Wii love it

exercise, games, kids
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I’ve never been the world’s greatest games console fan, and always pondered the sanity of those people who would queue up in Tesco for many hours to secure the latest Japanese offering at some ridiculous hour.

And then I bought a Nintendo Wii.

I figured we could use some cheering up, and no.1 son had been mentioning how much fun it was at the after school club racing against his friends, so I caved in. I succumbed to the world of £40 games and wasted hours, but have to say, it’s brilliant!

It’s also my biggest negotiating tool. Whenever no.1 son is quibbling about something, the threat of no wii is just the ticket. In fact, an inkling of the threat of no wii does it. Never before has he been asking to do his homework on a Saturday morning before breakfast! Plus the fact that the name is always good for a giggle… 🙂


The Chinese laundry

Crafty, games, kids
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It’s been a wet day. The poster paint masterpieces have been churned out but you need somewhere to dry them. Worry no more. All you need are some pegs and a long piece of string.

My pegs have holes in the handles so I just fed them onto a piece of string, tied it between the curtain pole and the light fitting and there you have it. Just make sure the pics are dry enough so the paint doesn’t run off the paper when you hang it up!

Chinese laundry washing line

Wipe the slate clean

games, kids, Thrifty
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Another thrifty tip if you are in possession of a magnetic drawing board (a Magna Doodle type effort).

They are brilliant when you have a child just learning to play hangman – easy to reuse and save having to scrabble around for paper. Also great for adults who like to play Pictionary.

You could use an etch-a-sketch, but that really would be hard work!

Jigsaw puzzles solved

games, kids
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Was your household one of the ones lucky enough to receive a plethora of jigsaws on Christmas Day?

My kids love them. We have boxes which contain several jigsaws (one even has 10 in it) and I got fed up of them all getting muddled together. The solution? Easy! A felt pen and some self seal plastic bags.

Next time the jigsaws are made up, flip ’em over and number the pieces (each piece in the same jigsaw needs the same number!). Then write the number of pieces in the jigsaw and the number that you wrote on the reverse of the pieces on the front of the bag, put the pieces in and seal it up.

As long as you teach the children that getting the right pieces in the right bag is all part of the game, you (and the jigsaws) will be sorted!

All I want for Christmas….

Crafty, games, kids, let's pretend
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….is a cardboard box.

Honestly, we sit watching advert after cheesy advert for ridiculously expensive toys (I’m not mean, but I consider anything over £30 for a child to be outrageous and a waste), and I know that despite all the ‘I would like that one please Mummy’ ‘I’d play with it loads’ etc etc that after at best, a week, it would be gathering dust in a corner.

But, bring home a cardboard box (free from work or a supermarket) which is large enough to fit a child in and you have a multi purpose toy. We’ve had it as a toy box, a garage, space city, a space rocket, a fire station, a house, a dog basket, a den….the list goes on and on.

It’s recyclable, reused and reeeeeeeeet great 😉

Bob the Builder would be proud (hmmm…it hasn’t been Sunflower Valley yet!)

Island hopping

Crafty, games, kids, let's pretend
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No, nothing to do with the Caribbean, rather another easy-to-make-way-to-help-active-children-get-rid-of-some-excess-energy game. It’s ideal for one of those days when the weather prevents you from going outside.

All you need is:-

  • plain paper
  • a few fleece blankets (I told you they would feature again!)
  • felt pens, crayons or pencils and
  • a little imagination

Blankets for island hoppingPieces of paper for island hopping


  1. draw a picture for each blanket (coloured square will do)
  2. cut or rip them into individual pieces
  3. write as many ways as you can think of for moving between the blankets (islands)
  4. cut or rip them into individual items
  5. place the blankets around the room (eg on the sofa and across the floor)
  6. hold up a piece of paper showing one of the blankets and one showing a way to move
  7. the child has to make their way from where they are to where they need to be without stepping in the sea (carpet)

They’ll soon learn to recognise the words and you don’t need to be Picasso to draw something they’ll recognise as a specific blanket – as the photos demonstrate!

Ahoy there, me hearties!

Crafty, games, kids, let's pretend
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It seems that all that sailing has got them in pirate mode again. So time for an improvised pirate outfit. This post deals with the pirate hat. Not quite a Jack Sparrow effort, more of the deck hand but still enough to keep them ‘quiet’ for an hour or so.

 For this, you’ll need an old child’s tshirt. One you can’t get the chocolate or fruit stains out of, or something too well worn to give to the charity shop is perfect.

So, scissors at the ready….

  1. Cut the sleeves off at the seam (but keep them for use later – they make good buccaneer boot tops, folded over the top of wellies!)
  2. Cut across the shoulder seams
  3. Cut down one side seam
  4. That should leave it looking like this…

Pirate hat tshirt template

Read the rest…

Dinner is served

Crafty, food, games, kids
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So another wet summer weekend. More inventive games needed.

Try this one – either as a standalone task, or  close to meal time if you’ve run out of meal ideas. For me, dinner was taking a little longer to cook than I had hoped, and the boys were getting restless. So as a distraction, we decided to draw what our favourite meal would be on a cheap paper plate.

Dinner is served

See if you can spot no.1 son’s favourites:-

  • blueberries
  • spaghetti hoops (see previous post!)
  • cheerios
  • green grapes
  • black grapes
  • an apple
  • a rainbow bar (muesli bar in a rainbow wrapper)
  • piece of toast
  • and a banana!

That’s got to be his ‘5 a day’ in one meal!

You can’t miss a spaghetti kiss!

cooking, food, games, kids
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Picture the scene; a miserable wet weekend, boys are tetchy, tea time arrives and they want ‘real spaghetti’ (tinned rings in tomato sauce), not straight spaghetti (with home made bolognese).

The tension rises, the whining reaches glass shattering pitch and then, I table the idea of a spaghetti kiss. I can’t believe I never thought of it before. We’ve done the ‘who can find the biggest spaghetti worm and slurp it up’ thing before, so this was just an extension of that idea. A child on one end, and adult on the other, then both slurp as fast as you can till you get to kiss in the middle (the louder the lips smacking, the funnier the result).

2 clean plates, 2 satisfied children – a result!

Toilet humour – number 2!

games, kids, toilet training
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I know this is the one you’ve all been waiting for.  It’s often the one my boys have been waiting for… if you see what I mean! There’s no holds barred, so if you are even slightly prudish, then don’t read on. You will be offended!

My approach to this has always been an open door policy. By that I mean the boys will ask if I’m doing a poo and if they can see it. Now I know this sounds vile, but it helps them to understand that it’s perfectly natural and we all do it, particularly if they have a phobia about it. So then we have a couple of tricks to get the troublesome item out –

1. As recommended by Grandme, a good old rub of the knees to try and encourage it out.

2. As recommended by me, we listen to see if we can hear their bottom ‘creaking’ – the sound the poo makes as it’s making it’s entrance (I told you this is not for the faint hearted!)

3. Show them how much quicker it is to do the business on the toilet/potty rather than soiling themselves, therefore they have more time to play – a stopwatch works well with older children to indicate the difference.

4. If they manage to do something, have a look and try and describe it. I know this sounds weird, but it is quite amusing and helps to de-stigmatise it. Rabbit droppings, like raisins, logs, a snake – and magic (when it disappears round the u-bend as it’s so big!) are all things my boys have come up with.

But most of all, try not to let it get to you. Now I know this is much easier said than done. 5 pairs of soiled pants in one day is the record in our household – my colleagues even used to have a guess every day in an attempt to bring some humour to my seemingly never ending situation. It did come in the end, but I was at hair pulling out stage by then (that’s usually when it does all click for them). Oh, and don’t forget, you’ve always got bribery – find out what they would really like (not too expensive!) and work towards it – a sticker every poo or day without an accident, some small treat after a week, and work up to the big one. Anyone in business knows bribery and corruption rule!

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