I knew as soon as I saw Make and Move Minibeasts I knew that this was going to be one for Ben. He loves building and creating things and has recently discovered the joy of Origami – don’t get me wrong he’s not a Japanese paper master by any stretch but he loves being able to follow the instructions and create a 3D model out of paper.
Make and Move Minibeasts by Sato Hisao contains twelve paper puppets for you to press out and play with. The models are all ready to make so don’t need any cutting or sticking – no scissors or glue required (hurrah!).
The book is set out so that the simplest model (a grasshopper) comes first meaning you can steadily build your skills and confidence as you work your way through to the trickiest ( a stag beetle).
The first half of the book comprises of clear, colourful, step by step instructions on how to make each model with the second half of the book being made from a thin card and holding each of the models. It is bound in such a way as to ensure the whole book doesn’t just fall apart the first time you try to use it – though if your child is anything like Ben they will just want to build the full set of 12 minibeasts as soon as they can!
The book is aimed at age 6+ making it ideal for upper KS1 studying minibeasts as a topic this summer term! Because the diagrams are supported with written instructions you might find you need to support younger children with this. Ben is 7 and a half and had no trouble whatsoever with following the instructions and making the first few models in the book. I’m sure his experience of LEGO building probably had something to do with that!
We found the models to be of really good quality, Ben was able to press the parts out without damaging them and put them together to creat surprisingly sturdy minibeasts with moving parts.
Rather comically, Ben asked me yesterday why I was “all dressed up in my best” . . . I laughed because I was wearing my standard uniform of black leggings and a black long sleeve jersey top. Most definitely not my best. Just my “normal”. The difference was that I’d done my hair properly for the first time in about two weeks and had a full face of make up on from some filming I’d been doing earlier that day. Because we were camping last week I’d obviously spent the whole time with my hair pinned back or a hat on and certainly wasn’t wearing a full face of make up (though I did manage to maintain a bright red manicure for a significant chunk of the week . . . )
I’ve been reading a lot of fashion & style posts over the last week or so. Anna from Glam Up North is writing a series on Spring Style which I’m loving – particularly as she shared an absolute beaut of a green coatigan that I’d already had my eye on at the end of last month. Since I had my colours done by Anna almost two years ago now there has been a dearth of bright bold colours in the shops. The trend has been more for muted neutrals, khaki greens and soft nudes. None of which feature anywhere on my colour palette as, whilst I love them on other people, they have a tendency to make me look like a corpse! I’ve noticed in the last month or so that the bright reds, blues and greens that suit me are finally coming back into fashion and I’m really excited about the prospect of being able to invest in some new tops or dresses to add flashes of colour to my typically black and navy wardrobe for this summer!
I was browsing my “Wardrobe Lust” board on Pinterest last night and it made me laugh to see how much of an obvious “style” runs through all of my picks. Navy stripes, pops of bright colour and cosy scarves or cardigans.
All I need to do now is lose a couple of stone and go on a mad shopping spree whilst my “colours” are finally back in fashion!
It’s back to school for us this morning and I can’t deny being more than a little relieved.
Don’t get me wrong, I adore my babies, you know I do. But as I sit typing this now it’s pretty much the first time I’ve been on my own in about three weeks and it feels so nice to to have to talk to anyone. To not need to make someone a drink or a snack. To be sat at my desk, tapping away and making headway on my burgeoning “to do” list – or at least prepare to make a start on it! Working from home when the kids are on school holidays is never a great combination!
In fairness the kids have been great this last couple of weeks – yes there was bickering and I called “Quiet Play” at least once and sent them to their rooms to calm down for a bit but on the whole they’ve been ace. We had an awesome adventure in the Lakes (which I can’t wait to write about) and they made me so proud. But it was intense. And exhausting. We were already to press restart and get back to school this morning.
Amy in particular has been off nursery for three weeks and whilst I absolutely relish the time we get to spend together on our own, she really did need to be back with her friends this morning and into her normal routine. She’s always been something of a Mummy’s girl and this has been particularly evident over the course of Easter weekend where she has basically followed me round like a little shadow, even clinging to my leg at times when I’ve been trying to get jobs done. She’s clambered all over me, had tantrums if I wasn’t going upstairs at the exact same time as her, cried when Daddy brushed her hair instead of me. She has been mentally and physically exhausting at a time when I had not one single drop of patience left. I don’t think I’ve ever looked forward to dropping her off at Nursery as much as I did today.
And of course for that I feel guilty. I feel guilty for snapping at her and for needing a break. She won’t always want to cling to me will she? She won’t always need to be everywhere I am or to clamber all over me to be as close as she possibly can.
So, in another hour I will pick my little girl up from Nursery, recharged from a couple of hours peace, give her the biggest hug and enjoy wandering home in the sunshine, chatting about what she’s been up to while she was away. (I can guarantee it will have involved dolls).
Aunt Nic has been very good friends with the Easter Bunny for many years now which means that we are all very spoiled with Hotel Chocolat goodies.
Traditionally we spend Easter weekend in York but this year we are away working. Luckily the Easter Bunny had heard Ben, Chloe and Amy chatting to Aunty Nic about this and made alternative plans to visit a little early this year.
We found a letter from the Easter Bunny in the garden at Granny & Grandad’s explaining that he had hidden some treats around the garden and that whilst it was ok to eat some of them, the big treats needed to be saved for Easter Sunday.
You can imagine the excitement . . .
Granny & Grandad’s garden is huge and perfect for hunting out chocolate treats! I’m sure that all three children will have fond memories of tearing around this enormous space when they are all grown up.
Happy Easter loves! Hope there’s lots of chocolate!
Continuing on a theme this year, Amy is still being a complete toad when it come to having her photo taken with her siblings. She’s not daft, she knows exactly what I want her to do but thinks it’s hilarious to hide her face or just run off as I’ve got everyone in place. And that just about sums Bo up at the moment. She’s so full of cheek and constantly giggling.
Ben finds this almost as frustrating as I do, he knows that he just needs to get the job done quickly so he can go back to whatever LEGO model he was building or Minecraft world he was creating.
This month’s Siblings photos were taken in Whitby when we had a family day out for my birthday. They were all so excited, so giddy to be by the sea and feel the sunshine on their faces for the first time in what felt like forever.
If ever a set of images showed how hard it is to photograph three children at once, this is it!
Our Easter holidays have been punctuated by bickering – shouting and screeching at each other over something and nothing. All quickly forgotten again of course and normal service resumed. I imagine this will be the theme for the next fifteen or so years . . .
Hello! Welcome to the April edition of Vlog Stars! I think Katy & I are getting into the swing of things about now though I must apologise to those of you who linked up last month with your Guilty Pleasures, I’ve not got round to watching them all yet – things have been a little manic. My second apology for this month is that I’ve not yet filmed my own video . . . which I know is terrible considering I set them them weeks ago but y’know – life. I will get it done as soon as the kids are back at school next week!
If you’re new to Vlog Stars then let me fill you in a bit . . . the linky goes live on the second Thursday of each month and is open for two weeks for you to link up your vlogs on a set theme. The idea being that it might inspire you to create some fabulous new content for your channel and also introduce you to some other Vlog Stars who are chatting about the same things!
In March, Katy and I set the theme for April to be “FIVE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT” . . .
So, if you’ve been super organised you can bob your link in down below or, if you’re not quite ready for this month’s Vlog Stars – you’ve got a fortnight to get it filmed, edited and linked up – we’ll be waiting for you!
Here’s my FIVE THINGS I CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT:
Over the next couple of weeks Katy and I are looking forward to popping round your vlogs, getting to know you all a bit better and of course sharing them over on twitter where we can! We’d love it if you could do the same for some of the other people who have linked up too, there’s nothing like spreading the love now is there? (Don’t forget to use the hashtag #VLOGSTARS)
Next month, from Thursday 11th May, Katy and I want you to tell us about THINGS THAT REALLY WIND YOU UP – you know those minor irritations that make you unneccsarily angry? We want you to let it all out!
If you’ve been joining in with Vlog Stars for a while then I hope you’ll stick with Katy and I moving forward. If you’re new to it, then welcome aboard, it’s great to have you!
Morning! How’s April treating you so far? I must admit I’d quite like a little more sunshine but I’m certainly enjoying these longer days and the school holidays!
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This week we have loved:
We’re not sure which is cuter – the In The Night Garden Toys or baby Ava . . . who are we kidding, we chose this review from Chic Geek Diary because Ava is just gorgeous!
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On Monday night, our not so peaceful bedtime routine was interrupted by shrieks, sobs and lots of blood.
Chloe came running into Amy’s bedroom thrusting a tooth into her Dad’s hand. A tooth which, to our knowledge, had not previously been wobbly.
It took some considerable time to calm her down – a combination of pain, blood and shock. Chloe isn’t the calmest of children at the best of time.
Eventually we ascertained that she’d been messing about with Ben and he’d basically headbutted her. Not on purpose, just because her face was in the wrong place I think. This didn’t stop Dave and I winding him up that he’d knocked her tooth out.
I was a little gutted for Chlo that she hadn’t had the excitement and anticipation of that first wobbly tooth. We hadn’t know it was ready to come out. She was too upset to be excited about the rigmarole of placing her tooth under her pillow for the first time and even the suggestion of a visit from the tooth fairy wasn’t enough to cheer her up.
Because her tooth had come out so suddenly we were a little worried that it may not have come out cleanly but luckily we had a dentist appointment booked for later in the week and he confirmed that it was all fine, in fact the tooth had probably been just starting to get ready to wobble anyway.
Ben lent Chloe his special “tooth tin” to pop her tooth under her pillow and luckily, by morning, the shock had worn off only to be replaced with excitement after the tooth fairy had generously left £2 in place of the tooth!
It’s taking me a little time to get used to my gorgeous girl’s gappy smile, one which the dentist says she will likely have for some time with the tooth having been knocked out a little before it was ready. I wasn’t any more prepared for her to lose a tooth than she was. Just another sign that my little girl is growing up.
Nothing says spring like a visit to the farm does it?! We first visited Cannon Hall Farm a couple of years ago with the Butlers and I’ve been dying to go back ever since. I knew I wanted to go in the spring-time when we had the best chance of seeing lots of baby animals so was it featured fairly highly on our list of adventures for this Easter.
As luck would have it our Easter holidays are a little wonky this year so not a lot of people seem to have been off this first week – I know that schools in York and Sheffield haven’t finished yet which meant that a trip to Cannon Hall Farm in Barnsley was perfectly timed. I had expected we would benefit from it being a little bit quieter but in all honesty it was far quieter than I could have ever imagined – which meant no queues for the toilet, no struggling to find somewhere to sit at the indoor play and a super view wherever we went, it was an all round win to be honest. Well aside from being absolutely flipping freezing. The spring sunshine finally appeared mid-afternoon but it would have been a much nicer day had it been a bit brighter from the off!
Eleven Reasons to visit Cannon Hall Farm:
It’s lovely and clean – my friend Hannah doesn’t like Cannon Hall Farm as she think it’s “too clean and sanitised” and not like a real farm. I totally get where she’s coming from but honestly, when I’m visiting with three kids for the day – the cleanliness is a huge factor for me, it just makes it a much nicer place to be and an easier day out all round!
There’s plenty of space for picnics – there are a number of large picnic tables just outside the farm which we used on this visit and plenty of grassy space to sit on if the tables are full. But, if you don’t want to picnic . . . there are several options for buying food on site and if you spend £10 on food in the cafe areas then your £3 car parking charge is knocked off.
The ice creams are lovely – it was too flipping cold for ice cream when we visited this time (we plumped for cups of tea and hot chocolate) but I do remember them being delicious last time we visited.
Milking display – for Amy, who absolutely loves cows, being able to watch them getting milked is a bit special. The milking display at Cannon Hall Farm is purely for demonstration – just a couple of cows are milked whilst a member of staff talks about the process.
Actual real live lambing – we were lucky enough to see three lambs born on Tuesday, two with intervention from staff and one without any help at all. This was a pretty special experience and something we’ve talked about quite a bit since. ( I even managed to capture one birth on film – the video is at the end of the post if you want to see!)
Variety of outdoor play areas for different ages – the only downside to this is when you have three children and one more suited to a different play area than the other two! Luckily because we had Aunty M and Granny with us we were able to split up a bit.
Indoor play area – This is a relatively new addition to Cannon Hall Farm, it certainly wasn’t there the last time we visited a few years ago. I loved that it meant we had somewhere to sit down and warm up whilst the kids burned off some energy. It’s one of those soft play set ups where it can be quite difficult to see your children and I lost mine for a good few minutes but I’m lucky that they are of an age now where I can trust them to come back to wherever I’m sat if they’ve got a problem and they’re really good at keeping an eye on each other for me.
Raised viewing areas – for both watching lambing and milking the raised platforms were an absolute god send. We were able to get a really clear view of what was going on without having to lift anyone up or get in anyone’s way.
Friendly helpful staff – all the staff we encountered on our trip this week were lovely. They were all happy to chat to the kids about what they were doing, answering questions and even explaining right in the middle of lambing what was going on with a particular ewe who needed some help with giving birth because her lambs were in an awkward position. This meant that the kids had a real understanding of what they were watching and were able to tell Daddy all about it later!
Baby animals – we loved being able to see so many baby animals of different ages, from fresh born that day through to months old. Being able to see the animals being born or feeding with their mummies was a real talking point for us and all three children learned such a lot from seeing things close up
A family ticket for four cost us £26 this week (but is £30 during peak season) and by the time you’ve added parking, fuel, a picnic and hot drinks onto that it’s not a cheap day out but it was absolutely worth every single penny. Next time we go back we’re taking Daddy too!
The Premier League have never advertised on TV before, let’s face it – they don’t really need to do they? We all know who they are and what they do.
But this is different.
This isn’t about football. This is about our children. About their education. About inspiring our future generations.
The Premier League have launched a new project called Primary Stars and believe me when I say they are putting their heart and soul into this (and a whole lot of money). When we asked Premier League Executive Chairman, Richard Scudamore why they were doing this he replied ‘because we can’. And he’s right isn’t he? The Premier League commands a lot of attention and an enormous amount of respect on an international level and if they can use this influence for the good of our children then it’s a winner isn’t it?
Premier League Primary Stars is designed to use the appeal of the Premier League and professional football clubs to capture the attention of children and inspire them to learn, be active and develop important life skills. The Primary Stars programme isn’t just about sport. In fact it provides free downloadableteaching materials for English and Maths as well as PSHE and PE, there’s even resources for assemblies.
The Premier League Primary Stars programme has been developed in partnership with primary school teachers and subject experts to create inspirational National Curriculum-linked resources. As a teacher the idea of being able to dip in and out of the Primary Stars programme at will is really appealing! They’re not suggesting that you give your entire school a football-obsessed focus, more that you can pick and choose the bits you need to suit your class. Let’s face it, not every child in your class will love football but plenty of them will. And if you can enthuse those children about maths with the help of some footballs stats or turn around a reluctant reader with the right book then why wouldn’t you?
At the Premier League Primary Stars launch last week, I had the pleasure of meeting Gabby Logan, Cressida Cowell (author of ‘How to Train your Dragon’, Rachel Riley (mathematical genius of Countdown fame), Dan Freedman (author of ‘Jaime Johnson’ series) who chatted enthusiastically about the Primary Stars programme and their own involvement in this project.
There’s there’s no such thing as a kid who can’t be excited about reading, they just haven’t found the right book yet.
Cressida spoke passionately about the need to get our children reading for pleasure. She explained that there’s a lot of competition for their attention and so many things are easier than reading – sitting down in front of a film, playing video games – but that if we can relate books to film or football we might just catch their attention. Cressida has been heavily involved in the selection of books which go into the Premier League Primary Stars “book boxes” which are to be given to over 500 schools for FREE when they register with the programme.
Rachel’s love of maths was clear when she spoke of the need to make maths cool. Maths can be scary and people panic but we need to stop it being ok to be rubbish at maths. We want our children to be proud of being good at maths. As a primary school teacher myself I know how important it is to give maths context. How many times do you remember thinking “Why the hell am I learning this? When am I ever going to need it in real life?”. Rachel spoke of the “real life word problems” which are rarely “real life” and how football can tap into this – there’s so much maths to be found in football from league tables to accuracy ratios and time management.
Local deputy head, Henry Commander also shared his experience of working with the Premier League Primary Stars resources in his own classroom and described the way that seeing a respected Premier League footballer on the smart-board made the kids sit up and take notice. It didn’t matter that they were saying exactly the same thing as Mr Commander himself, suddenly it was cool and they wanted to listen. He explained the way the each Primary Stars resource begins with a video – which can be a great hook to get kids concentrating and interested – and that, in the pupils’ eyes the footballs stars give credibility to what is being taught.
The Premier League are going hard on this epic community programme and have set themselves the bold target of connecting with 10,000 schools in the next two years! If you want to help your school to access the free to download lesson plans, activities and video content then make sure you mention the programme to you child’s teacher as well as nominating them here. I’m pleased to say that I spoke to the Deputy Head at my own children’s school last Friday morning and by the time I went to pick Ben up that afternoon the school was already signed up!