Homemade colorful Chocolate

I wanted to give the kids a treat this week since they have been unusally good and co-operative during the school holidays. Hardly any fights, they ate their meals pleasantly, went to bed without fuss, did their homework properly… just great! I bet this will all change once they have their “reward”.. oh well… least I had a good week!

I recently bought some cute moulds that I found in the shop and got this idea for the kids to color some melted white chocolate and “paint” their own chocolate.

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I also made my own little “pipping bags” out of baking paper as I didn’t want to waste my piping bags with a small quantity of chocolate. Knowing the kids, most will get stuck all around the regular sized piping bags. They are also really simple to make. I just cut out rectangles, fold it into 2, cut. Fold each cut side into two and cut again. Repeat until you get the size you need. After that, just roll the paper in a cone and secure with some tape…

Next, melt a bag of white chocolate over a water bath…

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Portion out the melted white chocolate into individual bowls and add food coloring. The kids really love mixing and watching the colors blend. Add more food coloring if you want a deeper / brighter color. The kids seem happy with pastels today.

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Fill up each piping bag with a color of chocolate and snip of the ends. I started with a tiny snip to see if the kids were comfotable with the flow. If they have no patience to use the piping bags, they can also fill the moulds with a teaspoon. Just watch that most of the chocolate actually ends up in the mould and not in their mouths!

In the end, the boys used the teaspoon, or just poured from the bowls into the mould. Only my little girl had the patience to pipe pink eyes and nose for her cat.

Once mould has been filled, tap the tray to get the air bubbles out and pop it into the freezer. My freezer is really really cold, so the chocolate literally set in 15 mins! The kids were sooooo excited to unmould it….

We have Legos….

and cars that disappeared as soon are we took them out of the moulds!

as well as cats and kittens…

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It’s a fun activity. Looks like I’ll be going to the store to get new colors that we can color the chocolate again next week!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Homemade Butter cookies with SPRINKLES

,The school holidays are finally here! Kids are super duper estatic over it, and mommy here has to figure out how to keep them occupied with the sudden “extra” time she has at home with them. Since baking is one of our favourite activity at home, i wanted to share this quick and simple butter cookie recipe that i always use. Its really quick to whip up, and the best part is that it doesn’t require cooling time in the fridge. I can prep the dough and use it straight away, PLUS its done baking in the oven in 6-8mins! Perfect for the impatient little kids.

This is the recipe i used – Butter Cookie recipe

The only thing i did different was to give the children a dazzling array of sprinkles to decorate the cookies. Obviously this is the highlight of baking cookies and such fun for them. I bought an assortment of sprinkles from the supermarket, some chocolate rice, some mini M&Ms, chocolate chips and even mini oreo cookies….

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The older kids can ball the dough up themselves, and you just need to help ball up and flatten the dough a little for the little kids, so they can add their toppings..

And after 6-8 mins of baking……

 

DIY Rainbow Princess Tulle Dress Tutorial

My 5 year old daughter is such a girl at heart. Loves her sparkles, her big princess dresses and her tiaras. She has been asking me to make her a rainbow princess dress for close to 6 months now, and after that, she would continously ask when her dress would be ready, i finally roped in the rest of the family to help make her dress together this week.

This is a NO SEW dress! So impressive isn’t it? I came across this dress online couple of years back and i actually had made a dress for her for my brother’s wedding, but she has long grown out of the dress. There are plenty of online tutorials for making this dress, and many youtube video tutorials as well. However, you make your own unique dress based on the colors of tulle you use and the theme of your dress.

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Materials

Tulle (My tulle are 6 inches and 25 yards per roll) To go round one layer around the top, i used 4 rolls. You multiply by how many layers you want to do. 2 layers will give you a big poof dress, i recommend not tying more than 3 layers on, or your child might get lost in the dress.

For the rainbow dress, i got a roll of each color (7 colors in total). I also used 4 rolls of white tulle for the 2nd layer.

Crochet top ( i bought mine online, and i made sure that it is lined, just so it is more comfortable for the children)

I love making this dress as not only is it simple, it is really quite therapeutic for me to sit and just tie knots.

You start first by measuring the length you need. I measure the length from the bottom of the crochet top all the way to the floor. This would give you enough allowance for the knots, so the final length is just off the floor. If you want it shorter, measure to the ankles rather than the floor. I usually make dresses longer so they don’t grow out of it so quickly. It so happens that the length to the floor is the same length as my long ruler. You actually need double the length that you measured, as you make the knot after folding the strip of tulle into 2. For example, if you need 10 inches, you actually cut a 20 inch tulle strip and then fold into 2 to get 10 inches again.

So back to the ruler, i simply loop my tulle around till i have 10 strips, and cut only on ONE end to get strips that are double my measured length. If you don’t have anything to wrap the tulle around that is the right length, just measure and cut some cardboard to the correct length.

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Once you have your strips cut (you need 10-12 strips per color), you are ready to knot. Put the crochet top through your leg so that it is easier to work with. Start at the bottom row, and put the folded end of the tulle strip through one of the holes at the bottom “line” of the crochet top. Pull the rest of the strip through the folded end to “loop”. Since this is a rainbow dress, i started at the side first.

And you keep going till the entire first row “holes” are knotted with a tulle strip.

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The above picture shows the inside of the dress, i.e. the back of the knot. Refer to the picture below for the knot that is visible on the front of the dress:

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Close up of the knot on the inside of the dress:

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So once you are done with the first row, you get a super duper bright dress that is so bright that it hurts my eyes! Just too much color! Also at this point, she inisted on trying it, even though it is not ready yet. For shoulder straps, just pick a color, and measure directly on the shoulder, cut 2 strips and just tie them on.

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To tone down the colors, but still be able to see the rainbow colors, i added a 2nd layer of white tulle.

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Go slowly, and knot every “hole” in the crochet top on the next level above the first layer. She was so excited to try, she didn’t even let me finish the back for her.

Our finished product! The little rainbow princess was so happy with it, she wore it the whole day. And she has now asked for a pink and purple dress with a long train……

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DIY Lego Room Ideas

We re did the kids play room this year, and one of the many many requests from my son was LEGO! and MORE LEGO! Just LEGO everywhere. But since the playroom is a SHARED playroom with his younger siblings who aren’t crazy lego fans, i told him i would make him a little lego corner where he can play to his heart’s content. So here are some ideas that i did for his little lego corner. We even made some together!

  1. Lego table

We bought a second hand ikea table and some lego base plates. And it was simply a matter of spreading some glue and sticking the base plates on, making sure the plates are nicely aligned. This is a good activity for the kids as they go really excited with just pouring the glue on the table and brushing it evenly over the table.

2. Lego Wall

This is pretty much the same as the lego table, just mounted on the wall. I thought of doing a wall to give him more surface area to play with, as if his friends come, the little ikea table might not be big enough for 3-4 boys.

The wall is slighly more complicated, i bought some plywood from artfriend, and used hot glue gun to glue the lego base to the plywood, again making sure the bases are nicely aligned. Then its just getting the husband to drill the plywood into the wall. Done!

3. Lego crayons

OK, so this is not strictly for his corner, but he wanted some crayons and i have a lego man silcone mould, so i said why not? This works great for party favours! For his set, i re used my kids’ left over crayon stubs, just broke it into smaller pieces, and randomly filled the mould with different colors to get a rainbow lego man crayon. Pop it into othe oven at about 100 degree celsius till all the crayon has melted. Take it out of the oven and let it cool at room temperature. Pop it out when cooled and you have rainbow crayons!

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For those who would like a more natural option for younger kids, our online shop sells the same lego man crayons and others crayons made out of 100% cosmetic grade beeswax, and “colored” with food coloring. This would be the safer option for the little ones who are still putting stuff into their mouth. Click on the link for purchase or for more details. Handmade crayons

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4. Lego holders

This is super fun to do together with the kids! Even the younger kids had fun making this. You basially build an open top box that you can put your markers, color pencils and GASP! MORE LEGOS!

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DIY Mother’s Day Present – Handsewn Heart Buttons Tote Bag

This is a cute sewing project to do with the children. They have been really interested in sewing lately, probably because mummy has been on her sewing machine a lot last few weeks. I had previously taught them how to sew buttons, and they helped sew buttons for a busy bag previously. 5 Busy Bag Ideas – Part 1 Since then they haven’t really got a chance to sew buttons again, so this week, they both said they really really really wanted to sew some buttons, and since mother’s day is coming, i thought this would make a great unique gift for grandma.

I love these plain canvas tote bags from muji. So versatile, as you can sew on them, paint on them, use fabric crayons or even stamp on them. And being the hoarder that i am, i usually have a few of these tote bags at home. The kids decided that they wanted to sew a heart button…… Now i don’t know where you can find a massive heart button, and i thought that it would be too randomn to just sew a bunch of heart buttons haphazardly all over the bag, so i got my older boy (6 years old) to draw a heart with a fabric marker. I printed out a quick heart template and got him to trace it onto the bag. And then i took out my box of buttons and they took turns to sew buttons onto the bag within the heart that my son traced.

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The children used mainly the big bright buttons, this size is perfect for them, as it is large enough for them to hold and not prick themselves with the needle. It is also easy for them to find the “holes” on the buttons. My son did try a few buttons where you sew through side to side, and he found that easier than sewing on the regular buttons.

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You would need to help sew in the blank spaces, as the little buttons would be a little too challenging for them at the moment. But keep going slowly, and am super impressed this activity kept them interested for a full 30 mins! By then, there isn’t anymore space to sew the big buttons anymore, then it is up to the adults to finish sewing more buttons to cover the empty spaces

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I thought it looked really cute, but the kids decided that it would look better with an outline, so they traced the heart with a fabric marker. Personally i prefer it without the outline! Hope you have fun with this project, and you could trace any shape out that you want to create your own unique tote bag for your mom!

Homemade fresh cheese

We have been wanting to try making our own cheese for quite a while now, and we finally took the plunge this week since the kids were asking how do people make cheeses. Granted this is an extremely simplified process of making cheese, nontheless it is still cheese, and a good introduction for the children. The recipe is actually quite simple and straight forward to make, and the kids had a lot of fun stirring and feeling rather adult about it.

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This is the recipe we used, Homemade cheese

The recipe works well and the kids were excited to see each process.

The only thing we did different was use a coffee strainer instead of a muslin cloth, i had a clean unused cofffee strainer at home and i really didn’t want to go make a special trip to get muslin.

My older son who loves his milk wasn’t too impressed with the cheese as its not really “milky”, well, our milk we get here dosen’t taste the most flavourful even though we used full cream milk. But it does have a really nice texture almost like ricotta cheese.

With the left over cheese, i used it in place of the regular bechamel sauce for our lasagne. Definately much easier than making a bechamel from scratch if you already have some cheese in the fridge. Oh yes, my bolognaise is purple instead of red, because i found some purple carrots in the market that day…..

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DIY Playtent with an Ikea Hack

We recently moved house and we are finally blessed to have more space for the children to play in. Now my kids and i LOVE playhouse or tents, but those store bought ones are not only kinda small (kids will grow out of them in NO TIME), but also pretty expensive, considering they won’t be playing with them longer than a couple of months.

We have a LOT of shelves, for all our junk, especially the kids toys, so we decided to use one of our existing IKEA shelves and screw in some hooks on the shelves and wall, and pretty much just suspend a 2 meter long fabric to make an instant and semi permanent tent!

Materials needed:

Enough fabric for back and front, 2 m each (the distance i wanted from the wall to the shelve was 2 meters, please measure the distance between your wall and shelf).

Hooks; hook size has to fit your grommet size

Grommets

Sewing machine

Steps / method

  1. Cut fabric to length and width you need. I bought 2m of 2 different fabrics, and i just lined them up, folded them neatly and trimmed off the sides to make them exactly the same size.

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2. Right sides facing each other, pin all the way round.

3. Sew with 1/4 inch seam allowance all around and leave about 4-6 inches open.

4. Clip the corners so you will get nice pointy coners when you turn it out.

5. Turn it right way out through the opening.

6. Iron the tent flat, making sure the opening are folded neatly.

7. Top stitch all around with a 1/8 inch seam allowance, closing the hole shut.

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8. Screw in the hook to the wall and shelf. I used 3 hooks on each side so the tent doesn’t droop in the middle, but you could hold it up on both ends to see if the droop is significant for you to want to add the middle hook.

9. Add and hammer in your grommets where your hooks are suppose to be. Follow the instuctions on how to use the grommet that you purchased. I also find it much easier to only put in the grommets AFTER the hooks are on the wall, hold up the tent and mark it with a fabric marker. Then you can be sure your grommets will fit the hooks perfectly.

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10. Hook on the tent to the hooks and its done! The nice thing about this tent, is that it is reverisible! so when they are bored of one side, you could just flip it and hook on the other side. Its also easy to detach to wash.

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Our finished tent!

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Shape Collage Art for Toddlers and Preschoolers

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One of our favorite activities to do with our kids at home and at our workshops is shape collages. Its great as it teaches and reinforces shapes to them. They also get to learn colors and explore textures while they are at it. It is a simple activity with minimal preparation and clean up.

file_001This activity promotes fine motor skills when using scissors to cut, using a brush to put on glue and pinching little shapes to stick onto the collage.

We also had different textures like magazine papers, construction paper, corrugated board, foam, aluminium foils and colored tissue papers. There are also other types of materials that could be used such as fabric scraps, bottle caps, straws that can also be used to create your collage. I love that this is very open, process art and the kids and I talk about the possibilities that we could create. Like a playground, buildings, vehicles, etc. I use this opportunity to discuss about shapes around us and what we can look out for in nature and all around us. file_002collage

This activity requires some preparation work in advance. Cut out squares and circles in advance. Have a A3 paper for backing, preferably one that is thick paper so that it can take the glue. Scissors, plate (for glue), glue and brush.

Have these materials ready and invite the child to it. Talk to them about shapes, what they can see, feel the texture and how a square can be cut to make into rectangles, or triangles, and how circles can be cut into halves to create dome shaped, etc.

Then you could ask the child to imagine a scene or an animal that they would like to create. For older children, they would be happy to start working on this project and you could also join in a create your own collage. For younger children, it could be a collaborative effort that parent and child could talk about what they would like to create and do it together.

I hope you enjoy this post. Happy collaging!

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Books and Crafts: How do you feel?

File_000 (1).jpegI love sharing feelings with my children and hopefully one day, they will be open to share their feelings with me. It’s not about trying to get affections from them, rather, for them to verbally express how they feel, being able to attune to people around them and picking up non verbal behaviors. This is one skill that is a life skill and hopefully starting young with them would give them a good head start in their interpersonal skills with others as they go to school and their future years.

BOOKS.

There are probably a dozen or more children’s books that covers feelings and these are some of my favorite ones.

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This book is my absolute favorite because it’s very simple and easy to follow. Each page talks about an emotion with a facial expression of the gorilla. Even children as young as 18 months would enjoy seeing the pictures because the book is quite a large book yet light, so little ones can hold and explore the pictures.

This book covers feelings such as Happy, Sad, Curious, Lonely, Confident, Surprised, Guilty, etc.

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Kissing Hand is an award winning book. It is a charming book about a raccoon starting school and has separation anxiety. This book is suitable for toddlers and preschoolers. I used this story with my 2 kids before they started school and practiced the kissing hand so that they would feel comforted and once in a while, we still do the kissing hand and they love it.

 

hurty-feelingsFragility is the name of this hippo and she is a tough hippo on the outside but really soft on the inside. This book is quite hilarious and I think it’s suitable for children ages 4 and above because it is more wordy and the context is a little more complex than the other 2 books. The story covers insecurity, bullying and using words to comfort. This is one of our favorite bed time stories.

 

 

CRAFTS. 

playdough-facesPlaydough faces. I love using playdough with young kids because it’s sensory and tactile and little ones as young as 8 months can work on them (adults supervision please). Here we have a simple template that you could print from the internet. I did a search “faces template”. To make it reusable, how about laminating the printout so that it could be used on several occasions? I think it would make a fun party for preschoolers to work on using playdough to express various emotions and take pictures of it and make it into a collage.

 

Paper how-do-u-feel-crafedolls are crafts that are fun and easy to make. Although parents would need to do a little more preparation work like cutting up the doll template. Otherwise, the activity is very engaging and allows the child to express their feelings and creativity. I got the template doing a google search “paper doll template”. You’ll need glue, paper fasteners if you want to make each doll connect to one another and could move and also various materials such as markers, yarn, various types of papers and fabric scraps. The materials are easily available from home and it could take at most 30 minutes to print (preferably on heavy weight paper), cut out and set the materials to invite the child to create. Although we have done this with toddlers and their parents as a collaborative work, this could also be suitable children ages 4 and above.

This is one of my favourite craft activity with my children. We take pictures of how we feel (exaggerated emotions), cut out the faces and make them into puppets. Using these puppets, we make up stories as puppetif the puppets were characters that were not them. Sometimes I use these puppets to role play a particular scenario that I’d like the kids to learn. For example, stories like talking to bullying, or throwing tantrums. I think having a puppet allows the child to look at it as a separate entity and they don’t take it personal when the stories are told. These puppets can be kept inside box and whenever the kids are bored, they can also take them out and make up stories. We made these puppets recently at one of our workshops to create a family of puppets and the toddlers adored the activity because we would take their photos during the workshop, print them out onsite and they could see it become a physical picture instead of the usual digital photos. Then creating the puppets with those faces really brought smiles to their faces as they could recreate their family members as puppets.

I hope you enjoyed this post and feel free to share books about emotions or crafts that can be used to talk about emotions with young kids.

Have a great day ahead!

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