Thursday, 28 August 2014

Baker Ross Summer Crafts - Review

We were sent a variety of lovely crafts from Baker Ross to keep us busy over the summer, and they certainly have!  A few of the crafts we did at home on our own, and some we brought over to friends' houses for play date craftiness!  Their kits are so fabulous, many of them come with everything that you need to make simple but brilliant crafts (and others need very simple additions like scissors and glue) which make them easy to do when you don't have time to prepare complicated projects.


We made 3D Pirate Ships at home one day, Ethan was able to put these together mostly on his own, just peeling the sticky backs off the parts and assembling them.  I had to give him a little bit of help with the sails, but otherwise he did it all and was so proud that after just a few minutes of careful peeling and sticking he had produced these lovely boats!


We brought Football Mosaic Coasters and Turtle Scratch Art Decorations over to a friends' house for a play date one day.  There were 4 toddlers (and 4 babies crawling around) and the older ones were able to make these crafts really easily with little adult help.  The football mosaics were also made of foam with sticky backs, so the hardest part was peeling the backing paper off (but it is very good for their fine motor control) and then they had to match up the stickers to the shape outlines.  For the turtles all they had to do was take the special scratching tools and draw all around the turtles in any way they liked to make the rainbow colours beneath appear.  


Another day we made Butterfly Stained Glass Decorations at home, these were the only ones that required scissors and glue to make.  Ethan was able to easily press out all of the shapes from the butterflies, then put glue all around and place the coloured cellophane over top to make the designs, then glue the top butterfly and stick it on, then I just had to trim the sides to make a beautiful butterfly!


Baker Ross were kind enough to also send us some Foam Flower Stickers, which we've been sticking on lots of cards for friends, some Seaside Ducks which Ivy gets to play with in the bath and some Bug Window Crawlers which we've been playing with.

You are probably thinking that it's a bit late in the season to be making more summer crafts, but luckily Baker Ross already have their Autumn Crafts, Halloween Crafts and Christmas Crafts on their website and ready to order (but surely it's too early for Christmas, isn't it?)


* This is a review post, Baker Ross sent us these summer crafts to try out and to write an honest review. * 

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Back to School - School Bus Craft

Ethan loves all vehicles, but on our trip to Canada last year he definitely fell in love with school buses!  So even though we don't have them here in the UK and he won't ride one to school, we still decided to make one to help with his transition into nursery.  Ethan actually started nursery back in July, but as he only goes a couple of mornings a week it is still quite new, and perfect timing to coincide with many children going back to school!  This school bus craft is not only cute, but as he has drawn pictures of his friends from nursery in the windows, it is also reinforcing the importance of building those relationships with other children.


Materials:

  • 4 mini cereal boxes
  • 1 small tube box
  • yellow paper
  • 4 lids
  • white paper
  • glue

First we glued the cereal boxes together, we used mini cereal boxes so that there could be doors along the bus, as I know that Ethan would like to play with it and be able to put his little people toys inside.  Then we covered the boxes in yellow paper (I cut the paper up into panels so that Ethan could stick each piece on, but you could wrap the whole thing and then make cuts along the doors).  Then I covered the small box in yellow paper and Ethan stuck it to the front of the bus.  Next Ethan stuck on the wheels, counting them out as he did.  


Then I gave him all of the little squares of white paper, for the windows.  We talked about his teachers at school, then he drew two of them at the front, driving the bus.  Then I asked him which friends he would like to sit with him on the bus, so first we labelled a window for him, then he named 7 other children at nursery!  It was amazing, some of these children I have never heard him mention before, I'm always asking him for details about school, but he tells me nothing!  This really got him talking about each of them, and even though he doesn't really draw people in any recognisable form yet, he was able to tell me a little bit about what they look like, which was great.


Then we stuck the windows on the bus, he decided who would sit where and that was it!  The hardest part was convincing him to leave the glue on the bus to dry for a little while before playing with it.  Now he's happily putting his friends in the bus, and making them have little chats with each other as they travel to school, it's adorable!  

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Back to School - A is for Apple Card for the Teacher

It's almost time to go back to school!  As someone who spent my whole life in school, either as a student or a teacher, these past couple of years as a stay at home Mum have left me feeling like I was missing something at the beginning of September each year.  Well, now that Ethan's in nursery, (even though he goes throughout the summer), I feel like I can properly embrace 'back to school' season again! 


Something that I've been seeing crop up on Pinterest and Facebook is the idea of teacher gifts at the start of a school year, and I think that it can be a really fun way of getting your little ones excited for school and showing your appreciation for the teacher whom you know has been preparing all summer for the children to have an easy transition from summer to school days. So we've made a little card for Ethan's teacher, just to show her how much we appreciate all that she does for us.  I love the apple theme for 'back to school' so we did some colourful apple printing along with the letter 'a' as we're starting to learn about initial sounds in words.


Ethan loved that we were using a real apple to paint on the card!  We simply cut an apple in half, put out some red and green paint and stamped away on the card.  As it was going so well, I also got out the big roll of paper and we made some wrapping paper too, this we can use to wrap up a special little gift to go along with the card.


I had a look on Pinterest for some ideas of start of the year teacher gifts, and found loads that I really love, basically really simple things with a cute little note to go along with them.  So we'll decide between giving cookies or cupcakes (that we decorate to look like school supplies), antibacterial hand gel, hand cream, chocolate or a coffee voucher in a reusable cup.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Odds Farm Park - Review

We've just been to Odds Farm Park for a fun day of playing and learning about farm animals. There is so much to see and do there, that we didn't actually get around to doing everything in one day, we'll just have to go back another time to finish the rest!  

We did do a lot of fun things though, the first thing that we did was feed the animals!  We went to the animal barn and fed the sheep and goats.  Ethan was a bit nervous at first and held his hand back cautiously, but by the end of the day when we went back to feed them one last time he was confidently holding his hand out to feed them all.  He absolutely loved it and giggled away as they tickled his hand.



We also went on a tractor ride, which was of course very exciting for Ethan, being a big fan of tractors!  But it was also great because we could bring Ivy on as well, she just sat on Daddy's lap and watched as we passed by loads of different animals.  Both Ethan and Ivy enjoyed seeing the animals from the tractor, and being able to see a few (like the bulls) that you can't really see from the pathways through the farm.



There are plenty of outdoor toys and play areas scattered around the farm.  Ethan especially enjoyed the tractors that he could pedal around and the go karts that he rode on with Daddy.  But he also loved playing in the sand and water area and the various climbing frames and playgrounds throughout the farm.  



We also went around the adventure maze, which Ethan loved!  He ran around so quickly, turning corners and leading the way.  He was shouting out, 'this way next, now turn this way' and confidently navigating his way through the maze, finding the different pictures of tractors as we went.  We didn't actually make it to the other end of the farm for the maize maze, that will have to wait until next time.  Unfortunately we didn't get our timing right for many of the shows either, but I heard people raving about the circus, so I am sad that we missed it.  There are also animal shows in the barn throughout the day, as well as sheep races!



Then there's the play barn!  A huge indoor soft play area alongside the cafe and tea room.  We had our lunch there, you can bring your own picnic to have at any of the tables throughout the farm, but we weren't that organised.  Ethan liked his kids lunch pack, but I'll be honest and say that my jacket potato wasn't fantastic.  The play area, on the other hand, was fantastic!  There were separate soft play zones for babies, toddlers and older children.  The largest area also had these massive slides, which Ethan could have played on all day long.  A few of them are basically just a vertical drop, which Ethan is slightly too young for, but he did love the big wavy slides that you sit on a rug to go down.  One tip to remember, if your little one isn't so little and does want to go on the biggest slides, is that they have to be fully covered for safety, so that means long trousers and long sleeved tops must be worn.



Overall we had a really fun day, and we could have stayed there for much longer if we weren't all completely exhausted!  I noticed on the way out that not only do they have fun things to do over the summer, but they also have special events leading up to Halloween and Christmas, so we will definitely be going back soon!
* This is a review post, we were given passes to explore Odds Farm Park for the day, so that we could write an honest review. *

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Our Sunday Storybook - Peekaboo Pets

While we're still having a few nice days, between the rainy days, we've been spending as much time as we can in the garden.  So we take out our mat and our play tent and some toys and books to play with and read.  Ethan chooses which books to bring, and we read them all together.  One that he's been choosing to share with Ivy is Peekaboo Pets.



I love watching them read together, Ethan has so many of these books memorised that he tells Ivy the story and she holds onto the book, absolutely riveted by his voice.  These Peekaboo books are especially nice for toddlers and babies because of the big flaps that they can open together and the stories that are simple to follow (and they both love looking at themselves in the mirror on the last page!)



What have you been reading this week?

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Stickers in the Post

A few monthss ago Ethan was sent his very first chain letter.  It didn't come as a surprise, as the lovely Mummy who sent it to us was kind enough to ask us first if we wanted to participate (which is more than I can say for myself, as the other Mums who I've roped into doing it had no choice, sorry!)  It is a fun chain letter though, so we were more than happy to take part.  Basically all we had to do was send some stickers on to the child listed on the letter (a friend of my friend) then send the letter (and some stickers) on to six of our friends, who would then have to send stickers to the friend who sent the letter to me.  The idea is that your little one then ends up with 36 sets of stickers arriving in the post!



We had fun getting everything ready together, for us it was all about the preparation!  Of course I hoped that Ethan would receive some stickers back, as he does love getting post (he was very excited to get that original letter!) but I certainly didn't expect to get 36 more letters!  So to prepare we went together to the shops to buy some stickers. He chose a specific set for each of his friends that he thought that they would like.  Then we came home and made copies of the letters and filled in our name and address.  After that I addressed the envelopes and Ethan decorated them with some other stickers, making them look lovely for his friends.  We put the stamps on together, and walked to the post box to post them.  Ethan really loved the whole process, and it was so nice to see him being so thoughtful and generous with the stickers that he sent his friends.

Well, it has been a couple of months, and I am sad to report that Ethan has not yet received any stickers back...I guess chain letters really don't work!  Oh well, we had fun sending them anyway (and I'm still optimistic that he might get some one day, and I'd still do it again!)

Friday, 22 August 2014

Play With Your Food - Preparing Food for Ivy - Beaba Babycook Review

We started giving Ivy solid foods a few weeks ago, and it's going quite well so far.  She's happily eating a combination of puréed foods and finger foods that we prepare for her at home.  We've been using the Beaba Babycook Solo 4 in 1 Babyfood Maker to steam fruit and vegetables and then we purée some of them (the others we leave in sticks for Ivy to hold and feed herself).



Ethan loves helping to prepare Ivy's food for her.  He sits with me to chop up the fruit and vegetables and put them into the basket of the Beaba, then he watches as the steamer works to make the food for Ivy. (He did give me a fright one day, he saw all of the steam coming out and came running over to me shouting 'fire, fire, it's an emergency!!!'  This lead to a lesson in the difference between steam and smoke, ha ha!)

The Beaba is really easy to use, we just prepare the food and put it in the steaming basket, then put the desired amount of water into the machine, press the button and let it do it's magic.  It turns itself off when it's finished, which works great for me as I get easily distracted by the two little ones (and burnt the bottom of a pot on the stove already when the water boiled dry) so this is much safer for us.  Once the vegetables are steamed we take them out of the basket and put them directly into the jug (keeping a few out for Ivy to eat whole), put the lid on and set the Beaba to puree the vegetables.  Then voila, ready to eat!



Ivy really is doing well with her meals, she loves squishing the steamed vegetables in her hands and attempts to eat them all by herself.  It is taking a while for her to get the hang of eating, so she is only having very small quantities now, but we've been making big batches in the Babycook and freezing them in small pots to keep us going over the next few weeks.  There are a lot more fruit and vegetable combinations that we'll be creating for Ivy with this handy little machine.  I highly recommend it, it has made preparing food for Ivy a whole lot easier.


* This is a review post and also contains an affiliate link, we were sent the Beaba Babycook to use and write an honest review. *