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.
 
 
 


Does the Polar Vortex of 2014 have you and your Little Pnuts looking out the window, wishing you could run outside and play? We have the perfect activity to help bring a little outdoors in eliciting hours of giggles with oodles of learning through play!

 

 

 

 

 

 

What You Will Need

  • Floral Water Beads in a variety of sizes and colors
  • Water
  • A large container
  • A variety of scoops, spoons and small containers
  • Various Small Toys, ie, Squirting toys, shells, to set the theme
  • *Optional – light table (see our DIY light table for how to make your own) Light Box Fun

 

Get Ready…

Prior to play, you’ll need to hydrate your water beads. Simply take your water beads and sprinkle them into your large container and add enough water for your water beads to absorb and plump. We recommend adding at least an inch to two inches of water to the container. The water beads will need 6-8 hours to absorb all the water in the tub. Your Little Pnuts will enjoy watching the time-lapse of your water beads changing and growing.

Get Set…

Once the beads have plumped to the size of small marbles or grapes they’re ready for play. Set up the container of water beads on a table or on the floor. Spread out a variety of tools for your Little Pnuts to use for scooping and stirring. We used regular table spoons, measuring spoons and measuring cups for scooping. We also used small containers to scoop into, pour out and sort.

Play!

Establish a theme and decorate accordingly with your small toys. We thought a colorful & playful theme would be fun using the squirt toys the Little Pnuts have in their bathtub. They loved hiding the toys under the beads and scooping them out or feeling for them. The texture of the beads are fun, similar to jello marbles and our Little Pnuts enjoyed feeling them fall through their fingers. They also loved seeing how they would bounce and roll on hard surfaces

Variations of Play

Our Little Pnuts enjoyed a variety of ways to use our water beads. We used scoops and containers to teach volume and mass. Separating the beads using various sized spoons allowed for counting and number recognition, the 1/4 teaspoon allowed one water bead to be scooped up while the tablespoon would scoop 5-6 beads at a time. We were able to segment out colors using our 1/4 teaspoon to scoop one colored water bead at a time and separate them into separate containers.

*We advise that parental supervision should be present at all times. If your Little Pnut is still putting things in their mouth we recommend you wait before introducing them to water bead play.

Water beads really are an amazing way to enhance sensory exploration. Our Little Pnuts enjoyed many hours of learning through play.

Watch the Video:

Little Pnuts Learning Through Water Bead Play!

Developmental Milestones:

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

Fine Motor Development, Language Development, Focus and Concentration, Sensory Exploration, Cognitive Development, Number Recognition, Color Recognition, Hand-Eye Coordination & Team Work.

 

—Melissa Pia Bossola Beese, Little Pnuts Founder
 
 


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
 
 

Looking for an activity to celebrate Fall with your Little Pnuts? How about a pumpkin hunt? This is a super easy and inexpensive activity that has lots of potential for fun and playful learning!

 

 

 

 

What You Will Need

  • A bag of miniature pumpkins and gourds, preferably in a variety of shapes and colors (often sold in the produce section of your grocery store during the season)
  • Somewhere to hide them – we used a nearby playground, but even your backyard would work!
  • A bag for each Little Pnut to collect his/her pumpkins

 

Let’s Begin

To set up, simply hide the pumpkins and gourds around the designated area while your Little Pnuts are engaged elsewhere.

 

Let’s Play

When the pumpkins are all hidden, give each child a bag and have them collect the pumpkins.  Once they’ve all been collected, bring them all together to investigate and compare.  Talk about the different shapes, sizes, colors, and textures of the pumpkins and gourds.  Help your child sort the pumpkins by various attributes (bumpy and smooth, round/not round, etc.). Slightly older Little Pnuts may enjoy a turn hiding the pumpkins for the adults to find! You can also work on expressive language by having the children give you verbal directions to help you find the hidden pumpkins.

 

Developmental Milestones:

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

Problem Solving, Reasoning, Fine/Gross Motor Development, Receptive/Expressive Language, Sensory Development

 

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

With Back-to-School it’s always great to have activities at home that reinforce and inspire your Little Pnuts love for learning at school. Here is a classic play dough activity that will have your Little Pnuts squealing with delight while also working on their fine motor skills- color surprise play dough!

 

 

 

What You Will Need

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup salt
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil (I’ve used canola oil, vegetable oil, olive oil, and coconut oil)
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar
  • Liquid watercolors or food coloring in several colors

Let’s Begin

To make your play dough, combine the dry ingredients in a saucepan and then add your water and cooking oil. Cook over medium/low heat, stirring constantly. Your play dough will quickly form a ball around your spoon; remove it from your pan and allow it to cool on some foil or wax paper.

After the play dough has cooled, it’s time to add your surprise to WOW your Little Pnuts!  Divide your dough into small balls, at least one for each of your colors. Next, poke a hole in each ball and squeeze a few drops of watercolors or food coloring into each hole.  Close the hole by carefully pinching it shut. Your play dough will not look any different but will contain a fun color surprise for your little ones to discover!

Let’s Play

Invite your Little Pnuts to take the balls of play dough and begin kneading and smushing them.  They will quickly discover the colored centers…encourage them to continue mixing the play dough until it takes on the color of the dye.  Then make some colorful creations with your Little Pnuts…the activity is limited only by your imagination!

*Note – Be sure to wear old clothes and prepare your play space for mess…food coloring and liquid watercolors may temporarily stain hands and/or clothing (but it’s soooo worth it)!

Developmental Milestones:

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

Sensory Exploration, Creativity and Imagination, Fine Motor Skill Development, Cause and Effect

 

—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
 
 
 

What a better way to celebrate Earth Day, everyday, than by creating an activity with recyclables with your Little Pnut?  Don’t toss those cardboard boxes to the curb…save them up and create some Giant Duct Tape Building Blocks instead!


 

 

 

 

What You Will Need

  • A variety of sturdy cardboard boxes in different sizes. Diaper boxes work great for this activity as do Little Pnut Special Delivery Boxes.
  • Several rolls of duct tape (we used a few different primary colors)

 

Creating the Blocks

To create your blocks, simply wrap each cardboard box tightly and evenly with duct tape. The duct tape adds enough stability so that if your boxes were sturdy to begin with, younger Little Pnuts can actually climb on them!

Play

These fun, mega-sized blocks have infinite possibilities.  Younger Little Pnuts will enjoy exploring the physical properties of the blocks by pushing, climbing, stacking, and sitting on them.  Older Little Pnuts can add to the fun by building towers and using the blocks for imaginative play.  Build some walls and drape a blanket across the top for a totally awesome fort!  If you’ve used different colors, engage your Little Pnut in some fun color learning activities with the blocks.  Building with blocks of any size is an excellent early math activity as well.

 

Developmental Milestones:

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

Cognitive Development, Gross Motor Skill Development, Focus and Concentration, Sensory Exploration, Imaginative Play

 

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

Looking for a creative way to challenge your Little Pnut’s fine motor skills? Try spaghetti threading!  This is a fun activity that is easy to set up using items that you may already have in your pantry or craft closet!


 
 
 
 

 

 

What You Will Need

  • A few uncooked spaghetti noodles
  • Play dough
  • Small items to thread onto the spaghetti – we have used pony beads, Cheerios, colored pasta, etc.

 

Set Up and Play

Form your play dough into a large ball or mound.  Stick one end of your spaghetti noodles into the ball so you have a giant “porcupine.”  Show your Little Pnut how to thread the small items onto the noodles one at a time.

Variations

Younger Little Pnuts may have more success if you substitute thin dowel rods for the noodles and use larger beads for threading.  To make the activity more challenging, use multi-colored items for threading and turn it into a color-sorting exercise by assigning a different color to each noodle. Work on early math skills by drawing numbers out of a cup and having your Little Pnut thread the corresponding amount of items onto the spaghetti.  For groups of Little Pnuts, make it into a game by using a timer and seeing how many items each player can thread onto the spaghetti in 60 seconds.  The player with the most items is the winner! As always, we are proponents of learning through play, so if your Little Pnuts get bored with the structured activity, let them use the materials for free play – you might be surprised at what they can build with spaghetti and play dough!

 

Developmental Milestones:

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

Cognitive Development, Fine Motor Skill Development, Focus and Concentration, Sensory Exploration

 

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

 

Looking for a fun Easter activity for your Little Pnut? Why not try your hand at making some sensory eggs?  Your Little Pnut will enjoy hiding, finding, and examining these eggs over and over again!

 
 
 
 

 

 

 

What You Will Need

  • 1 package plastic Easter eggs
  • Hot glue gun
  • Assorted embellishments 

Make the Eggs

This activity is limited only by your imagination.  Your mission is to take your plain plastic eggs from drab to fab by embellishing them with items that will delight the senses of your Little Pnut.  Be sure to glue your eggs shut before you begin (fill some of your eggs with pinto beans or rice before securing them so your Little Pnut can shake them and listen to the different sounds they make).  Need ideas?  Choose items that not are not only visually interesting, but add texture to the eggs as well (think rough, smooth, bumpy, soft, etc.).  We used buttons, sparkly pom-poms, strips of fabric and leather, sequins, plastic gems, pipe cleaners, yarn, feathers, and sandpaper to embellish our eggs.

Let’s Play!

There are so many fun ways your Little Pnut can play with these eggs.  Younger Little Pnuts will be content just to examine the eggs closely or put them in and out of a basket or other container.  Help your Little Pnut develop object permanence by hiding the eggs under colorful play silks and helping them to discover them again.  Older Little Pnuts will enjoy using these to practice egg-hunting skills for the big day!  Hunting for eggs is a great opportunity for language stimulation – in addition to describing the sensory properties of your eggs, you can also practice prepositions (is the egg beside the tree or behind the tree?) and following directions (find the shiny green egg).   Another fun idea – place all the eggs in a bag or box with a hole in the top and have your Little Pnut stick a hand inside. Your Little Pnut can try describing the eggs he/she feels or finding eggs that match your descriptions.

 

Developmental Milestones:

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

Sensory Exploration, Language Development, Cognitive Development, Fine Motor Skill Development

 

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

 

 

 
 

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