Happy Birthday Play Dough Activity

Today is all about BIRTHDAYS! Have you got a little one with a Birthday coming up? Are you looking for something fun, but simple and BIRTHDAY RELATED To do? There are lots of Happy Birthday Activities out there.. but one that we love best is a simple Happy Birthday Play Dough activity – you can make your own play dough quickly and easily.. use your child’s birthday cake candles (or buy a special set to play with), add some “sprinkles” and you are off… lots of playdough birthday cake fun!Happy Birthday Play Dough Activity - is someone having a Birthday in your house Set up this easy peasy play dough activity in no time and let the kids have fun fun fun.


To make our playdough, we use:

  • plain flour
  • salt
  • vegetable oil
  • cream of tartar
  • boiling water
  • Food colouring of choice

Get full instructions for making your “No cook” playdough over at The Imagination Tree.

Check out our little video about Play Dough Birthday Cakes more here!

Storytime Sounds

We love love love to stories in our house. We love reading stories, we love watching stories, we love telling stories. My son (7) also likes to write stories. Sometimes however, we you need a little Story Time inspiration and help. We have two favourite go to things when we have a bit of a “story stuck day”..

Some days we turn towards our homemade Story Cubes

Story Cubes

These are great for creating character and “things” prompts for our stories.

Other times we like to turn to our newly discovered Storytime Sounds App by the people from notonthehighstreet.com.


I confess to not knowing about this (free) app before.. We were recently invited to a Story Telling session at Godstone Farm to see first hand for ourselves how fun and interactive this simple little App can be. My kids adored it. (Well the story tellers were rather good). But I have to say that good story tellers or not, I love the different themse you can explore (e.g. pirates, Christmas, The Farm etc) and how each theme comes with 9 different character “noises”! These 9 Characters serve as great story prompts. I find that my kids want to build them into our story as often as possible, so that they get to have a go to press all the buttons.

Really fun and interesting to see how attractive my kids found this. Though pitched at slightly younger children, my 7yrs old in particularly LOVED the app and stories and asked me to download it “as soon as possible”.

So.. as it is free and as it is cute and as it is well designed… I highly recommend taking a peak and then having lots of story time fun with the kids – whenever – wherever… great for bedtime/ on the bus or by the seaside! Also have a peak at the Storytime Hub over on notonthehighstreet.com – they have LOTS of additionally themed resources, as well as sample stories for you check out and print if you wish!

Godstone Farm - Days out with kids

We had a brilliant day at Godstone Farm – not only where the story sessions great fun, but we really enjoyed getting into the “Farm Yard Mood” (the story themes chosen for our story telling), by exploring all the animals and going on a tractor ride.

A great family day out. And a great Story Telling Prop!

Disclosure: Not On The High Street invited us along to Godstone Farm for some interactive story telling sessions to introduce us to this App.

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!


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


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)


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


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)


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


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)


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



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


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


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


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!

Getting Active – Jumping Bean Bag

The team behind the Jumping Bean Bag send us one of Bean Bag CLub kids a couple of weeks ago. I was keen to try it out, as anything that gets my kids active is a good thing (we do far too much crafting!!!).


The little box arrived, the kids were straight into it. The little bean bags are jolly and bright. The crafty so and so in me thought.. mmh, I can make that…. well yes, I can. BUT. Here is the but. The box comes with a get physical booklet and DVD. And I think this is where the real value of this activity set lies. Yes, we all know how to play with a ball. Or yes, I made some juggling chooks recently. But there is one thing having them, and quite another knowing what to do with them!


“Look, Mummy, I can balance it!” 3yrs old

So far we have only explore the booklet – it has given us plenty to do – from warm up exercise to balancing and jumping. I love all the pretend activity (can you be a rocket and reach the stars?) and action songs/ lyrics.

The kids took to them straight away and The Boy (5yrs) even wanted to take his to bed with him. Well, it really is a cute little buddy to have!

Once we tire of the booklet, we will reinvigorate our activities with the DVD. Also the Jumping Bean Bag reminds me of the “hacky sacks” of the 80s – remember those? Though not a ball made for “kicking”, I do like the idea of improving dexterity and hand eye co-ordination by doing different tricks with it.

bean bagThe boy making up some of his own moves (catching the bean bag behind his back).

So far our favourite activities include:

  • Normal “throwing up and catching”
  • Throwing the bag to each other
  • Throwing 2 bean bags to each other at the same time
  • Balancing on one leg and placing the bean bag on the foot of the OTHER leg
  • Balancing again and seeing if you can flip the bean bag up from the other foot and catch it (3yrs old still has to practice!!)
  • Balancing the bean bag on our head and catching it behind our back
  • Stretching arms out sideways and balancing a bean bag on the back of each hand
  • Juggle (mummy)

As much as anything, I think the kids enjoy doing this together with me or Daddy – anything that involves focussed parental time goes down well in our house! And we all got active!

FYI: we received a free set of Jumping Bean Bags 

Board Game Review: Goldilocks & The Three Bears

You may know, that I am one of the BIGGEST Orchard Toys fans. We have so many of them and we love love love them. Generally, I find that they are well made, have lovely designs and the games themselves are fun and usually have some hidden learning for the kids. One of our all time favourites is still Round & Round, as well as Pop To The Shops.

046 Packshot


So what did we think of it?

Well it is another delightful game from Orchard Toys (I know I sound biased, but I do really love them). They come up with so many different and original ideas. The “different” bit about this game, is that you play against each other AND against Goldilocks. It was an interesting dynamic. The Boy (who hates losing, especially when it is a new game that he hasn’t had a chance to get his head around yet), was channeling all his non winning frustration on Goldilocks and not his sister or me. Result. In a funny sort of way we worked together to win. The fact that The Girl ACTUALLY won, almost went unnoticed and I decided not to make too big a deal out of it.

The players move between 1-3 steps. Which again is great for The Girl (just turned 3) who is still learning about rules of the game – she wanted to pretend walking all across the board. So we were able to “slow down”, “stop” and count each step of the way. Win win for both kids! Hooray.

Day 30 Goldilocks

The way the game goes – you throw a di to move along the path. If you throw a “Goldilocks”, you get to spin a spinner to say whether Golidlocks moves one or two paces. If you land on a honey pot you either take a step or two back or forwards. A nice bit of subtle maths. Maths is something that The Boy is subtly beginning to understand and the clear +2 or -1 are a great way to look at the symbols that go with addition and subtractions and what happens to your moves if you “add or take away”. Luckily Goldilocks has a little further to go than everyone else, as not only does she have to reach the house, but shock horror, she has to mess it up as well.. giving the bears a chance to catch up with her.

Like I said, a nice new game with a great twist. Thumbs up.

Would you like to win one?

To enter, visit Orchard Toys, have a look around and  leave a comment below saying which game you would like to have (including link please!).


1) Open to the UK residence only.

2) Only one entry per person.

3) Competition closes on 9th Feb 2013 at 11pm.

4) Delivery of the prize is the responsibility of Orchard Toys and not Life at The Zoo.

(After our game.. we did then have to go off and watch a movie… the kids were exhausted after school and sticking to rules, read our Hotel Transylvania review to find out more).

Disclaimer: we were kindly sent a copy for review