Fun things to do

Bear Hunt

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Well, you may well know by now that I (Ruth) am an English teacher and am passionate about reading and especially getting children engaged in books and reading from a young age. You may also know that both Loretta and I have really rather active little mites who, although they both enjoy books, are often in need of activities that burn off a little more energy than reading, so I gave some thought to the matter and when we met up with the kids, we went on a bear hunt…

To read the rest of this post, head over to our newly launched website: www.more-than-a-mum.com

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Butterfly Cake recipe that children can make

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The BearCub is really into cooking lately and I’m not one to discourage culinary skills in a man!  We do a lot of ‘play’ cooking and he loves creating me weird and wonderful meals to pretend to eat.  However, when he really wants to get messy and do the real thing I send him to aunty!! My sister lets BearCub do everything I would never let him do: unload the dishwasher, play guitar (a real one), rearrange her cupboards and cook with ‘real’ food!!  I guess that is what favourite aunties are for! Well last time she let BearCub lose on her kitchen they made some actually really delicious cakes and when I asked her about it she told me she found the recipe designed for kids to really get involved and do most of it themselves – which of course BearCub loved.  So I thought I’d share it.  It’s great to find kid friendly recipes and always a bonus if the result is edible!!!

The recipe is from Cook UK and it really is a cake recipe that your kids can make with minimum supervision. They promise that, “Children will enjoy making the cake mixture and seeing it turn into small cakes within half an hour” and my sister says it’s true.  Furthermore the site has sections where it says which parts you need to do and which parts your child can do by themselves so they can really feel ownership of their creations:

INGREDIENTS
For the cakes
2 medium eggs
110g / 4oz self-raising flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
110g / 4oz butter (soft)
110g / 4oz sugar

Butter Icing
170g / 6oz icing sugar
85g / 3oz butter (soft)
3 drops of vanilla extract
1 tablespoon of milk

12 Cake Cases

COOKING METHOD

THE ADULT: This recipe is a lot easier if the butter is soft.

YOU – Pour all the ingredients for the cakes (not the Butter Icing ingredients) into a bowl and start off the mixing.

Preheat the oven to 170 C / 325 F / Gas Mark 3.

YOUR CHILD – Continue mixing until all the ingredients are well mixed together.

Use a spoon to fill each cake tin about half to two thirds full with cake mixture.

YOUR CHILD – Place the filled cake case on a baking tray. A flat tray is fine but if you have a bun tin with cake case holes, all the better (click picture on right to enlarge).

YOU – Place the baking tray in the pre-heated oven (170 C / 325 F / Gas Mark 3). Put it in the middle of the oven and cook for 30 minutes.

Do not open the oven door for at least 20 minutes. If you do, the cakes may well collapse. They are cooked when golden brown.

YOU – Use a sharp knife to slice off the top part of each cake. Click the picture on the right to get a better idea of the size of the slice.

Cut the sliced off cake into two, these will be used later to form the wings of the butterfly.

YOUR CHILD – Place all the ingredients for the butter icing in a large bowl and stir for about five minutes until all the ingredients are well combined.

YOUR CHILD – Place about a teaspoon full of the butter icing on top of each cake. Then push the “wings” into the butter icing.

More decorations can be placed on the cake depending on what is available.

Father Christmas

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Well, I don’t know about you, but I have one excited Munchkin this year.  Christmas is coming, and we are definitely aware that that’s a good thing!  Last year when asked what she wanted for Christmas, Munchkin (whose life was still measured in months, rather than years!) simply requested cake!  This year we wrote to Father Christmas and asked for face paints and a new, singing Charlie mouse (still a girl of simple tastes at 2 and 3/4!). She now understands that there are going to be presents.  She is also fascinated by the big F.C. Father Christmas.

Being 2, Munchkin also has “the whys” as I like to call that irritating habit of asking, “Why?” about everything, incessantly.  The problem is that as a pretty poor fibber, “the whys” coupled with the big F.C. really rather frightens me.  What if I can’t answer a question convincingly. What if I let the cat out of the bag about Santa Claus?

My mother was (and is) a very poor liar.  Whilst I see this as a good trait, it did mean that aged 3, I told her that Father Christmas couldn’t be real as we had two solid fuel fires and he’d get burnt if he came down the chimney.  Mum thought she was fast thinking enough and apparently told me that he came through the window. My disbelief continued and I informed her that he would not fit… and then said, “It’s you and Daddy, isn’t it Mummy?”.  Mum could not lie and said that I was right.

The conceit continued, however, and it was only two years ago when the Munchkin came along, that I stopped receiving a stocking. (By the time I was in late primary school I had started giving my parents a stocking too – cunningly forcing my parents to keep the tradition going!) I am fairly certain I was not negatively effected by the early wane of the Father Christmas story, but I don’t want to spoil the fun for my daughter.

So if you have a little one who is keen on Father Christmas, but asks a few too many questions, may I recommend the North American Aerospace Defense Command…. I know that sounds weird, but it’s a great system.  Every year, NORAD uses all its technology bring you live data about the progress of Father Christmas (or Santa as they call him) around the globe. There are games and even a section entitled “Is Santa Real”.  This year you can even track him in 3D on google earth through NORAD.  If his progress is there on the internet for all to see, he’s got to be real, right?

Have a very Merry Christmas from Loretta and Ruth at More than a Mum.  🙂

Country Kids

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Daddy took munchkin to Richmond park and these are his photos.

 

I know you all know this, but kids LOVE the outdoors and it is brilliant to get them running, jumping and exploring outside as often as possible. That is why I have joined us up to Country Kids again this week.  It is such a great reminder to us all that it is really important to get outside with the kids.

As it gets colder and darker it is easy to forget just how much our little ones get out of a good run around.  My plan is to try, even through winter, to get munchkin outdoors for at least an hour everyday.  I’ve bought her some waterproof dungarees and a jacket from the lovely @kidzoutdoors (unsponsored post, other retailers do exist!).  Now all I need to do it make sure I am wrapped up warm and dry enough to enjoy outdoor time too!

R

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Snap Slapper #2

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It’s that time of the week again (at last…) SNAP SLAPPERS!  This time I’ve chosen a photo taken a few weeks ago at Kew Gardens.  A lovely autumnal shot from those lovely warm autumn days we had in early October.  Then I’ve messed with the colours.

Autumn Tree

…and just so you know, this is what I started with:

Autumn view Kew

Five Go Blogging Snap Slappers

Toddler Friendly Museum: part 2

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You may well know that we here at More Than A Mum are based in London, however we are keen that this blog doesn’t become London-centric.  Today’s blog post therefore is based in York.

We went to York to visit friends and 4 hours after we left home, we knew that we’d need a good active diversion for Munchkin once we arrived, so we took her to the National Railway Museum.

We arrived at around 11am and headed to park the car (top weekend tip: park in the railway car park for £2.50 all day instead of the museum car park which cost £9).  The museum is free entry, so like the last ‘Toddler Friendly Museum’ post, you can spend as long or as short a time as you want there without feeling short-changed.

First, we headed to the Station Hall and wandered round the trains – well ran, full pelt with excitement for Munchkin!  Half way round the hall, we stumbled on an old goods carriage which had been turned into a venue for the Aesthetica Short Film Festival.  We sat and watch three lovely short films, beautifully artistic, thought-provoking and fun for all the family.

We then headed outside for a play in the play area and a ride on the miniature train (50p per ticket).  Munchkin loved both, despite it being a cold and damp day.

Next, we popped to the restaurant for lunch; a good choice, with 3 out of 4 adults opting for the warm pork, apple sauce and stuffing bun and one for the cream of curried butternut squash soup with a roll.  Munchkin had a kiddy’s picnic meal.  Reasonably priced and sized portions.

Finally we headed into the great hall and looked round the engines and exhibitions.  Munchkin’s favourites were the Japanese Bullet train (“that one  looks like a plane, mummy”) the interactive announcement and jigsaw exhibits (“the train now leaving the platform goes from my house to Grandma’s”) and the film about women and the railways. (I think the final one may have had more to do with the swing music than some budding feminism on Munchkin’s part!).

All in all, we’d highly recommend the National Railway

National Railway Museum York
View from the minature railway

Museum for all the family.

R

Playdough Recipe

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cooking playdough
Playdough ingredients

As the cold weather draws in we are all going to be looking for a few more indoor activities for the little ‘uns.  The best things provide a range of activities rolled into one to keep the kids engaged for a reasonable amount of time.  This is an old one, but a great one and both Munchkin and I love it – making playdough and having a playdough party.

Activity one: playdough making

Even young children can help with the mixing and kneading as both are done away from the heat.

Ingredients:

1 cup water (it doesn’t matter what size cup, just use the same one throughout)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil  

½ cup salt (This preserves it and makes it unpleasant for little ‘uns to munch on!)

Homemade playdough

1 teaspoon food colouring (You may need more if you want very vibrant colours)

A few drops almond essence (This is not essential, but mimics the scent of the bough playdough)

1 cup flour (Make sure it’s plain)

Put all the ingredients, other than the four, into a large saucepan and warm gently.

Remove from the heat and add the flour.

Stir in the flour, then remove from the pan and knead until smooth

Keep in an airtight container (we often use old take away containers)

Activity two: playdough playing

Once you have made the playdough, you can keep it for months (no exaggeration, if you’ve used cream of tartar) in an airtight container, but nothing beats that first game with the new, still slightly warm dough.  I actually find it quite relaxing, rolling, shaping and squishing the dough!

Munchkin and I usually have a playdough party the first time round. We get cake decorations, fairy cake cases and candles and make numerous cakes.  We usually then get out all the stuffed toys, a picnic blanket and the tea set and have a playdough party.

Making the dough is brilliant for their cooking skills (older children could help weigh and measure too) and the child’s enquiring mind will love watching the individual ingredients combine and create a new substance – chemistry in action!  Playing with playdough encourages imaginary play and also helps with fine motor skills.

Playdough cakes

All in all, then, making playdough is a great activity for a cold, rainy day.