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.
 
 
 


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
 
 

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
 
 


Do your Little Pnuts love ice cream? Ours certainly do, and what could be a better way to beat the summer heat than ice cream pretend play? Here are five ways we have used the Hape Ice Cream Shop from our recent Little Pnuts shipment for pretend play, sensory play, fine motor development, and FUN!

 

What You Will Need

  • Hape Ice Cream Shop
  • Cloud Dough (Recipe below)
  • Sand
  • Shaved Ice
  • Homemade Syrup (Recipe below)
  • Ice Cream Dough (Recipe below)
  • Pom Poms in various sizes & colors

Variations of Play

Cloud Dough

Cloud dough, moon dough, snow dough –whatever you call it, this classic sensory medium makes the perfect pretend ice cream! To make it, simply combine 8 parts flour to one part vegetable oil (or any cooking oil). You can add Kool Aid, spices, or extracts to scent it and/or crushed chalk or powdered tempera paint to color it.  The dough is soft and fluffy but can be molded like sand…so fun!

Sand

Take your Hape Ice Cream Shop to the sandbox – your Little Pnuts are guaranteed tons of fun with very little preparation!

Snow Cones with Homemade Syrup

Since the Hape Ice Cream Shop is BPA and phthalate free, your Little Pnuts can use it to make their own tiny snow cones! We used shaved ice and made homemade syrup with this easy recipe (LINK: http://nateandrachael.com/snow-cone-syrup-recipe/) and had a blast with our icy treat!

Ice Cream Dough

We stumbled upon this sensory play recipe from our friend over at Play Create Explore (LINK: http://www.playcreateexplore.org/2013/01/ice-cream-dough-new-play-recipe.html) and have been having tons of fun with it this summer! To make it, simply combine ¾ cup hair conditioner (or lotion, which is what we had on hand) and 1 ½ cups cornstarch.  Add extracts and/or food coloring to make your perfect “flavor” and you have a fantastic dough that really and truly looks like ice cream!

Pom Poms

We have a giant stash of pom poms of all shapes, sizes, and colors that our Little Pnuts love to play with. They had a fabulous time scooping them out of the tub and “serving” their creations to the whole family one afternoon. This was an easy and awesome fine motor workout!

 

Developmental Milestones:

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

Exploration, Sensory Exploration & Development, Cognitive Development, Fine Motor Skill Development, Focus and Concentration, Creative Play, Pretend Play, Imaginative Play

 

—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.
 
 
 

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.