The holidays are always bright and cheerful and tend to bring a coziness into the home. This holiday while busy prepping, keep your Little Pnuts entertained with a tree they can decorate on their own. 

 

 

 

What You Will Need:

  • Green Construction Paper
  • Pom Poms in a variety of shapes and colors
  • Glue
  • Scissors

Get Ready…

Draw or trace a Christmas tree shape onto the green construction paper. If your Little Pnut is able, have them cut out the tree with the scissors. If your Little Pnut is not using scissors yet go ahead and cut out the tree for them ahead of time.

Create invitation for your Little Pnut to decorate their Christmas tree by setting out your materials in an inviting manner. I set our tree on our table on top of some paper towels to protect our work space. Putting the pom poms in a small bowl makes them inviting to little hands.

Trim Your Tree!

Let your Little Pnut glue and stick pom poms onto their Christmas tree until their little heart’s content.

Variations:

If you want to challenge your Little Pnut, give them some tweezers or tongs to manipulate and place the pom poms with.

If your Little Pnut is still not ready to use a bottle of glue try pouring a little glue into a small bowl or cup and allowing them to dip the pom poms into the glue prior to placing them on the tree.

Finally, sit back and admire their tree. Don’t forget to find the perfect spot to hang it for the holiday season!

Happy Playing!

 

Developmental Milestones:

This activities focuses on the following Developmental Milestones for your Little Pnuts:

Fine Motor Skills, Focus and Concentration, Strategic Thinking, Color Recognition, Hand-Eye Coordination, Cognitive Development, Creative Play, Free Play, Imaginative Play.

—Jennifer Haas, founder of Plain Vanilla Mom.
 
 
 

Looking for an activity to celebrate Fall with your Little Pnuts? How about a pumpkin hunt? This is a super easy and inexpensive activity that has lots of potential for fun and playful learning!

 

 

 

 

What You Will Need

  • A bag of miniature pumpkins and gourds, preferably in a variety of shapes and colors (often sold in the produce section of your grocery store during the season)
  • Somewhere to hide them – we used a nearby playground, but even your backyard would work!
  • A bag for each Little Pnut to collect his/her pumpkins

 

Let’s Begin

To set up, simply hide the pumpkins and gourds around the designated area while your Little Pnuts are engaged elsewhere.

 

Let’s Play

When the pumpkins are all hidden, give each child a bag and have them collect the pumpkins.  Once they’ve all been collected, bring them all together to investigate and compare.  Talk about the different shapes, sizes, colors, and textures of the pumpkins and gourds.  Help your child sort the pumpkins by various attributes (bumpy and smooth, round/not round, etc.). Slightly older Little Pnuts may enjoy a turn hiding the pumpkins for the adults to find! You can also work on expressive language by having the children give you verbal directions to help you find the hidden pumpkins.

 

Developmental Milestones:

This activities focuses on the following Developmental Milestones for your Little Pnuts:

Problem Solving, Reasoning, Fine/Gross Motor Development, Receptive/Expressive Language, Sensory Development

 

—Stephanie Haass, Little Pnuts Early Childhood Activities Expert & Blogger, founder of www.two-daloo.com
 
 

It’s a creepy crawly time of year! Help your Little Pnut celebrate all things spooky with this fun fine motor activity, complete with an army of eight-legged friends!

 

 

 

 

What You Will Need

  • A bag of miniature spiders, usually found at craft store
  • A ball of white yarn
  • A round wire wreath form, found in the floral section of craft stores (you could also use an embroidery hoop for a smaller version)
  • Tongs or tweezers for each Little Pnut (optional depending on developmental level)

 

Let’s Begin

To set up, take your wreath form and tie one end of your yarn somewhere on the wire. This is your starting point. Then, wrap the yarn around and around the circle, overlapping and criss-crossing until you end up with a large “web” (see photo). Secure the yarn by tying to the wire at your desired end point and trimming with scissors.

 

Let’s Play

To play, grab your spiders and arrange them around your “web.” Invite your Little Pnuts to place the spiders on and off the web. Younger Little Pnuts will benefit from using their fingers to grasp the spiders. Older Little Pnuts will enjoy using tongs, pincers, or even spoons to try to move the spiders from place to place.  You can work on spatial relations and prepositions by asking your Little Pnuts to place the spiders at the top, middle, or bottom of the web, etc. You can also use this activity to work on early math concepts with children who are developmentally ready.

 

Developmental Milestones:

This activities focuses on the following Developmental Milestones for your Little Pnuts:

Fine Motor Development, Receptive Language, Imaginative Play and Cognitive Development

 

—Stephanie Haass, Little Pnuts Early Childhood Activities Expert & Blogger, founder of www.two-daloo.com
 
 

Fall has arrived and with it comes the changing of colors on the trees, a crisp coolness in the air and the change of scenery in nature. Why not bring some of those changes indoors with this creative reflection on Autumn Leaves. Seasons inspire creativity and with it the imagination!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What You Will Need

  • White Paper
  • Brown Paing
  • A Paint Brush
  • Construction Paper in various fall colors (Red, Yellow & Orange)
  • Glue

Get Set…

First paint a tree shape onto the white paper with brown paint and let it dry. Be sure to give it lots of branches (your Little Pnut will be putting leaves on these later). If you happen to have an older Little Pnut you could have them do this as part of the project. Let the tree dry completely. In our case I painted the tree during nap time so it was ready after.

While your tree is drying, tear the construction paper into little bits and set them aside. I put ours in a bowl to better contain them.

Decorate!

Present your Little Pnut with the tree, the bowl of leaves, and some glue. Have your little one glue the “leaves” (ie. construction paper bits) onto the tree. In our case, this was one of the first times that our Little Pnut had used a glue stick so there was a bit of learning with that. If your Little Pnut is more experienced with glue let them have at it! The possibilities are endless. Leaves on branches, leaves falling off the tree, leaves on the ground, even a huge pile of leaves. This is also a good opportunity to talk about what happens to the leaves in the fall and do a little color recognition. Most importantly have fun! Don’t forget to find the perfect spot to display your Little Pnut’s fall tree after it’s done. Little Pnuts love seeing their artwork on display.

Happy Playing!

 

Developmental Milestones:

This activities focuses on the following Developmental Milestones for your Little Pnuts:

Fine Motor Skills, Focus and Concentration, Strategic Thinking, Color Recognition, Number Recognition, Cognitive Development, Creative Play, Free Play, Imaginative Play.

—Jennifer Haas, founder of Plain Vanilla Mom.
 
 
 

With Back-to-School it’s always great to have activities at home that reinforce and inspire your Little Pnuts love for learning at school. Here is a classic play dough activity that will have your Little Pnuts squealing with delight while also working on their fine motor skills- color surprise play dough!

 

 

 

What You Will Need

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup salt
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil (I’ve used canola oil, vegetable oil, olive oil, and coconut oil)
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar
  • Liquid watercolors or food coloring in several colors

Let’s Begin

To make your play dough, combine the dry ingredients in a saucepan and then add your water and cooking oil. Cook over medium/low heat, stirring constantly. Your play dough will quickly form a ball around your spoon; remove it from your pan and allow it to cool on some foil or wax paper.

After the play dough has cooled, it’s time to add your surprise to WOW your Little Pnuts!  Divide your dough into small balls, at least one for each of your colors. Next, poke a hole in each ball and squeeze a few drops of watercolors or food coloring into each hole.  Close the hole by carefully pinching it shut. Your play dough will not look any different but will contain a fun color surprise for your little ones to discover!

Let’s Play

Invite your Little Pnuts to take the balls of play dough and begin kneading and smushing them.  They will quickly discover the colored centers…encourage them to continue mixing the play dough until it takes on the color of the dye.  Then make some colorful creations with your Little Pnuts…the activity is limited only by your imagination!

*Note – Be sure to wear old clothes and prepare your play space for mess…food coloring and liquid watercolors may temporarily stain hands and/or clothing (but it’s soooo worth it)!

Developmental Milestones:

This activities focuses on the following Developmental Milestones for your Little Pnuts:

Sensory Exploration, Creativity and Imagination, Fine Motor Skill Development, Cause and Effect

 

—Stephanie Haass, Little Pnuts Early Childhood Activities Expert & Blogger, founder of www.two-daloo.com
 
 


Do your Little Pnuts love ice cream? Ours certainly do, and what could be a better way to beat the summer heat than ice cream pretend play? Here are five ways we have used the Hape Ice Cream Shop from our recent Little Pnuts shipment for pretend play, sensory play, fine motor development, and FUN!

 

What You Will Need

  • Hape Ice Cream Shop
  • Cloud Dough (Recipe below)
  • Sand
  • Shaved Ice
  • Homemade Syrup (Recipe below)
  • Ice Cream Dough (Recipe below)
  • Pom Poms in various sizes & colors

Variations of Play

Cloud Dough

Cloud dough, moon dough, snow dough –whatever you call it, this classic sensory medium makes the perfect pretend ice cream! To make it, simply combine 8 parts flour to one part vegetable oil (or any cooking oil). You can add Kool Aid, spices, or extracts to scent it and/or crushed chalk or powdered tempera paint to color it.  The dough is soft and fluffy but can be molded like sand…so fun!

Sand

Take your Hape Ice Cream Shop to the sandbox – your Little Pnuts are guaranteed tons of fun with very little preparation!

Snow Cones with Homemade Syrup

Since the Hape Ice Cream Shop is BPA and phthalate free, your Little Pnuts can use it to make their own tiny snow cones! We used shaved ice and made homemade syrup with this easy recipe (LINK: http://nateandrachael.com/snow-cone-syrup-recipe/) and had a blast with our icy treat!

Ice Cream Dough

We stumbled upon this sensory play recipe from our friend over at Play Create Explore (LINK: http://www.playcreateexplore.org/2013/01/ice-cream-dough-new-play-recipe.html) and have been having tons of fun with it this summer! To make it, simply combine ¾ cup hair conditioner (or lotion, which is what we had on hand) and 1 ½ cups cornstarch.  Add extracts and/or food coloring to make your perfect “flavor” and you have a fantastic dough that really and truly looks like ice cream!

Pom Poms

We have a giant stash of pom poms of all shapes, sizes, and colors that our Little Pnuts love to play with. They had a fabulous time scooping them out of the tub and “serving” their creations to the whole family one afternoon. This was an easy and awesome fine motor workout!

 

Developmental Milestones:

This activities focuses on the following Developmental Milestones for your Little Pnuts:

Exploration, Sensory Exploration & Development, Cognitive Development, Fine Motor Skill Development, Focus and Concentration, Creative Play, Pretend Play, Imaginative Play

 

—Stephanie Haass, Little Pnuts Early Childhood Activities Expert & Blogger, founder of www.two-daloo.com
 
 
 

Summer is the perfect time to get outdoors, play games and to get wet. Why not include a little balance and coordination to an afternoon of Gross Motor Play. Water Balloon Stomp is a fabulous way for your Little Pnuts to practice color recognition, build on counting skills, improve strategic thinking all while enjoying outdoor fun.  A great water play activity for a play date or for individual play this activity is sure to elicit plenty of giggles.

 

What You Will Need

  • Filled Water Balloons in a variety of colors, filled.
  • A bucket filled with water
  • A Timer for the variation on play

Get Ready…

Gather up some water balloons. We usually fill up a bucket(s) with water and then drop the water balloons in that to keep them safer longer.

Get Set…

Find a good place for your Little Pnut to “stomp”. The beauty of this activity is you can do it just about anywhere outdoors. We did this activity on our deck but the yard, the driveway, or patio work great too. Gently lay out one or more water balloons on the ground.

…Stomp!

You may have to demonstrate for your Little Pnut the action you are after but I promise you they will catch on quickly. Our 22 month old did! He had the best time trying to stomp on and break the water balloons with his feet. That alone is a good exercise in concentration and coordination. The older Little Pnuts will be a little more accurate and break the balloons more quickly but it may take the littles a few tries. Mix it up and make a color recognition game out of it for your Little Pnuts by laying out more than one balloon at a time and telling them what color balloon to stomp. Practice counting by challenging them to break a designated number of balloons.

For even older Little Pnuts write numbers on the balloons with a sharpie and see how many balloons they can break (ie. points they can score) in a designated time period. Older Little Pnuts will love the added element of a time challenge. The possibilities are almost endless. Most importantly though, have fun & get wet!

 

Happy Playing!

 

Developmental Milestones:

This activities focuses on the following Developmental Milestones for your Little Pnuts:

Gross Motor Skill Development,  Focus and Concentration, Strategic Thinking, Balance, Coordination, Color Recognition, Number Recognition, Number Sequencing, Counting Skills, Cooperative Play, Cognitive Development, Group Play and Individual Play.

—Jennifer Haas, founder of Plain Vanilla Mom.
 
 
 

You Are Your Child’s Best Toy!

Photo Credit: Sujin

We first need to begin by saying; Parent Education has saved us from ideologies that were not known to man centuries ago. The same goes for toys; what toys do you buy? What toys do you accept? Why? Can you even answer that question? Well for many years we met families who could not, and we realized we needed to explain the fundamentals of brain development and the importance of “sufficient”, “crucial” and the  “necessary” factors about the toys in your child’s room. Trust me, you might have never known that certain toys can be detrimental if not used properly!

What is Brain Development?  Why, do children benefit from having their experiences enhanced?  According to the National Center For Infants, Toddlers, and Families, “The first three years of life are a period of incredible growth in all areas of a baby’s development. A newborn’s brain is about 25 percent of its approximate adult weight. But by age 3, it has grown dramatically by producing billions of cells and hundreds of trillions of connections, or synapses, between these cells”.  At birth the brain is said to be unfinished and underdeveloped, but we know children use their brain to create cognitive skills, emotions, social skills and more. The brain has been said to develop in the world and not in the womb. Are you focused yet?  Great, let’s move on.  Research shows that 75 percent of a child’s brain occurs after birth! So now take a look in your child’s room and quietly examine all the toys, and pick out what you feel enhanced their brain development, better yet did someone even interact with them while using these toys? Now, this is to get you zoned into reality for your child’s optimal success not to feel down because you might not have been clued on to this topic. When we know better, we do better and as educators we want you to be the best you can be!

 

Here are 5 Things You Did Not Know About Battery-Operated Toys & Their Effects on Brain Development!

 

Developmental psychologist Rachel Keen notes, parents and teachers “need to design environments that encourage and enhance problem solving from a young age” (Keen 2011).

  1. They do not promote math skills, social skills, problem solving skills, and cooperative play, but blocks, hands on objects, and wooden toys do.
  2. Going back to the basics allows language development to grow. When your child has to interact to play, this is the benefit of high success. There is not much interaction with battery-operated toys.
  3. Infants and Toddlers brains are dependent on the responses of adults.
  4. A baby forms 700 neural connections in the first year of life. Now think if this child was playing alone with battery operated or do it yourself toys.
  5. A newborn is born with most of the brain cells we have for our entire life, but do not know how to connect and use them. This is where we come in to understand how crucial interaction and brain development is for young children.

So tell me what will you go home and do now?

 

Photo Credit: HABA.de

—Jessica Howard, Little Pnuts Educational Play BloggerFounder and CEO of Kid’s Night Out Parent’s Night Off in NYC.

It’s the perfect weather for outdoor water play. Stay cool in the hot summer sun while introducing your Little Pnuts to the joy of fishing. A great game of strategy while encouraging concentration and focus. Perfect for a play date or for individual play, Fishing for Ping Pong Balls, will get your Little Pnuts excited about splashing around!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What You Will Need

  • Ping Pong Balls (as many or as few as you like) 
  • Something to fish with like a butterfly or bug net or a kitchen strainer with a handle or even slotted spoon would work.
  • A body of water. Think kiddie pool, bathtub, water table or large plastic container.

Set Up

Fill your designated container with water and drop in a few ping pong balls. We found that the ‘more the merrier’ in respect to the ping pong balls was especially true for this activity. Give your Little Pnut his fishing gear of choice. We used a kiddie sized butterfly net but a kitchen strainer with a handle works great too.

Let Them Fish!

See how many ping pong balls they can catch. Have them count them with you.  If your Little Pnut is capable, challenge them to catch a particular number of ping pong balls. If you happen to have different colors of ping pong balls have them catch balls of a certain color. Ours were all white so we focused on making this a counting activity. For the littlest of Little Pnuts it’s great hand-eye coordination just for them to catch the ping pong balls and throw them back in the water.

 

Happy Playing!

 

Developmental Milestones:

This activities focuses on the following Developmental Milestones for your Little Pnuts:

Gross Motor Skill Development, Fine Motor Skills, Focus and Concentration, Strategic Thinking, Problem Solving, Cognitive Development, Coordination, Cooperative Play, Group Play and Individual Play.

—Jennifer Haas, founder of Plain Vanilla Mom.
 
 
 

‘Tis the season to head outdoors for some fun. Acting Out play is a great way to get your Little Pnuts to participate in play utilizing their imagination & creativity. Whether at the park, in the backyard or during a Little Pnut Playdate, Acting Out games, using a little imagination, creativity and silliness can provide hours of fun!

 

 

What You Will Need

  • A gathering of Little Pnuts
  • Endless Imagination

 

How to Play 

First have all the Little Pnuts sit in a circle.

Name an animal and the action for that animal your Little Pnut should mimic. An example would be, “Horses Gallop” Your Little Pnut would then respond by running around like a horse, galloping to and fro’. Without a doubt a roar of giggles will erupt and you’ll see all the Little Pnuts eagerly await their turn. Being that there are so many animals to imitate – Frogs hopping, Birds flying, Cats sneaking, Lions Prowling – you may never run out of ideas.

After each Little Pnut has taken a turn, have them vote on who did the best action and have that Little Pnut be the one who calls out the actions.

Variations on Play

To make it a bit more challenging have your Little Pnuts mimic the sound the animal makes in addition to imitating the action. As an example call out “Elephant, sway and say Hi”. Your Little Pnut would pretend to have a trunk, swinging is arms in front of his body and then perse his lips together and blow. Adding an additional direction allows your Little Pnut to focus, concentrate and strategize how they would do the action and sound. This allows for even more imaginative thought.

Want to create even more giggles? Change it up by throwing in a twist, have your Little Pnut mimic a Frog singing or an Elephant walking a high wire. You’ll see their minds spinning and the creativity flow as they try to create their own fun variations of what animals can do.

Happy Playing!

 

Developmental Milestones:

This activities focuses on the following Developmental Milestones for your Little Pnuts:

Gross Motor Skill Development, Focus and Concentration, Strategic Thinking, Cognitive Development, Coordination, Cooperative Play, Imaginative Play, Creative Play.

 

—Melissa Pia Bossola Beese, Mother of 2, founder of Little Pnuts.