Fabric Memory Game

Remember playing memory games when you were younger? We would lay all the cards out on the floor and open one by one to find a pair. This is the same game, but i have sewed it out of my kids favorite print. Super easy to sew and suitable for beginners as an early sewing project for your kids. Its great not only for training their memory, but also great for helping with their concentration, as they really need to sit and try to recall where all the “cards” are.

Materials

Felt or cotton batting if you want the “cards” to be firmer. I used felt as that was what i had lying around the house.

1 Print for the front

10 different prints for the back (i.e. the pairs). I made 10 sets, hence 10 different prints, but you could make more or less sets. Its entirely up to you.

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Method

Cut the felt, cotton fabrics into 4 inches x 4 inches squares.

Once everything is cut out, take one back and one front piece, face them together (right sides facing each other), and place a felt square on the top and pin the 4 sides together.

I use a 1/4 inch seam allowance, and just sew all 4 sides together, remembering to leave about a 2 inch gap (roughly, i wouldn’t spend a lot time measuring the gap out, just roughly do 1-2 inches as you sew depending on how big your fingers are) on one of the sides to turn it right way round.

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Clip the corners

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Use a chopstick and just make sure the corners are turned out nicely, iron it flat, ensuring that the seams are folded in nicely where it is open

Top-stitch all around the 4 sides to close the gap.

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And you are done! To make it more challenging, just sew more pairs. I hope your kids have fun playing this.

 

 

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Book Recommendation – Mix it up

I was in the book store the other day when i came across this book by Herve Tullet. It is such a fun book that i wanted to share with everyone. As you can probably guess from reading our blogs, we really love our books and all three families read books regularly. But it is rare to come across a book that mirrors our art activities, and this book does that.

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“Mix it up!” is a book that introduces color mixing / blending to toddlers using interactive “instructions” plus some imagination. As the title says, the book invites the children to “mix” the colors up. It gets the children to imagine mixing, smudging, shaking red and yellow and other primary colors together. And when you close your eyes and flip the page….. its ORANGE!  Ok, i know i am probably not doing enough justice to the book on how interactive and fun it is. But my 5 year old who knows how to mix his colors to get the secondary colors finds this pretty fun as well. He calls it the magic color mixing book. And he just took it off me again while i was referring to it while writing this post…..

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We will definitely be looking to get the other books by Herve Tullet, and i hope you enjoy this book as much as my kids and I have.

For those who prefer online shopping, i have included the link to get the book from Amazon.

//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=qf_sp_asin_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=sharonsim-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=1452137358&asins=1452137358&linkId=bd5448a5bbd1db2030a03cc9f3ed818f&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>Mix it Up – Herve Tullet

 

* Post contains affiliate links

 

Homemade Healthy Chicken Nuggets

My kids absolutely LOVE nuggets, like really really love that stuff. BUT being the crazy health conscious mommy that i am, i really can’t bring myself to feed them so much processed / fast food so regularly. Hence, i have no other choice but to figure out how to make these nuggets fresh, so that i could feed them their nuggets daily if that’s what they want. Well, not daily, but regularly….

Homemade chicken nuggets

Fresh chicken breast

Buttermilk

Breadcrumbs

Garlic or garlic powder

Dried Oregano (optional)

Salt and Pepper

Oil

Method

  1. Cut you chicken breast into bite sized pieces or as close to “nugget” size. I cut them as close to McDonald’s nugget size, so i can con the children into saying that it is LIKE McDonald’s nuggets
  2. Soak your chicken pieces in buttermilk for 2-3 hours or preferably overnight. I usually soak them before bed so its ready for use by lunch the next day. Soaking it in buttermilk will give you a crispier nugget, as well as tenderizing the meat, and keeping it juicy (as long as you don’t overcook it).
  3. Grate garlic or use garlic powder, salt and pepper, and add to the breadcrumbs. You could add some dried oregano, or any dried herbs of your preference. Or, if you child isn’t a fan of herbs yet, just omit.
  4. Using once hand for “wet” and one hand for “dry, add the nuggets one piece at a time to the breadcrumbs, and fry in oil. Fry nugget till golden brown. If you want a healthier version, try baking it in the oven instead of frying the nuggets.

So you have healthy homemade chicken nuggets that you could feed your kids without guilt!

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Green Eggs and Ham Sandwich

One of my children’s favorite books currently is “Green Eggs and Ham” by Dr Seuss. Not only is it great for early readers (simple words, repetitive and the rhymes are fun as well!), they really find the idea of green eggs super hilarious. They get such a kick out of reading it every time.

I did think initially to just add green food coloring, but i didn’t want to miss an “opportunity” to introduce them to new foods, i.e. avocados. Well technically they ate avocados by the box when they were going onto solid foods years earlier, but for some odd strange reason that only toddlers could understand, they suddenly decided they no longer like avocados. So since then (till this attempt), i could never get them to eat avocados again. Also, i found some black charcoal multi-grain bread at the supermarket, so yeah! two new foods to try!

For the health conscious folks out there, this recipe would be a great alternative to the regular egg mayonnaise sandwiches, as the avocados give a similar creamy texture, so its absolutely not necessary to use any mayonnaise in this recipe.

Avocado Egg Sandwich

2 boiled egg – mashed

2 avocado – mashed

Ham

Bread

Salt and Pepper

Once the boiled egg and avocado have been mashed, mix together and add salt and pepper to taste. As an option, add a squeeze of lemon to have a fresher taste, as well as preventing the avocados from browning. However, if your children don’t like sour taste and are super picky about it, just omit the lemon. When i made it for my picky eaters i omitted the lemon, and then i added the lemon to the remaining portion for myself and the husband.

Assemble on the bread of your choice, with your ham and your avocado and egg filling, and you have….. GREEN EGGS and HAM ! This recipe is enough for 2 adults, 2 picky eaters and a baby to chuck some at the dog.

The kids were so tickled and were so enthusiastic about trying. But sadly, they still weren’t a fan of avocados, but at least they ate it! Also, this recipe is uber easy for kids to make as well. I didn’t include my children to make the sandwich as i was “hiding” the avocados from them. But its definitely a recipe that your toddlers could manage and have fun with.

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5 Busy Bag Ideas – Part 1

Busy bags are great when you need something to entertain your child when you are out. I started making them when my oldest was about a year and an half, when i got sick of carrying an enormous bag (half filled with various toys) every time we go out to eat or travel. There is nothing wrong with packing toys, and in reality, i have a mixture of toys and busy bags, but toys in general are usually more bulky, save for toy cars and small animal plastic toy things (which i do pack into a busy bag). Also, busy bags are made with an activity that i want my child to “practice” on. It can be something simple like practicing tying shoelaces or even buttoning for example, so they offer a different sort of “entertainment” compared to their toys. Additionally, busy bags are inexpensive and generally relatively quick to make. They can be educational, small and compact to pack and most importantly, entertaining for your child.

When choosing which busy bag to make / buy,  it is important to think specifically about the needs and interests of your child. You would want the activity to be something that is not only engaging, but also developmentally appropriate. If  you make something too difficult , it will only frustrate them. But if you choose something too easy, it will bore them, and they will only work on it for about 5 seconds. It can be a little tricky in the beginning to find the right balance for your child. But once you do, they will be able to entertain themselves independently while you are able to eat your lunch in peace or just have them not run around and scream on the airplane. A good starting point would be to notice which toys and activities that your child is already interested in and in the beginning make miniature or scaled down versions of them.

As i have 3 children myself ranging from 1.5 years to almost 6 years, my busy bags tend to be on the more challenging side so that more than 1 child could use them. I hope that  you would have a go making these busy bags, it may be a lot of effort in the beginning but it definitely beats the alternative of giving them screen time (in my opinion). And if you have older children, you could even involve them in the making of the busy bags. We will be sharing a series of posts on busy bag ideas and hope that it will inspire more to try making some for your children.

  1. Velcro cubes and sticks

For those who have children that love building or legos, they would love this. And its super easy to make. I found some colored woo

den cubes and colored ice cream stick from spotlight, and i just cut up some stick on velcro circles and stuck them on.

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It also became an activity for me and my 4 year old to do together, and even she was entertained while making the “sticky” blocks.

And just pop everything into a bag and its ready for use!

2. Sensory Eggs

Sensory eggs are great for toddlers as they not only provide auditory stimulation, but by giving the surface more texture, you also provide some tactile stimulation that toddlers love. Again it is inexpensive and you could use whatever common items such as pasta or beans that are lying around the house. Click on the link for full details on how to make sensory eggs. 5 Sensory Egg Ideas

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3 . Felt Chain Buttons

This is one of my children’s favorite busy bags and can be made very quickly. All you need is some felt, cut it up into strips (size depends on the size of buttons you have) , sew a button on one side and cut a button hole on the other. DONE! Felt is great for this as it will not fray, so you don’t have to do any additional sewing. I usually have a stash of “cute” buttons and will use them to make the activity more interesting, as we can talk about the buttons as well. The width of my strips are about 1-2 inches, and i make a variety of sizes as well, it doesn’t even need to be very even, so this is a good busy bag to make if you want to try making a busy bag for the first time.

When i made this most recent batches, my 4 year old was really interested with watching me sew the buttons and she wanted to try sewing some buttons. Was really pleased that she was able to sew her first few buttons! yeah!

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And our final product, with the buttons she choose or helped sew on..If you want to make it more “challenging” you could use smaller buttons and cut the button hole slightly smaller.

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4. ispy bags

ispy bags or ispy bottles are fun and engaging for little toddlers, it is basically a “container” of sorts like a bottle or a bag with a see through window. Inside the bag or bottle, its filled usually with rice or beans, and among the rice / beans, you put in little random items such as buttons, a pom poms, really anything you want or may interest your child. And you make a little photo card of the random items you put in the bottle or bag, and you get your child to “hunt” for those items. The most “basic” way of playing is just searching for the items, once its get boring for them to just find items, you could give them a time limit, you could ask them to find according to groups or by color, or even when they are older to come up with a story as they find the items. The different ways you could “play” with an ispy bag is really limitless.

In terms of making, the bottles are way easier as long you use a clear plastic bottle, just fill it up and screw on the lit and you are done. For myself, i have a preference with working with fabric so i made them ispy bags instead. It will involve some sewing, but its really simple enough for a beginner to make. To make it more attractive for the children, i used plastic beads as the filler.

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The kids love them so much that i ended up making a few bags with different themes, i made a bag with buttons for my youngest and slightly more challenging one with a train theme and a dinosaur theme.

If you are interested in our ispy bags and have no time to make them, we have them in our online shop, so just click on the link to check them out. ispy bags

5. Phonics card practice

If you are anything like me, its always a struggle to “sneak” in some phonics practice without them realizing they are doing phonics. My kids in general like looking at pictures, so i printed out some easy 3 lettered words to get them going.

The children would have to sound our the individual words for each picture, and write down the letter that the word begins with. The way i sold it to the children was that, after writing out each letter, it would reveal a SECRET MYSTERY word, which they would have to read. We have been doing this activity once a day, just using a word or two each time and its been two weeks, they are still interested, so time well spent making it i say!

If anyone is interested in having these, just drop us a mail and i would send over the file to you. Alternatively, you could make it yourself, i use plain old Microsoft word, inserted a table with 3 columns and 3 rows, went to google images clip art to find the relevant pictures. Insert the pictures into the tables and you are done! 2 words per page, and all you need to do is print it out. If you want it worksheet style, just print and its ready to use. But if you want to re-use them, print, laminate it and cut into 2, round the corners so it is not sharp and you are ready!

Rainbow Peanut Butter Cookies

It all started when we were at a bakery, and my son saw this amazing huge huge jar of cookies in assorted colors, arranged to look like a rainbow. He wanted to buy one to eat, but obviously it was for display and not for sale. So to soothe his little broken heart over the “loss” of his rainbow cookie, i said we will make our own rainbow cookie.

Initially i was going to make a simple butter cookie, but my heartbroken tired boy still had some energy left to protest that he didn’t like butter, so peanut butter it is, since peanut butter is his favorite.

I had baked using this recipe before, however, when i previously baked it, it was soooooo sweet, coupled with the fact that he wanted to bring some over to grandma and grandpa (who are both diabetic), i greatly reduced the amount of sugar used in the recipe. The recipe calls for 1 cup white sugar AND 1 cup brown sugar. I reduced it to half cup white sugar and half cup brown sugar.  My disclaimer is that my family really don’t consume very sweet foods, so by essentially halving the amount of sugar, it is the right level for us, but most people would probably not find it sweet enough, so i suggest that if your family prefer something a little sweet, reduce the white sugar by half and keep 1 cup for the brown sugar. By reducing the sugars by half, you actually get almost a sweet-savory cookie which is what my son likes. He isn’t a big fan of sweet food as well, and generally prefer savory to sweet.

Peanut Butter Cookies

It a simple recipe so young children will be able to follow and do most of the steps, they would need some help to make sure that everything is well mixed. Even the baby wanted a go at the whisk….

So, after following the recipe and finally getting the dough, we divided it into 4, and simply added food coloring to each batch.

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Once it has chilled in the fridge for about an hour, just ball them into little balls and use a fork to “squish” them down. Easy even for children!

Bake them for just 10 mins, great for impatient little children… and we have rainbow peanut butter cookies!

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5 Fun Painting Ideas for your Toddlers – Part 2

We have been meeting more people lately at our workshops who are really interested in what sort of painting projects that they can do with their little ones, and we are more than happy to share. Painting not only improves their fine motor skills, but also encourages creativity and is a great tool to introduce them to new topics and objects. Part 1 gave some simple methods to get your toddlers painting, these are some more fun ideas that you could try with your little ones.

  1. Ice painting

Ice painting is especially fun to do on a really hot day. In Singapore, most days are hot days, so we do this activity quite regularly. I usually always have a small batch of ice paints in the freezer ready for use. To make the paints, simple freeze some water with either food coloring or liquid water colors (add more colors if you want the color to be more intense during use). Basically, you are making popsicles with colored water, and just use an ice cream stick as the handle. You could make it more interesting by adding glitter or sequins.

Once frozen, i like to roll out a long strip of paper and let the kids have a go. Super fun!

2. Splat painting

Splat painting?! What on earth is that you might ask, it really is as its called, you “play” with some paint by going SPLAT. Its a fun way to introduce paints to a toddler, especially if its their first time using paint. Put dollops of paint on a piece of paper and cover it with cotton wool so that they can’t see the paint underneath it. Get your child to hammer the cotton wool (i use my child’s plastic toy hammer), and it literally goes SPLAT and the paint will splat, and watch their faces go OOOOOOOOOO. I would suggest doing this activity in a tray so the paint splatter is contained. The final product is also really pretty and abstract.

 

3. Spray painting

For some reason, kids love using spray bottles. Before doing this activity, its well worth your effort to find and test out spray bottles that are small enough for their hands and also soft enough to use. Some bottles are either too large or too stiff for the children to use. Also, spray bottles that require little fingers to depress will be too hard to them to use.

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I got these bottles from Daiso, and these are not too stiff and easy for the children to use. Just fill the bottles up with diluted paint or water colors and you are ready.

You could just let them spray onto blank paper, or if you want to make it more interesting / educational, we like using nature as inspiration. Just pick some some leaves, twigs or flowers from the garden or road side. Arrange them on paper and spray away! You get a pretty silhouette of the different items.

If you are feeling adventurous, why not use fabric paint and spray on a tote bag. We did it for one of our workshops, and the children walked away with their very own uniquely “designed” tote bags.

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4. Spice painting

This is an extremely sensory activity for your toddler. Not only do they have a chance to mix and make their own colors, the aroma from all the spices are very stimulating for them. It is also a great way to introduce them to spices. All you need are two ingredients, white paint and your spices. Most spices will be of the yellow to brown spectrum, and you can take this opportunity to teach them about the different color shades. Spices that are great for this activity are Nutmeg, turmeric, five spice, ginger, cinnamon and even garlic powder, whatever you have in your pantry. If the children are a bit older, you could use some curry powder, but be careful not to get them in your eyes are they play with it!

5. Salt Painting

This one is our new favorite, and again its a simple activity just requiring three ingredients, glue, salt and water colors. Just drizzle glue onto some paper (stiffer paper will hold the weight better and not tear easily), sprinkle some salt on and shake off any excess. The kids love the texture of salt and pinching and sprinkling them on. After that, we used water colors, or to make it easier, you can use liquid water colors so that you don’t have to use the palette. The key to this activity is to use lots of water so the color can flow along the salt lines.

The kids LOVE watching the colors run out of the brush and along the salt lines, always lots of OOOOOOOOOsss and AHHHHHsss…..