Wednesday, 25 March 2015

'Q' week - back to school

Bit of a short post this time... Q... Bit of a weird letter. I got excited at the thought of making a Quilt (gluing fabric squares or paper together) but every time I asked William if he wanted to do it he just blatantly wasn't interested. That's the way it goes with toddlers I suppose. (On a similar vein, we got out a book from the library and had it two weeks with William not wanting to read it. I gave up last night and said I'm reading it anyway... It was rubbish. It's almost like he knew!)

So our main activity this week was to use those good old toilet roll tubes to make a Queen. She has a glittering gold paper crown, beautiful red dress painted by will, long red yarn for hair, a happy face drawn by Will and a letter Q proudly displayed on her front so everyone knows who she is. 

I think William was pretty pleased with her. He was desperate to show daddy when he got home, and grandma and grandad on Skype. 

So I'm afraid that's as far as we got. But here are a few other ideas you could try...

- Make a quilt. Use some fabric or paper scraps to cut out squares and arrange them in a checkerboard quilt pattern, glue them onto some paper. If you have a sewing machine, you could even sew them together and make the quilt for a doll or toy. 

- Quail. Make a collage picture, or if your really posh you could eat one.

-Quiet. Play around with instruments, or just with your voices and try making loud and quiet noises. (Or have quiet time with a cup of coffee.)

-Quantum physics? Ok..too far. I told you the letter Q was a bit pants! 

I'll be back next week with much better crafts that are more exciting! We've started already and so far made rocket picture. 😉

Thursday, 19 March 2015

'P' week - back to school

P week was made for William.... All I need to say is.. pirates.

William doesn't need an excuse to dress up like his favourite character Jake from the Neverland Pirates. His lovely Aunty Lindsay bought him this dress up outfit for Christmas and he's worn it atleast two or three times a week since then! I didn't realise how much joy kids get out of dressing up! I remember when I was little I used to love stomping around in my mums old 80s style stiletto heels... I have no idea why as I was a bit of a Tom boy as a kid. 

William and I worked together on a pirate map one morning. We drew some landmarks on the island using wax crayons then washed over it with watered down paint, a technique we tried last week for an Ocean picture. (I'm not sure why the cactus has spots?)

My hubby is the Head of Technology in a secondary school here in Dubai and is currently making a fab new display for his skateboard club. The kids in the club make their own skateboards, learning carpentry and resistant materials skills and then paint them with their own design. To help encourage the students and to show off their popular club, hubby is displaying some sample boards and has asked a range of people to help him paint them. The Headmaster of the senior school and vice principals included! 

Naturally, William wanted to get in on the action. Grab the paint and a sharpie!

I stupidly forgot to take a picture of the finished board and took it to school to be displayed. So I will get a picture of it up next time I go in. William really enjoyed doing it. 

P-P-Pick up a penguin!

One of our non fiction books from the library this week was about penguins. This one was a tad advanced for William but he still enjoyed looking at the pictures. We used the book as inspiration to make some toilet roll penguins. They are so easy! Paint them black, glue on a white tummy and black wings, beak and googly eyes and your done! 

Pasta painting

When I worked in a secondary school back in the UK, I shared a staff room with the art department and had an ongoing joke that using pasta in art was under rated! They would be proud of me now! (Not) 

William has done this activity before but he really enjoyed it so we had another go. He spent some time painting pasta tubes in nice bright colours. When they were dry I gave him some yarn to string them onto to make some sort of necklace. After approximately 5 minutes of his concentrating, I realised I had not secured the end of the yarn and the pasta was falling straight off the other end! Bless him. So I taped the end to the worktop while he did it (again). It's a great activity for little ones to practice fine motor skills and also to try creating repeating patterns with the different colours. They make fab gifts for people too, obviously people who will appreciate a "homemade" toddler gift. Both grandmas loved them! 

Pattern sequences

As you can see from the above pictures, William didn't bother making patterns with the coloured pasta for the necklace. But we did have a go at some other pattern making games. Here's a few ideas.

We bought these tiny chairs from a cheap shop here in Dubai (Daiso), the original hgsme is about stacking the chairs without letting them fall. However as they came in different colours, I encouraged William to use them to make patterns. We started with one yellow, one blue, etc. the. Tried to make it harder by adding another colour, or changing the sequence to one colour, two colours, etc. you can do this game with anything colourful, Pom poms, pieces of paper, vegetables at snack time. 

Well that's it for this week. I'll be back soon with out 'Q' crafts. I can't believe how quickly we are getting through the alphabet. By the time we finish, it will nearly be time for William to start school! Eek!

Friday, 13 March 2015

Sneaky hidden fruit and veg recipes for kids

I posted recently about my mission to get more fruit and vegetables into my son William. You can see my post here. As a baby he used to eat pretty much anything, but now he is 3 years old he seems to have changed his mind! So here are a few of the recipes I have tried so far, in a bid to hide some fruit and veg. I have included the link to the original recipe where I can, most were found via Pinterest. If you would like to follow me on Pinterest for more ideas, just click on the link in the side bar.

Mac and cheese with added broccoli and cauliflower

I followed the recipe in the link above and added one cup each of cauliflower and broccoli. I cooked the veg in the microwave in a little water, drained it then blitzed it in a blender so it turned into tiny pieces before adding it to the Mac and cheese. Really quick to make and is now going to be my go to recipe for me and William when hubby is out or we need a tasty lunch.

Fairly easy to make although I must say mine were no way as solid as the pictures in the recipe. Mine were a tad sloppy (as you can see in the picture, they crumbled a bit) and a little hard to handle. Saying that, William and I both thought they were yummy. Maybe next time I need to squease any water out of the broccoli once it's cooked. We ate ours with some tomato soup.

I had a marathon cooking session one day this week and made a crazy amount of these nuggets. Good thing is they freeze well. They are packed with veg, which you can choose depending on what's in your fridge at the time, and also features lentils and rice. It's almost a whole balanced meal just in nuggets! I have bagged these up in the freezer so I can grab a few when I need a quick meal or snack for William. (Sorry no picture, after cooking for about 4 hours I frankly couldn't be bothered and had given up the will to live). 

You can't really go too wrong with chocolate chip cookies. These are made with mashed banana and there are tons of recipes like it online. 

This has got to be my favourite. I mean... Look at all that chocolate! Ok, so it's not the healthiest cake but it does have a fair amount of mashed banana in it. We all need a treat every now and then! This went down well with friends too, we had it with Icecream for a desert. 

Again, there are lots of ways of adding fruit to pancakes. Just simply add your favourite to pancake mix. Maybe mashed bananas or fruit purees like apple, blueberry, strawberries etc. I've even seen some spinach ones recently!

William enjoyed making these with me. They are so easy it's ridiculous. If you don't fancy mango, switch it for another fruit you like! 

You can probably tell, we love our sweet treats. It's great to have a little something on hand when we have Williams friends round (and mine, to go with our coffee!). I have been busy "pinning" away on Pinterest for some more hidden fruit and veg recipes to try for William and will be trying some more savoury options too. 

If you have any tips, recipes or experiences, please leave a comment below! They may just keep me going!

'O' week - back to school

Welcome to the letter O. We have had a fab week doing our arts and crafts, so here they are. All totally easy, not much prep and can be done using basic craft materials you probably already have in your cupboard! 

Outrageous Orange Octopus

William really enjoyed making this octopus. It's so easy to set up! Most of the crafts we do are spur of the moment, grab the resources quickly kinda thing. I helped William by cutting out the shapes for him out of orange paper. I numbered the legs and asked him to glue them on in order. He is pretty good at recognising the first numbers but struggles as he gets to 7 or 8. We have done this kind of activity many times before, like with numbered spots on a lady bird, and it works well.


Each week we visit the library here in Dubai (Ductac, mall of the Emirates) and we try to pick a non fiction book along with our story books. This week we chose this ocean artyfacts book. William enjoyed hearing about different sea animals but I think most of it went over his head. Although he really liked making his own creations to match the pictures. The octopus above was one of them. 

The next activity we tried, that came from the book, was a wax resist painting of the ocean. I had a go first, talking to William about what animals you could find in the sea, checking the book for ideas. As we have been to a few aquariums here in Dubai, We were able to have a chat about what he remembered seeing there. He helped with a little colouring on my picture then had a go at his own. As you can see, I'm pretty sure there is no resemblance to any ocean creatures, perhaps sea plankton? 

After drawing with wax crayons, we washed over it with some watered down blue paint. It was fun and it actually really made the colours of the crayon pop. This was great fun and we will definitely have another go with a wax resist painting agin, perhaps with a different theme.

Cup cake owls

There is a special grandma (visiting soon) that loves owls! (Well I think the actual story is that she once showed interest in one owl decoration and ever since has been inundated with the things! So we like to join in just to wind her up!) these cupcake owls were another Pinterest find. They are so simple and easy to do on a wim. 

Simply flatten the cupcake case and colour the inside. Then fold and glue the edges in to meet in the middle, and the top down to create a head. Add some eyes and a beak and your all set! I drew William a branch on a piece of paper so that he could paint it. He is only three so not great at staying in the lines; I think I will try to get him to practice this more. William enjoyed them so much he kept asking to make more and more!

I also made my owl owl too! I'm getting addicted to making these crochet lovey blankets. Little handfuls of soft blanket for babies to cuddle! 

Well that's it! That's what we've been up to for letter O week. If you have any other ideas or have had a go yourself with your little ones, please get in touch!

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Does your child have lachanophobia???

Ok, so to say my child has lachanophobia (a fear/phobia of vegetables) is a bit extreme. Like most parents out there, I am trying my best to make sure my son has a balanced diet, but this has become a bit taxing in the last year as he seems to have decided he will not eat any vegetables or fruits. When he sees vegetables in his dinner he calls them "yukky bits". He will eat some fruits and veg, mainly dried fruits like apricots and raisins, bananas and sometimes potatoes but that's about it.

William is a brilliant eater in many ways, he eats a lot, sits at the dinner table for all meals and behaves well. His favourites are meats and pasta. Perhaps he should be living in Italy, he would get on alright there! 

An English breakfast goes down well too!

Until now!

Hubby and I are on a mission to get William to TRY new foods, mainly fruit and veg. Hubby used his photoshop skills to make William a reward chart. Styled as a pirates treasure map, as that's what he is into at the moment. There are ten stars, and each time William tries a new food, he gains a sticker which will eventually reward him with a prize. We recently bought some nice wooden toys online at a crazy reduced price so decided these could be his incentive. The chart is placed on the fridge so he can see it whenever he's in the kitchen.

As you can see, he has earns some stickers already! So far, he tried a bit of cooked red pepper (didn't like it, gagged slightly), sardines on toast (loved it, asked for more), cauliflower (in the form of a cheesy cauliflower bread), broccoli (hidden in macaroni cheese) and a sesame seed bar. Most of the things he tried he enjoyed, although some of the veg like the broccoli and cauliflower was kinda hidden. 

So far, William is not too keen to try things on their own, like a piece of fruit or veg, but if they are broken down small enough (I blended the cauliflower and broccoli into tiny chunks) and presented in a different way, he would try it. Soon I will post a list of the recipes I have used so far. 

It's a mixed result so far, but I have been a little lenient so that he has a chance to get some stickers to feel successful and get going with the idea. As I write this, we are waiting for our pumpkin oat muffins to cook. I'm not too worried if he genuinely doesn't like the taste of some of the foods, let's face it as adults we dislike things too. But I just want him to TRY them, to consider them before writing them off completely.

Have you had picky eaters? How do/did you cope with it? I'm trying a mixture of encouraging to try foods in their raw form and trying them mixed and hidden in more appealing ways. If you have any tips or experiences I would be really interested to hear them!

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

'N' week - back to school

Here is our round up for activities based on the letter N. Do you have any to share?

N for numbers

There are tons and tons of games, activities and crafts online based on Numbers. So here are just a couple that we tried. 

Feeding the animals.. William really enjoyed this game and he asked to play it quite a few times over  a few days. The numbered animals were a present from a friend and are made out of foam for use in the bath. Firstly we lined them up in order, and filled one of his dumper trucks with building blocks (food). William them drove the truck along, delivering the right number of food to each animal. He thought this was brilliant. Involving the truck was a great idea as he found it fun driving it up and down. Sometimes I think I am doing too many 'paper' activities, so this was a fun one for him to just play.

Dino-mite! William loves a bit of gluing and sticking! So I cut up these paper shapes, and numbered the dinosaurs spikes for him to stick down in number order. We did a very similar craft a few weeks ago with a ladybird and its spots. It's so easy to change up this activity! Some dinosaur stamping for the background always go down well with him too. (The set is s Melissa and Doug one)


Now, I hinted at the upcoming crafty activity last week as one of my Pinterest failures. You may have seen it on there, or something similar. Blow up a small balloon and use PVA glue to glue on strips of yarn. Leave it to dry then pop the balloon. 

Well to start, the stupid balloon kept rolling around everywhere, leaving puddles of glue in its wake. Hence the bowl, which only helped mildly. Then perhaps I watered the glue a little too much as it was sticky on your fingers but didn't particularly stick the yarn together very well. Nevertheless, we carried on! 

A few days later, when I felt like I could brave the results, we prised the yarn (some hard, some soft, with floppy loose bits) off the balloon and here is the result. A little less impressive than the Pinterest pictures! Still, William had fun making it and was chuffed to put it on the window sill outside for the birds. 

The next day, nest is gone. 

Without a single trace. 

(If you live in one of the apartments below me and happen to have found a stuff mess of yarn on your balcony... I can only apologise!)

To make up for the lost yarn nest, we made this one. I taped a semi circle of orange paper to the a4 sheet, leaving a gap at the top. William then cut up bits of paper and yarn to stuff the nest with. Finished off with some bird stickers. 

Other ideas

- Hop scotch. Remember this game? Played in the playground with chalked squares on the floor? I'm sure William would love this, so maybe I will try and find a way to play it out on the grass. Maybe number some large pieces of paper, or use a roll of paper to draw your own?

- I spy. This could be played at home or when you are out and about. Search for numbers on signs, doors, cars, posters etc. 

- Nelly the elephant. Sing the song, put on an elephant mask and crawl around on your hands and knees, pretending to be an elephant. Make the most of these stupid, embarrassing activities... Your little one won't want to do them forever.

- Nana. Do you have a Nan or a Nana in your family? Why not draw a picture, make a collage of her, send her a letter or a card. 

- Naan breads. They are super easy to make with children and taste yummy. Try this recipe here. Or if you don't have the time, order a take away!