Monday, October 25, 2010

Cooking with Toddlers: Popcorn on the Cob

One of the cool things we brought home with us from the pumpkin patch was popcorn on the cob. This is popcorn, dried on the cob. You pop it in a paper bag and microwave for 1 to 2 minutes just like store bought microwave popcorn.

The really cool thing is the popped kernels that stay on the cob which your toddler can pick off and marvel at.

We had a lot of fun with this simple 'recipe'.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Cooking with Toddlers: Cajun Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

We recently came back from the pumpkin patch with our own Great Pumpkin and I decided to let our toddler try her hand at roasting pumpkin seeds.

This recipe also sparked a good conversation about what seeds are.

Here's the super simple super easy recipe for about 1 - 1 1/2 cups of pumpkin seeds.


1 - 1 1/2 cup fresh pumpkin seeds
1tsp salt
1 tbsp Cajun Seasoning (we used McCormick brand)
2tsp brown sugar


1. Separate seeds from pulp together. Some toddlers will LOVE this, others will not like it. My toddler did not care for the slime, but did eventually help me pick out the slime free seeds.

This is the most tedious part of the recipe and takes some time, so think about watching Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin while you dig out the seeds. So long as you're using a large mixing bowl, this is not very messy and pumpkin guts don't really stain anything.

2. Parents should preheat oven to 300F.

3.Have your toddler rinse the seeds in a colander.

4.Parent melts 1.5 tbsp butter in microwave.

5.Toddler pours seeds into a mixing bowl.

6.Toddler pours in butter.

7. Toddler adds in spices: 1tsp salt, 1tbsp cajun season, 2 tsp brown sugar

8. Mix thoroughly and spread thinly on a baking sheet

9. Bake for 10-20 minutes (check frequently as these burn fast).

Let cool and enjoy! These taste great on salads or you can eat them like potato chips.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Toddler Crafts for Fall: Fall Candle Holder

I read about this craft years and years ago. I thought it was soooooo cool, I actually have a large collection of empty sauerkraut jars in my closet.

The hubby is starting to think I'm a hoarder.

I'm not. I just really really really wanted to do this craft, but my toddler was not old enough until now. Every time I emptied a jar, I thought of this craft and kept it. So now I have a collection.

Anyway, this is another easy peasy craft with lots of opportunity for toddlers to play with different textures.

Here's how we did it.

1. Empty jar
2.Tissue paper cut up into squares
3.Mod Podge (we used what we had which was Mod Podge for fabric, but imagine you should technically use Mod Podge for glass--I never did say we were professionals around here.)
4. Applicator for the mod podge. Sponge, brush whatever you got.
5.Glitter (optional)
6.Jack'o'lantern face cut outs (optional)

1.Paint the jar with mod podge

2.Apply tissue paper and jack'o'lantern face if you are doing that.

3.Cover the tissue paper with mod podge

4.Decorate with glitter and let dry.

5.Put a candle inside or flashlight and see how it looks.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Toddler Crafts for Halloween: Easy Pumpkins and Ghosts with Glue and Tissue Paper

This craft is super simple and lots of fun. Use construction paper, glue and tissue paper (cut up in squares) to make ghosts and pumpkins.

Mom lays out the trail of glue to make the picture. The toddler covers the glue with tissue paper. We did a lot of experimenting with scrunching and crinkling the tissue paper.

This was very very easy and entertained the toddler for a decent amount of time.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Toddler Activities for Halloween: Foam Puppets on Popsicle Sticks

You can find packs of seasonal foam shapes for about $5 at local craft stores. Save your popsicle sticks or buy some (they're cheap!). Add in glitter, glue, googly eyes, feathers, paint etc... for a simple, fun Halloween craft.

We called these puppets (our toddler ran around for hours playing with them), but they would also make fun cupcake decorations.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Web Wednesdays: Free Websites for Kids

Got a kid that is ready to read, but needs some help? Want to use Hooked on Phonics, but don't have the money to invest?

Check out Starfall, today's selection for Free Websites for Kids.

Starfall is AMAZING. We've been using it since our toddler was 16 months old. She has learned all her letters and phonics from Starfall..for FREE.

There are a ton of activities for kids from preschool age up to early elementary. This is the perfect website to support early reading and for teaching phonics. Unless your child is computer literate, parental supervision is recommended and encouraged as kids don't really learn to read alone.

This website is my top pick because it is not only fun, but profoundly educational. Ten to fifteen minutes a couple times a week is all you need to cultivate an avid reader.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Toddler Activities: Easy Cooking with Toddlers

Toddlers aren't really ready to be sous chefs, even though they desperately want to be allowed full run of the kitchen. Sometimes, I can manage to include my toddler in cooking, but most of the time, I need her out of the way and happy so I can get something made and in the oven.

How do I avoid whining and meltdowns? Simple.

I save all my old spice bottles and have purged my cookie decorating supplies (you really don't want me to use 5 year old sprinkles on your cookies, right?). When I need to cook, the toddler gets spice jars filled with flour and sugar along with all the cookie sprinkles.

She also gets a spoon, some water, a measuring cup and a mixing bowl.

She can make whatever she wants (and she does, with gusto) while I get dinner together. It is a win-win for everyone.

Except, the floor gets kind of trashed in the process (sugar always ends up on the floor) so you'll probably have to mop when you're done.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Toddler Activities for Fall: Window Clings

This is what we are doing today, putting up seasonal window clings on our front screen door. These cost about $1 at the local craft store and keeps us busy for 30 to 45 minutes.

This is a good vocabulary builder for younger toddlers too.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Cheap Toddler Crafts: Halloween Masks

We are so fortunate that the older neighbor girls like spending time with the tots on our street. These girls sing songs, play pretend, are workhorses for wagon rides, and come up with crafts for my toddler and the toddlers next door.

My house has suddenly become craft central as the weather cools and we have Friday Fun night every week now. I provide snacks, some financial support, and the girls organize the craft and supervise the kids.

I don't hear a peep from anyone for almost 2 hours. It is really nice and allows my husband and I some much needed downtime.

So last week, the girls showed up with these foam masks. I supplied the feathers, googly eyes and glitter.

This was a very simple craft and perfect for toddlers. Once everyone finished their masks, they went outside and had a pre-Halloween parade through the neighborhood. Super cute. Super fun.

The cost? $5 at your local craft store.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Web Wednesdays: Free Websites for Kids

Got bored kids looking for something new to do? Then ActivityTV is the webiste for you and your family.

This fun website presents all sorts of how tos and instructions to do everything from magic tricks to origami. This is a great website for curious kids who are pretty self-directed in their learning. Kids can follow their interests or easily expand their skills--this is a really comprehensive website.

Age range is upper elementary to tween, although some of the activities could be done by younger children with parental involvement.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Toddler Crafts:Coloring Wooden Pumpkins

Go to any craft store and you can find these wood crafts for between $1 to $2. There are four pumpkins in the package pictured on the left. Cheap and easy, the perfect combination for any busy parent.

These are also a great activity for birthday parties and other events where children will outnumber the adults. Each kit comes with paint markers, so easy peasy.

They often come in holiday themes so it's a nice, easy craft to keep on hand for slow days, or the day after you just scrubbed paint off the ceiling only to turn around and find your toddler taking crayons to the wall. Even the craftiest parent needs a low key insta-craft every once in a while, right?

Which is why painting these wooden pumpkins made it onto our list of Fall crafts.

Oh and if you can't find them in your local craft store, sells packs of 36 for like $13 but they don't include the paints.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Toddler Crafts for Halloween: Candy Corn Wreath

The inspiration for these came from a magazine cover. I am always on the lookout for crafts that my toddler can actually do vs. watching mom put everything together. This one does require some parental involvement, but after a certain point, this craft is all toddler.

Here's what you need:

1.Ribbon, any color you like. Some versions of this craft use duct tape, which is an option, but not very attractive.

2.Candy corn
3. Small wreath (about $2 at craft stores)
4. Elmer's glue
5.Glue gun


1. Mom should use the glue gun to anchor the ribbon to the back of the wreath.

2.Mom then wraps ribbon around the the wreath, creates a hanging loop and uses the glue gun to secure in place.

3.Lay a generous track of glue. Generous is important otherwise the candy corn won't adhere well.

4. Give toddler a big bowl of candy corn. Coach them on not eating the ones with glue on them and turn 'em loose.

My toddler did all the gluing on the wreath pictured above by herself. She had a great time and has been begging for more candy corn ever since.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Toddler Activities: Mixing Phonics

Here's a new twist on magnetic letters that my toddler loved. Take your Leapfrog Fridge Phonics set and make it 'brand new' again with a mixing bowl.

My toddler's been taking them out and putting them back in while singing '1 little, 2 little, 3 little letters.'

Friday, October 1, 2010

Free Toddler Crafts: Fun with Glue

Here's what we've been doing with glue.

Gluing feathers onto paper.

The feathers get delightfully soggy with glue which is a texture revelation for the 3 and under set.

Also? Very low key, low prep toddler craft, which is a win for Mommy.

Unless, you happen to be Martha Stewart, in which case, why are you here?

Then I took some pinking shears and cut up a bunch of construction paper. As a bonus I made shapes; triangles, rectangles, squares, and irregular shapes that I just now invented (and should receive a Nobel Prize for aaaaany second now).

Then I left a trail of glue on some paper and had the toddler cover the glue with paper. If your little one can manage the glue, let them make their own paper trail.

Other cool things to do, spell out words and names in glue. Make a smiley face or other picture.