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.

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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.

No Mess Play Foam from Learning Resources – Review and win

When I was sent No Mess Play Foam to review from Learning Resources, I was very intrigued.  Would it really be no mess?  How well would it stick together?  Would there be little balls of foam all over the floor?

1906 PF Combo 8 PkMiss M who is 5 was very keen to try the Play Foam – she loves anything crafty and was eager to get her fingers on this new and exciting looking texture.  The first thing I noticed was how pliable the balls of foam were and you can literally mould them into shapes, pull it apart and stick it back together.  In fact it seemed incredibly sticky but the bizarre things was there was no stickiness on your fingers or to anything else.  Wow – quite amazing, I was definitely impressed, the “No Mess” quality of this product really is true.

Foam 1Mister B absolutely adored testing his fingers in the Play Foam and together they had sausage rolling races and really helped them interact and have fun.  The colours will merge if you mix the individual colours together which did eventually happen to ours, but this didn’t phase my little ones in the slightest and they continued to play with this day after day.

Foam 2A few days later I came home to find daddy playing with the Play Foam, creating different shapes such as a pear, turtle, duck, rowing boat!!  The children were fascinated by his creations and it really spurred them on to have a go at trying different ideas for themselves.

Foam 3We’ve had lots of fun with No Mess Play Foam as it really is different to anything else we’ve tried.  We’d highly recommend everyone to give it a go – lots of sticky fun with no mess – what more could you ask for!!

If you fancy trying a pack for free then why not enter the Learning Resources competition to WIN 1 of 5 packs on their Facebook page.  Entries close on Friday 7th June 2013.

Play Foam Logo

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.

 

 

Chocolate cupcakes with Miss M – easy recipe using drinking chocolate

Miss M loves baking so with an excess of eggs in the house I decided to let her make some cupcakes this weekend.  We were also short on cocoa powder but having loads of drinking chocolate in the house we decided to substitute that in our recipe instead of cocoa powder.

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For 12 small cupcakes we used:

4oz self raising flour
4oz castor sugar
4oz margarine or butter
1 heaped tablespoon drinking chocolate
2 eggs
2 tablespoons of milk

Icing sugar, food colouring and decorations to finish

1. Cream margarine and sugar in a bowl
2. Add eggs slowly with flour/drinking chocolate and milk until all combined
3. Put in oven at 180 degrees for approx 20-30 mins
4. For icing mix icing sugar with boiling water and add relevant colourings.
5. Decorate to your hearts content!

Miss M loves baking and got completely stuck in mixing the ingredients, cracking the eggs and pouring in the flour.  Mister B sat on the sideline eagerly awaiting the finished result!  They had barely been out of the oven for 5 minutes when Miss M wanted to ice them but we let them cool down a little more before I made her up two bowls of icing, one pink and one blue (on her request of course!).  I gave her full creative control about the designs and left her to come up with her iced masterpieces!!

As you can see Mister B remained chilled out while his sister did all the hard work.  They both couldn’t wait to pick a cake and tuck in although poor Mister B was under strict instruction from big sister as to which cake he was allowed to choose.  These cakes did have a moist hot chocolatey taste them and my two described them as “Mmmm yummy”!!

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Little Tiger Press Children’s Book Reviews

We were sent two lovely books from Little Tiger Press to review.  They are both large square paperbacks of excellent quality with beautiful illustrations throughout.

 Mouse and the Moon

Firstly we looked at Mouse and the Moon, a story about a mouse who’s best friend is the moon, but one night it disappears and mouse goes looking for it, meeting several other animal friends along the way.  This is a lovely story spread across colourful, glittery pages that children love to look at and rub their fingers over the glittery patches.  The story is about friendship and gives a message of helping each other and finding new friends by working together.  Miss M enjoyed this story at bedtime and even tried to read a few pages herself with her new found reading skills since starting school.  We love this book and with its attractive design and cute storyline would definitely appeal to young children between the ages of 3 and 6 years.

Duck Says Don't!We then read Duck Says Don’t, another book full of bright, detailed illustrations giving us plenty to look at and talk about between reading the story.  The story in this book gives a clear message that by being bossy and trying to take charge of things will only turn your friends away and leave you on your own.  So plenty to think about and discuss after reading this book and we liked that it had a happy ending when Duck realised the mistakes that he had made and was able to change things around to make everyone happy again.  A lovely book that would appeal to a variety of ages, Mister B who is 2.5 enjoyed it as a story but someone a bit older like 5yr old Miss M could understand the message of the book and gave us a talking point to discuss with her, relating it to playing with her brother and how if she doesn’t let him do certain things then he won’t want to play with her!

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.

Saltram House and Garden – a fun day with the children!!

With the husband on a ten hour shift at work today and the sun shining, I knew the children would be itching to get outside but I didn’t really fancy venturing down to the local park on a busy Saturday. So whilst having a quick peek at my twitter feed over breakfast I noticed that the National Trust were offering free entrance to most of their properties this weekend.

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I quickly packed up a bag with a few essentials and off we went in the car to visit Saltram House, our local Georgian National Trust Property.  As the house doesn’t open until 12pm we headed through to the gardens which Miss M and Mister B absolutely loved.  They ran ahead and led me through the winding paths, climbing every tree they could.  We found little shelters to explore and even an underground cellar.  The flowers and trees were wonderful just coming into bloom giving us plenty to look at and talk about.  The children loved running around in the fresh air and the sun was shining, helping them to burn off the excess energy they woke up with.

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After about an hour of exploring we headed in to the house, a beautiful Georgian Mansion.  Miss M was given a clipboard to carry around, noting down the rooms she spotted hidden wooden mice in – a great activity to keep children’s eyes peeled and maintain their interest in wandering around the property.  We even found a dressing up room upstairs where we could try on replica clothes and pose for a photo.  Mister B insisted on trying on the entire range of gentleman’s hats!!

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Once we had finished the tour of the house, Miss M was given a sticker for her excellent effort in spotting all the hidden mice.  We then headed off to the cafe for a late lunch and even sat outside in the glorious sunshine to relax.  What a lovely day spent with just me and my two children, it was so nice to get away from a day stuck at home and has definitely inspired me to take the children to more National Trust properties when we’ve got the time, although may have to find a day daddy isn’t working for the ones more further afield!

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The Sooty Show DVD – Review

With the release of the new “The Sooty Show” DVD this week, it brought back many childhood memories of sitting watching endless episodes of Sooty with my brother.  I didn’t realise until now that The Sooty Show is the longest running children’s programme on tv celebrating 60 years this year!!  Abbey Kids Media kindly sent us a copy of the new DVD to review so I was intrigued to see what my children thought of it and if it stood the test of time along with all the modern style programmes that children love today!

This DVD comes with a free magic wand to help children engage and join in with the spells throughout the shows.  This proved a hit with Miss M who loved to hold it whilst watching and waving it around in the air when repeating “Izzy Wizzy Let’s get busy…” .

There are 5 fun packed episodes including:

The Swimming Lesson
The Runaway Bath
Chocco Chimp – guest starring Matthew Corbett
The Marching Band
The Wedding – guest starring Stacey Solomon

Miss M really enjoyed watching The Sooty Show and getting to know the characters.  I actually caught her laughing out loud at bits of it so she was obviously entertained by the various episodes and it was lovely to see her sense of humour coming out.  She has also watched the DVD over and over again which to me proves that she really is enjoying it and that it appeals to her age.  If she doesn’t want to watch something she won’t but this has won her over.  It’s really great to see your child enjoying something that brought you lots of fun and entertainment in your own childhood.

We recommend The Sooty Show DVD and it was available in most good DVD retailers from last week so why not check out a copy – relive some childhood fun with your little ones!!

For more in check out The Sooty Show website or find Sooty on Facebook and Twitter.

To hear 4 year old Miss M’s views on The Sooty Show DVD, please watch our short video:

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.

Homemade Pizza with Miss M

Miss M loves to help out with cooking and baking whenever she can, so when I mentioned that I was making a  homemade roasted vegetable pizza for dinner the other night, she jumped at the chance to assist  mummy in whatever way she could.

She started off by kneading the dough for the pizza base and rolling it out, then was keen to put the toppings on herself.  So in the end I let Miss M take control while I took a little video of her preparing the pizza to go in the oven.  I just love the constant smile on her face as she tackles each stage of the preparation, carefully placing the roasted vegetables in neat little rows one by one, showing her enthusiasm and just how much she is thoroughly enjoying her little pizza making project.

I think it is important to encourage and engage children in the preparation of food as they not only learn about the ingredients that are used and how they are put together but it gives them more of an incentive to eat their dinner and try new foods that they may have been apprehensive about.  And most importantly they gain many valuable new skills that will be used not only in their childhood but throughout the rest of their life.

Here is Miss M in action:

Sudocrem Sunscreen Mousse SPF50 – Review

Having two young children, I am always very cautious when the sun comes out and ensure they are covered head to toe in suncream and protective clothing.  Although we haven’t had many hot sunny days yet this year, I believe they are just a few weeks away in time for our annual family summer holiday!! **wishful thinking**

With kid’s sun protection being one of the top item’s on my list to pack, I was rather conveniently sent the NEW Sudocrem sunscreen mousse to try.  Being specifically aimed at kids and babies I had two volunteers keen to try it out and the sight of a squirty bottle was something Miss M couldn’t wait to get her little fingers on.


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Easter Baking ideas for children

We were challenged by izziwizzikids.co.uk to come up with an Easter activity video for children and decided we would love to do some baking as this is one of Miss M’s favourite pastimes.

I wanted to keep the recipes really simple so that Miss M could really feel like she was baking on her own without mummy interfering every 2 minutes.  So this is what we came up with:

Firstly we chose to make some Easter chocolate nests using Shredded Wheat:

6 Shredded Wheat
180g Milk Chocolate
60g butter
3 tbsp golden syrup
Mini eggs for decoration

Step 1: We crushed the Shredded Wheat into a bowl
Step 2: We melted the chocolate, butter & golden syrup over a low heat
Step 3: Add the liquid ingredients to the Shredded Wheat and combine
Step 4: Spoon the mixture into cake cases and add decoration – leave to set in a fridge for a couple of hours.

Next we made some Easter bunny and flower biscuits:

100g butter
100g castor sugar
1 egg
275g plain flour
1 tsp vanilla essence

Step 1: Cream the butter and sugar together
Step 2: Add the vanilla essence, a beaten egg and the flour to the creamed mixture and combine to form a ball of dough
Step 3: Roll out the dough and use cutters to create your biscuits
Step 4: Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes at 190C
Step 5: Once the biscuits have cooled, decorate using royal icing or ready made icing tubes and a variety of sweets/decorations

These recipes are very quick and simple and are ideal for children to follow.  Miss M even cracked the egg perfectly herself without the numerous shards of eggshell mummy normally has to spoon out of the mixture!!  A fun element of baking for Miss M is that she loves to get her hands stuck into the mixing bowl which we achieved when crushing the Shredded Wheat and mixing/rolling out the biscuit dough.

Miss M’s favourite bit was when mummy let her loose with tubes of icing and a plate full of sweeties to decorate the Easter biscuits.  It kept her occupied (and quiet) for a considerable amount of time and she had great pleasure and pride in showing us her finished results.

I think baking is a great activity to do with the children, one that gives them a sense of achievement with the finished result and gains them valuable skills in the kitchen.  Baking for an occasion is always added fun and helps with creativity.  Any cakes and biscuits made for Easter make ideal gifts for the children to give to friends and family – particularly grandparents who are always proud to see their grandchildren’s homemade efforts.  We tested out these recipes on Grandad and Miss M proudly wrapped her handpicked selection of goodies for Nanny to take back for him after her visit to us last week.  His verdict – delicious!

Here is our video: