Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Festive Spiced Play Dough

This play dough smells so good, I want to eat it!


  • 1 cup of salt
  • 1 cup of flour
  • a couple of tablespoons of mixed spice
  • 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar
  • 1 cup of water.
  • food colouring
Combine all the dry ingredients together and mix well.  Add the water . Drop the food colouring into the mixture until you have the desired shade you would like.

Then place over a low heat and KEEP STIRRING to produce a nice smooth dough.  An electric hand mixer is great for this part and saves your arm muscles!

When it's nice and thick, take off the heat and transfer onto a sheet of cling film or a plastic container.  When it has cooled enough to handle, knead it until smooth and then leave to cool completely.

Can be stored in an air tight container in the fridge for 1-2 weeks.

I set this out on the table for my little people with some christmas tree cutters of different sizes, some sequins, rollers, rolling pins, etc and allowed them to explore.

They enjoyed decorating the trees and developed their mathematics when talking about positional language and sizes.

Salt Dough Santa Handprint Decorations

I got the inspiration for these handprint Santa decorations from Pinterest over the weekend.  I changed mine slightly, but the ingredients is the same.  It is such a simple activity.

You will need:

1/2 a cup of salt
1/2 a cup of plain flour
1/4 of a cup of water.

Mix the salt and flour together and add water a drop at a time to make a dough.

Knead it and roll into a thick sausage and then cut into equal parts for as many children you have in your care.  I had three toddlers, so cut mine into three.

Then roll each segment out...

Then press each little hand into the dough to leave a handprint impression.
Trim around the edges of the impressions with a knife and make a hole in the top to tie ribbon.  Then place on a baking tray lined with greeseproof paper.  Place in the oven at 100°C for 3 - 4 hours. I left mine for 3 hours but they were still uncooked in the centre of the impression, so I put them on for another 30 minutes.  But when I took them out again and turned them over they were not cooked underneath, so I gave them another hour upside down to bake the underside.
When they were baked they looked like this...
I left them to cool overnight before painting in the morning.  When the paint was dry I added some glittler snow to the trim of Santa's hat and threaded some ribbon through the hole at the top to hang on the tree.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Mincemeat Swirls

I decided to do a chistmassy take on my strawberry swirls and cheese and tomato pin wheels today.

The children all washed their hands and gathered around the table in the kitchen and I carefully unrolled a packet of ready rolled puff pastry, leaving it on the blue sheet.

The children counted the spoons and all took one each.  Then we all took a big spoonful of mincemeat and dolloped it on to the pastry.
We spread it all over the pastry...

Unfortunatley our fingers got so sticky that I didn't take any more photos, but using the blue sheet, I carefully rolled the pastry back up into a sausage and placed it in the fridge for 20 minutes while we all went off to wash our sticky hands.
When it had cooled, I took it out of the fridge and cut it into slices about 2cm in thickness.  The children helped using a pampered chef safety knife.
I then laid them flat on a baking sheet and baked for 25 minutes at 180C.
They came out the oven and cooled on an airing rack before being plated up and sent home for the children to enjoy with their mummies and daddies.  And of course I had to try one (or three!) with a cup of tea when they had all gone home!  They were lovely!  
What would have made them even better would be some sprinkled icing sugar dusted across the tops, or even some icing drizzled over them.  Unfortunately I didn't have any in my cupboard.  I will have to add it to my shopping list for next time!

Festive Sensory Basket

I had lots of left over decorations after putting our tree up at the weekend, so decided it would be a great sensory resource for the children to play with.  I also found a miniature Christmas tree so they could decorate their own too which kept them occupied for ages!

Monday, 19 November 2012


My two year old daughter is obsessed with dogs at the moment.  We have a welsh springer spaniel called Jacob at home who she is forever cuddling, stroking and feeding treats. Every time we go to the lakes to feed the ducks we come across lots of people walking their pooches and we have to stop to stroke all of them.  It's very time consuming!  On a recent walk around Delapre Abbey a lovely lady actually let her take her little dog for a walk around the square on its lead as she loved stroking it so much and kept trying to hold it.  Denny, the dogs name was.  Here she is taking her for a walk...

Meanwhile, little D who attend Oakley Childcare also got a new pet; a springer spaniel called Missy.  So to follow their interests and experiences , I put together a little project on pets.
First was our vets surgery where all the animals got made better.  Even Caesar our cat came along for a check up. Here he is in the waiting room...
Soon enough there were lots of customers in the waiting room with their poorly pets...
Medicine was given to make them better...

The children enjoyed dressing up and taking it in turns to be a vet.  Soon enough the chair's I had lined up for the waiting room had been turned around and had become a bus and that was the end of the activity!  That's toddlers for you!

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Halloween 2012

I apologise for the lack of posts over the past few weeks.  I have been so busy I just haven't had time to blog. This will also just be a quick one to show you a few things we have been doing for halloween.

We did some activities to support expressive arts and design and made some bats using PVA glue, glitter, sequins, etc.  The children that ade these are only two years old.   They used their imaginations and explored different medias and materials.

The children enjoyed getting messy painting their hands to print these handprint ghosts onto black card.  They sprinkled glitter over PVA glue for the "BOO!" underneath

And lastly these pumpkin masks...

I hope to be back soon for some more blogging!  Stay tuned :)

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Tesco Vouchers for Schools

We had two very excited little people this morning when these huge parcels arrived.  It was our order that we placed through Tesco Vouchers for Schools and Clubs!

As you can see, the children were very excited and helped me to pick off the box tape.

In the boxes were 2 active world trays, and active world stand and cover, some sparkly fish, sparkly numbers and some PVA glue.  We also ordered some shaped mirror trays which are being sent separately.  Hopefully they will arrive this week too..

Mirror Trays

We put one active world tray up in the garden and filled it with a few centimeters of bubbly water and the squidgy fish and numbers.  The children enjoyed finding them under the bubbles, hiding them underneath and filling and tipping water from containers.

 Exploring the squidgy fish

I would like to thank everyone for all the generous donations of Tesco vouchers.  We were lucky enough to collect over 6000 and although it was a pain counting them all out, it has been an excellent way to purchase some much needed new equipment which would otherwise prove very expensive.  The equipment we ordered totals over £300, so thank you to everyone who helped to raise so many vouchers.  We are very grateful.

I hope to write lots more blogs about other sensory activities that we will be using the active world trays for over the coming weeks.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Chatterbox Challenge 2013

Some of you may be aware of the children's communication charity I Can. This is a charity I hold close to my heart as my own daughter has speech and language difficulties.

I received an email this morning from them regarding next years Chatterbox Challenge.  2013 is set to be ther year of the Mad Chatter's Tea Party with Humf! 

Launching in September 2012, I CAN is inviting hundreds of thousands of little Chatterboxes to take part in its annual fun and educational event for nurseries, pre-schools, childminding and community groups for children aged 0-5. Now in its 12th year, this year’s Chatterbox Challenge: Mad Chatters Tea Party with Humf asks groups to organise tea parties where children perform songs and rhymes to develop their communication skills in a simple and fun way.

Children will be encouraged to sing songs and rhymes around a tea-time theme for this year’s Chatterbox Challenge with Humf, the furry little character from the popular pre-school TV series currently airing on Nick Jr. The aim of the challenge is for groups across the country to organise a tea party event at their nursery, playgroup or preschool, where children perform songs and rhymes which helps children develop their communication skills.

Additionally, these events will raise valuable funds and awareness for I CAN’s work with children who struggle with speech, language and communication as friends and family are encouraged to sponsor children for their Chatterbox Challenge performance.


Chatterbox Challenge week is 1st – 8th March 2013. Most groups will be holding their Challenge during this week, but can also do it any time throughout the year.


Children at nurseries, pre-schools, childminding groups and community groups across the UK will be taking part in this annual fun, educational and fundraising event.

I CAN speech and language therapists and teachers have developed the singing and rhyming activities for this year’s Mad Chatter’s Tea Party Challenge with Humf. The lesson plans for Chatterbox Challenge, which include Humf and his friends in the activities and illustrations, link to key aspects of the new Early Years Foundation Stage including Communication and Language, Physical Development, and Personal, Social and Emotional Development.

All the activities help support and develop children’s speech and language skills, whilst raising awareness and funds for those children who struggle with talking and understanding.
Thanks to Openreach, more of the money raised goes to support children who struggle with their speech and language.

To register and get involved in this year’s Chatterbox Challenge Mad Chatter’s Tea Party with Humf, go to

While I do like Humf, the Disney-lover in me will be basing my setting's tea party around Alice in Wonderland and I hope to hold a Mad Chatters Tea Party in March 2013.  Who knows,  we might even make it fancy dress. I might even dress up as Alice herself!  Hats will definitely be a must!

The creative side of me is already thinking of  theming... Alice in Wonderland cupcakes and drinks in little bottles!  I love this Mad Hatter's Tea party that the children took part in at the Monica Ros School in California.  So pretty.  I don't think it'll be warm enough to have our tea party outside next March.  However, saying that, this March was really warm wasn't it?  Maybe there's hope yet!

And how amazing are these cakes??
I think I have found a theme for my Daughter's 3rd birthday next April.  She loves the film at the moment so I think these cakes will be a must for her party.
Right, I'm off to download my fundraising pack!  I hope to invite some other childminders in the area to join us, so please let me know if you would like to come.  It's quite far off so will send out invites nearer the time :-)

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Fermyn Woods 2012

I wanted to take the children blackberry picking today so we popped on our high vis jackets, jumped in the car and headed to Fermyn Woods.

It was really quiet there today with only a few other children using the park and we had the tots area to ourselves. I had packed the children some snacks and refereshments and they sat in the little wooden houses to eat it.  Unfortunately I forgot to bring anything for Paul and I (always the way). So Paul went off and got us both some tea and coffee and a slice of cake from the Skylark Cafe which came to £8!!!  It was really nice though.  The lady in the cafe bakes all the cakes herself and the scone I had was fresh from the oven.  It was delicious.  She also told Paul the cafe will be closing down soon as the council have said it's no longer viable.  I think this will be a real shame.

The children then decided they wanted to eat their snacks at the mushroom table...
And then in the gazebo...

We finished up our snacks and went over to the castle play equipment where the children tested out their balancing skills on the wooden bridge and then spent the next 20-30 minutes going up and down the slides!

We eventually enticed them away from the slides and we went off on a blackberry hunt.  However the only ones we could find wer not quite ripe yet and the children were lagging as they wanted to go over to the swings, so we turned around and went in the park for a bit.

There was a HUGE bird in the sky who seemed to be circling us!  Luckily he didn't choose us for his lunch!

The kids had great fun on the swings...

And the rocking turtle....

And we LOVED the zip wire (OK, I admit I enjoyed it the most!)

A great time was had by all and we hope to return again next week when the blackberry's are ripe.  I feel another Gruffalo Crumble coming on!

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Graduation Goodbyes

We will be very sorry to see Laila leave us today.  She has been coming to Oakley Childcare for the past two years and her learning and development has come on so much in that time.

We hope that she will make lots of new friends at her new nursery and we wish her every success for the future.


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