Saturday 31 May 2014

A day at the Bath and West show


I have heard a lot about the Bath and West show over the last few years. My parents go every year and come back with stories of exciting days filled with food tasting and livestock watching. This year was it's 151st show and I thought it was about time I experienced this event for myself. 

The Bath and West showground lies in the small, rural town of Shepton Mallet in the county of Somerset, South West of England. The Bath and West show is an agricultural show that celebrates all aspects of farming and rural life. There is much to do and see at the show. There are animals shows, competitions, stalls selling crafts, food and local produce, funfair rides, outdoor sports such as canoeing; the list goes on. It is easy to imagine how you could spend a whole day or even a few days there. You can even camp on site. 

We arrive just before midday and started off walking around the stalls. There were all sorts of things to be bought; outdoorsy and farm related mainly. There was everything from clothing, rugs and caravans to chicken coops and livestock. There was a tent of all things bee-related. We had a go at honey-tasting and saw some bees making honeycomb. There were competeions for the best honey, beeswax, honeycomb and candles. 

There was a hall devoted to cheese and it was fascinating to walk room and look at all the different types of cheese on display. We were able to taste some different types of cheese too. In the food hall there was more food tasting to be done. A multitude of chutneys, jams and curds in every flavour imaginable, sausages, curry sauces and beverages.

We watched a fantastically hilarious sheep show where we found out about all the different types of sheep popularly kept in the UK. We discovered wool had historically been the UK's number one export. The sheep were well-trained, they even did a short dance show!

Next we went on a miniature steam train which the kids absolutely loved. R has a bit of an obsession with all types of transport. He also had great fun riding a toy tractor.


                          D had a go at milking a pretend cow!


Towards the end of the day we watched a sheep shearing competition. There were six sheep shearers and they each had 20 sheep to shear. They all managed to shear all the sheep in less than 20 minutes! That works out at less than a minute a sheep! It was fascinating to watch their speed and skill at handling the sheep.

Just before we left for home we went to look at the livestock and ended up purchasing two chickens. One is a Blue Maran who we have named Bluebell and the other is a Rhode Rock named Poppy. This brings the number of chickens in our flock to six. I think there is still room for a few more!


                                   Poppy, a Rhode Rock hen.


                                 Bluebell, a Blue Maran hen.


Springtime Wall Art

Springtime Wall Art

Whilst making crafts for our spring table, we also made some pictures to put on the wall. The children had lots of fun painting and gluing and created some wonderfully colourful pieces of art which brighten up the wall. I love to see their artwork displayed rather than hidden away in a drawer. Our springtime wall art is displayed above our spring table. As the seasons change our wall art will change along with it. 

Over the next few days I will be posting about each of these art projects. The first one is painting tulips. I got the idea for this project from this post spring art tulip painting.


Tulips are a sign of spring. They grow from bulbs that have been planted in the autumn and produce a vibrant array of beautiful flowers in the springtime. Tulips come in almost every colour, so the children can choose the colours themselves without you worrying about how realistic the painting will turn out! The colours D chose were orange, purple, red and yellow. These colours, up against the green of the stem, complimented each other perfectly.


We started by getting the paints, a piece of white card, plastic forks and a paintbrush. The children dipped the forks into the paint and then pressed them onto the paper. This made a wonderful tulip-like print on the card.


The kids had great fun doing this and it wasn't too difficult which means it's a great craft for toddlers to do as well as older children.


After they had finished making the tulip prints, the children got some green paint and a paintbrush and drew stems on the flowers. R needed quite a bit of help with this, mainly because he loses interest in things very quickly!


Using forks to paint with has given me inspiration for a few other things that could be used for painting. Such a simple idea but with a striking results. Tomorrow I will be sharing my post on how to make our tissue paper rainbows!

Saturday 24 May 2014

Spring Table Crafts

I have been meaning to make a seasons table for quite a while now but never got round to it until now. A seasons table is great for teaching children about the seasons. You can arrange objects on the table that represent the season and the children can access it during the day and explore the different items. 

Now is the season of spring, a wonderful season to start. One morning, I explained to the children that we would be making a seasons table. We got talking about the different seasons and what they were like and I told them that now it is springtime. We spoke about the different things that represent spring; lambs and other baby animals, blossoms appearing on trees, flowers, such as daffodils, appearing and April showers.

We had lots of fun making crafts to represent spring for our spring table. Here is what we made....

Lamb craft

To make these, cut a circle of white card, cover with cotton wool. Then cut some black card for the face, glue on some eyes and glue the face onto the cotton wool. Finally, paint some wooden clothes pegs black and peg them on to make the legs!

Incy Wincy Spider craft 

Incy wincy spider to represent the rain! These were made using toilet rolls.

Making the sun because spring is not only about rain! We made this from a circle of white card which D painted yellow and then sprinkled some gold glitter over.

Chick crafts

We made some cute little chicks using yellow pom poms, orange felt and googly eyes!

We also made some chicks using orange and yellow felt, orange pipe cleaners and googly eyes!

The baskets you can see in the first picture came with some chocolate eggs. The children love to play with the animals on the spring table. D likes to sing Incy Wincy spider, making the spiders climb up the spout and then fall down again. R loves to play with the sheep in particular but also has a tendency to pull the animals apart, especially the googly eyes! So, I've had to mend them a few times already!

Additional articles of interest


Pom Pom Fun!

Pom pom fun!

Kids love pom poms. What's not to love? They are soft, squishy, colourful, some are sparkly. They can be thrown without the worry of someone getting hurt or something being broken. They come in a variety of different sizes. We often use them for crafting or colour sorting. 

Colour sorting is a skill which should develop between 2 and 3 years of age. Sorting, in general, is the beginning of the development of maths skills which will later lead to the ability to sort data. It is an important skill which shows a child has an understanding of what is the same and what is different, a skill which is particularly useful when it comes to learning to read.

Our latest activity, involved pom pom blowing! This is great for fine motor skills development and coordination. Blowing is a fine motor skill which usually develops by 24 months. 

I placed some coloured bowls against the patio doors and scattered some pom poms a short distance away. Then I asked the children to blow the pom poms into the corresponding coloured bowls. It was more difficult than it looked but great fun trying! Soon, pom poms were rolling around everywhere!

When the children were beginning to lose interest, I gave them some straws which added a new element to the fun! My children just love straws! I think it was actually slightly easier to direct the pom poms into the bowls using the straws.

Then I placed some coloured tape on the floor in lines and and they tried to blow the pom poms along the lines. This was a pretty difficult task, even for me! You need to control the airflow so you don't blow too hard and send the pom poms flying!

Finally, the children had enough of pom poms and decided to walk, hop and jump along the lines. This is a great activity for gross motor development.


Saturday 17 May 2014

Still Life Drawing With Chalk Pastels

Still life drawing with pastels


D enjoys drawing. She normally sits with some paper and a selection of crayons or felt tips and draws people. She loves to draw people. It suddenly occurred to me that she had never attempted a still life drawing before. I always loved still life drawing. As a teenager, I would spend hours drawing with pencils or pastels, copying pictures I found in books or magazines.


I came across a pack of chalk pastels in a supermarket recently and thought it was time for the kids to have a go using them. I set up a simple arrangement of fruit; an apple, orange and banana. I showed the children the new pastels and they were very interested to find out what they were like to draw with. 


Delal started drawing the banana. She picked it up, placed it on her paper, and drew around it. Then we talked about the different colours we could see on the banana. Was it only yellow? Which shade of yellow? Which other colours could she see? 


Her arm was resting on the paper and as she moved it she discovered the pastels smudged. We then talked about blending the colours together and she explored that for a while.

Then  D moved on to the apple.


Next, the orange.


Meanwhile, R who, at the age of 24 months, has quite a small attention span, did some squiggles on his paper. He managed to find the right colours with the help of D and was excited to show me how he too could draw each fruit. He seemed very pleased with the result.


D enjoyed this activity so much she has asked to do it again soon so I will be thinking of new and exciting ways to explore this medium.






Homemade Alphabet Match Game

Homemade alphabet match game

Now that D has turned four years old, I have been thinking more seriously about teaching her how to read. The first step to becoming literate is learning the alphabet. I have seen many fun literacy games on the internet but this homemade game is one of my favourites. I made it a while ago now and both D and R enjoy playing with it. It is a good to start teaching the alphabet to children because it involves matching the letters by recognising the different shapes the letters make. Knowledge of the letters of the alphabet is an important pre-literacy skill. Once this skill has been mastered, the child can then move onto more complex literacy skills such as writing each letter or putting a few letters together to make a word.


To make the game you will need a piece of card or paper, 26 bottle tops, alphabet stickers or a pen to write on the bottle tops and a sheet of paper. Firstly, draw around the bottle tops to create 26 circles on  the paper. Then write a different letter of the alphabet in each circle. 


Next get your bottle tops and stick an alphabet sticker or draw the letters on them.


 Now you are ready to play!



Saturday 10 May 2014

Bath paint recipe

Painting in the Bath

The weather was gloomy and we had been stuck in the house all day. I was running out of ways to entertain the kids so thought I'd run the bath early and let them have some fun. I didn't have the ingredients for the normal bath paint I make which uses shaving foam so looked around for a different recipe for bath paint. I saw a recipe made from baby shampoo and cornflour (cornstarch) and thought I'd give it a try. It turned out great and the kids had so much fun painting in the bath.


1/2 cup baby shampoo
1/4 cup cornflour (cornstarch)
liquid watercolour or food colouring

We started off by mixing the baby shampoo with the cornflour.

Next we separated the mixture into 2 containers and added food colouring.

I prepared the bathroom by sticking a sheet of tin foil and a sheet of greaseproof paper (baking parchment) on the wall above the bath. These acted as canvases for the children to paint on. The paint can also be used on the tiles and the bath itself but take extra care when using food colouring as it may stain. I didn't have a problem with it and found it washed off fine.

After a while more and more water was added and splashed onto the canvases and the pictures got a bit ruined. But that's all part of the fun, isn't it? 

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Mummy 2 Monkeys
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