So for anyone in doubt (like Clair02), Lego is definitely doing advent calendars again in 2016!
My kids don’t know we have them yet but I’m sure they will be very happy on 1 December when they come out of the cupboard! I hadn’t really planned to get them yet but I saw them both in the shop on the weekend and cheaper than I’ve seen them before so…
I especially couldn’t resist when I saw how Christmassy the City calendar this year is – featuring Santa in his sleigh won votes from me
So now the question is whether or not I do a daily review of the calendars this year?
Last year, I did an (almost) daily review of the calendars which was fun. But would it better to just do it every second day, or once a week? What would you prefer to read?
I just came across a news article that is wonderful so I am sharing it here 🙂
Ken Miller lives in the USA and literally carves Santas for a hobby and profit!
He carves Santa’s face and body into wooden objects such as rolling pins, bowls and shoes (clogs), and then paints them. Some are given as gifts and others he sells at craft markets – what a pity none of those markets are in Australia as I’d love to see his work!
But what I think is really special is that he sometimes carves Santa into old wooden objects that have sentimental value to people. For example, taking the rolling pin of someone’s great grandmother and turning it into a Santa statue that can be placed on a mantelpiece with price each year – rather than keeping the treasured rolling pin locked away in a cupboard.
Do you have any old objects that could perhaps be given new life by being turned into a Santa? Are you game to try the transition yourself?
Back in April, I shared the news that Lego was bringing out some inclusive Lego – and hoped that it would soon be available in Australia, or at least here in time for Christmas. I think showing our kids how diverse human life can be is a great start for making our society more tolerate and happy.
Well, yesterday, I was in our local shops with my kids so we had to visit the Lego aisle. And to my delight, I spotted a Lego playing in the park set*.
As you can see from the box, this set includes:
And it wasn’t just me who liked this set.
My eight year old son was happy about the wheelchair and bike, and said he wants this set.
My fifteen year old daughter loved it – her own words were that it is great to see inclusive Lego and it was her who noticed the women working and a man caring for children. She nearly bought it for herself and left thinking about getting it next time…
My six year old was over the moon about there being a baby and a pram (she is obsessed with babies, as noted in her preference for a baby Lego advent calendar!)
I am proud my kids appreciated the value of this set – I might just have to give it as a combined Christmas present this year!
Would you look for this set to give any Lego fans in your life?
* I still can’t find this set online in Australia, but hopefully it will come to Aussie online toy stores soon, too.o
This is based on a recipe I used for my daughter’s Frozen party last year. We thought it would be fun to create some red and green trolls to help us have a delicious Christmas, and it was worth the experiment as they tasted yummy!
400g chocolate chip biscuits (about 2 packets)
250 g cream cheese, softened
3 Tablespoons dried cranberries
200g white chocolate (a bit more would be easier but 1 packet will just make it!)
red jelly crystals (most actually look pink or purple)
green jelly crystals (we used lime)
Crush the biscuits into crumbs (use a rolling pin to smash them or a blender – I used my red hand blender from Tupperware).
Melt the white chocolate in a small bowl.
Roll each ball into the melted chocolate until it is covered.
Roll the ball in jelly crystals – you can make some balls red and some green, or use both colours on each ball. This is the messy bit, especially if little hands get involved 🙂
Pop them on a plate and the leave the plate in the fridge for half an hour or so to set.
Gently break off any dripped chocolate to make the tolls look nicer. remember to store these in the fridge (if they last that long!)
To add more Christmas colour to the balls while eating them, you could also mix in some cut up green lollies (spearmint leaves would give a minty taste, while jelly babies or snakes would add sweetness and texture).
Instead of rolling the balls in jelly crystals (which give colour and glisten), you could try
These are yummy so I hope you enjoy them as much as we did!
A fun novel for children about Santa, a dog and an adventure!
Rudolph is sick so can’t lead the reindeer and Santa is staying home on Christmas Eve. But along comes Rover the wonder-dog and maybe he can help Santa…
Definitely a book aimed at children – many adults will find it a bit too silly at times (and perhaps a little predictable) while seven year olds think it is hilarious!
This is actually a sequel to The Giggler Treatment (a New York Times best seller) but I haven’t read that and did not find it a problem. Having said that, if you can get both books I think it would be fun and you may as well read them in order! There is also followed by The Meanwhile Adventures (and you can get all three together in The Rover Adventures).
As for the actual story, it is fun. Roddy helps Santa out (even if it took a little convincing), Santa learns he is more important to kids than the presents, and they travel the world in a very logical manner (moving north and south along timelines!)
I laughed at how many sandwiches were made for (and eaten by) Santa, and I loved the idea of elves having sleighs around the world to top up Santa’s main sleigh as he travelled. I might have to ask Santa if that is how he really manages to get so many gifts to so many children!
To keep adults somewhat entertained, there are also various side references that kids won’t fully understand – like borrowing an owl from some Harry kid or getting a bandana from a “very old singer called Bruce Springsteen”!
by Oakley Graham
illustrated by Patricia Yuste
Hinkler Books, Heatherton, 2012
My children chose this book from our local library – and I must say I’m glad I didn’t buy it or have to store it long term.
The book is based on the concept of 27 aspects of Christmas. Each aspect is given a page of text opposite a lovely illustration. 24 or 25, or even 31, would be a more logical number to my thinking but the overall concept is good, I think.
The book it titled ‘when I dream of Christmas’ but the words and idea are only mentioned once in the book – on the last page. Noting else in the book is about dreaming so I find the title misleading and irrelevant.
Of course, the book is focussed on a winter Christmas – right from the first page, children in more than half the world are excluded as ‘sledging’ is not part of our Christmas at all.
However, it is the actual text that I really don’t like. I think it is meant to be funny on a number of pages, but it seemed lame to me and my children didn’t laugh or smile once. Comments like “sledging is fun at any time but best with snow” is a little patronising rather than funny. Likewise, dirty socks making gifts smell like cheese and Christmas lights causing kids to ride into snowmen are just not necessary.
The only page not so silly was the last page when it talks about baby Jesus (of course, for the non-religious that raises other issues!)
On the other hand, Patricia Yuste has done some lovely pictures for the book. She has matched them to the story well and used bright colours and simple characters to make it look delightful.
So, obviously, I don’t recommend buying this book for anyone. My three and five year olds listened to it all and said it was ok – but have not asked for a second reading which says it all I think.
As I posted last Friday, I recently made some foam Christmas masks with my daughter – one of Santa’s face and one of a reindeer face.
Neither took particularly long and did not require a lot of my input, but to keep the blog post a reasonable length I separated out the reindeer mask for today.
Whilst my daughter and I made these masks, it is my husband modelling the reindeer mask in the photo here, much to my daughter’s delight 🙂
Like the Santa mask, the kit was complete and consisted of a piece of elastic and foam shapes.
It was easy to make – some fine motor skills are needed to align the pieces correctly but otherwise it is not too challenging. And my daughter loved putting on the pink ear pieces!
My daughter was intrigued when she found that the antlers were a little different to the other pieces of foam – instead of peeling off the back of the foam, the antlers just had small bits of adhesive attached. Obviously, this is so that you don’t end up with a large sticky surface above the mask!
Again, this was a simple, fun activity to do and my six year old did most of it herself. My input was mostly some attention and tying the knots (like for Santa, I poked the elastic through from the front and tied it at the back of the mask).
Now we just have to keep the masks in a nice condition so they can be word at a Christmas event or two later in the year! Are masks part of your usual Christmas celebrations and traditions?
* I purchased this set and receive no rewards (money or otherwise) for reviewing this kit – I have no contractual or business arrangements with Kmart.
I recently had a short time with my daughter when we had nothing planned so we pulled out a Christmas craft set and enjoyed making some masks.
The kit was complete – most of the decorations were foam stickers so no glue was required and allowed us to make both masks quite quickly.
We decided to make the Santa mask first – and I’ll do a separate blog post for the reindeer mask.
They are very simple to make – start with the biggest pieces, peel off the backing paper, align it on the mask and stick it down. Depending on the child’s fine motor skills, the aligning part may be challenging and need some assistance – while things not being perfect is fine for kids’ craft, any sticky bits that are not attached will remain sticky and be a magnet for dust and fluff!
The pom pom on Santa’s hat is the hardest part – there are many little bits of foam to remove and then aligning all the lines takes some skill. I would expect adult help is needed with this for most kids under 10.
Then tie on the elastic and you have a mask to wear straight away – no need to wait for glue to dry! Note to add the elastic, poke it through the holes from the front and tie it behind the beard so when it is word, you can’t see the knots and there is less force on the edges of the holes.
Once the mask is finished, there is a reasonable bit of foam left over – certainly enough to keep my daughter happy with additional stickers to make something else with!
Do you like our fun Santa mask?
It’s a quick and easy kit to have in the cupboard to pull out when you need some brief entertainment – or if you need a quick costume for a Christmas party!
If you can’t find the kit to buy, you could just buy a sheet of foam to cut out the face and then some adhesive foam to cut out the beard, hat, etc – but you may want to find a pattern for that if your drawing skills are anything like mine!
* I purchased this set and receive no rewards (money or otherwise) for reviewing this kit – I have no contractual or business arrangements with Kmart.
So this isn’t really a Christmas post, but I thought it was something worth sharing anyway!
And who knows, maybe it will have an impact on this year’s Lego Advent Calendars as well…
I haven’t been able to find these on the main Lego site, the Lego Facebook page or at any online toy stores but at a toy fair in Germany, Lego has shown two new Lego characters in their City range. One is a boy in a wheelchair and one is a stay at home Dad (complete with pram and baby bottle!)
Having toys (as well as books and other media kids interact with) include the variety of human situations is important to my mind. For one thing, if kids can see themselves in their toys, they feel normal and accepted – why should all dolls be white skinned and blonde for example when there is such a range of skin and hair colours amongst us? Just like it’s ok for kids to see a Dad caring for a baby and non-nuclear family types.
And even for those kids who already represented by their toys, seeing other people represented helps those kids accept differences in real people, too. Teaching kids acceptance and tolerance is really important – and a key step towards peace.
As I said above, I can’t find the Lego online so I’m not sure when they will be generally available to purchase – hopefully they will be around in time for Christmas though. According to CNN, they will be released in June and hopefully that includes in Australia.
I also don’t know what the set is like, so it may not appeal to lots of kids (eg a wheelchair bound witness in a cop set will probably sell better than a wheelchair kid washing dishes!) but I hope we do get a number of disabled people turning up in general sets from now on.
I won’t make a big fuss about the wheelchair; rather, I will just give the relevant set to my kids in the way I’d give them any other Lego to make the point it is normal.
I went for a walk yesterday and was surprised to see a roll of Christmas wrapping paper sticking out of a bin.
Obviously, being towards the end of February, I was surprised to see something Christmassy in the bin – I would have thought left over Christmas rubbish would be long gone by now!
But I was also surprised at someone throwing out a roll of wrapping paper – it seems like such a waste to me. It could easily be used to wrap presents next Christmas, so why throw it out?
Many people feel obliged to use new wrapping paper (that is, not so many reuse wrapping paper), but this was a new roll someone had put in the rubbish.
I guess if you like having all your gifts wrapped consistently each year, a small amount of one year’s paper may seem less useful for the next year. But there are other ways to use it…
So what do you do with left over rolls of wrapping paper after Christmas?
Do you have any other ideas on how to use up old wrapping paper if you don’t keep it for next year’s wrapping?
by Colin Buchanan
illustrated by Nick Bland
Scholastic Press, Lindfield, 2006
Obviously based on the traditional Christmas song, this book gives the words of Jingle Bells adapted for an Australian Christmas.
A drive through iconic Australia is a fun interpretation of the old Christmas song, Jingle Bells.
This was a fun read for me and my kids, and it is very much an Aussie version.
So instead of a sleigh racing over the snow, we get a rusty holden ute bumping over the sand with thongs, kangaroos, swaggies and an esky in the boot! I can’t help but read the words in the tune and smile as all the Aussie imagery unfolds.
The pictures in the book are gorgeous – simple and very evocative of Australia. I love the little details like a lizard frying an egg on a rock as it is a scorching Christmas Day.
A lot of fun, this book could be read or sung to the very young but it probably takes a mid-primary aged child to fully appreciate it.
Checking the Love Santa Facebook page, I came across a short video of various Christmas stars made out of Lego. I showed my children the video, too.
So we couldn’t resist making some Lego stars, too 🙂
This Lego star was created by Cassie’s nine year old…
and this one by Martin’s 10 year old daughter…
and this one was created by Jen’s almost-11-year-old son, Nick…
* Cassie, Jen and Martin shared these with us via Facebook