Time for Art: Foot Christmas Tree

Real. Meaningful. Family.

You can’t beat a craft that involves those little piggies! Collect your construction paper, green paint, and have a wet towel on hand (don’t forget that, or while you go get it, you’ll end up with a path of green footprints through your house!).

Oh look at that cute little foot!


Paint the bottom of your child’s foot green, make sure to get it nice and coated! Then press it down onto the paper, careful to not let it slide around. Now, if you’ve read my art posts in the past, you know I’m a big fan of just letting your child experiment with the art process rather than instructing them and over controlling them through the process. But, in the case of this first step I say help them get a good stamp of their foot on the paper. They can have control again when it comes to decorating…

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Cooking and Baking with Young Children

Real. Meaningful. Family.

Is it just me, or are some of your fondest memories getting to cook as a child? But, does the thought of cooking and baking with toddlers make you cringe thinking of the mess?

Head to toe covered in flour and sugar,

                 eggs stuck on the ceiling…

                                           chocolate chips up the nose…

Of course it’s never that bad, and cooking and baking can be quite fun, even for us! There are two pieces of advice I have for you when you are cooking and baking with toddlers and preschoolers

  1. img_1221Before you start… mentally prepare beforehand and accept the mess. I’m being dramatic of course, but realize it is going to be messy, and messy experiences are good for our kids. Hopefully you’ll…

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In the Kitchen: Pumpkin Pie Muffins

I think I’ve said before that I’m no baker or chef… my training is definitely in families and child development. I do enjoy cooking and baking though, so I’m always excited when I accidentally come across something that we all end up really liking! I guess what I’m saying here is I’m no food blogger… but I think you all might like this!

A couple of weeks ago I had some leftover pumpkin, and an unexpected itch to bake by myself for once. So I went looking for a recipe to use up my pumpkin as well as a package of pumpkin pie pudding that I had, had in my pantry since last fall (don’t worry it was still good I checked!). I was so impressed with myself thinking of killing two birds with one stone! So, I came across a recipe that I thought I would try. I got going mixing together my dry ingredients, and then my wet ingredients.

I’ve got the pudding mix used finally, and as I’m halfway through mixing together the wet and dry ingredients I realized I hadn’t used the leftover pumpkin! That was my whole reason for making these in the first place! This pumpkin recipe had no actual pumpkin in it, just the pumpkin spice pudding! I had to get that pumpkin used, so I thought what the hey I’m doing it, I’m putting it in too. They’ll just be extra pumpkin-y, the kids won’t mind! So, I plopped the rest of that pumpkin in and called it good. I decided at that point I was going to call these muffins instead of cookies, and once they were baked off I was blown away. They weren’t too pumpkin-y, they were moist and delicious, and had a cross over consistency between pumpkin pie and a muffin… so, they are my pumpkin pie muffins!


We got the pumpkin added at the right time the second time around!

I had pumpkin muffins in the plan for this week, so how perfect to use my newly found accidental pumpkin pie muffins. And they are a great fun way to get your child involved dumping, scooping, mixing, and then at the end tasting of course! I’m sorry though, we went through the process so quickly this time I didn’t get any of my usual pictures at the end. I guess we ate them too fast! But you know what a muffin looks like, right?

I started with great intentions on the picture taking, and I got off to a great start showing what it looks like when I start cooking with my kids. I like to have everything ready. If I don’t I end up running all over the kitchen leaving kids unattended with irresistible ingredients. It just makes it so much easier and more efficient.


2 1/4 c. flour (we used whole wheat)

1 pkg. (3.4 oz) pumpkin spice pudding

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

1/2 tsp. salt

1 c. butter, softened

1/2 c. packed brown sugar

1 c. pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling!)

1 tsp. vanilla

2 eggs

1 c. chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375. Combine dry ingredients and set aside. Cream together butter and brown sugar and then add pumpkin puree and vanilla. Once well combined add eggs to wet mixture and mix well.

Gradually add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Combine well, but don’t over mix. Finally, fold in chocolate chips.

Drop batter into muffin tins and bake for 10 minutes for mini muffins and 12-15 minutes for larger muffins.

Enjoy and Happy Baking!


Time for Art: Torn Paper Apple

I may or may not be a little obsessed with apples, leaves, and pumpkins in these fall activities! I guess those are what represent fall the best to me.


Just like in most other art activities the objective for this is the process, not the outcome. So, things like tearing the paper, getting acquainted with and experimenting with the paper and the glue, and then figuring out what happens when they stick little pieces of paper to the apple, are the main parts of this activity. For that reason, you can get creative with what your child is making. If you are sick of apples and pumpkins, make a football shape and your child could fill it in with brown paper; or draw a bare tree on blue paper and let your child tear up red, orange, and yellow paper to fill in the fall tree branches with “leaves.” You can modify the activity to fit your child’s interests, age, and their individual level of development.


To start off with this activity draw your apple (or pumpkin, football, tree…) and cut them out. You can make them big, little, medium… whatever size you think your child can handle. Keep in mind though, too big might be overwhelming. Now pull out a piece of construction paper- the right color for whatever you are doing and let your child go to town. Ripping paper for some reason is so fun for little kids, but surprisingly, it takes quite a bit of forearm and finger strength. I sometimes give some help with this by getting some tears started to keep my kids interested (especially when they are on the younger spectrum of age).


Let’s talk about what’s going on in this activity:


Art Processes: Kind of like I said earlier, this is all about getting to experiment and try new things with paper and glue, all the while making their own artistic creation. It’s really as simple as your child realizing, “Hey, this looks more like an apple the more red pieces I glue onto the paper.”


Fine Motor:  If most art projects include fine motor processes, this one is super loaded! The paper tearing plus gluing and sticking on the little pieces of paper is a great workout for those little fine muscles.


Happy Playing!


In the Kitchen: Apple Pie Pockets

Well somehow I missed this post coming out a few weeks ago when apple pie pockets were planned, so I thought why not share it now on this free cooking and baking day! So, read this and then go make something yummy together!


Preheat your oven to 400. Start by rolling out your pie crust- and when I say rolling out I mean unrolling, because ours was definitely from the store! I did stretch it out a little with the rolling pin to get a little more out of it. Now get your child involved (with your help) to cut out the pockets. We worked together with a pizza roller to trim the edges and make a square and then cut the dough into 4 large squares.

You could cut any shape you want though, circles, squares, rectangles, or using an apple cookie cutter to make an apple shaped pocket would be so cute! Just remember if you cut it out with a shape cutter you need a top and a bottom rather than folding the dough over.

Now, combine the apple chunks, sugar, and cinnamon together. Spoon about a tablespoon of the apple chunk mixture onto one half of the dough square and run a finger wet with water around the edge of the square. Fold over from corner to corner (your final product will be a triangle shaped pocket if you chose to cut out the square shapes) and crimp the edges of the dough to make sure it stays closed.

Bake for 15-20 minutes.

As you go through this baking process try to get your child involved in as much as you can. Have them scoop and dump the sugar and cinnamon into the apples, help them cut the dough, they can run their finger around the dough with water, fold it, and crimp the edges maybe with a little help from you! You can ask questions about what they think is going on, describe what you are doing when they really can’t help (ie. cutting apples and using the hot oven), help them taste the cinnamon and sugar on the apple chunks (it’s delicious!), turn the oven light on so they can watch the change, and continue the discussion when you finally get to eat your treat! Doing all of this, and making it their cooking activity will make it so fun and special for them, all the while they are learning so much!




Time for Art: Summer Trees

IMG_0321I try to include a couple of opportunities each season to play with dough as an art activity. If you are like most moms and caregivers playing with some form of dough is probably a pretty common occurrence. Unless you are like me… I am not so good about getting it out! So, this is good for me!

We made our summer trees. Well I made my summer tree, and my kids started but found making people more interesting. That’s ok. I just wanted to get them started with an idea and they took it from there.

While I made my tree I described what I was doing. I’m going to use this one for the tree trunk, and I’m going to make my tree tall. Now, I need to put the leaves on. What color should I use for the leaves?


At the same time I was trying to ask questions, and describe what my kids were working on. What are you making? Oh, I see you are making the tree trunk. Your tree is so tall! And specifically to our case, Oh! You’re making a face!


Let’s talk about what is going on in this activity:

Art: Just like any other art activity like painting or drawing, creating something out of dough takes a new level of creativity. Thinking through the process of how to make a lump of dough look like something is a pretty new concept, and actually fairly difficult. For that reason, I think this is a good activity to work alongside your child so that they can see what you are doing and follow along. You can offer color suggestions, ideas of what to do next, and encouragement of what they do. Just like other art activities though, it’s the experience that you are going for. So, if you end up with two tree trunks turned into ladies, that’s ok! That’s the beauty of doing activities with toddlers and preschoolers, you may start on one idea and end on a completely new topic!


Fine Motor: Squishing, rolling, pinching, patting, rolling out, cutting, scooping… playing with dough offers so many unique small muscle movements making it a fabulous activity to do with your child (Sheesh, getting it out of the container is a full workout!) And there’s not really anything you need to do to enhance this, it’s just going to happen from the nature of any activity with dough.


Sensory: This activity is one of those that falls under almost every category. We get stuck in a rut thinking of sensory activities as anything that happens in a sensory table and that’s it. But, sensory is a HUGE category of experiences, and this definitely can be considered a sensory activity.


Early Math: When you think about the concept of volume and measuring being a math concept, consider the early stages of this with play dough. For instance, figuring out how much dough is needed to fit into a cookie cutter. Or, how tall the brown dough needs to be to make a tree trunk, and how much green dough is needed to make leaves. These are the kinds of things going on in your child’s mind as they play with these materials that are building the foundation of later learning.

Happy Playing!