We are learning about magnets and forces at school and one of our homework choices was to make a compass which I really liked doing.
To make a compass you need:
A needle or paper clip
A cork or something that floats
You need to make the needle magnetic. To do this you need to rub the needle at least 50 times along the magnet in the same direction
Get a grown up to cut off a small circle of the cork
Carefully push the needle through the cork
Float the compass in a small bowl of water. Make sure it isn’t in any wind and the needle should move to point to North and South. You can then use the sun and shadows to work out which is which and mark east or west (or you can do what I did and cheat by using a ready made compass to check!)
If you were out in the wild you can also use fur or hair to make the needle magnetic.
Also if you didn’t have a cork you could use a leaf to float it.
As you might have seen already Lottie loves fairy gardens. She even had a fairy garden party for her birthday party the other week. She loves to create her own little secret fairy gardens and when she found out that she was being sent some things from Gardens2You to turn our family garden into a fairy garden she was really excited.
Our garden needed a lot of work at the beginning of the Summer and it has never really been safe for small children so Mum and Dad were very happy when one of our friends who is really good at gardening offered to help make it safe so my little brother could go out and play. This soon went from being a quick tidy up project to a full garden make over and our friend even learnt how to concrete and put in new steps!
I had lots of things to do like cutting the grass, cutting hedges down and generally helping tidy up but fortunately unlike the rest of us Lottie has got what my Mum says are ‘green fingers’ (I think she means messy hands!) and she got involved in all the planting and helping build a rockery which she loved. She has learnt lots about planting and looking after plants, which I think she will share in another post, but mostly loved creating her own little fairy garden.
Once it was planted and filled we used the main flower bed for most of the area secret fairy garden and made our own magical stepping stones using old baking trays filled with concrete and setting glass gems in it in patterns, we then topped up the concrete and let it set for a few days before turning the stones out to place in the garden. These stepping stones looked great but we needed something special to turn it into a proper fairy garden. The people at Gardens2You had sent us a bundle of fairy items and Lottie decided the Strawberry Pixies would be perfect to live here- she loved then, they look very cheeky and she likes the idea of them watching out for fairies!
We then had to find the perfect spot for our fairy door– Lottie says this comes to life at night when we are all asleep so the fairies can bring their treasure back. We tried a couple of different spots- against the wall, in among some flowers and against the flower pot- Lottie likes it best against the flower pot so I think we are going to attach it here for her. The door is really nice because it is quite heavy and thick and can be used in lots of different places.
We haven’t yet found a permeant place for the little pixie twins and the toadstools because Lottie keeps liking taking them out to play with. She thinks they like hiding behind the plants! We think they are great because they still look lovely even after being in the garden for weeks and also because they are strong enough to cope with being played with.
Lottie loves her fairy garden and has been looking at the Gardens2You website to decide what else she would like to add to her collection!
It’s my sister’s birthday today and she has been excited about it for ages. She had been planning her birthday Fairy Garden Party for months! We had it on Friday and she said it was the best party ever! I promised her I would write about it because she was too busy enjoying herself to take photos!
The Fairy Garden Party invitations were made by Diana Evans Artist and each was a tiny glass bottle with a fairy charm inside a jewellery pouch- inside the glass bottle was a glittery scroll with the party details on it, Lottie loved giving these out because they were so unusual and all her friends were excited to get a secret message in a bottle.
It was easy to decide where to hold it because the best place for a fairy garden party has to be in the garden. It did take quite a lot of work getting our garden tidied up and ready but luckily one of our family friends loves gardening and had lots of great ideas and did loads of work to make sure it was safe for everyone.
With garden looking nice we didn’t need too much in the way of decorations, just a few banners but we also wanted something eye catching that showed it was a fairy garden party rather than any other party. We were so pleased with the balloons we were sent from Qualatex UK as they really helped with the theme. We are going to review them in a separate post but they are definitely essential to anyone planning a fairy garden party and made the whole garden look amazing.
Lottie was only having a few children come so it meant we could get a few extra treats and activities for each of them than we would normally do. We got fairy wings and wands for the girls and an elf hat for the boys for when they arrived which they all loved.
We started off with making fairy gardens, we had got some large flat pots and mixed some top soil with sand. We put a little bit of gravel in the bottom for drainage and then added the soil and sand mix. The grown ups helped the children plant their plants- marigolds and little alpine plants. Then the children were able to choose from a selection of fairies, elves, houses, bridges, signs, benches, little creatures, ponds, and sparkly stones to decorate their gardens and had a lovely time doing this. They all looked amazing and everybody had make them different.
It was soon time for some food so the children all had lots of party treats and a few special fairy garden foods including twigs and berries (pretzels, blueberries and strawberries) snails (homemade cheese twists) and toadstools (strawberries on marshmallows). They then all tucked into ice-cream factory which isn’t very Fairy Garden but is really popular with all our friends!
After the children had eaten we got out lots of other fairy arts and crafts we had ordered from Baker Ross. They were able to colour in stain glass creatures, make fairy mirrors, decorate heart shaped boxes and do fairy scratch art. The children stayed busy for ages doing their crafts.
Then it was time to sing happy birthday. We had planned to make Lottie a toadstool cake but found a really nice Woodland one from Tesco which we ordered in the end. It was really tasty!
We then had a fairy treasure hunt in the garden and it was soon time for the children to go home. They loved their party bag treats- they all got a fairy book and some sweets and were able to take home their wings and wands, all their arts and their fairy gardens which will grow so went home with lots of goodies- they even had a beautiful fairy balloon each to take thanks to Qualatex UK!
Lottie loved her party- she said it was her best one ever and all her friends seemed to enjoy it. I had fun too because when I didn’t have to help I got to have an Xbox tournament with the other older brothers!
I am really looking forward to going to Into The Trees over the weekend of the 9th and 10th September. We have never been before but it looks like it is going to be a fantastic family adventure.
There is loads of different activities going on- Slacklining, Story Telling and Den Building. I am most excited to try out Archery, Axe Throwing and Mountain Boarding which all sound awesome!
It looks like there is going to be plenty to do for all the family at Into The Trees including pond dipping and mud monsters which even my little brother will be old enough to join in with and will love doing.
We have been quite lucky so far this holiday, despite there being heavy rain every single day we have only had one day where we really felt a bit stuck in and have so far managed to avoid getting soaked.
I do have lots of things ready to do if it does rain though and these are a few of my ideas.
Build a Den
We love building a den- it’s something you can do indoors or outdoors and it can be as big as you have space for or tiny and cosy. You don’t need loads of equipment, blankets and a clothes horse are fine or you can use other furniture and bedding or picnic rugs. If it’s outside then logs, sticks, string and tarpaulin are perfect. Once you have built it you can decorate it and make it comfortable and then decide what you want to do in there- read a book, have a picnic, do some writing. I am not sure den building is something you ever completely grow out of!
Tip out a big box of LEGO, set a timer and challenge everyone to make something on a theme (vehicles, space, food, animals etc) when the time is up you have to stop and can pick a winner. This is great because you can have quick builds or longer builds with more difficult themes. For younger children you could do this with Duplo or even using Playdoh and you don’t even need to pick a winner, it could just be for fun.
Agree on a film, and then plan to spend an afternoon watching it. Younger children might enjoy making tickets but everyone can get involved with making cinema snacks. You can pop some popcorn and make some crispie cakes to eat while you enjoy your film.
Spend the day doing lots of baking and hopefully you can enjoy it all for a picnic the next day when it’s nicer!
Games and Puzzle Challenge
Invite some friends over and set up lots of boards games, card games and puzzles and have a tournament. If you are allowed then you could do the same type of thing on a computer or games console.
Play Rain Games
Get your raincoat and wellies on and go and splash in the puddles and dance in the rain. You can then come back in and dry off while having raindrop races on the window!
I would love to know what sort of things other children like to do when the weather is bad?
I have been interested in learning about both World War One and World War Two since I went to Ypres last year and have read a lot of books about history and fighter planes. I am now really looking forward to going to see the new Dunkirk film with my Dad, I have read some really good reviews of it.
I was very excited when Airfix asked if I would be like to try out their new Quick Build Sets ahead of the release of Dunkirk. They sent us a Spitfire and a Messerschmitt in the Quick Build version and the same in the normal Airfix starter model sets.
I had tried Airfix a couple of years ago when I was 6 or 7 but had found it quite tricky at that time and so although I love any building toys and activities it hadn’t really been a range I had looked at recently. When the sets arrived both my Dad and sister were keen to get involved. The Airfix Quick Build Sets are aimed at children age 5+ so it seemed like it would be alright for Lottie to try and we set a challenge to see if we could build ours quicker than Dad could. I got started on the Quick Build Spitfire, Lottie on the Quick Build Messerschmitt and Dad on the original sets.
I was able to get straight on with the Airfix Quick Build, the instructions were really easy to follow and it went together really well. Lottie found it slightly more complicated but still managed to follow the instructions and build it mostly herself with just a little bit of grown up help- sometimes she wasn’t quite sure what she needed to do next and a couple of times she couldn’t quite clip the pieces together fully . We think it was still very good for the first time she had made something like this and we also think if she was more used to building construction type models she wouldn’t have needed any help so think the guidelines of 5+ are about right- she is 5 and didn’t need too much help really. We were both very pleased with the finished models and Lottie was really proud of her building.
We easily beat my Dad in the challenge- mainly because we kept stopping him to ask him questions but he and I were able to sit down and build the Airfix Starter Set Spitfire over the next couple of nights. I think I am nearer to the right age to be able to do these now too. It is still a bit tricky to do the fiddly bits but I was able to follow the instructions easily enough and had enough patience to sit down and do it over time including letting it dry. My Dad also really enjoyed it, he likes doing practical things and making things but hasn’t done any model making since he was a child
Once we finished Dad let me paint this one- I think it came out quite well for our first attempt!
We will definitely be revisiting the Airfix range- I loved the idea of the Airfix Quick Build sets. It was good that we were able to get on with it ourselves and it didn’t need lots of setting up or worrying about paint, glue and making a mess. I also like the fact that it comes with a display stand too so you can play with it and also display it like a proper model. I really loved doing the Airfix starter sets too as although I found bits of it difficult I really enjoyed this as an activity to do with my Dad.
Disclaimer: We were sent these Airfix kits to review but all thought are our own
Buttoonies arrive in small packets priced at £3.99 each and contain everything you need to make your toy. They don’t need any glue, scissors or needles and you can get straight on with making it. There was a good choice of toys within the Under The Sea range including a Clown Fish, Crab, Frog, Octopus, Pirate and Turtle. The packets are all marked with a difficulty rating out of ten.
Once we had decided what we were making to start with we unpacked the parts and had a look at what we had to do. Each pack contained thread, buttons and foam shapes. It was really easy to understand the instructions- they were pictures of the parts in the same size as they actually were and then these were numbered with a diagram showing exactly where each number had to be threaded on.
I thought the Buttoonies would be really quick to make but actually it took a little while- they weren’t difficult but they did feel like a proper craft activity rather than something easy that was over and done within a few minutes. We did have to slightly enlarge the holes in the foam parts but otherwise threading the buttons on in the right order was simple if you concentrated.
Once we had finished threading the parts on the models looked really good and my sister took them to school to use as puppets. She absolutely loved making these and really liked having a craft she could get on with on her own with hardly any help. I enjoyed them too- I liked the pirate as that was more complicated to make (it was rated as a difficulty of 4/10) and Lottie loved them all.
Buttoonies also make bigger versions which are made from MDF which can be decorated- these look good fun, they are £9.99 each.
We really enjoyed the Buttoonies Under The Sea range, they do several other ranges too including witches and bats. These crafts are great for children age 5 and upwards and I think they would be perfect as rainy day activities. My Mum suggested they would be nice to give instead of a party bag so we might do this at one of our birthday parties- she likes the fact there is no mess and that we didn’t even have to get the glue out to make something!
My sister was recently sent a Disney Princess Aquabeads set to review which she loved. I wasn’t so sure if it would be my kind of thing but I kept watching over her shoulder and helping her out with bits and pieces so I was pleased when Aquabeads asked if I would like to review a set myself.
I was happy to have a go but wasn’t sure if they would really have anything for older children- although I would have been happy with just making patterns I wasn’t so keen on princesses! Aquabeads got it just right though by sending me their Star Wars set so I could make C3PO, R2D2, Darth Vader or a Stoorm Trooper.
This set is great, like the others it is all set out in compartments so you can find the right colours quickly and easily and is really easy to set up. I was able to get straight on and decided to make C3PO. My sister gets a lot of craft type gifts and while I like doing this sort of activity there aren’t really many specifically aimed at my age so I really enjoyed having something to make, not only to doing some craft but to make something I was happy to have in my bedroom afterwards.
I actually found it quite relaxing to sit and put the beads in the right place and follow the colour patterns, it was a nice activity to do after I had finished my homework. My Mum enjoyed the peace and quiet of my and me sister sitting together doing our Aquabead sets!
I had no problem with getting it to set, I just used plenty of water and left it before removing it from the template ready to make another one.
I was really pleased with how C3PO came out and am going to be making R2D2 next. I thought this was a great set as it appeals to both boys and girls from age 4 right up to my age and it was easy to get on and do it without needing an adult around to help.
Disclaimer: I was sent a set of Star Wars Aquabeads to review but all thoughts are my own
The people at Fruit Shoot are challenging children to find their ‘thing’. Everyone has a thing that is theirs and they want us all to celebrate our different skills and abilities.
Your thing could be something you are amazingly good at, something that doesn’t come easy but you work at, something you do for a hobby or just something you love. The great thing is when you are a kid and are still finding out what your ‘thing’ is you can try everything.
There are loads of things I love- sport, adventure, travelling, reading, technology and anything that involves learning something new so when I got this amazing hamper of goodies from Fruit Shoot I couldn’t wait to try some new activities and see if any of them could be my thing.
We were sent an awesome microscope so we went out on a nature trail and collected lots of leaves, twigs, grass and blossom to have a look at under it. This is really interesting and things look amazing close up under the microscope, you can see some surprising detail. I really enjoyed this and Sam and Lottie loved exploring the countryside to find things to look at under the microscope.
One of the other activities was a kit to make bouncy balls so after school one night we had an evening of making these. I expected it to be quite complicated but it wasn’t- you just had to put the moulds together and then start layering your pattern of different colours before standing it in water for a short time. Once you had done this then you opened it up and ran it under cold water before leaving it to harden for a while. I really enjoyed this. I liked the fact that I had actually made something all by myself that I could play with. I have never done anything like this before and am really glad I got chance to try it. Lottie loves arts and crafts and this was her very favourite activity, she is planning to take her bouncy ball in to school to show and tell because she is very proud of having made it by herself .
We also received a Horrible Science Kit, which was absolutely awesome- there are lots of experiments you can do. Lottie especially liked the lab coat and glasses that we were given to use with this set!
We started with a volcano which was really straightforward to do but very effective as it exploded everywhere! The instructions made it easy to do without any grown up help but we decided to add our own twist with a little red food dye to make our explosion more lava like! There are other experiments I am planning on doing next week including making snot and making a rocket.
Along with all these great activities Fruit Shoot also had the great idea to send us a selection of their drinks to stop us getting too thirsty between activities. We were already aware of the Fruit Shoot Drinks but there was an apple one I hadn’t tried before and enjoyed, these have all got no added sugar and no artificial colours so are great for kids of all ages. We hadn’t tried their Hydro range before and we all really liked these, they are great when you are busy because they have a sports cap so you can grab a quick drink and keep going and because they are flavoured spring water and have zero calories and no added sugar my Mum was even happy to let Sam try them- he loved it!
We loved trying these new activities and were really pleased to be part of Fruit Shoot’s campaign to find what our ‘thing’ was. I can definitely say I have added science as one of my things!
We were even sent an arts and crafts set too, which is perfect for my sister who is always making things and let us turn our Fruit Shoot bottles into something fun to represent one of our ‘Things’.
We set ourselves a challenge to see what we could make our bottles into in 15 minutes- Lottie made a twirling baton for ballet and I have made a HYDRO rocket for science and space- not only is it made out of a Hydro bottle but I am also going to use it for an experiment to set off a water rocket… that’s for another post though!
My sister likes to watch the adverts between her favourite TV shows and see what she would like to save her pocket money for and for the last few weeks she has had her eye on Aquabeads– or as she calls them Aquabeads just add water’!
She was really excited when we were asked if we would like to review a set and even more excited when they arrived and she found she had been sent the Aquabeads Disney Princess Playset.
Lottie was desperate to get started straight away but we thought it would be best to wait until after Sam was in bed because he is still a little young for them so one night once he was tucked up we opened the set up and had a proper look.
It was really easy to use- she had to chose a template and put it in the holder. This showed her which colour beads went where. For her first attempt Lottie chose to make Ariel because she loves Mermaids. She soon got into putting the beads on the grid and before long the princess started to look like an actual princess.
Once Lottie had finished putting all her Aquabeads in place she got to spray the design with water and then drain some of it off before leaving it to set for ten minutes and using a special tool to lift them up off the template. The first time we tried they didn’t come off very well so we pushed them back into place and added a lot more water and left it another ten minutes. This time it came off perfectly well so we think she perhaps hadn’t used enough water to start with. We left it to dry over night as although it was all set it was a little sticky and by the next morning it was perfect.
Lottie said she loved the set and that she wanted to make another princess straight away! She says it is really good fun and easy to do and she thinks she can make a princess for each of her friends- it’s a good job Aquabeads do refills as even though there was 1000 beads in the pack I think she is going to go through them very quickly! She really liked the jewel beads and the fact that she had so many different colours to choose from.
I think these are good because Lottie was able to do the nearly whole thing by herself without too much help and because they set with water it’s much easier for children to use than other products that need heat or ironing.
This was a great way for Lottie to keep busy for an hour and she enjoyed matching up the colours- although she put a couple of beads in that were different to the template it didn’t really matter and her first attempt still looks really good.
I think this is a good activity set for children age 4 plus and like the fact there are lots of different types of Aquabeads sets you can choose from so there is something for almost everyone.