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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Eggs in a Basket--cozy breakfast fare

Little ones love cooking eggs in a piece of toast!
Older children can break the egg and tip it into the prepared bread:  Younger children can scramble the egg first.  

Here's What You Need:
*Toasted bread, or waffles-or a bagel, cut in half
*Butter, or cooking spray
*small bowl  and fork to scramble eggs.
*Heart-Shaped or other shape cookie cutter, or a simple drinking glass to make a circle

Here's What You Do:
*Toast a piece of bread, waffle or bagel
*Have your child press a cookie cutter or drinking glass into the middle of the bread or waffle to make a hole--the bagel already has one!
*Show your child how to crack an egg on the edge of a bowl and empty it into the bowl.  Alternately, have your child hold an egg in the palm of his or her hand.  Demonstrate giving the egg a whack with a table knife and then pulling the two halves apart to empty the egg into the bowl.  If you are willing to sacrifice a few eggs, this process is fascinating to children, and a good skill to practice and learn.

*Let your child whisk the egg with a fork.  
*Place a cold frying pan on the table.  Grease with butter, or use cooking spray.
*Have your child place the prepared bread into the center of the pan.  
*Your young chef can pour the whisked egg from the bowl into hole in the bread.

*For safety,you take over now by heating the stove and frying the "egg in a basket" as your child watches. Flip and cook on both sides.

A few books featuring eggs......

By Michael Dahl

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Ice Fishing Game

Adam displays a fine catch!
(all photo credits:  Seth Chrisman)
Here's What You Need:
large bowl filled with water
ice cubes
container of salt
pencil, or wooden spoon

Here's What You Do:
Make a "fishing pole" by tying a foot-long length or yarn or string to a wooden spoon or pencil.
Add a couple dozen ice cubes to a large salad or pasta bowl filled with cold water. Place the empty small bowl near the bowl of ice.
Your fisherman chooses an ice cube and dangles the end of his or her yarn so that a half-inch or so is in contact with the cube.  Pour a bit of salt over the end of the yarn and the cube.  Wait a few moments, and then when the yarn is lifted gently, the cube will lift out of the water.
     See how many ice cube "fish" each player can lift and move to a smaller bowl during his or her turn. Ask the players what kind of fish they are catching.  Is it a salmon, trout or catfish?--Or maybe a shark or whale! 
     Salt melts the ice and it quickly re-freezes with the yarn.  The strategy lies in figuring out how much salt to use and how long to wait before lifting out the cube.  It will take a little experimenting!
Basic science vocabulary to introduce:
Matter:  anything that has weight and takes up space.  All matter is made up of tiny particles called molecules.
Liquid:  a substance that flows, like water.  The molecules move about freely.
Solid:  a substance that is stable, like ice cubes.  The molecules are tightly packed and don't move. Ice is the solid form of water.
Freeze:  When the temperature is so cold, a liquid substance becomes a solid.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Bird Cafe

On the menu--a variety of ideas for feeding your neighborhood birds:

    Pine cone bird feeder, a classic
Go for a walk and collect pine cones found in nature-
the cones bought in craft stores are usually treated with chemicals.

Here's What You Need:
pine cones
bird seed--you can also add ingredients like oatmeal and raisins.
peanut butter (if allergies are a problem, use vegetable shortening, lard or suet)
yarn, twine, string or ribbon, for hanging the bird treats.
plastic knives, craft sticks, or table knife for spreading the peanut butter
shallow dish

Here's What You Do:
*Pour some bird seed into the shallow dish.
*Fasten a foot-long piece of string to each pine cone.
*Have your child spread the peanut butter or one of the alternative substances onto the pine cone.
*Let your child dip and roll the covered pine cone into the birdseed mixture.
*Take a walk outside and find a place to hang your bird-feeder--from a tree or shrub. If you can find a place outside your window, you may be able to watch your feathered friends enjoy their treats!

Bird-seed cakes

Here's What You Need:

unflavored gelatin packets
boiling water
wooden spoon

Here's What You Do:

*Dissolve one packet of gelatin into one cup of boiling water (an adult's job). 
*Put the dissolved mixture into a bowl and pour in about 3 cups of birdseed.  Let your child mix it up.  Add more seed if needed, to make a stiff "dough." 

 *Spoon the mixture into molds, or empty yogurt containers, etc--even cookie cutters can work if you tape some cardboard to make a bottom. Pack the mixture down firmly.
*Tie a loop of yarn for hanging later, and press the knotted end into the cake.  Press a bit more of the seed mixture on top to hold it in place.  
*The cakes will harden at room temperature, but for quicker results, place them in the refrigerator until firm.
*To release the cakes from the molds, dip briefly into hot water.  The cakes should pop out easily.   
*Now they are ready to hang in your garden!

Variation:  Mix one part lard with two parts birdseed.  Children can mash and mix this with their hands and press it into yogurt containers, molds, or cookie cutters.  Freeze or refrigerate until firm.  Tie with twine, or hang in a recycled mesh bag (such as the kind Laughing Cow cheese comes in) and dangle it in your garden.

Watch out for marauding squirrels!

What to do with a recycled milk carton:

"Feeding the birds" from Jennie's Hat by Ezra Jack Keats