One of my favorite ways to teach my kids about different seasons and holidays is to incorporate seasonal touches to normal, every day activities. You can do this by adding different holiday or seasonal themed books to their bookshelf, creating a fall or winter themed scene in their playhouse, or by making easy, festive recipes with them. Today, I am going to show you how to make homemade, fall scented play dough. Here’s how to make Pumpkin Pie Play Dough.
Here’s what you’ll need:
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup salt
1 1/2 teaspoon Cream of Tartar
1 tablespoon Pumpkin Pie Spice
1 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon oil
3 drops of orange food coloring or 3 drops each of red/yellow food coloring
Begin by pouring all of the ingredients into a large saucepan and mix them together well.
Cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the play dough starts to form. Once a ball is formed and the consistency of the dough is no longer sticky, remove it from the heat and let it cool for one minute.
Remove it from the pan and knead it with your hands for one minute, adding a tiny bit of flour if needed.
Let the dough cool completely. Pair it with your favorite cookie cutters and play dough tools. Store in an airtight container.
This play dough is super easy to make and smells just like fall! Share your creations with us @thepreschoolbox!
Fall has arrived. Whether it be the change in weather or the endless fall-themed activities that come with this time of year, there is something so comforting that comes with the change of seasons from Summer to Fall. One of my favorite fall recipes to make with my kids is gourmet caramel apples just like the ones you see at the mall that seem impossible to make.
Gourmet Caramel Apples are fun to make because the possibilities are endless, you can easily wrap them with cellophane and ribbon for a unique gift, and they sure are yummy!
Here’s what you need:
5 green apples, washed and dried with stems removed
Skewer sticks made for caramel apples or just plain ol’ popsicle sticks
1 package of Kraft Caramel Bits or caramel squares
Toppings of your choice. Our favorites include crushed Oreo cookies, mini M&Ms, or walnuts.
White + milk chocolate chips, melted for drizzle
Begin by removing the stems from each apple. Wash and dry your apples well. This step is important. Your apples need to be clean and dry as it helps the caramel stick easier. Place the popsicle sticks in the middle of the apple and insert them until they are secure. Place your apples in the fridge while you prepare the caramel and toppings.
Melt your caramel according to the package directions. Stir the caramel in 30 second to 1 minute intervals until it is completely melted and easy to stir. Tip: Melt the caramel in a deep, glass measuring cup for easy dipping.
While you are melting your caramel, prepare your favorite toppings. The possibilities are endless. Our favorites include crushed Oreo cookies, mini M&Ms, and walnuts. Place your toppings in shallow, wide dishes to make for easy rolling. Cover a cookie sheet with wax paper to place your apples on.
Once your caramel is melted and your toppings are prepared, let your caramel sit for a minute before you start the dipping process. You do not want to dip your apples when the caramel is really hot or the caramel will run off and pool at the bottom of your apple. Make sure you don’t let it cool too much, though.
Begin dipping each apple into the caramel until it is completely covered. Swirl it around in the caramel and then let the excess caramel run off as you spin the stick in your hands. Tap the stick on the edge of the measuring cup before placing the apple on the wax paper to set. It is important to work quickly before the caramel cools.
Now comes the fun part: adding your toppings! You want to let your apples sit for a minute after dipping them but before adding your toppings so that the caramel has a minute to set before taking on the weight of the toppings. Otherwise, your toppings will fall to the bottom of the apple.
Roll each apple into your topping, pressing down pretty generously so the topping really sticks into the caramel. Place the apple back onto the wax paper to cool completely. You can place it into the fridge to chill quickly if needed.
Melt 1/4 c. of white chocolate chips and 1/4 c. of milk chocolate chips in 15 second increments until it is melted and smooth. Drizzle each kind of chocolate over the apples while spinning it until you reach the desired amount of chocolate that you want.
Let the apples sit until they are completely cool and dry. Wrap them in cellophane and ribbon to gift to a friend or slice and enjoy!
What are your favorite fall recipes? We would love to hear your favorites! Share them with us @thepreschoolbox!
Sensory play is a very important aspect in learning especially with young kids. Sensory play is a simple concept. Whenever your child’s sense of touch, smell, taste, sight, or hearing is used during play, that’s considered sensory play. Digging in the dirt, washing dishes in the sink, tasting a special treat, or walking the dog can all be considered examples of sensory play.
According to Educational Playcare, here are 5 reasons why sensory play is beneficial:
Research shows that sensory play builds nerve connections in the brain’s pathways, which lead to the child’s ability to complete more complex learning tasks.
Sensory play supports language development, cognitive growth, fine and gross motor skills, problem solving skills, and social interaction.
This type of play aids in developing and enhancing memory
This helps children learn sensory attributes (hot, cold, sticky, dry)
One easy way to bring sensory play into your child’s daily life is by creating a sensory bin. This can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be. Here is how to create your own at-home sensory bin plus 6 ways to fill it!
Here are the main items you’ll need:
-Bin with lid, any size that you prefer. It can be small for one kid or as big as you need for multiple kids to play with at once. Don’t forget the lid for easy storing!
-Tools for scooping, dumping, and grabbing. These can be items that you already have at home.
Once you have chosen your bin, its time to fill it! There are many different ways to fill a sensory bin that will keep your kid interested and busy. One of my favorite places to buy items for our sensory bin is our local dollar store.
Alphabet Soup: The easiest way to fill your bin is with water! You can add boats or scoops. Our favorite way is to make Alphabet Soup. Scoop out a letter and say it’s name!
Create a Car Wash: Gather some water, dish soap, a couple toothbrushes, and your favorite cars to create a car wash. This one is sure to keep your kid busy and having fun! You can even skip the cars and use your favorite dinosaurs or farm animals!
Water Beads: These are sure to be a hit! Water Beads do take time to soak and grow to size but they are always worth the wait. The slippery gel-like texture is fun to scoop and squeeze. Add animals or letters to create a search and find activity.
Cotton Balls + Pom-Poms: Cotton balls can be easily squeezed with tongs and the soft texture is enjoyable for kids which makes them a great addition to your sensory bin. You can add colored pom-poms and cups for sorting practice. Using recycled materials from home like toilet paper rolls or egg cartons to place the cotton balls in makes for good fine motor skills practice.
Shredded Paper: I love to hide bugs and creatures in shredded paper to challenge my kids to see how many they can find! Paired with tongs and a magnifying glass, kids have fun trying to search for everything they can find.
Pasta: Funky-shaped pasta is a fun addition to have in your sensory bin! You can use it plain or add color to it by mixing dry pasta, a tablespoon of rubbing alcohol, and several drops of food coloring in a gallon sized baggie. Let it dry on wax paper overnight.
Some of our other favorite sensory bin ideas are kinetic sand, rice, colored water, shaving cream, and beans. The possibilities are truly endless. Sensory bins are a great tool for development, practicing fine motor skills, and learning. We would love to hear about your favorite sensory play ideas! Share them with us @thepreschoolbox!
Lastly, please make sure you are always monitoring kids of any age as many of the items could pose as a choking hazard.
Father’s Day is right around the corner and let’s face it, Dads can be hard to buy for. Over the years, I have found that an easy way to win over a dad’s heart and to show them we appreciate them is by gathering up the kids to create a homemade gift that he can use and proudly display at work or home. I was considering all of the options of what to create for the Dad in our lives this Father’s Day and I came up with something I believe will be useful, but cherished. An even bigger bonus is that kids can create it themselves, just for dad, or any other person in their lives.
Here’s how to make this Salt Dough trinket + coin dish. The best part is, you likely already have most of these items at home.
Here’s what you will need:
2 cups flour
1 cup of salt
¾ cup-1 cup of water
Mixing bowl + spoon
Start by placing the flour, salt, and ¾ cup of water into your mixing bowl.
Mix it well until it forms into a ball and no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl.
If it seems dry and crumbly, add a small amount of water until everything combines together well. If it is too wet, add just a touch of flour. Once your dough is the perfect consistency, separate it into 4 different balls. This recipe will make enough to create four different trinket + coin dishes.
Take one of the balls and begin forming your dish. Turn the ball in your hands as you push out the middle, almost as if you are forming a pizza crust. (Top Left) Once your dough is about ¼” in thickness, place it on your surface and form the edge. You can do this by pinching the edges and moving your fingers upward, turning it as you go. (Top Right) Next, stabilize the edge of your dish by running your finger along the edge like above, smoothing it as you go. (Bottom Left)
Once you are done forming your dish, transfer it to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. (Bottom Right)
Bake it at 200 degrees for 2 hours until it is completely dry and baked.
Remove your dish from the oven and let it cool completely. The last, and most fun, step is to paint your dish. This can be as creative or simple as you want it to be.
Give the dad in your life a place to empty his pockets at the end of the day. This trinket + coin dish can hold change, keys, a wallet, or even candies.
Summer is upon us which can mean two things for parents: we need to beat the heat and we need to find new, easy ways to keep our kids busy and learning. Popsicles are a summer staple that nearly every kid (and adult!) loves. This smoothie popsicle recipe is quick, easy, and sure to entertain them and keep them cool on a hot day. The kitchen is a great place to build upon their math and reading skills by measuring and following a recipe. Then, they will get to enjoy a yummy, cold treat after their hard work.
Here’s what you’ll need:
1 ½ cups any frozen fruit
⅔ cup yogurt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Begin by placing the frozen fruit, yogurt, sugar, and lemon juice in your blender. You can use any frozen fruit you like. There are so many different combinations you can try; peaches, strawberries, strawberries and bananas, or a berry blend. We used a blend of mango, papaya, and strawberry for our popsicles.
Start blending your fruit mixture. Add water as needed until everything is blended together. Your fruit mixture will need to be somewhat pour-able. Pour the mixture evenly into your silicone mold.
Place it in the freezer for 30-40 minutes until they are just beginning to set. Remove the mold from the freezer and place the popsicle sticks directly in the middle of each well.
Place the mold back into the freezer for another 1-2 hours or until completely frozen. Carefully remove each popsicle from the mold to enjoy!
What fruit combination would you love to try? Share your favorite summer treats with us! We would love to see photos of the popsicles you create this summer. Share them with us by tagging our Facebook page! @thepreschoolbox