Monday, 26 March 2012

French skipping

Do any of you remember doing French skipping when you were young? Something reminded me of it a while ago and I want to introduce it to Sophie now that the weather is getting better.
I always remember collecting lots of elastic bands to make a decent size loop. My sister is six and a half years older than me so we really didn't play much together as I was growing up, so French skipping was a great game for me to play on my own - I would just attach the ends of the elastic loop around the open gates at home and have fun trying to perfect the "routine".

I can't remember it all now but a little research brought up some suggestions that seem familiar ...

How to play

Find two friends, or one friend and an inanimate object. One person jumps, the others have the elastic round their legs. Three levels of difficulty - low (ankle), medium (mid-calf) and high (knee).


‘Chocolate cake, when you bake, How many minutes will you take? One, two, three, four.’

On ONE: jump up and land with left foot outside the elastic loop and your right foot inside.
On TWO: jump up and land with both feet together inside the elastic loop.

On THREE: jump up and land with both feet outside the elastic loop.
On Four: jump up and land sideways to the elastic, with your left foot on top of the back elastic and your right foot ahead (in front) of the front elastic.

If the current player doesn't manage to do the correct jump their turn is over and play passes to one of the people inside the circle of elastic, who then tries to outdo the previous player.

Here are more of the rhymes:

England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales Inside, outside, inside, on!’
You have to jump in a sequence. The first one is seven times, the second one is six times and so on.
  • Sevens - facing one end, with one foot inside the elastic and one outside, you jump sideways so that the other foot is inside, then back again (seven jumps in total). If you touch the elastic, you are out.
  • Sixes - facing one end, with one foot either side of the elastic (i.e. straddling the elastic). Jump and land with both feet inside the elastic. Six jumps in total (three in, three out). If you touch the elastic you are out.
  • Fives - facing sideways, stand on one side of the elastic with your feet together. Jump forwards onto the other side of the elastic. Then jump backwards to the original side. Five jumps in total. If you don't end each jump with both feet firmly on the piece of elastic you are out.
  • Fours - facing sideways, one foot under the elastic and one standing on top of the elastic. Jump to the other side, landing with one foot under the elastic and one on top.
  • Three and Two are lost in time although I'm sure you can make them up as you go along!
  • One - was twisting your legs around the elastic and then jumping high, so that the elastic had time to snap back into place, and landing with one foot on each piece of elastic.
I would love to hear if anyone can remember any more rhymes/actions for French skipping that I can teach Sophie ...

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Moshi Monster party - the cake

Sophie decided she wanted a Moshi Monster birthday cake with individual moshlings on top rather than a cake in the shape of a moshling (which I was hoping for, as it would have been much easier!). I contacted the ever helpful Fans of Cake Baker on Facebook for ideas and some lovely ladies kindly supplied photos of cakes they had done. I had an idea of what I wanted to do and thankfully one of the photos matched the vague visions in my head and helped solidify the final design.

I started making the moshlings in fondant about three weeks ago, as I knew that they would need some time to harden up. I found some images online and then shrunk the images to the size I wanted the actual moshlings to be. Sophie and I chose six (as she was six): her favourite, Oddie the doughnut; Justin's favourite, Hansel the gingerbread man; and four others that she liked and I thought might be possible to make. I was very pleased with the finished moshlings, all except for the cupcake Cutie Pie which was the only one that I felt wasn't quite right.
I chose to make chocolate sponge (like soil under the green hill) and baked four layers to give me the height; I really need to invest in a set of matching cake tins as I only have one 9" tin which meant I had to mix and bake, mix and bake x 4. This was time consuming but did mean that each layer cooked perfectly.  I added a bit of fun by colouring the buttercream between each layer a different vibrant colour: blue, pink and yellow.
I also mastered a new skill by covering the cake and board in one go (rather than covering the board first and then the cake separately). I thought this might be tricky but it actually worked much better than I had hoped. 

I then decorated the cake with a few simple things (after all the moshlings were the main decoration): a fence, gate and some flowers. I embossed the strips of "fence" with a curly embosser (I don't have a wood effect one but will invest in one at some point) which added a bit of texture to the fence. The gate required a bit of thought to get it looking right but I was pleased with the end result. 

I added flowers growing up the fence and used Sophie's Buster's Lost Moshlings book for inspiration. These included an orange mushroom tree and some star blossoms in pink and blue. I added royal icing stems and leaves to these and glued some shimmery nonpareil around the bottom of the cake and in pools around the flowers.

I finished by adding Sophie's name and six tall candles and voila, one Moshi Monster cake all finished.
In addition to the main cake, I also made some faux ice-creams. I baked cupcakes in flat bottomed ice cream cones and then piped bright buttercream swirls and added some glitter. Advice on how to do this again from Fans of Cake Baker on Facebook: fill the cones two thirds full with cake batter and bake as normal, then once cool, prick the bottom of the cones to stop them going soggy. Perfect! 
I am pleased to say that the Moshi Monster cake falls into the same category as Justin's monster birthday cakes as one that "just makes me smile". I hope it does for you too ...

© 2012 Nicola Noble: Please observe the rules of copyright and blog etiquette. If you use my ideas or images, please link back to my blog. And do let me know - I'd love to take a look.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Moshi Monster 6th birthday party

Has it really been a month since I last posted anything? The silence was due to me working hard for Sophie's 6th birthday and party, but now that it's all over I can get back to normality (?) and give the low down on the fruits of my labour...
Sophie decided some time ago that she wanted a Moshi Monster party and no amount of persuading could get her to change her mind! So after trawling the net and being singularly unsuccessful in finding any ideas to "borrow" I had to create a party from scratch.

I was lucky that Moshi Monster party plates/cups/napkins recently became available and our local Sainsbury's stocked them at a better price than most of the online party companies. But I begrudge paying for invitations, especially when you only get eight in a pack and Sophie wanted to invite 20+ kids. So, as in previous years, I created my own. They seemed to be a big hit with the invitees!
So, the party went something like this (and thanks to our in-house party entertainer Jase who did a fantastic job as always in running the games and entertaining the kids - saves us a fortune not having a "professional" entertainer!) ...

Hanging dougnut game
As the party was straight after school on a Friday I knew I had to get food into the children as soon as possible, so we started with a really old game that has the children trying to eat a ring doughnut hanging on a string, without using their hands. This was the first time the children had done this and they really enjoyed it. I think most of them embraced the challenge and I didn't see any cheating!!
Find the Moshling game
I found some good quality images of moshlings which I put onto a check list for each child. I included the moshling names, as not all the children know as much about moshlings as Sophie does. They then had to find the small pictures of moshlings hidden around the room. Some were obvious, others downright tricky but they all seemed to find them in the end.
Once the game was finished, I collected the check lists and then handed them back out at the end of the party for them to put in their party bags and keep.

Pass the Parcel
I still haven't been brave enough to not put a prize in every layer and this meant that the game went on for what seemed like an eternity. If (and that's a big IF) Sophie has a party again next year, I swear that I will only do a small number of layers and put forfeits in some of the layers (after all they should all be able to read easily by the age of 7).

Oddie, Hansel and Cutie Pie (also known as Pip, Squeak and Wilfred)
We didn't get a chance to play this game, which was a shame as I wanted to see how well the children managed to understand the game but I thought I would include it here in case anyone else wants to borrow the idea.

The children forms teams of three and each member of the team calls themselves either Oddie, Hansel or Cutie Pie. The teams form a large circle with a bean bag in the middle. One name is called and that person has to run around the outside of the circle back to their team who join hands and make an arch. The running team member runs under the arch and tries to get the bean bag before anyone else. That team wins a point. First team to 3 points wins.

In addition to the organised games, I set up a couple of tables with some Moshi Monster colouring sheets and colouring pencils and a selection of temporary tattoos so that the kids had something to do when they had finished their doughnut challenge and Find the Moshling hunt.

The party bags were very simple this year and included:
- a pack of Moshi Monster Mash up trading cards (bought from The One Stop Moshi Monsters Shop with a fantastic 10% discount courtesy of Mummy Bird)
- a postcard from a booklet of Moshi Monster postcards
- and a selection of traditional sweets: black jacks, fruit salad, sherbet and mini love hearts.

The party seemed to go well and all the children seemed to have fun (apart from the birthday girl having a few meltdowns - but hey, who doesn't cry at their own party!) and they did really enjoy the Find the Moshling game and the doughnut game. I don't think I would do another party after school on a Friday ... I do think at this age that they were all tired and that it did impact on the children's behaviour/attention spans.

Next, the cake ...

© 2012 Nicola Noble: Please observe the rules of copyright and blog etiquette. If you use my ideas or images, please link back to my blog. And do let me know - I'd love to take a look.