting playdough balls in an egg carton with toys worked well for Caterpillar. He had fun taking the items in and out of the egg carton, opening and closing the egg carton and throwing the playdough balls. 

Hopping the frogs on the playdough was a hit.
But, I think his favorite thing was adding more herbs.

Even with Wild Thing (almost 3),  I hadn't made playdough in quite a few months because Wild Thing would get out playdough toys and start the process of creating animals, shapes, etc. but then usually want me to do so much of it for him. Recently, though, I discovered that using the playdough for pretend play created a whole other experience for him and me -- one that is much more enjoyable. 

He loved pretending that Thomas and Percy were stuck and liked making different patterns using the trains - both by laying the trains on their sides and driving them on the playdough. I think the look/texture of the herb playdough worked especially well for this since it has a natural/terrain look to it. Now, instead of dreading playdough (like I used to), it has become a go-to play activity for me for both Wild Thing and Caterpillar, especially when they need a controlled, quiet activity.

Sharing at: Montessori Monday

You might also like:
DIY Lavender Bath Scrubs
Homemade Pop Tarts

Friday, August 17, 2012

Simple Ideas for Baby Play at Home

Please note that Pom Poms need supervision when a baby plays with them to make sure they don't become a choking hazard.

Lids - He loves using them as cymbals...
Yes, the toy market offers many toys for babies, but it can sometimes be hard to choose. I say, don't bother (okay, within reason) because my experience with both of my boys has been that often simple household items that I already have entertain, challenge and engage them, especially during the first eighteen months. Here's some of Caterpillar's favorite "toys," play items and activities. Other items he loves, but aren't pictured, include measuring cups and any and all containers and spoons. I love that many of these items also promote motor skill development, hand-eye coordination and problem-solving. 
...and fitting them together and taking them back apart.

I loved seeing his focus and concentration as he worked on balancing the yogurt container on top of a cup. 

Originally, this half of an egg carton was part of the fire truck Wild Thing and I made for our Alphabet Rescue activity. Caterpillar turned it into a boat. :)

This gives you a better view of the items I put inside the big bowl: cut up sponges, pom-poms (cotton balls would work) and a baggy filled with paint. I initially put the spoon in there so he could stir the items, but he preferred scooping up the items. If he had a smaller spoon, I don't think he would have been able to master the scooping, and I loved how engaged he was in trying.

Caterpillar thinks our box of items to be recycled is truly the best sensory bin ever. I keep cans or items with sharp edges out of it, so that he can explore the boxes, containers, and paper.