The Week Junior – Current Affairs For Kids

[AD] It’s been months now since the children have been in any kind of formal education, and with the summer holidays drawing to an end it is time to start thinking about the return of school and getting those clogs ticking over again.

Lockdown learning wasn’t easy for us at all and I found myself finding ways to keep the children engaged that wasn’t based around endless piles of black and white worksheets, as they glazed over as soon as they were confronted with this. Instead I tried to use things that were going on around us to spark their thirst for knowledge and this is where The Week Junior has been a great help.

The Week Junior is an award-winning current affairs magazine for children aged 8 – 14 that brings together news and facts from all around the world.

Like most children mine are naturally curious and The Week Junior allows them to find out about current affairs such as COVID-19 and the Beirut explosion in a safe and easy to understand way, which I sometimes find hard to convey to them.

There is a section that encourages their ability to engage in debate….this isn’t something they normally struggle with though to be honest! Quizzes, puzzles and crafts to keep restless fingers busy, sport and entertainment that Frankie absolutely loved and so much more.

We received our first copy just before going away for the weekend and came across a section all about Stonehenge. We have driven past numerous times before and the the youngest two had never really shown much interest. I was so pleased as we passed this year though as they had recalled many facts they had read up on and were over the moon to see it in all it’s grandeur.

Frankie also took inspiration from the ‘photos of the week’ and used my camera to try and get a little more creative with the way they see things though the lens.

This magazine is a fantastic resource to feed inquisitive minds, getting them talking about a whole host of different topics as well as discovering new ones and allows them to build critical skills.

You can join the other 90,000 families that already receive The Week Junior by subscribing HERE and getting your first SIX copies free!

Outdoor Activities For Children During Lockdown

I now have no idea what week we are on in lockdown but I do know that during this time we have all been trying to find ways of coping with being around each other 24 hours a day and for me I have found structure is key and trying to give the children some kind of home learning has been a must.

I am no teacher and so with the help of work set by school and the wonders of the internet I have been trying to find ways to keep the children happy and engaged.

We have been lucky to have been blessed with this wonderful weather and have tried to utilise this as much as possible and taking our home learning outside.

  • Most homeschooling activities can be done outside as it allows children to have freedom of movement, increases their physical development, helps build towards a healthy and activity lifestyle and hopefully makes them happier and more motivated to learn.
  • I have compiled a few of our favourite activities below and hope you find something that’s a good fit for your family to try:

    Den Building – The boys love building dens, so this was a great excuse to get something set up in the garden where they could play and read independently.

    Skipping – Skipping is a great way to get them using their gross motor skills as well as burning off a lot of steam!

    Climbing Tree – This is great for them to challenge their dexterity and build their confidence.

    Digging In The Dirt – All kids love to dig around in the dirt and without knowing it they are getting a real sensory experience. From making mud pies to hiding and finding different objects this is a great exercise.

    Getting Out For A Walk – The government is still allowing us out for 39 mins exercise a day, and we can use this time to clear our heads, strike up conversations to check that your little ones are coming with this situation and make it into a game by spotting different things on the way.

    • Planting – It’s the perfect time to plant seeds and flowers in the garden which can turn into a science lesson by talking about the lifestyle of plants and then drawing and labelling what you have planted.

    • Still Life Painting – There are so many things that can be painted in the garden, just pick something that catches your eye and get painting.

    • Rough And Tumble – This might not be for everyone, but my youngest two literally can’t keep their hands off each other; so for me allowing them to battle it out for a while works. It’s a way for them to relive stress, read social cues, make decisions on their own and of course have a good cardio workout!

    • Nature Collage – Take some time to walk around the garden and pick up anything you find interesting to create a masterpiece with.

    • Painting With Water – A big pot of water, some paint brushes and some space on the patio, a wall or a fence will allow children to create their own murals with no mess at all.

    • Shadow Drawing – Grab some paper and some objects that will create good shadows…our favourites are dinosaurs; position them on the paper so that the sunlight casts a shadow on the paper and the draw around the shadow.

    • Make A Bug Hotel – Find a space in the garden where you can put together as pike of bricks, logs, sticks, tiles and just about anything else mini beasts can create a home. The children can then go back and take a look at the insects and write up their finding.

    • Scavenger Hunt – Write a list of all kinds of different objects you might find outside such as leaves, flowers, rocks and set the kids a challenge to find them all.

    Bug Hunt – Lift up rocks, dig around in the leaves and see what insects you can find and them write down and discuss your findings.

    Tree And Leaf Rubbing – Grab some paper and crayons and find all kinds of different tree barks and leaves to rub over with the crayons and compare the different textures.

    Giant Bubbles – If you have a tuff tray or something large enough to hold a hula hoop then make up a bubble mixture using washing up liquid and water. Place the hula hoop inside and make as many giant bubbles as you can.

    Outdoor Gym – Nature gives us a huge array of items we can use to build our own outside gym which allows the children to left off steam and build gross motor skills. Stepping stones from logs, a rope placed between two objects to limbo under, a bench to do tricep dips from a just a few ideas. Let me know what else you would use!

    The Best Christmas Markets In The UK

    [AD] If you are looking for something fun to do in the run up to Christmas with the kids then you should certainly consider taking them to a Christmas market. It is hard not to get caught up in the excitement and magic at these events and it’s also a good way to stock up before the holidays, but a few presents and enjoy some time in the UK’s best cities.

    You are spoilt for choice when it come to Christmas markets in the UK and here are some of the best:

    Winchester – Winchester is one of the UK’s prettiest and most historic cities which makes it a superb place for a Christmas market. Taking place with the stunning Winchester Cathedral as it’s backdrop, the Christmas market here is always great fun with a magical atmosphere. There are over 100 chalets selling all kinds of festive goods. Simple walking around the town and seeing the sights is also a lovely experience and sure to get you in the mood for Christmas.

    Bath – Another beautiful city, the Bath Christmas market has over 150 chalets selling all kinds of homeware, decorations, jewellery and much more so you are sure to find a few things for the holiday there. The market takes place in the postcard-esque streets surrounding the Roman Baths and Bath Abbey for another scenic setting.

    Birmingham – The biggest Christmas market outside of Germany and Austria, the Birmingham Christmas market of the place to be of you like delicious treats such as schnitzel, bratwursts and gluhwein, and it’s easy to get into the mood of Christmas with love music and carol singing. There are 80+ stalls to pursue, selling all kinds kinds of traditional and personalised items too.

    Edinburgh – The Edinburgh Christmas market is found in the heart of the picturesque Scottish city with something for everyone, including jewellery, delicious snacks, festive beverages and more. It can also be easily reached from neighbouring Glasgow with a train from Queen Street to Edinburgh.

    These are just a few of the best Christmas markets to choose from, all of which have their own distinctive characteristics and highlights. These markets will certainly get the family in the mood for the holidays and give you the chance to get some supplies.

    Our March…

    March seems to have come and gone in the blink of an eye and as I still here going over what we have been up to I think it’s probably the fact we have been so busy it has just flown by.

    Archie started off the month with landing himself his first real part time job. It is on a church retreat and he had the job of cooking, cleaning and serving the guests. He seems to be thoroughly enjoying the more tasks he is set and meeting new people who all seem to have sixth amazing stories to tell.

    I have to admit when he first told me about where it was(down a load of country lanes with no public transport) I was moaning like made as I knew this was going to fall back on me to get him there and back. But it wasn’t until someone said instead of moaning you should be proud of him for taking the time to find himself work and apply himself that I realise I should suck it up and praise him for his drive and want for independence.

    Frankie has one of his routine trips to the hospital for an eye check and the good news is he is nearly done with patching. There has been a huge improvement in this sight and they have got it to a leave that is now remaining stable, so the daily battles with the patch I’m am happy to say are now over!

    I fast forwarded the year and stepped straight into summer at the Next Happy Hotel event where I got to look at a whole host of products from homeware, clothing and beauty that are set to make for a pretty great summer. There were some fantastic pieces in each and every section but I think I was most surprised by the amount of other beauty brands that are available through next. I had no idea they stocked Benefit…did you?

    From a event on my own to one with all the family at Chessington World Of Adventures. For those of you that regularly read my blog you will know that I have been an ambassador for them for the past few years now and absolutely love watching the changes each and every year. This year the have a new interactive attraction based on the much loved book – Room On The Broom. The children loved it and it’s a must see for any fans of the story.

    I have been up and down with my exercise but Jemma’s Health Hub has kept things pretty constant for me so I’m hoping to feel a lot healthier and less self continuous this summer.

    Whist we are in the subject of health I had a little bit of a scare with some chest pains that I was referred to the hospital for. My blood pressure isn’t really what it should be and I am waiting on a scan just to check that everything is ok and it’s actually given me more of a push to shift these pounds and get my exercise back to being an everyday routine rather than a chore.

    Peppa Pig is still very much a favourite in this house with the boys…even though Frankie wouldn’t let on to anyone; so we were very excited to go along to Leicester Square to see the new film that is put this Easter. The boys absolved it and I’m sure it’s going to be another big hit.

    From this screening we went straight to the Royal Opera House to take a look at one of their family fun Sunday events. I was more than a little apprehensive about taking the youngest two as they don’t really scream Royal Opera house! I needn’t have worried though as it was such a relaxed atmosphere where they got to enjoy lots of crafts, storytelling sessions and witness the most amazing ballet and modern performances. It really would come highly recommend from us.

    With Mother’s Day on everyone’s minds I was invited along for afternoon tea with Paperchase. We got to chat to lots of lovey mummies and take a look at all the amazing products Paperchase had to offer this year.

    A highlight for me probably more than the children this month though was a screening of the new Dumbo movie. It is most definitely a childhood favourite for me and I was so pleased that Disney had worked their magic and managed to recreate a different but equally as thought provoking and heart warming movie as the last.

    Spring definitely seems to have been making an appearance and we have been enjoying this with some time in the garden, plenty of hot cross buns and some spring flowers. I really do love this time of year.

    The last few days of March will always be ones to remember as the day we were celebrating Izzy’s 13th birthday party my eldest daughter Alice decided to give birth to my beautiful second grandchild. We don’t like to do things by halves in this family and it was a whirlwind 24 hours but I wouldn’t have changed it for the world.

    After all the chaos it was time to celebrate Mother’s Day and this is traditionally a nightmare day and this year didn’t disappoint.

    I think I have this ridiculous expectations that my children are going to turn into angels for one day and the arguing and bad behaviour are all going to disappear! Sadly of course this doesn’t happen and we started the day with two of them devouring my chocolates before I even sat down to breakfast, one then decided to throw the said breakfast as their sisters head and so the day started.

    Next year I’m going to lower the expectations in the hope that this will help!

    An Uber Cool Christmas At Winterville

    Last year we had our first visit to Winterville on Clapham Common. We didn’t really know what to expect and we were pleasantly surprised with its calm, cool, festive vibe.

    When we were asked to visit again this year we jumped at the chance and as soon as we got there we knew it was going to be just as much fun. The neon sign shone out across the park and welcomed us in with its pretty christmas lights, catchy christmas tunes and the smell of wonderful food.

    I would actually sat that if you are  bit of a foodie then Winterville will be right up your street.  There is so much on offer with the Truck Stop and Street Feast areas homing the majority of the stalls. From crispy chips to sticky ribs, Baileys hot chocolates and warm cookie dough puddings.

    Of course its not just food and drink on offer at Winterville. There is a whole plethora of amazing activities to join in with and the kids didn’t know where to start first!

    The gleaming lights of the fairground rides were calling us and while Izzy headed to the bigger rides I stayed with the boys and took a ride on the train, span around in the tea cups and watched them as they bounced as high as they could on the trampolines.

    It was now a bit of time for Mum so I grabbed a mulled wine and took a look around the Solo Craft Fair that had some amazing gifts for some amazing independent business which makes a very welcome change to some Christmas markets that are full of  mass produced items you can get anywhere.

    Crazy golf is always something my lot love and the the UV – powered Plonk Golf course at Winterville was great fun.

    Anything that involves being on wheels or blades draws my children in but is my worst nightmare! Winerville have both a beautiful ice rink and a roller disco on offer and i managed to persuade the kids to only try out the ice skating as I don’t think my nerves could take both.

    All of the children could take to the ice and there are penguins to help the round the rink. We all did really well until the very end where Oscar took a tumble just as he was putting his penguin back. We ended up with a split lip and a very sad little boy and I have to say that in this moment of need we were confrunted by a surly and very unhelpful member of staff which was a real shock after having such an amazing experience with everyone we had come across.

    We literally scrapped the surface of everything on offer at Winterviile. There are live DJ sets, cocktail bars, wrestling, Backyard Cinema, Big Fish Little Fish family rave, family shows on a double decker bus and so much more.

    So if your looking for somewhere to kick off that festive spirit then this is the place to be!

    *we were given tickets to Winterville for the purpose of this review and they are all my own, honest opinions.

    Days Out With The Kids This Christmas

    Yes I know we have only just put our sandals and summer dress aways but before you know it Christmas will be upon us and if you want to get those special days booked in then you really do have to start thinking about it now!

    Christmas is by far my favourite time of year and I have compiled a list of a few of our favourites that I hope you might enjoy:

    Lapland UK – This one just had to be top of my list as I have experienced nothing like it before. We were lucky enough to have our first trip there last year and we were absolutely blown away.

    From helping the elves in Father Christmas’s toy factory, icing biscuits with Mother Christmas, taking to the ice in the most beautifully setting and finally meeting the main man himself who Frankie has named ‘the real’ Father Christmas it was sheer magic.

    It brought a tear to my eye and I don’t think that day will ever be topped!

    Hever Castle – For me Hever brings you everything you would imagine when you think of an English christmas celebration. The traditional fairground rides and beautiful christmas trail are perfect for the little ones, whilst the stunningly decorated castle is a sight that everyone will enjoy.

    We are off there at the end of November so keep an eye out for what they have in store this year.

    Chessington World Of Adventure – The Winter’s Tail event at Chessington World Of Adventure is always a fantastic day out. There is the chance to visit Santa in his grotto, ride on a few selected rides that are specially opened including our favourite – The Gruffly River Ride Adventure, decorate festive treats in the Gruffly kitchen and something new this year will be The Gruffalo Christmas Groove.

    alongside all of this they are also offering sleepover packages and we can highly recommend a stay in their fantastic hotel.

    Painshill Park – This one for us has the ultimate wow factor when it comes to the grotto. After a walk along a pretty lit walkway you find your way to the crystal grotto where Father Christmas is waiting to hand out his gifts.

    It is certainly different from the norm and gets booked up extremely quickly so don’t leave it until the last minute.

    Southbank – If you are looking for a day out with festive foods, quirky gifts and the perfect London backdrop then the christmas market at Southbank if definitey one for the list.

    Hobbledown – I am so sad that I won’t be going along to the toddlers lunch with Father Christmas this year.

    I have visited for many years now and it is the perfect trip for preschoolers where they decorate a biscuit, have some lunch and meet Santa in the cutest little wooden hut.

    Winerville – We had our first trip here last year and it really exceeded our expectations. It is an uber cool experience in the heart of Clapham common offering a bit of everything from great food and drink to ice skating, roller skating, fairground rides, crazy golf and a whole lot more.

    Disney On Ice – This has become somewhat of a tradition for us to visit a few days before christmas. The culmination of all our favourite Disney characters, the chill of the ice and the excitement of Christmas makes for a great day out.

    National Trust – We have visited a fair few properties over the festive period and each one has its on unique and wonderful christmas feel. They offer visits to Father Christmas, crafts galore christmas markets and brilliant trails to wear the kids out which is always a bonus!

    CBeebies Christmas Show:Thumbelina – Getting cosy in the cinema is perfect at this time of year and when its to watch a classic such as Thumbelina put on by some of your favourite Cbeebies characters then its always going to be a hit.

    We are off to see this later in the year so keep an eye out for what we think!

    RHS Wisley – Now the illuminated trail at Wisley is something I’ve heard so many good things about but haven’t actually got there yet. I think it will have to go on my list for this year.

    Winter Wonderland – If you want Christmas on a grand scale then this is the place for you. Winter Wonderland is a huge area in Hyde Park full of fairground rides, food stalls, gifts, ice skating, shows and bucket loads more. We had our first trip there last year and had an amazing time!

    Bocketts Farm – I love a farm visit over the christmas period and Bocketts offers an amazingly festive day out complete with a trip to santa in his hay barn.

    The Snowman – My children laugh at how much I love The Snowman in any form. My first love was of course the illustrated character and I have loved watching how he has evolved over the years. We watched the stage show a few years ago which was absolutly spell binding and keep the attention of my younger two for over two hours which is no mean feat. This year there is also a magical exhibition at the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, an immersive experience at The Backyard Cinema, a special story telling session at Bath Pavilions by the talented author Michael Morpurgo and a the most magical showing of the animated film at the Royal Albert Hall accompanied by the Royal Philamonic Orchestra.

    Priory Farm – This has been our Christmas Eve tradition for a few years now. We stop off in the cafe for a mince pie and a warm drink, get the last of our foodie bits at the fab farm shop and a trek round the discovery walk to wear out the over excited little one.

    Win A Family Ticket To This Summer’s Wild Child Festival

    For the past three years we have been huge fans of family festivals and I am so excited to be adding another one to our list this year as I become an ambassador for the Wild Child Festival in the leafy grounds of the Dulwich Estate in South London.

    This brand new festival is going to be focusing on children’s entertainment and workshops for children aged 0-11 and runs over a three day period from Friday 17th August to Sunday 19th August 2018 and has been kept to only 500 families per day which makes for an intimate and less stressful experience…as lets face it children and queues never mix well!

    For me festivals offer time together as a family away from the distractions of day to day life, time away from screens to really connect with each other, try new skills and experience new firsts.

    The brain child behind this festival is Hayley Byfield who as a Mum and art producer who has worked on events at several large festivals over the past 20 years is the perfect person to create a festival that will be enjoyable for both the children as well as the adults.

    I know all to well that festivals with little ones can be a daunting prospect so having the option to go along for the day to enjoy the festival vibes without the pressure of the camping element is a great way to go.

    With over 11 art inspired zones there really is something to cater for all tastes. The Giggly Grove is set to be a giggle a minute with comedy acts aimed at children. The Magic Hollow is the place to go for all those aspiring magicians. The Wordy Wood will allows the children to slip away into a literary world. The Little Top is the place to perform all those circus skills. The Bop Along Ballroom is the perfect place to get those dancing shoes ready and practice those groovy moves. For any coding fans The Imagination Lab is the place to be. If funk, soul and jazz are more your thing then you need to make your way to the Harmony Hideout. For those of you with little ones the Babes In The Burrow with be a lovely little hideaway from the hustle and bustle of it all. I know a hit with us is going to be the Crafy Den where the children can take part in all kinds of crafts from festival crowns and dream catcher to water pistol painting and wacky weaving. Finally is the Play House where the kids can explore a dinosaur world, play games in the unicorn meadow an so much more!

    We literally can’t wait to get along and experience this for ourselves and if you fancy coming along to join in the fun then take a look HERE to book your tickets or I am very pleased to say I have a competition running to win a family ticket that you can enter below!

    a Rafflecopter giveaway
    Giveaway Terms and Conditions

    1. Giveaway is open to entrants worldwide. 2. No purchase necessary. 3. Ages 18 and over only.

    4. Prize is a family ticket to Wild Child Festival in Dulwich.

    5. A family ticket refers to 2 adults and 2 children or 1 adult and 3 children.

    6. Tickets are for any day of the festival that the winners wish to attend. 7. Winner will be notified within 7 days of the random draw.

    8. We will make all reasonable attempts to contact the winner; if after 3 attempts the winner still hasn’t claimed their prize, the promoter reserves the right to redraw.

    9. Winner will need to confirm their festival attendance date with the promoter, within 72 hours of claiming their win.**

    10. No last minute changes for number of guests or attendance date, unless authorised by the promoter. 11. No cash alternative, exchange, refund or resale.

    12. Promoter reserves the right to substitute a prize of equal or greater value should circumstances make this necessary.

    *collaborated post

    Glam Goo Deluxe Giveaway

    The slime trend is still going strong and has children all over the country absolutely hooked! There are over three million instagram posts available to see and countless Youtube videos that my lot are obsessed with watching.

    A while a ago now my biggest slime fan – Izzy reviewed the fab Glam Goo Deluxe Pack and absolutly loved it, so much so that I have a pack to giveaway to one lucky reader.

    The Glam Goo Pack allows you to customise and decorate your own slime and store it in pretty items of jewellery such as a ring and a glitter purse. As well as looking pretty you can add some scents to it so it smells as well as looks good.

    If this sounds something like your little ones would like then feel free to enter the competition below.

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Handprint Flowers: #BostikBloggers

    This months challenge for BostikBloggers was based on flowers. As I had chosen a more complicated craft based on a flower for Easter I decided to do something that the little ones could join in with this time.

    Handprint Flowers

    What you need:

    Coloured Card
    Wooden Skewers
    Thin Green Paper
    Textured Green Felt
    Scicorrs
    Glue
    Sellotape

    First take your coloured card and draw round your little ones hands.

    Next cut out the handprints to form the flower head and put to one side.

    Next take your wooden skewers and wrap in a little of the thin, green paper and fix along the edge with glue to create a flower stem.

    Whilst the glue is drying draw varied leaf shapes on the felt and cut out ready to attach to the stem.

    Once the glue has dried on the stem attach the hand prints to one end with a couple of strips of sellotape.

    On the other end of the stem take a little glue and attach the leaves that you have cut out.

    Once the glue has hardened the flowers are all good to go. My boys decided to give theirs to their Nanny, who would you gift yours too?

    Celebrating The Small Things:Week Eight

    This week has been a pretty quiet one but some small changes in different areas of our lives have bought some joy to this pretty miserable time of year.

    Spring Has Sprung: There has been a little bit of sunshine peeping through the clouds and my favourite daffodils have been showing their pretty heads which always gives me a bit of light relief after the harshness of winter.
    It has got me thinking about festivals, holidays and getting outside more and I really can’t wait.

    Big Improvements In Frankie’s Reading: For a long time I felt that Frankie was progressing slower than he should as far as his reading and writing was concerned. I tried not to compare him to his siblings and his peers but it is always something thats hard not to.
    Thankfully though a few months ago his teacher had had the same concerns and felt that he was showing signs of dyslexia and this was why he was struggling so much.
    With the help of a special coloured filter that he places over his books his reading has really improved and with this so has his confidence and I am so grateful that he has such a wonderful teacher that has picked up on this so early on in his schooling.

    Getting Back Into Crafting: I’ve has a love hate relationship with crafting over the years. With my older children is wasn’t something I ever did at home as I couldn’t stand the mess and always wanted things to turn out perfecting, not allowing the children to use it to express how they feel and interpret their own ideas.
    Things have certainly changed as I got older and I now love giving the children free reign, even if it does involve a few glitter explosions!
    This year I was chosen as a Bostik Blogger which allows me to get crafty with the kids every month and its something we have all loved getting involved in.