With shorter days and longer nights Fall allows for more family fun in the evening. With the use of a flashlight and a bit of imagination your Little Pnut can bring Halloween to life right in your home!

 

 

 

What You Will Need:

  • Old 
  • Craft sticks
  • Glue
  • Black construction paper
  • Pencils 
  • Scissors
  • Halloween shaped cookie cutters (optional)
  • Flashlight
 

Assemble Your Puppets

Using the cookie cutters trace Halloween shapes onto black construction paper. We used a bat, ghost and pumpkin but you can use whatever you might like. If you don’t have cookie cutters not to worry, just draw your shapes of choice by hand. Or,  if your Little Pnut is able, it might be fun to have them draw the shapes. Next cut out the shapes. If you’d like, also c

Get Ready

While your shadow puppets are drying you and your Little Pnut can gather up a flashlight and scout out a nice empty spot on a wall in the house (preferably in a dark or dimly lit room) for some spooky shadow puppet play. You might even want to round up a couple of fun Halloween stories.

Imagine & Play

Once your shadow puppets are dry let the fun begin.  Aim your flashlight at the wall and have your Little Pnut hold the puppets in front of it until you see the shadows on the wall. Now, let your Little Pnuts’ imagination take over. We used our Spooky Shadow Puppets to act out Halloween stories (like Five Little Pumpkins) or you (and your Little Pnuts of course) can use your imagination and make up your own fun (or spooky) stories. We had a super fun bat & ghost race at our house!

Happy Playing!

 

 

Developmental Milestones:

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

Fine Motor Skills, Focus and Concentration, Shape Recognition, Hand-Eye Coordination, Creative Play, Imaginative Play & Free Play.

—Jennifer Haas, founder of Plain Vanilla Mom.
 
 
 

 

Autumn is such a picturesque time of year, the leaves change, colorful crops are harvested and the air becomes crisp and clean. Capture some of the season’s highlights with this stained glass activity that both you and your Little Pnuts will enjoy making together. 

 

 

 

 

 

What You Will Need:

  • Transparent Contact Paper
  • Glue Stick
  • Colorful Ribbon
  • Natural Items Collected from outside; leaves, twigs flowers & sticks.
 

Prep

Spend an hour outside with your Little Pnuts collecting things that symbolize Autumn, fallen leaves, twigs, sticks, flowers etc. If you have time you can even gather them while out on a nature scavenger hunt to add a bit more fun.

Prepare your materials. Cut 2 equal size squares from the contact paper. Keep the backing on the sheets until you are ready to assemble.

Select your ribbon and measure out 4 pieces that are in equal length to each of the four edges of your contact paper. This will be the frame.

Create

Carefully pull off the backing from one of the sheets. Have your Little Pnut place the items they found carefully on the sticky side of the sheet. Work through the exercise with your Little Pnut having them think about how they’d like to arrange each piece. Would they like to arrange by colors? Do they want to arrange by shape? Do they want to create a pattern?

Once they’ve decided the placement of their items you’ll need to remove the backing from the second sheet of contact paper. Carefully line up the edges and slowly place the second sheet sticky side down on top of the arrangement. Be careful not to get air bubbles between the sheets but if they do occur simply try to rub them out with the tip of your finger.

Have your Little Pnut put glue along the edges of the 4 pieces of ribbon and carefully place them along each edge of their stained glass, framing their artwork.

Lastly, find a window with good light that comes from the setting sun to capture the colors of their stained glass coupled with the Autumn light and hang.

Happy Playing!

 

 

Developmental Milestones:

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

Fine Motor Skills, Focus and Concentration, Color Recognition, Shape Recognition, Hand-Eye Coordination, Strategic Thinking, Cognitive Development, Speech Development and Creativity.

—Melissa Pia Bossola Beese, founder of LittlePnuts.com
 
 
 

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.
 
 
 

Colored pasta is a fantastic medium for a whole host of activities. Even coloring the pasta can be loads of fun for your Little Pnut so be sure to let them take part in the process.

 

 

 

What You Will Need:

  • Dry pasta in as many shapes or sizes as you want
  • Liquid water colors or food coloring
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Plastic zip lock style bags
  • Trays, cookies sheets or plates for drying
  • Paper towels

Choose Your Pasta

There are lots of shapes and sizes to choose from. We recently colored these little pasta wheels and having been using them in all sorts of ways.

Color Your Pasta

There are few different ways you can color pasta. We love the vibrant colors that using liquid water colors produces so more often than not that’s what we choose.  To color the pasta your desired amount of pasta in a plastic zip lock style bag (we usually start with a cup or two for each color). Then  add a few squirts of liquid water-color and shake until it’s the pasta is thoroughly coated. Your Little Pnut will love the job of shaking the bag, of that I am sure!  If the color isn’t vibrant enough add a little more liquid water-color. Better to start with just a little at a time and add more if necessary as too much wet will begin to make the pasta sticky.

If you don’t have liquid water color you can color your pasta using a few pumps of hand sanitizer and a few squirts food coloring. We prefer gel food coloring because it tends to yield more vibrant results.

Dry Your Pasta

This step is important! Line cookie sheets or other trays with paper towels. Spread your freshly colored pasta out separating any pieces that might be stuck together and leave it to dry. We usually let ours dry overnight before handling it but a few hours should do the trick.

Play, Explore & Create

The possibilities are almost endless. You can use your pasta as sensory bin filler. It’s great for color sorting. It can be used for art work in various ways. Our Little Pnuts like gluing pasta shapes on paper to make pictures or collages. It can be strung on cord for jewelry.

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.
 
 
 

If you are a parent or caregiver looking for activities for young children, you’ve probably noticed that “sensory play” is all the rage on kid blogs and Pinterest. There are even entire websites devoted to sensory play for little ones, and while they are full of creative ideas, you may find yourself asking, “Does my child REALLY need sensory play for development?”

To answer this question, let’s look at what we know about sensory play.

 

 

WHAT IS SENSORY PLAY?

Sensory play is simply play that encourages children to use one or more of the senses.  Often called “messy play,” sensory play experiences focus on stimulating children’s senses of sight, sound, smell, touch, taste, balance, and movement.

Research tells us…

  • Young children rely on sensory input to learn about their environment.
  • Sensory play helps build neural connections that support thought, learning, and creativity.
  • Sensory play supports language development, cognitive growth, fine/gross motor skills, problem solving/reasoning, and social interaction.
  • Children’s exposure to sensory play opportunities is declining.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO US?

The first three points on the list above are pretty self-explanatory. In a nutshell, sensory experiences are like food for the brain…they provide valuable input that allows the brain to build new pathways that in turn support growth in crucial areas of development.

The fourth point, however, is what sheds some light on the answer to our original question, “Is all this REALLY necessary?”  You may be thinking, “My parents didn’t do sensory play with me, and I turned out ok!”  The fact is, our little ones spend much less time outdoors than their parents and certainly grandparents did as children.  Since the outdoors is naturally full of sensory play opportunities, this has definitely had a part in the decline of sensory play.  Secondly, although children can definitely fulfill their need for sensory play indoors when given periods of unstructured playtime with stimulating materials, the truth is that indoor time is often monopolized by television, battery operated toys, or toddler/preschool programs that focus on drilling academics rather than fostering important play skills.  This has resulted in a generation of children who may not even know how to play when given the opportunity…how sad is that?

So in short, the answer to your question is yes, sensory play is crucial for your child’s development. And since children today are no longer given ample opportunities for naturally occurring sensory play, it is up to us as parents to be sure their needs are met.

BUT WAIT!!  

Before you rush out and buy the materials to recreate every zany sensory activity you ever pinned on Pinterest, here are some much less time-intensive activities that you can do to enrich your child’s “sensory diet” without losing your sanity as well.

  • Play with sand, mud, water, shaving cream, cornmeal, water beads, dried or cooked pasta, dried beans or lentils, etc.  Provide a variety of containers, kitchen tools, and small toys for your child to explore with.
  • Sing and dance to music.  Use child-sized instruments, scarves, ribbon wands, etc. to encourage participation and engage multiple senses.
  • Build with blocks, empty cardboard boxes, or canned goods.  Knock down your towers and talk about the loud noises.
  • Add essential oils or extracts to play dough and compare all the different scents as you play.
  • Pick out a variety of fruits and vegetables at your local market (try to choose some that are new to your child).  Have a “sensory picnic” where you encourage your child to touch, smell, taste, and play with all the different produce.
  • Go for a walk in your neighborhood or in a wooded park.  Let your child stop and pick up leaves, sticks, rocks, or whatever else interests him/her.  If you want, bring a bag to fill with your “treasures” to bring home and make a collage with, or just simply to show to another family member.

MORE GREAT STUFF JUST FOR YOU:

To learn how to use fun sensory play activities to help get your toddler talking, check out Building Language with Sensory Play. (Link to- http://www.two-daloo.com/sensory-play-and-language/)

For an entire gallery of  sensory play ideas, click HERE. (Link to- http://www.two-daloo.com/category/play/sensory-play-little-minds-tot-school/)

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

 

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.
 
 
 

Getting creative and recycling are two things that go together perfectly – Hand in Hand. Why not get creative with your Little Pnuts and have a painting party with some old paper towel or toilet paper rolls. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What You Will Need

  • A variety of Cardboard Paper Towel & Toilet Paper tubes
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Paint (Watercolor, homemade paint, tempera, etc.)
  • An old pan or painting tray
  • An old paint roller
  • Large sized sheet or rolled paper
  • Foam Sheets, Old Sponges to cut shapes out of or Foam Shapes
  • Leaves, flowers even petals 

 

Creating the Rollers

To create rollers, if old enough, simply have your Little Pnuts cut out a variety of shapes from an old sponge or foam if too young use store-bought foam shapes or even use items that you’ve found in nature.  Next, have your Little Pnuts glue them on to the cardboard rolls. Have your Little Pnuts spread the shapes out over the area to create random patterns or affix them in a line to create a continuous pattern.

Play

Once your rollers are completed and the glue is dry, have your Little Pnuts slide their rolls over the old painting rollers to keep them intact. Next, have them dip the rollers into the paint carefully allowing only a thin layer of paint and allowing the excess paint drip into the pan. Once the paint is applied evenly on the rollers,  have your Little Pnuts run them gently over the paper. Let them get creative with the patterns and see if they can create purposeful patterns or elusive patterns while they paint. Your Little Pnuts will have a blast as their imagination and creativity take over their artwork.

Variation on the Rollers

In addition to stamp rollers, your Little Pnuts can also create shape rollers. Have your Little Pnuts carefully manipulate the open end of the cardboard roll into shapes, such as a heart or a diamond, an oval or a square, for the extreme challenge try a star. For a little luck try a shamrock gluing 4 heart-shaped rolls together. Once the chosen shape has been created, have your Little Pnut dip the end of the cardboard roll into the paint, press on paper to create the outline of the shape they have made.

Developmental Milestones:

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

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

 

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

Now that Spring is just around the corner, it’s a great time of year to explore colors with your Little Pnut.  Painting can be a wonderful way to introduce colors and color mixing, as well as a whole-body sensory extravaganza! Worried about your Little Pnut tasting the paint? Never fear! We’ve got you covered with this flour-based paint recipe – it’s easy and non-toxic but doesn’t taste good enough to keep your little ones coming back for more.  Let’s get artsy!

 
 
 
 

 

 

 

What You Will Need

  • 1 cup flour
  • Boiling water (1-2 cups)
  • Cold water (1-2 cups)
  • Food coloring (gel or liquid)

Make The Paint

Place your flour into a large, heat-safe bowl.  Heat your water until boiling and then add enough of the boiling water to the flour to make the consistency of peanut butter.  Stir well to remove lumps.  Use cold water to thin out the paint until you reach your desired consistency.  If lumps remain, you can pour the paint through a strainer to remove them.  A few drops of food coloring, and voila! Safe paint for Little Pnuts to explore!

Let’s Create!

There are so many fun ways your Little Pnut can play with paint.  For large-scale fun, spread a big piece of butcher paper on a table top or sidewalk (use duct tape to secure the edges) and let your Little Pnuts go! To keep painting experiences fresh, provide different “tools” each  – traditional painting tools like brushes can be mixed with non-traditional items like toilet paper rolls, q-tips, spaghetti noodles, and cotton balls for experimenting.  Try providing interesting “canvases” like fabric, bubble wrap, or foil instead of paper.  Remember, try not to focus on the finished product as much as enjoying the painting process with your Little Pnut – let them make the decisions about how to paint their masterpieces and you will be fostering creativity, independence, and a lifetime love of art and learning!

 

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, Language Development, Problem Solving

 

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

 

 

 
 

 

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