A Day Out a Month – Museums

For our #adayoutamonth challenge for February we visited Colchester Castle and Hollytrees Museum. We had the best day exploring history in these two amazingly interactive places.

DSC_1193

First we visited Colchester Castle and there was plenty to get the boys involved. To begin we took the opportunity to try on some helmets and look at medieval style clothing.

There’s also a really great section with big play bricks for the kids to build with. They have a pull out arch to build around, so that when you push it back in (hopefully) your arch with stand by itself. Noah and Tommy ignored this though and we just ended up with a demolished wall, but hey, perhaps they were invaded.

Upstairs they have a Celtic section which has a lovely set up for kids to explore. In what looks like a third of a hut there was more clothing to try on, as well as replicas of commonly used items for the era. The boys had great fun blowing into the horns (actually used as cups) making lots of noise and running away from me when I tried to subdue them.

DSC_1142

Noah took a lot of interest in the displays, Tommy was more interested in his new-found freedom and completely made me regret letting him out of the buggy in the first place. They had quite a few things out to touch, use and smell which made it very exciting for Noah and admittedly did capture Tommy’s interest briefly.

By far the boys favourite part was the chariot (and this is where the squabbles began), with a chance to compete in a computerised race. We spent quite some time on this, luckily no one else was waiting but I did have to coax them off with more things to try on, which led to further squabbles.

And just like at home these two developed a worrying obsession with the toilet, it can’t just be my kids. The centuries old toilet is now covered over so you don’t fall down the hole in the floor, but there’s a nice sign to explain what it is and how it was reserved for special people. They probably spent more time swooning over that than they did the chariot.

Finally before leaving to play in the park on the grounds, which is absolutely amazing by the way, we took a tour of the prison (I probably should have left them there). They have projectors and audio playing in the cells to make it look like there are prisoners within, the boys were fascinated by this, although Noah did later tell me that it was spooky. The Castle was a little busy today with a school trip but we will definitely be going back soon to do a tour of the roof and the vaults when it’s quieter.

DSC_1183

After an ice cream and play on the swings and slides we moved onto Hollytrees Museum which is still on the grounds. I wasn’t sure the boys would enjoy this one as much as it’s quite small and it’s been years since I visited it myself. But honestly it was brilliant, and much better for both their ages. On each floor there’s different exhibits and the first one to take the boys fancy was the domestic life one, yes I’m training them well. There were shopping baskets that had food puzzles in to sort, and a play kitchen nestled amongst different domestic equipment through the ages. The boys dressed up in some aprons that were amongst many old-fashioned clothing and practised their culinary and cleaning skills.

At the top of the museum is a room dedicated to toys through the ages and tells you about nursery rhymes linked to Colchester, but what was really nice about this one was a corner with toys for the kids to play with. The boys spent ages in here playing and going through a little tunnel in the wall, it was a hard job to get them out. The best part about this museum as well is it’s free. Having said that though the castle is reasonably priced and still well worth a visit.

Copyright © 2018-2019 All rights reserved Stephanie Brady

Valentines hanging hearts

With valentines only two days away we made some decorations this afternoon. To make these we used:

  • 3 x A4 sheets of red card
  • 1 large sheet of pink tissue paper
  • Red ribbon
  • Pritt Stick
  • Scissors
  • Sharp knife

DSC_0909

To start I cut the sheets of card in half, leaving us with 6 A5 sized pieces. I then folded the card in half long ways without making a crease, I then carefully cut around the edge to make half a heart shape (making a full heart when opened out).

 

Next I cut the sheet of tissue paper up into small strips and squares. This was rushed and messy but this works well.

DSC_0917

Next I took one of the heart shape cards and used the Pritt stick to apply glue to its centre, then I added some tissue paper to cover.

 

The boys watched me do mine the first time, and then they done theirs with little help.

 

Once all the hearts were finished I used a shape knife to poke a whole near the middle of the heart, close to the top. Then we carefully threaded the ribbon through and double knotted on one end.

 

Finally we found the perfect place to hang our creations. In the hallway we have a transom window and it’s always an eyesore, so recently we’ve been displaying our recent makes there so it looks a little better.

What crafts do you have planned for valentines?

Copyright © 2018-2019 All rights reserved Stephanie Brady

Farmyard fun

Another great tuff tray idea. A miniature farm!

I set this up Friday and it’s still up now. The boys have had lots of fun exploring all the different textures and playing with the animals. There’s tissue paper, squishy beads, straw, play mud (a mix of cornflour, coco powder and water) and a small tray of water to play with.

The boys have been busy practicing their animal noises and deciding where in the tray each animal would feel happiest.

They’ve had lots of fun with this learning and developing skills.

Copyright © 2018 All rights reserved Stephanie Brady

Learning seasons

Today we learnt about the four seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter.

We created an image to represent each one. We used:

  • White card
  • Tissue paper (we used pink, green, red, orange and white)
  • Pritt stick
  • Brown and black felt tips

First I drew a tree trunk on four seperate pages and then titled each one. Then the boys applied glue to and around the branches. In the mean time I cut up the coloured tissue paper, ready for them to stick on.

We used pink for spring, green for summer, red and orange for autumn and white to represent snow in winter. After the boys had finished sticking down the tissue paper we discussed each season and spoke about what our favourite things for each are.

In spring we have Easter and lots baby animals being born.

In summer we have Solstice, we can play in the garden more, trips to the beach, BBQs and lots of Ice Cream.

In autumn we have lovely walks, Halloween and lots of pine cones and conkers to find.

In winter we have Christmas, big jumpers to keep us warm and hopefully lots of snow!

These are now hung up in our library/relaxation room to remind us of all the wonderful seasons.

Why don’t you try it too?

Copyright © 2018 All rights reserved Stephanie Brady

D.I.Y door signs

For a while now I’ve been looking for door signs for the boys bedroom and library, but struggled to find ones I liked.

Then in QD last week I saw these small chalk boards, they’re a decent size still but very light so can be hung with just blue tack.

The chalk boards were only £1.49 each and we brought some sequins to decorate with.

The boys decided they wanted dinosaur theme so we picked out typical dinosaur colours.

The boys then decorated a frame each using their red glitter pritt stick and the green and brown sequins.

Finally I wrote and drew on the boards before we hung them on the doors, I done my best at a diplodocus and a t-rex face.

Another good craft idea for the kids creating something useful.

Copyright © 2018 All rights reserved Stephanie Brady

Exploring colours, shapes and textures

Another fun tuff tray set up. We used pom poms, lolly sticks, building blocks, playdough and the playdough tub lids for this one.

The boys found the different coloured sections really engaging and moved around the tray taking it in turns with each. They enjoyed identifyting colours and shapes, and we spoke about how each item felt, exploring the different textures. We also counted out the shapes strengthening our number skills. The best part of this activity was working out ways that we could use all the materials together to build something exciting. We made rockets, robots, animals and lots of other wonderful things.

This activity encouraged sharing, fine motor skills, hand eye coordination, imagination, problem solving and mathmatics to name a few.

What would you make?

Copyright © 2018 All rights reserved Stephanie Brady

Animal kingdom

Today when the boys came home from nursery I had an animal kingdom set up for them.

dsc_1092

I thought to myself as I eagerly awaited their return, ‘They are going to love this safari land’. Noah runs in and instantly shouts ‘wow mummy a farm’ (close enough).

We got loads of the straw from a gift hamper at Christmas so I kept it knowing we would find uses for it in our activities. I’m eager to see what uses we can make of it at easter. I then used one of Tommy’s bedsheets for the water (quick thinking mama).

dsc_1097

First we discussed what animals might be friends and we grouped them together. Then we thought about where they might live. If it would be in the water, near it, hiding in the desert grass or by the trees.

 

Noah and Tommy then had lots of fun hiding the animals, and even more pulling the straw apart to look for them. We also practiced our animal sounds.

Afterwards we turned our safari land into a dinosaur kingdom for even more fun.

dsc_1101

 

Copyright © 2018 All right reserved Stephanie Brady

Not just mum

So this year I hadn’t set any new years resolutions. I did however start a day out a month challenge to make more wonderful memories with the boys. Especially as this is my last year off with them before I return to full-time work, plus Noah starts school in September anyway.

img_20181229_212954_668

Will you join us in our day out a month challenge? Tag us on instagram and us the hashtag #adayoutamonth

But scrolling through Instagram this morning, one thing that was recurrent was lots of mummies desiring to make more time for themselves. It got me thinking that actually I need to do the same. We spend so much time being mum, the demanding role that it is, that sometimes we forget that we are a whole other person as well. We are not JUST mum! For anyone reading this I highly recommend checking out the bubba.club’s Self Care January Challenge.

Relax

I absolutely love a bubble bath to unwind when the boys are in bed. Add a face mask and a bath bomb and I’m in heaven! I definitely need to start doing this more often and give myself a little pamper for some well deserved me time.

Any recommendations for pamper products? Or better yet any recipes for homemade ones? I only use cruelty free brands now!

Read

I LOVE to read, but for the past six years 95% of my reading has looked a lot like this…

dsc_1085

So last year I attempted to start reading a book a month. I’m not proud to admit that I failed. I am going to try again this year, and I will succeed (she says). Now both boys are at nursery it’s certainly more realistic! I got some of the Disney Villain’s and Disney Twisted Tale’s for my birthday. I managed to read a few (which were fantastic!) so they are at the top of my list.

DSC_1091.JPG

I’ve already read As Old as Time, The Beast Within and A Whole New World. I started Once Upon a Dream so that is first on my list to finish.

Any recommendations for other good reads?

Film

I’m a proper film buff and love watching a good movie. In fact I don’t watch normal telly unless the kids have something on. And with the kids majority of the films I watch these days are for them! Therefore I plan to watch one film a week that is for me when they are in bed.

I have Prime and Netflix subscriptions so I have plenty of choice. I also signed up to a free three-month trial with Amazon Prime’s StarzPlay. If you haven’t done so already I recommend you do too.

I would also love to hear any film recommendations you have as well!

Self Care

I rarely do my hair and make up these days #mumlife! But I always feel so much better about myself when I do. I plan to make the effort more days a week than not from now on. I also desperately need a good cut. My hair is below my waist but it is in terrible condition. I’m considering having a whole restyle, what do you think? I’m also growing out an old colour from years ago, so the ends are much lighter. So I’m thinking of a colour as well.

Take a Break

I spend 99% of my day tidying toys away, only to walk out of the room and find they have mysteriously exploded all over the floor again! Anyone else? I know I should just leave it until the end of the day but I find myself doing it multiple times. I vow to really try to stop doing this. It gets stressful and is completely pointless anyway!

dsc_1088

I’d honestly just put all that away, and they aren’t even playing with it!

Sleep better

Sleep more! This is a definite must. Where I have been doing my degree for the past six years, and the last three of which I have had children. I often find myself up until the early hours studying. I literally run off coffee most of the time. Now both the boys are at nursery I can spend those precious fifteen hours a week studying instead of studying through the night. I know this is going to make an absolute massive difference to my weeks. Not to mention I’m probably going to study better as well. From now on I plan to get an early night at least once a week. After all a well rested mum is much more fun than a tiered one.

Eat better 

I’m officially all sugared out from Christmas, we’ve lived off junk for the past few weeks and it’s starting to take its toll. From now on we are back to eating healthier food and homemade grub.

dsc_1080

I made this earlier and Noah asked me why I was eating leaves!

dsc_1082

Homemade slow cooked pork curry for dinner tonight. Yum.

Exercise more

Now my theory is if I’m sleeping better then I should have more energy for this one. I’m very active and I walk a lot as I don’t drive. But even so a bit of exercise is so important for well-being. I always feel much happier and more energetic after a workout. I want to start putting aside at least 30 minutes, three times a week.

Give myself a pat on the back

Finally I want to regularly take time to remind myself of all the things I have achieved and am currently achieving. Probably the proudest for me is continuing with my studies after having the boys. It’s blooming hard being a mummy who studies. But this is the year I finally finish my degree! I’m smashing it.

 

Copyright © 2018 All rights reserved Stephanie Brady

Why is role play so important?

We’ve been poorly with yet another cold, so we’ve been staying in the warm and entertaining ourselves indoors. With the Christmas decorations down we have alot more space, so we set up shops today. We set up baskets filled with items to buy as well as a trolley and basket bay.

The boys had lots of fun browsing the different items and choosing what they were going to put in their trolley and basket. Tommy even took his baby shopping.

Role play is wonderful for the imagination, but it also helps develop communication and social skills. Playing shops also encourages development with numbers when paying for their goods.

We even explored problem solving when Noah couldn’t fit his shopping bag onto his bike with him. He hooked it onto the back! Yes we even had the bike and jeep involved, driving to and from the shop. Their coordination skills need improvement that’s for sure. I genuinely fear for my furniture (and my feet)!

We also got crafty before this even begun and designed our own shopping bags with canvas bags and fabric pens.

What’s your favourite role play?

 

Copyright © 2018 All rights reserved Stephanie Brady