How We Color Pasta

When it comes to sensory bins, I generally just dump different materials into the container and call it a day. With the holidays approaching, I decided to get a little more festive by coloring dry pasta red and green. It did take a few combinations in order to get the set up just right, so I thought I would share the combination that worked the best for us.

Step One:

Gather supplies: Pasta (different shapes and sizes), rubbing alcohol, gallon size plastic bags, and food coloring.

Step Two:

Combine 16 oz dry pasta and 1 tsp rubbing alcohol into a ziplock bag. Shake it up to spread the rubbing alcohol evenly on the pasta.

Step Three:

Add food coloring of your choice. I added 50 drops of food coloring to 16 oz of dry pasta.

Step Four:

Spread the pasta out on a pan to dry. I let the pasta sit for 24 hours before adding to the bin.

Step Five:

Add to your sensory bin of choice.

For this sensory bin I added string to give my daughter the opportunity to start stringing the pasta. I tied a piece of pasta to the end so the other pieces wouldn’t slide off and applied scotch tape to the other end so the string wasn’t flimsy. After a few examples of pushing the string through and then pulling out the other end, my daughter was able to make a necklace completely on her own. I did remind her to “pinch and pull” when the string was coming out the other end of the pasta.


What is Doughberry?

Recently, we received a special delivery from Doughberry and I am now excited to share our experience through a product review. Doughberry was created by a Seattle mama who set out to make the softest, silkiest and most imaginative playdough in all the land. And because she’s a child of the 80’s and her favorite toys were Strawberry Shortcake dolls and scratch n’ sniff stickers, it’s only natural that she make a scented dough. From vibrant Strawberry and Tangerine to mellow Vanilla and Lavender, there’s a variety for every child (and every parent too)!

We received four colors in four yummy scents: pink (grapefruit), orange (scented tangerine), green (scented lime), and purple (scented lavender). Each color was packaged separately in a 4 oz. airtight container and the bottom was marked with the corresponding scent.

Doughberry is made with all natural materials and scented with essential oils, which makes this dough safe for those tiny humans who might want to sneak a taste. Ingredients include: Flour, water, salt, cream of tartar, vegetable oil, baking flavors, essential oils, and food coloring gel. If left sitting out, this dough does dry out. But, unlike other dough, Doughberry can be brought back to life with a few drops of oil or water. Trust me, I left some out and experimented!

Play Experience

I love using dough to promote language development. In the time we spent exploring this jar of Doughberry, I modeled the action words: roll/pull/push/give, described the texture of the dough, and created faces. My daughter loved giving me the directions to create a “happy face/sad face” and then laughed when I followed through with her commands.  The scents are delicious and provides an opportunity to discuss how we smell and how each jar smells different. The scents incorporate a whole new set of vocabulary words and experiences and is something she doesn’t experience from other unscented dough.

A Few More Thoughts

The first impression of this dough is that the texture is smoother than other dough we have experienced and the added scent makes opening each jar exciting. I limited my daughter’s play to one jar at a time initially, because I hate when the colors become mixed together. When they inevitably do mix together, I will be buying a new set and look forward to experiencing the new smells.

If you are interested in your own set of this dough, check out Doughberry on Etsy. It is sold in sets of 4, seasonal packs, and party favors, and any order is fully customizeable.

Disclaimer: We were provided with our own Doughberry in exchange for a product review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Our Fall Bucketlist

I look back fondly on Fall 2016. My daughter just started walking, she started to imitate sounds and words, and we went on a ton of new adventures. This year I want to be sure to do our favorites again, so I decided to write them down all in one place. I am sharing our Fall Bucket List in hopes that you will find some inspiration, new ideas, or new places to explore. My hope is that your child will experience new vocabulary and opportunities for language growth along the way.

Our Fall Bucket List

Spend a Fall Day on US-68. We can spend a whole day on US-68 right outside the town of Yellow Springs, Ohio. Pass the time by walking through a sunflower field at Tecumpseh Land Trust, picking out some fall treats at Peifer Orchards, or exploring Young’s Dairy.

Pick Apples. We have visited quite a few orchards in the Columbus area, but our favorite to date is Legend Hills Orchard, located in Utica, Ohio. The setting is tranquil and the rolling hills can separate you from the other apple pickers.

Play/Explore/Create with Apples. Need some inspiration? Check out our All About Apples post.

Visit a pumpkin patch. If you are looking for a pumpkin patch with all the bells and whistles, check out the Columbus Moms Blog’s pumpkin patch guide. We prefer to pick our pumpkins at Schacht Farm Market in Canal Winchester. It’s a simple set up with a U-pick pumpkin patch, corn maze, and a market.

Play/Explore/Create with Pumpkins.

Spend a Day at the Zoo. I think fall is the perfect time for a zoo day. The temperatures are cooler, the animals are still out, and Boo at the Zoo begins October 20th at the Columbus Zoo.

Paint a Pumpkin Teal. Join the Teal Pumpkin Project to provide children with food allergies a fun and safe evening of Treat-or-Treating with their peers. Homes participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project offer non-edible treats (stickers, temporary tattoos, etc.) to children with food allergies as alternatives to traditional candy.

Visit a Fall Festival. Columbus offers a variety of festivals around town. A start is the Harvest Fair at the Columbus Commons and the Independents’ Day Festival in Franklinton.

Make a Fall Themed Sensory Box.

Go on a Mini Fall Getaway. Last year we spent a long weekend in Traverse City, MI. This year we are heading to Denver, CO. Next year?

Join a Team and Participate in the Buddy Walk. The Buddy Walk was established in 1995 by the National Down Syndrome Society to celebrate Down Syndrome Awareness Month in October and to promote acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome. The Buddy Walk will be in Columbus, Ohio on October 1, 2017, at Mapfre Stadium.

Go on a Nature Walk

Jump in a Pile of Leaves

Pick out a Halloween Costume

Go Trick-or-Treating

Printable Fall Bucket List

Summer Challenge #8: Take a Walk on a Story Trail

This week the challenge is to locate and take a walk on a Story Trail in your community (or make your own).

A Story Trail is when pages from a children’s story book are placed page by page along a walking route in your community. You may have seen one placed on posts around a library or along a path in a park. A Story Trail is a fun way to combine early literacy learning, physical activity, and family interaction. It helps build a child’s interest in reading while encouraging healthy outdoor activity.

StoryTrails local to Columbus:

  • Dawes Arboretum – This year the Story Trail book is Sunflower House written by Eve Bunting.
  • Friendship Park – This year’s story, The Friendship Bridge, celebrates the beauty of diversity as two young girls from different cultures meet on a bridge and form a lasting friendship. The story was
    written by students Emerson Fry, Najma Gureye, Frankie Nuss, Mikayla Barbe-Cox, Amun Jama and Natalie Fry and beautifully illustrated by Alyssa Lee, a junior at Gahanna Lincoln High School.

The StoryWalk® Project was created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, VT and developed in collaboration with the Vermont Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition and the Kellogg-Hubbard Library.

My hope is that each and every adventure will be different and exciting. Please connect and share your experiences using #saynplaythesummeraway.

Summer Challenge #5: Explore your own backyard

It’s the heart of summer and the 4th of July is fast approaching. There are generally a lot of neighborhood and family get togethers planned this week, so the challenge is to find new ways to explore your own backyard. Below I have listed 10 ways to get you started.

  1. Whip up some sidewalk paint from the Happy Hooligans and get to work painting away in the backyard. Label the paint colors and discuss what your child is painting.
  2. Run through the sprinkler. Have some fun with “ready, set … go.” Discuss the concept wet/dry.
  3. Make some Mud. Discuss how mixing dirt and water create mud.
  4. Search for rocks and paint them for The Kindness Rocks Project. Point out rocks, label paint colors and talk about what message could be added to the rocks.
  5. Find 5 different types of bugs and label them.
  6. Set up a bird feeder and see how many different kinds of birds you can attract. Label the birds as the come and talk about what the birds are doing (eating/flying)
  7. Bring pool noodles into the yard and see how many different ways you can incorporate them into your play.
  8. Set up a picnic in your own backyard. Label foods, talk about eat/drink.
  9. Dig for worms. Use the action word “dig” and then label the worm once one is found.
  10. Water all the plants. Label the plants and talk about putting the water “on” the plants to give them a drink.

My hope is that each and every adventure will be different and exciting. Please connect and share your experiences using #saynplaythesummeraway.


Take a Taste Tuesday with Dayana

My name is Dayana. I married my best friend and am a mom of three cuties ages 6 (soon to be 7), 5 and 1. They sure keep me on my toes, but I love spending time with them, especially now that school is out. We stay busy by trying new things, going to fun places, gardening, doing crafts and of course we LOVE  cooking together. It’s funny because that is where the idea for my small business came from.

You see, when I was expecting my oldest daughter, my mom (who happens to be a professional seamstress with over 30 years of experience) made the cutest matching apron set for me and my daughter and I instantly fell in love. Who would have thought that that special gift would become the sample for many DayLu Designs mommy and me sets. (

My kids – as is the case with most kids – tend to be picky eaters. I am always looking for easy and yummy recipes that are also healthy and nutritious for them. That’s exactly what I found on Pinterest the other day. I ran to the grocery store to gather what I needed and then asked my kids if they wanted to help me. Luckily, they jumped in excitement and offered to help. I’ve found that when I include them in the process they are more open to try the food, which is why it is so crucial for me to find recipes that are easy and fast so that they can help.

Now that school is out I decided that we will be trying a new vegetable every day to expand our horizons. We gathered our ingredients and started prepping our delicious Zucchini Fritters!!

Here is the recipe if you want to try it out with your littles. Make sure you let them do almost everything of course under your close supervision. I even ask them to adjust the flavor with spices as we go!




  • 4 cupsshredded zucchini
  • 2/3 cupall-purpose flour
  • 2large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cupsliced scallions (green and white parts)
  • 2 Tablespoonsolive oil
  • Sour cream, for serving (optional)


Place the shredded zucchini in a colander set over a bowl and sprinkle the zucchini lightly with salt. Allow the zucchini to stand for 10 minutes. Using your hands, squeeze out as much liquid from the zucchini as possible. Transfer the zucchini to a large bowl.

Add the flour, eggs, sliced scallions, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper to the bowl, stirring until the mixture is combined. Line a plate with paper towels.

Add the olive oil to large sauté pan set over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, scoop 3-tablespoon mounds of the zucchini mixture into the pan, pressing them lightly into rounds and spacing them at least 2 inches apart. Cook the zucchini fritters for 2 to 3 minutes, then flip them once and cook an additional 2 minutes until golden brown and cooked throughout. Transfer the zucchini fritters to the paper towel-lined plate and immediately sprinkle them with salt. Repeat the scooping and cooking process with the remaining zucchini mixture.

Serve the zucchini fritters topped with sour cream (optional) and sliced scallions.



Take a Taste Tuesday with BeetBox

Hello! We are Sara Burkhart and Christina Saluke, Co-Creators of BeetBox, a subscription service designed to get kids ages 3-10 excited about eating fruits and vegetables. As moms to young children, we have a passion to teach kids how essential these tasty foods are and to help set the foundation for a lifetime of healthy eating. We create boxes packed with original content and carefully curated items intended to make fruits and vegetables appealing. Children will discover information, recipes, snacks, activities and products highlighting the fun and flavor of produce. BeetBox encourages children to experience hands-on involvement: shopping for, learning how to properly store and prepare and most importantly tasting produce! BeetBox strives to make fruits and vegetables a delicious and approachable part of everyday life while motivating children to learn through play. BeetBox is a local Columbus company that delivers monthly subscription boxes and one-time gift boxes nationwide.

We both enjoy shopping with our kids and have seen how involving them in the process of choosing foods and talking about options has a positive impact. Going to the grocery store or farmers market is an interactive and hands-on learning experience for our children. We embrace the sights, sounds, tastes and smells as talking points. When we get back home the kids are involved in unpacking the groceries and in food prep when it’s time to cook. The more immersive the practices are the better understanding our children have of nutrition, kitchen safety and proper food handling. It may take twice as long and be twice as messy but it’s also twice as fun!

Other guidelines that we each follow in our homes are that everyone eats the same meal at the same time and we don’t incentivize with sweets or withhold them in exchange for eating other foods first.

These strategies make meals a no-pressure experience which eliminates the stress on the children and parents. Mealtime is something to look forward to and is a chance for conversation instead of a battle. When every bite a child takes or doesn’t take is not scrutinized over they are more comfortable experimenting with foods and often end up as more adventurous eaters. Additionally, when the children see parents and caregivers enjoying food in a healthy way they will be more likely to pick up on those behaviors.

Something to try: Thank You Bites

Have your child take at least one bite of whatever is served to them as a way of saying “thank you” to the person who prepared the food. Kids often find they like the item! A simple, no pressure way to offer new foods with the bonus of reinforcing manners.

Something to keep in mind: Research has shown that it takes up to ten tries of a new food for a person to decide if they like it or not. Keep giving your kids new foods prepared in a variety of ways to make sure they have a solid sense of their preference for it.

Something to make: Kid-Friendly Green Smoothie.

Perfect for the warmer months and very simple to blend and enjoy outside in the sunshine or while on the go to the next summer activity. Kids welcome the sweet treat that is packed with iron and Vitamin C, which helps the body absorb the iron. Be sure to make one for yourself!

Kid-Friendly Green Smoothie

1 cup frozen strawberries

1/2 banana

1 cup baby spinach
1/2 cup apple juice

Connect with BeetBox:

@beetboxkids (Instagram account) (website)

Each Tuesday for the next several weeks a fellow mom/friend/community member will be sharing a fun recipe, tips to include kids in the cooking process, or a great family restaurant for “Take a Taste Tuesday.” If you are interested in sharing your eating and/or cooking fun be sure to connect with me via email!




Take a Taste Tuesday: Lemonade in a Bag

For this Take a Taste Tuesday, I wanted to share our recipe for Lemonade in a Bag. When making this with my daughter, I gather all the ingredients and supplies on a tray. All this activity requires is a lemon cut in quarters, sugar, water, and a sandwich bag. It gets pretty sticky, so I like to make it outside. I prepared a recipe to use as a visual that helps sequence the steps as we go (there is a printable PDF at the end of the post).

While preparing the lemonade, I give my daughter simple directions while pointing to the pictures in the recipe. I use first/second/then/last and put in.  The majority of the activity I really let her have control. Her scoops might not make it entirely into the bag and she might take a bite of the lemon, but it’s more about the process than the product!

Lemonade in a Bag:


  • 1/4 lemon
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 heaping spoonful of sugar


  1. Place all ingredients in the bag and close
  2. Squeeze the juice out the lemon
  3. Pour into a cup or insert a straw into the bag
  4. Drink!

Once we are done following the recipe, my daughter turns into a kitchen scientist by transferring, mixing,  and tasting. Luckily, since we are outside, I can hose her off when we are done!

Print the recipe and take a shot at making your own lemonade in a bag. Let us know what you think!

Lemonade In a Bag

Each Tuesday for the next several weeks a fellow mom/friend/community member will be sharing a fun recipe, tips to include kids in the cooking process, or a great family restaurant for “Take a Taste Tuesday.” If you are interested in sharing your eating and/or cooking fun be sure to connect with me via email!

Summer Challenge #2: Try a New Food

This week the summer challenge is to try a new food. Join us on our journey to become a little more adventurous when it comes to eating. Trying new foods expands palates, introduces different cultures through cuisine, and provides opportunity for language development.

How new foods can promote language use:

  • Provides opportunity to expand vocabulary
  • Provides opportunity to make a choice
  • Provides opportunity to place an order
  • Provides opportunity to describe what the new food looks like
  • Provides opportunity to describe how the new food smells, feels, and tastes

Why it’s important to expose children to new food:

  • If you want your child to eat differently you have to feed her differently
  • Children establish food preferences and dietary habits during the first six years of life
  • Positive exposure to multiple foods help children develop a taste for more foods
  • Consistently offering a variety of foods to children helps the majority of children overcome the natural tendency to reject new foods and leads to more healthful eating habits
  • Up to 10 to 15 experiences may be necessary for a child to try and then accept a new food

Ways to expose your child to a new food this week:

  • Pick out a new fruit or vegetable from the local farmers marker and give it a taste
  • Try a new ethnic restaurant. Think Indian, Somali, Mexican, Chinese. The options are endless!
  • Pick a new recipe and cook it up together
  • Pick a restaurant that doesn’t have a kids menu, and share a new dish
  • Are you growing a vegetable garden? Pick your veggies straight from the garden and give it a taste

My hope is that each and every adventure will be different and exciting. Please connect and share your experiences using #saynplaythesummeraway.

Summer Challenge #1: Join a Summer Reading Program

According to the School Library Journal, “Based on the findings of a recent three-year study by Dominican University’s Graduate School of Library and Information Studies, we can confirm what many librarians have long suspected: students who take part in their local library’s summer reading program significantly improve their reading skills. In fact, we found that kids who participate in these programs are 52 Lexile points ahead of their peers who do not. Summer reading programs are also an antidote for learning loss. So instead of losing knowledge and skills during the summer months, kids who attend reading programs actually show gains.”

This week be sure to stop by your local library and join a free summer reading program. If you are in Central Ohio there are a number of programs to join. Will you be joining one of the following?

Bexley Public Library: “”Build a Better World and READ!” Starting on May 31, join Bexley’s Summer Community Read by signing up at the library. Kids, teens, and adults are invited to read, attend exciting and engaging programs, and enter to win amazing raffle prizes Zoo passes, tickets to The Wilds, Zoombezi Bay tickets, COSI passes, Shadowbox Live tickets, King’s Island tickets, Columbus Landmarks tours, a Kindle Fire, and much more!”

Columbus Metropolitan Library: “”Be a Hero. Read” is the theme, inviting participants of all ages to read and earn great prizes while completing reading and library activity goals. The nine-week Summer Reading Club runs Saturday, June 3, through Saturday, Aug. 5. All participants will need a CML library card to sign up.”

Upper Arlington Public Library: “Build a Better World” begins Monday, May 22 and runs through Sunday, July 30. “The annual Summer Reading Club has begun! Register your whole family — from babies through seniors — for a summer full of books and maybe even some prizes. Kids earn prizes for reading 5, 10 and 15 hours, while teens and adults earn chances in weekly drawings for gift cards.”

Westerville Public Library: “Build a Better World” runs Tuesday, June 6, through Thursday, August 6. Reading can reduce stress, increase empathy for others and keep your mind sharp. And it’s fun! Challenge yourself to a summer of reading and win prizes along the way.

Worthington Libraries: “The Artful Summer” runs Tuesday, May 30, through Sunday, July 30. Worthington Libraries thinks you’ll “Louvre” how fast you can turn fun stuff like reading, creating and exploring into free stuff like food, toys and more this summer!

Check-in each week this summer for adventure ideas in your community. My hope is that each and every adventure will be different and exciting. Please connect and share your experiences on the weekly adventures using #saynplaythesummeraway.