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Dancing Raisins

Your toddler will enjoy seeing the magic raisins dance with this simple activity.

You will need: 
a glass or clear plastic cup,
2/3 raisins, sultanas or currants
2 tablespoons bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)

2 tablespoons vinegar

Tap water

Pour water into the glass until it is 3/4 full. Pop the raisins in. Wait expectantly for the raisins to move (they won't yet). Add the vinegar and bicarb and stir. Soon, bubbles of carbon dioxide will attach themselves to the raisins and lift them up to the surface. Once there, the bubbles will pop and the raisins will become heavier than the liquid and will drop down again. How many times will your raisins rise and fall before they get too tired to move?


Sort it out!

This activity is great for the development of fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, visual discrimination, identification of colours, letters, shapes and sizes. You can adapt the objects in the bowl to suit the age of the child (make them bigger for younger children and smaller for more of a challenge). 

Here I gave my son a bowl filled with pom-poms, wooden letters and coloured rice. He also had three different sized empty jars and various 'tools' to use to separate them. 


As we were playing I was setting him little challenges like, 'Can you find a 'd' in the bowl?' 'How many pom-poms can you scoop in one go?' 'How could you separate the rice from the other things without using your hands?' 

Tasty Play-Dough!

If you haven't tried play-dough yet because you're worried your little one might start eating it, then this recipe is a good place to start. It's a bread dough, so while it won't taste nice raw, it doesn't contain any nasties or high levels of salt.


Play-dough is a brilliant way to exercise the muscles in the arms and hands. It's also a great way for children to explore, imagine and often interact with you while they play.

This recipe is super easy and doesn't mind being handled, squashed and poked so you can even cook it and eat it when you are finished playing! 

Here we made one quantity of dough and split it into three before adding other ingredients to change the colour. Scroll down for the recipe and instructions.

For the basic white bread dough

500g strong white bread flour (plus extra to get the right consistency)

10g salt

25g caster sugar

10g instant yeast

30g unsalted butter

320ml warm milk

20ml warm milk

0.5 tsp saffron
Extra flour for consistency

50g cocoa powder

30g black treacle

Measure all the ingredients (except the milk) of the white mix and place into a mixing bowl. Use the bread hook on an electric mixer if you have one, or mix by hand. Gradually add the warm milk until it forms a soft dough and the sides of the bowl are clean. If it is sticky, add more flour. If it is too dry, add more milk.

Split the dough into three.

Put the ball of white mix back into the machine for five minutes (or knead by hand until it's smooth and stretchy). After this time, it is ready to play with. We used a rolling pin and cookie cutters. Place the pieces onto a lightly oiled tray when you are ready to cook them.


To make the other two colours of dough.

Soak the saffron in the milk for five minutes and add it to one of the remaining dough balls. Add extra flour if it is too sticky. Use a mixer to knead it for five minutes or do it by hand. 


For the brown ball, add the cocoa powder and treacle to the remaining dough. Knead it until it is completely mixed in. Add more cocoa or treacle if necessary to strengthen the colour and get the texture right again. It should be like the other two balls. If it's sticky add more cocoa and if it's dry add more treacle. It'll seem marbled at first but keep going and it will combine in the end. Again it needs about 5 minutes in the mixer to become stretchy and pliable or you can do this by hand.

We used a medium gingerbread man cutter to make our bread men. We combined the scraps of each colour together to form another couple of bready people too.

Leave them covered for about an hour until they've had the chance to rise a little bit and then bake them at 200C for between 9 and 14 minutes depending on how thick a crust you want. To check they are cooked, knock on the bottom and it should sound hollow.  

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