Monday, May 31, 2010

Slow Cooker Chicken & Dumplings

The ultimate comfort food! Chicken & Dumplings that is so simple and so easy but so rich and flavorful it'll taste like you slaved away all day, when all you did was drop some ingredients in the Slow Cooker!

What You Need: Chicken Thighs & Legs, 1 tube of biscuits, frozen carrots, 3 cups chicken stock, thyme, sage, paprika

What to Do: Place chicken in the slow cooker and sprinkle liberally with sage, paprika and thyme, add carrots and chicken stock. Cook on high, stirring occasionally until the chicken is fall off the bone tender. Remove chicken from slow cooker and shred. Replace shredded chicken without bones into the slow cooker. Pull apart biscuits and drop pieces into the slow cooker. Stir gently and let cook for 30 minutes. Stir again and continue to cook if the dumplings aren't cooked through.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Coconut Shrimp

This recipe combines two of my toddlers favorite things, shrimp and food he can eat with his hands! This coconut shrimp is a great kid-friendly dinner and a jaw-dropping appetizer when guest come over. It's quick, easy, and delicious!

What You Need: Shrimp -thawed, shelled & de-veined, flour, flaked coconut, eggs, breadcrumbs, oil for frying.

What To Do: Set up an assembly line with three small bowls. In the first bowl put some flour, in the second two lightly beaten eggs, and in the last combine the coconut and some unseasoned bread crumbs. Going down the assembly line, dredge shrimp in flour, then dip in the eggs and cover with the coconut mixture. Once all the shrimp are done, heat the oil in a frying pan. Add shrimp to pan and cook until golden brown on all sides. It only takes a minute so be mindful.

Serve with an Orange Marmalade as a dipping sauce and enjoy!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Box Top Coin Flip Game

This is one craft that will be fun long after the glue dries!

What You Need: a shoebox top, felt, marker, glue, scissor, a coin or button

What to Do: Cut the felt to line the inside of the box top and glue it in place. Then cut shapes with other remnants of felt to create scoring sections. Use the marker to write values on the felt shapes. Glue them randomly on the felt inside the box top to create the game board. Let dry.

How to Play: take turns flipping the coin or button into the box top. Earn points by getting the coin to land on one of the scoring sections. After 5 rounds the player with the most points wins.

Pair with the Shoe Box Fishing Game for two games in one box!

Monday, May 24, 2010

5 Games to Play with an Alphabet Mat

An alphabet mat is a wonderful teaching and play tool. the vibrant colors and washable foam make it great for even the youngest of kids. There are several obvious ways to play, but here are 5 unconventional games to play:

1) Alpha-Hop Scotch: It's just as you would imagine. Make a hopscotch grid with a few letters from the mat. As you hop down have your child say the letter they land on. For kids learning to read, have them make each letter sounds. And older kids can say a word that begins with that letter. (Note: use consonant blends as the double rows: BL, WH, ST, FR, PL)

2) Alpha-Twister: Again it's very much like the what you would think... You can play this one is a variety of ways, again by letter, letter sound, beginning letter, even color, or use all 4. Just write out the letters, colors, and words on strips of paper and place them in a hat. (Or if you have Letter Flash Cards use them). In another pile write out Left Hand, Right hand, Left Foot, Right Foot. Pick one card from each pile. Examples: Left Hand A; Right Foot 'Ssss'; Left Foot Blue: Right hand on the first letter in the word Pear. Use what ever works for you and your kids.

3) Rhyming Word Families: This is more of using the mat as a teaching tool. Put together the root of a word family, ie: -AT. Then have your child find the letters that will make rhyming words. Help them to sound out each of the words. M-AT; B-AT, C-AT, P-AT, F-AT, H-AT, FL-AT, R-AT, S-AT....

4) Alpha-Boggle: Lay out the mat in a 4x4 square A,E,I,O, U, R,S,T,L,N,P,B,D,C,H,M using the letters and have your child search for words by connecting letters.

5) Letter Train: Have your child put a random selection of letters in a row, then help them identify each letter and the sound it makes. For older kids, have them make up a story using the letters, example, if the letters are O, C, D, E, W, F,A, S: You might say, One Cold Day, Edward Went For A Swim; or Octopus Carl Dove Every Week For An entire Summer...

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Stuffed Bread

I learned this recipe a few summers ago from my friend Dorothy. It's is so easy but seems so complicated. Its a one dish dinner with endless variations!

What You Need: cooked Chicken strips (they sell precooked strips or you can grill a chicken breast and slice it), your favorite shredded cheeses, chopped broccoli and carrots, a tube of crescent rolls or croissants

What to Do: Preheat oven to 350. Roll out the crescent roll dough on to a cookie sheet and press the dough to get rid of the perforations. In a bowl mix the chicken, cheese, broccoli and carrots. Place the mixture on top of the dough and then pull the ends of the dough to meet. press firmly so that it will bake closed.

Bake until the dough is golden brown.

Slice and serve.

Variations: You can stuff your bread with whatever you'd like, the trick is to make sure the meat is cooked before placing it in the dough. Try:
-spaghetti sauce, mozzarella cheese and meatballs.
-strips of steak, mushrooms and onions.
-shrimp and squash seasoned with sage.

This is also a great way to convert leftovers into a new dish. Use leftover roast chicken instead of grilled chicken breast, or chop up leftover meatloaf and mix with softened potatoes and onions and gravy.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Virtual Vacation: Destination Spain: Music & Language

The Spanish culture is full of rhythm and flavor. The perfect way to introduce your child to Spain is through it's music and language. Here you can find snippets of both, a link to a wonderful Children's Music site and a brief lesson in Spanish with some easy words to incorporate throughout the day while on your Virtual Vacation.

MUSIC: Here is a collection of children's songs and nursery rhymes from Spain, Mama Lisa's World, complete with lyrics in spanish and english and music.

LANGUAGE: The official language of Spain is the Castillian form of Spanish. Here are some basic Spanish words to teach your kids while on your Virtual Vacation:

Hello: Hola (O-La)

Goodbye: Adios (Ah-di-os)

How are you?: Como Esta? (Ko-Mo Es-sta)

Bathroom: bano (Bon-yo)

Please: por favor (Pour Fahv-or)

Thank You: gracias (Gra-see-ahs)

Food: alimento (ah-lee-ment-to)

Mom: Mama


Son: hijo (E-ho)

Daughter: hija (E-ha)

Family: Familia (Fa-mil-li-ah)

Virtual Vacations: Destination Spain - Games

Tres Cosas (The three things)

How to Play: Stand with your child in the middle of the room or yard and choose three objects that you both can see. While you close your eyes and count to ten (in Spanish if you can), your child has to try and touch all three objects and get back to your side. When you get to ten, your child should hide and you open your eyes. Without moving look to see if you can find them, if not you close your eyes and begin counting again. Your child can then continue touch the objects and getting back to you. Continue this pattern of counting and hiding, until either the child is caught when you open your eyes or they get back to you before you finish counting. Then choose three more objects and switch.

Virtual Vacations: Destination Spain - Folktale/Story

The Tinker and the Ghost

A long time ago there was a haunted castle in the hills where no one dare go. The castle had been empty for years and years and tales of the ghost that lived there grew the longer the castle stood empty. One day, in the market a pot maker named Esteban, over heard several women talking about the haunted castle. The owner of the castle had offered a rewards of 1,000 gold pieces to anyone who could get rid of the ghost that haunted the castle. Many men tried but no one could stay in the castle long enough to get rid of the Ghost. Anyone who tried to spend the night in the castle was frightened away before long.
Esteban decided that he would try to free the castle of its ghost, so he loaded up his donkey with lots of firewood, a sleeping bag, eggs, bacon, and a pan and started up the hill to the castle. When Esteban reached the castle the first thing he did was start a fire in the fireplace. Then he laid up his sleeping bag. Soon Esteban was hungry so he put the pan in the fire and began to make some eggs for dinner.
An eerie voice called, "Oh My, Oh My!"
"Who is there?" Esteban replied through he was a little scared he decided to stay. The voice sounded like it was in trouble. Maybe the Ghost needed help.
"Oh My, Oh My" the voice called again. "Help me I'm falling" and with a Plop! the ghost leg fell down the chimney and in front of the fire place. Esteban took it and put it to the side. As Esteban began to eat his supper, he heard the voice call again. "Oh My, Oh My! I'm Falling" and Plop down fell another leg. Soon a torso fell then one arm and the other and finally a head. Esteban helped the ghost put himself back together.
"thank you!" said the Ghost. " I have been trapped for many many years and no one has ever stayed long enough to help me."
"What help do you need?" Esteban asked the Ghost, who was now not scary at all.
"I buried, in the courtyard, three bags of coins. One bag of bronze coins, one bag of silver coins and one bag of gold coins. Will you help me dig them up?"
"Yes." Esteban agreed and went out to the courtyard with the Ghost. They found the place where the coins were buried and began digging.
When all three bags were unearthed, the Ghost said, "Please give this bag of bronze coins to the Church."
"I will." Said Esteban.
"And please give this bag of silver coins to the poor."
"I will" said Esteban.
"The last bag of gold coins, you can keep for yourself. Thank you for helping me." The Ghost said.
"Thank you!" Esteban said gratefully and watched as the Ghost disappeared into thin air.
In the morning, Esteban did as he promised. He gave the bag of bronze coins to the Church and the bag of silver coins to the poor. He found the owner of the castle, "The Ghost will not haunt here anymore." Esteban said and collected his reward. Esteban lived out the rest of his days a very happy man and was never afraid to help someone in need.

Virtual Vacations: Destination Spain - Crafts

Here are two fun Spain-themed crafts for you and your child a pair of Castanets and a flamenco fan!

What You Need: 4 Large buttons or bottle caps, felt, glue, rubber bands, scissor

What to Do: Cut the felt into two "Glasses" shapes (circles connected by a narrow strip). Lace the felt through a rubber band to create a handle. Glue the bottle caps/buttons into the felt circles. Once dry, slip the rubber bands over your fingers and hold the castanets between your thumb and index & pointer fingers. Clack away!

Flamenco Fan
What You Need: construction paper, 2 paint stirrers/large popsicle sticks/pieces of cardboard, crayons/markers, glue, rubber bands, ribbon/yarn

What to Do: Decorate the paint sticks and both sides of the construction paper with crayons/glitter. Glue a paint stick to each and of the ends of the construction paper. Fold the construct paper to make an accordion. Use a rubber band to hold the ends of the paint sticks together.

Virtual Vacations: Destination Spain - Recipes

Traditionally in Spain lunch is the biggest meal of the day. Many people get off of work and school to go home to have lunch with their families (and to have a Siesta!). But for the purposes of your Virtual Vacation you can stick to a traditional meal schedule and just substitute in these foods. Here are a Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Dessert/Snack, and a drink from Spain!

Breakfast: Traditional Spanish Omelette.
What You Need: (per person) 1 small potato, 2 eggs, olive oil

What to Do: Cut the potato into slices and saute them in a shallow pan until golden brown. Remove form the pan and set aside to drain. Beat the eggs well and then add the potatoes. Add a few more drops of oil into the pan and then slowly pour in the potato and egg mixture while gently shaking the pan to prevent sticking. Once the eggs are cooked, slowly slide the omelet onto a plate and replace in pan to cook on the other side. Once both sides are done, remove from pan cut and eat.

For a variation, you can add just about anything else to this dish: onions, spinach, ham, mushrooms, cheese... it's up to you.
Lunch: Shrimp Fritters (Tortillitas de Camarones)
What You Need:
1/2 pound of shrimp,
1 1/2 cups of flour,
1 tbsp parsley
2 finely chopped scallions
1 tsp Paprika
olive oil of frying.

What to Do:
Cook shrimp in a few cups of water, once water is boiling, remove shrimp and let cool. Reserve 1 cup of the water and discard the rest.

Mix the rest of the ingredients then slowly add in the cup of water until you have batter that is somewhere between thick pancake batter and pudding. Refrigerate for an hour.

Finely chop the shrimp and add tot he batter mixing well. Heat the oil in a frying pan. When oil is hot drop in (a spoonful at a time) the batter, flattening each round with the back of the spoon. Turn once and cook til golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towel.

Dinner: Chicken Paella
The Arroz Con Pollo recipe is a great one to use for dinner, as Paella is the ultimate Spanish dish and it may be a little difficult to get you little one to eat the squid, mussels and clams in it. Chicken Paella is the same as Arroz con Pollo, so this may be the night to try it out.

Drink: Non-Alcoholic Sangria
In a large pitcher mix 4 cups Cranberry-Grape Juice with 1 cup of Orange Juice and 1/4 cup of Lemon Juice. Drop in a few slices of orange and some chopped up apple. Chill and serve. You can add a splash of lemon-lime soda for some extra pizazz!

Virtual Vacation: Destination Spain!

Welcome to Spain!

Find here everything you need to introduce your little ones to the Spanish Culture! A days worth of recipes, crafts, music and even a bedtime story!

Adios! and Enjoy!

Virtual Vacations

For awhile now, I've wanted to do a collection of posts dedicated to traveling without actually leaving home. The focus of these Virtual Vacations is to give you and your child a series of activities to do surrounding one central theme that could be focused into one day or over a weekend.

For each Virtual Vacation, you'll find recipes, crafts, fun facts, book suggestions, games and activities that will allow you and your child to be transported to another culture.

Virtual Vacation Destinations:
South Africa - Coming Really Soon!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Meditation for Kids

There are many benefits associated with meditation and recently this group of relaxing techniques has been touted as a wonder-therapy for kids with ADHD. however when you have kids, any amount of time spent in silence seems to be just a myth. Exposing children, even young ones, to the beauty of silence helps them relax their minds & bodies and also prevents over stimulation. There are hundreds of ways to introduce children to meditation; here are a few tips and suggestions to help you find what works for you and your little one.

  • Meditation shouldn't be a punishment or a chore. Do not pressure children to mediate; let them gravitate to it on their own. Not everyone will be moved to meditation and no one should be forced if they are not ready; it defeats the purpose. So, make sure you introduce meditation in a positive way, and present a variety of options so the child understands that your not simply looking for a few minutes of quiet.
  • Don't over do it. The general rule is 1 minute of silence for every year of life. So don't stress yourself trying to get your two year old to sit still for an hour. Begin by using the meditation as a warm up or cool down to other activities and do not overwhelm young ones with too much explanation or complexity.
  • Start out as something you do together. Avoid making it a competition. It's not about who can be quiet the longest. Instead use the time to bond. Whether its just quiet time, or you introduce stretching, walking, or yoga; Let this be time where it's you and your child; no phone, no TV, no visitors. Soon your child will look forward to having uninterrupted time with you.

For Ages Birth - 1
As you can probably imagine, this really isn't meditation. Its basically carving out a time where you and your child sit quietly. No TV, no music, no distractions. Maybe just rocking them gently while deep breathing or humming a soft lullaby.

For Ages 1-4
Once children are mobile and on the move, it's harder to get them to sit quietly. If introducing them at this stage, use meditation as a opening act for something else. Example, go for a short walk and say, "Before we go for our walk we need to get ready." Then help your child sit on the floor and do simple stretches and breathing. After your walk, have the child repeat the stretching and breathing exercises.

For Ages 5-7
Start with guided meditations that will allow you to develop something that is more like story telling and gradually get them to a place where they are guided by their own thoughts and imaginations. Have them visualize walking on a beach and watching the waves, or sitting in the grass watching the flowers sway in the breeze.

For Ages 7-10
At this age, you can begin to introduce self-reflection. Begin with a guided meditation and then ask simple questions like, "Did something upset you today?" or "What can you do to be a better friend/student/brother?". No answers are needed aloud. This is a time for the child to look inward and have some self-reflection and you will be teaching them to ask these kinds of questions of themselves.

Note: It is important that both you and the children are dressed comfortably - preferably sweats/shorts and a t-shirt - and to not be hungry, tired or sleepy. You and your child shouldn't be distracted by an itchy sock or a grumbling belly. Also note that you do not need any special mood-setting paraphernalia like candles, music or special aromas. All you need is space and quiet.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

5 Things Moms Shouldn't Be Ashamed To Do in Public

1) Sing and Dance - It doesn't matter if you can sing or not, what matters is that singing I'm a little Teapot will keep your 2 year old from getting out of the shopping cart and rolling cans down the aisle. So sing loud and sing proud. And if people around you look annoyed, just remember that it would be worse if they had to hear your kid wailing.

2) Change a Diaper/Skipping the Line - Kids are not grown ups and they don't have the bladder control that adults have, so expecting them to hold it is a dangerous waiting game; and making a toddler sit in a wet diaper is just cruel. Other people with kids will understand if you ask to skip the line with a wiggling 3 year old; and no one will blame you for changing your infant on a bench.

3) Nurse/Feed their Kids - Similar to the endless bathroom breaks, don't be shy about feeding a hungry kid. You're the parent and kids can't really fend for themselves - so feed them! Also, when children are hungry they get cranky and tend to have more tantrums and meltdowns. So what if you have to cop-a-squat in a stairwell with a slice of pizza; it's better than trying to calm a tired, hungry, cranky kid.

4) Leave Abruptly - You should never feel bad about having to cut a conversation short, leave a cart of groceries in the middle of the aisle, or ditch a party before the cake is served. The reason for your early departure will change - anywhere from tantrums to sick kid - but don't despair over leaving some place when your son is making a scene, needs to nap/eat/potty, or is otherwise just not cooperating.

5) Protect their Children - This covers a wide range of parenting actions from not forcing her to kiss a distant relative she doesn't like, scolding her for running away from you, or questioning a medication prescribed by the doctor. As a parent your job is to assess every situation your child enters and to weigh the experience versus the damage it may do. So never be coy about something you think will not be good for your child's emotional or physical well being.

What Every Craft Kit Should Have

Arts & Crafts are a fun and easy way to spend an afternoon with your children. When its raining out or if you just want to do something different, crafts engage kids imaginations, their minds and their hands. There are endless craft ideas and you can always do a good ol' fashion collage or finger painting. But having a well stocked craft kit will give you and your child endless options when looking for a new activity. Here are a few suggestions to get your kit started and some ideas of how to grow your kit.

The Must-Haves
1) Construction Paper
2) Glue - liquid and stick form
3) Felt - a variety pack of remnants
4) Crayons - non-toxic and washable
5) Safety Scissors

The Secondary Essentials - all in various sizes and colors
1) Pom-Poms
2) Pipe Cleaners
3) Feathers
4) Popsicle sticks
5) Ribbon/Yarn

The Household Necessities -
1) Flour
2) Newspaper
3) Empty soup cans
4) Clear tape
5) Paperclips

1) Finger paints
2) Markers
3) Kraft paper
4) Buttons
5) Shoe boxes

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Create a Book & Bookmark Craft

It wouldn't be Book Week without a Book themed craft. Here are two classic crafts: a memo book and bookmark.

What You Need: a file folder or poster board, construction paper, plain white paper or lined paper, glue, a pipe cleaner, piece of ribbon, hole puncher, decoration of your choosing

What to Do:
Cut the file folder/poster board into three rectangles (a front cover, a back cover and a long thin rectangle for the bookmark). Then cut the construction paper to fit on top of the file folder. Lastly cut the plain paper to fit inside the covers as pages.

Let your child decorate the construction paper.

Glue the corresponding construction paper pieces onto the front and back cover file folder pieces. Put the plain paper in between the two covers, making sure the decorated side are facing out. Using the hold puncher make holes down the left side (or across the top) of the book. Finally thread the pipe cleaner through the holes to make a spiral style memo book.

Glue the decorated construction paper onto the long thin file folder piece. Use the hole punch to make a hole in the center along the top of the bookmark. Lace the ribbon through and double knot it to secure it in place.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Story Time Finger Plays

In celebration of Children's Book Week, here is a way to help young children become young readers. Act out the stories in almost any book using toys, action figures, or make your own finger puppets.

A story time finger play can be anything you'd like, from retelling the story in your own way, to reading the book aloud and acting it out as you go; there's no wrong way to make a book come to life.

Using some simple materials you can turn just about any book into an interactive finger play.

What You Need: Construction Paper, Scissor, Crayons, a Glue Stick

What to Do: Cut the construction paper into strips with a rectangle sticking up (see photo). Decorate the rectangles to look like each character ( example the photo shows Red Riding Hood and the Wolf). Then wrap the strips around your fingers and glue the edges together.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

National Children's Book Week

If you didn't know it, this week is National Children's Book Week! Started in 1919 by Franklin Matthiews, we embark on a week that celebrates and encourages excellence in Children's Literature. So head out to your local library or bookstore and pick up some new and exciting titles for your child of any age!

To help you in your search visit:

The Children's Book Council for a list of Suggested Titles

Children's Author, Anika Denise's Bookmarks Blog for great book suggestions on every topic from 'Quiet' books, book about Spring to books with Vrroom!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Super Simple Pin Wheel Craft

This craft is so simple and easy you can do it for any occasion holidays, play-dates, parties or just an quiet Spring afternoon!

What You Need: 2 pieces of construction paper, crayons/markers, scissor, glue stick, pipe cleaner, 1 chopstick/un-sharpened pencil

What To Do:Cut the paper into squares by folding one corner up to meet the top edge and then trimming off the rectangle that is left. Let your child decorate one side of each square. When they are done. Cut in from each corner - as if you were going to cut the squares into triangles. Poke a hole in each of the four corners and on in the center of the square. Carefully pull the corners with the holes to line them up with the one in the center. Lace the pipe cleaner through and make knots on each side, then attach the pipe cleaner to the chopstick.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Homemade Bubble Solution

As Spring gives way to Summer you and your little ones will be spending more time outdoors. When kids play with bubbles they learn about cause and effect - blow and it makes a bubble, science - basic physics, and hand-eye coordination - tracking and aim! Heres a quick recipe for some sunshine fun!

1/2 cup of dishwashing liquid
2 cups of water
2 tsp of sugar

Dissolve the sugar in the water then add the dishwashing liquid. Place in a shallow pan. Use pipe cleaners, old bubble wands, cookie cutters or your hands to make lots and lots of bubbles!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Toy Buying Tips

There are millions of toys out there. But just like everything else in this modern world, toys are getting more and more complex. Flashing lights, moving parts, and music are just a few of the things that manufacturers use to get us to to buy their products for our little ones. However, not every toy in the toy store is beneficial to your child. Here are three tips to help you navigate the aisles.

1) Good Toys Can Be Used in Different Ways. A ball being bounced, tossed and rolled; or a train set that can be re-arranged to create different scenes; toys like blocks, rings, and connecting sticks can be used over and over and encourage children to use their imagination.

2) Good Toys are Made to Last and are Durable. The best toys don't have tons of little pieces. They can be washed easily and will still work after being tossed in the tub or down a flight of stairs . Kids are tough on their toys and the toys should be able to hold up to the beating.

3) Good Toys are Safe, Interactive and Age Appropriate. Whether that means chunky puzzles for your 1 year old or a model car for your 13 year old; a good toy challenges your child's mind and it must be handled. It must be able to stand up to your child's close scrutiny and inspection. A toy that only needs a child to press a button and watch it go, does nothing to develop the child's imagination or creativity.

Not to worry about buying the latest and greatest; we've all spent money on some expensive gimmicky contraption, only to stand in amazement when our child tosses it aside and uses the box as a holding pin for his imaginary three ring circus!

Learn more about toys & child development at The Early Years Institute.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Homemade Play Dough

Whip up a quick afternoon of hands-on creativity with this simple recipe!

What You Need:
2 cups flour
1 cup salt
1 cup warm water
food coloring

What to Do:
Mix the flour and salt together. Combine the water and food coloring. Slowly add the water to the flour mixture and stir. Once you can handle the dough kneed until well mixed.

Then play! If your little one decides to taste dough, don't worry it's safe - but salty! To save place in small tupperware or plastic baggies. It will eventually fall apart but you can easily make more!

NOTE: if you want your dough to be shiny like the store bought kind add a tsp of oil to the mixture.

Monday, May 3, 2010


Tessellation is just a fancy math word for tiling or a repeating pattern. Simple tessellations are all around us: bathroom tile, a brick wall, a honey cone. Simple tessellations are easy and fun to find and make!

But you can have your little one exercise their math muscles by creating their own complex tessellation.

For A Simple Tessellation:

What You Need: a piece of paper, a small simple shape (Triangle, Rectangle, Square or Hexagon) crayons or markers.

What To Do: Trace the simple shape over and over again until it covers the piece of paper. The let kids color to create patterns.

For A Complex Tessellation:

What You Need: A piece of paper, a second piece of paper cut into a small square, a scissor, a pencil, tape, crayons or markers.

What to Do: Have your child draw along one edge of the small square. Carefully cut along line and tape the cut out to the opposite end of the square. (i.e. draw and cut out a triangle along the bottom edge, then tape the triangle to the top so that you have what looks like a house with a large triangle door.) The objective is to be able to fit the square like a puzzle piece into itself over and over again. You can repeat this with the other straight edges of the square.

Then help your child trace the new shape over and over until you've tiled the entire piece of paper. Once the paper is tiled completely, then let your child color in the tiles any way they choose. With patterns or randomly.

-Estimate then count how many shapes it will take to cover the piece of paper.
-Guess then test how many different colors you would have to use to color the entire tessellation without letting tiles of the same color touch.