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Tag Archives: sensory play

Sous Chef Sunday: Monster Tongues (Marshmallow Pinwheels)

These may look gross, especially when you consider they’re called ‘tongues’, but they taste great and the kids (especially little boys- hey snails and puppy dog tails, right?) get a huge kick out of them. They’re perfect for a spooky Halloween treat, or even as a crafty snack to accompany one of our boys favorite children’s stories, I Need My Monster. Also, a great read when you’re gearing up for Halloween with its perfect mixture of scare and flair.

Monster Tongues

But, back to our tongue in cheek treat, perfect for any little monsters you may know. I haven’t met a kid yet who didn’t love these fun treats, even the ones who squealed with equal parts disgust and delight.

And they’re e a s y, a mixture of marshmallows melted and stirred into flavored gelatin, and then is chilled in a pan before being rolled up and sliced into wiggly, giggly little pinwheels, err tongues.

Monster Tongues (Marshmallow Pinwheels)

Monster Tongues 2

1, 3 oz, package flavored jello gelatin (NOT pudding), any flavor
1/2 cup warm water
1-1/2 cups miniature marshmallows

Directions

  1. Whisk the gelatin mix and warm water together in medium microwaveable bowl. Microwave on high for about 1-1/2 minutes, then whisk again until the gelatin is completely dissolved into the water.
    2. Stir in the marshmallows. Microwave everything on high again for another minute, or until the  marshmallows are partially melted. Remove the bowl from the microwave and whisk again, this time until the marshmallows are completely melted and stirred into the gelatin mixture. Pour the gelatin mix into an 8-inch square pan sprayed with cooking spray.
    3. Refrigerate for about 45 minutes, or until set. Run a sharp knife around edges of pan to loosen the gelatin from the pan. Starting at 1 edge, roll up the layered gelatin tightly, like a jelly roll. Cut the roll into 1/2-inch slices. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve.

recipe adapted from Kraft

3 Ingredient Edible Peeps Playdough

Another Easter’s almost here, and you know what that means. PEEPS! Peeps here, Peeps there, Peeps are everywhere. The hubs and the sons go nuts for these things. The hubs prefers to slit open a package and let them sit for a couple of days as he finds them quite pleasing when stale. (YUCK!) The sons will badger me incessantly if they see a package in the pantry, even though if they just patiently wait until Easter the bunny always loads their baskets up with several packages.

The past few years, I’ve seen mroe and more ideas floating around with different ideas and suggested uses for them. Last year we made Peep kabobs for their baskets. I noticed they’re now selling them in stores this year. Well this year we took it above and beyond by making this simple, but awesome edible ‘playdough’ for Son # 4. Even the older sons wanted in on this action. Although I was forbidden from photo documenting the event. No evidence and plausible deniability… blah, blah, blah. Who knows, maybe this will find it’s way to the Peep market eventually. In the meantime, it doesn’t get any easier and it’s tons of simple, sugary fun for you and the little ones to gear up for the holiday.

 peeps playdough

3 Peeps
1 tbsp of coconut oil
3 tbsp of powdered sugar, plus more for dusting

peeps playdough 3

Put both the peeps and the oil in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for them for 10 seconds, just long enough to watch the peeps “grow” with the heat. Take the bowl out of the microwave and add in the powdered sugar and stir. As you stir the mixture in the bowl, the ‘dough’ should begin pulling away from the edges of the bowl. Lightly dust the lump with powdered sugar and work out any additional lumps in your dough with your hands.
If your dough is too sticky or too oily, add more powdered sugar, and alternatively if it is cracking, add a touch more oil. Use your hands to knead the dough until everything’s equally incorporated and it has reached a malleable consistency.

peeps playdough 2

Ok, so while we’re calling this playdough, it’s actually pretty much marshmallow fondant with some added pizzazz and Easter-y fun from the Peeps. The pink ball was with traditional peeps, but we went out on a limb and gave the party cake peeps a try, and it tasted even better! This edible marshmallow dough can be used and played with just like regular play dough, but it does not store well. So if you’re getting ready to make it, be sure to have the kiddos on hand to get the most play time in with it.

peeps playdough 4

Concerned this is too much sugar? Check out this version from Still Playing School that uses cornstarch instead of powdered sugar. Coincidentally, they also make a bigger batch so it’d be great for larger quantities for multiple little ones to enjoy.

5 Minute Ice Cream In A Bag

5 Minute Ice Cream In A Bag

While Summer doesn’t officially start for a few more days, the summer temps (and humidity) have already invaded central VA. Now that the kids are out of school, they’re ready to spend every waking minute outside in the sun playing, wrestling, fishing, climbing trees, and all the other outdoor activities a boy can think up. On top of making sure they stay hydrated, sometimes they just need a little something extra to take the edge off and help cool down. A quick, easy, sweet, and COLD treat is always a summer-time hit. I love this easy ice cream because it’s so simple they can actually take pride in making their own. The mess is contained and easy to dispose of when they’re done. Science experiment, anyone? This activity is so easy to incorporate, as a little extra sensory play and learning, in your daily routine without the kids actually realizing they’re being ‘schooled’. Everybody wins! This is, without a doubt, one of the kids (and, secretly, mine too) favorite ways to beat the Summer heat.

5 Minute Ice Cream In A Bag

4 Sons 'R' Us: Ice Cream In A Bag

  •  1/2 cup whole milk, half and half, or cream
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 tbsp sea salt
  • 2 cups of ice
  • sandwich sized ziplock bag
  • quart sized ziplock bag

Directions

  1.  In the sandwich sized ziplocking bag, add milk, sugar, and vanilla. Seal bag tightly.
  2. In the quart sized bag, add the ice and salt.
  3. Place the smaller bag inside the larger bag and seal tightly.
  4. Shake the bag as hard as you can, without popping it open, for 5 minutes or until it reaches the consistency of ice cream.
  5. Remove the smaller bag and give it a quick rinse to remove any pieces of salt. Make sure you rinse the opening as well.
  6. Open the ice cream and eat it straight out of the bag with a spoon.

Glow In The Dark Bathtime

Glow In The Dark Bathtime

Since my youngest was old enough to move, and kick his hands and feet, bath time has been his absolute, all-time favorite part of any day. As he’s aged and grown, this hasn’t changed a bit. Partly because of that, and because clean-up is easier, we do a lot of crafts and activities in the tub around bath time. A glow in the dark bath was definitely on my to-do list. This was a huge hit with the boy. So much so, that he built up an entire back story about how he was exploring in space and had found this plant on his rocket ship. It was a ‘blast’ (pun intended). Simple to do, easy to clean up, and provides endless, thought-provoking entertainment. My son’s ‘glowing’ reactions were confirmation enough that this activity was a total success.

Glow In The Dark Bath-time

4 Sons 'R' Us: Glow In The Dark Bathtime

  • 1-2 yellow highlighters (I bought a 3-pack at the Dollar Tree)
  • black light
  • bathwater 

Directions

  1. Break open the yellow highlighter, removing the cylinder ink pad. 
  2. Soak the ink pad, or pads, in bath water for about an hour, or until the pad loses its color.
  3. Note: You can dilute this A LOT and it will still glow; however, the more water you’re trying to color, the longer it may take the ink to disperse evenly throughout.
  4. To activate the ‘glow’, aim your black light at wherever the water is located and turn it on.
  5. Prepare to watch your children’s amazement!

Homemade Gak

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Homemade Gak

How many others remember Nickelodeon, both their TV shows and their products, vividly from their childhood? Gak was one of my favorites. I vividly remember the ‘fart’ noises it made when squished, and the way my parents cringed at the thought. It stretched, it squished, it oozed. Remembering all the fun I had had as a child, I really enjoy bringing some of these toys back for my own kids to play with and enjoy today. Being a mother to 4 boys, I knew I couldn’t go wrong with any toy, or substance, that emits any noise slightly resembling flatulence. I found this recipe from Lil Luna. My boys, young and old, literally spent hours playing with the stretchy, gooey gelatinous substance. Even my teenager traded the iPod in for some good old-fashioned hands on fun with something ‘yuck’. I’m especially fond of any toys, activities, or crafts that get all four playing together. They actually cooperated, shared, and just got to enjoy each other’s company. Our first batch was yellow, but yours can be any color your heart desires. Mix and match your food coloring. Experiment, but most of all have fun!

Homemade Gak

4 Sons 'R' Us: Homemade Gak

  • 2, 4 oz, bottles of Elmer’s Glue
  • 1 tsp borax
  • water
  • food coloring

Directions

  1. Empty both bottles of glue into a bowl. 
  2. Fill bottles with warm water, recap, shake, and then empty into the bowl.
  3. Add a few drops of food coloring. Stir and set aside.
  4. To another bowl, add 1/2 cup of warm water. Add in the borax and stir until dissolved.
  5. Pour the borax mixture into the glue bowl.
  6. Begin by stirring with a spoon. Once it becomes super stringy, begin mixing and squishing by hand. It should be pretty gelatinous by this point.
  7. Let the kids play with it for a few minutes and it will become the perfect gooey consistency.

Even better, when you’re done, your Gak can be stored for play at a later date.

4 Sons 'R' Us: Homemade Gak

Simple Sensory Bags

Simple Sensory Bags

Sensory play is a wonderful opportunity for young children to explore the world around them using their five senses while also honing their fine motor skills. My boys have always been very touch and texture oriented, and sensory bags have been a wonderful way to encourage them. Below are two examples of some of the sensory bags I’ve made for them to play with. It’s so neat to watch their little fingers as the discover how the different items in the bag feel, and watch their little fingers work to move them around. I always find myself wondering what they’re thinking and what conclusions they could be drawing during play as they become engrossed in the activity. Sensory bags are a wonderful quiet time activity. Perfect for tummy time, or anytime I need to get a little one to sit still, but still need to keep them engaged. The possibilities on themes is endless. Get creative, play with it, and see what kind of sensory bags you can come up with. Or just copy these.

Simple Sensory Bags

4 Sons 'R' Us: Simple Sensory Bags

Frog Pond

  • quart size, ziplock freezer bag
  • aloe vera gel
  • frog figures, I found an 8 pack at the dollar store
  • assorted buttons
  • 4-6 decorative glass beads
  • duck-tape

4 Sons 'R' Us: Simple Sensory Bags

Princess

  • quart size, ziplock freezer bag
  • hair gel
  • princess party favors (any type as long as there’s no sharp edges to puncture the bag)
  • assorted buttons
  • 4-6 decorative glass beads
  • duck tape

Directions

  1.  Squirt gel into bag until desired fullness is reached. Remember the bag sill has to zip and the edges be duck-taped without being so full it will pop when played with, about 1 1/4 cup of gel should be sufficient.
  2. Add in trinkets of your choosing.
  3. Compress bag gently to remove any trapped air and seal tightly.
  4. Duck tape all outer edges of the bag to make sturdier and guard against leaks.
  5. Use as a tummy time mat or lap activity and let the little ones explore and enjoy.
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