Tantalizing Tartlets! A Simple Baking Experience!

Making Tartlets

I saw these lovely tartlet shells at Cold Storage, and I thought this is a sure winner for busy moms like me who have always wanted to bake with my little girl, but simply have no time to make everything from scratch!

For simple baking and decorating, you simply need:

1. Tartlet shells

IMG_9621

2. Nutella! ( or heat up chocolate chip drops in the pan)

IMG_9619

3. Decorating ingredients like sprinkles, pearl drops and anything pretty! (just visit any baking supplies shop!)

IMG_9613

Using a spoon to scoop up the Nutella, and carefully pouring it to fill the void in the tartlets, my little preschooler was honing her fine motor skills of scooping and transferring. Not wanting the chocolate filling to spill over, she had to practice using her concentration skills. Using a spoon also helps her to estimate the quantity needed to nicely fill up the tartlet with just enough Nutella. Her first couple of attempts had her scooping up too much Nutella, and over-spilling it. So I took delight in watching her realise for herself that a smaller quantity is needed.

IMG_9637   IMG_9641

 

Decorating the Tartlets

Next comes her favourite part! Decorating the tartlets with pretty attractive toppings! We are spoilt for choices as we just received a gift pack of nice dainty toppings collection from a friend !

IMG_9643   IMG_9647

 

My little preschooler pinched up small toppings, that are so inviting for a lick! Practising her pincer grip, she selected her own combination of different coloured toppings and sprinkled them delightfully on the tartlets. It was simply a feast for the eyes, even without tasting them!

IMG_9654

 

Put these lovely, nicely decorated tartlets in the oven for a mere ten minutes, and they instantly become a delectable, pretty snack for you and your little wannabe pastry chef!!

IMG_9661 IMG_9664  IMG_9656

 

 

Advertisements

Spreading Jam! A Practical Life Activity

Maria Montessori made the observation that young children like to be involved in the daily home activities, and she developed Practical Life activities where children get to emulate adults and perform simple chores like sweeping, dusting, washing dishes and food preparation. This simple activity of spreading jam hones their fine motor skills as they learn to rotate their wrist and spread the jam with precision. Also it trains their independence which builds up their self-esteem and sense of self-efficacy.

The key to practical like activities is to set up learning materials in which the child is able to succeed and do tasks for herself safely.

I prepared the set for my little girl, with utensils including the butter knife and plates that are kids-friendly and safe for her to use.

IMG_7980

You will need:

1. Food Tray or placemat ( to prevent mess and spills)

2. Small butter knife

3. Small Jam (These itty bitty ones are from NTUC/ Cold storage!)

4. Toast or crackers/ rice cakes

IMG_7984

To begin, I showed my girl how the slice of bread is toasted. She then learned how to open a jar of jam, and got to smell the sweet fragrance of her much-loved strawberry jam!

IMG_7998        IMG_8003

After that, demonstrate to the child how to spread the jam on the toast. Show your child slowly how to spread the jam by emphasizing small steps such as taking a little bit of jam, and spreading it with the up-down motion, and making sure the whole toast is covered.

As I observed my little girl endeavoring to spread the jam, it requires the rotation of the wrist which certainly trains her for writing in future. She also needs to learn how to control the strength of her fingers while holding the butter knife and it requires coordination of her left hand holding the toast, and right hand maneuvering the knife. It really helped that her knife is little and she could use it with more confidence.

IMG_8009        IMG_8033

Food is particularly an interesting topic to most children, especially my daughter who loves to eat! Preparing what they are going to eat makes them more motivated to gobble it up! They feel included into the food-making process and gives them a sense of autonomy. I love  the petite size of the jam jar, as the quantity she can consume is just right for her.

And the greatest gratification? Eating it up!!

IMG_8042

Do you know the Muffin Man?

Each time I walked past the asle at the supermarket where the baking supplies are, I always thought how nice it will be to bake with my girl at home. Well today, after having procrastinated it long enough, I decided to have a go at baking muffins! Out of a Betty Crocker Muffin Box! What else for a beginner? 🙂

The whole process was quick, easy and so educational! My girl put on her little apron and was raring to go when I brought out the ingredients! I told her the quantity for each ingredient that we needed, and she watched me measure and estimate the amount for the 3/4 cup milk and 1/4 vegetable oil. She then cracked the two eggs and I seized the opportunity to teach her the different parts of the egg (eggshell, yolk, egg white). She also stood on the little stool by the kitchen sink and helped me rinse the blueberries.

IMG_6782

She then poured the ingredients one by one into the glass bowl as I read out the instructions on the muffin box. She stirred the muffin mixture with the wooden spoon with all her might, and she was so fascinated watching all the ingredients blend into a lumpy batter.

IMG_6846 IMG_6862

The final step was to scoop the batter and fill the baking cups in the baking tray. It took great precision and focus to make sure the batter doesn’t spill outside the cups.

Upon filling the sixth paper cup, an idea struck her and she exclaimed, ” Mummy, can we put sprinkles and marshmallows on top?” And so we did!

IMG_6871 IMG_6893 IMG_6904

The first batch went into the oven and I took time to explain to her how to adjust the timer for 15 mins, and the temperature of 400 F. When the baking started, Rae just stood in front of the oven, completely fascinated watching the batter rise to become fluffy muffins.

When the little muffins were ready, I took them out of the oven and I could see Rae beaming with pride at our little achievement. The muffins sat pretty in the pink paper cups. That afternoon, we had the nicest tea time at home, delighting ourselves with our little homemade muffins.

IMG_6913 IMG_6928

This whole baking experience is so rich in educational value! Let me summarise!

Fine motor Skills

1. Pouring the oil and milk into the mixture

2 Rinsing the blueberries

3. Cracking the eggs into a bowl

4. Stirring the mixture with a wooden spoon

5. Transferring the batter into the baking cups

Math

6. Matching the paper cups to the compartments in the muffin trays

7. Counting the number of eggs needed

8. Using measuring tools like cups, and measuring spoons.

9. Be exposed to fraction terms like 3/4 cups or 1/4 cup of oil.

10. Understand time concepts like fifteen minutes.

11. Count the number of muffins made

12.For older children, you can introduce concepts of division when you divide the batter into 12 portions to be baked.

Language

13. Learn verbs like stir, heat, drain, place, mix, grease, rinse, stir, divide, scoop,blend, remove, bake, cool, store, etc

14. Learn the different ingredients needed for baking muffins

15. Label the different parts of an egg

16. Learn what is instructional text and how is written on the box.

17. Follow one-step or two-step instructions

Pounding Pistachio- Chocolate Tartlets!

To continue our series of using the mortar and pestle for pounding, I decided to get Rae to pound pistachio nuts to use as topping for our pastry recipe!

To start, she will have to de-shell the pistachio nuts, which is again a great exercise for her fine motor skills in prying open the shells!

IMG_6209

Then comes the Montessori Practical life activity- Pounding with the mortar and the pestle! Look how hard she is pounding! 🙂

And Daddy came to help make sure she doesn’t drop any pistachio bits on the floor! 🙂

IMG_6257     IMG_6272

Look at her little achievement! Pistachio bits in a bowl 🙂

IMG_6244

Next, we could not wait to spoon the hot chocolate mixture into the mini tartlets! Some concentration there for Rae! She added the pistachio bits she so painstakingly pounded just a while ago! My little pastry chef at work!

IMG_6301      IMG_6292

There! Our little chocolate tartlets ready for tasting and for sharing with Rae’s grandparents for dessert 🙂

IMG_6306

Mortar & Pestle- Beans

Using a mortar and pestle to pound contents is an excellent way of teaching them motor skills and concentration. The pestle knob is comfortable for the toddler to hold with the hand grip. It takes a lot of focus, persistence, as well as training of the fine motor skills to master the skill of pounding and grinding. Your child will also learn the cause and effect of the pounding action on brittle, or hard ingredients, and determine how much strength to use.

I decided to let Rae try pounding something harder than eggshells, which are beans. In her first attempt, she realised she couldn’t pound the beans. I then prompted her to do simple problem-solving by asking her what can she do to pound the beans. she replied, “Pound Harder!” And true enough, by exerting more strength, she could see more beans being broken into smaller pieces. I could tell the self-pride in her little achievement there!

IMG_6308 IMG_6310

Scooping the beans with a spoon and transferring them into the mortar without dropping any makes the activity more complex and challenging!

IMG_6313 IMG_6307

Mortars can be found in the supermarket or any cookware store. Otherwise there is a cheap alternative from Daiso shop below:

IMG_6316

Mortar & Pestle- Pounding Eggshells!

Wondering what to occupy your toddler with when you need to cook in the kitchen or take a breather? Take out your mortar and pestle and let your child be actively involved in this Montessori Practical Life activity! Grind nuts for cooking or salads or biscuits into crumbs for baking! Your child can also be particularly intrigued by the strong fragrance released from grinding of the coffee beans or the herbs from your garden! The kinds of ingredients are endless!

I was cooking an egg dish in the kitchen, and I immediately recalled how children in Rae’s Montessori school pound eggshells!

Rae couldn’t wait to start pounding the moment she saw the eggshells in the mortar. Watching Rae smashing it to smithereens makes it a rewarding experience for her!

photo (10) 17401_10151572174298534_304350734_nphoto

To make the task more challenging, I gave Rae a dish and a spoon for her to do transferring.

She was very meticulous in transferring the smashed eggshells carefully unto a dish without attempting to drop any bits! 🙂

photo (2) photo (1)

Guess what you can do with the eggshells?

You can go sprinkle them into the flower pots and enrich the soil! 🙂

Fish Crackers-Counting Game

Snack time need not be boring! Create a counting game with fish crackers! Print out fish tanks and let your child do the counting as she puts one cracker at a time onto the fish tank! You can also use a muffin tray! 

Using the tongs hones your child’s finger grasp skills, and learning to count help build the Math concept of one-to-one correspondence. Plus the gratification from this activity? Your child gets to eat the fish crackers!

532814_10151618593708534_300668209_n 385795_10151618594983534_561004348_n 401933_10151618594018534_258766570_n 480208_10151618594353534_2115486613_n 528433_10151618596138534_686793107_n 922891_10151618595303534_1072908009_n 644629_10151618594698534_2055719070_n 562471_10151618596933534_963410091_n