Best First Pets for Children

Kids need entertainment, kids need companionship, kids need fun, and they need to learn some responsibility too. In all reality, there is no better way to provide all of those things for your child than by getting them their very own pet. Here we have a list of the best first pets that you can get for your kids, ones which will certainly make them smile.

2 Common First Pets For Kids & Families

These are without a doubt the most common first pet choices that kids get and the definitely make for some solid choices. Let’s talk about them quickly.

Dogs

A dog is a fantastic first pet to get any child, especially a smaller dog. First of all, dogs are really fun for kids, mainly because dogs love to play. Dogs like playing fetch and they like running around the house chasing things, just like kids. Guaranteed your child will have loads of fun with a dog. Moreover, most dogs are extremely friendly so you don’t have to worry about your child’s safety, plus a good dog can guard your child from threats if need be. There is also the fact that dogs really don’t take that much maintenance either.

Aside from feeding, walking, and a little grooming, there is not much effort needed to take care of a dog. Your child can learn some responsibility by having to feed and groom the dog, and even take it on walks too. Most things which a dog requires can be done by your children. If your child is too young to really take care of the dog, you can be happy with the fact that they don’t provide too much work for you either. Dog is man’s best friend and your child’s too.

Cats

A cat is another great first pet choice for your child, and that is mainly because they require virtually no maintenance. Unlike a dog, cats don’t need to be walked. You can either let them go in the litter box, in which case you will most likely have to change the litter, or if your child is old enough they can do it themselves. Other than that and regular feedings, you really don’t have to do anything to take care of a cat, something that makes it perfect for kids who don’t have too big of a sense of responsibility yet.

Also, cats make for great snuggle buddies and they just love to curl up beside you, something that your child will appreciate every day as they are watching TV on the couch. Moreover, cats can be pretty entertaining too. They do a lot of wacky stuff that we all love to watch, plus they love playing with string and toys. Your child will get hours of fun out of a cat and that is a guarantee. Cats are awesome pets that are fun, easy to take care of, and quite friendly too.

If you do decide on either a cat or dog, it’s always a good idea to consider pet rescue homes as there are lots of animals that need a home, and you are doing a good deed by rescuing too.

3 More Suggestions That Don’t Require Too Much Maintenance

If you are not a big fan of either cats or dogs, and you would like something smaller that does not require much maintenance, you can always check out these great pet ideas for your child’s first pet.

Hamster

A hamster is a fantastic little first pet choice for your child. First of all, they are small and soft, which means that your kid can lift them up and cuddle with them as much as they want. They aren’t heavy, so that’s not a problem, and they are very cuddly too, something that everyone can appreciate. Moreover, as far as rodents go, hamsters are probably the friendliest of them all, with minimal chance of being bitten by them.

Hamsters are also very fun to watch. I don’t know how many times I have caught my own kids watching that furry little creature run itself into exhaustion on that hamster wheel. Something about watching them run on that wheel is just so mesmerizing for little kids. Best of all, hamsters don’t require much maintenance.

All you need is a cage, some food, a water dispenser, some bedding, and of course the hamster itself. Occasionally you need to clean the cage, remove the hamster waste, change bedding, and make sure it has food and water. However all of those things are very easy to do, they don’t take long, and they don’t have to be done that often. Even if your child is too young to really take care of the hamster, at least it won’t be too much work for you.

Betta Fish

In our opinion, one of the coolest pets that you can get your child is a fish, specifically a Betta fish. Now, these animals take a little bit more maintenance than others, and they require some special tools too. You will need a special betta tank (Aquascapeaddiction has covered some good tank options) and a protein skimmer (this post explains how skimmers help), a filter and a light, and some fish food too. However, in the long run, none of these things are very expensive, nor are they hard to set up or use.

Once you have the aquarium set up, all that needs to be done is to feed the betta fish regularly, change some water, and clean the filter, all things which a child older than 6 or 7 can probably do on their own. Also, betta fish are very beautiful creatures that will add a certain elegance to your child’s room. These fish are also very fun to watch as they swim around the tank all day long.

Ant Colony

The final cool first pet choice to get your child, and the one that takes perhaps the least amount of maintenance, is the ant. Well, you don’t get just one ant, you get a few dozen ants, which is called a colony. These are interesting pets, because sure, you can’t

pet them or really lift them up, but they are definitely fun to watch as they borough through the dirt and create a plethora of tunnels.

There is also the fact that ants require virtually no maintenance. As long as you have a glass ant house, some lettuce or carrots, and a handful of dirt, there is nothing standing in the way of a thriving ant colony. All you need to do is feed them, that is literally the extend of an ant colony’s required maintenance, something that every parent will appreciate.

Conclusion

There are many different cool first pet choices which you can surprise your child with. Just make sure that your child will be able to keep them alive on their own, and if your child can’t, you need to be fine with doing the work yourself. That being said, a pet is a fun, rewarding, and educational thing for any child to have.

In collaboration with Craig from Aquascapeaddiction

Real Baking for Kids with the Great Baking Set & Cake Pops

With The Great Bristish Bake Off on our tv screens at the moment, it gives us all encouragement and motivation to head to the kitchen to bake up our own creations.  My children both love this programme and it really inspires them to bake themselves and these children’s Real Baking kits have come just at the right time from Vivid Toys.  We tried the Cookie Kit and Chocolate Pen a few weeks ago, but today we are sharing with you how we got on with the Great Baking Set and the Cake Pops sets.

wp_20161002_15_51_11_proThe Great Baking Set contains all the basic equipment needed to make some mini cupcakes. You get a couple of bowls, one with a suction base to help it stick to the worktop, a 4 hole silicone baking tray, spoon measurers, an egg cracker, cake cases, icing nozzle and bags.

Miss M started off my creaming the eggs and sugar together to make a basic cake batter.

real-baking-cakesMister B being younger has not had much experience in cracking eggs so was keen to try the egg cracker.  I think this is great for really young ones as it ensures a clean break with no eggshell to remove.  Miss M being older and already used to breaking an egg prefered to do it on the side of the bowl as usual.

real-baking-cakes-2They then added some flour and cocoa powder before filling the cake cases as well as the cake pop and donut moulds from the Cake Pops set. real-baking-cakes-3The donut style moulds looked great when the cakes where turned out and the children really loved these as they looked different and fun.  Miss M was then eager to have a go with the piping bag, so she mixed up some butter and icing sugar, then added a bit of blue colouring to make her icing.  She found the icing bag easy to squeeze out of and the nozzle was a good size for icing her cakes.   real-baking-cakes-4

I love her finished creations, they look so delicious and yummy, and although I did get a little taste the children couldn’t wait to tuck in.  The cakes are actually a really good size for children and make a good treat or reward for them.  real-baking-cakes-5We then moved on to complete our cake pops.  The set contains cake pop moulds along with the donut shaped moulds, some chocolate cone shaped moulds and sticks.wp_20161002_15_47_37_proWe’d already made the cake pop ball shapes along with our cakes above, so the next step was to pour some melted Divine chocolate into the cone shaped moulds.  We put a stick in the centre and carefully balanced these in the freezer.  After about 15 minutes we took them out and I helped carefully remove the chocolate which I think looked really effective.

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We then pushed the cake balls onto the top of the sticks, dipped them in some melted Divine chocolate and covered them in sprinkles.  I think they look absolutely fantastic and really effective.  It’s a shame you can only make four at one time as we would love to have made a few more at the same time.

real-baking-cakes-6 Overall we’ve had fun with the children’s Real Baking kits and the kids have been inspired to want to bake even more.  They’ve had a go at different techniques and created various things and it’s great to get them involved in the kitchen although I have to say my two are always keen when it comes to making something food orientated. wp_20161002_18_12_27_pro All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions and we received the product in order to write an honest review.

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My First Bananagrams – Review

My First Bananagrams is a variation of the original Bananagrams game, designed to make the game simple for younger players from age 4 upwards.  With a variety of games and activities that the tiles can be used for, children can learn whilst having fun and playing educational games.

bananagrams-2The tiles come in a simple zip up banana shaped bag.  This is really useful and keeps all the pieces together for storage.  It also opens nice and widely so that it’s easy for little fingers to help tidy away at the end of play.bananagrams-3The Bananagrams set comprises of 80 high quality single tiles and 13 combination tiles.  There are brightly coloured and differently coloured to help younger children recognise their letters.  Therefore letters such as p’s, b’s and d’s will always be different colours.  The letters are all small letters which are what preschool children learn to recognise first and the tiles also have a small line at the bottom to identify which way up the tile should go. Vowels are also easily seen by being coloured yellow.

bananagrams-4Both my children aged 5 and 8 were eager to have a play and we started with some simple letter recognition ideas that we found on the instruction sheet such as finding the letters in your name, finding each letter of the alphabet and making small little rhyming words such as cat and mat.  We then had a go at the main game, although gave Mister B some assistance being the youngest.  He was really good at finding words, he just needed a little help to link them together.

bananagrams-5The game is a race to use up all your letters and you can have unlimited swaps from the centre.  It is fast paced and fun and get’s everyone excited and competitive during play.  Of course you can slow things down for younger players and even help them to maintain their motivation to play with letters.

A fun game that all the family can join in with or little ones can explore the letters and make words on their own.  The game is available from Amazon and other toy retailers.

See a bit more about Bananagrams in our video below:

All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions and we received the product in order to write an honest review.

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Christmas Craft with Baker Ross

A great time of year to do craft with the children is Christmas, as the children can decorate the house in all their lovely creations and give the house a festive feel.  As usual Baker Ross have come up with some really simple but effective crafts for children that didn’t disappoint and have kept the children occupied over recent weeks.

Baker RossWe started with some peg angels which are so much easier to make than they look and I think the finished decoration is really pretty and effective.

Baker ross 2All the pieces are sticky backed and simply stick around the peg to make the angel.  A dab of glue for the hair and some ribbon to hang her up by her wings, and there you have it, a sparkly, festive angel to hang up and enjoy.  The children were quite pleased with these and couldn’t wait to start crafting some more!

Baker ross 3We then tried our hand at some lanterns and again these were easy to do, but gave us a really effective result.  The black background is pre cut and the children enjoyed pressing out the shapes.  Then simply glue a coloured tissue onto the back and fold the lantern into shape.

Baker ross 5They have a loop at the top so we are planning on hanging them on some ribbon to adorn the house this Christmas.  With the coloured tissue behind the windows, these look great against held up to the light.

Baker ross 6The foam Snowman house kit was great fun and Miss M really enjoyed assembling it along with sticking the decorative shapes around the outside.  The pieces simply pressed out of foam sheets, which Mister B did before passing them to Miss M to build.  Again I have to say how effective this looks once finished and has taken pride of place in our front room windowsill for the festive season.

Baker ross 4The children love these thick card tree decorations which simply required decorating in any way they chose.  They love the Deco pens from Baker Ross and used them to come up with their designs.  These look pretty hanging from our mantelpiece or could easily be hung from the tree as they come with pre attached gold threads.

Baker ross 7We’ve had lots of fun with the Baker Ross Christmas craft selection and would highly recommend them.  There are so many more available that it’s well worth checking out the website and finding some to suit your children.  I love the idea of children making their own decorations, it’s fun to do and they love seeing the results of their efforts pinned up for everyone to see.

All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions and we received the crafts in order to write an honest review.

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

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.

 

Barefoot Books Review and Giveaway

Barefoot Books are a lovely children’s book company with a large range of beautifully illustrated titles for all ages.  The books are of a high quality both in the finish of the book and the detail inside.  They also have a large range of books with an included story CD, perfect for children to listen to independently or for long car journeys.  We received a couple of books to try out and they didn’t disappoint – see what we thought below.

Port side pirates barefoot booksPort Side Pirates is a delightful singalong adventure that both my children throughly enjoyed.  Pirates seem to be a popular theme for them and 5yr old Miss M had actually sung a couple of verses of this song with slightly different words in her pirate school assembly a few months back.  She was keen to lead the way with the words and 3yr old Mister B eagerly joined in.  The book has brightly coloured illustrations that we all enjoyed but the jolly nature of the song is what got us all up singing along, the children dancing and left us feeling high spirited.  A great little book with a CD that’s perfect in the car for singalongs – I think I’ll be hearing this one many times over – both my children love singing along and adding in their own pirate expressions between verses!!  “Shiver me timbers, me hearties”

the twelve dancing princesses barefoot booksThe Twelve Dancing Princesses is a high quality hardback book by Xanthe Gresham, with the most elegant, exquisite illustrations I have seen.  Illustrated by Miss Clara, this really is a book to treasure and should last a young girl many years of enjoyment.  Being quite a lengthy book, I read this to Miss M although she did enjoy sitting trying to read the pages herself.  The story follows the mystery of twelve princesses who go dancing each night through a secret passage under the castle.  Princes are invited to discover where they are disappearing to in order to win their hand in marriage and eventually one does.  A lovely story with a magical feel to it, we’ve really enjoyed reading this.  Miss M loves the secret staircase and the enchanted woods the princesses pass through each night.  Definitely a book to enjoy again and again that would suit girls of many ages and also includes a story CD, perfect for Miss M to listen to in her room.

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Exclusive 25% discount code: LITTLESTARS to be used at Barefoot Books for 1 week only.  Valid from 9/12/13 to 15/12/13

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Barefoot Books have an extensive range of children books, all with lovely illustrations sure to catch a child’s attention.  They have been kind enough to offer one of my readers a book of their choice to win.

Just fill in the Rafflecopter form below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Open to UK entrants only
The winner will be emailed after the closing date
Win competitions at ThePrizeFinder.com

Christmas by Dick Bruna

Christmas by Dick Bruna has to be one of the most delightful children’s nativity picture books I’ve come across, telling an elementary tale of the nativity story with simple, but charming pictures in a hard back book.  To mark the 50th anniversary since the book was first published in 1963, a stunning gold and white edition has been published by Simon and Schuster.

Dick Bruna Christmas 50 years

Christmas tells the tale of the shepherds who see the bright light of an angel telling them of a baby called Jesus who has been born in Bethlehem.  They make their way to meet Jesus and find him in a stable.  The three kings also make a visit bringing gifts before returning home on their camels the spread the word that Jesus was born.  Everyone decided that every year the day that Jesus was born should be a holiday and that day is Christmas day.

I have read this to my children aged 5 and 3 numerous times over the last week or two.  This is the perfect time of year to read the book and due to them enjoying both the story and the pictures, it has become a firm favourite at the moment.  They love the nativity story which 5 year old Miss M recognises from what she has learnt at school .  She loves the style of the book and has read the book to us a few times with it’s easy to read sentences and simple style.  Mister B who is 3 enjoys the pictures which are simple and recognisable giving us something to talk about.

Dick Bruna ChristmasThe Christmas book includes a ribbon bookmark to save the page you are on with a delightful angel attached half way along.  Miss M love this and guides it through the pages as we read.  Dick Bruna’s illustrations are uncomplicated in design but totally lovable.  Any fans of Miffy (which we are) will instantly recognise his unique style which has lasting appeal through generations.

I absolutely adore this Christmas book by Dick Bruna and highly recommend it.  It’s classic tale that has widespread appeal which children will enjoy year after year.   The 50th anniversary edition is a delight that I am proud to put on my bookshelf and one that I only let the children read supervised.  This book will be enjoyed many times over by our family on the run up to Christmas and is a book that I hope I can read and pass on to my grandchildren one day.

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.

Miss M’s Homemade Cheese Scones – Recipe

With the half term upon us and 5yr old Miss M’s love of cooking I promised her she could make me some cheese scones for lunch on one of the days I wasn’t working.  She was so excited and couldn’t wait to get making and baking.  She loves to cook things she can get her hands into so scones are an ideal choice.

We decided to make cheese scones using a simple recipe with just the ingredients we had at home already.

To make a batch of 6 generously sized scones we used:

8 oz self raising flour
1½ oz butter
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ pint of milk
5 oz of grated cheese (we used cheddar)
A generous grinding of black pepper

1. Rub the butter and the flour together (Miss M’s favourite bit as she got to get her hands in and play with the mixture)
2. Stir in baking powder, black pepper and cheese (save a little cheese back to sprinkle on top)
3. Add milk and combine to form a ball of dough
4. Divide into approx 12 balls, flatten slightly and sprinkle with remaining cheese
5. Bake for approx 10-15 mins at 220°C

 

Cheese Scones

We let them cool off for about 5 mins and then ate them warm, absolutely delicious they just melted in the mouth!

Miss M’s verdict: “These are super yummy, can I have another one after?”

 

 

 

Making Model Map’s – Half Term crafty fun at the Museum

For a half term activity we decided to go to the local museum’s craft morning.  The theme took inspiration from one of their current exhibitions “The Making of a Modern City” which shows the plans, documents and photos of the rebuilding of the City Centre following the heavy bombing it suffered during World War II to show how it became the city it is today.

In one of the galleries, lots of tables were set out with a huge road map of the city centre  laid out on a centre table and the idea was for each child to make a building to place on the map.  It could be of any design and as creative as the child wanted.  My two sat down and started drawing and were really excited of the thought of making something that they could stick on the big map.

map1Mister B was very proud of his creative masterpiece while Miss M went into deep concentration as she set out to replicate the museum in a modern colourful design.

map2Miss M was so pleased with her finished interpretation of the museum and couldn’t wait to stick it onto the central map.  There were lots of wonderful designs on the map by all the children, some in 3D, some of replica buildings of the city and others just purely imaginative.

map3

What a lovely way for children to be creative and bring their designs together.  The map will be displayed in the central foyer of the museum for the rest of this week and over the weekend for visitors to enjoy.  It’s so nice for the children to have their work displayed alongside all the other displays, exhibitions and artwork that is in the museum – it gives them a real sense of pride.