Sponsored Video – Toca Ink

If you are not familiar with the fabulous little apps that are Toca Boca… it is time you took a peak! The Toca Boca apps, are playful, arty and above all fun apps all the way from Sweden. I love apps that are not just fun for the kids to play with, but that are also visually appealing – the design and graphics make all the difference in my eyes. But I digress, today isn’t about their quirky little apps, but it is about the newly launched Toca Ink. Toca Ink a temporary playful and fun kids’ tattoos, based on the fabulous Toca Boca characters.

Now I don’t know how you feel about Kids’ Tattoos, but my kids LOVE THEM. I have mixed feelings about them.. but as they are temporary, I can’t see the harm. Especially , since the designs now available are artistically light years ahead from the temporary tattoos of my childhood (no longer do you “just” get the old Spiderman or snake tattoo), now, with companies like Toca Ink, you can get fabulous, colourful and playful designs that appeal to both boys and girls. I know that this set of Toca Ink tattoos will have my little girl’s imagination run wild. Don’t think of them as temporary tattoos – think of them as a portable story prompts. What will the character do next? Why are Walter’s Wheels on Fire? What is Larry the Lion up to with his hair?



Whether you know the Toca Boca Apps or not (and if you don’t time you checked them out at the Apple Store, you will love these cute little designs)!

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Chocolate Surprise Cake – will with favourite treats

A super quick post to share the hubby’s Birthday cake – it was a “Sweetie Chocolate layered surprise cake”. It sounds far more grand and difficult to make than it is….. and everyone LOVED the surprise!!! The key to the “flatness of the cake” (my mother in law was asking), is to bake 4 “thinner” cakes. rather than say, two bigger ones and then cutting those in half to layer… my thinner cakes just didn’t rise as much and ended up much flatter naturally!


Chocolate Surprise CakeTo make i..

  • Use your favourite Vanilla sponge recipe x 2
  • Make up your mixture and then halve.. had  2-3 table spoons of cocoa (mixed with a little milk) to half the mixture.
  • Bake in four round baking trays

Chocolate Surprise Cake filled with sweets

  • Once cooled, make your favourite Butter Icing Filling
  • Make a big hole in the middle and the stack your 4 layers with the icing
  • Fill with sweets

Chocolate Surprise Cake

Once assembled use some of that “melt & spread” cake covering you can get from the shops (I actually found this the hardest bit)! and top with some unwrapped treats (ours are fudge sweets and twirls).

Chocolate Surprise Cake - filled with treats

ENJOY!

 

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Children In Need & Build a Bear

As many here in the UK will be aware, today is Children in Need. Children in Need is a long running charity event here in the UK, where children and adults all over the country do fun and different things to help raise much need funds for the Children in Need charity. This includes cake sales at schools, fun challenges or simply purchasing some Children in Need merchandise (my kids rather adore the Pudsey Bear Cupcake trays and Pudsey Bear Plaster as available).

Children in Need

We will soon be visiting the fabulous Build-A-Bear Store Workshop – a fun “bear factory”, where kids get to put together their own cuddly toys. My kids are BEYOND excited.. and I will be updating this post with some photos from our visit. But I just wanted to quickly give their special “Children in Need” cuddly toy a mention – especially if you are planning a visit this weekend yourself. Build-A-Bear Workshop have launched a special “Spots of Fun Pup” – £1 from every sale will go towards Children in Need. And isn’t he adorable? Love how bright and cheerful he is.

Spots of Fun Pup is available until the end of the year!

Wonder what my children will pick when they go!

Disclaimer: the Build-A-Bear Workshop PR have invited us along to a store visit.

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Non-Fiction Books for Kids – #RealWorldAdventures #NNFN

national non fiction monthIf you know about our family, you will know that we ADORE picture books. When my kids where born, Picture Books was something that I really splashed out on. We were lucky to receive lots of baby items clothes and toys as hand me downs, so I felt I could go crazy on the books. The kids adore books now, and as they are getting older (4yrs and 6yrs), it is really interesting to see how their interests are developing.

Today we are supporting National Non-Fiction November. This is the Federation of Children’s Book Groups’ annual celebration of all things factual. Born out of National Non-Fiction Day, 2014 marks a new departure, with the whole month now being a celebration of all those readers, authors and illustrators who have a passion for information and facts.

National Non-Fiction November is an ideal time to invite a non-fiction author for an event at your local school, library, or youth group. You can find details of many non-fiction authors at Contact an Author and Authors Aloud. FCBG groups also have access to a dedicated directory of non-fiction authors who are keen to visit groups for events. Find free resources here.

As part of this, I wanted to share some of The Boy’s favourite non-fiction books. His love for non-fiction is something that I love about him – he is so interested in the world and the things around him, he loves to pour over these books and take it all in – always asking questions and sharing facts he has learnt (personally, I love to “escape into the world of fiction”, so we are quite different in this respect). We have some lovely Atlases that he enjoys browsing, a great book on the Human Body and a number of science books.

non fiction for kidsBut the thing that he seems to really enjoy is history! Which is a common interest he shares with his father. So we were very chuffed to receive the Usborn History of Britain collection from a friend – 10 books looking at different periods of Britain’s history.  (It is quite pricey, but do shop around, The Book People had a GREAT offer on it).

Peronally, history is NOT my strongest subject, so I am enjoying reading these book WITH The Boy. A great way for us both discover things about Britain – from the Anglo-Saxons, right through to the Second World War and modern Britain.

As with all Usborne books – it is well written and it contains a mixture of good facts, but also quirky anecdotes and illustrations that will help make history interesting for kids.

51HHVyjAZBL._As it is National Non-Fiction Week and this year’s theme is the First World War, I thought I would highlight this particular book in the set.

The book lays out the background to the War – the clash of Empires and the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand. Maps show how Europe was divided at the time. A good example of making life during the war interesting is the book sharing extracts from popular songs at the time (Goodbye Dolly Gray), explaining nicknames such as “Tommies” and myths such as the Angel of Mons. Of course it also talks about the hardship of war, about the losses and the sadness and how so many lives are affected. But also about the small miracles of war, such as the Christmas Truce. Showing the human side of the parties involved.

This only touches on the information within this 60 odd pages book on the First World War. It is jam packed with so much, looking at so many different aspects of the war (including, what happened to wounded soldiers after the war), that any child working on a history project, probably has all the information they need at their finger tips.

Multiply it by 10 books and you have an excellent representation of Britain’s history all in one place.

I am really enjoying revisiting my own history knowledge through my children and their wonderful non fictional books.

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20 Must Have Board Games for Family Game Night

I have vivid memories of playing board games with my family on Sunday afternoons. It was a great time to come together, play some games and while away some lazy hours, whilst doing something together. Now, with a family of my own and children who are just getting old enough to play board games (they are 5yrs and 7yrs), I am keen to “stock up” on a set of different games for us all to enjoy together. Here, I list my favourite from years gone bye! You will probably recognise a number of them and I would LOVE to HEAR from you, what YOUR favourite games were as a child!

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience!

Family Game Night - 20 Classic Games to Play

I have shared a set of games for older kids, as well as younger ones. Some to play with 2 players and some to play with more. Hopefully something for everyone, with any skill or ability!

81n2LQcaeAL._SL1500_Monopoly

Yes,  no article about family board games would be complete without Monopoly. Most definitely a worth game to start with and I am sure top of people’s minds when you are asked about which games you know and play. A timeless classic for sure and available in so many different versions. The aim of the game – is to move around the board, buying “land” and building property.

UK Readers – Monopoly (variations include Dr Who Monopoly, The Hobbit Monopoly and James Bond!)

US Readers – Monopoly

family board games

Cluedo

Next of course we have Cluedo! Who doesn’t love a good Murder Mystery that you need to solve yourself?

UK Readers – Cluedo - you can even get a Harry Potter Cluedo set!

US Readers – Cluedo

family board games (2)

Scrabble

I confess to being terrible at spelling (I am sure you have noticed throughout all of my blogs! Ha!). But for some reason, I still very much enjoyed playing scrabble, I rarely won, but I think I got the satisfaction from doing well in enough in an area that was my “weakness”. And no doubt this was good for helping me develop my vocabulary and and spelling! But that is me. Many people enjoy the crossword type challenge that this game brings!

UK Readers – Scrabble

US Readers – Scrabble

family game ideas

Game of Life

Oh what was it about this game that we ALL enjoyed? Was it the fact that you had to little cars with pink and blue pegs, that represented yourself and your “spouse”, that you got to add “kids to the car” as the game continued? Or was it that you got to experience “life” with adventures and work? Great feature of this game, is that you can make it “shorter or longer”, depending on how much time you have to play.

Uk Readers – Game of Life

US Readers – Game of Life

family game night

Risk

On of the games my brothers liked in particularly and that is great for beginners through to Veterans as you can adjust the game accordingly. Rally the troops and achieve global domination!

UK Readers – Risk

US Readers – Risk

games for the family

Trivial Pursuit

Another game that I have fond memories and that also come in lots of different additions to suit you and your family – from junior versions, through to master mind versions. I sometimes suspect that my parents liked this game, as we would always beat them at all the others. Ha!

UK Readers – Trivial Pursuit (do check out junior versions too)

US Readers – Trivial Pursuit 20th Anniversary

family games (2)

Cranium

We loved the variety in this game and once again, there are “normal”, junior and delux versions (rather fancy the delux version myself – you get to sketch, sculpt, solve puzzles, act and hum!)

UK readers – Cranium Delux

US Readers – Cranium

family games

Game Compendiums – Chess, Ludo, Draughts, Checkers, Backgammon, cards, dominos, mikado

An article about family games would not be the same without a sharing a Game Compendium of sorts! There are LOTS of sets out there – mini sets, big sets, delux sets. Wooden sets, travel sets, plastic sets. Whatever takes your fancy. What is important is these oh so traditional games – chess, checkers, backgammon, cards, dominoes amongst others. Though we love the “modern classics” such as Monopoly and Cluedo above, I am keen for my kids to learn these traditional games too – they have been around for years and years and have stood the test of time. They are challenging and make you think and they are fun. The great things about Compendiums, is that they come in one box, but contain so many different games. Something to have in any family store cupboard!

UK Readers – a Wooden Set

US Readers – 100 Games in One

PS I am pretty certain that “Ludo” was also called “Sorry” in my hey day…..

US Readers –

classic kids games

UNO

Who doesn’t love a game of UNO – bright, colourful and simple to learn this is a card game of generations. I used to play a version of this with an “ordinary deck” of cards, but there is something attractive about UNO. This set of cards, makes it super easy for younger kids to pick up and learn and introduce them to the wonderful world of card playing. I still enjoy this game as an adult!

UK Readers – UNO

US Readers – UNO

classic games

Connect 4

I am ashamed to say, that we do not have this game YET!!! Eventhough this is another game I loved as a child. A two player game, the aim is to get “four in a row”. It is great for a quick 10minutes here or there.. or play it for hours over and over again. We have told Santa that we NEED it this year!

UK Readers – Connect 4

US Readers – Connect 4

classic games (2)

Guess Who

I shared “Who is it Here”, simply because, I enjoy the graphics on this particular version, but Guess Who essentially it is. A 2 player game of logic and deduction and asking the right questions to figure out “who” has been picked. Again this game comes in a 1000 variations.. from Moshi Monsters through to superheros!

UK Readers – Guess Who

US Readers – Who is it?

great games for kids

Mastermind or Brain Master or Code Breaker

Another two player game that I used to love – Mastermind – the aim of the game is to work out the sequence of colours that you opponent has chosen. Your opponent gives you an indication of what you have right or wrong and getting those grey cells ticking you too can break the code!

UK Readers - Mastermind

US Readers – Mastermind for Kids

classic kids games (2)

Downfall

Another 2 player game involving problem solving skills. Love that it introduce basic science skills, as it is based on the movement of cog wheels!

UK Readers – Downfall

US Readers – Downfall

81uqzIkJTiL._SL1500_

Jenga

A game for concentration and steady hands – why not add a bit of spice by playing forfeits if you  tumble the tower?

UK Readers – Jenga

US Readers – Jenga

great games

Boggle

If Scrabble always took far too long for you, you would probably enjoy Boggle – the principle is similar, but the pace if fast and furious. You have 3 minutes to make as many word combinations as possible.

UK Readers – Boggle

US Readers – Boggle

game ideas

Yahtzee

A classic game of risk and luck that will keep you wanting playing on and on.

UK readers – Yahtzee

US Readers - Yahtzee

games for christmas

Twister

And finally.. to round it all off.. a fun ACTIVE game for all the family – Twister!

UK Readers – Twister

US Readers – Twister

So, I hope that sets you up with a great game cupboard! If you are looking for more ideas, I asked readers on Red Ted Art Facebook, what games they liked to play – here are their Game Suggestions!

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