Monthly Archives: January 2012

Space is great – aliens, galaxies, planets and all

space painting funWe’ve had a bit of a space afternoon imagining what aliens might look like if we happened upon them and talking about the moon, planets and the milky way. We had a lot of fun with the paint and paintbrushes, our favourite masterpiece was our 5 year old space lover’s beautiful painting of 2 girl aliens with the moon, saturn with its moons and the milky way in the distance. I’m not very sure of the accuracy of the background (or foreground come to that!) but a lot of messy fun was had.

To top the fun off we went out and had a look at the clear (ish) night sky before bed. We looked at the moon and jupiter (the very bright star currently just below the moon) and venus (the bright star to the lower east of jupiter) and looked for different constellations in the sky. I have to admit it was quite a quick outdoor visit as it’s rather chilly but looking at the planets is quite special. We also managed to just about see the smudge of a nearish galaxy just next to the middle star of orion’s sword through our binoculars.

Take a look outside on the next clear night and see what you can see.

For a bit of assistance in looking at the night sky and where Continue reading

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The Very Basics of Birdwatching!

childrens birdspotting padOur 5 year old decided she was going on a birdwatching expedition last weekend. She got her binoculars (a good old fashioned pair given me by my beautiful, late Grampy), her camera in its bag (a very modern,”can’t break it” chilren’s pink thing) and a little self stated bird spotting notepad and pencil. On went her coat, scarf, hat and boots and she was ready.

She disappeared into the garden on a birdwatching expedition. I firmly closed the door behind her to keep the horrid ice cold weather outside feeling very lucky she had specifically stated to her Daddy that “Sorry Daddy, it’s definitely an expedition just for me. No-one else can come!”. Phew!

birdspotters padIt was lovely to keep peeking out the window to see her staring at the trees and bushes and talking away to herself.

15 minutes and some rosy cheeks later she came to let us know she’d captured on camera her first find – a “red tumeed pidjin” according to her notepad.

Having impressed us with her photography skills – and we were actually very impressed – off she trotted for some more twitching.

Her final list is rather impressive for our little garden. I think she was writing the latin version of the names so I have added English translations in brackets for the less birdwatching savvy amongst you:

  • Red tumeed pidjin (red tummied pidgeon)
  • Blak fethd krow (black feathered crow)
  • 2 feths from a wit tumeed pidjin(2 feathers from what we believe was a “white tummied” wood pidgeon)
  • A brawn and wit bird (brown and white bird which incidentally is a new species as she checked our guide of British birds and it absolutely defintely wasn’t in there)
  • A brawn tit (again, possibly a new species!)
  • A chikin (a chicken – we have no chickens!!)
  • A krow (possibly a normal crow as opposed to the aforementioned black feathered variety)

And the shots to prove it (look closely!)…

All in all, a very nature filled afternoon. It kept her (and us) amused. She even took her little brother out yesterday for take 2. Not sure our noisy 2 year old is conducive to birdwatching however!

Watch this space for a little bird treat you can easily create yourself to attract a few more birds to be spotted! And visit our nature gift section from some children’s nature gift ideas.

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Our Latest Children’s Nature Gifts…

childrens nature gift casting animal tracksAs always there was much excitement at Dylan and Grace last week when the latest 5 additions to our Nature Gift section arrived.

We love to have a play and test with new products to make sure we love them as much as we thought we would. There is always particular excitement amongst the Dylan and Grace children to see which gifts they’re allowed to test drive!

So, what new additions do we have?

Visit our nature gift section for more information or to buy!

We’ll be testing them over the coming days so keep an eye out for blog posts on how much fun we’ve had!

magnetic gift set for childrenchildrens wildflower nature giftchildrens nature giftnature gift kit for children

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Swimming Family Fun

swimming poolIf you haven’t been for a family swim recently or when you have been it’s been really busy, why not take a look at your local leisure centre’s timetable.

We love to go for a family swim and have recently discovered a great time to go for maximum space and, therefore, maximum room for swimming practice and fun.

Our local leisure centre has public sessions in the small/baby pool just before bedtime and we’ve found they are perfect. We now often go on a Friday or Saturday as a treat. We take the children’s pyjamas with us and the pool is sometimes empty other than us and the children always have lots of space to play.

Our 5 year old has been very close to swimming for a little while now and on Friday night, thanks to the quietness of the evening session, she was able to practice from side to side of the pool without having to navigate around lots of other families and splashy children. And…with a little help from her whispered “You can do this” pep talks…she swam from one side of the pool to the other. Hurray!

After the swim, it’s pyjamas on (there’s something very special about being outside in your pyjamas!) and straight home to bed, happy but exhausted – that’s the children! A great family way to end the day.

Take a look at your local leisure centre timetable, go along to a few sessions and see which ones are best for you.

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Monster Draw and Hide

Monster drawing with imaginationThis afternoon my brother resurrected one of his favourite childhood drawing games – the perfect game for when you have children to entertain and really would rather not disturb the Sunday roast you’ve just partaken in by taking part in boisterous children’s games.

Our imaginative monster drawing game kept the children (and adults!) entertained for half an hour or so. It’s amazing how easy adults forget how much fun it can be letting your imagination loose with some blank paper and colouring pens.

Take a look at a couple of our fun creations. The children were very amused with the results.

How to make your own monster creations:

  1. Someone draws a head (without letting anyone else see) and then fold the paper over making sure the neck can still be seen
  2. The next person draws the body and folds the paper making sure the waist/top of the legs can be seen
  3. The final person draws the feet Continue reading
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New Year at Dylan and Grace – Winter Family Fun

Happy New Year!! We hope you all had a great Christmas. We had a lot of lovely gifts, some fantastic family time and some very yummy festive food!

Unfortunately, tomorrow is the first day of 2012 reality. The work uniform is calling (albeit very similar to the past fortnight’s attire) and the school uniform ironing beckons. However, the new year brings with it an air of excitement and opportunity for the year ahead. Fantastic!

One of our perpetual new year’s resolutions is to have more “me” time and more family time. The “me” time is always a little hard to achieve but having more family time is a little easier. Post-Christmas winter can sometimes mean inspiration for family fun can be lacking so we’ve put together a little list for starters. Let us know your favourite January and February fun family times too.

Outdoor fun for non hurricane days…

  1. Feeding the ducks is one of our permanent favourites
  2. Browse the local newspaper for local activites and events or go online for ideas for further afield
  3. If you’re lucky enough to live within a couple of hours of the sea, there’s something special about the seaside in the winter
  4. Take a trip to the library, if you’re lucky they’ll be special sessions on for young children, at the least you can all sit in your favourite section and have a browse
  5. Take a trip to the swimming pool, always a lot of fun and somehow we overlook it in the winter
  6. Wrap up warm and spend an afternoon tidying the garden – or playing in the mud with a watering can water
  7. Take a trip to the park and fly a kite
  8. Browse our Nature and Outdoor sections (!)

Rainy day fun…

  1. Find a deck of cards and remember those childhood favourites
  2. Find a deck of cards and make a card tower (maybe not ideal if you have a younger sibling like ours who likes making things fall down)
  3. Make some baking masterpieces in the kitchen
  4. Have a family dinner preparation session
  5. A family game of charades
  6. Paper, pens, glue, scissors, paint and imagination never fails at Dylan and Grace
  7. And our favourite – if it’s not too horrendous out, pull on your wellies, grab your umbrellas and take a stroll in the rain. Ideally you’ll have already completed number 4 on the list for when you come back muddy and cold!
  8. Take a browse of our bake and create craft section (!!!!)

It’s very easy to think going out at this time of year needs extra effort and results in a lot of dirty, wet washing. Both of these are true but mud washes off easily, and you’ll likely have a big pile of washing either way – plus, if you’ve younger children, they’ll play in the bath getting clean for an hour or so giving you time to have a well earned cup of tea.

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