Snail Scroll Snack

Animal Snack for Kids

It’s been ages since I’ve made creatures in the kitchen so yesterday I decided to get a little creative. I was inspired by some animal themed food creations that I’ve seen on Pinterest. There really is so much fun you can do with kids in the kitchen.

I made scrolls for lunch and it was the obvious choice to make the scrolls into a snails! Here’s how to make them.

Ingredients:

  • Any fillings you like. I used spinach, corn, bacon and cheese.
  • Carrot pieces for the eyes
  • Two puff pastry sheets

Healthy snack for kids

 How to make them

1.    Preheat your over to 200 Degrees Celsius.

2.    Let the puff pastry thaw until it’s quite flexible.

3.    Evenly cover the whole sheet with the filling ingredients.

Snail scrolls

4.   Cut the puff pastry in to five long strips. For each strip, roll up one side and squish the sides together to make a head. Leave a gap of about 5 cm for the scroll.  On the opposite end of the strip tuck the two corners under to make the tail.  Bake these in the oven for 4 minutes on 200 Degrees Celsius.

Puff pastry snack

5.    While the snail bodies are cooking, roll up the scroll. Do this tightly to reduce the sag once it starts to cook. Cut into five scrolls.

Snail food

6.    Pull the snail bodies out of the oven and place the scrolls on top. Add the carrot eyes. (I had to add corn to the face of the snail despite telling the girls that the carrots were the eyes. I left that alone. This was a bit of fun in the kitchen. No need for me to get all scientific).

7.   Put the snail back in the oven for 10 minutes or until the puff pastry is golden brown.

Animal Party Food Idea

Ready to eat. My fussy girls LOVE them!

More snail activities:

More creature in the kitchen ideas

 

Making Mud Stew

Making a Mud StewHave your children ever had a mud kitchen? I haven’t made one for my girls but to be honest we haven’t really needed one yet.

One of their favourite activities is to make mud stew or mud potions. They combine ingredients in empty plant pots, our bird bath or if they’re really sneaky, sometimes I catch them with my favourite bowls. I’m not very impressed if I find them with my bowls!

The beauty of making a mud stew or potion is that you already have the ingredients (dirt and nature),  you already have the utensils (bucket, bowls and sticks) and there are so many ways to extend on this activity too (our ideas below).

Here’s what a mud stew looks like

Collecting ingredients was just as much fun as creating the stew. Their chosen ingredients from nature:

Making a Mud Stew

They added a lot of dirt to some water.

mud kitchen

Then, they added their ingredients.

Mud kitchen

Finally, the mixture was stirred – thoroughly!

Mud activitiesThis activity was joyful to watch.

I’ve got a list of ways to extend on the muddy fun for next time, which will probably be tomorrow, with my bowls!

  • Giving them metric cups, teaspoons and kitchen weighing scales to measure their ingredients
  • Setting up a video camera to see if the girls would like to do their own mud stew cooking show
  • Setting up an area for a mud kitchen so that they can cook more than just stews
  • Providing a play area for the girls to serve their mud stew to pretend customers

What child would want to be inside watching television when they could be getting muddy,  exploring nature and unknowingly learning outside?!

Snake Craft using Plastic Bread Clips

Snake Craft with plastic Bread Clips

We’ve been collecting plastic bread clips for weeks and wondering what to do with them. When Miss Possum suggested we use them as scales for a snake craft,  I was stunned.  I couldn’t have thought up recycling bread clips in a better project.

What you’ll need:

Craft with Bread Clips

 How to make it:

  1. Glue the snake printable onto the cardboard.
  2. Once the glue has dried you can cut out the snake.
  3. Bend the head and stick it together (see snake image above).
  4. Cut the bread clips in half.
  5. Stick the bread clips on the cardboard snake from the tail up, over lapping them as you go. A good craft glue is important. I found that a peg clipped onto the bread clips at every bend in the snake’s body helped hold them until they dried.
  6. When you get to the head, add the bread clips from the front of the snake, closest to the tongue and overlap them upwards.

Bread Clip craft

Once it’s all dry, it’s time to play.

Miss Possum let the twins pat the snake (pretending to be me, I think). She showed them how to correctly pat a snake (patting down the scales).

snake craft

Here are some more snake activities:

Snake Craft for Kids

This craft was a hit. We’re now collecting more bread clips to make one for Miss Possum and Panda too!

Searching for and Learning about Scorpions

Go Scorpion Searching. It's Fun!

I can almost imagine most of you shuddering when I mention that I went searching for scorpions with my family this weekend. I’m perfectly aware that this activity may sound a little reckless  but we had the most fantastic time and learnt so much.

All scorpions can sting but your destination in the world is very important. Most scorpions in Australia are quite docile and are not classed as dangerous. If you live in an area that has dangerous scorpions it’s best you do not participate in this activity.

Before we went hunting for scorpions we:

  • put on our closed-in shoes
  • Had a safety talk

I told my children before we left that none of them would be holding a scorpion. I explained that we would just be finding it, putting it in a container and having a closer look. No one was allowed to touch one under any circumstances. We also reminded the kids about snake safety too.

We took :

  • A bug catching container
  • A small shovel
  • A magnifying glass

Learning Scorpion

We went into the bush and started lifting up rocks. Scorpions are a similar colour to rocks and dirt, so you’ll need to have a good look when you turn the rock over. We talked about how the scorpion camouflaged with the rock to help it hide from it’s prey.

Here’s a closer look.

Finding Scorpions

We found two small and two large rainforest scorpions.

Scorpion Activity

We captured one to have a closer inspection by using a stick to move the scorpion onto the shovel. We gently tipped the scorpion into the container. All the children were being fully supervised.

Scorpions for Kids

Scorpion facts we talked about:

  • Scorpions are a part of the Arachnid family (the same family as spiders and ticks). We counted their eight legs.
  • Scorpions are invertebrates, which means they don’t have a back bone but they do have an exoskeleton.
  • Predators: Lizards, Possums, snakes, rats and birds.
  • Prey: Scorpions are ambush predators and eat crickets,  beetles, cockroaches, spiders and millipedes.
  • The stinger on a scorpion is used to kill their prey and to protect themselves.
  • Scorpions give birth to live young and the female keeps the pale young on her back to protect them.

Want to learn more about scorpions? 

Scorpion World

Australian Scorpions

We really did have a lovely day of discovery and learning. We didn’t just find scorpions either, we found ants and spiders too. It really was quite a wildlife nature hunt that day and it’s one we’ll be doing more often.

Would yo go hunting for scorpions with your family?

Fun with Playdough and Shells

Playdough and shell craft

When sitting down with my girls and some playdough, I never thought that adding shells to our play would inspire interesting questions and creations. It was a perfect activity that paired playful fun with learning. Here’s what we made and discovered.

Shelled animals

We made snails and hermit crabs by adding a real shell to a playdough body. They looked very life-like.

What we talked about:

Shell Animals

 Playing with Shells and Playdough

We had fun creating with playdough and shells. We made:

  • Two playdough balls and sorted the shells  into large and small
  • A rock pool and added shelled creatures
  • A beautiful shell and playdough sculpture

Shell Sculptures and Shell Play

 Making shells using playdough

We looked at the shells and tried to make them out of playdough. This was quite hard at first but after a few tries Miss Possum and I worked together on the project. They turned out great and Miss Possum then could make her own.

We talked about:

  • How shells are made
  • Where we find them
  • What’s their purpose
  • Why there are different shaped shells

Shell Art Activities

Another great way to combine these two  materials is to make letters on playdough using shells.

I’d never have expected that we’d learn so much with playdough and shells but we really did.  I think we’ll be playing with playdough and nature much more in future.

 

Cutting Patterns in Feathers

Cutting Patterns in Feathers #naturecraft #craft

When we’re out, my children love to collect special pieces they find in nature. They especially enjoy collecting feathers.  I add to their assortment of feathers too by bringing more home from work but our little feather box is now quite overflowing! We decided we’d get crafty with a few.

Some of our feathers had been sitting in a box for quite some time and were a little dishevelled. It didn’t take much to clean them up though.  We used a recycled (and clean) eyelash brush and brushed the feather barbs on the same angle they sit. It makes the feather perfect again.

Feather Craft for Kids

Then, we all started cutting into feathers.

Cutting Practise

My three-year old, Miss Platypus and Miss Panda, enjoyed just cutting bits and pieces off the feathers while Miss Possum and I cut patterns in the feathers. We cut diagonal and wavy edged feathers and cut feathers into sharp points. We also cut into the barbs near the shaft of the feather and it made a lovely pattern.

Feather art and Craft

We had a lot of feather cuttings after our activity but we didn’t waste them. I drew a bird on a piece of paper ( you could download this bird printable instead if you’re not a keen drawer) and then stuck glue all over the bird. The girls stuck the feathers onto the bird picture.

Feather Crafts

I can’t wait until our feather box overflows again. Neither can the kids!

Have you ever crafted with feathers?

Save the Environment Poster

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Poster

I love reading articles that help me become the green-living person I aim to be.  I want to keep a healthy environment  for my children but when I look at the road ahead my passionate personality can get completely overwhelmed until I switch off.  I really don’t want to switch off, I want to make a difference!

A blog I regularly enjoy reading is Down to Earth Mother.  Jo inspires busy mothers, like me, to make simple green-living changes to our lifestyle. She delivers each post with thought and encourages us to take lighter steps on our planet. She’s awesome!

After reading many interesting and eye-opening posts in one day though, I was close to the edge. I just wanted to roll into a ball and rock. It wasn’t Jo’s posts, it was a video about a baby bird that had died because it had been fed only plastic from its mother. But what was rolling into a ball  going to achieve?

Instead, I took Jo’s advice and started making small changes. I also channelled that overwhelming conservation fatigue into making a poster for myself, a reminder that I can make a difference!

I’m sharing this Save the Environment Poster with you in the hope that it may inspire you too.

Click here to download the poster

Help Save the Environment Poster

Here’s what I’ve changed since having this on my fridge.

  • I always (not just sometimes) use my reusable shopping bags each week.
  • I no longer use bin liners and instead just dump the rubbish straight in the bin.
  • I’ve swapped plastic lunch bags with brown paper bags.
  • I’ve revamped my worm farm and am using it again.
  • I pick up more rubbish when I’m out and about.
  • I’m still not buying water bottles (although I haven’t since that post).
  • I’m being more conscious of and reducing the amount of plastic packaging that comes with food.
  • I’m buying more local produce from our market food stalls.

It’s taken me a month to make all these changes. These changes may be small but when I think about how all of those add up, in a year, in 10 years, the difference will be huge!

Easy Nature Hair Piece

Nature Hair Piece

This nature craft takes me back to my childhood. When I was young, I used to make this exact nature piece in the school yard but mine became a brooch. The girls and I decided to glam it up and make them into hair pieces instead. I must admit that it’s far more spectacular wearing them this way!

These nature hair pieces are simple to make and you can try it with any leaf, gumnut and flower you find.  We used a Swamp bloodwood eucalypt leaf, flower and gumnut for this one.

How to make it yourself

  1. Add two hole punches length ways down the middle of the leaf like the image below.
  2. Thread a long piece of string through the two holes. The string should be long enough to be able to tie around your child’s head.

Nature Accessory

3.  Flip the stem of the leaf over and push it through the middle of the leaf.

4.  Push a gumnut and /or flower stem through this hole too.

Nature Hat

6.   Tie the hair piece to your child’s head.

Nature craft for Kids          Nature for Kids

So simple and so lovely!

More nature accessories?

Ten Top Butterfly Activities

Ten Top Butterfly Activities

If your child has been showing an interest in butterflies lately, why not extend on their interest with these ten top butterfly activities!

1.  Learn about Butterflies

Start your butterfly journey by learning all about them. Check out these great websites:

We’re learning about the endangered Richmond Birdwing Butterfly and thankfully we’ve found a great website that’s given us  wealth of information  Richmond Birdwing Conservation Network.

2. Search for Butterflies

Go on a nature bushwalk and hunt for butterflies. You’ll need to focus on finding a butterfly if you’re searching for them, one could flutter right past you and you’d miss it. It might take some time but when you finally find one, you’ll smile from ear-to-ear! Make sure you take these explorer essentials with you too!

Looking for Butterflies

3. Make the mask

It can be hard to find Butterflies in the wild so I’ve created a mask for children to help them connect with the colourful insect through play. This butterfly mask is a  Richmond Bird Wing Butterfly.

Click to Download

Free Butterfly Mask Printable

Butterfly Mask

You can also download the eyes and proboscis (tongue) butterfly mask here.

3. Butterfly play

When we play this simple game at home, the girls love it. Simply ask you children to act out exactly what you say. Use a calm, gentle voice and talk about each part of the life cycle.

Here’s what I usually say.

‘ A tiny little egg sat on a leaf. It was very still and very small. The egg was still for quite some time (pause). Then, the animal inside started to wriggle. It didn’t break open the egg, it was just getting ready to leave its comfy warm egg home (pause).  Suddenly, the egg hatched and out popped a little caterpillar. He slowly stretched his body out long and moved all his limbs one by one (pause). Soon, he started to feel very hungry and looked for some nice, juicy leaves to eat. He ate and ate and got bigger and bigger until he was so big he could hardly move. Then, he started building his cocoon. He weaved a silk  button below himself and then he stood on it.  Next, he shed his skin by gently wiggling his body until he was covered in a chrysalis. He was very patient while his body changed within his new home. He waited and waited and waited (pause). When he was ready he started to make his way out of the chrysalis. He gently pushed his way out making sure he didn’t damage his delicate wings. Once he had climbed out,  he raised his beautiful, colourful wings and froze to let them dry. When the butterfly felt confident he flapped his wings and rose in to the air. He fluttered past some trees and through the forest looking for beautiful colourful fruits to eat. Now he was old enough to help make babies too.’Butterfly Play

5. Read Butterfly Books 

There are a heap of butterfly books out there. Go to your local library and you’ll find plenty. We have been focusing on two books about butterflies. The very popular book by Eric Carle, The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Birdwings’ New home by Lynette Reilly.

6. Plant a Butterfly Vine

We were lucky enough to get a Richmond Bird Wing Butterfly vine to plant in our garden. It wouldn’t take much to find out about a vine to plant that would help a butterfly in your area.

Richmond Birdwing Butterfly Vine

7. Colour in this Butterfly Colouring Page

Click here to download

Butterfly colouring Page

8. Visit a butterfly house

It’s quite sad that we don’t have a butterfly house where we live any more. I know my girls would be memorised seeing so many butterflies up-close and watching them feed using their long proboscis. It would also be really good to see the different chrysalis made by different butterflies.

9. Rescue Butterflies

This website explains how to help a butterfly should you find a sick or injured one. It gives you a solution to feed butterflies and also explains how to hold them without damaging their wings.

10. Butterfly Conversation - How can you help? 

Butterfly Conservation has a lovely list of ways that you can help with butterfly conservation. Read on and act for butterflies!

Making Clay Fossils

Fossil footprints

Have you made fossils with your children yet?  Last week we spent most of the afternoon creating many different types of fossils just using a few items from around our home. If we had so much fun just making them, I can only imagine the fossil fun we’ll have with the finished products!

What you’ll need:

  • Clay
  • Nature
  • Plastic animals

How to make fossils:

It’s quite simple, which makes this activity perfect for both toddlers and older children.

1.   Knead the clay until it’s nice and smooth.

2.   Then, roll it out until it’s flat.

3.   Lay out some items on a table. We used nature (gumnuts, seeds and leaves) and some plastic animals. Ask your child to use the items to make imprints in the clay. Let them choose what ever they like. They can make nature fossils, animal fossils and even footprint fossils!

4.   Let them dry in the sun.

Here are their finished products.

Animal Fossil

Nature Fossil   Nature imprinted fossils

 

We’ve made fossils using paster of Paris before too but this activity is far less messy!

Additional Fossil Activities:

Learn about fossils – There’s a whole website dedicated to learning about fossils. Take a look here.

Palaeontologist play – Mark out an area (the sand pit is perfect), hide the fossils and using a few paint brushes ask your children to carefully excavate the fossils. With your child, learn about what the daily life of a  Palaeontologist.

Learn about Dinosaur fossils- How do we know that dinosaurs lived on Earth? Because there is proof!  Investigate the animals they’ve  discovered existed and discover how they try to piece the animal’s life together using knowledge given by the fossils themselves.