“Biscuit Bear” by Mini Grey (or Use The Gingerbread man)

biscuitbearChoosing this book is a bit odd really, as there’s no reason why you wouldn’t do this activity with the Gingerbread man. However, this is the book we used, so it seemed dishonest to write it up as the Gingerbread man.

The story is about a boy who makes a bear shaped biscuit and decorates it, every time he tries to eat it his Mum stops him (it’s too hot, it’s nearly dinner time, he’s just cleaned his teeth). So instead of eating it he goes to sleep with it on his pillow. Then Biscuit Bear gets up while he’s sleeping and has adventures.

Blogging this is a bit silly really, because it’s just such an obvious activity. However, I was quite excited that Jumbles actually asked to do baking, he normally refuses, but we’d read this book earlier in the day and he wanted to make some biscuit bears himself. Plus I thought it’d be a chance to share my favourite easy biscuit recipe. I love this recipe for a few reasons:

1) Unlike gingerbread, you don’t need an egg – I’m not too worried about the kids eating raw egg anymore, but often we are unprepared and have accidentally used all of the eggs when we decide to bake.

2) These biscuits don’t spread when you bake them, so they keep the shape that you were aiming for. We use cutters, but we also love using chocolate moulds, I have a collection of interesting shaped ones, our favourites being the lego man moulds. We do make gingerbread a lot, but it does spread quite a bit.

3)There is nothing complicated to do, you just mix everything together

Easy non spreading biscuits:
150g plain flour
50g caster sugar (or whatever sugar I can find at the time)
100g marg (butter tastes nicer, but it’s much easier for kids to rub marg in)
Optional flavouring, this time we used a big squirt of butterscotch flavoured syrup, but you can add vanilla, cocoa, choc drops, raisins, nuts etc.

1. Rub the main ingredients togetherduckmuck 005
Yes, that really is it, you can then just roll it into a ball and break bits off to bake if you like.

2. Add optional flavours

3. Squash into a ball. Then roll out flat.

4. Use cutters or chocolate moulds. If using moulds, just push the dough into the moulds, then either bake in the mould, or turn out onto a baking tray, they should stay intact.

5. Bake at 170/Gas mark 3 for 15-20 mins

6. Cool

7. Decorate – the method used in this house is to make a few bowls of coloured icing and spoon it over the biscuits, while not very secretly also eating lots, then pour an entire packet of sprinkles on topduckmuck 008. I also tried this time with a couple of cocktail sticks, for adding detail, this didn’t really work, but Bean liked poking the icing with hers.

You may note in the photos that Bean was not involved in the baking, I did feel a bit guilty about this and did baking with both of them a few days later to make up for it, at the time Mr Monkey Juggling and I had decided to take a child each for an hour. She rejoined us for the icing. I have to say though, baking with one child is much less stressful than having both of them, I am not very good at baking with them both, it all tends to get a bit hectic.

After you’ve made your biscuits, you might like to do some imaginary play with them, we just ate them though.

External Links:
Borrow “Biscuit Bear” from your local library
Buy “Biscuit Bear”

“Oliver’s Fruit Salad” by Vivian French & Alison Bartlett (or use any fruit book, e.g. Handa’s surprise or very Hungry Caterpillar)

oliverThis is a less well known book, I’ve picked it as Jumbles really likes it, and it makes a great springboard for fruit activities. However, if you can’t get a copy, really any book about fruit could be substituted. The most obvious would be The Very Hungry Caterpillar, but I wanted some variety.

Begin by reading the story, the book is a story about a boy who keeps telling his Mum about the fruit he picked in his Grandpa’s garden when he stayed there, and how Grandpa didn’t have tinned  or packet fruit. Oliver is a picky eater, but in the end eats fruit salad. I’m not going to say this book will help your picky eaters, but it’s a helpful springboard for playing with fruit.

After reading the story, head to a somewhere that you can buy fruit. Allow your children to choose some fruit to buy.

Activity 1: fruit printing – much like potato printing, but more edible

wildthingsandoliver 045Mix up some paint. We used homemade edible paint, mainly because I figured that Bean would eat the fruit whether it had paint on or not. There are a variety of edible paint recipes. Unfortunately, my favourite involves Kool Aid, which you can’t get in this country (or  if you can it’d be crazily overpriced). Fortunately for me, my parents live in The US, so when they visit I get them to bring sachets over. If you have Kool aid or similar, then mix it with water and flour until you have a thick, vibrant paint. The reason I love this paint is it takes seconds to mix and smells and looks great, plus it is of course totally edible.

If you don’t have kool aid, simply mix flour and water with food colouring (gel colours are best for vibrant tones).

This craft is really process art, that means it’s about the process, or activity itself, not about creating a finished product to keep. These paints have no preservatives in, so I don’t know how long they would last, so wouldn’t recommend if you are planning to keep the art for months.

Cut up the harder fruits (apple, pear, pineapple) into large pieces, suitable for your childwildthingsandoliver 046 to grasp.

Depending on the age of your children, they may be able to help cut some of the fruit. Jumbles (3) cut the apples using an apple slicer. Sometimes when printing, my more artistic husband will carve intricate designs into the ends of the potatoes, carrots etc for them to print with, but today we were happy just using the whole fruits.

I tried to demonstrate how you could make flowers by using the apple slice to print petals. However, smooshing down the top of the pineapple proved to be the most popular with both children, closely followed by swirling the paint around using the fruit.

wildthingsandoliver 067Whilst they were busy painting, Daddy cut up the rest of the fruit ready for the fruit salad, ensuring that he let Jumbles slice the banana and put all of the bits into the big bowl. Then let them help dish it up and enjoy, add yoghurt if you wish. I must admit, both of mine love fruit, so I can’t comment on whether doing this will improve fruit eating levels.

External Links:
Borrow “Oliver’s Fruit Salad” from your local Library
Buy “Oliver’s Fruit Salad”