Thursday, 25 April 2013

Dropping Down Like Flies!

Stock Photo

I don't know where the expression 'Dropping down like flies' comes from but know its sentiment all too well! Ill health has beset our house for some time now! Time and day have come and gone with very little notice as they all merge into one.

How do you cope when one by one you and your family catch the flu or any other bug or virus that is out there waiting to invade, disrupt and disturb life as you know it?

I felt as if I were back in the wards in the hospital again checking temperatures, doing medicine rounds, making beds, keeping records, going to the pharmacy. There was no change of shift, no staff to come and relieve you for meals, no canteen to go to....... So as mum all these roles became mine 24/7 along with the usual mum jobs!!!

Life still hasn't returned to normal and it has left me totally floored! It is taking me all my energy to try and resume normality, what ever that is! Was I normal to start with? Any way I'm back after a break from blogging and hope the 'April showers that bring May flowers' will also bring some good health, some much needed energy and a lift of spirits in general.

So today I'm thinking of coping strategies for any future bouts of ill health, what do you all do under these circumstances when you are feeling ill or exhausted too? I guess it depends on the type of illness what you do but there are some things I have learnt from this last batch and I just wanted to share it.

1. Medicine and Alternatives - Make sure your medicine cabinet is well stocked up with the typical things you may need and that it is all in date. I'm not completely and totally into alternative therapies enough to use them solely but I do believe they have their place and can assist in ones feeling of wellbeing so tend to keep some alternative remedies handy and also arm myself with my favourite recipes and foods from a book called Immunity Foods for Healthy Kids, to find out more about the book click the link:

2. Sleep when you can - I think next time we are ill I'm going back to 'new baby' mode where I catch some sleep when I can through the day and night rather than try to keep going all day and all night in the hope that no one needs me during the night. If others are resting then mummy can rest too, you never know when you might next get a rest so take it!

3. House work can wait - I know there are some jobs that need done but it's ok if we don't get everything done that we normally do and to the same standard either. Depending on what illness has beset your home some tasks may increase like laundry or decrease like cooking especially if it is a vomiting bug so look at the chores and do the essentials first then do other chores if you have the time and/or energy to do so.

4. Activities to do - This is one thing I have to work on more rather than resort to the TV, DVDs or computer games for those who feel well enough to do something or just to bust the boredom! My plan is to organise a tub of age appropriate activities/toys for each child that will only be opened in emergency situations, once I have these put together I'll post it.

5. Convalesce - With hospitals spitting out patients in less than 24hrs of having a procedure done combined with the fast pace people live it seems like convalescence is an antiquated notion these days. Following this last batch of illness I feel like we need to allow ourself the opportunity to gently ease ourself back to what our normal routine was or we risk running ourselves down to the point where we are 'no use to man nor beast' as the saying goes (which is the point I found myself!)

Here's hoping that we keep in better health and you all do too.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Easter Eggstravaganza!

Well it looks like our Easter Eggstravaganza that I had planned for over Easter weekend will be more of a souffle flop and all thanks to hubby bringing home some viral illness from work. Who says my husband doesn't give me anything! lol.

It's a good job I had planned some things ahead of time to show all my lovely blog readers what we should have been getting up to, which we will do but it may just be a little later than planned! One of the reasons I had planned some things in advance is that Little Boy Blue has an egg allergy so I needed some egg free activities especially for him.

Colour Egg Game

This year Book Worm, Bug Boy and I designed our very own board game or should I say chocolate box game. Once the chocolates were eaten (mummies job done!) we used the empty chocolate box as our board and we filled different coloured plastic eggs with a slip of paper each with an instructions on it like miss a turn, put on the bunny ears, pick another egg, cluck like a chicken etc. Making use of an old dice to roll we up-cycled it with coloured stickers to match the eggs, got our bunny ears, bunny nose and bunny tail and we then set out the game rules. 


1. Start with the youngest player to roll the dice first then take turns going round to the right.
2. What ever colour lands face up is the colour of egg to be picked up. If that colour is no longer available then it is the next persons turn.
3. Open egg and do instruction on paper, keeping the egg once completed.
4. The person with the most eggs at the end wins. The end is when there are no more eggs on the board.
5. An extra prize is given to the player who at the end of the game has the bunny ears, nose and tail on.

Colour Match Egg Box/ Busy Bag

Little Boy Blue has been using this colour match game since it was put together and loves it because it incorporates so many things he loves - small toys, colours, opening/ closing things and peek a boo.

To fill our multi coloured eggs we borrowed some of Book Worm & Bug Boys Gogos and put it all together in an old egg carton. Depending on what your little one is like with little bits remember to keep an eye on them with small parts. Even after Easter is passed this will be popped into a ziplock bag and be added to our busy bag activities.

Alternative Duck, Duck, Goose

If any of you play the game Duck, Duck, Goose with your children then I'm sure it's a firm favourite as it is in our home, especially at parties. For those of you who don't know it basically the rules are that everyone sits in a circle, one child is chosen to be 'it' and they go around the circle patting each person on the head saying Duck, Duck, Duck and so on until they pick someone to be Goose. To this person they pat on the head and say Goose, the 'Goose' gets up and chases the other child around the circle and the child who was 'it' has to reach the chosen 'Goose' child's spot in the circle and sit down and now the 'Goose' is it. If how ever the child gets caught by the 'Goose' then they must be 'it' again. Clear as mud? Google it for clearer instructions! 

Anyway, playing Duck, Duck, Goose with just three boys is a bit less fun so I have made an alternative that can be played even with one. I took out six yellow plastic eggs from my multi coloured packs and to five I added a little fabric duck and to one a little fabric goose (all taken from an old soft baby book) and put the eggs into an old egg box. The object of the game is to pick an egg until you get the goose then start again making sure to mix them about.


Egg Sensory Play

Following a talk about how chickens are not the only animals to lay eggs (and that the Easter Bunny didn't!) we looked at other creatures that lay eggs, including Dinosaurs. This gave me a great twist for our sensory play material we had from a few weeks ago, all I needed were some of my plastic eggs and a few Dinosaurs and 'Ta Da' a Dino nest!


I'm trying harder to include more art and craft to our 'school' week and for Easter I thought I'd hatched a great plan (get it hatched! lol) but so far no one has been well enough to do it. Last week I blew the yoke and white out of six eggs then filled each with a different colours of paint mixed with a little PVA and plugged the holes with play dough.

When the boys are better we will go outside, put paper on the ground, stand up on chairs and drop the paint filled egg shells onto the paper, I can't wait to see how it turns out!

The project Little Boy Blue and I did manage to do was to make an Easter art work from his paintings he did a few weeks ago.

Here he is painting his MANY art works, now what to do with them?
I tend not to buy in to the whole commercialised side of a lot of the different holidays but generaly we celebrate in our own way. In the Jewish calendar they celebrate Passover and as Christians we celebrate Easter when Christ became our passover lamb so that we might be saved and we give thanks. So Little Boy Blue and I traced around his magnetic letters onto is dried paintings and came up with a picture that enbodies the Easter lesson for us.

Have a blessed Easter.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Snow In Spring

I had hoped that this weeks posts would be filled with lots of spring activities that we got up to at the end of last week but the weather had different ideas! Snow in spring!

Instead of letting it get us down I took full advantage of it, I had previously seen some lovely snow activities on others blogs, Pintrest and Facebook pages but we didn't get much snow over winter to do them. Then when we un-expectantly ended up with a record snow fall we jumped at the chance to do some!

Snow Art

For our snow art I found any spry or squeezy bottle we had and put in either watered down paint or food colouring, we then went out to the fresh snow and sprayed and squeezed away. I'm glad I captured a few pictures because within an hour these works of art were covered with more snow! Little Boy Blue couldn't stand the cold for too long so he came inside with some snow to make his own work of art, a painted snow sun-catcher.


The inspiration for this came from: 

'No Bake Cupcake'

To follow on from the idea of painting the snow and put my own twists on it we decided to do no bake snow cupcakes! We brought snow in from outside, got our silicon cake cases, our food colouring and we filled the cases with snow from the tub and decorated them with food colouring.

At one point near the end of making our 'cupcakes' I went to get the camera only to come back to them tucking in to their 'cupcakes'!!!! I'm sure a bit of fresh snow and some food colouring won't kill them, I hope!


Following a Science Hangout over on Google+ (you can see it here I was inspired to do more hands on science around the home. When the snow came it gave me the ideal opportunity to do a little science experiment  - Solid to Liquid. Book Worm and Bug Boy gathered some snow in, we then separated the snow into three containers and got our timer.

Our first container went onto the windowsill in the kitchen, the second into the fridge, the third into the freezer and we set our timer. We then talked about what we thought would happen and set about checking and recording every hour, until bed time that is. The next day we discussed our results and also why the snow outside had not melted either!

The boys really enjoyed this easy hands on experiment and while waiting to record our result Bug Boy came up with his own idea. He made icebergs by compacting the snow in his hands and put them in water to see if they would float. This lead on to a discovery that only part of the iceberg was above the water and we discussed the Titanic. 

Following our extended experiments, thanks to Bug Boy, we then read a book called The Unsinkable Titanic by Andrew Donkin, which tells the story from the possible experience and perspective of a child that may have been on the Titanic when it sank.

We hope our next post will have more of a Spring in it's step! lol

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Julia Donaldson Books - Our Top Picks

We just love Julia Donaldson books in our house, the Gruffalo was our first then we got some of her other books on CD for in the car and then more of her books. The boys love the flow the books have, Book Worm and Bug Boy have virtually memorised some of the books and enjoy reading them to Little Boy Blue

We recently joined the Virtual Book Club over at The Educators Spin On It ( and this months, our first since joining in, is author Julia Donaldson! We selected our current two favourite books of Julia Donaldsons books to read and do some activities.

What The Ladybird Heard

Little Boy Blue is loving this book at the moment with all the animal sounds. There are a few activities you can do in connection with this book once you have read it. Little Boy Blue enjoyed when we took turns to make an animal noise and guess what it was. Meanwhile Book Worm and Bug Boy enjoyed making maps like the one the robbers had in the story. 

We also discussed how sometimes small quiet things can go un-noticed or be dismissed easily, so we made Ladybirds out of egg cartons and took turns hiding them around the house to see if the others could find it, a bit like the old game hide the thimble. 
Our Ladybird

Can you spot the Ladybird in the pictures?

Monkey Puzzle or Where's My Mum?

When ever we read this story by Julia Donaldson baby & mummy monkey always have to come out of the soft toy box to act out the story, I love the fact that when we read this story mummy (me) gets lots and lots of hugs. We decided we needed a butterfly and some caterpillars to join in with the story telling so we got to work.

I don't know if it's just toddlers or boys or maybe all kids but when ever I put out supplies for crafts they seem to need to glue EVERYTHING on to it. So I have found putting a smaller selection of things into egg cartons helps my supplies to not run out just as fast!

Little Boy Blue and mummy made the butterflies while Book Worm and Bug Boy got busy making the caterpillars.

Another activity was to match up babies and mummies for this I had cut pictures out of magazines, catalogues and printed some off the internet then glued them to cards to play a matching game. 

For Book Worm and Bug Boy we discussed animals who's babies didn't look like them and it has kick started our spring theme with a planned trip to a pond to get frogs spawn and we also have a butterfly kit this year. With these activities we hope to watch and document the changes that happen during the life cycle and look at lots of new vocabulary like metamorphosis, chrysalis, pupa, plus so much more and as always we look forward to posting about it!

Printable Activities

There are lots of printable activites for Julia Donaldsons books, here are a couple of links to get you started:

Monday, 18 March 2013

Online Art Curriculum & Discount Offer For Home Educators

I mainly post about what  Little Boy Blue is up to but this blog is also about our home school journey and how having a toddler can impact on it. This post is mainly about an aspect of that impact and about my eldest boy Book Worm (8 yrs). 

If you have read some of my previous posts especially the 'Out of your comfort zone' and 'Challenge' posts you will already know that I struggle with doing arts & crafts with my children, I love these activities for myself but have issues when doing them with children. 

The whole setting up, mess, cleaning up and the control freak in me that wants the finished product to look like the picture in the book or online did! These are some of my struggles, throw a toddler into the mix and for me it seems like a recipe for my house and the children to look as if a paint, glitter or glue bomb exploded. I have however been making an effort to put myself out of my comfort zone more but feel as if I am missing the mark for my eldest (Book Worm). I feel he is at an age now to go beyond that level of art & craft and do some more structured art learning, so I have for some time now been on the search for something that meets our requirements.

The Search

There are a lot of art instruction books but I ruled them out as they seemed dry and I didn't have the knowledge or the time to teach Book Worm away from the other two, getting a tutor at this stage and age just seemed like an unnecessary expense. 

I looked at children's art groups but they are a bit of a distance away which would involve some driving and waiting in the car with the others plus the classes seemed like the crafts I am trying to do at home, not the type of instruction I was looking for. 

I also looked at DVD tutorials for home educators most of which seemed to come from the USA therefore once you factored in shipping and import costs it made them very expensive for what we needed, by chance I found my answer on a Facebook page I follow it was a link to an online art programme form Australia:

After accidentally signing up using a discount code only meant for Australian home educators I have been communicating with the site owner, creator and teacher Kirsty Shadiac and explaining the need/ plight of home educators especially within the UK to access products and services like hers. Kirsty has her site open to users from the UK and US, she has also very kindly put on a special offer for home educators which is available till the end of April and I get to be part of sharing the great offer. (see the end of my review for offer)

The Online Programme Review - Artventure

Artventure is an online programme available for schools, classes and home educators for an annual fee, you can visit the site (link above) and watch the introduction and also try a couple of the lessons for free. As a home educator when you are budgeting for all the curriculum elements you require for each child I love it when free trials of products are available. Free trials help you to see if the product or service fulfils your requirements before parting with part of your budget just to discover it wasn't what you thought it was!

The site is simply laid out and easy to navigate, once logged in you can use the search part to select a lesson or lessons are divid by degree of difficulty, grade level and also by subject so you can use them as part of a cross curriculum project. I feel that these different ways of selecting an art lesson for your child gives greater flexibility, with home education your child can have differing degrees of ability depending on the subject matter therefore if they are more or less capable at art you can choose the lessons to suit your child.

The online video lessons give clear step by step instruction, each element is shown clearly and terms used are easy to understand. Through out the lesson you will see a pause button logo this facility allows the student or parent to know when to pause as you following along. The materials for Book Worms level are things that as a home educating family you would probably have, so it won't break the bank with needing lots of specialist equipment. There is also an 'extras' feature that contains video lessons giving hints and explaining some techniques so your child will benefit more from the lessons. I plan for Book Worm to use these lessons independently with some assistance when required. 

Here are some of what he has done so far:

This is my favourite because until we started this programme
Book Worm was still drawing stick people!
As a member there is also a gallery area where your child can upload a photo of their master piece, it reminds me of the the gallery from a childhood TV show I loved called Hartbeat with Tony Hart, one rule for the gallery is that it must only be a photo of the art piece which as a parent gives me more peace of mind. 

As a younger child Book Worm struggled when something he had drawn didn't look exactly like the item - a dinosaur, a fish etc. A bit like his mum! I remember one time he came and asked me to draw him a dinosaur, he said he couldn't (not like the book) so I scribbled a few bits and bobs down and gave it to him. When he looked at my scribbles he said "That's not a dinosaur!" to which I replied "That is my impression of a dinosaur and if I say it's a dinosaur then it is and I think it is lovely". So often we can be over critical of our own and others work, that it puts us off from even trying and I don't want that to be the case for any of my children. Book Worm is enjoying the lessons at Artventure and the independence he has, I feel in time it will increase his ability in art and his confidence which in return might spark his own creativity.

If I could be granted just one wish from Artventure it would be that it include some art appreciation tutorials too. Kirsty seem so enthusiastic, engaging and child friendly in what she is doing with the lesson that it would be great to have someone like that guide my children (and I) through some art history, an art gallery or an artists studio so we had a better understanding and view of art as a whole.

Discount Deal

From now untill the end of April Kirsty at Artventure is offering 40% discount on the Home price which is normally $99 AUS per household per year so the discount would make this $59 AUS. This offer is open to UK and USA home educators (please select the correct link for your country) and is subject to the Artventures normal terms and conditions of membership. If you encounter any difficulties once at the site please contact Kirsty directly, her contact details are on the site.

Hope you enjoy it as much as we are.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

5 Distractions for Anytime

I have previously posted about dinnertime distractions but these distraction activities can be done at anytime and this past week and a half since my back injections I have had to employ a few to keep Little Boy Blue busy. I've not had much time or ability to set things up as I normally try to do so finding quick distractions and activities that don't take much setting up or clearing away have been called for.

Water Play

Water play doesn't have to be as complicated or as intricate as some may try to make it look, don't get me wrong I love the look of some blog ideas for water play and would love to have some if not all of the equipment. However truth be told I don't think Little Boy Blue would have had any more fun than he had just with a basin, a jug, a container, a ladle, 2 silicone cake cases and a medicine scoop!

iPad Time

Under normal circumstances my boys don't get what I feel is too much 'screen' time but these weren't normal circumstances so Little Boy Blue got to play some iPad apps and more TV time.

Dress Up Box

Getting the dress up box out can entertain everyone for hours and even Little Boy Blue can tidy it away for himself. For more fun costumes see my 'Dress Up Days' post

Indoor Play Areas

It shames me to admit it but I sometimes wonder how my mother and her generation managed without indoor play area. To a home educating mummy in a wet, cold and windy climate for 80% of the year a good indoor play area can be a life line! When the children have cabin fever and they start running riot all around the house it's nice to take them to a local indoor play area where they can blow off steam, mummy gets a coffee and the house doesn't get any further recked than it already was! When its dry and I'm more physically able, hubby is off or my mother is visiting we do head to the play park, woods or beach but when I'm not so physically able the indoor play area is a welcome activity for all.

Sensory Play

Just a couple of weeks ago as part of World Book Day where Little Boy Blue was introduced to the Rainbow Fish books I did our first real attempt at a sensory play well a mini sensory tub with some home dyed colourful rice. (Check out the post for details at To this mix of rainbow rice I added some lentils (red, yellow & brown), some popping corn kernels and some white beans, mixed it altogether and put into a larger tray with some tweezers and tubs for Little Boy Blue to use the tweezers to pick out the larger white bean and put them into the little tubs. This activity extended by the addition of most of his construction vehicles!

What are your go to activities for you children?

Sunday, 10 March 2013

1 Printable = 5 Simple Activities

I found a great FREE printable over at in which I saw endless possibilities for educational activities for Little Boy Blue and know that his big brothers would want to do them too. 

I may not be able to come up with the printable but I do love things that can be easily adapted to give such a variety of activities. First here is the link to the printable:


Activity 1: Baking Tray/Cookie Tray/Magnetic Board Patterns.

For this activity I printed out the hexi card printable on paper, laminated it for durability, cut them out and glued magnetic tape to the back. With this Little Boy Blue will be able to make what ever pattern he wishes in what ever way he wishes on the baking tray or his magnetic board. For the photo I matched colours together for this star/ flower shape but it is really ideal for free play and exploration.

Activity 2: Memory Match Up Game or Snap. 

Little Boy Blue may be a little too young at the moment for this one but his big brothers Book Worm & Bug Boy will love it. For this activity I printed, laminated and cut out enough of the hexi card printable to give me six matching pairs of colourful hexagons. Like all other memory match up games the cards will be tuned face (picture) down and the boys will take turns to turn over two cards and if they match (same colour combination) then they get to keep the pair, the winner is the player with the most pairs at the end. Another game could be snap, just print out more cards. This could also be a busy bag activity.

Activity 3: Colour Peg Match Busy Bag.

Find one hexi card with a least one of each of the different colours, colour wooden clip on pegs to correspond (I just used felt tips to colour the pegs), pop the lot into a ziplock bag and you have a busy bag made.

Activity 4: Hexi Card Match Up Board & Pieces.

Here I printed out 2 hexi card sheets, one on card the other on paper, laminated them both but only cut out the laminated paper one. This is more for individual work and could be made into a file folder game by sticking the laminated card play board into a file folder and popping the play pieces in a pouch. The instructions are very simple: match the play pieces on to the corresponding coloured hexagon on the board.

Activity 5: Colour Pompom Match Busy Bag.

Again you print, laminate and cut out the hexi card printable then find some pompoms that match the colours on the cards. I used quiet small pompom but depending on fine motor skill you could use larger pompoms and also to add a twist pop in a set of tweezers or a clip peg for the child to manipulate the pompoms on to the correct colour on the cards, pop it in a ziplock bag and you have another busy bag.

Hope you give these a try and come back to let us know how you get on.