A Tasty But Spooky Tree!

Halloween may almost be over, but here in Stockholm the half term holiday has just begun, and the week has been dedicated to spooky happenings and day of the dead activities throughout the museums in town.

We decided to make a Halloween table piece to continue the celebrations…

…. ghosts, bats, skulls, witches and spiders hang from gnarled old branches covered with moss….


250g  flour

150g  butter

90g   icing sugar

grated rind of half a lemon

1 tbsp milk


To make..

Mix flour, butter and icing sugar in to crumbs. Add lemon rind and milk, and make in to a dough – chill in fridge for 20 minutes.

Cut in to Halloween shapes with cutters, and put in oven for 15 minutes at 160 degrees C / 325 degrees F.

Happy Halloween!

Having just had granddad and ‘cousin’ Arun staying here for a week from Germany, and now Mormor (English grandma) staying and the baby due in just over a week, we have been busy, busy, busy, and Halloween has definitely taken a step in to the background!

We still, however, have time to celebrate, with a Halloween meal, and some low key trick or treating (only a few Swedes celebrate Halloween, and it is a relatively new holiday in Sweden).

Dinner by candlelight

Our lovely pumpkin, designed by Maya

Homemade trick or treat bags

A group of black clad witches and gouls creeping in to the night

A slightly unsure first time trick or treater.....

...who was eager to come home early, and breathed a sigh of relief as he recognised his own front door!

Invisible Ghosts

A simple wax resist art activity – using water colour paints and paper, and a candle…

I had intended to do this with Leon and Maya, but as they were busy, I ended up doing it with Alfie. He was very excited about the ‘appearance’ of the invisible ghost, and enjoyed painting over them to find their faces.

As the thick candles were difficult for a two year old to handle, it meant that I had to do the drawing, but he could do the painting – and see the appearance of the ghosts (and pumpkins)! If doing this with older kids it would definitely make sense for them to draw their own pictures with the candle however.

Alfie also decided we needed a blue pumpkin!

The Seasonal Table

I don’t really feel I can put this under the label ‘nature table’ this week, due to the sheer amount of plastic and little spooky guys – so ‘seasonal’ it is – and what fun it has been to set up!

Laid on a gorgeous autumnal fabric from ‘Spoonflower’, which I was lucky enough to win on the amazing ‘Gingerbread Snowflakes’ blog, written by the lovely Pam, there are an assortment of Halloween Playmobil characters, and some natural, and not so natural, autumnal ‘fruits’. Plastic apples and plastic toadstools, real mini pumpkins, and small baskets of conkers and acorns.

Behind lies the book ‘Pumpkin Circle’ (Alfie’s present favourite), and a mushroom/toadstool identification chart….

Not forgetting our ‘pom pom acorns’, an idea I got from the wonderful ‘Pink and Green Mama’ blog, and of course our resident owl….

It’s such a pretty and fun looking scenario – Alfie has already had lots of fun with it – and I’m sure there’s lots more fun to come!

Halloween Sensory Box

This has been a great hit!

The red tray filled with old orange and green lentils, lots of different sized spiders, some mini wax pumpkins, a couple of rubber skeletons, and some different sized orange and black pots and a spoon.

Alfie has thoroughly enjoyed hiding/losing all the tiny spiders in the lentils, and getting mummy spider to find them – while Maya and her friend Ludvig have enjoyed feeding the various spiders, and other insects, with food supplies (lentils).

Chocolate Apples

Maya has been wanting to make these for some time, and now I have finally obliged!

Stick a kebab stick in the top of each apple, and after melting the chocolate over a pan of hot water on the stove, you simply need to turn the apple around in the chocolate (using the stick), until completely covered…

Then it’s time to sprinkle the apples with sprinkles! Quick before the chocolate slides off!

Next, pop them in to the fridge to allow the chocolate to harden. The kids have yet to eat them as Leon is away with the Scouts again this weekend – but a cheeky monkey managed to grab hold of the chocolate covered spoon when my back was turned….

….. note the face as he was discovered! 🙂

Let It Snow! (Already??!!)

Yes, its true. We live in the northern hemisphere, and we woke up to this….

And this…..

Which reminded me of this…

A sweet book about four animals looking for food in the winter snow. They spot a single red apple in a tree but it is too high. Through team work they figure out how to get it down, and share it between them.

After reading this to Alfie, I brought in a tray of snow and added some animals…

And it wasn’t long before he had picked out his own animals that seemed more like those in the story, found an apple, and later a ‘cave’, and acted out the story on his own. He’s certainly quick to pick up on a story!

And of course we couldn’t go long without making a mini snowman!

It’s fun to see a two year old’s first reaction to snow (because of course he doesn’t really remember it 7 months ago!). He both laughed, and was shocked at how cold it was, he couldn’t stop eating it, he asked where the grass had gone and showed anxiety when he saw his scooter getting covered with snow, and got very sad when the snow in his tray melted.

And now the sun is shining, and the snow looks like it’s started melting, which is just as well really – autumn stills feels very much in the air, and I don’t feel ready for winter yet. We need to pack away the toys in the garden, and pick the rest of the apples. We need to dig out our winter overalls, our sledges and our skis. And most of all, we need to get those winter tires on the car!

No. I’m not ready for winter. At least we can wait for Halloween to pass us by first?!

Mixed Media

Just a nice and easy, open ended art activity.

Grab pens, crayons, ‘dobbers’, watercolours and tissue paper of lots of different colours, and challenge the kids to make a piece of ‘modern art’ using as many colours as possible…

I really like the results…

I love art projects, and I think they’re so relaxing for both children and adults. The end product is not important though – the process and enjoyment is.

A couple of years ago Leon was an enthusiastic and talented artist, but since starting the beginning of the last school year, he has sadly lost his confidence, and therefore his interest. Presently at school they do very very little art. Maya, on the other hand, thoroughly enjoys art, and presently seems to ‘shine’ at it – and being in the equivalent to Kindergarten, still enjoys lots of art projects.

I think it’s such a shame that schools often take away the joys of art projects and self expression, in an attempt to squeeze in the ‘more important’ academic subjects. So I’m trying to encourage a little art expression at home, for enjoyment, relaxation, and confidence. I hope it works!

An Apple A Day

Some simple apple crafts today, to celebrate the doctor staying away! 🙂

The preschool group came to me, and we decided we needed to take advantage of the delicious apples on the tree before it’s too late! A simple activity using precut cardboard apples, glue and tissue paper (dark and light red, dark and light green and yellow).

Alfie just loved this activity – he made three apples! The tearing of  tissue paper and screwing it up into balls is an excellent fine motor skill activity for young children, and the kids looked in great detail at the colours of the real apples on the table.

And then we stuck them up on our paper bag tree (I do love our paper bag tree!)….

Of course this couldn’t go without choosing an apple from the real tree….

When the preschoolers went home, Alfie and I decided to make some ‘apple pie play dough’. We got the recipe from ‘My Montessori Journey‘, and added lots of red food colouring, and spices of nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger, to give it that ‘apple pie’ smell…

And because Alfie has recently learnt to roll play dough in to ball shapes….

…. we made apples!

The Importance Of Nursery Rhymes : Hickory Dickory Dock

‘Hickory Dickory Dock’ is a fantastic nursery rhyme for learning as it can touch both on the concept of time, and also, on magnetism!

I made a model of a (small) grandfather clock out of cardboard and construction paper, with a clock with turnable hands. The clock also had three mice, each with a metal paperclip attached…

While holding a strong bar magnet in one hand (behind the clock), it was possible to move the mouse up and down the clock while singing the rhyme…

Time activites which I recommend are a clock sorting shape puzzle (again with turning hands) by Melissa & Doug, and a ‘Tell the time’ lotto game for older kids by Orchard Toys…

And a fantastic book, ‘ Mr Wolf’s Nursery Time’ by Colin and Jaqui Hawkins – about Mr Wolf’s journey through the day, meeting new nursery rhyme characters on each hour – again a clock with turnable hands – and includes ‘Hickory Dickory Dock’…

But after discovering the force of the mouse to run up the clock with magnets, the kids (all four of them from ages 2 to 9), had a fantastic time discovering magnetic force!

I have a small box of different magnets – horseshoes, balls, blocks, cylinders, flat circular ones – some stronger than others – plus a collection of metal objects such as screws, paper clips, washers, bottle caps – and a few non magnetic objects made from plastic, rubber, aluminum, etc.

The kids discovered the force of movement and balance…

And used magnets to construct models…

And inventions (this is a magnet picker-upper)…

And a hilarious game where they used a block magnet each to move another magnet, in a kind of race….

And so it seems that yet another nursery rhyme has had great learning potential, this time for slightly older kids (though Alfie certainly joined in where he could)!