> The Beesley Buzz: June 2013

Quest of the gods: Lair of the Winged Monster by Dan Hunter

Book review by Joshua, aged 8 (nearly 9)

Akori has to free Sekmet, the Goddess of war.

In the whole series Akori has to save the gods with Manu and Ebe helping him.

They have to walk through a desert to save her.

A winged monster tries to kill them.

I give this book 9 out of 10.

Quest of the gods: Shadow of the Stormland by Dan Hunter

Book Review by Joshua aged 8 (very nearly 9)

Akori has to free Horus from the evil forces and defeat Set, the dark lord of storms. He has to travel to the temple of Set to find the dungeon, free Horus and defeat Set.

I give this book and overall score of 9 out of 10.

Den building - a summer hideout!

A natural hideout - J builds his den in the woods
This months Tots100 Center Parcs Challenge is all about getting outdoors, embracing the forest and building a summer hideout. No matter how young or old you are, everyone loves a den.

In the past we have made dens using all sorts of things. In fact we rarely throw anything out in case it comes in handy for our next den project. We have kept our old dining table, our old sofa cushions and lots of old sheets - put together they make the perfect den!

We have made cosy dens for reading in, camping dens for playing camping out with, secret hideaway dens for hiding out in, bear cave dens packed full of cuddly toy bears and themed dens like making a doctor who themed den out of a huge cardboard box!

But this time, Daddy and J wanted to get outdoors and have a chance to have some bonding time, so they went den building in some local woods which are managed by a local countryside partnership.

Before we start, it is worth mentioning that it is VERY important to get permission if you are going to be building dens on someone else's land. This was done as part of an organised activity to show how the countryside partnership help manage and care for the woods.

Here's how they got on, along with some top tips:

Firstly find a suitable 'structure' to lean against like a strong tree. Then find some big sticks to lean up against it to form a shelter.

Learn the difference between ferns and bracken. Ferns grow as if they are single leaf (with fronds) straight out of the ground, whereas bracken grows on a stalk with further stalks with fern-like fronds on. Most woodland management teams will be only too pleased for you to pull up bracken as it is considered invasive to the woods. But do check first!

Wearing gloves, pull up bracken and use it to 'rainproof'' your den by placing in layers starting at the bottom. Layer it up whilst overlapping, like you would with roof tiles, until you reach the top. Another point to be aware of is that ticks like to live amongst bracken so avoid tick season or cover up and use gloves (If in any doubt, you can still make a perfectly fabulous den without the bracken!)

J with his completed den
And finally, always dismantle your den before leaving as you don't want anyone else playing with it in future when it could become unsafe over time.

learning to make sparks using flints

Yum - marshmallows!
As part of their adventure, Daddy and J were lucky enough to learn how to light a fire using flints (and then got to toast marshmallows!).

PLEASE REMEMBER: Fires are dangerous and NOT PERMITTED in many places. This was done as part of a properly organised activity with the landowners consent.

If you are making a den in your backgarden or a place where fires are not permitted, here is a top tip to help kids still have the fun of a 'camp fire'. Gather together some sticks and arrange them over a little battery operated torch. Lots of fun - but still totally safe.

This is our entry into the Center Parcs June Challenge: Summer Hideout!

Follow these links to our previous Center Parcs family challenges if you want to see what other fun challenges we have been taking part in:
Perfect Picnics - May 2013
Let's Get Growing - April 2013
Chocolate Challenge - March 2013
Perfect Pancakes - February 2013
Home Spa - January 2013
The Perfect Elf - December 2012
Waterslide Challenge - November 2012

Our trip to LEGOLAND!

We recently had an amazing trip to LEGOLAND Windsor and got to stay in their most magnificent hotel!

If I am honest, I have to admit that I am not a big fan of theme parks generally - I don't like scary rides, I don't like the crowds and the chaos. But as far as theme parks go, LEGOLAND is my favourite - the rides are all more fun rather than scary, going mid-week meant we avoided the crowds and we were given such a warm welcome by everyone there. Having an overnight stay in the hotel was the icing on the cake and I found I really really enjoyed our time there! (needless to say, the kids did too!)

To be greeted by this smoke breathing dragon on the brightly coloured entrance to the hotel was our first glimpse of the excitement that was in store for us. As you can see, the boys were very very excited already!

T camoflages against the LEGO with her brightly coloured top!

The hotel boasted play areas where children could play on one of several Xboxes or play with the LEGO. There was also an outdoor play area for hotel guests too as well as a totally awesome swimming pool and splash pool!!!

J's face as he sees the pirate theme in the corridors (and this is before we even get to our room!)
We all loved just how 'themed' the entire hotel was. From carpets, to floors, to curtains, to beds, to elevators and even the hotel toilets were themed!

Pirate themed corridors
D has blogged about the Bricks Family Restaurant over on his blog at The Brilliant Chef as he loved the foodie themed LEGO in the restaurant area.

It didn't stop there. The bedrooms really had the WOW factor! The boys were delighted with their pirate themed bunk beds and TV to watch and the little gift that awaited them in the safe which this monkey was guarding...

They had to answer the clues to crack the code to the safe in which their treasure awaited!

And it still didn't stop there! Mum and Dad's area of the hotel room was also under the control of the pirates...

All this excitement and adventure and that was before we had even set foot into the actual LEGOLAND park. So here are a few highlights from the theme park...
We were so pleased that there were even rides that T could enjoy at only 14 months old!
The boys LOVED the Viking ride so much they went on 4 times in a row!!!
We were impressed with the  LEGO Star Wars themed displays (the boys are BIG fans of the LSW game on the wii)
J seems to have a bit of an obsession about London, so he was over the moon to be able to see all the impressive sights of London in one place and tower over them all in miniland.

So all in all, we had a truly fabulous time and I have asked J to either win us another trip there or to raid Daddy's credit card and take me there again for my birthday.

With special thanks to Silentnight beds and their representatives for awarding J this fabulous prize and to children's author Jeremy Strong who picked J's story as one of the finalists in Silentnight's competition.


Spy Pups - Prison Break Book Review

Author: Andrew Cope.
Review by Joshua, aged 8 (well very nearly 9)

I liked this book. The Spy Pup's names are Spud and Star. Mr Big is trapped in jail and he sends some biscuits to Lara for her birthday (Lara is Licensed Assault and Rescue Animal i.e. the Spy Dog).

What Lara doesn't know is that the biscuits are poisoned. Mr Big sends voicemail to her and it says the poison will take over in 72 hours and her pups need to get Mr Big out in that time.

Will they get him out in time?
Can they trust Mr Big?
Can they save Lara?

Read the book to find out!

Book review - Spy Dog Unleashed

For one of his pieces of home-school work today, 8 year old J decided to write up a book review of a book he just finished reading. He gets through so many books that I can hardly keep up with what he is reading, so I love it when he decides to write a book review. He has already read many of the Spy Dogs series.

I thought he did such a great job on this review that it deserved a write-up on the blog. Over to J:
Spy Dog Unleashed by Andrew Cope. Review by J, aged 8

I like this book. The Spy Dog's name is LARA. It stands for Licensed Assault and Rescue Animal. Her code name is GM451.

Some criminals have escaped from prison and they have a dog that looks exactly like Lara. They use it to steal valuables.

Mr Big changed his look and his name and pretended to be a goody.

The criminals want to steal the millennium diamond.

Everyone thinks Lara did the robberies instead of the bad dog!

Lara gets caught by the police.

Will Lara escape? Will the baddies get the diamond?

Read the book to find out!

Science at home - Agar plates

When we made Litmus Paper the other day, I also spotted something on The Kitchen Pantry Scientist that caught my attention. Home-made agar plates. The boys are always interested in anything 'yuck' or 'gross' so it looked right up their street!

It looked easy enough to do and I had all the ingredients at home so I thought let's just give it a go and see what happens.

So we made our agar plates following the instructions. And we waited and waited.

It took a few days before the mould that was visible to the naked eye started to grow but it was really rather exciting when it did!

Agar plate with growth from wiping the PC keyboard

This was from the sink in the bathroom! We knew it needed a clean so we took our sample before cleaning it.

This was from a lightswitch.

This was another really simple experiment to do which the kids really enjoyed!

Trinity's Ground Force #KidsGrowWild

In a corner of the garden that was so bare,

 Daddy built me a playhouse for me to share...

The house is for me and my brothers to play...
...but Bella the cat came to visit that day!
Something still wasn't right, and I couldn't put my finger on it...
 ...until Moneysupermarket.com sent me this gardening kit! 

A watering can, gloves and seeds...
Could this be just what my little house needs?

I got busy planting, it was such fun...

I got my big brothers to help, then we were nearly done! 

They potted the sunflowers and added sticks using a measuring rule,
They wanted to see who had the winning sunflower, the one that was tall!

With home-made props...

We brightened up the pots...

And then we patiently waited...
 until a few weeks later...

 Now my little house is a colourful spot...
 and one that I love lots and lots...

My bright little corner of the garden to read books with mum,

Or for some peace and quiet, I can come...

So that was Ground Force, Trinity's very own version,
to share with you her garden transformation.

But instead of our hero's being Alan, Charlie and Tom,
We must surely thank Moneysupermarket.com

This post is an entry for BritMums’ #KidsGrowWild Challenge. To join in with the linky, see here.

Wot so funee - A 'cool' night

The other evening when it had been sunny all day and it was really rather hot indoors in the evening, I said to 7 year old D, make sure you wear something cool to bed as it is so hot (i.e. I was thinking along the lines of short sleeved PJs rather than his warm PJs).

When I went to his room a few minutes later to say goodnight, I found him dressed like this. He said to me "well, what do you think? Do I look really cool?"

Erm... that is not quite what I meant!

Linking up with Actually Mummy's Wot so Funee.

Wot So Funee?


Joshua's Jokes - the final installment of the first list - phew!

I just found this sitting in my drafts list of blog posts...

Here is the final selection of Jokes from Joshua's massive list of Jokes:

Why are bin men so grumpy in the morning?
Because they skip breakfast!

Two flies are on a breakfast box.
'Why are we running so fast?' asks one.
Because it says tear across the dotted line!

How do you get a baby astronaut to sleep?
You rock-et!

Where do hamburgers box?
In an onion ring!

How do mice celebrate when they move home?
With a mouse-warming party!

Who always come after the aliens?
The B-liens!

Here are a few of Daniel's favourite jokes:

Why did the cow cross the road?
To get to the moovies!

What can you put in a cup but not take out again?
A crack!

Waiter waiter! This soup tastes funny.
Well why aren't you laughing then!

What is brown, hairy and has yellow skin?
A coconut disguised as a banana!


Science at home - Litmus paper from red cabbage

I find it is often tricky getting the balance right with homeschool to know how much 'practical' work to do versus 'academic' work. I know it is great for kids to get really hands-on with their learning because they absorb so much more and it engages their interest so much too.

But I have to confess that it is all too easy to get the workbooks out in place of setting up a practical activity. During half-term week whilst most school-kids were having a break from school, mine were busy in the kitchen trying out some home-made science experiments.

Well the weather was rubbish that week, so by getting a bit of work done then, it has freed us up to enjoy the sunny weather we had last week instead.

A while ago a homeschooling friend of ours had successfully made some litmus paper using red cabbage, so we decided to give it a try. Whilst trying to find instructions online of how to do it, I stumbled across a fantastic blog called The Kitchen Pantry Scientist. I found instructions on how to make the litmus paper and off we went.

We boiled some red cabbage and strained it and kept the water.

Next we dunked in cut up strips of kitchen towel and then laid them out to dry.

Once dry, we got testing!

We tried out orange juice, lemon juice, milk, vinegar, toothpaste, soap, and bicarb.

The more reddish/pink it turned the more acidic and the more bluey/green it turned the more alkaline it was.
The boys really enjoyed doing this and I had fun too!

Nuby Fun Squirters - Great fun both in and out the bath!


Three brightly coloured new friends for T. A blue elephant, a yellow duck and a green crocodile. These Nuby Fun Squirters have literally provided hours of fun for T both in and out the bath.

When they first arrived, we took them out of their packaging and I was amazed to see T playing with them for so long...even before it got to bath time.

She loved the feeling of the air whooshing out at her face as you can see from these photos!

And then I found her ages later showing the early signs of imaginative play when she was putting them into the tractor trailor and pushing them around.

These three characters seem to have become one of her most favourite toys because she cries when she has to part with them after a bath and has been known to sneak them out of the bath with her. However because they tend to stay wet inside because they are water squirters, we take them back to the bathroom for them to live there - at which point T cries again as she has to say goodbye to them until the next bathtime!

Disclosure: As Nuby Bloggers, we were sent the Nuby Fun Squirters to keep. All opinions given are our own. The packaging advises that the Nuby Fun Squirters are recommended for babies over 6 months old.