Cooking Series: Homemade Pizza

For the next couple of weeks I am taking a step away from Creative Tuesdays and instead posting for Cooking series. In fact, since the next 2 posts are directly related to creativity and creative thinking, I decided just to go ahead and post them on Tuesdays anyway.
So, today I will share how we made homemade pizzas in my ESL class. We used my grandma’s recipe for the yeast dough which I prepared in advance since there wasn’t that much time to sit and wait around for the dough to rise!
Let me say something first: children ALL love getting their hands “dirty” with food items. They may not necessarily even eat what they make but making things, well, food of course, with their own hands is a world of experience to young children, as well as older ones. Though it is always easier to engage younger ones in food making process as they are still exploring and are curious about how things work. Making pizza is a very very simple activity you can offer you children which is full of sensory, smell, taste and visual experiences. Also, it helps with language development, creativity, fine motor skills development – you name it! And of course, then pride and satisfaction of making this small pizza and the happy faces and sparkly eyes – I would make pizzas in every class if I could just to see those faces!
How to set up this activity:
1. Work space should be cleared and clean and covered with a waterproof sheet. Some might want to use disposable sheets, I use a regular one which I can wash and reuse easily.
2. Prepare pizza toppings in advance if you are making pizzas with more than 2-3 children: you won’t have time to cut everything up and younger kids will get bored watching you cut stuff! Here are the toppings I prepared for my students: sausages, corn from a can, sliced and cooked mushrooms, chopped up tomatoes and green peppers, grated cheese, portions of tomato paste, some olive oil to brush the pizza base with.
3. MAKE SURE THE CHILDREN WASH THEIR HANDS THOROUGHLY. Yep, I am really really mentioning this!
4. Demonstration: first of all, go slow. Show children how to flatten the pieces of dough for pizza base. Give them time to experiment. Ask them if they want your assistance – most of them probably will. But if they are anything like my toddler and 5 year old, they might just say “no” no matter how hard it is for them or how weird their pizza base looks like! Help them brush the dough with oil and then with tomato paste.
5. Make sure each child has his/her own plate with toppings he/she likes. And I would also make sure the toppings don’t touch each other on the plate as most of the children really wanted.
6. Give them time to set their toppings.
7. Allow them to watch how pizza is being baked if you have a chance (e.g. through the glass window of your oven). Children kept asking me every 2 minutes if pizzas were ready.
8. Important – have fun!
How do you like your pizza?

Creative Tuesday: Painting with Q-tips

Welcome to Creative Tuesdays!
Today I will talk about a very good creative activity that helps with eye-hand coordination and fine motor skills development: painting with Q-tips. I am sure you have heard or even done it before. It is simple, quick to arrange and very engaging. The only downside I found is that so many q-tips get wasted. So in order to modify you can just use a toothpick or a matchstick with pieces of cotton attached on top and the toothpick and the matchstick can be reused until they break!
Painting with q-tips
How to arrange the activity:
1. Find some paints – any paints will do. We used finger paints which were a bit old and didn’t work well as finger paints anymore. You can also use home made paints, acrylic paints, water paints, tempura paints – anything you wish!
2. Set up the work space: prepare few sheets of paper (during painting activities we go through at least 3-4!), set the paints and enough q-tips for each color your child will be using.
3. This is a half-supervised or independent activity. I would recommend it to children from 2+ years old and up (though my now 2 year old also enjoyed it since she was about 1.5 years old; but needed  to be supervised 100%!) and the amount of supervision depends on the age. With younger children choose fewer colors and demonstrate them how to do it, plus keep an eye on them. With older children more colors create more fun and room for imagination!
4. At the end when you are done with q-tips, you can use some scotch tape and make a q-tip collage. Or simply stick the q-tips at the bottom of the paintings and display the paintings on the wall!
I hope you enjoy this activity with your children. It doesn’t require a parent to be super creative or crafty, it is simple to gather the materials and set up the work space as well as relatively easy to clean up!

Creative Tuesday: Revisiting Home Made Paint

I shared with you previously that we made home made paint and had tons of fun with it!
Today I’d like to revisit as this activity took place few more times at our house and it was always great fun!
It is especially useful as a non-supervised/half-supervised activity for older siblings (4 + in my experience but would of course worker better with older children) when you have a new baby!
Home made paint
Here are simple steps:
1. Mix the ingredients.
2. Pour them into paper cups and add needed color (could be food coloring or actual paints).
3. Grab a big piece of paper and paints and have fun!
The beauty of this paint recipe that it WILL come off easily so if you get it on the surfaces, all you need is wet wipes and/or damp cloth to wash the stains off. And they easily came off my daughter’s clothes as well after running them in a wash cycle.

Creative Tuesday: Simple Sun Craft

Welcome to Creative Tuesdays!
Here’s another very simple craft: Make a sun!
We made this craft when we were learning letter S and the word the Sun. It is so simple and the children had fun making it.
What you will need:
A piece of paper
A plate or a circle template
Colorful contact paper strips
Colors (crayons, markers, pencils)
The steps are simple:
Together with your child trace the plate/circle on the paper.
Now color it the circle and draw a face on it.
Stick the strips of contact paper around for the rays.
Your sun is ready!
You can also use this to review color yellow, orange, black and draw a rainbow and clouds around for more fun!

Creative Tuesday: DIY Shakers

Welcome to Creative Tuesdays!
How about some music? Do you play any instruments? Do you expose your children to music?
One of the favorite crafts is to make shakers. They are so simple, fun and offer a variety of sensory and music experiences.
Here’s what you will need to make shakers:
TP roll
2 cupcake lines
Some beans or rice
Scotch tape
Colors (crayons, pencils or markers)
The steps are very simple:
Tape the cupcake liner on one end of the TP roll. Secure it by taping over the end with 2 pieces of tape crossed over (that is so the beans/rice have less chance to break through cupcake liner when the shakers are shaken!)
Add bean/rice into the TP roll and close the other end with the 2nd cupcake liner the same way you did with the first.
Now, let your imagination flow and color the TP Rolls!
For the activity:
Use the shakers to accompany listening or singing along with favorite songs, nursery rhyme or to create a mini-band!

Creative Tuesday: Curly Hearts

Welcome to Creative Tuesdays!
I continue offering very very simple crafts that are easy to make with younger and older children and easy to supervise by so-called non-crafty parents!
As the Father’s Day is approaching, you can see so many various crafts posted. I posted The Longest Picture idea last week and today I offer you Curly Hearts. It could be a simple collage or a part of a DIY card. This craft is also suitable for any other occasion: Mother’s Day, Women’s Day, birthdays.
The materials you need are construction paper for the card/collage base, cut out heart and several straps of paper which could be the same in length or different; and glue.
The steps are very simple:
Glue the straps in a circle, securing only the top part and leaving the ends free.
Glue the heart on top.
Take a pencil or a marker and curl the ends.
Your curly heart is ready!
How do you celebrate Father’s Day (if you do at all?)

Creative Tuesday: Longest Picture

I am sharing today an early Father’s Day activity with you!
We really like watching the Ramona and Beezus movie from time to time. The most favorite part is when Ramona and her daddy create the “longest picture in the world”. Since watching this movie for the first time, my husband and miss T were thinking of making one on their own. And so they did it!
longest picture title
We had a roll of paper we bought in Ikea.
They rolled it out in the living room.
Grabbed some colors… and the creative process began!
When daddy got busy after some time helping mommy with some chores, miss A joined in the fun.
It was a great Father-Daughter activity!
What kind of Father-Daughter activities do you do?

Creative Tuesday: TP Roll Tree

As you have noticed I have been really trying to come up with very simple craft activities that any parent or other adult can supervise and explain easily to the child.
tp roll tree title
Today I will show you how to make a TP Roll Tree. I have seen some images of these trees here and there but I haven’t found a source on how to actually make it so I went ahead and did it my way. If you have this activity on your blog or know of someone who has previously posted this activity  -please mention in the comments!
TP roll tree
For this activity you will need a TP roll, a piece of construction paper cut in a shape of the tree top, some paints (you can use crayons, pencils or markers if you like).
Here’s how to make it:
On TP roll make small cuts where you would insert the tree top.
Insert the tree top.
Using small paint brush and colors, place many colorful dots on the tree top. You can also pain shapes of leaves, flowers and fruit if you like.
Decorate the TP roll aka tree body.
Let is dry. It makes a lovely decoration and you can create a whole forest for a play later!
I hope you enjoy making this activity with your children!

Creative Tuesday: Handprinted Peacock

I have been MIA as we’ve been moving and it is not fun 30 weeks into pregnancy!
I hope I can resume and schedule some of my posts for the time being and I am excited as I am expecting few fellow bloggers to write some lovely guest posts for me while I am busy with the new baby (who is coming some time in June!).
Today for Creative Tuesday I would like to share a VERY simple activity that I am sure you have seen on many various blogs and sites: Handprinted Peacock.
Handprint Peacock Title
The activity is very simple:
Trace the child’s hand on the piece of paper.
Then put the hand over again so the fingers fill in the areas between the finger prints. Trace again.
Now draw wings, eyes and legs. Color your peacock as you like.
The results are very cute!
Handprint Peacock
We had lots of fun with these peacocks. We also learned a peacock dance pose. I couldn’t take a picture but children had a blast pretending to be peacocks.
Hope you liked this activity!

Creative Tuesday: Cupcake Liner Flower

Welcome to Creative Tuesday! On Tuesdays I will be trying my best to post some simple craft activities for you to make with your children/students.
As you probably noticed – I love flowers. And I love making craft with flowers. I have previously posted a craft that involved cupcake liners to make flowers. Today I offer you an activity that is based on the method: cupcake liner flowers.
What you need:
White sheet of paper
4 cupcake liners
Markers or crayons
How to make it:
Take one cupcake liner and flatten it. Apply glue on the circle of the inner part (less colorful) and stick the outer side up.
Now take the second liner and invert it – outer part inside. Pinch 4 sides to make is resembling flower petals. Apply glue on the opposite side and stick in the middle of the first flower.
Repeat with the other 2 liners.
Now, draw stems and leaves using markers or crayons. And all other stuff that you can imagine: sun, grass, birds, bugs, butterflies, clouds…
Talk about the pictures with your child/student. I asked my students to describe their picture in simple words:
“Hello, my name is… This is my picture. In my picture there are …. flowers. There is green grass. There are …. birds. There is the sun. There are …. butterflies. Do you like my picture?”
Craft is a great way for speech development – it allows you to communicate with the child, learn colors, shapes, various verbs, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns and of course, phrases.
I hope you enjoy making this simple craft with your children!