When Bess was very young it became pretty obvious that she had inherited my love of books. She devoured everything from books meant for children to literally anything. Road signs to recipes, she would proudly read them aloud.

Something I did a bit by accident was to get her interested in Shakespeare quite early on. We all know that teenagers will at some point study a play written by Shakespeare in secondary school but by Christ, aren’t they dull at the time? I genuinely don’t know how my English teacher managed to suck all of the passion out of Romeo and Juliet, but manage it he did!

I came across a set of books. Bess was about 7 I suppose. It was a selection of classics by Shakespeare but they were written in wording suitable for children – and adults who missed the point a bit of some of the works when she last read them <cough>

As today happens to be Shakespeare’s birthday I wanted to talk about ideas you could try to get your child interested in the bard. If you want to, I mean, you have a choice in this of course.

Talk about the words and phrases Shakespeare gave us.

shakespeare phrases and words

 

There are a lot. More importantly they will be phrases that your child has used or at least heard! You could even research from which works the phrases are taken.

 Watch Tv

Over the years there have been some really great adaptations of Shakespeare’s works made into Tv and Movies. Obviously you have to keep it age appropriate but even for younger children there are some great short animations on YouTube. I can’t vouch for them all but I have watched a couple and they were really engaging and totally age appropriate.

You could, of course, take your child to a 3 hour production at the theatre. If you think they could cope then great. Personally, I would rather wait for that until they have an interest already. It’s kinder to everyone involved I think.

Choose the right play for your child

Its not that there is a hard and fast order that I think you should use but depending on you child and their age you can pick and choose. It’s not like there is a shortage to choose from!

Personally, I chose to introduce these plays first

  • A Midsummer Nights Dream
  • Much ado about nothing
  • Twelfth Night

I was tempted to launch her straight into Macbeth but figured that my then 7 year old fairy obsessed daughter would be better suited to Titania et al. I don’t know your kid though, you do. Choose something which matches their interests and you will already have won half the battle.

If you have a much younger child you could introduce them to the characters (for example) from A Midsummer Night’s Dream and make up your own little stories for them.

Simplify the stories

My best friend in this endeavour was a set of books I came across online. They are called The Shakespeare Stories Collection by Andrew Matthews & Tony Ross and they are wonderful.

The premise of the collection is simple. Shakespeare’s works in language that children will not find so intimidating. That’s the biggest challenge I think. Teens are introduced to it all a bit too late. I wanted Bess to be able to approach the plays of Shakespeare with a basic understanding of the story. In the hope that it would give her confidence later, in class and encourage her and make her thirsty for more.

The stories that are included are;

  • Julius Caesar
  • King Lear
  • The Merchant of Venice
  • The Taming of the Shrew
  • Twelfth Night
  • As you Like it
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream
  • Much Ado About Nothing
  • The Tempest
  • Henry V
  • Macbeth
  • Othello
  • Richard III
  • Romeo and Juliet
  • Antony and Cleopatra
  • Hamlet

That’s a lot of knowledge for less than £10. I bought the set from The Book People and I loved it so much that I bought another set for my Nephew. Unlike Bess, he hasn’t really read them I don’t think. Perhaps he would be more suited to the Shakespeare comics that you can also buy online. I think Shakespeare would have approved of those too.

I really believe that anything that makes old stories accessible to children is worth exploring. Any reading is good reading.

Learn about Elizabethan England

Lastly, to understand an Elizabethan writer it makes sense to learn about Elizabethan England. You could use the internet to look at the foods they ate or perhaps make some paper dolls and paper clothes to dress them with. There are some great exhibits at lots of museums around the Uk with tons of Elizabethan artefacts to learn about.

There are even open air museums which allow you to step into history. We are planning a trip to the Weald and Downland museum in Sussex later this year. It looks fabulous!

There are loads of resources online for teaching children about Shakespeare too. You could watch the stories, you could reenact the plays together putting on voices for the different characters perhaps. You could create a family tree for the characters from a story or write out lines from plays and guess which one they belong to. BBC bitesize is great for older children too.

I truly believe that there is a play by Shakespeare to suit most (if not every) persons taste. It’s just a matter of how you approach it all. The key is to start with what your child will naturally be interested in and go from there. It’s supposed to be fun though!

What’s your favourite play by Shakespeare?

 

We received this toy in exchange for our honest review. All opinions are our own

There are some toys which I think of as an investment. These are the toys which, in some families, tend to be kept for the “next children” or even Grandchildren. Toys which don’t really ever go out of fashion and have a universal appeal. Playmobil is definitely one of those toys.

Playmobil and us

Upstairs, we have 2 other Playmobil sets. I bought a dinosaur adventure set, complete with fossils and a volcano, for Col, who is now 18. The other is a play park set with working swingset and seesaw among other things which was bought for Bess when she was, well, a lot littler than she is now! The intended recipients have played with the Playmobil sets and so have scored of nieces and nephews. They have held their own and now Moose loves to play with them too.

When we were offered the opportunity to play with a toy from the new Playmobil SPACE range, Moose could hardly contain his excitement!

The Playmobil Mars Space Station arrived and Moose couldn’t wait to play.

What’s in the box

The box contains a lot of pieces. If you are buying this set for a younger child, you might want to think about setting the fiddlier accessories to one side and giving them to the child when they are a little older. We have done this with Playmobil sets in the past and it works well – and means that you stand a chance of the tiny items not getting lost within a week of opening.

The Mars Space Station set includes two astronauts, one robot, space station, computer, tools, food supplies, space crystals, telescope, video recorder, and tons of other accessories.

There is some assembly required and you will need 2 x AAA batteries (not included in the set).

We love any playsets that encourage imaginative play. Playmobil is perfect for this. Creative kids can have a blast with the different features of the Space Station, including “cannons” (as Moose calls them). These are actually functional lasers, which are easy to shoot and reload quickly; they are also great fun.

Moose has a real thing for space just lately. He also loves Robots. When he found that this Playmobil set comes complete with a little robot he was very pleased!

 

After taking off the detachable roof, we were really impressed with the details and amount of objects which can be found inside. As much as the detail is there, it’s not overly fussy or complicated. Little touches such as the laptop had Moose really excited to play.

Attention to detail

The station also has a range of different areas, like the botany section and the sleeping quarters. These are intricately detailed, like the rest of the Space Station, and even have specific compartments and slots for the smaller pieces to go in.

In a playset like this it’s really handy to have the little bits packed away. It gives the child (or enthusiastic parent – no judgement) plenty of space to play.

Moose loved playing with the Playmobil Mars Space Station.

The light up sections and noisy buttons have kept him interested in playing for ages. Thankfully they aren’t too loud or tinny. The best part for me is that I can be confident that this playset will stand up to a 4 year old manhandling it. Playmobil is a brand that doesn’t disappoint.

The Playmobil Mars Space Station retails at around £60 . It may not be cheap but it is great value and a good investment. Especially if you have more than one child running around.

“You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth”

This week has been pretty much perfect. A bold statement, I know, but stick with me.

The Easter break from school seems to have suited us all really well. 2 weeks of having the children at home and being self employed can be seriously challenging but this time around they have been great. No shouts of “I’m bored” or any squabbling really.

We paid a visit to a local zoo which has a fantastic outdoor playground. We took cousin Milly along with us. You may think that voluntarily taking an extra child would equal extra work but that’s not the case at all. Milly is the same age as Moose and I love it when they get the chance to spend time together because she really encourages him to put himself ‘out there’ a bit more than he usually would. They adore each other and have been the best of friends forever.

Later in the week we were invited along by my sister to try out a new wall climbing place fairly close to where we live. One of the unfortunate things I have found with my illness is that I can no longer drive as far as I would have previously done. Luckily my brother and sister have been great about being my driver on occasion or inviting us to places.

I genuinely didn’t think that either Moose nor Bess would be interested in this though. We are not a family known for its love of active activities after all.

I was right about Moose, he wasn’t a fan of climbing at all. He did try but found it a bit scary. Bess, however, proved me wrong completely and took to it really well! She tried out loads of the different walls. I was really proud of her for getting stuck in!

The main attraction of this week was of course, Easter! Bess insisted on organising an egg hunt for Moose complete with clues for him to solve. She wrote him 10 clues and it was really sweet watching him solve them and find his eggs. I snapped this pic and the way he is looking at her makes my heart melt. He loves his big sister so much. There are 9 years between them. it feels sometimes like they have nothing at all in common but I don’t worry about the age gap too much. After all, there is the same gap between my sister and I and we are really close!

 

 

Living Arrows

The products that appear in this post were sent to me for inclusion. All opinions remain my own

I don’t do Easter Trees, it’s Eggs all the way here. This year we have seen some awesome eggs in the shops and I wanted to share a few of the best. Hopefully it will help you choose your treats this Easter too! Of course, chocolate isn’t for everyone so I have also included some non choccy gift ideas too.

 

Marks and Spencer

Angus The Bull is one of the fabulous character eggs developed by M&S for children but I know lots of adults who would be happy to receive one! At £5 they are great value too!

We love to do an Easter egg hunt with the children, Their enthusiasm for the idea of finding quantities of chocolate doesn’t seem to be wearing off as they grow older either. Funny that. This egg hunt from M&S includes a large golden egg to find!

Prosecco + Chocolate = Proseggo! With blackcurrant and raspberry flavours this sounds ideal.

I saw this dark chocolate feather egg on a recent trip to check out what was on offer this Easter at Queensgate shopping centre. As soon as I saw it I fell in love! As well as the beautifully decorated peacock feather egg you also get some dark chocolate salted caramel mini eggs too. Yum!

Thorntons

 

Thorntons have been personalising Easter eggs since 1922. They remain one of few (in most cases the only) retailer to offer this service. It isn’t something they charge extra for either. When I was young I used to receive an egg just like the one above every year. It was just as exciting to get one this year at age 37!

Cadbury

I love caramel. This Dairy Milk Caramel egg is huge and looks very tasty! This year I am trying to limit my chocolate so Bess will get the big egg and I will opt for this Mini Egg offering. Rather than 1 big egg it contains smaller packets of Mini eggs – perfect portion control. MrG favours the Creme egg, he would eat them all year round if he could!

Moose is so excited for his Easter egg hunt on Easter Sunday. We will need to think up lots of clues for him but I know he will love finding not only chocolate eggs but bags of Mini eggs and bunnies too!

Divine

divine fairtrade eggs

With Easter egg choices suitable for vegans, Divine have you covered this Easter. Every Divine Chocolate Easter egg carries the official FairTrade label of certification because of Divine’s support of fair-trade employers who provide good, fair wages and a sustainable livelihood for their workers.

 

Fuzzikins

I really like these Fuzzikins Bedtime Bunnies from Interplay for a fun, cute, non-edible Easter treat. This is a lovely little craft set and allows your child to use their imagination and create something really unique. Colour the bunnies and make their beds (very easily, I was pleased with how much Moose could do all by himself!) Best of all you can then rinse the bunnies off and start again!

Mighty Fine

Not your traditional Easter treat but I love the honeycomb dips from Mighty fine! I am afraid that the bag of dark chocolate honeycomb dips fell into my mouth before this photo could be taken. I can confirm that they are really, very good!

Available in bar or bite sized chunk and I cannot wait to try the salted caramel!

John Lewis

I always forget about department stores at Easter but John Lewis has an amazing range of treats this year! Decorative papier mache eggs containing gorgeous truffles and this Chicken character egg are my favourites.

 

Moj Moj

Moose loves a blind bag. Like, really loves them. Sometimes he gets  a bit of money for Easter and I know that he will probably choose to spend some on a blind bag toy like Moj Moj. It’s great that they are pocket money prices!

Moj Moj have launched some new ranges – Moj Moj Itty and Moj Moj Crunch (pictured above)

Inside the Moj  Moj Itty pack you will find 5 squishy Moj Moj characters and stickers. The Moj Moj Crunch has a larger collectable Moj Moj character inside. They are a great little collectable, fab for trading with friends!

Blacksticks CHEESE Easter egg

cheese easter egg

Who said Easter eggs had to be chocolate? This is the one of a kind (half) egg made from Blackstick Blue Cheese. It comes with a pack of oatcakes and some chutney. Sounds like an ideal Sunday evening to me! You can find your favourite, here

The items included in this Mothers Day gift guide were sent to me for inclusion. However, all opinions are my own and I only accepted products that I thought would be relevant.

 

Copa de Balon glasses are ideal for drinking Gin from and these beautiful designs from a range of 12 Ginology glasses would make a perfect gift for any Gin lover.

This glass is recommended hand wash only. Each glass is presented in a branded kraft gift box.

I particularly love the Hummingbird design but the cherry blossom screams Spring! These glasses are available from Gift Giving All Wrapped Up.

Whether you are looking for a card that is funny, sweet or laugh out loud rude, Love Layla have you covered. As well as every kind of card you could imagine, you will also find some fun and quirky gifts to accompany your card like this great badge and some hilarious gift wrap options!

I think that most Mums would agree that there is not much that would beat a gift that makes their life easier. If the Mum in your life has a fussy eater then this is the gift for her!

Written by a parent blogger, Emily, of the fabulous A Mummy Too blog Get Your Kids To Eat Anything is much more than a cookbook. It is a 5 phase programme designed to help change your families whole approach to eating.

Three mills wine is very, very nice. I am not a wine connoisseur by any means but I know what I like and I like this wine a lot. You may notice that there is a bottle of white and a rosé shown here. Where is the red? Well, I refer you to my first sentence.. I may have got a bit carried away.

Je ne regrette rien.

It;s lower alcohol than a lot of other wines so I had barely any hangover too and for an already pretty much broken Mother of 3 let me assure you that this is of grave importance.

Plus it is way more wallet friendly than I expected at less than £5 a bottle from B&M and several good supermarkets.

My Mum loves to read, not that she had too much free time to do it until recently. A book would make a great gift for her. Choosing a book as a gift is not an easy thing, I think you really have to know the recipient because it is such a personal gift.  That makes a book such as Unscripted a lovely gift for Mothers day.

If your Mum wouldn’t love a Yankee Candle, is she even a Mum though?

My Mum has an addiction to these things. Something that as I am knocking 40 I can totally relate to! Luckily for all of us Candle lovers, Yankee has a ton of different scents (or “flavours” as my Mum would say) for every occasion. I am enamoured with their new range, it smells like spring!

 

If your Mum often stands in front of the fridge wondering what the hell to cook (been there) then this is for her. New Kitchen Basics offers a refreshing array of simple but very tasty recipes. The author, Claire, dedicates the book to her Mum who taught her everything she now knows about food.

The meals within these pages are clear, unfussy and original, they are inspiring. Just like Mums!

The stress of dealing with your teenage angst BS greatly contributed to your Mothers aged face so do your bit!

Treat mum to Skin Doctors’ award-winning day-to-night Potent. Vit. C and Potent. Vit. A single dose Ampoules, available in a collagen boosting Duo Pack. Each Vitamin A ampoule contains .5% pure retinol to help repair damaged skin cells, stimulate new cell growth and increase cell turnover. Vitamin C ampoules contain an antioxidant-rich, potent form of pure Vitamin C to speed up collagen synthesis and provide deep antioxidant protection and hydration.

Use the Skin Doctors Potent Vit. C Ampoules in the morning to brighten, illuminate and awaken the skin with the velvety conditioning serum. At night apply the silky serum of the Skin Doctors Potent Vit. A Ampoules to restore, repair and refine the skin as you sleep.

 

One for the tech fans, the Lenovo Smart Display is an ideal choice.

Having a Lenovo Smart Display is like having your own personal assistant. The children and I really enjoy cooking together and we love the Tasty videos online. The Lenovo Smart Display makes it so easy!

While the children are at school I also use it to play music while I work and as well as that we make video calls with it!

It was easy to set up and it feels sturdy. I am sure it would make a great Mothers day gift!

 

Critically Endangered Socks are a great gift for Mothers day.

Made from a soft and sustainable blend of cotton and bamboo, each pair comes with an endangered animal fact sheet in a bespoke recyclable box.

It looks like wine, you drink it like wine. But it is not wine. There is no alcohol in this drink and that makes it the perfect gift for Mums who like wine, but not hangovers!

In addition, it contains the beneficial elements of Prelixir®, a unique blend of vitamins, minerals and amino acids which alcohol is known to deplete. This unique element means that Botonique is able to provide anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, alkalising, detoxifying and hydrating benefits.

The drink is available in both original and blush

Not your traditional gift

Walking is one of the best forms of low-impact exercises. But, when we walk a lot, we still put pressure on a feet ankles shins and knees. The 5 layered Sole is made of comfortable EVA material, used in top quality running shoes for high impact absorption. These layers, and extra-wide perfect-fit shape, reduce pressure and support your foot across the widest point and from heel to toe in a way that feels like you’re walking on air!

The unique Walkmaxx sole design evenly distributes your weight and reduces pressure on the feet, joints, hips, and back.

SEKSY Embrace, a dynamic and glamorous fragrance. Feminine, enchanting and seductive with top notes of orange blossom, blackcurrant and pear. The heart is very rich with iris, jasmine and patchouli. Tonka bean, vanilla and praline accord and musks create a deep and opulent finish.

Presented in a lavishly designed 12-sided bottle embellished with a Swarovski® crystal and a detachable Swarovski® charm that can be added to your favourite jewellery.

Treat your Mum to something sweet.

Sparkling Wine Jelly Belly beans have all the flavour of a glass of the real thing in a petite package. A sweet way to add a little bubbly to any celebration, the 42g Sparkling Wine Flavour Bubbly Bottles make perfect favours and gifts for adult fans looking for a bit of whimsy and style for all occasions. These miniature bottles are designed to look like traditional bottles with gold embellishments. They are filled with 42 grams of the non-alcoholic flavour

 

Mum’s like to smell nice. This Mum HATES taking perfume bottles along on a trip.

I was scarred for life after I once arrived at my hotel only to be greeted by a broken bottle. The perfume went all over my belongings. I really did smell like a branch of Boots on a Saturday afternoon after it has been invaded by groups of bored tweens.

Twist and Spritz are designed to be a portable alternative to your full-size fragrance bottle. One of these would be so handy for your Mum to keep in her bag.

 

A dashcam is essential these days.

There are so many idiots on the road. So why not choose a practical gift for your Mum this Mother’s day?

With inbuilt Wi-Fi, GPS logging and an accompanying smartphone app, the Nextbase 312GW is the most connected mid-range Dash Cam on the market.

 

 

Why not surprise your Mum with a beautiful bouquet from Blossoming Gifts. The bouquet shown here is the Sweet Clementine.

There is a massive choice of flowers and gifts on the website. I am happy to report that even a week after receiving these flowers they are still going strong!