Thursday, 21 August 2014

A bracelet of story beads

I first encountered story beads on the blog Mudpies and Marmalade - Story Beads. It's a lovely post if you are interested in learning more about them. Basically, story beads are beads which are used as a prompt for telling stories, and they can be stored as a necklace or bracelet worn by the story teller.

I've been meaning to make a story bead bracelet for a while now, and I started collecting beads for it, but I'd been putting it off. I wasn't sure why at first, but then I realised it was because I was worried that I'd forget the stories associated with the beads. But I decided that it's not important, if I forget the stories I can just make up a new one! The stories can vary anyway according to the mood of the teller or the listener.

Story beads are also popular for helping children to remember famous stories like the Nativity or Thanksgiving. I've also discovered Great Story Beads, which are an amazing way of symbolising a story spanning 13.7 billion years. You can find plenty of fascinating information and ideas here - Great Story Beads.

story bead bracelet

I made my bracelet using some beads that I bought ages ago, and some that I received recently as part of some crafty goodies to review. The beads that I bought mainly came from the Brighton Bead Shop which I really love, I picked up some little silver charms that I like to represent certain things about me - an anchor for travelling, a feather for writing, a cupcake for baking. I was in Hobbycraft recently and noticed that they had a nice bead selection in there too, and that's where I bought the purple elastic that I used to string the beads together. Among other things, there is a little stone on the bracelet with a hole through it that I found somewhere, and an old bead that I found in the garden of our old house.

I deliberately made my bracelet while the children were around so that they could see what I was doing, and of course they both wanted to make one too. Luckily I had plenty of beads! Mia was happy just stringing away, but I encouraged Harry to think about the beads that he was using. I asked him what particular beads reminded him of, and I loved his responses. He chose one that had a large hole through the middle and said that it reminded him of a rabbit because they live in holes. He chose the sparkly ones because they reminded him of pirate treasure.

how to make a bracelet of story beads

They are pretty cool bracelets! I've told Harry that if he sees me wearing my story bracelet then it means that I'm in the mood for telling stories so he can come up to me and ask for one.

story bead bracelets


I thought that I'd find it difficult to come up with stories for the beads, but it's not hard at all. Sometimes my stories are based around things that we've done together, and the children love stories about themselves or children just like them. I've used them as a way of helping them to remember things that we've done. It's a similar idea to the storytelling bottle caps that I made a couple of years ago, and that Harry still asks for today.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Ladybird Tuesday - Little Red Riding Hood

Vintage Ladybird Little Red Riding Hood

The Ladybird book Little Red Riding Hood is from series 606D - Well Loved Tales. I think it's probably one that most of us owned at some point! According to the back of the book, the books are graded in reading difficulty, with Little Red Riding Hood being Grade 2.

Vintage Ladybird Little Red Riding Hood

The story starts as all fairy tales should, with "Once upon a time", and Little Red Riding Hood sets off on her familiar journey through the forest. It's not a long story, but they manage to stretch it all out very well to make a decent book of the tale. It has the familiar "What big eyes you have!" and so on, and of course there is a happy ending to the story.

Little Red Riding Hood

I love that this book is interesting enough for an adult to read to a younger a child, and then simple enough for children to be able to read themselves as they start learning to read. Some of the illustrations are pretty scary, and I remember I was never very comfortable myself with the idea of Little Red Riding Hood and Grandma being cut out alive from the stomach of the wolf, but it's a great re-telling of a classic tale.

I'm joining in with Ladybird Tuesday at Being Mrs C. You can see my previous Ladybird Tuesday posts here.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Lollibop 2014 at Hatfield House review

We had such a great time at Lollibop last year, and so I was really grateful that thanks to Little Tikes we received a family pass and the opportunity to experience the festival for a second year.

Lollibop 2014 review

The venue changed this year to Hatfield House. We arrived around half an hour before the festival opened, and had no problem driving into the car park and parking. Parking cost £10.

We headed first to Tikes Town by Little Tikes, very easy to spot near the entrance. It was a large fenced off area, filled with Little Tikes toys - cars, outdoor play equipment and smaller toys like play kitchens, cars and diggers. Children took turns to play in small groups, with a very short queue and smooth handover. We visited again several times through the day because the children loved it here so much, it was really well organised with loads for them to do. I even got to sit in an adult sized Little Tikes car!

Little Tikes Tikes Town at Lollibop 2014

Nearby we also enjoyed the Duplo area, where the children could build their own constructions and take them into a special tent where a computer brought their creations to life. This part was a bit hit and miss to be honest, but the children were very impressed and kept running back in with their latest models!

Lego Duplo at Lollibop 2014

The Thomas and Friends area was another very good part of the festival. If you could do without having your picture taken with Thomas then there were very few queues, and lots of little games that the children could play to win small prizes, like hooking a train and knocking down blocks.

Thomas and Friends at Lollibop 2014

We spent most of our day wandering around and exploring the different tents and activities, which we didn't find too busy. We spent some time watching chickens hatching from eggs in the Incredible Eggs tent, and making shapes from clay to stick to a tree in the National Geographic tent. In the Science Museum tent Mia held a bubble with some kind of cloudy gas inside and we saw some helium balloons being exploded.

One tent that we very much enjoyed was the Wizard School, with a Harry Potter theme. There were short queues for the children to make spiders, magic wands and a little pot of magic beans, and we were just in time to watch a magic show with Harry Potter and Hagrid. We also enjoyed the den making area, where we were provided with sheets and pegs, with ropes strung from trees to build between.

Review of Lollibop 2014 at Hatfield House

The Nintendo area had a cool slide which the children loved and a challenge where you had to collect stickers by doing different activities. We didn't manage it as the children didn't have the patience for it, but it did look like a lot of fun.

We arrived half an hour early at the main Lollibop Live stage to watch Justin Fletcher, easily the most popular performer, and we had a pretty good view. We were quite near the back but many people towards the front were sitting down on the provided benches and also there was a slight slope. We did still had to lift the children up to see though and it was quite uncomfortable with a large helium balloon in front of us that kept bopping us, so we didn't last the whole set.

I've read several other reviews of the day now, and everyone seems to have found different things to see. We spent all day there and felt that we'd seen it all, but I keep finding things that we missed, in particular the free Haribo passed us by this year! There is certainly plenty to do without watching any of the shows. We didn't spend any money at all once inside as we brought our own food.

Our only disappointment was the organisation of the Lollipalladium tent. I tried very hard not to promise anything in advance to avoid disappointment, but I did tell Harry that Andy Day from CBeebies would be there as he loves his dinosaur programme. Unfortunately the show was in the Lollipalladium tent, and it soon became clear that there was no way we were going to get in at all due to limited capacity and long queues all day. Fortunately our children weren't too bothered and we were able to distract them elsewhere, but I did see some upset people.

At the end of the day we found a face painting stand with no queue (included in the ticket price), so Mia had her face painted for the first time. She's never shown any interest before, but she loved it, she chose her design from the book and sat so still while the lady painted some pretty pink flowers. It looked really good!

Facepainting at Lollibop 2014

We had a great day at Lollibop and I would love to return next year. We didn't really see any of the shows but we still found plenty to do in the tents across the festival. But at £82.50 for a family ticket (advance price for two adults and two children) plus £10 parking I do think that Lollibop need to improve it somehow so that everyone can see the acts that have been advertised, as they are the main incentive for the cost of the ticket.

We received complimentary tickets to Lollibop, with big thanks to Little Tikes.

Review - Crafting materials from Viking

Recently I was invited to choose some craft products to review from Viking. After a look through the Viking website I found a huge range of art and craft supplies, suitable for both adult and child crafts. I was completely spoilt for choice!

We've been having a lot of fun with modelling clay lately, but the clay that we've been using has quite a firm texture and is too difficult for smaller fingers to manipulate. The ModelAIR modelling material is really light and almost puffy in texture, and much better for younger children. I chose a pack of bright colours which contains red, blue, yellow and white, so you can mix it easily to make any colour that you need.

It's not sticky at all and doesn't make any mess while you are using it, and then it just needs to be left out for a few days to dry. When it is dry it stays really light and soft to the touch. We've not tried, but I would think that you could paint it pretty easily. There is loads in the box too, we've had a couple of crafting sessions already, with friends too, and there is plenty left over for another day. The children made some fantastic monsters, a clown fish and then some food for the monsters to eat! The finished models were sturdy enough to play with too.

Viking craft materials modelling clay

I'm always crafting with felt, and we do get through it very quickly, so I was pleased to find a huge pack of felt. This felt bundle really is gorgeous. There are 100 sheets with four sheets each of 25 colours. The felt sheets are really, bright, vibrant colours and the felt itself is lovely and thick.

Viking art and craft supplies felt

We used some of the felt to make a monster land for the monsters to live in. I just used a green sheet for the base then we talked about the things that we wanted monster land to have. Harry decided that they needed nests to sleep in and Mia wanted a pond. Later on Harry wanted some snow so I cut out lots of small circles of white felt and we sprinkled them around, it looked really good!

Monster land made with coloured felt

Finally, we get through a lot of coloured card in this house, and so I chose a pack of 100 sheets of coloured card which will keep us going for some time. It's a lovely selection of colours, and although the description says pastel colours there are some nice bright shades in there too. I'm planning on getting my Cricut out for some more crafting soon, and this card will be perfect!

I received these products from Viking for the purpose of this review.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Hama bead elephants

This really has been a summer of Hama beads, and I've been enjoying them just as much as the children! As a #craftmerrily blogger I was sent lots of Hama beads and boards, including the Elephant pegboard which I have had my eye on for some time. I've been having a lot of fun coming up with some different designs.

This is the standard design which came with the set, Harry helped out with a lot of this one. This board does use up quite a lot of beads!

Elephant Hama bead

Then I changed the colours a bit to make a pink version of the elephant:

Pink Hama bead elephant

More confident now, I created a Hama bead Elmer elephant which I'm rather proud of, using a picture from the book as a guide:

Hama bead Elmer elephant

Finally, I made Mrs Jumbo from Dumbo! I wanted to try Dumbo himself but I think that the board is the wrong shape for him, you'd need to make his ears bigger.

Hama bead Mrs Jumbo from Dumbo

I now have a little parade of elephants across the top of our mantlepiece, and I keep thinking up new elephants that I want to make!

My Elephant pegboard was part of a Hama bead kit that we were sent by Craft Merrily. You can buy a pack of four pegboards at Craft Merrily which contains an elephant among other animals - Elephant, Giraffe, Lion and Camel Hama bead boards or you can buy a larger kit which contains these boards and others, along with lots of beads - Safari Hama beads giant gift box.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Our summer holiday so far

The summer holidays are flying by, and I'm starting to feel a bit anxious about running out of time! At the beginning of July I posted our Summer Holiday List, a (as I now realise rather ambitious) list of all the things that I wanted to do over the holidays.

We have been making fairly good progress so far, and I've been making a real effort to schedule things in. We've been doing a great deal of crafting, making good use of a wonderful bundle of crafty goodies that we received from the fantastic Craft Merrily. We've been Hama beading, loom band making and discovering Fimo.

children crafting with Craft Merrily

We've joined the Mythical Maze Summer Reading Challenge at the library and visited a couple of times so far. We've had a Roman themed day and taken a photograph for each letter of the alphabet. We've also played games in the garden, had plenty of barbecues and we're working on a magic show.

But I'm looking at the time that we have left, and it's disappearing fast. We are away for a bit towards the end of the holiday, and along with meeting up with friends and family and other local events that are on, it all seems very busy. I'm ridiculously worried that I'm going to feel like I've failed if we don't complete the list, even if we have had a great summer.

Do you have a summer list? How are you getting on with it?

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Review - Trunki PaddlePak and Ella's Kitchen snacks

We are big fans of Trunki. Each child has a Trunki suitcase (you can read my review here), and they love packing them and taking them along when we go away for the weekend or on holiday.

Recently I was sent a Trunki PaddlePak to review, filled with a selection of picnic treats from Ella's Kitchen. The PaddlePak is a small backpack, available in a wide range of cheerful, fun designs. I chose the Ribbit design from the Trunki website as I knew that it would appeal to both children. All PaddlePaks are water resistant, making them great to use as swimming bags or for taking along on days out where you might encounter water from outside (like rain, waves or puddles) or water from inside (like wet clothes or leaking drinks!).

Trunki PaddlePak review

We took the PaddlePak along as we ticked off another item on my Summer Holiday List - a picnic in Highdown Gardens with some friends. Highdown Gardens is a beautiful spot, just outside Worthing in West Sussex. The gardens have plenty of space for children to run around and some lovely flat lawns for picnics. The children played in the artificial pools near the larger fish pond and hunted for sticks and leaves, then ran around the Chalk Gardens while the Mums sat down for a catch up. Then the children joined us, and we sat down to eat our picnic.

Picnic with our Trunki PaddlePak

The PaddlePak is very light and comfortable to carry, and has plenty of room inside. I was the one mainly carrying it on this occasion, and I found it easy to hold with a small handle at the top.

The opening is a bit unusual. It has a very wide open top, and then to close it you fold it over three times and secure it in place with a child safe buckle. Once you've seen how it works it's very easy to do, and small children can open and close it easily with plenty of room to access the things inside.

There is a little zipped pocket on the bottom for small items and a rather clever clip on one strap which can be used for attaching things like sunglasses or a sun hat. The shoulder straps are adjustable and fitted both children well. The PaddlePak would be great for all sorts of things - school day trips, as a swimming bag, taking things to visit friends for a day or for using on day trips.

Trunki PaddlePak features

We also enjoyed our Ella's Kitchen snacks on the picnic. They are aimed at toddlers aged 12 months plus, and perhaps suited a little better to younger children, as mine are used to snacks with a little more flavour to them. Mia did enjoy The Yellow One fruit smoothie pouch, which is a nice handy container for taking out and about. The Cheddar and Leeks Multigrain Wheel snacks were popular with the younger toddler in the group, and the Raisin and Spelt Cookies also went down very well. With such a wide range of tastes and flavours in the range there is plenty of choice for parents with young children that have just started on solid food, I know that even now I always carry some sort of snack in my bag for those tricky moments when a small child needs something to eat, and there are some great choices here.

We had a lovely day out!

You can follow Trunki on Facebook to keep up to date with all the latest news.

I received a Trunki PaddlePak to review filled with a selection of treats from Ella's Kitchen.
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