Tuesday 26 July 2016

Making letter formation cards for the summer with Fellowes

The summer holidays are now in full swing and like most parents I'm busy thinking of things to do to entertain the children for the next few weeks. Recent research from Fellowes* has shown that I'm not alone - 46% of the 1000 parents surveyed admitted that they found it stressful trying to think of activities for their children to do. Not to mention the fact that all these activities often end up costing a lot of money - something that almost 47% of those surveyed listed as their top worry.

I'm really looking forward to the summer holidays and I love coming up with things for the children to do, trying to save money wherever possible. It is hard work though having both children at home all day, and although I'm fortunate that I don't need to worry about finding extra childcare I'll definitely be joining the 52.6% of people that will be facing additional cleaning and decluttering!

If you are looking for some fun crafts for the children then the Fellowes Ideas Centre contains lots of craft and activity ideas, learning aids, resources and suggestions for days out. There are some great printables, like these really sweet dress up dolls and this fab pinwheel craft for the garden.

The Twinkl website is also a great resource for summer holiday activities. In particular with Mia I'm going to be working on her handwriting over the summer as it's an area that needs work, and so I printed out these letter formation flash cards (Twinkl subscriber resource) which I cut out and laminated to make them wipe clean. She can use them over and over to practise her letters whenever she feels like it! Here's a little video showing how easy it was to make them with a paper cutter and laminator:

Here's to a fun summer!

*The survey results represent the findings of 1003 respondents from across the UK and was carried out among parents with children aged 4 - 8 years.

I met Fellowes at BritMums this year, and I will be working with them over the summer to showcase how their products can be used for crafting as a family. I am a part of the Twinkl blogging network and as such have been provided with a Premium subscription.

Thursday 21 July 2016

Review - Express Trolley Bags

At the end of last year I shared my review of the awesome Trolley Bags. With free supermarket shopping bags a distant memory, and my stash of plastic bags dwindling, these bags really are invaluable when it comes to the weekly shop. I'm lucky that my husband normally does our large weekly shop, and he's been making great use of them. However I'm usually responsible for a smaller top up shop during the week, and I find that I just don't need that much capacity when I'm only picking up a few bits and pieces.

Enter the Express Trolley Bags (affiliate link)! These bags are smaller in size and designed to fit perfectly into the smaller, speedier trolleys. I prefer to use this size trolley anyway when I'm shopping as I find them much more manoeuvrable, and although the larger bags can be used in the smaller trolley, ones that are designed to fit are much better.

There are four separate bags that velcro together and can be rolled up neatly when not in use. Then when you are ready to use them you simply pull them across your trolley to fit it and separate them at the end when you come to load them into your car.

Review - Express Trolley Bags

If you are using a scan as you shop service you can fill the bags directly while you are shopping, otherwise you can keep the bags rolled up out of the way at the end of your trolley until you are at the checkout.

Review - Express Trolley Bags

Although smaller the bags are still really roomy, I only needed to use two of the bags for my small shop! And because they are smaller they are also light and easy to lift into the car.

The bags are colour coded, and we've found it really useful to designate different bags for different types of items - for example one is used for fruit and veg, one for dairy, and we use the largest bags for the bulkiest items so that they don't end up too heavy. I've had so many positive comments while out and about shopping with the Trolley Bags and I'd really recommend a set!

Review - Express Trolley Bags

I received the Express Trolley Bags in exchange for this review.

Wednesday 20 July 2016

A family summer holiday challenge

Quercus Living have published a Kids Summer Holiday Challenge, with a different activity to try with the children for each week of the summer holiday. It's a great help, as it's difficult coming up with things to do with the children over the holidays. I usually get together with the children and we make up a list together of all the things that we want to do, from old favourites to something new.

So here are six things that I'm challenging us to do this summer, perhaps there's something here to inspire you!

Visit some local Geocaches - we are used to looking for Geocaches when we are camping or otherwise out and about in the countryside, but having checked recently I was surprised to find that there are 20 within a mile of our house alone, including one at our local Asda where we go all the time! We'll definitely be hunting some of them down.

Go for bike rides - I had this on my list last summer, but I'm determined to get Harry riding a bike this year. We've very kindly been given a bike by a friend that is the right size for him so it's just a case of getting out and practising on it! We are lucky that our cul-de-sac is quiet, so as long as I'm out there with them I'm happy for them to spend as long out there as they want, and perhaps I can sit in the shade with a book...

Complete a Summer Reading Challenge - I definitely want to make sure that the children keep up with their reading and the other day I shared a great list from YouTube Kids of different ways that children can read a book for 20 minutes each day. It's printed out in the kitchen and Harry has already made a start, it's going to be a lot of fun!

Have a camping festival in the garden - We tend to avoid campsites over the summer holidays as they get very busy and also have a minimum two night stay, and we've not built up to that yet. But I'm definitely hoping to be camping in the garden this summer as we've done before, weather permitting, and I want to make it really special this year, with decorations, bunting, glow sticks, music, a barbecue, a midnight feast and lots of games. Let's hope for some nice warm evenings!

Go to the beach - We are so lucky to live by the coast and we don't make nearly as much of it as we should do. I'm intending to get myself out for some runs along the seafront, and I want to spend more time there than just a brief visit, with a picnic, some beach toys, and maybe even a paddle!

Play more board and card games - I recently sorted out our toy cupboard and we've been having a great time re-discovering the games that had ended up at the back and having a go at ones that had been too difficult before. In particular I've found that we can now all play simple card games like Happy Families and Old Maid, which is brilliant as I have very fond memories of playing family games when I was growing up. I'm going to attempt playing at least one card or board game every day that we are at home during the holidays.

This is a sponsored post.

Monday 18 July 2016

The new Enkl range from Twinkl - with video

Enkl is the name of the new home decor crafting range from Twinkl. Regular readers will know how much I love Twinkl - we've used their printables for all sorts of things both educational and fun - and there are now even more gorgeous and colourful things to print. You can find all the new Enkl resources here.

It was the Enkl Little Pony Peg Printables (Twinkl subscriber resource) that caught my eye first, they print out beautifully in lovely range of colours and are so simple to put together. It's recommended to print on cardstock but my printer can only manage paper and they still worked really well. I printed them all out and made up a couple to give Mia an idea of how to put them together. When she saw them she was thrilled, and couldn't wait to make up her own.

Twinkl Enkl Little Pony printable craft

Here's a little video showing her putting together her own little pony, and she's been having so much fun playing with them!

Next on my list to have a go at is this lovely Enkl Summer Party Pack printable (Twinkl subscriber resource) which is packed with bright and cheerful things for the summer, I'm going to start with the bunting and cupcake cases for our next picnic!

The Enkl range can be accessed as part of the Twinkl Premium subscription package. As a member of the Twinkl blogger network I have been provided with a Premium subscription.

Sunday 17 July 2016

Book reviews - Spot the Lot and London City Trails from Lonely Planet

This week we've been looking at another couple of gorgeous children's books from Lonely Planet.

Travel books for children from Lonely Planet books

City Trails is a brand new series which launches this month and includes London, New York and Paris. We are regular visitors to London and always keen to find new and interesting places to visit, so City Trails - London (affiliate link) is perfect for us. Young readers can learn about these amazing cities and discover 19 themed trails which pick out things to see and do around the city. There are stories, fantastic facts, photos and illustrations, covering a huge range of attractions. Harry has been poring over the book and picking out the things that he wants to see next time we are there, even though we feel like we know the city pretty well there are still many things that we've not yet discovered!

Travel books for children from Lonely Planet books

Spot the Lot is a brilliant new title that is part sketch book and part I Spy book. Spot The Lot (affiliate link) is packed with pages covering a huge variety of places that you might visit when out and about, from exotic destinations like the ski slopes and on the aeroplane, to more everyday places like the shops and the park. All the things that you might see there are given points depending on how rare they are, and if you don't see them while you are there you can spot them in the illustration on the next page. There is also a page for your own drawings relevant to the location.

Travel books for children from Lonely Planet books

We first took this book out on a recent camping trip, and the children had a great time spotting things together while we set the tent up and then colouring in the next page. Then we've also been using it at home for sketching and colouring. It's a lovely little book and will be accompanying us on many of our adventures!

Travel books for children from Lonely Planet books

We received copies of these books to review. Amazon links are affiliate.

Friday 15 July 2016

5 Years of Blogging - My 5 favourite blog posts

Today I'm sharing five of my favourite blog posts. It's been quite difficult to choose just five, as I have written and published well over 1200 posts during these last five years (!) but here are five that I particularly remember and enjoyed writing.

My first post is still one of my favourites. It was really just a quick post to get me started and I didn't go with any kind of introduction, I just jumped straight in with something I'd made that I was really proud of - Felt Party Rings and Chocolate Chip Cookies. The felt biscuits are still going strong in Mia's toy kitchen and I love seeing her still playing with them all these years later!

Felt party rings and cookies

Hama beads have featured very prominently on the blog since I first discovered them, and my favourite Hama bead creations are probably my Hama Bead Elephants. They are so fun and cheerful and really brighten up the room. I have written lots of other Hama bead posts and you can find them all on my Hama bead page.

Elmer Elephant made from Hama beads

I love writing about all the places that we've visited as a family, especially if I'm able to help people out by sharing new information or writing about somewhere that they might not have considered. This first post about our holiday to Center Parcs, Erperheide has been very popular and I really hope that it has inspired people to think about a Center Parcs holiday abroad for a great money saving trip.

Children at Center Parcs, Erperheide

My blog has inspired me to try lots of new crafts and activities with the children, and across various school holidays I've had great fun hosting themed days for them. My first and favourite one was Space Day, and I remember how thrilled the children were when they came downstairs to find the kitchen table transformed with tin foil and all their space toys.

Finally I wrote a post quite recently titled Ten Things I love about Blogging, and it really sums up everything that blogging has done for me and had a lot of positive feedback. I love writing my blog, and I love the opportunities that it has brought me.

Ten things that I love about blogging

I hope that I have many more years of blogging ahead of me!

Thursday 14 July 2016

Sports medal Hama bead mini bunting

If you are planning on watching the Olympics this summer or hosting a party to celebrate, why not make some bunting to decorate!

Hama bead medal bunting for sports or Olympics

This mini bunting uses metallic Hama beads made into little medals and strung up on cardboard flags with cheerful ribbon.

Hama bead medal bunting for sports or Olympics

Here's how I made it:

You need:

Metallic Hama beads and a circular peg board - I used gold, silver and bronze beads
Metallic and sparkly cardboard - again I used gold, silver and bronze
Red or gold ribbon
Bostik Fine and Wide Glu Pen


First make your Hama bead medals. I used the circular template and made circles that were 9 beads in diameter, using a contrasting colour to make a border. Iron them so that the beads melt together, ironing more on the reverse to make sure that the beads are well fused. I made three Hama bead medals for each string of bunting.

Hama bead medal bunting for sports or Olympics

Make a paper triangular template for the bunting and cut out a bunting flag for each medal in a selection of metallic colours. Then use the Bostik Fine and Wide Glu Pen to stick the Hama bead medals to the cardboard flags. Use plenty of glue to make sure that they are well stuck, and leave until completely dry, preferably overnight.

Hama bead medal bunting for sports or Olympics

Use a hole punch to make holes in the top corners of the flags and thread through with ribbon. Hang up your bunting and enjoy!

Hama bead medal bunting for sports or Olympics

You might also like my other Olympic crafts - making collage Olympic rings and a simple cardboard tube Olympic torch.

Wednesday 13 July 2016

5 Years of Blogging - My most popular blog posts since the beginning

This week I'm celebrating five years of blogging over here at Jennifer's Little World!

Today I'm going to share my five most popular blog posts, right back from when I started this blog in July 2011. I'm using the stats data from Blogger, so it may not be the most reliable, but it's the only way that I have of going back to the beginning. So here, in reverse order to build suspense, are the five most popular blog posts on Jennifer's Little World of all time:

5 - Realistic play food for the toy kitchen

This post has done very well recently after it was shared on a popular Facebook page. It's an old one, but I went back and updated it with a more Pinterest friendly graphic and it's continuing to be popular. It's a really simple way to make play food and I hope that it has inspired people to come up with their own creations for the toy kitchen!

Realistic play food for the toy kitchen

4 - Cardboard play biscuits for the toy kitchen

This is another old post and was my first entry into the PinAddicts challenge which is sadly no longer running as I loved taking part! Another very simple craft and those biscuits are still floating around somewhere amongst our vast toy food collection.

3 - My cross stitch sampler

This was a post that I wrote for another linky about a cross stitch sampler that I completed before I started my blog. I suspect that this is a bit of an anomaly post though, as for some reason it became such a target for spam that I had to disable comments from the post! I do love my sampler though so I'll share another picture!

2 - How to make a Nativity Play Shepherd's Costume from a pillowcase

This post always brings me a lot of traffic in the run up to Christmas, as panicked parents start to Google. I like to think that there are many pillowcase dressed shepherds out there and I always like to look back at pictures of my tiny shepherd.

Shepherd's costume from a pillow case

1 - 10 car journey activities to do with your toddler

It's an old post with terrible images (although I'd like to think there's some useful information), so I can only guess that somehow I managed to get the SEO spot on with this post and so it comes up well in searches! I've never been very good at entertaining children in the car, and to be honest these activities worked much better on a plane when I was close by and able to assist and supervise, but hopefully the post has helped a few people out!

I hope that you enjoyed seeing some of my older posts!

Tuesday 12 July 2016

The Hogwallops at the Pavillion Theatre, Worthing

Last Friday, Worthing Theatres launched their Summer of Circus, beginning with performances of The Hogwallops from Lost in Translation Circus at the Pavillion Theatre, and Harry and I were invited along to see the show.

The Hogwallops at Worthing Theatres

The show introduces us to the Hogwallops family, with a glimpse into the life of a quirky family carrying out everyday activities like laundry and baking but with their own funny twists. Showcasing a variety of high energy circus skills, laundry is sorted while swinging from the trapeze and baking is done while suspended in the air. There's acrobatics, juggling and plenty of slapstick comedy as they play and bicker their way through the day.

Harry was enthralled by the performance, he found the whole thing hilarious (although he clung tightly when the performers approached the audience!) and he was completely caught up in it all. We were lucky enough to be able to attend a question and answer session after the performance where we were able to get a glimpse into the behind the scenes preparations for the show, and he was able to ask his question about the inspiration for the name 'The Hogwallops' (online searching and trying out different word combinations!)

Worthing Theatres are hosting their Summer of Circus from 8th July to 17th September 2016 and there are plenty of shows on for the whole family. The festival is aimed at long term circus fanatics, families and first time theatre goers, and unites a variety of non-traditional circus productions.

The Hogwallops at Worthing Theatres

Harry and I received complimentary tickets to the show in exchange for a review.

Saturday 9 July 2016

Review - Education Quizzes for children

The summer holidays are fast approaching, and I can't wait! The children have both worked really hard this year at school, with Mia coming to the end of her time in Reception and Harry finishing Year 2. I have lots of fun things planned for the holidays, but I am keen to make sure that they don't forget everything they've learned so far over the six weeks. They are also both starting at a new school in September, and I want to make sure that they get off to a good start.

So I was very pleased when I was asked to review Education Quizzes - an easy to use website that aims to help children be successful at school by using enjoyable quizzes to help them learn. Harry is perfectly placed to use the KS1 education quizzes to make sure he can remember everything that he has been taught over the last couple of years.

Children learn a lot during this period, so it was good to see that most quizzes offered a suggestion as to whether the questions are particularly aimed at Year 1 or Year 2 children. They are also great practice for children working towards their SATS tests at the end of Year 2.

The screenshot below shows the topic list on the left that you can select from at KS1 level. Having chosen English, at the bottom you can see the first two of over 100 quizzes in this area that the child can choose from. Each one has an appealing title followed by a description of the quiz, and each quiz has ten illustrated questions.

Review - Education Quizzes

As an example, the quiz below tests the use of apostrophes. When you have completed the quiz, the date and previous score is stored so you can see where you need to spend a little more time. The quizzes are written by teachers, so you can be sure that they are relevant, and they are kept fun, with pictures and little extra facts.

Review - Education Quizzes

I was really impressed with the huge range of quizzes available across a wide range of subjects. It's very easy to navigate, so children can work through several quizzes by themselves, and because they aren't too long children won't get bored. Harry always enjoys homework tasks that involve the computer and he had a lot of fun trying out the quizzes, it didn't feel like work at all. I'll be encouraging him to continue a few at a time over the holidays.

A subscription to Education Quizzes costs £7.50 per month and can be cancelled at any time. A school can also pay for a subscription on behalf of its students and can sign up students for as little as £2 per year, depending on the number of pupils at the school. It's definitely worth asking your school if they'd be interested!

I was compensated for this review.

Thursday 7 July 2016

How to celebrate a Birthday on a Cruise Ship

This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

On our recent Disney Cruise, Mia turned 5. She's very lucky, with a birthday that will usually fall during half term, she's very likely to be celebrating her birthday while we are away on holiday many times in the future. In fact, I think she believed that the entire holiday was booked in order to celebrate her birthday!

Tips for celebrating a birthday on a cruise ship

As fun as it is being away, it's still nice to be able to mark the occasion in a special way while you are on holiday, so here's what we did to try and make her cruise birthday special.

Decorate the stateroom - Most cruise lines will offer a birthday package meaning that you can purchase decorations for your stateroom. Disney cruise line currently offers this for $45 which I thought was a little pricey, so I spent a fraction of the cost shopping at home and brought the decorations along with us. I then put them up in the room while the children were asleep. As it was a Disney cruise I went with a Frozen theme and I found some very reasonably priced decorations. I bought some Disney Frozen birthday balloons and Snowflake string decorations to hang around the room and this brilliant Frozen door poster to hang on the wall (affiliate links).

Frozen birthday poster

Presents and cards - We deliberately purchased presents which were quite small that we could bring along with us, and we managed to bring enough with us so that she had a few to open. I also brought all her cards along with us so that she could open them on the day and display them.

Birthday badge - we have a Birthday rosette badge (affiliate link) for each child that I recycle each year, so Mia wore that all day, and Mia also received a Disney Cruise Line birthday badge from Guest Services, as well as a second one at dinner. Harry was given an 'I'm Celebrating' badge as well! Then everyone could say Happy Birthday to her when they saw her.

Disney cruise ship birthday badge

Door signs - We made magnetic door signs for our holiday anyway, so I made an extra surprise one to announce Mia's birthday to the rest of the corridor.

Birthday cake - We decided not to have a special cake on her birthday, as she had already celebrated with a cake the week before. You also aren't allowed to use candles on a cruise ship. On most cruise lines you can order celebration cakes which will be served to you at dinner. We did tell our servers in the restaurant about Mia's birthday, and they brought her a special dessert and they all sang Happy Birthday to her which she loved.

Child with birthday cake on a cruise ship

It might be fun to buy a few decorations for the table at dinner, or perhaps some birthday hats for everyone to wear!

I think that Mia had a special birthday, I just hope that she doesn't expect this every year!

Birthday decorations on a cruise ship

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like some of my other posts about cruising:

Wednesday 6 July 2016

Book review - The Emergency Zoo by Miriam Halahmy

The Emergency Zoo (affiliate link) is a new book by Miriam Halahmy aimed at children aged 9-11, inspired by real events during the Second World War.

The story follows twelve year old Tilly and her best friend Rosy. In late August 1939, Britain is on the brink of war, and amongst the uncertainty people are encouraged to have their pets taken to the vet to be put down. When Tilly and Rosy find out that their parents are going to take their beloved dog and cat they are devastated.

The two girls decide to take action by hiding their pets in a derelict hut in the woods, and when other children find out about their plans their secret den turns into an emergency zoo for all sorts of animals from all sorts of backgrounds. But the children are due to be evacuated from the city themselves, and who will look after their pets when they have gone?

Book review - The Emergency Zoo by Miriam Halahmy

The story begins just before war is declared, and captures the fear of what is going to happen faced by the ordinary people. The book covers quite mature themes, for example bereavement, the prospect of evacuation away from parents, the terrifying dangers of bombing raids, and so it's probably one to keep for older readers (although of course these are all things that young children did have to deal with at the time!).

Events are seen from the childrens' points of view, studying their feelings towards them, along with their relationships with each other. Although the war has only just begun when the story begins, the book finishes on a positive note, and I'm sure that children would be left encouraged to look for other books set during this period in history in order to learn more. I think it would also fascinate children today to read about a time when quite young children were trusted to play away from home together for hours at a time, often into the evening, with their parents having no idea what they were up to!

I enjoyed reading this book as an adult, and would definitely recommend!

I received a copy of this book to review.

Sunday 3 July 2016

Crafting is my Therapy July 2016

Welcome to month 6 of the Crafting is my Therapy linky, hosted by myself and Me, You and Magoo! We are so pleased that so many people are linking up and sharing what they've been up to.

This month I reached the halfway point on my Sky Blanket and I'm really pleased with how it's looking. It's pretty much square now, so it's going to be a bit long and skinny when it's finished, but I'm so glad that I limited the width as it makes it so much easier to keep on top of! I do love having something that I need to work on regularly as it really keeps me motivated and I enjoy making the time to keep it up to date.

Sky Blanket at the halfway point

With a couple of trips away last month I've also been adding a few pages to my Smash Book. I'm always picking up bits and pieces of ephemera and I love having somewhere to stick them with a few notes.

Friday 1 July 2016

My Sky Blanket in June #skyblanket2016

My Sky Blanket is now complete! Here is a link to the completed Sky Blanket

Here is how my blanket progressed throughout the year - JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneJulyAugust, September, October, November and December.

If you have found this page because you would like to make your own Sky Blanket, you might like these posts:

Sky Blanket progress in June

I can't believe that this post marks the halfway point of my Sky Blanket - the months are flying by! I'll admit that I'm finding the blanket a little unwieldy to work on now. It's pretty much square, so it's going to be a nice rectangle when it's finished. I'm so glad that I stuck to a 200 chain width, because even though it might end up quite long and skinny, it means that if I get a few days behind I can catch up quite easily. And I'm finding that I am tending to work on a few days at a time now, just because it's such an effort to haul it all out and then pack it up again into the bag when the row is done!

So, here's the blanket at the end of June:

Sky Blanket progress in June

I think I'm going to need a new photo location from next month! The edges are looking pretty wobbly, I'm hoping that a border will sort that out at the end.

My previous updates - January, February, March, April and May.

It's been a bit of a quiet month sky-wise. On the 22nd June there was a massive thunderstorm with loads and loads of rain during the evening and early hours of the next day. The first proper thunderstorm since I started my blanket, and quite possibly the most rain I've ever seen in this country! So I made a row in dark grey of half trebles in every other stitch and wove through some ribbony yarn that I received from Bergere de France, it's really slippery and shiny and definitely looks rainy. I'm sure I'll be using it again!

Sky Blanket progress in June

I also popped in a little seashell button to represent our lovely trip to Cornwall and the shells that we saw on the beach.

Sky Blanket progress in June

Sunrises are too early for me to be up now (thank goodness the days with 4.45am starts are over!) and I always seem to miss sunsets. The main problem is that we don't have any windows in the house which face east or west, and at this time of year I don't tend to be out and about at sunset time.

This month seems to have been a bit more mixed, and there's more grey than blue. I've been keeping a close eye on my yarn and I'm hoping that I have enough left in all the colours that I need. Otherwise I'll need to pick apart my granny square blanket and rescue some grey from the border!

Sky Blanket progress in June

There was a group of us taking part in the Sky Blanket project throughout 2016, and you can find us across social media, in particular Instagram, using the hashtag #skyblanket2016. The project was started by Bug, Bird & Bee, The Boy and Me and You Little Sew and Sew.

If you aren't sure if a Sky Blanket is the project for you, you might like this blog post with some more ideas for a year long craft project.

With many thanks to Make it Coats for supplying me with the yarn for this project.