2020 ‘Exploring world celebrations’ challenge

2020 ‘Exploring world celebrations’ challenge

Last year me and my two done #adayoutamonth challenge and made some amazing memories. This year I want the boys to learn more about the world, to encourage them to be understanding and opening minded towards other cultures, religions and events around the globe. We look forward to making decorations and food relating to each festivity and we really hope many of you join us, don’t forget to hashtag #exploringworldcelebrations on your Facebook and Instagram uploads!

Copyright © 2020 All rights reserved Stephanie Brady

Christmas tuff tray

Make use of all the extra packaging we’re all receiving this time of year and set up a lovely Christmas themed tuff tray. The bubble wrap provides lots of fun being popped and can act as ‘ice’. The polystyrene foam shapes are excellent to squish and act as ‘snow’. The tissue paper is also another ‘snow/ice’ substitute and can be scrunched and crunched. The straw can also have multiple purposes, eg. a bed if you chose a nativity scene, Reindeer food, or even a Robin’s nest maybe? I chucked in some other christmas bits including an old wreath, baubles, fake snow balls, an old star tree topper and the boys felt gingerbread house for that extra festive fun. Noah was actually super proud of himself for using the wreath, straw and baubles to make a nest! The possibilities are endless with this one! MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Copyright © 2018-2019 All rights reserved Stephanie Brady

New year, new you?

We all say it every year don’t we Haha!

But honestly if you are persuing the ‘New year, new me’ attitude, then I can’t recommend this diary enough!

To be honest it almost feels insulting calling it a diary, it is so much more than that, it really is a life planner.

I bought this back in August when I was sat round my friends house beginning the application for my divorce. She has one and also couldn’t recommend this little book of motivation enough.

Well it arrived and I started filling it out, the first few pages are about life goals, how you see your future, motivation, distractions etc. Then there’s also plans on how to achieve and by when.

It was also during that visit that she encouraged me to go on a date that I had been putting off and wasn’t sure about. I finally went for it and he turned out to be a great guy. We clicked and got really well, I even messaged her thanking her for encouraging me to go.

It was a little bit ‘head over heels’ and we spoke about futures and meeting each others kids. Well during these talks it became apparent that we wanted different things, for example he wanted to get married one day and I wasn’t so keen due to how the first time worked out for me. There was also other things like dogs, location of future living etc.

Now I’m about to discuss something I NEVER talk about… my mental health. I do struggle, I have for a long time. In fact during and after my marriage breakdown it got really bad. I like to pretend I’m alot stronger than I am, and try to push through, but this time I couldn’t, my anxiety was the worst it had ever been and I was having physical symptoms, really scary physical symptoms. Eventually, after failing to self medicate and meditate, I admitted defeat and went to my doctors. I was put on tablets to help my anxiety, and gradually they were increased until I reached the maximum dose, and I started to feel better.

Now let’s fast forward to where I met this great guy, I was feeling great, the best I had in a really, really (years in fact) long time. So me being me (maybe a tiny bit stubborn) decided I could come off my tablets. I gradually started reducing my tablets. BIG MISTAKE!

I relapsed, and it was awful! I generally like to think I’m quite a chill person, I was far from chill. The doctor said each relapse is worse, he wasn’t lying!

During all this my handy little life planner (which I will never be without again) got a little bit neglected, a little bit forgotten. I turned in to someone who was far from chill, and apparently who goals, aspirations and dreams changed as well!

Now you’re probably questioning the relvance to this story, and I myself have even whilst writing it, but I promise there is a point to it.

After my not so chill self had finished scaring this guy away completely, I picked up my life planner in despair and delved into completing my next goals. Whilst looking back over my goals, I found a statement I’d written where it asked me to write what I envisioned my future to look like…

Turns out I originally envisioned my future pretty much identical to how this guy had described his own dream, and apparently completely forgot all about it.

Moral of the story is this life planner has so much potential, dont just put it down and forget about it. Fill it out and do what it says, reread it to yourself everyday to motivate you, to make the dreams a reality. No matter how bad things get or how off course, don’t forget your goals, don’t forget your dreams. Use this book to keep you on track, to remind you and drive you toward what you really want, even when things get too much and you forget.

I’ve had a very testing year and the last few months have been extremely difficult, but I’m plowing through and super proud to say I have now completed 5, nearly 6 (Lapland in January) of my life goals that I jotted down in August.

Don’t ever give up, and seriously get this book and let it be your life partner!

Mark making

The boys love to draw and colour, and I honestly believe encouraging art helps to nurture the imagination.

I ordered a large paper poster roll off of Amazon and cut off pieces to cover the dining table. The boys can then come to the table as and when they feel like it throughout the day and create their designs.


Copyright © 2018-2019 All rights reserved Stephanie Brady

Word Jenga

Noah is doing amazingly well at recognising letters and has begun to blend sounds (super proud mamma). So to help him along with his blending, writing and spelling, I bought a cheap Jenga set off of Amazon (it was around £3/£4 with free delivery), and I wrote a selection of two and three letter words on around half of the blocks. We play the game like normal, except every time we pull out one with a word on, he practises sounding the word out and then writes it. It has fast become his favourite game! Simple, cheap and educational. The best thing is, because it’s so cheap I can buy another set once he has moved onto bigger words and just update to suit!

Copyright © 2018-2019 All rights reserved Stephanie Brady

Easter crafts

Decorate eggs 

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You will need:

  • Eggs (however many you intend to eat)
  • Paint
  • Paint brushes
  • Something to stand the eggs in whilst you work

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Firstly we boiled our eggs and put them aside to cool. Once cool, we stood them up in an egg holder and began painting them. 

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Once we were happy with our designs, we left them to dry. When fully dried, we peeled our eggs and ate them for lunch. It was that simple and no waste!

Make your own Easter nest

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You will need:

  • A4 card (yellow or white would work best)
  • 2 x coloured A4 card (we opted for green and blue)
  • Straw
  • Glue
  • Scissors

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To begin we folded the yellow card in half long ways and cut. Only one half is needed, so the other half can be kept for another project. Taking one half we used the scissors to round the corners of one side to make a bowl shape.

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Next we covered one side in glue and stuck down the straw to cover. We realised after that it would have probably been easier to do the following steps first, and this last, but it still worked out just fine.

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Next we moved on to making the eggs. We folded both sheets of coloured card in half, and then in half again, cutting into four equal parts. Taking three of each colour we cut them into the shape of eggs. With the last section of each colour, we cut them into strips, zigzags and circles.

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Taking the three green eggs, we decorated them with the blue strips, zigzags and circles, then we done the same with the blue eggs and green decorations.

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Finally we stuck our eggs into the nest, and our Easter inspired craft was complete.

Design your own Easter egg

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To make two, you will need:

  • A4 sheet of card (we opted for green)
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Crayons or felts
  • Pompoms
  • Lolly sticks
  • Sequins

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We began by folding the coloured card in half and cutting, then we cut each section into an egg shape.

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The boys then used their crayons to draw patterns onto their eggs. Next they used the glue to add the pompoms, lolly sticks and sequins on.

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Very simple, but lots of fun!

Copyright © 2018-2019 All rights reserved Stephanie Brady

Easter/Spring tuff tray

This tuff tray set up is perfect for spring and got us talking about Easter. We used flowers to represent all the new growth at this time of year, play eggs which are always prominent at Easter, and toy farm animals to represent all the new baby animals that are born in spring time. The blue and green tissue paper they are laying on represents the water and growing greens that make this new life thrive. The straw is essential at this time of year, used for nests, bedding and food for the growing animal families.

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The boys went straight in for the farm animals first , I knew they would. They love playing with animals and mimicking the sounds they make.

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They then began exploring the rest of the tray with the animals, burying them in the straw and they even placed the chickens with ‘their eggs’.

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Finally they played with the flowers, smelling them and enjoying feeling the petals.

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This tray is a lovely way to explore key features of spring and as a talking point to learn more about Easter.

 

Copyright © 2018-2019 All rights reserved Stephanie Brady

Mother’s day craft ideas

As promised, me and the boys have been busy making some mother’s day crafts to give you ideas to try.

A Heart Bouquet 

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You will need:

  • a toilet roll insert
  • coloured card
  • scissors
  • a stapler
  • green paint
  • paint brush
  • self adhesive diamante strips

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The boys made one each, so to begin we painted the toilet roll inserts green, whilst these dried I cut the coloured card into strips and we began making our hearts. To make the hearts, we folded the strips in half and then bent each end into the crease like shown below. Once each strip was bent into the desired heart shape, I stapled to secure (with the help of Noah and Tommy).

Once the toilet roll inserts were dry we took some green strips and stapled them to the bottom like shown below, these are to be the leaves.

After the leaves were in place it was time to staple the hearts we made earlier to the insert as well, we took our time here and some of the hearts had to be stapled to each other for extra support. Once we had a full bouquet we added a diamante strip to each insert. Finally we used the scissors to cut the leaves into a point.

Hand print bouquet card

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This on really is simple, all you need is:

  • A4 white card
  • paint
  • decorative bows
  • glue (we used glue dots)

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To begin we folded our card in half and picked out the colour paints we wanted to use, the boys chose red and yellow for the flowers, and of course we picked green for the stems.

I painted the boys hands in each colour and they pressed down onto the card, creating the flowers. Afterwards they used a paint brush to add the stems.

Once dry the boys stuck a purple bow onto each bouquet using glue dots.

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Tissue paper bouquet 

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Another super simple one, all you need is:

  • A4 white card
  • coloured tissue paper
  • glue (we used a Pritt Stick and glue dots)
  • decorative bows
  • felt tips

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For this one Tommy chose blue tissue paper for the flowers and Noah chose red. We started by folding the card in half, then I helped the boys to make a bouquet shape with the Pritt Stick, the boys then used their selected coloured tissue paper to create their flowers. The boys then drew a bee buzzing around their bunches (with a little help from mummy). Lastly they stuck a bow on each using glue dots.

3D flower card

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This one is still simple, it’s just a little more time-consuming, like the first. You will need:

  • A4 white card
  • coloured card
  • scissors
  • a stapler
  • glue

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For this one we made the hearts the same way as for the Heart Bouquet. Then we stapled 12 of them together to create a wreath shape. Once complete we folded the white card in half and then used glue to stick the 3D flower on. See, simple.

Copyright © 2018-2019 All right reserved Stephanie Brady

It’s fun to be outside

It really is!

With the warmer weather approaching I am frantically thinking up lists of places to go on adventures with the boys. A nice long walk is not only good exercise for the whole family, but also offers fantastic opportunities to explore and learn.

Going for long walks and easy hikes with young children can be daunting, with the extra supplies you’ll need to take (the way my three-year old eats, a mini fridge just isn’t practical) and the certain complaints of ‘I’m tiered!’ and ‘Are we there yet?’, you can quite rightly think it’s not worth the hassle. Especially so when you don’t drive and have to factor in public transport and the length of walking to even get to the intended walk. So I’ve composed a list of tips to maybe make it seem a little less stressful and hopefully more enjoyable.

Location

This one probably seems a little obvious, but try to find places that limit the amount of travel you have to do to get there. Look for neighbouring towns or villages to explore along with any walking routes you can follow. We often visit Wivenhoe Woods which is only 18 minutes on the train and the entrance to the woods is right next to the station, perfect.

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A recent walk at Wivenhoe woods with their cousins.

Research

This one is particularly important for those who, like us, rely on public transport. Just because a village is 27 minutes away by car doesn’t mean it wont take nearly two hours between trains and buses, like I recently found out trying to plan a day out. This can get quite irritating as many villages, being out in the sticks, have less links via public transport (they can also be alot less often). But don’t give up, there’s so many beautiful places throughout the UK to explore, you will find something eventually. It’s not all about ease of location though with children, no, you also need to keep in mind a walking route that with provide opportunity for pit stops to break up the walk. I’ve found a couple of walking routes we are going to do this year that have lovely country pubs along the way, we can stop for a drink, toilet break and rest before continuing, this will certainly help little legs to keep going. Also if you need to take a pushchair, you need to make sure the route is suitable for this as well (if they are really young a carrier will be much easier). Finally keep it easy, the longest trail we have planned this year is estimated 2 hours, factoring in speed and stops it will likely take us double that.

Explore

It’s obvious that on a walk you will be exploring, especially if it is a new place. However little ones will get bored quickly if all you are doing is walking and looking from a distance. Make your walk fun; play games along the way, use your imaginations and explore any landmarks you pass. Earlier in the week I uploaded a bug hunting sheet, why not use this to actively look for things and make the walk more interesting.

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Weather

Weather can make or break a family walk, spring and autumn are perfect times for walks and hikes, it’s generally not too hot or too cold. But be sure to check the local weather forecast though, a little bit of drizzle never hurt anyone but if it’s pelting it down a board game at home might be better.

Supplies

As every parent knows, no matter where you go, you have to be prepared. Water, snacks, appropriate clothing and foot wear are a must. It gets even more daunting if you have milk and nappies to bring as well, but remember to just pack the essentials. This is where planning the route carefully is helpful, any shops, cafes or pubs along the way where you can pick up a bite to eat and a drink can dramatically lighten the load you need to carry. I also recommend packing an extra layer of clothing for the kids in case it turns cooler later in the day. Backpacks are your friends, and even the kids can carry a light one on their backs if they are old enough. I really recommend this rucksack for kids, it can fit a lot in and has comfy shoulder straps, just remember to keep it light.

 

Copyright © 2018-2019 All rights reserved Stephanie Brady