Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Grow Your Own Easter Bunny in 4 Days!

These Easter cress shapes are a quick & easy activity to put together, & fascinating for children to watch grow. From day one they'll be able to observe the seeds changing & sprouting & by day 4/5 they'll have grown their own cress!


We love making these in the run up to Easter Day, & will be planting ours today so we have fresh cress on Sunday! Perfect for an Easter egg salad!

All you need are some Easter cookie cutter shapes, kitchen paper/cotton wool, a small plate & cress seeds.


Place the cookie cutter onto a plate, push the cotton wool into the shape making sure it reaches the edges & sprinkle over your cress seeds. If using kitchen paper you'll need to fold a couple of sheets & cut around the cookie shape so fits snuggly. Place on a sunny windowsill, add a little water daily & watch the seeds transform.


By day 4/5 your seeds should have grown into cress! Gently lift the cookie cutter away from the cotton wool to reveal your homegrown bunny.


We also planted a cress cross ready for Easter Day.


Such a simple activity to explore shapes, seeds, growth, & Easter.
Happy Planting!

Monday, 14 April 2014

Rocky Road through Holy Week - Recipe exploring the Easter Story

This 'Rocky Road through Holy Week' recipe is a great way to explore the events of Holy Week with children of all ages. Each ingredient relates to a key event in the Easter story, & combined together they create a tasty treat to share. It's also a fun way to help children sequence the events of the Easter Story.


For our recipe we used:
1 Drop of orange oil / flavouring
2 Handfuls of raisins
12 Glace cherries
1 Bag of Mini Easter eggs (100g bag)
3 Mars bars
1 Bag of Maltesers (135g bag)
4 Bars of milk chocolate (100g bars)
2 Handfuls of small white marshmallows
1 Handful of green sweets (we used Jelly Tots but you could use any green candy)
5 Sweet biscuits 
30 Silver sugar balls
10" square baking tray lined with baking paper 


1. To start the Rocky Road through Holy Week add the green sweets to a mixing bowl. These green sweets remind us of the green palms waved on Palm Sunday when Jesus rode into Jerusalem.

2. Next break the bars of chocolate into pieces to represent Jesus turning over the tables in the temple & Monday of Holy Week. As you break the chocolate think about how angry Jesus must have been. Add the chocolate to a glass bowl & start to gently heat over a pan of water.

3. Add a drop of orange oil/flavouring to the melting chocolate. The scent of the orange oil represents the anointing of Jesus at Bethany with the expensive perfume. 

4. Throw the raisins into the mixing bowl with the sweets. The raisins remind us of Tuesday & Jesus' lesson of the fig tree.

5. Count out 30 silver sugar balls to represent the Wednesday of Holy Week & the 30 pieces of silver Judas was paid to betray Jesus. Place these in a separate dish to use later.

6. Break the biscuits into small sections to represent Maundy Thursday when Jesus broke the bread at the Last Supper. Cut the cherries in half to represent the red wine Jesus shared at that meal, & add the biscuits & cherries to the mixing bowl.

7. Cut the Mars bars into small chunks & add to the dry ingredients. A Mars bar is made of 3 layers, & these 3 layers represent the cockerel crowing 3 times when Peter denied Jesus on Maundy Thursday.

8. Collect the white marshmallows as a reminder of the linen they wrapped Jesus' body in, & a pinch of cinnamon to represent the spices the women used on Good Friday, & mix together with the dry ingredients.

9. Empty the packet of Maltesers into the dry ingredients as a reminder of the sealed tomb on Easter Saturday & the rounded stone that was rolled in front of it.

10. Take the melted chocolate off the heat & mix in the dry ingredients until everything is coated in the chocolate. Pour the mixture into the lined baking tray & sprinkle the 30 silver sugar balls over the top.

11. Finally place the mini chocolate Easter eggs over the top of the Rocky Road. These eggs remind us of the Resurrection on Easter Day with the promise of new life. 

12. Place the Rocky Road in the fridge for a couple of hours until set, & then cut into small pieces to share with friends. We left our Rocky Road to stand for 15mins before slicing as it was pretty hard to cut through the solid layers.


As you slice through the layers of Rocky Road the events of Holy Week are revealed, & it's great to hear the children recalling what each ingredient represents as they find it.  


I recently made this with a group of teenagers who loved creating this together as a team & were totally engaged with the Easter story. It's such a great gift to share; just wrap a couple of pieces in a food bag, add the ingredients label (shown below) & the story of Holy Week can be shared & the treats enjoyed with many friends.


This sweet treat celebrates the joy of the Easter story, as well as offering a creative way to explore & sequence the rocky events of Holy Week. 

Looking for more events exploring Holy Week? 


Saturday, 12 April 2014

Homemade Easter Crayons

These gorgeous crayons make a great alternative Easter gift & are so frugal to make.


We collected a selection of broken crayons & grouped them into similar colours. To clean them & remove any colours from other crayons Minnie scraped along each crayon using a vegetable peeler. I was obviously supervising this activity & ensuring her fingers were safely tucked in. We kept the coloured crayon shavings for another activity we'll be sharing here soon.


Once 'cleaned' & sorted we placed the crayons into glass jars & added to a shallow pan of water.
We started to warm them on a gentle medium heat & slowly they started to melt. Slow is the key here, don't be tempted to turn the heat up as the wax could burn. We heated no more than 3 pots at a time, & they took 5-10 minutes to melt completely. We used wooden skewers to help stir the melting crayons, & once the crayons had turned to liquid we were ready to pour into our moulds.


Before handling the warm wax we made sure our moulds were close by so we didn't have to carry the containers far. We used silicone chocolate moulds that we picked up from a 99p Store, but most stores have these ice cube/chocolate moulds available. 


I used tongs to remove the jars from the hot pan & dried the bases on a towel. The jar was cool enough for me to handle & I was able to carefully pour the melted wax into the moulds. Minnie watched at a distance for this part of the activity.


We left to dry for 30 mins & then our crayons were ready to use!


We added some to plastic eggs to give to friends as Easter gifts. Such a great alternative to sweet treats.


And check out these little brown crayon bunnies, so cute! Obviously if you're giving these to young children you'd need to explain they're not edible!


We've loved making these upcycled crayons, & the fact we only had to pay for the moulds (99p) was a bonus too! I'll never be throwing those old broken crayons out again.



Why not share a little colour with these crayons this Easter, who knows what creativity you'll inspire.


Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Easter Stained Glass Art - made with plastic lids

Turn some old plastic lids into colourful stained glass style art. These make perfect window decorations for Easter & are so simple & frugal to make.


To make them we used a selection of clear plastic food lids (Pringles lids are ideal), coloured tissue paper, a fine marker pen & glue stick.


Before creating a design onto the lid Minnie drew a few Easter inspired images on paper & then chose which she preferred. We placed the lid over the paper & she used the permanent marker to trace her design onto the plastic. 


She then flipped the lid over & covered it with glue.


We ripped our tissue paper into tiny sections which she used to decorate her drawn image. You really don't need much tissue paper for each lid, the thinner the layers of paper the more the image will glow & the clearer the colours will blend as they overlap each other. (If you're not sure where to pick up tissue paper we bought 7 large coloured sheets from a local pound store.)


I love this little Easter Bunny & it's cute expression. 


After leaving to dry we made a small hole in the top of each lid (using a ballpoint pen & plasticine) & hung up with a length of thread.


These are beautiful when lit by the sun, & also brighten up any dull day.


A great activity to explore design & colour, as well as fine motor skills. 


Saturday, 5 April 2014

DIY Easter Bunny Ears - with Homemade Beads

I love these super simple bunny ears not only do they look cute, they're also a fun threading activity for kids of all ages to enjoy.


To create our bunny ears we collected 4 drinking straws (we used paper ones but plastic work just as well), 2 pipe cleaners & a plastic headband.


Minnie made some beads for our bunny ears by cutting the paper straws into small sections which could then be threaded onto the pipe cleaners. Straws are a great material for practicing cutting skills & always create many giggles in our house as they ping into the air when cut!


To create our bunny ear shape we bent the pipe cleaners in half & Minnie then threaded her beads onto each one, leaving a 1.5 inch gap at the ends to enable us to attach them to the headband.


We twisted the ends of each pipe cleaner together before wrapping them tightly around the top of our headband to secure. 


When both ears were on the headband they were ready to adorn my little Easter Bunny!


These bunny ears would make great favours at an Easter Party, & are ideal to create with a group of kids as they're so simple & frugal to make. They also make cute props for storytelling & imaginative play. 


I hope your little bunnies will have lots of fun & hoppy times with these! 


Wednesday, 2 April 2014

DIY Dinosaur Eggs & Fossils - Perfect for Budding Paleontologists

Ever wanted to dig for dinosaurs? This activity invites children to not only dig for dinosaurs but to become mini paleontologists & discover fossils too. 


With a couple of ingredients we created these dinosaur eggs that were super simple & quick to make. 


To create our dinosaur eggs we used small plastic dinosaurs, balloons (larger balloons work best), an old container & spoon, water & Plaster of Paris. I started by carefully adding the Plaster of Paris to water in an old container before mixing with an old spoon. (I combined the powder & water away from Minnie to prevent her from breathing it in.) The recommended ratio for Plaster of Paris is 2 parts powder to 1 part water. For our eggs we used 2 cups of powder & 1 cup of water which gave us plenty of plaster to create 4 dinosaur eggs.


Now for the slightly messy part. To create the mold for your egg you need to cut off the 'neck' of the balloon, & then open it with your fingers by pushing them apart inside the top of the balloon, then fill with the plaster. It helps if you have little hands to add the mixture to the balloon, when we made ours Minnie added the plaster with a teaspoon while I held the balloon open. We filled the balloon almost to the top & then added one of the dinosaurs to the plaster, making sure it was covered by the mixture. I then removed my fingers from the balloon & we tied the opening securely with a length of string & hung the balloon to dry for 30-45 minutes. Be sure to wash the plaster from your hands immediately after filling the balloons. 


As you can see from the picture below some of the plaster was squeezed out of the balloon when we tied it up. This makes little difference to the end product as the plaster will still form an egg-like shape when the balloon is removed.


After 30 minutes check the balloon feels solid & if it does you're ready to cut away the string & the top of the balloon. To release the egg simply peel off the balloon. We tried to make these plaster eggs using plastic Easter eggs but when it came to removing the plastic eggs it was just to tricky for little hands to do independently. The plastic Easter eggs also took longer to set than our balloon egg molds.


Just removing the balloon & finding the solid egg created much excitement in our house as we discovered the liquid had transformed into a solid!


Our egg also felt warm (due to the chemical reaction of the water & plaster) which was a neat discovery too.


Before starting to dig for our dinosaurs we collected a few tools to help us including an old wooden board, child's blunt knife, hammer & safety gogglesPlease note this activity was done under close adult supervision. I think it's always important to consider children's ages & abilities before undertaking any activity.  


My mini paleontologist started her excavation by tapping, & then banging the egg with a hammer. She soon discovered that the egg did not stay still, & that the greater the force from the hammer the more likely the egg was to roll!


After trying to break the egg on the grass Minnie realised she needed the solid board underneath the egg again as it was slowly sinking into the soft grass. It was fascinating to observe her thought processes & how she adapted her movements. What a fun way to learn about forces, movement & materials!


She tried chipping away at the egg with the knife which helped create a few dents, and enabled her to apply smaller more controlled movements.


And then suddenly this happened! We discovered a dinosaur!



As Minnie excavated the other eggs we started to notice something on the plaster. 


When each dinosaur was released from its egg it left an impression & pattern in the plaster. We had created our own fossils! 


I was amazed at how clear & visible the patterns were in the plaster. When all the eggs were opened Minnie was able to match up the fossil with the corresponding dinosaur. 


And if the egg hadn't cracked too much, she was able to piece all the fragments together to form the original egg shape with the dinosaur inside. What a great 3D puzzle to have made! 


This is one of those activities which offers so much learning & discovery, in fact it offered much more than I could have imagined. Minnie was able to create & discover freely as new activities flowed from the original one we started with. 


We'll definitely be making these again as they were such fun to explore from start to finish! I think they'd make great alternative Easter egg gifts, & would be brilliant for any dinosaur fans.


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