Take a Taste Tuesday with Tidy Little Kitchens

Hello everyone! Thank you so much for inviting me to share a bit of our busy life. I am Natasha from Tidy Little Kitchens – I am the proud mom of two wonderful boys (3 and 2!) and I run Tidy Little Kitchens out of my own home kitchen.

I have had my boys involved in the kitchen with me from the time they were born, when they were old enough to eat they got a taste of what we were cooking, and I talked to them constantly about what I was doing in the kitchen.

Now they crack eggs, stir batter, scoop and pour right alongside me. They love being involved in the whole process – from getting the right ingredients out of the fridge or pantry to seeing cakes and muffins rise in the oven and eggs cook on the stovetop.

I discovered that the learning possibilities in the kitchen are endless – we use everyday foods and tools for hands on learning: colours, descriptions, patterns and more

Hands down my favourite recipe to make with kids of all ages is Shish Kebobs. I use it for food identification, colors, patterns and hand eye co-ordination for my toddlers. For my older niece and nephew (and friends kids!) I use it for math (it’s great for fractions!), colour wheel, plant identification (nightshades, tomato as a fruit), even geography! (which country is the biggest exporter of mushrooms for example).

There are almost unlimited options for learning in the kitchen, and most of the time kids aren’t even aware that they are learning they are just enjoying being a part of the process. There’s a reason most parties wind up in the kitchen!

Here is my recipe for our Shish Kebobs

2 pounds meat of choice (I highly recommend marinating overnight)
3 peppers (Vary the colours)
1 red onion
2 zucchini (we were lucky to be able to grow both yellow and green)
1 pkg white button mushrooms

*if using wooden skewers remember to soak them at least 10 minutes prior to adding ingredients and grilling

Make sure to start and end with meat or a mushroom – it keeps all of the food from sliding off!

Thank you for letting me share in Take a Taste Tuesday – I look forward to interacting with you all again soon!

Summer Challenge #10: Explore a Children’s Museum

To beat the heat of the dog days of summer, the challenge this week is to explore a Children’s Museum.

Children’s Museums provide rich environments that stimulate a child’s natural curiosity and creativity. Museums are generally multi-sensory, hands-on, active, and child-centered environments which offers children unique opportunities to play and learn.

Central Ohio is surrounded by a number of Children’s Museums. A few of our favorites include:

AHA! Children’s Museum located in Lancaster, Ohio. You can read all about our experience here.

Little Buckeye Children’s Museum located in Mansfield, Ohio. Our first hand experience is here. Also, be sure to ride the carousel down the street from the museum when you are there.

Duke Energy Children’s Museum in Cincinnati, Ohio. It’s worth the drive! Our experience is posted here.

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

Summer Challenge #9: Visit a U-Pick Farm

This week the challenge is to locate and visit a u-pick farm in your area.

A u-pick farm is a wonderful opportunity to develop language in a natural setting. You can talk about the type of food being picked by describing how the food looks/feels/smells/tastes. Your child will also have the opportunity to follow simple directions during the activity, ex: pick one/put in/give me.

There are a variety of fruits and vegetables to pick at end of July/beginning of August. For an idea of what’s available for harvest in Ohio check out this Ohio Harvest Crop Calendar.

Some of our favorite u-pick farms to visit in the Central Ohio area include:

The Columbus Berry Farm for blueberries. Located 30 minutes south of Columbus, the berries are generally available for picking July 5th – August 10th, depending on the season.

Brastool Orchards for peaches. Located 45 minutes northeast of Columbus, peaches are generally ready for picking July 20 – September first depending on the season.

Blossoms at the Bend for u-pick flowers. Located in Williamsport, Ohio, Blossoms at the Bend is a U-Pick flower farm showcasing “old-fashioned’ favorites including red, white and coral peonies, delphiniums, snapdragons, and black-eyed susans. Customers can spend as much time in the gardens as they wish, select their favorite flowers, and cut their own bouquets for only $3 per bouquet.

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



Make Your Own Story Trail

This week the Summer Challenge is to take a walk on a Story Trail (or Story Walk… depending on what your community calls it).

A Story Trail is a way for families to read together outside, promoting literacy and movement. The pages of a book are laminated and mounted and presented one at a time down a trail or around a park. The pages can be spaced as close or as far apart as needed. Families can stroll from one page to the next, or you can encourage movement by having your child skip or run to the next page.

I thought it would be fun to create a Story Trail in our own backyard. Some prep work was required and the steps are as follows:

  • Gather your supplies: book/copies, laminate paper/sheet covers, stakes (I used paint sticks).

  • Protect the pages with laminate paper or sheet covers.

  • Attach the pages to the stake. I used a staple gun.

  • Choose a spot to set up your story.

  • And Voila! You now have your very own Story Trail set up in your yard.

For our Story Trail, I chose to use one of my daughter’s favorite books, Sandra Boynton’s Barnyard Dance! I love the the movement words and animal sounds that are found throughout the book. When we read each page I encouraged my daughter to move like the animals in the book. She bowed, twirled and stomped to from page to page!

The StoryWalk® was created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, VT and developed in collaboration with the Vermont Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition and the Kellogg-Hubbard Library. For more information on the official The StoryWalk® Project please visit here. 

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 #7: Engage the Senses at the Farmers Market

This week the challenge is to check out a local farmers market and engage your senses while you are there.

Children experience their world through their senses: smell, sight, hear, taste, and touch.  A trip to the local farmers market is a multi-sensorial experience, which can further result in increasing your child’s language development. For more on how to engage the senses and promote language development click this link .

If you are in the Central Ohio area be sure to check out Eat Play Columbus for a list of when/where the local farmers markets are happening this summer.

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

Exploring the Columbus Commons

Have you had the chance to head to the Columbus Commons in downtown Columbus? The events are top notch and family-friendly. Some events this summer include Commons for Kids, Free Fitness Classes, Food Truck Food Court, Concerts, Family Fundays, Movie Nights, and more. Even if you can’t make it to a scheduled event this summer, there is still plenty to do at the Commons. Below I have a list of seven ways to enjoy the Columbus Commons almost any day of the week.

1. Ride the Carousel

Take a ride on the carousel Monday – Saturday from 12 p.m. to 8.m. and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. for $1.

2. Bring a Picnic

Pack a picnic lunch and take a seat at one of the many tables located on the south side of the park. There are even tiny tables for the tiny humans in your life.

3. Make Some Art

The Art Box contains a variety of arts and crafts supplies and is free to use during Open Play hours, Wednesday – Saturday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Check out the supplies and get your art on.

4. Run the Open Fields

The open field in the center of the park is plenty of space to run off some energy right in the middle of the city.

5. Grab a Bite to Eat

If you aren’t interested in packing a lunch, you can pick up some Mexican street food at Tortilla or a tasty treat at Jeni’s ice cream, Monday – Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

6. Read a Book

Pick out a book at the Columbus Commons Reading Room. Sit at a shady table or chair and enjoy  the book — supplied courtesy the Friends of the Columbus Metropolitan Library.

7. Take on the NEOS 360

Give the NEOS Electronic Playground a try. The equipment combines the speed and fun of electronic games with the explosive movement of aerobic exercise to create a high-excitement play experience.

The Columbus Commons has put together a checklist that lists can’t-miss, warm-weather activities for this summer. Use #CommonsSummerChecklist when you post a picture from the checklist for a chance to have your photo featured on social media or on the LED screens that overlook the park.

Columbus Commons Summer Checklist 2017

Location: Columbus Commons is in the heart of downtown Columbus. The address is 160 S. High Street.

Parking: There are parking garages underneath the park and across Rich St from the park. We somehow always get lucky and park at a meter within walking distance from the Commons.











Summer Challenge #6: Explore an Open Space

This week the summer challenge is to explore an open space in your city. An open space is any open piece of land that has no buildings or other built structures and is available to the public.

These spaces can include:

  • Green space (think community space, community gardens, parks, and cemeteries)
  • Playgrounds
  • Public seating areas
  • Public plazas
  • Vacant lots

Open space provides areas for residents to enhance the beauty and environmental quality of neighborhoods.

Some Suggestions if you are here in Columbus:

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.


Summer at Goldfish Swim School

School is out and summer is here. This is the time of year for schedule changes, vacations, and swim lessons offered at the local pool. Even with all of the changes that come with summer, we are keeping one thing constant for our daughter, and that is her swim lesson at Goldfish Swim School. I have thought a lot about why I am keeping my daughter in swim lessons at an indoor swimming pool during the summer and decided to share the reasons below.

An Activity for the Littles: It is hard to find weekly activities for children under the age of three to participate in and swim lessons at our local pool don’t begin until children have reached three years-old. With our little girl turning two this summer, lessons at the local pool aren’t even an option for us. I love that babies can start swim lessons at Goldfish Swim School as young as four months-old.

Goldfish Instructors: I have said it before, and I will say it again, our instructor is amazing! Miss Mary at the Goldfish Swim School – Dublin is so gentle and the children respond so well to her positive vibe. We switched days and times for the summer to better fit our summer work schedules, but before we did, we made sure we could continue with Miss Mary as our instructor.

Routine: With the end of school and the start of summer comes a complete change in routine. I wanted to keep at least one thing constant in her routine. Swim lessons at Goldfish do just that.

Pool Temperature: I remember freezing during early morning swim lessons when I was a kid. Goldfish keeps the water at a comfortable 90 degrees, so I don’t have to worry about my little girl shivering during her lesson.

Focus on Safety: Goldfish places a huge emphasis on water safety during swim lessons, which is so important in keeping these little kiddos safe. Being in the summer months, water activities are everywhere, and it is important for children and parents to be vigilant around water.

The Details: We are currently in the Goldfish Mini 2 class at Goldfish Swim School. We attend lessons at the Goldfish Swim School in Dublin, Ohio. Check out the link for location, address/telephone details and how to sign up for lessons.

Disclaimer: We were provided free swimming lessons by Goldfish Swim School in exchange for collaborating blog posts. All thoughts and opinions are my own.