Make your own lava lamp

A lava lamp (or astro lamp) is a decorative and unique item which was invented in 1963 by a British accountant named Edward Craven Walker. This lamp is designed in a variety of colours and shapes, and now you get to make your own.

Materials:

  • Cooking oil
  • Water
  • Food colouring
  • An empty water bottle
  • Alka-Seltzer antacid tablets

The first thing you need to do is to fill your bottle two-thirds with oil, fill in the other third with water, leaving about an inch free at the top. Looking at the water layer sink to the bottom can be fun, but you have to wait awhile for the bubbles to disappear before you continue with the following step.

The next step is for you to add several drops of food colouring. Since you put the oil in before the water, it will take some time for the drops of food colouring to “go through the process” and tint the water.

Now it’s time for you to break an Alka-Seltzer tablet into three or four pieces, drop one of the pieces in and watch what happens! When the tablet touches the layer of water, it will start to fizz and you’ll see the coloured water will erupt!

Once the tablet dissolves, you won’t see any more bubbles, but they will start up again as soon as you add another piece of tablet. In case the oil layer starts to look cloudy with tiny bubbles, you can just let it settle for a while, add some more if needed.

Final step: Enjoy your cool, creative lamp!

Egyptian Flat Bread

Flat breads have been baked in Egypt since ancient times. One of the paintings on the wall of a tomb in the Valley of the Kings shows bakers busy making bread. This recipe is very simple and uses ingredients you probably have at home already. Working with yeast is fun, especially as there is plenty of hands-on kneading to do! Serve the flat breads with slices of cheese or various dips. Have an adult help you in the kitchen.

Ingredients:

3 cups flour

½ tsp salt

1½ tsp dry yeast

1 tsp sugar (or runny honey)

1 cup warm water

1 egg, beaten

Baking spray

Method:

Sieve flour and salt into a large bowl.

In a separate smaller bowl, stir yeast and sugar (or honey) into the warm water. Let stand for 10 minutes and watch as the mixture froths up and doubles in size.

Add the yeast mixture to the flour and mix to form a soft dough.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead with the heel of your hands until smooth.

Leave dough to rise (covered with a clean damp tea towel) in an oiled bowl for 1-2 hours; it should double in size.

Punch dough down with your fist.

Divide into 16 balls and roll them out very thin.

Place on well oiled baking trays.

Using a pastry brush, paint each loaf of bread with beaten egg.

Let bread rest for 15 mins and preheat oven to 350° F.

Bake for 15-20 mins until golden.

Allow to cool before serving.

The most important festival in China is the New Year or Spring festival. The Chinese have a special calendar used to mark holidays, so their New Year’s Day varies every year. It started this year on January 28 and the celebrations will carry on for two weeks until the Lantern Festival on February11.

The Chinese years are represented by symbolic animals – this year is the Year of the Rooster. The festival celebrates the end of winter, and the coming of spring, as the days are beginning to get longer. Before the festival, everyone cleans and decorates their homes. Red is the most popular colour for decorating as it represents good luck. Wooden frames in the home are sometimes painted red, and paper cut-outs and banners with short poems are used for decoration. Flowers are a popular decoration too, for example, sprigs of cherry blossom, which is one of the first trees to flower in spring.

The Spring Festival is a very important family occasion, and people will travel great distances to meet up with their families. The festival commences on the eve of the New Year with a great family feast. After the meal, families will often go to the temple to pray, burn incense and pay tribute to their ancestors. Dumplings are traditionally served at midnight in North China; whereas in the South, a sticky rice cake called nian gao is eaten. At midnight, fireworks and firecrackers are set off in celebration.

The festivities carry on for about two weeks. The first day has the lovely tradition of visiting and paying respects to elderly relatives. Young people and kids are given gifts of money in red envelopes.

The Lantern Festival is wonderfully colourful. It happens on the night of the first full moon. As night falls, children carry brightly lit lanterns to the temples. The lanterns are usually red for good luck and some have riddles attached to them to be solved for a small prize. They come in all shapes and sizes – some in the shape of animals. Traditional lanterns are made from paper and wood, but more modern electric and neon ones can be bought too. Kids even learn to carve lanterns out of radishes.

Traditional foods are cooked, especially tang yuan which are rice flour dumplings filled with a sweet or savoury paste. They are served in little round bowls which symbolise family unity.

There are all kinds of activities going on, from parades with giant floats to street performances like stilt walkers. Dancers perform the lion dance and the dragon dance. The lion dance is usually performed by two dancers wearing a huge lion head. The dragon dance is performed by a team of dancers who hold the enormous, long-tailed dragon above them with long poles, moving the tail in a wave-like pattern in time to the beating of the drums. The dragon is often green to represent hopes for a good harvest, though they can come in different colours too. What a spectacular way to end the celebrations!

The World Wild Life Fund for Nature was founded in 1961, with the aim of conserving animals and nature in harmony with human beings. They chose the instantly recognisable giant panda as their symbol. The giant panda is only found in the wild in China and is considered to be a national treasure in that country.

The giant panda’s fur is a mixture of black and white. It has black patches around the eyes, as well as black ears, snout, legs and a strip around the body. This colouring makes them difficult to see in the misty mountain forests they call home. Their fur is thick and coarse, keeping them warm in the chilly weather. They are large animals, measuring about 1.50m long including their stubby tail. They stand about 75cm high to the shoulder, and weigh about 100-115kg. Females are smaller than males.

Although giant pandas are carnivores, 99% of their diet is bamboo. Bamboo is not very nutritious, so the pandas have to eat an awful lot of it to survive – between 12 and 38kg a day. They eat the shoots, leaves and the stems of the bamboo, and have strong teeth and jaws to crunch through the tough fibre. They will also eat the occasional small rodents, fish or eggs. Pandas eat sitting down, much like us. They have five claws and an elongated wrist bone almost like a human thumb, which they use to hold the bamboo. They spend most of their day eating (up to 14 hours) and the rest of the time they sleep and relax to conserve energy. They are mainly solitary animals, preferring to keep to themselves.

The breeding season takes place from March to May. The cubs develop inside the mother for 95-160 days. Usually, the mother will give birth to one cub; sometimes there are twins. But in the wild, only one will survive as the mother cannot provide enough milk for two. The cubs are tiny when they are born, weighing only 110g and they are completely helpless. They start off with pink skin, then after a couple of weeks, they develop grey patches where the black fur will grow later on. The mother takes care of all the parenting; nursing, guarding and playing with the cubs.

The cubs’ eyes open when they are six weeks old, and they can move around at about three months. They will start eating bamboo at six months, but usually continue to nurse until they are a year old. They stay with their mother for the first 18 months. The giant panda has been a great success story for conservationists. There were only about 1,000 left in the wild in the late 1980s. Through careful conservation efforts, that number increased to an estimated 1,864 pandas by 2014. China has created reserves where the pandas are protected and their habitat has been restored. In September last year, the giant panda was removed from the list of endangered animals, though conservation efforts will have to continue.

Have you ever been in trouble at home for losing something? That’s what happens to the kittens in this poem. They find their lost mittens in the end, but get in trouble again for dirtying them!

The three little kittens, they lost their mittens,

And they began to cry,

Oh, mother dear, we sadly fear

Our mittens we have lost

What? Lost your mittens, you naughty kittens!

Then you shall have no pie.

Mee-ow, mee-ow, mee-ow.

We shall have no pie.

Our mittens we have lost.

The three little kittens, they found their mittens,

And they began to smile,

Oh, mother dear, see here, see here,

Our mittens we have found

What? Found your mittens, you good little kittens,

Then you shall have some pie.

Mee-ow, mee-ow, mee-ow.

We shall have some pie.

Let us have some pie.

The three little kittens put on their mittens,

And soon ate up the pie;

Oh, mother dear, we greatly fear

Our mittens we have soiled

What? Soiled your mittens, you naughty kittens!

Then they began to sigh,

Mee-ow, mee-ow, mee-ow.

Our mittens we have soiled.

Then they began to sigh.

The three little kittens, they washed their mittens,

And hung them out to dry;

Oh, mother dear, look here, look here,

Our mittens we have washed

What? Washed your mittens, you good little kittens,

But I smell a rat close by.

Mee-ow, mee-ow, mee-ow.

We smell a rat close by.

Let's all have some pie.

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