Easter Eggstravaganza

Spring time flowers and bunnies on my windowsill
Daffodils are a must have at home to make if feel like spring. Love that you can pick up a bunch for less than a pound to brighten up a windowsill

We love to celebrate in our family… any excuse for a gathering and we will all get together and start planning the food. Easter is quickly becoming as commercial as Christmas, and I don’t see this as a bad thing. We aren’t religious as a family but having been bought up in a multi cultural city I think it’s important to acknowledge all cultures, (we have also enjoyed celebrating Chinese New Year, Diwali and Pride recently) – an easy way to learn about others is to join in with festivities and it’s also an opportunity to spend quality time together as a family.

This bank holiday weekend we have done so much I’m going to have to split this up in to several blog posts – we kicked things off with a trip to a local children’s farm “Hatton Country World” on Good Friday – a glorious day spent meeting lots of baby animals, and running around in the sunshine.

On Saturday we went to a not so festively themed “Ice Age” walk at the Botanical Gardens for some quality time with Nanny. This is another beautiful local attraction we have been visiting as a family since I was a child and it was lovely to see Arlo running around outdoors and marvelling at all the new sights.

On Sunday I hosted the egg hunt to end all egg hunts, with four children aged 1-6 years I knew we had to try and make it fun (and fair) for them all. I also wanted to make them earn their treats, and focus more on fun and festivities than the sweets and chocolate.

A welcome to my Easter egg hunt - the first clue card attached to my floral wreath
This beautiful wreath was from Hobbycraft, and with a little bit of home made bunting, and some garden signs the kids knew they were in for a treat walking up the pathway! Welcome to my Easter egg hunt!

I purchased a fabulous little set of clue cards from an Instagram store A little bit vintage and the simple rhyming clues led the kids to locations all around the house.

The first card was a welcome and I attached this to my front door wreath, and with personalised egg hunt bags left in the front garden, and the clue led them to “the place you leave your shoes” and here they each had a little parcel to open (bunny ears, tails and bow ties). I made these bags for the kids - a simple little personalised design featuring their names and bunnies in Easter colours

I made these little bags for the kids to take along on their journey to gather up all of their treats. A simple little design with their names and a bunny in Easter colours

The clues then them to “the place you cook” – of course Logan the eldest ran straight to the kitchen….. however we predicted this would happen and so actually the treats were hidden inside the play kitchen, and Logan quickly realised he had to pay attention, taking on the role of “clue reader” like a pro!

The first challenge to complete for the Easter bunny was to decorate some real chocolate Easter Eggs. Surprisingly the kids all completed this task with their chocolate eggs intact, keen to earn the next clue card.

 “Head to where you brush your teeth” – the kids all rushed upstairs to the bathroom, and of course I had to include one messy play activity so I had pre filled the kitchen sink with shaving foam…. they had to dig in, fetch all of the eggs and count them correctly for their next clue, which led them downstairs to the dining room table.

Here they all had to paint a wooden bird box, and again they all rolled their sleeves up to get stuck in, really focusing on the activity before proudly placing their finished items in the garden to dry and getting the next clue, which led them to “where you fetch the mail” We thought it was time to get some treats out now and so the kids all got a jellybean filled carrot shape along with a brand new nature trail clipboard and the next clue which sent them to under the sofa to find some bubble wands (a firm family favourite) and a clue card which told them to head outside. We stopped for a refreshment break before getting back to work for the Easter Bunny….. and the next challenge was to plant some sunflower seeds.

They did this task really well together, all getting stuck in and helping share the tools and fill each other’s plant pots with soil and so they earn their next clue pretty quickly – which led them to my bookshelf with a basket filled with strange items…They went back outside and here it was revealed that they were to use the items in the basket to make cress hair for potato heads. This one delighted Lincoln because I bought curly cress to match his hair.

With our bird boxes, plant pots and potato heads all proudly on display after a couple hours of activity we felt like they really had earned their rewards… and so the final clue led them all charging upstairs to find the “good stuff”

They all received a personalised “champion egg hunter” top and more chocolate than they could carry – you’d think that this would spoilt their appetites, but not this family – with the hot weather we decided to break with tradition, cancel the formal roast and set up a buffet style array of food.

We then went back to the garden to enjoy the sunshine with some ice excavation, the older boys enjoyed a good old fashioned water balloon fight, Arlo splashed around in his tuff tray and Paloma bought her play doh outside to make the most of the sunshine.

The egg hunt champions 2019!

The Cookie Monster

One blustery day in January cousin Paloma came over for the afternoon. I didn’t quite fancy heading out and about with two toddlers, so I set up an invitation to play with some gingerbread men.

Most supermarkets have a set like this, with some cookies, tubes of coloured icing and some decorative bits and pieces. I had some extra tubes of icing and toppings in the cupboard.

Here’s my “mum hack” – To set up the activity I used cupcake cases for each topping, and gave each of the kids a deep oven tray to try contain some of the mess – I set up on the Ikea Lack table so they had easy access.

Paloma is two and really got involved with the activity – squeezing her icing out carefully and choosing and placing her sweets nicely – before picking them off and eating them all.

Arlo on The other hand couldn’t wait to quality test the goods!

We had five cookies in our kit so we did save one for Paloma to give to mummy and Arlo for daddy. It was quite fun to see them both be so proud to gift their cookies and they certainly enjoyed the experience – learning to concentrate, talking about colours and textures and being creative.

I want to encourage Arlo to get involved with baking so this is the first step to building up trust and learning some basic kitchen rules with “real” food as opposed to his play kitchen.

Magic mess free painting

I can’t remember where I first saw this idea – probably a Pinterest board or another mum blog but it’s certainly one worth sharing!

We love mark making – I used to be happy with paint when we had laminate flooring and Arlo didn’t move quite so fast but with cream carpets and my little Usain Bolt on the loose this is the next best thing!

It’s a sheet of magic paper used to practice Chinese calligraphy. You use water instead of paint and it turns black on contact.

I gave Arlo and cousin Paloma sponge brushes and little pots of water and let them play – and it occupied them both for about 20 mins.

The paper clears once dry and you can re use it over and over again. It probably takes about 15 mins to dry completely so it’s something you can keep coming back to.

Paloma was quite delicate and happy making more intricate lines immediately whereas Arlo too a while but as soon as he figured out the water made the marks he started pouring it and splashing and patting with his hands

This magic paper is from eBay and cost me £5.50.

We have also tried the aqua doodle which is £15-20 from most high street retailers and creates colourful patterns but is often out of stock and also the Melissa and Doug “wow” books which are about £5 on Amazon which are great options for “on the go” (we’ve used them for travel and also at restaurants). They all share the same principle and I’ve noticed a definite improvement in the way Arlo does make marks and handle brushes and his utensils.

Creating a masterpiece

I thought I’d share a quick “how to” – this is such a simple idea, and if you get a couple of the steps right you can create something to treasure forever.

First things first – head to The works for your materials. You don’t need to spend huge amounts on things for arts and crafts, and their basic canvases come in all shapes and sizes.

You will need:

  • A canvas
  • Masking tape
  • Paints
  • Brushes

To get going use the masking tape to mark out something on your canvas – a name, a shape or just some random lines. We’ve tried hearts for gifts, a sunshine, initials etc – there’s no limits.

Now here’s where to focus – only put down one colour at a time to begin with. Use small amounts because it goes a long way. Try and stick to one colour per brush – this helps to stop everything becoming a brown mush.

The paint is going to get everywhere – just let it go! I use water based paints which do come off everything and I put something down, a tarpaulin or an old towel and have a pack of wipes to hand.

Here I’d just added the yellow – the order you place the colours is important – obviously Arlo doesn’t know about the colour wheel at this stage but we do – keeping red and green separate helps. It’s never going to be “perfect” but that’s the beauty of it.

Arlo was almost 14m when we did this activity and you can see in the video clips just how much he enjoyed himself. We spent about 45 mins painting and chatting about all the colours. Yes he did try and eat the paint brushes and we did make quite a lot of mess but he thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

The final thing to remember is to be patient with your finished piece. Don’t peel back the masking tape until the paint is dry. I left ours in the sunshine whilst Arlo had a splash around in the bath tub.

And voila – this little canvas takes pride of place in my front room.

Have you tried this out? Do you have any ideas for creative projects I could try at the weekend? Share your experience in the comments

Ice Excavation

This is such an easy prep activity it’s worth storing in the memory bank for summer. All you need to do is add some small colourful items to a container, fill it with water and freeze it.

Add the frozen block to a washing up bowl or a Tuff Tray and provide some tools to experiment with.

In this block we added brightly coloured ribbons and pom poms, along with a hammer and a couple of cups of warm water to melt the ice. We have repeated this activity with various themes. I’ll share my favourite dinosaur themed excavation on another post as it requires a little more preperation.

Feeling Natural

  • Sensory baskets are such a good way to start encouraging independent play. Arlo was seven months when he got his first basket. I decided to create a natural themed basket as up until this stage he had mainly experienced plastic and brightly coloured toys.In this basket I chose to include:
    • Wooden spoons
      Cotton flannel
      Sponge
      Leather chamois
      Wooden curtain rings
      A pine cone
      A dolly peg
      A plait of wool
      A bath mit
      A couple of hair scrunchies.
  • I set the basket up in the middle of his play mat during a nap time and then let him loose when he was awake. He made a beeline for the basket immediately and reached over to spill the contents.
  • These were all things he’d never really played with before so he pulled things out one at a time, banging and waving around the spoons and putting the sponges to his mouth to explore the textures – this occupied him for at least half an hour.

    I made several different themed baskets and used to stash them away and bring them out in rotation so he retained a level of excitement. Sometimes I would add/remove things to see if he would notice. I’ll share more of our sensory activities on other blog posts.

    Rainbow ribbons

    Arlo is about three months old here and was such a smiley baby. I’m a strong advocate for sensory play and this project is such a nifty little idea.

    You will need:

    • A curtain ring (Wilko’s do a set of 5)
    • Ribbon

    Make sure you remove any hooks from the rings and check them for splinters. Then start to tie your ribbons – I used a simple pull through the loop.Then all you need to do is repeat this with a few more colours. It goes without saying to make sure that this is a supervised activity – waving the colours in front of Arlo caught his attention and then he liked being tickled too.

    I used to switch the colours and textures of the ribbons every so often to switch up the sensory experience