NEW! Andy’s Amazing Adventures Magazine Review

If your little one is a fan of Andy’s Wild Adventure on CBeebies, Immediate Media have a treat in store for them: The new Andy’s Amazing Adventures Magazine which launches today.

What they tell us about Andy’s Amazing Adventures Magazine:

Andy's Amazing AdventuresThis magazine is aimed at 3 – 6 year olds, and the magazine is based on the extremely popular CBeebies shows Andy’s Wild Adventures, Andy’s Dinosaur Adventures and the forthcoming Andy’s Prehistoric Adventures and will cover all of Andy’s adventures.

In each issue, Andy will be their trustworthy guide as they explore the world and even travel through time, meeting creatures, facing dangers and solving problems along the way. It is packed with puzzles, stickers, colouring, stories and comes with a great free gift with every issue.

The magazine is based on the 7 key areas of learning that support early years development so it’s full of fun things while also supporting the readers’ learning.

What did we think of Andy’s Amazing Adventures Magazine?

We’ve received the first edition in advance of today’s launch, and the first thing I noted about the contents were that they are spot on for their target. My 6 year old finds all the puzzles and activities easy, but not boring and my 3 year old finds them challenging enough to do together, so I think it’s perfectly targeted.Read more: NEW! Andy’s Amazing Adventures Magazine Review

The Incredible Journey Board Game

I’d been trying to think of a way to do a story board around The Incredible Journey that showed the highlights and the progression of the story, but everything seemed to be a bit over Ameli’s (6yo) head, so I had the idea that a board game with the general outline of the story could work and so The Incredible Journey board game was born.

To play this game, you’ll need to print out the image below (landscape is best). You will need a dice and two or three markers. You can use small animal toys or pompoms or whatever, really. The game works well with two or three players.

The rules are pretty simple – start at Longridge’s House, throw the dice and move the required amount of spaces. If you land on a text space, follow the instructions and if not, carry on, each taking a turn until everyone’s helped Bodger, Luath and Tao find their way home.* The bad things that happen to the animals might cause players to have to miss a turn or go back a few spaces, while helpful humans help them progress. The only exception is when Tao is swept away by the river – land on that one and you can immediately skip 7 spaces to meet up with the canine friends.

We found that only playing with the dice up to 4 made the game last longer, so if we rolled a five or six, we just rolled again.
The Incredible Journey Boardgame

Click here for printable version of The Incredible Journey Board Game

*In the movie, Homeward Bound: The Incredibly Journey the animals had different names, Bodger is the young dog instead of the old one and is called Chance, Luath is the old dog, instead of the young energetic Labrador, and is called Shadow and Tao is called Sassy.

We designed this game and have been playing it as part of our study unit on The Incredible Journey

We hope you enjoy this little DIY board game!

Incredible Journey

Valentine’s Craft Ideas #BostikBloggers

I was really pleased to find out that we’d been selected to be Bostik Bloggers again this year, and our first box is Valentine’s themed. It may be about a month off the celebration of love, but it’s never too early to get started, so here are some Valentine’s Craft Ideas for you!

Valentine’s Heart-flakesHeart Flakes

These are as individual as snow flakes, but they’re fun to make.

You’ll need equally sized strips of paper, preferably of the double-sided variety. Fold them in half without squashing the middle, and glue the loose ends together. Once they are secure, glue the strips together – you may find it easier to glue them at opposite angles (so in a figure of eight) rather than all together like in the picture bottom left.

When they are all glued together you’ll have a circle of loops (bottom middle) and then push the middle of each loop to the centre, giving the middle a little squeeze to make a heart.

Add a loop or string to hang the heart-flake from. Read more: Valentine’s Craft Ideas #BostikBloggers

Money Saving Jar Ideas For Children

This time of year there are lots of goals floating about and one of the ones you’ll often see on Pinterest is a money saving jar, where you save 1p on the 1st of January, 2p on the 2nd January and so on. I think this is a great idea, especially for children as they can clearly see how the savings are adding up. Of course you’re starting small so it doesn’t feel like much of a sacrfice initially, but as the year goes on, you head into summer months and later on towards Christmas, and having to drop £3 and more a day into the jar, it will quickly start adding up.

I know this wouldn’t work for me and the knowledge that I’d have to suddenly ‘find’ an extra £20-plus a week for the money jar is quite stressful for me, and I know I’d give up probably somewhere around the £2 a day mark. So I decided that we would try it, backwards.Money Jar Savings

That means that January, with it’s short, cold days, where we tend to stay in more and spend less anyway, is the hardest month for filling the jar. Filling your money jar backwards means that no day for the rest of the year will require quite as much money as today, or yesterday did. I find that quite positive and uplifting! My daily ‘sacrifice’ will get smaller, but my savings will be ever increasing.

Of course that means that by the end of February I’ve had to magic almost £200 to put into the jar, but actually, it’s the perfect time. There’s no rule that says you *have* to put money in every single day, but if you’re decluttering the house, getting ready for spring, cleaning out after Christmas and so on, you can take that money and put it in the jar in lump sums as you receive it, just keeping track. Obviously that’s not the real spirit of the jar, but does it really matter? Taking a £5 note and breaking it on some sweets you didn’t need so that you could put £3.39 in the jar isn’t really saving.

Holiday Treats Fund

Holiday Treat Jar

Since for me this is an exercise in saving for the children, I actually did take a £20 and exchange it for £1 coins. I’m hiding the coins so that we can put one in the holiday jar every day. Of course if this was for me, I’d just do transfers from my bank account so that I don’t have the temptation of physical cash, and so that I could be earning interest where I can, but again since this is for the children, I think the physical visual of a jar (two in our case) is useful.

Christmas Penny Jar

Christmas Penny Jar

That means that January, with it’s short, cold days, where we tend to stay in more and spend less anyway, is the hardest month for filling the jar. Filling your money jar backwards means that no day for the rest of the year will require quite as much money as today, or yesterday did.

Because I’m a sucker for punishment  it seemed practical for us, we actually have two jars on the go: a Christmas fund, counting down from £3.65 and a £1 jar for our holiday in June. This is our ice cream fund, according to the girls. By the time we go on holiday, we should have £130 in the jar. Lots of ice creams for 7 days! It’ll be nice to have a little bit of ‘frivolous’ money though.

For the big jar, where you’r supposed to have over £600 saved by the end of it, we’ve set a date of 15 December, at which point we’ll add the last two week’s worth of coins on one day – totalling £1.34. That was we still have 10 days left to buy Christmas presents and food. I can see this as a really good way of making big things not break the bank when they come round – though I’ll probably just use my bank accounts for non-child projects!
Whichever way you choose to do a penny jar, it’s a good way to save some pennies and get the kids “hands on” involved too. And if we achieve it, we’ll have a financial stress free Christmas and a lot of ice cream on holiday too!

Pizza Express School Visits & Home Educators

Some time during last summer, we booked a home ed visit for one of the Pizza Express School Visit sessions, and though we had to wait several months for our session, we arrived on the agreed date and had a fantastic and informative visit.

Pizza Express School Visits offer groups the opportunity to not only see how pizza is made but also to get hands on and involved. For some children this is a brand new experience, of course, and for our group there was a mix of abilities too, considering our participants ranged from about 3 – 14 years.

Obviously the details may differ from visit to visit, but for ours on the Isle of Wight, the children were decked out in chefs hats and aprons, and given loads of flour to flour their work surface – a set of tables in the restaurant. Each child was given a ball of dough. The chef – whose name I sadly can’t remember – was amazing. He had such great rapport with the children, and was engaging and informative and did a fantastic job of managing such a range of ages.Pizza Express Visit

They spoke about the different steps they went through, the chef demonstrated, and the children were able to take their own dough ball, and knead it, twist it and shape it into circles – they even got to toss it up into the air. Read more: Pizza Express School Visits & Home Educators

Autumn Leaf Crafts #Bostikbloggers

I’ll admit up front that I cheated with this craft and didn’t use real leaves. All the leaves, buttons and embellishments were provided in the craft kit from Bostik as part of the #BostikBloggers challenge, and we did a few Halloween crafts, but we also did two Autumn crafts (you can buy similar leaves here on Amazon*:

Autumn Carry BagAutumn Crafts

For this craft you will need:

  • A cotton bag
  • Leaves
  • Buttons
  • Owl decal or other designs

There’s no real trick to creating a bag like this, except sitting down and doing it. Here are a few tips to help you though.

Depending on the glue you’re going to use, it could be useful to put a page of paper inside so that the glue doesn’t seep through sticking the two sides of the bag together.

Lay all your embellishments out without glue so that you can decide on the pattern, then glue everything in place.

Set aside for a few hours, to allow the glue to dry

Leafy Candle Holder

Capture

For this craft you will need:

  • Leaves
  • Glue Dots
  • Glass Jar
  • Tealight candle

This really couldn’t be simpler. Lay the leaves onto the glue dots, then stick them onto the glass jar. If you’re not using glue dots you’ll need to be sure to use a glue that is adhesive to glass.

Add a candle, then bask in the beauty of backlit autumn leaves.

We were sent a box of goodies for crafting with, including Bostik Micro Dots and Craft Glue.

Roald Dahl’s Matilda Activities – Sailing Books

One of the lines I really loved from Roald Dahl’s Matilda movie was

So Matilda’s strong young mind continued to grow, nurtured by the voices of all those authors who had sent their books out into the world like ships on the sea. These books gave Matilda a hopeful and comforting message: You are not alone.

I didn’t realise this at first, but that’s not actually in the book. The book actually says,

“The books transported her into new worlds and introduced her to amazing people who lived exciting lives. She went on olden-day sailing ships with Joseph Conrad. She went to Africa with Ernest Hemingway and to India with Rudyard Kipling. She travelled all over the world while sitting in her little room in an English village

The very soul of me relates to this quote. I may not have read Ernest Hemingway and Rudyard Kipling as a 3 year old, but in junior school I read Famous Five, Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Secret Seven, and a bunch of others you would only know if you were Afrikaans, like Trompie en die Boksom Bende. At one stage I was reading them at a rate of a book a day, in school time. Really, I thought school just got in the way of my reading time!

Matilda's Books Like Ships

Well I am on the way to instilling the same love of reading in my girls. Their dad has a big part to play in that – he has read to Ameli almost every night he’s spent with her. On her sixth birthday, they finished reading the entire Chronicles of Narnia.

Anyway,  while preparing our current Matilda theme, I couldn’t get “ like ships on the sea” out of my head.

Matilda is also full of metaphors, it’s a fabulous book for introducing the concept too, with metaphors like:

Even when their own child is the most disgusting little blister you could ever imagine, they still think that he or she is wonderful

Matilda's Books Like ShipsIs the child actually a disgusting little blister? No. But what does it tell you about the appearance of the child?

It’s quite fun actually, talking through some of the metaphors in Matilda.

But, the one we were focused on today was that of ships on the sea.

For this craft you’ll need:

This craft couldn’t really be simpler. We printed some of our favourite book covers – Roald Dahl, Dr Seuss and so on – and cut them into squares or sail-shape (if you know the word for that, let me know!)

For the square – pirate – sails (clearly not a sailor, am I!) thread the large, then small sails through the toothpick. For the others, glue the sail to the skewer.

Apply a healthy helping of glue to the shell or driftwood, and place the skewer, holding it for a few seconds so that it can dry in place.

Matilda's Books Like Ships

It’s quite a quick craft, in the end, and before you know it you’ll have a literary armada.

Free Printable Resources For Roald Dahl’s Matilda

When we plan our themes, I always spend a bit of time making printable resources that can act as time fillers – something to keep the kids busy for 5 minutes while I do something else, which means they don’t get distracted and find it hard to come back to their activity. Often just having a colouring page or a word search available is all it takes for me to get their ‘main’ activity – like painting, or crafting, or building something else, ready.

Here are three free printables for the Matilda theme:

(I make printables simple, because I don’t want to use a ton of ink on a pretty border or background. I really don’t see the point in wastefulness for short activities.)

Matilda Wordsearch

Click on the image below to download and print a Matilda themed Wordsearch. (This word search has small letters, and words are written left to right and top to bottom, pitched at a 5 year old.)
Capture

Writing practice

Ameli can write pretty well, but her letters are often all the same size, squashed onto one line. I was worried about it till I saw a schooled friend in the year she would be in doing the same, so now I don’t worry about it any more. We are just spending a few minutes every week copying words in their correct format.

Click on the image to download the Matilda Word Formation Practice:
Capture2

 

Matilda Maze

This activity only takes a few minutes, but I think it’s a great exercise in logic, in planning ahead and in memory too, if you get them to trace it with a finger or use a light colour first, till they find the way, then use a dark colour.

Capture3

I hope you find these Matilda Resources useful!

For more Matilda themed posts, click on the image below.

matilda

 

Matilda’s Chocolate Playdough – Fantastic Playdough Recipe!

I’ve made many a batch of playdough in my time, but I’ve never been excited enough by a recipe to write it down, and I’ve never actually kept a batch in the fridge for more than a day or two, until I recently discovered a very simple recipe that is silky soft and fantastic.

It’s also the first time I’ve actually ‘cooked’  a playdough, but it won’t be the last. I’ve adapted this recipe from Imagination Tree, largely because I didn’t have enough salt or any cream of tartar, but I’m also hoping the exposure to Epsom salts will make sure my little people don’t run out of the magnesium and other benefits that come from Epsom salts.

Since we’re working on Matilda right now, I decided to go for a chocolate playdough so that we could make the chocolates Miss Honey remembers her father having after dinner – the same ones Miss Trunchbull now keeps to herself.

5b3ec0dc41ee78607493d6f392df7cfa

Matilda's Chocolate Playdough - Fantastic Playdough Recipe!
 
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups plain flour (all purpose)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ½ cup Epsom salts (you can use normal salt)
  • Up to 1.5 cups boiling water - added a little at a time
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa
  • teaspoon glycerine for that silky shine
Instructions
  1. On a steady heat, add the flour, salt, and oil in a large mixing bowl
  2. Add the cocoa
  3. Add the boiling water then into the dry ingredients
  4. Stir continuously until it becomes a sticky, combined dough
  5. Add the glycerine
  6. Remove from heat
  7. Allow it to cool down then take it out of the bowl and knead it vigorously for a couple of minutes until all of the stickiness has gone.
  8. If it remains a little sticky then add a more flour a little at a time until it's right.

Miss Honey's Playdough Chocolates

You can hardly tell which picture is from the movie, and which is playdough, according to the 3 year old ;)

For more Matilda themed activities, click on the image below:

matilda

Study Unit: Roald Dahl’s Charlie And The Chocolate Factory

Last year my children had watched most of the Roald Dahl movies available on the market, but we hadn’t read any of the books, so our Roald Dahl inspired arts and crafts were varied and mixed. Over the last few weeks we’ve been reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, however, so all our activities the last few weeks have been around that.

Next week we’ll be working on Matilda, so check back in if you love that book too!

PIN THIS: Roald Dahl WeekThere are two versions of the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie:

And there is the book, famously illustrated by Quentin Blake

While we like having fun with our ‘themes’ as we call them, I do try to bring elements of learning into them too. Remembering that my children are 5 & 3, I do keep things pretty simple, but I’m quite excited about the possibilities of redoing all these themes in years to come, and seeing how much they have grown in their understanding, and how much ‘deeper’ we can go on each topic.

Having watched the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie and read the book, I decided to do a reading comprehension ‘test’. I designed a comparison chart, so Ameli could compare what happens in the book with what happens in the movie, and also make a note of major things that happen in a similar fashion. For example, in the book, Mr Bucket tells them about the golden ticket competition, in the movie, Charlie sees the posters going up. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Reading Comprehension Worksheet

Sticking with the loose ‘English’ or ‘Language Learning topic, we decided to make up words, something Roald Dahl is incredibly good at! This little making up words activity went down a charm, and made an amazing platform for telling our own stories. Make up words like Roald Dahl

I use the word math very lightly here, but since we’re starting out, we used measuring a bag of candies as an introduction to units of measurement.Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Units of Measurement

It’s Charlie and the CHOCOLATE factory, so we had to get some inventing with chocolate going – I went for the easy option and made Jazzies, with DIY decorations for my little inventors. DIY Jazzies Charlie & The Chocolate FactoryNot all the creative activities this weeks should include tons of sugar, so we decided to make our own party decor. We made giant lollipops, giant boiled sweets, and giant lollipop swirls. This was a great afternoon’s paper sweet crafting.Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Decor

 

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a great theme for introducing some science too – see what happens with popping candy when you pour water, coke and then vinegar into three different bowls and top them with popping candy.  Measure jelly babies and put them in a bowl over night – how much did they grow? Put boiled sweets (the kind with stripes on them) into a bowl with a few drops of water. What happens to the sweets? How do the colours disperse? Could you do it on paper and see what happens with the colours? Does the paper remain in tact? Put boiled sweets in mould and put them into the oven. When they melt, do the colours mix? Do they retain their shape? Do they re-set into their new shapes? There are loads of candy experiments you can try!

At the end of a long and exciting week of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, everyone needs a good, long, relaxing bath, so this Chocolate Bath Salt recipe smells delicious, and helps induce a deep sleep too.

DIY Chocolate Bath Salt

Printable Unit Plan

Click on this image for a downloadable, printable study unit plan.

Capture

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

What have other Charlie and the Chocolate Factory fans been up to?