Category Archives: Parenting

Back to School: Labelling School Clothes

Back to School

In the UK, we’re coming up to half way through the holidays, so in a little over three weeks it’s back to school again. Some people may have already bought and labelled the school uniform, but if you haven’t, now is a good time to think about getting it all sorted.

We’re about to enter our fourth year of full-time schooling, and second year with two children, so it’s all fairly routine here now. But three years ago, faced with a variety of labelling options that didn’t really suit, I was faced with a dilemma:

How to Label the School Uniform?

Labelling clothes is essential when many children are dressed identically. Jumpers and cardigans will get strewn randomly in classrooms whenever it’s vaguely warm, and entire uniforms will get put in the wrong gym bag on regular occasions. Labelling is a must, but what do you use?

1. Sew-in labels: The traditional option. Pros: Woven labels are long-lasting and don’t come out in the wash. Cons: Time consuming to sew on dozens of labels, and to unpick them to transfer. Also may fray so can’t be reused.

2. Iron-on labels. Pros: Quick to iron in. Cons: Involves ironing (I never iron!) Labels can wash out after even one wash, labels can only be used once.

3. Fabric stickers. Pros: Quick. Cons: Not reusable, will probably wash out at some point, may be difficult to remove when you want to pass uniform on.

4. Pen: The cheap option. Pros: Quick and very cheap. Cons: Looks horrible, pen may bleed, might wash out or is impossible to remove other than scribbling over.

5. Easy Tags. Pros: Quick, reusable, last for years, don’t come out in the wash, attach to clothes, bags, towels, labels, even canvas shoes. Cons: Initial cost higher than other options.

Easy Tags from Easy 2 Name

We’ve been using Easy Tags for three years now. A year ago I saw that there was a new applicator available so got that to review and recorded our first vlog, which I didn’t actually publish at the time oops. It’s full of ‘um’s, ‘you know’s and ‘sort of’s and is utterly embarrassing (to me!)

[youtube=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-DzHu2gCGk”]

With another year’s experience, I still love them, and here are some highlights:

I LOVE the crocodile system. The bulkier looking tag that I was initially concerned about has been no trouble at all. It’s possible to get the tags behind woven neck labels so the tags don’t touch skin, and my daughters have never noticed the tags were there. It’s so quick and easy.

The names are still clear on all the tags, even the ones that have been in constant use and washed at least weekly for the last three years.

In three years, we’ve lost ONE tag in the washing machine. And by ‘lost’, I mean, ‘pulled out of label’ as it was in the machine and we used it again without any problem. The only reason it came out is because I attached it too near the edge of the label so it tore – but not until several months of use and washes.

The used tags still look like new.

25 tags is enough for a year’s worth of uniform, e.g.:
5 polo shirts
5 winter dresses or trousers
5 summer dresses or shorts
3 sweaters / jumpers / cardigans
1 jogging trousers for PE
1 shorts for PE
1 polo top for PE
1 PE sweatshirt
1 coat
1 pair waterproof trousers
1 other item (or 6 other items as you don’t need winter and summer dresses/trousers at the same time, but you’ll need extra backs for this)

A starter kit with 25 tags, 25 backs, and a crocodile applicator costs £25.95, with replacement backs costing £4.95 for 25.

Disclosure: One crocodile applicator, 25 labels and backs received for review. We purchased our own dolphin applicator, dolphin tags and backs, plus additional crocodile tags and backs.

I Am A Rubbish Parent Blogger

On Friday after school, Mighty Girl asked if she could do ‘experiments’. She asked for rice and food colouring but I supplied rice, food colouring, bicarbonate of soda, vinegar, water, alka seltzer tablets, oil, various containers and some trays.

I have everything in the cupboards ready to do kitchen science but, due to various reasons like my fear of mess and the children being too tired after school, it rarely happens (note to self: need to add bicarbonate of soda, vinegar, and blue food colouring to next week’s shopping list…)

Mighty Girl (7), Danger Girl (5) and DG’s BFF (almost-5) then spent a happy hour or so making a complete and utter mess in the sunny garden with lots of coloured fizzy things happening all over the patio.

I have no pictures. Well, I have this one, but it’s a bit rubbish and you can’t see the ‘experiments’:

summerexperiments

This afternoon we went into Oxford to meet Mr Chaos for lunch as he was there filming Ciara Phillips, short-listed for the Turner Prize this year, as part of his new job. Afterwards we went on a tour of the utterly gorgeous Oxford University college Mr Chaos is now working at, and MG and DG got to do some screen printing with Ciara Phillips.

My daughters did screen printing with a Turner Prize short listed artist. And I have absolutely no pictures of that.

Inspired by the screen printing, we came home and did some lino printing (with foam instead of lino as it’s safer for small children) and MG made some wonderful designs, while DG just stuck the foam stickers and decided not to do printing.

I have no pictures of that either. But here’s a lovely, smiley Mighty Girl that Mr Chaos took with prints she did with an old lino cut:

printing

I really am a rubbish parent blogger…

Snail Land

Mighty Girl (7.2) has been creating her own worlds recently. I think it was inspired by the maps at the start of books, but she gets inspiration from all sorts of places.

She has been creating small creatures out of blu-tac – this isn’t the best modelling material as it’s a bit too east to squish out of shape, but she’s made a series of teeny tiny snails, named them and then created Snail Land.

Snail Land by Mighty Girl (7)

The houses are all named with who lives there. Fast’s house has a medal in the window. There’s also Slow, Tiny, and Big. I wonder who Mrs Careful is, and what happens in Snail Hall?

I’m really curious to see where she takes her latest creation. She’s planning to write some stories based on the characters and world she’s been creating.

I remember creating characters and worlds when I was about twelve or so, inspired by The Lord of the Rings. MG just seems to make things up as she goes along, and I don’t like to interfere in case I put her off.

Harry the Poisonous Centipede

She’s been reading the Harry the Poisonous Centipede books, which has made her really interested in insects. We looked at the insect displays in Oxford’s Museum of Natural History, and both girls weren’t at all phased by the live tarantula, cockroach, and mantises in glass boxes either.

When they were very young, MG and DG weren’t bothered by insects, but they learned fear as they grew so it’s really good to see that Harry has reduced fear by anthropomorphising creepy crawlies! We’ve been watching YouTube clips of giant poisonous centipedes munching tarantulas and lizards, which led to watching YouTube clips of venomous spiders and gigantic insects!

Luckily Mostly Books have a great offer on Moonlight Publishing‘s gorgeous First Discoveries books, so we bought Animal Camouflage and Let’s Look at Insects to continue the insect theme. The books are for the 5-8 age range, but are suitable for older and are huge fun with see-through plastic pages, especially the ones with a ‘torch’. Some of the titles are aimed at 7-9 year olds.

Moonlight Publishing First Discoveries

Although we don’t home ed, we learn all the time so I’m linking up with Adventures in Home Schooling.
 photo 457afedc-ad8b-48e4-9e95-3710e3866d09_zpscb00a1b7.jpg

Gifts for Curious Children

All children are born explorers, engineers and investigators. Here are a selection of books for curious children to feed their need for discovery, all of which would make excellent gifts.

Alphasaurs, and other Prehistoric Types: Sharon Werner & Sarah Forss (Blue Apple Books, 2012)Alphasaurs, and other Prehistoric Types: Sharon Werner & Sarah Forss (Blue Apple Books, 2012)
There are so many dinosaur books for dino fans, but this one is particularly good for curious children due to the unique illustrations. Each dinosaur is made out of a single letter, in a variety of fonts. This could potentially encourage reluctant writers to have a go at letter formation, but also introduces a world of design – can your child design their own book or magazine using just letters? There are plenty of large flaps to keep interest and a plethora of bitesize dino facts. Our full review can be found here. The same team also created Alphabeasties and Bugs By The Numbers, for your animal loving explorers.

The What on Earth Wallbook: Christopher Lloyd & Andy Forshaw (What on Earth Publishing, 2010)The What on Earth Wallbook: Christopher Lloyd & Andy Forshaw (What on Earth Publishing, 2010)
What on Earth Happened? by Christopher Lloyd is a chunky tome that tells the known history of the planet from creation, through prehistoric eras, to people and world history. The Wallbook is based on this, and is a huge elongated poster packed with illustrations of events across history, that can either be hung on a wall or left in ‘book’ form to pore over and discover interesting snippets that can start a conversation or a project. It has its faults, but is an ambitious idea to try to cover the world in one narrative and the Wallbook is great fun to browse through.
woewallbook

The Story of Things: Neal Layton (Hodder Children's Books, 2009)The Story of Things: Neal Layton (Hodder Children’s Books, 2009)
This is such a fun book! It takes us through a history of ‘things’ from cavepeople who had no possessions, to developing civilisations (I love the page which is of a desert, with four hidden pop-ups of civilisations that came and went, such a clever illustration of the concept), to industry and modern day electronics. There are so many things to lift and pull and peek under that you barely realise that this is actually a history book. Some of the pop-ups are a little flimsy (or maybe that’s just my copy), so it’s not one for heavy handed toddlers, but fixing the odd break is a good engineering skill for the reader too! There are two other books in the series too: The Story of Everything, and The Story of Stars. Excellent fun.

Barefoot Books World Atlas: Nick Crane & David DeanBarefoot Books World Atlas: Nick Crane & David Dean
This really is the perfect primary-age atlas which not only gives an overview of the shape of the world and its countries but covers important information for each continent (or part continent, as some are split) under the headings Physical Features; People and Places; Climate and Weather; Land Use and Natural Resources; Environment; Wildlife; and Transport. Capital cities are clearly marked on the maps and they’re also full of images from the countries to give a sense of the diversity in the world. Lift-up flaps give more ‘did you know?’ facts of historical significance. Not only useful for homework projects, the accessible text and interesting layouts (with something to lift on every page) are likely to have children pouring through this just for fun (and learning lots about the world along the way!) There’s also a world poster in a pocket on the back page for displaying on the wall if wanted. Written in 2011, this is an up-to-date introduction to continents, countries and cultures for a modern audience. Did you know that the Mount Rushmore sculptures took 14 years to complete, The Great Wall of China isn’t visible from the moon, Rubik’s cubes were invented by a Hungarian sculptor, and the keel-billed toucan is the national bird of Belize? You would if you had this Atlas 😉

Maps: Aleksandra Mizieli?ska & Daniel Mizieli?ski (Big Picture Press, 2013)Maps: Aleksandra Mizielieska & Daniel Mizielieski (Big Picture Press, 2013)
This book is HUGE. It is also utterly beautiful and worth every penny of its £20 price tag. Writing about it can’t possibly do it justice. You can view a sneak peak in the video at the end of this list but it’s really one to get in real life and spend hours and hours pouring over. On a simple level, it is literally a book full of maps. It can’t cover the entire world, so there are huge swathes of countries that have been missed out (Maps 2 maybe?!) but each country that is included has been illustrated with a host of national facts: significant buildings, native animals, examples of popular boy and girl names, food, work, historical figures… Major or important cities are marked, and there is a list of capital, languages, population and area. The text is minimal, on the whole it is there to label the illustrations and yet Maps still managed to be packed full of facts. It’s not an Atlas, and doesn’t pretend to be. It is unique, beautiful, and perfect for curious children (and grown-ups).

Ocean Deep: Richard Hatfield (Child's Play, 2011)Ocean Deep: Richard Hatfield (Child’s Play, 2011)
This is a beautifully illustrated exploration into every part of the ocean from rock pools to the deepest depths. The sturdy card pages make this suitable even from early ages, and all ages can appreciate the illustrations before reading the labels to learn all the names, and the text to find out more about the ocean. Each page is cut so you can see further pages into the book, so it feels like you are diving deeper and deeper into the ocean. The design also gives lots for little hands to explore, and the entire book can be displayed on a surface due to the concertina pages. Another one that needs to be seen in real life to be appreciated, full of facts, and some really creepy critters the deeper down you go…

Metamorphoses: Egg Tadpole Frog (Child's Play, 2006)Metamorphoses: Egg Tadpole Frog (Child’s Play, 2006)

This is a(nother) brilliantly clever book from Child’s Play. The shaped cover is tied with ribbon, and inside you find the life cycle story of frogs (Butterflies and Dragonflies are covered in other titles in this series.) This can be read as a book, with very clear and simple text, and pages that sort-of pop up. But… open it up and you have another table display of the entire life cycle with sticking out bits, and… Oh, you just have to see this in real life again, it’s just brilliant! I didn’t hold it very well (one-handed) in the video below but it gives you a rough idea. It really is brilliant, and perfect for young explorers. The back of the pages shown are illustrated with various frog species. The pages are strong card so will withstand lots of play too.

eggtadpolefrog

snowrolypolySnow Roly Poly Box Book: Kees Moerbeek (Child’s Play, 2008)

Child’s Play are definitely getting my thumbs up and full marks for ingenuity for books to entice even the most uninterested-in-books child. There are currently a dozen roly poly box books to choose from, but Snow is perfect for this time of year (in the Northern Hemisphere at least!) It looks like a cube, but pull the arrow on the outside and up pops and owl. follow the arrows and you unfurl a whole host of snow-loving creatures from across the globe. And it’s just as easy to roll back up again too. This is the least book-looking book you’re likely to find! Great for small people to explore.

headoverheelsgymnasticsBoys & Girls Floor Skills: Gemma Coles (Head Over Heels About Gymnastics, 2013)
I have occasional bug bears with independently published books, especially when cost cutting results in a flimsy and unattractive paper book, but it’s clear that careful thought has been put into both use and content with this beautifully produced guide. With a spiral spine, and the ability to stand upright, this book can be used whilst practising the skills inside. The clear, real-world, photographs illustrate gymnastic skills in easy to follow steps from simple to complex. It can’t replace hands on tuition, but it’s been giving my extremely active climbs-the-walls six year old a lot of new fun things to try. I especially love how it is aimed at boys and girls, and the pictures have a boy and girl equally illustrating the skills. For any child with an interest in gymnastics, this would be an excellent starting point before (or as well as) proper tuition. Check out the Head Over Heels About Gymnastics website for a discount on this clear and well produced guide.

How Many?: Ron Van Der Meer (Random House Children's Books, 2007) How Many?: Ron Van Der Meer (Random House Children’s Books, 2007)
When I was searching for pop-up books a couple of years ago, Ron Van Der Meer was recommended and I found How Many? in a discount store. It is full of complex pop-up sculptures in bright colours and geometric shapes. The text asks you to count shapes, colours, lines… or you can just marvel at the complex sculptures. This is definitely not for small children without supervision, as the detailed pop-ups are delicate. It appears to be out of print, although you can get used copies online. Whilst searching for a replacement to write about I discovered this newly reissued Interactive Art Book reviewed at The Little Wooden Horse, which although it doesn’t quite replace the mathematical side of How Many?, does showcase paper engineering skill and artistry.

Because these are all very interactive books, I made this brief video whizzing through a few pages of each to give a taster of what they’re like. They are all much nicer in real life. (The video is soundless)

[youtube=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KDOwtYfc2HE”]

Disclosure: Alphasaurs, The Story of Things, Ocean Deep, Egg Tadpole Frog, Snow, and Gymnastics Floor Skills were sent to us by their respective publishers for review. All other books were purchased or borrowed independently. Barefoot Books links are affiliate links. No other financial reward was given and the opinions are my own. I was not asked to write this post.

Contents of a Child’s Bed

I really don’t know how my daughters sleep. No matter how many times I declutter their beds, within a day or two they’re back to being a complete mess. Here is what Mighty-Girl’s bed looked like today:

MG's bed

This is what was under the pillow:

Under MG's pillow

She sneakily writes stories in bad light after she’s sent to bed. I used to read late when I was supposed to be asleep. It’s what children do, but I really need to put MG and DG in separate rooms so they stop disturbing each other!

I found this summary of Winnie’s Amazing Pumpkin:

Winnie's Amazing Pumpkin

“Book called Winnie’s Amazing Pumpkin yoused magic a pumpkin grue big and shared it with the wholl town then turned it into a helecocter”

I found this start of Hansel and Gretel (there’s a book version I wanted to photograph but I couldn’t find where she’d put that one, obviously not in bed!)

Hansel and Gretel

“Once upon a time there lived a step mum a dad a boy called hansel and a girl called gretel. they were very pour so the wicked step mum told the dad we must go to the forest and leve the children there the farther said no but soon he said ok lit’s do it so they did but the children were a wake and herd so Hansel went out and got peples.”

I also found a complete version of Jack and the Beanstalk, here is the first page:

Jack and the Beanstalk

“Once there lived a boy called Jack he was paw he hat to sell his cow daysy he saw a man the man arsct Jack if the cow was for sail Jack said yes.”

Having a child who is good at writing, you don’t actually realise how good until you see writing by others of the same age. To me, it’s just her writing. Her teacher did say it was like that of a much older child in her parents’ evening. The size of her writing can be erratic, because she concentrates on writing in cursive, and she needs to work on her punctuation (and spelling!) but I do think she is pretty awesome (with the great writing or not!)

I’ve pulled out all the books, and papers, but left the soft toys. I still don’t know how she sleeps! Destructo-Girl’s bed is just filled with soft toys. And the occasional felt tip pen which destroys all the sheets and covers *cry* Aargghh, kids! 😉

[Word count: 409; November word count: 2,538]

Spooky Halloween Games (designed by a six year old)

Mighty-Girl is very keen on parties. She starts serious planning for her birthday party in September every year. Her birthday is in February… This year I thought we’d throw an impromptu mini Halloween party for a few friends (three families including us, seven children between us!)

This was Mighty-Girl’s cue to go into serious party planning mode. She has drawn lots of witches, mummies, skeletons, bats and pumpkins that are now stuck around the house, but I want to share these (in my completely biased opinion) utterly wonderful Halloween games that she designed entirely alone (all her own idea, plan, and execution – I just leave her to be creative, it seems to work!)

Firstly we have Spooks and Ladders, a snakes and ladders game with lots of spooky pictures. I like the way you have to fly across the board at the end of each row, and the really evil snake on square 57.

Spooks and Ladders by Mighty-Girl, age six

Secondly, and in my opinion the best, there is a spooky Halloween wordsearch. Again, completely from Mighty-Girl’s imagination. She made the grid, chose the words, filled everything in and drew all the pictures. I am in awe of her actually and think she’s quite brilliant 🙂

Spooky wordsearch by Mighty-Girl, age six

The wordsearch is quite challenging, she’s added in a lot of misdirection. Did I mention how impressed I am with this?! However, I might look out a prize if you can find pumpkin, because I can’t find it and on asking the expert, she thinks she might have left it out 😉

You can download PDF versions of Mighty-Girl’s Halloween games by clicking on the images above, or the links below:
Mighty-Girl’s Spooks and Ladders Game
Mighty-Girl’s Spooky Halloween Wordsearch

Happy Halloween 2013!

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Activities inspired by Ella by Alex T. Smith

Ella: Alex T Smith (Scholastic, 2012)

As part of The Educators’ Spin On It Summer Book Exchange, I chose Ella by Alex T. Smith as the book to send to our swap partner, Here Come The Girls. This is a book that my girls love (actually, we’re all fans of all of Alex T. Smith’s work) and one that was too easy to think of activities to fit. Ladybirds and Spiders, what’s not to love?!

Here is the content of the box we sent, hoping to inspire lots of open-ended crafts. You can read about what they did with it here.

Ella Swap Box

I’d love to have more time to create printables to download for this blog, as they’re something I’m slightly addicted to, but this swap gave me the perfect opportunity to and you can download our Ella inspired craft sheets here.

I’ve reproduced one of the activities below as a taster:

Antennae Hair bands

Materials:
Hair band
Black chenille stems (pipe cleaners)
Large red buttons

antennaeInstructions:

1. Choose two red buttons for the antennae – one circle and one flower to match Ella, or any that you like.

2. This part may need grown up help.

a. Thread a chenille stem through one button hole
b. Turn stem and thread back through second hole.
c. Twist excess stem.
d. Repeat for second antenna.

3. Wrap other end of chenille stems around hair band, spaced so they look like antennae.

The craft ideas could also be used alongside other ladybird or spider picture books.

I found the buttons, chenille stems (pipe cleaners) and googly eyes on eBay for very reasonable prices but they can also be found in most children’s art/craft sections in large stores.

When choosing craft materials for the swap, I stuck to a limited colour palette of reds and black/greys, which also made me think of the Claude books by Alex T. Smith. Using a limited (duochrome?) palette is another interesting art / craft experience for children.

Doctor Who Proms 2013

[Click here for Saturday/Sunday comparison.]

In the autumn of 2010, we watched the Doctor Who Proms televised, having been completely unaware that such a thing existed. It was actually the second Doctor Who Prom, the first being in 2008.

In every Spring since (2011, 2012 & 2013), I’ve checked the Proms listing as soon as it was released, in case there was another one. I didn’t think there would be in 2011, as there had been two years between the first two. I had some hope in 2012 but again nothing. We did try to get to a Horrible Histories prom though and learnt a valuable lesson – five minutes after the Prom booking opens is still far too late to get tickets to a free Prom!

This year, I just knew there had to be a Doctor Who Prom. It’s the fiftieth anniversary year and three years since the last one. There had to be… Despite having (still) never been to a Prom in my life I was looking at the Prom program as soon as it was released in April.

Not one, but two Doctor Who Proms! A Saturday night and a Sunday morning. I hate making decisions so took a while working out the pros and cons of which one to go to, and worrying about whether one would be ‘better’ than the other, but in the end the flat £12 ticket cost for the Sunday Prom, and the fact that we could take both children without worrying about how exhausted they’d be at 10pm in London won out.

On the morning the Proms booking opened, I was online over an hour early checking that I could log in and knew how to book. I’d entered a ‘Proms plan’ with the seat selection we’d spent hours agonising over (all the seats were the same price – do you go for the usually most expensive boxes, or the stalls where it was more likely that the monsters would be walking near based on previous Prom?!)

I was there the instant booking opened, and still ended up 136th in the queue, panicking. It then took seven and a half minutes to book. Stress, stress, stress… Except it turned out, most people ended up thousands in the queue and waited well over an hour, and even then didn’t get tickets. Both Doctor Who Proms sold out within two hours.

So after nearly three years waiting, and making sure we definitely got tickets, yesterday was Prom day. It was amazing. I was going to write about the day, but Mr Chaos took the pictures and some video and already blogged them so if you’re interested, off you go… 😉

Doctor Who Prom 2013

MG and DG had a great time too, not just their parents and godfather! DG loved the Daleks best, and MG loved the Whisper Men. Their rapt faces on seeing the ‘real life’ monsters and Matt Smith in person, plus the reaction to a live orchestra was wonderful. I’m so glad we got to take them. They’ve both watched Doctor Who since before they were born, like their mother 😉

Saturday/Sunday comparison

I was worried whether the Saturday evening performance would be ‘better’ than the Sunday one, because it was full price and in the evening, but my fears were unfounded. Obviously I wasn’t at the Saturday one to actually compare but I have listened to (some of) the radio version on iPlayer, and here are my comparisons:

There was no difference in cast members. Matt Smith, Jenna Coleman, Peter Davison, Carole-Anne Ford, Neve McIntosh, Dan Starkey and Nicholas Briggs were all at both performances. Murray Gold was in the audience for both too.

Listening to the scripted parts, I prefer the Sunday version as there seemed to be more ad-libbing.

Example one: Peter Davidson’s script said “You can call me double oh five” which is what he said on Saturday (listening to radio) but on Sunday he said “You can call me number five. Father in law to ten. Grandfather to number fifteen or sixteen according to my daughter…”

Example two: In the ‘fight’ between Ben Foster and the Daleks, the Dalek says “What is that thing in your hands?” and listening to the radio version, it played straight. However on Sunday, Ben Foster forgot his ‘sonic baton’ so at that point had to run back to the middle of the stage and get it, then later when the Dalek was berating him for overacting, Nicholas Briggs added “This is our bit!” (you can see the video of this here)

Personally, I think the Sunday was better. Because we were there! But also there seemed to be more unscripted moments compared to listening to Saturday’s. However, Neve McIntosh seemed to stumble over her lines more on the Sunday compared to listening to Saturdays. She must have been sweltering in all that make-up, and I dread to imagine how little sleep she (and Dan Starkey) got between the performances if it was taken off after 10pm and had to be back on by 10am!

Other than Nicholas Briggs’ wonderful ad-libbing, the star of the show was Dan Starkey as Strax. He was wonderful, interacting with audience members and being utterly hilarious. From listening to Saturday’s he may have been doing something amusing in the background, that he didn’t on Sunday, when Neve McIntosh was introducing the Weeping Angels music, listening to the laughter!

Sunday’s was probably more family friendly due to the timing but had a wide range of ages. It was lovely how both Tom Baker and Patrick Troughton got the biggest cheers when they appeared on screen. I don’t know whether the televised version will only use the Saturday performance or edit the two together but we’ll see in the autumn!

Last, but not least, the musicians, choir, soloists, conductor and radiophonics were perfection. It was an amazing experience.

Summer Book Exchange: The Singing Mermaid

When I signed up for The Educators’ Spin On It Summer Book Exchange, there seemed to be plenty of time to do the activities we’d be sent. In reality though, it’s been the busiest three weeks of the school calendar full of events during the week and with weekends packed with parties and outings. We’ve barely had time to breathe, let alone sit and do some structured crafts. Eek!

We were paired with Here Come the Girls. You can see a sneak peak of what we sent them here and the results of their fab crafting here. We were sent a copy of The Singing Mermaid, a book we didn’t actually own already (!), and four packed envelopes full of craft materials with these great book inspired ideas:

1. Make a necklace or bracelet with blue and green beads, plus sea horses and shell beads to remind the mermaid of the beach and the sea.
2. Make wooden spoon puppets to act the story, with tons of glittery foam sheets, big eye stickers, glitter glue and wool for hair.
3. Make a seascape collage with even more glittery foam sheets, shiny green paper, sand, shells and other bits and pieces.
4. Decorate a box with lots of shells, sparkly gems and a key.

Summer Book Exchange, making Mermaid puppets

MG and DG were excited to get the package and we opened the first two envelopes containing the book, bead kit and puppet making materials. We read the book, grabbed some scissors and glue and the girls got to work making their mermaids.

They both wanted to make a mermaid of course, even though the idea was to make puppets for the whole story, but they made up their own stories inspired by the book instead! They had such fun with it (and there is so much glittery foam left) that I’ll definitely be picking up some wooden spoons for them to do more puppets over the summer.

Summer Book Exchange, making mermaid puppets

I helped MG and DG by cutting out mermaid tails for their puppets, everything else they designed themselves. They seemed to have the most fun playing with the ‘hair’!

We’ve read The Singing Mermaid several times, but not at times when it’s been convenient to start on the other activities. MG and DG have been concentrating on their own activities in the limited free time we’ve had in the last few weeks so although I’ve had the projects on the kitchen table readily available, they’ve not been chosen yet! There’s only another four days left at school after today though and then six weeks to fill so I’m sure we’ll do them all, and update here if I get time.

Mermaids (MG on left; DG on right)

Huge thanks to Rebecca from Here Come The Girls for her well thought out parcel of crafts, which will keep MG and DG busy over the coming weeks. If you’re not already following Here Come The Girls, you can find them on Facebook, Twitter, G+ and Pinterest for lots of fun activities, recipes and parenting tips.

Here Come The Girls

To see what the other participants got up to, and for lots of book-inspired activities for keeping children amused over the summer, visit The Educators’ Spin On It. I’ll link up to the post collecting all this summer’s posts when it’s live.

Summer Book Exchange with 30 + bloggers with border