Books and the Jelly Bean

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Jelly Beans. It turns out jelly beans and books go together quite well, no matter what age! World Book Day 2018 is coming up SUPER quickly. It is on 1 March every year and schools and nurseries around the world will be dressing up in their favourite book characters. We had loads of fun last year dressing up Patronus A! You can see pictures of her from last year at the bottom. 

This year we are championing Storytelling with props. If you want to read more about that then I have previously written a blog post about it, link below. 

Reading books with your children with the additional use of props can further help spark imagination and play long after the book has finished being read. It can lead to further discussion, dressing up, creating, eating and general playing. As i was going through our books I realised we had a couple of books that have or are about Jelly Beans in them. When was the last time you ate a Jelly Bean? It has been years, so that's when I decided our storytelling prop would be an eating one! Patronus A and B have never had them before so it was really fun. 

The two books we used are: 

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Jelly beans feature in both these books. The New Small Person by Lauren Child was given to us after Patronus B was born. Patronus A was struggling somewhat, tantrums went nuclear and more often then not she became Dementor A. This book really helped us. It is about a boy being the centre of attention until a new person arrives. This new boy is annoying, until one day he realises that the new boy is actually fun, he even lets him share his jelly beans. So well written and the illustrations are awesome. 

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The next book we used was The Magnificant Jelly bean Tree, by Maura Finn, illustrated by Aura Parker. This is about a boy who explains his Jelly Bean grew into a tree, a tree so magnificent that it produced hundreds of jelly beans. They are juicy and not hard like the ones you buy in the shops, the glow like lanterns in the dark and he stays in his tree. He soon realises that it's pretty lonely without anyone to share it with so invites his family along. Again, the illustrations are so fun. 

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I hadn't realised when I bought them that these particular Jelly Beans have 35 flavours in them. After Patronus A had eaten a few she came running to me saying that she didn't like them. Funnily enough I had just eaten a Liquorice one and it was so unexpected I had to laugh. I'll bet all my Jelly Beans she must have eaten a coffee, cinnamon or liquorice one. As soon as I crunched down on that liquorice one my mind took me straight to Harry Potter. Can anyone guess where I'm going with this? 

Bertie Botts Every Flavoured Beans. 

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If you haven't read or watched Harry Potter,   ( shame on you) they were sweets that a wizard named Bertie Botts accidentally made.

Bertie Botts pictured to the right. 

Albert Dumbledore (headmaster of Hogwarts, again, shame on you if you don't know who that is) famously said that he had eaten a vomit flavoured bean in his youth and had put him off them. 

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I guess my point to the above paragraph is that, Storytelling with props is not just for kids! That string of consciousness that I had while eating Jelly Beans has made me want to pick all the Harry Potter books and read them again! Older children can play games with the jelly beans guessing which is which flavour. 

 

As promised last years celebration of World Book Day. Patronus A went as Princess Daisy from Princess Daisy and the Dragon and the Nincompoop Knights. An EXCELLENT read. It is all about girl power. We have noticed that the children's book market have more and more books about Princesses who are not just damsels in distress. We love these books at our house. If you are interested in some GIRL POWER books here are a few:

  • The Worst Princess, Anna Kemp
  • Zog, Julia Donaldson
  • Zog and the Flying Doctors, Julia Donaldson
  • The Princess and the Giant, Caryl Hart
  • The Princess and the Peas, Caryl Hart
  • The Princess and the Christmas Rescue, Caryl Hart
  • Princess Scallywag and the Brave, Brave Knight, Mark Sperring 

Crafty Bargains for Half term

Half term is almost upon us. Can you believe it? Anyone else agree that January has flown by in a blink of an eye? It'll be Easter before we know it! So looking forward to the shots of yellow daffodils everywhere. 

Anyway, February half term can be wet and a bit miserable.  This means that unless you are going away, then having some ideas of how to entertain the kids indoors can be useful. Having them prepared and up your sleeves ready to stave off cries and echoes of the, 'I'm bored' phrase. With that in mind I have trolled the internet and have done some research on the best Arts & Crafts that might inspire little feet to get involved. What with Valentine's Day round the corner there are an abundance of hearty crafts which I have included. Don't panic though, there is something for everyone and every taste. 

So, without further a do, scroll down and have a look.

Just click each photo to follow through to the relevant website to purchase.  

Enjoy and send me pictures of all your craftiness!  

 

Colour In Cardboard Rocket Playhouse, Hobbycraft £17

Out Of The BoxJumbo Craft Box, The Entertainer, sale price £6

3D Wooden Unicorn Head Puzzle, Hobbycraft, £6.50

Pom Pom Heart Wreath Kit 4 Pack, Hobbycraft, £12 

Kids Brushes And Ready Mix Paint Bundle, Hobbycraft, £5

The Works, Colour Your Own Everyday Bag, £1

Heart Craft Punch 0.6 inches, Hobbycraft, £2

Heart Wooden Cross Stitch keyring, Baker Ross, £3 .75 for a pack of 5

Heart Hedgehog Decoration Kits, Baker Ross, £3.75 for a pack of 5

Heart Weaving Kits, Baker Ross, £3.75 for a pack of 6

Love Heart Tree kits, Baker Ross, £3.75 for a pack of 5

Heart Porcelain Mugs, Baker Ross, £5.75 for a pack of 4

Tesco Go Create, Make Your Own Bear, £6

Wooden Desk Tidy, The Works, £1

Fairy Door, The Works £2 for 1 or £26 for 15 (Art party anyone?!)

Medium Wooden Birdhouse, The Works, £2

Make Your Own Mesmazing Wind Chime, The Works, £3

Make Your Own Magical Unicorn Wind Chime, The Works, £3

12 Pack of Wooden Hearts, The Works, £1

10 Pack of Wooden Heart Pegs, The Works, £1

Make Your Own Slime Kit, The Works, £5

Heart Day

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It's hard to believe but it is almost February! How did this happen?!

February brings thoughts of pinks, reds and purples, of flowers, cards and chocolates. Let your little people get involved with Valentine's Day or as we call it in our house, Heart Day. Over the next couple of weeks we will be sharing some activities that have been Heart Day inspired.

I am a strong advocate for using this day as one not simply for lovey dovey couples cooing at each other, buying each other expensive presents and sharing a dessert (who in their right mind shares a dessert or any food for that matter, anyway...). The only people I will share my food with, if I have to, and ONLY if they ask, are my children. Ladies and Gents, let me make this quite clear, that is ONLY because I actually grew them inside me. Daddy Patronus and fur-ball know better then to swipe or beg something off my plate and if their judgement happens to fall short, lets just say they quickly wished it hadn't. Anyway, I digress... 

Heart Day. 

Yes, it has become super commercialised, superficial, blah, blah, blah. We know. Everyone knows. Some people love it, some people accept it, ignore it, deal with it and there are some who really loathe it. I'm mostly ambivalent.

If I am brutally honest, I used to dread the day at school. My school was one that thought it would be a good idea to encourage people to buy carnations for people. You'd buy as many as you wanted, write a note and they would be delivered to those people. I think the money may have gone to charity which off course is a fab idea. And actually thinking about it, it must have been hell of an operation because there were hundreds of students. However, it became a day to get anxious about. How many would you get, would you get any, would they only be from friends, or might there be a mysterious one. It drove people to make pacts with friends, 'I'll send you one, if you send me one.' Then naturally after break when everyone had received them, the dreaded question. 'How many did you get?' UGH. I mean seriously. It is no wonder why people hate the day. You guys, it doesn't have to be like that! 

The History

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Valentine's day actually originates from the Roman Empire. During the time of Emperor Claudius II there was a priest by the name of Valentine. Claudius believed that men were too attached to their wives and families to willingly join the Roman Army. So he banned marriage. Obviously. That's the logical course of action *eye roll*. 

Valentine disagreed with this and began to marry people in private. Predictably, he was discovered and thrown into prison and be put to death. The sentence was carried out on 14 February 270 AD. 

 

The Legend

Legend has it that while in prison he fell in love with his jailers daughter. Before his execution he left a letter to his love, signed, 'from your Valentine'. 

This legend is likely to have become mixed and blended with a pagan Roman festival, celebrated mid February called, 'Lupercalia'. It a welcoming of Springtime. Boys would pick a girls name out of a box and girls a boy and they would be partners for the rest of the festival. Some of them even married afterwards. 

What the point I am making here? It is that it is a celebration of LOVE. It has been marketed as a day for romantic love, but it doesn't need to be. It can be a celebration of love of a parent, sibling, friend, cousin, aunt, grandparent. Hell, it could be your dog, or your love for painting, walking in the hills, eating cake or drinking champagne. It doesn't matter what it is at the end of the day. It is just a day to take a moment and think about the people you love in your life and or, the things you love doing in your life. The weekly droll can be long and monotonous. We shed light on irritations, despair at our failings, shrink at comparisons and our plagued with what ifs. What if, for one day we just appreciate LOVE. In all it's forms. How could anyone loathe that? Surely, that sort day is one to really celebrate, especially with your little people on this earth.

 
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Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.

Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. 


Martin Luther King

 

Hate has no place here. It's Heart Day. 

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So, join us over the course of the next two weeks while we explore some Heart Day arts and crafts. Some are gift inspired, some will be edible, some to decorate your house and some just for fun.   

Storytelling with props

You can find magic wherever you look. Sit back and relax, all you need a is a book. 

Dr. Suess 

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Books. Books. Books. 

We are a family that loves books. We have more books then we know what to do with. We gather books at the speed a mouse produce baby mice. We never have enough shelf space and I'm too picky with buying bookshelves that we have books stacked up in strategic places.

I realise this makes us sound like hoarders. I promise we're not.

Though to some, with normal book keeping habits, perhaps we are. Our hands are never far from a book and we always have a book or two on the go. This love of books has inflitrated the little people. Which of course, we love. But this means that as well as hoarding adult sized books, we now hoard children's books. Those buying books as presents for them is now risky as we have all the best ones. More then once we have been bought duplicates, it's no ones fault really, except probably ours. We could start a small regional library and stock it with board books, children's books, history books, politics books, military books, religious books, art books, design books, craft books, classical fiction, humorous non-fiction and an embarrassingly (actually sorry-not-sorry) large amount of fantasy/sci-fi books. 

From an early age the kids became interested in flicking through books. They were just part of their toys and as such became like toys. 

Now, reading for some children and even adults can be a struggle and an effort, finding it difficult to immerse themselves and get lost in a book. My sister was never a reader until recently, Now we swap recent reads and geek out over dragons and wizards.

For some people the thought of reading anything with dragons, wizards and sorcerers makes their faces contort in disgust before being able to control their facial muscles. But reading can be made fun for kids. There our some books which I really loathe having to read Patronus A (a particular troll book springs to mind), but for some reason she adores. She will go through obsessions where we will have to read the same book everyday, multiple times a day for a week until she has completely rid herself of the addiction and knows it off by heart herself. She'll then go 'read' it her self from memory. 

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My point is that book reading with your littlies doesn't have to be a bore. Especially if you do it with PROPS. We have discovered this fairly recently and the results have been fab! We got gifted the book, 'The Hundred Decker Bus', by Mike Smith. I had never heard of it or even seen it at the library, but man, is it a fun read! It's about a bus driver who gets bored of doing the same route every day so decides to go on an adventure and everyone wants to join him. 15 pages later and the bus has 100 levels. It's fun and ends with a page that folds out. As we were reading it, I remembered the kids got given a red London double decker bus for Christmas. Once I realised that the rest was easy! 

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We found any toys we could find to recreate this gigantic bus. We had a lot of fun with it. The extra bonus of this is that this then led on to playing with our duplo lego in a way we had never played with it before. Patronus A was so taken with the whole idea that she was entranced and happy playing for about 45 minutes afterwards. No mean feat! 

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Storytelling with props could be as simple as having a caterpillar soft toy when reading the 'Very Hungry Caterpillar', making a Stickman when reading, 'Stickman', going for a walk in the woods after reading 'The Gruffalo', letting your littleun make a marmalade sandwich after reading Paddington Bear, or building a pirate ship from lego or play dough before reading 'Ten Little Pirates'.

Have fun with it! 

 

The more you read the more things you know. The more that you learn the more places you'll go. 

Dr. Suess 

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My First Painting

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Despite loving doing anything creative with my kids, I soon realised once I had had my first that actually the mess, tended to make me slightly anxious. I had always thought of myself as being pretty laid back and relaxed with mess.

Then I got married and had kids.

And well, it turns out in no way am I relaxed about it. I like the kids to tidy as they play and generally if Daddy Patronus has been looking after them I near have an aneurysm when I see every toy that we own spread across every inch of carpet.

Where am I going with this?

When I had Patronus A, I didn't really know much about children. I didn't really know when they could start doing the creative stuff I loved to do. We did a lot of drawing and playdoh but I didn't introduce paint until later then I could have. Mess had something to do with this. The thought of paint splatter on the walls and carpet sent shudders through me. However, the older she got the more I pre-prepared the activities we did. That meant I could limit and contain the mess and more importantly control the creative environment in a way that kept me calm. As time went on the process got easier. the more relaxed I became, the more fun we began to have.

Now we do painting at least once a week!

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“You can’t use up creativity.  The more you use, the more you have.”  – Maya Angelou

Generally we will paint on a non-nursery day and when Patronus B is napping. This week however we did it when Patronus B was awake. For those who don't know Patronus B, she is 14.5 months and has THE WORST case of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) I have ever witnessed. She needs to be in the excitement at all times and God forbid she might be not included, all hell breaks loose. So she saw Patronus A painting and INSISTED on coming to sit on my lap so she could watch. And then watching led to her grabbing a paint brush and that is where her painting journey began.

I stripped her off into her wife beater onesie and just let her explore. It was so interesting watching her! I got such a kick out of seeing her explore creatively. She did three pieces in one sitting and when I decided it was time to 'close shop', she full on lost it and had a screaming fit. Turns out she loves painting. At 14 months. 

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Her Creative Process

As I said, it was really fun to see how her brain was working when learning a new skill.

1. The first one, below. She really enjoyed the process of putting her paintbrush into different colours each time and watching how they looked when she made contact with the black card. 

2. The painting below was her 2nd. It is really expressive and you can see she was experimenting with how it looks with the movement of the paintbrush on paper. The effect is like spider legs or sun rays. 

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3. Below is her 3rd and last painting, again which I found fascinating. She had covered having fun with the different colours of the 1st and the arm movements of the 2nd. The 3rd one she discovered that if she made the same arm movement then she could actually cover large expanses of the paper in a left, right, left right movement, from one side of the paper to another. 

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This whole process, brought me back to remembering to allow your children to experiment in this way. It is called, 'process art'. It is so important for children to be allowed to do this. It allows them to develop their own creative confidence, to experiment, think outside the box, to make their own decisions and it helps them make sense of the world around them. It means, that the 'doing' is more important then the end product. 

“Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.”  – Mary Lou Cook

It's ok to hate mess. If you plan ahead for activities like these you can remain in control of that. Do it in the kitchen or the bathroom if you are worried about carpets. Get splat mats that you can lie on top of the floor and PVC tablecloths for tables and surfaces. Get your children naked or cover them in overalls. Have wet wipes or a bowl of warm soapy water on hand. If you are in control and relaxed then your kids will be able to relax and have fun too.  

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The moral of the story is that it doesn't have to be stressful and messy. Your kids will love creating memories and artwork. They'll learn really important skills that they will use throughout their play and not just in art. It is not enough to assume that they do 'art' at school or nursery. Certainly in Primary Schools it is deemed not important and they'll have an art class every two weeks. If they have one every week, they are one of the lucky ones. 

Being creative doesn't have to be a specific activity. When someone tells me they aren't creative, I get so frustrated. EVERYONE can be creative. A child doesn't need to be told to do a particular activity. Put in front of them paint and paper and they'll paint with their fingers. Put in front of them playdoh and a plate and they'll make a feast. Don't limit the young, they'll teach us a thing or two. Just give them the platform.  

Festive Salt dough

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Our house has been on the Christmas craft train for a couple of weeks already. We have been doing a few seriously fun bits with our Festive Salt Dough. So I figured that before I post all the crafts we have been doing I should make a generic salt dough post so we can cover how it is made in one post. I have previously done a salt dough post however this one is a little different as it has the addition of food colour AND glitter. What's not to love right?! 

So the premise is the same to make it. You need the same ingredients; salt, flour and warm water. For this recipe however you will need some sort of food colour, I would suggest a food gel as you don't need much of it for the colour to come through. Liquid will require a lot and it will change the consistency of the dough meaning you'll need to adjust the flour by adding more. And lastly, you will need glitter. 

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Instructions: 

1. With your child, measure out the ingredients and pour the salt and flour in a bowl. Slowly pour in the warm water and begin to mix it until it forms a dough. Once in a dough, lift out of the bowl, sprinkle flour on the counter and continue to knead until firm. You may need to add a little more water if it isn't coming together properly. 

2. Spilt your dough into as many as you have colours. If you only want to do one colour then ignore this step. We spilt ours into five as we had purple, blue, yellow, red and green. 

3. We used Wilton food gel. With a toothpick we dipped it into a colour and then into the dough. Then the kneading continues until the colour has spread completely creating an even colour. Do this for each of your colours. 

4. Slightly flatten your dough rolls and pour the glitter you have into the middle. Fold the dough in on itself and knead again until the glitter has dispersed evenly. 

5. If you are not using them straight away make sure to wrap them tightly in clingfilm and keep in the fridge as they will keep for longer. We kept ours successfully for a week and I even have some still in there two weeks on. 

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So there you have it. Now the Christmas crafts can begin! Stay tuned! 

Negative Space Splatter

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So before we moved I was given a salad spinner by my Aunt. I had been wanting to buy one for a while and had never got round to it. So I've been dying to show Patronus A how to use it for something other then spinning salad. Does anyone actually use them for that...?! 

So we did some experimenting. Now, I can't by any stretch of the imagination claim this genius idea, i'd love to find out who did. I'd seen it somewhere, probably Pinterest, lets be honest! I've been wanting to try it for a while and boy did it not disappoint! 

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After having done the above I felt like we could go further and have a little fun with it. We had a load of freshly 'harvested' leaves on the table that we have working on so I decided to use prit stick to stick the leaves on the measured and cut out circle. 

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Once stuck down, we popped it in the salad spinner and squirted some paint on top and got spinning. The result was so effective and actually I almost love the leaves more then the negative leaf shape left on the paper circle!

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All you have to do is close the lid once the paint is in and get spinning. Note, if you spin it too vigorously the paper does fly up and crunch, so not too fast. Once we were happy that there paint covered the entire leaf and edges we lifted it out and carefully placed it on the table. Once it had sat for about 5 minutes, I lifted the leaves out slowly. 

Don't they look awesome?!

Don't they look awesome?!

 

What you need:

  • A salad spinner
  • Paints, post or acrylic will be fine (we picked autumnal colours)
  • White card or paper
  • Scissors
  • Autumn leaves
  • Prit stick glue
  • Tweezers or a toothpick

Instructions:

  1. Cut out as many circles from your paper as you like. Measure them to the size of your salad spinner. Ours was small, but you can buy bigger ones if you wish. 
  2. Put glue on the back of a leaf and gently press it down into the middle of one of the paper circles. Place the circle into the middle of the salad spinner. 
  3. Squeeze three paints into the salad spinner, when there is enough, close the lid on it. Make sure its fitted on properly. Ours wouldn't move unless it was fitted on properly. 
  4. Now is the fun part, get spinning! Not too fast though. 
  5. Have a peek in, if you think you need to add more paint then do so. If not, then carefully take out with with a toothpick or tweezers. 
  6. Lay on a flat surface and allow to sit for 5-10minutes. Then using the tweezers or just your hands slowly lift the leaf off the paper. Allow to dry. Then repeat until you run out of leaves or get bored! 
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Finally. We utilised our 'Wall of Fame' to display them. 

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