Today we've been on chocolate overload as we discovered everything there is to know about chocolate.
We were inspired yesterday, after watching Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. The children had been so excited to see a chocolate river, giant chocolate mushrooms and gum ball trees that I suggested they might like to try making their own chocolate gardens. I'd let myself in for trouble here!
After consulting Simon last night on the best approach, I was disappointed by the creative wisdom he offered, or lack of it! Clearly tired from the stresses of work, his enthusiasm for a some what messy and potentially disastrous project didn't ignite his imagination! Turns out there is plenty of learning to be had from sweets and chocolate. Whoever said these things are bad for you clearly needs to look at the educational nourishment they can give children!
It was a slow start to the day with neither Jenson or Wren keen to get dressed. I eventually managed to heap some clothes on them at around lunch time and we headed to Morrisons to buy our ingredients.
On our return we got stuck straight into making the chocolate. Wren was far more keen to help measure and weigh the ingredients, but I continued to try and involve Jenson by talking to him about how chocolate is made and where the key ingredients come from. We covered lots of subjects including geography, maths and cookery.
If you want to have a go at making your own chocolate, it's really simple. We followed this recipe:
220g cocoa powder, 170g butter, 100 g sugar, 150ml milk, 235ml water.
1. Combine the butter and cocoa powder and cream together until you have a smooth paste.
2. Place the water in a saucepan and bring to the boil.
3. Add the cocoa powder mix to the hot water and stir then pour the hot mixture back into the bowl.
4. Add the sugar, followed by the milk and stir it all together.
5. You can then pour the mixture into various containers, but we used it to get messy!
Jenson crushed up some Oreo biscuits to imitate soil while I opened all the bags of sweets - the children's eyes popped!! You would have thought it would have been a blood bath fuelled sugar frenzy but to my surprise both children showed great restraint.
They both thoroughly enjoyed being given a free reign with the chocolate, sweets and their imaginations. They made wobbly bridges from shoe lace strings, marshmallow stepping stones, killer ladybirds from strawberry suckers, giant jelly baby badies which the soldiers had to try and defeat and candy stick spikes to fend off the monsters lurking in the Oreo swamp. It was super lovely to watch.
Both gardens might just look like a gooey chocolate mess with sweets stuck in it but the whole activity provided a wealth of learning about all different subjects.
The highlight was getting the globe out to find out where Africa is. This country is the biggest producer of cocoa beans apparently. We also learnt that cocoa bean trees can only grow in hot tropical areas within 20 degrees latitude north and south of the equator. This brought us onto the topic of what the equator is. We also covered the points of the compass and when I quizzed Jenson on where north of the equator is and where south of the equator is he answered correctly. It may not sound much but five minutes before that he didn't even know what the equator was. Inspired by the Oreo swamp, we also talked about swamps and where you might find them. I was really pleased to see how good Jenson can read. Although we don't do any reading practice as such, he was easily able to recognise the word AFRICA and pointed to the country.
It's been a successful day and I feel I'm getting back on top of things finally. It's jolly hard work I'll admit but I can go to bed tonight happy in the knowledge that Jenson has gone to bed knowing more than he did when he woke up this morning. Oh and, for my own record, so I don't forget, Jenson told me that last night he put a stickle brick on Wren's nose to try and stop her snoring. It didn't work, obviously, so he stuck her fingers up her nose instead!