Monday, 20 August 2012

Your Very Own Train and More Stuff To Do With Pebbles Bought Home From The Beach

Pebble Painting

You Will Need:
  • Some largish stones
  • Paint, on a tray or plate
  • Paintbrushes

How to do it:
  • Go for a walk in the woods or search your garden for some reasonably large pebbles, sit outside with some paints and some paintbrushes and start decorating. 
  • Try making different patterns on the pebbles, or paint each one different colours and moving them around to make pictures.


You Will Need:
  • Empty cardboard or plastic boxes, at least one big enough for your child to sit in.
  • Some toys
  • Pens or paints
  • Paper and glue or sticky tape
  • Smaller cardboard or plastic boxes from the recyling
  • String
  • Scissors

How to do it:
  • Line up the boxes in a line, make one the engine and the other the carriages, sit inside and go for a ride!
  • Plastic boxes are good for pushing around the floor, use toys for passengers and make them paper tickets.
  • You can use the pens, paper and glue to decorate your train, adding wheels, smoke stacks and windows, or string to attach the carriages to each other. 30g cereal boxes and great for making mini-trains.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Ball Pit-Bingo and An Excellent Excuse To Play In The Mud

Ball Pit-Bingo

You Will Need: 

  • A paddling pool full of plastic balls/large box full of shredded paper (or similar) 
  • Card, 
  • 9 pictures of objects/characters printed from online or cut from magazines for the ball pit bingo balls,
  • Pens

 How To Do It:

  • Take the 9 pictures for the ball pit and stick them onto card. Cut each one into a similar sized circle, and hide them in the ball pit, these are your bingo balls.
  • Make up bingo cards, a 3x3 grid with each square matching a picture you have collected for the ball pit. If you are printing the pictures out, you could make up the grids on the computer as well, using smaller versions of the pictures for the ball pit. 
  • If you are cutting out/drawing them try and make the ‘matching’ pictures similar enough to recognise, or you could use letters or numbers. Each grid should have the pictures on in a different pattern.
  • Hand out a bingo card to each player and explain that you will take one bingo ball out of the box at a time. Each player will mark the bingo ball on their card. The first person to have 3 marks in a straight line, in any direction is a winner.
  • If you want to re-use the game, laminate the bingo cards and bingo balls and use dry-wipe markers to mark them.


Use mud and water, crushed up chalk and berries (please check that the berries aren't poisonous before letting your children play with them!) and sticks, draw pictures on your patio or garden walls.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Host Your Own Mini-Olympic Pentathalon and Slightly Creepy Family Self-Portraits

Mini-Olympic Pentathalon (Inspired by Change4Life)

You will need: 

  • Some excitable children/grown-ups 
  • A wall 
  • Some chalk 
  • A bean bag 
  • A hula hoop 
  • A Bucket 
  • Play Equipment 
  • A soft ball 
  • A plastic bottle
  • A small prize (eg, choice of tonight’s telly) 
  • A pencil and paper 
  • A watch

How To Set It Up:

High Jump: Stand next to a wall, get each child to jump as high as they can and touch their hand against the wall, put a chalk mark where their hand touched. Highest chalk mark wins.

Shot Put Darts: Put the hula hoop flat on the ground and the bucket inside. Mark a point a child sized throwing distance away as the throwing line with chalk on the ground or a jumper. Give each child the bean bag in turn and give them 3 tries to throw the beanbag into the hula hoop for 1 point or the bucket for 5 points. Highest points wins.

Hula Hoop: Time each child spinning the hula hoop around their waist, time from the moment they let go to the moment it hits the floor. Longest time spinning is the winner.

Obstacle Course: Design a course around your park or garden, eg race from the bench to the climbing frame. Touch the top bar on the frame, climb down and race to the swings, two big swings on the swing, run twice around the tree then once down the slide before trying to make it back to the bench first to be the winner.

Relay Race: Grab an empty plastic bottle and use it is a baton. Split into two teams and each team into two. Stand one half of each team at either end of a small race area. Eg Team A, members 1 + 3 stand by the tree, Team A, members 2 + 4 stand by the bench. Give number 1 the plastic bottle, they have to run to member 2 pass them the bottle and then go to the back of the line. member 2 runs to member 3 and so on. First team to have the bottle back in team member 1's hands is the winner.

Family Self-Portaits

You will need: 

  • A small mirror (shaving mirror works well) 
  • Small pieces of paper + a big piece of paper 
  • Colouring pencils or pens 
  • Scissors 
  • Glue sticks 
  • Photographs of any family members not present

How To Do It:

  • Sit with your paper, pens, mirror and photographs, on each piece of paper draw a different piece of each persons face, eg Mummy’s hair, Uncle Bob’s moustache, Jeff’s left ear – make sure you have drawn hair, 2 eyes, 2 eyebrows, nose, 2 ears, mouth, 2 cheeks, 1 chin.
  • Cut each part out and stick them onto the big piece of paper into the shape of one big face.

Monday, 6 August 2012

More Exciting Things To Do With Toy Cars and A Bit Of Baking Too

Tyre Painting

What You Need:
  • Toys cars, trucks or trains, 
  • pieces of paper, 
  • washable paint, 
  • lots of plastic sheeting, 
  • big trays/plates

How To Do It: 

  • Put the paint on the plates or trays thinly spread around.
  • Load up the cars by pushing the cars through the paint so their tyres get covered in paint, then drive them across the paper.
  • If you’re feeling adventurous, try it in the garden with push along toys, scooters/bikes, make a big puddle of coloured water with food colouring (or paint if you have a lot of paper or plastic to cover the garden with) and peddle through the puddle on the bikes, they can ride around the garden leaving coloured trails behind.

Cooking Scones

Try this recipe at BBC Good Food for perfect scones.

Why not try different flavours? Add an ounce or two (50-100g) of cheese, marshmallows, raisins, olives, cherries or anything else that strikes your child's fancy! (Don't forget to take out the sugar if you are making savoury scones)

Friday, 3 August 2012

Free Museums: Way More Choice Than You'd Think And How To Really Watch Seeds Grow

Local Museum

Local museums are often free to enter and ask for only a donation, just pay as much as you feel able too. If there isn't one in your area you could try a trip to a larger town or city. Money Saving Expert has a great interactive list here of all the free museum’s and galleries in the UK (scroll down past the map of the UK for drop down area menus). There's a huge variety on offer from pumping stations and Victorian police cells, to modern art and dinosaurs.

Watch Seeds Grow

You will need:

  • A clear glass or plastic cup
  • A seed (sunflower or beans work really well)
  • Thick absorbent paper or blotting paper
  • Scissors
  • Cotton wool
  • Water

How to do it:

  • Roll a tube with your paper, cutting it to shape so that it will fit inside the cup from the base to the rim all the way around, put it in place.
  • Stuff the inside of the paper tube with loosely packed cotton wool.
  • Place your seed in between the paper and the inside of the cup about 2/3rds of the way up, so that you can see it from the outside.
  • Pour water into the cotton wool, so that the water level inside the cup is about 1/3rd of the cup (don’t cover the seed), and all the paper and cotton wool stays damp.
  • Put the cup somewhere dark and leave the seed to grow.
  • You can check on the seed every few days to see how well it is growing as well as topping up the water. As the buds at the top develop into a small plant with leaves the plant will start to need light and it’s time to move the plant into a flowerpot.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Change4life - Mini Olympics

A little bit of extra summer fun arrived on our doorstep this morning - we filled in the form at Change4Life for our family with details of the kind of activities we do on a regular basis, and have been sent a pack with ideas, tips, an activity chart and stickers - the age appropriate packs have great ideas on how to keep fit without spending money.

We tried out our first one today, just a simple ball game, but my 3yo loved it.

I find it hugely tempting to let kids crash in front of the television when the weather is bad, but getting up and joining in with the kids makes it more fun and gives us all some healthy exercise bonus points. Lots of childrens shows are interactive now. If your kids enjoy Lazy Town they've teamed up with Change4Life too, with a site full of videos for kids to copy - Tree Fu Tom and Waybaloo are also great to get little bottoms to move along too to.

Give it a go!

If You Go Down To The Woods Today, Your Child Can Eat Jelly And Become An Arborist

Teddy Bear’s Picnic

Gather a few favourite teddies in your child’s back pack, a picnic blanket, plastic cups and saucers, a few cucumber sandwiches and some juice then head to the park for a teddy bear’s picnic... or the living room floor if it won’t stop raining!

Tearing up jelly - easier than it looks!
Combine it with a bit of baking by making individual fruity jellies for a picnic pudding:

  • Small jelly moulds can be found cheaply in supermarkets and poundshops but if you haven't got any kids plastic cups work really well. 
  • Simply make up the jelly - kids can help cutting it into cubes or stirring the hot water until the cubes dissolve. 
  • Chop up a few pieves of fruit (not kiwi, papaya or pineapple or the jelly won't set) pop them in the bottom of each jelly mould/cup and then pour the jelly on top. 
  • The jelly will take a few hours to set, so best to make it first thing or the night before.
Our super-cheap jelly moulds
How Old Are the Trees In Your Park?

You will need:                                                                                                           
  • A fabric tape measure (or a paper one from Ikea)
  • Some trees
  • A notebook and pen
How to work it out:
  • Take the tape measure and wrap it around the tree trunk of your chosen tree to measure the circumference.
  • Because of the average rate of growth of your average British tree, the tree will be roughly as many years old as it is inches around the middle, or the number of centimetres divided by 2.5.
  • Try measuring other trees to compare, put the tape measure at roughly the same height you measured the first tree at.
  • Are all the trees in the park a similar age? Were the trees all planted at the same time, or were groups planted at different times?