mini mads

Free kids coding lessons 19

Coding is now on the school curriculum, my boys really enjoy coding at school and when we were offered the chance to  try out a free kids coding lesson with Barclays code playground we jumped at it. Within two hours (one for Maxi) both of the boys had created a game with the help of the Digital Eagles.  The boys attended a 2 hour session with the Digital Eagles along with a group of around 10 other kids of varying ages and they had a blast.

mini code playground

startrite week eight

So where those Startrite shoes made for scooting? 1

You may remember we have been working with Startrite on seeing how their boys school shoes hold up.  Well they have been wearing them for eight weeks now and I thought I would share with you how they have been wearing. I am going to preface this by saying that the boys last pair of shoes didn’t last six weeks and they scoot, walk or bike to school.  They play football with them on the MUGA (astroturf) at break time, so I didn’t hold out much hope for ANY shoes. So this is how the boys shoes looked at week two. And this is how they look after eight weeks of more »

Weekends With The Kids: Ideas Of What You Can Do To Fill The Time

Those two days after Friday can feel like a huge chasm, when you have kids to entertain. It’s easy to get stuck into the same routine and lose all inspirational ideas. Here are a few new ideas to help with bonding between yourself and your children. Make the most of the time that you have!

mini's much loved bears

The comfort of a soft toy 11

Maxi was never a child to find comfort in an object or a soft toy, but Mini has always had a comforter.  His bears are worn and threadbare from over seven years of constant cuddling and affection.   Now at eight Maxi goes to bed every night with a menagerie of soft toys to chat too or play with including my first ever bear, well rabbit that was made for me by my godmother nearly 40 years ago.

A space party for an out of this world parents evening 1

It was parents evening at the school this week.  Safe to say we walked out of the school with the biggest grins on our faces.  Mini’s conference was exceptional and he is coming on in leaps and bounds and his English work is fab (probably down to all the reading he does).  Maxi is too steaming ahead, but we are going to have to have a conversation about effort as at the moment he is applying minimum effort to get the desired outcome (Hey I guess that is a typical eight year old boys thing).



Cooking with Kids – Cadbury Pebble Cookies 2

Cooking and baking is something I do a lot with the boys.  I cooked with my mum growing up and a lot of the skills I have are all down to her.  Cooking and baking is great for children as it teaches them lots and lots of new skills including measuring and weighing (you can even add conversion in), time measurement and management.  Plus I am a great believer in home made and home cooked.

Hands on Maths for Maxi (year 4 or 8 year old) – Shapes 1

axi is currently working on shapes at school in maths and this week brought home an Islamic pattern sheet and he had to identify a number of polygons on it and colour them all in different colours. Maxi is 8 years old and in Year 4 at school (key stage 2).


For someone like me that finds this type of mathematics really hard it is nigh on impossible to look at that page and see anything other than triangles.

Thankfully First 4 Magnets had sent us a magnetic tangram this week. We were sent the yellow one and it retails at £1.99.

Complete square measures 125mm x 125mm
Seven separate magnetic shapes
Made from high-quality die cut foam on a flexible magnetic backing
These challenging and addictive puzzles are based on the ancient Chinese tangram puzzle. Each puzzle is made from premium foam with a flexible magnetic backing providing a secure grip to a steel surface like your fridge. Each puzzle is die cut and supplied as a square so you can easily break the individual shapes apart to create new shapes. A tangram contains a small square, two small isosceles triangles, a medium-sized isosceles triangle, two large isosceles triangles, and a parallelogram. An isosceles triangle has two equal angles and two equal sides. A parallelogram is a four-sided figure with each side parallel to the opposite side.

When I received it I put it on the fridge and everyone in the house has played with it, including Maxi’s friends who have come to visit. I decided to set some challenges for the boys to follow some patterns using the tangram and it was great fun for everyone.

On the suggestion of Cathy from Nurturestore this weekend will be spent turning a sleeper offcut in to a geoboard.


What activities have been keeping the boys busy this summer 2

e kit did make for some interesting conversations about crystal structures and we spent one evening researching this on the computer and looking at salt and sugar under the microscope. Now the boys are at school I think this will get a lot more play as it is something they can start after school and continue with the next day.

The Human Body

As a family we LOVED this kit. It costs £27 from Hobby Craft, but is jam packed with things to do, games to play and experiments, such as building your own stethoscope and finding out about finger prints. It really tapped in to the boys imagination at 7 and 8. I think it was perfectly pitched for their age range. The kit is full of primary coloured based kit and is really engaging. It is not something you have to spend hours with all at once, as it is broken down in to different sections and covers the five senses. This has been returned to again and again over the summer and we still have more to do and use, plus it comes with a 48 page book. A super buy.

Puzzler Brain Games for the DS

This came in to its own on one of our many long road trips. It is perfect for all ages and both the boys, their cousin and the Frugals played with it. At under £12 it is a great value game for any DS owner. Rather than use it in main game mode, which is a 90 tournament designed to improve your brain, they played it in practice mode, which is more like accessing mini games. The 20 puzzles are based on training 4 different brain function categories – Visual, Word, Mathematical and Memory. During all thge time it was played over the summer the boys never had the same content twice, which was pretty impressive.

Boys busy


Encouraging boys to write – Comic Strips 1

Even though we have been having a #’freerangesummer, I have been trying to make sure the boys still do some writing and record what we have been doing this summer and I was delighted to see this fab video that the Etherington Brothers made where they give Scottish Friendly some of their top-tips for creating a comic.

In fact it inspired some comic strip making in The Mad House. Firstly I printed off some blank comic strip layouts and we discussed what we wanted to make a comic about and the boys and their friends they were going to do ones about their day at Lightwater Valley.

The best rides for 7 and 8 year olds at Thorpe Park 1

The Flying Fish was one ride that the boys rode again and again together. Both at the front and the back. In fact sometimes they didn’t even get off!

The boys were also able to go on X, Zodiac, Banana Ride, Rocky Express, Storm in a teacup, The Detonator and Wet, wet, wet. We had an amazing couple of days at Thorpe Park and stayed in the Crash Pad, which is kind of like being in a caravan, compact, but has everything you need.

Top tips for getting the best value:

Book your tickets at least two days in advance at home
Print them off
Second day from £6.00
Consider staying onsite if you live any distance away.
My friend Cass at Frugal Family has a super competition at the moment to win tickets to Thorpe Park, so get yourself over there and enter.

thorpe park

No screens after 6pm #screenfree 7

We are also trying to reduce our dependance on screens for those I am boarded moments whilst waiting for food to be served or waiting in queses with small games and have recently been sent Dobble from Esdevium Games, which is a card game and the perfect size for keeping in my bag. It is a card game, which is based on the concept of snap and needs, speed, good observation and super fast reflexes. You can play up to five different mini games from the one tin of 55 cards (which are circular) and is a great game for all ages and is currently less than £10.

What are your favorite screen free pastimes?