Tu BiShvat

This weekend just gone we learnt a little about the Jewish celebration Tu BiShvat, ‘New Year of the Trees’, which is celebrated 27th Jan – 28th Jan 2021. In celebration of this ecological day, fruits and nuts are typically eaten and trees sometimes planted.

Inspired by this we decided to make a fruit and nut cake.

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Recipe for our Fruit Sponge with Pistachio Cream Cheese Frosting below:

For the cake:
200g butter
200g self raishing flour
100g caster sugar
200g of dried fruit mix
1 tps of baking powder
2 tbsps of milk
2 eggs

For the frosting:
100g pistachios (out of shell)
200g cream cheese
200g icing sugar
Blueberries to decorate

First we preheated the oven to gas mark 4 and then combined the butter, sugar and eggs in a bowl. Once well mixed we added the milk and stirred well. Next we added the flour and baking powder and stirred until just mixed. Finally we added the dried fruit and folded it in.

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Next we baked the cake in the oven until golden brown, typically 30-35 minutes.

Once the cake was baked and cooled, we made the frosting.

First we put the pistachios into the food processor and blended to grind them into tiny pieces.

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Next we added the cream cheese, ground pistachios and icing sugar into a bowl and mixed thoroughly (we opted for an electric whisk). Once mixed well we added it onto our cake (you can also slice your cake in half and add a thin layer in the middle if you wish to) and finally topped with blueberries.

*Top tip: When we decorated ours we left it in the cake tin and then put it in the fridge for an hour to allow the frosting to set a little before eating. However it is intended to be quite a ‘loose’ frosting.

We also made our own finger paint trees whilst we discussed the celebration, we even glued with our fingers.

Toad in the Hole – Kids Cook

As I’m sure you are all aware by now, we love to cook. The boys have their own chef whites and thoroughly enjoy helping in the kitchen!

Last night Noah made the batter for our Toad in the Hole, he was able to count out the measurements by himself, not only did this make him extremely proud of himself, I’m certain he even enjoyed esating it that little bit more.

How we made our Toad in the Hole:

We always make our batter well in advance, it cooks better the longer you leave it. We recomment preparing it atleast an hour in advance, but you can always make it in the morning.

For the batter:

2 large eggs
8 tbsp of plain flour
8 tbsp of milk
8 tbsp of water

Combine together and whisk together well.

Top Tip: Using an electric whisk prepares the batter far better than whisking by hand. Try both methods and you’ll see the difference in how it rises.

When we are finally ready to cook our dinner we pre heat our oven to gas mark 6 and put the sausages and a couple of table spooks of oil into a baking dish. We then pop this in the over for 10 minutes.

4 sausages feed the three of us. 
You may wish to make extra batter if you are cooking more sausages.

After the 10 minutes the oil will be nice and hot, quickly we pour over the batter and return it to the oven until baked and crispy. This usually takes between 30-35 minutes.

Top Tip: No matter how tempted you may be, do not open that oven door, you don’t want to affect your batter rising.

Voila, one of the boys favourite dinners and super easy for them to get invbolved and help to make.

Please let us know what your favourite family dinner is!

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King Winter

With the frosty mornings the past few days, we decided to read and learn about King Winter. A beautiful story of how coming together to help those less fortunate, brings a sense of community and provides for those in need.

King Winter calls upon his friends to provide shelter, light, food and warmth to the forest animals that are cold and hungry. It ends with the forest animals forming friendships and sharing the gifts they had been given, all before King Winter moves on to help others.

We discussed the importance of helping others and how it’s nice to help those who need it. We also discussed the typical colours of the season and the boys made their own pictures based on the story. We also found some beautiful poems online and printed these out to use in our nature table and for the boys own pictures of King Winter.

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Our King Winter scene for our ‘nature table’.

The poem for our winter theme is as follows (you can also find the story on the link):

King Winter went walking one day oh so cold,
He called to the snow clouds, so it is told.
Come snowflakes, come dancing down to the ground,
Tis time for the earth to not make a sound,
Your silence and calm, and peaceful white cheer,
Brings good will to all and welcomes the year!

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The boys created their own King Winters out of felt to go alongside a beautiful seasonal poem.

The poem for our King Winters is as follows:

King Winter is now in the land.
He reigns with cold and freezing hand.
He makes Jack Frost touch nose and toe,
and brings us bright and shiny snow.

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Noahs picture based off the story, showing King Winter and his friends brigning food to the cave for the forest animals.

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Tommys had a slight twist, his story was about dinosaurs instead of forest animals.

 

Practice Happy Journal

‘Understanding emotions and learning how to cope with them is an important skill for everyone, something that can be difficult for us to do by ourselves. This journal aims to aid even the youngest of us in learning more about our emotions and why we feel the way we do, also including steps we can take to help ourselves to express these feelings in a safe and healthy way. This journal contains of 120 daily pages, enough for you to write in a couple of times a week. Then there is plenty of opportunity to write, doodle, colour and do other mindful activities throughout the book. It also includes 12 monthly entry pages to reflect on what you have learnt and to set yourself goals for the months to come. This introduction will explore different emotions, after all understanding how we feel is an important step in how we manage our feelings.”In this journal, emotions are dealt with in a traffic light system, this helps us to categorise our emotions. However, it is important to remember that no emotion is ‘bad’ and we should encourage ourselves to express every emotion we are feeling and learn to self-help, we just need to do this in a safe and positive way. ‘ This is more than just a journal, it includes mindfulness activities, a one year to happiness challenge and also encourages goal setting. Available on Amazon for only £12.99!

https://smile.amazon.co.uk/dp/B086Y44T86/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_TiPpFb5BBFGVC

4th July

So with 4th of July approaching, as part of our Exploring World Celebrations, we have been busy crafting and learning about the American celebration. Today we made decorations for the house in the famous red, white and blue colours, we discussed what the 4th of July is all about and we even made some traditional American food, Corn Dogs and Cornbread!

For the decorations we made rosette wheels, a wreath and a banner with stars. I have included step by step photos below, in case you want to make your own.

To make each rosette wheel, we cut three A4 sheets of card into strips (one red, one white and one blue). We then curled them in half and used a stapler to create loops. Once all the strips had been made into loops we used the stapler to secure them into wheels. If you don’t have a stapler, glue will work just as well, you will just need to make sure the glue has fully dried between each step!

To make the wreath we used six toilet roll holders and three sheets of A4 coloured card. We cut each sheet in half longways and then glued them around the holders (cutting off the excess card and putting it to the side). Leaving them to the side to dry we cut the left over card into strips of three and used the scissors to slightly curl them. Next we glued them onto the toilet roll holders, leaving over half of the strip overhanging, and left them to fully dry. Finally we used some florest wire to loop through the tubes and create our wreath.

To make the banner we used three more sheets of coloured A4 card and cut them into triangles (and strips). We then used gold sticky back paper to cut out stars and stick to each piece. Finally we hung our decorations up.

I have wanted to try Corn Dogs for so long, so this was the perfect excuse and with the leftover batter we made a small bit of Cornbread to try. We’re not sure on the Corn Dogs, so even more of an excuse to go to America at some point to try some more authentic ones, but the Cornbread was really good!

Homeschooling – Week 2, days 8-12

So this week was my birthday week, plus my laptop charger broke, so for those reasons we have been a little quiet online. My new lead finally arrived today though so I thought I would let you all know how our week went. Our activites ran over days so I’m going to upload it all into one post.

Each day followed the same structures as last week, with similar books, always with one relating to feelings and behaviour and another that I read to them, along with their own to read themselves. We have also contiuned daily journaling, even at the weekends, this will provide a lovely record for the boys to look back on in years to come.

This week our topic was Ancient Egypt (absoluelty love this era, and one that we havn’t done before).

 

Monday 

Today we watched some really fun videos for children teaching facts about Ancient Egypt;  Ancient Egypt for Kids, History Video Lesson!, Ancient Egyptian Adventure – History for Kids and Ancient Egypt: The Pharaoh Civilisation.

We also made some Pharaoh masks using watered down PVA glue, newspaper, tissue paper and a bowl. First we wrapped two bowls in newspaper on one side, using cellotape to hold down (this is to stop the tissue paper from sticking directly to the bowl. Once secured we started dipping shreds of tissue paper in the glue/water mixture and covered the bowl. Once we had a few layers of tissue paper built up, we spread some glue over the top to flateen on the paper down. We then left these to dry over night.

We got making after this and begun making our cheesecake for my birthday the next day.

 

Tuesday 

Now the masks were dry we removed them from the bowl and trimmed around the overlapping newspaper, finally we painted them in one colour to hide the tissue paper. We used emulsion we had lying around as it offers thicker coverage than poster paints, but a couple of coats of poster paints will do just fine.  We again left these to dry over night.

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Then we finished making our cheesecake. Noah said he wanted to make me a unicorn one for my birthday, so we used pureed fruit for the horn and added edible glitter.

Hey, we tried!

 

Wednesday 

Today the boys practiced colouring Pharaoh masks in with some colour by numbers, they also cut and stuck their own pyramids.

Finally the boys painted their designs onto their masks, I cut out the eyes and the boys put them on to play.

 

Thursday 

We read more about Pyramids, Pharaohs and mummies. Going over things we’d learnt throughout the week. Afterwards we used a kit the boys got at Christmas to make slime.

 

Friday 

Today I downloaded and printed out some awsome packs on Ancient Egypt from 123homeschool4me. The pack contained 71 sheets, but I didn’t need all of them for the boys, so I went through and selected the ones I wanted to print and made up their own booklets from them. I thought these packs would give them something quick to do each day over their Easter break, however they finished them all in one day as they loved the activities so much!

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The boys will be coming into work with me over the next couple of weeks, then I’m not sure how often (or if I will be at all) in work. So we will plan our homeschooling around that once I know more. I hope everyone is giving themselves atleast a couple of weeks chill time from all of this now. Have a fabolous break (well as fabulous as can be under the circumstances)!

Weekend activities

We have had a very chilled weekend, we are still adapting to the isolation. I am not back at work for over another week, the boys will be coming with me, but until then we are cooped up in the house or our back garden. We are very active and outdoors, we love an adventure so we are struggling with the confinement. Especially so as the boys don’t understand what is going on or why. I am trying to keep them busy and enteratained as much as possible but it can be difficult. Something I had been wanted to do with the boys for ages is make forest potions, without a forest within walking distance I decided to see what we could find in our back garden!

We found:

  • Mud
  • Grass
  • Flowers
  • Leaves
  • Moss
  • Sticks
  • Bark
  • Pebbles

We then added our mixture to some old glass sequin jars we had in the craft cupboard.

We also decorated some pine cones (we have loads of these around the house, as every Autumn walk we went on last year Noah collected them). I tied some twine around them so they were ready to hang, and the boys painted the bottoms with poster paint and glitter. They are now hanging in the boys bedroom window.

Finally, as we couldn’t get to a woodland for a walk, we thought about different creatures that live there. We then created pictures of these animals using finger painting.

We have not only been being crafty, we have also made smoothies, turned the front room into a cinema and scoffed lots of snacks whilst watching Disney and Marvel films!

Homeschooling – Day 5

Today we spent alot of time learning in the boys room (which is finally nearly finihsed), it is heavily Waldorf inspired and creates a lovely, relaxing envoriment to learn in. We used wooden blocks to count, build and learn about different shapes as well as width and length. I gave the boys an equal amount of the same size and shape blocks for them to count, I then challenged them to see who could make the tallest tower and then the widest. We discussed the shape of each block and looked at the difference between 2D and 3D shapes.

We enjoyed a short music lesson with our instruments and sung our favourite nursery rhymes.

We also played one of our matching games, and practiced sounding out the letters and words writting on them.

We ended our school week with a fire in the garden and roasted marshmallows!

Homeschooling – Day 4

Today, along with our normal routine, we explored our fossil collection and learnt a little bit more about them. They boys love playing with them and cleaning them with their brushes. They have a magnifying glass to look up close, plus it’s a really good sensory activity, espeically now we have a lovely sand paper mat down in the tray – the type used in bird cages.

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Homeschooling – Day 3

Today we stuck to the same routine as previous days and will continue to stick to this throughout our home schooling experience. We are completeing written work to stick to the national cirriculum, however I am a great lover of Waldorf and I try to incorperate this learning style as much as possible. Our daily schedule is as follows: Super Movers, Phonics and Writing, Break and Snack, Yoga, Art/History, Lunch, Maths, Reading, Zen Den, Story Telling and finally Daily Journal. We play educational games throughout the day (we really love Orchard Toys games).

For Art/History we continued learning about our prehistoric ancistors and cave paintings, particulalry looking at mythological creatures. We found the following videos excellent and the boys really enjoyed watching them: Prehistory: Educational Video for Children  and 25 Mythical Creatures and Their Origins. The boys then designed their own Mythical Creatures on tea stained paper to add to their ‘Cave’.

We took a more realxed apporach to numbers today and enjoyed colouring in some colour by number sheets and completed some dot-to-dots that I downloaded and printed.