Happy holidays! Here is my favorite gingerbread play dough recipe:
1 cup of flour 1tbsp vegetable oil 1/2 cup salts 1 tbsp cream of tartar 1 tbsp ground ginger 1 tbsp nutmeg 1 tbsp cinnamon I cup water
Mix all ingredients together and cook in a saucepan until it forms a ball. I like to double the recipe because I’m usually making enough for two kids.
This play dough is great for all five senses, and an especially wonderful activity to work on fine motor skills. Playdough is fun on it’s own, but below are some age-appropriate ideas for adding in extra fun (with adult supervision).
For 1-2 years old you can provide rolling pins and plastic cookie cutters and/or stampers.
For 2-4 years old you can provide the above items and also try plastic practice scissors, as well as plastic cutting tools.
For 4 years and up, provide large googley eyes, cut up pipe cleaners, and buttons for you little ones to use and create their own gingerbread man.
*The dollar store is a great place to find trays, plates, little holiday containers, and plastic cookie cutters!!
My two children and I recently went to our first Breakwater Blue beach clean up at Nantasket Beach. We brought our bucket and gardening gloves from home and started on the sidewalk. We picked up several pieces of trash before we even got onto the beach. I was pleasantly surprised by how clean the actual beach was but I know that is probably due to previous beach clean ups. We spent two hours combing the beach on a beautiful day, working together to clean up the beach.
Beach clean-ups provide a great opportunity to talk about community service with kids. When I was explaining what we were going to be doing my son asked: “why is there so much trash and why don’t people care where it goes?” I have been a nature girl from a young age; I live for being outside, getting dirty, collecting bugs, and am an animal lover. However, life for moms gets so busy and my passion for the earth had taken a back seat. I must admit I now have days where I find myself in the drive-thru getting multiple coffees with plastic cups and plastic straws, sometimes even styrofoam so the condensation doesn’t bother me (cringe). I started thinking…it’s time for a change!
My little ones are avid nature lovers as well. If we pass a field I often hear my son say “Mom, that field is so beautiful.” He is so right, and I want to help him learn how to preserve it! Being a nature lover and having two tiny nature lovers on my hands has made things such as teaching composting more enjoyable. This past spring we used our composted dirt in our garden and our flowers are looking better than ever! We talk about what gets recycled versus what gets thrown in the trash and what happens with the recycling. When I saw recently on the news the story about the whale who washed ashore whose stomach was filled with plastic bags and other trash it made me sick to think of how careless we have become. We take so much pride in doing what’s best for our kids, yet taking care of the earth we live on should be on the top of the list – and sometimes it’s not. Taking care of our earth is something we should take pride in doing and teaching our little ones about!
Making small changes can result in big differences:
Switch from plastic straws to stainless steel
If you don’t already recycle, START!
Start using cloth napkins for kids lunches
Switch to reusable bags
Get a compartmentalized lunchbox for your children to avoid endless Ziploc baggies.
Head to a beach clean-up or take a hike in a park and bring along a trash bag to collect garbage on the trail.
Follow Breakwater Blue for more information on local beach cleanups. We are excited to be collaborating an Over The Moon Parenting Beach Clean in the fall, so stay tuned! They also encourage people to do Trash walk Tuesdays! Take 30 minutes or less to walk your neighborhood or beach to pick up trash. Take a photo and tag @breakwater blue and use hashtag #trashwalktuesday #bbluecleanup and you will be featured on the Breakwater Blue website. Another great idea they suggest is #take3 where you take three pieces of trash you didn’t bring from the beach to help keep it clean.
*Please make sure that during any sort of clean ups you and your little ones wear gloves. It is also helpful to show images of things you wouldn’t want them to pick up and stay close to them. Use a beach clean up and nature walk as a learning tool and get the conversation going about the importance of keeping the earth clean.
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
—Dr. Seuss, The Lorax
“Cooking with kids is not just about ingredients, recipes, and cooking. It’s about harnessing imagination, empowerment, and creativity.” -Guy Fieri
I started cooking with my two children as soon as they could help mix! Cooking with kids lets them use all of their senses, and teaches them how things they eat are made. It also encourages them to be adventurous in trying new things, and how to be healthy. We have done everything from simple baking and applesauce to rolling sushi. I find they love to try new things when they feel proud of helping in the process. Here are my top tips for working with kids in the kitchen!
Be ready to get MESSY.
Get down low with your little ones whether it is on a low table or by bringing a large cutting board to the floor. You can even bring your mixer down!
If you don’t love to cook, keep things simple and stick too applesauce and simple baking.
Have them help measure dry and liquid ingredients.
Have them use cookie cutters and rolling pins.
Have them help wash fruits and vegetables.
Depending on what you are cooking, use the opportunity to talk about color, texture, smell, and the WHOLE food (for example with an apple, show them the seeds, the core, the fruit, and the peel.)
When we are working with fruits and vegetables I love to use the time to talk to them about compositing and saving scraps to make broths and soups.
Avoid sharp tools, knives, being to close to the stove, and hot liquids.
Choose when you have extra time to enjoy cooking with them. Don’t do it after a long day when you just want a quick simple meal of everyone’s favorite chicken nuggets. Save cooking for lazy pancake mornings with the family and rainy afternoons to try soups or yummy stir fries.