Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Toddler cooking (3)



It's been a while since our last cooking post, a combination of finishing work pre-maternity leave, family illness and a new found obsession with messy play means I've been a bit distracted. But anyway here it is... 

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Pizza krispie slices

I first saw this recipe on Nurturestore's blog where they made snowmen krispies. I thought Doof would enjoy making various different animal shapes instead, especially as he is really into making animal noises at the moment. However keep reading for why it mutated into a pizza...

Toddler age: 20 months

Ingredients: rice krispies, mini marshmallows, unsalted butter, icing/sprinkles to decorate

Equipment: mixing spoon, plastic bowl, saucepan, cake tin (we used a round one), baking paper, sharp knife

Recipe:
1. Weigh out 120g rice krispies and set aside
2. Melt 25g butter in a saucepan and mix in 150g mini marshmallows
3. Take off the heat as soon as the marshmallows have melted and pour into a plastic mixing bowl
4. Immediately pour in about ¾ of the total rice krispies and mix until they are all coated with marshmallow mix. Slowly add more rice krispies as needed
5. Spread mixture into a cake tin lined with baking paper and put in the fridge to set (we left it for an hour)
6. Remove from fridge and decorate with icing/sprinkles
7. Peel off baking paper and use a knife to cut into ‘pizza slices’

We kept the slices in an airtight container and they were still nice and chewy 2 days later.

  
What did Doof enjoy doing?
- pouring the rice krispies into the weighing scales and then transferring them between bowls
- patting down the mixture into the cake tin
- carrying the tin to the fridge and finding a shelf to put it on (love how he enjoys doing the most simple things!)
- decorating! It was the first time he had used the icing tubes and once he got the hang of squeezing them he went to town with all the different colours. And may have also worked out he could squeeze them and then suck the end…. hmmm…

What was Doof not interested in or unable to do?
- I did not let Doof be involved in the melting of the butter or the marshmallows (I think he’s still way too young to be allowed to cook near the lit hob) and neither did I let him cut up the krispie ‘pizza’ as it was quite difficult to cut and so I had to use a very sharp knife
- he tried to mix the krispies into the marshmallow goo and gave it a good try but it was actually quite tricky to do so I had to take over in the end (and even I struggled to mix them properly!)

This was actually much more tricky to make than I thought it was going to be – the melted marshmallow goo was very sticky and so nearly impossible to properly mix the krispies into. It also set much harder than I thought it would and so the original idea of making animal shapes (using cookie cutters) from a giant krispie square had to be abandoned in favour of a pizza. Next time I will make it with a bit more butter and add in some golden syrup to try and make the marshmallow mixture a bit more manageable. I’ll also spread it much thinner in the pan (I’d spread the amount of mixture we made across 2 pans rather than just one so it is about 1-1.5cm deep) so it is easier to cut after it has set.

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Croissants

So this is a bit of a cheat recipe but we're staying with grandparents at the moment and so have minimal time/space/equipment to make anything properly. But I still want Doof to have fun in the kitchen as he really enjoys cooking. So we made* croissants yesterday morning. 

* in reality this means we opened one of the fresh cans of dough, unrolled the dough, tore the sheets apart and rolled them up into croissant... So, clearly not a proper recipe, but ticked all the boxes of being easy, simple, something fun for Doof to do and with the added bonus of freshly cooked croissant for everyone's breakfast :)

Toddler age: 21 months

Ingredients: ready roll croissants (we used Jus Rol ones)

Equipment: baking tray (told you it was simple!)

Recipe:
1. Open can and unroll pastry
2. Tear along perforations to separate each individual croissant
3. Roll each 'triangle' into a croissant shape and place on baking tray
4. Place in oven and cook according to instructions
5. Enjoy fresh hot croissants :)
 


What did Doof enjoy doing?
- tearing along the perforations to separate the croissants
- rolling the individual ones up 
- arranging them on the baking tray
(he also enjoying squishing them out of shape and stretching them but we'll gloss over that... Lol)

What was Doof not interested in or unable to do?
- I had to open the can and take out the initial lump of dough
- he also needed some encouragement to stop playing with the dough when it was time to cool them!

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You can see our previous cooking posts here and here and I'd love to hear about any cooking you do with your toddler :)



Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Creative play (4) – travel version!


Over the last few weeks we have spent a lot of time at Doof’s grandparents’ house as his granny was very sick. Travelling up and down in the car with a travel cot, buggy, clothes for all of us, hospital bag in case I went into labour…. You can imagine there was not much room for toys! So we tried to think of some easy and slightly different games Doof could play which were still fun and/or messy but with minimal equipment/set-up etc needed

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Here are the top two he enjoyed the most:


1. Daddy-O

I have to give full credit to my OH for this game – he even devised it while letting me have a lie-in :) #winwin

What we used
- a kitchen roll holder (handmade by me aged 10!)
- collection of napkin rings (would definitely advise against using any of the family silver ones… ours were made of plasticy/woven material so they couldn’t break or hurt anyone if D ate them/threw them etc)

You can probably guess what to do. Drop the napkin rings onto the pole and take them off. And drop them again and take them off. Repeat infinite times (if you are a toddler!).
 

 
Add in a wine-cooler and the game can carry on for even longer!


The joy of this was the simplicity – everything needed was from his grandparents’ house – but yet it still occupied Doofy for about 20 minutes the first time he tried it. And then he kept going back to it over the next few days, ignoring all his more brightly coloured/flashing/noisy toys!


2. Travel messy play

I love doing messy play with Doof and so even though we were going to be away from home I wanted to be able to do something with him. The main criteria I had was it had to be light and easy to transport (so no rainbow rice), needing minimal equipment and a simple set-up (so no multi-coloured oobleck).

What we came up fitted the bill perfectly. Everything needed fitted inside the tub for easy transport, set-up was less than 5 minutes and even better it all doubled up as a snack!

  
What we used
- packet of angel delight
- rice krispies
- assorted plastic animals
- tupperware box with lid

I made up the angel delight as per instructions (haven’t made it for yeeeears but it is super simple and was ready to use in 5 minutes) and then half-filled the tupperware with angel delight (the sea) and half with rice krispies (the island). I then set it on the floor and put the plastic animals beside it. Then it was time for Doof to explore…
 

  
The first thing he did was put the boat into the ‘sea’ so he obviously understood what I had been trying to achieve! Then he methodically put the animals in one by one, watching as they all got pink gunk on their feet and then their bodies as he slowly submerged them.

   
He has eaten rice krispies before so quickly started sampling them and then tasted small bits of angel delight. We did this play quite soon after his tea so I knew he wasn’t super hungry and so therefore unlikely to eat vast quantities (and so not sleep later on!).
 

  
He played with this sensory tub for about 15 minutes which is pretty good for his attention span and enjoyed getting his hands messy. I then put the whole tub in the fridge ready for use again the next day (I probably wouldn’t use it much beyond that).


Even though I thought this was pretty quick and easy to make up, to make it even simpler next time I might use yoghurt (e.g. a big tub of plain fromage frais) instead of angel delight.

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Have you done any creative or messy play while away from home or on holiday? We're going to the States for a couple of weeks in a few months time so would love to hear other ideas/suggestions :)

Monday, 21 July 2014

Clock update

So how did we get on during the first week after implementing the clock (link)…?

Thursday (morning 1) - change set for 5.35am
4.40 awake, teething. Gave gel and drink. Settled back to sleep but remained a bit unsettled. 
5.15 awake and wanting to get up. Doing milk sign and all done sign. Did keep looking at rabbit (still sleeping). Put a book and toy in cot with him.
5.25 I sat in chair away from bed and he suddenly lay down (on top of all the toys and books! Oops) and went to sleep!
5.31 D started playing with wooden Noah's ark but didn't make a fuss to get up and stayed lying down
5.37 rabbit has changed but he's still lying down and hasn't noticed!

Friday (morning 2)
 Rabbit ‘woke up’ at 5.35. Doof called to get up at 5.37. Enough said :)

Saturday (morning 3) - now at grandparents house so new environment and in travel cot... Change set for 5.45am
4.50 D wakes up, signs that he wants to get out of bed. Show him rabbit sleeping and say too early
4.50-4.55 lots of fussing
4.55-5.05 hurrah quiet lying/sleeping
5.05-5.15 more fussing, signing he's hungry, signing for milk
5.15-5.25 hurrah quiet lying/sleeping
5.25 now he's very cross and crying even though I'm in the room with him. Put a book in bed with him and show him rabbit still sleeping
5.35-5.43 hurrah quiet lying/sleeping/book pages turning
5.43 bah he wakes up and rabbit still has 2 minutes of sleeping left... Manage to distract him with kisses through cot bars and then YAY the rabbit is awake and we can all get up!!!

This morning was really difficult. He kept looking over at the rabbit, understood rabbit was sleeping as he would say "sshhhhh" but he still wanted to get up. To be fair to him we were in a completely different environment. Anyway if we could cope with nearly an hour then hopefully can't get much worse than that...

Sunday (morning 4)
Pretty unsettled from 1.30 on and off. Awake at 5.15. Intermittently settled for few mins between 5.15-5.20. Cross between 5.20-5.35. Then at 5.35 fell asleep to 6.22!!!!! YAY!

Monday (morning 5)
Woke up at 3.50 for a drink. Then back to sleep until 5.55. Rabbit already awake - woohoo!

Tuesday (morning 6) - change set for 6am
Woke once in the night for a drink and then awake at 6.10

Wednesday (morning 7)
Woke once in the night for a drink and then awake at 6.15


Summary:

Whenever D wakes up now he looks at the clock to see what the rabbit is doing - and either says "sshhhhh" if the rabbit is sleeping or makes his noise for a rabbit if its awake. I think the clock has definitely helped (a) him understand when it's time to get up and (b) us to have an end-goal in site when he wakes up early. It also acts as a good wind-down tool when he's going to bed. 

Verdict:

So far we highly recommend it!!



PS this is completely unsponsored etc etc, we just bought the clock in a desperate bid to get some extra sleep :)

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Oooooooobleck



If you've read any of my other posts you might've realised I love everything rainbow - rainbow birthday cake, rainbow smash cake, rainbow rice - so it was a no brainer what type of oobleck I was going to make for Doofy's first gloop experience...

Rainbow oobleck!!


I first saw oobleck on this blog and now we have a blacklight I can't wait to try making it, but I thought I'd start more simple. And if you haven't heard of oobleck (aka gloop) before then simply it is cornflour and water which when mixed together becomes “non-Newtonian” so you can pour it like a liquid but if you apply any pressure then it becomes a solid!

Recipe:
Box of corn flour (500g)
Water
Food gel pastes

I emptied most of the cornflour into a large plastic bowl and mixed in 2 glasses of water. Some very rapid stirring later and I had a bowl of white gunk that was liquid-y when left alone but solid when stirred with a spoon - magic!

I then divided the mix into 5 plastic cups and added a different colour to each. It took a bit of practice to manage to mix all the colour in as the bottom fifth was quite hard to stir but the end result was good. You could use paint instead of food colouring but I wanted it to be edible just in case D decided to do a taste test...


A few of the cups needed a little bit more water added to get the right consistency - I added half a teaspoon at a time as small amounts can make a big difference. You want the gloop to run through your fingers like liquid but to form a solid lump if you squeeze it - the least messy way to test this is to gently stir the mix (should be liquid) and then hit the surface quickly (should be solid).


After this it was time to set up the sensory bin for D. To start with he looked at the colours and gingerly poked at the surface before putting his hand in.


Next he dipped his dinosaur in and out of the gloop and watched as the liquid dripped down. After that it was a bit of a free-for-all with his plastic boats, baby cups and balls all getting thrown in...


He wasn't into getting totally messy but found it very funny when Daddy had his hands covered in multicoloured gloop :) and was fascinated watching the solid balls that Daddy rolled turning into liquid in his hands.



All-in-all a very successful first oobleck experience :) the only thing left to do was clean the animals and mixing forks (in hot soapy water), throw away all the mixing cups (advantage of using disposable ones) and discard the oobleck (NOT down the sink - it will clog the u-bend!!) - if you wait a few hours it hardens by itself and you can then easily scrape it into the bin.


Happy ooblecking!

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Sleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep (or lack thereof)

Sometimes I wonder if I will ever stop writing about sleep. To be fair I haven't blogged about it for a while, but don't be fooled - that does not mean it has all been perfect here!

Some background

For a while it was actually not bad - looking back with the retrospect-o-scope it was pretty amazing! - Doof would go to sleep at bedtime straight away without any fuss, settling himself, no dramas. He would wake once or twice in the night (normally around 11pm and 2am) for a drink of water but would then resettle straight away and sleep til around 6-6.30am.

More recently

About a month ago D started to get separation anxiety at bedtime and cried if we left his room before he was asleep. As long as we sit in his room and he knows we are there he will go to sleep by himself (so we don't have to stroke him or touch him etc) he just wants to know that we are there. And at the same time he started waking earlier and earlier and now is awake and shouting/crying to get out of bed by 5.15/5.30 in the morning. Completely wide awake.

We have tried:
- leaving him to cry
- giving him a drink
- trying to resettle him
- sleeping in the room with him
- putting toys/books in his cot
But none of it has worked. He is 100% determined he wants to get up and wants to get up NOW.


Now

So Doofling is due in a few weeks and the last month of 5am starts are taking their toll. I am tired and even worse, Doof has started to be so exhausted by 6pm that he has periods of being inconsolable after getting back from nursery. He is such a happy boy usually this is really sad to see and I am sure it is due to his stupidly early starts and generally being knackered. So what to do?

Today Doof's daddy went out and bought this:



Basically it is a clock which you program to be "asleep" at certain times and "awake" at others (it does do other stuff but we are keeping it simple to start with!). The large screen has a rabbit which is lit up to be either sleeping in bed or awake and running through a field. Although this clock is not the cheapest one around (sadly about twice the price :( of a groclock) I chose this one as Doof is still pretty young to "get" the concept of a clock telling him to stay in bed, but he does understand about people sleeping if their eyes are closed (he will point out pictures in books and say ssshhhhh and make a fake snoring noise!). So I'm hoping this one might work better than one which just changes colour as we can show him that the rabbit is still sleeping when it is too early to get up.

So tonight is night one...

The clock is set for 6am (I know this is still early but that would be a veritable lie-in for us!).

It is on display in his room where he can see it if he stands up in his cot.

I did quite a bit of prep work before bed tonight - showing him the rabbit was sleeping and saying that it was time for him to be sleeping as rabbit was sleeping etc.

So we shall see...

BUT (and here I need your help) - I am very aware that this will be a long process and am under NO illusions at all that Doof will wake up tomorrow and instantly resettle himself when he sees the rabbit still sleeping. But what do you all think, when he wakes up at 5.515 tomorrow and wants to get out of his cot should we:
a) be firm that it is time for sleeping still until 6am and even if he cries for 45 minnutes keep telling him it is time for sleeping (boo, don't like this option much)
b) put some toys/books in his cot and let him play but insist he stays in his cot and doesn't get "up" and out of bed until the rabbit is awake (I prefer this one - but not sure if it will be more or less effective than (a) in the long run)

So I need to decide plan of action by 5am so pleeeeease comment below and say what you think. Or offer any other useful tips/tricks/anything that might possibly help!

Thank you!!!

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Neon paints + blacklight = best fun ever :)

So I haven't actually blogged about our thiamine/blacklight bath yet but I will do as soon as I find the time...

In the meantime check out how much fun we had with neon paints and our blacklight torch :)







I wrote a guest blog post about it on Childrenarewelcome - you can read it here and enter a competition to win neon paints and a blacklight for yourself (or your toddler!) :)

Monday, 7 July 2014

Creative play (3)


So the weather is getting warmer and we've been able to be outside a lot more recently. Here are two activities we've done which I'd definitely recommend doing outside - unless you're extremely brave (or foolish! Lol)

1. Box painting

So simple and yet so fun. All you really need is a large box so wait until your next delivery from amazon/kiddicare/whoever suckers you into doing online shopping and then away you go...

What we used
- large cardboard box (the larger the better!)
- paints
- cut up sponge
- chunky crayons

The first time we tried this I think D was a bit overwhelmed by the amount of freedom (aka mess!) he was being allowed... On a sunny day I dragged the biggest box we had into the garden, squirted some paints on a tupperware lid, cut up a sponge into several pieces and put Doof and the paint tray inside the box. So simple! 

To start with D did some dainty dabbing, then he progressed to being a bit smeary with his fingers and finally he got all out swipey with the sponges :)

He painted inside the box, then climbed out and painted the flaps, and lastly he flipped the box over and painted the bottom. At one point he decided paints were not enough and tipped all his crayons into the box too so he could also do some scribbling. 

This was really fun to do as Doof was completely in charge of what he did - he did a bit of painting, ran around the garden for 5 minutes, came back and got a bit more messy etc. And it was the easiest clean up ever - the box just got thrown away!



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2. Shaving foam sensory bin

This was a super simple version of all the bubbley/foamy sensory bins you see on Pinterest. It is literally fun in a can :)

What we used
- shaving foam (I used a "sensitive" one just to reduce any chance of a skin reaction as D is prone to eczema)
- food colouring
- assorted plastic animals/scoopers
- a tea towel

I sprayed about half a can of shaving foam into one of Doof’s sensory bins. Next to it I laid out some plastic scoops and a small plastic bowl with an assortment of animals. Then I released Doof.

The first thing he did was tip all his animals into the foam and then smoosh them all around til they were all covered in white. Even though D hasn’t really seen snow before I referred to it as snow (it just came naturally, I didn’t mean to!) and then he really enjoyed burying the animals, finding them and then burying them again. He made swirly patterns in the foam with his hands, clapped his foamy hands together and then even took a mouthful… Out of all the sensory things we have tried this is the first one which has not been edible – he has never tried to eat any of the others and I can’t believe he tried to eat this one!! Anyway after one mouthful he quickly learnt not to do that again! That is when I was very glad I had a tea towel to hand as after a quick wipe of his face/mouth he was good to carry on playing.

After a while I put a few drops of blue and pink food colouring at opposite ends of the foam and let Doof swirl it around so the colours mixed in. He got a bit cross at this point because I wouldn’t give him the whole bottle of food colouring so next time I will definitely pre-fill a plastic pipette with colouring so he can squirt that in and not get distracted by the bottle!

This was such a great simple play activity. It’s great for encouraging children to embrace messy play if they are not that keen as it is super quick and easy to set-up/clear-up and lets them get very messy very quickly! It is definitely one bin we will repeat a lot :)



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We've also tried a few other exciting sensory activities in the last few weeks - our rainbow rice I blogged about last week and here's a sneak preview of our first try at Oobleck...
 

Full blog post coming up next week :) 

And if you missed my previous creative play posts you can find them here and here.