Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Fruit smoothies

Fruit smoothies. 

Today we spent the morning with friends at the park. As always I went a bit crazy with the picnic lunch and was left with a bowl of blueberries and bananas. I thought I would use them up as a nutritious afternoon snack and turn them into a smoothie. 
Smoothies are a great way to encourage healthy eating and consumption of fruit and vegetables.  
Allowing your child to help participate in making the smoothie is also a great activity to encourage healthy eating, knowledge of science and self esteem.
The internet is full of great smoothie recipes. Below are some sites that I think have some great ideas:

Who can play?
Children aged three years and above. All activities depend on the child's age and stage of development

If allowing your child to cut up the bananas, ensure the knife they have is not sharp enough to cut their skin. There should be constant supervision during this time.
When using the blender, do not allow 
children to plug it in (chance of electrocution) or put their hand into the blender (cut their fingers) Please read the instructions on the blenders manual.
Check for food allergies if this activity is being carried out in a child are setting or with your child's friends. 

What do we need?
Glasses and straws
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup of milk
1 tbsp of honey
1 cup of bananas
1 cup of blueberries
1/3 cup of raw beetroot

What did we do?
Firstly, Isabella cut up the banana with a blunt knife. This was then placed into a bowl along with the blueberries and raw beetroot that had been cut up into chunks. When preparing the beetroot, be careful not to stain surfaces, clothing or hands. If you do stain your hands, a top tip I have learnt is to rub a fresh lemon on your hands.
The websites mentioned above, say it is best to add liquids first and then solids. So that is what we did. We added the coconut and regular milk and honey to the blender. Next we added the fruit and veg and watched how the liquid turned a bright pink colour. Isabella commented on the liquid changing.
Once we were happy with its consistency we carefully poured it into some glasses. All that was left for us to do then was...

I kept the rest of my smoothie in a glass bottle in the fridge. We plan to have some with a light breakfast in the morning.

What did we learn?
Communication, language and literacy- Describing what is happening and what they are doing.
Creative-Designing your own smoothie. Learning colours of fruit and vegetables
Physical- using tools to cut up the fruit.
Mathematical- Counting fruit etc when putting it into the blender, measuring the liquid and learning about capacity. Counting how long it is in the blender.
Personal, social and emotional- Learning about safety, for example when near electricity and using utensils to cut.
Knowledge and understanding of the world- The different types of fruit and vegetables. Learning about technology, such as what a blender does and electricity. Change of state of the vegetables and fruit once blended. 

What could be done next?
Why not make this smoothie for a Halloween treat? Whilst making it, I couldn't help but think that this would be a great Halloween drink. 
Experiment with different fruits and vegetable combinations and enjoy!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Cardboard Ice Castle

Have you been hooked on the new Disney movie Frozen? Well, I know my little 'Princess' has.
For Christmas, Isabella received some small world characters from the movie and we decided that they needed a home. Buying a brand new Frozen ice castle was not an option. So we thought we would make one ourselves. Together with a few cardboard boxes, kitchen rolls, paint, glue and glitter we were able to make a beautiful castle, that Isabella felt proud of.
This project lasted a few days, but your child will love it forever (or until the cardboard gives in)


What you need;
Scissors (for adult)
Table to make the castle on
A cardboard box
Light blue paint (blue and white mixed together)
Blue paint for turrets
Paintbrushes and paint pots
Material scraps
Tin foil
Cello tape 
Four kitchen rolls
6 1/2 empty variety pack boxes
Empty cracker box
Scrap pieces of material
A clock cut out of a home magazine 
Crystal bobble for the lights or anything else that could resemble a ceiling light
Elsa and Anna toys, however any princess or small role play figures could be used.

What we did

To ensure that the table was protected, I placed newspaper on the top and secured it with cello tape. Isabella and I also used our aprons to protect our clothes from paint and glue.

We had an empty box in our craft cupboard, that was destined for better things. Boxes are amazing, they are an open ended resource and can be transformed into almost anything. This box will be transformed into Elsa's Ice Castle (From the movie Frozen)

The first thing that had to be done was to cut off the top flap. This was then used as the second floor. To keep this in place, I added two variety pack boxes at each side to rest the floor on. To secure this in place I added cello tape. At this stage I also cut out a door and a window.

How can our Princesses reach the bedroom on the upper level??? We had to make some stairs. We used an empty cracker box and did them in three steps.
Step one was to cut off the top section and the side...


The second step was to place the side into the box 


The third step was to make the steps. I used a strip of cardboard and made it into a consertiner. It did not feel very sturdy, so I added kitchen rolls, cut to size underneath and used cello tape again to secure in place.


Isabella then positioned some kitchen rolls on the top of the roof to use as turrets.


When she had positioned all the turrets, we yet again secured them with more cello tape.
Next was the fun part... To paint it. Isabella said that she would like to paint it blue, as that was "a cold colour". We mixed blue and white together, to make light blue. As you can see by her face, this is the bit she was looking forward to.


To add to the 'cold' feeling of the castle, we made some icicle shapes out of glue and sprinkled on some glitter. We glued some tin foil to the steps to make them look icy.


We cut out a clock from a magazine and glued it to the wall, so that the Princess' will not be late for a ball or date with a Prince.
Isabella had an old bobble that had two sets of crystals on it. I cut the crystals off, along with a section of the elastic band. Using cello tape, I attached one to the ceiling of the bottom floor and one to the upper. They actually looked like Elsa's ice lights.
To create the table on the lower floor, I cut a variety pack in half and draped a piece of glittery fabric over it. You could also cover it in tin foil.
In my scrap fabric box, I found some white fury material, that worked perfectly for a carpet on the upper floor.
Hopefully Isabella will enjoy playing with this castle for a long time.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The week of Chinese New Year

In the run up to Chinese New Year (Friday 31st January) I thought Bee should have the opportunity to learn all about this special occasion in the Chinese Calender. This year is the year of the horse.

Last week we paid a visit to the local library and looked at lots of Chinese New Year books. Isabella chose a book titled, Happy New Year! (Kung-hasi Fa-ts'ai!) by Demi. It gives an overview of the animals in the Chinese zodiac, traditions and activity ideas for parents/caregivers.


Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Ice Den

Do you have a nook or cupboard under the stairs? We do and it could become one of the most used spaces within the home. Throughout the year our cupboard under the stairs transforms into different themes. The theme for Winter this year is Ice... Brrrrrr. Mainly due to Isabella's new infatuation with the new movie Frozen.
Bee also enjoyed playing Santa in here and transported other toys into the area such as hand puppets and other small world animals.
The area was a success and when Bee's friends came around on a play date, they would end up in there reading stories or playing independently.


The entrance to the Ice Den

To create a cold feeling, I attached silver beads, icicles and various other Christmas ornaments to the coat rail. It created a bit of a dramatic feel, as you walked underneath them, whilst they gently brushed along your head.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Counting kitties

My daughter, Bee is showing an interest in a new kitty book that we bought her. it has small kittens that can be used in role play. I decided to use these as a tool to help her in recognizing and counting the numbers 1 to 10. I know she likes role play and small world, so this is a good way to use them to aid another area in development. This activity could easily be adapted for your child, for example if they are interested in animals or cars, you could use them instead.