Pizza Party!

Create your own pretend pizza parlor!

Ask your local pizza place for an extra box the next time you stop by or even at most chain restaurants they’ll have small to-go pizza boxes.IMG_5518

You and your child can spend a few minutes cutting up different colored construction paper for the “toppings”. Some examples are: red for tomatoes or pepperoni, green for bell peppers or spinach, black for olive, grey for mushrooms, yellow and white for cheeses, etc.  These don’t need to be perfect, any shape or size works for toppings.

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Image from http://www.couponsaregreat.net/crafty-tuesday-april-27th-cardboard-pizza/

Other fun additions for the pizza parlor: chef hats, aprons, telephone for delivery service, fake money, rolling pins, empty paper bags of flour

This activity can be as simple or elaborate as you and your child want it to be, let your imaginations run wild!

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Homemade Play Dough Recipe!

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Here is a great homemade play dough recipe!

Ingredients:
4 cups of flour
2 cups of salt
4 teaspoons of Cream of Tartar
4 cups of water
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
15-20 drops of food coloring*
5-10 drops of food scent*
(*Feel free to replace the food coloring and food scent with 4-5 packets of powdered Kool-Aid. It will look as fun as it smells!)

Procedures:
1. Add dry ingredients to a large mixing bowl
2. Stir until lumps are gone
3. Pour smooth mixture into a pan over low heat
4. Stir mixture in the pan until it clumps into a large ball
5. Remove the play dough from the pan onto cool surface
6. Knead the play dough until desired consistency
7. Store the play dough in an air tight container

Making play dough together as a family is great for getting your children to learn helpfulness, fine and gross motor skills, dramatic play, and self-regulation! Some tips and ideas on encouraging social-emotional development are listed below.

Play Dough Ideas:
– Place the play dough on place mats to give your children a space with play boundaries
– Add materials found around the house into to play dough activity (pasta, straws, forks, spoons, bowls, cups, muffin tins, dough rollers, dinosaurs, animal toys, pipe cleaners, popsicle sticks, buttons, rocks, etc.)

This open-ended activity will allow children to freely use their imagination!

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Fun Fall Recipe!

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The season of fall is upon us!  This means family and friends, cooking, and comfort food galore is in store for most of us.  Who said comfort food has to be unhealthy?  With this baked mac and cheese recipe, your dish will be both delicious and good for your body.

Ingredients:
Cooking spray
12 oz of uncooked pasta (about 2.5 cups)
1/8 tsp table salt for pasta cooing water
10 oz uncooked broccoli, small florets (about 2.5 cups)
1 tsp salted butter
1/3 cup of fresh bread crumbs
3 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
2.5 cups of fat-free skim milk
1/3 cups of all-purpose flour
1/2 cup uncooked, diced onion
1 cup of low-fat shredded cheddar cheese
1 tsp of Dijon mustard
1.5 tsp table salt
1/2 tsp grounded black pepper

Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Coat a shallow 2-quart baking dish with cooking spray.

Cook pasta in a large pot of lightly salted boiling water according to package directions, adding broccoli to the water 3 minutes before pasta will be done. Drain the pasta and broccoli and return to the pot.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heath, add bread crumbs and cook, stirring often, until light golden for about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer crumbs to a small bowl. Stir in 1 tbsp of Parmesan cheese and set aside.

In same saucepan, whisk together the mil and flour under blended; add onion. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking frequently. Reduce heat to low and simmer until thickened about 2 minutes.

Remove from heat and whisk in cheddar cheese, mustard, salt, pepper, and remaining 2 tbsp of Parmesan cheese. Pour over cooked, drained pasta and broccoli; toss to mix and coat.

Transfer to a baking dish and sprinkle top evenly with breadcrumbs. Bake until bubbly at edges, about 20-25 minutes. Divide into 8 pieces and serve. Yields 1 piece per serving.

You can find the complete recipe HERE.

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Tips and Suggestions:
– Add peas and carrots to encourage further healthy eating habits
– Allow your child to add it each ingredients, but encouraging self-regulation by waiting patiently
– Messes are bound to happen! Encourage your child to wear an apron, but also explain throughout the process that after you are finished cooking, you will work together to clean.