As G turned 10 last week (how did that happen!!) he decided he wanted his party to reflect his love of music. We looked at recording studio parties but all his friends didn’t want to sing and he though the party might be a bit too ‘girly’. So we decided to do something at home.
He created invites for 7 of his friends and stuck them onto old CDs – these were a big hit!
On the day everyone arrived after school and tucked into vinyl inspired cakes on a vinyl record cake stand I made.
Earlier I set up a Dressing Room where they could dress as Rock Stars, do their hair and add a bit of face paint if they wanted too. I hadn’t factored in how much 10 year old boys would want to play with face paints!
Then it was off to the music studio. I had borrowed a drum kit (as G plays) and added some of our own instruments and a few toy ones. So they chose some songs and mimed / played along to them. Then they began to practice Yellow by Coldplay. They had sung this a couple of years ago in school so all knew the words – I’d printed off a few sets in case anyone forgot! Some sang, some played the drums, one ‘played’ the harmonica and another the keyboard. It was an interesting sound but thankfully I had warned the neighbours!
To make sure we could capture the music I ordered the Audacity music package which was great. The one child who didn’t want to sing worked the recording studio instead.
To finish this bit of the party we did an Album Cover Shoot – here’s my 2 boys at this.
After tea (who knew 10 year old boys could eat so much??) it was time for the piñata. I’ll write a separate post about how to make this but it was SO easy. They had a great time bashing this and then scurrying for sweets.
Just as we were doing this parents began to arrive so it was party bags and home. Party bags were simply sweets from the piñata, birthday cake, a cassette biscuit!, and a rock star duck. And a promise of a copy of the music they recorded and the album cover at a later date.
A great party enjoyed by all.
Today saw our first visit of the year to a National Trust property – we are starting early! With freezing weather forecast we needed somewhere with great outdoor space and indoor activities that would hold the children’s attention. So Quarry Bank Mill, Styal was the obvious solution.It some became clear that a lot of people had the same idea!)
It was a beautiful frosty day so first stop was a quick walk and play on the playground.
Skimming stones across the frozen pond.
And watching the Robin.
Then inside to discover how cotton was made over the years. A perfect end to the Christmas break ( and a subtle way to ‘wake up’ the children’s thinking!). We love the National Trust!
Over the past few years we have created and used an Advent Ring on each of the 4 Sundays of Advent. It’s provided a precious pausing point in the pre Christmas madness so we decided to do the same again this year.
As before we’ve used a simple ring style – 4 numbered candles (ours are from IKEA. There’s a new set this year here.) , a central red candle on a plate and a simple decoration of pine cones.
In the past we have used the time while the candles are lit to reflect on the year, to look forward to the next or to read the Christmas story. This year we’re using the Christmas Family GodVenture book alongside our candles. So week 1 has been Mary; week 2 will be Joseph; week 3 Jesus is born; week 4 Shepherds. There are 2 more sessions, Simeon and Anna and Wise men, so we’ll use those after Christmas.
Establishing a rhythm through Advent and capturing the essence of all that is Christmas is so important to our family and the Advent Ring is a valued part of this.
At every campfire we have we now have S’mores. I’ve posted about them before but you can never have enough S’mores it seems!
A great American campfire tradition there they are usually made from Grahams crackers. We use Rich Tea instead. The name is said to come from people asking for ‘some more’!
The recipe is simple – toast marshmallows, spread the chocolate onto 2 biscuits and sandwich the marshmallows between them.
At Forest School last year we discovered an even easier version which is to toast the marshmallow and then sandwich between 2 chocolate coated digestives.
A perfect camping treat! We have made these on Toast! camp, at parties and even used them for prayers here.
As Bonfire Night arrived we decided to make use of our campfire and do lots of campfire cooking and bonfire activities. So this week I’ll post a few of them here in case you want a bit of winter campfire fun. Let’s start with campfire bread.
One of the children’s favourite activities is cooking bread over the fire. There is a great recipe for campfire bread here. But we now ‘cheat’ and just use a bread mix which works well.
I make up the mix pre campfire.
Then cut the dough into pieces and roll into long pencil thin snakes and coil around the end of the stick.
Hold the sticks over the fire turning until the dough turns golden brown. (The dough cooks better in the smoke than in the flames). Alternatively make a grill to rest the bread on and turn frequently.
Once it cooks cool and eat straight off the stick. My boys say you need to count to 10 blowing in between to cool the bread.
Then provide jam / butter etc and enjoy!
We also used this at the Pentecost Campfire in 2015 – find out more here.
As Christmas approaches one of my ‘targets’ is to make sure the kids (and myself) don’t get so caught up in all the trappings that we loose focus. Some of this is keeping focussed on the Christmas Story. But its also about not loosing sight of those who find Christmas hard, for whatever reason. About recognising that this great celebration can be an awful time for some. About making sure we don’t overspend or create ridiculous expectations when gift giving. About being generous, grateful and thoughtful.
I’m always looking for ways to do all this. And so this November we have decided to support The Advent Bank an initiative set up by a friend here in South Liverpool.
The Advent Bank is looking to feed families in crisis this Christmas co-ordinating food donations to include cupboard basics, food to make a Christmas dinner and Christmas treats. Everything donated will then be collected and taken to South Liverpool Foodbank who will distribute it across their 5 centres to families who need it most this festive period.
We are getting involved with a 30 day festive challenge. We’ve placed a basket in the kitchen and each day we will add one item – sometimes basic food supplies, sometimes Christmassy treats. The children are taking it in turns to decide what goes in. Then in December we will take it all to one of the collection points, ready to support families in Liverpool this Christmas.
The children are really excited about this, there’s been lots of discussion about what we could put in. For me the best part in these debates was realising that, at 4. T ‘gets’ it. She understands she is lucky to have what she does and that she can make a difference.
Festive Foodbank Basket Day 4
Over half term we made this simple autumn play dough recipe reflecting the smells and colours of autumn. We used our quick and easy play dough recipe as the basis. Here it is!
1 1/2 cups of plain flour; 1/2 cup of salt; 2 tsp all spice or cinnamon; 2 tbsp cream of tartar; 2 tbsp veg oil; drops or orange food colouring; 2 cups of boling water.
Mix together all the dry ingredients. Add the oil and mix. Gradually add the food colouring and hot water and mix to reach the required colour and consistency.
Leave to cool – then play away!
The play dough smelt delicious and T had a great time creating autumn and Halloween shapes.