Sunday, 28 October 2012

Halloween decorations

Used our cookie cutter shapes to cut out pumpkin and bat shapes.  Also cut out some witches hats. 
We decorated these with stickers, glitter glue and pens.
Attach them all together with some ribbon and here are our decorations all ready for our party!

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Our version of Paul Hollywoods plaited loaf!

We made this the other day using the recipe for no knead dough which I blogged about here now the bread we made probably would have tasted much better had I not forgotten the salt!  And perhaps I should use the larger bowl next time as I forgot how much it rises!


Seperated the bread in to 3 strands, joined together at top and then plaited them.  If you try this I reccomend doing it on baking paper as I then had to lift my bread on to the tray and it nearly fell apart!

Older children can try this themselves, for the little ones they can roll dough out in to sausage shapes/balls for rolls. And even making patterns in the flour is fun!
Plaited loaf and rolls....
Then we brushed them with some milk and popped them in the oven. 
So far they have been served with butter and jam, warmed spread with butter and served with chilli and used in packed lunch.
The rest of the dough has been used for pizza bases, and some left to use next week.  I always love the pride children have when they say "I made that!" and point to their dinner! I think it is good to encourage them not to be afraid to experiment.  Yes sometimes we (well I!) burn things, forget an ingredient or it just doesn't turn out great, but the process of making it is enjoyable and that is how we learn to make it better the next time.  For children to learn that everyone makes mistakes and how to deal with that is, in my opinion, a positive life lesson.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Good food show 2012

Was at the Good Food Show at the SECC in Glasgow yesterday.  It was brilliant, a wonderful variety of foods.  Purchased some delicious cheesecake and brownies!  I also had a look at a stall called "The kids cooking company" and I bought some Halloween cookie cutters.  Will be trying them out next week! If you want to get your own the website is -
We paid for tickets to a baking demonstration from Great Brittish Bake Off stars Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood.  Paul showed us how to do the 8 strand plaited loaf as seen on the show!  Might attempt a simpler version this week using the no knead dough I have blogged about before.  Photo of Paul and Mary doing this -
Also spotted at the show was my friends cake from her business Queen of Hearts, Cakes and Tarts, Glasgow!  Not sure I could attempt anything this fancy with the children! Perhaps a much simplified version!

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Halloween party games

Witches cauldren search!
 This is a brilliantly disgusting game to play with children who love slime and mess!  Cold cooked spaghetti with food colouring, or tinned spaghetti in a large bowl to be the witches cauldren.  You can also do this with jelly!  You can also add rice crispies, lentils or anything else you fancy!  Pop some plastic spiders (or similar) in to the cauldren and mix them up.  The children have to use their hands to find all the spiders and rescue them!  Just make sure you have a bowl of water and a towel handy!
Pin the nose on the cat!
We painted a large black cat a few days before the party and pinned this on to the wall.  The children were blindfolded and had to try to bluetac the nose (green triangle stuck beside the cat) on to the correct place.  You can mark childrens guesses by writting their initials in pencil.  The winner is the child who managed to get their nose closest to the correct place.  You can see in this photo we had also done some other Halloween posters and crafts, including spiders webs!
Dooking for apples
Also known as ducking/bobbing for apples.  You need a large basin of water with apples floating inside.  Children use their mouth to bite and pull an apple from the water.  You can also do this activity by kneeling up on a chair and dropping a fork in to the bowl, if the fork stabs the apple then you get to keep the apple.  Lots of towels on the floor around bowl is always a good idea!
Mummy game (or "toilet roll game!")
All you need for this game is some cheap toilet roll!  The aim of the game is to wrap your partner up like a mummy.  The winning team is the first to have their mummy completely covered.  This game usually causes much hillarity!  When you have finished you can encourage the children to race to collect all the toilet roll up and place in a bag!
More games to follow!

Malteser bars!

Not Halloween related but we did these last week so though I would share, they are delicious and great with a lovely warm cuppa after playing outside in the cold!  Also if I whisper the Christmas word...they are good as home made gifts! But it is far too early for talk of that!

Here is the recipe from the BBC - although I tend to use milk chocolate on the top and then white chocolate drizzled in patterns.

First we made shopping lists which depending on the age of your children is good writing practice or a chance to develop emergent writing skills.  (Further ideas for play with writing include - Drs surgery and writing prescriptions, post office and addressing envelopes/writing letters, school teachers and writing on the blackboard)

We went to the shops armed with our lists.  You can let the children locate/pick up the items, put them in basket and then on to checkout and let them pay. 
The 2nd best part of this activity is "bashing" the digestives with a wooden spoon! 
After stage one our mixture looked like this -
This activity provides a good opportunity to talk about "melting" and "setting" and discussing what happens to chocolate/butter when it melts.  Can also discuss other things that melt - eg ice.  And depending on the age/stage of the child -  Do water and melted chocolate go hard again at the same temperature? Why not?
I said the 2nd best part of this activity was bashing the biscuits - the best part of course is licking the bowl after the melted chocolate has been poured on top!
Once that has set you can make patterns on top with the melted white chocolate, this is good for fine motor skills and making lines/swirls/patterns on the chocolate.  The top of this can be decorated with cushed maltesers. And here are our finished products ready to be cut up and enjoyed! 

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Pumpkin biscuits

These are from a few years ago but will be making more next week!  They are made from -
  • 4oz butter
  • 2oz sugar
  • 6oz plain flour
Use a cutter to make circle shapes and score the lines of the pumpkins on with a knife.
For the eyes you can use, raisins, chocolate or anything else you fancy!  Bake for 20min at gas mark 5. 

Toddler group Halloween craft 2

As I have mentioned before, I run a toddler group with my friend and the activity I did for this week was painting witches hats!  I had planned on using black paper but unfortunately there was none left in our store cupboard!  So settled for white card instead.  I cut out the hat shapes and prepared all the paints.  We have aprons for all the children and I warned all the parents first that we were going to paint - so they could keep their children away from the paint table if they didn't want them to do it.

I suggested to the children that they might want to make the hats bright and colourful to help the witch make some really wonderful magic!  We started off using paint brushes but there was also lots of finger/hand painting too!

We talked about what happend to the colours when they were mixed together!  And discussed the different patterns the children were making - lines, dots, stripes, circles etc.
Always a good idea to have a bowl of soapy water and towel nearby too - ofcourse playing in the water and watching it change colour when painty hands are in it is almost as much fun as painting!
This activity is good for - exploring colours and mixing colours. Creating lines, patterns and shapes. Controlling a paint brush.   
Further ideas for this activity - Use black paper.  attach a piece of card round the back of the hat with staples so as the hat fits on the head. 


Tuesday, 9 October 2012

chalk table

Today I started on our chalk table! Old worn coffee table and some black board paint...

And after painting....

It needs another layer and then it should be ready for chalking on!
24 hours after the 2nd layer of paint and the table was ready.  Used thick and thin chalks in a variety of colours.
This activity is good for - exploring colours and using a different medium.  Creating lines, patterns and shapes. 
Further ideas for this activity - space/night theme drawing rockets/stars/moon.  Halloween theme.  Can use magnets on the board, perhaps letters/numbers. 

Halloween pictures

Today we just did some simple halloween pictures.  Used the stickers I bought in ASDA the other night.  Used some colouring pencils and experimented with what ones showed up on the black paper.  Used lots of glitter glue as well!
This activity is good for - exploring what colours show up on black paper.  Fine motor skills.  Being creative and using own ideas/imagination. 
Further ideas for this activity - could make these in to Halloween cards to send to people.   

Monday, 8 October 2012

Halloween spiders!

Well as I said we are starting Halloween crafts this week, a childminder I spoke to at the school said it was too early...not in my opinion! As I have said before - I adore Halloween!

Here is the paper spider we made this morning -

In the afternoon we made black playdough with glitter through it.  The recipe for it is -
  • 2 cups of plain flour
  • 2 tbsp. of cooking oil
  • 1 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 cup of salt
  •  some black paint squirted in to the mixture (could also use food colouring)

  • Heat it in a pot until it turns to the right consistency. 

    When cool we mixed in a tube of glitter, we went for purple.

    Then we used pipe cleaners, match sticks and lolly sticks to make our spiders!

    And some mutant spiders as well!
    It was really good fun.  And nice to make models with out having the playdough shapes/cutters out and just use our imaginations.
    This activity is good for - fine motor skills, using hands to manipulate the dough in to different shapes.  Counting the number of legs.  Talking about the colours of legs.  Using imaginations to make various monsters/creations. 
    Further ideas for this activity - Can use this with the playdough toys to make shapes, give children bowls, spoons and cake trays and let them make pretend cakes with it.   


    Rainbow collage

    One of my favourite bloggers, Anna, had this activity on her blog and I decided months ago to give it a try!  Here is the link to hers -

    We used a huge cardboard box and painted the colours on -

    While that was drying we sorted different crafty bits and bobs in to the correct piles.  Chatting about the colours, textures and shapes of the items.
    Then we glued them on to the appropriate stripe -
    This activity is good for - sorting objects in to the correct colour group.  Exploring different textures and using describing words for example "the feather is soft and the stars are smooth with jaggy points" 
    Further ideas for this activity - We only added a few pieces on each colour, you could do much more! You could do the activity with a different picture - for example a flower, hot air balloon or letters to spell out the childs name, with each letter a different colour. 

    Sunday, 7 October 2012

    Went shopping in ASDA

    Went shopping in ASDA, mainly to get stationery and bits and pieces for my study area as am going back to Uni to do my Masters.  (I may regret this!) Anyway I couldn't resist picking up a few bits and pieces along the way for crafty stuff!

    I got Halloween stickers for £1
    Wee glitter spiders also £1
    And some tissue paper reduced to 50p
    And some multicoloured match sticks 50p

    Not entirely sure what they will be used for yet but I am thinking of Halloween related things! 

    I also picked up a few crafty/arty sets as presents which were only £1 each.  Always good to have a wee supply of presents I think.  Also good for rainy days if your imagination is lacking!
    Tomorrow planning to make some black play dough and do some spidery/Halloweeny activities.  I love Halloween (As I have said a good few times!) and am itching to get started on activities!

    Toddler group Halloween craft

    I help to run a toddler group with my friend.  I always like to do a craft or activity with the children.  Last weeks was a rush job as I was also on snack duty and had to count the money etc so not much time for planning and prep.  However the point of this is to show that you don't need lots of time/planning to do a quick craft with toddlers. 

    I cut out some orange circles.  And some different shaped eyes, noses and mouths.  We did have some discussion but if  you were doing this one on one there would be more opportunity to discuss shapes and sizes.  Also a good opportunity to use positioning words eg "The nose is underneath the eyes" or "the mouth is in the middle"

    Here are the pumpkins, glue and bits to stick on all ready for the toddlers to try out!
    We also gave them some colouring pens and glitterglues to let them decorate their pumpkins.  We had some weird and wonderful creations, with 4 eyes, 6 noses and a sideways mouth.  But I am all for creativity - rows upon rows of identical pumpkins would be boring!
    Unfortunately I forgot to take pics of some of the finished products, as I said toddlers was very busy! Will try to remember for next time!

    Saturday, 6 October 2012

    Halloween playdough

    This was using ready made playdough and was from a few years ago.  Will update later in the week with home made playdough! 

    We made some Halloween models - witches, witches cats, broomsticks, ghosts and some other monsters! We used some Halloween props we had, tools such as plastic knives, pencils and cutters to mould the dough.  This task is good for hand-eye coordination and for developing fine motor skills.

    Halloween mobile

    This is one from last year.  Very easy to do and makes a lovely decoration for your Halloween parties!

    Draw round some plates to cut out shapes.  And depending of age/stage of children they can draw their own faces on, or you can draw them and they can colour them in.
    Good opportunity to discuss shapes, trianges for eyes, square nose, zigzag mouth etc.
    Holes made with a hole punch and then tied together with gold ribbon.
    This is a variation on the pumpkin one - has witches, ghosts and pumpkins! This was done with slightly older children who drew their own shapes and love to colour in.  For younger children you could draw the outlines for them and they could use paint/crayons. 
    The ghost you can see on the top left was done by sticking cotton wool on to paper and cutting round it - this makes a lovely sticky mess on the hands!