Sunday, 29 May 2011

Buttermilk Scones for a Cream Tea!

Boy and I enjoy making scones.  This next week sees our annual women's conference Cherish 2011.  The theme this year is based on flowers and garden parties and so this got me thinking about having a cream tea activity at home.  This is a lovely recipe which I have slightly adapted from a Nigella Lawson recipe in one of my mother's books.  It is the easiest and quickest scone recipe I have come across and has the best results in my opinion.  It also gives you another use for the cream of tartar you bought to make play dough!

Ingredients; 500g plain flour, 2 tsp bicarb of soda, 2 tsp cream of tartar, 2 tsp caster sugar, 75g unsalted butter, 1 284ml carton buttermilk, 3 tbsp milk.  First put the flour, bicarb, cream of tartar and sugar together in a large bowl.  Then cut the butter into small pieces.  You can use a fairly blunt knife so this is a good one for little hands to learn knife skills safely.
 Then add the butter to the flour.
Then rub the butter into the flour until all the lumps have disappeared.
Boy is VERY good at this.  It is a great sensory experience for him too.  Feeling and smelling the ingredients as he works.  After this, add the whole carton of buttermilk and the milk.
Then mix everything together until a sticky dough is formed.  It seems very sticky but you mix in more flour as you knead it so don't worry.
Dust a clean board or surface with flour and turn the dough onto it.  Knead until the dough is smooth.
Then pat the dough down until it is about 2cm thick and cut the scones out.
Then put them on a baking sheet (either greased or lined with baking paper) and bake for about 10-12mins at 220 degrees.
Once cooked then will be golden brown and nicely risen.
The mixture makes 12-15 scones depending on how big you want them.  I usually have to bake in two batches because the tray isn't big enough for all of them at once.  Once cooled you can enjoy them with jam and whipped or clotted cream and a nice cup of tea!

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Boys and Books

After doing some storytelling with Teddy (find out more here) and having picked up on the imagination of one boy in particular I began thinking about why so many older boys seem uninterested in books and reading.  These are purely my own thoughts and not based on any research but I began to wonder if the imagination of boys could be fuelled in the early years to get them hooked on reading later in life.

Children who read and are read to tend to do better in school generally.  They are better able to interpret texts of all kinds.  Their spelling and writing is better too.  I'm not against television and computers, in fact there is much children can learn from them, but I do feel that some children are being robbed of discovering books because they spend so much of their time in front of a screen.

Boy is four years old and he enjoys books.  I have been thinking about the kinds of books he and the other boys at pre school go for and have come up with some general (very general!) themes I have noticed.
Books about any of the following seem popular; dinosaurs, pirates, animals, monsters, space/aliens, TV and film characters.  Books which rhyme are also really good as they seem to engage boys and keep them listening.  I recently read an excellent article about rhyme, find it here.  Humour is also hugely popular with boys, and in particular I have noticed, anything to do with underpants or bottoms!
Boy is now so familiar with 'Pants' by Giles Andrae and Nick Sharratt that he can 'read' it out loud to himself and his sister.  It is a rhyming book and this has really helped him to learn it.

Of course, many boys and girls will enjoy books about various other things too.  Everyone is different.  Whether you have boys or girls or both, fostering a love of books at an early age is a really positive thing.  Find out more about reading daily from The Imagination Tree 5-a-day-books.  It promotes early literacy, encourages children to become learners, and reading to your child is a lovely thing to do!  Go for it!

Friday, 27 May 2011

Storytelling with Teddy

Teddy came to Pre School with us today.  I decided to initiate a little literacy activity and encourage the children with some storytelling.  Teddy had been really busy in the morning and the children told stories about what he had done.  This is so simple and well worth a try with children aged 3 and over.
I explained that Teddy had had a very busy morning and had brought some things with him to the nursery. He had been using these things this morning.  He had with him.
Some clothes pegs......
a sponge scourer.....
and a duster.  We talked about the objects briefly just to make sure all the children knew what they were and what they could be used for.  Then they invented a story about what Teddy had been up to that morning.  I started it by saying 'Teddy woke up this morning, went and made some breakfast of tea and toast and then.....'  Teddy had apparently got up to all sorts including; washing up, washing his car, chatting to his neighbour, phoning one of the girl's Mums, doing his washing, getting wet in the rain, dusting and washing the windows.  Then one boy really went to town telling us about how Teddy had phoned him and his friends (who were Firemen) and had been brought to the nursery in a helicopter which landed on the roof.  Then he climbed down the building like Spiderman.  Brilliant!

You could use any three objects either on a theme (I've gone for cleaning here!) or just random and see where the children's imaginations take it.  Happy storytelling!

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Shell Free Play

This morning we were still in our pjs when I gave the children the box of shells to see what they would do in a free play situation and to give then a chance to get creative.

First the shells were divided onto two tables and they had a 'shell shop.'
Then Boy decided it was 'shell raining!' They all ended up on the floor!
Then the children ran over then shells to see how it felt on their feet.  Then it bacame a game to walk across without standing on the shells.
Then we made a face using the shells.
Girl took a rest on the sofa at this point!
And then we decided to get dressed and get on with the rest of the day.  This kind of play need not last very long.  Don't worry if it only last a few minutes, it is still worthwhile and young children don't do  many things for long periods of time.  Be creative and see what you can find for your children to play with.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Colour Treasure Hunt

We are staying away from home this weekend so I hadn't intended to post anything until next week but this afternoon Boy and I decided to make a colour chart and go searching for colours both inside and out.
We are visiting Boy an Girl's Aunt and Uncle and so we went around the house and garden looking for matching colours.  We made this colour chart together and he chose a selection of colours to look for.  I helped by writing the names of each colour on the page.
Boy found green on this rocking toy.
A brown table.
A purple box.  Then we went outside and found.....
An orange hosepipe nozzle.
Red growbags and a red plant.  Also, some Lollo Rossa lettuce in the greenhouse.
He found blue pots.
And a black one too!
Then the lure of the large trampoline became too much.  Boy is saving his colour chart to try and find more things over the rest of the weekend.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Seashell painting

I wondered what the children might come up with if I gave them paints and shells.  This is what happened.
We used paper, red, blue and white paints and some large shells.  First we mixed some paints to make blue and pink.  Then we used the shells to make marks and patterns on the paper.
Then we needed some more paint so I put some red and white onto the plate.  Before I could mix them Girl began using one of the shells to mix the paint and to put blobs of it onto her paper.
It made gave some really interesting results.  Then she asked for some blue.
Here is her finished artwork.
Boy decided he wanted to do some colour mixing.  He said 'Mummy, if you mix blue and white it makes light blue right?'  Yes I said and he mixed some.  Then he added red and said 'this will be purple I is!'
Here is his shell painting.  After he'd finished that he did some hand prints and and covered a page in purple paint he had mixed.
It can be interesting to find other ways to use paint by using objects as tools.  Be creative and see what you and your children can come up with!

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Sand and Paint

We had the morning together today before we went into nursery and the children didn't want to go out in the drizzle so I suggested we try and make some pictures using paint and sand.  This is what we did!
We used the following; paper, blue paint, water PVA glue, sand and some little shells.
We mixed together some paint, water and glue.
Then we used this to paint onto the paper.  Boy chose to cover his page and Girl just painted on some of hers.
Then we sprinkled sand over the top on the paint.  I had never done this before but the effect is quite good.  The sand makes a very fine spotty pattern on the paper and gives it an interesting texture.
We stuck some real small shells onto the picture too.  Boy was really pleased with his and took it to give to one of his teachers at nursery.
Using this blue colour gave it a really nice seaside feel but you could use any colour or a mix of colours.  It was a really easy activity and both children enjoyed it.  I like to do creative activities which don't require the children to do things in a certain way to create a specific finished product.  This is a good one because the results are attractive but the children can go about it in their own way without there being a right or wrong method.  They can express themselves better this way!