Monday, 16 September 2019

Our Choc-tastic Visit to The Kandy Factory

Our chocolatey dreams came true a few weeks ago! During the summer holidays, we were lucky enough to be invited along to experience a chocolate making workshop at The Kandy Factory in Burton-on-Trent.



Situated upstairs in Burton's Victorian Market Hall, is an open-plan space where the magic is created! We were greeted on arrival by friendly staff and the children were kitted out in hair nets and aprons.

Look how clean they were at the start!
After choosing the creations they wanted to make from the display cases, the kids were given all the moulds they would need. My son chose to copy the beach scene, and my daughter decided upon a teddy bear world! They were each given a chocolate bar mould too.

A few minutes later, the children were brought 2 warm, melted bowls of milk chocolate and a little cupcake case full of decorations. They were allowed to have a little taste of the chocolate before spooning it into the chocolate bar mould, and personalising it with small sweets, chocolate buttons, cereals and sprinkles.

Sunday, 1 September 2019

A Rainbow After the Storm

Dear friends,

A lot has changed here since I last wrote. Little did I know that, one sunny day at the beginning of June, my whole life would take on a new direction.


After almost 15 years of being with my husband (7 of them married), he took the decision to end our relationship. The reasons are personal, but what followed would be the hardest, most devastating and emotional time of my life.

In that moment, I felt my entire world collapse around me. What would the future hold for me and my 2 young children? All my dreams and hopes for my family going forwards were shattered. Gone. My heart was broken, so much so that I felt I couldn't breath. The pain in my chest so immense, I couldn't even stand up straight. I cried so many tears I could taste the salt in the air.

In the weeks that followed, I fell apart inside... but kept it together on the outside. Many people never suspected a thing. For the first time though, I suffered from the effects of anxiety and ended up having to take time off work. There was no way I could concentrate on the education and welfare of others when I could barely look after myself.

Thursday, 20 June 2019

A Raving Good Time! Happyface Family Rave Review

On Sunday 9th June, my family and I went out for an afternoon with a difference! Imagine the scene - club classics from the 90s being played by a nightclub DJ, colourful flashing lights and glowsticks shining brightly, a dancefloor filled with revelers wearing UV facepaints and neon clubwear, everyone with their hands up in the air...


No, we didn't accidentally step back in time to our raving days, although it certainly felt like it! In fact, we introduced our two young children (almost 6 and 3 1/2) to the nostalgia of a family rave - Happyface Family Rave to be exact! This was a rave with a difference - a Sunday afternoon dance party for adults and children to enjoy together!

The event was imagined and brought to life by local man Nick Madeley and his team of dedicated organisers. You can read our preview post to find out about the background to this launch event, but don't forget to pop back here to find out how it went on the day!

In preparation for the family rave, we bought some themed T-Shirts to wear! My hubby is not one for dressing up so we kept them quite tame! The kids chose a skeleton and a unicorn doing the "Dab" - a popoular dance move bought to my son's attention by the game Fortnight! Hubby twinned with our son and I picked a slightly more nostalgic design (think, "big fish, little fish, cardboard box!")... but forgot to get a photo of me in it! (As is often the way for us mums/chief photo-takers, hey?!)

Monday, 27 May 2019

Phonics Fun with Mrs Mactivity: Phase Five Activity Pack

(Review / Gifted)

I can't believe the school year is almost over! My son is quickly coming to the end of Year One and will soon be taking his Phonics Screening Check. As I also teach Year One, revising all we have learnt in phonics is high on the agenda both at home and at school!


Phonics is the systematic approach to learning to read and spell, with the 44 phonemes (sounds) being taught in different phases throughout Reception and Year 1.

By the end of Year 1, children are given a Phonics Screening Check to assess whether they have mastered the basic phonics system, and identifies any areas they need help with as they go into Year 2. It checks that your child can:
  • Sound out and blend graphemes (the letter/letters that represent a sound) in order to read simple words.
  • Read phonically decodable one-syllable and two-syllable words, e.g. cat, sand, windmill.
  • Read a selection of nonsense words which are referred to as pseudo (or alien) words.
When your child learns phonics, they will also be taught "tricky words." I wrote a post explaining why these words are classed as tricky, and how you can help your child learn tricky words in a fun, multisensory way, which is full of easy ideas.

Monday, 20 May 2019

Happyface Family Rave: A Preview

(Ad / Preview)

Get your glowsticks out and your neon facepaint on, because on Sunday 9th June Happyface Family Rave is coming to town... and we can't wait!


I'm always on the look out for fun, family events that we can all enjoy, so when I saw this one I instantly knew it would be right up our street! I spent many a Friday and Saturday night during my teens and twenties, raving the night away, glowsticks in hand, dayglow trousers and fluffy boots on, dancing to club classics! I'll have to dig you out a photo...(or not)!

So what is the Happyface Family Rave all about? Nick, the event organiser explains;

"With a nod to the smiley culture of the 80s and 90s, Happyface Family Rave embodies the spirit of a rave experience but with that ‘fun for all the family’ festival vibe; where adults and kids alike can get down and bust some moves on the dancefloor in a nightclub environment!"

Sunday, 12 May 2019

Bloggers Behind the Screens: "Our Blogs" Featuring Dirt, Diggers and Dinosaurs


Bloggers Behind the Screens is a monthly interview series, where fellow bloggers come together to answer a series of questions on a specific theme. This is a chance to get acquainted with a whole range of bloggers, some of whom you may not have encountered before, and learn a little more about them!


This month, we’re talking to bloggers about the very thing that makes them bloggers. Their blogs. I’m hosting Emma from Dirt, Diggers and Dinosaurs.

1. When did you start blogging and why?

I started blogging on a hormone induced whim in Aug 2018 when I was 7 months pregnant. I needed a creative output as I'd recently gone on maternity leave from my little craft business. I have always enjoyed writing and thought I would give it a go in the hope it would stop the baby brain…it didn't!

2. How did you come up with the name for your blog?

As I was writing from a parenting perspective I wanted something that summarised what being a mum of young boys was really like...so I glanced down at my living room carpet and low and behold Dirt, Diggers and a lot of Dinosaurs were looking back up at me.

Thursday, 2 May 2019

Wonderful Woodland Fun with Well Natured - Explore. Learn. Outdoors

(Review - Gifted)

If you go down to the woods today, you're sure of a big surprise! Hidden away, just off the beaten track in the beautiful grounds of Rudyard Lake (in the Staffordshire Moorlands), you'll find a miniature woodland wonderland waiting to be explored!


Well Natured - Explore. Learn. Outdoors is run by Nicola, who has a background in education and working with children. She has recently taken the brave step to put her lifelong passion and dreams into action and create a magical, outdoor, multisensory learning experience for young adventurers.

I asked Nicola what her motivation was for starting up her woodland stay and play sessions (suitable for early walkers up to 4 years of age) -

"I have always had a love of the great outdoors, having had lots of exposure as a child on long country walks and bird watching with my parents and nana. Something I continued to do once I had a family and in schools setting up nature clubs. It was whilst completing my degree I discovered forest schools and the benefits of outdoor learning. Since then, I have continued to read more research and discover the benefits to children’s well being. More than ever now children spend much more time using technology and children’s access to outdoors is decreasing because of this. I feel that children are so much happier and creative when the walls are removed!"

We had the pleasure of joining Nicola on one of her exciting sessions this week, to try out all of the activities she had on offer - and we were not disappointed! I'll let the photos tell the story of our afternoon...

Monday, 29 April 2019

Fun Ways with Food for Fussy Eaters

You may already know that my children are picky eaters. It never used to be this way! They were both weaned on homecooked meals, but at the age of about 3 (for both of them) things changed! Cooking family meals became a fruitless, frustrating task and so much food was wasted! Fishfingers became my best friend, and the saviour of my sanity! Would my fussy eaters ever try new foods again?


My son, now almost 6, has been a bit better since having hot meals at school but if he gets a choice he'll pick the sandwich option or jacket, beans and cheese! My daughter has just started being picky, which came as a surprise because she's always been a good eater. She would eat sausage and mash every night if she could!

So mealtimes have become a new kind of adventure in my house! I'm not really sure why... maybe I've let them get their own way too often, or been too quick to just cook what I know they would eat. Sometimes this can end up being two different meals, or dinners with different accompaniments!

Anyway, I reached breaking point this week - almost 2 weeks into the school holidays, trying to placate two kids with different tastes, three meals a day, without losing the will to live (or cook...)! So, I had a rethink and pulled out a Gruffalo themed cook book I bought on a whim last year! The children were instantly excited as they love the Gruffalo stories so they picked a couple of recipes they liked the look of. Good start!

Friday, 26 April 2019

Parenting Alphabet Challenge: An A - Z of My Parenting Experiences

You may have seen a few of these A - Z of parenting posts doing the rounds lately, so when Emma from Dirt, Diggers and Dinosaurs tagged me in hers, I was up for the challenge! The idea is to use each letter of the alphabet to describe your parenting experiences, and I took that to mean the good, the bad and the ugly! So here's my take on the "Parenting Alphabet Challenge," created originally by Yule Times. I tried to be a little original in my answers. How many can you relate to?

A is for ANTI-WRINKLE CREAM


Let's just cut to the chase... children age you! If I had know 10 years ago just how bad my frown (and smile) lines would become, I'd have started slapping the stuff on in my mid-twenties! Every wrinkle has been worth it though!

B is for BED HOPPING


Whether that be the children in yours, or you in theirs, there's guaranteed to be plenty of bed hopping, swapping and sharing going on! There certainly (still...) is in my house!

C is for CARDBOARD BOXES


I've lost count of how many times we've had to source these things for school projects; harvest baskets, gifts for the homeless, packages for third world countries, and the latest 2 - to make a hospital from the olden days, and an Easter house! You may as well start stockpiling now! Oh, and all those fancy expensive gifts you buy for your children - you can bet your breakfast (if you're lucky enough to grab any) that they'll be more interested in the cardboard boxes!

Monday, 15 April 2019

How to Encourage Positive Thoughts at Bedtime with The Dream Pillow™


(Review - Gifted)
From the first day you bring your bundles of joy home from the hospital, sleep patterns and bedtime routines seem to be a hot topic of conversation amongst parents...and even strangers! People love nothing more than to ask, "How does the baby sleep?" or "Do they sleep through the night yet?" Everyone seems to have an opinion too, don't they? "Ooh, don't let the baby sleep with you - you'll make a rod for your own back!" (That's my favourite... 😖)



And there seems to be no escaping it! As the children get older, parents can often find common ground by chatting about bedtime routines. "What time do yours go to bed? Do you read a story every night after a bath? Do you let your children have T.V or tablet time?"

As the children get older, they are more aware of their routines and become more independent in their choices - choosing a bath or a shower, picking out their own pyjamas and bedtime stories, choosing a cuddly toy or comforter for example.

Bedtime Worries


But what happens when they hit the nightmare stage? All your hard work can be undone in an instant. The fear, the tears, the long cuddles back in your bed. How do you reassure your little ones that they are safe, and it's okay to go back to sleep? How do you alleviate these big worries that fill their little sleepy heads? How do you encourage positive thoughts at bedtime?

Sunday, 31 March 2019

Super Sibling Co-ordinates by Teether

(Review - Gifted)

Do you ever co-ordinate your children and dress them in the same outfits? I have to say, having a 5 year old boy and a 3 year old girl, it's not something I've ever considered! I haven't even twinned them in matching Christmas jumpers as each year they prefer to choose their own!


I've always thought it was cute to see twins dressed in matching clothes, and even same-sex siblings of different ages, but dressing my son and daughter in co-ordinating outfits has never really crossed my mind...until now!

Teether, an online baby boutique based in the UK have recently introduced a new design in their siblings range which we were lucky enough to review! We were sent two t-shirts with a shiny foil print - copper for the boys and rose gold for the girls.

Sibling t-shirts with copper and rose gold foil print.

Sunday, 17 February 2019

Guest Post: How to Find the Best Educational Activities on Holiday in Italy

As regular readers to our blog will know, we are passionate about teaching and learning languages and inspiring youngsters to become more culturally aware

This week, I am delighted to bring you a fantastic guest post from Mammaprada's Kristie, who will introduce you to the amazing opportunities on offer from Arte al Sole. So if you're considering a holiday in Italy this year, read on to discover how to find the best educational activities on offer for the family...and maybe even some child-free time for yourselves! 


Buongiorno!

Firstly, thank you Rachel for allowing me to write on your lovely blog this week! We share a lot of the same values and interests, so it’s wonderful to talk to your readers and share my experiences.

I’m Kristie and I write at Mammaprada. I’m English, married to an Italian. We live in London and are raising two bilingual bambini! Raising children with two languages and cultures is quite full on sometimes. We’re very passionate about learning, not just in terms of words and phrases, but also sharing our cultures with our children.

We’re big believers in education coming in many forms and not being confined to a classroom.

I’m always on the lookout for interesting products or programmes. Or meeting (even virtually!) other determined parents or those with a desire to make a positive impact on their little ones.

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Our Favourite Places to Visit in North Staffs: Westport Lake

In this series, we will be telling you all about our favourite places to visit in our local area, North Staffordshire. We are lucky enough to live right on the edge of the Staffordshire Moorlands and the beautiful Peak District, so we are spoilt for choice when it comes to the great outdoors! We're also a stone's throw away from the hustle and bustle of busy towns and of course Stoke-on-Trent city centre, not to mention the M6. So with the best of both worlds on our doorstep, we have plenty of places to visit!


The first place featured in our series is Westport Lake. It's the perfect nearby place to go to get outdoors for a few hours.

WESTPORT LAKE


Where is it?


Westport Lake is located in the heart of Stoke-on-Trent, near Middleport and Tunstall. It's Stoke-on-Trent's largest expanse of water and was created along side the Trent and Mersey Canal. Just off the A500, it's easily accessible by car. Once you're there, you can't really tell you're in the middle of a built up area on the border of the city!

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

A - Z of Multisensory Language Learning for Kids: Letter E

As you may know, in this series, I'll be sharing some multisensory language learning ideas, which will help you to teach languages to your young children in a fun, engaging way. If you're not teaching languages however, most of these activities can be adapted to fit many themes in your own language too! I'm sorry there's been such a big delay in getting the letter E to you - life just seems so busy at the moment!


You can find quick links to our previous posts in this series, including other language learning blog posts on our Language Learning Adventure page. 



E is for...

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Time for Positivi-Tea! Can a Good Cuppa Really Solve Anything?

(Review -  Gifted)

There's nothing quite like a good cup of tea! It's our nation's favourite drink, with the average Brit drinking 3 to 4 cups a day! But can a good brew really solve anything? Well, of course boiling the kettle isn't going to end world hunger or find a cure for disease, but on a day-to-day basis, so many of us seek solace in a cuppa.


There are so many varieties of tea available now, there seems to be a tea to compliment every mood and ailment! Do you seek comfort in a cup of traditional English breakfast, or relaxation with a cup of chamomile and lavender? Perhaps you prefer the soothing benefits of a cup of peppermint or ginger tea, or the rejuvenating qualities of a cup of green?

There's even a tea to help you get ready for labour - although I'm not sure it did much for me other than send me on more toilet trips than I care to remember! As if my bladder didn't already have enough to cope with!

Shibui Tea


Edinburgh born tea company Shibui Tea's philosophy is all about sourcing and sharing great quality tea. The company was even set up over a few pots of the good stuff! They specialise in seeking out great ingredients from all over the world, and combining them to create many distinct flavours of loose tea and pyramid tea bags.