Tuesday, 26 May 2015

I've Joined the Netflix Stream Team!

I was recently invited to be a member of the Netflix Stream Team (which I gratefully accepted because I'm a big fan of Netflix anyway!) so from time to time, from now on, I'll be sharing what we, as a family, are watching and what we think of it.

I don't get a lot of time to watch TV, and the reason I love Netflix so much is that when I have some rare down-time or am feeling under the weather I have instant access to a huge range of fantastic TV series', documentaries and movies. Devo and I sometimes even use Netflix as a date-night option, (because babysitters are rare too) and a take-away and a movie or a few episodes of our favourite show is just as good as a night at the cinema. Well, almost.

Needless to say, Lile and Sábha are the ones that use Netflix the most in our home and are spoiled for choice when it comes to viewing that is both entertaining and suitable for their age.

I hope you'll enjoy my posts about what we're watching and feel free to give me recommendations below, in the comments, too!

Here are a few things the grownups been enjoying lately:

I'm kind of obsessed with a show called Once Upon A Time. It satisfies my life-long love of fairy tales nicely. The show takes place in the fictional town of Storybrooke whose residents are characters from various fairy tales, transported to the 'real world' town and robbed of their memories by a powerful curse. Each episode features a plot line that happens in Storybrooke and a parallel storyline from the time before the curse so there's a nice mix of 'magic' and 'reality'. It is light watching and is a perfect antidote to a busy day when you just want to switch off and be entertained. 

Devo and I have just finished watching the first season of Better Call Saul. We were both huge fans of Breaking Bad (which is also available on Netflix) and had high-hopes for this spin-off. We were not disappointed. Great writing, great acting and some wonderful characters and storylines - we're already impatient for season two!

I've also got my eye on a new Netflix Original series called Grace and Frankie, starring Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston, which I'm looking forward to watching. I think the storyline sounds really funny and perfectly in tune with recent events around these parts!

When Grace and Frankie’s husbands leave them after 20 years of marriage—to be with each other— the women find themselves facing a change that they never expected but they shift their perspective to get through it together with the support of their new blended family and, of course, a sense of humour.

Here's what the little ones have been enjoying lately:

I decided to let the girls have their own say about their current Netflix favourites... even though they were in a very giddy mood....

To recap, that's Mother Goose Club (which is mostly nursery rhymes and songs), Peppa Pig, Brave and Wreck-It Ralph.

Lile has been drawing Wreck-It Ralph and Vanellope Von Scheetwz constantly since they watched it, so even though she can't remember the name she obviously likes it too!

P.S. My middle name is not even Christina. My children are crazy.

Disclosure: As a member of the Netflix Stream Team I received a Netflix subscription and an Apple TV in return for posting Netflix updates and reviews. All opinions are my own, and those of my children and I am not being paid to give them. I already had a personal subscription before joining the Stream Team.

Friday, 22 May 2015

The Family That Draws Together... Draws Together

Lile's obsession with drawing has been well documented but, despite a promising start, Sábha hasn't really had much of an interest in putting pen, or pencil, or crayon, or even paint, to paper. 

Her fine motor skills don't seem to be as well developed as her sister's and I don't know if it was a chore for her to draw or if the fact that she doesn't like to sit still for more than 30 seconds at a time was the reason for her disinterest.

Lately though, Devo has started playing some drawing games with the girls which have definitely grabbed Sábha's attention and she finally seems to be enjoying drawing. She has started taking out pens and paper, independently, a lot more regularly since these games were introduced too. I think this is fantastic because I want her little hands to be up to the task of learning to write when she goes to school in September and practice makes perfect as we all know!

I thought I might share a couple of the games that are popular with my girls in case you happen to have any reluctant artists you'd like to encourage. I promise you don't need any level of skill at all for these games. Stick figures and basic shapes work just as well, if not better, than elaborate designs. There are also no 'winners' or 'losers' in these games - just a good old fashioned sense of accomplishment for everyone involved.

1. Copy Cats

Sábha took the lead on this one and Lile copied her.
We love this simple game. It can be played by two or more family members and very little is needed in terms of materials or talent to have fun with it.

You will need:
Paper and Coloured pens/pencils/crayons for each player

How to Play:
One person takes the lead and begins to draw a picture. It really doesn't matter how simple or complex the picture is as the lead artist will be breaking it down step-by-step as they draw. So they will draw, say, the head first and wait a second for the other players to copy it before moving on to adding the features. Again, pausing for a moment after each new addition to make sure everyone is keeping up. It's not a race.

Devo took the lead on this one and the girls copied.
When the drawing is finished everyone gets a chance to see how everyone else's picture turned out before the next player takes their turn to be the 'leader'.

This was Lile's turn in the leader position. Sábha and Devo copied.
It is a wonderful confidence boost, especially for a child who doesn't consider themselves 'good at drawing' to have everyone follow their lead and try to copy them as best they can. It has definitely helped Sábha's confidence in her drawing skills and I often find the girls playing this game together without parental interference!

The girls did this yesterday morning. I'm not sure who copied who!

2. Scribbles

This is another simple and fun game that is easiest played with just two players but can be played by more if patience can be held!

You will need:
A Magnetic Doodle Board*
Paper and Pen/pencil/crayon

*We prefer to use the doodle board as we tend to go through a LOT of paper in a very short amount of time with this game!

How to Play:
This game can be played a little bit 'fast and furious'. Player one needs to do a 'scribble' on the doodle board or on paper and then pass it on to player two.

Example of a scribble... in case you didn't know what one looks like ;)

Player two then has to make a recognisable picture out of it.

The above scribble transformed!

After it has been sufficiently admired, player two then gets a turn to provide a scribble for player one.
Repeat ad nauseum. (This game goes on for aaaages in our house)

3. Drawing Together

Another thing we do from time to time is to just sit down together, as a family, to draw at the kitchen table. I use one of those mile-long IKEA paper rolls, cover the table with it and plonk down a few pots of markers, pens, pencils, crayons etc. We'll all sit down and doodle away. There is no end result expected or any direction given. We sometimes even come and go to it over the course of an afternoon. The girls love when we join them at the table doing this and we always end up having lovely conversations that might never happen otherwise. It's the perfect rainy day activity.

For other drawing ideas check out some of my earlier posts:

Our love of Magnetic Doodle Boards is explained here:
The Best Money I Never Spent

For ideas on how to use your children's artwork as gifts, see here:
Homemade Books By Babies

Gifts for Grandparents

We've also tried this idea from Learner Mama which was fantastic fun and another great use for those rolls of paper from IKEA!:
Body Art for Kids

Do you have any other drawing games you like to play with your little ones?


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