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Favorite Board Books

favorite board books

Here are some of our favorite board books.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle is so popular now I almost didn’t mention it, but it is a favorite.  It is unabridged from the original picture book, including the truncated pages and holes!  Bright, fun, holes in the pages, actually a story, all-around good.  It also has counting, days of the week, and lifecycle of the butterfly, but that’s all rather beyond the board-book aged child.

Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What do you See? (Martin/Carle) is another unabridged classic in board book form.  The cadence of the text is perfect for reading out loud, and most pages picture one brightly illustrated animal.  (The “prairie dog” still kinda creeps me out, though.)

Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes (Mem Fox) is an oversized board book about babies all over the world, who all have “ten little fingers and ten little toes.”  The illustrations are delightfully sweet.

Byron Barton’s Boats and Dinosaurs, Dinosaurs have bright, simple, appealing pictures with some minimal text/story.  I’m not familiar with his other books.

Say & Play’s First Words and Oink, Moo, Meow feature a single cut-out photograph image per page.  I like these two better than some of their other books.  First Words features individual pictures with a single word on each page (“Cat” “Baby” etc.).  It’s fun to show baby an actual rubber duck next to the rubber duck picture in the book, particularly when they near one year old.  Oink, Moo, Meow has an animal and text of what the animal says (“The cat says Meow” — the same cat as from the other book).  At some point babies enjoy hearing the animal sounds, and this book has a LOT of animals.

Indestructibles are not actually board books, but rather pamphlet-style books made out of a very resilient paper-like material which is, in fact, indestructible to a baby.  You can let baby handle these independently long before traditional board books.  They do wrinkle immediately.  We like Plip Plop Pond and Mama and Baby.  Note: neither has any words, which doesn’t bother me, and the pictures seem oversaturated, but it is such a unique item I give them a pass.

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Homemade Play Dough

finished play dough

I’m sure there are 100 similar recipes for homemade play dough out there.  This is the one I use.  It is simple, quick, cheap, and non-toxic.

Homemade Play Dough Recipe:

  • 2 cups flour (cheap all-purpose white flour works best)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup salt (basic cheap salt)
  • 2 Tbsp oil (canola or whatever)
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar
  • food coloring (basic liquid from the grocery store, or use concentrated specialty gels for colors like red or purple)

Mix ingredients in a big pot.  Stir over medium heat until it thickens and then comes together in a big ball.  Dump on counter and knead a bit until smooth.

Ideally your end user would observe or assist with the process as he is able.

Today’s play dough (pictured) had 20 drops green and 10 drops yellow food coloring.  Cooking time was less than 10 minutes and I barely had to knead it.

Just beginning to heat / Starting to thicken / Ready to remove from heat

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Seahorse Toy with Pattern

Applying the Seahorse Principle to making a toy seahorse!

James has enjoyed sewing with me (mostly watching).  After we made a turtle for Baby Luke, James continued to request that we work on the turtle.  I reminded him that we had already finished the turtle and suggested we start a new project.  Here it is! I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out, especially since it was a bit quick-and-dirty so as not to lose the toddler along the way.

I sketched out the original pattern pieces on scrap paper.  Just for you, I will scan in those pieces and clean them up in case you’d like to make your own.  It seems only fitting that we should have our own little mascot here on The Seahorse Principle.

Tip: if you want to make other creatures using a similar technique, apply the Seahorse Principle and make animals that will look good flat!  A four-legged animal made in this way would be a stylized silhouette, which is fine if that’s what you’re going for but it would be a different look.  Fish would work great using this method; in fact that is next on my list if James gets the urge to sew again.

General procedure:

All seam allowances are 1/4″.  I used scraps of quilting cotton in two patterns and a bit of embroidery floss.

Cut a pair of main body pieces.  Embroider or otherwise make eyes on each.  Stitch just the front edge of the seahorse including the whole tummy part of the seam, from the “neck” to the beginning of the tail.  Trim curve with pinking shears.

Cut two pairs of pouch pieces (optional!).  Sew each pair, right sides facing, along the long curved edge.  Trim seams with pinking shears to reduce bulk.  Open them up–now you have a lining and an outside.    Stack right sides together, seams aligned (no longer flat; one will be cupped inside the other).  Stitch all the way around, leaving a small opening for turning along one of the long edges.  Clip corners, turn, (finger-) press (tucking the raw edges in line with the seam at the turning opening).  Align the the pouch with the curve of the tummy on the main body of the seahorse.  Stitch the pouch to the body from the corner, down the long edge, and up the other side (this will close the turning opening).  Don’t forget to reinforce the corners with backstitching.  The top of the pouch remains open.

Cut a pair of fins.  Sew together on three curvy sides, right sides facing.  Trim with pinking shears, turn right side out, and press flat (finger pressing is fine).  Stitch radially in & out on the fin to make it flat and give it some detail; use a color that blends or contrasts as you wish.

Turn the body inside-out again.  Pin the fin sandwiched between the body pieces in the middle of the back.  (The raw edge of the fin and the body align, with the finished fin tucked inside).  Stitch from the neck, up around the head, and down just past the fin.  Pink/clip corners & curves (especially under the chin).  Turn.  Carefully stuff tiny bits of stuffing tightly in to each bit of the head and then the body.  Stuff firmly for best results.  Flip the tail so that right sides are together again, and stitch from the bottom of the tummy, around the tail, and back up toward the fin, leaving an opening for turning.  Pink/clip corners & curves.  Turn the tail all the way out to the end.  Stuff firmly with very tiny bits of stuffing all the way into the tail.  Stuff remaining gap and hand-stitch the opening closed.  Done!

The pattern pieces:

Seahorse Pattern Pieces (PDF)

Please let me know if you make one, and share a picture if you’d like!

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