The Mad House visits Chill Factore

The Mad House visits the Chill Factore Last week were invited to experience Chill Factore in Manchester.  As it was half term I took the boys and also two of their friends, so I had four boys aged 7, 7,9 and 10. The boys had a blast in the Snow Park area, just take a look at the video of them on the Luge, Tubes and Sledges. I loved it too, it was great fun watching the boys, but even more fun joining in. My boys had their own snow gear, but you can hire what you need there and also buy gloves (they do not hire them) . Both the boys now want to go back and learn to snowboard and ski.  I wish we lived closer as they offer some great holiday clubs where you can do just that, Disclosure: We were invited to experience the Chill Factore free of charge and the images above are courtesy of Stephen Devlin Photography 
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Washi Tape Easter Cards

Whilst we were busy with the washi tape we decided to have a go at making some easter cards.  Again we used our Cricut Mini, but it was super simple and the MiniMads' were certainly in charge.  Not only did they chose the tape combination, but they picked the images and words too! Washi Tape Easter Cards Materials:
  1. A6 White Cards
  2. Washi Tape
  3. Cricut Mini
  4. Blank cards
What we did: The boys stuck washi tape over card, but you could also use any artwork that your child has done, which would love ace. We used A6 cards as we can get two on to the Cricut mat and cut them both at the same time.  This activity shows you just how easy it is for the boys to use the Cricut Mini.  They designed the cards and I love them.  They are a take on the aperture cards I used to make with my mum when I was younger. washi tape appature easter cards   My initial thoughts were to cut an additional front for the cards and to stick the washi tape on to the card and cut the additional card, but by cutting the card and placing the washi tape covered insert behind it the cards had a much more finished look. You really don't need a cricut mini to make cards like this, you could use a craft punch. Easter cards If you have younger children then why not have a go at some of our other Easter Cards that we have made in previous years.
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Washi Tape Easter Garland

We are big fans of washi tape in The Mad House.  We use it all the time for homemade cards and even for covering eggs.  So it was the natural choice to make a garland out of it. Washi tape easter garland Material:
  1. Washi Tape
  2. Cardboard
  3. Butchers Twine
  4. Egg shaped punch, Cricut Mini or scissors!
  5. Mini (1/8 inch) hole punch
How to: One thing my boys love is getting hold of all my washi tape and covering card with it.  We decided to cover the card fist for this project and then cut it, but you can cut the card and cover it if you prefer. cricut eggs The boys then fitted 8 egg shapes on to the cricut craftroom software and we put the washi covered cardboard through to be cut.  We also cut some smaller ones with the punch. We then used the small hole punch to make two holes in the top of each egg shape and threaded butchers twine through it. washi tape easter egg garland Sometimes the simplest crafts are the most effective.
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How to display kids artwork

I am a huge fan of art, craft and drawing (as you possibly know if you read my blog regularly) and when John Lewis Insurance asked me to share my favourite drawing of what matters most to my children  it was a hard, hard job as I love pretty much everything they produce for different reasons. I love the act of making art and nurturing children's drawings and one of the wisest things that I was told is to never ask what a drawing is, but to ask
"Tell me more about your drawing"
So I took this opportunity to go through my boys artwork and let me tell you there are loads of pictures of the things they draw, but not that much in the house as we gift a lot and also recycle it.  I only keep certain piece, but photograph the rest.

Displaying Kids artwork in your home

displaying kids artwork So I have decided to share with you how we display the boys artwork round the house.
  1. We have a gallery in the kitchen where we display loads of their makes on curtain wire from Ikea.
  2. I use 3D models in place of artwork around the home.
  3. We use washi tape to display artwork on walls and doors (rotating them often).
  4. I take pictures of their artwork and then get collages printed.
  5. We add to notice boards around the house.
  6. We use magnets to pop in on the fridge.
  7. We make bookmarks from it to recycle it.
ways to display artwork So I asked the boys to pick a one of their current pieces and explain why it matters most to them and between them they chose this lion that Maxi drew.  Both the boys adore animals and wanted to raise money for the WWF, so Maxi drew this lion for a poster at school to help raise funds. lion

Would you like your childs picture turned into a piece of artwork?

Take a picture of  your favourite piece of artwork by your child on the theme of what matters most to your child and  upload it to the John Lewis microsite (John Lewis Insurance competition page) with just your name, child’s name/age and your email. The winners artworks will then be worked up by a professional illustrator (Emily Woodard) into a really cool piece of art. The original and illustrators impression will then be framed alongside each other as the prize.  Please see the John Lewis site for full terms and conditions. 3.
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Low Spend or No Spend Bored Jar Activities – The Spring Edition

We have a "Bored Jar" and every so often I update it and as the Easter holidays and Spring are upon us I thought I would update it with a Spring theme.  So here are my Low Spend or No Spend Easter Holiday  and spring Activities Ultimate Spring Bored Jar Activity list
  1. Plant some seeds
  2. Make button biscuits 
  3. Pick some flowers
  4. Make some pet rocks
  5. Make a volcano 
  6. Make a rain catcher
  7. Paint a rainbow
  8. Find pictures in the clouds
  9. Skip stones across a pond
  10. Use stones to record memories
  11. Go on a nature walk
  12. Make an unbirthday cake
  13. Make dream catchers
  14. Bird watch
  15. Make a spring wreath
  16. Visit the library
  17. Do some origami
  18. Spot a rainbow
  19. Make some paper flowers
  20. Make pompoms
  21. Cook asparagus
  22. Do some easter crafts
  23. Look for four-leaf clovers
  24. Make some scratch paper
  25. Make bunny bunting
  26. Make some thank you cards
  27. Make potato print wrapping paper
  28. Make button biscuits
  29. Wash the car
  30. Paint a picture of flowers
  31. Play hotscotch
  32. Make felted chicks
  33. Make a windsock
  34. Tell some joke
  35. Feed the ducks at a pond
  36. Play outdoor games with friends 
  37. Make some chic cards
  38. Make a pinwheels
  39. Blow bubbles
  40. Paint some plant pots 
  41. Make a loom bracelet
  42. Decorate some easter eggs
  43. Make some scratch paper
  44. put together a jigsaw
  45. Make fingerprint cards
  46. Make a bird feeder
  47. Go looking at tree blossom
  48. Make coke floats
  49. Fly a kite
  50. Make cupcakes
The ultimate Bored jar spring Why not take a look at our ultimate summer bored jar activity list   
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Half Price tickets to Chessington and Sealife with Walkers

Just in time for the Easter Holidays Walkers are offering half price tickets to Chessington World of Adventures Resort and the 12 SEA LIFE aquariums and sanctuaries across the UK.


For 12 weeks between the 31st March and the 20th June, Walkers Baked Stars, Walkers Mighty Lights, and Walkers Baked Hoops and Crosses, will have two vouchers offering half price tickets to Chessington World of Adventures Resort and SEA LIFE on all of their multipacks of six which cost around £1.79

I really wish we lived closer to Chessington World of Adventures Resort  as the boys would love it.  There is the ZUFARI where you can Ride into Africa  and see many amazing animals and the brand new ride for 2014 , Scorpion Express, where adventures must board an old train and cross the sands, ruins of the mines and abandoned town facing surprises at every turn.   Maybe we can find some affordable accommodation  near and make a trip of it.

 We have a Sea Life center in Scarborough and the boys love visiting when we are nearby.  There are more than 12 sites over the UK and I know from experience that aquariums are a feast for the eyes for children at all ages.  We used to take the boys when they were small and the fish mesmerised them. Oh and when you have finished eating them you can turn the crisp packets into keyrings like we did... how to shrink crisp packers 3.
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500 Words

Maxi was asked to  write an entry in to Chris Evan's and BBC Radio Two's 500 words competition for children as homework and typically for my lad decided he wanted to do it last minute (I don't encourage homework). 500 words Below is his story, which we filled 30 minutes before the closing date and I printed off the certificate for him and thought nothing more of it. Was it all a dream? “Take Alvin for a walk” shouted Mum, “Do I really have too?” I responded as I was sat watching my favourite TV show and didn’t really want to go out in the cold, wet weather.  “He is your dog and your responsibility” mum said.  “I am the only one that takes that dog out and feeds him” Mum complained, so reluctantly I had to say yes. “OK Mum I will take him out” I replied and put on my coat, scarf and gloves before putting on Alvin’s lead and harness and the dreaded poo bags. Next I opened the door and set out on our walk around the block.  It has been such a wet winter there was puddles everywhere and just as I went over the road I tripped in to a puddle and suddenly I felt as though I was falling. Finally I came to a stop and hit the ground and I could see a harness and lead strapped on to me and “where the dog I thought”.  Immediately I was dragged forward by a big dark figure.  I could not resist, I tried really hard to get to my feet and find Alvin.  I was frantic as I didn’t want him to run off and get hurt.  The pulling was so hard that I had no option but to follow it. Eventually we came to a stop. A massive door opened and I walked in.  Everything looked like it was bigger than normal; in fact it looked as though I had shrunk! I found it really hard to get up the stairs and no one would listen to me.  They just kept patting me on the head and saying “good boy” It was really infuriating. So I decided to go and have a lie down on my bed, but it was huge and took all of my energy to get on to it.  When it was dinner time, I tried to get on to my seat at the table, but instead I was taken to the kitchen and I saw dog food.  It was then I realised I had four paws, white fluffy body, a big white fluffy tail, a wet nose and flappy ears. I HAD TURNED INTO A DOG! That explained my urge to chew on my mum’s shoes and run around the back garden with my younger brother chasing me. Later when it was bedtime I could hear my mum shouting to mu younger brother to get in to his pyjamas and to brush his teeth.  I stayed curled up on the bottom of my bed, as it took so much energy to get here. I dreamed of sticks, balls and chicken treats and was running though the field after my brother in my dream. I was awoken by something licking my face.  It was all wet and there was a white fluffy puppy on top of my chest. Was it all just a dream?  Well you can imagine my delight when we received the following email:
Congratulations! Was it all a dream? by Maxi is through to the next stage of 500 WORDS! We received over 118,000 entries and this story has been picked - with just 3,500 others - to go to the Scottish Book Trust for the second round of judging. Well done and good luck! We will be back in touch, in early May, to let you know if Was it all a dream? has been shortlisted for our Final 50. Best wishes The 500 WORDS Team The Chris Evans Breakfast Show BBC Radio 2
Not only is that fantastic, but Maxi returned home from school with the news that he won his school competition with his entry. maxi 500 words   Here he is showing me and Alvin (his inspiration) his prizes.  Yes I was a proud Mum.
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Easter Egg Craft ideas – Something for the weekend

Whoop, my boys finnish school on Friday and are off until 22nd April, so we have plenty of time to do lots of Easter crafts and have lots of family fun time together. This week I am going to concentrate on Easter Egg Craft Ideas.  We love decorating our Easter Tree  with eggs and the boys also decorate eggs for school and for an Easter Party we attend each year. eggcellent ideas for egg decorating this easter
  1. Melted crayon eggs from Blog me Mom
  2. Tissue paper eggs by Mum Pies and Fireflies
  3. Button Egg by The Boy and Me
  4. Texture eggs by Tw0-daloo
  5. Stained wood easter eggs by Club Chica Circle
  6. Art Easter eggs from Buggy and Buddy
  7. Washi tape eggs by Me!
  8. Felted wool Easter Chick eggs by me too
  9. Thumb Print Eggs by A Sprouting Acorn
  10. Paper Mache decorated eggs by A Thrifty Mum
Make sure you are following our facebook pageGoogle + page or on Pinterest for lots more Easter crafts, cards and activities over the coming week. sftw
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Felted wool easter egg chicks

We were sent a fantastic selection of craft items for the Tots100 Bostik Craft Club.  You can buy similar kits to this from online suppliers such as Craft Merrily and Yellow Moon. Felted roving wool easter egg chicks We decided to make some felted wool easter egg chicks. Materials
  1. Polystyrene eggs
  2. Roving wool
  3. Feathers
  4. googly eyes
  5. craft foam or felt (we used orange felt)
  6. Blu Tack Glu Dots
felted wool easter chicks how to Method felting the eggs is a really therapeutic thing to do, but do be careful of the felting tools and little fingers as they are very sharp.  We had great fun making sure the polystyrene was covered with the yellow wool we chose, we did this by wrapping the wool round the egg and punching in into the egg. Cut the felt or foam into shapes for the beaks and feet. We then used the glu dots to adhere the beak, feet and feathers.  They are perfect for this as they are already tacky and stick immediately. The googly eyes stuck directly on to the wool. bostic
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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! pet rocks Rock City What better way to weigh down your picnic blanket than by using the tools nature has given us: massive rocks? Instead of using plain boulders, get out your paintbrushes and be creative, why not make some pet rocks. Garden 2009 Grow Plants The garden isn’t going to sort itself out. An extra pair of hands can be useful, and you’re teaching your kids some great horticultural skills for the future. They might be more likely to eat their vegetables, if they’ve grown them at home. Mini running round Play A Sport Whether it’s badminton in the back yard or football at your local park, get out and have fun! Watch The Stars Kids love an excuse to stay up late. Grab a hot chocolate and go star-gazing – it’s certainly worth getting a telescope, so your kids can learn more about the universe. Treasure Hunt Who doesn’t love a good treasure hunt? Think up age-appropriate clues and set up a long foray into the wilderness that will keep them occupied all day (just make sure the prizes are worth it). maxi cooking Cook Together If you can have fun, eat something tasty, and teach your kids a new skill, why wouldn’t you? Choose a simple and creative recipe that everyone can join in with, take a look at my top tips for getting kids in the kitchen. Go On A Day Out Do you feel like it’s time to get out of the house? There are lots of great venues throughout the UK, whether you choose to visit an art gallery or a wildlife park, such as Knowsley Safari Park. 3.
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