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.

 

The Gift of Experience – 2017 Edition

Providing your child with new experiences naturally exposes her to new vocabulary. These experiences can capture your child’s attention and provide an opportunity for you to model new vocabulary in the appropriate setting. These experiences can happen anywhere, whether it be heading out around town to visit a new place, participate in a class, or having a fun activity delivered straight to your door. In addition to promoting language development, these experiences support your child’s cognition, sensory, fine motor, and creativity. Christmas is a great time to give the gift of experiences, many of which will last well beyond the holiday season.

Below are some suggestions on how to give the gift of experience.

Art With Anna: This art studio “strives to create an artistic space where you and your child feel safe and free to be just exactly who you are.” Art with Anna offers a variety of classes for children, adults, and families which will in turn foster creativity to help develop mental, social, and emotional abilities. Gift certificates in all amounts and art supplies are for sale in-studio. Be sure to mention Say-n-Play when checking out to receive a 10% discount off your entire in-studio purchase.

Goldfish Swim School: Give the gift of swimming lessons with Goldfish Swim School. Your child will benefit from weekly opportunities to learn the basics of swimming, water safety, and expand her vocabulary and ability to follow directions. Children as young as 4 months of age can begin swimming lessons. Early exposure can reduce your child’s fear of water while also providing the foundation for a safe relationship with water from an early age.

This year the Goldfish Swim School Holiday Baskets are available at the Dublin and Westerville locations while supplies last. The basket includes $193 in family credit at GSS as well as array of free family experiences from local businesses, including:
 
$193 Family Credit at Goldfish Swim School 
2 Family Swim Passes at Goldfish Swim School 
Bundlet from Nothing Bundt Cakes 
2 Kids Meals from Texas Roadhouse – Polaris 
2 Child Admission Passes to ZipZone Outdoor Adventures Kids Park 
1 Large One-Topping Pizza from Jets Pizza 
1 Jar of Pure Peanut Butter from Crazy Richard’s 
1 Preview Class at Gymboree Play & Music 
1Half Dozen Donuts from Duck Donuts 
1- 5 oz cup from Menchie’s 
2- 30 Minute Passes to Sky Zone 
1 Child’s Nail Polish from Sweet & Sassy 
1 Philly Sandwich from Charleys Philly Steaks 
2 Ice Skate Rentals from The Chiller 
1 Kids Meal from Matt The Miller’s Tavern 
1 $50 Gift Certificate from Aaron Taylor Photography 
3- Two Hour Play Passes to Recreations Outlet 
2 Adult Admission Tickets to the Arnold SportsWorld Expo for Kids & Teens 
1 Class at Barre3 in Powell 
1 Attraction Pass to Magic Mountain Fun Center 
The baskets retail for $205 and the value is well over $500.

Piccadilly Play Cafe: In addition to the traditional indoor play space, Piccadilly sets itself apart from other play cafes by offering in-house babysitting, weekly classes, and a café. The classes offered are some of my favorites and include messy art experiences, cooking class for young children, mommy and me workout classes (yoga/squats & tots), and language classes. Gift cards can be purchased here (or in person at the play cafe) and the recipient can decide how she would like to use the monetary value (play passes/classes/toys/etc).

Franklin Park Conservatory: A membership to the Conservatory provides your family with unlimited access to the beautifully designed indoor and outdoor gardens. Each season brings with it a redesign of the park that includes “multi-faceted, art- and nature-based exhibitions.” In addition, there are weekly activities for families that are free with admission, including performances, cooking, and arts and crafts. Be on the lookout for the multi-sensory children’s garden that will be opening May 2018.

AHA! Children’s Museum: This Children’s Museum is an easy 45-minute drive southeast in Lancaster, Ohio. The mission of the museum is “Educating children in a world of discovery, curiosity and imagination through hands-on play.” It’s my favorite children’s museum to take my daughter, because it is located in a building with a smaller footprint, which makes it easier for my toddler to navigate (and for me to keep an eye on her), but it’s still packed full of a ton of hands-on, interactive activities. Memberships are extremely affordable, and will carryover to the new building that will open in January 2018.

Have you given the gift of experience before? Please share in the comment section below your favorite experience to give.

Christmas Light Scavenger Hunt Pt. 2

The holiday season has begun and Christmas lights are everywhere. I have updated our Christmas Light Scavenger Hunt from a few years ago to make it more user friendly for those pre-readers. If you are interested in the written list click here. To take part in the holiday fun, simply print out the list shown below and load up your bundled kiddos in the car to drive around to check out neighborhood lights or to head to one of the many light displays around town. See how many of the items you can cross of the list.

Click here for the printable Christmas light scavenger hunt.

Before you set off for your evening journey, prepare for the scavenger hunt ahead of time by going over the items on the list. Talk with your child about the location of the lights in the scavenger hunt and where they should be looking. Some items on the list are located in windows or on doors and some items could be in ornament form and will be hanging on trees.  

As you complete your scavenger hunt, help your child express what items she sees and where she sees those items. This activity will help develop your child’s expressive and spacial language skills using words that describe location (e.g. on, in, over, under) as well as characteristics (e.g. big, small, blinking, hanging).

Check out one of the below light displays around Columbus where you could possibly check off the items on the scavenger hunt:

Holiday Lights at the Columbus Commons:

The holiday lights run from November 20, 2017 – January 2, 2018 from dusk until 11 p.m.

Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium

Wildlights runs from November 17, 2017 – January 1, 2018 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Sundays-Thursdays and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday & Saturday.

Butch Bando’s Fantasy of Lights

Butch Bando’s Fantasy of Lights (previously known as Alum Creek’s Fantasy of Lights) is a drive thru light show from November 17, 2017 – January 1, 2018 from 5:30 to 9:30 on Sunday-Thursday and 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Friday & Saturday.

Neighborhood Lights:

For an interactive map of holiday light displays in Columbus, check out columbuslights.com.

In addition to checking off items on the list, I always like to take pictures of the found items so we can review our hunt with a round of hot cocoa when we get home. I hope this Christmas Light Scavenger Hunt becomes a fun holiday tradition for you and yours, as well. Happy Holidays!

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

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. 

Using Basic Language Concepts with Goldfish Swim School

My  daughter had very few words when we first began swimming with Goldfish Swim School. Her vocabulary consisted of the few words that all babies start out with (mama, dada, no, mine, etc.), but she was using very few, if any, basic concept words (location, time, number, description, feelings, etc.). These are words that a child needs to understand and use in order to perform everyday tasks like following directions, participating in daily routines, and engaging in conversation. Basic concepts often occur in pairs and tend to be opposites (hot/cold, happy/sad, etc.).

Our weekly swim lessons at Goldfish consist of practicing the same skills. The directions and tasks my daughter participates in involve a variety of basic concepts. I look back on our time together in the pool and remember using the same words when giving her directions each week — “climb out,” “put in,” etc. Now that she is almost two years-old, my daughter is beginning to use a variety of the language concepts that were modeled for her during her swim lesson.  After observing and analyzing my daughter’s language in our past swim lesson, the following are the basic language concepts she uses appropriately:

Wet/Dry: The whole idea of swimming is to get wet. Before each lesson I tell my daughter, “It’s time to get wet,” and when the lesson is complete I tell her, “It’s time to dry off.” Now, she is the one informing me. — “Get wet, Mommy!” “Dry off, Mommy!”

In/Out: During each lesson, we get in the water, put balls in the basket, and climb out of the water. I will give my daughter the direction using these words, and she will then parrot back to me what she is doing. — “Ball in, Mommy!” “Get out, Mommy!”

On/Off: Directions involving on and off are given frequently throughout the swim lesson. Now, after I give the message to my daughter, she parrots back the direction — “Sit on bench, Mommy!” “Jump off bench, Mommy!” 

Up/Down: My daughter’s favorite part of the lesson is the slide. When she sees the slide she is ready and tells me, “Go up, Mommy!” Once at the top, I model the phrase, “Go down,” and she is quick to repeat it.

Happy/Sad: At the end of each lesson, I tell my daughter how she was a good listener and how well she did (assuming that she did have a good day!). I then ask her how swimming makes her feel. The vast majority of the time she responds with, “Happy, Mommy!”

It truly has been amazing watching my daughter’s swimming and language abilities explode over the past year at Goldfish Swim School. I am fascinated each week as she demonstrates the ability to do more independently and need me just a little bit less.

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.

Summer Challenge #4: Explore a New Playground

This week the summer challenge is to find and explore a new playground.

5 Reasons to explore a new playground:

  1. Promote language skills: The playground is an easy way to build language practice into your day. Check out this link for how to have fun with language at the playground.
  2. An inexpensive way to spend the day: Playgrounds are free!
  3. An exciting way to burn off some energy: A new playground means lots to see and explore, so hopefully the kids will constantly be on the move and ready for a nap.
  4. Visit a new place and meet new people: Exploring in a new place will take you out of your comfort zone. Finding a new playground is a great way to see what other communities have to offer and meet some new people along the way.
  5. Contribute to a good cause: By using and reviewing playgrounds, you can encourage others in the neighborhood to make use of play spaces.

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

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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)

www.beetboxkids.com (website)

www.facebook.com/BeetBoxKids

lettucehelp@beetboxkids.com

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!

 

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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:

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

  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.