Friday, 28 August 2015

Acorn Painting

We love going for nature walks and collecting all sorts of fun treasures, and our favourite thing to collect lately has been acorns.  So you will be seeing a lot of acorn activities coming up, because there are just so many fun things that you can do with them.  Today, we've been using our acorns to do some painting!

We started by mixing up some brown paint in our paint tray, we've got a lovely set of Crayola paints but as there is no brown in the pack we got to mix them all together to make our own brown.  Ethan really enjoying seeing the colour change as we added a bit of each one and he was telling me which one we needed to add more of to make a nice brown colour.

Then we put all of our collected acorns in the tray ready to paint with!  Ethan and I cut out some white card into an acorn shape for him to paint on, but for Ivy I gave her a large sheet of paper so that she had more space, and then cut it into shape after the paint had dried.

Ivy got right in there with the acorns, taking the individual ones and rolling them around in the paint and then rolling them onto her paper.  She's not afraid to get her hands dirty so she was in her element getting the paint all over the paper, picking up a few acorns at a time and swirling them all around the page.  She even did a bit of finger painting at the end, because she just couldn't resist.

Ethan preferred to use the acorns that were still attached to their stems like paint brushes. He dipped them in the paint and stamped them onto the page to make little circles and he used the larger ones to make lines across the page.

I love how their two acorn paintings that were done with the exact same materials turned out so differently.  They really enjoyed using new techniques and materials for their paintings today, we'll definitely be working on creative painting methods from now on!

This post is part of the Paint-a-Thon series of 101 painting ideas from bloggers all around the world, hosted by Emma Owl.  You have to take a look at some of the incredibly creative painting projects that have been going on!

* This post contains affiliate links *

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Apple Cinnamon Overnight Oats

Sometimes mornings are just too hectic to make a proper breakfast, so I do love when we've thought ahead and made overnight oats the day before.  And as it's coming up to autumn what better to have then some yummy apple and cinnamon oats for breakfast?

I always have Ethan help me when I prepare overnight oats as it's a fun activity for him, and it's something to keep him busy either as I'm making dinner or after dinner when he's always searching for things to do.  It's so easy for him to measure out the ingredients as it's all quite simple and he always loves to stir it all up!  We even get to make our own applesauce for this one, so I start by having Ethan help me to slice up the apples before I warm them on the stove in a bit of water until they're soft, then we mash them up using a potato masher.

Apple Cinnamon Overnight Oats
1 cup oats
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 cup applesauce
dash of cinnamon

Once the applesauce has cooled we can start getting together the rest of our ingredients.  We measure out the oats, yogurt and applesauce in the cups, then add a bit of honey to the yogurt to sweeten it up a bit and a bit of cinnamon to the apples for a lovely flavour.  Then Ethan gets to mix it all up in the bowls and put it into the fridge to set overnight.

The next morning the kids are excited to eat the breakfast that they made the night before, especially when it's got applesauce in it (which they both love!)  This recipe does make quite a thick bowl of oats as I find it's less messy for Ivy and easier for her to get on the spoon, but I added a bit of milk to Ethan's in the morning to make his more smooth.  I love overnight oats because it isn't an exact science, you can easily experiment with slightly different quantities to find the ways that each member of the family likes it best.  And it's so quick to grab these bowls out of the fridge and ready to eat for everyone, so that we can get out the door and be on time for school!

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Flower Themed Teacher Gifts

Ethan's just finished up his time at his very first nursery to go on to preschool, a very emotional change for me but one that he is very ready for.  Of course we need to show our gratitude to his very first teachers, but on a very limited time schedule we had to come up with some simple gifts that we could make during a busy week.  Nothing shows gratitude better than flowers, so we went with a simple flower theme for our thankful crafts.

We started with a card for all of the teachers, Ethan chose to make an orange flower hand print.  He painted his hand and placed it on the paper to make his print, he's so much better at this now, no more wriggly fingers like when he was a toddler!  

Then we drew on a stem and wrote 'Thank You for helping me grow' on the card.  We also wrote a nice message inside and Ethan signed his name.  Of course we gave the card along with the best flowery chocolates we could find, some Cadbury Roses.

Then for Ethan's main teacher (key worker) he chose her a plant and we decorated a plant pot for her.  He used these foam stickers to make the plant holder look pretty and match with the lovely flowers.  We bought her a card to go with them, as it was a really cute one with space for Ethan to draw a picture of himself with her on the front.

He was so sweet handing out the gifts to the teachers at nursery, I think in some ways he's still too young to really understand what's happening, but he is always happy to give someone a gift, and I love that about him.

* This post contains affiliate links. *

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Back to School Tutoring

It is nearly time for the kids to go back to school and for some children it can be quite a stressful time if they don't feel confident in their abilities and their knowledge of the subjects that they're learning.  This is when having a tutor can really help to prepare your child and bring them up to the level of the rest of the children in their class, and make them feel much happier about going back to school.  If you are looking for a tutor but don't know where to start, there's a great website called Tutorfair which makes finding a suitable tutor quick and easy.

Over the summer a lot of children forget all about what they've been doing in school and spend their days playing outside, which is extremely beneficial to them in so many ways.  I am a huge advocate of learning through play and discovery and I think that kids learn so much over the holidays that they can't learn in a classroom. However, they can suffer from summer learning loss simply because they aren't reading their school books and having the concepts that they've been learning in school reinforced every day.  I have no doubt that most parents encourage their children to keep reading, to take part in library programs, to do some fun maths workbooks and to do plenty of learning and discovering whilst they're on holiday, but it's impossible to keep up with everything that they've been covering at school.  

There are also situations where that extra help can really get your child starting off on the right foot.  Ethan's starting at a new preschool this year, and whilst I'm not worried about his knowledge level as it is only preschool, I can see how changing schools can have such a massive effect on your child socially.  I would feel better knowing that my little boy is starting off at the same level academically as the children in his new school, so that he could spend those first few weeks focusing on making friends and finding out where he fits in and less time worrying and fretting over taking part in class because he doesn't know what's going on.  A couple of sessions of tutoring before going back to school couple make a huge difference for a child's confidence in the classroom.

That's where tutoring can come in to fill the gaps, with a qualified tutor who is familiar with the curriculum and can come in and continue your child's' learning wherever they left off. And Tutorfair makes it easy to find a suitable tutor for your needs, you simply enter your postcode and the subject that you're looking for help with and up pops a list of all the tutors in your area that can help with that subject.  You can then go through the list yourself and read all about the various tutors qualifications, experience and how much they charge per hour.

And what makes Tutorfair unique is the fair part; for every child who pays they give free tutoring to a child that can't.  From my experience working as a teacher at various schools around London I can't tell you how happy this makes me to hear this.  There are so many children that could benefit from that extra bit of tuition to really help them to achieve great things, and every child really does deserve that opportunity.  So if I can help other children just by having my own child tutored, then that's a great place to start.

Kids are like little sponges, they just learn so quickly, especially when they are taught one on one.  When I worked as a teacher (before the kids were born) I used to do some tutoring on the side as well, and the difference in the children's ability to absorb information when I tutored them compared to teaching them in a classroom was astonishing to watch.  From working with a child one on one I was able to really get them up to speed quickly, so if you've still got a week or two until school starts it really isn't too late to start the preparation process.

"The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today."  
H. Jackson Brown Jr

* This is a sponsored post written in collaboration with Tutorfair. *

Family Days Out in London

We are so very lucky to live in London as we get access to so many different activities and days out for the kids.  I actually still manage to miss out on loads, so I'm always reading about others suggested days out in London, but thought it was about time that we shared some of our favourite things to do in our favourite city.

Parks / Outdoor Activities

We love the London Wetland Centre there are so many different types of birds to see, as well as plenty of educational activities and a fantastic play area!

Often when we're in a different part of the city for a specific event we try to find something fun for the kids to do as well, so we were very excited to discover Spitalfields City Farm after a morning of grown up activities, as it gave Ethan a chance to really run around and explore.

Kew Gardens is one of those places that can often be overlooked, but it really is a fantastic place for kids as it's just massive and they really have lots of space to run freely.  There are also things like the treetop walkway that just can't be missed.

Another recent discovery we made on a busy day out is Coram's Fields.  It's a fabulous place for kids to play with playgrounds for different age groups, sand and water play areas, a few animals to look at and a cafe.  It's completely enclosed and safe and the perfect place to run around on a busy day.  Ethan absolutely loved the zip line!


We love to go to the Southbank and they've often got different art installations that you can take part in, like the Books About Town benches last summer and the Shaun the Sheep ones earlier this year.  There's also the London Eye, The London Dungeon, The SeaLife London Aquarium and Shrek's Adventure.  We've taken Ethan to the aquarium and he absolutely loved it!  The Eye and Dungeons are definitely for older kids, and Shrek's Adventure is for slightly older kids (they recommend for 6 and up) but I had the opportunity to have a sneak peek at a blogger event and it's so much fun, I can't wait to take the kids!

You can also take a Big Bus Tour to see the see on and open topped bus!  It's not just for tourists, all kids love buses and this way they can learn about the sights of the city as you travel around.  I went on one recently for a blogger event and can't wait to take the kids now!


Ethan absolutely loved the London Transport Museum and any little bus and tube fan would too!  We've also had a few fun days out at the Science Museum and Natural History Museum as they're so close to each other.  Who wouldn't love to do some scientific discovery and see dinosaurs on the same day!

Theme Parks / Fairs

Even though they are slightly outside of London, I can't help but mention Chessington World of Adventures and Legoland because we just love them so much!  But we also love a big London fair, and we go to Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park each year.

Indoor Play / Soft Play

On a rainy day we love to make crafts at home or somewhere fun like The Pottery Cafe which has several locations around London.  We also go to soft play sometimes and are big fans of the big indoor play centres like Snakes and Ladders as we really can spend a whole day there.

Shows / Plays

Ethan loves to go to the theatre and we've been lucky enough to see quite a few shows, the most recent being The 3 Little Pigs which I'm still singing the songs from!  We've also loved The Tiger Who Came to TeaUp and DownRoom on the BroomThe Gruffalo Live and In The Night Garden Live.  It's just such a fantastic experience to see our favourite stories come to life, and we're always looking for more productions to see.

There are just so many things to see and do in London that we just don't have enough days to do it all, so we're always open to suggestions.  What have we missed out on?

For a look at some of our favourite days out have a look at our Pinterest board:

Follow Play & Learn Everyday's board Days Out with the Kids on Pinterest.

* Some of the places included in this post were originally part of review posts, but all opinions are my own.*

Monday, 24 August 2015

The Handmade Fair

I was lucky enough to go to The Handmade Fair last year and had a lovely time exploring all of the different craft stalls with a few other crafty bloggers and getting loads of inspiration for crafts to do myself.  I'm really looking forward to going again this year!

If you don't know about The Handmade Fair already, it's an event put on by Kirstie Allsopp that encompasses all different types of crafting.  It takes place from the 18th-20th September at Hampton Court Palace.  There are craft stalls selling all sorts of craft supplies as well as finished handmade items.  There are also skills workshops where you can make a selection of different crafts, from papercraft to sewing and everything in between.  You can also learn about a variety of crafty pursuits at a session in the super theatre, where you can hear from Kirstie herself as well as some other craft experts!

Image courtesy of The Handmade Fair
There is so much to do at The Handmade Fair that you really have to plan your day in advance to make sure that you get to see and do everything, so I highly suggest that you buy tickets early and pour over the website to plan your day.  And the best part is that I get to give you a discount code to buy tickets!  

Image courtesy of The Handmade Fair
Go to The Handmade Fair tickets page and enter the discount code PLED12 to get an entry only ticket for £12 (instead of £15) or enter the code PLED27 to get a full experience ticket for £27 (instead of £29) **booking fees apply

Image courtesy of The Handmade Fair
Please come back and leave me a message if you go, I can't wait to hear about all of the fabulous crafts that you've made!

* This is a collaborative post, The Handmade Fair have provided me with tickets to the event last year and this year, but all opinions are my own.*

Friday, 21 August 2015

WOW Playmat Giveaway

We've been busy settling into our new home and making it a house to play in.  I've shown you Ivy's starry bedroom, Ethan's jungle bedroom and our playroom and now we get to give something fun away!

We've got this great playmat from WOW Toys that we use in the playroom and the kids rooms as it's so easy to move around the house and is so much fun to play with using all of our WOW vehicles.  Ethan can be using his diggers in one corner at the construction site and Ivy can be driving the school bus around the school in another corner.  It is such an easy way to keep them busy playing for ages and I love that it suits them both so well.  You can enter below to win one yourself and have as much fun as we're having in our house to play in!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

* This is a collaborative post, we were given a playmat from WOW Toys to review and one to give away.*