How to Conquer Playing Conkers!

At this time of year, our local park is littered with conkers (otherwise known as horse chestnuts) – at times they are literally (and rather painfully!) raining down on us. Who can resist prising open spiky cases for that thrill of discovering shiny brown nuts inside? My kids certainly can’t, and so over the first month of autumn we tend to accumulate a big pile. And what better way to make use of this autumn bounty than through a smashing game of conkers? We love it so much, I had to share it with you. So read on to discover all the do’s and don’ts, rules and the cheats, hows and whys of playing conkers!

Horse chestnuts threaded on butchers string for playing conkers
How to conquer playing the traditional childhood game of Conkers!
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How to Make a Magnificent Forest Mini Den!

My kids love making dens when we’re out in the woods, yet there are times when it’s not practical or possible to make one that’s kid-sized. But we don’t let that stop us – instead, we just think smaller… Read on to see how to make an adorable mini den!

Preschool girl building mini den in forest

Making a mini den in the woods is a fun way to introduce den building to kids!

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HABA Terra Kids – Real Woodworking Tools

We love a bit of woodwork with the kids – whether out in the woods, at forest school, or at home with a bit of softwood, so we were very happy when One Hundred Toys asked us to test out a pile of fabulous-looking, kid-sized real tools from HABA. Read on to find out why we’re now eschewing pretend tools for the real deal.

Boy using saw at a worktable in a forest

HABA’s folding saw is kid-sized and just right for taking to forest school.

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Leaf Painting – Quick and Easy Nature Craft

Leaves painted bright colours, with a stick used as a paintbrush

We love leaf painting! Use natural materials like leaves, sticks and stones as the canvas for your kids’ artwork!

Painting is a great activity for young children. It’s a fantastic work-out for their imagination, and helps them practice their fine motor skills, as well as helping to develop their understanding of colour, shape, texture and viscosity (yes, wet paint WILL drip onto the floor/your clothes/the dog’s dinner…). We do a lot of painting in our house, and love finding different things to paint – after all, flat paper can be SO last earlier-this-morning. We try to bring natural materials into our play at every opportunity, and painting is the perfect thing for this as its easy to find natural objects to decorate. Stones, sticks, pinecones, shells… you name it, we’ve painted it. Leaf painting is an absolute favourite, though, and something that we do all the time – read on to find out why!

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How to Magic Up a Perfectly-Imperfect Mud Kitchen Today!

There are images of some amazing mud kitchens out there on the web, and it’s very easy to fall down a rabbit hole of great ideas without actually ever making one for your child. I was certainly guilty of it, until one day my sister stopped by and interrupted my description of the great mud kitchen I was going to make (one day), by pulling together a few things lying around in the garden and making one in about thirty seconds! My kids have been playing with it ever since (we’re talking for years now!), and though I still dream and plan of a more beautiful and robust solution, they’re out there having fun today – and they really couldn’t care less that it’s not perfect.

So read on to see what you need to make a mud kitchen right now, and I guarantee that you’ll have enough stuff already to get your kids playing today!

child pouring muddy water into saucepan in mud kitchen

Mud kitchens are great for kids so get them playing dirty today!

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Playing with Stories – Why We Love Our DIY Playdough ‘Bog Baby’ Kit!

If you’ve read ‘The Bog Baby’ by Jeanne Willis and Gwen Millward, you’ll know that bog babies are round and blue, with goggly eyes, spiky tails and ears like a mouse, and their wings are no bigger than daisy petals. This magical book is perfect for inspiring creative model making and small world play, while at the same time gently encouraging children to explore what it means for a thing to be wild and free. Read on to find out how to make a home-made play dough bog baby kit with our play dough recipe and basic craft accessories – not only are they great fun, they also make fantastic and original gifts when given with a copy of the book!

Book 'The Bog Baby', home-made play dough bog baby kit, and fishing net

A magical story about two children who find a mysterious wild creature, ‘The Bog Baby’ is perfect inspiration for creative play!

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Play Simple – Bubble Play

toddler bubble play

A bowlful of soapy bubbles makes for a quick and easy sensory activity for young kids!

Though I love letting my kids get stuck in to some messy play, I sometimes find the thought of the inevitable cleanup just too daunting. On days like that, I often resort to our tried and tested fallback -the cleanest messy play imaginable – bubble play!

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Roald Dahl Scarecrow Festival

Mike Teavee inside TV set - Roald Dahl scarecrow

Mike Teavee – first person to travel by television! Or should that be Wonkavision?

Every September, members of our local community are invited to make and display a scarecrow for the annual festival, and then everyone troops around all the houses looking at what we’ve all done – which is actually a whole heap of fun, and also involves a stop for tea and cake at the Community Orchard, making it even more fabulous. This year’s event was only a few days after what would have been Roald Dahl’s 100th birthday, so of course our scarecrow had to be Roald Dahl themed!

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Star Wars Party Games That Won’t Trash Your House

ideas for a star wars party for kids

You can have a fantastic, fun-filled Star Wars party in your home without disastrously epic lightsaber battles and kids in permanent hyperdrive… Here’s how we did it!

G-man’s birthday this year happened to coincide with the release of arguably the most anticipated film of the century – Star Wars: The Force Awakens. And since we’re all big Star Wars fans here, he absolutely had to have a Star Wars party.

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Help your child practice their scissor skills with a Nature Snip Box!

Handling scissors correctly is a difficult skill to master, and so we try to practice every chance we get. In the house, we have a “snip box” full of different scraps to cut up, following patterns and lines or just snipping away. But sometimes we like to take our scissor skills practice outside, to try our hand at cutting things we find around us while exploring in the sunshine. Creating a Nature Snip box takes absolutely no effort at all – in fact, the kids do pretty much all of the work!

scissor practice with leaves

Practice scissor skills with garden cuttings!

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