Friday, 27 February 2015

Finding pictures in the clouds


It may be the end of February and still windy and cold, but the sun was shining brightly and looked so inviting I could hardly resist getting out to soak up some rays. We don't get that much sun here so when it comes out you really have to make the most of it. There's something about the sunshine that puts a smile on my face and leaves me feeling good.

The children, of course, could not wait to get outside. They love to run around and burn up some energy. We have a trampoline in the garden so they headed straight for it and began to jump around. As they bounced, I could hear the laughter and see the happiness in their faces.This added to my own happiness as I sat on the bench watching them play. They do play so nicely together and it's a joy to see.


After a while, D lay down for a rest. It was then she spotted the clouds. She began to take an interest in them and started to look for shapes and pictures in them.


Here she is pointing them out to me.


'I can see sweetcorn!' she suddenly exclaimed. I walked towards her wondering what she was talking about. 'Look there...sweetcorn'. Then I realised she was talking about the clouds. I'm not sure how sweetcorn-like this is to be honest, but she could see it. That's imagination for you!


Next, she found a snowman!


And a sword.


R pointed this one out to me, 'It's a banana!' he told me, excited to be joining in with what his older sister was doing. He loves to copy D, he copies EVERYTHING she does and even what she says. She is, most definitely, his role model.


This one is a knife.


R returned to his jumping.


I managed to get this great shot of him with his legs high in the air!


Here they are relaxing.


Then, I had an idea. I asked D if she would like to draw the clouds she saw. She agreed so I brought out some paper and colouring pencils and crayons and she sat happily on the bench and began to draw.


This is what she was drawing.


Can you see the resemblance? Her first still life picture, outdoors looking at the scenery. We have done some still life drawings before of objects but this is the first time we have tried it outside. A bit more difficult as the clouds are constantly moving!


Then D couldn't resist drawing another picture using her favourite colour; pink.


Next, she drew a princess, complete with added mud (it had been dropped and trodden on), we were outside after all!. She loves to draw people. On the left, she drew some sound waves! Yes, she is still fascinated with sound waves since we learnt about them recently when we were exploring the senses! It's amazing what children remember! 


R decided to have a go too. 


This is what he drew. It started off as the green grass in the middle and then he added all the colours which he tells me is a multicoloured sky!

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What's Your Weekend?

Turkish lentil soup


Lentil soup is a favourite in our house, in fact it may be the kids favourite soup. Whenever I am making soup they always ask me 'is it lentil soup?' They just love it! It is very easy to make and we have it often. In Turkey, my in laws eat this soup for breakfast but I prefer it as a starter or light lunch. I season it with mint, salt and pul biber. Pul biber is a Turkish spice which is like red pepper. It is quite spicy so you can add the amount you want depending on how spicy you like it. It is available from most international shops. If you don't have any, you could use chili flakes or paprika instead. Here is my recipe:


1 onion
1 carrot
1 potato 
cup of red lentils
dried mint
pul biber
lemon juice (optional)


1) Chop onion and fry for a few minutes in oil, you don't have to chop any of the ingredients too small as the soup will be blended at the end.

2) Peel potato and carrot, slice and add to the pan.

3) Add the red lentils and stir.

4) Add enough boiling water to cover all the ingredients.

5) Add mint, pul biber and salt.

6) Leave to simmer for 30 minutes, check every so often to make sure there is enough water in the pan, you may need to add more to get the desires consistency. 

7) Remove from heat and blend.

This soup is delicious with freshly squeezed lemon juice on top and a sprinkling of some more pul biber. Hope you enjoy it!

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Den building - Peter Rabbit's burrow


Den building is such fun for children. They love to play in dens. They need help building the dens but they do love to join in and make it their own. My children often ask me to make dens for them. It is their little special place where they can relax and engage in some imaginative play. Sometimes I put up the pop-up tent for them and sometimes I use a blanket. When the weather is nice we often take den building out into the garden. It can be a great way to get kids playing outdoors. 

I decided to make a themed den when I became inspired by the 'fort building challenge' on the wonderful blog called 'Building blocks and acorns'. Do take a look for some amazing ideas! There were so many good ideas on the blog that I really had to wrack my brains to think of a different theme! Then it came to me; Peter Rabbit's burrow! As you know we have been enjoying Beatrix Potter stories recently so it seemed the obvious choice.


First, we painted some pictures to use to decorate the burrow. This is D's artwork.


R had a go too.


D even persuaded me to get involved, I chose to use crayons instead of paint and D decided to try and copy what I had done.


Here are the pictures decorating the burrow.


R helped me to stick the pictures up!


We made the burrow in the corner of the living room and I threw a blanket over the arms of the sofa to create it. I placed some cushions on the floor for comfort.


I placed some objects in the burrow that are described in the 'Peter Rabbit' book. Onions, garlic and herbs. I thought it might be nice to use some real objects for the children to explore.


I also placed some kitchen pans and utensils as well as some play food in the burrow. The children had a great time cooking food for Peter and his family!


R is practicing his cutting skills on an onion!


D gave me some parsley in a bowl. She said it was lettuce and rabbits love to eat lettuce!


The children also put on their paper plate rabbit ears so they could really get into character! You can find the tutorial for these rabbit ears here.


I also put our collection of Beatrix Potter books in the burrow for the children to look at. We have the whole collection.


After the children had played for a while we had story time. I read their favourite Beatrix Potter books whilst they lounged cozily in the burrow. This was a great way to end their play session. Reading stories in total comfort was such a lovely way to relax and wind down just in time for lunch.

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Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Pom pom sight words


We have been doing more literacy activities recently as D has just turned 5. She is very interested in writing but not so interested in reading yet. Therefore, I have to come up with some fun ideas to try and get her excited about words. 

Pom poms are a favourite with the children. We often use them in fun activities like this one here but we had not used them in literacy yet. I filled up a bowl with pom poms and placed it on the table with some large tweezers. R immediately started trying the tweezers out. He practiced using his pincer grip to pick up the pom poms with the tweezers. An excellent way to develop this fine motor skill.


I wrote some sight words on sheets of A4 paper and placed them next to the pom poms. I asked D if she could try placing the pom poms on the letters using the tweezers. We spoke about the shapes of the letters and the letter sounds. I asked her what words she was spelling out. It took quite a while for her to cover each word but I think this was good as she spent a lot of time looking at each word and practicing it. D has a good attention span now so this was not a problem for her.

You could make this activity more difficult by asking children to spell out the words using the pom poms on plain paper rather than them having to copy the words. You could make it easier by writing single letters on paper and practicing the letter sounds. If tweezers are too difficult, ask your child to use their fingers instead. 

Make this a bilingual activity by practicing words from another language. We will be trying this with turkish words soon!

Monday, 23 February 2015

Learning about the sense - Taste

As you know we have been learning about the senses. The next sense we have been exploring is the sense of taste. I think this was the children's favourite as they have been asking to do these activities everyday since! First, we read the next book in our senses series; 'Taste that'! 

Then, we did some practical activities. I am a big fan of practical learning experiences, especially for young children. It really engages their attention which makes it more likely they will enjoy, understand and remember what they learn. Here's what we did.

We made some 3D mouths with tongues that pop out! This was very easy to make, You just need a piece of white paper (or other colour of your choice) and a red piece of paper for the tongue. More details about this craft can be found here.

D enjoyed making this.

We divided the tongue into different sections and wrote what tastes you can sense in each area of the tongue.

Here is what the models look like open and closed.

Next, we did the blind taste test. I put samples of food on small dishes for the children to taste. Their job was to describe what they were tasting. There was sugar for the sweet taste, cocoa powder for the bitter taste, salt for the salty taste and lemon for the sour taste. 

Here you can see the children with their eyes open exploring the different tastes again but they tried it first with their eyes closed. Surprising both the children liked the lemon taste. They also liked sugar, of course, but disliked cocoa powder and salt.

I managed to get  photo of R tasting the salt. He definitely didn't like that taste. What a picture!

Next , we did another taste test, this time tasting different condiments on rice crackers. This one wasn't a blind taste test and the children enjoyed spreading the condiments themselves. We tried peanut butter, blueberry and raspberry jam, marmalade, a black syrup made from pears, apples and dates, blueberry curd and spicy tomato chutney.

The children were very reluctant to try the tomato chutney but as it was a taste test I managed to persuade them! D was pleasantly surprised to find she actually liked it and kept going back for more. She said it was one of her favourite condiments! 

They enjoyed testing out the condiments for quite a while. I was surprised at how they ate a few things they had never eaten before. I would definitely recommend doing a taste test game for fussy eaters as perhaps it will get them to try more food. They have been asking to do another taste test for the last few days now. I suspect they liked all the choices and independence of choosing what they wanted to try and spreading it themselves.

Fun with black eyed peas


D was out at farm adventures so it was just R and I at home. I decided to put together a sensory tub for him to explore. I chose black eyed peas as the filler and added some utensils for him to use to scoop and pour.


Firs,t I set it up by the wall with a cardboard tube attached to the wall for R to pour the peas into. He loved doing this and watching them all fall into the tub underneath ready to be scooped up again.


When he lost interest with this, I moved the tub into the living room and added some more pots and utensils for him to play with.


He had fun using the tweezers to pick up individual peas. It's so lovely to see his fine motor skills develop!

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