My career before a break for children was a Microbiologist. I loved science. I still love science, I just don’t do it everyday anymore (or get paid for it!) I like to get my children involved in science at home, particularly my big interest Biology. The Fun Science blog posts will all be easy experiments that I have done with my children. They are super-simple, won’t need any specialist equipment and can help develop an interest in science before they start learning it in school. If you like what you read; Google; find more experiments that you like, and do more. While science is hard sometimes, it should always be fun.
What you will need:
A glass of water for each colour you are using
Food colouring (whatever you happen to have)
Chop your celery into small pieces (about 10cm) but can be any size you want.
Mix a couple of drops of your food colouring into each glass of water and mix thoroughly.
Put one piece of celery into each glass of coloured water.
Leave the celery in the coloured water overnight or for a few days.
What has happened to the celery? You may need to peel the outside part away to see the colour better.
Get your child to explain what has happened. They might not understand what has happened but they will have noticed the colour change.
You can measure the distance the colour has been sucked up into the celery if you like.
Want something a little more challenging? Get your child to look at what happens after one day, two days, three days. Whatever time intervals suit you. Get them to measure the distance the colour has travelled each time.
Plants need water like we do. Plants pull water from the environment around them using their roots. The plant uses a network of capillaries to transport the water around the plant. By adding the food colouring to the water you can see how the celery pulls the water up from the glass and how far it travels over time. I used celery without leaves and it took about three days to reach the top. Keep the leaves and it might be quicker.
If you remember Play-Doh from the 1980’s chances are you remember the hairdresser Play-Doh set that we all loved. Play-Doh is 60 years old this year and still produces the hairdresser set now called Crazy Cuts.
It comes with six colours of Play-Doh (a total of 336g) some really nice vibrant shades, which is one of my favourite things about this set.
There are two book-moulds to use to create hairstyles and various tools to cut and style with. All around the base of the salon-style chair and the back of it are moulds of hair related decorations like plaits and moustaches to customise your character. As with all Play-Doh scissors the two parts get pulled apart regularly as they are opened too far but they clip back together ok.
Push the Play-Doh into your model, sit them on the chair and wind the handle and voila the hair grows. To change model person you need to wind the handle the other way not try and force it like my little girl lol.
It is still a brilliant set. Hours of hair cutting entertainment. And so far, our colours haven’t been mixed, which is a miracle!
We paid £12 on Amazon UK for our set, it is worth keeping an eye out for Hasbro 3 for 2 offers.
Lego is a universally adored toy by both boys and girls. I’m not sure you would find a birthday or Christmas wish list without some form of Lego on it, but it can be so expensive! Here are my suggestions for Lego City sets that retail on Amazon for less than £5 (not always including delivery, although you can combine most of them into the £20 for free delivery spend, affiliate links are provided). Brilliant for birthday party presents and stocking fillers.
All prices are correct as of July 22nd 2016, but may be subject to change in the future. The price doesn’t always go up, when I started researching this blog a couple of weeks ago, the Tire Escape set was £3.99, it is now retailing for £2.90.
If you have a lot of birthday party invites looming on the horizon I hope Toy Infinity has helped give you some Lego gift ideas. There will be a Lego Friends for less than £5 coming soon!
Now this sounds like a strange idea, but it is a great one when you haven’t got anything to hand. For it to work you have to have kitchen roll with some form of imprinted pattern. Mine at the moment has circles all over it. It’s the Plenty brand (on offer I’m sure you get what I mean…)
It’s not colouring in the traditional sense but dabbing the felt tip. This won’t work with pencils or crayons, you will need felt tip pens. You don’t need to be Einstein to work out that you dab your felt tip in each indent to colour in your sheet.
The advantage? It’s time consuming. No quick scribble and I’m finished Mum after five minutes. It’s cheap and you don’t need any special equipment. The cons? They might get bored before they have finished the whole sheet.
Enjoy your ten minutes peace and quiet, preferably with a hot cup of tea you can finish.
This one definitely needs adult help and make sure you discard the liquid straight after to avoid any accidental drinking of it. I loved this experiment, it appealed to my Microbiologist background (without the need to grow mouldy stuff lol). My son thought I was tricking him when we did this and he still doesn’t truely understand what happened.
What you will need:
Dried yeast (you can find it in the baking aisle of the supermarket)
Warm water (tap temperature, not boiling water or you will kill off your yeast)
1 teaspoon of sugar (the yeast’s food)
Balloon (any colour!)
Pour the warm water into the bottle and add the sugar and the yeast.
Put the balloon over the mouth of the bottle and give the water and yeast mixture a gentle swirl.
Put the bottle on a sunny windowsill and wait.
Ask your child what has happened to the balloon. Can they explain it?
Yeast is a living thing. By adding the sugar and water to it, we let it grow, and as it grows it produces a gas, carbon dioxide. Eventually enough gas is produced that it rises into the ballon making it grow in size as well.
Top tip! Use a small bottle or it takes ages. Something like a mini pop bottle. Don’t use a big two litre bottle you will be waiting for ages. Keep an eye on it, if your yeast are warm enough and grow quickly the balloon grows in size quickly. You don’t want it to pop and the bottle to fall over!
This set is probably the perfect compliment to the Lego Disney blind bags 71012 released this year. From the photos released by Lego it looks amazing.
With over 4,000 pieces and an age guide of 16 years and over this isn’t going to be a walk in the park build, but just look at the detail. I think it’s one of the most magnificent looking sets I have seen in a long time. It comes with five Minifigures Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy and Tinkerbell. It’s dimensions are 74 cm high, 44 cm wide and 31 cm deep so it’s not a small set, you’d better have a lot of floor space.
It is due for release in the US on September 1st 2016, I hope the UK release is the same date, but there is no official confirmation of this that I can find so far. It is estimated to retail at £289.99 which makes it expensive but look at it! It is amazing.
I love Lego and I love Disney. If I put this on my Chistmas list do you think Father Christmas will bring it for me?
Children are naturally curious and the garden provides a lot of opportunity for fun learning. I am often nagged into bug hunts, leaf rubbing and flower collecting but what if you want something more structured where you don’t have to think about what to do? I’ve looked at toys all centred around nature and biology and these are my favourite picks and things that I would get for my children if I could afford to buy everything that I liked.
Insect Lore Butterfly Garden. You can’t get more biology than this! You get 5 caterpillars that turn into 5 butterflies. Lots of children in my son’s school have had this and brought it in. It looks fab. The caterpillars don’t come inside the box, you need to send off for them, and you can only do that between March and Mid-September so factor that into your decision to buy it.
This stick insect kit follows a similar idea. No eggs are included you need to send off for those separately.
My Living World produce a range of activities to create a suitable habitat for a variety of garden mini beasts. Ladybirds, snails, spiders, worms. You can then observe them and their natural behaviours. Only the worm world costs above £10.
Flower pressing was a favourite pastime of mine when I was about 9 years old. My Living World makes a flower press more fancy by the use of a microwave. I remember my press being more like this one with layers of cardboard screwed together. Of course the old fashioned (and free) way is between the pages of a heavy book.
The Wildlife World mini bug box is a great way of setting up a nature corner in your garden. It is a much more natural way of watching the world of mini beasts without containing them in a plastic tank. It also has the benefit of helping protect the natural environment by giving garden bugs a safe place to live.
Gardening and growing plants is a great source of learning. Easy to grow salad leaves and tomatoes give good results for minimum effort. This wheelbarrow and gardening tool kit is bright and colourful and gives them their own tools to be in charge of.
You don’t have to have a big garden, a huge grassy lawn or fantastically green fingers to get your children enjoying outside. A small amount of space, their own planter or a wildlife corner and you’re all set.
Don’t want to spend anything? Ask around someone will have free planters going spare, avid gardeners often have a glut of plants too and they might donate them to your efforts. Want a wildlife area? Use old bricks or stones you find lying around, pine cones, twigs and leaves all provide shelter and encourage insect life. Pile them up and see what you attract. Gathering things like pine cones is another free and fun activity to do together.
More importantly have fun and get your hands dirty, summer weather and hay fever permitting!!
There is nothing better than getting your kids out and about in the fresh air. I’d like to pretend it is for a genuinely good reason but to be honest nothing tires them out more than being in the fresh air. So I thought I’d do a short series about my favourite walks in and around Cardiff. First in the spotlight? Fforest Fawr.
This is a little treasure of a walk. Sited right next to Castell Coch you can either follow the whole walk down to the castle and back round to the car park (it gets a bit steep in places), or you can just do the sculpture trail. To find it park in the car park at Fforest Fawr, not at Castell Coch, and follow the path into the forest. There are two options, through the woodland which has a red dragon and wizard entranceway, or follow the big man made path. You will see the start of the sculpture trail a short way down this path, you can’t miss the big wooden entrance. If you have gone through the woodland you meet up with the sculpture trail anyway. A lot of the sculptures that used to be there have been taken away but the highlight is a gorgeous view across Taffs Well at the end with a lovely carved oak leaf bench to sit on.
It is flat, has lots of trees and plants for your little ones to explore and some nice photo opportunities by the sculptures. The downside? Not every dog walker picks up after themselves, and treading in a fresh dog turd can quickly ruin an afternoon stroll. If you had a kid like mine who is terrified of dogs you will spend a portion of it trying to stop the terrified screaming as one comes bounding out of the trees.
Although there are wide man made paths, they don’t cover the whole walk so make sure you have suitable footwear. It can get a bit muddy in places.
For the more adventurous you can follow the circular walk that heads to the grounds of Castell Coch and back again. If you do it the wrong way round the walk up from Castell Coch is so steep! My thighs were burning with the effort and our eldest described it as torture. The walk is signposted at intervals but we always get lost!
There is a free car park with plenty of parking space, and the drive after you leave Tongwynlais village is through the lovely woodland. You’ll see the entrance to Castell Coch on your left and Fforest Fawr is a mile or so down the road on the left hand side. Keep an eye out for the 200m marker sign! If you’re hungry a trip to the tea room to refresh yourself with tea and cake is recommended. It is on the circular trail or you can drive to it. The entrance isn’t far from Castell Coch on the main road.
We have had many a lovely family walk here and it is one of my favourite places to go walking with the children. If you live in Cardiff or are going to be visiting the area soon it is definitely worth a visit.
Having been asked several times to do themed party bags, I have looked for the Star Wars themed party bag goodies that I would use for a party bag for one of my children. Don’t underestimate the time it takes to search for these things, so in the interests of your time saving I have some suggestion of what I would use if I was planning a Star Wars party.
Star Wars mega mix selection for 8 party bags, if you are feeling lazy these work out at £1.87 per bag. For that you get 8 of 6 different types of item. The price doesn’t include any actual bags.
6 Star Wars masks. Slightly more expensive at 49p each (£2.97 including delivery) but they look fab. Being thin cardboard they might not survive long in the hands of over-excited party go-ers.
Star Wars party bags are available at Amazon and most have free delivery.
Personalised party bag stickers are available, if you don’t want to buy a lot of Star Wars bags, buy cheaper plain paper bags and seal them with a personalised sticker. You get 35 per sheet with these ones.
2.3 metres of Star Wars bunting. Currently it’s at a much cheaper price of £1.98 with free delivery.
The Force Awakens party hats £2.97 for 6. Who doesn’t love a party hat?
A Darth Vader piñata would make a great centrepiece and activity. This one holds 900 grams of sweets! Imagine the sugar rush after that.
If you’re making your own cake but struggling at the decorating, this stand-up edible Star Wars cake topper looks amazing, and you have to cut the images out with sharp scissors so that makes it homemade right?
This party tableware set supplies cups, plates, cutlery, napkins for 8 people. Or this party set for 16 people, including balloons and Star Wars tablecloth. You can buy it all individually if you would rather mix and match.
I know my two would love this BB8 balloon. You can choose to inflate it with helium or air.
I have one of these Death Star moulds on the way. It is oven and freezer safe. Going to surprise the kids with a Death Star ice cube in their summer drinks.
Edible cupcake toppers make it easy to produce professional looking cupcakes. A swirl of buttercream on homemade cupcakes or just put them on top of shop bought cupcakes, none of the piping hassle of trying to put your own details on them.
And if you are baking your own cupcakes these Star Wars cupcake cases look great.
I hope you like some of these Star Wars themed party suggestions. I have a feeling I will be coming back to this blog post for my sons eighth birthday. If you have any party themes you’d like suggestions for, leave a comment and I’ll do a blog post for your theme as well.
My son likes to get involved with Toy Infinity. He suggests videos, we do them. He suggests ideas, we do them. Today’s conversation was how he loves watching Top 10 videos on You Tube. So inspired by his recent watch history. Here are his top 10 Star Wars characters.
Captain Rex (Clone Wars). His favourite clone trooper. No I have no idea who he is either.
Plo Koon. He is cool with a funny mask. No I have no idea who he is either.
Obi-Wan Kenobi. He’s good at force mind tricks. I’m surprised he wasn’t higher up the list.
General Grevious. He has four light sabres.
Boba Fett. He likes his cool face colours. I’m not completely sure who he is to be honest.
Yoda. For being good at light sabre combat.
Kyle Ren. He has a triple bladed sabre.
Ashoka Tano (Clone Wars). She’s funny.
BB8. Because he is funny.
The Emporer. He’s a cool character.
Now I look at this list and just think no Luke Skywalker? No Han Solo? No Darth Vader? I’d pick the obvious characters and he’s gone for a mix of well known and who is that? So that is my son’s top 10 greatest Star Wars characters who would your children pick? If you ask them let u know in the comments because I know my boy would love to hear them.