Christmas today

Lego Advent calendar roundup

So we are about to end the year so this seems like a good time to wrap up the Lego advent calendar review we run across all of December.

Overall, we had fun with both advent calendars and know that we now have more quality Lego in the house (rather than cheap chocolate in tummies or other tokens to deal with).

2015 Lego advent calendars in full

Calendar content

I wrote about the content of the calendars each day, and quite a variety of items were received. You can see images of each day’s calendar in the following reviews:

Lego Santa beside two Christmas treesMy five year old says her favourite items were Santa’s head (city) and “from Friends, the rabbit and Christmas tree the same much”.

Her seven year old brother’s favourites were Santa and the catapult.

I may be biased but I also loved Santa, especially on his chair beside a Christmas tree.

Overall thoughts

“Great! I liked them because we have to open them up and build for each. And I love chocolate. I like the Christmas tree because it’s like our Christmas tree. I love the Lego calendar because you can mix things up and put them in a different order, “says my five year old. Note she was given a chocolate advent calendar so was also doing that each day, thus the chocolate comment!

My son’s summary was “It’s awesome!!! It was cool to have it as a theme and I like City more than Friends (but I’m not really sure why!)”

So going back to the original questions, I think there is value in these calendars – buying them on special certainly helps as they are not cheap (especially if buying more than one). But given there is real Lego to keep forever, the kids are practising counting and number skills, it is fun, each day involved fine motor skills, and we had a family activity, I think it was worth the money.

I admit I had previously thought of buying Lego in other ways and making my own Lego advent calendar to get greater financial value. That would mean a lot of time and effort on my part, and would not have 24 little self-contained sets so any money saved in the upfront cost would not be worthwhile.

Repeat advent calendars?

The real test of how good the calendars were is whether or not we’d do it again next year…

Personally, I think we will do them again next year (unless the kids completely lose interest in Lego between now and then which is extremely unlikely!)

Mr seven replied with “I would like another one next year, but would be even happier if it was a ninjago calendar!”

Miss five answered “I want to do it again, too, but I’d like it to be a Frozen baby theme calendar.”

What do you think – would you have a Lego advent calendar next year based on our reviews or your experience of them?

And importantly, if we use advent calendars in 2016, would you enjoy another set of daily reviews? Or maybe just weekly updates…

Santa’s busy night – Christmas book review

Santa’s busy night

Cover of 'Santa's Busy Night' picture bookThe Five Mile Press, Scoresby, 2015

Age group: preschool

The story

Santa prepares at home then heads out to deliver gifts before celebrating with reindeer at home.

My reviewSample illustration from 'Santa's Busy Night'

I like this board book. While it obviously needs to be simple for young children, it covers a lot of ideas through the text and images.

For instance, it includes colours, numbers and shapes within the story and introduces the idea of Santa being tired out by all he does on Christmas Eve.

The sleigh on the front cover in inset and texture for young children to enjoy feeling – it makes the sleigh shiny, interesting and special.Sample illustration from 'Santa's Busy Night'

I like the happy images of the reindeer, and I like the humour of Santa giving the dog and cat the wrong gifts. On the other hand, I’m not so sure it’s a good thing to give kids the idea that Santa may confuse gifts…

It is a happy story and sure to be enjoyed by any youngster, just as it was by my three year old nephew on Christmas Day!

 

Lego advent review for day 24

The Lego advent calendars have gone so well with the children enjoying them and actually managing to leave the Lego with the calendars to complete the sets!

All the previous reviews are still online – jump back to read about day 23 or read them in order from day one.

But tonight was the big one, flap 24!

To complete the icy winter theme, the Friends calendar gave my daughter a cute little penguin on an ice-berg which she was very happy with.

Lego Friends advent calendar penguin collage

But Lego City delivered as expected – Santa! Complete with a sack and a spare beard!), Santa was behind flap 24 and has since been put in his rightful spot of Santa’s chair beside the Christmas tree. Actually, he was also put between it and the Friends Christmas tree.

Lego City advent calendar Santa collage

If you have been doing any sort of advent calendar, I hope you have enjoyed it and are excited by opening this last one!

Merry Christmas for tomorrow :)

Lego advent review for day 23

Moving onto day 23 of the Christmas count down! Remember you can read introduction to our Lego advent reviews or catch up on day 22.

But onto tonight’s calendar…

My son’s Lego City calendar gave him what we took as a space ship which nicely matched last night’s two rockets. Then my son realised that it actually attaches to last night’s tower and creates a space craft. Considered as one or two items, my son is quite happy with it :)

Lego City advent calendar spaceship

Sticking to the a Christmas sentiment, my daughter was very pleased to get a Christmas tree! Not surprisingly, the City and Friends trees were compared – Friends has a taller tree but no presents, and it has lights rather that just ornaments on the City tree.

Collage of Lego Friends Christmas Tree

With only one more flap to open, we’re getting close to Santa’s arrival… It will be an interesting climax to find out what we get tomorrow night :)

Lego advent review for day 22

Day 22 and another Lego City surprise – two rockets with a launch tower! I didn’t see that coming :)

Collage of Lego City rockets and people

Lego Friends produced a little stall with three coloured bottles on top. This has been happily added to the cupcake stall and table area :)

Bootle on a stand (Lego Friends)

Jump back to the start of our Lego advent reviews or catch up on yesterday’s.

 

 

Poinsettia Christmas wreath

When I got the BHG Christmas magazine, one of the things I decided to try was the wreath made out of Poinsettias – the aim being to make it with my five year old as a fun Christmas activity.

So, I have made it and the five and seven year olds both helped a little, and I think it looks ok. Once I got it figured out, it wasn’t too hard to make but it did take some thinking as the instructions were lacking in some areas.

Making the wreath

Ok, to make this wreath, you need a few things. In the magazine, the instructions are actually divided into two as you can just make the poinsettia flowers to hang or you can use those flowers to make the wreath.

Putting the two lists together, you will need:Requireemtns to make a poinsettia Christmas wreath

  • red felt (about 12 cm by 90 cm in total – it can be in different dimensions)
  • a 23cm flat bottomed polystyrene wreath (it took me time to find a large one and mine is actually 29cm thus the extra felt and bells I used)
  • Christmas ribbon
  • string (I used Christmas coloured rope instead)
  • 21 small bells (I used 27)
  • a hot glue gun and glue

Making the flowers

This is the trickiest part of making the wreath and certainly is not child friendly because of the hot glue.

First step is to cut out eight tear-shaped petals and one circle for each of the seven (or nine in my case!) flowers. The pattern in the magazine needed to be made larger so I free handed it.

My hint is to cut out a few of the paper templates so you don’t have to pin the templates quite so often! I certainly folded the material in half so I could cut two at once – there are at least 56 petals to cut out!

The magazine told me to glue each petal like a cone. With some experimenting, I can tell you that you need to keep the pointed end of the petal outwards and fold the curved end over.

fingers folding red felt to make a petal

Then add some glue and fold over the other curved side.

fingers holding red felt petal

It is fiddly and I had my fingers in hot glue a number of times so please don’t give this to young children to do!

The next part if much easier – glue eight curled petals onto a circle of felt. You can lay them out perfectly around the circle by doing them in pairs on either side of the circle, but I found it much easier to add them side by side when the kids helped me as they had trouble getting the points centred otherwise.

Little hands gluing petals onto a felt circle

Add three dobs of hot glue in the entre of the flowers and stick a bell on each one. This my five and seven year olds did manage and enjoying.

small hand adding bells to a felt flower

By now, you can clearly see the flowers and my daughter called them amazing! The big advantage of the hot glue gun is how quickly the glue is set – no wasted time waiting for things to dry.

Putting the wreath together

The next part is easy – lay all the flowers on your wreath, adjusting the spacing until they all fit nicely and cover most of the wreath.

Foam wreath partially covered by red felt flowers

One by one, hot glue a flower onto the wreath until all are in place. Then, glue a bow of the ribbon into the gap between the last two flowers. You can tie a bow then just glue it on (or glue on the ribbon then tie a bow), but I glued it into place and to form a bow so I know it won’t come undone.

Ribbon glued onto wreath to form a bow

Turn the wreath over and hot glue a length of string onto the wreath to form a hanging loop.

View of the back of the wreath where handing loop is attached

Attaching the loop is simple

All that’s left to do now is hang it! Or wrap it to give as a gift I suppose.

Felt poinsettia wreath handing on a blue wall

The finished product is quite good I think

 

Lego advent review for day 21

So we’re up to day 21 now, and everyone can count the number of sleeps until Christmas!

If you missed what the calendars gave us yesterday, you can catch up on day twenty. Read introduction to our Lego advent reviews or for the whole picture.

So tonight’s finds were quite interesting and unexpected, to my thinking anyway.

The Lego City calendar produced a campfire and marshmallows on sticks – something I love but don’t associate with snow or Christmas!

Lefo people toasting marshmallows on a campfire

And for some unfathomable reason, Lego Friends gave my daughter a catapult with a ‘snowball’ to fling at Lego things. It is so far from what I was thinking, especially in the last days of the advent calendars, but nice to see such things are not reserved for boys! The back of the flap carries a warning (to not fling the ‘snowball at people’s faces) as well as instructions, too.

Snowball catapult and warning from lego Friends advent calendar

What do you think – is a campfire and a catapult unexpected, or do they fit the overall themes we’ve been seeing in the calendars?

 

 

 

Melbourne’s Myer windows

Growing up in Melbourne means visiting the Myer windows for Christmas.

Collage of Myer windows, Christmas 2015

A long standing tradition

As I mentioned last week, this is the 60th year that Myer has been providing this festive delight to Melbournians.

Like many Melbournians, I remember heading into the city (and going by train just added to the excitement!) to view the windows as a child and again with my friends as a teenager. Now, I get to take my children in and share the experience with them.

All but a few years had moving parts to the displays, and all years have a theme linking the six windows.

60 years

To celebrate the fact that the Myer windows are 60 years old, one of this year’s windows was very special. It showed the back of a typical scene so we can see the mechanism allowing for movement.

On either side of that scene was a bookshelf containing items/characters from old window themes. That is one window I wish I had been able to spend more time at, but it went quickly and was of less interest to my kids.

2015 – the little dog story

Little dog sitting in front of a gate in Myer windowSo this year, the theme behind the Myer Christmas windows is the book Little dog and the Christmas wish by Corinne Fenton.

Each window has a little dog at the front of the window looking into the scene of the story. The story can be heard and read as you move along the series.

As the little dog move around the suburbs and city of Melbourne, the various scenes show Melbourne from the 50s.

Changes over time

When we visited the windows last week I noticed a few changes from when I was younger.

  • there are structured queues so everyone gets a turn and starts at one end of the windows – and the doorways into Myer are kept free for shoppers! I remember crowds of people in front of each window, and you just saw them as you could.
  • the displays are behind a curtain. The curtain goes up, the story and movement starts, then the curtain goes down again to signal it’s time to move onto the next scene. There’s nothing to really stop you watching a particular scene more than once, but it is a good way to keep things moving smoothly
2015 Myer windows with 60th sign and little dog

The Little dog looking at the closed screen

Lego advent review for day 20

Moving onto day twenty of the Christmas count down! Remember you can read introduction to our Lego advent reviews or catch up on day nineteen.

So, tonight my son got a snowman which he is happy with. This snowman has a scarf so looks a little different from the Friends snowman found on day four.

Collage of the Lego city advent calendar snowman

The Lego Friends advent calendar gave my daughter the pieces to construct two yellow arches – she called them bridges while my son called them rooves. I’m not sure what their purpose is and am hoping that will become clearer with tomorrow’s discovery! Mind you, my daughter was quite happy with them and having to build them.

Yellow arches from Lego Friends

Lego advent day 19

Moving onto day nineteen of the Christmas count down! There are now five more flaps to open…

Lego Friends tonight may be small but offers lots of play options as it is a storage unit for ice-hockey sticks and pucks. My daughter was quite happy with the set, especially once she understood the pucks (initially she was upset at the lack of a ball!)

Collage of images of Lego ice-hockey from advent calendar

In a nice surprise, the Lego city calendar today gave my son a Lego girl! She is holding a cupcake (not an ice-cream!) and a mobile phone – I’d be happier if the phone wasn’t pink but it’s nice a girl was included my son’s set.

Lego city girl, dog and snowman

A Lego girl with a dog and snowman form the City advent calendar

Remember you can read introduction to our Lego advent reviews or catch up on day eightteen.

Inspector Gadget saves Christmas

Last night we sat as a family  and watched Inspector Gadget saves Christmas.

It was shorter than we expected (more an episode rather than a movie) but it was fun to watch together. My five and seven year olds enjoyed it, although having not seen Inspector Gadget before they took a little while to understand he is fairly inept!

Gadget’s niece, Penny, goes with him to the North Pole after hearing stories that Santa may be in trouble. The elves have been mesmerised into drones and Santa imprisoned by a man still angry over not getting a requested gift on Christmas Eve!

So a nice bit of fun rather than the repeated Christmas movies.

Lego advent review day 18

Moving onto day eighteen of the Christmas count down! Remember you can read introduction to our Lego advent reviews or catch up on day seventeen.

My son and I love the husky, and his bowl and bones, in the Lego city box tonight. I know previously that the huskies are printed in such a way that they are realistic and no two are painted identically.

Lego husky with a dirnking bowl under a street lamp

These Lego huskies are very cute!

Lego Friends on the other hand gave my daughter a table. It was not clear at first what it was meant to be (there only being four pieces!) but once created we could see it was a table to go with yesterday’s benches.

Lego girls sitting at a table

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