Our Christmas 2013

Christmas is the perfect time for family to get together and enjoy relaxing, although it’s always a bit hectic with young children around.  Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get Christmas Eve off work this year so luckily my mum and dad offered to look after the children.  They took them out for the day to a local garden centre to have lunch and meet Santa.  It was lovely seeing the photos when they got back as they looked so happy and had a wonderful day, leaving them full of excitement in anticipation of Santa’s visit that night.

EndsleighLater that evening I had the job of icing together a gingerbread house that Miss M had baked the previous day.  I couldn’t let her down by not finishing it, but having not made one before, I didn’t realise how long I would need to stick bits together – definitely not something to be doing while you are busy and rushing, but after a few mishaps I managed to put something together.  I see it as a learning curve for next years which I hope will look much improved!

And so Christmas Day arrived, I was so busy playing with the children, helping chop the vegetables for dinner, drinking something bubbly, that I hardly took any photos, but I do have a few as memories of the day which I’ve shared below.

Miss M spent the day playing with her new Lego, as well as building huge marble runs, crafting with all her arts and crafts materials, making customised headbands with a headband kit, and making 3D pictures with a 3D kit she got.

Xmas MaisyMister B loved his Chuggington train set and spent much of the day playing trains, but did enjoy joining in with Orchard Toys Pop to the Shops game and both children had so much fun and giggles playing Pumpaloons!

Xmas BlakeAll in all we had a fabulous Christmas, everyone had fun, we had lots of laughs.  We were all tired out and had a lazy Boxing Day but I did manage to pop to the shops yesterday for a quick spot of sale shopping.  The children may have been too tired to walk round, but they spotted some huge teddies to curl up next to and relax while mummy picked up a few bargains!

Xmas Sales

Win Heroes of the City Goodies

Heroes of the City is a television cartoon about rescue vehicles in a small town where everybody gets to be a hero!  There are lots of fun characters such as Pauli Police Car, Harry Hot Rod, Percy Post and not forgetting Fiona Fire Engine!  Well this has been an instant hit with my two children, particularly three year old Mister B.  With my name being Fiona, he just loves that I am a Fire Engine in the show!

The storylines follow the exciting adventures of the characters as they help the townspeople find thieves, put out fires, and solve one of the many mysteries that happen in the otherwise quiet town. You will also get to know Calamity Crow, the most misunderstood bird in town.

HeroesAimed at ages 3-7, Heroes of the City is the perfect first app for three year old Mister B to be using, he loves watching the episodes and has really got to grips with the games.  He does require a little assistance with some of them but loves playing Fiona Fire Engine to put out the fires and also has spent much time playing the puzzle games which he can sit and do himself.  I love the way the app motivates and applauds the child after each stage of the game with cheers, stars and fireworks.  Mister B is so proud of himself when he see’s this as he feels like he has done really well.  With trophies in each game to be won, there is plenty of scope for him to play this and reach higher levels.

Heroes of the cityWith episodes to watch, games to play and trophies to collect, Heroes of the City has plenty to do to keep little ones occupied.  I highly recommend it as a preschool app, one of the best we’ve tried.

The app is available from the following app stores:

AppStore: https://itunes.apple.com/app/heroes-of-the-city-movie-app/id602592310
GooglePlay: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.rutaett.HeroesMovie&hl=en

If you’d like to win an exclusive bundle of goodies like the one shown above then enter below.  The book is full of bright pictures and easy to follow stories that little ones will love and the little vehicles are great, Mister B loves playing with them and more so carrying them around in his pocket when we go out and about!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Open to UK entrants only
Winners will be emailed and will need to reply within 5 days or a new winner will be drawn
Win competitions at ThePrizeFinder.com

The Night Before Christmas – Book Review

The Night Before Christmas by Parragon books is the perfect book to read to children on Christmas Eve or anytime on the run up to Christmas.  This Parragon picture book is a lovely quality with beautifully illustrated full colour pages by Henry Fisher that are sure to delight any young child.  The front cover is glittery and gives a magical feel to the book.

The Night before ChristmasWritten by Clement C. Moore this delightful story about The Night Before Christmas when Father Christmas took to the skies with his reindeer pulling his sleigh delivering presents in the quiet of the night is a pleasure to read.  With it’s rhyming lines, children are eager to hear what happens next and use the pictures to help bring the story to life.

My two children love this and it has been on the reading pile every night.  They find the story enchanting and love the excitement of the quick paced tale.  I’d highly recommend for everyone to read this to their children through the festive period.  It really helps keep the spirit of Father Christmas alive!!

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.

ToucanBox – Arts and Crafts Activities for Kids – Review

Toucanbox’s are themed monthly activity boxes for children delivered to your door suitable for children aged 3-8 years and come packed with all the supplies you need to make the activity ideas included.

My daughter Miss M loves getting crafty and is always busy making things so I knew this would be the ideal box for her.  We were sent the Artic box to try filled with polar themed activities to make and do.

When the box arrived we were really impressed with it’s large triangular shape.  Miss M couldn’t wait to get inside.  The box is cleverly designed to keep the child engaged and excited as they open it.  Inside on a shelf were two activity boxes.  Underneath the shelf were more goodies and the box itself had things to do on it from a fold out road scene to colour, to finger puppet toucaneers to make.

Toucan box 1

The kits included all the materials to make the activities inside such as lolly sticks, glitter glue, coloured pens, sequins etc and a really lovely polar activity sticker book, full of educational facts about polar animals and lots of stickers to add to the pages.

The first activity we did was to make an igloo using an upside down bowl and sticking foam peanuts to it to resemble ice bricks.  They loved this and carefully worked together to build the igloo.  Miss M then coloured some figures which you could stand up beside the igloo.

Toucan box 2

We then made some snowflakes by sticking lolly sticks together like a star then decorated them with white paint, glitter, sequins and glitter glues.  Both my children loved this, Miss M hard at work concentrating on the task and Mister B observing telling Miss M what coloured sequin to use next!  Also included is some wool to use to hang the decorations up.toucan box 3The polar activity book was sure to be a hit having stickers to put in place for some of the animals, something my two always find fun. The book was excellent quality and what I like about it was that it was educational with lots of facts to read and learn about the animals.  Miss M now keeps this on her bookshelf with other animal books as it’s something to look back at and keep learning from.

toucan box 4

For me the toucanBox provided much more fun that I first thought.  We sat down one afternoon to do the activities but didn’t finish leaving more to do the next day.  For little ones this really will keep them occupied for a few crafty sessions and it’s lovely to see all the things they make.  The Artic box is great for this time of year with it’s wintery feel to it.

What makes the toucanBox overall a success is the lovely range of ideas, simple clear instruction cards, an exciting fun box to open and above anything else is that everything is included – all materials that you need to make the crafts.  The only thing we had to use from home was a pair of scissors.

toucan box 5The other important aspect for me is whether the children enjoyed the toucanBox and how easy it was for them to follow.  I can honestly say that Miss M loved the toucanBox and happily crafted with the contents for hours.  She needed minimal guidance to follow the instructions and made all the creations herself.  As you can see above, she is proudly standing by her finished decorations that have adorned our fireplace this Christmas.

Here’s a short video showing some of the activities being made:

I think any young child would be happy to receive one of these boxes, subscriptions start from just £9.95 a month and there are a wide range of themed boxes available from birds, ballerinas, pirates to mad scientists – something for everyone, why not check them out?

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.

 

New Sprouts Grill It Playset – Review

New Sprouts play food collections from Learning Resources are a fantastic range of toy food sets for young children to play with through imaginative and role play.  There are many exciting food sets in the range including Garden Fresh Salad Set, Baking Set and Super Sandwich Set.  We were sent the Grill It! My very own barbeque set to try.

bbq new sproutsMister B who is 3yrs old, was very excited when it arrived and was eager to play with it.  The set consists of a barbeque with lift off grill, tongs, tray and 15 pieces of play food including burger rolls, burgers, tomato slices, a chicken breast, corn on the cob and more.

The first thing I noticed about this New Sprouts play set is that the play pieces are very well made. The food items are a lovely quality and look good.  The barbeque is a flexible plastic which is great as it helps to avoid any breakages making it a toy that will last and withstand a not so gentle toddler!

Barbeque

As well as having fun playing with the barbeque set, it is excellent for improving fine motor skills and hand eye coordination.  Mister B who is 3 initially found the tongs a challenge to use, but after a few go’s, he got to grips with using them.  You can see his little mind ticking over working out how far down the tongs to hold them in order to get the best grip.

Both children loved playing with the set to cook each other food and make different burger combinations.  This set will provide hours of fun and easily combines with other food/kitchen play accessories they have to provide long term play value.  They love to use the barbeque when playing picnics, or having a pretend cafe etc. 

Barbeque 2

The New Sprouts Grill It set is a great, brightly coloured set that little ones will love.  My two love playing with pretend food and the barbeque gives them something to cook on.  It also gives great interaction with parents as Mister B loves asking what I want and then cooking it for me.  Although he is a bit cheeky and I usually get what I’m told to have rather than what I ask for!!

We loved this set and recommend it as a great play set for toddlers who love to cook.

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.

The First Christmas – Early Reader Book by Orion – Review

The First Christmas is a great story for this time of year, written especially for young readers in this Early Reader by Orion books.

The First Christmas orionMy daughter who is 5, picked this up as soon as it arrived and sat and read the entire book out loud to me.  It really appealed to her being very topical for December, and something she could relate to as she is currently practicing for her school nativity.  The First Christmas tells the story of Mary and Joseph on their journey to Bethlehem where their son Jesus is born. The shepherds and kings come to visit after following the bright star.

Early reader books make children feel more grown up reading and they love turning the page as they make their way through the book.  To ease them into more advanced books, there are pictures on every page to keep them engaged in the storyline and help them understand what’s going on.

We love early reader books, and The First Christmas is no exception.  Miss M enjoyed the story and it’s the perfect reading level for her.  She is able to read most words and needs prompting on a few others.  A great book for the festive period!

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.

Woolly and Tig App – Review

Woolly and Tig is a favourite programme with my two children.  Both my 3 and 5 yr old are always keen to watch it when it’s on and love the DVD!  So when we got the chance to try the Woolly and Tig App, I was eager to see what it was like.

With free play where you can tickle Woolly, stroke him and count with him or structured play where there are 10 activities to do with Woolly such as wash him, brush his teeth or help him get dressed, there is a good selection of things to do.  Mister B who is 3 loved this app, his favourite activities being washing muddy Woolly, or fun in the snow where you get to create a snowman.  Miss M who is 5 loved to help her younger brother but is at the top age range for this and there wouldn’t be enough to occupy her and keep her engaged. Woolly and Tig app pic

As a pre school app this is perfect for getting young children to practice doing everyday things and getting into the habit of doing them daily.  For example it’s good to get children to brush Woolly’s teeth, then go and brush their own.

The app has bright, clear, simple images to help engage children and is simple to use, my 3 year old was able to work out how to do most things with little instruction.  It was great to see him excited about finishing the tasks and feeling a sense of achievement.

Another option on the app is to schedule times to do things and the children will be reminded by the app when they need to do certain tasks.

Woolly and Tig App

The Woolly and Tig app is available from the iTunes store for £2.99.  You can find it here.

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.

 

Lightbulb Baubles – Crafty Christmas Decorations

When Lightbulbs Direct suggested using old lightbulbs and recycling them into Christmas decorations, I knew someone who’d be up for the challenge.  My daughter Miss M loves her arts and crafts as is always keen to make something, forever looking for items in the recycling bin to glue together.  I hadn’t thought of using old lightbulbs before, but I found her a couple of and she set to work.

lightbulbs 1

We used some craft bits already at home and started by putting each bulb in a white square of tissue paper and gathering it at the top of the bulb.  We wrapped some Christmas ribbon around the top and made a loop to use to hang our baubles.

Miss M then took one of the lightbulbs and used her purple glitter glue tube to make swirls all around it.  The other bulb she covered in glue and sprinkled coloured glitter on to make it all sparkly.  We let them dry before hanging them on our Christmas tree.  Although simple in design they looked really effective amongst the other tree decorations and with the lights on the tree shining behind the baubles, the glitter shines and glistens away.

Lightbulbs 2

I think these our lightbulb decorations look great, a perfect addition to our tree. Unfortunately the glitter didn’t show up as well in the pictures as it does in real life but hopefully you’ll get an idea of the effect.  Miss M loves seeing her home crafted baubles hanging up and loves telling people she made them.  I’m really proud of 5yr old Miss M’s efforts and we are keen to decorate some more lightbulbs in the future – a great way of recycling your old lightbulbs and having crafty fun too!!

Why not try making some new lightbulb baubles with the children, a great activity to keep them occupied at the start of the Christmas holidays!

This post is a competition entry for LightBulbs Direct ‘Light Bulbles’ Xmas Crafting Competition

Stocking Filler Toys from Gacha

One thing all children like at Christmas is hanging up their stockings waiting for them to be filled with lots of little treats and delights.  I know my two children are already excited about hanging their stocking by the fireplace and it’s the first thing they open on Christmas morning.  Tomy’s collectible Gacha range of pocket money toys make the ideal thing to pop in Christmas stockings.

Gacha Stocking fillers

The little sealed packets are fun to open and my children were all excited at the prospect of what was giong to be inside.  With brands in the range such as Hello Kitty, Disney, Monsters University, Furby, Transformers there is sure to be something everyone will like.

Our packets contained items from Monster’s university, Disney and Hello Kitty.

Gacha stocking fillers hello kitty

Miss M was pleased with her Hello Kitty bracelet and hairbands and wanted me to do her hair straight away.  She also put the Disney ring straight on her finger – it has a large design on top that she was keen to show everyone.

Mister B had a Monster’s University monster that came in 5 pieces to build yourself although was a little difficult to assemble.  There was also a Monster’s University key chain and a water squirter duck from Disney.  Mister B had fun playing with the three figures on the floor and was quite amused by them.

We tried the duck bath squirter that night and it actually works quite well, they had lots of fun squirting each other with it and Mister B named him “super duck” due to the cape on his back.

Overall, these stocking fillers are the sort of little items that children love and carry around with them.  For some low priced branded fun, then these are sure to bring a smile to a young child.

Gacha stocking fillers are available from Tesco

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.

 

Christmas Activites for Children from Vertbaudet

Children love to make things at Christmas time and Vertbaudet have come up with a lovely selection of things to keep them occupied on the run up to the big day!

Here’s a list of things you can make and do:

  • An Advent calendar
  • Paper garland
  • Paper pompoms
  • Letter to Santa
  • Colouring pictures
  • Christmas gift tags
  • Woollen pompoms
  • Paper stars

Most things are easy to make and all have easy to follow instructions, you’ll have most things at home already so why don’t you give something a try.

My 3yr old Mister B wanted to try some colouring sheets so we printed some off for him, while Miss M was keen to try the paper star.  We followed the instructions and with a bit of help from mummy the star came together – she was so pleased and I love it too – it looked really effective hanging up by the tree.  We are going to make some more this week to decorate around the house.

Vertbaudet starsLots of lovely ideas to try – why don’t you try something this weekend to keep the children occupied and add to the festive decorations in your house.