Top tips to make the most of summer play

top tips for summer play

Our children are part of Generation Z; they spend approximately 7 hours a day at school, a lot compared to our European neighbours, and some children will attend Breakfast club and have after school clubs to attend. The summer holidays are the perfect time to put pens down and play.

Nintendo recently commissioned research that reveals 70% of parents worry that their youngsters are growing up too fast and may lack the ability to bounce back from adversity.

Leading child development and play expert, Dr Amanda Gummer advocates the introduction of play to areas outside of the playground, thanks to its proven impact on cognitive development. Working on the proven theory that when children play and have fun, they learn as well, they become more open to talking about what they think and how they feel.

Dr Gummer advises that parents who feel nervous about approaching difficult topics with children can easily apply playful tactics at home, helping to build on their child’s emotional resilience over the summer and enabling them to think more critically.

Dr Amanda Gummer’s top tips for summer play

1. Spark an enthusiasm for learning with fun educational activities

The summer holidays are the perfect opportunity to really get children enthusiastic about learning with fun, hands-on activities. For instance, they can practice maths by helping out at a car boot sale with the money, have a go at some amazing experiments with science kits or tell stories by creating their own characters.

2. Engage with videogames

It’s helpful to meet children where they are, in order to take them where you want them to be. Videogames are very popular with kids and the right ones can encourage critical thinking and discussion around an array of topics. For instance, the characters and their stories in the popular Nintendo 3DS game based on Japanese Folklore, YO-KAI WATCH® offers an imaginative platform to talk about real-life issues, such as falling out with friends or bullying – issues which often crop up during long school holidays.

Bess Nintendo car

3. Encourage playing together

Group games are brilliant for getting family and friends to play together, while helping children learn to think strategically, plan ahead, and work with others. There are many board and card games that also support key educational topics like maths so you can be confident that kids are learning whilst enjoying themselves.

4. Mix and match playmates

A good mix between playing with friends and family gives children the chance to expand their social skills, build relationships, and share knowledge. An older sibling can sometimes explain a topic to a younger sibling in a better way than a parent or teacher, it feels more playful, and at the same time this is reinforcing their own understanding.

play date

5. Don’t forbid screen time

There’s no reason why children can’t enjoy some screen time, it’s just important to select videogames that captivate them as well as support learning and development. This will help them to think imaginatively and creatively. Brands such as Nintendo offer a variety of games that will make your kids think and apply their brains, such as Disney Art Academy which helps teach children how to create their own art or Teddy Together which teaches them about friendship through the guide of a cuddly teddy bear and encourages chidren to practise their reading, spelling and interpersonal skills. They will feel like they are being given a treat but will be learning at the same time.

6. Allow time for unstructured play

It’s important for children to be in control of at least some of their play, so remember to schedule in time where they can play freely. This allows them to explore their own ideas and build on things they have learned, at their own pace. Building a den, for example, is an exciting way for children to explore the outdoors, harness their imagination and learn to solve problems.

7. Use children’s interests to grab their attention

These few weeks will give children a chance to explore their own interests. Parents can use something a child is big on right now, such as a particular cartoon or game character, to make all sorts of subjects more appealing and really tailor the learning to the child’s individual interests. For example, if a child likes superheroes, parents might get them to write a story about the character to encourage writing skills.

micro sprite scooter

8. Take them out for a breath of fresh air

Rain or shine, outdoor play has many advantages to a child’s development. It’s a great source of exercise, a chance for children to master physical skills, and offers a fascinating world for exploring and imaginative play. Going down the park can be a pain for parents, who end up standing around cold and bored while their children play; we suggest arranging play dates so that parents have someone to talk to and children get the added benefits of mixing with other children.

9. Boredom is good

Parents needn’t feel that children need entertaining every minute of the holidays, because children are perfectly capable of coming up with their own activities and this is actually really good for their development. It encourages children to think for themselves, supporting decision-making and independence, and can stimulate their creativity.

10. Use this opportunity to practice life skills

Life skills are vital, but unfortunately they aren’t always covered in school. So now is the ideal time for parents to get children to help plan and cook meals, clean the house, and generally get their heads around all the chores they will need to survive as adults. Of course they will still need plenty of time to play, but a good work ethic is a valuable thing to instill into a child, just make it fun, for example by bringing in songs and rhymes.

Nintendo blogger

Disclosure: We are part of the Nintendo UK Family Blogger scheme and review products for them on a regular basis plus bring articles that we consider will be of interest to you.

Locked Away. Would you still love me the same?

I started the new job last week, it’s brilliant and I am totally LOVING it, I’ll talk all about it in a separate post because I wanted to tell you about a song I’ve been humming along to in the car to and from work. I have embedded it above and if you click play you will most likely recognise it too. I like this song. It’s very catchy and has a good tune, it’s the lyrics that have been prompting me to write this post …

As the song is sang you quickly realise ‘your man’ is going to be locked up in jail pretty soon and he’s asking you to stay by his side. Now whilst I like the tune and I sing along, as he asks me the questions I find myself replying, ‘No.’ A lot.

It made me realise that the years have taught me and where, maybe as a starry eyed teenager, I may very well have replied, ‘Of course I’ll stay by your side, I will always love you. Don’t worry about everything we’ve lost, we can rebuild our lives.’ and all sorts of other naive nonsense.

This got me thinking about the twins and how they are smitten at the thought of finding their prince. It made me think of how innocent we can be. So Mum needs to put ’em right on a few things and what better opportunity than a pop song which they will remember?

lovehearts, street art dope

If I got locked away and we lost it all today

Tell me honestly would you still love me the same

Girls. If your man gets locked away and you lose everything you have, it means he hasn’t been honest with you. He has been doing things behind your back and putting your welfare at risk. This is not a man who will look out for you and it is the opposite of caring for you. A successful relationship is built on trust and friendship. If those two elements are missing move on, this man isn’t worth your time and I don’t care how good looking he is. There are BETTER fish in the sea.

If I showed you my flaws if I couldn’t be strong

Tell me honestly would you still love me the same

Being transparent with the one you love is also a vital ingredient to finding your soulmate. You and he will have to show your flaws. Don’t worry, nobody is perfect. We all have flaws but if his are petty crime or worse, that end him in jail or a courtroom then no, he’s not worth it. That is the truth and relationships demand 100% truth at all times.

Right about now

If I judge for life

Would you stay by my side

Or is ya going to say good-bye


Did he say he was being judged for life? Get your sweet ass out of there now and don’t ever look back. I don’t even want to know what he’s done but a life sentence is Bad.

Can you tell me right now

If I couldn’t buy you the fancy things in life

Shawty would it be alright

C’mon show me that you do

Earning money is what we do as adults. We go out to work in order to have the money to live and enjoy life, homes, holidays, evenings out and pretty things to wear. We are also bombarded by advertising, girls showing gorgeous designer gear that costs a month’s wages, sometimes more. It’s about being realistic and investing your money on the things that make you both happy. A relationship is all about give and take and trying to find a balance.

london street art love will tear us apart again

Now tell me would you really ride for me (would you really ride for me)

Baby tell me would you die for me (would you die for me)

DIE?? No, never. Your life is the most precious thing you have. Nobody should ever ask you to give it up for them.

Would you spend your whole life with me (wassup)

Would you be there to always hold me down (uh huh uh huh)

Tell me would you really cry for me (would you really cry for me)

Baby don’t lie to me (Baby don’t lie to me)

If I didn’t have anything (wassup)

I want to know would you stick around

If you are lucky enough to meet your soulmate first time round then you most likely will spend your life with them and it won’t be a hardship as you’ll be with the person you love most in the world. There will be moments that you will cry, that’s a huge part of love and you will see there is no need for lying, friends don’t lie to one another.

All I want is somebody real who don’t need much

You will find that there are some things you really do want out of life, one may be a future with children in it. If that is the case you will most likely want a place of your own. You may like the idea of an annual holiday, an occasional meal out in a fancy restaurant. You might like the idea of a family Christmas. I think it’s important to make sure both partners in a relationship are reading from the same page. If the above mentioned things are of no interest to your man then I can see problems ahead.

london street art tour this is not what you think it is

I gotta know that I can trust

To be here when money low

If I did not have nothing else to give but love

Would that even be enough

Yeah we need to know


Cuz I need a girl to hold me down for life

Would you still love me the same

‘Hold me down for life’ – You will find that if someone loves you as much as you love them, you will both happily stay together and enjoy every moment.

We have a lot of time ahead to talk through relationships and life but this song triggered these thoughts that I wanted to share with you both; basically girls, if he’s going to jail then let him go.

The official music video features three different scenes: a soldier leaving his family to return to service, a man and a woman fighting to make ends meet, and a father and daughter torn apart by her arrest. R. City did it this way because they wanted everybody to connect to the song’s message of perseverance through hardship.

Maleficent party ideas

Maleficent party food table

I took the girls to watch Maleficent at the cinema when it came out and all three of us loved it, we were totally taken with the story and I knew we would enjoy watching it again and again.

When Sky Movies got in touch and asked us to throw a party, one glance at the list and my eyes fell on Maleficent I knew that would be our chosen theme.

sky movies

We returned from our holiday to an enormous box waiting from them and inside we found everything we would need to throw a Maleficent themed party, so I spent some time on Pinterest looking for good ideas.

Follow Marianne’s board Maleficent party ideas on Pinterest.

I wasn’t disappointed and soon I had a long list of way too many ideas, now all we needed was a date and some guests. Maleficent party costumes We enjoyed great food found on the supermarket shelves saving valuable time to chat with the mums rather than being busy in the kitchen. We played games with prizes to win and we sat and watched the film. The party was called a success by all attendees and you can find all of my top tips below but first a chance to win a fabulous prize – 

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Our Maleficent Party ideas


Kindly supplied by Sky Movies, beautiful black wings and long black cloaks. As it’s all set in the Land of Make Believe we decided that any costume would work which allowed each child to dress up as they wish.

Maleficent party food


I didn’t have the time to prepare home made food as ours was a last minute party thanks to a wet weather day so I whizzed around the local supermarket and picked up some children’s favourites, once plated up I dreamt up some new names for the food to make the children smile.

Ham and cheese sandwiches – Roasted raven sandwiches
Berry and apple juice – Dragon’s blood
Orio biscuits – Coins from the Land of Make Believe
Sponge fingers with sultanas – Prick your Finger Surprise
Assorted mini cakes – Bites from Far, Far Away
Maleficent’s Chocolate Fudge Cake with custard or squirty cream


Silent Warriors aka Musical Statues – to represent the fight between the warriors and and the King’s men.

pass the raven game

Pass the Raven. Sky Movies had kindly sent us a couple of decorative ravens and we used one as a pass the parcel, whoever was holding him when the music stopped was out. The above photo is when we were down to the last two contestants.

Watching the film

Of course this was the excuse for our get together and the girls settled down quickly to watch the film. They all enjoyed it and I must point out our afternoon started with watching the film to set the theme and then moved on to party food and games.

Party Bags

Black balloons, pink sparkly bouncy balls and a selection of sweets were given in purple and white striped paper bags.

Make your own mini festival at home

festival fun in a tent

Once upon a time husband and I used to attend festivals, the last one we attended was in Chelmsford Essex at the V Festival and it was fantastic. I got to see so many of my favourite bands and solo artists and just being part of V Festival, the camping, the food, the atmosphere is something I have never forgotten.

Nowadays, the only music I get to listen to is kiddy music and I am enormously grateful we have moved on from the ELC nursery rhymes and at least are now enjoying Now that’s what I call music CD’s.

Last year we had a small taste of Camp Bestival which was superb, I’d thoroughly recommend it to anyone thinking of going as the perfect festival to take children to.

This year we didn’t manage to attend so we decided to make our own mini festival in the back garden with a little help from Tesco who sent over some festival essentials to make it more real.

teepee festival

What do you need to make your own mini festival?

A tent

One of the best parts of attending a festival is the sleeping arrangements, from pop up tents to last year’s accommodation in our caravan at Camp Bestival, anything goes. Tesco sent us this fabulous Teepee which was perfect, even Baxter moved in much to the delight of the girls.


Wellington boots of course! There is an awful lot of walking at festivals from one tent to the next to see your favourite musicians, Britain doesn’t have  the best weather records promising wall to wall sunshine and it has been known on many occasion to get very muddy so wellies are the best footwear. The girls loved their flowery wellies as they had a heel on them. There is nothing like a heel to make them feel more grown up!

Festival accessories

Hats, sunglasses, flowers for your hair. Anything goes and the beauty of being at a festival is playing with what’s available to you. Usually there is a lot of carting back and forth with gear from the car to the tent so the less to carry the better. A great look can be made even better with a couple of well thought out accessories.


Layers, layers, layers. That is how festival dressing works best, you can strip off layers as it gets hot and put them back on as it gets cold.


It’s a great idea to pack some snacks in your bag, raisins, nuts that are good energy and won’t give you a sugar slump later. As for festival food, well look at my Camp Bestival food post EVERYTHING on offer from the perfect burger to South American favourites. Take cash and prepare to try lots of interesting street food from around the world.

Chinese Lantern Fairy Lights

Are they necessary? Absolutely not but aren’t they just the prettiest lights you ever did see? Plus they charge using the sunlight. The girls loved them so much they took them down to the caravan last weekend and were delighted to see them lit up when we returned late from the beach in the evening.

caravan fairy lights

Disclosure: I am working with Tesco and they have sent the above mentioned products for the purpose of this post. See more Tesco festival essentials.

Goodbye Infant school : we’re moving up to junior school

last day of infant school

Yep, today (24th July) was the girl’s last day at Riverview Infant school and it seems the time has shot by since our first day in reception. I have two very different girls now to back then and I couldn’t be prouder of them as they walk out of the infant school with top marks in all areas.

If you are wondering why they aren’t in uniform it’s because we are celebrating the 50 year anniversary of our school today.

First day of big school

When we first started in reception they barely knew the alphabet and could just about hold a pencil, by Christmas they were reading words and phrases and now I am constantly on the hunt for new books. Current favourites are Dorky Diaries, Wimpy Kid and Tom Gates.

When they started back in reception they knew their numbers 1 – 10 and maybe to 20 (Is it bad that I have forgotten what they knew back then?) Now we are learning times tables and tackling division, fractions, the time and money.

Thanks to school they have made firm friendships with a number of girls in their class and I hope these friendships continue through junior school even if they are all being split up into different classes. Good friends are so important in life.

christmas elves in school play

Thanks to school they now have a greater understanding of the world around them and how to interact with people, play with the nice kids.

They have learnt to play recorders, speak Spanish, make puppets in art club. They have acted fantastic productions on stage in front of hundreds of parents remembering their lines and what they have to do.

fallen teeth

We lost a LOT of teeth this year

I can only say great things about Riverview infant school and thank the teachers for the dedication they put into their work, without you I wouldn’t be looking at these two little rounded people today, thank you.

I want to thank the wonderful TA’s we have been lucky to have who with their careful assistance have completed the circle of learning in each year, thank you.

easter bonnets

I want to thank the dinner ladies who sent them home with ‘I bumped my head’ stickers and rubbed away the soreness in my absence, thank you.

I want to thank the secretaries who phoned me when they are poorly and looked after them whilst I ran to collect them.

Fairies in school play

Fairy Liquid (left – Alice) Fairy Sajollygoodfellow (right – Bessie) Cinderella and Rockerfella Leaver’s Concert

I’m going to miss the innocence of infant school, I’m going to miss the unity I felt with the class mums and dads as we all go our separate ways. I’m going to miss the fact they are, sorry were, so small… my babies.

Growing up.

We’re moving up to junior school in September, in Mr Harris’s class (a male teacher – interesting) who will be teaching them about the Stone Age and the Romans and Sexual Education, WHAT?

Really UK? Do we have to start Sexual Education now?

I’m really not sure I am ready for this, are you?