Way back when, we lived in the USA. I was around 8 years old and I still remember it as clear as day, it made such a huge impression on me. I mean, the ice cream shop carried 33 different flavours of ice-cream and we got to eat our lunch at school wrapped up in a brown paper bag!
But I do think my most favourite memory is the trip we took around the US in a big old Chevy and went camping everywhere from Dakota to Colorado. It was so much fun (the first night we put up our tents, the family in the next tent heard us jabbering away in French and invited us over to eat our first ever smores!).
Anyway, my brother and I spent a lot of time in the back of the car on that journey and there were exactly two things that kept us from skinning each other alive: Uno and Mastermind. Do you remember this game? It’s a great strategy game in which you need to guess your opponents code, so it is a bit like breaking the enigma code, but for 7 year olds. It is addictive and perfect for 2 siblings, especially those with a competitive streak in them!
My kids have a new obsession and it’s called PlusPlus. PlusPlus consists of super simple puzzle-like building block shapes that can be combined to create an endless array of 2 and 3 dimensional creations, and seriously calls for hours and hours of building fun. PlusPlus is equally attractive to boys and girls, young and old — it can be played with alone, or with friends. My kids bring pieces of PlusPlus everywhere — they can’t stop playing with it!
PlusPlus is well known in Denmark but is still fairly new to the rest of the world. The distributer in the US is Geared for Imagination, and I’ve also spotted it in one of our new and very cool boutiques, The Kid Who. A real recommendation for a Christmas present!
The holidays are around the corner and with it loads of presents to wrap. This craft project is a good idea to spend an afternoon with and it sure gives a personal touch to gift giving. Nico had a lovely time with such a big paper to draw on, all by himself!
And these papers make these presents!
Hope you like it!
Last week I wrote in escarabajos bichos y mariposas about the little project we have at home. The florist of our neighbourhood gave Nico a plant as a present. That’s when we thought we were going to take care of it with love!. The florist told us it has to be watered once a week, so we decided to do it on Saturdays, and make a note to remind us.
First we bought the pot in Ikea, and customized it with some washi tape and bakers twine.
Nico made a note to remind us about watering it on Saturday. At home we use wood lids painted with chalkboard paint as note pads. (I will write about them in another post because they are wonderful!)
It already has a corner in our house and we hope to take care of it really well!!.
- Maria Cañal
We have made it to Ireland and back! Holidays in Northern Europe do mean un-spoilt empty beaches and spectacular scenery. They also mean a lot of rain and the need for creative parents to keep the younger family members occupied.
A classic rainy holiday activity: shell-necklace making. I think these have been made by every generation since pre-historic times. (I can actually imagine cave-dwelling mothers sighing while looking out of their cave at the rain outside and saying to their fur-clad kids: ”OK, why don’t we make shell necklaces as an activity today?”).
Anyway, it could not be easier, all you need are shells collected from the beach of all shapes and sizes, some nylon fishing thread and a tiny screwdriver/ drill to make holes in the shell (best left to the adults). A few shells might shatter whilst having a hole made in them, but the majority will stand up to the task and are ready to string onto the fishing thread.
Esther made some lovely shell necklaces last year mixing wooden beads with the shells, an idea I adopted as I got a little bit bored drilling holes after a while.
ONE YEAR AGO WE WROTE ABOUT:• Coral and Tusk
My daughter’s first request when she walks in from her days at pre-school are invariably “May I have a popsicle?” or “May I paint in the backyard?”
I can easily distract her first request with a plum or some other lovely summer fruit, but I can rarely stave off her desire to paint (some days I just want to read books or do a puzzle with her, call me lazy!) Lately, she has been perfectly content putting on her bikini bottoms and painting her hands and feet, making the sweetest little prints for us.
Last year I invested in a wooden caddy with six glass jars and some watercolor paints and much prefer it to the messy little pans of paint we would run through. Plus, it just looks so much nicer. I’ll warn you now, the Nova Natural website is a little addictive, especially their dress-up and crafting sections!
We gave our oldest this Build Your Own Erupting Volcano set for his 7th birthday recently, and it was a huge, huge hit. What a like about it is that it was really a family activity and we spread it out over a couple weekends. The first weekend we built the volcano with the paper maché and then we let it dry over the week (the kids kept checking on it of course!). The second weekend we painted it, lacquered it, and then let it erupt! The anticipation had built up over the week, and it was so fun to watch the kids’ faces as it erupted.
Little Puggle is a brand new website offering a monthly subscription service for craft activity boxes to be sent to your door. Each box is filled with crafty and cool activities, DIY art kits and all the necessary materials (scissors, paints, glue) for making your creations. When you sign up, you can fill out your child’s details and interests and receive boxes which tailor to your child’s interests (trains, animals, fairies, etc). I recently tested out the service and it’s fantastic — I spent an entire rainy afternoon with the kids making puppets, blowing up balloons and creating animal heads, painting, sticking, colouring, and playing.
I will say… that because I’m already quite a crafty mum (I was joking the other day with a friend that my craft cupboard is bigger than my clothes closet!), this isn’t a service which I really need. But for busy mums who don’t have the time (or interest) in sourcing craft supplies and activities for their kids, this is the perfect solution. It offers craft inspiration as well as all the materials, so it takes the hard work out of being creative with your children. You can sign up to receive the Little Puggle boxes here. (I also think they make great gifts!)
PS – You can now receive 15% off at Little Puggle — details here.
ONE YEAR AGO WE WROTE ABOUT:• Curious?
We were hit by a ‘weather bomb’ on Saturday! I had never heard the term before and it turns out a ‘weather bomb’ is the name for very windy wet weather. I’m not sure why they just don’t call it a storm….Anyway I’m not a meteorologist but I do know wet windy weather means the kids are going to be stuck inside all day.
My husband is fantastic at making things out of furniture, blankets, pillows and anything else laying around the house. This weekend he put his building skills to use by making a car. It kind of reminds me of Fred Flintstone’s car. Its such a simple idea and the kids loved it.
This past weekend Coco, Violette and I popped round to visit a new little theatre school and children’s bookshop right by our house called Attrape Nuages. I totally recommend it if you live in Paris — it is super cute! We picked up a really cool little shadow theatre, which has been the sole source of entertainment in our household for the last few days. I actually hadn’t the faintest clue how a shadow theatre works, but it is such a simple idea! Who knew?
The theatre comes with all the bits and pieces you need to replay Little Red Ridinghood, even with a little flashlight. If you get tired of Little Red Ridinghood, there are refills for other stories. I am going to try and make some of my own characters and backdrops with some of the girls drawings, I reckon it could be a fun craft project…
Check out this little YouTube video to show how the whole thing works.
This weekend we made it to Obliteration Room at the Tate Modern and my kids loved it so much they’re still talking about it. What a cool idea! The Obliteration Room is the kid’s section of the bigger exhibition by Yayoi Kusama — the dot loving Japanese artist. It started out as a completely white room and then they allowed kids to come in and place colourful dot stickers wherever and however they chose.
It was interesting to watch my kids with their sheets of stickers. My daughter stuck all the stickers on her face, my son kept asking to put them on the ceiling, and my oldest went around creating crazy cyclops monster faces on the floor. What a fun activity (it’s on until the 18th of March)!
PS – Photos above are from the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art in Australia where the project started. Aren’t they so cool?!
My kids have been greatly enjoying the Yoga Pretzels cards they got from their babysitter for Christmas. It’s so cute to see them bend in all sorts of curves, or trying to keep their balance. There are 50 cards, each of them giving a suggestion for a pose. There are, for instance, balance poses, stretch poses, stand and bend poses, and, most popular with my children, the partner poses (they need each other to perform the pose!). There are also cards that give breathing or relax exercises, or suggestions for games that enhance teamwork and creativity. It’s great fun, and especially 6-year-old Sara has been able to really relax after her yoga. Pim (almost 5) loves it too, his favourite pose, of course, is the ‘Warrior’.
Yoga Pretzels is available through Amazon (UK or US).
When I found out I was going to have a daughter, I had this deluded idea that my child would only play with wooden toys and that there certainly would be no princess dresses in our house. Oh, how naive I was! Five years, two daughters and about 15 polyester princess dresses later, our dress-up box has become quite famous with the under fives on our block. And now we have a reputation to keep!
Now, it turns out that even in the world of fake princess dresses, there are cheap and cheerful models and, on the other end of the scale, there’s Haute Couture. The dresses by Ivoy Paris fall into the later category. The taffeta, the ruffles, the lace and the elaborate cuts of these dresses are quite spectacular. They are probably what little girls imagine a genuine princess dress to be like. They do come with a certain price tag, but this is truely the creme de la creme of princess dress-up dresses….
I have just started to scratch the surface of my Christmas shopping list — how did I ever manage anything without the internet?! How cool is this Kimono Doll Kit as a big stocking filler? Coco, who is now 5, is really getting into sewing and I have been a bit hesitant leaving her on her lonesome with needles. (Possibly I am being a bit overprotective? As she herself points out: If you don’t let me do it, how will I ever learn?).
Anyway, this nifty little kit comes with a plastic needle, lots of pre-cut fabric pieces and other bits and bobs so she can go straight into crafting mode. Perfect for a post-Christmas chilly afternoon! It’s available from Alex & Alexa.
I remember how shocked I was with the playmats available on the market when my babies were born. I seriously didn’t know how fast I could hide them under the sofa once they were finished playing! Definitely not the case for mums who are the proud owner of one of the stylish mats designed by the cool girls from Deuz! Made from 100% organic cotton and full of energetic colors and exciting features like loops to grab, rings to hold and chew, and with a removable cover for easy wash-n-wear care, the Duez play mats will not necessarily need to leave the living room floor at all!
We have been spending the summer in the fabulous French countryside. The not so fabulous thing about the French countryside is that sunny weather is by no means guaranteed. Temperatures can drop from 28 degrees to 18 degrees in a few hours, so it is wise to have some indoor activities close at hand.
My friend Heather came to visit up with a pack of UNO cards — a game I had completely forgotten about – and it was a total hit. UNO is perfect to entertain the over 5 year olds and their parents for hours. I love it when the whole family can play together!
By the way, I had no idea UNO has been around for a such a long time, but it apparently just celebrated its 40th anniversary! Available through Amazon (UK or US).
I was super excited last weekend when I saw a poster advertising the movie Arrietty on the London tube. The movie was released in France in January, but I have been waiting for the English version to come out before writing about it. (Unfortunately if you are US-based, you will have to wait a tiny bit longer. It is only going to be released early next year).
Arrietty is the latest release from the famed studio Ghibli, known for Ponyo, Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service and many more. It is not as fantastical as the other Ghibli films, but it is one of the most beautiful animated films I have seen in a long time. My girls were enchanted by it and we actually went to see it at the cinema two or three times (it was January after all).
The story is losely based on the book The Borrowers. Arrietty and her family are miniture people, secretly living in a house inhabited by humans. They have stayed hidden for years, until a young boy discovers Arrietty.
I really recommend it — it’s great for kids and parents, just a little bit different from the usual animated movie.
I never had much with dinosaurs until I gave birth to a son 4 years ago. Really, I didn’t get the buzz. I loved excavations, it’s certainly not that, but more the cultural kind — think Tutank-Amon and Nefertiti, Pompeii and the like…
But now I have a son. And now I know the difference between a Tyrannosaurus, a Stegosaurus, and a Diplodocus! (Sounds familiar? Do you have a son?)
For this reason I love Priddy Books — because Priddy Books understands perfectly well that boys are boys, and they like dinosaurs, tractors, and, well, dinosaurs. We love their Activity Books in our house — full of fun facts, stickers, and educational questionnaires. In fact, I’m going to order some more for the upcoming summer break — perfect to keep the kids entertained for the long journeys ahead!
My daughter Sara is an avid art lover — she loves to build, create, draw, and paint. From the moment she could hold a pencil in her hands she’s been drawing, and I think her baby sister takes after her — Ava also likes to hold a pen and draw already. Our 4-year-old son Pim however, is just now at a level where his sister was when she was barely three (remember this craft project?). He’s slowly gaining an interest in drawing. It’s funny how differently children do develop!
Anyway, with our upcoming camping trip in mind, I’ve given Pim and Sara each one of the cool Art Kits pictured above. These art kits are great — the canvas cover is bright and strong, the pencils are soft to draw with, there’s a sharpener attached and there’s a notebook with thick, coloured paper. KicoKids makes them, do check out their shop — such wonderful, creative products and fun concepts, and I can tell you — the quality of it all is great.
Oliver Jeffers must be one of my favourite illustrators, so I got a little bit excited about this tutorial (via the Guardian) on how to draw a penguin. It is so simple, so funny and so charming that it even makes me want to start getting out the crayons!
I know nothing about drawing, so I love the breakdown of all the different shapes which, once you put them all together, make a lovely little penguin. Hope your kids enjoy this one as much as mine did. Happy drawing!