Sunday, 20 April 2014

Fun at the Pop Up Festival of Stories.

Yesterday we went along to the Pop Up Festival of Stories at Enginuity and the Museum of Iron in Coalbrookdale. We had seen it advertised and it looked like it could be fun and it was free, so win win! The weather wasn't quite as balmy as promised but it stayed fine so all was well. We went along close to the start of the festival thinking we would be there a couple of hours tops, we ended up there for about 4 hours in the end, so that in itself shows how much fun we had! The festival was set up inside and outside of the museums and the different areas were set up to reflect the book that was being read/advertised. There were quite a few authors there with their books all set to inspire and engage the young and slightly older people of Shropshire! We all had fun playing the different instruments in Ken Wilson-Max's pop up jungle area and having a go with some that we had never seen before.
There was also a big piece of card set up in a jungle theme with paint and circular sponges to help create a bright collaborative picture with everyone. We moved on to a really large room full of displays and art and craft stations overflowing with goodies to get creative with. There were people there to help inspire you if you were a bit stuck and of course the books themselves created a lot of food for thought of what you could design. You could take your finished piece home or add it to the displays. There were authors reading their books at different points and some great drama work from TADLOP theatre group. We moved on from our craft activity to have a look outside but stopped via a giant piece of art on the floor that everyone could join in with. It was set up by an author and illustrator called James Mayhew. Magee and Magoo loved adding to it and I was admiring the illustration of the character called Katie.
There were a few stalls to look at in the courtyard area which were interesting and then we were enticed in to the next area by it's twinkly fairy lights. Inside it had a lovely feel about it. The story was called Kite Spirit and there were lots of beautiful paper kites hung up with poems on them. Magee and Magoo loved the cosy material tent and looking at the props on display. Over at the Museum of Iron there were food outlets and the obligatory ice cream van! We settled for pizza from The Really Good Pizza Co we had to wait a while but it was yummy, so worth it! The last part we went to was Julia Golding's Young Knights and Dangerous Dragons where Magee and Magoo got to decorate a shield, they loved this and enjoyed playing Knights with them afterwards.
The festival is popping up in Essex and Camden too so do go along if you can as it was great fun and very inspiring, follow them on facebook to keep updated. I have certainly been looking up the authors since and I am sure I will be reading quite a few of their books at some point.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Firm Favourite

Having a small house and being mindful of the environment, we try not to go overboard with toys. We love wooden toys as they last a long time and can withstand knocks and bumps, they are tactile and look great too. We also love the fact they can be reused/recycled and that another family can enjoy them once we are finished with them. It is great to know that they come from an ethically sound source in the first place. I will talk in a separate post about the different ones we have maybe but I just wanted to do a quick one today about the firm favourite in our house, that is the wooden railway. Mr Magoo loves trains and we kicked off his train set with a basic Ikea figure of eight to see whether he would like it. He did, so there started his collection! We have various wooden Thomas the Tank trains with Gordon being the flavour of the month at the moment. We are lucky enough to have a great second hand toy stall at our local market and we got a big bag of track and accessories for £20 which went down well as a 3rd birthday present.
Most of our accessories such as the station, bridges, tunnel etc are all from Bigjigs we love them as they are such great quality are bright and colourful too. I also love the environmental and ethical responsibilities that they take seriously. It is great to buy from a company that cares about where their products are sourced. It is nice to see Mrs Magee actually playing with the trains now as well rather than just bashing them around or pushing her brother's ones off the track! So it looks set to be popular with her too and it will be lovely to see them continue to make up stories and adventures together as they get older. Definitely a set we will continue adding to and will be enjoyed for years to come.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Wheely good fun!

When choosing a first bike for Mr Magoo we were set on getting a balance bike as we loved the idea of getting used to no stabilisers from the start. Then it was just the matter of deciding on exactly which one, what a minefield! There are so many makes out there. At first we thought a wooden one would be great due to our love of wooden toys but once we had investigated lots of makes and read a lot of reviews we settled on a Strider bike from learning early.
We loved the fact it was light and looked cool. Plus seeing as it is good quality we hoped to be able to use it for any future children too. Mr Magoo had it for an early Christmas present when he was just over 2 and he had a good go at it at first but it was a bit hit and miss. He wasn't really a huge fan of it and when he saw a friend with a mini microscooter then that became his dream machine! The lucky boy got one last Christmas when he was 3 1/2 and loved it immediately. We tried out Mrs Magee with the bike and she was a natural from the start.
So it all worked out well in the end! A few months on and they are both getting on really well with their new wheels. It was lovely to see them riding around together and Magee trying to keep up with her big bro!
Magoo has mastered the brake on the back now and really gets up some speed at times which leaves me with my heart in my mouth! Daddy has even put one on his Christmas list now so he can join in the fun!

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Imagine, imagine, imagine!

Having a good imagination is so great and really opens the door to whole new worlds. I go through fits and starts about worrying about the amount of TV the littles watch. It isn't on all day but neither is it limited to an hour a day. You feel bad when you hear about people that have banned the TV altogether but then not so bad when others have it on all day. Like most things in life I think you should do stuff in moderation and not feel guilty! For me the TV is great to keep them occupied whilst I need to start dinner or do something where they can't join in or help as there just isn't the room. I also put my hands up to using it sometimes to give me some peace for ten minutes so I can do something I want to do or just need some time out! We will sit and watch things together too and we'll talk about what's going on or join in with the counting/letters etc if it is something like Numtums or Alphablocks etc. Magoo is at the age now where he likes certain films and it has been really nice to sit and watch Toy Story or Cars with him and see how much he gets in to them. It certainly doesn't curtail his imagination afterwards either as he doesn't just reenact parts of the film he plays his own games with the different characters. Magee has an active imagination too and loves 'cooking' you things or playing cafes/shops with Magoo.
They made me laugh today as they went in to the yard and Magoo picked up part of his hotwheels track and asked me what pizza I would like! Magee copied and they were soon taking my orders and 'cooking' me up different pizzas with all sorts of elaborate toppings! The only pieces of equipment they had were the 'pizza peels' (a cricket stump and the track) and the 'ovens' (garden chairs), the rest was all made up! We had lots of different toppings including standard pizza express flavours with some added extras like cat crisps, strawberries and chocolate. Yes that was cat crisps! I determined that these were not made from cats or cat food but were cat shaped! Thank goodness!