It wasn’t sofa naps, it was hospital: First Week of Play-Along


I did warn you last week. I did say that sometimes the Summer Play-Along might be interrupted.

When I wrote that, though, I was thinking more along the lines of being too lazy to do craft activities. I wasn’t expecting it to be interrupted by a two day stay in the Children’s Ward of our favourite hospital. An infection caused an asthma flare up and Tuesday found us in A&E with the Boy on oxygen and hourly nebulisers. We got out two days later, as always feeling tearfully grateful for the wonderful nurses and doctors who looked after him, and the amazing play facilities provided for the children on the ward, while simultaneously being so so very happy to be back home.

Here is a little overview of what we did manage to do at home:

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And there was playing in the hospital as well, even if it wasn’t from The Box. The Boy made Numberjacks and minions out of paper, and The Girl fell in love with her “own little girl piggy”. When she came, supposedly to visit her brother, she ignored my arms held out ready for a big hug, thinking she would have missed me overnight, and searched the room for the pig. The pig got a hug, not me.

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What I have learned from this first week of summer activities is that sometimes just committing to doing something special every day is enough to make it happen, even if it wasn’t what you prepared earlier. Having steeled myself mentally for putting in a bit of effort every day made me more inclined to say yes to other things the children suggested or thinking up extra plans. We made rainbow pancakes from a Peppa Pig magazine and played Chloe’s Closet in the play tent, we made a 4 times table poster (every day is a school day for the Boy!) and played chase in the garden.

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Here’s hoping for a more normal week next week!


Kingston Summer Holiday Play-Along: Getting Started

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So. Summer holidays.

Perhaps you are looking at this endless stretch of time with mixed feelings.

Perhaps, like me, you have an over-active imagination and a brain full of plans, brimming over with fun ideas for games to play and crafts to make – but perhaps your body, like mine, is saying ‘sod off, I just want to veg on the sofa with Nick Jr on all day’. (I’m sorry, CBeebies, we have switched allegiance. It was Peppa who lured us over and Dora who made us stay, that wily minx).

OR perhaps you have the will and the energy to do things with your children, but you have run out of ideas.

Whatever the case may be, I would like to invite you to play along with our Kingston Summer of Fun. Think of it as an online summer camp, where I provide the ideas and you can choose to do them with your children – or not.

This is where we start:

I decided last week that I did not want to get to 2 September, the eve of the Boy’s first day at Big School, and look back with regret at weeks that had flown by too fast, frittered away in front of the TV or in the supermarket getting more bananas. So I sat down with the kids and we made the Summer Fun Box. The idea is that every day, depending on the weather, the kids could pull out one card from the sunny or the rainy side of the box and it would have something fun (or helpful) on it that we would then do.

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I committed in my mind to always saying yes, whatever it said on the card. Therefore, the activities had to meet certain criteria:

1. They must be limited to about half an hour of adult involvement. Free independent play before/during/afterwards is obviously not just okay but encouraged! But they had to be things that I could play-and-walk-away from after an acceptable amount of time, just in case I’d had a very bad night’s sleep.

2. It had to be possible to do them in the house or garden. No outings, because some days are just not suitable for day trips, and then I might have had to say no.

3. All the required materials must already be in the house. If an activity requires a trip to Hobbycraft before it can be completed then it might never happen.

We cut up 24 blue cards and drew rain clouds on them and 24 yellow cards which the Boy decorated with jolly suns. I wrote a different activity on each card. I’d made a list the night before, but the Boy came up with more ideas which we added to the remaining cards.

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Then we took a small empty box, inserted a bit of cardboard in the middle to divide it into two compartments, and did some cutting and sticking to decorate the outside.

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As you can see, we made good use of an IKEA catalogue and stuck “indoor” things on one side (like toys and craft materials) and used some redundant (*sob*) holiday brochures to decorate the other side with sunny outdoorsy things.

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As today was our first official day of the holidays, the first sunny card was selected and it was a big hit with the children. Join me on Facebook for daily activity updates/ideas, or wait for next week for a weekly digest! Come and Play along with us!

DISCLAIMER: Some days I am sure the summer of fun will still be hijacked by Nick Jr and sofa naps… That is okay too. Just make a box for yourself, cut up 24 cards, write “sofa nap” on each one and put them in the box. Draw out a card whenever necessary.

Life Game: Doing School

photo 1 (2)‘Sup gamers?

Hope you’re all enjoying Life Game. I’ve been very busy exploring and only just remembered that I owe you all a walk-through for the:

Great Pre-school Coup

When the Brother was only on Level 3 he somehow gained access to a mysterious cult known as Pre-School. They meet in a building full of toys every morning and share high level skills, forgotten lore and nursery rhymes. They also have access to privileged gear like climbing frames, bouncy castles and plastic sea creatures. For a long time I was only able to get into the building, but I couldn’t work out how you got into the cult itself. There are these five Guardians who are tall enough to bolt and unbolt the doors and it seemed they were the key to getting to stay for the whole morning.

My first breakthrough was when I discovered that there was some kind of feeder group for the cult, called a Toddler Group. You had to turn up at a specific date and time every week, but then you got to play with some of the toys in a separate room. Not quite there, but at least you could get into conversations with one of the guardians to try and win their favour.

Finally, I discovered how to get in for good.

They have passwords.

(I would warn you for spoilers at this point, but let’s face it, you’re not going to Google a walk-through unless you want to know spoilers, right?)

If you want to get in with the Rookies (which I recommend to start off with), the password is ‘Acorn’ and if you want to join the Veterans it’s ‘Chestnut’. Simple really. You just approach one of the guardians, say the password, and the next time you go up to the door there will be a little acorn/chestnut on the board with your name on it. Hey presto! You’re in Pre-School!

Some things you should know about Pre-School:


* It comes with a backpack, which increases your inventory. Often you will find scrolls in there with useful information about hats and healthy snacks and concerts and sports days, and any drawings or projects you do will appear in the backpack at the end of the day as well;

* Pre-School also means you get a snack box, which gives your energy levels a boost. Plus having your own box with your name on it is cool.

* There are wonderful new people to meet at Pre-School. I’ve already got my eye on a few classmates that I plan to befriend by blasting them with my Charisma.


* There seems to be a bit of a bug in Pre-School. Once you have signed up and you are a part of the cult, you then can’t get out of it anymore. There is no way to switch off this automatic re-location to Pre-school every morning. Some days I just want to watch TV or I’ve planned a raid on the Brother’s cuddly toys, so I just don’t have the time to go to Pre-School, but I still keep ending up there. I tried Protest Loudly and Cry and Sulk but the Mummy just puts you in the car anyway and once you are there – dammit – you get distracted by the guardians and their cool toys and you forget to carry on with the crying.

* The only other bad thing about Pre-School is that it limits your wardrobe options. Hats are compulsory in sunny weather, and however much I try to click on the Party Dress option, it is greyed out on pre-school days and your only options are Sensible Clothes and Sensible Shoes. And yes, I tried Cry and Sulk here too but once again, the Mummy seems to have an override.

Well, I’m in now, and working hard to replace the Brother in his position in the cult. I am using a combination of Charm, Wit, Imagination and Hugs to ingratiate myself with the Guardians and make friends with all the other children. I think it must be working, because more and more often now there is talk of the Brother leaving Pre-School and going somewhere else called Big School after the summer. Clearly he has noticed that this is my place now and it ain’t big enough for the both of us.


Now that he is half out of the door I am a little sad.

Who will protect me from scooters that are about to bump into me now? Who will get my coat and my bag for me? Who will tell me what to play?

Will I have to do all that for myself?

And what is this Big School and how do I get into it?

Let me know if you have any ideas.

Yours with some concern,

The Girl

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