Oh wow we had such fun with this subscription box which we were asked to review – it was intended for our pre-schooler but actually ended up being enjoyed by all the kids, plus Mummy and Grandparents!
The idea of the subscription box is to teach a wide range of concepts using fun games and tasks broken down into different Octopus Teachers. It works really well and everything you need is included in the box (which fits through the letterbox). I was impressed by the range of activities and how long the box lasted in terms of interest in small kids, the boxes are also themed – ours was all about rock pools and nature. If you’d like to see what else they do you can find them on social media and their website www.octopuslearning.co.uk.
The kids enjoyed all the activities but we do love to get outdoors so particularly liked the Scavenger Hunt in the garden – we didn’t find everything so it also came with us to the woods the next day. It was the kids that remembered to take it, and even remembered what items they were still looking for so it made a big impression. We also made the paper flowers, and as more people wanted to join in we added some scrap paper to make more. We completed all the tasks over a week away, it really did last us and many of the resources and ideas could be used again, it was plastic free and nearly all recyclable so we were REALLY happy x
The boxes have been created by a qualified Primary school teacher with 20 years of classroom experience, so the content is based on current educational best practice and fits with the Early Years Curriculum that pre-schoolers will also cover in a childcare setting. It’s nice as a parent to get the chance to see these levels at home, and engage in specific learning activities at home. I certainly found it fun to have things to do that I hadn’t had to plan and resource as it made it new for me as well. We still have our Rock Pool – made from a used cup we found! We’ve been thinking about the eco-system and weather changes, all inspired by that first exercise we did some weeks ago now…
We have very generously been given a 10% discount code if you would like to try a subscription – you can use the code BLOGREC10
WOW! How can it possibly be time for another school holiday already?
Some schools are already out, but we have to wait until next week. If you have kids home from school and need a few ideas you can have a browse through our Staying Sane in the Summer series as many of those ideas are still valid, or I have few choice ones for an autumnal week here as well…
Go and check out WikiPlaces for Kids – we love this site as it is parent driven, and only supports positive reviews so you know if a place is on there it’s already good – you just have to check your particular needs. If you have a good day out yourselves during half term do add it to the site to help others (and you get included in a prize draw!). Listed on the site are some of the well known ‘big days out’, but there is also a section of walks and other free and frugal ideas.
Autumn is really the best time for a walk in the woods, the leaves are so great to run around in so grab your wellies and a waterproof coat and find your nearest woodland or park and have a few free hours of fresh air. The trickier bit of park loving in the colder weather is that picnics aren’t as appealing – you could try taking a thermos of tomato soup and some bread to dip or a batch of just cooked pasta will stay warm for a while in a good insulated cool bag. Timing may be more important than the Summer to go when you will only need a snack is best, and a thermos of hot chocolate. If you have any memberships remember to make the most of them during the school holidays, National Trust places often close over the Winter do this may be the last chance to get the benefit of your membership for a few months. We like to collect some leaves and then draw faces on them when we get home, and of course we must always have our pockets full of conkers… If you want to stay closer to home in case of changeable weather (and children) then there is lots of fun to be had in the garden still, you could make a bug hotel or become a nature detective.
Crafts galore! Rainy and cold days often call for indoor activities and crafts are pretty fun to do if a little messy to clear up… If you don’t feel confident at preparing your own activities then try Ready To Go Art, who have created a downloadable set of craft ideas that you can just print off with low ink options and simple instructions – super easy and educational too. We love to use up toilet roll tubes at every opportunity, they are just the right size for small hands and can be turned into so many things – check out our Frugal Autumn board for lots of autumnal craft projects, if you like to do the Hallowe’en thing then we also have a board for that! In all the school holidays we also have a Box Day – we collect up boxes from our shopping and the neighbours over a few days and then the kids can do as they want with them one day in the holidays, it’s fun to create all sorts of things from rockets, cars, houses for toys, submarines – their ideas are endless so you best make sure the sticky tape is too! Remember to recycle all the boxes afterwards for a quick clear up from lovely free fun.
Have a theme day – this requires a little bit of planning as you want to use things you already have at home; one evening put everything into a box or suitcase so the kids can open it up and discover all the exciting things inside – we have tried Dinosaur Day, Pirate Day, Fairyland Day, Pumpkin Day, Farm Day, Robot Day, any of their favourite tv shows or characters will have lots of things online to print off as well as more likely to have things already at home. If you have a mixed age range this needs a bit more management, we put some more advanced things like word searches or crosswords into an envelope with the child’s name on, and colouring sheets for the younger children. If you’re feeling really adventurous you can make a scavenger hunt or treasure hunt around the house with clues etc. This doesn’t have to be too daunting, the scavenger hunt could just be for different coloured items…
Things to put in the box/suitcase might include:
- masks to make,
- films to watch,
- colouring in sheets,
- books to read,
- dressing up items,
- cake/cookie making,
- List of things to find/Treasure Hunt
- Lego instructions to make themed items – or try the Lego family page for ideas
- pin the X on the X if you have the energy to make something
- balloons are always popular
Playdates – lots of parents are fearful of adding more children to the chaos, but I actually find it much easier if they all go off and play with friends – this does require a certain acceptance of the mess that will be made, and that you don’t have to clean every nook and cranny for a 6 year old to visit. Invite another family over, have a few ideas of things they can do (or use the theme day above) and let them just play. If you want to invite just the kids or the parents for a cuppa as well is totally up to you, but if you’re going to be stuck inside on a miserable day you may as well just embrace it! You will need to have some strategies for the inevitable disagreements, especially when different age siblings want to play with older ones etc. I try to have zones that have different activities in and circulate people e.g. crafts/colouring on the table, film in the living room, building bricks in one bedroom and a specific play item in another bedroom (we let our kids put ‘special’ things away if they don’t want to share them).
You also need to think about your food offering. If the kids can help make their meals that’s great – we like to make a trail mix, smoothies, or put pizza toppings on for example.
A week will go past pretty quickly, meet up with friends and make sure you have some quick meals already prepared as you will be tired in the evenings. Get a few treats in for the adults too! I really believe I will miss all this time when the kids have all left home, so I’m trying to embrace the stress and mess of really enjoying their childhood fully – the holidays for us have become really precious times and I now love them more than school days – really!