Saturday, 18 January 2014

Montessori Inspired Activities blog tour - bubble painting and marshmallow building

 Welcome to the Montessori Inspired Activities book tour!  I hope you have enjoyed reading what others have done!

I am sure like me, you love reading what other people do with their children -  it inspires and motivates me to try different things at home. I have, for a few years, enjoyed reading the blog of someone I have never met - her name is Jo and she is a British ex-pat living in Japan.
Her fab blog contains many of the Montessori activities that she does at home with her son. Many of the activities are done using everyday household equipment allowing her to buy a number of specialised key pieces of equipment for her son. Jo also runs My Organized Chaos, a course for parents to help them organise their home, their parenting and their mind so that they have more time for the fun stuff.
Jo believes that the Montessori method should be available to every child and has been clever enough to write a fab book containing much of the fun they did together.

The girls loved it - it kept them going for about 3/4 of an hour! In fact we turned it into a bit of science experiment - some paints work better than others - so G enjoyed trying out all the types of paint in the playroom to see!

 Then we did marshmallow building - food and science  - what is not to love!
Quote from G "I can't eat any more marshmallows. I am full!".

 We found triangles were stronger than rectangles and we did get 4 stories high before we ran out of cocktail sticks. This was fun for fine motor development, persistence and cooperation!  

There are lots of fab things to do in this book - it is so easy to dip in and out of.  I can't wait to be inspired by what others have done too! 

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Montessori inspired activities world tour starts today

I am involved in a blog world tour; some bloggers are reviewing a book and sharing the activities they have been doing at home from the book. The book contains Montessori Inspired activities and you can order your copy in paperback or kindle from Amazon HERE or you can get free international shipping if you order the paperback version HERE!.
I will post each day with the links for the days tour, I can't wait to see which activities everyone if going to be sharing about.

In truly international style, we are visiting an amazing Argentinian photographer, Marcela, who lives in Cyprus and home-schools her kids. Pop over to The Celebration Girl to read her post.

Monday, 6 January 2014

12th night cake

Today I made a 12th night cake. Twelfth Night, the traditional last day of Christmas, is on the night of the 5th of January. Traditionally 2 cakes are made; a king and queen cake. Cake favours, items in the shape of a pea and a bean, or indeed, an actual dried pea and bean, are baked into the cake and placed on top of the cakes are two crowns. The man who found the bean in his slice of cake became ‘King’ and reigned for the evening, alongside his Queen who found the pea. The King and Queen would make up the games for the rest of guests to play and adjudicate over the evenings celebrations. This represents ‘misrule’, a very old custom in Britain and Ireland, for one night of the year, on 12th Night, the lord and lady became the servants, and the servants became the lord and lady.  However, as we are just a small household (funny that :) ) we just had one cake with a 10p baked inside it. 

Here is the recipe we followed: 

  • 350g butter
  • 350g caster sugar
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 75ml brandy
  • 350g plain flour
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 700g mixed dried fruit
  • 50g blanched almonds, chopped
  • Marzipan
  • Royal icing (made from dried egg white and icing sugar)
Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Gradually add the beaten eggs, mixing well after each addition then add the brandy. Fold-in the flour, spices, fruit and nuts. Grease a deep 25cm cake tin and line the bottom and sides with greaseproof paper. Tip the cake mixture into this and tap to remove any trapped air. Now add in the coin.

Place the cake in an oven pre-heated to 150°C and bake for about 2 and a 1/2 hours, or until the cake is firm to the touch. If the top of the cake darkens too quickly cover with a sheet of folded greaseproof paper about half-way through the cooking. Remove the cake from the oven, allow to cool in its tin for 30 minutes then tip onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely (this can now be covered and stored in a cake tin until needed).

Once cold cover the top surface of the cake with some of the warmed apricot preserve or apricot jam (to help the marzipan disc stick to the top of the cake). Roll out the ready made marzipan (to 5mm thick) and cut out a disc to cover the top of the cake, sticking it down with the jam. Cover with icing.

We also drank the traditonal Wassail drink of Lambswool.

  • 1.5 Litres (3 x 500ml bottles) of traditional cider
  • 6 small cooking apples, cored (Bramley apples)
  • 1 nutmeg freshly grated
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 150g demerara sugar

Preheat the oven 120C
Core the 6 apples. Lightly grease the baking tray. Place the apples on the baking tray about 6cm apart – they will swell up a little. Bake the apples at 120C for about an hour or so – so they become soft and pulpy and the skins are easy to peel away.
When the apples are taken out of the oven put the sugar to a large thick bottomed saucepan. Cover the sugar in a small amount of the ale (or cider) and heat gently. Stir continuously until the sugar has dissolved. Then add in the ground ginger and grate in the whole of the nutmeg. Stir, and keeping the pan on a gentle simmer, slowly add in all the rest of the or cider. Leave for 10 minutes on a gentle heat as you deal with the apples.

Open the apples and scoop out the baked flesh, discarding the skin. Then take a fork and mash this apple pulp up, while it is still warm, into a smooth purée with no lumps. Add the apple purée into the cider lambswool, mixing it in with a whisk.
Let the saucepan continue to warm everything through for thirty minutes, on a very gentle heat, until ready to drink. When warmed through use the whisk again for a couple of minutes to vigorously froth the drink up and mix everything together. The apple and light froth will float to the surface, and depending on how much you have whisked it, the more it looks like lamb’s wool.
Grate over some nutmeg and serve. 

Friday, 3 January 2014

London day out

 First we went to the British Museum - next time I must research a few things to see because the kids got bored quickly and also asked questions I couldn't answer!  It was busy so trying to read descriptions of things was hard. They liked the Mummies though and the gold coins found in Britain. 
 Then we went to see the Snowman Ballet - it was fab. P loved the flying the snowman - was he really flying Mummy she asked?  And the ballerina - I am going to do that when I am older! she said.

Then we went to Shard which was expensive  (even though they were doing a deal with 2 kids free with every adult).  The view was amazing and I now want to go back in the day as in the dark it was hard to work out what was what!  I loved seeing the bends in the river and watching the trains coming and going from London Bridge. The girls loved the viewers which you could angle at the view and it would tell you what buildings were what!