Line or grease a large spring-form cake tin. Preheat the oven to 180’C / 350’F.
I like to keep things simple. Put everything in a big bowl in the order listed EXCEPT the water. Tip: a flour sieve is great for keeping out the lemon pips!
Add 1/4 cup liquid and mix with an electric beater. Slowly keep adding water and mixing until you have a good cake batter consistency.
Pour the cake batter into the cake tin, smooth, and bake for 30-35 mins (or until a toothpick / sharp knife comes out clean).
Sprinkle with a little icing sugar, or whip up a lemon icing for a more lemony flavour.
Tip: I like to eat it warm from the oven and then freeze the rest to pull out as needed.
Tip: For a more lemony flavour, pierce many times with a toothpick when the cake is half cooked. Cover the top of the cake in a thin layer of sugar and squeeze a fresh lemon over the top; then place back in the oven. The lemon syrup will soak into the cake while it continues baking.
You begin by opening your travel mail from Milo and Anya to find out about their latest travel adventures! Miss 6 enjoys seeing them posing for selfies in the photos of Madagascar.
There is a passport sticker to add to our Adventure Passport and various cards about Madagascar to add to it as well. These range from a country map and cultural information, to activity cards with things to do. You can learn a few Malagasy words, discover unique animal species, have a go at painting Masonjoany, and make Godrogodro (a caramel spice cake).
We read our deluxe box book, Thank You, Baobab Tree, learning about how important these incredible trees are in Madagascar and how many uses they have. The baobab trees form an important part of the ecosystem as well as providing food, rich in vitamin C, and medicine.
One creature fond of the baobab tree is the lemur. The craft for this box is creating your own baobab tree, a launcher, and three lemurs. I did appreciate their eye for detail as you are given instructions on creating a ring-tailed lemur, an indri lemur, and a sifaka lemur.
Tip: You may want to use sellotape to help secure the inside flaps of the tree’s scooped branches and craft glue to help form a stronger attachment with the lemur components.
Learn to play Fanorona
Fanorona is a game of strategy indigenous to Madgascar. It is a game played by children and rulers alike. I love that it’s a visual-spatial non-linguistic game (perfect for kids whose learning strengths are in these areas).
The rules of Fanorona are reasonably simple but gameplay shows there is plenty of room for strategy, logic, and thinking ahead. We have very much enjoyed playing this multiple times.
HOW DO I ORDER ATLAS CRATE?
This is not a paid review. I spent a lot of time searching the internet to find out more information about the Kiwi Crate and Atlas Crate boxes before deciding to try them and found the blog posts / photos that people shared were really useful!
If you would like to try Atlas Crate (or one of their other lines), you can receive 50% off your first box by clicking here.
What I like about the Atlas Crate kits is that they provide a colourful and imaginative way of exploring the world through hands-on activities. I like that they use a mix of STEM and art to explore different concepts and ideas. Their products are also very well made, with clear instructions, and kids feel a real sense of pride in what they accomplish with each box.
There’s no obligation to sign-up in an on-going capacity so it’s easy to tie them in with birthdays / Christmas; the boxes are quite compact so they also store easily in a cupboard for bringing them out on a rainy day. Other families will choose to sign up for a longer period (like a 3, 6, or 12 month cycle).
WHAT IS IN AN ATLAS CRATE?
Each Atlas Crate comes with a special airmail envelope from Anya the Cricket and Milo the Sandpiper revealing where they’ve been on their latest adventure. There is a special passport sticker for your child’s Atlas Adventure Book plus seven new pages to add about a new country (highlighting geography, customs, landmarks, history, and foods).
There are supplies for two activities (which might be a mix of art, STEM, and games) as well as suggestions for more DIY activities to try at home – from things to make, to things to bake!
If you choose the Deluxe option, then you will also receive a book that helps you explore that month’s destination. This upgrade is an additional USD$9.95 (approx. $15 NZD) and can impact shipping costs as well. Since we’re homeschooling, I decided that we’d try the Deluxe option for 6 months to see how useful we find it.
While studying Madagascar, I was fascinated by their terraced rice fields (unusual for an African nation). The Malagasy people use rice as a part of all three meals and also draw on many cultural influences in their cooking.
One dish that particularly drew my attention was this idea for a simple marinade that would allow me to make good use of our bountiful lemon tree.
Fresh lemon zest
Coconut oil / Coconut cream
Unlike most recipes, I’m keeping this simple since the focus is really on the combination of flavours used.
In a deep dish, place your chicken. You want something that will stay tender like chicken thighs or whole legs.
Onto the chicken, rub fresh lemon zest (the finely grated skin of the lemon), fresh grated ginger (or ground ginger), some crushed garlic, and coconut oil. Alternatively, use rice bran oil and add a little coconut cream to your finished dish.
Marinate the chicken overnight to absorb the flavours. Cook until tender using your choice of BBQ, skillet, or air fyer.
Sum Swamp is a maths boardgame that practices addition and subtraction in a simple and colourful way. What I like about the game is that it is very appealing to visual-kinaesthetic learners. Children select one of the four colourful markers (frog, snail, dragonfly, or crocodile) and roll dice to create equations that determine how they move around the board. The full instructions are conveniently available to view online: here.
The game is aimed at ages 5+ and can be played by 2 – 4 players; younger children may prefer to play two characters in case one languishes far behind the rest. Children are learning to arrange sums so that the largest number goes to the left; to recognise plus (+) and minus (-) symbols; and to recognise odds and evens. The simplest addition sum in the game is 1 + 1 = ?; the most difficult addition sum in the game is 6 + 6 = ?.
Tips for scaffolding the game (decreasing difficulty)
You can make the game easier by using physical objects for children to count and re-group while they do the sums.
The game provides numeral dice; consider switching to dice with dots. This helps children by giving them something visual to count.
Provide a number line. There are various types that can be purchased or you could print one for free from Twinkl.
Tips for scaffolding the game (increasing difficulty)
Buy a write on / wipe off dice (or other blank dice) so that you can also use the game to practice multiplication and division.
Buy a set of beautiful gaming dice containing D4, D6, D8, D10, D10 percentile, D12, and D20 (check out colours like milkshake, undersea whispers, or supernova). This opens the game up to an older audience; for instance, you can do equations up to 20 (using D12 + D8) and up to 30 (using D20 + D10). You may need to come up with a few house rules as you move to bigger numbers; for instance: that you need to do two laps of the board to finish, or, that the maximum amount you can move forward/back in a turn is 10.
Before we played Times Tables Heroes, we had already spent time looking at the concept of ‘grouping’ (multiplication) and ‘skip counting’. We ‘group’ our captured pieces when we play Fanorona and I show how we can count them by 1’s, or 2’s, etc; we collect pebbles on our nature walks and practice different ways to ‘group’ them to help us count them. Times Tables Heroes is a fun way of practising our times tables that Miss 6 genuinely enjoys (and much better than my memories of sitting in front of a chalk board while the entire class repeated after the teacher!).
The game comes with sturdy cardboard pieces and is easy to set-up. You choose from one of four superheroes (each of whom has unique super powers). Instead of rolling a dice, you spin two spinners. One spinner determines which multiplication table you will practice; beginner level practices 2, 5, 10 and advanced level practices 1 – 12. The next spinner determines how many ‘groups’ you will have; i.e. 12 groups of 2. Once you have announced the answer correctly, you move to the next vehicle on the board that matches the spinner.
I love that the game comes with a colourful multiplication slider. It’s easy to scaffold the game so that children begin by using the slider to find their answer and then, as they gain confidence, to check their answer. We also do a hand-clapping singing game to work our way through the times tables each time to reach the answer.
The twist for the game is that it also incorporates oral storytelling (a literacy bonus!). If you land on a vehicle with a shield then you pick up a dreadful disaster card and need to describe how you will use your superpowers to save the city. The game helpfully comes with a guide that explains the disasters but we prefer to make up our own, after all – would you rather defend the city from an asteroid, or from an attack by giant flaming meatballs from an alien’s intergalactic BBQ party?
Tip: What is wonderful for visual-spatial learners and kids whose learning needs mean they need lots of movement, is that they do not need to sit still for this game. Encourage them to get up and act out their story (or everyone’s story – though they may need to be encouraged to do silent mime on other people’s turn).
Tip: It’s easy for this game to tick off maths, oral storytelling, and drama in a single session. You could use it to further support literacy, by asking kids to later extend on one of their superhero stories by writing it down / typing it up. Alternatively, encourage them to dictate the story and focus on linear story telling, mind mapping what / when / why / who / where, and editing.
Tip: The Shield cards have numbers that provide bonus moves. We find the game quite short so we ignore this and our house rule is to treat these as victory points; this way everyone can have a go at defeating the robot at the end of the board and it doesn’t matter who gets there first.
You can also reverse the game board to create maths bingo boards (with extra boards available online).