Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Erth Dinosaur Zoo

If you get the chance to see Erth's Dinosaur Zoo, take it!  We had such fun seeing it at GLive on Sunday, and Spiderboy has been asking non-stop when we can go again.

As well as being hugely educational, it is cute, entertaining and scary all in one.  The dinosaur puppets are amazing, they really are incredibly real.  

Doodles was a pretty scared by the Australovenator (the one that looks pretty much like a T-Rex to you and me!) but there were cute baby dinos and medium sized friendly ones too that held her attention.  Spiderboy too was a little unnerved by the large dinosaur - you can't imagine how life-like they are until you see them.  Of course they ham it up and have him practically drooling over the stage ready to eat the children but that's exactly why the kids love it! 

Not your average sight on Guildford High Street!
Throughout the show, they took various children up on the stage to join in the fun (tip: get there early as they pre-choose some children for part of it).  The company also came outside the theatre afterwards so the children could all feel the dinosaurs and have pictures taken with them.

I would thoroughly recommend this show to anybody with young children, it was brilliant - get some tickets if you can!

Monday, 23 September 2013

Making Lunches Fun

School lunches have been in the news a lot lately.  Home packed lunches are to become a thing of the past, with all school children now being provided with a hot meal at lunchtimes.

Spiderboy and Doodles do already have a hot meal at school & nursery but we often take a packed lunch along for a picnic on a nice day or for an easy tea after swim lessons.  I'm not a huge fan of sandwiches (too many dry, tasteless offerings from my childhood) so with that in mind, I try to mix things up a bit and make packed "lunches" more exciting.  

I posted a recipe for these ham, cheese & onion muffins a while back, and they were a huge hit with my kids.  If I do make sandwiches, I cut them into fun shapes - something I discovered when Spiderboy was very little and I couldn't get him to eat sandwiches - how much more fun is it to eat a train or a little animal?!

What do you mean you can't tell they are a crocodile, a lion and an elephant?!
Adding some individually packaged foods is very handy - it cuts down on the mess and makes it fun for the kids. We were sent some of the new flavoured Cheestrings to try out, which would be ideal for lunchboxes or snacks on the go.  Spiderboy was put off by the strong smell of the Cheese & Onion and Cheese & Tomato flavour when they were opened but Doodles on the other hand happily wolfed down a whole packet, followed by some of the Cheestrings Spaghetti!

I have to admit I was quite surprised when I read the Cheestrings website section about how they are made and of what...they contain no artificial colours, preservatives or flavours and provide one quarter of the recommended daily amount of calcium and vitamin D!

It only takes a little bit of imagination to make food more fun - if you have a lunchbox with compartments, you can offer different tasty treats, like putting some fruit into a cupcake case.

You could also personalise lunch containers without a huge expense - just use some stickers - or leave them a little handwritten note or joke inside.

If you're in the mood for more fun with food, check out Kitchen Fun With My 3 Sons for some great ideas. 

I shall leave you with the memory of my mother discovering with horror the stash of mouldy sandwiches under my bed one day...can't recall why I didn't just throw them away in the bin at school but then I never was very bright!  Strangely enough, I didn't get anything tastier offered as an alternative after that...

Disclosure: I was sent a Cheestrings gift pack for the purpose of this review.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Recommended Birthday Presents

Both my kids have their birthdays in August so they have been on the receiving end of lots of great gifts lately.  I thought I would share some of the ones that most appealed to them and they have been making great use of.  

Each title links to Amazon where you can buy them (photos are all stock ones, not my own).

Doodles (age 3)

My First Sticky Mosaics

This was a huge hit, and kept her sitting still for ages.  It reinforces colours and shapes, as you have to stick the correct shape on to the base picture to create the finished product.  There are 4 pictures in the box and they lasted her quite a while.  They also have sticky hooks to attach to the back so you can display them afterwards.

Moon Dough Pizza Set

Both Doodles & Spiderboy played with this one although I have to warn you, don't let it into your house if you have anything resembling OCD tendencies!  It was the first time I have come across Moon Dough, & it has a strange dry texture which crumbles easily (but it does sticks back together).  The best thing is that it doesn't dry out unlike play dough so it has been sitting on our kitchen table for a good week or so, with the kids returning daily to play with it.  

This was a cute set with three colours of moon dough (although they quickly got mixed together) to make pizza bases and then toppings.  

Melissa & Doug Self-Correcting Number Puzzle

I love the fact that you have to match the pictures up to the numbers in this puzzle - each with a unique jigsaw fit so you know if you make a mistake.  She pretty much has her 1-12 numbers down pat but this goes up to 20 so it's great for that next stage.

Spiderboy (age 5)

Sea Monkeys

This has to be one of Spiderboy's favourites.  You get a small tank to fill and various sachets that you have to add to the water over a period of time.  After around 5 days, some tiny shrimps hatch and begin to grow.  You need to feed them every two days with some powdered food that's included.  I am worried that Spiderboy will eventually be disappointed because he keeps asking how big they are going to grow...I think he has visions of actual monkeys!

If you're slightly squeamish, don't Google them and read the Mumsnet thread about them essentially being lice... :/

It's a Chicken

This is like a child's version of pictionary, with some fun elements.  Spiderboy doesn't like drawing or colouring of any kind so I was interested to see that he enjoyed playing this.  Its great for developing fine motor, and the simple drawings you have to copy from the card are easy enough for children to follow, aided by pre-printed circles.  Of course they love the clucking chicken timer that you have to  compete against too!

Magic Tooth Fairy Game

This is one of those games that you can't understand the fascination with...and it quickly begins to grate although to be fair, there are no noisy elements to it.  You each get a "mouth" with a set of teeth and you have to work your way round the board, losing teeth and collecting gold coins from the tooth fairy in exchange.  Warning: Do not play this 10 minutes before bedtime because it can go on for *ages*!