Monday, 19 February 2018

Fun For The School Holidays: Five Rainy-Day Activities Reviewed

There are two types of parent: the ones who look forward to the school holidays as a chance to spend lovely quality time doing fun things with their children, and the ones who dread them, knowing it'll be a week or more of desperately trying to entertain increasingly wayward kids.

I'm very much the latter. I adore my daughter, but school holidays are a challenge. Not just for me - she struggles a lot with the lack of routine and stimulation, which makes her tetchy and giddy. When the weather's miserable, as it has been this week, things get very challenging.

Luckily, a box of goodies arrived just in the nick of time. Sheffield Mutual very kindly sent us an activity pack filled with fun craft projects to get stuck into over the holidays.

So here are the projects we've been busy with this week - and how we found them.


I love baking. Until Toddler came on the scene, Girl Child and I used to bake every week, but the challenge of looking after a little one and the start of school for Girl Child a few months later meant that we got out of that routine. I was really glad to see baking included in the activity pack as it's such a good activity for little ones. The pack included a biscuit recipe, cutters and decorations.

The recipe was really easy - and also egg-free so would be good for very little bakers who are prone to eating the raw dough! Girl Child was able to do a lot of it with very little help which was great. We supplemented the cutters sent in the pack with our own and Girl Child really enjoyed making different shapes and decorating them when the biscuits were cooked. They tasted delicious too!

This was a really good activity as it could be done in stages - the dough needed chilling in the fridge which gave us a nice break to do other things, then the cooking and cooling created another break. This meant that Girl didn't get bored at any stage and it filled most of an afternoon too. The clear-up wasn't too onerous either. Definitely a good school holiday activity!

Model painting

Also included in the pack was a money box with paints to decorate. Girl Child loves to get arty so this was a great activity for her, and one that required minimal set-up. The thing that puts me off painting the most is the set-up and clean-up, but when it all comes in a kit with the paints in little pots it takes a lot of the stress out of it.

We did find the paint colours provided a bit limited, but that wasn't a big problem as Girl Child enjoyed mixing little bits of paint in old milk bottle lids to get the colours she wanted. 

This was a great activity for filling half an hour or so - Girl Child could get on with it independently while I did other things which was really handy as the housework really mounts up in the school holidays. It was a bit messy (but that could just be down to my messy child) but overall not too much hassle.

Card decorating

Another good activity for creative kids. The pack supplied us with blank cards, felt tip pens, an array of stickers and a set of pipe cleaners, pom poms and googly eyes. Perfect for letting Girl Child's imagination run wild!

This is probably my favourite type of activity - set up in no time, can be done completely independently and hardly any mess afterwards. Eleanor really enjoyed it too, thinking very carefully about which stickers to use and what pictures to draw. The first card she did was quite simply decorated but the next day she made another card using pompoms, googly eyes and a piece of pipe cleaner to make a monster picture - I wish I'd got a picture of that one but she put it in the envelope too soon!

All in all this is a great rainy day activity: super easy for parent and child, very creative and can be done again and again so you can spread it out over days!

Calming glitter jar

I've been meaning to make something like this with Girl Child for a while. She struggles to control her emotions sometimes so I thought this could be helpful in calming her down. So I was really happy to see it included in the activity pack. There was a jar, biodegradable glitter (extra points for eco credentials), clear glue, food colouring and instructions so all I had to provide was water.

Again this was a fairly quick project to do, probably taking less than half an hour, and required quite a bit of supervision. But it was fun to do together and Girl Child loved adding in the food colouring and glitter - she was very happy that it was blue, her favourite colour!

This is a good activity for when you have a bit of time to spare, and it results in something which will (hopefully) come in very useful in handling little people's big feelings!


The last project included in the activity pack was a Grasshead. I really like the idea of growing something with kids - in better weather we like to get the kids helping in the garden, but as it was rainy most of the week, I thought this would provide a good alternative. The idea is that you water the head daily and after a few days grass would start to grow which the kids can then 'style'. Sadly after a week, our Mrs Grasshead (as christened by Girl Child) still looks like this ...

Now this is not necessarily a criticism of the product - I am notorious for killing indoor plants so may well have over- or under-watered it. Or maybe the time scales given are a little optimistic. This is possibly a better activity for a longer holiday though, as just watering it daily didn't fill a huge amount of time. Ah well, you can't win them all!!

And a bonus activity ...

Of course, all of these activities are good for a school-age child but I felt a bit bad for Toddler. Luckily the activities were packed with green shredded paper which I thought he'd find fun. So I hid some farm animals in the box ...

Of course, I should have predicted they wouldn't stay in the box for long ...

I won't show you the photos of the living room a few minutes later but let's just say once Girl Child got hold of the paper things got very messy!!

We really enjoyed the variety of activities in this pack - it was good to have projects that filled different lengths of time, and that stimulated Girl Child's creativity in different ways. I think the baking was the definite favourite but the calming glitter jar has created a really useful item for us too. The pack has given me lots of inspiration for future rainy-school-holiday projects!

What activities do your kids enjoy in the school holidays?

DISCLAIMER: I was provided with the activity pack shown by Sheffied Mutual for the purposes of this review but all words, images and opinions are my own.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Review: Stickerkid Name Labels and Stickers

School uniform. Is it the bane of anyone else's life? Trying to keep it all clean and ironed, (yes, ironed - proper button-up shirts here *groan*) getting all manner of stains out (you can find a tip on removing pen marks in this post) and of course making sure everything is labelled so that when something inevitably goes missing, it can be identified five years later when it finally resurfaces.

Girl Child turned six just after Christmas. Now when she started school I was canny and bought age 5-6 clothes so she'd be in them for ages. And it looked like I might get away with stringing them out a bit longer as she's a tad short for her age, but just before her birthday she started catching up in the height department. So that means new uniform.

Having run out of name labels in Reception because she just couldn't stop wrecking shirts, I was very happy to hear from Stickerkid who kindly offered me a review pack of their kids' name labels. The pack they offered was the Discover Stickerkid set which includes 60 small stickers, (for non-clothing items such as stationery, water bottles etc) 22 medium stickers and 20 iron-on name labels.

Small stickers to the top of the image, name labels to the left and medium stickers to the right
I liked how you could personalise the stickers not only with the text but also with colour, font and even an image for the medium stickers. I was worried this would be a tricky process but the website was really clear and easy to use, the only challenge was choosing the right combination! As Girl Child's favourite colour is blue I felt confident I was making the right choice, but the image was trickier as she changes her interests so often! After hovering over the rocket and the football I opted for a cute stylised tree as I thought this was more neutral. My only slight niggle was the inclusion of 'boys' and 'girls' categories, I think those images could have been sorted in less gender-specific terms.

Delivery only took a few days and I was really impressed by the quality. I soon had a chance to put the stickers to the test as Girl Child has started taking her own snacks to school. I used one of the medium stickers on her snack pot and, having been through the dishwasher twice, it shows no signs of budging! The colours are really vibrant on the stickers and the font very clear and easy to read.

A new set of tights gave me a chance to test out the iron-on labels. They were really easy to apply - just holding the iron down for 30 seconds, no faffing around with repeated pressing - and look to have fused well to the fabric. I haven't tested them out in the washing machine yet but will report back when I have. Again the font is really clear and the labels are smooth after application so won't rub or scratch. I like that these labels are removable too, so if any clothes are ever in a fit state to be passed on I can do!!

Apologies for the slightly dodgy photo, it's surprisingly hard to photograph the inner waistband of tights!!
The Discover Stickerkid pack is £14.99 which I think is great value, and there are lots of other packs on the website to choose from too.

DISCLAIMER: I was provided with the Discover Stickerkid pack for the purposes of this review, however all images, words and opinions are my own.