Friday, August 30, 2013

9 Piece Square Puzzle Cookies

Gearing up for "school", we've been playing with a number of geometry/logic/spacial reasoning puzzles, like Thinkfun's IZZI© puzzle shown below.

In fact, that particular puzzle was the inspiration for yet another cookie project.  Staring at the black and white squares, I just couldn't help but be reminded of chocolate and vanilla cookie dough, and finally couldn't resist baking up a couple of cookie puzzles to add to the game table.

The 64 black and white IZZI tiles were a little more project than I wanted to take on just now (maybe this winter).  So, I settled instead for a 3x3 square style puzzle, like I've made out of cardboard for the children in the past.

Half a batch of sugar cookie dough (click here for the recipe) - with half left plain vanilla, and half with baker's cocoa added... enough for two puzzles rolled 1/4 inch thick...

...and cut to be 4 and 1/2'' square.

Transfer the cut squares onto a large, greased cookie sheet, and then score the dough to divide each square into 9, 1 and 1/2'' squares.

Use tiny cookie cutters, or cut geometric shapes out of each square with a butter knife, crossing the scored lines in a pattern (so below the bears are all cut in half at the arms in the middle of squares, and the hearts are divided into quarters by the corners of the squares).

Pop the cut shapes out, and swap them with pieces of the alternate dough cut from the other square, or from the leftover scraps.

Finish cutting the small squares apart along the scored lines.  Spread them out on the pan, using a ruler to double check they are all still 1 and 1/2'' square.

Bake the cookies for 13 minutes at 350°F.  Allow them to cool completely before removing them from the pan.  Serve the scrambled puzzle on a plate...

...and challenge children... solve the puzzle (with clean hands, of course)...

...before eating the cookies.

There might be more than one solution too, which is okay, as long as each of the small squares matches up on all sides with the sides of all the other squares it is touching.

It's great to be a homeschooler.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Summer Fun Day 70 - Turning the Computer Off

It may be only early August, but in our little corner of Montana the mornings are already growing chilly.

The apples are nearly ripe...

...there are southward flying geese in the air...

...boxes of books are arriving at the door...

...and the first yellow leaves are beginning to dot the lawn.

It may not be fall just yet, but it's clearly coming around the corner - and we haven't even had our annual family water balloon fight.  With time short, and so much we'd like to do, I'm back point of "do it, or blog it". Choosing the former, I'll be stepping away from the computer once again, and moving back to a more sporadic, now and then, school-year blogging schedule.

See you in the fall!

It's great to be a homeschooler.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Summer Fun Day 69 - Gummy Belly Bear Cookies

Using fruit snacks instead of gummy bears in our popsicles left us with plenty of bears for trying out The Baking Robot's gummy bear thumbprint cookie recipe.

The cookies turned out to be buttery and delicious, though not nearly as pretty as The Baking Robot's, and not quite as much fun as we had hoped.  The cookies were good, but we missed the bears.

Happily, that problem was easily rectified by adding a few extra balls of dough to each cookie...

...before baking.

One Tip:  It's best to let these cookies cool completely before moving them from pan to plate, or they might just loose their heads in the excitement.

It's great to be a homeschooler.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Summer Fun Day 68 - Multi-Shot Marshmallow/Pom-Pom Poppers

Usually, marshmallow poppers are made with paper cups, and are single shot (click the link for instructions, and remember to keep balloon pieces away from small children).  It turns out you can replace the paper cup with a less expensive toilet paper tube, as in the un-decorated prototype below.

And, if you like, you can tape several balloon topped poppers together for a rapid fire, multi-shot action.

Or, tape three tubes together...

...and top them with one large balloon top stretched over the cardboard core of a tape roll (test it first to make sure the ring is large enough to fit around the tubes)...

...for a quick...

...single pull...

...multi-barrel burst.

It's great to be a homeschooler.