Category Archives: Activities

Cooking with Kids: Apple Pie

Hubby loves to cook and bake. (I’m so lucky!) Both of us have been trying to teach those skills to Buddy whenever we can. A few weeks ago, apples were on sale, so Hubby and Buddy decided to make apple pie. Hubby has made this recipe himself, and adjusted it after several tries. (The full recipe is listed at the bottom of this blog.)
To start, Hubby peeled 9 apples. Then, he had Buddy put the flour, sugar, and salt into a bowl. He asked Buddy to give the salt a few shakes, and he pre-measured the other dry ingredients. 
While Buddy had lunch, Hubby sliced the apples. Then they added them into the dry mixture together. Hubby added a little lemon juice on top.
Hubby put a pre-made pie crust into the pie pan, and then he poured in the apple mixture. They added some cinnamon, nutmeg, and butter on top of the apples. Then Hubby put the pie crust on top. Finally, Buddy coated the top of the pie crust with an egg wash. Then it baked for 50 minutes at 425 degrees. 
This pie was amazingly delicious, and Buddy was so proud that he helped.
Apple Pie Recipe
6-7 large Granny Smith apples (or 8-9 small apples), cored/peeled
Dry Mixture:
3/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp flour
Pinch of salt
Mix apples/dry mixture, add one squeeze of lemon juice.
Pour apple mix over unrolled pie crust, top with cinnamon and nutmeg,
Add 1 tbsp butter cut into four small squares.
Cover with 2nd pie crust, sprinkle with light addtional cinnamon and sugar. Cut slits into crust to vent. Brush on an egg wash made from one egg and a tablespoon of water.
Cook at 425 degrees about 45-50 minutes.
Let sit for a couple hours to cool and allow liquid in filling to congeal.

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Floating Letters

Buddy loves playing in water. Several times this fall, he’s asked to play in our water table, but unfortunately, it’s just too cold. When I saw this floating letters activity on Busy Toddler’s blog, I knew it would be perfect. Buddy would get to play in water, but we could do it inside.

I pulled out Munchkin bath letters and numbers (affiliate link) for our water play. These were purchased months ago, but I wasn’t sure what to do with them, so they hadn’t been used. Buddy was very excited about playing with his new toys in the water. While the sink was filling with water, Buddy threw some letters in the sink.

Buddy pushed a chair over to stand on while playing in the water. He helped me choose some letters and numbers to put in the water. Eventually we dumped them all in the sink.

I gave Buddy a spatula to pick up the letters. He loved it! It was a different tool for him, and he enjoyed using it. It kept this activity pretty neat because it didn’t scoop up water, and Buddy wasn’t putting his arms into the water.

As we were playing, I asked Buddy to find different letters or colors. He was always so proud to find them. Buddy actually knew more letters than I thought he did. It was exciting to see what he’s learned at school.

I happened to pull out a toy boat from our swim bag earlier that day, and I left it on our kitchen counter. Buddy asked to use it with the letters. He wanted to pour water on top of the letters. “I’m washing the letters.” 

Buddy played contently for 45 minutes, and he would have been happy to play for longer. (A poopy diaper stopped our play, and then it was time to get ready for dinner.) There was almost no water mess until I let him use the boat, and then there was a little splashing. When we were done, we put the letters into a drying rack to dry. This activity was so easy and so much fun! Buddy really loved it, and I know we’ll do again sometime soon. If you have any other ideas for ways to play with our letters, please share in the comments.

Fall Tree Foil Painting

I love to do activities related to the season. When I first saw this fall tree painting idea on Munchkins and Moms’ blog, I knew it would be a perfect fall activity. It has been awhile since Buddy and I have painted together, and I knew that we would both enjoy this project.

Buddy was so excited when I told him we’d be doing a fall tree painting. I showed him a picture of what the final painting would look like so he could understand what to do. Then, I put brown paint on one paper plate, and red, yellow, and orange paint on another paper plate. We always use Crayola washable paint (affiliate link) because it is so easy to clean up. My favorite paper for painting is this paint pad (affiliate link), which never gets soggy.

I gave Buddy a brush to paint the tree trunk, and I helped him make the lines for the trunk and branches. 

Next, I rolled up a ball of foil, and Buddy dipped it into the red, yellow, and orange paint. Then he tapped it all over the page to make the leaves. He really wanted to make smeary lines, but I was able to convince him that tapping looked better. When the paint started mixing enough to look brown and gross, I got a new ball of foil to use.

While Buddy’s painting wasn’t perfect, I thought it was pretty good for a two-year old. He had a lot of fun, and he was  very proud of the final product. 

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Five Fun Things To Do With a Play Tunnel

Buddy got his play tunnel (affiliate link) as a first birthday gift. I had put it on his wish list, because I had read how great they are for young children. A year and a half later, Buddy still plays with his tunnel often. We’ve made up a few fun ways to play with the tunnel, and I want to share them for anyone who needs new play tunnel ideas.

1. Play inside tunnel

Buddy enjoys using his tunnel as a tent. We have brought books inside the tunnel to read. Currently, Buddy’s favorite tunnel activity is to throw all of his stuffed animal “friends” in the tunnel and roll around with them.

2. Chase ball through tunnel

Buddy loves balls, and we’ve used several different sizes in the tunnel. The most fun by far is the beach ball. I throw it halfway in the tunnel, and he goes in and hits it out. We’ve also just thrown the ball back and forth to each other through the tunnel.

3. Obstacle course in tunnel

Buddy’s physical therapist encouraged us to play in the tunnel to help him build different types of muscles. One activity she suggested was putting pillows inside the tunnel, and have him crawl over them. While it’s not Buddy’s favorite way to play with the tunnel, he is willing to try it every once in awhile.

4. Up and Downs with tunnel

Buddy loves to hold one of the tunnel and have me hold the other end. Then we pull it up and down, almost like a play parachute. Sometimes we shake the play tunnel around. Other times he walks closer to me and then farther away from me. Buddy thinks all of these things are hilarious!

5. Peek-a-boo with tunnel

Buddy still loves peek-a-boo. He likes to hide in the tunnel, and then have me peek in and out to play peek-a-boo. It’s so simple, but Buddy thinks it’s a lot of fun.

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Shape Sorting Sensory Activity

Buddy still loves sensory bins, especially the construction site sensory bin that I blogged about here. He pulls out the bin of black beans and construction vehicles at least twice a week. When I saw the shape sorting sensory bin on Stir The Wonder’s blog, I knew it would be an easy adaption of our construction bin. I already had the shape buttons from my quiet book (read more here) and I had the bin of beans, I just needed to put the two together.

To start, I took the trucks out of our sensory bin, and I dumped in a bag of shape buttons. Stir The Wonder used a muffin pan to sort the shapes. I decided to use an ice cube tray instead. I wanted to give Buddy lots of places to sort for all the different shapes. The extra spots on the ice cube tray also provided the opportunity to sort by shape, color, or size.

At first, Buddy was very interested about the shapes in his bin. He quickly started telling me all of the shapes and colors he saw. Buddy was happy to start pulling them out and putting them into different parts of the ice cube tray.

After awhile, Buddy decided he missed his CAT mini trucks (affiliate link). So he put them in the bin, and used them to help scoop and move the shapes into the ice cube tray. It took a lot of effort to try to scoop just the buttons and not the beans. 

Trucks make everything more fun!

I tried to encourage Buddy to find matches to put in the tray based on shape or color. Eventually, though, he just wanted to get all the shapes out of his “concrete”, so he could play trucks the way he normally does.

Overall, I was pleased to have a new way to practice shapes and colors. I think Buddy liked the variety with the sensory bin as well. The next time I try it, I may choose to use fine motor tools to grab the buttons instead of the trucks. But either way, it is a great way to practice both early math skills and fine motor skills.

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Dinosaur Play Plate

Buddy has been interested in dinosaurs lately, so I’ve been looking for fun and easy dinosaur activities. I first saw the idea for a dinosaur play plate on Picklebum’s blog. They used an oval paper plate, which I didn’t have. But I did like the idea of making a small dinosaur scene for Buddy.

Earlier this summer, I’d printed and laminated this free dinosaur playmat from Free Time Frolics. However, Buddy and I never got around to playing with it. I decided to cut it down to fit a shoe box lid. Then I added a few small dinosaurs and the souvenir rocks Buddy bought on our recent trip to Jackson Hole.

Buddy was really excited when he saw his dinosaur scene. He hadn’t played with the rocks since our trip, and that was a lot of fun for him. Buddy put the rocks on the dinosaurs’ backs and walked them around. He also fed the rocks to the dinosaurs.

Then, Buddy decided to shake the rocks in the box and pour them out. He thought this was a lot of fun as well. 

Eventually, the dinosaurs and the rocks traveled around Buddy’s room. He saw some of his cars, and he decided to include one in the play scene. Buddy enjoyed driving his car through all of the rocks.

Overall, Buddy enjoyed his dinosaur play plate. I have it set up still, so I’m sure we’ll play with it again soon. I’m looking for more ideas to do with those rocks, so if you have ideas, please share in the comments!

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25 Fun and Free Printables for Toddlers

I love when I find easy activities to print and use with Buddy. There are so many mom blogs with awesome activities ready to use! This week, I wanted to feature my favorite printables that I’ve tried with Buddy, as well as some that I’m looking forward to using. Almost all of the ones I’ve used have been laminated with my Scotch laminator (affiliate link), which I love! It makes it easy to save these activities to use again and again.

Matching Activities

Buddy loves matching activities! We tried this truck one from Royal Baloo’s blog, and Buddy loved it! There were a lot of cards and many similar ones (several different police cars, fire trucks, etc.), so the second time through I edited it down to one of each type of car. He’s so into cars right now, so this was perfect for him.

Other matching printables:

 

Scavenger Hunts

 

I blogged about our nature scavenger hunt earlier this summer (read about it here.) The printable we used was from Life With My Little’s blog. Her pictures made it really easy for Buddy to know exactly what we were looking for. And we both had so much fun finding the things on this list.

Other scavenger hunt printables:

 

Games

I loved this shape board game from Simple Fun for Kids’ blog. Buddy and I tried it out on one of our Time to Read Tuesdays after reading a shape book. We used shape buttons to be our markers. The shape die got a little crumpled, but the game was a lot of fun. This was Buddy’s first board game, and he really liked it.

Other toddler game printables:

 

Movement Activities

These construction movement cards are another amazing printable from Royal Baloo. Buddy had a lot of fun picking up one card at a time and moving like that construction vehicle. It was a great way for Buddy to work on his gross motor skills in a fun way.

Other movement printables:

 

Book Activities

Since I’m a teacher, I get really happy when I find great activities that go along with a book. It’s so important to read, and the activities make it extra fun. 1+1+1=1’s blog has so many great book related printables, including these ones that we used with the book Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? (affiliate link)

Other book printables:

 

Duplo Activities

Buddy loves Duplos, so I put together a Duplo Busy Bag for our summer plane trips. I took pictures of many different small Duplo scenes that could be made from the blocks in the bag. He really loved picking out a picture to make, and then putting it together himself.

Other Duplo activities:

After looking back through my Pinterest boards to find these printables, I’m reminded of a lot of new fun ideas to try with Buddy. Hopefully you found something that was helpful for you too! Please comment if you have any other great printable links for toddlers.

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Shapes Collage

One of the projects I wanted to try this summer was a collage with Buddy. I saw the idea for a glue bin on Busy Toddler’s blog, and I knew Buddy would love it. He hadn’t used glue before, but I knew he’d enjoy trying it.

I decided to make this a shapes and colors activity as well as an introduction to using a glue stick. We’ve been working on shapes and colors a lot, and Buddy loves it. I cut out a bunch of different shapes in different colors of construction paper and put them in a bag. Then I pulled out a black piece of construction paper and a glue stick.

At first, Buddy just wanted to keep the shapes in the bag. He was very excited about putting glue on the shapes. It was a little challenging for him, though.

Buddy loved how sticky the glue was! He kept putting his fingers in it! We talked about the different colors and shapes as he glued on the shapes. Buddy wanted to use the glue as a crayon, so that was a little challenging for him. I tried to get him to put the shapes on his lines of glue, but he didn’t want to. Eventually, he decided it was easier to put the glue on the shape and then put it down. Buddy liked putting glue on both sides of the paper, which made it a lot easier to put the sticky side on the paper. 

When we finished, Buddy was very proud of his collage. It was an easy and fun activity, and I’m sure we will do it again soon. 

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Whisking Bubbles

Recently, I needed another inside activity for Water Wednesday. (For several weeks in a row, we’ve had thunderstorms on Wednesdays.) I originally saw the idea for whisking bubbles on Emma Owl’s blog and loved it. Even though she did it outside, I knew it would be perfect for a rainy Wednesday.

To start, I put a little dish soap and warm water in a large bowl. I put it on a large beach towel to help catch any spilled soapy water. Then, I found two whisks and showed them to Buddy. I told him we were going to use the whisks to create bubbles.

Buddy was very excited about the activity. He was happy to stir the water with the whisks, but he needed a little assistance at first. I modeled how to stir the water vigorously enough to create the bubbles. Then we stirred together. 

The more we stirred, the more bubbles we got. Buddy was thrilled! Once we had a few bubbles, he didn’t need any help to get more. He did a neat job of stirring, and he loved it! Once we had some bubble foam, he tried to scoop it up with the whisk. Buddy had the best time! He loved scooping up the foamy bubbles, and then stirring again to make more.

Buddy eventually got brave enough to stick his hands in the bubbles. Then he decided it was “sunscreen” and he started slathering it on his arms, legs, and face. We were both laughing hysterically!Because he had a whisk and not a cup, Buddy didn’t make much of a mess until he starting putting it all over himself. When we were done, it was easy to mop up with the towel. Of course, this would be easy to do outside or in the tub, and then there wouldn’t be any clean up needed. Buddy loved this activity so much, we will definitely do it again soon!

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Nature Scavenger Hunt

For Try Something New Thursday, I wanted to do a nature scavenger hunt. I loved scavenger hunts as a kid, and I thought Buddy would enjoy them too. There is an amazing free printable on Life With My Little’s blog (get it here). I printed it and laminated it during Buddy’s nap. Once I found a small dry erase marker, we were all ready to go.

Buddy saw the scavenger hunt sheet, and he immediately understood what to do. He “read” the list on his own. We needed to find a stick, a dandelion, a clover, a bug, and a cool rock. I love this particular scavenger hunt because it is short, has nice pictures, and everything is easy to find.

Buddy got into his push car, and we went to the park near our house. There is a walking path around a small pond, which I knew would be perfect for our hunt. Buddy studied our scavenger hunt list as I pushed him to the park.

Once we reached the park, Buddy got out of the car to find the items. As we found each item, he crossed out the picture with the dry erase marker. Buddy loved using the marker and carrying our scavenger hunt list!

We found a clover!

Crossing out pictures on the card.

Since we took our time finding the items, we were able to see many amazing things not on our list. We saw a rabbit, a squirrel, a heron, and several huge dragonflies! Buddy loves animals, and they made our walk extra fun. After we walked for a while, Buddy wanted to push the car on his own. It slowed us down a bit, but we saw many fun things as a result. 

This was such a fun and easy activity! We both loved it, and I’m sure we’ll do it again soon.

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