Fill their summer holidays with fun activities that keep the kids occupied while at home. We spoke to Meg to find out what she is up to this summer with Tiggy and Pip, from bookmark to cupcake making, she has given us plenty of inspiration…
Entertaining little ones I’ve found needs to be “involved”, to keep their attention for any length of time activities need to involve them, from planning what we’re about to do, to preparation and then of course making. I’ve learned I have no hope with the final stage of the process, the clearing up.
To make our floral bookmarks our first step was to forage for flowers and this the children particularly enjoyed, scouting out plants with pretty flowers that could then be cut and popped into their little basket. It was an adventure through the garden and once our little basket was full, we set to work with the preparing stage. We lay all the flowers we’d picked and cut out onto the table, made sure we had our blank card to use for bookmarks ready together with hole-punch, scissors, twine and some sheets of baking paper to use to place the flowers between to be able to press them flat and our “pièce de résistance” a small laminating machine (this part is optional but I figured it would be less messy than glue and the bookmarks would last a little longer).
Once everything was in place, we set to work with the making stage and this we really enjoyed! The girls placed their flowers as they wished onto the pieces of card, we placed their finished design into a laminating pouch and popped it into the laminating machine. Once cooled we cut around the bookmark, used the hole punch to create a hole and tied some twine through it and “ta-da” we’d made a beautiful handmade floral bookmark. The girls were super excited to see their bookmarks finished and all that was left to do was to choose which books to put them in.
This activity stems from my own childhood cake making days when my grandmother used to bake cakes with me, such fond memories and it’s wonderful to be able to carry on making cakes with my own children. One of my favourites as a child were butterfly cakes and I now make them with my daughters but with “added sprinkles”.
110g butter, softened
110g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
110g self-raising flour
½ tsp baking powder
1 tbsp milk, plus 2 tbsp if needed, to loosen the buttercream
Strawberry jam (optional)
For the buttercream
300g icing sugar
150g butter, softened
2 tsp vanilla paste
Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Line a cupcake tin with 10 cases. To make the sponge, tip the butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, flour, baking powder and milk into a large mixing bowl and beat with either a hand whisk or electric mixer until smooth, pale and combined. Divide the batter between the cases and bake for 15 mins until golden brown and a skewer inserted in the middle of a cake comes out clean. Leave on a wire rack to cool.
While the cakes are cooling, make the buttercream by beating together the icing sugar, butter and vanilla until pale and fluffy. Mix in the extra milk if the icing feels too stiff.
Once the cakes are cool, use a sharp knife to slice off the tops, then cut the tops in half. Pipe or spread the buttercream on top of the cakes, then gently push two semi-circular halves into the buttercream on each cake, doing this at an angle to look like butterfly wings. You can serve the cupcakes at this stage or decorate them with a little blob of jam in the centre and a scattering of sprinkles if you like.
Or if like me with small children you can substitute and “speed up” the process by using a cake making set. To make the ones in our pictures I used a Victoria sponge mix, simply added vegetable oil, eggs and water and spooned the mixture between cupcake papers. This of course is down to personal preference and sometimes time too, especially when it comes to little ones. I’m a true believer in “roll with whatever works” so don’t add pressure on yourself to make it from scratch. The most important part is that you enjoy making them and of course the best part, eating them!
Gardening and planting are always a fun activity with little ones. Be prepared to get a little messy, the girls ended up with compost in their sandals, gloves, hair, but we laughed endlessly at what is a super easy activity to do with little ones. What you’ll need is a container of sorts or a patch of garden in which to plant, some compost and some sunflower seeds. Fill your container or dig your patch, pop in your seeds, push them gently into the compost or ground. Fill with more compost so that the seeds are well covered and then water well. This activity isn’t possibly the best activity if you have impatient little ones as the results will take a little while to show but when they do, they’ll be amazed as sunflowers grow to be so tall! Mine love to measure them as they grow and love that often the sunflowers are even taller than them!