Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Ladybird Tuesday - Girls and Boys, A Ladybird Book of Childhood

It's that strange time of year between Christmas and New Year, and I'm cheating a little bit with my Ladybird Tuesday post today. I'm going to look at a book which I received as a Christmas present - Boys and Girls: A Ladybird Book of Childhood. Although it was only published in 2007 it seems to be currently out of print. My Mum managed to track down a second hand copy for me, which is in excellent condition.

Girls and Boys A Ladybird book of Childhood

It's a large, hardback book, and it's divided into chapters which reflect many of the topics that the Ladybird books are famous for - including 'at home', 'things to do' and 'special days'. It is stuffed full of vintage illustrations from the books and unedited full page extracts, featuring the familiar Ladybird typeface. It's the sort of book that you can dip in and out of rather than read through in one go.

Girls and Boys A Ladybird book of Childhood

At the end there is a short introduction to the Ladybird Key Words Reading Scheme, and a complete list of all the Ladybird books published, divided by series, from the 1940s to 1980s. During this time, 646 Ladybird titles were published, in 63 series.

I'm slightly too young to have enjoyed a true Ladybird childhood. For me, the nostalgia in Ladybird books comes from memories of reading the older books, and having them read to me, when I was little. A great deal of the book did strike a chord with me though.

A large number of the pages are titled after different types of experience or activity, with a list of things that would have been noticed by a child. My favourite page is titled 'being ill', accompanied by a picture of a small child in bed cutting out pictures from a catalogue. Some of the things on the page - 'My bedroom looks different in the daytime', 'Lunch on a tray', 'A box of tissues and a bucket by my bed' and 'Fall asleep even though it's light' - reflect perfectly things that I remember from childhood. It's a real nostalgia fest.

A Ladybird book of Childhood Girls and Boys

There are also short articles contributed by famous Ladybird book fans and a detailed account of themes found in the books and the volumes that are best known for reflecting them. It's a full and rich history of both Ladybird books and the period in history that they represent, and if you have an interest in Ladybird books I'd definitely recommend tracking down a copy - as a start there are several copies available through second hand sellers on Amazon.

A Ladybird book of Childhood Girls and Boys

If you're looking for another wonderful Ladybird related item I can also recommend Postcards from Ladybird which is a collection of 100 vintage Ladybird covers reproduced as postcards. I received them as a gift recently and use four of them in a small photo wall which I blogged about here.

 

Amazon links are affiliate.

Monday, 30 December 2013

Book review - What does the Fox say?

What Does the Fox Say? What Does the Fox Say? was a YouTube sensation, and the biggest trending track in 2013. Created by Norwegian comedy duo Ylvis, the video has received more than 278 million hits on YouTube. The lyrics to the song have now been published as a children's book.


I am familiar with the song as we tried to interest the children in it when we first saw it, although fortunately they didn't really take to it as I'm not sure that I could bear listening to it on repeat! This book takes the lyrics to the song, which are mainly nonsense it has to be said, and teams them with some lovely illustrations by Svein Nyhus. It's quite difficult to read this book aloud as a picture book if you're not familiar with the song, but if you have little ones that are fans of the song then they will love it.


I received a copy of this book to review. Amazon links are affiliate.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Christmas 2013

We've had a busy few days, and now Christmas is over. We had another lovely Christmas this year, spending the day at home and visiting friends and family on each side. We counted down to Christmas following the daily antics of our Elf on the Shelf which was definitely a hit with the little ones. Harry was well hyped up for Christmas, helped by all the activities that he took part in at school - the Nativity play, a trip to the pantomime, Christmas party and the carol service. I made two smaller gingerbread houses this year, one for each child, which they decorated themselves.

Gingerbread houses


On Christmas Eve we went out into the garden to watch the International Space Station fly overhead, made more magical by convincing the children that it was Father Christmas going past in his sleigh. Then we scattered reindeer food, and put out the stockings, mince pie and carrot.

They received one large present each - Harry a Playmobil cargo plane and Mia a dolls house - which they were absolutely delighted with. Then I kept their stockings small and simple, and of course they received presents from family too. They both received some lovely books which I'm looking forward to reading with them.

opening Christmas presents

Playmobil cargo plane

The surprise hit present of the day was a couple of tiny Hexbugs, which cost about £2 each. We hadn't encountered Hexbugs before, they are little robotic creatures that run about and are an absolute bargain for the amount of play value. Harry spent ages constructing a maze for them out of Duplo to run around in, and I can see lots more fun to be had.

christmas presents

And as for me, among my lovely gifts I was lucky enough to receive some crafty things that I'm looking forward to trying out!

craft kits

Our Christmas dinner is a little untraditional as we don't really eat meat so we don't go for a turkey. Instead we had roasted vegetables and party food. I don't want to spend Christmas cooking, so we go for easy options that just need to be heated up. Harry was beautifully behaved at the table, Mia a little more fidgety, but we still enjoyed a special family meal. We made our own crackers this year which were a big success, and a good way to use up some of those party bag fillers that we've collected through the year!

It has been lovely to spend some family time together, and we still have another week with us all at home, so I may be a little quiet over here for a few days, but I have plenty coming up, including some book giveaways, so keep an eye out!

I hope that all my readers enjoyed a lovely Christmas :)

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

The adventures of our Elf on the Shelf

Since he arrived at the beginning of the month, Elfiegoy and his antics have been a huge success. Harry and Mia loved hunting for him every morning, and were thrilled enough even to just see him move around from place to place. There were a few days though where I did get a little more creative, and here are some of my favourites:

When Ram and I arrived back from our surprise trip to Paris, Elfiegoy brought the children a note to say how well behaved they had been, along with some Christmas chocolates.

elf on the shelf ideas

I've seen lots of elves bathing in marshmallows so I thought this would be a fun one to try out, he looks very comfortable! I had to use a safety pin to attach his arms behind his back, fortunately as the children aren't allowed to touch him it wasn't obvious!

elf on the shelf marshmallow bath


Harry was beginning to wonder where all the Christmas chocolates were disappearing to after he had gone to bed, so he woke up one morning to discover the answer!

elf on the shelf eating chocolates

It was inevitable that Elfiegoy would get the Hama beads out at some point, here he is making a Hama bead Santa. I toyed briefly with the idea of having him tip all the beads out of the container, but that might have been going too far!

elf on the shelf hama beads

Finally, today was Elfiegoy's last morning with us. He appeared in the Christmas tree along with a note and two presents. The note read - "Dear Harry and Mia. I have had a lovely time staying with you this Christmas. Tonight it will be time for me to go back to the North Pole. I have left you a present to help you get ready for Christmas. Make sure that you have a bath tonight and wash your hair, and stay in bed until the sun comes up [on the Groclock] on Christmas morning, because you don't want to disturb Father Christmas! I will see you again next year, love from Elfiegoy." In the parcels were some new pyjamas for them to wear tonight, a Christmas tradition which I started last year.

elf on the shelf ideas

It's been a lot of fun having Elfiegoy to stay with us, I'm so glad that we started this tradition. It was a bit last minute, so next year I aim to be a lot more prepared and come up with some more fun things for him to do!

Did you have an Elf on the Shelf this year? What was the best thing that he got up to?

The Elf On The Shelf Takeover

Monday, 23 December 2013

Simple Childhood Christmas crafts

One of my favourite things about Christmas is all the crafting that goes along with it. I remember lots of Christmas crafting fun when I was growing up, and I'm having a great time re-visiting it all with my little ones. These are some of the favourite crafts that I remember from when I was little, all really simple and can be done with things that you have around the home.

Paper snowflakes

Use something circular, like a small plate, to draw a circle onto some white paper and cut it out. Fold in half a couple of times, then use scissors to cut out shapes from the folded paper. Unfold to discover a beautiful snowflake! You can experiment to see what types of cuts work best, and you might like to try folding the paper into six instead for a more authentic snowflake. Harry loved this activity, and produced a blizzard of snowflakes to stick up around the room.

You can try using different coloured paper, and then decorating with with felt pens, glitter or sequins. You could also make snowflakes from a dark coloured paper, and stick tissue paper on the backs to make sun catchers for the window. As a bonus, the tiny triangles all over your living room will make it seem as though it is really snowing! And if you want to take your paper snowflakes to the next level, try this fantastic paper snowflake tutorial.

Toilet roll and cotton wool snowman

I loved making these when I was little. Simply take an old toilet roll and cover with cotton wool. Use a larger ball for the head, or cover a ball of scrumpled up newspaper with cotton wool, then decorate with buttons, googly eyes, pom poms pipe cleaners or scraps of card.

Cotton wool and toilet paper tube snowman


Paper chains

We always made our own paper chains at Christmas when I was little. I think that we used to buy packs which came with a gummy edge to stick together, but I've also made them with old wrapping paper, stapled or sellotaped together. If you can't remember how to make them there is an easy tutorial here - how to make paper chains, they look so festive strung around the room!

Stained glass window decorations

When I was growing up, our front door was made up entirely of glass panels. Every year my Mum would lead us in creating a stained glass window display. There must have been at least twenty panels, and each one would have it's own design cut out from card and backed with coloured tissue paper. It looked fantastic when the light from the hallway was shining out! Our front door is entirely solid with just some frosted glass so it doesn't work in our house, but you can easily make stained glass patterns and pictures for any window in the house. Just use a craft knife to cut out your design, and scraps of tissue paper to cover it on the back.

Gift tags made from old Christmas cards

I always save my old Christmas cards and cut them up to make gift tags for the next year. I even bought a pair of pinking shears especially to add a little bit more interest. Since having the children I've also used old Christmas cards to make new cards and collages.

Gift tags made from old Christmas cards



What Christmas crafts do you remember from your childhood? I recently asked some of my friends to share their favourite Christmas crafts and you can find lots more ideas here - Classic Children's Christmas crafts.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

The end of Harry's first term

It has come round so quickly, and on Friday Harry broke up for Christmas. I can't believe how well he has come on. In terms of his learning, he has gone from not even recognising all his letters to reading books with proper words in. I don't know how he compares to his classmates, but I'm certainly impressed with how well he's doing. He also looks so grown up now, and so at home in his school uniform. He's had a busy week, with a Christmas party, a trip to the pantomime and a carol service, and I'm sure that he's ready for a break - although he will insist on being kept occupied!

I remember reading a post from Trouble Doubled a little while ago which I enjoyed very much - The end of term art bundle - and today Harry brought own his very own first art bundle. We had a great time looking through it and it was lovely to find some of the things that he's been working on, especially his painting and drawing. They also do a lot of work on the computers which is good to see. Fortunately I'm fairly ruthless when it comes to keeping artwork, so I've had a good sort through and only kept the pieces which I particularly like or which I remember him talking about after school.

school art bundle

So his uniform is in the wash, lunch box away in the cupboard, and now we have two weeks of school holidays, with Christmas preparation and crafting, probably far too much indulgent food and time to spend with family.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Simple paper plate Christmas wreath

These paper plate Christmas wreaths are a really simple Christmas craft for children, and would also make a great project for a large group of children. You might even be able to find some green paper plates, which would make them a lot easier and quicker to make!

Paper plate Christmas wreath craft

You need:

Paper plates
Green paint
Green glitter
Glue
Bits and pieces to decorate - we used red and white pom poms, cut up pieces of green pipe cleaner and scraps of green paper and tissue paper
Ribbon to decorate and hang

Instructions:


Making these wreaths is a two step process, as you need to wait for the base layer of green paint to dry. If you don't have time to wait for them to dry, you could leave out the paint layer and just collage the decorations on to the wreath. I like to paint first because I find that little ones often don't have the patience to cover the entire wreath, and the green underneath looks nicer than plain white.

First, cut the centres out of the paper plates. I find the easiest way to do this is to fold the paper plate lightly in half and cut out the middle that way. Then paint with thick green paint. While the paint is wet you might want to sprinkle some green glitter across them before it dries for a glittery finish.

Then when the paint is dry, stick the collage materials all over the wreath. I found some ribbon in my ribbon stash to make a bow for the top, then we used BluTak to stick them to the doors of the children's bedrooms, you could also punch a hole in the top and use ribbon to hang them from a door or the Christmas tree.

Simple paper plate Christmas wreath

A lovely decoration for your child's bedroom door this Christmas!

Friday, 20 December 2013

When chicken pox struck

We've been dreading chicken pox for years. We actually thought that Harry had already had it, especially as he had survived it doing the rounds for years at nursery and pre-school. But I tucked him up in bed as normal one evening, then when I went in to kiss him goodnight later, he was red hot. We managed to get some Calpol into him, and as we did so we saw the first spot. There was no doubt this time, it was a proper blistery spot.

Fortunately I think he got off quite lightly. He got lots of spots, but they didn't seem to bother him. He was very tired, but was happy to just lie on the sofa and watch television for a couple of days. He was a bit freaked out by the spots though and he didn't want anyone to see them, I had to get him dressed with both our eyes shut. This meant that he refused to go in the bath or put on any calamine cream, but luckily he didn't seem to suffer with any itchiness.

Then we were in limbo, knowing that there was an excellent chance that Mia would get it, and sure enough, almost exactly two weeks later, I found the first spot after her bath. Poor little Mia really suffered. We had to take her to the emergency doctor because two days later her eyes had swollen and she couldn't open them - he diagnosed infection and prescribed anti-biotics. Fortunately, although miserable, it was a fairly short-lived illness, and the next day she was feeling much better, and up and about like usual.

So we are left feeling enormous relief now that particular childhood milestone is out of the way, although I do keep hearing horror stories of children that get it over and over again!

toddler with chicken pox

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Book review - Meet the Parents

Sometimes I find a children's picture book that really resonates with me, and I know that we'll be reading it over and over. The Paper Dolls was one, and Meet the Parents by Peter Bentley and Sara Ogilvie has become another.

Meet the Parents book review

The story takes the form of a rhyme, sympathising with children that often all that parents seem to do is nag them and tell them what to do, which isn't much fun for little ones. But then it goes on to explain some of the other things that parents are good for - like helping to build train tracks, pretending to be a horse, acting as towels for grubby hands and of course giving plenty of cuddles and kisses.

I think what made this book so appealing to me was the wonderful illustrations. They reflect familiar scenes from our house beautifully. I think that my favourite is poor old Mum, buried under two kicking children on the sofa in almost the exact position that we were in while I was reading the story - that made Harry grin! I also loved the Dad holding up the den for the children playing inside while he was reading his book, and the Mum who ends up like a donkey, carrying shopping, teddy, toddler and scooter, which was also me earlier this week! The facial expressions are just perfect, from annoyance and resignation, to sheer joy and delight.

Meet the Parents book review

I'm hoping that reading this book will make the little ones see that we have to put up with a lot from them too, I know that Harry spotted a few familiar scenes in it. I would absolutely recommend this book for parents reading to small children, it's brilliant!

Meet the Parents book review

Meet the Parents will be published on 2nd January 2014.

 

I received a copy of this book to review, Amazon links are affiliate.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Hama bead snowflake bunting

I started making this Hama bead snowflake bunting ages ago, but I only got around to actually hanging it up this weekend! I love how Hama beads look, but the trouble is that you can easily end up with lots and lots of creations and nothing to do with them. Making Christmas decorations means that you can display and enjoy them regularly, and Hama beads are so versatile that you can make all kinds of things.


These Hama bead snowflakes could also be used for coasters at Christmas time, or you could just stick them up around the house for some seasonal decorations, or perhaps on a window in lieu of some real snow!

Hama bead snowflake bunting


The Hama bead snowflakes on this bunting are made using the small hexagon and small circle pegboards. I loved coming up with the different designs, I do like making symmetrical patterns and the pegboards lend themselves perfectly to snowflakes. Here they are ironed and ready to go:

Hama bead snowflake patterns


I used a large needle to thread them onto some thin red cord, threading through the holes created by the melted beads. I find that the sooner after ironing the better, as the beads are softer when they are still slightly warm. I threaded through two holes across the top so that they would lie nicely flat. I always struggle to find somewhere to hang bunting, but Harry spotted the perfect place, across the front of our fire guard (please note that we never use this fireplace, you should not hang any type of bunting above a fire that is in use)

Hama bead snowflake bunting


I think it looks really festive, and the blue and white are a lovely contrast to the other Christmas colours that we have in our decorations.

If the pictures aren't clear enough to see the pattern, here are the designs that I used for my Hama bead snowflakes.

Patterns for Hama bead snowflakes



You could also take out the background and make these as standalone snowflakes. They would need to be well ironed so that they didn't fall apart, but then I think they would look lovely as hanging decorations for the tree. You can also buy sparkly Hama beads that would work really well for decorations.

All my Hama bead crafts can be found here - Hama bead crafts page

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Ladybird Tuesday - The Rocket

I think that I may have got a little carried away when I found How it Works - The Rocket in a big box of vintage Ladybird books. It's not a subject that I know a huge amount about, and for a children's book it's very complicated!

Vintage Ladybird book The Rocket

How it Works - The Rocket is part of Series 654. There are some fascinating sounding books in this series, including The Aeroplane and The Ocean Liner. Although rather dated now - The Rocket was published in 1967 - I'm sure that many of the fundamentals are still the same and the information is still relevant to budding engineers today.

How it works The Rocket Ladybird

Although it was imminent, this book was written before the first Moon landing. The rockets described in this book are not just used for space travel, they are the rockets launched on Guy Fawkes night, boosters in fighter aircraft, to send equipment to ships in trouble and as missiles. Rockets at the time the book was written were also used to send satellites into orbit, sometimes for scientific purposes such as measuring radiation, for radio and television, or for studying weather.

The Rocket How it Works vintage Ladybird

The book goes into a great deal of detail about how the rocket is propelled into space. We learn about the principes of rocket propulsion, types of propellant, combustion chambers, valves, injectors...I'm afraid that even though I tried to follow it, a great deal of this book went well over my head!

I'm glad to find that it's not just me that found this book complicated. Being Mrs C, who is a lot more knowledgeable about this subject than me, has also written about this book and you can read her post here - The Rocket.

I'm joining in with Ladybird Tuesday at Being Mrs C, you can find all my previous Ladybird Tuesday posts here.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Review - Galt toys craft kits and Pirate Pursuit board game

Galt toys are a brand with 175 years experience in toys and education. They produce all sorts of different toys and games, including craft, science and puzzle toys, and I was offered the chance to review some of the different things in their range. I am particularly familiar with Galt because we've been given some of their craft kits in the past. Knowing how much my children love this kind of thing, I chose an Activity Pack Value Bundle. Currently on sale for £23.95, I think that it represents excellent value. It contains six different activity packs, and they are great to have in the cupboard for rainy afternoons, as well as being fantastic stocking fillers or birthday presents.

Galt toys activity pack value bundle review

I knew that Harry would be fascinated with the idea of making his own bouncy balls, and I wasn't wrong. The kit contains some special granules and two moulds, one large and one small. We had enough to make three small balls and one large one, although we did have a bit of spillage. You just pour the granules (which also glow in the dark!) into the moulds, then place in cold water for a couple of minutes to set before removing and leaving the balls to dry out.

Galt toys bouncy ball craft kit review

Galt toys bouncy ball craft kit review

I was really impressed with how well this kit worked, as I must admit that I was a bit sceptical! The process was easy enough for Harry to make them himself under supervision, and the finished balls were solid, colourful and very bouncy!

Next we tried some plaster of Paris, which I've not done for years. The Cute Cupcakes kit includes the plaster, a mould and some paint and glitter. You need to find an old bowl and spoon for mixing the plaster. It mixed up easily, and Harry had a go at spooning it into the moulds with a little bit of help from me.

Galt toys cute cupcakes craft kit review

The moulds popped out easily and were ready to paint. The quality of the paint was very good, and in a pleasant selection of colours. There was plenty of paint and the moulds are reusable, so I may be buying some more plaster so that we can make up another set or two. I think that Harry did really well and he's so proud of his cupcakes.

Galt activity craft kits review

We haven't got to the other activity kits yet but I've had a look inside the boxes and I'm very impressed, I think they are great value for what is included.

We also received the Pirate Pursuit board game. The object of the game is to be the first to fill your loot bag with treasure, which you collect by moving around the board using a die.

Galt toys Pirate Pursuit board game review

Easy enough, until you land on a space marked with the pirate galleon! Then you wind up the pirate ship and it races around the edge of the board, ready to steal the treasure of the player whose colour it lands on! It makes the game really exciting for little ones, and I made a short video of the pirate ship in action:


It's a simple game, perfect for little ones like Harry that are just starting to play board games. Even Mia could play along for a short while - she tried to join in with throwing the die, although she really preferred just watching the pirate ship race around! Pirate Pursuit is currently on sale for £15.99, a price which I think compares very favourably to similar high quality board games on the market.

We received the Activity Pack Bundle and Pirate Pursuit board game to review.
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