Friday, 19 December 2014

Christmas Gifts for Teachers

As a teacher (currently stay at home Mom) I am very excited to be on the other side, and to get to give my first teacher gifts as a parent.  I know how hard they all work, and how much they've done to help Ethan settle into his first term at nursery, so I'm really happy to be able to show my appreciation.  It's also a great way to teach Ethan about gratitude and giving a little something special to people who are important to us.  


We wanted to make something a bit personal, but as there are so many teachers at Ethan's nursery I knew that he would lose interest if he had to create something for each of them.  So we went for 'drink and biscuits' theme gifts, choosing these cute red and white mugs, then filling them with treats (a candy cane, a chocolate spoon, cookies and a Starbucks gift card for Ethan's main teacher).


Ethan loved making the chocolate spoons, melting milk and white chocolate, dipping the spoons in the chocolate and then decorating them with sprinkles, chocolate stars and mini marshmallows.  Of course his favourite part was snacking along the way!  We also made them some yummy Snickerdoodle cookies (recipe from without definite reason) and pin wheel cookies (recipe from Tasty Kitchen).  

Monday, 15 December 2014

Christmas Gift List for Toddlers

This is a very fun Christmas for Ethan, now that's he's three he really understands what we're doing and is getting very excited for the big day!


Stocking Fillers


In Ethan's stocking this year there are going to be all kinds of things to keep him busy in the morning for as long as possible (as I suspect he'll be up from about 4am and the rest of us won't be quite ready to start with all the presents yet!)  So he'll be getting little toy cars, surprise packets and sticker books.


Of course it wouldn't be a stocking without a few treats, so he will be getting a few of these healthy Fruit Frollipops that we were sent to try.  They're yummy and 1 of your 5 a day, perfect!


Books

We have so many books, but I just can't help but buy Ethan more for Christmas, so as well as all of the Christmas books that he's getting as part of the 12 books of Christmas  he will also be getting a few other books that I'm sure he's going to love.

Toys


Of course it wouldn't be Christmas without toys!  Ethan got these lovely toys to review from Learning Resources as an early Christmas present, and he absolutely loves them (read our full review here.)


Another early gift for Ethan were these fun WOW Toys, a brand that we love already.  Their toys are always a hit in our house, I love that there are no batteries required but they have fun features that Ethan loves.  This is the Construction Crew set that includes Roll it Riley and Lift it Luke, giving Ethan the opportunity to make his own little construction site and pretend to build all sorts of things.



Another great gift idea for three year olds in craft supplies!  There are so many things that Ethan can make now, so it's always good to have lots of crafty bits in the house, play dough, coloured pencils, lots of paper, glue, paint and so many more things.  Getting messy and crafty is a great way to learn the skills that he'll need to start writing soon.



We were also sent this great game of Dotty Dinosaurs from Orchard Toys.  It's a fun game and a great way to help learn about colours and shapes, as well as the rules of games, such as turn taking!

Clothes

Ethan will be getting some clothes for Christmas as well, of course he will get his traditional pair of pyjamas on Christmas Eve, but he'll also get some fun clothes with his favourite characters on them (like Octonauts and Fireman Sam.)

From Santa

We can't forget the one thing that Ethan has asked Santa for, 'everyone from Frozen' so he'll be getting these Frozen figures, and I hope that he'll be very excited to open them!



* This post contains items that we were sent to review (the Fruit Frollipops, WOW Toys, Learning Resources Toys and Orchard Toys) as well as affiliate links. *

Sunday, 14 December 2014

12 Books of Christmas

Instead of our regular one book that we share for Our Sunday Storybook, this week I'm telling you about all of the lovely books that we're looking forward to reading for the next 12 nights in the lead up to Christmas!



This is one of our favourite Christmas traditions, I so look forward to starting our special Christmas book unwrapping and opening.  Of course it is just another thing that we do to get Ethan super excited, that boy is going to be exploding by the time Christmas comes!



For the first night Ethan and Ivy each got their own book to open, but for the rest of the nights they will have one book to share, which we'll read all together before bedtime.  The books that they can look forward to opening are:

What have you been reading this week?

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Christmas Elf Family - An Alternative to Elf on the Shelf

We absolutely love Christmas!!!  So, of course, I want to introduce my children to every Christmas tradition there could possibly be.  I've seen everyone doing Elf on the Shelf for the past few years and always thought that I would give it a try when Ethan was a bit older.  Now this year Ethan's 3, so it is a great age to start, but of course December 1st came and went, and I saw everyone else's brilliant elves popping up everywhere, and thought that I was too late to start.  But then I thought...Ethan doesn't know what anyone else on Facebook is doing, so really we could do our own little elf thing in our own little way, and he would be none the wiser!  Of course I was inspired by all the brilliant bloggers doing Elf on the Shelf fantastically, have a look at this compilation on Kids Activities Blog and by the Elf alternatives like Imagination Tree's Kindness Elves, and Little Page Turners' Christmas Mouse.


So we have a whole little elf family.  There's an Elf Mommy, and Elf Daddy, an Elf Boy and a Baby Girl Elf.  They all live in their little elf house (which is just a really cute house shaped gift box).  Ethan loves their house and likes to take the elves in and out and play with them.  My idea was to have elves that Ethan could play with and be a part of the process and the fun of seeing what they're up to everyday.  We didn't start with our elves on December 1st, but as it's 12 days until Christmas it was another perfect time to start.  Another way to get Ethan even more excited for the big day!


So, each day we get the elves out of their house, and there may be a clue in there as to what we're going to do that day.  Today Santa was also in their house with them, because we're going to visit Santa!  I told Ethan that we're going to visit Santa today, and so are the elves.  We also went out for a special breakfast first, so then it was Ethan's job to make breakfast for all of the elves.  I cut out little bowls for each of them, and he drew their breakfast (he decided that they were all having cornflakes.)  And then when he finished, he said that Santa needed breakfast too!  So we made an extra bowl and the elves shared their cornflakes with him.  I am loving our new tradition already!


* This post contains affiliate links *

Friday, 12 December 2014

Baker Ross Christmas Crafts - Review

We love Christmas!  And what better way to prepare for the big day than to make crafts.  Of course, my mind is everywhere with all of the other Christmas preparations that need to be done, and that is why I absolutely love the craft kits that Baker Ross sent us.  It means that everything that we need is right there, and the kids still have fun making seasonal crafts.



We started by making a few Christmas Gift Boxes with these kits when we had a friend over for a play date one day.  They were really easy to do, all we needed was to have some glue to stick some of the pieces on (but many of the pieces had sticky backs to make it even easier.)  Ethan made the Santa box and his friend made the snowman, both look adorable and will make great little boxes for a special gift for someone.



The next thing that we made was one of these Ceramic House Tealight Holders using these Glitter Porcelain Pens.  It was so easy for Ethan to use the pens to decorate the houses.  He just coloured as he normally would, then I put the little house in the oven to set the paint, and we were done!  You can even get your LED Tealights to put inside.



Finally we made some Stocking Cards decorating them with Glitter Bow Stickers and Mini Pom Poms.  Ethan made one for each member of the family to hang on the tree.  It was great for him to work on his fine motor skills peeling the backs off the stickers and to design and arrange them onto the stockings.

We love all the crafts from Baker Ross, I buy quite a few things from there as well.  All of the gifts that we made for family this year were made with supplies from there (mini canvases, calendars and ornaments to decorate.)  There are loads of things on sale now, and still time to have them before Christmas!

* This is a review post, we were sent these craft supplies from Baker Ross so that we could make some Christmas crafts and write an honest review. *

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Make Time to Play

This time of year things are so hectic and busy, there are cards to write, gifts to buy, and so many details to organise.  At least a few days a week I've spent lugging the kids around the shops to pick up different things, and today was no different.  It was a nice day, so I decided to take them to the park, as well as go shopping for the mugs that we need to make presents for Ethan's teachers.  I asked Ethan on the way out if we should go to the shop first or the park first, and of course he chose the park!  So off we went to the park, only to find that it was shut (due to uneven surfaces, but that's a whole different story).  So I apologised to Ethan but said that we would just go to the shop instead, and then asked if he would rather go to this shop or another option.  And his answer was, "I want to go somewhere that I can play."  And it actually broke my heart to hear him say it, because I realised that somehow I had forgotten the most important thing that we had gone out to do.


So I turned us around straight away, and even though it was in completely the opposite direction and even though it meant that we wouldn't be able to go to any shops today (I'll just order the mugs online), we went to the park.  It's one that's slightly further from our house, and we'd actually never been there before.  Ethan was thrilled to be at a new park, "Mummy there's a boat in the park!"  He ran in, so excited to explore all of the equipment (and to drive that boat!)  The park was virtually empty, because it was a bit chilly today, and I bet because other parents are rushing around getting everything ready for Christmas so they aren't out playing either.  So, Ethan's advice to you today, is don't forget to stop all that preparation for a little while, and make time to go out and play.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Room on the Broom Live - Review

We were lucky enough to get tickets to see Room on the Broom Live in the West End this past weekend, and we absolutely loved it!  It is one of Ethan's favourite stories, so as soon as we heard that the show was coming to London, I knew that we had to see it.  


As we were just settling down in our seats, the actors came onto the stage and started chatting and playing.  The show hadn't begun yet (or had it?) but they were running around playing hide and seek and involving the audience in their games.  Already they had Ethan's attention as he watched with wonder.  As soon as the witch appeared and the show really began, we were hooked.  

The combination of actors and puppets worked really well, the voices of the characters were fantastic and we loved the songs!  You found yourself singing along, even though it was the first time that you heard it.  The songs went so well with the show, and just told you more about the characters that wasn't included in the original story.


Ethan was a bit worried about the dragon being scary, so he sat on my lap when he knew that the dragon part was coming up.  But there was nothing to worry about at all, as the dragon was more funny than scary, and of course had a song of his own.  

The finale was fantastic, the broom was truly magnificent and we really did love the entire show from start to finish.  I think that for me it might have been my favourite children's play that we've seen so far.  Something about it was just magical!

If you're looking for a way to make Room on the Broom come to life in your own home, have a look at our Room on the Broom Story Sack.


* This is a review post, we were given tickets to see Room on the Broom Live to write our honest review. *