5 reads for Halloween

This half term we have hunted out our favourite Halloween reads for bedtime stories. So here are our top 5.

First up is Little Wizard by Kazuno Kohara. Little Wizard cannot fly! Then he meets a dragon who tries to help him but with no luck. All that changes when Little Wizard meets a knight out hunting dragons. He realises he must fly to dragon’s house and save his friend before the knight gets there. The most gorgeous story and illustrations with all the text and images printed black on purple paper with only the dragon in green.

Also by Kazuno Kohara Haunted House is one of T’s favourites. A little girl enters a big – haunted – house but it’s OK she’s a witch! She soon has the ghosts tamed – washing them in the washing machine, hanging them out to dry and using them as curtains and tablecloths! Again the images are in black this time on orange paper and, of course, the ghosts are white.

Room on a Broom by Julia Donaldson is a HUGE favourite in this house. This is the hilarious journey of witch, cat, dog, bird and frog all aboard a broom – and of course their encounter with the dragon!  Every time we read it the brilliant verse has all of us joining in shouting ‘Down!’ every time the witch drops something. A truly great book!

New to our Halloween collection is No Such Thing by Ella Bailey .One October day Georgia notices something weird. Things move, disappear, smash but Georgia can explain it all. Because – as we all know – there’s no such thing as ghosts! Beautifully illustrated with a narrative clash between the text and images this is one to read again and again.

And finally the great Pumpkin Soup by Helen Cooper (inspired by our love of pumpkins at this time of year).Duck challenges the peace of the little white cottage by wanting to stir the soup. This is not his job! Squirrel and Cat object so Duck leaves. It is only when he has gone that all three realise how important their friends are – and the need for compromise.

 

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WigWam Coffee Shop Liverpool

Yesterday school was out early so I kept a long overdue promise to take the kids to WigWam Coffee Shop for cake and a play. Based in South Liverpool, WigWam aims to provide quality food, coffee and tea in a stylish environment alongside fun and educational activities for children. So does it meet it’s aim?

We arrived about 3pm and, while WigWam wasn’t packed, it was busy. The kids headed straight for the sofas and instantly made themselves at home. WigWam is a big open plan space with mismatched tables and chairs dotted around and a big play space in the centre. There’s a kitchen, garage, dressing up area, play house and – of course – a wigwam for the children to play with. (No photos of these are there were always children playing in there!). So the children play freely while the adults can eat, keep an eye on the children and get involved when they want/need to. My lot opted to head to the book case first and gathered a variety of books, pens and paper, dominos and cards and made themselves comfy.

Great for me as I got to peruse the surroundings – an interior lovers dream! The space used to be the old Co op and tiles with LCS on adorn the walls. The lighting is gorgeous and around the room are a variety of styles of chairs and tables which have been beautifully curated. So while it is a play café it feels quite ‘grown up’.

We ordered cake and drinks – chocolate milkshake for the children and tea for me. I was delighted that they had chocolate soya milk as it meant E could have chocolate milk as well as the other 2. It is so good to go somewhere where allergies are understood rather than E (and myself) having to settle for second best. Happy mum! No pics of the cakes as by the time I had paid the children had devoured them.

I have read a few grumbles about the price of food (they offer lunch and breakfast) and the amount you get for the money. Most of these finish by saying – go for coffee and cake. That’s exactly what we did and I have to say it was the same price as other coffee places so I was happy on that front.

After cake the younger 2 played in the play area while G sketched – so good to be able to take a variety of ages and feel they are all catered for. E came over and, unprompted, said

“a little playground, awesome cake and good books (there’s even How to Catch a Star). Can we come again?”

So I guess that’s a thumbs up from him!

And yes I do think WigWam does what it sets out to do  – my only grumble is it wasn’t around when mine were a bit younger. Or maybe that’s a good thing!!

 

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Transitions

September is always a time of new beginnings, new adventures and new challenges – that I know. But this year has been different. This year for the first time in 10 years I am home alone – yes my littlest has started school. It is a mix of emotions – relieved that she has made the transition so well – proud that she is making new friends – sad that I no longer spend my days with her – and a little lonely!

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But I know I need to make the transition – to find a new way of being that means I make the most of my time. To coincide with this I have also taken on a big piece of work which means for the next 9 months I am going to be working a lot more hours. So how do I do this well and make sure I spend time well with the children.

A new family rhythm is needed and as yet I am still working that out. I think it means making more of the time before and after school – spending more focussed time together and supporting each one in their new endeavours. I will let you know how it goes.

 

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The Good Life Experience!

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I’m Back!! Yes its been a chaotic few months here but I’m back with lots to  share with you. And what better place to begin than our fabulous ‘end of the summer’ weekend at The Good Life Experience.

This family friendly, small festival is in it’s third year and takes place on the Hawarden Estate in North Wales so just a 40 minute drive for us. Last year we took a day trip there. The kids loved it so much that by the time we were back in Liverpool they had made me promise we could return this year – and camp! So we did.

We headed off straight from school on Friday night (so it took a little longer to get there!) parked and headed up to the camp site. Luckily I had prepped so the kids and I could move everything on our own (as S was working) as it was quite a way from the car park to a find a pitch. But we did and got the tent up and met friends. Then it was off to join in the fun.

We pitched near the Vintage Fairground so every trip on and off the festival site involved a few rides. All this is free – which was great as it would have cost a fortune for all the rides my gang had! But a definite highlight for them.

As I was with the kids on my own I had decided beforehand that it was about what they and we wanted to see and my ‘stuff’ would have to wait until another time. There are a few routes through the festival. You can take in the music and listen to the talks. You can pay for the specialist workshops that are on offer. You can wander round and see what there is going on and just join in. You can sign up for the free workshops. We largely did the latter 2 which worked for us but I know for some the limit on workshop places was an issue.

So over the weekend we climbed trees and roped walls;

watched the blacksmith make a knife and the carpenter make wooden nails (and E got to hammer one in!);

sat around on hay bales and slid down them;

decorated biscuits (and ate them of course);

listened to a storyteller and watched the illustrator at work (more of that in a later post);

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played on the castle playground and tried our hand at ‘old style’ typing;

worked in the children’s café (a highlight for G)

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ate good food; sat in the sun; listened to excellent music; made new friends; connected with old friends, rolled down hills, picked blackberries and sweetcorn and just had a great time.

It was a sun soaked, fun-filled,  unplugged weekend which I would highly recommend. If you are looking for lots of ‘recognisable names’ this probably isn’t the place for you. If you are a first timer at festivals this is great for you. if you want to give your kids a bit of freedom then this is for you. It was definitely for us and we will be back next year!

 

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50 things 2016

There was HUGE excitement in our house this week as we discovered there are 2 new 50 things books – The Extra Messy Adventure and The Night Time Adventure book. So armed with these and a new 50 Things to Do Before You’re 11 3/4 for T we set off for the Lake District.

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If you haven’t come across it ’50 things to do before you are 11 3/4′ is the National Trust’s brilliant campaign to encourage children outdoors to explore and discover. E especially is inspired by this project, both by completing the activity and adding them to his book. It is fabulous to look back at his adventure notebook and see all the amazing things he has been up to.

We started T off on her 50 things journey with Pooh sticks, den building and balancing on logs. The boys now have the ‘tricky’ ones to tackle (canoeing – riding a horse etc). But we did manage to do number 46 ‘Try Rock Climbing’. Admittedly it was a small rock! But its kicked off our 2016 campaign.

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Travel Lego Kits

With a lot of road trips planned over the Spring Break  – and a broken car radio – I needed  a selection of activities to keep everyone entertained (or just quiet!) So was delighted to stumble across a lot of ‘portable Lego kits’ on Pinterest.

We have A LOT of Lego in our house – so these were easy to set up. I hunted out a storage case for each of the kids and placed a piece of fabric in the bottom of them to lessen the noise a little.

A lot of the guides on Pinterest had cut large building boards down to fit exactly inside the box lid. I cheated and just found smaller boards to fix in place. I used Blu Tac to fix the boards in rather than anything more permanent as I knew the kids would want to move the board around as they wanted. I collected together lots of Lego for each box making sure they all had a set of 4 wheels and at least one Lego figure which I fixed into the lid as well.

On the Friday we were off on holiday straight from school so I placed their Lego box on their car seat ready to go. They loved them. And they were vaguely quiet!

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Exploring Holy Week – story

All through the Easter period we’ve had a pile of Easter books on the side for anyone to pick up and read. Here are a few of our favourites

The Very Hungry Caterpillar is an Easter must here – a tale of new life, life seeming to end, a new beginning and things looking different afterwards it is a brilliant reflection of the Easter Story.

Linked clearly to the Easter story Teddy Horsley’s Sunny Day reflects his experience of Easter.

Where is Jesus? is my favourite Easter book for little ones – a must have. Each page has a ‘lift the flap’ to find Jesus from Palm Sunday through to Easter.

The Usbourne books Easter Story ‘sticks to the script’ with an easier version for early readers and a fuller text to read to them or for older readers.

And finally one in the brilliant Usbourne That’s Not My… series – That’s Not my Donkey is a great read for Palm Sunday.

This has been a lovely way to let the children explore the story at their own pace.

 

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