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.
 
 
 


Breathe new life into old crayons with a star shaped mold by transforming them into something new festive and fun with this easy activity (just in time for the 4th of July). These adorable shaped chunky crayons make great party favors or toss them in a bag along with some paper for those long summer road trips with your Little Pnuts

 

 

 

 

 

What You Will Need:

  • Old (or new) Crayons
  • Star Shaped Silicon Cupcake Molds (often found at your local craft store)
  • Paper
 

Prep

Peel and break your crayons. Your Little Pnut will love helping with this. Although sometimes it can be a little tricky to get the paper off, It’s a great way for little hands to work on dexterity and fine motor skills. Once all the crayons are peeled have your Little Pnut break them into little bits.

Next have your Little Pnut distribute the crayon pieces into the molds. We made Red White & Blue stars in honor of the upcoming holiday by placing pieces from various shades of blue and red crayons together along with a few pieces of white crayon just for fun. Be creative. You could make solid colors or mix them in a variety of ways.

Bake

Bake your crayons in a 250 degree oven for about 20 minutes. Ours actually took slightly less (more like 18 minutes). You want to check your crayons frequently while they are baking and pull them out just at the point when all the pieces have completely melted. If you let them go too long you’ll end up with a waxy soup and all the colors will meld together too much (not very pretty).

Play

When your crayons are cool pop them out of the molds. The silicon molds will pretty much just peel off making removing the crayons pretty easy. However, if you need a little extra help, put mold in the freezer for 5-10min and then the crayons should just pop right out. Now all that’s left is to color and create. Give your Little Pnut the crayons and some paper and let the creativity flow! Chunky crayons like this are not only fun to make and create with, but they are perfect for those little learning hands of even the littlest of Pnuts to hold.

Note: Don’t worry if you can’t find star shaped molds. These crayons are just as much fun made in a regular old muffin tin too!

Try a Fun Variation

Try experimenting using solar power to melt your crayons like we did HERE

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, Creative Play, Imaginative Play & Free Play.

—Jennifer Haas, founder of Plain Vanilla Mom.
 
 
 


Play Dough Impressions CollageWhen it’s just too hot outside to play why not bring your Little Pnuts in for some cool play dough fun. Your Little Pnuts will have so much fun making impressions with their blocks & play dough they won’t even realize they are learning through play!

 

 

 

 

 

What You Will Need:

  • Blocks in Different Shapes & Sizes
  • Play Dough
  • Rolling Pin (optional)
  • Small Basket or Container to Hold the Blocks

Set Up

Gather your materials.  Use the rolling pin to roll out the play dough so it’s a nice large flat surface.  If you don’t have a rolling pin just flatten the dough out using your hands. Place the blocks in a small basket or container next to the play dough.

Explore

Invite your Little Pnut to use the blocks to make impressions in the play dough. Your Little Pnut will most likely know just what to do and begin experimenting on their own but if not , go ahead and show them by making a few impressions with the blocks yourself.  Talk about the different shapes or marks that the blocks are leaving in the play dough. If you have a younger Little Pnut this is a great way to turn a tactile sensory experience into a fun lesson on shapes. When the surface of the play dough is covered with impressions simply roll it out again.  If your Little Pnut is able go ahead and let them use the rolling pin.

Make a Game of It

Here’s my favorite part! Once your Little Pnut has had a chance to handle and experiment with the materials, make a game of it. This time you press the block shapes into the play dough to make the impressions and then return the blocks back to the basket. Now, ask your Little Pnut to find or otherwise match up the blocks to their play dough impressions.

Try a Fun Variation

As a fun variation, experiment and play the game with objects other than blocks like we did HERE. What kind of impressions do other objects leave behind?

Happy Playing!

 play dough collage 2

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, Tactile Sensory, Cognitive Development, Creative Play, Imaginative Play & Free Play.

—Jennifer Haas, founder of Plain Vanilla Mom.
 
 
 

 

Puzzle CarSqueak, squeak… make way for the Sevi Squeaky Car.  This adorable little car is lots of fun and will help develop motor skills, imaginative play and logic.  It’s colorful blocks turn into a fun car with a squeaky sound.

About Sevi:

Sevi is an Italian wooden-toy manufacturer, the oldest in Europe, known for its sophisticated style and international design influences that have been the brand’s hallmark since its founding in 1831.  Sevi products are handcrafted and hand-painted; any irregularities or slight differences from toy to toy are characteristics of a hand-made product, which adds to the value of these toys.  All pigments and finishes used are non-toxic and resistant to saliva; this means that Sevi toys are suitable for small children.  Sevi is so confident in the quality of their toys that they back them up with a lifetime warranty against defects in materials and workmanship.

Review:

Sevi has made what is traditionally known as a boy’s toy, a gender-neutral toy that both boys and girls are drawn to.  The cheerful passenger block has a boy’s face on one side, and a girl’s face on the other.  The mix of neon and pastel colored blocks are attractive to all, and makes this toy stand out.

Your child will continue to come back to this aesthetically appealing toy.  There is something about it that makes you want to play with it.  Maybe it’s the fun designs and bright colors or it could be the rewarding squeaky sound you get after it is put together.

It is extremely durable as it is made from wooden blocks that can be disassembled and re-assembled over and over again. The rubber strips on the wheels allow for great gripping action on virtually any type of surface.  The rubber strips also help protect your wood floors from getting scratched.  The rounded edges of the blocks make for a safer toy for your toddler to explore and are also easier for little hands to grip.

The squeaky car is a challenging toy for different age levels.  There are six wooden pieces that make up the car, two of which are easier to take apart than the other four.  This allows for a younger child to immediately gain a sense of gratification by being able to take apart the two easier pieces from the get go, but in turn giving them a goal to achieve, which is to disassemble and re-assembled the entire car.  Older children, that can disassemble and re-assemble the entire car, gain a sense of accomplishment and will be engaged to find new fun ways to play with the car.

As the squeaky car is built entirely out of wood, it is extremely durable.  It can handle a fall onto a hard surface and not come apart and easily holds up during active play without showing any noticeable wear and tear.   This is one of the few wooden toys that we will allow our toddler to take anywhere, and yes that includes outside.

This is a pricey toy (approximately $31.99 retail), but it is a toy that is built to last a lifetime. It is made with quality, durable wood, and you will want to keep it in your family and pass down for generations to come. Contact Little Pnuts if you’d like to purchase one for your Little Pnut.

– Misty Scott, owner/blogger at The Motley Toddler

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.
 
 
 


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
 
 

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