Hunting for Leprechaun GoldPlay doesn’t have to be elaborate or complicated to be fun and rewarding for both our Little Pnuts and ourselves. Sometimes the simplest of activities are the biggest winners. This leprechaun treasure hunt is an example of that. My Little Pnuts would do this activity over and over again and it couldn’t be easier to set up and execute.

 

 

 

 

 

What You Will Need:

  • Plastic cold coins (available this time of year at your local dollar store, craft store, or party store)
  • A good imagination
  • A few hiding places
 

Get Ready

Have your Little Pnut wait for you in another room (like their bedroom) while you hide gold coins all over the house.

Hunt for Gold

Help your Little Pnut hunt for the gold coins! Use clues like hot and cold if they need a little extra help.

It’s that simple! I promise, your Little Pnut will have loads of fun and their imagination might even kick in a little bit. My Little Pnuts even spied a few “leprechauns” around the house when we were hunting for gold.

Variation

Try a few variations of your treasure hunt: Hide the gold coins in mounds of play dough for a quiet time version of this activity or take your hunt outside if weather allows. For a little extra learning have your Little Pnut count the coins after they have collected them. Hide a different number of coins each time and tell your Little Pnut how many you hid so they know how many they need to find.

Happy Playing!

 

Developmental Milestones:

This activities focuses on the following Developmental Milestones for your Little Pnuts: Imaginative Play, Creative Play & Co-operative Play

—Jennifer Haas, founder of Plain Vanilla Mom.

 
 

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.
 
 
 

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 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
 
 

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.

‘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.
 

It’s almost Summer! Why not take a favorite seasonal item, the Beach Ball, your Little Pnuts and have some fun while teaching Cooperative Play. A great play date activity with several of your Little Pnuts friends!

 

 

 

 

 

What You Will Need

  • Several Colorful Beach Balls
  • A gathering of Little Pnuts

 

How to Play 

First have all the Little Pnuts stand in a circle.

Begin by throwing a few beach balls into the air. Have all the Little Pnuts do what they can to keep the beach balls from hitting the ground. Have them test out using different body parts to touch the ball; their feet, hands, shoulders, chest and heads, utilizing coordination to keep the balls from touching the ground. Instruct them that they are not allowed to touch anyone else in the process to prevent injury.

Once a ball hits the ground it is removed from play. As the balls get fewer in play, the object is to see if they can use team work to keep the balls from touching the ground. Have your Little Pnuts give directions to one another, alerting their “team mates” when the ball is near, have them communicate to each other taking turns to keep the ball up and where the ball is, thus avoiding collisions.

 

Variations on Play

To add a bit of challenge add more balls to the game. This allows for increased concentration and focus as well as having your Little Pnuts pay closer attention to their surroundings while simultaneously working to not to bump into someone else. This variation also assists in balance and coordination, while keeping focus on the ball they are trying to keep off the ground.

 

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, Communication, Team Work.

 

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