Week AGUA-Hibiscus Ice Lollies

Whoever’s made ice lollies at home (almost everyone I suppose) will know it is not rocket science. What it is peculiar about these lollies is the main ingredient: Hibiscus flower, better known as flor de jamaica in Mexico although known by other names in other countries. And while it is widely available in some countries, here in London is not so well known yet available in Multi-ethnic shops.

You could use the flowers for a warm tea first thing in the morning but in these months is so much better to try the cool tanginess of these flowers in a refreshing drink, or why not straight out of the freezer.

You will need only:

  • Flores de jamaica secas= dried Hibiscus flowers
  • AGUA=water
  • Azucar = sugar
  • molde para paletas de hielo = ice lolly mould
  • Jarra y cuchara =Jug and spoon

While it is common to find big bags of dried flowers back in Mexico, I can only find 100g bags here in London. I usually take a third of flowers from my bag (around 30g) put them in a 1 litre plastic container, fill up with water and leave soaking in the fridge overnight. So easy!

Years back we used to make an infusion, which you can still do should you require the beverage hot as in tea. But with my mum’s advice, I now only let it sit in the fridge and that is how I make 1 litre of Hibiscus concentrate, good enough to give me 2 litres of hibiscus drink. Moreover, the left-over flowers will serve again to make another litre for you. So I can basically make around 10 litres of hibiscus “juice” with a 100g bag of dried flowers. At £2.50 per bag, I think it is a pretty good deal, taking into account that this is a home-made beverage full of natural minerals and vitamins, no additives and only with as much sugar as you want to put in it. It is said that it is great for dieting as it is a natural diuretic, but its medicinal attributes would be beyond the purpose of this post. I am digressing here…

… going back to lollies,

As in any of my home-made drinks, I will suggest you to add around 4 tablespoons of sugar per litre but being for lollies I added an extra one to this litre and had W mix it.

Then I had her pouring the drink out of her teapot :~)

Here she goes from hand-eye coordination to building vocabulary while narrating what we do with words like:

  • lleno = full
  • vacio = empty
  • medio lleno = half-full, when making 2 flavour lollies 🙂
  • despacio = sloooowly, as I kept saying over and over 🙂
  • basta! = stop!

As you can see, a toddler will always looooove pouring…

And more pouring, this time with her cheeky face and her made-at-playgroup Jubilee crown.

And 5 hours later…

So much for Hibiscus, enjoy!

Happy ice making!


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Week AGUA- ice melting experiment

After playing with water this week, we thought of using an ice melting story for our bath-time activity.

Ted, Bo and Diz is a story about three little friends who, on their dinghy adventure, come across 3 polar bears and a seal floating on their melting iceberg far far away from home. It can easily be turned into a learning session about climate change and the consideration for those creatures relying on the right weather conditions for their survival. Not only that but you will even end up talking about states of matter. If you, like me, need a clearer way to explain these states to your little ones you will certainly enjoy this interactive video

On our activity we let the children be witnesses of the change that takes place with water going from liquid to solid and then from solid to liquid again. Sooo much to talk…

and for the long talk:

  • solido = solid
  • liquido = liquid
  • gas = gas
  • lento= slow
  • rapido = fast
  • caliente / calentar = hot / heat up
  • frio / enfriar = cold / cool down

We first did 2 mixtures of water, one orange, one greenish by mixing food colouring in a tub and a jug, then placed in the freezer.

By bath time we had

A blueish mini iceberg for the toy turtle

and the orange melting ice ring

A was fascinated first with the ring loosing colour in the water

and then with the quickly downsizing ice

He was also amused with the shape left from the blue block of ice

And how quickly it came to this.

All what was left from the mini iceberg experiment!

Happy ice melting!


Week WATER – children made bird bath

And after yesterday’s water activity we were very excited to try the next idea that caught A’s eye while we were checking water features on the net. This bird’s bath is such an easy project to put together with the children that you will find yourself wanting to decorate all the pots you can get hold of…

First you will need to gather:

  • macetas viejas = old plant pots
  • pintura o marcadores permanentes =paint or permanent markers
  • AGUA = water
  • apoya maceta = plant pot saucer

We just put them upside down and placed the plant pot saucer on top. I then “glue” them because the kids will be playing around so I used multipurpose  silicone  sealant in between pots because that is what I had at home but you could use any other suitable adhesive or tile grout, maybe cement or other material you have left at the back of your shed. Maybe you use bigger pots and need nothing to hold them together but their own weight, it is really up to you.

Next we just decorated the pots…

Fantastic way to give some good use to our new markers! You can write with them virtually on every surface…

They sure were having fun drawing and colouring. A lovely activity for encouraging sibling bonding.

And then W decided the bath was missing some colour at the very top of our bird stepping stone:)

and ta da… all done, she said!

 I hope the birds have a lovely refreshing session in these hot days…

Happy pot painting!


Week-WATER – Water board fun

I got inspired by Kelly’s ball run and came up with this idea of using water for a run. I looked for some ideas in Pinterest and got even more inspired with the beautiful boards, fences and walls I found there.

Whereas you use it for marbles or balls like Kelly, you might want to use it for water considering the wonderful sunny weather. As for what you can use to make it, we used the following :

  • cinta adhesiva = sellotape
  • tabla de acrilico = acrylic board
  • botellas plasticas recicladas = recycled plastic bottles
  • pedazo de manguera = piece of hosepipe
  • AGUA = water

You can use your recycled yogurt pots, juice bottles, water bottles, etc…

A even thought a flower pot would serve as a shower 🙂

 I think something like this  properly attached or nailed to a wall or fence and nicely decorated would work as a permanent entertainment feature for the children in the garden.

And we are thinking in making another one for sand play!

Make the water run down, study how and where it is going, collect it and start it all over again. Such fun with water recycling!!

Happy water playing!


Un momento especial- Pets=Extended family

Inspired by Soulemama‘s {this moment} –

{this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ / momento in the comments for all to find and see.

Have a lovely weekend!

Que tengan un lindo fin de semana!



Week-SEEDS- mixed seed bites

Inspired by a post from Happy Whimsical Hearts and with a twist on a previous recipe of mine, we came up with these delicious seed bites.

So well, using some of the seeds we have come across this week, we mixed:

  • 1/4 taza de linaza = 1/4 cup linseed
  • 3 cucharadas de ajonjoli = 3 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 3 cucharadas de semillas de calabaza = 3tbsp pumpkin seeds
  • 3 cucharadas de semillas de girasol = 3 tbsp sunflower seeds
  • 2 cucharadas de algarrobo = 2 tbsp carob powder
  • 10 datiles = 10 dates
  • miel = honey
  • amaranto inflado=  puffed amaranth

You basically put everything in the food processor, mix and shape into balls, How easy can that be 🙂

It is a bit of a sticky job and you need to feel the consistency, if it is too dry you put a bit more honey, if too runny pour some amaranth. I kind of balanced dryness in between spoonfuls of honey and amaranth.

The good thing about this kind of recipes is that you can play with the ingredients and change some seeds for nuts or honey for syrup or peanut butter, carob for real cocoa powder or omit it at all. Just give it a try and be creative!

As for how we looked while making the actual ball shapes, I haven’t got a picture. My hands were sooo sticky, and yes, the kids’ were also sticky and not much was turning into balls as most of what they tried to shape ended up in their mouths 🙂

And this is what was left… At least we still have some for tomorrow’s lunchbox!

Happy no baking!


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Week SEEDS – of stories and teas

This is a wonderful story about nature preservation. It could easily be described with the following quote I found here :Nature provides a free lunch, but only if we control our appetites.  ~William Ruckelshaus, Business Week, 18 June 1990

Having said that, you can probably imagine what the story is about, dandelions and preservation.

Christopher is a friendly little guinea pig who saves the day after his hungry greedy town goes through a dandelion total wipe out. Even though it is extremely unlikely that we run out of dandelions one day, it clearly gives children an idea of where plants (even weeds) come from. It especially gave us a lot to talk about; seeds, leaves, roots. It made A so curious about the way in which dandelions could be turned into soup, juice and tea. I had to google a lot of information for him and he got so excited with the idea of growing his very own dandelions that he is now waiting for his “future crop” to give him enough leaves to make soup. For the ones who haven’t read about it in earlier posts, A planted around 120 seeds that we counted on a single head of dandelion he picked on our way from school.

So far we have tried tea, but apparently there is a bunch of other uses for the leaves, flowers and roots. With medicinal and nutritional properties, no wonder Timmy (A’s hamster) looks so healthy. They are packed with vitamins and minerals. So now you know some of the culinary uses you could give to those sometimes unwelcome “weeds”.

And after talking about the different parts of plants and the so many uses for them, I explained to A that while  dandelion seeds are not used for tea, many other seeds are, like the ones I so often have in the morning:

Aniseed; great when waking up

I just need to put 1 teaspoon of seeds in a tea-strainer, pour boling water and wait 2-5 mins Couldn’t be more practical!

I have sometimes fennel tea with our lunch as it aids digestion

Even W knows where her herbal tea is coming from 🙂

As for the night-time tea, I like having lavender tea, but that’s talking flowers, so I will have to tell you all about pink lavender tea when we dedicate a week to our petaled friends.

Happy brewing!


Week SEEDS-Flower bird feeder

Yes, I know it is probably not the best time in the year to make a bird feeder. Birds would obviously benefit more from this supplementary meal in autum or winter. One of the reasons being that cooler weather would keep the natural oils found in our ingredients fresher for longer and far from going rancid. However, we are in England, so let’s face it, it’s not like our lovely peanut butter sticks are really going to get melted 🙂 That and the fact that A is always up for anything that has to do with either wild animals or peanut butter, yum! let me tell you he had his portion in the process.

So well, we used the following ingredients:

  • semillas de linaza = linseeds
  • semillas de hinojo = fennel seeds
  • semillas de girasol = sunflower seeds
  • semillas de calabaza = pumpkin seeds
  • semillas de anis = aniseeds
  • arroz inflado = puffed rice
  • avena = oats
  • mantequilla de cacahuate = peanut butter (for those allergic, pumpkin seed butter/spread is a good alternative)

Mix everything in a bowl

I was thinking of using breadsticks but ran out of them so we used some of A’s regular sticks and spread some peanut and pumpkin seed butter on them. Then rolled them into the seeds mixture and put them into the containers of your choice. We use these natural containers I had as part of a bunch of dried “flowers”, a decorative feature of my room no longer in use. Lovely way to recycle!

The paper flowers are just drawings on cardboard that W also helped to colour

 And with our first “hot”day (yes, today after a long spell of rain), we’ll leave them hanging in this basket waiting to prove how long before they melt 🙂

So, if you happen to get inspired and you do use breadsticks, take a picture and link it with your comment for us to see 🙂

Happy bird feeding!


Week-SEEDS/ shakers

We all have made shakers at some point in our lives and it is always fun to make music with something we have actually created ourselves.  A few weeks ago, my son figured out how to make music with a few pins and elastic bands on this cork board. He had so much fun! So well, taking in advantage that I had to prepare some instruments for an event we have in a few days, I had a lovely relaxing and why not, fragrant activity for them to do.  Seed shakers! and while you can still use beans or rice or anything you fancy, we will be doing some with seeds as this is our theme of the week.

This is a crafty session that, if you want, can be turned into a multi-sensory fun session.

So your vocabulary for this week will include the following words:

  • semillas = seeds
  • semillas de calabaza = pumpkin seeds
  • semillas de ajonjoli = sesame seeds
  • semillas de mostaza = mustard seeds
  • anis estrella = star anise
  • semillas de hinojo = fennel seeds
  • semillas de girasol = sunflower seeds

You will need:

  1. containers like yogurt pots, tins or bottles
  2. seeds
  3. sello/masking tape
  4. paper or plastic lids

And here it is W filling her tin with linseeds

Remember that you can use any other seeds, but I am preparing some other stuff for this week with the ones mentioned above.

As for containers, be creative, use anything that can be filled and then cover with paper and sellotape or as I did with these tins, I covered them with some recycled nutella lids that happen to be the same size as the tins. Once you finish filling or even after playing some music, you can have some fun trying to listen out for the different sounds different seeds make, you can make them guess what seed is inside and even make tiny holes with a toothpick and let them smell to find out where the star anise is, believe me, if you let them smell before and after, they will certainly know at least where the star anise is, it is soooo fragrant!

And when you are done with the fun, why not feeding the birds. If you want an idea for a crafty bird feeder, wait for tomorrow, that is exactly what we are preparing for a crafty Tuesday.

And A filling a tin and a yogurt bottle with fennel seeds

Filled, decorated and ready to be shaken.

and on a side note, we almost forgot about A’s dandelion seeds. He had counted about 120 seeds in a head that he picked on the way from school and decided to try and plant them. Next step will be to check how many really show up in this  hanging basket…

… he cannot wait to have a bunch of leaves than he can actually cook 🙂

more on this in due course, in the meantime, have a lovely week!

Ten una linda semana!

Happy shaking!

Fruit games

You can use this pictures for warm up games, ending a lesson or simply to make your children stand up and move around.

These are made of flannel, I drew, cut and sewed the fruits onto squares but you could colour straight on the fabric, make round or other shapes instead of squares, maybe use more background colours. You could also make them on foamy or even use flashcards for the game.

The fruits you see above are:

  • manzana = apple
  • pera = pear
  • platano = banana
  • uvas = grapes
  • naranja = orange

How do I use them?

  • as flashcards to introduce vocabulary
  • to hand out to children and call out the fruits asking for an action from them (eg. stand up…banana, run…grapes, walk…apple, etc)
  • to play other games:
  1. Fruit islands: You scatter the fruits on the floor, play music or sing for children to dance take away a fruit and stop the music, everybody runs to an island and then you ask what fruit is missing. Continue until they have to remember all the fruits.
  2. Fruit map: This is done with more fruits, you scatter them on the floor and ask a child to direct another child to go from “x” fruit to “y” fruit following his/her command (jumping, walking, running, marching, etc.)
  3. Fruit song: (best for ending a lesson to recap numbers) Here I use this song tune and a “spider web” traced over a white piece of fabric. Make the children help you hold the fabric and put one by one the fruits on the “web” while swinging the fruit and singing along, remember to count the total number of fruits every time you add another one. When you get to the last fruit you’ve got, make the fruits fall to end the song. The lyrics: Una manzana se balanceaba sobre la tela de una araña, como veia que resistia, fueron a llamar a otra fruta; Una pera se balanceaba sobre la tela de una araña… continue with the rest of the fruit

juego frutas

Use this kind of games to learn or recap vocabulary, to practice: shapes, numbers, colours, action verbs.

How would you use these pictures?

Happy playing!