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.
 
 
 

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.
 
 
 

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.
 

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.
 
 

 

 

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