Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Gingerbread Play Dough

This one totally came from the children.  I had some orange play dough left over from having given some away and, since we have been having a sensory week at nursery, I put some orange extract and cinnamon in.  I asked the children what it reminded them of and they said 'gingerbread men!'  I had never thought of making gingerbread play dough but thought I would give it a go.  This is what happened.
I made a small batch of play dough (1 cup plain flour, 1 cup water, 1 tbsp cream of tartar, 3/4 cup salt, 1 tbsp veg oil.)   Then I added a little orange colouring and several spoonfuls of ground ginger and a little mixed spice.
I put out lots of baking equipment and also some raisins out with the dough and let the children create what they wanted.  At first Boy did not want to play so Girl had the dough to herself.
Boy soon wanted to join in too!
He began cutting out gingerbread men and I asked 'what are you making?'  'A gingerbread family!'  He replied.
Then he made a current bun.
The dough smells just like freshly baked gingerbread men and was a real hit in our house.  Boy wanted to make some real gingerbread men - we will no doubt do this at some point soon.  He kept saying 'can we cook these mummy?'  This would make a great Christmas activity too.  I'm so glad the nursery children prompted me to try this.  Thanks kids!

Monday, 27 June 2011

Glorious Mud!

In celebration of International Mud Day on 29th June 2011 and of the really glorious weather here today we have been doing some muddy play!
I provided tools, mud, sand, buckets, a wheelbarrow and some sticks.  The children made their own decisions about what to do with the equipment.
First they worked together using the trowels to put mud into an empty bucket.  Then they added some sand.
Then some water and mixed it up into a muddy soup!
Boy said 'it's too runny - we need some more mud to make it thick!'  And he began adding more mud to the mixture until a thick paste was formed.  Fantastic stuff!
Then they chose to work separately.  Girl took her trowel and placed small piles of the mud paste in different parts of the garden.
In the herb garden.
On top of the outdoor drum kit - which is currently out of use since we discovered a Hedgehog nesting in the bushes behind it.  We are being careful not to disturb it's sleep!
Behind the trampoline too!
She enjoyed using the wheelbarrow to transport the mud paste around the garden.
Boy did something altogether different which I hadn't imagined he would do!  I like it when he does surprising and interesting things though.  He carried trowel fulls of mud paste over to one of the paving slabs on the patio and splatted them onto the ground.
He carried on until the whole square was covered (enveloping schema!).
Then he carefully smoothed it down and patted it so it was level.  Then I asked what he was going to do with it and he said.  'Decorate it with flowers and leaves and stuff, you know?'  He went off and picked some things from the garden.
Girl and I went off to play something else and we left him to it to be creative alone.
This is his creation.  A sort of mud and natural material collage I guess.  Interesting to see what happens when children have a chance to do their own thing!
How will you join in in celebrating Mud Day?

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Beautiful Butterfly Cakes

After the work we have done on Eric Carle and 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar' Boy felt inspired to make some butterfly cakes.  We have done this many times before and the very simple recipe we use can be found at this post called 'Fairy Cake Fun!'
The ones we made to day are coloured ones.  We have never done them like this before and usually leave them plain but today we felt we wanted to have a go at them in a different way and see what happened.  We followed the recipe in the usual way and then split the mixture into two.  We left one plain and coloured the other red.
A tip I have learned is that 'natural' food colourings do not hold their colour very well when baked.  This is especially true of red which goes brown when cooked.  We used an 'unnatural' one to get the colour we wanted.  You could just mix some cocoa in if you want to go for something without the E numbers.  Or experiement with different brands of colouring and see if there is one which works better.  If you find a good 'natural' red colouring please let me know too!
Put one teaspoonful of plain mixture in one side of the cake cases and the a spoonful of the coloured mixture in the other side.
Then use a cocktail stick to swirl the mixture round a bit and make some patterns.
Then bake for 15-20mins at 180 degrees until cooked.
Once cooled make the icing.  Ingredients; 50g butter, 100g icing sugar, colouring (we used green), a tsp of milk.  Whisk all the ingredients together until the icing is light and fluffy!
Then cut a disk from the top of each cake, carefully spoon in some icing.  Then cut the disk in half and place the two halves into the icing to create the butterfly wings.
These turned out well and the colour is really bright.  Boy really likes the look of them anyway, which is what matters!  It has also been a nice way to be able to talk about the life cycle of butterflies after doing the caterpillar artwork yesterday.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Eric Carle Birthday Artwork

Over at the fantastic An Amazing Child lots of people having been getting involved in celebrating the birthday of the children's author and illustrator Eric Carle.  He is most famous for 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar' and his artwork is just beautiful and very appealing to children (and adults!)  This week at pre school we have created some paintings, prints and collages using Carle's techniques but this morning we decided to do something at home.
Armed with a selection of art and craft materials and some cake cases from the kitchen cupboard we set to work to make our own 3D collage of The Very Hungry Caterpillar.'
  We tore up some green, yellow and black tissue paper, cut up some green foam sheets and mixed some different shades of green paint.
Then boy painted the tops of the cake cases before using the other materials to decorate round the sides and top.
We used a circle of red foam sheet to make the face of the caterpillar.
Boy carefully stuck on the foam eyes and nose and had a little bit of help with the pipe cleaner feelers.
Then we used sticky tape to join all the cake cases together to make the caterpillar.
Finally we stuck him onto a sheet of white paper.  Looks lovely!
We had quite a bit of paint left over and Girl wanted to get involved so she came and did some Eric Carle style painting using the colours of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. 
Then she stated she wanted the tissue paper and she stuck bits of tissue over the painting to very good effect.
Pretty good piece of Eric Carle style work from a 20 month old.  Check out the other Eric Carle inspired posts and to find out more click here.