Matilda’s Chocolate Playdough – Fantastic Playdough Recipe!

I’ve made many a batch of playdough in my time, but I’ve never been excited enough by a recipe to write it down, and I’ve never actually kept a batch in the fridge for more than a day or two, until I recently discovered a very simple recipe that is silky soft and fantastic.

It’s also the first time I’ve actually ‘cooked’  a playdough, but it won’t be the last. I’ve adapted this recipe from Imagination Tree, largely because I didn’t have enough salt or any cream of tartar, but I’m also hoping the exposure to Epsom salts will make sure my little people don’t run out of the magnesium and other benefits that come from Epsom salts.

Since we’re working on Matilda right now, I decided to go for a chocolate playdough so that we could make the chocolates Miss Honey remembers her father having after dinner – the same ones Miss Trunchbull now keeps to herself.

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Matilda’s Chocolate Playdough – Fantastic Playdough Recipe!
Author: Luschka – adapted from Imagination Tree
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Ingredients
  • 2 cups plain flour (all purpose)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup Epsom salts (you can use normal salt)
  • Up to 1.5 cups boiling water – added a little at a time
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa
  • teaspoon glycerine for that silky shine
Instructions
  1. On a steady heat, add the flour, salt, and oil in a large mixing bowl
  2. Add the cocoa
  3. Add the boiling water then into the dry ingredients
  4. Stir continuously until it becomes a sticky, combined dough
  5. Add the glycerine
  6. Remove from heat
  7. Allow it to cool down then take it out of the bowl and knead it vigorously for a couple of minutes until all of the stickiness has gone.
  8. If it remains a little sticky then add a more flour a little at a time until it’s right.
Miss Honey's Playdough Chocolates

You can hardly tell which picture is from the movie, and which is playdough, according to the 3 year old 😉

For more Matilda themed activities, click on the image below:

matilda

Study Unit: Roald Dahl’s Charlie And The Chocolate Factory

Last year my children had watched most of the Roald Dahl movies available on the market, but we hadn’t read any of the books, so our Roald Dahl inspired arts and crafts were varied and mixed. Over the last few weeks we’ve been reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, however, so all our activities the last few weeks have been around that.

Next week we’ll be working on Matilda, so check back in if you love that book too!

PIN THIS: Roald Dahl WeekThere are two versions of the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie:

And there is the book, famously illustrated by Quentin Blake

While we like having fun with our ‘themes’ as we call them, I do try to bring elements of learning into them too. Remembering that my children are 5 & 3, I do keep things pretty simple, but I’m quite excited about the possibilities of redoing all these themes in years to come, and seeing how much they have grown in their understanding, and how much ‘deeper’ we can go on each topic.

Having watched the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie and read the book, I decided to do a reading comprehension ‘test’. I designed a comparison chart, so Ameli could compare what happens in the book with what happens in the movie, and also make a note of major things that happen in a similar fashion. For example, in the book, Mr Bucket tells them about the golden ticket competition, in the movie, Charlie sees the posters going up. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Reading Comprehension Worksheet

Sticking with the loose ‘English’ or ‘Language Learning topic, we decided to make up words, something Roald Dahl is incredibly good at! This little making up words activity went down a charm, and made an amazing platform for telling our own stories. Make up words like Roald Dahl

I use the word math very lightly here, but since we’re starting out, we used measuring a bag of candies as an introduction to units of measurement.Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Units of Measurement

It’s Charlie and the CHOCOLATE factory, so we had to get some inventing with chocolate going – I went for the easy option and made Jazzies, with DIY decorations for my little inventors. DIY Jazzies Charlie & The Chocolate FactoryNot all the creative activities this weeks should include tons of sugar, so we decided to make our own party decor. We made giant lollipops, giant boiled sweets, and giant lollipop swirls. This was a great afternoon’s paper sweet crafting.Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Decor

 

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a great theme for introducing some science too – see what happens with popping candy when you pour water, coke and then vinegar into three different bowls and top them with popping candy.  Measure jelly babies and put them in a bowl over night – how much did they grow? Put boiled sweets (the kind with stripes on them) into a bowl with a few drops of water. What happens to the sweets? How do the colours disperse? Could you do it on paper and see what happens with the colours? Does the paper remain in tact? Put boiled sweets in mould and put them into the oven. When they melt, do the colours mix? Do they retain their shape? Do they re-set into their new shapes? There are loads of candy experiments you can try!

At the end of a long and exciting week of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, everyone needs a good, long, relaxing bath, so this Chocolate Bath Salt recipe smells delicious, and helps induce a deep sleep too.

DIY Chocolate Bath Salt

Printable Unit Plan

Click on this image for a downloadable, printable study unit plan.

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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

What have other Charlie and the Chocolate Factory fans been up to?

Charlie And The Chocolate Factory Activities – Chocolate Bath Salt

Chocolate Bubble Bath is such an easy win with the kids. As part of a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory day, it’s a perfect way to end the day too.

Although you only add about 2 tablespoons of cocoa to your bath water, it’s more than enough to fill the bathroom with the aroma and scent of chocolate, but it’s also not that sickly sweet smell you’d get from chocolate sauce, for example. In addition, Epsom salt is great for pulling aches and pains out of the body, but more importantly – it helps induce a deep sleep! Can you hear me parents? A deep sleep!DIY Chocolate Bath Salt

It’s the simplest ‘recipe’ ever too – you can get the kids to make this one up.

All you need is:

1 cup Epsom salts – great for inducing deep sleep

1 tablespoon baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)- for a bit of a ‘fizz’ as it hits the water

2 tablespoons cocoa powder – for that chocolatey yumminess

You can’t really go wrong on this. If you have a bit more Epsom salts or a bit less baking soda, it’s not the end of the world – it will still work just fine.

Put the Epsom salts into a sealable jar, add the baking soda and the cocoa powder and shake for a few seconds till it’s all well combined. Pour into a warm bath and top up with your regular bubble bath – you’ll have the bubbles on top, and the chocolate below.

Enjoy!

Study Unit Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Find more Charlie & The Chocolate Factory activities here.

Easy Paper Giant Candies For Charlie And The Chocolate Factory

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a superb theme to do with kids, but it does make for a pretty heavy sugar week! We are having a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory ‘party’ in a couple of days, and rather than just having endless amounts of sweets to set the scene, I wanted décor that didn’t cost an arm and a leg and wasn’t really consumable. I also wanted it to be something that kept the kids busy and helped them learn a little something too.

1) Giant LollipopsCharlie and the Chocolate Factory Decor

I loved these giant lollipops I spotted somewhere on Pinterest, but I didn’t have the budget to make them as they were done originally, so I used a giant bubble wand to wrap an A3 page round, then cellotaped a blown up balloon into the cylinder. Next up, wrap some clear or spotty spotty cellophane* around it to look like the sweet wrapper. You don’t have to do this, but it does make it look a whole lot more authentic!

2) Giant boiled sweets

For the giant boiled sweets you will need a paper plate, tissue paper* and cellotape. Take a sheet of tissue paper and wrap it around in a rectangle, then at the edge of the plate, squeeze the sides together and wrap cellotape around. Easy peasey giant boiled sweets.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Decor Sweets

 3) Painted Giant Rainbow Lollipops

Again using paper plates, draw a spiral from the center to the outside of the plate, and get children to paint from the inside out. I used this as a colour mixing lesson on primary and secondary colours = start with blue and then yellow, then mix the two together (overlap them in the middle) to get the  mixed colour. The same with the blue and red (to make purple) and red and yellow (to make orange) and so on. Work your way to the outside, and leave to dry. Next, glue a stick, or a lollipop stick to the plate and there you have your rainbow lollipops.

Stick them all up in the garden for your own Charlie and the Chocolate Factory party, and see happy little faces like this!

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory party

Study Unit Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Find more Charlie & The Chocolate Factory activities here.

Make Up Words Like Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl has an amazing capacity for  making up words. Just think of ‘frobscottle’, ‘snozzcumber’ and a dozen other words that simply don’t exist in the English language. I found this amazing hand written list of names he wrote while working on The Big Friendly Giant and it thrills me to think of an amazing story teller sitting in his shed, coming up with names.  It’s almost exciting to think about, isn’t it? 1

Roald-Dahl-writing

Ameli and I spent some time this week exploring syllables and making up new words to turn into a story.

To prepare: cut words of two or more syllables from a magazine.
Write out what you want from your story – characters, place names etc

You will need: magazine, scissors & glue

Make up words like Roald DahlFor this activity,  cut words out of a magazine – I opted for longer words that had two or more syllables.

Also, in Ameli’s workbook I wrote out the following, leaving spaces for her to glue the answers:

The names of three characters, the name of their town, the name of one character’s favourite food, what this food is.

First we sounded out syllables by clapping and counting the claps: uni(clap)-form(clap), foun(clap)-da(clap)-tion(clap), sim(clap)-ple(clap)-ton(clap) and so on.

We then cut our magazine words up into parts based on the syllables. This gave her an opportunity to become familiar with syllables.

Next, mix and match the word parts till you find words that ‘feel right’.

Our characters were called Verend, Cretsner, and Tiveconsen Light. They live in a town called Garsea. Verend’s favourite food is a berry called chaption, which tastes like fresh water that’s been bathing in sunlight. And has magic powers.Make Up Words Like Roald Dahl

Once we had these details down, I asked Ameli if she could tell me a story with these details in, picked up the camera, and here’s the story. Sure, it needs some refining, but pretty good going for no prep time, and a first attempt, I think. She’ll be an author yet, this one!

 

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Study Unit Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Find more Charlie & The Chocolate Factory activities here.

  1.  http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2011/09/the-language-of-roald-dahl/

Charlie And The Chocolate Factory Activities – DIY Jazzies

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.

DIY Jazzies

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.

DIY Jazzies Charlie & The Chocolate Factory

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!

Study Unit Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Find more Charlie & The Chocolate Factory activities here.

Charlie And The Chocolate Factory – Units of Measurement

There’s nothing like sweets to get a sweet-toothed person excited about learning something maths-ish, so as part of our Charlie and the Chocolate Factory week, I bought a mixed bag of candy – I wanted chocolates, but apparently we aren’t close enough to Halloween yet, so no one in my town sells the mixed bags of chocolates yet!

This is a super easy activity, involving a mix of candy and a ruler.Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Units of Measurement

In Ameli’s notebook I made three columns: the name of the candy she was measuring, Inches and CM.

She measured each bit of candy first in Inches then in CM, writing down the numbers for each. I didn’t want her to open all the candy so we included packaging and rounded up to the nearest half CM or Inch.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Units of Measurement

Once we had all the measurements, she was able to eat the shortest (based on numbers) and arrange the sweets in size order, again, based on measurements rather than by looking at the sweets themselves.

I wasn’t sure how this activity would go down – as Charlie says, seeing other people eating chocolate bars was torture, and I thought working with sweets she couldn’t eat would be a bit torturous too, but she handled it really well and din’t moan about it too much at all!

Walking to school in the mornings, Charlie could see great slabs of chocolate piled up high in the shop windows, and he would stop and stare and press his nose against the glass, his mouth watering like mad. Many times a day, he would see other children taking bars of creamy chocolate out of their pockets and munching them greedily, and that, of course, was pure torture. 1

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Units of MeasurementI’m quite pleased with this Charlie and the Chocolate Factory candy measurements activity. It’s introduced units of measurements, and a bit of numeracy, and gives us something to build on.

Study Unit Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Find more Charlie & The Chocolate Factory activities here.

  1.  http://roalddahl.wikia.com/wiki/Charlie_and_the_Chocolate_Factory_(1964)

Charlie And The Chocolate Factory – The Book Vs The Movie

It’s Roald Dahls’ birthday in a couple of weeks, so our home-ed theme to get us back into a learning routine now that summer is over, is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. We are really easing into it since it’s important to me that at 5 & 3, the girls still have a lot of time for simple play. We started today with watching a favourite movie for us – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with Johnny Depp – and then we started reading the book*.

I thought that a good way to gauge reading comprehension would be for Ameli to keep track of the differences between the movie and the story, so I created a chart for her with two overlapping circles.

On the one side I wrote ‘Movie’ and on the other ‘Book’ – where things overlap between the book and the movie I wrote ‘Both’. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Reading Comprehension Worksheet

On first reading we got five chapters into the book, which is a very short distance into the movie, but Ameli has been really quick to spot the few differences between the two, and pointing out the main storyline similarities. She sometimes even points out differences in the spoken words between the film and the book, but since we’re not trying to de-construct the story, I’ve tried to steer her towards major themes.

Similarities include the fact that the grandparents spend all their time in bed, and that Grandpa Joe worked for Willy Wonka and that the family ate a lot of cabbage. Differences include things like Mr Bucket being the one who finds out about the Golden Tickets in the newspaper, while in the movie, Charlie sees the signs go up.

We’ll keep track of differences as we go through the book, but it’s great to see her engaging with this as much as the movie, and being conscious of and excited by the differences. I love knowing that she’s actually comprehending what we’re reading.

You can use our chart if you like. Download it free here.

Study Unit Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Find more Charlie & The Chocolate Factory activities here.

Ravensburger Games {Review}

One of the benefits of home education for me is the ability to learn through play. Of course learning through play is relevant whether children go to school or not, and one of the fun ways to encourage learning without anyone even knowing they’re learning is through puzzle and board games.

We were sent a selection of Ravensburger games to review, and they’ve come in very handy over the wetness of these British “Summer” days.

The four sets we were sent were: My First WordsABC Game, My First Clock and Ready Set Count!*.

Ready Set Count! Ravensburger Games

ready set count

The first game we unpacked was Ready Set Count!

This game is a first counting game, perfect for my 3 year old. While it can be played with the included dice, we found it best for learning what each number looked like. Each card set has an animal(s) image, fingers that show the number, the numeric image and the dice representation of the number.

I set like with like – so fingers in one pile, dice in another, numbers in a third and the animal images in the last. She picked an animal card, counted the figures on it and then found the corresponding fingers, number and dice. She has a great time sorting the sets together, and then organising them into their correct numerical order.

Played as a game each player can roll the dice and find the corresponding number set to match.

This set has the obvious learning goal of counting, but also number recognition and a taking turns/sharing. It can be played by 1 – 4 players.

My First Clock Ravensburger Games

My First ClockThe My First Clock Game consists of a clock and 27 game cards. They bill this as having three ‘games’ in one, with double sided ‘clock’ cards that show analogue and digital times.  The cards can be used in different ways – put them in order of time and describe what you would normally do at that time. You can also us it to look at the digital times shown on the cards and try to put the hands on the clock face to the correct time, winning a card each time you do this or finally, players take turns to set a time on the clock face and everyone else must try to find the clock card that is closest to that time.  Or of course, you can just let your child figure it out on their own, setting the time to match the activity.

This definitely helps to develop “number association, recognition of routines and sense of the abstract concept of time” as it says in the description, and with a little help it’s a very useful device for learning how to tell the time.

The cardboard clock face has movable plastic hands that you assemble yourself, so it’s a good opportunity for learning the difference between the long and short hands too. These aren’t the best design ever, as the clock ‘hands’ come out quite easy but for £6.99 for the whole set, it’s sufficiently effective and safe enough for a 4 – 9 year old.

ABC Ravensburger Games

My First WordsBased on a ‘flashcard’ style of learning, the ABC Game is filled with two-piece puzzles with one for every letter of the alphabet and a corresponding image card – a & apple, b & bird and so on.

These cards are ‘self-correcting’ which means if you try to put the wrong image to the wrong letter, you won’t be able to slot the puzzle pieces in together. This is good as it’s a gentle prod to try something different, rather than a ‘YOU’RE WRONG!’ which I like.

My First Words Ravensburger GamesABC

The final game we have been playing is My First Words, which is a great follow on from the ABC game. Having learned the alphabet, this game introduces little ones to their first simple words. As compared to the other games, I think this one is more about word familiarisation rather than actually learning words – largely because they can put the word together by putting the picture together, but it does help with familiarity of the words. I like that it’s fun, and that it’s play, but that my girls feel a sense of achievement when they can shout out what the word is, and be right.

For all the games, the cards are decent quality – you have to remember these aren’t expensive puzzle sets – and they last well. The can all be stored within the boxes they come in, and these are stackable in a toy box or shelving unit too, so it’s easy to tidy it all away.

Alfie Outdoors By Shirley Hughes {Book Review}

I didn’t grow up in the UK, or in fact in any kind of regular family – sorry guys – and despite earning a BA in English Language and Literature at university, there are many authors that I never heard of till I became a parent myself, names like Dr Seuss, Roald Dahl and a few others, including Shirley Hughes. (Don’t feel too bad for me though. I had a love affair with The Famous Five, could tell you anything you wanted to know about Nancy Drew or The Hardy Boys, and spent hours and days adventuring with Trompie en die Boksom Bende and Liewe Heksie.)

Recently I was sent a press release about Shirley Hughes new book Alfie Outdoors and it wasn’t the name that I recognised in it, but the illustration style, and I realised that it was the same author as a Lucy and Tom Christmas story that my children love.

Alfie Outdoors

This new Alfie story doesn’t disappoint. Filled with beautiful pencil sketch-style (I have no idea about actual names for art styles!) images, and children with chubby cheeks, it’s a delight to read. My three and five year old daughters are engrossed in it with every reading, and they love living through the sowing of seeds, the watering, the waiting, until carrots grow. Their eyes widen every time Gertrude the Goat disappears, and they sigh with relief every time she returns.

The fact that the main protagonist is a little boy makes no difference to them – they seem to share in the common experience of being children, impatience, fear, loss, joy, despite the difference in gender. Alfie Outdoors

Alfie is an all-round wholesome book. From tilling the land for your food, to washing drying on a line, to dad holding hands with his son, this story is a throwback to what in retrospect seems like a simpler time – or in fact was for us as children! It is thoroughly beautiful.

It also ties in perfectly with loads of themes, like patience, caring for animals, growing your own food, summer and friendship. There are plenty themes to tie this story with whatever lesson you may be trying to teach your child. We even managed to use it as a catalyst for talking about all the bugs you find when you turn over stones in the garden – and it ties in really well in preparing for the autumn by creating a home for natureAlfie Outdoors bugs

Capitalise on the learning in this book with the bug hunt worksheet from Twinkl, or one of the ‘plant life cycle’ worksheets for sunflowers or beans.

Shirley Hughes’ Alfie Outdoors is a beautiful book, a lovely story, and well worth having on your shelves to return to often. It’s available from Amazon UK here with an International Edition available at Amazon US on 25 August 2015*.