Halloween Series: DIY Halloween Decorations With Battery Powered LED Tea Lights

Check out our favourite DIY Halloween decorations that anyone can make at home.

Here at What’s On 4 we think Halloween is just FANGTASTIC! But we know that throwing a bewitching bonanza of a party can get expensive. So, thanks to our friends at PK Green, we have some simple (and cheap) DIY Halloween decorations that anyone can make for under a tenner…Monster Cup Lanterns

Halloween Monster Cup Lanterns

These super simple, and super cheap, Halloween monster lanterns are made out of plastic cups covered in coloured tissue paper – the perfect afternoon craft activity to get stuck into with the kids this Halloween! They’re really quick and easy to throw together and we think they look great. Check out the full step-by-step guide over on instructables.com.

Spooky Mummy Jar Lanterns

If you’ve been keeping in touch with our blog, you’ll have seen our post about these fab DIY Mummy Lanterns last week. They’re another super quick and easy build and will cost you next to nothing (especially as the all-important battery powered LED tealight candles are currently on sale at PK Green for £9.99).

Why not try adapting this idea to make DIY Frankenstein Heads using our green LED tea lights or you could try some gruesome Brain Jars with pink or red lights?! The possibilities are endless!Mummy Lanterns1

Jack-O-Lanterns Without The Pumpkin!

Jack-o-lanterns are traditionally made out of carved, hollowed out pumpkins and it’s become somewhat of an artform in recent times. Just check out these intricate designs! However, the traditional pumpkin jack-o-lantern isn’t without its limitations, the biggest and most obvious being that eventually it’ll go rotten and all of your beautiful hard work will have to be chucked in the bin!

Thankfully, the invention of the LED candle has opened up the realm of jack-o-lanterns to materials that would have otherwise been off limits due to the risk of fire! Tonnes of crafty minded folk have come up with hundreds of fun and original ways of creating spooky jack-o-lanterns with all kinds of vessels, from old milk cartons to tin cans!

Here’s just a few of our favourites:

PLEASE REMEMBER: many of these lantern vessels are flammable so ONLY USE LED CANDLES if you attempt to make these yourself. DO NOT USE NORMAL CANDLES.

Let’s have a fun – and safe – Halloween this year. After the terrible burns suffered by Claudia Winkleman’s daughter last year many supermarket Halloween costumes will now meet more rigorous fire safety standards. Click here to view the news update>>> Remember to choose battery operated tea lights to decorate the house and add to our pumpkins!


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Halloween Series: How To Make Your Own Spooky Mummy Lantern Decorations

Mummy Lanterns1

If you’re planning a party this Halloween, these DIY mummy lanterns are a great spooky addition and they cost next to nothing to make!

I don’t know about you guys, but here at What’s On 4 we LOVE Halloween! But, as with many holidays, the price of going all out to celebrate can soon start to add up, especially if you’re organising a party. That’s why we think these DIY Mummy Lanterns made with old jars and toilet paper are a perfect addition to any Halloween shindig and they’re so quick and easy to make. Huge thanks to our friends at PK Green for the idea!

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What You’ll Need To Make Your Mummy Lanterns

  • Clear jars – you can also use large plastic cups
  • Toilet roll
  • Scissors
  • Double-sided tape or normal cellotape
  • PKG battery operated LED tealight candles
  • Felt-tip pens (for decoration) – you can also use googly eyes

Mummy Lanterns3

Step-by-step Instructions

Follow the steps outlined here to create your very own scary mummy lanterns!

  1. Unroll a good length of toilet roll and tear off. Fold it in half and cut down the middle to make 2 long, thin pieces of paper.
  2. Pull each of the pieces of paper apart (from end to end) to make them single ply.
  3. Repeat steps 1 & 2 until you have enough paper to cover all of your jars.
  4. Take the first jar and stick a small piece of double-sided tape to the Mummy Lanterns4shoulder (if you are using sellotape, fold a piece over to make it double-sided).
  5. Take a strip of paper, stick it to the tape and begin to wrap your jar. Repeat this process until the whole jar is covered in paper.
  6. Once your jar is fully wrapped it’s time to get creative. Use the felt-tip pens or stick on eyes to decorate your mummy jars and bring them to life!!
  7. Finally pop in your PK Green battery operated LED tealight candles and voila! Your very own Scary Halloween Mummy Lanterns

Throughout October our Mummy Lanterns5friends at PK Green will be using #PKScream to give away some awesome Halloween goodies via their Twitter page. Don’t miss out – head over and follow PK Green UK now! For more DIY Halloween inspiration check back for our weekly Halloween Series on the blog throughout October.

Mummy Lanterns6

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10 Simple Ideas for Days Out this Summer

Days out in the summertime don’t need to cost a fortune. Families can have a great time in their local area by enjoying outdoor activities, whether means heading to a nearby beach, exploring natural trails or camping out in your own back garden.

Here are ten simple ideas for family-friendly days out this summer:

Blue Flag Beaches

Blue Flag Beaches

We all love a day out at the beach, but how do you know which ones are best for your family? Blue Flag beaches are considered to be the cleanest, most well kept beaches with the highest water quality and safety services available. The UK has 178 Blue Flag beaches located all around the country. You can use this handy map to find your nearest Blue Flag beach.

Geocaching

How about taking the whole family on an outdoor treasure hunt? Geocaches are hidden boxes filled with unknown surprises that are dotted all around the country. All you need is a handheld GPS and you can download the coordinates for geocaches in your area. Geocaching is great for getting children active outdoors and their boosting map reading and problem solving skills. You can also try geocaching with the National Trust.

Woodland Walks

There are woodland walks and nature trails all around the UK, so no matter where you are you won’t need to go far for this activity. If your little ones are reluctant to get their trainers on and go out walking, encourage them by creating fun tasks such as collecting leaves which can be used for art projects at home, or spotting different kinds of wildlife. You can search for your nearest woodland walks on the Woodland Trust’s online map.

Fossil or Interesting Rock Hunting

Are your children born explorers? Fossil hunting could be the activity for them. There are a few spots across the UK which are famed for their fossils, including the Jurassic coast in the South West, the South Downs in West Sussex and the Yorkshire coast to name just a few. Fossil hunting is a great way for children to learn about rock formations and the environment. The National Trust has a full list of all the top fossil hunting spots in the UK. You may be surprised what is on your doorstep and if you can’t find a fossil you should be able to find some interesting rocks which will teach your children about the geography below their feet.

Pick Your Own!

Pick Your Own

Fruit picking is lots of fun for children, but make sure you know what fruits are in season before you go. Strawberries are usually ready June to August, while raspberries are only available for picking during July. The blackberry season is a bit longer, extending from July to early November. You can search for your nearest PYO farms here. Once you’ve got your berries, you can have making your own jam or just eating them straight from the basket!

Picnic in the Park

Putting together a picnic is a great way to encourage children to help out in the kitchen. Simply by making some sandwiches, blending some chickpeas to make hummus, and bringing along some chopped vegetables and fresh fruits, you can have an excellent healthy picnic basket in no time.

Castle Ruins

Visiting castles and ruins is not only an adventure, but also a great way for children to learn about history. The UK is home to some incredible stone castles, which you can look up on the CastleXplorer map. Many castles are owned and protected by heritage organisations and therefore have an entrance fee. You can save money by becoming an annual member.

Garden Camping

Garden Campin

You don’t to drive for miles to enjoy a camping trip. For young children, camping outside in your own back garden can be just as fun. Teach children how to set up a tent, using the poles to make the structure and pegging the strings into the ground. When evening rolls in, enjoy a small campfire and toast some marshmallows. Night time is the perfect opportunity for some stargazing too.

Kite Flying

Let’s go fly a kite, up to the highest height! Kite flying is a favourite pastime of young and old alike. If you don’t have a kite already, you can make one at home using sticks from the local woods, a spare rubbish bag and some string. Head on up to your nearest hill or a windy spot and watch your kite soar.

Local Conservation

The summer holidays gives families plenty of time to get involved with conservation projects in their local area. These will vary depending on the area in which you live but you can usually get involved with beach cleanups, wildlife spotting and monitoring animal population numbers. You can contact the National Trust, the RSPB and other local charities in your area to find out what programmes will be running during the summer months.

Don’t forget to see ideas from What’s On 4 Juniors too in our annual round-up of ‘Days Out & Getaways’ : http://www.whatson4littleones.co.uk/days-outgetaways.asp

Days Out & Getaways 2015 with What’s On 4 Juniors

About the Author: Sam Flatman is an Educational Consultant for Pentagon Sport. Pentagon have worked with over 5,000 settings to create innovative playgrounds and learning environments for young students. He has been designing playgrounds for the past 10 years and has a passion for outdoor education. Sam believes that outdoor learning is an essential part of child development, which can be integrated into the new school curriculum. He is currently based in Bristol with his two sons.

Website: http://www.pentagonsport.co.uk
Pentagon’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PentagonSportUK
Pentagon’s Twitter: @PentagonSportUK

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Why Children Should Play with Their Veggies

Struggling to get your little ones to eat their greens? A new study may have the answer.
In some areas of the UK, up to 40% of pre-school children refuse to eat their vegetables, and only one in five children consumes the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables per day. Getting children to eat their apples and enjoy those sprouts isn’t always simple, but letting children play with them could help.Creative-craft-Using-vegetables-as-stamps-1

Children who are introduced to unfamiliar fruits and vegetables during play time are almost a third more likely to give those foods a try when it comes to mealtimes, according to the recent study. It is hoped familiarising children with healthy foods at an early age will also kick-start a healthier diet as they grow up.

As part of the study, children aged between 12 and 36 months were introduced to sweet potato, broad beans, rhubarb and pomegranates, during play time at nursery school every day for four weeks. Children chose to touch and taste the fruits and vegetables that they had played with earlier in the day, but were less keen to take on board the other vegetables that they didn’t know.

Dr Carmel Houston-Price, who led the study, said: “Our study showed that introducing new foods through fun familiarisation activities such as letting children poke their fingers inside foods, smelling them and drawing pictures of them, increased toddlers’ willingness to touch and taste them at mealtimes – especially the vegetables.” She added, that the “research could help parents to introduce more vegetables into children’s diets, and encourage children to make healthy food choices and actually enjoy eating healthily as they grow older.”fruitkebabs

Why not try out these fun, hands on activities with your children and see if it makes them more keen to eat green:

Edible Fruit Paints: These easy to make paints are great for littles ones who love licking their sticky fingers! Simply puree fruits to make the paints. Use fruits with strong colours to get better paints, such as pomegranates for red, blueberries for blue, and passionfruit for orange.

Veggie Stamps: Potato stamps are a childhood favourite for many of us, but we don’t need to just use potatoes. Try carving shapes into other root veg, such as butternut squash, swede and turnips, and cutting up unusual shaped veg such as okra and cauliflower. Once the stamps are made, children can create patterns using their coloured fruit paints.

Rainbow Lollies: Cut up a variety of fruits into cubes and let children enjoy threading them onto wooden lollipop sticks ready for eating later as delicious icy treats. Soft fruits are better for this; try using watermelon, cantaloupe, bananas and kiwi. The best part: everyone can eat them afterwards!

Author Bio: Sam Flatman is an Educational Consultant for Pentagon Sport. Pentagon have worked with over 5000 settings to create innovative playgrounds and learning environments for young students. He has been designing playgrounds for the past 10 years and has a passion for outdoor education. Sam believes that outdoor learning is an essential part of child development and can easily be integrated into the new school curriculum. He is currently based in Bristol with his two sons. He is also an uncle to a 2 year old niece, who loves playing with her vegetables!

Website: http://www.pentagonsport.co.uk
Pentagon’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PentagonSportUK
Pentagon’s Twitter: @PentagonSportUK

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Last call – dig out those unwanted baby blankets and donate to children in need

Dettol is pleased to announce the extension of contributions for the Baby Blanket Donation Campaign until mid February 2015. The donation appeal, fronted by celebrity mum of two Rachel Stevens, aims to raise awareness of the dangers of bacteria on baby blankets, particularly during the cold & flu season, whilst highlighting the shortage of baby blankets available to infants born to families in need.

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Laboratory tests commissioned by Dettol – on washed blankets donated by volunteer mumsshow that baby ‘blankies’ carry a variety of bacteria even after a 40°C wash, with a third of the washed blankets harbouring coliforms – a group of bacteria linked to faeces.

Once collected, the baby blankets will be hygienically washed with Dettol Anti-bacterial Laundry Cleanser – an additive that kills 99.9% of bacteria even in temperatures as low as 15°C -before being re-distributed by Dettol to families in need.  Dettol has also pledged to donate £1 for every blanket collected to children’s medical research charity, Sparks to raise much needed funds for UK families with children who are affected by serious illness or disability.

Rachel commented: “The Dettol Baby Blanket Donation really resonated with me as a mum. I remember bringing my girls home for the first time in theirs and what a special time that was.  Many babies across the world will never get the chance to experience the comfort of a warm, clean blanket.  That’s the reason why I’m supporting the campaign, asking mums to donate blankets to those in need so that those babies don’t miss out.”

Rachel said: “I’ve got all my mummy friends donating their blankets and I’m trying to get as many people involved as possible.  Now I’m a mum I am even more aware of how much more washing there is to do.  With Dettol Anti-Bacterial Laundry Cleanser I get to do loads of quick washes at low temperatures and know that things will be hygienically clean and germ free.”Rachel _StevensDBBD_logo[1]

The Dettol Baby Blanket Donation is encouraging parents across the UK to share precious baby blanket memories on Twitter @DettolBlanket #sharethememories or on Dettol’s Mission for Health Facebook page.

Blankets can be donated via Freepost (no stamp required) to:

Dettol Baby Blanket Donation
FREEPOST RTKJ-YSGS-SSHR
The Hay Loft
Balcombe Place Stables
Balcombe
RH17 6AZ

£1 donated by Dettol to Sparks for every blanket received up to 5,000 blankets.  For full details on how to donate please visit www.dettol.co.uk/donate

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Baby Buddy: Your Digital BFF by Dr. Ranj Singh – NHS Doctor & Medical Presenter (CBeebies)

This month’s Blog post is brought to you courtesy of Dr. Ranj Singh – NHS Doctor and Medical Presenter (CBeebies Get Well Soon, ITV This Morning, BBC Watchdog, Channel 5 News).

See more ideas and advice for new parents in our online feature ‘New Parents & Under Ones’ : http://www.whatson4littleones.co.uk/baby-feature.asp

“For most people, becoming a parent is an exciting time. There are so many wonderful things that you and your baby will share together, and so much to look forward to. However, it can also be equally stressful for a number of reasons.

Getting the ‘labour bag’, cot, baby clothes and car seat ready just doesn’t seem enough anymore. babybuddyPeople want you to be a parenting expert too! But there’s so much to know or do, that it all feels a bit overwhelming. And where do you go for that information? Who can you trust? What if you can’t find what you need?

Luckily, the world of healthcare information and technology is moving to meet those needs. Nowadays we want relevant and reliable information at our fingertips – resources that we can access any time from anywhere. We’ve come such a long way from simple handouts and patient leaflets. Today, it’s all about websites, podcasts, blogs and, even more exciting than all that, apps.

Baby Buddy is an app that has been developed by Best Beginnings, a charity dedicated to helping parents get the information and support they need to give their kids the best start in life. That’s why I got involved with them – I’m passionate about promoting children’s and family health and they’ve been thinking of really creative ways to reach those people who are most in need. So far they’ve had fantastic results with things like the brilliant Bump to Breastfeeding and Small Wonders projects.

Baby Buddy is their latest project and really is the future of pregnancy and parenting support. It acts just like a digital best friend! It goes on your parenting journey with you, giving you useful tips and help anytime you want it. When you open the app, not only does it look stunning, it immediately draws you in and asks you to create a character that represents you. Using some basic information, the app then refers to you individually, making it a really personal and relevant experience. It offers helpful information from trusted experts, so you don’t have to worry about whether it’s reliable. You can store your appointments, look things up, watch videos of common questions, and even ask your own! It’s not just useful though – it’s fun too!

What I’m most excited about it how it gives us a chance to reach out to people who want and need support but don’t know how to access it, particularly young people.

When wanting to support young mothers, an app is a really sensible approach. It was estimated last year that 93% of UK teens used mobile phones (81% smart phones). Given teens don’t necessarily have lots of disposable cash for mobile phone contracts, that’s quite impressive, assuming the bank of Mum and Dad aren’t always paying! More than that, the average UK teen owns six digital devices now and over 90% of them have 1 or more social network accounts. So a digital offer like Baby Buddy, accessible through smart phones, really will reach out to young mums in a place of their choosing.

There are lots of great resources and projects for parents out there, but Baby Buddy is light years ahead. From the start I’ve been amazed at how much it can do and the amount of excellent information it has. Also, I’m equally impressed with how dedicated the team behind it is and how seriously it’s all being taken. It’s no surprise, then, that it has received approval from a number of professional organisations. This isn’t just any old app – it’s going to become a routine part of everyone’s care.

I can’t tell you how proud I am to be part of a project like this. I work with young people and families on a daily basis and I know how difficult it can be for them to get the information they need – especially when it comes to pregnancy and parenting.

When it comes to stuff like this, we all want a BFF that we can count on. Someone who is reliable and there for us 24-hours-a-day, who is going to tell us exactly what we need to know, and where to go for help. For some people that will be a friend, family member or their midwife – for many it will be their Baby Buddy.”

The very first version of Baby Buddy is now available for Android (http://bit.ly/1xJsT72) and IOS phones (http://bit.ly/1lTODaZ).

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How some pre-school homework can help families of children with autism

Thank you to Gina Davies for our ‘Back To School’ blog.

With the new school term just around the corner, acclaimed autism practitioner, Gina Davies, offers some practical advice and tips for parents of children with autism.

Starting school is a rite of passage for children but for parents of those with autism it’s a major hurdle. There are many new things for children to cope with such as classrooms, uniform, assembly and new faces. For parents it is a new set of people they must trust to understand and support their child. It can feel overwhelming and anxieties begin to run high. It can be tempting to wish you could stick with what you know and avoid change, but it is important to give school the best shot even though it may feel stressful.

Parents can do certain things to ease the level of change their children will face and build confidence and understanding of some of the basics. The practice builds reassuring familiarity and establishes routines and structures that will help everyone hold their nerve on first days, good days and more tricky ones.

School uniforms can be a nightmare for children with sensory issues but it is important in many schools. Buy clothes early, wash them frequently to remove any crisp feeling and wear it in a bit. Get the wary child to handle the uniform by getting them to put it into the laundry or move it to get aGina Daviest a familiar T-shirt. Practice wearing the uniform for short periods whilst doing something your child finds fascinating to distract them and practice changing into ‘home clothes’ so the child knows this will happen at the end of the school day.

If a child is enrolled in school dinners, make sure they know how to handle cutlery and aeroplane style dishes if these are used. Help by practicing clear up routines, such as putting dirty plates on the side and cutlery in the washing up bowl. With packed lunches, practice using the lunch box, not just on picnics but also at the table learning how to open containers or packaging.

If a child has significant dietary issues, such as a limited diet that does not include the desired five portions of fruit and veg a day, make the school aware of this serious problem and no amount of popping a carrot in will change it. Schools with healthy eating policies may need help understanding this is an autism related problem rather than a parental preference for feeding their child toast cut into triangles, crusts and sizes matching exactly!

If a child struggles with noise, dinner and playtimes can be a concern so practice dealing with head phones or plugging your fingers into your ears.

If these strategies form part of everyday life at home they are much easier for children to use in more demanding social situations. The problem can’t be removed but it can be dealt with so that children can take part without stress levels getting too high.

Practice things like holding hands and lining up, how to take coats off and hang them up and how to understand words like assembly or dinner hall, when earlier the same place was used for PE. School vocabulary is often different but it can be worked out beforehand and pictures are helpful aids for those who need more visually supported communication.

It helps if parents prepare a simple outline for the school about their child, one A4 page supplied in liberal quantities. The basic information needed is a smiley photo at the top followed by three things the child likes, eg: The computer, painting without an overall, riding bikes; three things they don’t like, eg: Turning the computer off, sharing with others, loud noises; and what helps when things are difficult, eg: It helps if you are quiet when I am upset and give me time to calm down. This approach demonstrates a practical commitment to the home-school communication that is so important in the longer term.

There are many other things that can also be done before term starts, such as driving to and from school regularly and calmly pointing out the school, and practicing getting up at school time for aGina Davies week before so day one isn’t a stressful rush. It’s about practicing some of the basics so children are not faced with too many complicated social rules and expectations. 

Parents need to think practical and positive and be prepared, at the end of the day, for a weary child who will need calories in and peace and quiet as new routines become established. Parents of autistic children invest hours of thought and effort into their choice of schooling and with some home based ‘rehearsals’, school doesn’t have to feel like stepping into the unknown for children.

Gina is a qualified Speech and Language Therapist who turned her passion for communication development into practical and joyful intervention strategies for parents and professionals dealing with autism. She has worked with hundreds of autistic children in schools, nurseries and residential settings, and directly with parents, carers and families. Find out more at http://www.ginadavies.co.uk/ or follow on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ginadaviesautism.

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