Ways to use your free advent acts of kindness printables

So you saw my recent post with the 50 advent acts of kindness with the two free printable sets designed by the lovely Purple Pumpkin blog. Well I wanted to share with you ways to display them or use them. 50 advent acts of kindness We tried to make it easy for you all by offering them in two different sizes (A4 and US letter size) in addition to two designs christmas trees and also gift tags.

Kindness Jars

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Easy kid made Christmas cards

simple washi christmas cards I am a big fan of empowering my boys to make their own art and to interpret it their own way and this is why these easy washi tape christmas cards are ideal for children to make. (more…)
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Electra Skateboard review and giveaway

For the last month or so the boys have been getting active on a couple of Elektra Skateboards (£12.99) and an Elektra Pogo Stick (£19.99). I am a great believer in encouraging kids to be active and get outside when they can and they both scoot or bike to school, so I have known that it wouldn't be long before they wanted to try out skateboards.  So when the opportunity arose to review them I said yes, knowing that it would make me the cool mum! We do have rules and I was pleased to review the matching helmets(£14.99). Mini on skateboard (more…)
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Engaging books for reluctant readers aged 8/9

Even though we have read to or with the boys most nights since they were born, Maxi has been a reluctant reader for as long as we can remember.  However, Mini was a very early reader and has devoured books since he could read his first word. It has been really hard to find books that engaged Maxi, he was always a competent reader, but just didn't want to read for fun.  I have to admit that it baffled me.  What was I doing differently with Mini and how could I apply it with Maxi? Well for one thing we didn't stop reading, the one thing that we insisting on was that reading was part of family life whether that be him reading to us, one of us to the rest of the family or even Mini reading aloud to us all.  We kept visiting the library and we kept buying books. Engaging books for reluctant readers aged 89 Then it happened.  Over the summer holidays Maxi picked up a Tom Gates book by Liz Pichon and something just clicked.  I walked into the sitting room to find him sat on the sofa giggling out loud whilst reading.  Since then he has read every single Tom Gates book and moved on to other books.  So what is it about these books?  Well for starters they are not all words, they are filled with doodles, amazing illustrations and loads of funny, laugh out loud kids speak. (more…)
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An Alternative Advent Calendar – Acts of Kindness by kids

Advent, we love it.  It is a BIG thing here in The Mad House.  We use advent as a way to celebrate the build up to Christmas and to take the commercialism out of it.   The MiniMads have not yet had a chocolate advent calendar, although I might bend to their wishes this year!  We have an activity advent calendar instead and this year we are having an alternative advent calendar, where we are going to do an act of kindness each day 50 advent acts of kindness Kindness can cost nothing and I want to raise the MiniMads to always be kinder than they need to be and feel that focusing on acts of kindness during Advent it will be a great learning experience and also spread some joy. Our kindness mission statement:
  • Spread the word - encourage other people to join in and become happiness heroes
  • Have fun and enjoy making other people happy
  • To be kinder than you need to be
Last year we loved Anna from The Imagination Trees Kindness Elves and this would be a great list to use for that.  Alternately you could pick which works for you and add it to an advent calender or pop them all in a jar (like we do with our Bored Jar) and pick one out each day. (more…)
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Be inspired to craft with the kids and eBbay voucher giveaway

eBay asked me what Inspired me at this time of the year?  Well I didn't have to think all that long to know that it was doing art and crafts with the kids.  The fact the evenings are darker, so they are not out playing gives us the opportunity to get creative together. Plus I love this time of year for all the inspiration to craft and make together. We love to make homemade gifts, cards, art and food.  It is part of who we are and I feel that it is important for boys to be exposed to creativity, which is why we have a six pm limit on screen time.  One of our traditions is to make christmas cards for friends and family and we tend to start them pretty early.  You can see some that we have made in previous years and they don't have to be hard to make, but the boys love making them and gifting them.  people have come to expect a homemade card. christmas crafting So being and creating with kids is a huge inspiration for me.  I want to inspire you, in fact I hope that Mum in The Mad House inspires you to do things with your kids. (more…)
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Encouraging you and your kids to walk to school #shareyouradventure

Since Easter my boys have been walking to school on their own.  They scoot, bike, walk or run regardless of the weather, but I know that this isn't always the case for all children. mini on way back from school So I have been working with Regatta, the great outdoors clothing company to encourage parents to ditch the car and get walking to school by making it an adventure.   Their recent research shows that 58% of British children pester their parents to walk to school more, believing that it allows them to spend more quality time with friends and family, whilst getting some well needed fresh air and having an adventure along the way! To help mums, dads, grandmas and granddads across the country get the most out of their walk to school, they have created a handy downloadable Adventure Guide, with some quirky ideas and inspiration on how to turn the school run into an exciting adventure. They adventure guide is pack full of ways to make the walk with your kids more fun, so do take a look. Often, it isnt the kids that struggle to find the time to make a walk, as parents we are busy juggling everything and sometimes it is quicker and easier to drive, so I want to share with you some reasons that walking to school is great for ALL the family and also ways to make it easier for you.

Why it is good to walk to school

How to make walking to school a priority
  1. Walking gives you higher energy levels and reduces stress
  2. Children who walk to school arrive in a calmer frame of mind, ready to cope with the work of the day
  3. Walking cuts down on traffic congestion and pollution, therefore supporting the environment
  4. Walking prevents osteoporosis and can reduce the risk of heart disease
  5. If the walk is too far them try parking a reasonable distance from the school where it is easier to park and walk the rest of the way
  6. No more trying to find a parking space near the school
  7. Walking is a great daily exercise not only for your kids but for you too

How to make walking to school a priority

Before my boys walked to school on their own I walked with them.  Yes it would have been quicker to use the car, however,  when you factored in parking and the stress of nagging them it really was much calmer when we walked. Planning was the key for me, by making sure that everything was ready the night before and once I realised how much the boys enjoyed walking to school it was easy to make sure it was something that we continued with.  They got so much from that walk from road safety to learning about the seasons, but I got so much dedicated time with them too. Make sure that you have the right clothing.  We all have hats, gloves, scarfs for the colder weather and we have learned that waterproof boots are essential in the wet weather.  Regatta sent us all three in one coats and I have to say they are fantastic, during the warmer months the waterproof is great and as it gets colder then you can add the fleece lining and they become super warm. Over the winter when it snows it is almost impossible for me to drive the boys to school, so walking becomes the only  option!  If you do walk to school then please do share your adventure with #shareyouradventure with Regatta on twitter or facebook Disclosure: We were all sent 3 in 1 coat's, hats, gloves and boots from Regatta.  I have to say we are really impressed with the coats due to their 3 in 1 nature.  The boys have worn them without their inner fleece to and from school and also worn the fleeces separately too and now this week has become colder they have worn them together.  In fact we all love our cold weather kit, it is perfect for getting out and about and making the most of the daylight as a family.   
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Autumn and Winter picnic food

As a family we love picnics and just because the weather is cooler in Autumn and Winter it doesn't mean that picnicking has to stop.  No indeed for us it just means that we move to more warming food and sometimes we have them inside on a rug and sometimes we have them sat in the boot of the car! In fact having an Autumn picnic is in our Autumn Bored Jar!  We also carry a pop up tent in the back of the car and it is great for picnicking in when it is windy. We keep the food simple warming and filing.  We have a couple of flasks that we use for food.  A wide necked soup flask and a food flask.  Soup is our favorite cold weather picnic food.

Five Autumn and Winter Picnic Soups

Soups which work well for us on a picnic are ones that are blended smooth and that we can drink from a cup, but also dunk in some crusty bread or have with a cheese sandwich. Autumn picnic soups Tomato Soup by Daisies and Pie (more…)
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So where those Startrite shoes made for scooting?

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. Startrite shoes week two And this is how they look after eight weeks of constant wear. startrite week eight Maxi's shoes are looking pretty much as good at week eight as they were at week two.  Mini's are holding up well too, although he did manage to rip the bumper at the front!  But even with the ripped bumper the shoe is still intact and looks great. Want to know what me and the other bloggers through, then take a look at this round up video and the blog post about it here. Now I am going to admit that I am a stickler for looking after our shoes.  It was drilled into me by my Grandad when I was young and you can find our weekly shoe care routine here. I want to say a great big thank you to Startrite.
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Pinwheel Poppies – A Remembrance, Armistice or Veteran’s day activity

Both my boys take part in the annual remembrance parade as Cubs and this year it is the 100 anniversary of the start of World War One.  This has really captured the boys imagination, so we made Poppy Pinwheels. Remembrance Day, Armistice Day or Veteran's Day as it is sometimes called is November 11th. How to make pinwheel Poppies Materials:
  1. Red paper
  2. Brass Paper Fasteners
  3. Black Sharpie
  4. Green Paper straws
  5. Hole punch 1/8 inch

How to make a pinwheel poppy

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