Saturday, 19 April 2014

Easter Nests.

I have been making these Easter nests with work charges and more recently with Ted for years.
I am not an especially brand conscience person, but for these I make an exception!

You need
Cadburys chocolate
Cadburys mini eggs
Shredded wheat.

(and if you have a 6 yr old with you, some fluffy chicks too!)

Break up the shredded wheat into small stick like pieces, melt the chocolate, stir them together and spoon into cake cases. Add a few mini eggs to each.

Ta da.

They are delicious.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Mud, Mud, Magical Mud.

Inspired by a few tweets on Twitter, and having googled for several 'recipes', I, along with Ted & his cousins Pickle & Pop, set about making some very clean messy play!

Usually it seems this gloopy mess is called 'fairy mud', but for the sake of 3 cool & fairy doubtful boys, 'magical mud' is what it was.

1 bar of soap per child
1 large container per child
1 loo roll per child
1 bottle/cup of water per child.
A grater
Food colouring
A large space, patience, and no fear of mess.

First - give the children a loo roll each and ask them to get the paper off the roll. (expect mild hysteria - nothing is as funny as throwing loo roll round a garden!)

Then each child needs to grate the soap into a large bowl. We used Imperial Leather soap - I am sure any will do! Soap grates quite easily so the children could do most of it themselves.

When the soap is grated it is time to pour in the water and start making one very smelly, gooey mess. 
We coloured the water first.

and then slowly poured it into the soap, giving the slop a mixture between each addition of water. It was by now, quite repulsive.

When the soap is pretty much dissolved (I added some very hot water to help it), they then poured in the glittery stars.

And then, finally, the fun bit. Having ripped the loo roll into small pieces it was time to start adding it to the gunk. The aim is to have a mixture that can be modelled and squished, pummelled & poked.
It took a lot of loo roll, and a lot of stirring.

 But, eventually, we had 'magic mud'. Hoorah.

The boys verdicts?
Pickle asked me several times - 'Aunty, what is the point of this?' Good question, there isn't one.
Pop's eyes were rolling as he was in pure, soapy heaven.
Ted - loved making it, but hasn't played with it.

It was a great way to spend an hour, the boys had a great time, any neighbours that were watching will think I am mad (er than they thought anyway), and even the rabbit joined in.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Sausage & bean hot-pot

Another quick, easy and reasonably nutritious meal.

Like most meals I tend to make them up as I go along, so feel free to do the same and substitute one thing for another!

Ingredients - (this served 3 children & 1 adult)
2 carrots
1 onion
1 pack of sausages (8)
cup of water
tin of baked beans

To start off chop up the carrots & onions, cut each sausage into 3 and chuck everything into a  large pan and saute for a few minutes in a splash of olive oil.

When the sausages are starting to brown pour in about a cup of water and then cover, leaving to cook for around 10-15 minutes.

When the sausages and veg are fully cooked (this will depend on size of sausages and type of veg, but around 15 minutes) it is time to tip in the tin of beans. For this meal I used Heinz Barbecue Beans, but generally use any that I have in the cupboard.

Stir it all together and allow the beans to heat through, but not boil.

Serve (in this case with doughballs) and enjoy!

The results today - Ted and his cousins ate it with gusto, and that is 2-3 portions of the all important fruit and veg without even trying!


Sunday, 6 April 2014

Master of Block Play!

Last week, 24.5 years of working with children all came to a head, when I attended a course and became a 'Master of Block Play'. My setting even has a certificate to prove it!

The short course was good fun and confirmed my belief that basic play is what children need. Toys that beep, buzz, move & shimmer have their place (a very small place in my view!) but basic wooden bricks are an essential for every modern child.

In a world of touch screens, talking books, continuous access to children's tv channels and other things that wreck a child's imagination, things are turning a corner and people are beginning to realise that boring is good.

My boy Ted, is 6. What he plays with more than anything these days is Lego, which really is an advanced version of block play. But he also still plays with good old fashioned wooden bricks. This is his selection of blocks (some from a lovely set, some very old, some random Jenga bricks)

The advantage of bricks is they can be anything. Give a child a car, it is a car, give them a piece of plastic pizza, it is a piece of plastic pizza, give them a.... you've got the idea. Give a child a wooden brick and it can be anything they want it to be.

Block play can be inside, outside, with large bricks, enormous blocks (think milk crates, supermarket boxes), freeplay, structured play. Most of the time Ted uses his imagination to play with bricks - yesterday I gave him my weighing scales to see what he would like to weigh. Straight away his bricks came out, and he was soon busy learning about kgs - (whilst thinking he was playing).

After a suggestion from the lady running the course ( the preschool setting where I work are going to introduce a 'block Wednesday'. On Wednesdays (obviously) we will concentrate more on blocks, and less on other things. A bigger space will be made on the floor, less tables will be put out and all things blockish will happen. I hope the children will look forward to these days and begin to give us input on how to make them progress. Meanwhile, my garage is full of Easter egg trays ready for them to build with!

So, these holidays how about getting those bricks back out? Children are never too old to play with bricks. Props can be added - Ted likes to put his 'compare bears' with the bricks, sometimes Sylvanian families appear, sometimes plastic soldiers.

To finish I leave you with 2 fantastic brick structures. The first Ted & Sarah made sometime ago - in fact before the 2012 Olympics, as this was their version of the London Olympic Stadium. Not bad for a then 4 yr old and a 9yr old helper. (these blocks are actually a marble run)

Secondly a structure I discovered in my living room a few weeks ago. A house and garden for some Sylvanians. (made by a tv deprived, not often bored 6 yr old).

'When free to experiment with the simplest materials, children find ways to express and develop their thoughts in imaginative play.' (I made a Unicorn - Community Playthings)