Friday, November 30, 2012

How to make butter with one plastic box

This is a simple, interesting and educational activity which also gets rid of excessive energy. I had never imagined that making butter would be so easy. B and I talked about food groups and where food comes from while we made it. Then we ate rye bread and fresh butter when we had finished. It was possibly the best butter I have ever tasted, and all we needed was a secure box!

I had the idea on a morning when my lovely little three year old was running from wall to wall in our apartment, clearly with a lot of energy to expend. I thought dancing around with a box would give him a goal. Then he had the idea to run with it, then we threw it a little, swung it on a scarf, and then he got bored and I was left to shake as I finished my coffee.

Closed Box
How to do it:
1. Find a box with a very very secure lid.
2. Pour in cream making sure there is enough room for it to slosh around. Ours was half full.
3. Shake the box until the butter forms.
4. Eat within 3 days, unless you wash all the butter milk out with lots of water. See link below.

Fresh Butter in Buttermilk

I think he didn't believe me when I said we were going to make butter out of cream. After he lost interest it was starting to get a little boring but then, all of a sudden, there was the butter floating around in the middle of the box. I was as excited as him as we opened the lid for a look and tasted it. It really was wonderful butter and we're going to be making it ourselves more often from now on. We also used the buttermilk in a cake the next day.

There is some useful information on this health food site about making butter. The direction are for making butter in a blender. There are also clear instructions for getting all the butter milk out so it lasts longer. We eat butter everyday and this homemade batch was so good it was eaten up in a couple of days.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Water play for Baby

Keeping little R entertained while we bake is easy with water!


Friday, November 23, 2012

Drawing diagrams of trains and keeping carriages in order

My three year old likes to have his train built in a certain way. He can get very upset when it is broken or when we have to put it away. I had been thinking of a way to help him with this and came up with a matching and sorting activity. We have a wooden train with 13 carriages and engines of four different colours. Using paper and crayons I showed my son how we could draw a diagram of the train and record how the carriages are positioned.
Boy with train carriage

First we organised all the carriages according to colour. B loves catagorising things at the moment and enjoyed seeing them all lined up neatly.

Then we counted them and drew the right number of boxes on a piece of paper.

Diagram ready to be coloured
Then B built a train. Together we coloured the boxes, well, I did most of the colouring. He prefers line drawings at the moment. I decided that the idea of the activity was to talk about diagrams, and colouring was a secondary and less important skill at this moment.
Finished train
Then he decided to make a little change. So we drew the boxes again and coloured them accordingly. He was very pleased.
Two slightly different trains
I hope to add to our list of trains in the future, if he builds different trains. But at the moment, he likes them in this order, so in this order they go!

It was lovely to talk about the differences in the carriages and how they should go together.  I’m sure my little boy developed some important skills as we
  • talked about colour, shape and size
  • created a picture diagram of something real.
  • matched carriages as we built a train.

He also get less upset when the train is damaged as he knows it can be easily put together again - in the same order!

Little Red Caboose and Dad Playing Guitar

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Making the Perfect (Simple) Paper Plane

When looking for something to do which requires little or no preparation, I often reach for a huge stack of paper that is always in the corner of the cupboard. Paper can be made to do lots of things and this day I thought I’d show B an amazing flying plane. Only the first one I made wasn’t amazing. This led me to find out how to make a really good plane from just one piece of paper. I found a lot more than I had bargained for.

The first plane I made for B was met with a blank face and “that wasn’t very good, Mama”. It was a bit of a let down as we’d had fun folding paper together. I hadn’t told him what we were making and I thought I might get at least an “oo” from the first flight., but no. The paper plane flew about 2 metres heading steadily down to the floor.

So I did a little research and found this wonderful site called with lots of different ways to make airplanes. There are many to choose from, some complicated and some simple, all with instructions in video form and step by step diagrams. They all fly a little differently. My favourite is the Rapier as it is quick and easy to make (and to remember).

Instructions (these are very basic and might only be understood if you know how to make a basic school child plane!):
1. Take a piece of paper and fold it lengthways down the middle. Open it.

Folded Piece of Paper

2. Fold the top edge over about one centimetre. Then fold it over again, and again and again, about 8 times.

Paper with One Fold at the Top

Paper with Top Fold Folded Over

3. Then take the top outside corner (with lots of folds) and fold it down to the middle. Do the same to the other side (like you do for a traditional basic plane)

Corners Folded Over

4. Then fold along the middle crease again.

Middle Crease Folded again

5. Lastly, fold the lower corners (now joined in the middle flat against each other) down to create the wings.

Wings Folded Down - The Finished Plane!

There is an instruction video for this plane if my instructions aren’t adequate, and diagrams when you scroll down. And through this link you will find more plane which will no doubt keep an older child happy for a long while.

If you have lots of time and patience, you might be interested in this complicated paper plane. I can’t vouch for its flying ability though, there are 35 steps and I didn't have time to finish it. I'll have to try again when my son is able to follow.

Testing different paper planes was a lot of fun and it gave us lots of opportunity to use words for describing the way they flew and how well they flew. We also:
  • Practiced folding - great for fine motor skills
  • Ran around and followed the planes - whole body co-ordination and dodging doorways and furniture!
  • Experimented with the concept of motion
  • Watched a simple plain piece of paper take on new dimensions and almost a personality as it zoomed through the air!

Do you have a favourite paper place design? Comment to tell me about it.