What Better Way To Enjoy Play Time Outdoors Than With A Nature Color Hunt?!?

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With the warm weather finally here, our little ones want nothing more than to play outside most of the day.  You can use this time to turn play time into a learning experience as well by having a nature color hunt!!  The tray is easy to make and can be used several times! While children enjoy learning about colors in books, when they are actually able to apply their knowledge to real things that they can touch, it helps them retain the information!  Here is what you need to do.

1. Take an ice cube tray or egg carton and then take scissors to cute small squares of different colored construction paper or you can take acrylic paint and do the same thing to the bottom of each section in the carton.

2. For younger kids choose colors that you know they have a chance of finding a match. You can use primary colors that are easy to find outside and for the older children, you can add a few colors that might be more challenging.

3. Start finding things to match. Start off by choosing a color with your child and both go looking, if they have a hard time finding a match find one, and go to it but don’t announce you have found it, simply help guide them. If they still can’t pick up the object and have them match it in the tray.

4. Continue working together or if they prefer to work independently, just observe and see if there are specific colors they tend to have difficulty with so that you can work with them after.

5. After you have made all your matches, discuss what objects they found, what they are used for, how they feel, how they look, etc.  Turn the nature hunt into a true learning experience for everyone!

Strawberry Banana Bites

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Yesterday we told you about the health benefits of bananas and today we have a great bite size snack for your little ones!!  These strawberry banana bites are packed with nutrients and fiber!  Even better, they are gluten-free, so if your child has an allergy these are perfect for them!

3 ripe bananas
2 cup gluten-free oats
1/2 cup applesauce (unsweetened)
1 teaspoon vanilla
A generous pinch of nutmeg
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup slivered almonds or pistachios
6 fresh strawberries

Preparation:

1. Preheat oven to 350°.In a large bowl, mash bananas with a fork. Add oats, applesauce, vanilla, spices, and almonds. Stir thoroughly.

2. Cut the tops off strawberries and chop fruit into tiny pieces. Add to batter. Mix until well blended.

3. Drop dough by rounded tablespoons onto a lined baking sheet. Cook for 20 minutes or until cookies are golden brown. Transfer to cooling rack. Enjoy!

Source: Adapted from http://www.asweetsimplelife.com

Health Benefits of Bananas

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Bananas are quite possibly one of the most loved fruits by people of all ages, especially kids.  They are sweet, easy to eat, and are a great fruit to toss in the diaper bag or lunch box on busy days!  In addition to this, Bananas are also full of essential vitamins and minerals, which makes them a great snack!

  • Bananas are naturally fat and cholesterol free. Use mashed bananas to substitute for some or all of the butter or oil when making cookies!
  • As with many fruits, bananas contain a good amount of vitamin C. One banana provides  about 15 percent of your daily recommended amount.
  • Since B vitamins are more commonly found in animal products, it may come as a surprise that bananas are an excellent source of vitamin B-6 which makes them a great alternative source for vegetarians and vegans.  One banana supplies 35 percent of your daily B-6 requirement which is vital to help with cell growth!
  • One banana has 3 grams of fiber which will help your little ones stay full for longer periods of time!
  • Bananas are a great source of carbohydrates so they will help fuel your children during the day.
  • Since bananas are easy to digest, it makes them an appealing fruit to many.  If your child does not like whole bananas, try slicing them or mashing them to change the texture!
  • Try throwing a banana into smoothies, on cereal and oatmeal, or in a fruit salad!

Source: USDA

Outdoor Games For Toddlers

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Looking for outdoor games to play with your little ones?  Here are a few great ideas that will they will enjoy!!

Is your little one’s game not listed?  We would love to hear about it!!

Freeze Frame
For this game, you can use a radio or iPod, or you can sing. Play or sing a song, and you and your toddler can dance around the yard. The sillier, the better! Then stop the music and shout “Freeze!” and everyone strikes a pose until the music starts up again.

Find-a-Fish
Cut out large fish shapes (or another shape such as hearts, starts, etc) from colorful construction paper. “Hide” the fish outside in the yard. They will, of course, be mostly visible and reachable. Then have your toddler find all the fish. They can put them in a basket, a net, a bucket, or clipped on a string. Help them along the way, and they’ll be delighted to find all the fish.

Sidewalk chalk
Grab a bucket of thick sidewalk chalk, and let your toddler go wild on your driveway and walkways. If you’re a little artistic, draw different animals and ask your toddler what sounds they make. Draw letters, numbers, and shapes, too. Ask your toddler what they see, and have them repeat after you.

Want to make your own chalk?  Check out this recipe!

Bubbles
All toddlers love bubbles. You can blow bubbles with your toddler and have them chase them, popping them. There are many different little gadgets now that make bubbles even more fun. Automatic bubble makers, bubble guns, different shaped wands, and even scented bubbles!
If you have more than one little one to entertain, or a group of toddler friends. fiill up a small plastic pool outside with water and stir in some dish soap. You can either find giant wands  or you can shape wire clothes hangers using a pliers. Have all the kids gather around the pool for giant bubble fun!

Baby Steps, Big Steps
You start singing or chanting “Baby steps”* and demonstrate tiny little steps with your toddler. Then shout, “Now BIG STEPS! One! Two! Three! Four!” and make four large, exaggerated steps. Simple and fun. Your toddler will do Baby Steps, Big Steps over and over, excited about the anticipation of the Big Steps. It’s good for counting to four and for listening skills.

Source:

Everyday Family

Healthy Homemade Popsicles!

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Now that the warm weather is FINALLY here, you and your toddler must be craving some light refreshing springy snacks. Popsicle are a spring and summer favorite, they’re a great way to quench your thirst and keep cool, but the store bought variety are loaded with all sorts of chemicals and sugar. But don’t fret, popsicles are fun and easy to make at home, and your kids will love to help you make them!

These delicious frozen treats have endless flavor options. Here is a general recipe that you can follow with any combination of fruit, berry, or vegetables. To make 8 ice pops, take about 3 cups of your favorite fruit(s), and a tablespoon of lemon juice. You can also add sugar, syrup, honey, or any sweetener if you prefer your popsicles sweeter. Next take your fruits, lemon juice, and sweetener and use a blender on high speed to mix them until the mixture is smooth. Pour the mixture into ice pop molds, insert the sticks or handles, and place them in the freezer until they are firm, do this overnight as it takes several hours for the mixture to really freeze. If you don’t want to purchase ice pop molds you can use small plastic cups and popsicle sticks, just spray them with a little non stick cooking spray or wipe the insides with any type of oil, so the ice pop can slide out easily. If want to avoid the oil all together, you can make wash your cups or molds with hot water prior to pouring the mixture in, in our experience however, the nonstick cooking spray or oil tend to work better.

This is a great, healthy, and versatile snack that your entire family will love! What are your favorite ice pop flavors? 

Warm Berry Quinoa Breakfast Bowl

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Earlier this week we told you about the amazing health benefits of quinoa and today we have a great recipe that makes the perfect alternative to traditional oatmeal.  Even better is it contains more protein and fiber which will help keep your little ones fuller longer!!

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups plant based milk (almond and coconut milk work well)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon raw cane sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dried goji berries
  • 1/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • handful of fresh raspberries
  • 1 tablespoon dried, raw coconut flakes
  • 1 tablespoon sunflower seeds

Preparation:

  1. Rinse the quinoa and strain well. Add to sauce pan, turn on heat.
  2. Let quinoa lightly toast for about a minute, being sure to shake the pan now and again so it doesn’t burn.
  3. Add the milk and bring to a boil. Lower heat and add cinnamon, raw cane sugar and dried goji berries.
  4. Cook covered for about 15 minutes, turning the heat down as low as possible. Once the quinoa is cooked, turn off heat.
  5. Add the blueberries, sunflower seeds and coconut flakes. Let stand covered for 5 minutes.
  6. Before serving, add add a bit more milk and the raspberries.

Adapted From: http://www.happyofferings.com

Health Benefits of Quinoa

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I am sure by now, you have all heard of the newest superfood, Quinoa, but do you know what makes it such an amazing addition to your meals?  Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is not a grain; it is actually a seed and related to the spinach family. When cooked, quinoa is light, fluffy, slightly crunchy and subtly flavored similar to brown rice. Since it has a similar texture to most grains, can substitute quinoa in place of a variety of grains in many recipes!

Health Benefits of Quinoa

▪ Complete protein. Quinoa contains all 9 essential amino acids that are required by the body as building blocks for muscles. Each serving of quinoa has 9g of protein!

▪ Magnesium helps relax your muscles and blood vessels and effects blood pressure.

▪ Fiber. Quinoa is an excellent way to ensure that you consume the suggested amount fiber to help with digestion.

▪ Manganese and copper. Quinoa is a good source of these minerals, which act as detoxifying agents in the body.

▪ Quinoa is gluten free so it is an excellent alternative for those who suffer from gluten intolerance or Celiac Disease!

How To Cook With Quinoa

• It is suggested to rinse and soak quinoa prior to cooking in order to ensure maximum nutrient absorption, however some do not require this, so just look on the package!

• Quinoa is a great addition to salads and soups.

• Replace the rice in your stir fry with quinoa

• Add quinoa to baked goods such as muffins for a higher protein intake.