Archives for October 2013

Toddler Friendly Muffins

The girls have been on a food strike for what seems like months (and probably is). E eats a little better than M, but it’s way easier to list the foods they will eat as opposed to what they won’t eat. Right now M is pretty much limited to pancakes, yogurt, chicken nuggets, some  fruit, and peanut butter & jelly sandwiches. E eats all of the above, plus olives, oatmeal, and pasta (both mac & cheese and with red sauce). Sometimes they’ll eat raisins, graham crackers, and fish sticks. Try to get them to eat anything else and you almost instantly hear “Take it awayyyyyyyy” or “no!” Oh, toddlers.

The struggle is real. Trying to get these girls to expand their food horizons is pretty difficult. After scouring the internet for a long time, I finally found a healthy food I was hoping they would eat – muffins. I mean, it’s almost like cake right? I found the recipe here, at Alida’s Kitchen. Something sweet but not loaded with a ridiculous amount of sugar. Without further ado here is the recipe:

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 mashed bananas
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup canola oil
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mix all dry ingredients in one bowl.
3. Mix mashed bananas, pumpkin, and liquid ingredients in another bowl.
4. Add the contents of the fruit and liquid ingredient mixture into the dry ingredients.
5. Pour into lined or greased muffin tins.
6. Bake for 13-16 mins (for standard muffin size, less time for smaller muffin size). [Check by inserting a knife or toothpick into the center. If it comes out clean, the muffins are ready to come out of the oven.]

We made 12 standard sized muffins out of the recipe.

I had the girls help me make these one day after they finished their lunch. We took turns pouring in the ingredients and then mixing them together. While we were doing this we talked about each ingredient as we added it – what it was, what color is was, what it smelled like, etc.

Once we put them in the oven the girls had to be practically peeled away from the oven.
[No worries – I checked to make sure the outside of the oven wasn’t hot before I let them stand that close!]

We went downstairs and played. Once the muffins were done I took them out and let them cool (and then put them in an airtight container) while the girls napped. I gave each of them half of a muffin for snack. The girls love them.

They had muffins for snack the rest of the week and they continuously inhaled them. I’m thinking I’ll try making some spinach muffins with the girls soon to see if I can sneak some vegetables in.


Halloween Art

This past week we’ve been battling a cold. Luckily neither of the girls got fevers or were miserable (with the exception of one grumpy day that an early & longer nap fixed!), but we went through SO many tissues it was unreal! We spent a lot of the week inside, trying to take it easy and let them get better. On top of some potty learning happening (M is kicking butt at it! E is on her way too, M just wants to be on the potty all day while E is much too busy doing other things!) we did a few art projects.

First up was a pretty simple, spur of the moment activity. I gave the girls each black construction paper and let them paint with white using a paint brush. Once they dried, I let the girls each choose googly eyes and then I glued them on. Voila, you have ghosts!

Later in the week we made watercolor pumpkins. I recently picked up a basic watercolor paint palette for each of the girls. They loved it and made some beautiful artwork using it. I wanted to do another project with watercolors, but needed to limit them to one color. Instead of cutting up their watercolor palettes and just giving them the orange, I picked up watercolor brushes from Lakeshore.

I flattened a coffee filter for each of the girls and (one at a time) gave them the orange watercolor brush. They took their time and painted the coffee filters.

Once they decided they were done with the watercolor, I gave them each a wet foam brush. They used this to help spread out the watercolor paint a bit more.

I let them dry, cut out a stem and glued it on, and then let that glue dry. Now they have a cute little watercolor pumpkin!


Fall & Halloween Sensory Bin

As I said in yesterday’s post, our first sensory bin has a fall and Halloween theme.
Our first step was finding something to fill the bottom of our bin. With Halloween colors being black and orange, I wanted something in one of those two colors. I decided on using black beans. Since this was the first sensory bin with the girls I wanted something easy to spot on their carpet (thus easy for them to identify and help clean up if spilled). We got our black beans from the dollar store. I used 4 bags (12 oz each) to just cover the bottom of our bin. I plan on getting more, but since this is our introductory bin I’m starting out slowly.
Then we set out on finding objects to fill our bin with. Also at the dollar store we found glow in the dark plastic insects and skeletons, as well as packs of small foam gourds and pumpkins, all in their seasonal section. In the party aisle we found magnifying glasses, M in particular is obsessed with these. In the toy aisle, we found plastic lizards and a squishy sticky bat and scorpion. We headed to Target to buy our bin (since the dollar store didn’t have one big enough) in their dollar bins we found squishy light up orange spiky jack-o-lantern. We also found small acrylic leaves and pumpkins. We picked up a squishy caterpillar and a pack of foam acorns from the dollar section.
Total cost of this sensory bin – $16, not including the bin itself. We’ll use the bin the way it is (but adding different utensils such as table spoons, big cooking spoons, scoops, etc throughout the month) until at least the 31st of this month. Past the 31st, I can easily take out the more Halloween themed items (skeletons, spiders, etc) and put in things we already have – fabric leaves, real leaves from outside, real acorns, etc. That bin we could use until the end of fall in mid December. $16 for something that will last over 2 months and that we can reuse parts of throughout the year for various activities and all together again next year, not too bad!
The girls love it. The first day we used it we set it up and played with it before nap. I told them the rules [Beans must stay in the bin, if they come out please pick them up] as I set it up. After nap, it was the first thing both of them wanted to play with. They were still playing with it after I left. The next day we added their stacking cups to the mix and M even came up with the idea of using a magnifying glass as a scoop to fill the cups.
They’ve played with this for hours already. I’d count this as a success. It’s a perfect rainy day activity and a boredom buster as well. I’m already thinking of new items for our next sensory bin!


Sensory Bin

Now that the girls are out of the “every single thing must go in my mouth” stage, I was finally able to do something I’ve been waiting to with them for a long time. We made a sensory bin!

Today, I’m going to share what a sensory bin is, what it can do for your child, how to make a sensory bin, and where to find items to go in the sensory bin.

First, what is a sensory bin? Basically, it is a bin that includes items that appeal to many of your child’s senses. For sight – draw them in with multiple colors, bold, and contrasting colors. For sound – think of the sound your substrate, or base (rice, sand, beans, etc), makes against the objects inside the bin and on the bin itself. Touch – put different textured items in; sticky, slippery, soft, hard, rough, smooth, etc. Smell isn’t a sense I strive to appeal to in a sensory bin, but you can scent your substrate if you want or add different scented objects (small balls of scented play dough, flowers, etc).

What can a sensory bin do for your child you ask? Easy answer. Almost anything you want it to. Children, especially those 3 and under learn through their senses. You can count the objects, add some, take away some, to help learn math skills. Put different objects in that your child isn’t familiar with to learn new item names and descriptive words to improve their language skills. Use water beads as your base for a science aspect. Not only does it improve cognitive skills, but it improves physical skills as well. As children pick up small items they improve their fine motor skills. When they move them from one area of the bin to another or from one cup to another, they’re also improving their eye hand coordination. I could go on and on. Plus, sensory bins are just plain fun!

Sensory bins are super easy to make too. You need some sort of container with a tight fitting lid (that way little hands are kept out when you don’t can’t actively supervise them) and tall enough sides so that what’s in the bin won’t come out easily, and then materials to go in it. You could use something as simple as a shoe box (put it in an out of reach place when not in use, and be sure to not use any wet materials in it) or you could purchase a sensory bin with a stand from a store like Lakeshore. I opted for a simple bin. We purchased this 34 quart storage bin from Target (Kmart sells it online for $10, Target has it in store only, but cheaper) for around $9. It can hold any substrate (provided it doesn’t get cracked), it’s big enough for both girls to play in without being crowded, and small enough to be moved easily.

Making a sensory bin doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. You can fill it with simple items from around the house, grocery store, dollar store, and dollar bins at Target. If you want to go the more pricey route, you can buy sensory bases at Lakeshore.
Check back tomorrow to see what we put in our first sensory bin – our theme is Halloween and Fall.