Cooking With Kids: Delicious Drumsticks

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Last week, I wanted to find a new recipe to try with Buddy. He really loves cooking, so I want to give him new recipes to try. I found a recipe for Delicious Drumsticks in a cookbook from my childhood (Alpha Bakery Cookbook– affiliate link). It sounded like an easy, fun meal that Buddy could make mostly on his own.

Here is the recipe: 

I started by preheating the oven to 425 degrees. Then I measured the dry ingredients, and Buddy dumped them into a large bowl. (1/2 cup flour, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of paprika, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper.)

Once they were in the bowl, Buddy mixed them up with a spoon. Buddy loved the word “paprika” and kept repeating it with delight over and over!

I melted half a stick of butter in the microwave in another small bowl. Then, I found a large spoon to help with the coating in the butter bowl and the flour bowl.

For each drumstick, I put it in the butter bowl first. Buddy used the spoon to help coat the chicken in butter. 

Then, I moved the drumstick to the flour bowl.  Buddy used a spoon to help coat the chicken with the flour mixture. Once it was coated, I moved the drumstick to a glass pan. (I used an 8×8 one as suggested in the recipe, but it was a tight squeeze to fit all six drumsticks.) 

Buddy loved using the spoon to scoop the flour mixture! He wanted to keep playing even after we had finished coating all of the drumsticks. So I let him scoop and dump for awhile as I cleaned up the rest of the kitchen. Then I asked Buddy to help me wipe up the flour when he was done.

This was a fun and easy recipe for kids, and everyone in my house enjoyed eating our delicious drumsticks. I’m sure we’ll make chicken drumsticks again soon.





Shape Sorting Sensory Activity

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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.




Dinosaur Play Plate

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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!


25 Fun and Free Printables for Toddlers

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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:



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.







Easy Ways to Entertain a Toddler at an Airport

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My family traveled to Jackson Hole, Wyoming for Labor Day. We love to travel, and a three day weekend is the perfect excuse to fly somewhere new. I’ve written several times about activities I’ve done with Buddy on airplanes (read more here, here, and here). However, the things we do in the airport are completely different.

When we have extra time in an airport, I try not to pull out our airplane toys. If Buddy plays with them before the flight, they’re not as entertaining on the flight. Also, I don’t want him to sit for any longer than he has to since he has to sit for a long time on the flight. So here are some of the things we’ve done together in the airport.

1. Watch Planes

This is by far our favorite airport activity! Buddy is so happy to watch everything going on outside the airport. He loves the planes, trucks, and people. On one of our trips earlier this summer, one of the airport workers saw us watching and gave us a big wave! This activity keeps Buddy occupied for a long time. He was very frustrated in Jackson Hole this morning because in that airport, there are no jet ways and as a result, the planes are farther out and hard to see. But in most airports, it isn’t difficult to find a window with a great view.

2. Sing Songs

We do this most often when we’re waiting in lines at the airport. (Usually that’s waiting to get through security or on the plane.) “Wheels on the Bus” and “Old MacDonald” are great ones because you can add a lot of verses to make the song last a long time.

3. The Color Game

Buddy and I play this game every time we are waiting in line at the grocery store, and it works well in airports too. I say a color, and he has to guess what I’m looking at based on the color. Then he picks a color, and I have to find his item. (Buddy still likes to point as his object when he says the color, so he needs to work a little on this part of the game.) On this trip, we played in a gift store. Fortunately, Buddy can be in a store and not want to buy everything. However, if your toddler doesn’t do well in gift shops, this can be played anywhere in the airport.

Buddy found my “something black.”

4. Exploring 

I try to give Buddy time to stretch his legs before getting on the plane. Usually, that means we just walk around to see what we can find. Today, we found a small dog that let us pet him. Then we found a couch made with cow hide. (I thought it was kind of gross, but Buddy liked feeling the hair.) The interesting things at an airport always vary, but toddlers are curious about everything, so it’s not too hard to find something fun for them.

5. Scavenger Hunt

I have wanted to print out a scavenger hunt for all three of our summer flights, and I have forgotten every time. (I love this coloring one on Mama.Papa.Bubba’s blog!) Hopefully I will remember before our next trip. In the meantime, I just made up things for him to find based on things around us. Buddy loves animals, so when we were in the gift shop, we did some animal iSpy. Sometimes our scavenger hunts are more like, “find a square on the floor and stomp on it.” I change the game depending on where we are.

Buddy found a bear!

6. Playing Pretend

Buddy enjoys pretending to be different animals. I’ve blogged before about our animal movement game (read here). It works well in the airport too. Some example movements would be to hop like a bunny or fly like a bird. Today, he saw a movie with buffalo, and he decided to give himself buffalo horns!

If you look closely, you can see Buddy’s “horns”.

It takes a little effort and creativity to keep your toddler entertained without toys or electronics. But the effort it takes is worth it to have a happy toddler as you get on the plane. A happy toddler means a happy trip. If you have any other airport ideas, please share in the comments. And best wishes for happy travels, from my family to yours.

Having fun in Grand Teton National Park!




Shapes Collage

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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. 



Cooking with Kids: Stromboli

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I’ve been making Stromboli for a long time. It’s easy to make, and is a fun variation on pizza. I don’t remember where I found the original recipe, but I’ve adapted it to make it easier. Since I’m always trying to involve Buddy in the kitchen, I thought this would be a great recipe to try with him.

To make Stromboli, you need Pillsbury pizza dough (the kind in the tube), pizza sauce or spaghetti sauce, shredded mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, pepperoni, basil, and olive oil.

Preheat the oven to 425. Spread out the dough on a baking sheet. Mix a couple of tablespoons of olive oil with basil, and brush it on the dough. Buddy really loved using the basting brush for this part. 

Next, cover half of the dough with pizza sauce. (I actually forgot to do just half this time. It’s ok to cover the whole dough too.) You only need a few tablespoons of sauce. I usually use spaghetti sauce and then use the rest of the jar later in the week with pasta. In the original recipe, the sauce isn’t used until the end for dipping. You can serve it this way if you prefer.

Cover the sauce with mozzarella cheese. This was Buddy’s favorite part! We like a lot of cheese in our Stromboli, so we used the whole bag. 

Next, put a layer of pepperoni on top of the cheese. You can sprinkle a little Parmesan cheese on top of the pepperoni if you wish. (I usually do.)

Fold the dough over so that the edges meet. Use your fingers to press the loose edges together. Buddy decided to give the whole dough a few pats, but that isn’t necessary.  

Bake the Stromboli for 20 minutes. It should be a light brown when it’s done. Then you can slice  and serve it. My whole family loves Stromboli, and it’s so quick to make. Buddy had a lot of fun making the Stromboli, and I’m sure he’ll be involved the next time I make it as well.



Whisking Bubbles

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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!


Airplane Activities for a Two Year Old

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Summer is almost over, and we’ve finally finished all of our airplane trips for the season. Buddy has always been a good traveler. However, I’ve found that the more activities that I have on hand, the easier the trip is for all of us. This summer, we had four flights over the course of two weeks. The first two were an hour and a half and the second two were two and a half hours. Now that Buddy is two, he got his own seat on the airplane for the first time. He also is able to do different activities than he could when he was one. (Read about our one year old airplane activities here and here.) Since he had his own seat, Buddy brought his toys in his travel backpack.

Disclaimer – this post contains affiliate links for your convenience. Should you choose to purchase something with one of these links, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thanks for supporting my family. 

Prior to our trips, I spent a lot of time looking for new toys and activities for the airplane. I tried to spend as little money as possible on new things. I set aside several small books and toys from our library reading program and happy meals. (Chick-fil-a board books are the perfect size for travel!) The dollar store sometimes has great cheap toys for travel, but it’s always hit or miss. I found great items in the dollar sections of Target and Toys R Us though. My new favorite place to find cheap travel items is Party City. There are lots of cheap stickers and toys there for treat bags that are perfect for travel.

I rotate our toys and books at home, so some items had been rotated out and seemed like new to Buddy. The only other things I bought used gift cards and rewards money I already had at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Target. I also created some DIY activities for our trip.

The activities I have listed here are from both of our trips. Some items went on both sets of flights and some were just used once. 

  • Thin paper books and small board books. They’re not in this picture because they traveled with us in the diaper bag, but I still love the Indestructibles books for travel because they take up no space.
  • Look and find books are Buddy’s new favorite type of book. I printed out and laminated a bunch of iSpy pages for him. I also found this Disney/Pixar Look and Find book in a box of rotated books. Buddy and I were both so excited about it!
  • I set aside the most recent Highlight’s magazine to have more new reading material on the plane.
  • I also made a quiet book for Buddy. Read more about it here and here.
  • The water wow book was new for this trip, and Buddy loved it! These books are a favorite for us for travel and when I’m cooking dinner.
  • Colorforms are amazing reusable stickers and play scenes. I bought one at Toys R Us and found another one at the dollar store. Buddy can do these independently and they keep him busy for a long time.
  • A notebook and some washable crayons. We also brought a couple Grab and Go coloring book/sticker packs and sticker books from Party City. The Grab and Gos also live in the diaper bag, so I forgot to pull them out for this picture.
  • I put some velcro dots on popsicle sticks to build with.
  • Travel sized iSpy bottle. (Read about how I made the full sized version here.)
  • Pom poms in a salad dressing container from the dollar store. (Read about the large scale version of this activity here.)
  • Light up squishy dinosaur from the dollar store.
  • A retractable measuring tape from the dollar store. This was a huge hit! Buddy loved pulling out the tape and pressing the button to come back again.
  • My old Kindle Fire and kid headphones. I put some Thomas the Train videos on here along with a few apps. I also got some ebooks from the library and free ones from Amazon Prime.

  • Fisher Price Clip – on Doodle Pro. I actually bought this before our plane trips last year, but Buddy wasn’t interested in it. He really liked in on our trips this year though.
  • Duplo Busy Bag. Buddy loves his Duplos! I made small pictures of things for him to build and put it in the bag. Read more about this activity and get the free printable here.
  • Finger puppets
  • Animal flash cards. I wasn’t sure if Buddy would like these, but he really did. They kept him entertained for a long time in the airport when our plane was delayed.
  • Small board books
  • Thomas the Train magnet book. We received this as a birthday gift, and it’s great for travel! Buddy loved having a small version of his “choo choo tracks” on our trip.
  • Jumbo Nuts and Bolts Set. I didn’t take a picture of all of them, but the set has six nuts and bolts with a pattern card and a travel bag. It took up more space in his backpack than I wanted, but Buddy really enjoyed them.
  • Gel clings. Buddy loves these and they are great for airplane windows. Unfortunately, since he was in a carseat, it was too hard for him to actually use it on these trips. This was a favorite activity when Buddy was on our laps. I’m sure it will be great when we decide to fly without a car seat on the plane.
  • I didn’t bring it on this trip, but playdoh is another great activity for airplanes. I wasn’t sure if Buddy could use the tray table in the car seat (he couldn’t), so I didn’t bring it. It will definitely be on our pack list though for the next trip without a car seat.

Here are a few pictures of these travel activities in action.

Coloring with the water wow.

Nuts and bolts on the plane.

Playing nuts and bolts with Daddy.

When we were in the airport, watching airplanes was Buddy’s favorite activity.

Buddy brought one of his many stuffed animals on our trips. Puppy kept Buddy entertained throughout both trips. I also had many snacks and drinks to help keep Buddy occupied during our travels. I especially encouraged eating as the plane was going up and down to keep Buddy’s ears popping comfortably.

I’m not sure when our next flight as a family will be. Hopefully, many of these activities will continue to entertain Buddy when he’s a little older. I’m always looking for new ideas, so feel free to share any travel activity ideas you have.







Toddler Quiet Book Pages

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Last year, I created a quiet book for our family trip to Utah and California. (Read more about it here.) I was really happy with how it turned out. Since then, I’ve brought the quiet book with us to sporting events, plane trips, and road trips. It’s a great way to keep Buddy entertained on the go.

This summer, I decided I wanted to make a couple more pages for the quiet book. Now that Buddy is two, he can do more challenging quiet book activities. I chose two different designs to create.

For this shapes page, I used some large buttons that I had lying around the house. I traced them with chalk and then outlined them with puffy paint. I used hot glue to attach velcro and ribbon to the buttons. Then, I cut out the pocket for the buttons and sewed it to the other end of the strings. Buddy is very into shapes and colors, and he enjoyed solving this puzzle.

Recently, Buddy has been interested in helping me buckle his car seat. I looked at a lot of different buckle quiet pages, and I came across this dog design that I loved. Buddy loves dogs, and I knew the buckle would be extra fun. I found a picture I liked online and used freezer paper to trace it and make a pattern. I sewed together the parts of the dog and used fabric glue to put down the ears. (The fake fur is a mess, but Buddy really liked it.) Then, I sewed the ribbon onto the buckle and the leash clasp. I also added velcro to a dog bone and the dog’s tongue. Buddy was really excited about the dog, but the buckle and leash were a little hard for him. I’m sure this will be a page he grows into and will entertain him as he gets older.

I’m really pleased with how these pages turned out! It was a lot of work to make them, but a lot of fun too. I hope Buddy continues to enjoy them for a long time.