Friday, November 29, 2013

Christmas Treasure Hunt

Even though Matthew is only 6 he can read English very well.  Recently he has started to read chapter books.  But sometimes when we are doing puzzles or other things he still tries to get me to tell him what he has to do rather than reading it for himself.

So I thought I would put together an activity to get him doing the reading.  He loves doing treasure hunts and we often do various different ones.  This time I decided to make it seasonal and use riddles that he has to work out to find the next clue.

A few years ago I made some Christmas shape templates cut out of old cereal boxes so got these out to cut some Christmas shapes out of coloured paper.

We had some label stickers laying around so I put these on to write the clues.
I would be totally lost without the Internet and it came in really useful for writing the clues this time.
Lots of the clues didn't work out for us as I didn't have the right decoration such as a Reindeer.  So I used some that can be used all year round as well.  Here are the ones that I ended up using.
  1. The first clue is hidden near to a light.  Start looking now the lights not bright.
  2. Now you're on your second clue,, these go on before your shoes.
  3. Time to chill, time to think please go here for a cool cool drink
  4. If you want to learn and grow turn the page get in the know.
  5. If you find it's snowy don't fall like Jack and Jill instead you can use this transport to make it down the hill
  6. If you want your teeth to shine pick this up and spend some time.
  7. The last clue was naff sorry about that.  The next can be found under a mat.
  8. You'll start making him getting on a roll.  Then adding a scarf a carrot and some coal.
  9. When it's cold out you'll find yourself a wreck without something warm to wrap around your neck
  10. The next clue just has to be under the tree.  Hurry up and find it then read it to me.
  11. If you're in a hungry mood go here first and find some food.
  12. Hooray it's the last clue solve it, if you're able the treasure can be found under a table.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Recycling Art

A few days ago we did painting using marbles.  We ended up with paintings drying all over the kitchen. Only so many of them can go up on Matthew's notice board so we decided to recycle some of them into Christmas cards and decorations.

This green picture we decided to turn into Christmas cards for Matthew's teachers.
With another picture we made a hanging decoration
I cut the picture into 2cm wide strips.
Then using fishing line type thread I joined one end of all the strips together.  I then decide we would put some beads in the middle of the ball.  These were threaded onto the thread and then the needle was passed though the other end of all the strips before being tied off.
Next time I might try joining them with split pins and add a bow to the top.
Nearer Christmas when we are getting more into decorating the house we might also turn more of them into paper chains. 
I remember when Matthew was younger we made paper chains to put in his room.  When he went to bed we had to remove them because they scared him.  Even though he is now 6 he still doesn't like different things hanging in his room and again goes to bed with a night light.  Oh well I guess he will eventually grow out of this.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Bottle top maths

Matthew loves learning.  (shame that he isn't in proper school till next year)  When we are sitting at the dinner table he often starts asking maths questions  such as what is 5+4 or 7-3.  He tries getting carried away asking things such as what is 21+45 or 100+76.  Now I tell him that he has to know the answer before he can ask a question.  Seems so strange sitting there asking maths questions backwards and forward between us. 
I've always said I wouldn't push him.  But when he shows interest in something I try to pick up on it and encourage him.  A while ago he was reading a book about bats so we made a toilette roll bat.
So when I saw this Maths facts race on A Love for Teaching.  I decided to give it a go.  For some unknown reason I had been collecting bottle tops for a while and had a collection available.  Luckily I had different colours so I didn't even have to colour some of them.

I then used a permanent marker to write on numbers, equal, plus and minus symbols.  I really need more numbers so will be on the lookout for things with white bottle tops.  Isn't it sad when you look at the colour of the bottle tops when you are buying drinks.
I also got carried away and made a bag for them out of the leg of an old pair of trousers.  Matthew gets through rather a lot of trousers making holes in the knees and then in the patches.  The rest are being made into a rug.
Matthew loved sitting down doing different sums with them.  Think we will leave the racing for a bit but I'm sure that will come.

Since we first played this we have decided to make it into our own version of game.  We now take it in turns to set up a sum such as 3+2= or 6-3=  the other person has to complete the sum.  We also added two instruments a bell and a whistle.  If the sum is correct the person laying out the question rings the bell.  If it is wrong they blow the whistle.  I sometimes get it wrong on purpose to see if knows what the answer is.

We also added some yellow bottle tops with stars on.  Each time you get an answer right you gain a star.  The winner is the one with the most stars after a given time or when they have all gone.
We now need more numbers and stars so might have to ask friends to save me their bottle tops.
I'd been looking for one of these bells for a while.  In the shops I could buy them on their own but they were expensive.  Or I could buy a complete kids game that was to young for us.  The other day I was in a Brockie (second hand shop) and saw a game for 2chf.  At that price I don't mind just throwing away the rest of the game.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Painting with marbles

I've been thinking for a while that we should do some painting with marbles again.  This time I did it thinking that I could recycle the art work into Christmas decorations afterwards.  There must have been about 13 paintings by the end of this session so just as well I have something planned for them.

This time I decided we would change things a bit and make some glitter paints to use for it.

I had some small containers that I made the paint in so that I could keep it afterwards.  All I did was put some clear liquid glue, glitter and a little paint in the container and mixed them together.

 All you need to do then is paint, a tray (we used the roasting tin), paper and a marble.

Put the paper in the tin and then randomly put some 'small' blobs of paint.  Think Matthew's definition of small must be different to mine.
Then add the marble.  Or in Matthew's case 3 marbles and role them around the tin through the blobs of paint.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Indoor snowball fight

Indoor snowball fight

Normally on a Thursday Matthew has kindergarten in the morning and again in the afternoon.  He was really looking forward to today as they were going swimming.
Last night I got a phone call that the teacher was ill so there would be no kindergarten today.  Matthew was in floods of tears because he likes going so much. (not because the teacher was ill)
Yesterday he had also got upset because some of his friends were going ice-skating.  We had something else on so he couldn't go with them.  So great I thought we would go ice-skating today.
When we went out it was snowing and Matthew was looking forward to playing in the snow when we got back home.  Unluckily for him but luckily for me it had warmed up a little and the snow had melted.  It is only the start of winter so plenty more to come.  After all we do live in Switzerland.
So as we couldn't do the real thing we opted for second best and had an indoor snowball fight using newspaper snowballs.

Matthew decided to use his umbrella for protection.

Decorated candles

Time to start thinking about Christmas gifts for the teachers.  Last year we decided to decorate some candles.
Our local supermarket was selling thin sheets of wax for decorating candles so we decided to give it a go on some cheap white candles.
There are many ways you could use the wax.  We used small cutters used for the centre of biscuits but you could also cut it with a knife or I guess scissors.
Then you just press the wax onto the candle and it sticks by itself.


I also made a couple myself to go in our Christmas table arrangement.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Grattimänner Bread men

These bread men are called Grättimanner in the Basel region of Switzerland.  They are traditionally sold or made around the beginning of December.

In Switzerland Santa comes on 6th December and if the child has been good he is normally given a small sack filled with nuts, mandarins, chocolate and often a Grättimanner.

Basically these are sweet zopf style breads shaped into men.  Some are covered in sugar pearls, and some have a chocolate stick under their arm.  They are all yummy.

This is a bread dough, so there is rising time needed here, so if you're making this with small children it may be best to make the dough yourself the night before, leave it to rise overnight and let the kids just do the shaping, decorating and brushing part in the morning.


500g Zopf flour (white bread flour)
1tsp salt
75g Sugar
100g Butter (at room temp)
3dl/300ml Milk
1 sachet dried yeast (7g)

(makes 4 men)

In a big bowl sift together the flour and salt.

Warm the milk a little (just lukewarm) and put the sugar and yeast in it, mix it up and leave for a few minutes to get frothy.

Make a well in the flour and then add in the butter, then the yeast mixture and bring it all together to make a soft dough.

Turn it out onto a floured surface and knead the dough for at least 10minutes (put the timer on - this is longer than you think!)

Put the dough back in the bowl and cover it.  Leave it to rise for 2-3 hours at room temp or somewhere warm (like the drying room if you have one).  If you want to you can make it the night before and leave it in the fridge - and it will rise overnight.  It needs to double in size.

After it's nicely risen, take it out of the bowl and split the dough into 4 pieces.

Shape each piece into a man, or an animal (hedgehogs or mice work well too), or whatever shape your creative assistants wish, decorate with raisin eyes and sugar pearls if you have some.  Put on a greased baking sheet and brush with egg or milk

Bake in a pre-heated over at 200 deg C for about 30 minutes.

Matthew decided he was going to make a gratti pizza instead of a man.
Since first having this recipe I have a new convection oven.  So I need to play about with cooking them.  This year I cut down the cooking time to 20minutes but next time I might cut down the temp so they don't brown so much.  They also grow in the oven so give them space on the baking tray.  However they turned out the three kids making them soon polished them off.

If you don't have the sugar pearls you could ice it once it is cooked for this and other things you can do with the dough have a look at baking a Christmas wreath by Make and Takes  Think we might be trying a bread wreath or Christmas tree tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Thread PIctures

Another easy craft that can be done by kids of various ages.  Matthew loves to do things with wool.  He often builds spiders webs all around the lounge.  Just easier said than done  to get to the kitchen when he does this.  So when I found this I thought it would be a much easier option and quicker to tidy up.

All you need is

Thread of various colours.
Old cereal boxes

First you need to cut out a circle from the card.  I am useless at drawing free hand so I found a bowl to draw round.  You then need to cut some slits around the edge.  It doesn't matter how many or how even.  Experiment with different numbers for different patterns.

This is one Matthew did the slits on.  You can see how irregular they are.
Then you need the thread.  Start off with the end going through a slit so that it is on the back.  Then experiment with taking the thread different ways across the card.  Try to keep it taught. 

 You can also change the colour when ever you fancy.

Ok so I did this one.
We also tried with different shapes.  See what you can come up with.