Monday, 30 January 2012

Printing with cars

P was off nursery this afternoon (although I was sad I was missing my super interesting course) so we did some printing with cars. She did some; she started off just pushing the car up and down so then I showed her how to push the car over the paper to make marks and after that she did get the idea, although was more insistent that I did it - she would point to the car and then the paint and then if  I still didn't move she would take my arm to the car.
When E came home from school she joined in the fun!

Sunday, 29 January 2012

E's pink fairy cakes

E has  a very sweet tooth and loves to bake cakes! Today she made rose fairy cakes (from the Hummingbird bakery cookbook).

80g unsalted butter
280g caster sugar
240g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp rose water
2 large eggs
240ml whole milk
a few drops of red food colouring

We mixed all the dry ingredients and the butter in the Kitchenaid so it resembled bread crumbs. Then we mixed together the rosewater and milk (although at this point we had a bit of an uh oh moment where (my fault) we added too much rosewater). Then to this we added the eggs and whisked. We poured 2/3rds in to the Kitchenaid and mixed until it was smooth and then added the rest. Then we added the red food colouring (and E added a little too much - oh dear!!!) I think the mixture was much runnier than it was supposed to be and the kitchenaid hadn't mixed in some buttery/sugary/floury stuff in so it was a little bit of a nightmare to "pour" in to the cases. E really wanted to do this but it was just too runny so much to her disgust I did it!
Then they went in the oven for 20 minutes (ours took about 30) at 190oC.

Then we took them out and made the icing. I can't bring myself to use the quantities they use so I always do half and it seem fine - so this is what we made:

250g icing sugar
80g butter
3 tsp rosewater
25ml milk
a few drops red food colouring.

We mixed the icing sugar and butter together and then added the rest. E then helped spread it on the cakes.

They were slightly sickly and undercooked and reminded me of, funnily enough, Turkish delight!

Hama Beads

Ahh Hama beads a trusty favourite - crying when the table is knocked and all the beads fall off the outline, crying when the iron only sticks half of them and then when the iron-proof paper is lifted off the other half fall on the floor, crying from me as half the beads end up on the floor anyway ....  still it does keep them quiet for hours (apart from the crying) and it is good for fine motor skills! It is always interesting to watch different approaches -  I always does some complicated pattern, G makes objects, E just places anywhere and P tries to eat them

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Big drawing

When things are on a larger scale it is often easier for little ones. I got a roll of white wallpaper and cut a length that filled most of the playroom and let P have free rein with her crayons and felt tips. It was very interesting to observe - she preferred the felt tips, have good fine motor skills to enable her to take off the lids (but not put them back on although she had a good try) and preferred to mark make round the edge and was very reluctant to go in the middle! E and G came to join her later and then had no trouble filling the middle
I think later we will turn the paper over and print on the back!

Monday, 23 January 2012

wobbly balloon fun

Today we had fun with the wibbly wobbly ball of which the idea came from here here:

It was a pain to make - trying to squeeze the 2nd balloon round the water filled balloon (think head/birth canal ..without the pain) so the key was not to fill the water one too full! The girls had fun with it throwing it up in the air (until it burst!)... lucky my main worry about the whole thing didn't happen which was water would end up everywhere

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Dairy free cakes

Today G had a friend over who has a dairy free diet so when the request for cooking came my heart sank! However a quick google and I came up with a recipe for things I had in my cupboard. Here it is:

1.5 c flour
1 c sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vinegar
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup oil
1 c cold water

Combine ingredients and pour into cupcake cases. Bake in oven at 170'c for about 15 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Friendship cake

I was given "Herman" by my cousin - he came in a jamjar with instructions as follows:

Herman is a friendship cake which you can’t buy, but you can give him away. He grows slowly but surely because of the yeast in him. It is usually 10 days before you can eat him.
Herman doesn’t have to be kept in the fridge and doesn’t require a lid – just covering him with a tea towel is sufficient. Herman grows at room temperature.

If you would like to spread a little friendship follow through instructions below and at end of 10 days you will have a cake to eat and four starter kits to pass on.

If you cannot wait to have your cake and eat it, go straight to day 10, but you will forego the opportunity to pass on some friendship.

Day 1: Today Herman is given to you. Put him in a big bowl (At least 4pt capacity). Cover Herman loosely so he can breathe. A tea towel or loose lid is ideal.

Days 2 & 3: Stir Herman 2-3 times a day with a wooden spoon (do not use metal, and which you can leave in the bowl)

Day 4: Herman is hungry. Give him the following:-
200mls milk
200g self-raising flour
250g sugar

Days 5, 6, 7 & 8: Stir Herman 2-3 times a day.

Day 9: Herman is hungry again. Give him the same ingredients you gave him on Day 4. Stir well then divide him into 5 equal parts. Give 4 baby Hermans away with a copy of this sheet. (or keep one back for yourself to grow and redistribute to other friends) Keep the 5th portion to bake.

Day 10: Herman is absolutely starving. Feed your remaining Herman with 150g Self raising flour, 3 beaten eggs, 150g caster sugar, 2 tbsp cinnamon powder, 100g chopped nuts or dried fruit, 2 grated (eating) apples, 100ml of oil. Place in a lined 8 inch cake tine. Now he needs a holiday. He likes to go to a hot resort. The oven is his favourite. Pre-heat oven to 170ºC (150ºC fan-assisted oven) and bake for an hour.

It was yummy!  Shall defiantly make another one (or 4)! Basically the "gift" in a sourdough starter kit which can be easily made - google provied plenty of sites with instructions.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Sensory bath play

Today when P had her bath I added coloured  and some ordinary ice cubes. They didn't last long in the wane water but she was fascinated them. She spend time trying to pick them up and holding them watching them melt. She was much more interested in the coloured cubes than the plain ones - I guess they were easier to see. I used food colouring and it hasn't stained her or the bath! Defiantly something to do again.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

painting our pengiuns

Remember how we made cornflour clay penguins? Well today we painted them - so easy and effective! Even E's look great. The only slight issue we had was that some of the penguins heads and feet fell off - I wonder is they would have been better oven baked? Shall try that next tine. We used acrylic paint.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

shaving foam

Today the girls enjoyed playing with shaving foam and our penguins.  I enjoyed making icebergs, G covered herself with it and put it on her nose, E played with it for about 5 minutes before deciding she didn't like and P enjoyed watching the others, she would watch and then touch, watch and then touch. She also enjoyed shaking her fingers, gleefully spreading it round the kitchen.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

snow play-dough

Today, using the recipe from here: we made snow play dough.

  • 1 cup cornflour
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp cream of tartar
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • few drops liquid glycerine (not essential
  • Mix all of the dry ingredients in a bowl and add the oil
  • Next, pour in the water (adult only if using boiling) and mix it up
  • Leave it for a little while to cool down, in which time it will come together more
  • Knead it until smooth and soft
  • Add in glitter and any scent (if desired)
  • If it's too sticky, add some more cornflour

We mixed all the dry ingredients in a bowl (E enjoyed measuring them out). Then we added the oil and stirred it. Then I added the boiling water and mixed it. It seemed very runny. We left it awhile. When it had formed a dough consistency we added some snowflakes and glitter and made snowmen and homes for our penguins!  

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

q-tip painting

This is one of those where the doing is far more important than the end product! All the girls enjoyed this activity but I was especially impressed with P's ability of manipulate the q-tip (much easier for her than a paintbrush) and her concentration - although it soon extended into finger/hand painting.
There are a number of ways to extend this further:
Use dots to make letters
Make Aboriginal paintings
Copy impressionists paintings

Monday, 9 January 2012

Corn flour clay pengiuns

Today we made corn flour clay penguins to go with our arctic winter topic. The clay is very easy to make and has a nice smooth texture. It is easy to manipulate. All the girls enjoyed modeling with it.

Cornflour clay
1 cup cornflour
2 cups salt
1 1/3 cups cold water

Put salt and 2/3 cups of water in a sauce pan and bring it to boil. Mix rest of cornflour with remaining water and stir well. Blend the two mixtures and
knead into clay. Mould the clay and let it dry for several hours, it can then
be painted.
It can also be baked in the oven at 95oC  for 1 1/2 to 3 hours depending upon it's size.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

fake snow

After yesterday's excitement in the ice I decided the penguins needed some snow to make them feel at home, so from Amazon I ordered some fake non-toxic snow. It was truly amazing stuff - adding the water and watching it expand and it felt soft and nice to touch. E has just spend about half an hour making up adventures in the snow with the penguins going off to fish and worrying about getting frost bite! Then both girls filled up various containers and poured it out again (although it does look like a blizzard has been blowing in the kitchen!). With the older girls we have talked about the science behind the chemicals
It is actually derived from the superabsorbent polymer found in disposable nappies. The polymer soaks up water via osmosis and so when water comes in contact with the polymer, it moves from outside the polymer to the inside and causes it to swell. It is a physical reaction - a reaction where the substance itself does not change.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Ice Excavation

Some of our silly penguins got trapped in some ice bergs and needed help to escape! This led to some great discussions about how to make ice, what ice was and what would happen to it. Both girls loved touching it which led some great language development. Then they got in the messy play tray and we talked about how slippy it was. Next E went to get her gloves which led us to talk about insulation and frost bite - more for another day i think!

Friday, 6 January 2012


Today the kings finally completed their journey round the house and made it to the stable (there was a photo but E deleted it as I am having to use the girls camera as I left my card reader at my parent's house). They will be there for a day before they will be packed away for another year! Also we are sadly taking down our Christmas decorations and packing away our Christmas books. To cheer ourselves up I and G are making a Galette des Rois (a traditional twelfth night cake). What is great, is that for the most I can shout instructions and play/feed P whilst they get on with it!

  • 110g  caster sugar
  • 110g ground almonds
  • 100g  unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon rum
  • 1 bean or a porcelain favour (la fève) - actually we used a 50p
  • About 450g puff pastry, home-made or shop-bought
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon milk
Mix together the sugar and almonds. Add the butter and beat well until creamy and well-mixed. Gradually add the 3 eggs, beating well after each addition. Finally mix in the rum and the 50p. Now divide the puff pastry in half and roll out on a well-floured surface to make two circles each about 25cm across. Place one circle of pastry on a well-greased baking sheet.
Spoon the creamed mixture onto the pastry, leaving an edge about 2cm wide. Beat the egg yolk and milk together to create a wash and brush it around the edge of the pastry. Place the other circle of pastry on top and press the edges together to seal. Cover and leave in the fridge for about 1 hour.
Heat the oven to 180°C. Brush the galette with the remaining egg wash. Using a small sharp knife cut a scallop pattern around the edge of the pastry and a star pattern from the centre. Bake for about 40 minutes or until well-risen and golden. Brush immediately with a sugar syrup made by dissolving 55g caster sugar in ¼ pint water and bringing to the boil.

Tradition says the youngest person sits under the table and calls who should get each slice and the person that finds the favour should wear a crown and be king (or queen) for the night

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Apricot and White chocolate rockies

125g butter
75g caster sugar
1 egg
100g dried ready to eat apricots
250g self-raising flour
100g white chocolate
2-3 tablespoons milk

1. Set the oven to 180oC.
2. Butter a baking tray.
3. Snip apricots into little pieces.
4. Put the chocolate in a sealed plastic bag and bash it with a rolling pin to break it up in to little pieces.
5. Rub together the butter and the flour with your fingertips until it resembles bread crumbs.
6.Stir in the sugar, apricots and chocolate.
7. Beat up an egg with a fork and mix it in to the flour mixture with enough milk to make a soft lumpy mixture.
8. Using a spoon, drop 24 mounds of the mixture onto the baking tray.
9. Bake for 10-12 minutes until the cookies are pale golden and firm to the touch.
10. Place on a wire rack to cool and then eat!

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Scott Polar Musuem

Today the girls and I went to the Scott Polar museum. It is such a small museum but it has so many interesting things. As soon as you walk in the on the ceiling is a map of both the Arctic and the Antarctic which led us to discuss the differences and why a penguin would never meet a polar bear! As soon as we walked in a very friendly lady gave the girls a sheet about what you would pack on an adventure to the poles! This inspired them and they ran round the museum looking carefully for things. The real highlight of the museum is material dedicated to the expeditions to both poles during the last 3 centuries. There is the sleeping bag that Oates left as he set off on his finak jounrey, as well as actual food packaging and letters Scott wrote to this wife (the girls weren't so interested in this but I was - I may need to go back and read them properly!). The girls, especially I and G, were really inspired by Scott's heroism! Another highlight for the girls was a change to dress up in "proper" polar clothes! It really packs a lot in to such a little musuem - it isn't the most interactive child friendly musuem but it does mean it is best to do it in small chunks and return another day!

Then I felt I ought to continue their education and take them to see the Vermeer Exhibition at the Fitzwilliam. G was really unimpressed at this idea and said "I am not going to look at any paintings, just look at the floor". It was so busy - much busier than when I had been on my own which was a shame as it was hard for the girls to have a look. We looked at the three Vermeer paintings (even G) - I was impressed one was owned by the queen! and then a few of the others before P and E had had enough.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Polar books

I have decided to try and have a box with topic based books, with the main aim of developing language. I am hoping this will have a knock on effect in terms of the small world and imaginative play ... you need ideas and language before you can use small world play. I have found it useful, although the girls still tend to choose books off their shelves in the playroom, I have read them books from there.
For our polar topic we have looked at:

How to make an egg float in water

G is always asking to do science experiments - most of her ideas though are rather impractical ... so I thought this would be a good but simple experiment with things we had in the house.  First we put an egg into water - it sank! We discussed why this was. Then I suggested adding some magic powder. The girls took it in turns to add tablespoons at a time. Suddenly E called it "It is floating" - magic! We then had a look on line for a simple explanation (salt increases the density of water).
Later this led to further exploration in the bath of things that floated and sank - although I didn't let G test how much salt it would take before E floated!
This was good for counting, measuring and using the vocabulary float and sink.

Monday, 2 January 2012

100 things to achieve before 2013 - well sort of!

A friend posted a list of a 100 things she would like to achieve this year ... that got me thinking what could I acheive this yeat. I tried to write a list of skills I probably ought to be able to do at the age of 33 but can't and what things i would like to try. I have tried to think of things I don't currently do but would like to or things I do but would like to do better. I have tried to think how I could measure my success rate (such a teacher!) ... so far I have got to 52

1.       Read the bible every day

2.       Finish my psychology degree

3.       Make an effort to see friends once a month

4.       Run at least once a week

5.       Run 10k

6.       Row at least 9K 4 times a week

7.       Play with each of the children for at least 15 minutes most weekends

8.       Read 12 (adult) books

9.       Have other people’s children over to play at least 12 times

10.   Grow some tomatoes

11.   Make some sloe gin

12.   Make some elderflower cordial

13.   Make a Christmas cake

14.   Make a Christmas pudding

15.   Learn to mend a bike puncture

16.   Have a riding lesson

17.   Clean the windows

18.   Paint a wall

19.   Watch some rowing at the Olympics

20.   Look at the snowdrops at Anglesey abbey

21.   See the lambing at Wimpole

22.   Go to the science festival

23.   Not be late to a child’s extra curricula activity 2 times in a row

24.   Go on a course about assessment

25.   Go to the pub with Tim

26.   Hold a murder mystery night

27.   Knit a doll’s blanket

28.   Go to Northumberland

29.   Drink 12 different types of wine and keep notes

30.   Go to Yo Sushi!

31.   Watch a Shakespeare in a college garden

32.   Walk more than 12 miles in a single journey

33.   Learn to make choux pastry

34.   Go on a photography course

35.   Make a book with photos taken

36.   Blog once a week

37.   Have more structured time (at least 20 minutes sat and sun) with the girls

38.   Go ice-skating

39.   Visit 3 new national trust places

40.   Go to a concert

41.   Go out for lunch with just my mother

42.   Drive tim’s car once

43.   Learn to check the car tyre pressure

44.   Learn to re-fill the car’s washer fluid level

45.   Have a day out in London with the family

46.   Go punting

47.   Go bowling with the family

48.   Have a bbq

49.   Visit a castle

50.   Get to and maintain weight to [women's]  lightweight rower level

51.   Finish sorting out playroom

52.   Go on a family walk at least 6 times a year

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Ice Skating and New Years thoughts

Today we took the eldest 3 ice skating at an outdoor real ice rink. I and G got straight on the rink and set of confidently. I hung precariously onto the side. E had a plastic seal to sit/push along and the husband helped her. We all improved over the 45 minute session - I no longer needed the safety of something to hold onto, Miss I and G fell over lots but were confidently skating round at speed and even E managed a bit of "walking" on the ice! A great success!  It was a small rink so I was glad it was not too crowded and was very happy with the seal "Skate Assistant" because it meant one of us didn't have to worry about trying to stay upright and help E.

Every year I try and make a resolution - this year I am going to try and play with my children more ... I feel I often think of things for them to do but rarely actually play with them as I am too "busy" on Facebook or doing housework! I am also going to try and add some running to my weekly exercise. We'll see how long it lasts for!