IMG_0560Whether at a parade, having fun in the back yard or watching the fireworks these ribbon wands are sure to provide your Little Pnut with loads of festive fun just in time for the 4th of July.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What You Will Need:

  • White foam board, cardboard or heavy card stock (we used white foam board from the dollar store)
  • Bbq skewer or other similar stick
  • Star shaped cookie cutter (optional)
  • Hot glue
  • Red, white & blue paint
  • Paint brushes
  • Scissors/exacto knife
  • Red, white & blue ribbon
 

Get Ready

Either by way of using a star shaped cookie cutter or freehand, draw and cut two stars out of the white foam board. Note: If you are using foam board scissors will work but I found I got much cleaner edges when using an exacto knife. Once the stars are cut out have your Little Pnut paint one side of each star using red white and blue paint.

Assemble your Wand

When the paint is dry you are ready to make your wand. First, hot glue the skewer to the unpainted side of one of the stars (pointed side of the skewer facing in for safety). Then using more hot glue, cover the rest of the star and sandwich the two unpainted sides together. You will have to press down a bit or squeeze them together for a few seconds for the glue to dry and hold. Once the hot glue has dried and your wand is secure cut ribbon into various lengths and tie to your wand.

Play

Hand the wand over to your Little Pnut and watch what happens! Good chance they will be instantly captivated and may break out into parade themselves.

Variation

For some extra sparkle try covering the stars in glitter!

Happy Playing!

Developmental Milestones:

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

—Jennifer Haas, founder of Plain Vanilla Mom.

 
 


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.

 
 

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.
 
 
 

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.
 
 
 

Little Pnuts love to put their art on display, no matter what medium they have worked in. Today we have the perfect Valentines Day activity that lets them put their love on display just in time for that special day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What You Will Need:

  • Poster Paint, preferably in Valentines colors
  • White Paper
  • Heart shaped cookie cutters or other heart-shaped items. We used cookie cutters, little heart-shaped treat boxes and sponges cut into heart shapes

Get Ready, Get Set..

Pour some paint onto a paper plate or into a shallow bowl. Tip: A small piece of cardboard makes a good artists pallet too. Then, let your Little Pnut dip their heart shapes into the paint and stamp them onto the paper until their little heart’s content. When they are done, set their paintings somewhere safe to dry.

Play!

Now for the fun part! Decide how to display your Little Pnuts art. Some ideas for you.

  • Hang it as is
  • Use it as wrapping paper
  • Cut out heart shapes for it and string together to make garland
  • Cut out heart shapes and tie them off individually with ribbon to hang around the house (that’s what we did)
  • Help your Little Pnut write a Valentine’s message or To  & From on the hearts and hand them out as homemade Valentines.

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.

—Jennifer Haas, founder of Plain Vanilla Mom.
 
 
 


Stuck indoors? Here is a fun activity for your Little Pnut that combines science, art, sensory play, and fine motor practice. Read on for instructions on setting up your own Colorful Ice Play!

 

 

 

 

 

 

What You Will Need

  • Ice cubes or an ice block (we made ours by freezing water in a plastic butter container)
  • Colored water (we used diluted liquid watercolors, but food coloring also works great)
  • Salt
  • Medicine droppers or pipettes
  • *Optional – light table (see our DIY light table for how to make your own) Light Box Fun

 

Set Up & Play

Set up is simple – place your ice or ice block on a tray (use a clear one if you plan to use the light table). Provide containers of colored water and salt for your Little Pnut to experiment with.  Our Little Pnuts enjoy squirting the water on the ice with pipettes and watching the colors mix on the tray.  Sprinkling salt on the ice will cause it to melt quickly where the salt touches it, creating beautiful patterns. Our Little Pnuts love this activity and yours will, too!  Using a light table kicks up the fun one more notch – place your clear tray on top of your light table (wrap the light table in plastic to protect it) and watch the colors mix and swirl.

 

Developmental Milestones:

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

Fine Motor Development, Language Development, Focus and Concentration, Sensory Exploration, Problem Solving

 

—Stephanie Haass, Little 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 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