Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Blackberry Picking and Quick Edible Art

The hedgerows near where we live have been laden with blackberries over the last few weeks, so not one for missing out of a bit of free food, we thought we'd have a morning out foraging. 

So we set out on our journey to find some blackberry bushes, Little Chick on her balance bike and Shoeshine taking everything in from the comfort of her buggy.

We took in the panoramic view of the city on our way.

Then we found some bushes with some juicy looking fruit and got down to work.

Little chick busied herself finding good spots to pick from.  She absolutely loved having her own pot fill and it was a great activity, lots of visual skills looking and searching and lots of motor skills having to mind all the brambles whilst trying to pick fruit and not squash it.

 I was amazed at how good she was at choosing ripe fruit and not managing to get spiked by the brambles.

One for the pot, one for the mouth!

Once we collected a couple of pots, there was just time for a quick snack.  (Unfortunately I didn't manage to get a picture of Shoeshine after she'd finished tucking into hers, suffice to say she really enjoyed herself).

Then it was time to put the lids on and head home for tea.

Once home, we did a very quick bit of art with our blackberries.  And here's to show that doing art doesn't have to take very long or take ages to clear up.  We mixed blackberries with plain yoghurt in a large flat bottomed bowl and got busy mixing, squidging, swirling and squashing, making lots of patterns and watching the two colours mix together.

Then clearing up was simply a matter of dishing it out to everyone and eating it all up.  Art that tastes good too!

Next time it would be good to have a go at painting with our mixture, maybe with brushes or maybe doing hand printing then licking them all clean!  It would also make a great mix for a small sensory tub, maybe adding in some redcurrants, raspberries and ice cubes, for lots of berry messiness - Shoeshine would love this!

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Hot Air Balloons

It's been the annual balloon fiesta here recently, so with mass assents at 6am and 6pm everyday for four days there have been some spectacular views across the city's skyline.  One lift off had over 80 balloons, just amazing for capturing the imagination of a three year old watching it all.  (Also particularly good  if you have an early riser - there isn't usually much entertainment on at that time of the morning!)  Unfortunately we're not early risers in our houseand we didn't make it to the launches this year, but we enjoyed lesuirely views from our back garden and bedroom windows.

We've also been reading ballooning stories to link in with the fiesta.

This is a fantastic book from a series by barefoot books, with sing-along cd.  Little chick and shoe shine love it.  The pictures are really beautiful and the music really well done.  Given we had to have it on in the car most of the way for about 300 miles at the weekend and I'm not completely sick of it, I feel it definitely stands up well to the repeatabililty test.  Little chick now knows all the words of the chorus and a few bits of the verses.

We have the farmyard tales complete set and this is a nice story about a hot air balloon landing in the cow field at Apple Tree Farm.

This was one I got off the internet in my search for balloon related stories.  To be honest I didn't think much of the story but the pictures are lovely and we used this one for our painting.

Not actually about hot air balloons, but balloons none the less and an absolute classic.

We also did some painting balloons.  Little chick chose a picture she wanted to paint, then busied herself getting all the right colours out, whilst I drew a very rough outline of the balloon and basket on blue paper.

Little chick got busy with her paintbrush.

And here's the first finished picture. 

When she'd finished she looked at her picture and complained that there were too many 'holes' in the balloon, so I suggested she paint another picture. 

She was very pleased with her finished picture.  She said it was much better without the holes.

Hot air balloons are so beautiful, colourful and magical floating along there must be no end of pictures and stories to do.  I also really wanted to do paper mache balloons, but just didn't get the time to do it, maybe next time. 

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Angel Delight Painting & Birthday Party

So with our very hungry caterpillar themed party, I really wanted a simple activity that both one year olds and three year olds could do.  So we went for butterfly edible painting, using angel delight.  Safe for babies in case they eat it and hopefully still fun for the older ones.  Thanks Anna for another great idea Homemade edible finger paint.

I mixed up the angel delight as per the packet we used vanilla and strawberry flavour and I added a little food colouring as I was worried the paint would be too pale once painted.  Although in retrospect I'm not sure it needed extra colour in it, particularly given that Shoeshine and her little friend much preferred eating it to painting with the mixture.  Am thinking next time I should use a cornflour based edible paint, a little less tasty might be a good thing!  I also drew out some butterfly shapes on A3 pieces of paper.

Little chick getting stuck into painting straight away and Shoeshine a little tentative.

Shoeshine starting to explore...

Shoeshine deciding this paint is definitely for eating!

 The beautiful butterflies.

This was a fairly simple quick activity, my girls had fun and I hope their little friends enjoyed it too. 

Then there was just time for a bit of hungry caterpillar picnic.

"On Friday he ate through 5 oranges, but he was still hungry."

"On Saturday he ate through one piece of chocolate cake, one ice-cream cone, one pickle, one slice of Swiss cheese, one slice of salami, one lollipop, one piece of cherry pie, one sausage, one cupcake, and one slice of watermelon."

Finally what better way to round off your first birthday party than with a rendition of happy birthday by your little friends and your big sis there to help you blow out those birthday cake candles.

Happy 1st Birthday Shoeshine!

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Preparations for a birthday celebration part 2: The hungry caterpillar birthday cake

Next we got busy making a birthday cake for Shoeshine.  Inspired by Coca Cake Cupcake's hungry caterpillar cupcake party train cake we set about doing our own version.  I'm not a great fan of sponge cupcakes, so I decided we would do a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.  I used the recipe for the cake and icing from the hummingbird bakery cookbook (although I did reduce the sugar and oil in the cake as I find their recipes are quite sweet and rich normally).

So we got busy mixing and then spooning into cupcake cases, Little Chick absolutely loved doing this and I was really impressed with how accurate she was, I think her tray was neater than mine! 

After 20 minutes in the oven the cakes were all ready.  I used standard fairy cake paper cases for the cakes that were going to make the caterpillar's body and then yorkshire pudding tins for the cakes that were going to be the caterpillar's head.  I made two heads just in case one didn't turn out right.

Then I did the icing.  This is where I had lots of fun, I did it when the girls were in bed as it was my first attempt at piping icing and I wanted to have a go in a bit of peace and quiet and I was really pleased with the results.  Now I know a bit more what I'm doing I will definitely need to give Little Chick a go with the piping bag and nozzles she would have a lot of fun!  These are the cakes for the body of the caterpillar. 

And here is the caterpillar's head.  This was rolled out pre-coloured fondant icing stuck down with a little bit of jam.

For the antenna I used lollipop sticks wrapped in rolled fondant icing and for the feet I just cut out the shapes in the icing.

And here it is all put together.

All set for a party!

Preparations for a birthday celebration - homemade style

It's Shoeshine's first birthday so what better reason to have a party and celebrate.  It seems to me as a grown up there's almost as much fun in the planning and preparation as in enjoying the actual thing, so with that in mind Little Chick and I have been busy making and creating a homemade birthday party all about the hungry caterpillar and I have to say we've both had a lot of fun doing it.

First we painted some pictures to decorate the walls.  I've found doing painting together actually works really well, Little Chick really enjoys when I paint with her and she enjoys doing her own picture alongside.  Here are our butterfly pictures in progress.

We also did some tissue paper based Eric Carle inspired pictures, an idea from Anna at The Imagination Tree.  This is a fantastic idea with never ending possibilities of what you can do with it.  This slideshow from the Eric Carle website shows you how he creates his pictures.  His technique is basically painting tissue paper with lots of different colours using different textured materials and then creating the most beautiful collages with all the bits.  So for ours we used a brush, a feather, a sponge, some lattice packaging and fingers to paint our tissue paper.

Painting with a brush.

Painting with a feather.

Painting with sponge.

Painting with a finger and brush.

 Painting with lattice packaging

Once they were all dried we moved onto cutting, glueing and sticking bits to make our big fat caterpillar collage.  This was a co-operative art project, so although Little Chick did lots of cutting we're saving her bits for a future project and I did most of the shapes we actually used for the picture and then we worked together on placing and glueing down all the bits.

I also had fun with my own art project, doing the butterfly.

Some of our finished pictures on display.

The two on either side are caterpillars and the middle two are butterflies.  I love the way on the left hand pictures she's put lots of feet on the caterpillar.

I also painted some invitations whilst Little Chick was busy with her butterfly and caterpillar paintings.

Whilst Shoeshine was having her nap we wrapped up presents together. 

It was lovely seeing Little Chick starting to get really excited about her little sister's birthday.  As Shoeshine is somewhat oblivious to the event it is nice that her big sis is getting ready to party!
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