Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Grape Caterpillars

Such a great little make. I put these together quickly for my children, but I'm sure they would have enjoyed 20minutes or so putting them together themselves!

In the holidays, Monday afternoon is always 'Movie Afternoon'. I do a 'Now Showing' poster with a picture of the film and details of the snacks that will be served, and I try to link (loosely) those snacks with the film. So for The Jungle Book, there was popcorn with surprise jelly animals at the bottom. For Toy Story we have cartons of juice with Woody and Buzz on, and cookies to go with. These Grape Caterpillars accompanied A Bug's Life!

What you need:
Chocolate drops
A little melted chocolate or icing
Wooden skewers

Simply thread 8 or so grapes onto a wooden skewer. Using the icing or melted chocolate as 'glue' stick the chocolate drops onto the end grape as eyes - da da!

Obviously be careful using the wooden skewers do not stab yourself when assembling, and closely supervise the children eating them too.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Lego jelly

Hmm.... well I think I said I might be brave enough to post some of our 'failures' too. Here's the first one...

This sounded simples. Get mega blocks (large duplo), clean, fill with jelly and set. Hey presto - lego style jelly.

In reality, it didn't quite work. Mega blocks are actually divided inside, so even the largest pieces only created 1 small piece of jelly. And they weren't the easiest 'moulds' to release the jelly from, so despite dunking briefly in warm water, they took a while to make that lovely slurpy sound and slip out, and by the time they did, the tops of them had melted somewhat and that distinctive lego shape had disappeared and turned into a more rocket shaped lump.

We managed one or two pieces that looked as they should have, but we had to explain to Mini what they were supposed to be, as it clearly wasn't obvious!

In case you want to give it a go - just make up jelly as per the packet instructions and fill your moulds as you usually would. Perhaps a light oiling might help?

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Nature Paper

Another crafty make this time- Nature Paper, but we managed to combine this one with another of our summer holiday activities -  a Scavenger Hunt.
I've made up a number of bingo style cards with 9 different images of things Mini is likely to find whilst we're out walking - ants, cars, postboxes, double yellow lines, trees, birds etc etc, and sometimes when we go out he takes a card and a pencil and gets a little treat (usually a small pack of Haribo or something similar) when he gets all 9.

Last week, the activity was to complete the scavenger hunt on the way to the shop, and on the way back we had to collect a variety of natural objects - leaves, large and small; petals; flowers; seed heads; feathers; grasses etc with which to make nature paper. At the time though Mini just knew that we needed lots of different bits for a project. The anticipation of what it could be, was enough to keep his interest on a 20minute walk. And I was able to do 'the talk' about picking/not picking, dangerous/safe and not eating berries when you don't know what they are!

What you need:

Natural objects, as mentioned above. Enough to fill a small cereal bowl should be enough.
Sticky backed plastic (also known as contact paper)

This is definitely a craft to do with your children - they will get in a pickle without your help.

Lay out all your nature finds so you can quickly see what you have.

Cut two squares of sticky backed plastic, roughly the same size - about 30cm square(ish).

Unpeel the backing off one piece of plastic and carefully distribute your finds all over the sticky side, leaving some space in between (you'll see why shortly). Make sure they are pressed down firmly.

When happy with your design/pattern, carefully unpeel the backing on the other piece of plastic and lay the sticky sides together, pressing it firmly down, especially in the gaps between the items. This will ensure the plastic stays stuck together. Trim off any excess sticky backed plastic.

Now you have nature paper - you can use it to decorate cards, or as we did - make suncatchers. Experiment with fresh/dried leaves, or fresh/pressed flowers and see what works best and looks nicest.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Play dough

Lots of foody posts so far - here's my first crafty one. Again, this was from an activity pack that I did with the children.

A good old favourite, who doesn't like play dough? Over the last few years I've tried several recipes for homemade play dough but this one is by far the nicest. It's quick & easy and the final result is smooth, soft and squishy.

You will need:
1 cup of flour
1 cup of warm water
2tsp of cream of tartar
1tsp oil
1/4 cup of table salt

 Put all the ingredients in a saucepan and heat over a low-medium heat. Mix with a wooden spoon until it all comes together, forming a ball.

Knead until smooth, then play.

This lasts for ages too. Just keep it in a sealed bag.

For an extra dimension you could add some food colouring, or drops of scented oil. You could even try glitter!
Practising roses!

Note: Of course, using the saucepan is a hot job and that part is not recommended for children. But Mini liked scooping the ingredients and giving it a good mix together.
He also enjoyed playing with the dough whilst it was still warm, and kept giving Dollop status updates about how quickly it was cooling down.
This was Dollop's first time with play dough and she thoroughly enjoyed it, she didn't even try to eat it until Mini suggested it to her. However, one lick was enough to stop them both 'testing' it even more!

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Chocolate sweetie slabs

I'm aware that quite a few of my posts include chocolate and marshmallows. There is a good reason for that - they are quite frankly delicious. But the real reason is because I'm adding quite a lot of posts in a short space of time it looks like I make lots of things with chocolate and marshmallows in. Actually these makes have not been everyday, and are consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet.

All that said, this particular post is all about the chocolate! You know those lovely looking mini (and giant) slabs of adorned chocolate you can buy at posh chocolatiers? Well, you can make them yourself! And what's more, the kids can help!

What you need:

200g bars of dark/milk chocolate
100g white chocolate
Mini marshmallows/jelly tots/dolly mixtures/jelly beans/chocolate buttons/toffee covered popcorn/smarties - basically any sweets that take your fancy!

Plastic lids such as margarine tub lids - this quantity of chocolate will fill 3 medium sized margarine lids.

Start by lining the inside of your lids with a layer of foil. This will make the chocolate slab easier to remove. Your slab will be the same size and shape as your lid, so you could play around with other shapes and containers if you want...just make sure they're about 1cm high, and lined well.

Break up the chocolate and melt separately in short bursts in your microwave.

Now divide the chocolate evenly between the lined lids, swirling it together if you so desire.

Whilst the chocolate is still wet and melted - adorn it! Pop the sweeties onto the chocolate, slightly pressing down as you go. Pop in the fridge or a cool place to set. Then break or cut and eat! (Or bag up for homemade gifts).

Above is Mini's attempt. At 5, he was just interested in putting as much as possible on!
Below is Dollop's attempt after the foil had been removed. Even at just 2, she is clearly artistic and creative (!), and has managed to make a skull shape on hers...

This much plainer version is that of my hubby - the NC, who was more careful with his sweetie placement and included some artistic swirls using a cocktail stick!

NOTE - we used 3 of these medium sized lids. The slabs turned out just fine, but the chocolate was a little thin on two of them. Perhaps an extra 100g of chocolate would do better.

Hot chocolate spoons

I know, I know...not really the time of year for hot chocolate is it? But, my kids really enjoy a hot chocolate as a treat, and I'm quite partial to a cuppa of the yumtious (and yes, that is a word!) stuff myself, especially with a few marshmallows floating on top!

So, for another of our activity packs I decided to make 'Hot Chocolate Spoons'. My local supermarket is selling something similar for about £1 each, but thrifty me decided they could be done much cheaper, and we could even gift them later in the year.

You will need:

Plastic spoons (we used the cheapest ones I could find in Tesco)
100g Dark chocolate
Small bag of Mini Marshmallows

Break up the chocolate and place in a microwaveable bowl. Microwave in short bursts to melt the chocolate. 
Whilst the chocolate is melting, lay out the plastic spoons on a plate or tray. 
Once melted and smooth, dollop the chocolate onto the spoons making sure you put on as much as possible. Decorate with about 3 marshmallows and a few sprinkles - really easy for the kids to do! Then leave in the fridge to set. 

To use, heat some milk in the microwave and pop a Hot Chocolate Spoon straight in. Leave it a minute to melt and then stir a few times. Voila - a mild hot chocolate perfect for children (or for mummy!)