Sunday, 4 October 2015

Edible muddy worms

If you (or the kids) are in the mood for some (edible) messy play then you can't go far wrong with these muddy messy worms...

What do you need:

- cooked spaghetti (D coloured ours pink with some food gel colouring)
- edible "mud" (recipe below)
- water

Put the "worms" and "mud" in a large tray, add water to some squeezy bottles and step back away from the soon-to-be mess!

D especially loved squeezing the bottles of water into the mud whilst Iz stirred everything together to make totally gloopy sloopy soupy mess...

When I first set this up I was thinking more about how D would play with it, envisioning him digging the worms out of the mud, fine motor practice with tweezers, counting worms etc. What I hadn't banked on was that Iz just fully embraced the mud, quickly climbed into the tub, got mess everywhere and completely took over the whole activity!

The mud was surprisingly tasty too, and although I wouldn't encourage them to eat lots, it was perfectly safe for them to try. Even my husband commented on how nice it was! This is definitely one activity I would recommend running the bath for *before* you start - look how dirty Iz turned her water!

Cocoa cloud dough (aka "edible mud")

Mix 6 cups of flour and 2 cups of cocoa together in a large bowl. Then add 1 cup of vegetable oil and mix well. You can add more or less oil depending on the consistency you want. That's it - edible mud which you can either play with like cloud dough (it will hold together if moulded) or you can add extra water to make sloppy mud (like we did above).


Thursday, 1 October 2015

Cooking with two: broccoli pasta bake

Really easy pasta bake recipe to make - you can see the original recipe here on A Mummy Too's blog - I just reduced it massively as didn't want us to be eating the same thing for 7 days in a row!!

60g cream cheese
75ml milk
40ml double cream
65g grated cheddar
90g cooked pasta shapes (don't overlook as they're going to go in the oven again!)
50g (ish) broccoli florets
Breadcrumbs as garnish

Tip - easy way to make breadcrumbs: toast a slice of bread, then (whilst over a chopping board) scrape up and down the surface with a regular knife. Turn over and repeat the other side. Then pop it back in the toaster and repeat the process. Hey presto loads of fine breadcrumbs on your chopping board :)

1. Mix the cream cheese, milk and double cream in a bowl (D smooshed the cream cheese with a wooden spoon first to make it easier to mix with the liquids)
2. Add the grated cheese and pasta and mix well
3. Roughly cut the "flowery" bits of the uncooked broccoli and mix with everything else
4. Pour into a greased ovenproof dish and sprinkle with the breadcrumbs (plus any leftover grated cheese - we didn't have any as Iz diligently kept adding all the cheese she found to the mixing bowl!)
5. Cook at 180 degrees for 15 minutes... And enjoy :)


Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Frozen treasures

If you're looking for something easy to set up (but you do need to plan at least 24 hours in advance) that will occupy your toddler for an hour plus then keep reading...

Digging items out of ice - is there anything more exciting to a toddler than liberating "treasures"?! I usually pick either small cheap objects that are "new treasures" (first activity below) or recycle old things he hasn't seen (or been allowed to play with!) before (second activity). You can get as simple or as fancy as you like - lob  everything in a big Tupperware with water and freeze it in one solid block, or freeze in individual mini portions. The choice is yours :) you could even used coloured water to make the ice.

Frozen treasure block

This was the first big block we tried. D was 2 and a half. When the ice was rock solid he wasn't sure about it but as soon as it started melting a bit and he liberated his first "treasure" he was hooked!

I froze the ice block in layers so that the objects were evenly scattered throughout. Retrospectively I think he might've enjoyed it more if the block had been less high, making it easier for him to get to the buried objects. If you have a group of kids doing it then a bigger block will be better - one of D's friends was here but wasn't really interested in playing with it so it ended up being a lot of ice for one little person! His excitement levels definitely rose as the ice melted and this was the first time we talked about water melting ice and using salt to help melt ice faster.

Frozen lego

We did this one recently (D is 34 months) and it's very interesting what a difference a few months make! This time I froze a few lego men and some 5p pieces in their own domed ice cube (using one of Iz's weaning pots).  I only half filled each well first and then put in the items and let it freeze before filling up the rest of the hole. This meant the objects were not all at the bottom (they float) when I flipped the cubes over, but halfway up. Once they were frozen I put them into a large baking tray, added a little bit of water and froze once more.

The set-up:
- frozen tray
- small dish with salt
- spoon, fork, knife (I used baby ones so they weren't too sharp and/or big)
- squeezy bottle with warm water (coloured pink)
- squeezy bottle with cold water (coloured blue)

As soon as D saw the lego men he was hooked. Interestingly he only targeted one ice mound at a time and carefully worked on it until that man or 5p was free. Then onto the next one. I reminded him how the salt would help melt the ice and so he put little piles on the top and then watched as the ice started to crack. I love hearing how his language and understanding is progressing, saying things like "listen mummy, it's cracking like an egg" and "look at that new hole".

It was also a great way to introduce hot and cold. I used pink and blue food colouring to emphasise which bottle was which but D could already easily identify just by feeling. When he'd used all the original water I re-filled the bottles from the icey water in the tray and he quickly realised how much colder the ice made the water.

And for me? I felt like we were freeing Han Solo trapped in the ice - a young Harrison Ford needing my help? I'm down with that ;)

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Pom pom pictures

We did a super simple activity this weekend but both kids enjoyed it (and it brightened up our rather boring windows!).

All you need is:
- sticky back plastic
- a black felt tip (I used a sharpie)
- some pom poms

First I cut the sticky back plastic to just smaller than the window pane. Next I drew a butterfly and snake on the paper side. Once happy with size etc I then traced it through on the see through side.

Then I stuck each piece to a window pane with sellotape, put some pom poms in a bowl and invited the kids to unwrap the "magic paper".

D was much more methodical than I imagined he'd be and carefully placed a pom pom in each diamond on the snake's back. Iz was a bit more haphazard (but no less careful!). They both loved sticking their hands to the pictures and feeling the stickiness.

They had fun taking the pom poms on and off and rearranged the butterfly several times. Each time a pom pom came off it left a little bit of coloured fur on the sticky paper, which made it even more colourful. I love how much they brightened up our boring back wall!

Thirsty work, sticking on pom poms...

After the kids had finished playing with them (had to wait til the next day as they kept going back to them during the afternoon to do more rearranging!) I took off the remaining pom poms and put a piece of white paper on the back and cut out the animals. Now we have 2 beautiful colourful pictures :)


I've seen various ideas on this theme including tissue paper and a really cute one using leaves and grasses foraged on a nature walk (can't remember the blog but will link it up if I find it). I'd love to do one with different coloured petals - maybe next year when our garden's been in full bloom :)

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Blacklight fun for toddlers

I recently posted about blacklight stuff you can do with babies that insist on eating everything (Iz...) but let's be honest, there are way more fun things you can do once they've moved past this stage and you don't have to worry about stuff being edible. Here are some recent things we've done with D:


These turned out even cooler than I thought. I just put some dehydrated waterbeads in some thiamine water and left them for 24 hours. Because they absorb all the water as they grow these looked awesome under the blacklight!


D scooped them, filled cupcake cases, squished them. Don't they look cool?!

And then he mixed them with shaving foam for a completely different sensation - they even made the foam glow!

Then after playing we just stored them in a Tupperware on a little bit of water and they were ready for instant play over and over again :)

Note: even without the blacklight the beads will appear the colour they are when dehydrated (or a yellow colour if clear beforehand) so you can equally play with them in regular light too


We used this amazing recipe from Fun At Home With Kids to make our own playdough - less than 5 minutes and in a microwave. Amazing! I had to fiddle the ingredients a bit as they were all in American measures but this is what I did and it worked great:
150g flour
100g salt
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
240ml water
1 tablespoon oil

(we obviously used thiamine water as we wanted it to glow under the blacklight, but equally if you just want coloured playdough just put a few drops of food colouring in the water before adding it).

For the full directions click here (definitely recommend it - so super easy and they are likely all ingredients you already have in the cupboard at home).

Then we just used it like regular playdough - but with glows! Awesome :)

How cool is that glow?!

Foamy soap bubbles

We did this a while ago but I just haven't managed to write about it until now. Firstly I made some glowing bubble mix (just mix bubble mix with neon paints) in a range of colours. Then blow like crazy with a straw. Cue massive mountains of brightly coloured bubbles that just explode over the top of the cups! 

The plan was to make bubble print pictures but to be honest he just got a bit over excited by the appearance of the bubbles and so just wanted to play in them! He did eventually lay down some watercolour paper and made bubble prints - not quite what I'd initially envisaged (a little more smeary!) but lovely nonetheless (and even more so as they were completely D's).

Then the colourful foam was just too tempting so it became a glowing bubble-free-for-all and soon became a foamy smooshy bubbly mess :)

Quick aside - I think I've mentioned this before but if you want to do activities that involve straw blowing and not sucking (sometimes difficult for toddlers to master and a mouthful of bubblemix is not that tasty...) then make a little hole in the shaft of the straw. Just doing that makes it pretty much impossible to suck anything up the straw, even if they try! 

Bubble art

And finally blacklight bubble art which I've blogged about before (see here).


Still not tempted to buy a blacklight? We've got even more activities planned so, if not already, hopefully you will be soon!