If you’re feeling brave: make your own play dough

Now, I’m not going to pretend that I spend ages making my own play dough all the time. In 7 years I have done it a handful of times, on rainy days in desperation. It isn’t that painful to do, and in many ways it is better because unlike baking, there are no extra calories to consume after you’re finished. But in the demands of modern parenting, it takes time, especially if you do it as a child led activity, and it can create a massive mess that you then have to clear up.

Make Your Own Play Dough with Toy Infinity


Most recipes tell you to use food colouring, let me assure you, if like me you don’t have a collection of ready to use food colourings available, a squirt of paint does just as well. Washable paint isn’t very successful because the colours are never as bright but any pre-mixed toddler paint works well (IKEA do some lovely bright neon paints). Please don’t use Dulux or anything you would paint your house with lol.

The recipe:

4 cups of flour,

1.5 cups of salt,

1 cup of water,

2-3 tablespoons of oil,

Food colouring or paint. (Add enough to get the colour you would like. This part you can experiment with).

Use an old mixing bowl and spoon, especially if using paint, until it is mixed in, the colour goes all over your hands and anything within 100 yards of you if getting the kids to help. Add your dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix throughly, kneeding the mixture as it comes together. Eventually you will have a lovely smooth ball of play dough, add your colour and need again, and the colour will be evenly spread throughout the play dough.

More sensible people add the colouring to the water…. I prefer to live life on the edge and just add when everything else is mixed together. That way I can make a big batch of play dough mixture and divide it up into equal portions and colour each portion a different colour. This time I divided it into thirds and coloured each third yellow, blue and green.

If you are feeling very brave, get the glitter out and add a generous amount. I have never attempted this in my own house.


After use store the play dough in an air tight container in the fridge. I find it keeps for a week or two. It doesn’t contain the preservatives of the branded shop bought play doughs. I don’t add any fancy oils to make it smell nice, but you could. I don’t think they sell bottled Play-Doh smell (pity).

I don’t recommend eating it, even though it is made of edible things (especially not if you use paint to colour it), and this recipe can be tailored to use any flour if your child has any allergies or a gluten intolerance.

If you try this recipe I would love to hear whether it was a successful activity or not. If it wasn’t, I will see you at the checkout queue with our Play-Doh tubs.

Pizza Challenge!!! What? Are you mad kids?

Anyone who has spent any time watching You Tube videos will have seen a pizza challenge. They sound revolting and trust me, they are. The aim is to make an edible pizza out of a selection of mystery ingredients, all of which are in theory perfectly edible but in combination, well that’s a matter of luck.

Against my better judgement the two kids and us gave it a go: girls versus boys. Two pizzas covered with pizza sauce and cheese. 14 mystery ingredients written on slips of paper and put into a bowl to be picked at random. The best bit is laughing at who got what. Let me assure you neither me nor my daughter found garlic funny, although my son nearly wet himself. Cook them for 15 minutes at 180F (I have a fan oven, if you don’t the cooking time might be longer).

So, how were they? Disgusting, truely disgusting. The most disgusting thing I have ever eaten. The garlic didn’t help but gummy bears? They just melt leaving you with a soggy mess that is so sickly sweet. Add in tuna. Well, enough said right? It is safe to say none of us could eat more than a bite. Apart from my son. He was making all kinds of yummy noises and “it isn’t that bad Mum”. I was really beginning to worry about him; until I looked at him. The only reason he thought it was yummy was because he was eating a tiny piece of crust without anything topping on it at all.

Nice try! I wasn’t born yesterday young man 😂

Bean Boozled Challenge! Just avoid the vomit…

I’m not sure Bean Boozled has a big following here in the UK. My kids love watching baking videos on You Tube and Jen from Cookies Cupcakes and Cardio did the Bean Boozled challenge on her channel. It was our introduction to the most wicked game ever invented and manufactured.

Jelly Belly jelly beans have to be one of the most delicious sweets you can buy. Not only do they all taste lovely but you can combine a few together in a “recipe” and get a completely different taste. The only problem is when you get the darker colours and can’t quite tell what you are picking from the picture and get coffee instead of chocolate. Bean Boozled has taken this gamble and played Russian roulette with it. 


Each pattern of jelly bean has two flavours. One lovely, and one you wouldn’t eat if you were honest about it. I will give you an example. Yummy lime or lawn clippings, dog food or chocolate pudding, buttered popcorn or rotten egg. You get the idea, and you can’t tell which is which until you bite into it. We play two versions. The wimps version which needs a handy tissue, or the go hard or go home version where you are not allowed under any circumstances to spit the jelly bean out.

It usually ends up my son and I playing by ourselves. He is much harder than me and puts me to shame every time. We finished the box in January. He still asks if I have bought more. No is the short answer. I will though: maybe a surprise birthday present. I just have to pluck up the courage.

Christmas was made much more exciting by exposing our family to this game. I’m not sure they would agree to play it again mind you. If you have kids over 7 years old, I’m willing to bet on a game of Bean Boozled that they would love it. I have never seen it in the shops here in the UK. I bought mine on eBay, and went with the expansion pack as well, which gives a greater number of flavours. Expect to pay around £7.99 for the spinner game and £2.99 for the expansion pack.

Try it! Enjoy it! Don’t blame me if you get to eat vomit 😂.

Toy Infinity x

Vintage Lego set – how Lego playing used to be!

I’ve mentioned this before, Lego playing in this house consists of a new Lego set and following instructions. I’m trying to get both of them to use their imagination a bit and just wing it and see what happens.

We have this old Lego set from the 1970’s in an original wooden box. It’s full of pieces to build houses and shops. It’s fab. I love it. So what happened when I got it out for the kids? I fully expected a dismal response, the pieces are in a boring wooden box, they are all red or white with a few other coloured oners and towers mixed in. I didn’t expect the excited response I got. It was like the best set in the world. Let’s be honest the pieces are old, covered in teeth marks and more dust than under my sofa; but some of them are unusual. old fashioned signs; what’s a kiosk? What is Shell? Words that my two children don’t use that often.

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It isn’t hard to make a building. It is walls and in our case no roof because we didn’t have any roof tiles. A few doors, a sprinkling of windows and bob’s your uncle you have a building fit for a mini figure.

It proved to me that a fresh pair of eyes won’t always see what you do. The age of something, maybe it’s slightly battered condition or the fact that it has pen scribbled all over some of the pieces. They see it for what it is. Lego. New Lego. Lego they haven’t built with before. Exciting Lego that doesn’t need instructions or fancy mini figures. Darth Vader looked as at home in the Shell petrol station my son built as he did in his Tai Fighter.

So next time you get some old toys out. Don’t use the words battered or tired. Use the word new; because to your children they are new. Look on Ebay or Gumtree and buy people’s old Lego stashes. Every block made from 1958 fits modern day blocks so they can mix and match to their heart’s content. Sometimes you’ll find a bargain because someone is clearing out and doesn’t want to keep them.

Happy building people!!

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Parenting the TV Way

I vividly remember having lines when I was in year 8 of school. I came home and started doing them, and thought my Mum would be so pleased. She found a spelling mistake and made me do them all over again; quite rightly, but I’ve always remembered that memory with a wish for a Neighbours moment or a cartoon moment, with an I’m so proud of you hug, I love you for doing your lines. Ridiculous. Teenage selfishness at its best. She saved me from a telling off from the teacher probably.

This morning Mike the Knight of all things got me thinking. Are you a TV parent? Mike didn’t mend the floor, Mum tripped over, he did catch the basket of eggs but instead of shouting at him (which is what I would have done, probably along the lines of you should have done it earlier, someone could get hurt, it’s too late to be sorry now, the usual platitudes). Mike’s Mum was nice to him. No telling off, no lecture, it didn’t matter.

I remember comparing my parents to those I saw on TV and not particularly favourably at the time because they didn’t let me do what I wanted to. So I know that my children are doing the same. Has my daughter sat there this morning and thought that Mike’s Mum would never make her go to nursery like I did, or that I don’t react that calmly when I step on a Lego piece. I’m not a TV parent, I’m not an overly shouty parent, but I have fallen into the nagging Mum trap. I’m not going to become Mike the Knights Mum but I could probably do with remembering that they are only young still and don’t have the benefit of nearly 40 years of life behind them 

When they hit 18 I’ll ask them what I did good and bad and just hope I like the answer. (And totally go against all my parenting principles and spoil my grandchildren rotten so they can have a good moan about that too!)

<a href="Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com“>Brilliant Blog Posts

Sometimes You Can’t Plan for Stuff

Like the planned Lego bulldozer video. My son and I have been talking about it for months. This particular set has been sat on the idea bookcase for ages waiting patiently for us to do it, rather than talk about it. Today we did it. It took about 3 hours to photograph every stage; and that was with me doing the first book on my own before they came home. The second instruction book was a joint effort. Now, parents with more than one child will know that whenever you plan to have them both helping it doesn’t always work how you pictured it in your head. Today, it wasn’t too bad. Once the order was settled; youngest passes to me, I pass to oldest and he fixes the pieces on, it was fairly painless. I felt like Super Nanny by the end and suitably smug.

One and a half hours it took. The littlest isn’t the fastest at finding the pieces; her brother kept pointing that out but to be fair she is three. Both of them were quite bored by the end, but they got to the end, it is a long time for a pair of fidgets to sit still.

We enjoyed building this Lego City set. It’s not too fiddly like some of them, although I don’t know how hardy the caterpillar tracks will be in the hands of kids. There’s a nice bit of equality in action with one male and one female mini figure, in case you’re obsessed with that kind of thing. The demolition house and extras it comes with are nice, but let’s be honest will probably end up lost within six months.

So what didn’t I plan for? I didn’t plan on my eldest opening the box, starting it, losing a piece and just putting it all back in the box as a “surprise”. I’ve put a link to our video on this blog. It is blindingly obvious which piece is missing, so if you happen to have a dark grey piece with a handlebar looking thing attached to it, if you could send it to me I would be very grateful. 

Lego City Bulldozer

Why jigsaws? Who watches You Tube videos of jigsaws?

When I started Toy Infinity’s You Tube channel one of the first videos was a Peppa Pig jigsaw video. We have several jigsaw videos on our channel now and I’m often asked why jigsaws?

I don’t know if you have kids, but if you do, how often do you do a jigsaw and your child watches? Not so much as they get older, but I was certainly jigsaw demo lady fairly frequently when they were younger. They learnt from watching me match the shapes and patterns of each puzzle. It got me thinking; why not the same thing on You Tube? The pieces are put together in order, and the viewer can see the picture being built, much like watching a parent doing it.

It will never replace the hands on learning of twisting each piece around endlessly, driving you insane with impatience trying not to grab it off them and put it in the right place. Videos will never replace the feel of the cardboard pieces or the achievement of doing it “all by yourself”. However, jigsaw videos can put an idea in a child’s head, so that’s how you do it.

Or it is just something mindless to watch with a bit of nice music in the background. Any kids reading the above would probably laugh and say I’m massively over-thinking it. I wouldn’t sit and watch someone else doing a jigsaw but I’m not a child, and my two will quite happily watch all kinds of jigsaw action on You Tube.

This Octonauts jigsaw puzzle video is our latest one. Let me know if your young children enjoy it, or what characters they would like to see next. If they do like the video, subscribe to our channel to keep up-to-date with all our videos. If they don’t like you can tell me that too, I just won’t tell my son 😉.

Octonauts Jigsaw Puzzle by Toy Infinity

Make Your Own Snow Cone Syrup for Slushes

Slushes. The highlight of my childhood. We have a penguin style slush maker or to be more honest, ice crusher. My daughter loves it, today it was bribery. If she sat still while we were waiting she could make a slush with real syrup, not just a bit of squash over the top. She sat still for an hour!

 Toy Infinity 
It worked out really well. It is far too sugary for me but the 3 year old loved it.

Here’s the recipe:

1 cup of sugar

1 cup of water

3-4 tablespoons of squash (I used the double concentrate). This is to your taste, use more or less as you wish.

A splash of food colouring (optional)

I made a normal syrup and let it reduce by half so it was quite thick. Turn off the heat and add the squash. I added 4 tablespoons and for me it’s too strong, the kids don’t agree. Cool it in the freezer if you are short on time before using.

There are some fabulous squash flavours. This one was Fruit Salad but Vimto makes a lovely syrup too. You don’t have to have any fancy essences or extracts to make a syrup, we don’t always have those in our cupboards, but I bet we all have squash.

I store any left overs in the fridge for a couple of weeks.

Enjoy!

A lesson in Geography.

Not for me, although I could definitely do with one, but I’ve always said education comes from everything and You Tube is proving to be an excellent education. Not the videos but the analytics tool that you have access to when you have a channel. Now we don’t have many views at all, but that doesn’t matter, the principle is the same if you are Toy Infinity or Disney Collector.

My son can see the numbers going up slowly, and he looks at how many minutes people watch them for. Numbers equal Maths in my book. He is only just starting to learn time so it doesn’t mean that much to him. It is the Geography aspect that is proving the real fascination.

There is an audience tab. Here You Tube tells you what percentage of viewers are from which country. To keep it simple I changed the percentage it gives you, to just a number, so 50% of our audience is from the UK, so he understands it as 50 people in the UK. Viewers in the UK got a bit of a meh reaction from him to be honest. The viewers in the USA and Australia got him really excited, the viewers from the Phillipines had him jumping up and down. The boy didn’t even know where the Phillipines were at that point, but they weren’t the UK. A quick look in an atlas owned by his Geography teaching father, and that 10 minutes later, my friends is a small lesson in world Geography.

My dream is to build Toy Infinity into a big resource for present buying adults, a useful piece of Internet space. My son’s dream is to get 10 subscribers and keep making videos, especially videos of him playing the Wii U, and aim for world domination with a viewer from every country. His dream might take a while!

Thanks for reading. You can also catch up with us on Twitter @toyinfinity, Instagram @_toyinfinity, and Facebook @toyinfinityandbeyond.

Legoland Windsor: fun, fun, fun.

Having visited several times I began thinking on this visit about how much we’ve learnt over the last 4 years. So this blog is about my top tips for getting the most out of your Legoland visit.

 

#20awesomeyears
 
1. If you are organised enough to get there for opening, firstly congratulations, we’ve rarely managed it, next, it’s the best time to ride the main attractions. Too often you get to a theme park and just go on the first ride you get to, some like the Atlantis submarine are a walk across the other side of the park. This includes the drive your own boat ride. There is always a big queue for this the whole day, usually around 45 minutes to one hour.

2. Avoid mini land until after you have done some rides if you have little people with you. You get stuck for hours watching Lego trains, boats and cars moving around the country displays.

3. The refillable drink containers are a good bet. With our Merlin pass bottle a Sprite refill with pass card discount is only 75p.

4. As you arrive at the park if you walk down the left hand way, there are a series of slides down that my kids love. It’s a really good way to start your visit. I take no responsibility for how long you are stuck at these!

5. To avoid the shop queues at park closing, buy early and use the call back and collect later service.

6. There aren’t enough Lego troughs in the queues in my opinion, and some of the queues can be really long, especially in the summer months. Have plenty of snacks to keep impatient children fairly happy. And be prepared for the inevitable tantrum when they don’t stand playing at the troughs for long enough.

7. If you queue for the Fairytale Boats you are in for a bad day with queues! I wish you the best of British luck.

8. If you have the money a Q-bot will help you avoid the lengthy queues. We’ve never used one, and be prepared for dirty looks if you do use one. It’s not as tolerated as the Disney Fastpass because it costs a fortune. If you do get one don’t waste your money on rides like the Fairytale boats, do it for only the main ones.

9. Plane spotting is a very worthwhile activity while you and your kids are bored and queuing. Legoland is right underneath the Heathrow flight path. Highlight for my son was spotting an Emirates A380. If you know what one of those is you get 10 Toy Infinity bonus points!

10. Keep an eye out for buy one get one half price entry offers, use your Tesco club card points or consider a Merlin pass or Legoland annual pass to keep costs down or get the most for your money. Kellogg’s at the moment have an offer for buy one get one free entrance. While there are regular offers they don’t last forever.

11. Don’t forget about Splash world. Take a swimming costume for the kids. There are changing rooms but you do queue for them. Enjoy watching the bucket of water tip over everyone down below. 

12. Walk down to the park and get the train back up the hill 😉.

13. Keep an eye out for the Lego photo opportunities scattered around the park. Some, like the little dog are hidden in plain sight.

14. See if you can find the button to squirt water over unsuspecting train passengers. It is great fun! I won’t give you any clues because I’m mean like that!

15. There are a lot of rides for the younger guests, if you have more children than adults, or a child too young to ride ask about the parent swap. They don’t allow it on every ride but if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

I hope you enjoy your visit to Legoland, and please comment below if anything in this blog helped you make the most of your day.