Friday, 24 October 2014

Healthy Halloween Treats for Babies and Children

Halloween is fast approaching, and we're preparing by decorating the house, getting our costumes ready and making some treats!  So when we were challenged by Sykes Cottages to make some healthy Halloween treats, we decided to give it a try.  It will be nice to have some alternatives to all of the sweet treats we're having!

I decided that it would also be a great opportunity to make some treats for younger children, who probably aren't eating anything sugary at all! I remember when Ethan was tiny that I was always searching for healthy alternatives for him and it's the same now with Ivy.  Even though she's only 8 months old, I don't want her to miss out on the fun of Halloween, so we've made her some pumpkin baby cookies!  But first, we made Ethan and his friends some pumpkin cookie bites. They are sort of a flapjack or granola bar like consistency, but with the added nutrition and spookiness of pumpkin purée!  It was also a chance to come up with some really simple recipes that Ethan could help with every step of the way.

Pumpkin Cookie Bites

2 cups oats
1/2 cup pumpkin purée
50g butter
1 tbsp honey
Pinch cinnamon

Raisins to decorate

Mix all of the ingredients together, roll into balls and decorate with raisins to look like pumpkins! (We did some with faces and some with pumpkin stems)  Place on a baking tray.

Bake at 175 for 15 minutes

Alternatives: I made these very low in sweetener, but you could add more honey or alternatives like maple syrup, agave nectar or rice malt syrup.  Or even try peanut butter and other chopped up dried fruit to add to the sweetness.

Pumpkin Teething Cookies

1 1/2 cups of baby cereal
1 mashed banana
1 tbsp pumpkin purée
A pinch of cinnamon

Mix all of the ingredients together, roll out flat and use a pumpkin shaped cookie cutter to make the cookies. Place on a baking tray.

Bake at 175 for 20 minutes 

Ethan loved helping to make the cookies to share with his friends, and for Ivy to share with her friends on a play date.  He has so much fun baking, and testing out his creations.  And now we've got some healthy treats for Halloween!

* This post was written as a competition entry hosted by Sykes Cottage, to find the best healthy Halloween treats.  We were provided with a recipe book for inspiration and an ingredient budget to create our cookies. *

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Making a Witches Brew

It was a very cold day today, but the sun was shining, so it was a good chance to get outside and play while we can!  I love the simplicity of giving Ethan an idea and a few items to get him started, and then just letting him play freely outside.  As Halloween is fast approaching, I decided today to hand him a cauldron, a big spoon and a witches hat, and told him to make a witches brew!  

He asked me what that was, of course, and we talked about the witch in Room on the Broom and how she filled her cauldron with different things to make a spell to make her new broom.  So then he went around the garden finding all sorts of different things that he could add, like sticks, leaves, grass and bugs!

He put them all in the cauldron and stirred it around, saying different magic words from various books about witches that we read.  I even managed to teach him a bit of the witches scene from Macbeth "Double double toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble" he loved it!  

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Halloween Salt Dough Decorations

We are still decorating the house for Halloween, and so we've made some salt dough decorations to add to our spooky look.  We started by making the salt dough, we follow a very simple recipe:

Salt Dough

2 parts flour
2 parts salt
1 part water

After making the salt dough, we played with it for a little while, squishing it between our fingers and rolling it into a ball.  Then we rolled it out flat with a rolling pin and used some Halloween cookie cutters to make shapes in the dough.  We made 2 pumpkins, a cat, a haunted house and a ghost.  I also put a hole in the top of each one with a pencil, so that we would be able to hang them when they're finished.

After baking the shapes and letting them cool, it was time to paint them!  We painted the pumpkins orange, the cat and the haunted house black and the ghost white.  Ethan really impressed me with how careful he was painting the shapes, he really wanted to make sure that he covered the whole thing with colour, his focus was amazing.

Once the paint was dry I put some Halloween ribbon through the hole at the top of each decoration, and they were ready to hang up and display for everyone to see.  Ethan is so proud of his creations, he loves to tell people about the different Halloween shapes that he made!

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Learning Resources: Bug Counters - Review

We've been working on Ethan's maths skills while we play with In The Garden Bug Counters from Learning Resources.  They are a set of There are so many different ways to use such a simple resource, and we are having lots of fun finding as many ways to play with them that we can!  

We started by taking some out to look at them and identify what type of bug they were (there are snails, caterpillars, bees, spiders, dragonflies and grasshoppers) and then we used our circular sorting tray to put all the bugs of the same type together.  Ethan got the hang of it really quickly, and had fun playing with the bugs as he sorted them. He had the bees buzzing into the tray, the grasshoppers jumping and the snails slithering.

Another way to sort the bugs is by colour.  There are several of each type of bug in each colour (green, blue, red, yellow, purple and orange).  Ethan already had the hang of sorting from our first activity, so he was literally grabbing handfuls of bugs of the same colour and putting them into the tray, he was loving it!

We were also able to work on Ethan's fine motor control by using some jumbo tweezers to pick up the bugs and put them into the tray.  This also slowed Ethan down a bit, as you can see it's a new skill for him and he had to really concentrate, and use two hands to pick up the bugs.  We took this opportunity to slowly count the bugs as they went into the tray.  Ethan is a bit young yet to make patterns, but that will be the next set of activities that we will do with the bugs when he's ready.

* This is a review post, Learning Resources sent us the counters, sorting tray and tweezers to play with and write an honest review about. *

Monday, 20 October 2014

Halloween Wreath

We have been having so much fun decorating the house for Halloween! We've got window stickers, bunting, garland, spider webs, hanging bats and pumpkin lanterns.  One of the only things we don't have is a wreath for the front door, so we decided to make one! 

Cardboard cut in a circle
Black paint
Foam pumpkins
Plastic spiders
Halloween confetti
PVA glue

The first thing that I did was to cut a piece from a cardboard box into a circle, then cut out the middle. Next, Ethan painted the cardboard black and we waited for it to dry. Once the paint was dry we were ready to start sticking on our foam pumpkins (if you can't find any precut, you could buy sheets of orange foam and cut the shapes out yourself).

Then Ethan started sticking all of the other little bits around the wreath. I put dots of glue all around to make it easier for him, then he stuck on some little plastic ghosts, spiders and Haloween confetti.

Once it was dry we put it up in the door together, and Ethan's now so excited to see it and to show it to people whenever we come home! 

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Our Sunday Storybook - The Cheerios Halloween Play Book

Last year for Halloween Ethan got The Cheerios Halloween Play Book as a gift, and it's so cute, unlike any other book we have, and we love it.

Each page has a different Halloween picture, with a challenge to fill in the gaps (things like eyes or buttons) and there's little indentations to fit your Cheerios into the spaces.  Ethan absolutely loves it, going through the story and finding places to put all his Cheerios.  Of course he also loves that he gets to have a snack while we read!  I'll definitely be looking for the other Cheerios books to get for Ethan and Ivy.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Octonauts Party Decorations - Cuttlebug Review and Giveaway

Last week I wrote about Ethan's Octonauts Third Birthday Party and made a quick mention of the decorations that I had embossed.  Well, that fun embossing of decorations was made possible by the Cricut Cuttlebug.  I received one to review shortly before his party, so I quickly tried it out to make a few Octonauts decorations.

The Cuttlebug is an embossing and cutting machine.  It is really simple to use, basically just putting the paper that you want to cut or emboss in between the cutting pads, turning the handle of the machine to push it through and taking it out the other side.  The Cuttlebug comes with one embossing folder, and I was given a couple of extras to try it.  Unfortunately it didn't come with any cutting dies, and I wasn't able to find any to buy in time, so I couldn't try out the cutting.  My only complaint about the Cuttlebug is that you have to buy all of the embossing folders and cutting dies separately, I think that it would be nice to come with some basic designs and shapes, but I think that is true of all machines of this type.

For the party I made some bunting, I actually bought the precut card, but then I embossed it with the zigzag embossing folder and the dotty embossing folder.  It was so easy to do and I think that it gave the bunting a little something extra special.  I also embossed the bandage symbol for the party boxes.  This was perfect as I needed the bandages to have dots like a real plaster, and they came out even better than I had hoped!  I can't wait to get some cutting dies and more embossing folders to make some more projects with my Cuttlebug!

Would you like to win a Cricut Cuttlebug?  What would you make first with it if you won?

Giveaway open to residents of the UK only.

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* This is a review post, I was given a Cuttlebug to use and to write my honest review about.*