Delicious Mini Apple Pies

This year our apple tree is exploding with delicious looking red fruits – and the weather is getting colder – so it’s time to pick them quick!

And so pick them we did !

And peel them. And chop them.

Then make a pie pastry, use a round cutter to lay a piece of pastry in each muffin tin, lay a spoonful of chopped apple on top, with a sprinkle of sugar and cinnamon…

Then cut another, smaller, circle of pastry and lay on the top of each pie, and put in the oven for 325 degrees F / 170 degrees C for 20 mins….

All the kids took part in the making of these, but Leon, the true chef, did most of the work.

They tasted delicious, warm out of the oven with ice-cream!

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Alfie’s Crunchy Leaves : An Easy Collage

Take a bunch of different coloured leaves and leave them to dry over a few days…

*CRUNCH* them into small pieces (this was the bit Alfie loved best!)….

Have ready some pre-made leaves cut from autumn coloured construction paper…

Spread glue on to construction paper leaves, and then sprinkle with real leaves….

And put up on your paper bag tree (if you happen to have one, like us!)….

This is a great activity for very small people – firstly going out to collect the leaves and discussing the various colours and shapes, and secondly the tearing up of the leaves once dry is excellent fine motor skill practice – not to mention the wonderful CRUNCHY sound and the wonderful smell that comes out of the leaves once CRUNCHED!

Spiders, Spiders, Spiders

A positive thing about being heavily pregnant and spending more time at home, is the time to set up fun areas in the playroom!

Today, with Alfie’s enthusiasm for spiders, and with Halloween coming up, it was, of course, a spider theme….

 

 

Words and pictures from our favourite spider nursery rhyme...

 

 

Our hanging egg carton spiders and paper plate web...

 

 

And hanging spiders from our brown paper bag tree....

 

 

Hung from beautiful webs drawn and covered with glitter by Maya and Leon...

 

 

A table top play area, covered with spiders and insects...

 

 

... with a web made from wool...

 

 

Plus a complicated spiders' web puzzle, for the older children among us...

 

And since taking these photos we have also put up one of those nylon spiders’ webs available at Halloween, which the kids enjoy sticking little plastic spiders in.

So, a very spidery area indeed!

Our Nature Table Right Now

On teaching the kids the names of the trees, and matching the seeds to the leaves, I decided it might be a nice look to have on the wall above our nature table…

…. and on the table the is a tray of different leaves and seeds for some more matching, and general touching, feeling and exploring….!

Autumn is in full throng right now, and the leaves on the trees are looking outstanding. Of course one can never photograph nature to its full glory, but I just love this tree outside Alfie’s bedroom window. When we open the curtains in the morning and the sun is shining on it, it brightens up the whole street. We call it ‘the fire tree’!

And with the full throng of autumn, comes the full throng of something else! Only four weeks to go and baby is getting very heavy, and mummy starting to get very tired. I hope you will forgive me if my posts are written less often (as in the last week), but when your body looks like this I’m guessing you will understand! 🙂

(Photo taken by Maya – NOT on my request!)

The Hunt For Autumn Finds

This week we’ve spent a lot of time ‘searching for Autumn’!

Maya comes home nearly every day with a new thing to show me – some conkers, some beautiful leaves or some acorns perhaps. So the other day Maya, Alfie and I went for a walk, searching for leaves and their seeds…

And what did we find?

 

 

Horse chestnut

 

 

Not sure what this is - a Hawthorn perhaps?

 

 

A type of pine

 

 

A maple

 

 

An oak

 

 

A birch

 

It was fun for the kids to match the leaves and seeds, and simply to look at and touch them for Alfie.

Yesterday I sent Leon, Maya and a friend of theirs on an ‘autumn scavenger hunt’. They were given a bag each, and a list of things to find (inspired by this activity at the wonderful ‘Frugal Family Fun’ blog). I mostly used their list of things, but simply changed a few items which I knew would be impossible, for something more relevant to the scandinavian countryside!

All three kids went off, wrapped in warm clothes, bags in hand to explore the local area. They were given strict boundaries as to where they could and could not go – and all three kids came back unharmed, very happy, and full of eagerness to show me their finds!

And I think the above photo says it all! 🙂

We Love ‘Chicka Chicka Boom Boom’

Alfie presently has a great love of magnetic numbers and letters,and has had for some time. He loves to sort them in to colour, and shape, and can now point out numbers 2 and 0, and letters A, X and M. Most of all he loves to add characters to these shapes, and spends ages taking them on adventures.

I’m not one for ‘hot housing’ kids, and I personally don’t believe in teaching children to read, write and do maths from a very young age – but on the other hand, if they show an interest in something, I do think it’s important to encourage their enthusiasm, and grab the opportunity while you have the chance.

I have no intention of teaching Alfie to read and write as I truly believe that, with the right encouragement, most children learn to do this through play and experimentation anyway – but his enjoyment of adding characters to numbers and letters reminded me of this wonderful book

We have the magnetic letters book, which seems most appropriate for Alfie – and is lots of fun. And after also playing with the ‘Leapfrog’ alphabet sounds magnetic toy , (a present we were given in  California, which has been surprisingly popular with our youngest)….

….. and making letter and numbers prints in play dough….

…. I decided to get serious! I recently saw this activity on someone’s blog, but sadly I have no memory of here I saw it (sorry!), but I thought it was really lovely.

A simple coconut tree cut from card, and tacked to the fridge, enabling kids to use their magnetic letters to act out scenes from the book. I just love it!

I also copied an alphabet chart and put it at the bottom of the tree, enabling kids to either match the letter shapes with their magnetic letters, or simply to learn about the order of the alphabet. This seemed more appropriate for Maya, but it will be interesting to see what Alfie does with it too!

I also found a really sweet ‘Chicka Chicka boom boom’ song and cartoon on the internet here – it’s very short, and it really makes Alfie LAUGH!

My next idea is to make alphabet cookies….

Autumn Walks With Friends

I love autumn. I love the coloured leaves, the mushrooms and the acorns, the rose hips and the ripe apples on the trees. Most of all I love autumn walks and the fresh cool breeze it brings, to let us know the season has changed.

Here are some of the highlights of our walk…

Cinnamon buns and juice by the fire.

A wet boot being warmed by the grill (guess who fell in the lake?!)

Observing and collecting beautiful leaves

A fallen tree to climb

Finding mushrooms galore

The joy of throwing leaves

The beauty of trees

Saturday Evening Child Initiated Play

In my opinion, there’s nothing better than child initiated play – it shows no end of imagination and creativity – and when the age groups are mixed, it’s even more wonderful.

We had friends to dinner last night, and while the little ones were busying themselves, and us grown-ups were chatting and drinking wine (not the pregnant ones among us I add!), the older kids were setting up the following – and it brought a big smile to my face!

It may not look like much, but I just love to capture these moments. I love the use of the Klutz building cards for beds, and used to build the stairs up to the King and Queen’s bedroom. I love the wizard guarding the ‘castle’, and the rolled up balls of paper (presumably for the use of the catapult). And I especially love the use of the big cardboard building blocks for a castle.

I’m not sure whether this was inspired by ‘Harry Potter’ which I have recently been reading to Leon and Maya, but I think it’s so fantastic that a 6, 7 and 9 year old can still have the imagination to play in this way. I suspect the play would have continued, and gone in to detail, but the clock was ticking and it was time to go home, so we had to stop the play – the greatest sin of all!

The Importance Of Nursery Rhymes : Incy Wincy Spider

Having been born in England, as well as having taught young children there, I am well aware of the importance of a good old traditional English nursery rhyme.

Yes, you may laugh, but the English nursery rhyme teaches our children many things…. other than the basics of rhythm and rhyming words, repetition and speech, did you know they also teach children about spatial awareness (leading to greater success in maths and science), and history?

And because I presently happen to be living in Sweden, I feel it is my responsibility, as an English parent, to teach my 2 year old about those good old traditional English nursery rhymes! Lately, therefore, Alfie and I have been musing over music, books and the occasional DVD of – can you guess? Nursery Rhymes!

He just loves to sing and recognise them, and out of the blue can sometimes be heard to say such sayings as “quite contrary” and “hot cross buns” within his play. I have, therefore, decided to do a few activities with some of his favourite rhymes – the first being ‘Incy Wincy Spider’.

It started with the making of a spout – yes, here is Incy hanging from the inside of his cardboard spout…

Having enjoyed repeatedly singing the rhyme, and pulling the spider up and down the spout (via the string and the little hole punched in the side of the kitchen roll), we progressed to this….

Yes, that’s right, a real ‘spout’!

Armed with a piece of guttering, some spiders, and a watering can full of water, we yet again went through the repetition of ‘Incy Wincy Spider’…

Of course, these spiders really needed to be explored, and so (armed with the spider hanging from his ‘tube’), it was time to find a real one. We looked in all the obvious places – in the garage, in the little cottage, in all the nooks and crannies – but no spider was to be found. “It’s getting cold here in Sweden, and all the spiders must have moved inside” I suggested to Alfie – and as we spoke, I spotted, not a spider, but a beautiful web, strung between the ropes of….

….. that’s right, our ‘people’s web’!

Unfortunately my camera was not good enough to capture the web in the strong sunlight, but, feeling happy with his find, the next step for Alfie was to make our own web.

A little tricky for a two year old, but with a little help he managed to cut around the sides of a paper plate, and together we wove the wool around it…

Which brings us to an old classic – those egg box spiders!

Alfie and his friend painted those rounded parts of an egg box black, helped glue on eyes of their choice, and after I had pierced holes for the legs (8 of course!), together we cut up pipe cleaners, and poked them through the holes.

Quite fiddly for such young children to make – but WOW, they loved them!