Weekly Toddler Activity Guide | Week 8

Cricket. Cricket. Yes, I know…I kind of fell off the wagon last week and didn’t post a weekly activity guide. The struggle is real, and getting back from Thanksgiving and racing into all things Christmas got the best of me! However, tonight I am back, just in time, to share a few ideas for you and your little ones this week. (And remember if I skip a week again, because let’s be honest, it will probably happen, you can always reuse activities from before!).

If you would like a copy of the daily afternoon activity survival guide framework, you can check it out here

Daily Afternoon Survival Guide (1)

Make It Monday

The Best Christmas Crack

I did manage to share this recipe last week for Christmas Crack. It’s a must this Christmas season and your kids will love being a part of the fun. You could also have the kiddos make Christmas cards for neighbors and friends share the Christmas Crack with those your love. Giving is the perfect way to kick off the Christmas season.Teach It Tuesday

The Great Letter Hunt is our teaching activity this Tuesday. This activity is great for letter recognition and ordering. It is a simple activity that can take reach ALL ages and ability levels (both my 3.5 and 5 year old loved it). You will need Post – Its and a marker. I prepped this activity by writing one capital letter per post-it, until I had all 26. Then during naptime I stuck the lettered Post-Its all over our playroom, kitchen and living room. The rest is simple…find the letters. However, you can put your own spin. Chickadee and Sprout are 5 and 3.5. They worked together to find the letters but I extended the activity by having them find them in order, A…B…C…D…etc. They LOVED it. We played like this two more times. And they took turns hiding the letters for each other. Then I did a little adjusting/adding post-its. And hid the letter in each of their names. So Chickadee found her name one letter at a time and so did Sprout.  I plan to share more details on Instagram Tuesday morning (because I can share video), so check it out if you need more of a visual. @astepinthejourney

Wander There Wednesday

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The Grinch is a classic Christmas book and movie. We wandered to the theater for the first showing and saved LOTS on ticket prices by going early. If you want to read more about the movie before taking your little ones (mostly to make sure you feel comfortable with them watching it), I suggest visiting Common Sense Media. This is a great website that offers reviews and incites into the plot and ratings. Common Sense said of The Grinch “Like Seuss’ original, this is a story about kindness, compassion, love, and generosity being the true meaning of Christmas.” The new film was a fun way to kick off the Christmas season.

Thoughtful Thursday

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This week we are taking the candy cane challenge. Years ago, Courtney DeFeo visited our MOPS group and talked about how she encourages her children to light others up. To make others feel special. Specifically, at Christmas time she and her children attach small notes to candy canes and pass them out to any and everyone they see. Everyone from your neighbors and preschool teachers, to cashiers or random/friendly faces at the mall. Your reach is wide! She has printables at her website or your can make your own. So add a few candy canes to your grocery list and share the light this Christmas season.  

Free For All Friday

Just let them play! It’s Friday….the weekend is coming. We are watching ALL the Christmas movies this month. Last week we watched The Polar Express and this Friday we plan to watch The Star! 

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I hope you are able to implement some of these activities with your little one next week! I’d love to see pictures of your kiddos enjoying and you surviving your afternoons. Tag @astepinthejourney or use the hashtag #astepinthejourney if you share on instagram or Facebook! 

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Week ONE | Week TWO | Week THREE | Week FOUR | Week FIVE | Week SIX | Week SEVEN

**This post does contain affliate links, they cost you nothing but help me with my side hustle :)

Christmas Crack

The Best Christmas Crack

The stockings are hung, Alexa is turning my Christmas lights on and off when I ask her, Christmas crafts are being made, we have started our Jesse Tree Advent devotional, and of course, all the treats are being had! It truly is the most wonderful time of the year! I hope to share lots of Christmas love and fun with you over the next few weeks. 

Today, I have a good one! Want to be the hit of every party?? Make your neighbors feel special by delivering a Christmas treat? Encourage your child’s teacher your little one is their favorite?? I have a treat for you & I am sharing all the details today! Meet CHRISTMAS CRACK. or Thanksgiving crack. or Valentines Crack….the list goes on.

I promise anyone can make this yummy Christmas treat! You know is wouldn’t be an A Step in the Journey recipe if it wasn’t easy. So glance over these directions and get to work (you might even have all the ingredients in your pantry). The full recipe is at the bottom.

Set your oven to 375 degrees. 

In a medium sauce pan bring 1 cup of brown sugar and 1 cup of butter (two sticks…yes, TWO sticks) to a boil. Once brought to a boil you will want to boil for 3 minutes stirring continuously.

While you are waiting for the butter and brown sugar to melt, cover a large baking sheet with with parchment and clip down the edges to keep the parchment in place. Then line the baking sheet with saltines. You could do just one sleeve and call it a day, but I like to fill up the baking sheet so I usually need about 10 more crackers from a second sleeve. 

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Once your sugar/butter mixture has boiled for 3 minutes and started to caramelize, pour it over the saltines and spread with a spatula. REMOVE your clips!

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Bake in the oven at 375 degrees for 5 minutes. Remove. Top with one bag (11.5 oz) of dark or milk chocolate chips. Let rest for 5 minutes and they will begin to melt. Then spread with the spatula.

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You can choose your toppings….mini M&Ms, crushed pretzels, sprinkles, nuts, toffee. You could also leave them plain. I’m pretty sure at this point, you can’t go wrong! Refrigerate for at least two hours to give it time to harden. Then break into pieces.

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Bag it up for neighbors and teachers or arrange on a cute Christmas plate for one of your Christmas parties!

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Yall, it’s called Christmas CRACK for a reason. So have a plan, don’t leave it at your house for too long…or you will eat it all! You’ve been warned! Check out the full recipe below.

The Best Christmas CRACK

Ingredients:

1 – 2 sleeves of saltines

1 cup of brown sugar

1 cup of butter (2 sticks)

1 bag of milk or dark chocolate chips (11.5 oz)

Toppings of your choice (M&Ms, crushed pretzels, sprinkles, nuts, toffee, etc.)

Directions:

Set the oven to 375 degrees
Bring the brown sugar and butter to a boil in a sauce pan. Once boiling, boil for 3 minutes stirring continuously.
Line large baking sheet with parchment and spread out saltine crackers.
Pour boiled sugar/butter mixture over saltines and spread with a spatula.
Bake at 375 degrees for 5 minutes.
Remove from oven and pour 1 bag of chocolate chips over the saltines. Allow to sit for 5 minutes. Once they begin to melt spread with a spatula.
Top with any toppings of your choice…M&Ms, crushed pretzels, sprinkles, nuts, toffee, etc.
Allow to cool & set in the refrigerator for at least two hours.
Break apart in pieces and ENJOY!

 

Afternoon Toddler Activity Guide | Thanksgiving Week

It’s Thanksgiving week! And for us that means the kids are out of preschool ALL week. We have been wobbling around getting our turkey feathers ready. I wanted to share a few turkey ideas with you! I’m straying a little from the traditional daily activity categories, but we have extra time to fill around here so I thought an assortment of activities would be best this week! 

If you haven’t started your Thankful Turkey (thanks to Busy Toddler) yet, it’s not too late! Add a feather (or two or three) a day talking with your kiddos about all you have to be thankful for.

Thankful Turkey

Turkey Candy Dish

Cranberry Granola Bars

Homemade Cranberry Granola Bars (2)

After cutting out all of our thankful feathers to have a stock pile for the month of November we had a lot of scraps. We used those scraps to make the feathers on these pattern turkeys. I drew out the body, head, beak, legs, and feet. Chickadee cut hers out…Sprout just glued his together. They worked on their fine motor skills by accordion folding the legs. Then they sorted through the scraps to create a color pattern for the turkey’s feathers. They turned out pretty cute!

Pattern Turkeys

I love this idea of sticking feathers in a colander. Another great activity for fine motor skills from MamaOT

Go the the library and check out some books! Homeschool Preschool has some great suggestions.

And last,  let your little ones help with the Thanksgiving preparations. Make a banner, place cards on the table, prepare some of the side dishes or dessert. It’s all hands on deck this week! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

 

 

Chickadee’s 5th Birthday

Fifth Birthday

Last month our Chickadee turned FIVE. A whole hand (as she said all day!) The one that made me a mama is growing into an amazing young girl right before my very eyes. She is determined, kind hearted, level headed, smart, fun, inquisitive, fearless and a great big sister. We are so proud to call her ours and thankful God saw us fit to be her parents. It is such a privilege to see how God is working in her and through her to change the world.

For her 5th birthday she wanted to celebrate with pancakes, pajamas, and princesses! So we invited a bunch of little girls and had such a fun time! 

The menu included pancakes, donut holes, fruit, and chocolate milk! Simple. Delicious. 

Pajama Pancake Birthday

Pancake Breakfast

The the girls decorated pillowcases with fabric markers. I ordered these pillowcases and fabric markers from Amazon. They doubled as both a party craft and take home favor! Chickadee’s turned out great! We’ve washed it a few times too and the colors still look bright. I loved seeing all of the little girl’s personalities in the coloring. 

Pajama Party Activity

After the pillow decorating we made Fruit Loop necklaces and had a pancake relay using these felt pancakes and spatulas. 

Fruit Loop Necklaces

felt pancakes

And no birthday is truly complete without cake, right? The week of her birthday Chickadee requested a princess castle cake. I must admit I was a little worried about exactly how I would pull that off, but after grabbing some different sized & shaped cake pans and her clip on princess, we made it work! 

Homemade Princess Cake

The bottom is an 8×8 square, the middle a 7 inch circle, and the top a 4 inch circle. The turrets are made from upside down sugar cones covered in icing. Chickadee loved how it turned out and that is really all that matters!

Chickadee Birthday Cake

I bought most of our party supplies at the Dollar Tree…plates, napkins, banners, crepe paper, straws, pom poms, etc. The mini pancakes came from Trader Joes and the donuts are from Dunkin Donuts. Let me know if you have any other questions about where we bought what! 

We always have so much fun celebrating birthdays around here. Chickadee is the biggest celebrator of all! She loves a good party, and I think she had a blast at hers! Here is to being FIVE sweet girl! A. WHOLE. HAND.

Homemade Cranberry Granola Bars

Homemade Cranberry Granola Bars (2)

My kids are human garbage disposals. I thought this wasn’t suppose to happen until middle school? They are always hungry. Even on my best days when I make a full on breakfast of sausage, eggs, avocado, fruit, etc. the clock strikes 9:00 and they are starving again! I always like to have snacks on hand that I feel good about when handing them over to the kiddos.

Granola Bars Mix

These homemade cranberry granola bars are simple, quick & taste better than any of the store bought options. Plus they are made with REAL ingredients! For the kiddos and myself they are a go to snack (along with these oatmeal balls). I promise your kids will love them (and if they don’t, swap the cranberries for chocolate chips…haha!).

Homemade Cranberry Granola Bars (1)

Homemade Cranberry Granola Bars
Yields 16
Simple. Quick. Delicious. granola bar recipe that your kids will love
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Prep Time
15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups of instant oats
  2. 1/2 cup granola (I used the pumpkin & flax seed one from Costco)
  3. 1/2 cup cranberries
  4. 1/3 cup honey
  5. 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  6. 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  7. 1/4 cup almond butter (or peanut butter)
  8. 1/2 tsp vanilla
  9. 1/4 tsp salt
Instructions
  1. 1. Place parchment paper in an 8x8 baking dish (see parchment tip below!)
  2. 2. In a large bowl combine oats, granola and dried cranberries
  3. 3. In a sauce pan over medium-low heat combine honey, butter, brown sugar, almond butter, vanilla, and salt. Bring to a boil, then turn down heat and simmer until you see it thickening. Allow to cool for five minutes.
  4. 4. Combine the mixture with the dry ingredients and mix until fully combined.
  5. 5. Pour into baking dish and press down to fill evenly.
  6. 6. Allow to cool in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
  7. 7. EASILY remove from parchment paper and cut into pieces.
  8. 8. Store in an airtight container (I keep mine in the fridge) for up to 1 week
Notes
  1. Fee free to choose different add-ins in place of the cranberries. Some ideas are dark chocolate chips, raisins, coconut, or almonds.
Adapted from Wine and Glue
Adapted from Wine and Glue
A Step In The Journey http://astepinthejourney.com/
Parchment Trick

First, I LOVE parchment paper and silicone baking mats/sheets etc. They make clean up sooooo easy and nothing ever sticks to either of them. Jump on the bandwagon friends! Okay, so my parchment paper trick….I do this with casseroles too! Place inside the baking dish and you will notice it will pop back up making it hard to pour your ingredients in. So, I always use chip clips or clothespins to hold the parchment down while I pour. After everything is in place, simply remove the clips & Voila!

Homemade Cranberry Granola Bars