Lakeshore Learning Toys

If you’ve followed us for a while on Instagram stories, you know I do a lot of activities besides cooking. By popular demand, I’ll be posting more of our activities on my blog.

Finding toys that are both fun and educational are hard to find.I recently discovered the store Lakeshore Learning, and boy will you find great toys there! You all can thank me later. It’s seriously one of my favorite stores ever. Every toy I’ve seen sold there has a purpose and is really enjoyable for the kids as well.

I’m not homeschooling my son, but I do try to teach them the basics before he starts school in the fall. We recently started playing with the scented play dough pack.

It’s a great, fun, and creative type of play dough. Growing up I loved anything that smelled sweet like a treat. Do you remember scratch and sniff stickers? Those were totally my favorite. This play dough set brings me back to those days. I mean who doesn’t love the smell of blueberries? Or strawberries? We first played with the dough making fruit shapes and food.

Since I always try to incorporate some education into our play at least a few times a day, we continued on with phonics and letters.   I’ve found making our lessons fun and play based is much more effective.   We used these cards also from LakeShore Learning.

First I ask him what letter is on the card. I then asked him what sound the letter makes. Lastly, I pointed out the objects on the picture. Fore example, B is for balloon.

We do about 2-3 letters a day. He’s 3 years old and loves change. We bring out this activity a few times a week, eventually finishing the alphabet. You can also have him trace the letter with his fingers. Furthermore, for any of you who have kids with allergies, the non toxic dough does not contain corn, dairy/casein, egg, gelatin, latex or nuts.

Some of you ask what toys we use for my one year old. At this age, we do a lot of reading and sensory toys. These stars are great.  They are colorful and each one has a different texture. Babies love to learn and explore and this is a great safe way for them to do that. We also teach colors by pointing out each different hue of the rainbow. It also builds gross motor skills.

Yes, you guessed it. Lots of this happened.

But, not to worry, these are machine, or surface washable. I hope you enjoyed this post!

Here’s some fun clips of my kids playing with the toys!

*Disclosure: I was not financially compensated for this post. I received the product for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.**If you decide to make a purchase through the  affiliate link, Amazon will pay me a very small commission for it. This does not cost you anything additional. These commissions help to keep the rest of my content free. Thank you!

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French Toast Roll Ups

I’ve made something like these French toast roll ups in the past with other ingredients. This version this includes ones that are more ready available. You’ll probably find what you need in your refrigerator now. It’s a great way to make a meal more fun for the kids and packs in protein and fruit. The fillings are endless!

French Toast Roll Ups

Ingredients

  • Bread
  • Cream Cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbs. milk
  • Sliced fruit of choice (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, kiwis, etc.)
  • Butter

Instructions

  1. Flatten bread with a rolling pin or glass
  2. Remove ends of bread (optional)
  3. Spread cream cheese on one end of bread
  4. Top with sliced fruit, roll tightly
  5. Tip: Do not overfill!
  6. In a bowl, combine one egg and milk
  7. Dip filled roll ups into egg mixture, removing excess
  8. In a pan, on medium heat, add butter and brown rollups on all sides until brown
http://easytoddlermeals.com/2017/03/french-toast-roll-ups/

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Dylan’s First Birthday

I absolutely love parties. A fun fact about me is I’ve always wanted to be an event planner since I was a teenager. I never pursued it, so when it’s time for my kid’s first birthdays I have a lot of fun. First birthdays are big in our family and I’m always excited to use my imagination and make it into reality.

My youngest son lights up when I sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. That’s one of the reasons I chose this theme. I added some golds and a hint of pink to create a softer look. I made almost everything myself, so if I can do it, you can too! It just takes a bit of time, but crafting is my favorite stress reliever. I hope my baby’s party (yes, he’s still my baby), gives you some inspiration!


Cake 
I love simple cakes. Not just because they create a cleaner look, but because its cheaper! I have yet to venture off into making cakes. Since I’m frugal especially when it comes parties,  I chose to buy a  buttercream cake instead of fondant. Maybe someday I’ll venture off into cake making, but not anytime soon! I made the cake topper with my silhouette and a good friend designed the fondant stars. Voila! This was a lot cheaper than the fondant cakes I was looking at. In my humble opinion, it’s just as pretty!

Centerpieces

I have to admit these flowers were time-consuming to make, but they were not difficult. I was able to find some ombre pink tissue paper, and ombre blue tissue paper to add some dimension to my flowers. I found the blue at my local craft store. If you can’t find ombre, you can definitely inter change lighter blues with darker blues. If I were you though, you may want to opt for the ready-made ombre color to save you time. After making your 20th rose, you maybe asking yourself why did I start this. But look.. it’s so worth it! It’s also so much cheaper than real flowers too! Just message me if you’d like for me to do a video on how to make it. But there are plenty on youtube.

I changed up some of the centerpieces to included painted mason jars and glittered painted jars. I added these twinkle lights to create the right ambiance. They’re perfect because its battery operated and turns on with a flick of a switch.

Table Setting

For the table setting, I found some square plates  online. I also added a rustic touch to the table by using wooden utensils instead of plastic.  I couldn’t find the exact plates, but the ones I listed above are the same or similar.

Chocolate Star Favors

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen me make these. It’s so super easy! All you need is a mold, some lollipop sticks, and some chocolate. You can also use candy melts if you can’t find the merkens. The candy melts or chocolate melt great in the microwave. I then used a spoon to pour the chocolate into the mold. Freeze for 15-20 minutes and you’re all done!

#1 Sign

This #1 is made out of card board box. I made a number one shape and then glued and taped it three dimensionally. I then added weight to the bottom of the number one by using rice in ziplock bags. After sealing it, I then wrapped the shape in tulle. To tie it in to the theme, I wrapped the number one with the star lights!

Food 

We did cater from an outside restaurant, but I wanted to make sure everyone had something to choose from including picky toddlers! I made these super easy star and cloud shaped peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

All I did was use these cookie cutters. Star and Cloud. The best part about it you can always reuse them to make lunches for your kids!

 

In case you are wondering the wonderful photography is from my friend Dawnley.

**If you decide to make a purchase through the  affiliate link, Amazon will pay me a very small commission for it. This does not cost you anything additional. These commissions help to keep the rest of my content free. Thank you!

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Hidden Veggie Egg Salad

Veggies. These fiber rich foods are oh so good for you, but oh so hard to get your kids to eat it. At least that’s what I gather from the dozens of messages I get from all of you. If you’ve followed my blog or social media you’ll see I try to offer my kids veggies at every meal.  I came up with this hidden veggie egg salad recipe while trying to fulfill this goal. It was one of those days where I knew we would be home late for lunch and I had to prepare something quickly. I boiled some eggs in the morning with the plan of making egg salad. Then, as expected when I got home, had not much time before nap time. I looked in the refrigerator, combined a few things and voilà, almost all the food groups in one bite.

Tip: You can also just steam some cauliflower and smash it, or cook some rice cauliflower with a little olive oil.

Hidden Veggie Egg Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 egg, boiled
  • 1 tbs. mayonnaise
  • 1 tbs. avocado
  • 1-2 tsp. riced cauliflower, steamed
  • Paprika to taste
  • Bread
  • .

Instructions

  1. In a bowl, mash the boiled egg
  2. Add mayo, avocado, cauliflower and mix
  3. Sprinkle paprika and combine
  4. Top on bread and serve with chips and fruit
http://easytoddlermeals.com/2017/02/hidden-veggie-egg-salad/

P.S. If you have a super picky toddler with texture issues, you can cut the cauliflower amount to 1/2 tsp., but honestly you can’t hardly taste it! You can also just use avocado only, that in itself has much more nutrients than just mayonnaise.

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Asian Glazed Salmon

Frozen to the dinner table in less than 30 minutes! That’s my kind of dinner. This Asian glazed salmon is perfect for busy days and last minute meals. Pair it with some steamed veggies and brown rice and it’s a perfect meal. The slightly sweet and salty flavor makes it also appealing for kids. If your family likes the teriyaki,  you must give this dish a try. Put it this way, if you can mix a cup of coffee, you can definitely mix this easy marinade!

P.S. For the perfect salmon, I would highly suggest buying a meat thermometer. The recipe says 15-20 minutes, but the best gauge is its internal temperature, since ovens vary.

Asian Glazed Salmon

Ingredients

  • 2 tbs. soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 2 tsp. garlic, minced
  • 1/2 c. maple syrup
  • 2 tbs. butter, melted
  • 4 frozen salmon filets, wildcaught

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven 400F
  2. In a bowl, mix soy sauce, salt, pepper, garlic, maple syrup, and butter
  3. Line a baking sheet with foil and place frozen salmon filets
  4. Brush each filet with olive oil on both sides, place back skin side down on prepared sheet
  5. Pour soy sauce mixture over salmon
  6. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until internal temperature is 145F
  7. Pair with steamed vegetables and brown rice for a perfect meal
http://easytoddlermeals.com/2017/02/asian-glazed-salmon/

 

**If you decide to make a purchase through the  affiliate link, Amazon will pay me a very small commission for it. This does not cost you anything additional. These commissions help to keep the rest of my content free. Thank you!

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Buttered Bananas

Every now and then memories come up from my childhood. I often think about what foods I ate growing up, especially when I’m trying to figure out what to fix for my kids.  I grew up eating pan fried butter bananas.  Whether it was for breakfast or a snack, it was such a treat! It tastes incredible, but the one I remember is packed with sugar. I made our traditional family recipe healthier and baby friendly. It has no refined sugar, but is still tasty. Plus, all you need is 3 ingredients!

 

Buttered Bananas

Ingredients

  • 1 banana (ripe, but not overripe)
  • 2 tbs. butter (melted)
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • Dash of nutmeg (optional)
  • 1/8 tsp. peanut butter

Instructions

  1. Cut bananas, or split in half
  2. In a bowl, mix melted butter, cinammon,and nutmeg.
  3. Combine bananas with butter mixture
  4. In a nonstick pan, cook bananas under low-medium heat until brown
  5. Brown on both sides
  6. Serve plain, on yogurt, or on waffles or pancakes
http://easytoddlermeals.com/2017/02/buttered-bananas/

P.S. I added peanut butter for added protein, but you’re more than welcome to omit. You can also use maple syrup instead of honey (for the waffles) if your child is under one

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Educational Toys and Books

Hi everyone! If you are an Instagram follower, you know I do a lot of activities besides cooking with my toddler. Since I get so many messages about the different educational toys and books I use, I thought I’d write-up a blog post about it.  I showcase them on my IG stories almost daily. f you’re not familiar with stories go to my page and press the red ring around my profile name. I also post these items when they go on sale on my deals page. Go here if you want to be added.

Ps: I don’t have a formal background in education, but I do try to make it fun and educational for my kids. We don’t do much television or screen time, so I have to keep my son entertained in other ways. And frankly, I have to entertain myself too!

Just a tip: every kid is different! Some enjoy some activities more than others. Make it fun! Go back to it on another day if he or she is not interested.

Click on the RED links (affl.) for direct purchasing.

TOYS

Tweezer Tongs Color Sorting Kit 

  • Kids strengthen the fine motor skills they’ll need to start writing–while sorting by color!
  • Children use the easy-grip tweezer tongs to sort colored balls into the tubes
  • Builds color recognition, fine motor strength and eye/hand coordination–and develops pre-writing skills
  • Includes a color sorting tray with removable tubes, tweezer tongs and 50 rubber balls
  • For ages 3-6 years

Alpha Pops

  • 2-piece pops strengthen hand muscles and increase coordination while promoting imaginative play
  • Reinforce upper and lowercase letter recognition through matching
  • Set includes: 26 double-sided pops
  • Winner of 2 awards

Snap-and-Learn Alphabet Alligators 

  • Match upper and lowercase letters with these two-piece gators
  • Reinforce letter recognition and color matching
  • Each alligator is color-coded for self-checking
  • Includes 13 heads and tails marked on both sides to include all 26 letters

Magformers

Imaginative Development: Allow your child to build and create, expanding your child’s imaginative horizons and allowing them to develop their mind in new ways. 

Lincoln Logs

LINCOLN LOGS supports key areas of a child’s development growth. As the stack the different part together and discover how the building system works, they’re strengthening hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, problem-solving skills, spatial awareness and exercising their imagination!

Practice Shoe Tying

  • 4 chunky foam shoes to lace and learn how to tie
  • Bright, fun color foam shoes and real decorated shoe laces
  • iParenting Media Award winner
  • Includes 4 lacing shoes, 4 printed laces and a shoe tying lesson card

Talking Microscope 

  • Slip in one of the included slides to study some serious amazing scientific images!
  • Explore 12 fascinating bugs up close, learn cool bug facts, and test your knowledge of each creepy critter in fun quiz games!
  • Includes Talking Microscope with 5x focusing magnifier and light for easy viewing and 12 slides.
  • Fun facts and questions, such as “Ground beetles give off a stinky smell!” and “How far can a jumping spider jump?”
  • Winner of 10+ awards including Family Fun Toy of the Year Finalist, Parents Magazine Toy Test Finalist, Dr. Toy 100 Best Children’s Products, and Parent’s Choice Recommended.
  • Supports STEM learning via hands-on experience with a key scientific tool.
  • The perfect first microscope for preschoolers; makes a great birthday gift!

Butterfly Growing Kit

Self Correcting Puzzles

  • Beautifully detailed pictures encourage interest in all things A-B-C and beyond
  • Practice letter recognition and matching skills
  • Wooden storage box with slide-in lid
  • 52 wooden pieces

Ready Set School

  • Skill building set for pre-school children
  • Learn to cut, tie your shoe, and write the alphabet and so much more
  • Parents’ Choice Recommended Award winner
  • Includes 4 wipe away books with marker, 8 finger crayons, safety scissors, 2 stencils, 15 activity pages, 75 stickers, shoelace, and instructions

Magnetic Board and Chalkboard

Pattern Puzzles

BOOKS AND WRITING

Reusable Sticker Book

 

Wipeable Flash Cards – Upper Case

Wipeable Flash Cards – Lower Case

Wipeable Numbers – 1-30

Water Wow

  • Three fun activity/coloring board books, each with refillable water pen
  • Engaging and entertaining animal, alphabet, and number themes
  • Reusable white pages feature simple line drawings when dry; filled with color when wet
  • Chunky-size water pen for easy filling, easy gripping
  • Compact, spiral-bound format that’s great for travel

Let’s Sticker and Paste 

Let’s Sticker and Paste

Let’s Sticker and Paste

Tracing

Tracing

Cut & Paste

Let’s Cut Paper

Kid’s Scissors

 

Rock Crayons

Dot Markers

  • Thirty-two (32) Non-toxic, all natural soy wax crayons in 32 colors: red, green, blue, egg yolk yellow, black, brown, orange, purple, pink, grass green, sky blue, sunshine yellow, gray, tan, peach, white, strawberry cream, honey wheat, gold, pumpkin spice, coffee, tree bark, cranberry, rose red, magenta, periwinkle, turquoise, aqua, spruce, autumn green, silver in a cotton muslin bag.
  • Designed to strengthen the tripod grip muscles in young children and improve motor coordination.
  • Allows small fingers to color easily in large, wide strokes.
  • Crayon size is 1 1/4 x ¾ inch (Images may appear larger) Long lasting and durable. Although appearing smaller, volume is actually greater than major brand stick crayons. Size was carefully selected for the hands of young children!

Dot Coloring Books (girls)

Dot Coloring Books (boys)

Magnetic Calendar 

Learning Clock 

This one isn’t educational, but I’m trying to limit my messages on social media so I can spend time with my kids. Since you asked here is the link to these cars and tracks.

Cars and Tracks 


**If you decide to make a purchase through the  affiliate link, Amazon will pay me a very small commission for it. This does not cost you anything additional. These commissions help to keep the rest of my content free. Thank you!

 

 

 

 

 

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Chickpea Veggie Patties

We live on patties around my house. It’s fast and easy to make and always a hit with my two boys. Best of all these bites are jammed packed with veggies. It also includes added protein from the garbanzo beans and cheese in the recipe. I don’t have to worry about making other dishes, because it has carbohydrates, protein, veggies, and even some fat. I serve it with a side of fruit and I consider it a well-balanced meal.

I make a variation of these weekly.  Since I’ve received so many messages on social media about how I make them, I finally got around to writing a recipe blog post.  This is super for baby led weaning! Sometimes I add a little sour cream, marinara, or hummus on top to make it easier to chew. Ps: If you’re not already watching my stories, check it out! It’s the red ring around my profile name. I post kids activities and day to day mom life stuff. We have fun over there !

Chickpea Veggie Patties

Ingredients

  • 1 c. sweet potato (steamed) about 3/4 of a large
  • 1/4 c. peas (steamed)
  • 1/4 c. garbanzo beans (canned)
  • 1/4 c. shredded cheese
  • 1/4 c. bread crumbs
  • 2-3 tbs. flour (see tip)
  • 1 egg
  • Olive oil for frying

Instructions

  1. Steam sweet potato and peas
  2. In a blender blend potato, peas, garbanzo beans,and cheese
  3. Add bread crumbs, flour and egg
  4. Blend until combined, do not over mix
  5. The mixture should be a thick pasty mixture
  6. In a pan, add 2-3 tbs olive oil
  7. Using a scooper scoop out the mixture and place on pan. Smash with a spatula or spoon to form a patty
  8. Brown both sides
  9. Serve with sour cream, ketchup, marinara, hummus, or yogurt sauce
http://easytoddlermeals.com/2017/01/chickpea-veggie-patties/

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Sweet Potato Banana Bites

Mornings are always rushed at my house. Whether it’s because I have to run to work, or if I’m in a hurry to get my youngest down for his nap. The start of our mornings are always challenging. Making these baby friendly muffins ahead of time saves me a ton of time. And yes, you can have veggies for breakfast!

Best of all, you can add toppings to these muffins like chocolate chips, or sliced almonds. I just choose to make it simple for my 10 month old. We don’t offer sugar quite yet, unless it’s non refined. But for my 3-year-old chocolate chips are fair game.

Sweet Potato Banana Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c. sweet potato (steamed)
  • 1/2 c. banana (mashed)
  • 4 tbs. wheat flour
  • 2 eggs (scrambled)
  • 2 tbs. almond butter/nutbutter
  • Dash of cinammon

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven 375F
  2. In a large bowl, scramble eggs
  3. Mix in the mashed sweet potato, mashed banana, flour, nut butter, and dash of cinnamon
  4. Combine until well incorporated
  5. Pour into greased muffin tin
  6. Bake for 18-20 minutes
  7. Serve with butter, or drizzle honey for a sweeter variety (no honey before age 1)
http://easytoddlermeals.com/2017/01/sweet-potato-banana-bites/

P.S. See that super cute ring I’m wearing? It’s from Emma J. Company.  Part of the proceeds go to No Kid Hungry with each purchase from the Emma J. Dawn McCoy Collection, $6 goes to NKH. Here’s a closeup, it’s so lovely!

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How to keep berries fresh longer

At nearly $5 dollars per small container, berries are an expensive staple at our house. On occasion when I find it by bulk, I do buy them. Problem is, when I do, they spoil so quickly. There’s always one moldy strawberry in the container that ruins the entire batch. So.. how do you keep berries fresh longer? Do a little prep work before you place them in the refrigerator!

The big bonus is you don’t have to wash them every time you take it out of the refrigerator. It’s also great for toddlers who regularly search the refrigerator looking for a snack. I won’t name any names, but I have said toddler living in my home.  This quick procedure will naturally kill the mold spores and won’t spoil as quickly.

I hope this helps 😉

How to keep berries fresh longer

Ingredients

  • 1 c. vinegar
  • 3 c. water
  • Berries

Instructions

  1. In a bowl, mix vinegar and water
  2. Add berries
  3. Gently rinse and clean the berries in the vinegar solution
  4. Rinse the berries in clean water.
  5. Drain the berries into a clean container
  6. Lay out a paper towel, or kitchen towel and place clean berries
  7. Pat dry
  8. Store in a clean container lined with paper towel
http://easytoddlermeals.com/2016/12/keep-berries-fresh-longer/

 

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