Bonkers about Conkers

It’s that time of year when the ripe seeds from the Horse Chestnut tree fall to the ground.  The conkers are encased inside a green spiked capsule, which are attached to the branches of the tree. When the spiky capsule begins to turn brownish in colour they fall to the ground. It’s a sign that Autumn is on it’s way.

My youngest has never really been that into conkers, that is until this year and he has absolutely gone bonkers for conkers! Collecting well over 400 of them; with the help of friends.

Wherever we go: on the way to school, to the park, to football practice or walking to the shops, he is always on the lookout for a conker. When we get home he empties his school bag, trouser pockets and even his lunch bag and places them into his growing collection.

With so many conkers I asked him what he wanted to do with them. His reply was just that he wanted to collect them and see how many he could find.

I know conkers are, apparently, good for keeping spiders away if placed in the corner of the room. So I think we will be safe for a while from our eight legged friends.

Apart from the obvious of playing conkers we decided to get our craft heads on and do something a little different with what we had. We made conkers paintings and snail conkers.

Conkers paintings are really simple but can get quite messy.

You will need :

  • Conkers
  • A tray
  • Paper
  • Selection of paint

Place the paper into the tray. Then add in the paper and squirt some poster paint around the paper. Place some conkers on to the paper and now the fun and messy part. Start to shake the tray so that the conkers roll around in the paint leaving a coloured trail behind them.

About to roll
Finished picture

Conker snails were so much fun

You will need:

  • Conkers
  • Paint pens or acrylic paints
  • playdough

First we made up our playdough. We added in chocolate powder to give it that earthy colour. My son loved making the playdough as he likes to get messy and it’s really good for the children to practice their measuring and motor skills.

Then, we decorated the conkers with the paint pens, we used my posca pens but you can get cheaper versions which are just as good. Once the conkers were dry we moulded the playdough for the snails body and placed the conker on top for the shell.

Aren’t they just so cute!

You could even hide the snails around your local park for other children to find or even just the decorated conkers ( just like the rock decorating craze)

As a child, I used to love playing conkers with my friends and big brother. It was something that my parents had taught me. Who had the strongest conker? There were even methods that you could use to strengthen your conker; keeping a conker for a year, baking, soaking, boiling in vinegar, or painting with clear varnish. Nowadays, children don’t seem to want to play the simple, but fun games that we played when we were younger.

Conkers is a game that could dates back as far as 1821. To score in Conkers you must break the opponent’s conker to gain points – you can score when you are attacking or defending. If strings become entangled the first player to shout ‘strings’ gets an extra turn.

I have not given up on introducing the boys to the game, as I know they will just love it as much as I did.

All ready for a game of conkers

But, this activity is for another day 🙂

 

 

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Christopher Robin: Afternoon Tea with the Voice of Pooh and Tigger – Jim Cummings

Just over a week ago we were invited along, by Disney, to celebrate the upcoming release of Christopher Robin for an afternoon tea with Jim Cummings.

It was truly a magical experience.

If you are anything like me and you grew up watching/reading Winnie the Pooh, then you will understand how excited I was to be able to meet Jim Cummings and listen to him read a short extract from the book of the film. Winnie the Pooh was the first teddy bear that I bought for my eldest boy when he was a baby, you which he still has now.

Christopher Robin is a heartwarming film about a young boy, who on embarked on countless adventures with loveable animals, who has now grown up and lost his way. It is now up to Christopher’s childhood friends to help him remember the loving playful boy that he once was by venturing into our world.

‘Sooner or later your past catches up to you’

The afternoon tea was being held at Claridges. We arrived and was quided to a room that was full of Pooh themed food, tea (obviously, as it’s afternoon tea), face Painting, colouring in tables, old fashioned games, biscuit decorating and a lovely big chair – hmmm, I wonder what that was for!

The boys quickly made themselves at home, grabbing some of the delicious cakes and sitting down in the corner on the cushions to eat them whilst cuddling their Winnie and Tigger teddies.

They designed some balloon shaped cookies with lots of sugary items and ate some ‘beary’ ice cream.

I’m not sure what this design was but he assures me it tasted nice.

As the children enjoyed getting their face painted us adults sat down to tea and cake.

It wasn’t long before we were joined by Jim Cummings, he sat down in the chair and the children gathered around him on the cushions. Clutching on to their Pooh bears, Tiggers, Eeyores and Piglets they say mesmerised as Jim read an extract from the book to them.

The room was silent.

Adults and children around the room were quickly joining Pooh and Christopher on their adventure, getting lost in imagination as Jim brought the characters to life.

I couldn’t help but smile.

I looked around the room, I could see the magic I the children’s eyes as the story was coming alive. It definately was a wonderful thing.

Once Jim finished he kindly waited around for photos and chatted to the children.

We had a wonderful time and are very thankful for the invite. The boys came away with a plush teddy and a memory that they will cherish forever

Christopher Robin opens in the Cinemas on 17th August.

We can’t wait to watch it! How about you?

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My First BIG Concert with the Children

Last year I went along with a friend and her daughter to watch Ed Sheeran at the 02. It was my first real concert; by real I mean big. The first concert I ever went to was when I was 15 years old, my Dad dropped myself and a friend off at Crystal Palace to watch a selection of acts on stage, which included Take That, East 17 and Right Said Fred. I think it was a Capital FM Roadshow at Crystal Palace. I remember the car journey there and being really excited that I was off to watch the bands that I loved to sing along to. I remember screaming along with the rest of the crowd when the acts entered the stage. I remember dancing away to their songs and not being able to sleep for days after with the sheer sense of euphoria.

I wanted my children to have that special memory, I wanted their first concert experience to be a memorable one. I wanted my boys to experience being in an arena filled with thousands of people screaming their heads off while a musician ran around a lit-up stage, belting out hit after hit. But above all, I wanted to be their with them whilst they had this experience.

After watching Ed at the 02 in 2017, I decided that when he next went on tour I would try to get tickets for myself and the boys to go. We all really enjoy listening to his songs, so I thought that it would be a brilliant choice as a first concert to attend for the children. I managed to grab 3 tickets to see him at Wembley, it wasn’t a choice venue as I would have preferred the 02. Not only is the 02 nearer to us but it is also a smaller venue than Wembley, But nevertheless we got tickets and that’s all that matters.

So last week, the boys and I jumped on the train straight from school and headed on over to Wembley Stadium. We were all very excited and the boys couldn’t wait to get into the Stadium. As soon as they saw Wembley Stadium, there mouths dropped agape. It is huge!

We had bought seating tickets as the youngest is only 10 and children have to 12 to be standing in the arena. Unfortunately, our tickets were not amazing ones. We were quite high up but we were to the side of stage so we had a good view. It helped that the stage was massive and Ed and his supporting artists stood at the front which meant you could see them.

We had made our way to our seats and got comfortable ready to see the supporting acts; Jamie Lawson and Anne Marie. I must say they were both great but Anne Marie was brilliant. It helps if you know the songs of the artists to really enjoy the experience. My boys were singing along and really getting into the mood. The artists were warming up the, now very crowded, stadium.

We were having a lovely evening and I wouldn’t have wanted to be there with no one else.

We laughed, we smiled,we danced, we sang, we screamed, we bounced, we held hands and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

I had never seen my younger son dance so much, he jumping about to the music and singing at the top of his lungs.

I will never forget the sheer excitement on my boys faces as Ed Sheeran came onto stage, I didn’t think their smiles could get any bigger

I knew that this night would be a night that they wouldn’t forget, etched in their memories, the night that they went to their first concert with their Mum.

We finished the evening with sore throats and tired feet.

We left before Ed finished his set as I knew just looking at the amount of people in that stadium that there was no way we were going to get out of their in a hurry. It was late already and we were getting very tired. We was very lucky, even though the crowds were gathering at the exits, that we managed to get out without any stalling and actually got a seat on the train.

The boys had a little nap on the train as we had many stops to get home. It was a very late night for them but worth it.

We now all have the concert bug and are looking for our next one to attend. Although, I think we will make sure that its at the 02 next time as Wembley is just too huge a little too far for us to go to.

 

 

 

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BBC ANNOUNCE MORE TOP NAMES FOR ITS FIRST EVER FAMILY FESTIVAL

Taking place on August 3 to 5 at Croxteth Country Park in Liverpool, CBBC Summer Social is the biggest ever kids event, and the only festival to give 6-12year old’s and their families a unique lineup of CBBC favourites, alongside a host of international music acts including Union J, Johnny Orlando, Matt Terry and Mackenzie Ziegler.

CBBC Summer Social is being organised in partnership with Liverpool City Council and forms part of Liverpool 2018 – a year of projects marking a decade since Liverpool was European Capital of Culture.

Max and Harvey, Sophia Grace, KIDZ BOP and more were recently added to the line up.  Having previously announced a range of international music acts including Union J, Johnny Orlando, Mackenzie Ziegler and Matt Terry alongside CBBC favourites Mr Tumble, Swashbuckle’s Cook and Line, Andy Day, and Sam and Mark, to name a few, brand new festival CBBC Summer Social has added a second wave of incredible artists to an already jam-packed line-up.

Needing no introduction, teen music sensations Max and Harvey, who’s refreshingly fun and authentic sound has connected with listeners across the globe racking up over four million followers on social media, have been announced for the festival. Having previously been nominated for “Muser of the Year” at the 2017 Shorty Awards which garnered over 6million total views, the singer songwriter duo’s performance is guaranteed to be a festival highlight.

Speaking about their appearance at the event, Max and Harvey said: “We are so excited to announce we’ll be heading to Liverpool this summer with CBBC!! The line-up this year is crazy; Johnny Orlando, Sophia Grace, plus so many more, and we can’t wait to see our fans. It’s going to be a legendary weekend!”

Other acts announced include online star, Sophia Grace who has three million followers on YouTube, kids’ music phenomena, KIDZ BOP, and popular Britain’s Got Talent dance act, Merseygirls, who’s energetic stage show will certainly not be one to miss.

Also joining the bill is the world famous BBC Philharmonic who will be bringing a full orchestra to the event, introducing a young audience to classical pieces in a family friendly setting.

West End and Broadway hit, Shrek the Musical, has also been added to the bill.  The theatre adaption with a feisty Princess, a lovestruck Dragon and all the charm of an Ogre. Preformances are sure to bring the magic of the big screen.

Set against the historic backdrop of the Grade II listed Croxteth Country Park, revelers can expect the very best of CBBC programming including immersive activity zones, theatre shows, interactive and inspiring art workshops, top class musical experiences, cool outdoor and sporting activates, junior discos, themed treasure hunts, gaming areas, character walkabouts, vlogger meet and greets, live appearances from the most popular children’s authors and much, much more.

Early Bird Tickets are on sale priced from £28*. To purchase tickets and for more information visit bbc.co.uk/cbbcsummersocial

*Please note, all ticket prices are per day. Booking & Transaction fees apply.

Line-up

Friday 3rd August

Featuring: Andy Day, Art Ninja, Bars & Melody, BBC Music Introducing in BBC Merseyside, Ben Shires, Clangers, Everton in the Community, Go Jetters Disco, Got What It Takes, Hacker T Dog, Johnny Orlando, Liverpool Football Club Foundation, Liverpool LIMF, Mackenzie Ziegler, Mr Tumble, Naomi Wilkinson, Opera North, The Pets Factor, Sam & Mark, Saturday Mash-Up!, The Next Step, Worst Witch. Yolanda Brown and more to be announced.

Saturday 4th August

Featuring: Andy Day, Art Ninja, Bars & Melody, BBC Music Introducing in BBC Merseyside, Ben Shires, Clangers, Everton in the Community, Go Jetters Disco, Got What It Takes, Hacker T Dog, Johnny Orlando, Liverpool Football Club Foundation, Liverpool LIMF, Mackenzie Ziegler, Mr Tumble, Naomi Wilkinson, Opera North, The Pets Factor, Royal Albert Hall, Sam & Mark, Saturday Mash-Up!, Swashbuckle, The Next Step, Union J, Worst Witch, Yolanda Brown and more to be announced.

Sunday 5th August

Featuring: Andy Day, Art Ninja, Bars & Melody, BBC Music Introducing in BBC Merseyside, Ben Shires, Clangers, Everton in the Community, Go Jetters Disco, Got What It Takes, Hacker T Dog, Johnny Orlando, Liverpool Football Club Foundation, Liverpool LIMF, Mackenzie Ziegler, Matt Terry, Mr Tumble, Naomi Wilkinson, Opera North, The Pets Factor, Sam & Mark, Saturday Mash-Up!, Swashbuckle, The Next Step, Worst Witch, Yolanda Brown and more to be ann

 

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Motivating Test Treat Bags for Children

I don’t know about you but my son has spent the last 9 months being anxious in taking his year 6 SATs. It doesnt matter how many times I had sat down with him and tried to reassure him about the tests he still felt inadequate and kept saying that he just wasnt ready for them. We expressed this worry to his teacher, back in September, at the start of him starting year 6. His teacher was lovely and reassured him that there really wasn’t anything to worry about and that he would do fine.

Over the past few months he had become more confident in himself. With the help from his teacher and support staff, his school levels improved and he began to feel happier about taking the tests.

But this didn’t stop him from having a few moments prior to the test starting, where he began to question himself and his abilities.

His teacher was always there giving him encouragement , motivating him and instaling a sense of self belief in him.

I know, from talking to other parents and his teacher, that he was not the only one who feeling anxious about sitting the tests. Children, of such young age, shouldn’t be feeling the pressure of tests and stress. They should just be children and enjoy their time at being young and care free. They have plenty to face when they are older.

I wanted to do something for my son and all of his class friends. So I made them little treat bags with an inspirational quote attached to the back. They didn’t cost much, mostly it was time more than money.

  1. I gathered together some coloured card and small cellophane treat bags.
  2. Found an inspiration sweet quote on line. Wrote it up on word
  3. Printed off some inspirational quotes from relaxkids and laminated them
  4. Bought 6 treat bags of Starbursts
  5. Stuck on the sweet quotes onto the card and cut them out 
  6. Shared out the sweets equally and then placed them into the treat bags, folded over the edge and then stapled the card on the top
  7. Lastly, I placed the laminated quote on the back 

We handed them out to the children on the first day of their SATs. The children kept the little quote cards in their pockets and in their pencil case for the rest of the week.

I am hoping that they took that a little bit of their concern away just for a moment and showed that we care about them and beleive in them.

 

 

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