It was Paul’s birthday recently and I thought it would be fun to try some messy art while making some cute wrapping paper at the same time. Here’s how it’s done.
You will need:
- paint (we used tempura powder paint, but any washable/child friendly paint will do)
- 1 plate per colour (we used tough melamine plates that are easy to wash)
- 1 chux/cloth per colour
- 1 outdoor tap, or a bucket of water
- large sheets of paper (we used recycled paper from an architect friend)
- one or more enthusiastic children
~ dampen each cloth, fold into a square and place on the plate.
~ pour paint onto the cloth. You need just enough to turn the cloth into a stamp pad.
~ set up your paper, lead the children to the paint and stamp away!
~ when you’re done leave your wrapping to dry and hose off plates and children.
- Use sticky tape to secure your paper to the ground before you start.
- Have extra paint ready to top up the ‘stamp pads’ as needed.
- For easy clean up keep this activity outdoors (you didn’t need me to write that, did you?).
- Go straight from art to bath if the backyard hose isn’t working out for you.
- Tempura powder paint does flake off a little with handling. If you want to avoid further mess try poster paint.
- I highly recommend having a go yourself. There’s nothing quite like the feel of paint between your toes. Instant childhood, right there.
Or you could….
- try this with any age child – or adult!
- we stuck with footprints but you could try out all different parts of the body, or grab some leaves from the garden for leaf stamping.
What takes you back to your childhood?
This year Charlotte and I commemorated ANZAC Day with these child friendly activities:
Sugar Free ANZAC Slice* (UPDATE: Fructose Free)
Charlotte loves cooking and doesn’t mind a bit of biscuit, usually a boring old arrowroot though, if has to be said. I adapted this recipe from Sweet Poison by David Gillespie and it is soooo good. I originally followed the recipe as it was, but then I was hit with some inspiration. The original recipe will give you some sweet and crunchy ANZAC biscuits, more traditional style. However, I am a lover of soft and chewy biscuits AND easy peasy slices, so I brought the two together for this very moreish Sugar Free ANZAC Slice. Genius, I know!**
*If you’re a fan of sugar you can use white or brown sugar (approx 3/4 cup) instead of dextrose, and golden syrup (approx 2 Tablespoons) instead of glucose. But PLEASE give this sugar free version a try, it is seriously good.
** I may have decided to make a slice after placing my first batch of biscuits a little too close together and kinda making a ‘slice’ by accident. Ahem. The batch in the photos was my second go at it, and made into a slice on purpose. If you want biscuits then make sure you leave a nice good space between each one, this mixture spreads ALOT.
(Kiddo tips in blue!)
1 cup (150g) plain flour
1 cup (80g) rolled oats
3/4 cup (70g) desiccated coconut
1 1/4 cups dextrose (available with the home brewing gear in supermarkets or here).
3 tablespoons boiling water
4 tablespoons glucose syrup
1 teaspoon baking powder
1. Preheat oven to 150 degrees celcius (300 F). Line a slice tray with baking paper.
2. Sift flour into a large bowl.
Children LOVE measuring, pouring and sifting, this is a great job for little helping hands. Is it slower? Yeah! Messier? Yeah! More fun? Yeah!
3. Add oats, coconut and dextrose, then set aside.
Lots more measuring and pouring here, or if you have electronic scales you can have a natter about how much you need and which numbers you need to stop at.
4. Melt butter in a saucepan, then add syrup and water. Allow mixture to boil briefly before taking off the heat.
Very young children should stand well back at this point, but older children (school age) can help with supervision. A sturdy stool, chair or step will make it easier.
5. Add baking powder to the saucepan, allow it to foam, then pour immediately onto dry ingredients. Mix well.
Baking foam is F U N to watch foam up, but keep little ones away from the flames (surely you didn’t need me to write that, but there it is). This mixture is hot so take care. Have a mix yourself first, then as it cools (and it cools in seconds) kiddos can take over.
6. Pour into slice tin and spread evenly.
If you pour, they can spread. Team work! Don’t forget to lick the bowl…. mmmmmmm.
7. Bake for approximately 20 – 25 minutes, or until just golden and no longer wobbly for perfectly a soft and chewy slice. Cook for five minutes longer if you’d like it firmer with more crunch.
Set the timer and go for a play, or do the washing up together. Charlotte is a huge fan of doing dishes (yep, once again, slower, messier but MORE FUN).
8. Leave to cool in the tin for about 10 minutes then pop it on a wire rack to cool enough for chopping and storing. Try not to eat too many pieces as you go!
Set yourselves up for an afternoon snack or to take your slice to share with family and friends.
UPDATE: Read more about my sugar free journey and get yourself a recipe for Sugar Free Portuguese Custard Tarts here.
Poppy Potato Printing
This was so simple. I cut a potato in half and into the cut side of each half I made a poppy shape (how clever am I!? Well, I was impressed with myself). I poured red paint onto a damp folded up wash cloth which was sitting on a plate, this created the stamp pad. Child + stamp + paint = DONE!
More ANZAC stuff for kids:
- For child friendly ways to explain ANZAC Day to children, visit ANZACday.org.au.
- For information on ANZAC Day services in your state go to http://www.rsl.org.au/ –> Commemoration –> ANZAC Day.
- Free ANZAC Printables from mooo.com.au.
This week I’m grateful for…
What are you grateful for this week?
Like the rest of the interwebbing world I’m quite obsessed with photo editors. I don’t have any expensive, fancy image editors on my computer; I do all my editing using Picasa. It’s free, and pretty awesome.
Here are some of my favourite features:
~ Easy Import
Just click and drag the pic you want to edit. Done.
You can crop to many different sizes and dimensions, or to set sizes like “Facebook Timeline”, different sizes for “Avatar”, and “Desktop”. The hard work is done for you!
The sharpness and clarity sliders allow you to instantly gives photos a boost.
Pretty, pretty filters.
I added text to this photo to create Paul’s birthday card.
There are lots of different buttons to choose from to add some quirky/tacky additions to your pics.
Plenty of choices for frames to give your photo the right finish.
Scariest Features ~ Touch Ups
Charlotte has had highlights, a tan, eyes brightened, mascara added, lips coloured, teeth whitened, and cheeks blushed. It’d almost be funny. If it wasn’t so freakin’ scary. *shudder*
~ Save and Go
You have your edited picture downloaded to your hard drive in a click. No hoo-ha with registration and special offers and ads. Just your picture: better.
*PicMonkey is currently free but some features are ‘Royalty’ features, indicated by a small crown. I’m not sure what this means yet, but perhaps we’ll be asked to pay up soon. I might be interested, depending on cost. It is a pretty damn good tool.
What are you waiting for? GO THERE NOW!
I’ve been looking forward to trying this for a while now and a little gap in our afternoon provided the perfect chance to throw it together.
You will need:
and old tray
thick card (to scrape away excess foam)
a stick, paint brush, old pencil or fingers!
optional: newspaper, damp cloth, old clothes
I set up some shaving foam in an old oven tray, drizzled it with food colouring and made sure the paper was close by. I threw some old clothes on the kiddo and myself, grabbed an old pencil for swirling the colours and we were away!
Charlotte had a ball swirling those colours around and around, I think she would have been happy to do that all day. Then came the printing! Charlotte was able to press the paper onto the foam herself, with some instructions to press gently all over. Then I helped her to lift the paper off and scrape the excess foam away revealing an ooooooh-aaaaaaah inspiring print. We did about five prints, re-swirling inbetween, before the colours started to get really murky.
Tips: have an old damp cloth close by to wipe up mess and some folded paper or sturdy card to scrape off the excess foam from each print. You can also set up some sheets of old newspaper to put your prints while they dry. If your child has sensitive skin it might be best to avoid this activity, however Charlotte is one of these sensitive ones and she had no worries. Use your own judgement!
Got a baby? This is not cool for babies. Everything goes in their mouths and shaving foam is not food, peeps! Try this sensory play idea instead.
Got a preschooler or a school kid? Try levelling off the foam and writing or drawing in it before making a print for a different effect. Use different objects (old toothbrush, comb, fork) to ‘draw’ in the foam before printing.
Got a classroom of school kids? Aren’t you brave to try this? But you can! Each child can have their own paper/plastic plate with a small amount of shaving foam and smaller pieces of paper for printing. Or set it up as a small group experience – I recommend no more than four at a time!
Got something to say? Go on, you know what to do…
I need to confess. For an early childhood teacher I’m not very crafty. I’d like to be, but most projects are just way over my head. I can’t sew. Like, not even a hem. Or a button.
Two things that do work with me are: Paper and Computers. So when it came to Charlotte’s birthday parties I decided to make my own simple decorations with those two tricky tools of mine. I had a little look around some favourite sites for inspiration and thought “I can do that!”.
One decoration that I LOVE is the bunting I made for Charlotte’s second birthday. We still have the “Charlotte” section hanging up today, adding a little bit of pretty to her craft corner.
Who doesn’t love a good bit of bunting? And who can resist a free printable? Well, look no further ladies and gents, because today is your lucky day! You can choose from two free printable buntings, Rainbow Pastel and Rainbow Bright:
Each bunting has a white background so that you can choose whatever delightful colour or pattern paper that you want to print it on (see how I did that alternating colour card thing with Charlotte’s bunting? Fancy, hey?). It includes the letters to spell HAPPY BIRTHDAY and one spare bunting triangle with pretty balloons on it.
To make the bunting:
- Print onto cardstock in the colour/pattern of your choice.
- Trim each bunting triangle into shape (or be a dare devil and use a guillotine to cut more than one at a time. I did!).
- Use a hole punch to (wait for it…) punch a hole in the top two corners of each piece of bunting.
- Thread a piece of ribbon or twine through each piece of bunting (in order – check your spelling peeps). Thread on top or underneath depending on whether you want the ribbon/twine to be a feature.
- Use nifty removable hooks to hang your bunting on the wall.
- Hide the unsightly hooks with some pretty ribbon or balloons.
Download your bunting here:
Have you ever made your own birthday decorations? Oh, do tell!
Wait! Don’t go! Just because this post is all “sugar free” doesn’t mean that it won’t be sweet. I promise. Just look at these pretty tarts!
Let me start at the beginning. In January this year I was feeling like crapola. I was in a holiday food coma and I needed to find a way out of it. That’s when I stumbled across two books, Sweet Poision by David Gillespie, and I Quit Sugar by Sarah Wilson*. Then I watched this. And I decided to give this sugar free gig a try.
I didn’t follow any program exclusively, but mashed them together to create a version of sugar free that worked for me. I treated it as an experiment, one that I could stop anytime if I didn’t feel like it was working for me (wise advice from Sarah Wilson).
That was 85 days ago.
And I haven’t looked back.
I quit sugar to kick my “addiction” to the sweet stuff. To say goodbye to the constant cravings and the NEED to eat something sweet. I was sick of being a slave to it. There are many good reasons not to eat sugar, but I’ll leave the explanations to the experts. I can say that it’s worked for me. I don’t crave sugar any more. It’s one less demon that I need to worry about.
However. I like food and friends, and having food with friends. I like feeding my friends. So I have sought out some recipes to help when I need a sweet treat on the table.
Over Easter I modified a recipe for Portuguese Custard Tarts to make it sugar free. And it worked! These are slightly citrusy from the lemon zest, and just sweet enough to hit the spot.
Sugar Free Portuguese Custard Tarts
(go ahead and ignore the blue text if you are toddler free)
prep + cook time 55 minutes
2/3 cup (170ml) rice syrup (available in most supermarkets and health food shops)
2 tablespoons cornflour
4 egg yolks
1 1/4 cups (300ml) pouring cream
1/3 cup (80m) water
3cm strip lemon rind
1 sheet ready-rolled butter puff pastry
patience and persistence
1. Make a chair prison for your toddler and set them up with some patty pans, a muffin tray, and some seeds or lentils to keep them busy “helping” you.
2. Preheat oven to 220C. Grease 12-hole muffin pan. NOTE: I used a tart pan for one batch and a muffin pan for the second batch. I preferred the muffin pan.
3. Whisk syrup, cornflour, egg yolks, cream and water until smooth. Add lemon rind and stir over a medium heat until mixture comes to the boil. Remove from heat, discard rind. Stir extract into custard.
4. Give the toddler her dummy, even though she’s probably too old for it and it’s not sleep time (but she’s still in her pyjamas, so close enough).
5. Cut pastry sheet in half. Place halves on top of each other. Roll pastry tightly (like a swiss roll) from one short side; cut roll into twelve equal rounds.
6. Give the toddler a cuddle and a promise of play in just “one more minute”. Liar.
7. Place pastry rounds, cut sides up, on lightly floured surface. Roll each into a 10cm round. Push rounds into pan holes; spoon in custard.
5. Bake custard tarts about 20 minutes. Stand 5 minutes before lifting onto wire rack to cool.
6. Go and play with the poor kid.
So, what am I grateful for?
~ high backed kitchen chairs that prevent a toddler from falling when she’s standing on said chairs and “helping” me cook.
~ rice syrup, for making my sugar free life sweet.
~ patty pans and their never ending ability to divert the attention of a toddler.
*Disclaimer: this is not a sponsored post.
Anyhoo, as you probably gathered from my waffle about podcasts, I am an Android user (gosh, doesn’t that sound dirty?). I have been lusting after Instagram for what feels like forever. BUT now that I have Instagram it doesn’t mean that I’m going to neglect the other awesome photo apps on my phone. Here’s some apps that I’ve been cranking:
Lightbox is a photo editor and sharing app. It creates very similar looking effects to Instagram, and allows for uploading into a community where others can follow, like and share pics. I love how easy it is to use, and the community has some smokin’ talent. Here’s a little of what it can do:
So fun! PicsArt is a photo editing app that has lots of neat tools and tricks, including cropping, masks, effects, callouts, text, drawing and collages. You can also share your creations to almost any social networking site: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram + every other social networking tool I’ve ever come across. Here’s a few shots that I’ve played with using PicsArt:
And now, a few extras if you’re still looking for something to play with.
Cute Stuff to Make!
Finally, check out these clever peeps sharing ideas for making adorabubble stuff with Instagram photos:
*This is a good time for a little disclaimer. This is not a sponsored post. I just love the stuff that I’m ranting about. If Samsung or Instagram or Google want to pay me in cash or products they are most welcome. A Samsung Galaxy Tab should do the trick. Ta.
Over to you: What’s your favourite Android app?
How’s your long weekend been? As you’re probably in a chocolate haze, and recovering from all those family get togethers, I thought I’d share a relaxed play idea.
Charlotte was given an adorable box set of animal magnets for her second birthday. She fell in love with them straight away and they get a good play most days in one way or another. Here are some ideas for using these magnets with your toddler:
- Fridge play– duh. Magnets go on the fridge, right? Put them high, put them low, move them around, have them chat to each other… see where your toddler takes the play. You could also use a magnetic easel or board.
- Who am I? Take turns to say an animal noise and have the other player(s) find the magnet that matches your sound. eg. “I’m thinking of an animal that says “moo”. Which animal is it?” Start with only a few animals to choose from, then add more as your kiddo gets more confident.
- Doll house play– Of course the animals can come on over to the doll house! Turn the doll house into a zoo. Or maybe the animals are housemates.
- Animal Hunt – hide the animals around the house and give clues for finding them. A magnifying glass and a basket for collecting with make this hunt oh-so-much fun.
- Sand play– rock some animal magnet fun in the sun with a sand tray or sand pit. Use branches, leaves, twigs and seeds to create a home for the animal friends.
- Sorting– how many different ways you can sort the animals. Colours, sizes, spots, stripes. Keep it simple with toddlers. Find out how they want to sort them.
- Free play – the most important option! Don’t feel like you always have to lead the play – children are the experts. They need time and space to use their imagination. Follow their lead, join in, or give them some independent play time, which is an important skill too. Put your feet up and have a cuppa!
Got a baby?
- Bubs will get a kick out of exploring these safe-for-baby magnets and sliding them around on a magnetic surface.
- Make a visual board for bubs next to the change table – pop a magnetic board on the wall and stick some animals magnets on it. Have a natter about the different animals and the sounds they make, or do your best Old Macdonald rendition.
Got a preschooler?
- Get two sets of inexpensive magnets to create your own matching game.
- Kick the sorting game up a notch by making the categories more complicated – ask them to put together all the animals that live underwater, or all the animals that have fur.
- Use the animals to make up stories – take turns to pick an animal and say “one day there lived a insert-name-of-animal who loved to make-up-something-funny”, eg. One day there lived a horse who loved to eat ice cream.
- If you’re keen you can get dramatic and act out the stories too.
Got a school kid?
- Using two sets again you could pop a selection of matching magnets face down on the floor and play ‘memory’.
- Get really tricky by sorting the animals using the sounds in their names – all the animals that start with ‘a’ or all the animals that have an ‘a’ sound in the middle.
- What about organising them into alphabetical order? Use an alphabet chart to help or sing the ABC song.
Got something to say? Go on, you know what to do.
Happy Easter Sunday! Ah, a long weekend. It has given us the time and motivation to get started on a few jobs around the place. Our front garden beds were actually weed beds so that seemed like a good place to start.
Now, let me be clear. The last time I did ANY work in the garden was a random weed pulling exercise in the back yard about 6 months ago. And before that? When I was about seven months pregnant with Charlotte…. that’s two years ago.
So, why did I get a sudden urge to garden? Maybe it’s because Charlotte is at the age where she can join in or play while we work. Maybe it’s because we’re expecting guests and I want the place to look tidy. Maybe it’s because I want blog content. Whatever the reason, we all got our gardening gloves on and went out for a morning of digging.
Charlotte joined in quite happily for about half an hour. Quite impressive for a two year old! Then she assumed a supervisory role, sitting on the front step and calling out “KEEP GOING!”, “DON’T STOP”, followed by a few rounds of B-I-N-G-O, Baby Crocodile and the ABC song to keep us motivated.
I enjoyed pulling up the big suckers that had roots from here to China. It gave me the same kind of satisfaction as plucking a particularly stubborn ingrown hair, you know? I got fed up near the end of the last bed though, probably about the same time that I came across a large hole in the ground that Paul said was probably “from a spider”. WTF?! Yeah, I was done. (I just did a Google Image search on “spiders holes ground”. Don’t click that link. Seriously).
All in all it was quite a successful family experience, I might even repeat it again sometime. Maybe.
Got something to say? Go on, you know you want to…