Thursday, 31 July 2014

Homemade Chocolate Play Dough

Play dough is always a winner in Little Scribbles' house, providing endless hours of fun and mess! Whilst we do buy a lot of play dough, I find the best dough is homemade. This week we thought we would have a try at making chocolate play dough, using this simple recipe from The Imagination Tree. We did find it a little sticky, so more flour was needed but see how you go and you can always add in at the end.

Of course, Little Scribbles always likes to add a story to play time so we thought we would join Bear in his birthday celebrations

This book from Barefoot Books is great for a birthday gift for toddlers or for having a little quiet story time at a birthday party. As well as a fun hide and seek game throughout the story, the book introduces number and colours and is ideal for children up to 6 years of age.

The great thing is that this book is for life, not just for birthdays! As it happens it is birthday central here, with lots of family birthdays lined up, so what better time to have a re-read. After reading the story together ( well Sofia insisted she knew all the words so read it to me) we decided to get messy and make some cakes of our own. I admit that I did start to play with Sofia but also managed to sneak to one side to get a bit of work done. It was fun to watch her display so much creativity and use her imagination to create her own little party. There was indeed plenty of mess made but a well thought out sheet across the floor minimised destruction! As well as the dough, we used various cookie cutters, cake cases, plastic palate knives and lots of sprinkles to add to the fun. Anything goes really, as long as it's fun. We even added a candle and had a sing song to wish bear a Happy Birthday.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Book Club: Cara and the Wizard

Two Irish sisters love each other very much. When Molly vanishes one morning, Cara decides she will go out into the wide world to find her. She is armed only with gifts from her mother and father, and her own kindness and courage. Can brave Caradefeat a wolf and a wizard to bring back her beloved sister?

Cara and the Wizard is a lovely tale from Ireland was the subject of our latest junior book club.  Great for ages 6+, this book is very simple to follow with vocabulary ideal for children that have just started to read independently. This book is also great for shared reading, making it a great choice for a book club. The book is on The Reading Agency's ' Mythical Maze ' list for the 2014 Summer Reading Challenge, making it a great choice for those wanting to take part in this fabulous literacy initiative.

Since the release of the first Harry Potter books 17 years ago, children have been more and more intrigued my wizards, mystery and magic, so a book of this style is always a winner. I admit that I have never read a Harry Potter film or watched any of the films and nor am I likely to, it's just not for me. That's not to say that I don't love to hear children getting excited about telling me all about their favourite Harry Potter characters. I love that our book club sessions let me in on new things, that I would not usually read so I get to learn too!

Before we got started on the books, we thought we would have a little fun finding out our wizard name. All you need is three of sheets of different coloured paper, name tags or bank stickers, a pen and lots of imagination. Cut the paper into smaller pieces, big enough to write one word on, then put your thinking cap on by writing old English names on one colour paper, i.e Greta, Edmund, Basil, words ending in 'le' on another colour, i.e wiggle, tumble, grumble then finally write kitchen related words on the remaining colour, i.e pot, tin, plate. Fold all the pieces of paper up then ask each person to pick one of each colour and put them together to discover their wizard name. We decided our favourite was Edwina Mumblepot! Use the names throughout the session for an added bit of fun.

As this story is quite short, there was lots of time for the group to interact with each other and there were some really imaginative perspectives of the book. The whole group were agreed that the ending was not the best, with Cara and her sister marrying the two handsome boys that they met five minutes ago. Other than the ending everybody enjoyed the book and were particularly interested in talking about facing your fears and doing something brave for somebody you love. To finish off our session we decided on an activity to expand the imagination even further. We each created a storyboard, retelling the story with from the perspective of one of the other characters in the story. Cara's sister and the wizard were popular choices. This activity is a great way to practise storytelling skills and embrace children's creativity. Our group started out with lots of magic and wizard like stories but ended up with a story about a giant blueberry pie! Whatever the story, no matter what the drawings look like, they are sure to be MAGICAL.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Summer Reading Challenge

The countdown is on for the end of school and the start of summer holidays. While school may be out for summer, children will still be eager to learn via days out, rainy day crafts and lots of summer reading. To find out more about the importance of summer reading, take a look at this recent blog from Barefoot Books about 'Brain Drain'. Learning should always be fun and The Reading Agency have come up with a great challenge once again, with their Mythical Maze theme. So what is the challenge? Simply to encourage your children to read 6 books throughout the summer.

Watch this video from The Reading Agency to find out more about what how you should be spending your summer!

There are lots of suggestions from the Reading Agency as to what books to choose, depending on age, with an official list of books that make up the mythical maze. We especially like Cara and The Wizard as it is one of our Barefoot Books favourites, but whilst all of the suggestions are great, you don't have to feel restricted. Let your children's imagination run wild and choose whatever books take their fancy. If you do need a little help in sourcing books that are not on the list, here is just a few of our favourites that we will be reading this summer.


Books about school are always popular with parents of children ready to make the big leap into starting school. We love Ruby's Walk to School, as it offers a fun introduction to school life and offers all the magic and fantasy that the mythical maze wants to create.  Cleo's Colour Book is also a good choice, for helping your children have fun with colours.

Age 5-7

Tales of Mystery and Magic and The Barefoot Book of Faeries are both excellent collections of short stories, that can offer short periods of reading for when you are on the go. They are also both great to read as a family and practise your storytelling skills together.



For independent readers looking for a mythical fix, Greek classics are an excellent choice. Odysseus will suit advanced readers, and may even teach adults a thing or two also! For those who are just building confidence, Theseus and Minotaur is a less complex read and a good introduction to the classics.


I am sure your children are excited about choosing their six books to read over summer. Let us know their choices and send us a picture over on our Facebook or Twitter pages.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Book of The Month: July

Come along on a high-seas I-spy adventure! In a spectacular seascape, a young boy sails for a distant island where he finds a special friend waiting for him. Who could it be? Find out in this wonderful book, a re-release of an old Barefoot Books favourite, An Island in the Sun.

Nicoletta Ceccoli's radiant illustrations spill off the pages with their vibrant tropical hues and dramatic ocean scenes. Young readers will delight in pointing out everything the boy sees through his telescope. Why not incorporate a craft activity and let your little ones make their very own telescope. All you need is an empty kitchen roll, colouring pens, stickers and a little creativity.

The rhyming, cumulative text, built on the familiar I-spy refrain, helps develop memory skills and builds reading confidence. There is no need to stop when the story ends as you can let your children's imaginations run wild, by encouraging them to use their telescope for many more adventures. Anchors aweigh!