Saturday, 1 December 2012

You, inside a snow globe!

Here's a really quite but cute Christmas craft we did last week. The kids had a helping hand in making them and they have enjoyed shaking them ever since!

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Sharpie Pen Vs Porcelain Paint Mugs

Dare I say the dreaded word so soon? Well, it is November (already!) so I'm starting to think about Christmas presents.

Throughout the year me and my 2 year old have done a lot of home made gifts, mainly painted mugs and plates, which have gone down really well. My 2 year old loves painting full stop so it was great fun for her to do. Here are some we did using potato printing (bunting), hand prints, stencil (crown), finger print dots and free hand strips, foam letter prints, which I then 'tidied' up with a porcelain paint pen. Wrapped in cellophane and tied with ribbon they looked great! Vibrant colours, high gloss and went on easily. 

As fun as it was, it didn't allow for much detail so when I saw on pinterest that you could use sharpie pens on ceramic I was thrilled. I am going for a 'Tea for Two' theme for my mums presents this year complete with biscuits, chocolates, tea and mug cosies etc, all hand made. SO, I just needed to do the teapot and mugs. 
Again, looking for inspiration on pinterest I used a few designs that caught my eye and adapted them to my own. 
Here is the result.

Simple but effective I think. And will go nice with her red and white theme kitchen.

My two year old also wanted to get involved so she drew around her hand and coloured in the larger areas while I doodled in the middle. The pens were easy to work with and great for accuracy. No drying time but less vibrant in colour than the paints once baked and haven't checked it in the dishwasher yet.

Go on, give it a try for yourself. A mug for canvas - what can you design? 

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Halloween Spider Cake & Bonfire Cake

I baked a couple of cakes for Halloween and Bonfire night which were so easy, perfect for a novice (like me!) but looked great so thought I would share them with you for inspiration.

I won't go into the ins and outs of how to make them as I think they are fairly self explanatory, I'll keep it short but if anyone wants a full guide just shout!

Bonfire Night Recipe: Cinnamon Catherine Wheels

Here's an easy peasy recipe the kids get involved with for some yummy cinnamon swirls aptly renamed for Bonfire night as Cinnamon Catherine Wheels.

What you need
375g pack of ready rolled puff pastry
75g Caster Sugar
75g Softened butter
2 tbsp Ground Cinnamon
Sultana's (optional)
1 Egg beaten with 2 tbsp Milk

1. Preheat oven to 200°c/ Gas 6. Roll your puff pastry out into a flat rectangle.

2. Beat together the butter, sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and then spread over the pastry. Scatter with sultana's if desired the roll the rectangle pastry from the short side into a sausage. Chill for a minimum of 10 minutes (the longer the better as it will make it easier to cut!).

3. Cut into 1cm wide slices and place flat on a baking sheet. Press them slightly so they spread out a little. Chill for 20 minutes (Or you can freeze them at this point. Open-freeze until solid then freeze in a sealed container for up to one month. Bake from frozen (brush with egg mixture and sprinkle with caster sugar half way through)
4. Brush with egg mixture, sprinkle with sugar and bake for 18-20 minutes until golden. 

Best served warm, sprinkled with sugar. Yummy with custard or just as nice cooled as an afternoon teatime treat!


Monday, 22 October 2012

Halloween: Chocolate Cornflake 'insert scary creature here' Nests!

We probably all think of chocolate cornflake nests as traditionally an Easter thing, but they are so simple to make, kids love making them and they are pretty tasty too.

So, I decided to re-make them for Halloween as Dragon and Dinosaur nests, but you could do them as any scary creature you wanted to really!

All you need to do is follow the same recipe used for our Easter ones HERE but in place of the mini eggs we used Cadburys new green mini 'screme' eggs and some which other halloween-ish mini eggs with red caramel inside, simply cut in half.

As my two year old is obsessed with sprinkles too, we added some orange shreds sprinkled on some and used some toffee sauce on others to make them extra gooey (and tasty!)

I also had the idea of candy floss/ spun sugar put over the top as cobwebs for spiders webs. I didn't have time to try it, but someone could.... I think it would look good with a few of the small plastic spiders dotted around for display too. 

OK, ok, so I know spider technically don't have 'nests' like this but it's all for the fun of halloween eh?

Friday, 19 October 2012

Leaf art: animals and fairies

At the moment in seems as though we cannot go on even the tiniest of walks without collecting a carrier bag full to the brim with leaves!

The different shapes and colours, so many varieties too, means that we just have to pick them up!

So - what to do with them once they are home? Seems a shame for them to sit in a box forever more.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Halloween: Decorated pumpkins

Everyone has to have pumpkins at Halloween right?

But, as pretty as traditional carved pumpkins are, they really can prove difficult to do for any adult, let alone a child. There is of course, lots of fun to be had in hollowing them out but the actual cutting part is one for those a bit older.

Having 3 preschoolers, we decided to decorate our pumpkins instead.

Armed with paint, pens, glitter, gems and sequins the kids had free reign on what they wanted to do with their pumpkin.

The little ones (12 and 16 months old) used paint and their fingers to cover the pumpkins and the nearly 3 year old had a whale of a time with glitter & gems.

They are not scary by any means, really rather pretty actually. Great to display and last much much longer than those which have been hollowed out.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Autumn: Play dough meets nature

Here I have 2 activities to do with play dough after going on a nature trail collecting lovely Autumn bits like leaves, cones, twigs etc

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Sunny October?

Maybe a bit of an odd post but felt like I should post it seen as though we started the journey on here...

Way back in March, yes 7 whole months ago, we planted some sunflower seeds in pots and posted about it HERE.

We planted a lot and gave many of them away as gifts for easter.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Gel Sensory Bags

I know I said in my last post that we love messy play BUT sometimes, just sometimes, it is nice to get all the fun of messy play, without the mess!


Nothing is ever impossible ;-)

Sensory bags are the answer!

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Shaving foam sensory play

We love messy play! And for a new sensory experience today we tried using shaving foam.

I kind of wanted to make this 'more exciting' than just shaving foam in a tray. It just didn't sound too interesting and I even tweeted for ideas to include.

But what do I know? I'm not a 1 year old who has never touched this weird fluffy white stuff before... Then it IS exciting!

I'm so glad I did just go with the basics for this activity. I did it with an 11 month old, 15 month old and 2.5 year old and they all absolutely loved it.

The younger two were just simply amazed at it's feel between there fingers and giggled every time the squidged it in their fists.

Poking it, Patting it, Smearing it, squelching it. All doing an amazing job on developing fine motor skills!

The 2 year old loved being a 'big girl' and being able to squirt her own shaving foam out as she wanted.

I also gave her some pots and cups to incorporate her love of role play into this activity. It quickly became a cafe set up and she was asking for sprinkles to go on her hot chocolate with whipped cream.

I gave her cocoa powder and she was in her element making all sorts of concoctions, mixing away like a busy little bee.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Autumn is nigh....

I love autumn. It is my favourite season of all.

Just as well it's not Summer, as that never happened did it!

So, our theme at Little Chicks is just that - Autumn. Official start date 21st September and the signs are already beginning to show. The frosty mornings, the golden colours and the seasonal vegetables.

I have lots planned for this theme, some we've already done like tissue paper tree's and scratch card leaves but our favourite so far has been our trip to the PYO farm yesterday.

We went to learn about autumn fruit and vegetables, seeing ones that have just started to grow like the pumpkins ready for October, fruits that are just dying off that are from the summer season like strawberries and ones that are just ripe now, ready for picking.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Home made sensory play dough - Scents and Textures.

Using our simple home made recipe, make your plain play dough as normal - HERE

We experimented with scent and texture to make a real sensory play activity of them.They smelt almost good enough to eat, so do be careful as some as mine wanted to eat the chocolate in particular and although they won't do any harm being homemade and non-toxic they are a bit salty! Here is what we made:

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Random act of kindness....

 Or just plain oddness???

You decide!

I am really very lucky that in a built up residential town we are surround in the wider area by the beautiful Cannock Chase but that we also live about 2 steps away from gorgeous woodland with a few small walks to be had. 

It is lovely to be able to take the kids (dog in tow) for a little adventure and exploration without having to worry about getting them all on the bus or in the car. I seems to be used by many dog walkers and the local community in general but over the past few months I have been saddened by it's decline.

Maybe it has been the children being off in the holidays, I did see quite a few around on bikes, which may have contributed to the increase in litter, but there seems to also be a lot of beer cans and the like strewn across the path so I'm guessing it has become somewhat of a nightly meet up point for drinkers.

So Sad!

I have news......


EEEEeeeeeek! SO excited by this new venture and so glad to be able to now officially tell you all!

I was first approached by Britax way back in May, when my blog was still relatively new, and was given such a wonderful compliment that they loved my blog *Shucks* and wondered if I would be interested in being a Britax Mumbassador.

Say what? A MUMBASSADOR???? And what might one of those be???

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Melted bead Sun Catchers

I saw this fabulous idea on The Artful Parent's blog (see the link) and thought these sun catchers looked so easy to make but very effective when done so, me and the kids set about making our own.

The post we saw on The artful Parent arranged the beads in muffin tins so all of the catchers were round but we also tried with metal cookie cutters too for different shapes, which worked well, as well as just arranging shapes onto a baking tray freely. This also worked well particularly for flower shapes which would look fab glued onto hair clips or badges!!!

It would also be good to experiment further with different beads so next up we will try the glitter one and glow in the dark.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Small world play goes on a bear hunt!

We're Going on a Bear Hunt
                                                                                                                                    By Michael Rosen

We have been loving this children's classic for a while, the repetition of the book means that they all now know it off by heart and chunks of the book can regularly be heard chanted around the house.

Our last trip to the local forest resulted in an impromptu hunt of our very own. (Posted HERE) which the kids absolutely loved but we really wanted to combine their love of this book with their love of small world play (Blogged about HERE and HERE). My 2 year old in particular is particularly fond of small world now that her imagination is developing into a world of wonder and I really want to encourage this further. The use of books and small world promotes this perfectly!

Creating the bear hunt was also a great sensory/ messy play activity for my 1 year old to get involved in too as the trays used for the little people were also perfect size for little hands! 

An activity that holds the attention of children from 1 year old to 6 years old and beyond and all for free is always a winner with me.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Small world play on a budget - Shhhhh! It's our little secret...

So you may have seen recently we've been loving small world play in the garden, and even made our own fairy gardens which were great fun to make and super duper cheap!

But, if you are not one for crafting/ DIY....... forget about expensive plastic tree houses, cottages and the like. Quite frankly, they are not only expensive but also don't fit in for a 'natural' fairy scene or small world in the garden.

No, save your money and listen up to my little secret I'm going to let you in on.....

Sunday, 5 August 2012

We can't go over it, we can't go under it. OH NO! We've got to go through it!

This week we have been reading a good old favourite book of ours again. In fact, it's everyone's favourite surely?

We're Going on a Bear Hunt
                                                                                                                                    By Michael Rosen

I actually don't think we will ever tire of this book!

After the 5th time of reading the book this week, we decided to get out and enjoy the sunshine with an impromtu trip to the local forest for a picnic.

As soon as we got there, unprompted by me, the kids started acting out parts of the story that they could see. The repetition in the book is just fabulous for learning, even my 2 year old knows the whole book off by heart!

"We're going on a bear hunt
We're going to catch a BIG one
What a beautiful day
We're not scared"

Silent Sunday

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Recipe: Simple summer berry cheesecake

There is nothing better when the sun is shining than to head to your local PYO fruit farm for some super delicious British berries (and eaten a few along the way)

Here is a seriously simple but very tasty recipe to use up the berries in a delicious cheesecake. A good recipe to get the kids involved in too. Mine particularly enjoyed hitting the biscuits into crumbs, and I particularly enjoyed arranging the berries into the union jack (feeling very patriotic after the opening ceremony of the Olympics!)

I don't faff about with measurements, just spoons, cups or packs of ingredients so you will have to adjust for what size you are making. We made 4 individual cheesecakes, I would double all ingredients for 1 large one.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Home made Salt Dough

Salt dough is so quick and easy to make and provides hours of entertainment, not only is it the initial process of making your model, but also decorating them afterwards. The end result could make a fab gift for someone too!

Friday, 29 June 2012

Home made Puff Paint

Inspired by this picture circulating the internet '40 things I must do with my toddler in 2012', we decided to try out puff painting. We have done a lot of things on the list but this was one that we hadn't and it sounded fun.


Wednesday, 27 June 2012

An old classic - home made!

Kicking off a new series of recipes for old classic, tried and tested kids meals is good old fish fingers. Home making them as cheaply, healthy and easy as possible and where we can getting the children themselves involved in the cooking process. They love getting their hands sticky and are much more likely to eat something they have made.  

One of the children who I tried these with would only eat chicken and pizza, but soon wolfed down every fish finger in front of him at this meal time!

Saturday, 19 May 2012

A fairy world in your own back garden!

“The perceptions children have of life are bound up very closely within a world where fantasy and reality
constantly go hand-in-hand. Research has shown that the children who indulge freely in good quality
fantasy and pretend play, the children who are considered to be ‘high fantasizers’ and spend a good deal
of time in imaginative thinking (Singer and Singer, 1977; Pulaski, 1981; Reiss 1981;), have greater tendencies
towards being creative with materials and situations. Such studies have also found that these creative,
internal thinkers have better concentration, are less aggressive generally, can tell more creative stories with
greater originality and more complex characters and situations, and are more inclined to enjoy what they
do than children who are ‘low fantisizers”.

                                        Janet Moyles, Just Playing

Following on from our magical adventure discovering forest fairies at the local forest (blogged about here. One of my favourite posts so far!), there has been a new found interest in all things fantasy, so we decided to make our very own fairy gardens.

We started  off with an impromptu afternoon outside, using a couple of old tins, some sand, water beads, stones and flowers and made some little portable gardens. We kept it very simple, bearing in mind I was working with a 2 year old, but she enjoyed every second of tottering around the garden looking for things we could include and placing them in the tin to look pretty.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Secret dens & Forest fairies

‘Cannock Chase’ is an ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’, and it’s on our doorstep. 

It offers an amazing amount of free opportunities to be physically active as a family/group.

Dressed in woollies and waterproofs, we
had a brilliant time running and splashing
in puddles and catching rain drops.
It’s so easy to look at the dull weather and
put the television on instead. We discovered
some little creative techniques that really
worked to get us and our kids motivated to
be active, whatever the weather.
Creating regular outdoor experiences helps
our children to get into the habit of playing,
exploring and discovering, in all seasons.
Many of us in the group never dreamed
of going out in the cold pouring rain for a
walk. Now we just grab our coats!

Friday, 27 April 2012

Senses in the garden #1 - Sound

At the moment we are really trying to get the garden all set up for the summer and our aim is to maximise development and fun potential outdoors.

The way were trying to organise this is to make little areas within the garden dedicated to different senses for the children to explore and play. We already have a play decking area with toys in like a playhouse, car, bike, tent etc. Normal things you might find in anyone's garden with kids.

What I want to now do is create these areas as cheaply and economically as possible to show children don't need expensive toys, just a few recycled household objects and a bit of imagination.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Sunflower seed mosaic pictures

You may have seen our guide a few weeks ago on growing Sunflowers? If you haven't already sown your seeds here's how: Sowing Sunflower Seeds! We had great fun doing ours and there has been some real interest watching them start shooting and watering them everyday.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Easter giveaway winner announced

Thanks to everyone for your entries to win the beautifully illustrated book by Amy Hest 'Little Chick'

The number picked by was 78 which is.....

KIRSTY FOX (@bloomingfox)

Congratulations to you! Could you please email me your address at so I can get that posted off to you asap in time for Easter!

All of those who were so lucky, never fear, we have a fabulous competition coming in April to win a FunPod!!!! Keep your eyes peeled......

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Easter: Banana cupcakes with Cadbury Philadelphia frosting

These are delicious. Seriously. You may have already seen my constant tweets about how delicious they really are. And now, lucky you, I am going to share my recipe with you!

They are also a great way to use up over ripe banana's.

Simply made Eastery (Yes, that is now a word!) with some Cadbury flake and mini eggs used ever so cleverly (ahem) to create a nest.

Oh and did I mention the delicious (over use of this word is needed with these) Cadbury Philadelphia cream cheese frosting???

Do you know what? Forget me blabbering on about them and try them for yourself. You will see! Here's how:

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

A week in tweets

Slummy single mummy started this over on her blog last week and I thought it was a fab idea so I'm joining in this week with my 2 year olds week in tweets (or what they would have been if she was on twitter...... or could write for that matter!)

For more entries and the a bit more information on what this is about then pop over to Slummy single mummy's blog now!

Monday, 26 March 2012

Show me Show me: Chris and Pui Roadshow 2012

Copyright Chris & Pui 2012.

Yesterday we were lucky enough to be able to go and see TV's favourite double act....

NO, not Ant n Dec!!! This pair.

My daughter, like most her age, absolutely LOVES Show me Show me. We have it on series record (Thank the Lord as it's no longer on Cbeebies so I my daughter can no longer get her daily fix there!) and she requests it on at least 5 times per day, broken up with some Mr Tumble in between fixes.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Outdoor Art

Now the weather is brightening up its a great time to start taking the indoors out!

These activities are really really simple but the kids love them.


Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Spring: Sowing Sunflower Seeds

What better way to welcome spring than to sow some seeds? And what better seeds to sow that sunflowers? I love them! They are a sunny, happy flower which kids of all ages will love to get involved with and it's always fun to add a bit of healthy competition into the mix with 'Who can grow the tallest?'

The best time to plant sunflowers is just after the last frost of the season if planting straight into the garden or anytime around now (March) if planting in pots.

We have done both just to see which do best as the worst of the weather seems to be over with.

For planting straight into the garden choose a very sunny spot and somewhere close to somewhere to tie it to when it gets tall, like a fence.

There are many different types of sunflower but for maximum competition potential we chose the giant sunflower and for maximum prettiness and colour the red sunflower!

Monday, 19 March 2012

Easter Giveaway: 'Little Chick' by Amy Hest

Easter is not too far away now and I'm sure the kids are looking forward to all that chocolate already but as a nice change why not give your little one a book this Easter too?

And lucky for you, we have the perfect book to giveaway right here!!
Little Chicks written by Amy Hest, illustrated by Anita Jeram
RRP £10.99
Age Range: 2 +

Meal Planning Monday (W/C 19/03/12)

Linked up at At Home with Mrs M
Being a childminder (and mum!) it is so so important to plan my meals in advance. For one it helps with just general organisation knowing what I am doing each day, being able to prep food in advance where possible and a reminder to get meat out of the freezer the night before (something which I am normally terrible at!). It also helps for me to make sure the children are getting a well balanced diet with their 5 a day included and it is great for money saving! Planning my meals means I only buy what I need to and can minimise waste.

Most childminders do a 4 week rolling rota for meals but I like to plan weekly as I do my shopping weekly no monthly and I like to see whats on offer, keep things new and varied and to always use seasonal veg (some of which comes from our garden that I can't plan too far in advanced with)

The advanced menu is also great for parents and children a like to see what they will be eating that week. I would normally do a plan all meals including snacks etc but today I'll keep it easy with just main meals.

So - Onto this week! This week is a funny one as we normally buy all of our meet in bulk from a local butchers and I then split it into freezer bags for each meal but this week the Mr went to the butchers and when he got back he plonked it all straight into the freezer without splitting it up. So now I have huge amounts of meat we need to eat up in a few days so trying to keep things varied is difficult *rolls eyes*

Monday: Mediterranean Chicken with Potato wedges and balsamic roasted vegetables.
Tuesday: Cantonese Sweet & Sour Chicken with Steamed rice and Vietnamese Prawn Crackers.
Wednesday: Sausages with Cheese & Potato Pie and Baked Beans
Thursday: Spaghetti Bolognese
Friday: Toad in the hole with Roasties, Veg and onion gravy.
Saturday: Quiche with New Potatoes and Salad
Sunday: Roast Dinner

*Note: I am a vegetarian so where it says any meat in a meal i.e. Chicken or Sausage, I always have the vegetarian version to keep meals simple*

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Easter: Chocolate cornflake nests

A simple classic great for Easter

*You can use shredded wheat for a more 'nest' nest like appearance but personally I think it would taste like nest too, and who wants that? Traditional cornflakes all the way for me!*

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

An outdoor adventure - rustle, squelch, splash!

Lungs full of fresh air... A warm breeze on your face... Freedom of open space...The sound of baby birds chirping in the trees... Alfresco dining...


You really can't beat it. And I personally love it at this time of year. Buds appearing, new life beginning, weather not too hot and not too cold.

I truly believe that come rain or shine children should get at least an hour of outdoor play everyday, provided they wear the correct clothing and protection there's absolutely no reason not to.

I actually love the motto that the blogger at Learning for Life uses for her nursery and have adopted it for myself "Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, and snow is exhilarating; there is no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather" (John Ruskin 1819-1900) Couldn't have put it better!

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Stained glass windows / Sun catcher

Fun & simple to make, look great in your own window now the spring sun is here *hope I don't jinx it away saying that* or even a lovely gift for Mothers day.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Easy Cheesy Fish Pie Recipe

A firm favourite in this house which never fails to leave plates cleared and is so very easy to make, healthy and cheap! A winner all round.

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