Claymation

The Bean has really started to get into play dough a lot recently when we have been at other people’s places, playgroup and at kids church. So This morning I thought that it was about time I made some for him. But Alas! No Flour! What to do?

I did have some cornflour though, so I googled cornflour play dough and came up with this gem: http://www.grandpapencil.net/activity/cornclay.htm

This recipe is so good on so many levels. It requires only 4 ingredients, takes minutes to make and another huge plus is that you can bake or dry it to make fun decorations for presents or to hang on the Christmas tree. It has a lovely smooth texture as well, so It might become my new favourite play dough recipe for a while!

Tomorrow is forecast as a rainy day, so we might bake a few of the shapes to make into  gift tags for Father’s day and for a few birthdays coming up. I will add the photo when they are finished 🙂

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Just loafing around

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There’s nothing like the smell of freshly baked bread. That warm, toasty yeasty aroma that makes you instantly hungry. I used to work in a bakery and yet I still love it every time. So, The Bean and I decided we would try out the bread dough recipe from You Can Cook by Annabel Karmel. ‘Making bread – that’s pretty ambitious!’ I hear you say. Well yes, there are a lot of steps, but the beauty of it is that because it takes a while to make you can leave it to do other important things like building a train track, changing nappies or having morning tea. It doesn’t require many ingredients, in fact I always have these ingredients on hand anyway. And there are so many things your little one can get involved with – adding the yeast,  stirring the flour and butter, pushing the dough, brushing it with egg and sprinkling on seeds or cheese. The Bean was fascinated by the magic of the yeast frothing up and also the proving process.We made a loaf one day and bread rolls the next and both were a huge success. We used the bread rolls to make hamburgers for dinner, and The Bean was very proud of his contribution. So here is the recipe!

You need:

  • 1 sachet of yeast (7g)
  • 300ml warm water
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 15g butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 450g plain flour (white or wholemeal)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • sesame seeds, grated cheese or pumpkin seeds (optional)
  • extra flour, for dusting

Equipment:

  • 3 small bowls
  • 1 large glass or ceramic mixing bowl
  • a wooden spoon
  • measuring spoons
  • measuring cup
  • a large chopping board
  • a small loaf tin (if you are making a loaf)
  • 2 baking trays (if you are making rolls)
  • olive  oil spray
  • baking paper
  • pastry brush
  • cling wrap
  • cooling rack

To make a loaf:

  1. Place the warm water, sugar and yeast in a small bowl and stir. Leave it for 10 minutes. It should look frothy with bubbles.
  2. Next, melt the butter.Place the flour and salt in the mixing bowl and make a well in the centre. Pour in the melted butter and the frothy yeast and stir to combine. When it just starts to come together, stop stiring.
  3. Dust the chopping board and your hands with flour. Take the dough out of the bowl and place it on the chopping board and knead (pushing and pulling) the dough for 10 minutes until it is smooth and elastic. To test if it is ready, push your finger in up to your knuckle. The dough should spring back into place.
  4. Clean the mixing bowl and lightly spray with oil. Place the dough in the bowl and cover it with cling wrap for 1 hour to prove.
  5. Take the cling wrap off and punch the dough. Take it out of the bowl and knead it for 2 minutes.
  6. Grease your loaf tin with olive oil and then place the dough into it. spray some oil on the cling wrap and then place it over the loaf tin and leave for 1/2 hour for it to prove again. Now is also a good time to turn your oven on to 200c.
  7. Remove the cling wrap and brush the loaf with the egg. sprinkle on the seeds or cheese if you wish to use them.
  8. Place the loaf tin into the oven and bake for 25- 30 minutes. It should be golden brown on top and make a hollow sound when you tap it. Turn it out on to the cooling rack.

To make rolls, follow-up to step 5. Then divide the dough in half and then in half again until you have 8 large portions (regular rolls) or 16 small ones(dinner rolls). Place baking paper onto the baking trays and then place the rolls on, ensuring there is enough space between them. brush with egg and seeds and bake for 20 minutes.

The magic ingredient – fun!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. A few health issues, the arrival of a new baby boy (The Bear) and the Bean turning 2 kinda made art and craft a little more difficult. That’s not to say we didn’t do any, it was just that it was the texta and crayon with paper kind of art rather than an art activity. We now have a large collection of drawings and I will post at a later date on what to do with that mountain of artwork. But now that The Bear is sleeping well and in a routine of sorts, we have been able to get back into our art and craft groove and have now extended that to baking and cooking.

I love baking. It’s so sensory – feeling, tasting and smelling and so it is a great activity for little people. Now that The Bean is 2, he has greater fine motor skills and so is able to do tasks such as mixing, pouring and rolling. And who doesn’t love squashing cookie dough in their hands? It’s also great to encourage little ones to explore with food and to have fun making something that they can also eat. The key to a great experience for both you and your child is to be organised. Have all of your ingredients measured and cut up, utensils close by and any tins or trays greased or lined. Make sure anything sharp or hot is well out of reach and of course supervise at all times. You can have a small table set up for them, or set everything up on their high chair table if they are still using one. Or you can have them standing on a stool, but make sure it is stable and that you stand next to them at all times. Here is a great link on cooking with kids: http://www.kidspot.com.au/meal-planning/Cooking-tips-How-to-cook-with-your-kids—and-have-fun!+3504+757+sponsor-article.htm

There are heaps of good websites for kid friendly recipes.

http://www.kidspot.com.au/ is great as it has a tool where you can type in a list of up to 5 ingredients and it will come up with recipes that use them. It is well laid out into sections such as kids cooking, cakes and baking, meal planning, dinner recipes and seasonal and party. I’m looking forward to making these with The Bean once the weather warms up : http://www.kidspot.com.au/best-recipes/Healthy+25/Yoghurt-popsicles-recipe+3294.htm

http://www.taste.com.au/ is a well-known resource for cooking and baking. They have a kid friendly recipe section and have some great tips on getting your kids involved in the kitchen –

 http://www.taste.com.au/news+features/articles/315/kids+in+the+kitchen I also like that you can see the nutritional value of the recipe and also read and add comments. I’ve used this recipe http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/3118/banana+bread many times and The Bean loved it. I substituted the butter with 1/4 cup of  canola oil and it turned out just fine and a little healthier too! We made it as a big loaf and also as some mini loaves which were a big hit with the little hands.

http://www.katebracks.com/ This next one is very new and I’m looking forward to watching it grow. Kate Bracks was the the winner of the 2011 Masterchef series and has just created a lovely website that also has a kid section called kids kitchen clubhouse. I love the look of the coconut bread plus it has fantastic features such as fact sheets and video tips. Fun to even just look at on a rainy day!

The next one has been a favorite since The Bean started solids. http://www.annabelkarmel.com.au/. Annabel Karmel is based in the UK and has written dozens of books on cooking for and with kids. She has a very extensive collection from baby purees to part food, lunch boxes, gluten free and family recipes. Although The Bean doesn’t have wheat intolerance, he does have friends who do so we might be making these soon – http://www.annabelkarmel.com/recipes/gluten-free/blueberry-muffins. The only drawback to this site is a heavy amount of advertising and promotion of her products and books. But otherwise a very helpful and visually friendly website.

Another great resource is your local library. Head to the cooking section and you’re  bound to find at least 5 kids cookbooks.We recently borrowed Annabel Karmel’s You Can Cook and had a lot of fun making our own bread (more on that later). It had great photos, easy to follow instructions and The Bean loved the end result. I also made the swedish meatballs, the vegie fajitas and the sweet and sour chicken for dinner and he enjoyed these too. I’m planning on trying out the orange and cranberry muffins next. Another one we borrowed was Baking with Tiny Tots by Becky Johnson. Lots of great ideas and The Bean really liked just looking at the photos of the children doing different things such as rolling, mixing and spreading.

I still have my first cookbook which II was given when I was about 7. Usbourne First Cookbooks – Hot Things is beautifully illustrated with cute little characters and inspired me to try out more difficult recipes. The Bean loves looking through this one and talking about what they are doing and I have made quite a few of the recipes for his dinner, including lemon chicken.

When I was pregnant with The Bean a dear friend of mine gave me a copy of Women’s Weekly Babies and Toddlers. This is a great book for the whole family and i love that it also has a nutrition guide for each recipe plus a section on allergies. I have made the cheese and vegemite pinwheels and the spinach and cheese monster scones so many times and yet The Bean still gets excited about them.

Last but not least is The Bean’s favourite, Junior Masterchef Australia: The Cookbook. He loves this book so much and calls it “the yum yum book” It has very clear instructions and is a lot of fun to use. We now have the second volume which is based on recipes from around the world and my inner geographer is very excited.

So, are there any recipes, websites or books you would recommend? Or do you have any fond memories of baking as a child?

splish splash, I was taking a bath….

Ah, the arrival of summer – long hot days and not much energy (for Mama anyway). The bean always wants to be outside but sometimes it’s just too hot to be at the park and sometimes the last thing this Mama feels like doing is getting everything together and treking to the swimming pool or beach (not easy when you rely on public transport all of the time).

So, we bring the pool to the Bean instead. He loves playing in water, but alas we don’t have a backyard.So the solution? filling up an old baby bath instead with water and toys under a shady carport. I gave him a small watering can, a bucket, some plastic containers and some measuring spoons and he had a fantastic time pouring and splashing . I thought it would enertain him for maybe half an hour, but we ended up playing for 2 hours! He was soaked from head to toe, but as it was 34c, he dried in no time.

Of course, as with any activity involving water, supervision is important at ALL times.A child can drown in 5 cm of water in less than 2 minutes.So PLEASE, please turn off the phone or take your child with you if you really need to answer it or the doorbell.  Make sure the bath or bucket you used is empty when you are finished with the activity as children are likely to wander back to play again when you aren’t looking!

This idea can easily be changed according to interests, weather or just what is available. A large shallow container filled with dried lentils, bowls and spoons, dried pasta with scoops, shredded paper with toys hidden underneath or a shallow tray filled with coloured goop (or jelly) and toy cars are just a few ideas.

through the looking glass

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At home we have a floor length window and the Bean loves nothing more than standing at it and watching the world outside (particularly birds and cars!). So I thought we would make a craft that would give him something new to look at.

suitable age: 15 months +

materials needed:

  • clear contact ( easily bought at the newsagent, supermarket, big chain stores or stationary shops)
  • tissue paper, cellophane or wrapping paper in several different colours
  • scissors (adult use only and are optional)
  • sticky tape
  • cookie cutters (optional)
Cut out a square of contact (size is up to you) and peel off the baking paper and lay it down on the table, or onto a window ( if you have a floor length one). You might want to stick down the corners with sticky tape or blu-tak just so it won’t move around. You can either cut up the paper into shapes or let your little one help you to rip it up (much more fun!). Then simply scatter or place the paper over half of the sticky side of the contact and then fold in half so that the paper is sandwiched inside the contact. If you like, you can then cut your stained glass window into shapes (hearts and stars are nice – you can use cookie cutters as a template) to make pretty decorations for a party or special occasion.
At first we attempted this on the table and the Bean wasn’t quite sure of what to make of it. But as soon as I taped the contact onto the window instead he immediately got into the swing of things and thoroughly enjoyed sticking on the pieces of paper. He was especially intrigued by the feel of the contact! After I had cut them up into shapes, I then used some sticky tape (rolled into a ball) to stick them onto the window and he happily took them on and off until the tape lost its stickiness! It looked very pretty and I would like to make these as Christmas decorations by hole punching them and threading through some string or fishing line. 

It’s a Knockout

This is a fun one for a rainy day or if your little one is sick but bored of being in bed. I will admit though you will have to be a regular recycler to have the materials for this one. We go through a LOT of milk in our place so we always have milk containers in our recycling box. But other ideas are drink bottles or dishwashing detergent bottles. Just make sure that the containers are thoroughly washed out and dried before use. Also, make sure that the lid is securely sealed, so the little one cannot get to what is inside.

approapiate age: 9 months+

materials you will need:

  • several containers ( the number is up to you)
  • rice, lentils or dried beans
  • a small ball or something that can be rolled easily
  • strong sticky tape or pva glue
This is easy. Simply fill your containers with about half a cup of rice or lentils then secure the lid on with tape or glue (unless you want lentils and rice all over the place!). Then line them up in a row or a group and roll the ball towards them. Your little one is also bound to use the containers as shakers too! This is a great activity for hand/eye coordination and for sensory exploration.
I thought this would be a huge hit with the Bean, as he usually likes anything that makes a noise. However, he was more interested in trying to take off the tape from the bottle and trying to get the lentils out! ( he didn’t succeed, thankfully). Perhaps i should have introduced this activity at a younger age. Still, it was very easy to put together and i usually have all of the materials on hand, so not all bad after all.

Daddy’s Day

Father’s Day is fast approaching! The idea for creating a day for children to honour their fathers began with a woman named Sonora Smart Dodd. Sonora adored her father and, while listening to a Mother’s Day sermon in 1909, she felt Fatherhood should be recognised also.While there is a multitude of craft ideas for older children to make for Father’s day, it is quite difficult to find ones that are suitable for little ones.  So here are three fun and quick ideas for the little people to make for their daddies (with your help of course).

1. Make a hand print tree card or poster (that could be framed if you wish). This is suitable for 9 months +. You will need:

  • non toxic poster paint (you can have several colours if you like)
  • a paint brush
  • a piece of white paper (size is up to you)
  •  a piece of A4 brown paper ( or you could use a paper bag)
  •  scissors (adults only of course!),
  • a glue stick
  • newspaper
  • wipes

This is a super easy one, but of course, anything that involves children and paint is messy, so don’t forget to put on old clothes or an apron on your little one! Basically all you need to do is draw a rough outline of a tree on your brown paper ( it doesn’t have to be elaborate or detailed) and then cut it out and glue it onto your white paper. Then paint your little one’s hand with the paint and paintbrush and make a series of prints to make the leaves on the tree. alternatively you could just use fingerprints to dot on the leaves. The wipes are essential as most babies and toddlers will decide to take off and make prints on everything around them! You can write a message or a poem (go to http://www.kidspot.com.au/Fathers-Day-Gifts-to-make-for-dad-Fathers-Day-poems+2128+85+article.htm) underneath your tree. You could make an autumn themed tree using yellow, red and orange paint, a rainbow tree or traditional green.

2. Continuing on the whole hand print idea, you could make a hand print on a small canvas (easily bought at $2 shops) and take a photo of your little one holding it or sitting with it. The photo can then be made into a card by sticking it onto a piece of A4 card folded in half. The card and the canvas are a lovely gift also for grandparents. I did this when the Bean was only 2 months old and it’s something that is greatly treasured.

3. Last week The Bean had great fun covering paper in wheel prints. See on your marks, get set, go! We are now going to use all of that paper as wrapping paper and also to make a card to go with it. This one is only limited by your imagination and whatever you have lying around. I just folded a piece of blue A4 cardboard in half and then cut out a piece of the painted paper and stuck it on top (see the first photo). I’m then going to stick on a photo of the Bean and he is going to help me decorate it with star stickers.