I can’t claim to have grown up with much awareness of religious diversity, and I can’t claim to be one way better or worse off for it, but I do know that my children are growing up in a much different way and in a very different place to the close, conservative, and supportive community that I did, so I think it’s important for them to learn two things: 1) Tolerance for other religions, 2) an understanding of other religions in relation to what I believe, and what I hope they will believe. Religious observances are also different now, and sometimes more commercial – for example the Colour Run, based on the Holli celebration, or locally, we have Electric Woods, where Robin Hill lights up the autumn nights inspired by Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights. While we could just go and enjoy the prettiness, I think there’s value in explaining what it is that we’re exposing ourselves to, so that the children can learn something about ‘other people’. As it was, the Electric Woods event saw us walking through the woods at Robin Hill enjoying the cold evening air, listening to music and looking at light displays. It was a lovely evening out, fuelled by hot chocolate. Read more: Learning About the Hindu Festival Of Diwali
I don’t know why, but as long as I can remember I’ve loved Jazzies. I really don’t know why – they are made from cheap chocolate, and full of Hundreds and Thousands (Nonpareils, to my American readers) that taste of nothing. When we decided to do Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for our home-ed Play & Learn theme, I knew we had to make our own Jazzies.
Initially I was going to pour the melted chocolate into muffin pans to make them perfectly round, but in the end I decided to just free-hand it and let the kids have fun. They don’t care so much for perfectionism!
The main thing here was to provide a selection of toppings for our DIY Jazzies, and as it happens I didn’t have any Hundreds and Thousands, so we went for chocolate sprinkles and chocolate twirls, Frozen snowflakes, shredded coconut, wafer flowers and popping candy. If I had any, we’d have added some chopped nuts and dried fruit too.
I melted the chocolate at 50C for 3 minutes in my Thermomix, but you can do it in a microwave or on the stove (put the chocolate in a glass bowl that fits inside a pot. Put water in the pot, but the bowl in the pot and boil the water till the chocolate has melted. Be careful, the glass will be hot.)
While the chocolate is melting, lay out strips of plastic wrap. (I taped these down onto the table so the kids couldn’t lift them. On trays would be better as you can then move them out of the way.)
Once melted, spoon the chocolate out and place a tablespoon full at a time on the plastic. Let the children do the toppings – you don’t have to act too fast, it does take a few minutes for the chocolate to set.
Leave for 2 – 3 hours till the chocolate is firmly set, then peel off, and enjoy.
Keep in an airtight container for up to a week, depending on the toppings you’ve used.
The better the chocolate, the better they’ll be. Doesn’t this just leave the small people feeling like chocolate inventors though? It’s a fun activity!
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One of my friends told me once that she loved my blog, because I don’t post perfect crafts and that makes her feel like a normal mama when their crafts and projects don’t come out perfect. Well, this one is for everyone who ever has not-as-planned-cakes.
We received The Carrot Cake Catastrophe by Elizabeth Dale (Author) and Gemma Raynor (Illustrator) from Paragon a few months ago as part of the Paragon Book Buddies project and today we decided it was time to go read it.
Instead of making it into a standard round cake, however, we poured the cake dough into gingerbread man shapes, since our PlayLearning theme this week is around the human body.
Well, it didn’t really work out. The dough is way too moist and the resulting cake way too crumbly for it to work that way. It was still absolutely delicious though. So our cake may have turned out a bit of Catastrophe too, but it was still way, way better than Grandpa’s cake from the book.
In this story, a little girl and her grandfather decide to make a cake for her mama’s birthday. That’s all fine and well, but with his glasses on Grandpa can read the instructions, but not identify the ingredients, so he ends up adding soap instead of butter, and so on. Yum. They head into the garden for fresh, juicy carrots, and stir them into the batter – without grating or chopping! It’s a recipe for disaster, for sure.
In the end the birds eat the cake – apparently they don’t mind the soap – and Mama saves the day with a previously baked cake.
At the end of the book there’s the recipe Grandpa and the little girl followed, with instructions, so you can make it at home too.
It’s a very basic carrot cake, making it ideal for little bakers. Even though I’m a very proud and happy Thermomix owner, I think it’s essential that Ameli and Aviya learn to cook the ‘old fashioned’ way, including weighing, measuring and a bit of elbow grease.
The sign of a great children’s book for me is when the girls remember it later. We had to walk to the shop for cream cheese for the icing, and Ameli laughed suddenly, saying she’s glad we didn’t put soap in our cake! She asked me what ‘bitter’ meant (I said it would probably taste bitter from the soap), and asked about the meaning of other words… I love when they learn without knowing they are.
An all round lovely story, great for preparing for birthdays as we are this week – can’t believe Aviya is coming up for two! – and just a bit of fun and a laugh. Lovely.