Mellow Mummy : Taking life as it comes...

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

20 Kitchen Activities for The Summer Holidays - Part 1

With our very first 6-week school summer holiday starting today I'm keen to find lots of fun ideas for my 5 year old, Lara, busy and inspired over the long summer break. Kitchen retailer Betta Living has put together a Kids in the Kitchen guide with lots of different activities that can be done in your own kitchen for as little as 99p. We have been trying out a few of the activities and so we though we would share our top ten with you today (don't worry, the rest will come next week!).

Betta Living have found that the cost of entertaining a child over the six week summer holiday can cost over £1000 with family tickets to theme parks and attractions taking up a sizeable chunk of this. For us, as a working family, the cost of childcare over the holidays means that when we aren't working, we need to find fun things to do as a family that don't cost too much. We love some of these fab Kids in the Kitchen ideas which can all be done for around £50 in total and all within the comfort of your own home (so no need to worry about the weather!)

1. Create A Kitchen Garden
As you may know, my girls need little encouragement to get growing but we loved the idea of making a little kitchen garden to live on our window ledge. The girls decorated some little pots with craft materials and we planted a few new seeds - some lavender which should be lovely and fragrant next summer and some salad leaves. We have brought in a couple of our smaller tomato plants, chilli plants and young bean plants to live on the kitchen window too. The girls love the sense of responsibility and ownership of having plants of their own that they have to tend each day.

2. Create Weetabix Friends And Faces
Holly LOVES her Weetabix and she is also a fruit-monster so you should have seen the look on her face when her big sister made her a Weetabix face from fruit!

3. Play The Memory Game
The memory game brings back lots of brilliant memories for me. I'm sure my Mum used to play this at our birthday parties! Place lots of everyday items from the kitchen on a tray and let everyone take a look. Then cover with a tea-towel and remove an item. Remove the tea towel and see who is first to remember which item is missing.

4. Hold a Teddy Bear Tea Party
Lara is very practiced in the art of tea parties. On a sunny day you could host your tea party in the garden on a picnic mat.

5. Weetabix Jenga
Not as easy as it sounds!

6. Cut Out And Decorate Paper Dolls Or Robots

The Paper Dolls by Julia Donaldson and Rebecca Cobb is a beautiful book that both of my girls love.  It inspired this activity of downloading a printable paper doll template to colour in and cut out.  If dolls aren't your think then why not make paper robots instead?  You can decorate your dolls with sparkly craft items to make this activity even more fun.

7. Be A Kitchen Scientist
Make your own exploding volcano in your own kitchen.  Sprinkle some baking powder into the base of the container and slowly poured in the vinegar.  Watch the chemical reaction unfold with wonder.  Amazeballs!

8. Create Wooden Spoon Characters
With a few bargain wooden spoons you can create a whole host of puppet characters.  Add paint, wool, ribbon or fabric to really bring your characters to life.

9. Create A Saucepan Band
This is an activity that children of all ages enjoy.  Raid the cupboards for pots and pans of different shapes and materials that will make a range of groovy noises.  Supply your children with two wooden spoons each.  Apply earplugs.  Enjoy.

10. Play Dress Up And Put On A Play
At 5 years old, Lara's imagination is unstoppable. While her younger sister hasn't quite grasped the concept of putting on a show, Lara loved dressing up in all of her dressing up outfits to choose a character and put her drama-club skills to good use with a show for us. We used simple masks from to allow the girls to create new characters for their show (the story was a little hard to understand but they had great fun.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Educational but fun Kids TV ideas for the summer #StreamTeam

This time last year I didn't really understand the worries that some Mums have about keeping your little ones learning over the long summer holiday. Now, as Lara approaches the end of her foundation reception year at school, I'm certainly aware that there is a long 6 week holiday approaching and I'm interested to see how her reading, writing and maths skills fare over the summer without the additional support and inspiration that school provides. This month, the Netfix Stream Team were challenged to find some educational yet fun viewing options available to stream through Netflix that might help continue our children's learning over the summer holidays.

Watching Netflix from the iPad mini

Our summer holiday is likely to be spent doing a mixture of things - a couple of weeks of holiday club, a couple of exciting family weeks away exploring the UK and a few fun days out. But in among that I'm hoping to save a little money and do some creative and crafty activities at home so yes, we may chill out in front of the TV for a little while as well.

Netflix inspired us with a fun activity that I think Lara will really take to - story starters. The idea of the game is that you roll a collection of dice that feature lots of different pictures. Whichever pictures are face up when the dice come to a standstill become the characters and theme for a story that you must tell, or write. This is a wonderful game for younger children as it doesn't require them to be able to read or write but it is just as suitable for older children too who would enjoy the challenge of a tricky combination of pictures. For us, story starters is a good way of encouraging Lara to do some writing during the holidays as she likes to have a good reason to write!

Since we started our Netflix subscription, both Lara (5) and Holly (2) have seen a lot wider range of TV programmes. While I love CBeebies, I do sometimes find the programming a bit limited, especially at the times of day when we are home. I've really enjoyed introducing Holly to some of the pre-school programmes such as Dora the Explorer or Bubble Guppies because I can instantly see her learning new words and phrases. Bubble Guppies is a particularly interesting programme because Lara also learns a lot from each show which has a different theme - the human body, healthy eating, the farm, musical instruments, celebrations and so much more. Each episode features at least one catchy song on the theme, a few quizzes (that both girls now shout the answers to) and stretches of 'role play' which pass on the educational theme. When it gets to the end of the programme, I really feel that Lara has taken new knowledge away with her... a bit like I would do from a documentary.


Dora the Explorer is another family favourite. We missed her when we didn't have satellite TV and it is great to have Dora back! Dora is single-handedly responsible for Lara's interest in foreign languages because each episode features a handful of Spanish phrases including counting and colours. Dora's stories are very repetitive and I think this helps at a young age. Lara's favourite part of every Dora episode is "The map" so this week we decided to make our own maps in the style of Dora's map. This was a great creative activity that both girls could invest as much or as little time in as they liked. I think it would make a brilliant summer holiday activity, especially if you use the map afterwards for your own explorations.

Take your home-made map out for a walk around your local streets to see if you can find your final destination.  On your travels you can look out for birds and mini beasts as well as flowers and leaves of different colours and shapes.  You'll be surprised how many different natural shapes can be found on your own doorstep.

My two little explorers

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Barefoot SOS, Natural Sensitive Skincare Review

Barefoot SOS is a range of natural skincare products specifically designed for people with REALLY sensitive skin or conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.  The Barefoot SOS range is available from MyPure and this month I have been trying out a couple of these gorgeous natural skincare products as part of the MyPure blogger programme.

Barefoot is a brand I've known about for some time, one of the biggest names in natural skincare, but for some reason or other I've never tried them before.  Although my skin is far less sensitive than it was a couple of years ago, I've got into the good habit of using natural facial skincare products so the Barefoot SOS range seemed perfect.

The Barefoot SOS Soothing Face & Body Wash is a very light, non-foaming lotion which I use as a daily face wash to cleanse my skin in the minutes after I've woken up each morning.  You can also use it as a gentle all-over body wash and in fact, it is suitable for even the most delicate of skin types so I could use it for the girls as a body wash as they both suffer from eczema.

The Barefoot SOS face wash smells totally heavenly with a mix of zingy lemon tea tree oil and floral geranium scents which is one of the reasons why I enjoy using it in the mornings so much - it makes a good pick me up!  Other active ingredients include evening primrose oil and jojoba oil for their moisturising properties and well as chickweed and burdock for their soothing, calming properties.  The ingredients are 98% natural.

Initially I was a little worried that the face wash would be too liquidy and because it is non-foaming I wasn't sure how effective it would be at cleaning away the night's gungy residue from my face each morning.  But I needn't have worried - I think it is a pretty effective cleanser given that it is a natural product with as few irritants as possible.  I think it makes a great facial wash, especially if you have sensitive skin of any sort.  It costs £16 for 200ml.

Next up is the Barefoot SOS Barrier Hand Cream.  I LOVE this!  They call this hand cream "Safety Gloves" because not only does it sooth dry skin on your hands, but it actively protects them against further damage, just like a pair of gloves!

The hand cream is a really nice thick texture, and despite forming a "barrier" over your skin, it doesn't leave your hands feeling greasy, in fact, you can feel it getting to work straight away moisturising the backs of your hands.

As with all products in the Barefoot SOS range, the barrier hand cream is suitable for really sensitive skin conditions.  It is made with shea butter for helping to create that barrier against irritants and against drying agents but also with macadamia, sunflower and jojoba oils for extra moisturisation.

When I first used the Barefoot SOS hand cream I couldn't quite put my finger on the scent.  It isn't floral but then again it isn't really musky... to me it smelled of "plant"!  In fact, the pure essential oils that give it the sent are frankincense and lavender which are both for soothing and restorative properties for both the skin and nails.  The Barefoot SOS Barrier Hand Cream costs £13 for 50ml.

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