Found this one in my in box and thought it good enough to share!
From BabyCenter.com written by Kya Fawley
Tap into the power of pretend play Try initiating a make-believe game with your child, suggests Jerome L. Singer, co-director of the Family Television Research and Consultation Center at Yale University. Not only will pretend play give your child ample opportunity to practice using his imagination, says Singer, but research shows that kids who play make-believe tend to be happier than other kids. For example, pretend you’re at your child’s favorite restaurant. Outfit your child with an apron and help him set up a table and chairs for his stuffed animals. Or, pretend you’re going on a picnic. Set out a blanket with a picnic basket and ask your child what kinds of food he would pack.
Homespun place mats You’ll be amazed at how quickly your child will choose an art project over the tube when you present him with the choice, Kenworthy says. Try setting up a craft table with glue, markers, construction paper, scissors, beans, and various types of uncooked pasta and dried beans. Your child can create colorful place mats for family members and decorate the borders with the beans and pasta.
Cook up a story. Tell each other stories, suggests Kathy Kenworthy, who teaches preschool at the Broadway Children’s School in Oakland, California. Try using kitchen items for inspiration. For example, the pasta you are about to dump into the boiling water can represent scuba divers on a daring mission. Encourage your child to add to the tale or start one of his own. “Telling stories is terrific for children’s language development,” Kenworthy says. Not only does telling stories help children organize their thoughts and learn new vocabulary, but communicating with you boosts their self-esteem, she explains. Tip: Your child will love hearing about a main character that greatly resembles him.
The chef’s assistant. Why should you and your partner do all the work — or have all the fun, as your child may see it? Have your child help you cook. While you don’t want your child to use sharp knives or cook over flames, he can do plenty of things to help you get dinner on the table. Ask your child to toss the salad, find ingredients for you, set the table, or husk the corn, suggests Marilyn Segal, dean emeritus at the Family and School Center at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “Children feel very grown up when they’re given a job to do,” she says. To help your older child see a task as fun instead of as a chore, make a game out of it. For example, challenge your child to find ingredients or set the table in less than three minutes.
Experiment cakes. Give your child the opportunity to do some creative cooking of his own, Kenworthy suggests. To start this activity, set out a large mixing bowl and ask your child what he would like to make. Let him pick out the ingredients but encourage him to choose items he’s likely to need, such as flour and eggs.
When you’re ready to cook the family dinner, place your child’s experiment cake in the oven. (Look up what your child intended to make in a cookbook to estimate the temperature and cooking time.) When the experiment cake is done, let your child taste it. The cake might taste horrible, but the activity will teach your child some basic cooking skills and help him feel comfortable in the kitchen. “The process is more important than the product,” says Kenworthy.
Nifty napkin holders. If your child likes art projects, sit him at the table with pipe cleaners, beads, and old buttons, Kenworthy suggests. These objects can generate a lot of different creations, including napkin holders. To create napkin holders, string beads or buttons on a pipe cleaner and tie the ends together to form a circle. Encourage your children to string the beads in a pattern, Kenworthy says. Note: Pipe cleaners have sharp ends, so fold the edges over before giving them to your child; remember that large beads and buttons can be a choking hazard for children 4 and under.
Magnificent menus. Tired of sweating over a hot stove only to hear your child declare he doesn’t like what you’ve prepared? Have him help you plan the menu for the week. To save yourself from a diet of Oreos and ice cream, challenge your child to pick nutritious meals. You may want to talk to him about the food pyramid and the benefits of each food group. Warn him about any family members who are allergic to certain foods or refuse to eat them. If your child is too young to write the menu down, suggest that he illustrate it. By the time he’s done, dinner should be ready.
Playful pizza. Buy readymade pizza dough and give your child a bowl of tomato sauce to smear on the crust. Then let him decorate it with pieces of grated cheese, pepperoni, olives, slices of tomato and pepper, and anything else you’d like on the pizza. After you’ve cooked the pizza, point out how the ingredients look different (mushrooms shrink, cheese melts, colors deepen) after they’ve been cooked.
Bubble delight. Creating bubbles is a great learning activity for kids. Set up a basin of water with a little dish soap, Kenworthy suggests. Drinking straws, rubber bands, and strawberry baskets can all be used to blow bubbles. Your child can experiment by using the different objects to create bubbles of different sizes. Be warned that while your child is mastering the art of bubble creation, you may end up with a lot of water on the floor.
Kitchen science. Your kitchen is full of ingredients that your child can use to learn basic scientific principles. For example, try this experiment: All you need is a celery stalk that still has leaves, water, and a few drops of food dye. Have your child put the celery stalk in a cup of colored water and ask what he thinks will happen. In about three hours the plant will absorb the water and the stalk and leaves will change color.
Or, give your child a large magnet and let him search the kitchen for objects he thinks will stick to the magnet. He’ll notice that the magnet sticks only to certain items, which will give you a chance to explain how magnets work. (Magnets are attracted to other items with magnetic properties such as things made of iron or steel.)
Turn the TV off and “get to gettin” (said in a very Niecy Nash voice)
Until next time…