Sunday, 9 June 2013

Theme: Farm Animals

It was starting to feel like the routine was getting a bit stale.  Toby and I would go to a couple playgroups, get the shopping and housework done, and walk to the playground down the road.  Time to shake things up, I thought.  So for the next six or eight weeks I've planned a theme for each week - just something simple to hang a few activities on, and give me a reason to think of some crafts in advance.  It's very frustrating when you keep thinking, "well, we could do that... if I'd saved 16 yogurt pots... or this... if I had any idea where the chalks were".  So: planned and prepared and ready to go!  Week one was farm animals.

Well, hi there.

The big event was a visit to an actual farm, Highfields Happy Hens.  This is a great setup for kids, with a ton of play equipment as well as the animals, and they do wonderful work helping young offenders too.  Good all round.  It was a perfect time to visit, as they had lots of baby animals around.  Chicks piled in a fluffy heap under a heat lamp, with one crowdsurfing its way into the warm centre every now and again.  Teenage piglets in a row, looking just like sausages in a packet (but don't tell them that!).  And the cutest ever baby pygmy goats bouncing around and even jumping on their mum's backs.  Plus of course lots of hens (Toby was a little spooked by the free range ones coming up very close) and, um, emus.  Your archetypal farm animal.

Inspecting the chicks

Pork sausages
Baby pygmy goats
 
Blurry emu (I was using my old camera)
Toby "milking" a "cow" (water comes out!)
 

In their shop we bought a reusable farm sticker set.  Toby carefully put the sheep in the pond and made the pigs fly - but hey, why not?  We also got sticky making cotton wool sheep.  Cutting and glueing has to mean numbers are involved, apparently.  Fortunately I didn't have to go up to ninety-and-nine.


Enthusiastic glue usage
The finished article (apologies for the dummy)
 I have a set of farm animal cookie cutters, so we had to do some baking!  This gingerbread cookie dough is the absolute best for small kids.  It's easy to make, is practically bombproof * and doesn't stick to anything.  Except the wooden spoon when you're making it, so use a plastic spatula to mix.

* Seriously.  They can hammer the raw dough all they want, and I dropped one of the baked cookies on the floor and it didn't even chip.  And yes, it does still taste good!

Gingerbread Cookies

4 fl oz / 1/2 cup golden syrup (or 6 oz by weight if you can weigh straight into the mixing bowl)
3 oz / 6 tbsp hard margarine
4 oz / 1/2 cup soft brown sugar
1 tbsp bicarbonate of soda / baking soda
2 tbsp warm water
1 egg
1 lb / 3 2/3 cups plain (all-purpose) flour
3 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves

Melt syrup, margarine and sugar together - preferably by microwaving in the mixing bowl.  Mix soda and water together in a mug.

Add soda and water to syrup mixture along with the egg, flour and spices.  Mix well to form a dough (this is where you need the spatula).

Scrape out of the bowl onto a piece of cling film (plastic wrap) , wrap tightly and refrigerate until cold.  Or for several days if it takes you that long to get round to using it.  Roll out to 1/4 inch thick and cut out shapes.

Place on greased or non-stick baking sheets and bake at 180 C / 350 F for 10 minutes or slightly longer if you like them crunchy (I prefer slightly soft).  Makes 30-40.




And finally... decorated giant rubber ducks are a slight stretch to the theme, I know.  But Sight Support Derbyshire was floating them down the Derwent River in the middle of Derby, and it sounded kind of fun.  We didn't actually see the race because it clashed with Toby's naptime, but we got to admire all the great duck costumes, and fish for little ducks, too.







Next week: Wild animals

1 comment:

Ellie said...

Fabulous stuff, I'm definitely trying those gingerbread cookies, need some bombproof dough! I also like having a bit of a theme to thing, probably more for my sanity than anything else, but it's a really nice to have something to hang things off and feel like you have used your time somewhat productively. Hope you're all well, love reading your posts. Ellie