Painting is a great activity for young children. It’s a fantastic work-out for their imagination, and helps them practice their fine motor skills, as well as helping to develop their understanding of colour, shape, texture and viscosity (yes, wet paint WILL drip onto the floor/your clothes/the dog’s dinner…). We do a lot of painting in our house, and love finding different things to paint - after all, flat paper can be SO last earlier-this-morning. We try to bring natural materials into our play at every opportunity, and painting is the perfect thing for this as its easy to find natural objects to decorate. Stones, sticks, pinecones, shells… you name it, we’ve painted it. Painting leaves is an absolute favourite, though, and something that we do all the time - read on to find out why!
There are images of some amazing mud kitchens out there on the web, and it's very easy to fall down a rabbit hole of great ideas without actually ever making one for your child. I was certainly guilty of it, until one day my sister stopped by and interrupted my description of the great mud kitchen I was going to make (one day), by pulling together a few things lying around in the garden and making one in about thirty seconds! My kids have been playing with it ever since (we're talking for years now!), and though I still dream and plan of a more beautiful and robust solution, they're out there having fun today - and they really couldn't care less that it's not perfect.
So read on to see what you need to make a mud kitchen right now, and I guarantee that you'll have enough stuff already to get your kids playing today!
A Mauritian daube is a stew of meat or fish in a light, tomato-based sauce flavoured (chiefly) with thyme, cloves, and cinnamon. There are probably as many variations on the daube recipe as there are Mauritian families - like with a British stew, every household tends to have their own version! As my family are mostly French-Mauritian, our version of the classic chicken daube does not include chilli and curry spices you might find elsewhere (there would be much eye-rolling, head-smacking exclamations of horror at the very suggestion), but is instead a delicate and surprisingly fresh dish that is both hearty enough for a winter's day and light enough for the summer.
If you've read 'The Bog Baby' by Jeanne Willis and Gwen Millward, you'll know that bog babies are round and blue, with goggly eyes, spiky tails and ears like a mouse, and their wings are no bigger than daisy petals. This magical book is perfect for inspiring creative model making and small world play, while at the same time gently encouraging children to explore what it means for a thing to be wild and free. Read on to find out how we made a DIY bog baby kit of our very own out of home-made playdough and basic craft accessories - not only are they great fun, they also make fantastic and original gifts when given with a copy of the book!
Our kids' stuff gets EVERYWHERE. What with arts and crafts, cookery bits, board games, play shopping, children's books, bikes, scooters, etcetera, etcetera, we were finding that the kids' things were spreading from their bedrooms to fill all the shared spaces in our home too. As a result, K-Dog and I found it more and more frustrating when WE wanted to do something; nothing was ever to hand or easy to get started on.
But the good news is that when we took a hard look at our small-to-middling Victorian terrace house, even bursting at the seams with stuff as it is, we were able to find spaces to annex as dedicated 'grown-up' areas - one for each of us. All it took was thinking about what we both needed, and then identifying a few wasted areas around the house that we could make better use of with a little bit of reorganisation. And I promise you, if messy pack-rats like us can do it, you can too!
'The Bog Baby' by Jeanne Willis and Gwen Millward is one of our favourite picture books, being that rare beast that can captivate both a seven-year boy and a three-year old girl time and time again. I couldn't count how many times I've read this to the kids, but it still brings a tear to my eye too (in a good way!!).
I've made a simple linocut of a Harry Potter Firebolt broomstick as part of a project I'm working on for G-Man's birthday. It's intended to be the first of a few themed linocut prints, and though I have something very specific in mind for it, I couldn't help but play around with a few other ideas too.
We are big fans of a classic Victoria Sandwich sponge cake in our house, but this variation is also a favourite with it's hint of zingy citrus flavours, tangy mascarpone cream filling and sharp blackcurrant. It looks so pretty, it makes a great cake for special occasions too, but is really easy - and cheap! - to make.
Though I love letting my kids get stuck in to some messy play, I sometimes find the thought of the inevitable cleanup just too daunting. On days like that, I often resort to our tried and tested fallback -the cleanest messy play imaginable - bubble play!
G-Man didn't want a birthday party this year, instead he wanted to visit the Harry Potter Studio Tour just outside London. So we took him and one friend along for a magical day out in January 2017. As it was his birthday treat, and as we knew beforehand that everything there would be exorbitantly expensive, I put together a Harry Potter-themed party bag for the boys to supplement their pocket money purchases in the tour's shop. There are tonnes of ideas for Potter gifts on the internet, and not only was it great fun to do (and a big hit with the kids) it also saved us a whole heap of pennies.
If you're planning a trip yourself, or are lucky enough to be hosting a full-on Potter Party, have a look at our DIY wizard treats for a little Hogwarts-style inspiration!