Wind in the Willows Trail at Hanningfield Reservoir-Days out in Essex

Wind in the Willows is a children’s classic novel about small animals who spend their summer days boating on quiet rivers, going on picnics with large hampers of food and being lost in the wild woods. It’s fun, adventurous and very British- A classic tale of river life and friendship.

The novels begin with Mole, a peace-loving little animal, who decides to leave his burrow after being bored with doing his spring cleaning. He ventures down to river bank and soon meets brave Ratty, grumpy Badger and an unruly Toad.

Children and adults love Wind in the Willows as it represents a quintessential British summer. We all want to stroll down by the river, picnic on the banks, sail down the river in a boat and set out on journeys full of fun and adventure.

At Hanningfield Reservoir you can follow in Mole’s footsteps, follow the trail and discover the characters from the Wind in the Willows.

The boys love a bit of excitement and anything that’s gets them out within nature. They love trekking through woods going on adventures.

With a map in one hand and a crayon in the other they were ready to go off and search for the wooden sculptures hidden within the woods of Hanningfield.

The maps and crayons are available at the visitors centre for £1.

As soon as we had left the car and headed on over to the visitors centre they were greeted by the beautiful wildlife garden, which is the home to Ratty’s boat and Toad’s caravan.

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Inside Toad's caravan
Inside Toad’s caravan

After a little stroll around the peaceful garden we headed on over to purchase our maps. We were given a crayon too as next to every wooden sculpture there is brass rubbing squares that you can create a rubbing from on the back of your map.

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The boys used their map reading skills to follow the trail and lead us to the fun, life-size characters that were numbered on the map. Teaching them navigation skills and direction.

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I love watching the boys working together as they are normally squabbling with each other.

They were so excited when they found the first one set within the trees. Once they found the character they could also read the description about each animal under the square that you used fort he rubbing. Not only were the children having fun but they were also learning facts about the animals as they went.

As we walked along we also made our way over to Lyster Hide, where we could look out over the reservoir and watch the birds fly over or swim on the water.

hanningfield reservoir

The first on the trail was Badger

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Second was The Weasels

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Third was Mole

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Fourth was Ratty

wiw ratty

And last was speedy Toad

wiw toad

There were also other sculptures to see that had mini beasts carved into them and picnic benches to sit down and eat your lunch at.

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The whole adventure took us just over an hour, we didn’t rush around and spent time just enjoying each others company and the woods that surrounded us.

It was a lovely day out and would definitely recommend it. Parking is free but no cycling or dogs are allowed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pointillism Art For Children

My boys enjoy arts and crafts but are not exactly talented in the subject- but that doesn’t mean they do not attempt to draw or make things.

Art is all about expressing your self, being as creative as you want and to enjoy yourself.

The boys came home with a letter from school a few weeks back, inviting them to participate in an art competition – called take one picture

The oldest boy was very excited about it and straight from the start knew what he wanted to do, the youngest one wasn’t very confident and said that he couldn’t draw or paint and was useless at art. This upset me, children are not useless at anything they just need encouragement and assistance in finding the right medium for them to use.

The task was to create a picture using ‘A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte’ by Georges Seurat’ as inspiration.

They boys tried painting a water-colour picture but they was not very happy with the outcome. So I pointed out that if they wanted to do pointillism then using an ear bud might work.

Pointillism is a technique of painting in which small, distinct dots of color are applied in patterns to form an image.

They experimented on a scrap piece of work first and then they were ready for the final picture.

Dipping their ear bud into the paint and then dabbing it onto the paper to create a series of dots that made up an image

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First, they did the outline of the shapes that they wanted in the picture

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Then, they filled it in

Dabbing away with the ear bud – creating little dots

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I think it is really effective

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I am loving the eldest boys final picture.

He has said that he doesn’t really mind if he doesn’t win because he is very happy with the final result and would like to display it in his bedroom later on.

This type of art medium can be used for any pictures, and for any ability

 

 

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Create An Amazing Erupting Volcano

Joseph and I made this volcano the other day, it was fun and simple to do.

You will need:

A clear plastic bottle (we used a Highland spring bottle which was green but still see through)

Scissors

Plasticine

Tape

Paper

Felt tip pens

For the lava:

Baking Powder

Vinegar

Washing up Liquid

Red food colouring

Instructions:

Firstly you need to cut the bottle in half and discard the bottom half as you will only need the top part.

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Secondly, cut the top part of the bottle off, about 1-2 cm will do, this will create the magma chamber. Turn the part that you have cut off and place it upside down into the bottle.

Next you need to seal the edge of the magma chamber with some tape and some plasticine (i used red so that it looked like lava)

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Now you need to decorate the volcano! Cut out a collar of paper, so that it will fit inside of the bottle and colour it in so that it will look like an exploding volcano. Once done, push the collar up inside of the bottle.

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Now for the fun bit!

To make the lava mix you will need to mix together 150ml vinegar, three tablespoons of washing up liquid and about 2 drops of food colouring

Spoon 2 teaspoons of baking powder into the magma chamber.

It can get quite messy for the next bit so i advice to either put the volcano onto a tray or take it outside!

Slowly pour the lava mixture into the magma chamber and now wait for the eruption to begin! It will firstly begin to bubble and then the lava will start to spill over the sides of the volcano.

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The fun thing about this volcano is that it can be used again and again, just wash out the chamber ready for the next time.

 

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Potato Stamping

I introduced Oliver to potato stamping yesterday and he absolutely loved it!

He spent ages moving the paint around the paper first with the potato but soon realised he could make marks by stamping the potato down onto the paper.

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The potato stamps are easy to make

  • Cut a spud in half
  • Carve the shape, letter or number into the potato cutting down about half a centimeter
  • Cut around the sides of the potato near the top removing the part of the spud that isn’t needed to reveal the letter or shape
  • Place some paint onto a plate
  • You are now ready to stamp away and create masterpieces

We used child friendly paint and soft potatoes, the carving needs to be done by an adult.

Oliver learnt quickly on how to place the potato into the paint and then put it down onto the paper, he did say ‘Eat!’ a couple of times but i just said ‘yukky’.

A cheap activity out of old potatoes!

 

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Sports Crafts with Yellow Moon

The boys love to make things and are always sticking or colouring in something whether it be drawing animals of making spaceships the boys love to craft. So you can imagine my delight when an email popped up in my inbox from Yellow moon an online art and craft shop asking me if the boys of I would be interested in joining their blogging network, they would send us some crafts and the boys have to make them and then all I have to do is share their creations with you all, fabulous.

We received our first box of crafts last week and the boys were very happy to see that all the crafts that was sent to them was olympic/sport themed, seeing as they have been glued to the television watching the olympics i thought they would really enjoy making some of their own medals and their very own supporters hand to wave when watching the olympics. With Summer already here the time is right for thinking about getting the kids excited about a season of sporting fun with the Olympics being held only miles away from where we live. Yellow Moon have all the summer sports craft ideas you need to prepare some super sports-related activities for the children.

In the box we received

The boys were very excited when they saw what they had received and couldn’t wait to get stuck in and start making things. Joseph had taken everything out of the box and was ripping at the foam hands pack to open it, i enjoyed watching him excited as he never used to be interested in art and crafts but just recently i can’t stop him from going down the craft drawers we have in the cupboard and getting out some paper and glue to make something with. I am always encouraging him in a good way to use scissors in order to develop his fine motor skills and cutting out shapes his a great way to do this.

The first craft the boys decided to do was the foam hands, we was going to watch the mens Olympic Triathlon at Hyde Park and thought this would be a great place to wave their creations. The foam hands are already made and ready to place your hand inside all you have to do is decorate it the way you want to using glitter or stick-ons. The boys used the felt letters and the glitter pens to create two brilliant hands (if i say so myself) to wave at the athletes as they passed. The felt letters came in 7 different colours to choose from and was easy to peel away from the sheet even for Josephs little fingers. The letters are self adhesive which is ideal with my boys because when they use glue they can make lots of mess and end up sticking glue everywhere.

The glitter pens were easy to squeeze and the boys had a choice of 6 colours to use and with four of each colour there are lots to go around and should last for quite a while. I like how they come in a handy little storage pot so there will always be a place for them and the boys won’t be just throwing the pens in the craft drawer causing lots of mess. The foam hands are a great way of showing how creative you are by adding your design on it using pens or even gems.

The end product
The boys waving their hands at the passing athletes

Next up they made some of their own medals to wear , the pack comes with 6 medals with 3 different choices to make. Joseph chose to make the ‘Winner’ medal, Jak made the ‘1st’ medal and I made the ‘1st’ medal. Each medal kits comes with a foam medal template, self adhesive foam letters and stars and some coloured ribbon to tie the medal around your neck. The medals are very glittery and whats great is the glitter doesn’t come off when rubbed so there is no mess from these too, BRILLIANT!

The pack contents

These craft kits from Yellow Moon are fabulous ideas for the children, they keep them occupied for ages especially through the school holidays and each pack comes with instructions on what to do which are easy to follow and even have end pictures of what the kits should like when finished. Jak found them easy to follow and at times didn’t even have to read the instructions he just used his imagination and got on with it.

Jak really enjoyed doing the sew your own Union Jack keyrings, he got a chance to put some of his sewing skills to the test, this craft wasn’t easy for Joseph to do especially the stitching but he still enjoyed the activity by sticking the union jacks on to the cushion and now wears it with pride. This craft activity was Jak’s favourite one and he really liked the fact that they are cushion like key rings, Joseph says they are all soft and cuddly. I think they would make lovely little presents for the children to give to the family and fabulous keep sakes.

Jak sewing his keyring together

Every kit comes with everything needed to make the activity so nothing else is needed.

The last activity that the boys enjoyed doing was the Sport foam bookmarks, this is great for Jak as he loves to read and now has his very own bookmark to keep in his book on the page that he is reading also I am hoping that Joseph having a bookmark of his own will encourage him to read more often.

The boys have had lots of fun doing these activities and they have definitely kept them busy on days that I had nothing planned for them.

There are many different crafts that can be bought from the www.yellowmoon.org.uk like paints, stickers, coloured elastics and they also sell party bag goods and games. If your order comes under £20 there is a cost of £2.20 for delivery but anything over £40 the delivery is free and should be with you in 3- 5 days. Not only are the craft kits fabulous to have indoors for the children but are a great addition for any classroom in the schools to be using.

At brilliant prices and excellent products why not get creative with Yellow Moon.

I was sent these products for review purposes only and all of the words in this post are of my own.

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