Saturday, 16 December 2017

Minecraft Christmas baubles with Hama beads

I love making Christmas decorations, and one way to persuade the children to do some crafting with me is if I can give it a Minecraft theme! So we sat down to make some Minecraft themed Hama bead baubles for the Christmas tree.

How to make Minecraft Hama bead baubles

These Hama bead baubles are made using the Hama bead large square pegboard (affiliate link). I do have several circular pegboards, but I thought that using the square board would be easier to make the blocky characters. I made six baubles - a Creeper, a Sheep, a Pig, Steve, an Enderman and a Skeleton. It's easy to make all different characters, I found that you just need to work out the best place to put the eyes and then you can work from there.

Minecraft Christmas decorations with Hama beads

Once ironed I used some coloured string to make a hanging loop for the bauble. You should be able to use a needle to thread the string through a couple of the holes in the top of your design, and then they are ready to be hung on the tree!

Minecraft Christmas decorations on the tree

After Hama bead designs have been ironed I always place them underneath something heavy while they cool so that they remain flat. You can read some more ironing tips for Hama beads here.

How to make Minecraft Hama bead Christmas baubles

If you are looking for more Christmas crafts using Hama beads you can find my Christmas Hama bead crafts round up here.

And if you enjoy crafting with Hama beads, you can find all my Hama bead crafts here

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Some Minecraft challenges for children this Christmas

Since my children were introduced to Minecraft a couple of years ago it has quickly become their absolute favourite activity. They play separately and together, and I'm always impressed with the complicated things that they build. With the Christmas holidays approaching I'm sure that their Minecraft time will increase, and they helped me to put together this list of Christmas related Minecraft builds and challenges in case there are any other Minecraft loving children looking for inspiration!

Christmas themed Minecraft challenges for children

* If you have a world in Minecraft that you add to then decorate it for the holidays. Make a Christmas tree or two and string up decorations, add wreaths to the front doors, piles of presents under trees.

* Build a full size Gingerbread House and decorate it both inside and outside.

* Build a giant snowman, don't forget to add a hat, scarf and gloves. You could even build a family of snowmen!

* Make a Christmas themed train or sleigh ride. Theme along the track with snowy decorations, a Christmas village, a forest of Christmas trees. Maybe even Father Christmas in his grotto at the end!

* Build a Christmas village with lots of little decorated huts and Christmas trees
* Recreate a Christmas market with lots of different stalls, an ice rink, a seating area for food and drink and maybe a ride or two.

* Design some snowflakes, you could have a go at some really large, intricate ones.

* Build Santa's workshop - a factory for making the toys, accommodation for the elves, a shed to keep the sleigh, stables for the reindeer and so on.

* Build a huge Christmas tree with tinsel, lights, baubles and other decorations, and don't forget a huge pile of presents to go underneath.

* Build a winter wonderland through the forest.

* Try some pixel art with some huge Christmas themed designs, maybe some of your favourite Minecraft characters with a festive twist like a Santa hat.

* Build a fireplace for Father Christmas to come down, don't forget to add stockings.

* Build a ski slope, you could also add a lift to take skiers to the top and chalets.

* Build an igloo, experiment with different shapes and designs.

Happy Christmas Minecraft-ing!

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Review - Snow White pantomime at the Pavilion Theatre, Worthing

Last night we were invited to the Pavilion Theatre in Worthing to see this year's pantomime - Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The pantomime stars Chesney Hawkes, with CBeebies Swashbuckle double act Joseph Elliot and Richard David-Caine, and joined by Cassie Compton as Snow White and Niki Evans as the Wicked Queen.

Snow White pantomime at Worthing Theatres with Chesney Hawkes
Photo credit - Simon: Vervate Photography

We had a great night, and once again, Worthing Theatres put on a fabulous show. The singing was brilliant with some fab music choices, the dancing was perfect and the casting was spot on.

The children found the entire show hilarious, in fact at one point I thought that Harry was going to fall of his seat as he was laughing so much! He loved both the jokes and at the slapstick comedy. Mia's favourite part was the classic messy baking scene with plenty of water pistol action that sent Harry hiding under his seat! Mia also loved the fairy, and they both got really involved with the audience participation, booing and hissing along. There was plenty of humour for the adults too, which of course goes straight over the heads of the children watching. We all had a great night and I'd definitely recommend it!

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Worthing Theatres
Photo credit - Simon: Vervate Photography

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs runs from Friday 1 December 2017 until Monday 1 January 2018 with two showings per day and three on Christmas Eve. To book tickets you can call the Box Office on 01903 206 206 or visit Worthing Theatres.

We received complimentary tickets to the pantomime in exchange for a review. Photo credit - Simon: Vervate Photography

Monday, 11 December 2017

Things that I love about Christmas

Things that I love about Christmas

I love this time of year, especially these last few days when the children have finished school, I've finished the shopping, presents and cards have been delivered, and most of the other preparation is done. So I thought I'd write a nice festive post with all the things that I love about Christmas!

Decorations - I love having the decorations up in the house. We have a gorgeous artificial tree, and the corner where it sits always looks so empty and bare the rest of the year. The mantlepiece looks much prettier with our homemade decorations on, and the banisters are the perfect place to display Christmas cards.

Fairy lights - It's so much nicer to sit and watch television in the evening bathed in a soft twinkly glow.

The Elf on the Shelf - I know, I know, he's not for everyone, but my children absolutely love getting up in the morning to see what the elves have been up to - even if all they've done is moved from one side of the room to the other. However I don't make a big thing about the children being spied on, and I don't share any photos to social media - it's just a bit of fun for the children!

New traditions - Although most people celebrate Christmas all families have their own way of doing things, and it can take a few years to work out your own traditions. For example - presents before or after breakfast? Does everyone sedately open present at a time, or do you go for a massive paper flinging frenzy? All food cooked from scratch or pre-prepared? It's nice when you've developed familiar routines that work for your family and you can start your own traditions.

The Gingerbread House - I'm not sure what inspired me to make my first gingerbread house (I suspect Pinterest) but since 2012 we've made them every year. We started off with one large house, then more recently I make two smaller houses for the children to decorate. I've found a recipe that works well and all sticks together nicely (you can read about how I make our gingerbread houses here) so they are easy to make and the children have a lot of fun with them.

Christmas music - Christmas has definitely begun when you hear Fairytale of New York on the radio! We always have our Spotify Christmas playlist on when we decorate the tree, when we open the presents, when we eat our Christmas dinner and whenever we are doing anything festive. I also love singing Christmas carols at the school carol service and on the village green on Christmas Eve.

The Nativity play - This year was probably our last traditional Nativity play, as the school have a carol service instead from Year 3. I've loved watching them over the years.

Christmas food - I must admit that we've already made an excellent start on the Christmas chocolates (there's generally a box open throughout December) and I do love a mince pie or two. We don't have a massive traditional Christmas dinner, but we do buy special food like cheeses and crackers and I love roasted vegetables with different sauces.

Finally, I think that my favourite thing about Christmas is all the memories from past Christmases. I have had so many happy times at Christmas in my life and it's lovely to have the memories triggered, whether by a particular song or carol, going to a certain place or eating a particular food.

What are your favourite things about Christmas?

Photo credit Annie Spratt via Unsplash

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Free printable Christmas resources from Mrs Mactivity

If you are looking for some festive activities to keep the children entertained in the run up to Christmas, I have some lovely free Christmas printables to share with you from Mrs Mactivity. 

This gorgeous printable Christmas bunting looks so bright and colourful and makes a lovely, simple Christmas decoration for the home or classroom.

Mrs Mactivity printable coloured Christmas bunting

I have it hanging above the fireplace in our living room and it looks so cheery and festive. You can also print the bunting out in black and white so that children can colour it in themselves, and it would look fab embellished with glitter or sequins.

Mrs Mactivity printable coloured Christmas bunting

Mia really loved the selection of fun Christmas colouring sheets with tracing words. Her favourite was the angel, and you can choose from lots more like a wreath and an elf. They are a lovely quiet activity for young children to keep them busy while you are getting on with the Christmas preparations.

Mrs Mactivity free Christmas worksheet with word tracing

Finally I really love this Advent Calendar printable. The pictures are very sweet and I can imagine using this resource in lots of ways - whether to make your own Advent Calendar or as a daily colouring activity. You could also cut out all the individual pictures and use them to make decorations or Christmas cards.

Mrs Mactivity free printable Christmas resources

To get your hands on these free resources, just visit the Mrs Mactivity Facebook page and leave a comment on the ones that you fancy, there are lots to see, and more are being added all the time. Have fun!

Friday, 8 December 2017

Visiting Hong Kong with the family

Best attractions in Hong Kong for families

Hong Kong may not be the first place that springs to mind when you are contemplating a family holiday, but having just return from a fab holiday to Asia with a week in Hong Kong and a week in Singapore, I thought I'd share some of the great attractions in Hong Kong that we enjoyed with our children. I've made a little video of our travels to Hong Kong too, which you can see at the bottom of the post!

Disneyland Hong Kong

I must admit that Disneyland Hong Kong was one of the main reasons that we chose to visit Hong Kong. We are big Disney fans and so we were confident that we would enjoy a visit, we are also quite proficient when it comes to visiting Disney parks, and we were interested to see the similarities and differences. Hong Kong Disneyland didn't disappoint. It's the smallest Disney park and there's only the one park on site. We spent two days there and rode all our favourite rides several times, as well as seeing the parades, shows and fireworks. It is easy to get to on the MTR, and the last stop is a dedicated MTR train to Disneyland which is really fun, it has Mickey Mouse shaped windows, Mickey Mouse shaped straps to hang on to, and little Disney statues as decorations.

We visited in late October, half-term holiday for us but term time in Hong Kong, so the park was fairly quiet, and we were also able to enjoy the Halloween decorations and festivities. One thing to note was that only a couple of the rides use fast track and the opening hours were quite short. It was open from 10am until 8pm, but many of the rides were only open from 11am until 7pm. This wasn't a problem for us but might be worth considering if you are planning a visit at a busy time.

For me it was the perfect Disney park - lovely warm sunny weather but not too hot, small in scale so not too much walking, a good mix of rides and attractions, and not too busy. All the cast members were super friendly and had free stickers to hand out to the children, there were a couple of excellent rides that were new to us like the Iron Man Experience and Mystic Manor, and lots of familiarity too.

Hong Kong Disneyland castle

Ngong Ping 360

The Ngong Ping 360 is a cable car that takes you to Ngong Ping village, situated on Lantau Island. There are other ways of reaching the village but we loved going up in the cable car. We found an offer on the main website and also on Klook where you can travel in one direction on a Crystal glass bottomed cabin which was fantastic. Once you are at the village there are lots of fun attractions. We climbed up to the Big Buddha statue, looked around the monastery, and went for a short walk out to the Wisdom Path. There were also lots of little shops to look around, it was a really lovely place to visit.

Hong Kong Ngong Ping 360 cable car

Victoria Peak and The Peak Tram

On our first day in Hong Kong we took the Peak Tram up to Victoria Peak for amazing views across Hong Kong. It was a Sunday and because it was our first day we didn't rush to get going in the morning, with hindsight we should have arrived first thing as it was quite busy and we did have to queue for quite a while. It's a lovely trip up to the peak and then you can take a walk to various viewing points or do a circular walk around the peak. There's a shopping centre at the top with several things to do as well as shops and restaurants.

Hong Kong view from The Peak

Hong Kong Park

Hong Kong Park is located at the bottom station of the Peak Tram, so it's easy to combine a visit. It's free to enter and there are some lovely playgrounds for children. We also spent quite a bit of time in the Aviary which is beautifully set out with lots of interesting birds and other wildlife to look for.

Hong Kong Science Museum

We always visit a science museum if there's one available, and the Hong Kong Science Museum didn't disappoint. The centerpiece is the Energy Machine which is like a giant marble run, the largest machine of its kind in the world. It runs every couple of hours during the day and is fascinating to watch. We visited on a Wednesday when entry was free and it was very quiet.

Hong Kong Science Museum

Hong Kong Museum of History

The Hong Kong Museum of History is located next to the Science Museum and was also free on Wednesday when we visited. It's a museum which takes you through the history of Hong Kong right up until the present day and was very informative. It was a good mix of information and interesting displays for the children, and we all learned a great deal.

Hong Kong History Museum

The Star Ferry

A ride on the Star Ferry is a great way to see the harbour from another angle as you travel from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon and back. It's quite a short ride but definitely a more interesting way to get around.

A Symphony of Lights Harbour Show

The Symphony of Lights harbour show takes place each night, it takes place at 8pm and the narration is in English on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. We watched from just outside the Hong Kong Cultural Centre and there was plenty of room to sit and enjoy.

Shopping in the markets

We spent quite a bit of time wandering around the markets, we always felt safe even in the evening. We found the prices very reasonable and it was quite easy to haggle. I bought sets of lovely embroidered purses, the children bought souvenirs like magnets, fans, keyrings and fidget spinners. The photograph below was taken in Ngong Ping village, which again was very reasonably priced for souvenirs.

Hong Kong shopping at Ngong Ping village

I hope I've inspired you to think about a holiday to Hong Kong with the family, we had such a great time and I'd really recommend it! 

I made a little video which includes all of these attractions here:

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Christmas gifts for children who love to travel

As a family we love to travel, and I'd like to think that we manage travelling with children fairly successfully! With Christmas coming up I thought I'd put together a little gift guide of bits and pieces that would be brilliant gifts for any adventurous children that are on your shopping list. They are all things that I've chosen myself, and in most cases they are things that we already own and I can recommend personally. Happy browsing!

Christmas gifts for children who love to travel

Please note that this blog post contains Amazon affiliate links.

For children that want to carry their own essentials

Trunki ride on suitcase - Our children love their Trunkis, and while I don't find them very practical for travelling on a plane (although they are fab for the airport) they are great for when travelling by car and the children love the responsibility of doing their own packing.

Pull along suitcase - A small pull along suitcase is very practical for older children, and I love this one that has a little seat belt on the front for a favourite teddy or doll.

Small rucksack - A small rucksack is perfect for hand luggage on the plane. Choose one with a zip so that you can keep everything safely inside, and small pockets on the outside are handy for frequently required items.

Bum Bag - Maybe not as fashionable as they once were, but a bum bag is brilliant for children to carry a few essentials out with them on a day trip - like some money, a phone or a snack - without having to worry about carrying a larger rucksack. Especially great for theme parks where you don't want to leave a bag in a locker.

Keeping children entertained while on the move

Kids Headphones - If your children will be using tablets or other electronic devices in a public place then you need some headphones. We've been using these ones for a few years now and they work brilliantly.

Pencil and Paper Games book - There are lots of different pen and paper books out there but I particularly love this one as it's a really good mixture of the classics and some new games. The games are played on tear out sheets, and there are plenty of pages. The games are also easy to replicate yourself on some blank paper.

Dobble - Card games are great for travel, and Dobble is particularly good as it appeals to both children and adults.

Travel 4 in a Row - Travel board games can be tricky as they sometimes have lots of small parts which can be difficult to keep track of, especially if you are trying to play in a car or airplane. It's worth looking for magnetic versions, or one like this 4 in a Row game where all the pieces can be kept reasonably contained.

Comfort for children on the go

Travel Pillow - We bought travel pillows for the first time on our most recent holiday and they made a big difference to how well the children slept on the flight. They've also used them in the car and they find them very comfortable. They are a little bulky to carry around, and so we use a carabiner to attach them to a rucksack to make them a little easier to transport.

Snack pots - When travelling with children you definitely need to take lots of snacks, and these screw top snack pots that fit together are perfect for snacks of all sizes.

Eye Mask - Not all children will find an eye mask comfortable, but for an older child who is used to sleeping in the dark this could be a lovely gift to help them sleep while on the move.

Foot Rest Pillow - I came across this while I was browsing and I'll admit that unlike most things on this list it's not something we own or have tried. But it looks like a brilliant way to keep a child comfortable on a flight as it allows them to stretch out their legs, and a small child would probably be able to sleep lying down.


Stocking fillers for travelling children - small yet useful

Small carabiners - These are brilliant for attaching things together so that they don't get lost. I recently used some for attaching neck pillows to rucksacks, they are also great for attaching teddies if they have a label loop, or holding some types of water bottle.

Luggage Tags - Choose something large and colourful, and if you are travelling with more than one child go for ones that can help you to easily identify the different bags.

Zippable plastic wallets - I give each child a small zippable folder to collect leaflets, postcards and other souvenirs. I also use them to corral pens, crayons and scrap paper.

Water Bottle -  If you get a bottle with a hanging loop then they are easy to attach to a rucksack or belt loop with a carabiner. Just make sure that you empty them before going through security at the airport, and then you can refill them on the other side. Great for on a plane so that children can sip during take off and landing, and to keep by the side of the bed to avoid spillage from knocking over a glass.

Books to inspire a love of travel

These books are too bulky to take along with you, but they are brilliant reference books to keep at home and browse when you are planning your travels!

Home decor for travellers

Large World Map - We have a large map poster up on the wall and it's great for helping the children to understand where we are in relation to the rest of the world and to see where we will be travelling.

Scratch World Map - There are various ways that you can track your travels, you could stick a pin in a map or you could try a scratch off world map to mark where you have been.

Illuminated Globe - A globe makes a lovely gift for a child who wants to learn about the world, it's a much better visual reference than a flat map and there are all sorts of different types available to suit the age of your child.

My Little Adventure bedding set - I love this bedding set which is decorated with the countries of the world.


Amazon links are affiliate. Photo credit Annie Spratt via Unsplash
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