Bring a little luck o’ the Irish into your home this St. Patrick’s Day, with these darling DIY Salt Dough Shamrocks both you and your Little Pnut will enjoy making together. You’re sure to have a visit from a Leprechaun, or two, with these hanging about the house.

 

 

 

 

 

What You Will Need:

  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 cup flour
  • Shamrock shaped cookie cutter
  • A straw
  • Various colors of green paint
  • Ribbon or string
  • Paint brushes
  • Baking sheet
  • Mixing bowl
  • Cutting board
  • Rolling pin

Make & Bake the Salt Dough

To make the salt dough, mix the flour, salt and warm water together until a soft dough forms. We like to get ours started in the bowl and then finish kneading it on a floured cutting board until it’s just the right consistency. It should feel a bit like soft play dough. Little Pnuts love doing the mixing so let your Little Pnut get their hands into that dough!

Next, help your Little Pnut roll out the dough on a floured surface. Using a shamrock cookie cutter have your Little Pnut cut out shamrock shapes.

Important: If you want to hang your shamrocks, this is the time to use a straw to poke a hole in the shamrocks before baking. Don’t forget to remove the straw before baking though.

Place the salt dough shamrocks on a cookie sheet and bake them at your oven’s lowest setting until they are completely hardened.  Usually around 250 degrees fahrenheit and about 2 hours but it could take more or less depending on how thick your cutouts are. Check them every hour and turn them so they don’t get too brown. Once they are completely hardened remove them from the oven and let them cool.

Paint Your Shamrocks

Once your shamrocks have cooled completely they are ready to paint. Present your Little Pnut with some green paint and let them have fun painting their shamrocks.  The more shades of green the better! We ended up with some with a beautiful swirled marble effect on some of ours by mixing multiple shades of green.  Once the paint is dry string some ribbon and hang your shamrocks.

Try a Variation: Add a little green food coloring when you are mixing your dough and you’ll have green salt dough shamrocks you can either hang as such or paint further.

Most importantly have fun! Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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, Shape Recognition, Hand-Eye Coordination, Sensory Play, Cognitive Development, Creative Play, Imaginative Play & Free Play.

—Jennifer Haas, founder of Plain Vanilla Mom.
 
 
 


In a pinch for some unique Valentines for your Little Pnut’s school celebration tomorrow? We’ve got you covered. Here’s a cute DIY idea that your Little Pnut will have a blast making keeping them quietly entertained as they learn through play.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What You Will Need

  • Construction Paper in various colors or Valentine themed prints
  • Foam heart stickers
  • Pencils, 1 for each child
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Double-sided Sticky Tape

 

Get Ready…

Depending on the age of your Little Pnut you may need to assist throughout this activity. First you will want to set all your work out on a fairly large table so that you can spread your heart feathers out allowing the glue to dry. Help your Little Pnut select the colored sheets of paper that they would like to use for their heart feathers. They will need two sheets per heart to create a 3-D effect. This is a great way to teach your Little Pnut how certain colors combined can create different looks and help them to understand what colors work together. Your Little Pnut will also need to count out the pencils to ensure they have enough for each friend.

Get Set…

First you will need to start by cutting out the hearts. Selecting the 2 sheets of paper your Little Pnut would like to use for their arrow feather hearts, fold both sheets together so that your cut hearts will be the exact size. Slowly and carefully have your Little Pnut cut out hearts in various sizes. Cutting is a great exercise to further define and enhance fine motor skills and to introduce the concept of large & small. If your Little Pnut is too young to handle scissors alone help your Little Pnut with this step.

Play!

Once all the hearts have been cut out it’s now time to make the arrow feathers.  Using glue make a thin line along the fold of one heart adhering the second heart on the seam. Let them dry.

While the arrow feathers are drying your Little Pnut will want to create the arrow tips. Using two foam hearts of the same size, have your Little Pnut set the tip of the pencil in the middle of one heart then cover the pencil tip with the second. This will form the arrows tip.

When the arrow feathers are dry, you will now add the feathers to the pencil. Lay the pencil eraser side in the middle of one side of the hearts next to the seam. Taking a piece of double-sided sticky tape you’ll want to tape the pencil down leaving a bit of tape to cover part of the heart. Pinch the sides together to fold the pencil into the heart thus forming the feather part of the arrow. This should form the 3 wings of the arrow feathers.

There you have it, perfect Cupid’s Pencil Arrow Valentines! Now duck and cover…

Happy Playing!

Developmental Milestones:

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

Fine motor development, number recognition, shape recognition, color recognition, hand-eye coordination & cognitive development.

 

—Melissa Pia Bossola Beese, Little Pnuts Founder
 
 

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.
 
 
 

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.
 
 
 

 

Looking for a fun art project to keep little hands busy? Try using adhesive shelf paper to create relief art with your Little Pnut!

 

 

 

  

 

What You Will Need

  • Blank paper or canvas
  • Several colors of paint
  • Adhesive shelf paper
  • Paint brushes (or you can finger paint!)

 

Let’s Create!

First, have your Little Pnut cover his/her canvas with a background color. We used pink and then sprinkled on a little glitter. After the paint is dry, cut a shape out of adhesive shelf paper, peel the backing off, and stick it onto the canvas.  Press the edges down well.  Now, paint over your shape with a new paint color/colors that contrast well with the background color.  We used two different shades of blue and a little bit of white.  Before the paint dries, carefully peel off your shape to expose the background color.  And there you have it! A beautiful work of art to proudly display on your wall!

 

Developmental Milestones:

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

Fine Motor Skill Development, Hand/Eye Coordination, Focus & Concentration, Creativity, Sensory Exploration

—Stephanie Haass, Little Pnuts Early Childhood Activities Expert & Bloggerwww.two-daloo.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now that the holidays are over, the long winter days can seem dreary and dull as we wait for spring flowers to bloom.  Brighten your Little Pnuts day with play by creating a light box from a few items you probably have on hand!

 
 
 

 
 
 

 
 
 
 

 

What You Will Need

  • A large, clear plastic container with lid
  • Liner for the body of the container- a black garbage bag, black construction paper, or foil work well
  • Parchment paper
  • White Christmas lights- a strand or two will do, depending on the size of your container

Making the Light Box

First, line the body of the container with your material of choice. We used a black garbage bag – no taping required!  Next, arrange your Christmas lights so they are distributed evenly throughout the container.  Be sure to leave the plug near one end so you can find it easily.  Now, take your lid, flip it over, and line the inside with a single layer of parchment paper to diffuse the light from within.  Tape the edges down, flip it back over, and place it on top of your container.  Before locking your edges down, find your plug and pull it out enough to plug into the wall.  You can cut a hole in the side of the container for the plug if desired, but we didn’t need to.  After that, all that remains is to plug it in and enjoy the soft glow from within the light box!

Light Box Play

There are many great ways to play with your light box with Little Pnuts of all ages!  There are commercially available geometric shapes for light box play, or you can make your own by cutting up inexpensive translucent dividers. Water beads in clear containers look beautiful when placed on top of a light box (pictured)!  Another fun idea – fill plastic baggies with colored hair gel or glitter glue, place flat on top of the light box, and let your Little Pnuts practice drawing shapes or writing letters in the gel with their fingers. Drawing in translucent containers filled with a shallow layer of salt is another engaging pre-writing activity for Little Pnuts that is extra-exciting on the light table.  Manipulatives such as marbles, translucent gems, or sparkly pom-poms are fun for fine motor or counting activities.  Older Little Pnuts may enjoy using the light box for tracing activities.  A quick internet or Pinterest search for light box activities will yield many more ideas.

 

*Please keep in mind that children should always be supervised when playing near an electrical outlet or plug. DIY light boxes may become hot after extended periods of play, so be sure to monitor the temperature of the box periodically. 

Developmental Milestones:

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

Fine Motor Skill Development, Hand/Eye Coordination, Focus & Concentration, Imaginative Play, Creativity, Sensory Exploration, Cognitive and Language Development

 

—Stephanie Haass, Little Pnuts Early Childhood Activities Expert & Bloggerwww.two-daloo.com
 

 

 

 
 


 

In the mood for a winter play activity, but no snow in the forecast?  Never fear! Your Little Pnuts will love playing with this peppermint-scented cloud dough so much, they won’t even miss the fluffy stuff!  Scented cloud dough only needs three ingredients and the possibilities for creative sensory play are limited only by your imagination. 

 

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

What You Will Need

  • A large plastic container
  • Flour
  • Cooking oil (we use olive oil, but vegetable oil, canola oil, and coconut oil work, too
  • Peppermint essential oil (optional)
  • Assorted kitchen tools, containers for filling/dumping, cookie cutters, small toys, pinecones, etc. for playing in your “winter wonderland”

Making the Cloud Dough:

Place your container on a low table or on the ground where your Little Pnuts can access it easily.  Add flour and cooking oil (stay away from baby oil – it smells nice but can be toxic if ingested or inhaled) in a ratio of eight parts flour to one part oil.  Add a few drops of peppermint essential oil if desired.  Have your Little Pnuts help you mix the oil into the flour with their hands, a spoon, or even a whisk.

Let the Fun Begin:

Encourage your Little Pnuts to explore the cloud dough with their hands and feet, kitchen tools, and/or toys. Use your imagination…gently press the dough into balls to make snowmen, or if you are brave, have a “snowball fight!”  Flatten the powder with your hands and use cookie cutters to stamp holiday shapes.  Use pinecones to make “trees” in your tiny winter landscape.  Measuring cups and ice-cream scoops are the perfect tools to make pretend food with your cloud dough.  You can even use a stick or a cotton swab to draw or write letters in the dough.  Open-ended play activities such as this are wonderful opportunities for language enrichment– talk about how the dough feels and smells and describe your play as you go.

Variations:

Try using various essential oils to and/or spices to add different scents to your cloud dough.  Pumpkin pie cloud dough would be a fun autumn activity; lavender-scented cloud dough would be very soothing. If you are concerned about Little Pnuts ingesting the dough, be sure you buy “therapeutic grade” essential oils as they are the only ones that are edible.

To add color to your cloud dough, try adding crushed colored chalk,  powdered gelatin or drink mixes.  Make it sparkly by adding fine glitter.  Of course, just plain-ole’ cloud dough is loads of fun, too!

Developmental Milestones:

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

Fine Motor Skill Development, Hand/Eye Coordination, Focus & Concentration, Vocabulary Development, Symbolic Play, Sensory Development, Social Interaction

 

—Stephanie Haass, Little Pnuts Early Childhood Activities Expert & Bloggerwww.two-daloo.com
 
 
 


Looking for a fun activity for the kids’ table this Thanksgiving? Your tots will love making these cute little turkeys using pinecones and play dough! Give your Little Pnuts a fine motor workout with this fun and easy activity.

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

What You Will Need:

  • Large Pinecones for the turkey “bodies”
  • Miniature pinecones for turkey “heads” (large acorns, pom-poms, or just a ball of play dough would work, too)
  • Play dough (any color)
  • Feathers and/or pipe cleaners (cut in half)
  • Google eyes
  • Small triangles of construction paper or craft foam for “beaks”

Making the Turkey:

Take a large pine cone and show your Little Pnut how to poke small pieces of play dough between the scales.  Next, take your feathers and/or pipe cleaners and poke them into the play dough, creating the turkey’s colorful tail.  Then, make a face on your turkey’s “head” using small bits of play dough to stick on google eyes and a beak, and for the grand finale, use a larger ball of play dough to stick the head onto the body.

For younger Little Pnuts, you may want to make the turkey’s head ahead of time and hot glue it onto the turkey’s body before doing the activity.  Older Little Pnuts will enjoy doing the whole activity themselves!  Be creative with your materials – have your Little Pnuts help you think of other items that could be used for the turkey’s feathers. Some we thought of include colorful pasta, cut-up straws, popsicle sticks, etc.

Developmental Milestones:

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

Fine Motor Skill Development, Hand/Eye Coordination, Focus & Concentration

Stephanie Haass, Little Pnuts Early Childhood Activities Expert & Bloggerwww.two-daloo.com
 
 
 

 

 

It’s that time of year–Autumn. The leaves turn, pumpkins are harvested and coziness settles in. It’s our favorite time of year. A time of year that invites outside play, beautiful sunsets and family interaction. Here is a fun outdoor activity for Little Pnuts of all ages that envelopes the Fall harvest. Perfect for a pumpkin playdate or a Halloween party–why not play a game of Pumpkin Patch Leap Frog?

  
 
 
 

What You Will Need:

  • Eight medium-sized pumpkins test them out to see if your Little Pnut can jump over them easily
  • Two short pieces of rope these will be used to mark your start and finish line
  • A timer to be used to see which Little Pnut gets through the pumpkin patch the fastest

 

How to Play:

Find an open area and create your pumpkin patch obstacle course, either by placing your pumpkins haphazardly or in a straight line about 3 feet apart.

Using the pieces of rope, mark a starting point and ending point on both ends of the line.

Have your Little Pnuts line up, taking turns, have each Little Pnut leap over each pumpkin one at a time all the way to the finish line.

Using a timer, time each Little Pnut to see how fast it takes them to leap from start to finish.

 

End of Game:

The Little Pnut with the fastest time leaping through the pumpkin patch, without tipping over a pumpkin, wins.

 

Developmental Milestones:

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

Gross Motor Skill Development, Coordination, Balance, Focus & Concentration, Logical Reasoning, Understanding of Winning & Losing, Competition, and Social Interaction.

 

—Based on a game found in “Kids’ Garden, 40 Fun Indoor and Outdoor Activities and Games”, by Whitney Cohen
 

 

 

 

A fun indoor or outdoor activity for Little Pnuts of all ages.  This is a game that  allows you to be a pirate and a detective all at the same time. Your Little Pnuts will have a blast “scavenging” for the treasures you’ve hidden to and fro! 

 
 
 
 
 

*We recommend that the teams have Preschoolers who are learning to read for this variation of the game.

 

What You Will Need:

  • Small, Silly, Fun Items that you can hide in various locations either in the house, outdoors, or even both.
  • Pre-made lists with all the items to be found. This will be handed out to each team to gather. To help with new readers include a picture next to each word to help with word association and to ensure they will be able to find the items they are looking for.
  • A timer depending on the age of your teams set the timer to what you feel is an appropriate amount of time to find the items on the lists.
  • Prizes 2 types, some for the winning team and some for the losing team. Make sure there are enough for everyone.

 

How to Play:

Hide all the items in locations where each team will search to find them. Place the same number of items as there are teams in each location. When a team finds an item, they are only permitted to take one item.

Set a timer for the amount of time in which each team must find all of the items listed on their list.

On your marks, get set…GO!

Each team is off to find the items as listed on their sheets. Send them off in different directions so that they are all looking in a variety of locations. Remind them to keep each location where they found an item a secret, making it difficult for the other teams to find out where they might have found the items on the list.

 

End of Game:

The first team to find all the items on the list within the allotted timeframe wins.

 

Developmental Milestones:

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

Gross Motor Skill Development, Coordination, Reading Skills, Word Association, Focus & Concentration, Logical Reasoning, Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, Teamwork, Understanding of Winning & Losing, Competition, and Social Interaction.

 

—Based on a game found in the book. “You’re It!”, by Katie Hewitt