We’ve arrived – Our Summer Holiday in Pembrokeshire, Wales

Our family summer holiday finally started last night when we arrived in Pembrokeshire, Wales.  My parents had kindly rented a holiday house right on the beach with it’s own infinity swimming pool, hot tub and huge balcony literally a stones throw down to the beach.  As well as my parents, my brother and his family joined us with my 3yr old niece and 12 week old nephew.

We woke up this morning to the sun beaming and the children eager to get down to the beach.  I was surprised to find the beach virtually empty and the minute we stepped onto the sand the children were digging away, excited beyond words, looked for buried treasure.

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Nanny and Grandad kindly bought Mister B and sand truck which he was thrilled with and kept him occupied for hours.  It just shows how such a simple thing can keep little ones happy – he played with it for hours loving filling it and emptying it across the sand.

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After playing around on the sand for a while, Miss M decided she wanted a go at body boarding after finding a board in the shed of the house we are in.   She loves the outdoors and is willing to have a go at anything so off she went to try her luck on the waves.

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Time for lunch so we all headed back to the house for a filled wrap and salad.  We decided to spend the afternoon in the pool and hot tub, although I have to be honest at this point and confess to never having been in a swimming pool since 2004 when I was in the Maldives on honeymoon.  I have never been swimming with my children and today wore a tankini that I brought after my 5yr old Miss M was born and finally pulled the price tags off today and made the plunge.  Although I still feel really uncomfortable with my weight I have lost 12lb through the Porridge on Tuesday diet in the last six weeks and that has really given me more confidence in how I feel.  And the honest truth is I really enjoyed it – I think being in a private pool really helped but it was great to get back in the water and the hot tub was utterly divine!!sand5

We have had so much fun today – a completely action packed day – I can’t wait to see what the rest of the week aholds and hope the sunshine stays with us!

Home Improvement Hero – Changing the Look of a Room for £50

With a challenge of £50 from Money Supermarket to change the look and feel of a room, I knew it had to be poor Mister B’s.  With a three bedroom house, he ended up with the spare room which was stored the computer/daddy’s books/anything else miscellaneous that didn’t have a home in the house!

The room is a little L shape and in one part we had the cot and a few plastic storage boxes for his clothes.  His toys mostly live downstairs while the other half of his room is an office.  At nearly three year’s old I think Mister B deserves his own bedroom, so with £50 could we change it from an office/nursery to a little boy’s bedroom?

Well the bargain buy of the whole project has to be a little fabric wardrobe.  Mister B’s clothes have been stored in plastic storage boxes since he was a baby and I picked this up in the sale for £7.49!!! wardrobe

The computer in the corner of the room had become redundant.  I only ever use my laptop downstairs now so we cleared away the old computer, desk and filing cabinet to make a space for the new wardrobe.  Miss M was very excited and helped to hang all of Mister B’s clothes which was a huge help.

The next thing we tackled was the bare light bulbs and numerous bits and pieces hanging around the door handle.  We found a rather nice set of dinosaur hooks and matching lampshade.

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We also had the problem of daddy’s bookcase.  Hmmm, we didn’t really have anywhere else to store them but wanted it to look a bit more like a little boy’s bedroom so we utilised some old cardboard boxes, bought some dinosaur wrapping paper and stickers and made some decorative boxes to hide away all those books and make it look more like a little boy’s bedroom.

BoxesWe also purchased a couple of solid plastic dinosaur boxes to sit on the floor by the wardrobe for Mister B to put his toys in.  These should be durable for little hands to open and being pulled around on the floor.

So below you can see the changes to each side of the room.

Bedroom2With the walls above his bed having recently had a facelift with some Dinosaur Wall Stickers, it really brought together the whole room and made it a little boy’s dinosaur bedroom.  Mister B’s little face lit up when he walked in and saw it – he really feels it’s his room now and not a room a bedroom/office.

Bedroom3This post is an entry into the Money Supermarket #homeimprovementhero competition

Craft Party Kit’s by Interplay

Yesterday we held a children’s craft party with some fabulous kits from Interplay.  Miss M was very excited and invited five of her friends from school.  Of the four kits on offer we tried the Fairy Princess and Pirates boxes.

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Each Kit contains enough contents for six children aimed at ages 5-8.  In the Fairy Princess box the children can each make a tiara, wand and wings and they each get a sticker sheet with more than enough stickers to decorate the items, as well packs of stick on jewels to share and a bag of fluffy pink feathers.

The Pirate box had contents to make pirate hats, eye patches and a plastic treasure chest to paint with gold coins to go inside which I thought was a lovely touch.

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The girls started off decorating their Fairy Princess items.  I was amazed at how quiet the room was as they all got stuck in sticking on jewels, feathers and other bits being quite creative in some cases.  I was impressed with their designs and loved watching them totally engrossed in what they were doing.

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party2Once they had finished decorating their wings, I assisted them in threading the ribbon through so they could wear them.

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The princesses were so proud fo their new accessories, that they spent the next five minutes all dressed up running around the room shouting “I’m a fairy”, “I’m a princess” and even “I’m a queen”.  It was so cute watching them all especially as they had made the items themselves.

It was then time for some food, we had heart shaped pizza, heart shaped sandwiches, and jewel shaped cheesy snacks – perfect for my little princesses!!

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After some food it was time to become pirates, having had a pirate themed week at school a couple of weeks ago, they were very keen and knew all the phrases – “Shiver me timbers”, “Ooh arghh me hearties”.

This activity involved painting which they all loved and once again got stuck in.  They had a little plastic treasure chests to paint and also included in the party box was a bag of gold coins to put in the boxes.  There were also hats and eye patches to become a complete pirate.

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I was impressed with how carefully they all wanted to be in painting the boxes.  I had to monitor this activity a little more closely to help pass the coloured paints around the table and mop up any mess as they went along so they didn’t lean over into it.  They particularly loved trying to make their chests look old and even painted the insides too!

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Overall I have to say the Interplay craft party was a great success, the children loved making things and the parents thought it was a great concept.  We had a few games at the end which we got from the list found within each party box.  The ideas for the games are all theme based depending on the party but simple to play.  The Princess games include things like TinkerBell Says and Dancing Fairies, whereas the Pirates games include X Marks the Spot and Musical Pirate Ships.

I think the key success of the party is whether the children enjoyed it.  When I asked them what they liked best, they all shouted out everything they had made so it all was a hit with them.  Secondly I think party success is the effort for parents.  In this case I think the Interplay craft party boxes are great as they really do include everything you need to entertain the children, you just need to add food.  I found everything easy to set up and games easy to play.  The only thing I wished is that I had been a bit more prepared for the painting activity, but I know for next time.

If you want to find out more about or purchase one of Interplay’s craft party sets, check out the Interplay website.

All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions. We are not paid for reviews although we do receive the product to try out and enable us to write the review.

WIN a 12 Week Healthy Eating Plan with Porridge on Tuesday

Porridge on Tuesday is the exciting new diet and exercise plan that encourages healthy eating along with sensible weight loss at a slow and steady pace  – so there’s no piling on the pounds when you finish.

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I’m loving the new found meals that are now regularly included as part of my weekly menu.  They are tasty, wholesome and really do fill me up unlike a lot of the pre-prepared food I ate a lot of before.  To date I have lost 10lb which I’m so pleased about and look forward to losing a few more in the coming months.

If you’d like to try a Porridge on Tuesday meal plan to see the benefits for you then check out the giveaway below.

5 people will each win a 12 week Porridge on Tuesday plan

Porridge on Tuesday also have a special offer of an 8 week plan for £14.95 and a 15 week plan for £24.95.  These both offer a great saving on the usual £2.50 a week so why not give it a try?  Just email offer@porridgeontuesday.com to be sent an access link to these great offers!

You can read about how I found my first week on the plan here, and 4 weeks on here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Win competitions at ThePrizeFinder.com

Twinkl – Printable Learning Resources for Home or School

Twinkl is an amazing website, jam packed with printable learning resources including simple activity sheets, games, writing borders, signs, labels etc.  The list really does go on – with over 88,000 printable resources for EYFS, KS1, KS2, teachers, home educators, childminders, nurseries and more.

logoWe were given a premium subscription to try – normally costing £29.99 which gave us access to more than 10,000 further resources and also enabled downloading multiple resources at once – an option that would be ideal for schools.

The Twinkl site is easily broken down into the different age groups and also different topics.  With the vast amount of choice on offer we decided to look at the parenting section which offers things like parenting guides, activity sheets in maths and reading skills, printable games and a behavioural section with things such as reward charts and certificates.

Twinkl2I love the way the activities incorporate fun, brightly coloured pictures but also include an educational aspect, like the butterfly to colour in – using particular colours depending on the answer to the mathematical sum in each area of the picture.  Miss M who is 5yrs old loved the sheets when I showed them to her and couldn’t wait to get stuck in.  She likes to be kept occupied and challenged in what she does.

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Within the topic section on Twinkl there is one called Under the Sea, which I knew my children would love.  We often pop down to our local aquarium as they love looking at the various fish, sharks, starfish, seahorses etc.  So seeing the sealife on the activity sheets really appealed to them and added interest as it was something that they could easily relate to.

We found some interesting fun addition/subtraction sheets and some pattern worksheets with brightly coloured images of all kinds of sealife and other underwater objects which both my children loved.  Although Mister B is a little young for the activities he loved pointing to the objects and telling me what they were while Miss M finished the lines of patterns and did the sums.  The Under the Sea section has a wide range of worksheets – something for everyone as well as display sheets, power points and writing frames.

There’s also a friendly Forum on the site which is a helpful little place where you can ask any questions or advice and you are sure to get an answer.  I’ve had a little look around and it’s very simply set making it easy to use and ask the questions you want to.

The resources on Twinkl are perfect for schools and there is currently a special offer running giving schools a free trial (normally £249.99 though prices vary according to the size of school) – this gives them access to the premium subscription offering over an extra 10,000 resources.  Why not give it a go if you work in a school environment or recommend it to your local school.

I’m really pleased by what I have seen of Twinkl so far.  It’s full of resources perfect for me to print for my children to help them build on skills learnt at school but also ones that are fun and they enjoy doing.  Miss M thoroughly enjoyed working through a flower addition worksheet by herself and you can see her efforts below.

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I’d definitely recommend Twinkl for anyone looking for printable materials – there’s such a vast selection that everyone is catered for.  We’ve already printed a little folder of sheets for Miss M to work through during the summer holidays at her own leisure!

Baby Birdy

Bizzy the Butterfly and the Over the Log Frog – Audiobook Review

Bizzy the Butterfly and the Over the Log Frog is the second audiobook in the Bizzy the Butterfly series.  The stories are aimed at babies and toddlers combining a mixture of spoken story along with music.

bizzy Bizzy the Butterfly and the Creepy Crawly Co operating Caterpillar Audiobook   Review

Miss M and Mister B were keen to sit and listen to the story.  It follows the story of Bizzy the Butterfly who meet a frog with a log, who wants to jump over it to reach the river but as much as he tries jumping, his attempts are unsuccessful.  Bizzy discovers an alternative way to reach the river and the frog is forever grateful to Bizzy for helping him.  Thus the message in the story is about helping others.  If you notice someone who is a bit stuck in some way, see if you can find a way to help them.

As soon as the music started, my two were up dancing around.  They also enjoyed the interactive questions that are asked at various points during the story, both trying to be first to shout out the answers.  They enjoyed sitting, or should I say a combination of sitting and dancing around the room to the story of Bizzy the Butterfly and the Over the Log Frog.

If you want to try one of the Bizzy the Butterfly audiobooks yourself, they can be purchased from Bizzy’s Shop, from as little as £1.50 for the mp3, or there are options for an audio CD and book, so why not head over there now and take a look for yourself.

All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions. We are not paid for reviews although we do receive the product to try out and enable us to write the review.

Hot Dots – Let’s Learn! Maths – Interactive Learning for Children!

Hot Dots is an interactive learning system from Learning Resources that children can play independently.  It consists of a talking pen which is used against multiple choice answers in a book to encourage learning and reinforcement of skills already learnt.

Hot DotsWe were sent the Hot Dots – Let’s Learn! Maths set which comprises of one talking pen and three interactive work books.  The pen is brightly coloured and chunky so not easily lost.  Little hands love to hold it and it is used to answer questions throughout the books.  The books are well made, with durable glossy pages and being spiral bound means it’s easy to turn pages, keep them flat when open and see everything on the page.

Hotdots1In the Maths set of Hot Dots, the three books cover Addition Subtraction and Time Telling and using just the numbers from 0-20, means they are the perfect introduction into basic Maths and great for those in their first couple of years at school.  Miss M who is 5 could do the first couple of pages in these fairly easily but then they became more challenging.  She did a lot of counting on fingers to work out the answers but with the repetition of doing these books again and again means that hopefully she will finally be able to carry out these sums in her head.

What I really loved about the concept of the interaction and Miss M knowing whether she was right or wrong, meant that she could sit independently and work through the books.  She loved finding out whether she was right or wrong and determined to get to the right answer.  If I noticed she kept getting the wrong answers, it gave me an opportunity to sit down with her and talk her through the harder sums before letting her move on through the books.

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I liked the idea of the time telling book which is included in this set – it makes it a bit different.  There are various pictures of clocks and you have to select the time that is showing on the clock.  Miss M gets very muddled with telling the time so I’m hoping this will help her get to grips with the basics.  I think we have mastered o’clock and half past now so we have had some success.

Being a handy size, the Hot Dots Maths set can be used anywhere, great for long journeys in the car, sitting in bed before night time, or just sitting at home.  I’m hoping that by using these over the school holidays, Miss M will keep up with the basic Maths skills she has learnt in foundation class at school and increase her knowledge a little further before starting back in Year 1 this September.

What I also like about the Hot Dots range is that once you have a talking pen, you can buy extra sets of activity cards for children to work through covering many areas such as phonics, vocabulary, science, grammer and spelling.  The age ranges vary on each set so this is something that can grow with your child and be used over many ages.

We like Hot Dots and think it is a great learning tool for children – Miss M has already packed it in her suitcase for our family holiday this weekend.  I think it’s a great back up to what they learn in school and gives them the independence to learn on their own.  To find out more check out the Hot Dots range on the Learning Resources website.

All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions. We are not paid for reviews although we do receive the product to try out and enable us to write the review.

Craft Party Boxes by Interplay – join us for some twitter fun and win!! #haveacraftparty

Craft Party Boxes by Interplay are a great all in one party kit to entertain up to six guests with crafty things to make and party games ideas.  Join me and other party hosts this week on Twitter to find out what makes this a great choice for kids parties and win some spot prizes!!

Craft party logo

Thursday 25th July 4-6pm on Twitter using the hashtag #haveacraftparty

 Interplay offer four different party boxes:

  • Fairy Princess
  • Pirate
  • Treasure Boxes
  • Mad about Ponies

Each party kit contains enough to entertain six guests with a recommended age range of 5-8 years.

Each child gets to make items around the party theme then play games from a themed list included in the pack.

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We are lucky to have the Fairy Princess Party and the Pirate Party boxes.  5yr old Miss M is thrilled – she’s a huge craft fan and can always be found making something.  She loves to be a princess but is also a huge pirate fan – in fact last week in her class at school it was pirate week and parents attended a lovely assembly to listen to all their songs and see all the things they’d made.  Miss M has invited a bunch of girls from her class who are all very excited about the prospect of a crafting party so we’re hoping it’ll be a big success with everyone.

Pirate Maisy

So if you want to find out more don’t forget to join us this Thursday between 4 and 6pm!! You may even WIN a spot prize – so just look out for and use the #haveacraftparty hashtag.

See you there!

GetAttachment

Little Red Riding Hood – A Clever Book & Pop up Fairy Tale Theatre

 

Little Red Riding Hood is a good old fashioned classic fairy tale that children love and one that people of each generation will know and enjoy hearing again and again.  We received a Little Red Riding Hood Clever Book and a Fairytale Theatre Red Riding Hood from Autumn Publishing to see what we thought.

The first book 5yr old Miss M looked at was the Little Red Riding Hood Clever BookClever Books are not something I’d seen before and Miss M was just as intrigued as I was to open it up and see what was inside.

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The book is made of solid plastic pieces covered with brightly coloured images and storylines.  It very cleverly opens up then folds backwards to reveal the next part of the story.  We were both completely fascinated by it and it definetly adds interest and fun to a classic little story.  It also feels very durable and little hands love folding it around to move through the story.  The pictures are full of things to talk about as you go along and Miss M made a very good effort at reading it herself.  This is a great little book for her to sit and look at herself and has great entertainment value.  We give the Clever Book a big thumbs up!

Please watch Miss M’s short video showing the Little Red Riding Hood Clever Book unfolding:

Miss M was then eager to try the Fairytale Theatre Red Riding Hood.  She loved the idea of pressing out all the character cutouts, there was background scenery and golden tickets to see the show.  Miss M loved the tickets and asked if once everyone had seen Little Red Riding Hood, if she could hand them out to see her ballet show!

The background scenes really added to the theatre appeal and helped tell the story.  Miss M is only just old enough to read the scene cards, so either enjoyed reading them and letting mummy act out the characters, or wanted mummy to read the storyline so she could act out the characters.

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This book contains more pieces than I originally anticipated.  The pieces stand up relatively easily although my 5yr old found balancing some of the clothes a little challenging. There a are a few different background scenes to help tell the story along with all the character’s with all their clothing and accessories.  With a little help she was happily telling the story and loved the idea of the theatre box.  It was like her little place to tell the story, even though she knew the story and could act it out she love to use her imagination to create a story.

Red Riding

I think Miss M did brilliantly with the Little Red Riding Hood  Pop Up Fairy Tale Theatre, enjoying setting it up, loved handing out the tickets and enthusiastically read the story while trying to act out the scenes.  This is a great book with lots of entertainment value that I’d definitely recommend.  Miss M has already packed it in her holiday bag for next week, so watch out Nanny & Grandad and Uncle K & Auntie K – a show is coming your way!!

All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions. We are not paid for reviews although we do receive the product to try out and enable us to write the review.

Personalised Photobook for your child from love2read – Review

What child doesn’t love seeing themselves in a book?  So the combination of personalised photos, text and keywords all put together in glossy, little book makes the perfect gift for children.  Love2read have created an easy to use website which allows you to make such a book.  It is simple to use with a set format for the book, although there are many titles to choose from and it does allow for customisation of colours, text and the main title.

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I took inspiration from one of the suggested titles “I love…” and changed it to “We love…” to allow both of my children to enjoy it.  I filled it with pictures of them together and added the appropriate text, each page starting with “We love…”.

The idea is for the child to read the book themselves and the fact that it includes photos of people they know encourages the child and gives them the motivation to want to read it.

So what did 5 yr old Miss M think?

Her first reaction was “wow, it’s got me and Mister B on it”.  She couldn’t wait to turn the pages and the little grin on her face said it all – she loved it.  She was fascinated at seeing a book full of pictures of herself with her little brother.  She read through the book, all the words being quite simple so she managed really well.

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I really liked this book,  having personalisation in a book is always a hit.  The pages are quite thick with a super glossy front cover to add to the quality.  With it’s simple to use website, I think these make an excellent gift for children that they’d all enjoy not only to help and assist them in reading, but as a treasured keepsake book that they would hold on to for many years.

Check out the love2read website for more info and you may just feel inspired to make one yourself!

All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions. We are not paid for reviews although we do receive the product to try out and enable us to write the review.