Welcome back to another week of health, fun and learning with our Discover! holiday programme.  In week 5 the theme was the North African country of Morocco.  The families received one of our popular Take and Make meal kits in their food and activity box and the feedback was fabulous.  Here's some photos of the Moroccan Spiced Butternut and Chickpea Stew with cous cous and our demonstration video to help the families follow along with the recipe.


Star of the week from the Royal Observatory this week was Leo the lion.  This is also part of the signs of the zodiac or star sign and we learnt that your star sign is decided by the position of the sun moving across the sky when you were born.  We also learnt about exo-planets outside our solar system and about the oldest university founded by Fatima Alfieri which is in the city of Fez in Morocco. 

  Fiona's live arts and crafts session was making comets.  Inside the boxes there was a polystrene ball, a stick, some cotton wool and some ribbon.  Families were encouraged to gather some household items such as packing materials, foil, bubble wrap, foam packing, tissue paper and kitchen roll.  She explained that comets are nicknamed 'dirty snowballs' and made of ice, dust, rocks and different gases. Then she showed how you can use any of these items to stick onto the ball (or the comet nucleus) to make it look icy and dirty and use items like ribbons to represent jets of gas coming from the comet.  This is called sublimation - the ice turns straight from a solid to a gas and skips the liquid phase you normal see when ice melts.  Then we were shown how to make a cloud coming from the comet or its 'coma' using the cotton wool.   Some comets have a tail as well, this can be a trail of dust left behind by the comet and/or an ion tail blown off the comet by the direction of the sun.  Sometimes these tails go in different directions to one another too.  Included in the pack was a book called 'The Little Book of Space Rocks' for the children (and probably parents too) to learn more about comets, asteroids and other space rocks.  Apparently Morocco is a good place to search for meteorites that have landed on earth as in the desert they are easier to spot in contrast to the sand.  Everyone's comets looked beautiful and different and here is a selection of photos the families posted.

Tara Khoury, a yoga teacher, hosted a live session for kids and parents to learn a mindfulness activity called Positive Affirmations where we looked at how we feel and learnt fun ways to create our own positive thoughts.  Tara revealed that she was feeling a little bit anxious about doing her first Facebook live session and intrigued about whether people would join her.  It was good to hear how she could shift her frame of mind to something more positive and change her negative thoughts to find more positive energy.  What an important technique to learn; especially during a time when many people have found their mental health has suffered from the worries, anxieties and circumstances we have been thrown into by the COVID19 pandemic.  Thank you Tara and we hope the families are able to use these techniques in the future to feel more positive.

The food play activity this week was a fruit and vegetable sculpture competition.  The families were given a chopping board and child-friendly plastic knife in week 2 of the programme and asked to use these and the various fruit and vegetables provided in their box to make a sculpture of anything they like.  There were some ideas to get them started such as these fruity animals, funny vegetable faces or a spooky skeleton.  The winner will be revealed in week 6 and they will receive a prize delivered with their final box.  Check in with the week 6 blog to find out who won.


There was some great feedback this week from families who signed up to the Edinburgh Zoo - Virtual Zoo School offer that was given to all the Discover VIP families in week 2.  They said they had a fantastic day learning and made incredible looking enclosures for their toy elephants and meerkats (see below).  We've so loved seeing the children expressing their creativity in these ways and learning so much from the contributors to the programme through all the fun activities on offer.  There really has been something for everyone and it has shown that during this difficult time, when people are less able to go out and experience different places, you can create plenty of fun and learning opportunities in your own home without spending a fortune.  

On Wednesday Alyssa dressed up as a lion to host a jungle adventure with music, songs, riddles, stories and plenty of fun for the little ones.  She had lost her lion pack and took us on a lion hunt to find them.  We were introduced to lots of different jungle animals on our hunt and asked for their help to find the lion pack.  Not all of them were very helpful but she eventually found them all fast asleep on a mountain top.  She then helped everyone back through the jungle, past all the animals we met, to where we started at the beginning of the adventure.  Before the end of the session we were let in on the plans for Alyssa's final session next week which will be a Scottish Ceilidh; are really looking forward to that!

For our healthier baking session on Thursday, we joined Jo and Catherine to make some banana muffins.  The yoghurt made the muffins moist without too much in the way of saturated fat from butter and very little added sugar was needed as the bananas provide lots of sweetness and flavour.  As with a banana bread recipe, its best to use over-ripe bananas that are going a bit black and squishy for these muffins.  This is because when bananas are under-ripe, they contain more starch but as they ripen, this starch turns to sugar.  A top tip for when you want to ripen your bananas fast - pop them in the microwave or oven and cook them to speed up the process.  Make sure the flesh is cool before using it in your muffin recipe though as you don't want to partially cook the ingredients with hot banana before they reach the oven.

That's it for our penultimate week of Discover! Next week we are staying put for Scotland week which will be our final blog post in the series.  Don't forget to check out the winning entry to the fruit and veg sculpture competition.