How to do finger knitting – Plus win a copy of Boycraft

boycraftToday we are sharing a gorgeous craft from the new book ‘Boycraft’. Finger knitting is so easy to learn and is a brilliant craft for both boys and girls. You can make cool scarves, bracelets and headbands. All you need are your fingers and some wool. Although this craft idea is aimed at boys and girls we also love it too – why not try your hand at it as well?

We also have 3 copies of the book ‘Boycraft; to giveaway. Scroll down to find out how to enter.

finger knit photo final shot

******************************************************************************

It night sound complicated but follow these steps carefully to start finger knitting. Once you’ve got the hang of it – it’s easy peasy.

1. Tie a piece of wool around your left hand thumb . Weave the wool loosely in front of your first finger, behind the next, in front of the next, round your little finger and back to the thumb. Now take the yarn across all your fingers so it lies just above the first layer of loops. Leave the thumb alone. It just acts as the anchor.

finger knit 1

 

2. Using your right hand, grab the first loop of wool on your first finger and take it over the wool that’s lying just above it and right over your finger. Do the same with the wool loops on the other three fingers.

finger knit 2

3. Take the yarn all the way round the back of your fingers and over the front again. Repeat steps 2 and 3 about ten times.

finger knit 3

4. Now take the wool off your thumb and pull gently down at the back. You can seer the knitted tube beginning to form. Just keep repeating steps two and three until it is as long as you want.

finger knitting 4

5. Cut off the yarn leaving a tail about 20cm (8in) long. Thread the tail through each stitch in turn, starting wit the little finger and slipping them off as you go.

finger knit 5By using more than one strand of wool at a time you can make a thick multi-coloured rope. You can also knit your strands together to make your scarf even chunkier.

 

finger knit photo 1

********************************************************************************

boycraftWe have three copies of this brilliant new craft book ‘BoyCraft;’ to give away. Simply leave a comment below and from all comments received by midnight on 30th April we will pick out 3 lucky winners. Usual Netmums terms and conditions apply.

BOYCRAFT  is a book full of   projects for boys and for girls who want to do something  different … from Papier Mâché Landscapes, Water Bombs, to Egg Eyeballs, Bug Hotels, Jumper Monsters and much more.

BOYCRAFT is stuffed with hands-on  fun ideas to inspire all kids, even those who may not have made things before, to give making things a go!

 

Posted in Art for kids, Competition, Crafts for kids | Tagged , , , , | 73 Comments

50 ideas for family fun

With the Easter holidays in full swing for many and with over a week to go we have put together a list of 50 ideas for free family fun. Why not make a boredom buster jar and fill it with the family’s favourites from this list then whenever anyone dares to utters that phrase ‘I’m boooored’ you can pick out an activity?

boredom busters jar50 ideas for family fun

  1. Make Easter bunny masks in minutes and send the little ones out to hop in the garden.
  2. Give everyone a pound or two and go bargain hunting in the local charity shops.
  3. Head to your local library – there are often craft and storytelling activities in the holidays to enjoy too.
  4. Make a game of Hoopla for the garden from paper plates
  5. Head to the garden centre and buy some sunflower seeds to grow or some tomato or mini cucumber plants for the kids to grow.
  6. Make finger puppets out of washing up gloves and put on a showgloves big four
  7. Take a skipping rope, ball, scooter or kite to the park.
  8. Hop on a train and visit a nearby village or town.
  9. Make egg box ladybirds
  10. Visit the pet shop and see all the baby animals.
  11. Borrow a dog to take on a walk.
  12. Cook up a storm in the kitchen – here are some fab recipes for mini bakers to try.
  13. Make an indoor (or outdoor) obstacle course – snake under a table, jump through a hoop, throw beanbags into a bucket…as much fun to set up as to do!
  14. Make your own playdough
  15. Make your own instruments and then play along to some tunes.
  16. Grab some newspaper and masking tape and have a fashion contest - see who can make the best costumes.
  17. Cut out pictures from magazines or catalogues and make a scrapbook or poster
  18. Make boats from junk and have a sailing contest (in the sink or river at local park)

    Set sail

    Set sail

  19. Make little shoebox houses
  20. Have an indoor treasure hunt – mark wooden pegs with different coloured dots and hide them about the house. Give each child a basket and they have to hunt and collect the pegs – each coloured dot has a different number of points and the winner could get a small prize.
  21. Make a den - grab the clothes horse and a blanket or some sheets pegged to a table and make a cosy den.
  22. Get out the board games and have an afternoon of family challenges
  23. Have a disco in the living room
  24. Make salt paintings
  25. Have a teddy bear’s picnic
  26. Make a human marble run
  27. Head to a nearby farm or farm park
  28. Make marble rolling paintings
  29. Make a house/ship/rocket from an old box
  30. Wash the car (this one might require some bribery!)
  31. Make an indoor racing track with masking tape

    Indoor race track

    Indoor race track

  32. Make a magic potion – grab a huge pan and mix up any ingredients in the cupboards and bathroom!
  33. Go geo-caching
  34. Go to a museum
  35. Go to an art gallery
  36. Make papier mache bowls
  37. Head to the playpark
  38. Go to the beach and paddle in the sea (brrrr)
  39. Go on a bike ride
  40. Hold your own sport’s day (running races, three legged races, long jump…)
  41. Make pom poms and turn them into creatures
  42. Make Easter bonnets and have your own parade
  43. Make your own bracelets
  44. Make a target game with masking tape
  45. Go swimming
  46. Make paper plate frisbeeswinter walk
  47. Make sponge water bombs and have a splashy water fight
  48. Make some gloop
  49. Make a teddy bear zip wire
  50. Make a list of things to spot and head out on a nature walk
Posted in Art for kids, Crafts for kids, Free family fun, Holidays | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Blog of the Week: Enough

Blog_of_the_week_badgeOur Blog of the Week this week comes from Mini Malteser.

It is written straight from the heart, admitting that motherhood is hard sometimes, and although we may not be the perfect mother, that doesn’t mean that we aren’t enough.

********************************************************************************

If you know me you will know that I have found parenting, well, a little overwhelming at times. I have had periods when I regretted even becoming a mother at all, not because of my son, but because of my ability to cope with him; my ability to give my all, my best, and I felt as though I were constantly failing him.

Of course I soon came to the realisation that, yes, I do constantly fail him but actually

Image:Netmums

Image:Netmums

that’s OK. It’s okay because I love him with a bottomless ocean of love and good intentions; an endless supply of burnt fish fingers and sloppy kisses. Children have a lot more grace than we realise and each new day brings new opportunities for better things, and more vigilance when cooking frozen food.

Lately I am learning to come to peace with a lot of disappointments I’ve had about becoming a mother. I have accepted the fact that I will never be perfect. The reality is, the real failures are the things we haven’t even considered; the things we don’t even acknowledge as such, and we sweep them under the carpet along with odd jigsaw pieces and broken crayons. I am learning that my son loves me just because I make him breakfast and I read him stories and I tell him no and yes and maybe at all the times I think appropriate, and although those things may not get me the mother of the year award, it actually is enough.

But being a mum seems to be more than just you and your child because it sometimes feels like you against the world. I have struggled with judgements from other people, the expectations, the pressure I’ve put on myself. I have struggled with body image, identity and juggling a career. All these things have been tough, but the thing I have found hardest is finding a way to come to peace with my disappointments. These are deep rooted in those early days; the missing out on a natural birth, the ‘skin to skin’, the way they took him from me before I could look him in the eyes, the way they placed him on me when I couldn’t even move to touch him. My idyllic hope of spending my first few days with my new family turned into nights on end in a hospital room with a screaming child, while the nurses told my husband visiting hours were over. I felt abandoned and alone.

Image: Netmums

Image: Netmums

That’s over three years ago now and you’re probably thinking that I should just forget about it, but what that would mean is sweeping it under the carpet along with those odd bits of jigsaw pieces and never really dealing with it at all. What that means is that life is all rosy on the outside, but every time someone mentions they had an ‘easy’ labour or they loved breastfeeding or felt ‘on a high’ after giving birth that I feel like punching them in the face – and that, my friend, is not dealing with anything at all. You will meet a lot of women who are carrying a lot of unnecessary disappointments and unless they are dealt with they will be left to rot.

I’ve realised that it’s time to accept these things for what they are and to start again like a child would; each new day brings new opportunities for better things. Because the reality is, that when Albie was placed on my numb body for the first time, he looked at me and he stared at me with his intent gaze, and he knew exactly who I was, even if I or the rest of the world didn’t. His eyes said ‘mum, is that you?’, and that, actually, was enough.

*****************************************************************************

Becoming a new mum

Postnatal depression

 

Posted in Babies, Blog of the Week, Body image, post natal depression | 6 Comments

Writing my way out of darkness

The AccidentToday’s guest blog comes from author CL Taylor who wrote her novel ‘The Accident’ in the weeks after having her baby when she was suffering from PND. We have been lucky enough to read an advance copy of ‘The Accident’ and devoured it in one sitting- it’s gripping and a brilliant read. The novel is published on the 10th April but we have five copies to giveaway. Simply leave a comment on this blog piece to enter.

******************************************************************
How writing ‘The Accident’ helped me overcome undiagnosed PND – CL Taylor

I knew I was suffering from PND but wouldn’t accept it. ‘I’m just sleep deprived’ I’d tell CL Taylormy partner. ‘If I could just get a decent night’s sleep I’ll be fine’. Only I didn’t. I didn’t get more than a two hour uninterrupted stretch of sleep for 7 long months. My beautiful, adorable son wanted to feed all through the night, every night. ‘There’s a reason why sleep deprivation is used as a torture device’ the midwife told me when I went to her in desperation. Only I hadn’t broken the law – all I’d done was have a baby.

I’d expected the ‘baby blues’, to be tearful for a few days. But I didn’t expect to cry every day. Or hallucinate the pavement tipping and shifting as I pushed my wailing son through unfamiliar streets. Or to cross bridges and think, ‘If I jumped I’d get some sleep.’

People kept telling me things would get better at 6 weeks, 12 weeks; that ‘sooner or later’ he’d start sleeping through but it didn’t happen. I was breastfeeding and he refused to take a bottle so my partner couldn’t help ease the burden. I felt trapped.

I didn’t share my feelings with anyone. Not that there was anyone to tell. We moved into our house in Bristol when I was seven months pregnant and the other only person I knew had three children and a full time job and I didn’t want to burden her. I didn’t want to tell my partner either. I’m proud and stubborn and I wanted him to think I was doing a good job, that I was a good mum.

I joined an NCT group but none of their babies cried like mine or were so incessantly hungry. And I didn’t trust them enough to open up. They weren’t my friends. They were a bunch of strangers who happened to be pregnant at the same time as me.

Each time my health visitor mentioned her PND checklist I’d distract her so she’d forget. The AccidentEvery PND mother fears their baby being taken away. You know the dark thoughts you’re having aren’t right but you’re damned if you’re going to say them out loud. She told me I should nap when the baby did but it would take me half an hour to fall asleep and my son would wake 15 minutes later. A snatchof sleep is worse than no sleep at all so I’d stay awake instead. And that’s when I started writing ‘The Accident’.

I took every dark thought, every fear and every worry that was plaguing me and I poured them into my novel. I couldn’t pop out for a coffee with a friend so my characters kept me company instead. I listened to their stories and I wrote them down. And with each word I wrote, each chapter I finished, the feeling of hopelessness and darkness slowly began to dissipate. I wrote my way back to me.

*******************************************************************************

The AccidentThe Accident. A fabulously gripping psychological thriller that will have you hooked from the very first page, this is the perfect read for fans of Before I Go to Sleep and Gone Girl.

Published on 10th April by Harper Collins.

We have five copies of ‘The Accident’ to giveaway. Simply leave a comment below and from all comments received by midnight on 30th April we will pick out ten lucky winners. Usual Netmums terms and conditions apply.

Posted in Authors, Books and reading, Competition, post natal depression | Tagged , , , , , | 42 Comments

Maths and science – the gender divide

Today’s guest blog is from Childcare Minister Elizabeth Truss, who answers key questions about why not as many girls as boys are choosing to study maths and science to higher levels.

*****************************************************************************

Q – Why don’t more girls want to study maths and science at A level and Trussbeyond?

A – I think that often young people don’t realise that they are closing off future career opportunities by dropping maths. There is often an incorrect assumption it’s for specialists, or just those that want to do a science degree. Many don’t know that maths and science are becoming the basis of more and more jobs – everything from marketing to law.

With A-level maths, you will earn 10 percent more in your thirties than if you don’t take it. And top universities are increasingly looking for maths A level. For example, 70 percent of students entering Cambridge University have maths A Level.

If students don’t realise that maths keeps their options open, they’re more likely to drop it.

There is also an issue with girls: compared to boys, they lack confidence in maths and science, and their confidence decreases as they get older. We know that this is a culture problem, as the gap is virtually non-existent in many countries.

Q – How will studying maths and science benefit girls?

A – According to the OECD, maths qualifications are the best protection against low pay Truss - girls and scienceand unemployment. Young people will be far more likely to earn more, because there is such high demand for maths skills across the economy.  It will also mean that more careers are open to them in growing areas, like technology and social media.

Q – Won’t studying maths and science only lead to careers in those fields; my daughter doesn’t want to be an accountant or work in a laboratory.

A – No. It would be quicker to name careers that don’t use maths. The world is changing, and whether your child wants to be a lawyer, farmer, designer, inventor, banker, retailer, marketer, charity worker, PR person, entrepreneur – or just about anything – maths is useful. Technology and big data has had a huge impact on all these industries. And the analytical and problem solving skills developed by studying science and maths are in demand in every field, where many of the routine roles have been automated. Like the media: 5 years ago ‘data journalists’ didn’t exist. Now they’re just about the only jobs in journalism that are growing. So far from closing down options, studying maths and science expands them.

Q – Won’t choosing to study science or maths at A level narrow their options to only taking degrees in those subjects?

A – No. The opposite. The Russell Group, an association representing many of the top UK Truss - schoolsUniversities,  say that maths is by far the most commonly required subject for entry to degree programmes at the UK’s leading universities.

The boundaries between arts and sciences are blurring, like digital humanities in English, or statistical analysis in history. When the skills of maths are about logic, argument, and problem-solving, it’s clear that maths is valuable for studying a range of degrees.

Q – My daughter doesn’t know what she wants to do, how could studying maths and science at A level help her?

A – It’s fine if she doesn’t know what to do. Many children don’t know what they want to do when they grow up. Neither do many adults. It’ll only become a problem if she starts to close off her options. That’s what dropping maths means, effectively: denying her a shot at jobs in a huge swathe of the modern economy. The Chinese have a proverb: ‘maths gets you everywhere’ – and it’s true.

Q – Will there be jobs available in areas related to maths and science in the future?

A – Yes, and the trend is only going to get stronger. As technology becomes ever-more important, we can expect that demand to grow in unexpected places. I find in my job as a politician an increasing requirement to understand statistics and systems. This is happening across the jobs market. Just as important, we want all our children to be masters of their own destiny: and maths and science are a sound basis for starting up businesses, too.

Q – Are boys better at maths and science?

A – No. Girls are just as good, but they are more likely to be anxious about maths and give up maths and science earlier. We know from other countries that a gender gap isn’t inevitable: that with the right culture, we can encourage boys and girls to do well in maths and science.

We need to abandon outdated ideas about what girls and boys are good at and the culture where people think it’s acceptable to say “I’m rubbish at maths”, which has an influence on the next generation.

 Q – Don’t girls find maths and science boring? Isn’t it just the case that they don’t want to study these subjects?

A –I often find girls I meet in schools report maths or science to be their favourite subject. The quality of teaching is vital – which is why the Government gives large bursaries to recruit teachers in these subjects.

Maths and science are inherently creative and exploratory. It’s enjoyable to understand the world you live in and be able to master and apply new techniques. We also need everyone, from parents to teachers, to get across the benefits of studying maths and science.

We should get away from the stereotype of the scientist as a “lone genius”. Actually science and maths are very collaborative and the more you practice, the better you get.

Q – What can I do as a parent to encourage my daughter to study maths and science?

A – First of all, know that you’re hugely influential: family attitudes are one of the most important factors in determining what children do. We all need to encourage confidence. No adult would ever say ‘oh, I can’t read’. We need to be just as wary of ever saying “I’m rubbish at maths”.

When teachers and parents are positive about maths and encourage children to try and persist with maths or science problems, they gain confidence. You don’t have to get it right first time and it’s not about coming up with instant answer or being clever. It’s about thinking through the item and solving problems. And that gets better with practice.

It’s also important that children understand how the maths and science can be used in the outside world and how vital it is to their future prospects. We are encouraging employers to work with schools on this.

Q – What is the Government doing about this?

A – In our new curriculum we are making sure core arithmetic is secure in Primary to build children’s confidence. Secondary maths is all about applying that mathematics and tackling more complex problems. We have also developed new rigorous science and computing curricula.

We want to see the great majority of young people continue to study maths to 18 by 2020, and we want to increase the uptake of science. To this end we are introducing new Core Maths qualifications from 2015, slimmer than the A Level, which will focus on problem solving skills and applications of maths.

Already, a record number of students are taking science and maths A Levels and more girls are taking physics GCSE than ever before – almost the same number as boys.

Posted in Education, School | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Blog of the Week: I’m Just Trying To Work Out How To Be Like Myself!

Blog_of_the_week_badgeIt’s Blog of the Week time again and today we thought we would celebrate World Autism day with this wonderful post from Sonny Days.

Every Sunday Melanthe, who writes Sonny Days, works with a 7 year old boy with autism and ADHD, taking him out into London. This post describes one of those days out and some of the lessons they are learning along the way.

*********************************************************************************

photo 1

Sonny and I do weird stuff when we are out.

Sometimes we stand and watch water run from taps for a while after the toilet.

Sometimes we walk for 15 minutes in the wrong direction because Sonny is adamant it is the correct way, despite me showing him the map on my phone.

Sometimes we go up and down in a lift countless times.

These are all Sonny’s ideas, not mine! But when I take him out into the real world I am aware of how difficult it can be for Sonny.

Too much noise, too many people, too hot, too cold, too much space, too little space, etc. So sometimes even though it’s a bit unconventional, I allow him to do what he wants/needs to do on our days out to make him more comfortable, even if it does seem a little bit odd.

For example, we were at Battersea Park Zoo on Sunday, and it was really sunny and we Sonny Dayssaw all the animals and then went on the climbing frames outside for a while which was lovely. Then as we were on our way out, we went through the zoo’s shop. Some toy snakes caught Sonny’s attention. We sat on the floor and played with them for about half an hour. Sonny especially liked it when I made one of the snakes try to eat him. And then he got very involved with counting them (once he had asked me to put them all around his arms).

Sometimes it is quite hard to not have an agenda of my own for the days out with Sonny, like I REALLY wanted to go outside and have a picnic, (when is there ever sun in March in England!?) instead of playing with snakes inside in the shop! But I wanted to let Sonny do what he needed to first, and then we went outside after. So I try not to interrupt these moments when he gets immersed in something that I wouldn’t even bat an eyelid to. After all, he is just learning about what he likes and doesn’t like. And I am just trying to understand that and understand him.

I remember working with him at school and obviously in that context there were many times he had to adapt to what the adults wanted him to do. But on the weekends and the time I spend with him, I think it is important for him to know he can use it in whichever way HE feels appropriate (to an extent. I would not accept him running around Battersea Park butt naked and stealing people’s food for example.) Because I think a lot of his frustration/anger/fear comes from not feeling in control. And to be fair I get pretty upset when I don’t feel in control.

And if people are constantly telling him what to do and how to play and what is good and what is bad he won’t work it out for himself and won’t know what he likes and doesn’t like. So basically I just try and allow him to be as much as himself as possible.

Often in his life he is made to adapt to our world and all the norms and social etiquettes that come with it, like putting clothes on, or looking at people in the eyes, or being told when he has to eat or to hold an adult’s hand etc. So I value the times when I can step into his world, when he shows me a little bit of what is going on in his busy brain. I feel like I know him better somehow after these moments. I feel like he knows himself better too.

photo 4 copy photo 3 copy photo 5

**********************************************************************************

For information, advice and details of national and local support groups check Netmums. http://www.netmums.com/parenting-support/special-needs/autism-aspergers

Posted in Blog of the Week, bloggers, Humour | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

Win a BrainBox magazine and board game

Today’s guest blog is from Gary Wyatt, founder of Green Board Games Company and BrainBox. He tells us how an idea he had whilst stuck in traffic led to the launch of a brand new board game and magazine for kids. We have copies of the magazine and game to giveaway to two lucky winners. Scroll down to find out how to enter.

*******************************************************************************

Introducing the BrainBox game and new magazine – Gary Wyatt

I came up with the idea for my first game whilst stuck in traffic on the M25. When I started I had three key objectives for each game. Firstly, to make everything from as much recycled material as possible; secondly to have each product educate in the broadest sense of the word; and thirdly to produce products in an ethical way.

Brainbox game

My vision was, and still is, is to produce games that are inclusive so that players of different ages, levels and abilities can play together. Hence the name The Green Board Game Company and a slogan of ‘Play Together,Learn Together’. My team and I now produce games all over the world in many different languages. We had such a great response from BrainBox Games that we wanted to launch a magazine that emulates the game, presenting learning in a fun way to kids of all ages.

Brainbox Magazine is completely different from other childrens’ magazines. It empowers Brainbox magazinechildren by teaching them interesting facts that they can use at school and with their friends and families. We partnered with Dennis Publishing, who have a wealth of experience in publishing magazines, and we worked closely with the editor of the magazine to make sure the content encouraged learning and memory stimulation in a way that would reach all children. Being inclusive was extremely important for us, so the magazine had to cover a variety of topics to appeal to every child – on page one you might have a feature on the world’s most dangerous animals, followed by colouring exercises themed around myths and legends, and then a section on puzzles and fractions or how to be a spy.

The magazine sits in the boys’ magazine section in shops, but this is only because of the way that shops display magazines: we had to choose, but it is clearly aimed at boys and girls. The magazine is based in many ways on the school curriculum – so it needs to be unisex. Each month the issue will cover areas that kids are learning about at school, such as Roald Dahl, Horrible Histories and inventions (which we are actually partnering with the Science Museum for).

Kids love playing games so we’ve made sure there are puzzles and activities in all of the editions. It’s become cool for kids to be smart – and we want to help children to achieve their maximum potential by enjoying learning. They want to be able to show off what they’ve learned and just how much they know, so we included a Board of Achievement in the magazine where readers can celebrate their prizes. We’ve been absolutely inundated by entries from kids who have won spelling bees, got a swimming certificate and evenstorytelling gongs. It’s great to see how enthusiastic kids are about learning and doing well at school and in extra-curricular activities.

brainbox ABC

It’s been brilliant to work on the first two editions of Brainbox Magazine so far, and it has been really well received by children and parents. I’m always looking for suggestions for the magazine from parents and children, so please do get in touch if you have any!

Win…win…win

Brainbox magazineDid you know that Big Ben is the largest four-faced chiming clock in the world? Or that clouds are formed by billions of tiny ice crystals?

BrainBox is a brand new Children’s magazine jam packed with exciting games, puzzles, coloring pages and weird and wonderful facts covering an array of subjects such as nature, history, sports, maths and much more. BrainBox has been designed to encourage children to engage in practical learning activities that are not only fun but also stimulate memory growth.

To celebrate the launch of the magazine, BrainBox has teamed up with Netmums to give 2 lucky readers the chance to win a copy of the BrainBox magazine and game.

For a chance to win, simply answer the following question:

What is the collective noun for more than one lion?

A) flock
B) pride
C) pod

T&Cs: two winners will be chosen at random from winning entries. Winners will be contacted within one month of competition closing. Usual Netmums terms and conditions apply. We’ll pick two lucky winners from all comments received by midnight on 7th April.

For information on BrainBox Games and their collection please visit: Brainbox.co.uk

Posted in Competition, Games for kids | Tagged , , , , | 82 Comments