Archive for the ‘Food Fun’ Category

Isn’t it amazing what sponges our little ones are? The amount of knowledge they can soak up never ceases to amaze me, and I’m often reminded that we should be continually taking advantage of this insatiable desire to learn, learn, learn.

Here’s one way to do just that. Grab one of those wipe-off, World Map place mats we all have. Put it in front of your child and show her the continents. Name them. Find something she can relate to on each one.

See this? This is Australia. This is where those cute little koala bears live. And kangaroos. And wallabies. Look how small Australia is, compared to the other continents!

And this one here? This is Africa. You know how we always pray for Ashley and Mikayla? This is where they’re doing their mission work. Aaaaaashley…..Aaaaafrica. 

Know why we like to speak Dutch so much? It’s because we learned it when we lived here, in this continent. It’s called Europe. We rode our bikes everywhere when we lived here.

When we Skype with Uncle Kelcy, we’re talking to him in China. That’s here, in Asia. Look how BIG Asia is!

You get the idea. Don’t just tell your child the name of the continent—tell her about the penguins that live in Antarctica, or trips you’ve made to this place or that, or relatives she knows who reside in other areas of the world. Or, point out well-known landmarks that she can associate with each place. Make each continent more than just a colored blob on a map.

Once you’ve gone over the basics, it’s time to start the game. Choose a small snack your child loves. It could be mini-marshmallows, cereal pieces, raisins, nuts, or even m & m’s. They key is to make it small, because she’s going to be eating several of them and they need to fit on your map.

For my daughter, I chose her favorite candy, Skittles. What can I say? I wanted this to be motivating…and it was!

teach continents with candy

Just take one of the snacks and put it on any continent you choose, and ask your child to name it. The rules are simple: If she can do it, she gets to take the snack and eat it. If not, give her the correct answer and move it to another continent and keep playing. You will be amazed at how quickly she will pick up on those names!

Once my daughter had the continents down pat, I decided to move on to learning the states, but since there were so many I changed the reward to Nerds candy–much smaller. (Because I’m just not sure the sugar rush from learning all 50 states with Skittles would be worth it.)

I also taught her a little song I made up to help her remember the continent names, even when she wasn’t looking at a map. We sang it to the tune of “If Your’e Happy and You Know It:”

There are seven continents in our world.

There are seven continents in our world.

North and South America,

Europe, Asia, Africa,

And Australia and Antarctica. 

(Yes, it fits. Work with me here.)

We sang the song over and over while looking at a globe. And during bath time. And while riding in the car.

I based this prize aspect of this activity on an awesome idea I found on Grasping for Objectivity, and you can use this same method to teach all kinds of things to your young (or older) child. Yes, that’s right. As soon as my 12-year-old daughter saw what we were doing (read: saw the candy), she wanted to get in on the action, too. Be sure you up the challenge factor for those older kids!

And once your little one learns the continents, you can move on to oceans, U.S. states, and other geography subjects. You can also use this method to teach the presidents, plant parts, or whatever else you have a place mat for. The possibilities are only as limited as the place mat selection at the dollar store (or Target’s dollar spot), right?

And if you’re trying to decide which subject to study concurrently, may I suggest tackling the importance and methodology of good teeth brushing?

Enjoy learning together!

Recently, I shared with you some ideas for Apple Math, as well as Apple Snacks and an Apple Bible Lesson. Today I have some fun activities to help you and your young child(ren) explore Apple Science.

I found a cute experiment on Education.com called Apple Slice Science. Remi loves doing science experiments—or, as she calls them, “science experiences”—and what’s better than an experiment you can eat? We started by making some fruit faces–one happy, one sad. (The original version used grapes and raisins, but we used some frozen berries instead.) Of course, the mouths were apple slices.

Apple slice science--apple faces

I gave Remi a bowl of lemon juice and a brush…

lemon juice for apple

…and let her brush lemon juice onto the happy smile only. Then, we let the faces sit for about 15 minutes.

Brush lemon on one apple

We probably should have waited a bit longer for an even more dramatic effect, but by this time our berries were thawed out and Remi was dying to eat those faces.

apple faces--after

To make it easier to see the difference, I put the “frown” and the “smile” together so Remi could see how each was affected.

apples with and without lemon juice

I explained that the “frown” turned brown because when we cut the slice, it allowed oxygen to come into contact with that part of the apple. The “smile,” on the other hand, was protected because the lemon juice stopped the browning process. I had her taste a plain slice and a lemon-brushed slice to show her that the lemon juice doesn’t really affect the taste…but she wasn’t buying it, and insisted the one that had been brushed tasted terrible. Oh, well. We ate the rest of the fruit and called it a day. 😉

Next up, we learned about the life cycle of an apple tree. (Please note that this post contains affiliate links. You can read my disclosure here.) We began by reading this book:


Then we closed the book and opened an apple, so we could look at the seeds for ourselves.

apple seeds

We counted the seeds and compared that to what the book said, and we also noted the star pattern that shows if you cut the apple just the right way. Of course, as she always does when we eat apples, Remi wanted me to twist the stem while saying the alphabet so we could see who she’s going to marry. (Did you do that as a child? Whatever letter the stem comes off on is supposed to be the first letter of your future spouse’s name. Brings back memories, huh?)

I liked How Do Apples Grow? because it gave lots of detailed information about the apple tree’s life cycle, but walked us through it in a way that she (and I) could easily understand. One of the facts that struck me was that it takes about 50 leaves to make enough sugar (using air, water, and sunlight) to feed one apple. (Isn’t that amazing?) I wasn’t sure whether my daughter would really grasp how many leaves that is, so I ducked into the kitchen and grabbed a box of toothpicks, and together we counted out 50 of them onto the table.

50 toothpicks representing 50 leaves

You could use cereal pieces, pennies, buttons, paper clips—anything you have 50 of on hand—to illustrate this point. Remi got the message, but then just wanted to play with the toothpicks and make them “rain.”

Next, we wanted to make something visual to represent the life cycle we’d learned about, so we created a craft I found on Making Learning Fun. She painted a paper plate green…

painting an apple tree

…and while it dried, we reviewed what God is doing to the apples and apple trees during each season (using the template from the link above.) She colored and cut them out while we talked, and then I mixed them up and asked her to glue them to her tree in the correct order.

apple tree life cycle

We glued on a trunk, hand cut from brown construction paper, and at supper that night she used it to tell her family what she’d learned—always a great review!

apple tree, showing life cycle

Finally, we spent some time talking about the different kinds of apples God makes for us. We looked at a chart (no longer available, but based on this site) to see some of the many varieties there are. (For that matter, you could take a field trip to a grocery store with a great produce department and see several for yourself!)

We looked at three different varieties to see the similarities and differences in size, shape, and color.

apple varieties

We checked to see if there was a difference in what they weigh, in this very scientific fashion:

weighing apples

Then, we did a little taste test to see which we liked best.

apple taste test

We also chose one variety (Granny Smith–Remi’s favorite) and used it to fill out this Observations Worksheet:

apple observations worksheet

If you have a very young child, you might want to have her do this worksheet. Plus, you can download a really cute cut-and-paste science worksheet called “Apple Parts” from this site.

I hope you enjoy these fun science activities with your little one. Be sure to check out the final two posts in this series, Ten Apples Up on Top and Apple Wrap-up, as well.

Enjoy learning together!

Apple week continues! Today I’m sharing some fun apple-themed snacks we did, starting with these:

Apple Smiles

Not only are they hilarious in their presentation, these toothy grin snacks were easy to make, too. All you need are apple slices, peanut butter, and mini-marshmallows to make the laughiest snack ever!

apple smile

I showed Remi how to make the first one, and then she made the others for her siblings. I heard each one laughing out loud as she presented them. So much fun!

more apple smiles

(I found the recipe on Pinterest, and was unable to trace it back to an original source.)

Apple Shake-Ups

Want an even easier snack? All you need to do is cut an apple into bite-sized chunks, removing the core of course….

preparing apple shake-ups

…and then put them in a zipper bag with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar, and let your child shake, shake, shake away! The result was delicious! (And Remi had a blast “making it herself.”)

apple shake-ups snack

Did I mention how tasty these were? I think I might go make some more right now. (Thanks, Mess for Less, for the awesome recipe!)

Apple lunch

I realize people have mixed feelings about serving their child “cute food.” But I have to say that this was just too fun to pass up, so we created an entire lunch for our apple week, based on a loose adaptation of Muffin Tin Mom‘s idea.

apple lunch in a muffin tin

I used m&m’s instead of Skittles and added green ones, too…and I also added some applesauce. The sandwiches are “apple barrels,” and to make them I just smeared some peanut butter and honey on slices of wheat bread and rolled them up. There’s one inside the “apple tree” as well, but after I’d almost finished creating it, my 12-year-old pointed out that it would have been easier to just smear peanut butter on the broccoli stem and just add the pretzels around that. Wish she’d mentioned that sooner!  Of course, we served this lunch alongside a cold glass of apple juice.

To make that fun, “wormy apple,” I cut it in half and filled the middle with peanut butter before inserting the gummy worms, then stuck it all back together. I used a melon baller to make the holes.

making a wormy apple snack

Trust me, your child will love this lunch! It’s worth the little bit of extra effort it will take to prepare it.

Apple Parfaits

Usually, I collect and share the creative ideas of others, but every great once in a while, I come up with my own original one. Enter, apple parfaits!

Here’s all you need: Graham crackers (We used cinnamon!), whipped cream, and a can of prepared apple pie filling.

apple parfait prep

The beauty of this dessert is that your child can make it all by herself! Have her crush the graham crackers into crumbs…..and be sure you don’t have anywhere to go, as this will take WAY longer than you anticipate. 😉

She can do it herself!

Next, get some clear cups and have her layer the crushed graham crackers with the apple pie filling and whipped cream. Finally, pop in a spoon, and then sit back and bask in the happy reactions of all the dessert eaters in your house.

apple parfait snack

It tastes like apple pie in a cup! Mmmmmm…..

Oh, and in case you missed yesterday’s post, be sure to check out these fun apple math ideas, too.

Update: You might also want to check out these related posts:

Apple Science

Apple Bible Lesson

Apple Literature: Ten Apples Up on Top

Apple Wrap-up

Enjoy learning together!

I’ll admit it.

When I see a book I loved as a child, you can bet I’ll be snapping it up for my own kiddos. So when my firstborn was little and I found a new copy of The Sesame Street 1, 2, 3 Storybook, I grabbed it and ran for the check-out counter. I’ve now enjoyed this cute counting book with all four of my children, and each time it has brought back fond memories of being read to by my own mom when I was a little girl. (Isn’t that a memory we all hope for with our kids?)

Cover art by Michael Frith

Honestly, I don’t even know if this exact book is still available, but there are plenty of Sesame Street books out there. And if you read any of them with YOUR little one, why not follow up with a special, healthy snack-time activity by making this edible Bert and Ernie pair from fruit?

I got the idea from here and adapted it by using a cherry tomato instead of candy. My little one, who has never actually seen an episode of Sesame Street, loved counting along with this book. She and I had so much fun putting this treat together, and she proudly showed off the finished product all over the house, delighted that her older siblings recognized the duo immediately. What better motivation could you provide to eat something so healthy?

Fun, fun.

Enjoy learning together!