We made these cute little Cheese Monsters for my nephew’s 5th birthday party. Healthy party food ftw!
A sharp knife (a filleting knife is perfect), a few googly eyes in different sizes, some non-toxic kids PVA glue, a tiny bit of wool for hair and a couple of packets of mini Babybel cheeses all come together to make a plate of monsterlicious treats.Continue readingCheese Monsters
We’re usually an eat-the-whole-fruit type household, but recently Bee had been asking about juice, and how it is made. We had some regular and blood oranges in our fruit bowl, so we made some freshly squeezed orange juice for a little afternoon fun in the kitchen.
Bee, who had just turned three, is fiercely independent. She loved taking charge of the juicing process, almost as much as she enjoyed drinking the juice afterwards. She’d squeeze a little bit, and then pour and drink it, and then squeeze some more.
We also added some of the orange pulp back into our drink – it’s tasty and high in fibre!
Then we tried the blood oranges. They’re in season for such a short time, we always grab some whenever we can.
It was fun to directly compare the size, colour, texture and flavour of the two types of oranges, side by side. Such striking colour!
We’re all about trying a wide variety of delicious food in our house. We have a little rule about new foods or “foods that the kids are still learning to like” – they don’t have to like it, and don’t have to finish it, but they do have to taste it, every single time it is served. Otherwise, how will they know if their tastebuds have learned to like it yet? (This rule has really helped the kids to “learn” how to like lots of veggies that they initially rejected. That, and serving as a starter before their main meal, when their appetite is at its best!)
So, whilst Bee initially baulked at actually drinking the blood orange juice, she did give it a try, and discovered that the actually rather liked it! Not as much as the regular orange juice, mind you, but enough that she went back for a second and third sip. Win!
Once Bee was finished with her orange juicing fun, I went back and rejuiced them, extracting a lot more juice that I got to drink afterwards. Double win!
Don’t throw the orange peel away afterwards – did you know you can use it to make an orange skin bird feeder to encourage some wild birds into your backyard?
And, here are some of our other fresh fruit ideas:
Here’s a fun ‘rainy day’ healthy snack idea that little kids can help make (Bee was a 2.5 year old toddler here), using blueberries for storm clouds, cheese for rain and a multigrain wrap for the umbrella.
You can sing along to some wet weather nursery rhymes while you munch. Here are a few of our favourites:
It’s raining, it’s pouring, the old man is snoring He went to bed with a bump on his head And couldn’t wake up in the morning.
I’m having so much fun coming up with healthy snacks for the kids. It’s slightly addictive! Remember the Incy Wincy Spider cheese snack we made a few weeks ago? Well, I *may* have been coerced by tiny little people into making about a dozen versions of this since then. So I figured it’s high time we added a new nursery rhyme character to our repertoire. This time, it’s Humpty Dumpty!
Sing along if you know how the nursery rhyme goes….
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall. Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. All the King’s horses and all the King’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again.
We’re going through a little creative snack phase at our place. It all started when we made a healthy platter of fruit, veg & cheese ‘flowers’ a few weeks back. Ever since then, the kids have been begging for ‘picture snacks’, and we’ve had lots of fun coming up with different ideas.
Here’s one that we made for Incy Wincy Spider. Or is it Itsy Bitsy spider? To be honest, I’m not even sure what we sing at our place – we seem to alternate between the two! Either way, I’m sure you know how this popular nursery rhyme goes…
Incy Wincy Spider climbed up the waterspout Down came the rain, and washed poor Incy out Out came the sunshine and dried up all the rain So Incy Wincy Spider climbed up the spout again.
To make an Incy Wincy spider snack like this, you will need:
mini cheese wheel
What to do
Cut or break the pretzels until you have eight that are roughly spider leg shaped. I found the star shaped pretzels worked better, but there were still quite a few casualties. (Luckily we had hungry mouths that were keen to help ‘clear away’ any mistakes.)
Use your knife to make tiny incisions in the cheese wheel for the legs and eyes, and then push in eight pretzel legs and the two smallest currants for eyes.
Cut a thick slice of orange into quarters, using one quarter for the sun. Cut a second quarter into tiny segments and add as sun rays.
Two rectangular crackers stacked vertically can act as a spout, and a cheese strip can act as a long spider web.
Then just add some thinly sliced cucumber grass, and you have a cute (and healthy) little Incy Wincy / Itsy Bitsy Spider snack! Yum!
This post is a part of a little series called Rhyme Time, where some of my blogging buddies and I are bringing you fun ideas for various popular nursery rhymes. Pop over and check out these fun Incy Wincy Spider ideas from my blogging friends:
Speaking of Pinterest, you might also like our Fun & Healthy Snacks for Kids pinterest board. I’m always adding great ideas I find around web over there. And of course, there’s our Danya Banya board, which has all the fun activity posts from this blog.
A while back, poor JJ came down with a bug and was feeling poorly. Too sick to run around and too sick to initiate her own play ideas, she was feeling pretty miserable. So we sat down at our craft table to create something together – something that would gently distract her from her woes, without burdening her with too much concentration or effort.
I came up with the idea to try out a childhood classic – growing plant ‘hair’ out of little pots with faces on them. I found these little pots in our upcycling stash – the tall ones originally held some Australian native seedlings, and the smaller ones once contained face creams. JJ sorted through our craft stash to find materials to make the faces, and she came up with the designs. I used the low temperature glue gun to attach all the various bits and pieces, with JJ helping where she could.
It was 100% JJ’s idea to make a Rudolph, and she also came up with the idea of using twigs with tiny gumnuts on them for antlers. (Even though Christmas was long gone, it obviously had a lasting impression!).
Afterwards, I partially filled the pots with toy stuffing, and then filled the rest with wet cottonwool balls. JJ sprinkled on some watercress seeds, and we covered the tops with paper for a day or two until the seeds began to germinate.
And then we watched them grow!
Everyday, JJ dampened the cotton wool with a water spray bottle (which incidentally is a great practical life activity to build up hand strength).
As you can see, they grew, and then a couple of them shrunk! I guess the hot Australian sun coming through the window was just too strong for poor old Rudolph. The next day we also lost the one with the orange nose, before I learnt my lesson and moved them to a shadier spot. Nevermind, we still ended up with three watercress heads full of glorious hair…
And all the while we got to learn a little bit about seeds, plants and what they need to grow.
And then we ate them. 🙂
We still have a lot more watercress seeds left (from just the one packet), so I’ll think we’ll be growing some more again soon…
Inspired by anEgg Creative Challenge, I explained to my daughter JJ (3 years and 10 months old) that one of my ‘computer friends’ was inviting kids around the world to do something with eggs, BUT the catch is that it has to be the kid’s idea.
I asked JJ what she wanted to do.
Initially JJ thought she might make make sculptures using plastic eggs, toothpicks and playdough. She had lots of fun playing with these items, and did come up with two sort-of egg people. I was encouraging, but inwardly I thought that there wasn’t the sense of process or accomplishment that this challenge calls for. She spent more time role-playing with her egg people, rather than constructing them.
I thought to myself that perhaps, at 3 years and 10 months old, she isn’t quite up for a creative challenge like this just yet.
Now – don’t get me wrong, role-playing is awesome! Actually all play is awesome, which is why I didn’t redirect her back to the challenge at hand, and instead let her play. But in this instance, it does show that she doesn’t yet have the organisational skills and self-discipline to create a plan and carry it though to achieve an outcome. In her defence, I probably rushed too quickly to gather supplies and get her started, rather than helping her to formulate a clear plan in the first place. But nevermind, I put the creative challenge idea aside thinking that we could try again another time.
And then a few days later, JJ asked for a chocolate Easter egg. She specifically wanted a chocolate Easter egg that is wrapped in coloured wrapping, just like a store-bought one. She knew that we didn’t have any in the cupboard (as we don’t tend to keep ‘party food’ in our house), but she asked if we could make one please. I explained that I didn’t know how to make chocolate eggs, but perhaps we could make chocolate crackles in the shape of eggs? She was adamant that they needed to be wrapped, in coloured wrappings. So I suggested that we could paint some foil.
She thought this was a brilliant idea! She connected the dots between our earlier activity, and said that she wanted to make chocolate crackle Easter eggs, wrapped in coloured foil for Mummy’s “computer friends” to see. And thus we were delivered a second chance at this challenge!
This time, I wanted to help JJ to plan effectively. So, I didn’t rush in and gather materials. Instead I asked her what her plan was. I asked her what steps she would need to take. I helped her develop a rough timeline. I gave her a brand new (mint-scented) notebook, and explained that this book is her special writing book, and I asked her to write out her plan. She baulked at first (probably because she is only three and doesn’t know how to write), so I wrote the heading “Chocolate Crackle Easter Eggs In Painted Foil” across the top of the first page, and gave her the pen. She took over from there. She narrated as she wrote. Her notes took up several pages. They didn’t always go top to bottom or left to right, and they certainly weren’t legible, but the outcome was the same. She had formulated and written down a firm idea. A plan.
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How to make Homemade Easter Eggs with Painted Foil Wrappers
Step 1: Wash the plastic eggs
This washing step was my idea, lol. Kids don’t seem to worry about this sort of thing!
We used pastel plastic eggs like these (although the hinges have all broken on ours, as we’ve been playing with them for a while.
(And please ignore the letters, they were from a letter matching activity we did earlier.)
Step 2: Make the chocolate crackle mix
You can find our easy recipe at the bottom of this post.
JJ helped to measure and weigh the quantities of the various ingredients (which is great meaningful maths practice). I melted the chocolate sauce over the stove top, and then JJ helped to mix it all together.
Step 3: Put the chocolate crackle mix into the plastic egg moulds and refrigerate
With my help, JJ filled the first five of the moulds. I did the last five or so myself.
JJ and I painted alongside each other; she much prefers creative pursuits when we do them together. She painted the middle three (below), taking a very long time to make sure that she covered every tiny part of the foil square. I painted the other eight alongside her in about the same time frame (although my efforts were much more slapdash).
I really like how they turned out. You can still see the shiny silver foil through the even the brightest colours, and the paint doesn’t flake at all. (I’m already thinking up projects where we can use this technique again!)
Step 5: Take the chocolate crackle eggs out of the moulds and wrap with the painted foil
JJ and I had a production line going for this step. I would remove the chocolate crackle egg from the mould (which was quite tricky), and then pass it to JJ who would wrap it and then place it in a bowl. So in effect, JJ wrapped all ten eggs by herself.
Step 6: Enjoy the feeling of accomplishment
The next day JJ brought this bowl of eggs to a playdate with some of her friends, and enjoyed offering them around. (I didn’t take a photo at the playdate, so I thought I’d include a shot of Bee licking the spoon instead.)
Didn’t she do a good job!
It was so interesting to watch the difference in JJ’s attitude between the first half-hearted attempt at egg sculptures to this second full blown effort of planning and execution. I think the difference in attitude was partly because she was keen to eat the results, and partly because she felt personally invested in the process. She kept pausing and writing notes in her special writing book as we went along. As you can see by the outfit changes, this activity was done in three distinct stages over several days, and JJ was enthusiastic the entire time.
So I’ll happily flip flop on my earlier statement. At 3 years and 10 months, JJ has shown that she does have the organisational skills and self-discipline to create a plan and carry it though to achieve an outcome. Especially if it involves chocolate. And especially if I help by not jumping in too quickly.
And here is the chocolate crackles recipe for anyone who wants to try these at home! (This is a slightly richer version to my previous chocolate crackles recipe).
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