Learn about Recycling for Earth Day PLUS Free Worksheets

Earth Day is on 22nd April and it’s a great opportunity to talk to our children about how we can care for our planet. As much as we’d all like to banish climate change, pollution and single use plastics with the wave of a magic wand; it’s not something we can change overnight. What we can do is make efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle and make better choices when it comes to buying single use plastics; as well as reducing our energy usage where possible. There are lots of things we can do to reduce our personal footprint on the earth; recycling is an important part of that.

Learn about Recycling for Earth Day PLUS Free Worksheets

This month, the boy has been working towards his Global Issues badge at Beavers. This involved keeping a recycling diary and taking steps around the home to reduce our waste and energy usage. I put together some worksheets on recycling for him to complete and take to Beavers to show what he’s been up to at home.

Learn about Recycling for Earth Day PLUS Free WorksheetsLearn about Recycling for Earth Day PLUS Free Worksheets

Download these worksheets for free here

The worksheets include some colouring in; a game where you put the right recycling in the right bin; a recycling diary and some questions about why and how we recycle. It’s just the thing for his Global Issues badge; but it’s also great to do at home if you’re talking about Earth Day, recycling or global issues.

I think it’s useful for adults and well as children to look again at what we throw away and see if we could do better. Or reduce what we use, recycle more or just do better when it comes to rubbish. I am trying to buy fewer things wrapped in layers and layers of plastic. I’ve virtually stopped drinking take away coffee and I refuse plastic straws. Making small changes can have a big impact. What changes are you making this year?

The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) have online resources and information about recycling for kids which you can find here.

 

Learn about Recycling for Earth Day PLUS Free Worksheets

If you enjoyed this, you might also like this easy Earth Day craft.

Meegos Series 1 – New Cuddly Crochet Collectibles

Collectibles are always popular with children, but the things they want to collect might not always delight parents too. This month sees the launch of Meegos – handmade cuddly crochet dogs and puppies which are suitable from birth and are very sweet indeed.

Meegos are handmade in Bangladesh through a workers co-operative. The first order alone created jobs for over 4000 women! These cute crochet characters are fairtrade and they have brought flexible, sustainable employment to over 200 villages. They’re a cute collectible with a real feel-good factor!

Meegos Series 1 - Cuddly Crochet Collectibles

Meegos come in two sizes. There are Meegos Dogs which are 5 inches tall, cost £12.99 and take five hours to make, there are nine of these dogs to collect. There are 18 Mini Meegos crochet characters to collect. The Mini Meegos take 1.2 hours to make by hand, stand at 2 inches tall and cost £6.99 each. The Mini Meegos come in “Blind Boxes” so there’s the element of surprise when you buy them.

The Meegos are beautifully made. They’re handcrafted so although they’re made to a pattern, each one will be slightly different, something which I really like. They’re made from 100% cotton and filled with polyester and can be thrown in the washing machine on a cool wash.

Meegos Series 1 - Cuddly Crochet Collectibles

I really like handmade gifts and these are really lovely. They would make a nice little Christening gift, they’re also the perfect stocking filler size (if I’m allowed to say that in April).

One thing which does let them down slightly is the packaging. The flimsy box just doesn’t do this really lovely, premium product justice. However, if I were giving them as a gift, I would probably take them out of the boxes, wrap them nicely in tissue paper and present them nicely.

Meegos Series 1 - Cuddly Crochet Collectibles

Series 2 is going to be launched later on in 2018 and will feature Wild Animals. I genuinely can’t wait to see what they’ll look like.

This first series of crochet collectibles are available now at selected Sainsbury’s and Debenhams stores. For more information, visit their website.

Disclaimer: We were sent these Meegos for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

What’s new at the Just So Festival this year?

Have you got your tickets for the Just So Festival yet? If you haven’t, you’ll be missing out on three days of weird, wonderful and incredibly magical family fun. We went last year and had the best time, it was the absolute highlight of our year. Three days and nights off grid, spending time together with family and friends; walking barefoot in the woods, having insane pillow fights and dressing up as bees (don’t knock it till you’ve tried it). Here’s what’s new and wonderful this year.

Our 5 favourite things from the Just So Festival 2017

Taking place on 17th – 19th August at the Rode Hall Estate in Cheshire this year’s Just So Festival is packed with familiar old favourites and an array of exciting new things to see, do and experience. Step out of your everyday life and enter a wonderland of world-class literature, arts, theatre, dance, music, comedy and creative pursuits together as a family. Immerse yourselves in a weekend full of magical midnight feasts, curious creatures, raucous pillow fights, hidden retreats, top-notch food, drink and boutique camping options and breathtaking beauty.

What's new at the Just So Festival this year?

Join the Tribal Tournament – the most bonkers competition in the land! Dress up as a fox, owl, stag, frog, fish, bee or a lion and compete to win gold pebbles,. Take part in the glorious Tribal Tournament and the tribe with the highest score wins. Who will lift the Tribal Trophy this year?

New for 2018 there is the intriguing and enthralling Playground of Illusions. This is a new area full of mystery and trickery from Travelling Light Circus – see the world in a new light in this hypnotic fusion of science and art.

Roll Up, Roll Up will be a glorious large-scale area by the lake, dedicated to all things circus and seaside. Expect tumblers, somersaults and aerial mastery from the best performers in the land including a spectacular high wire show Equilibrius and tightrope workshops from The Bullzini Family.

There’s also The Flamingo Lounge, an area filled to the brim with all things dance. Strut your stuff at Silent Discos and summon all strength for Power Ballad Yoga. Whirl, swirl, disco, cancan, jig, jive, rhumba, spin, strut, shimmy, swing, two-step and throw all kinds of shapes in this gloriously kitsch wonderland. When night falls you can boogie the night away here too.

Our 5 favourite things from the Just So Festival 2017

Step into the extraordinary Spellbound Forest for tales from storyteller extraordinaire Ian Douglas. Enjoy a Barefoot Walk, or nature and bush crafts; den building, tree climbing, campfire tales and bonfire bands and sing songs as dusk falls and the forest really comes to life.

Visit a living Weleda garden to discover more about the amazing healing properties and powers of our native plants. Join the Weleda team for a tea party and sample Weleda’s pure and 100% certified natural products. Enjoy some grown-up relaxation time with complimentary Weleda Skin Food hand massages.

Our 5 favourite things from the Just So Festival 2017

The Just So Festival is set in woodland clearings; with rolling parkland, arboreal amphitheatres and lakeside spots in the Rode Hall Estate, Cheshire; one of the most stunning landscapes in the UK. Families choosing to camp at the festival can experience the stunning boutique camping area in Landpods, yurts, bell tents, tipis and vintage tents; or bring your own tent or camper van.

If you’re planning to come to Just So 2018 you are advised to buy tickets earlier than usual this year. Tickets selling at a record rate for this limited capacity event.

For information and tickets visit www.justsofestival.org.uk.

Easy Recipe: Melting Meatball Pizza Puffs

If there’s one thing the boys in my house will always eat with gusto, it’s meatballs. I always like to have a packet in the freezer for an emergency dinner of spaghetti and meatballs, but I use them in other things too. They favour a meaty meatball, whereas I always have a packet of Quorn meatballs so I can join in the meatball fun. This week I had a gaggle of the smallish boy’s friends over, so I whipped up a batch of my Melting Meatball Pizza Puffs to feed the crowd.

Easy Recipe: Melting Meatball Pizza Puffs

These Melting Meatball Pizza Puffs took me ten minutes to throw together and twenty minutes to cook. They’re the perfect satisfying meaty snack for on the go kids and adults. They’re so easy to throw together and really hit the spot, especially if the spot likes meaty, pizza flavoured, melted cheese covered snacks!

Melting Meatball Pizza Puffs

Ingredients (makes 12):
1 sheet of ready-made puff pastry
1/2 jar of pizza topping
12 meatballs
Grated cheese, I used cheddar

Method:
Pre-heat your oven to 220° and grease a muffin tin. Take your ready rolled sheet of puff pastry and cut out 12 rounds, put them in the greased muffin tray.

Easy Recipe: Melting Meatball Pizza Puffs

Ready to go into the oven.

In each round, dollop half a teaspoon of pizza topping. You can buy a jar or make your own, whichever you prefer. Place one meatball (if using frozen, make sure it’s defrosted) on top of the pizza topping; fill all 12 rounds and put in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes.

Easy Recipe: Melting Meatball Pizza Puffs

Top with melted cheese.

Remove from the oven and top each meatball with some grated cheese; return to the oven for five more minutes until the cheese has melted. Remove your cooked meatball melts from the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes. Serve with ketchup or whatever else you fancy.

They’re such a good little snack and a great way to turn your humble meatball into something a bit different.

If you enjoyed this, you might also enjoy this recipe for tinned meatball pizza, yes it does sounds a bit strange, but it’s worth a try!

Easy Recipe: Melting Meatball Pizza Puffs

Win an In The Night Garden Iggle Piggle Talking Softie

For many years now In The Night Garden has been a firm favourite on CBeebies, and Iggle Piggle and co are an essential part of the bedtime routine for little ones. For over ten years now, preschoolers have been snuggling down to sleep and dreaming of the adventures of Iggle Piggle, Upsy Daisy and all the In The Night Garden characters.

The new spring range of In The Night Garden gifts for pre-schoolers and babies has just been launched and includes toys, books, pyjamas, DVDs, baby gifts and magical live experiences. There’s even a themed In The Night Garden room you can stay in at the CBeebies Land Hotel at Alton Towers!Win an In The Night Garden Iggle Piggle Talking Softie

These “talking softies” are part of the new In The Night Garden range and are soft, cuddly characters. Choose from Iggle Piggle, Upsy Daisy or Makka Pakka. Press their tummy to hear them make fun sounds, they’re super soft and perfect for snuggling. They’re available from Smyths Toys and Debenhams and they cost £9.99 each.

This great product range inspires children’s imaginations and really helps to extend the In The Night Garden magic beyond the screen. Who is your favourite character?

For more In The Night Garden magic, follow them on Facebook.

Win an In The Night Garden Iggle Piggle Talking Softie

To be in with a chance to win an In The Night Garden Iggle Piggle Talking Softie worth £9.99, simply complete the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!

Check out our other giveaways over on our competitions page.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms & Conditions:
1. The competition is open to residents of the UK only aged (18) and over.
2. The prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative is offered.
3. To enter, please use the Rafflecopter widget above, complete any mandatory entries and any optional entries you would like.
4. The winner will be chosen at random from all valid entries.
5. The winner will be sent an In The Night Garden Iggle Piggle Talking Softie.
6. The closing date for entries is 11.59pm GMT on 29th April 2018.
7. The winner will be informed by email within 7 days of the closing date.
8. The winner will be asked to provide a full UK postal address with postcode for delivery purposes.
9. The winners name will be available on request
10. Address details will be passed onto an agency to post the prize out to the winner, and is therefore beyond my control. I cannot be held responsible for prizes being lost in the post although I will endeavour to liaise with the agency.
11. Entry to this giveaway confirms that participants have read, understood and agree to be bound by these Terms and Conditions.
12. HodgePodgeDays decision is final in all matters relating to this giveaway.

Kids Crafts: Quick and Easy Earth Day Craft

Every year we celebrate Earth Day on 22nd April. Earth Day is all about loving our planet and doing what we can to protect and care for it. It’s a good excuse for us to talk about things such as recycling, reducing our energy usage and what we can do to lower our personal impact on the planet. We will be doing a few things at home to mark Earth Day, such as reading some books about the environment, learning more about recycling and doing some Earth Day craft.

Kids Crafts: Quick and Easy Earth Day Craft

To start us thinking about Earth Day, we began with a really simple but quite effective Earth Day craft. We painted a little globe, glittered it up and wrote a little message underneath. It’s easy to do and would be great to do with your child, or a group of children.

Easy Earth Day Craft

You will need:
One piece of blue card
Green poster paint
A pencil
A side plate to draw around
The hand of a small child
Some white card
A pair of scissors
Green glitter or a glitter pen
Glue

Kids Crafts: Quick and Easy Earth Day Craft

How to make your Earth Day craft:
Take your side plate and put it on the blue piece of card, draw around it with your pencil. Liberally paint the palm of the hand of a small child with the green poster paint and press it in the middle of your circle. Wash the hand of the small child before it touches your walls (this part is very important).

Kids Crafts: Quick and Easy Earth Day Craft

Hand the paintbrush over to the newly clean handed small child and get them to paint a few islands and continents on your globe. When this has been done to everyone’s satisfaction, either sprinkle green glitter over the hand-print or leave the paint to dry and then decorate with glitter pens.

Kids Crafts: Quick and Easy Earth Day Craft

While the masterpiece dries, take a piece of white card and cut it down to size. Get the small child to write a suitable statement on the card, we went for “I love Planet Earth”. Which seemed like a suitable catch-all. Stick the writing on the blue card below the planet. I used Bostik glu dots, but use what you have, a glue stick or PVA or whatever. Your Earth Day craft is now complete.

Don’t forget to recycle it when you’ve finished with it!

If you want to learn more about Earth Day or explore the topic of recycling with your child, there are some free to download worksheets here.

If you enjoyed this, you might also like to make some cool egg and cress heads.

Kids Crafts: Quick and Easy Earth Day Craft

Children’s Books: Five Roarsome Books about Dinosaurs!

I write about our love of dinosaurs quite a lot on this blog. We have toys, games, dino figurines, DVDs and stacks and stacks of books about dinosaurs. We have a good selection of non-fiction books about dinosaurs, but we also have a couple of fiction books about them too, like Dinosaurs love Underpants. For this round-up we’ve chosen five of our favourite non-fiction books about dinosaurs; because if there’s one thing we love, it’s a big book of dinosaur facts!

Children's Books: Five Roarsome Books about Dinosaurs!

Five Roarsome Books about Dinosaurs!

Lift-the-flap Questions and Answers about Dinosaurs by Katie Daynes has been one of our favourite dino books for a year or so now. It’s beautifully illustrated and wonderfully engaging. This interactive flap book will answer all kinds of questions. It’s great for young readers, my son sits for hours reading and lifting the flaps. It’s a real favourite!

Dinosaur Number Crunch! by Kevin Pettman is a snappily written, fact-packed overview of the world of dinosaurs. It’s jam-packed full of colourful, well-illustrated facts. It contains all the essential info that dinosaur fans need to know; such as where they lived, what they ate, how big they were, how fast they could run, how many teeth they had and their key weapons. You can read our full review of this book here, but it’s one of our favourites!

National Geographic Kids: Little Kids First Big Book of Dinosaurs by Catherine D. Hughes is for children aged 4- to 8-years-old who LOVE dinos! This fact packed book brings the prehistoric world to life with dinosaurs small, big, giant, and gigantic. The book is easy to read and contains lots of age appropriate information, better still, there’s an interactive element, so if you want to find out more, you can do!

The Complete Book of Dinosaurs by Dougal Dixon is the ultimate guide to 355 dinosaurs from the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous Periods. It includes more than 900 illustrations, maps, timelines and photographs. It is the ultimate dinosaur guide for children who want to take their knowledge to the next level.

Usborne Pop-Up Dinosaurs by Fiona Watt is perfect for littler ones. This adorably illustrated book is ideal for mini dino fans. The book features all kinds of dinosaurs which pop up and move. Learn a little more about each dinosaur, from the long-necked Brachiosaurus, the triceratops with sharp horns, and the most famous dinosaur of them all, Tyrannosaurus Rex! It’s simply written and a delightful book to share with small children.

We are always looking for new books about dinosaurs to read at home. Have we missed any that we absolutely must get? Please let us know in the comments.

Children's Books: Five Roarsome Books about Dinosaurs!

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Toy Review: UNTAMED Raptors by Fingerlings

Last year, probably very high on most Christmas lists you’d find Fingerlings. They were cute little monkeys who would cling to your finger and be adorable. This is all very sweet; but for my son who favours a fearsome dinosaur over almost anything else, the thing he’s most been looking forward to this spring was the launch of UNTAMED Raptors – fearsome dinosaur fingerlings which roar, snap and snarl at you.

Toy Review: UNTAMED Raptors by Fingerlings

The UNTAMED Raptors which have just been launched in the UK are available in four different characters; each with its own name and unique personality. Choose from Stealth, Blaze, Fury and Razor. Each raptor has snapping jaws, gripping claws and they react to touch, motion and noise. They have over 40 different sounds and reactions. The UNTAMED Raptors are based on Velociraptors, so would tick some boxes for young dinosaur fans like my son.

We welcomed Blaze the Raptor into our home. We weren’t really sure what to make of him, until I spotted the on/off button on the back of his head. He immediately sprung to life, snarling and chomping.

Toy Review: UNTAMED Raptors by Fingerlings

I was a little worried that Blaze (our Raptor) would have pretty limited appeal; but he’s been a roaring, hissing part of our lives for a few days now. I asked my son what he thought of it, and he said he liked all the noises and the way it moves. He’s figured out more or less where to tap the Raptor to get it to react to him. Although he left it alone when he left the room and it lay there thrashing and roaring to itself for a minute or two which was quite funny.

It’s a sturdy figure, made of plastic and colourfully painted. It has moving parts such as its eyes, mouth and head and its legs are positioned so they wrap around your finger. The space where you put your finger is quite small, it is absolutely the right size for my son’s fingers, but a little too tight for my dainty digits.

Toy Review: UNTAMED Raptors by Fingerlings

It fits in really well with my son’s extensive dinosaur collection. What sets it apart is that it is so animated compared to the rest of his figures. It has a slightly cartoonish appearance, but with all the snarling, roaring and chomping, it makes it a little bit adorable, in a fearsome way.

The Verdict: Really cool dino figures who respond and react to you. They seem to be really good quality, they’re certainly lots of fun and they’re very appealing, especially to dinosaur fans. We think they’re roarsome!

The UNTAMED Raptors Fingerlings are suitable for ages 5+ and cost £16.99 each. They are available to buy from The Toy Shop, Smyths Toys and Argos now.

Toy Review: UNTAMED Raptors by Fingerlings

We have been sent the UNTAMED Raptor for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

A little catch up – March 2018

Last month I wrote a little catch up post and I really enjoyed writing it and I think people liked reading it too, so here I am again with all our news from March.

On paper March was supposed to be quite a peaceful month with not much going on. By the end of the month I was wishing it would all be over soon and hoping someone would let me find a dark room to lie down in for a few days.

It’s not all been bad, in fact most of it has been lovely. Mother’s Day was a peaceful affair. We just chilled out at home, I got a card and some flowers and that’s all I wanted and needed. The boys know I’m a woman of simple tastes, thankfully.

After a year of mostly hibernating and hiding from the world, I booked two social events which I knew would be good for my old soul. The first was an afternoon at the Gin Festival at Manchester’s Victoria Baths with my good friends Karen and Jen. It was a really lovely afternoon of good food, good gin and great company. It was just what I needed.

A little catch up - March 2018

The second trip out was an evening at an embroidery workshop at a new craft shop in Didsbury. It’s called Crafts and Makes and is on School Lane. I made a really cute Scandinavian Fox and learned lots of things about embroidery – something I’ve not really done since school. It’s a great little shop and one I hope to visit again very soon. I do love a good craft workshop!

So that was the good, now for the not so good. Last weekend my son who has glue ear woke up in lots of pain, soon after one of his eardrums perforated and he was really quite poorly. We tried to get him antibiotics but the GP wouldn’t prescribe them.

Two nights later his other eardrum perforated, the infection had spread and he started vomiting; he had an aversion to light and his skin went all grey and mottled. We instantly went from quite worried about our poorly son to OH MY GOD LETS GET HIM TO HOSPITAL. The Doctor was brilliant, we were seen pretty quickly too. He was given a really good check over and we were sent home with a list of red flags to watch out for and some antibiotics.

It’s been four days since our hospital adventure and his infection seems to be clearing up. I am glad we’re off school for the next two weeks, he’s absolutely shattered. He’s sleeping 14 hours a night and too tired and weak to do very much at all during the day. It’s hard seeing my normally bouncy boy like this.

One thing which has cheered him up was a visit from the Easter Bunny. Like most things with us, Easter was a pretty low-key affair. My boy was too ill to be dragged about doing stuff and a quick Easter egg hunt in the garden was about as much as he could manage.

A little catch up - March 2018

I’d spent most of the previous week inside looking after the boy, so I took the chance to escape to church for a really special Easter service in the church yard. It was well worth the 5am alarm and creeping out of the house in the dark. I got home again about 7.30am and grabbed the dog and took her for a really long walk. I was loving the fresh air, the bright, clear spring day and the fact that there was no one else around. We walked for miles and I managed to tire her out, a virtually impossible task. I felt so much better for getting out and having a bit of space to myself.

So that was March, a gin filled, crafty little month. I think in time I’ll look back on this month mostly remembering my heart being in my mouth when my son was being checked over by the Doctor. Lets hope April shows significant signs of improvement!

What have you been up to this March?

Recipe: Cornflake Tart – a school dinner treat

School dinners in the 1980’s were never really going to win many awards for excellence. I do have fond memories of a few select dishes – spam fritters and mashed potato being one. But mostly I remember grey slivers of liver in a murky sauce and most puddings served with a side of tinned prunes. One stand out dish I remember with significant fondness is Cornflake Tart, or cornflake pie.

Recipe: Cornflake Tart - a school dinner treat

Cornflake Tart is simple, cheap, sweet and filling. There’s not a lot that’s healthy about it, but for nostalgia’s sake I had to recreate it. Served with a ladle of steaming custard, this school dinner treat really hit the spot. Crisp shortcrust pastry, a thick layer of raspberry jam topped with sticky golden syrup smothered cornflakes. Was that the bell for dinnertime?

It’s best if you can make this ahead to allow the golden syrupy cornflakes to set a little, but even if you can’t wait, it’s so good impatience can be forgiven!

Recipe: Cornflake Tart - a school dinner treat

Easy Recipe: Cornflake Tart

Ingredients:
For the pastry –
114g plain flour
56g butter, cubed
A pinch of salt
2-3 tablespoons of cold water
-or- a packet of ready rolled shortcrust pastry

For the filling –
110g golden syrup
80g butter
30g sugar
Cornflakes
100g raspberry or strawberry jam

Method:
Put the flour and butter in the mixing bowl and rub the flour and butter together with your finger tips until they look like breadcrumbs. Add the water but do not make it wet or sticky. Knead gently together and wrap the dough in clingfilm and chill in fridge for about 20 minutes.

Roll out your pastry and line a greased tart tray with the pastry and trim the edges. Prick the pastry all over and bake blind, for around 20 minutes at Gas Mark 6/400’F/200’C/180 Fan.

Melt the butter, sugar and syrup in a large heavy bottomed saucepan, remove the pan from the heat then stir in the cornflakes.

Spread a thin layer of jam over the bottom of the pastry case and tip the cornflake and syrup mixture evenly on top of the jam. If the jam is too thick to spread, warm it slightly in microwave for a few seconds.

Put the tart back in the oven for 5 minutes to allow the mixture to set. Serve in thick slices with as much custard as you can cope with.

Recipe: Cornflake Tart - a school dinner treat

School dinner bliss, and you don’t hear that every day!

If you enjoyed this recipe, you might like some of my other cakes, bakes, puddings and pies which you can find here.

Recipe: Cornflake Tart - a school dinner treat