Healthy Veggie Christmas Tree Share Platter. Cooking with Kids.

Dec 23, 2015

This year we thought that we'd come up with a healthy Christmas share platter, bound to stand out amongst all the sweets and treats that usually adorn the Christmas party table.

This fruit (my kids wanted to point out that some of the ingredients we use are technically fruits) and vegetable Christmas tree share platter would be perfect for taking along to a class party or family get together and is simple enough to get the kids involved in the preparation. I've found over the years that having children regularly involved in cooking and food preparation, makes them more inclined to try new things and gives them the information needed for making future choices for themselves based on their knowledge of foods, our needs and healthy living.

Healthy Veggie Christmas Tree Share Platter

Ingredients: (we used)
  • Celery 
  • Cucumber
  • Snow peas
  • Sugar snap peas
  • Red and Yellow Capsicum (peppers)
  • Red and yellow cherry tomatoes
  • Olives (black and green stuffed)
  • Carrot
  • Cheese (cheddar cheese slices) Optional- leave out for dairy free option

  • Knife
  • Chopping board
  • Peeler
  • Star cookie cutter (optional)
  • Large platter
Don't forget, before you start any food preparation you need to wash your hands.

Chop your carrot, celery and cucumber into sticks around the same size and length. Depending on your child's knife skills, you might want to help them with this part.
Older children can assist with the peeling and chopping of the harder vegetables.
Younger children will enjoy cutting stars out of slices of real cheese.
Halve your cherry tomatoes, olives and cut thin slices of capsicum to decorate the tree.
With your ingredients prepped, you are ready to build your tree! Children of all ages can help with this part.
Use the carrot sticks for the base and your cucumber and celery sticks to build the shape of the tree.
Layer your snow peas and sugar snap peas over and in your tree.
Arrange your capsicum strips on top of the tree for tinsel.
Decorate all over the tree with your tomatoes and olives.
For the finishing touches, add your star shaped cheese. For a dairy free option, you could cut stars from yellow capsicum.
Serve your tree fresh with your favourite dips and watch it disappear.

We really enjoyed creating this Veggie Christmas Tree and got to practice many kitchen skills, fine-motor skills and talk about different foods and healthy eating along the way. The kids (and I) were really impressed with the results at the end and it was hard to photograph before my kids wanted to dig in!

Here are some more Christmas Recipe ideas you may want to try with the kids:

Happy creating,
Debs :)

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DIY Disney inspired Christmas Gift-Tags for Kids

Dec 21, 2015

Christmas always ends up being such a crafty, creative time for my kids and I. We love hand-making Christmas cards, making fun Christmas food, playing with Christmas playdough and so much more! It's always fun jazzing up the gifts with our own wrapping paper, ribbons or gift-tags and what I love about it the most, is creating those magical Christmas moments together that will become precious memories over time.

To get the kids excited in creating our Christmas gift-tags, we decided they would feature our favourite Disney Junior characters. Mickey and Minnie Mouse, (classic favourites) and Doc McStuffins, who we love for her healthy living messages and kind, caring nature.

Making the gift-tags ourselves allowed for the children to practice fine-motor skills, (it's not easy to trace and work with small items), cutting skills (this part was especially good for the younger kids) and even some reading and writing skills, in order to label the gift-tags. Younger children may need some assistance with the writing, or you could provide stickers or stamps that they could use instead.

  • Blank gift tags or gift tag template and coloured cardboard (here is a free printable gift-tag template)
  • Scissors
  • Hole-punch
  • Marker
  • Glue
  • Ribbon
  • Fave Disney character pictures (we just printed some off the Disney Junior Website or you could always buy some stickers)
Either print our your gift-tags on the coloured card of your choice, or trace a plain template onto some coloured card. As we were using a few different characters, the kids wanted to match the colours of each character to the cardboard colour.
Cut out your gift tag.
Cut out your character picture.
Glue next to the pointed end of the gift-tag
Write or draw any greeting on your gift tag. You will also want to label who it is for and who it is from. You can put this on the front or the back.
Punch a hole near the point at the end of the gift-tag and then tie some ribbon through the hole.
Children can play around with the text and format for their gift-tag. It's a good idea to first provide children with a blank gift-tag so that they can practice their wording and the sizing of their text. Often trial and error works best for this.
When your gift-tags are done, coordinate them with matching coloured ribbons or bows and pop them on the presents for the lucky recipients.
There's just something about that homemade touch that makes them more special!

Disney Junior The Channel is where magical storytelling comes to life and is available on Foxtel, channel 709 and Fetch. I love that the Disney Junior characters and stories cover learning areas from early language and maths skills to healthy living and social and emotional development. You can use this inspiration for recreating your own Magical Christmas Moment with your little ones and share these with friends and family. Disney Junior Australia and New Zealand would love to see your ideas so be sure to tag in @DisneyJuniorAUNZ and #DJMagical Moments.

I've found that watching shows with familiar and trusted characters, that are promoting the same messages and values that we teach at home, can be very useful in helping children consolidate the knowledge and entice them to want to recreate the behaviours. 

Happy creating,
Debs :)

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10 Super Cool Dinosaur Activities

Dec 14, 2015

There are not many children that I know, that aren't fascinated by dinosaurs in some way. (Or adults, come to think of it). These incredible creatures, larger and more interesting than we can really imagine, that lived on this earth long before we arrived!

If your children love dinosaurs, here are a collection of 10 fabulous dinosaur themed activities that incorporate sensory play, maths, imagination, storytelling, creating, crafting and more! Enjoy!

1) Handprint Dinosaurs

Create your own dinosaurs, using your very own handprint for their body, legs and neck. Add eyes and a tail to complete your creation.

Materials: Easy Wash paint, paintbrush, paper, googly eyes (optional), marker.
TIP: To avoid really awkward twisting of the wrist, print your handprint with your hand around the right way and then turn your paper upside down to get the "dinosaur legs" on the bottom of the page 
To make the head, either print an extra thumb print at the end of your dinosaurs "neck" or slightly move your thumb when making your handprint to create a head shape. Press your googly eyes on while the paint is still wet. Alternatively you could stick them on with glue or draw on eyes once the paint has dried.
Use your paintbrush to add a tail to your dinosaur. You could also add spikes or any other details you'd like.
Add further details with a permanent marker once the paint is dry.
 What cool colours and patterns would you make your dinosaur?
We thought that this little guy, made by my 4 year old, looked a lot like an orange spotted grinning Arlo.

2) Create your own Dinosaur World

 Provide your child with materials to make their own Dinosaur World for pretend play.

Materials they could use are:
  • a large tub
  • your favourite plastic dinosaurs
  • rocks
  • trees (use plastic shrubbery or collect some leaves and twigs from outside)
  • smaller tub for lake/pond (optional)
  • water (optional)
  • felt for grass or water

Have fun playing, using imagination and story telling to create adventures for your dino friends in their new dinosaur land!

3) Dinosaurs in Sticky Mud

For a super sensory activity, full of messy imaginative play, have a go at this sticky mud dinosaur tub! You can find all the details for making it here.

4) Paper Plate-a-sauruses (with free printable templates)

Use some basic supplies, including these free printable dinosaur templates to create your own paper plate dinosaur friends. Use your creations for decoration or story telling. You could even try sticking a craft stick to your designs, turning the lights out and shining a torch on your dinosaur for some cool dinosaur shadow puppets!

My kids noticed that the Diplodocus looked a lot like Arlo the Apatosaurus. They were right! They do look similar and in fact, they are both from the Diplodocidae Family.
This super cool activity made by The Craft Train for Learn with Play at Home

5) Sandpit Dino Dig!

How about trying out the role of paleontologist with your own dinosaur bone excavation in the sandpit? You can see more pictures of our dino dig (and whole Dinosaur Party) here.

6) Make your Own Dinosaur Bones

Picture by The Imagination Tree

If you don't have any plastic dinosaur bones to dig up, fear not! You could make your own using these instructions from The Imagination Tree. You'll also see some great ideas on how to use the bones to work on maths concepts such as length and counting.

7) Create Dinosaur Fossils from Coffee Grounds

Picture by I Can Teach My Child

As well as bones, you can make some very cool dinosaur fossils out of coffee grounds using these instructions from I Can Teach My Child.

8) Make Dinosaur Masks

Use paper-plates to make your favourite dinosaur masks and use them for imaginary play. Or, you can print out some free Dinosaur Masks from Itsy Bitsy Fun or from Mother Natured here. What would you use to make an Apatosaurus mask?

9) Cardboard Tube Dinosaurs

Picture by The Craft Train

Get crafty making these adorable dinosaurs from The Craft Train, using cardboard tubes or toilet paper rolls. See the full instructions on how to make them here. If you collect enough cardboard rolls, you could even create an entire prehistoric land!

10) "The Good Dinosaur" Colouring Sheets

Decorate your favourite characters from The Good Dinosaur movie with these free printable colouring sheets. Click on the links to download and print your favourites. Paint, colour or collage them as you like.

Perhaps you could use them as inspiration to write your very own story imagining what it might be like if dinosaurs never became extinct, or "If I had a dinosaur as a friend". 
Happy creating!

Do you have any dinosaur fans in your family?

Happy playing,
Debs :)

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