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Category: Blog

Travel Games for 6-9 Year Olds

Hi Suzie,

Its my god daughters Birthday this week and she is heading to America in a couple of weeks, so I wanted to get her some bits and pieces for the plane journey. Would you have any travel games or toys, she will be 6 and her brother is 9 so something that would be suitable for both,

Cheers, ——

Hi ——.

Thanks for thinking of my shop. If she is good at spelling, then this travel boggle could be fun.

Boggle travel game

My girls love the Djeco Mini Cards Packs. They have the floral colouring ones and the wordsearch ones. They are a very handy size for travelling with.

Djeco Travel Games

They also really enjoy some of the Melissa and Doug crafts that are good for travelling with. Any of the Scratch Art packs are light and the mess-free glitter  is something she could do while travelling,
although her brother probably wouldn’t want to join in.

Melissa and Doug Travel Games
They might enjoy the the Scooby Doo Card Game

Scooby Doo Card Game

or they could play games over and over with the Chalk Activity Book

Chalk activity book

My girls also love the Beetle Game  although there are some small pieces so it may not be a great idea to play if the flight is turbulent.

The Beetle Game

The Yes/No game is fun to play and is light and small.

The yes no game

These Creativity Placemats are handy to bring on holidays when they are eating out, although I think they may be a little advanced for a 6 year old.

Creativity placemats

If she is creative, I’ve just adding this Spiro Graph Book to my range of toys and it looks really cool.

Spiro Graph Pad

Or these Colouring Velvet Cards are lovely and you can’t colour outside the lines, even if the journey is rough! Most colouring velvet is for younger children but this set of ‘Forest’ scenes are recommended for children aged 6-9 years.

Colouring Velvet Forest Pictures
I’ve written a couple of blogs that might interest you/have some ideas – Activities to bring on holidays with 5-7 year olds and 5 Things to Keep Children Happy on a Long Flight

Thanks again for your enquiry,

Regards,

Suzie

4 Essentials at an Easter Party

Every year, my sister-in-law hosts an amazing Easter party for all the cousins to get together and have some fun. She is a brilliant event organiser and puts a lot of work and creativity into her parties. This year, however, she has just moved house and she’s pregnant, so I’ve volunteered to take on the job. I’ll copy a lot of what she already does and maybe, if I have time, will add a few personal touches. In order to do this, I’ve taken some time to get ideas online and here’s what I’m happy to share.

An Easter Egg Hunt

In my daughter’s eyes, the most important part of an Easter party is having an Easter Egg Hunt. As a parent, I have to accept that at parties, my kids eat a lot of junk, but if I can limit it slightly, I feel like a better parent and they are still happy. My sister in law, got this balance just perfect. She purchased empty plastic eggs from a euro shop and only filled one third of these eggs with small chocolate eggs. In the others, she would put Easter stickers and little fluffy chicks. These plastic eggs are great, as you can re-use them every year and it means that you don’t have to hide foil covered Easter eggs (inevitably the foil ends up all over your garden and is in such small pieces that you give up picking it up). It also means that if the children miss one or two eggs, you’re not feeding mice or rats!. The children have great fun finding the eggs and discovering what’s inside.

Or, if you’d prefer to give out one or two larger eggs to each child, why not organise a scavenger hunt with lots of clues. The final clue would lead the children to a basket of eggs. The children could work in teams, so little ones aren’t left out.

One problem that can happen very easily at Easter egg hunts is that the older, more capable children will get to all the eggs first. It’s worth putting down ground rules before you start, outlining how many eggs each child is allowed to find. Or pair off the older children with a young child, so they work together and share what they find.

Easter party

A Craft

Depending on the age of the children attending, this can be as simple as sticking crepe paper onto a picture of a chick or can be more elabourite. My daughters have started making these really lovely Easter egg baskets. There are lots of great Irish children’s craft bloggers that have lovely ideas. My favourite are Craftea Parties and Crafty Kids at Home. If you do the craft activity after the egg hunt, you could use the stickers that have been collected as part of the craft. If you want a craft kit, without the work of having to source all the items, photocopy, cut out etc, I’ve a large selection of art and craft kits on my website.

 

Some Snacks

If you are following along the Easter bunny theme for your party, you could serve Carrot Juice and Carrot cake. Get your children involved in making these before hand, and they’ll be more likely to consume them. Since they’ll be eating their fill of chocolate already, it might be worth having some healthy snacks before the egg hunt (if your children have the patience to wait). Healthy snacks could include carrot and celery sticks with humous, boiled eggs cut in quarters or, if you have time to make these, they look cool! But, don’t go overboard, as chances are, it will be the adults who eat most of these, as the children will hold out for the chocolate!

Some Games

Depending on the age of the children and the weather, they will probably be happy enough running around. However, if you like organising games, I came across some Easter party themed games.

The first was a variation of pinning a tail to a donkey. Instead of the animal being a donkey, draw out a big chick on some paper and blind fold one child at a time. They have to attempt to stick a piece of cotton wool where they think the tail should go. The winner is the one who gets the tail closest to where it should be.

Or, fill an empty jam jar with Easter eggs and allow the children to guess how many eggs are in the jar. The winner is the person who guesses closest to the actual amount.

If the weather allows and you have the space, you could have a chocolate egg and spoon race.

Again, if the weather is nice, older children and adults will enjoy the risk involved in an egg tossing competition. In this, everyone has a partner and each team have an egg. Ask them to step 1 meter apart and throw the egg to their partner. If the partner succeeds in catching it, they have to take a step back and then throw the egg back to their partner. With each successful catch, they move a foot further from each other. Beware – this is a messy game!

Finally, if you are familiar with how to play a Beetle Drive/Game, you could alter it so that instead of drawing a beetle, you are working towards drawing a bunny. Have the children sit in a circle with a piece of paper and a pen each. They pass a dice around. In order to start their Bunny, they need to throw a 1 to draw a body. Then you can appoint the numbers 2,3,4,5 and 6 to different bunny parts for example – when your dice lands on 2, you draw the head, on 3 you draw the ears (you’ll need to get this twice to get both ears), on 4 you draw the arms/legs, 5 for the nose and 6 for each whisker. The winner is the first to have the bunny drawn.

Whatever you end up doing, I hope you all have a really lovely Easter,

xx Suzie

 

Some April Fool Tricks for Children to Enjoy

Have you ever played a great trick on someone? I remember, as a young adult acquiring a ‘You’ve been Clamped’ sticker for a car window. Myself and my friends played numerous tricks on friends and family using the sticker and a caravan wheel clamp.

With April Fool’s Day approaching, it’s never too early to teach your kids some tricks, which they, no doubt, will enjoy playing on those around them.

For older kids, this Melissa and Doug Deluxe Magic Set has 10 deluxe tricks for your child to learn. It’s recommended for children aged 8+.

April Fool's tricks for children

Younger kids (and older ones too), can have great fun with a simple whoopee cushion. Blow it up and hide it underneath someone’s bum before they sit. When they sit on it, it will make a farting noise, much to the amusement of everyone there!

Finally, I’ve added a couple of ‘magic’ type pens to my range of toys and games. My daughters are getting great fun out of them, so I’m happy to recommend them. The first are the Djeco magic markers. Do you remember having these as a kid? Simply colour in a picture or colour in a block of colour. Then use the white pen to colour over part of it and it magically changes colour. The second are Spy Pens. When you use one of these, it appears that you’ve written nothing. Then, use the little torch that’s built into the lid of the pen to ‘cast some light on the area’ and the original words appear.

Magic markers

Spy pen

Whatever tricks you and your children get up to this April Fools. I hope you have a great one.

xx Suzie

Don’t forget that nationwide delivery is currently only €2 on all orders over €15. Shopping with Toys and Games Ireland couldn’t be easier or cheaper!

 

3 Easter Gift Ideas

Easter is just around the corner now and it’s becoming more common to give gifts, often instead of a chocolate egg but sometimes with one. I’ve put together a little list of some Easter gift ideas below.

  1. Chick Hatching Eggs

If your child doesn’t like chocolate (or you don’t like giving them chocolate), then these eggs are a perfect alternative. They cost only €4.50 each and come in 4 different coloured eggs. Simply put your egg in a bowl of water and watch and wait. After 12 hours, the shell will start to crack and within 48 hours the (rubber) chick will have out-grown the shell and is a toy your child can continue to play with. I also stock similar Dinosaur Eggs.

Chicken hatching eggs easter gifts

2. Soft Toys

These soft rabbits are very popular over Easter time as there’s so much talk about the Easter Bunny. This one is called Hobbel and he’s super soft and cuddly with large drooping ears. If you give this bunny to a child, I’m sure he’ll soon become a favourite and I’ve reduced him for the season by 25% to €14.99, so don’t delay, as it’s only while stock lasts!

3. Baby Toys

Most people wouldn’t consider giving a chocolate egg to a baby (unless they think the parent’s will eat it for them). However, if other children in the family are getting gifts, it’s not fair to over look the baby! I stock gorgeous rattles that are soft bunnies. They are made by Ragtales and the boy one is called Alfie while the girl one is called Fifi. They cost €16.99 each

If you don’t feel tied to ‘Bunny’, ‘Chicken’ or ‘Egg’ themed gifts, I’ve a large selection of cheaper toys (priced under €10) or arts and craft kits which will keep your child busy during the school holidays.

I hope you all have a lovely Easter,

xx Suzie

 

7 Questions to Ask Before Going to Disneyland Paris

We are just back from a trip to Disneyland Paris, so I thought I’d post up some helpful tips we received before leaving and some that we learnt along the way, in case any of you have upcoming trips.

I am a big fan of Disneyland. I went to the one in Paris and LA when I was in my 20s and remember the magic so clearly. It’s something I’ve always planned on doing with my kids and this year, a great deal came around and I couldn’t resist. My husband, had never been before and generally doesn’t like roller-coasters but he was happy to give it a go.

1. When to tell the Children?

Everyone has an opinion on this one. Do you tell them the moment you buy your flights? Or wait until the morning you are leaving? Or choose sometime in between? There’s pros and cons for whenever you do choose to tell your children.

Consider

  • how much patience and understanding of time do your children have?
  • how will they sleep running up to the big day?
  • will they be ok if you pack their suitcases for them?
  • will they want to tell their friends before they leave?…

Our girls are 5 and 7 years old and we decided to tell them two days before leaving. I spent some time on YouTube before telling them, watching ‘Disney Reveal’ videos. If you have time, watch a few as children react to the news that they are going to Disneyland. It’s brilliant viewing and it might inspire you.

2. Where will you Stay?

Disney own most, if not all, of the hotels that are right beside Disneyland in Paris but there’s always the option of staying a little further out and getting the train or bus in every day. There’s a train station and bus station right outside Disneyland Paris. The Disney hotels range from 2* to 5* and are priced accordingly.

We choose one of the cheaper hotels as we felt that we weren’t going to be spending a lot of time relaxing/using the spa or swimming pool in the hotel. It was just for sleeping in. We also choose to share a room, which worked ok most days.

It was worth staying in a Disney Hotel as Disneyland Park opens from 8-10am solely for guests of Disney Hotels. During this 2 hour slot, queues for rides are short and you can fit a lot into the time before the park opens to the public. At first we thought we’d only do this on the first morning, as it meant having breakfast at 7am and getting up at 6.30am (5.30am Irish time), however after experiencing the crowds and queues after 10am, we made sure we were there at 8am every morning. During the two morning hours, we’d fit in maybe 6 rides or Disney Characters. We’d be lucky to fit another 6 in during the rest of the day, although we did go back to the hotel every afternoon for lunch and a nap.

Disney hotels are walking distance to the Park. We choose to use the 5 minute free shuttle bus every day instead however, as we were doing so much walking around the park. We didn’t want to tire the girls out before even arriving, and by home time, we were all ready to sit down on the bus and be shuttled home!

3. How long to go for?

This very much depends on who you are going with, what age they are and how much money you have to spend on your trip. We went for 4 full days and it was perfect. We spent the first day in Disneyland Park, the second in Walt Disney Studios and then moved between the two for the remaining two days. Any longer and we would have been too tired to enjoy it and any shorter and we would have left feeling like we’d have loved another day! As our kids are young, we decided not to have a cultural city day however, if we go again, I think we should visit Paris itself.

One thing to bear in mind when you’re planning your trip is to try and make sure you have at least one day at home before you return to work and your kids go back to school. Going to Disney is amazing and you make the most of it. For us that meant starting our day at 6.30am and ending it after the Lights and Firework Display every evening, at about 9.30pm. We did attempt a siesta every day but when you’re all sharing a room, this is easier said than done! We came home exhausted late on a Friday night. It was great not having anything planned for Saturday and Sunday. We really needed the ‘down time’ to process all that had happened the previous 4 days.

5. How to be Most Prepared?

With the place so busy and so many exciting rides and shows to see, I think it’s really essential to be prepared. You can check the Disneyland Paris website and find out what rides are closed for renovations, before you leave. You can also print off maps of the Park and Walt Disney Studios and get familiar with where everything is, before you leave. I put the Disneyland Paris app on my phone and I found this invaluable. The app shows you where everything is in both parks and how long the waiting times were for each ride. The week before we left, I’d regularly check these, as it gave me an idea of when would be the best time to go on certain rides, providing the demand was going to be similar the following week. While in the Parks themselves, I could check the app to see waiting times, so we didn’t traypsy across a park only to find a 90 minute queue. If you don’t want to have your head in the phone checking the App all day, each ride has a electronic banner at the entrance letting you know how long you’ll be queuing for, if you choose to join the line.

It’s also good to be familiar with what rides have ‘Fast Track’ options and ‘Single Rider’ options. If you find a ride you really like with a Fast Track option, all you have to do is insert your Park tickets into a machine and it will give you your tickets back and also new tickets with scheduled times for that ride. You can only have one Fast Pass ticket at a time. We found these really good for Ratatouille, Peter Pan and Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast. The ‘Single Rider’ queues, where available, are much shorter than the normal queues but you could be sitting beside people you don’t know. They don’t work if your whole family wants to use the ride, but are handy if only you want to go and it means your partner and kids aren’t waiting a long time for you to come back.

I think the key to making the most of Disneyland is to be flexible and remember that you’re not there on your own. You may have dreams to fit as much in as possible but the others in your party may not have the same stamina as you! Different people like different rides and there’s no foretelling what these might be, until you have been. We learnt that our youngest daughter LOVED meeting the characters and watching the parades while our eldest was much more interested in participating in the rides.

So, it’s important to be prepared but flexible at the same time!

6. Where to Eat?

There’s a huge choice of where to eat when your at Disneyland Park, Walt Disney Studios and Disney Village. Prices range hugely and there’s something for most budgets and tastes, although the quality is less than what you’d get for the same money in Ireland. I guess they are just catering for so many people that it’s hard to make good quality fresh hot food. Also, be prepared for food queues if you are choosing counter service restaurants. One day we queued for half an hour before we placed our order in McDonalds!

Although there are lots of hot food restaurants, it’s  much harder to find places that sell snacks, so if there’s room in your suitcase, pack some! I didn’t see anywhere selling fruit, and popcorn and chocolate were expensive.

When you’re booking your holiday, it is possible to opt in to ‘half board’ and ‘full board’ options. We choose Bed and Breakfast but if we were going again, I would look into these other options more.

7. What to Pack?

Apart from what you’d normally pack if you were going on holidays, here’s a few things, you might forget:

  • Plug adaptors. You’ll probably be using your phone lots to check the app or take photos, so you’ll need to charge it. Don’t forget your european plug socket adaptors for your electrical goods.
  • Travel Kettle/Cups/Teabags! The lower rated hotels don’t have tea and coffee making facilities in the rooms so if you’re like me, you’ll want to bring these holiday essentials! Even if you are getting tea with your meals, it has a different flavour to it. There’s no harm bringing a home comfort with you if you can fit it in!
  • Disney Costumes! Most children under 5 walk around dressed as a princess or Disney character. Your older children and even you, might want to join in this fun!
  • Snacks
  • Medicine. There’s three First Aid stations posted in different parts of Disneyland. We know from experience! They are brilliant, but they are limited to what they can give you/your child for sickness. The nearest pharmacy is a train journey away and even at that, you are much more limited with what you can get without a prescription than here. Next time we go, I’ll definitely be packing a bottle of Calpol, just in case!
  • A Buggy. When someone told me to bring a buggy, I nearly laughed. It’s been years since my girls sat in a buggy, but it was probably the best advice we were given! There is so much walking  involved. If we hadn’t of brought the buggy, we would have had to take a lot more stops and breaks. The amazing thing about buggies in Disneyland is that they appear to be completely safe. If you parked your empty buggy in a Tesco foyer in Ireland and went and did your shopping, it’s probably likely that your buggy would not be there when you return. In Disneyland, there’s areas outside every ride for buggies. You just park it beside all the other ones, disappear for 20 minutes and come back and collect it. If you did decide not to bring your buggy and then realised you should have, you can rent them from Disneyland.
  • Lots of light layers of clothes. I guess this depends on the time of year you travel but no matter when it is, it’s probable that morning and evening will be much cooler than the afternoons. Going back to the hotel to leave off clothes or get more clothes is extra hassle, but so is carrying around bulky coats in a backpack for hours. Light layers on the other hand is less of a hassle.

All in all, we had an amazing trip and made memories we will never forget. I hope you can say the same after your trip.

xx Suzie

 

5 Ways to Spring Clean Toys

I think most of us can agree that a lot of children in Ireland have too many toys, my own children included. There is so much choice over what to play with, that they don’t know where to start or they just can’t find what they want to play with as their drawers are over flowing with toys.

Well,  spring is in the air and I’m gradually working my way through our rooms, de-cluttering. It’s something I really enjoy but which my children and husband dread! I’m very good at getting rid of ‘my stuff’ but there’s usually a battle when it comes to moving on their stuff. I’m learning on the job and so far, I’ve figured out five different ways to do it.

1. Do it with No Involvement from my Children

This technique was much easier to do when my children were smaller. They wouldn’t remember exactly what toys they owned and they wouldn’t miss whatever I decided to pass on. It was also easier, as I could do it in one swoop when they were napping and hide it in the car boot until it had reached it’s new home. To some degree, it was painless for everyone involved.

However, now that my children are older, they remember what toys they have and by the time they go to sleep at night, I’m too tired to consider spring cleaning and finding hiding places for the unwanted toys until I am near a charity shop. This technique still works for us when it comes to broken toys, very small toys (like what McDonalds give away in Happy Meals) and crafts/worksheets. I try and do a quick sweep of our play room every month or so with a black sack. These are things that are easy to dispose of in our bins as no one else would want them!

Spring Cleaning toys

Spring Cleaning toys

2. A 2-Step Approach to Spring Cleaning

This technique works very well in my house at the moment. Basically, every month or so, I sweep through their playroom and take a box full of toys that my kids rarely play with. I put this box in the attic and wait to see if they miss any of them. If , after a couple of months, they haven’t asked for the hidden toys, I move them to the charity shop or to a relative or friend with younger children. If they ask for the toy, I tell them it’s in the attic and I get it down for them next time I’m up there.

Before you bring your unwanted toys to a charity shop/sale/fair, it’s worth just checking to see what they will take. Often charity shops get too many toys or just don’t have room for larger toys. If your toys aren’t up to a re-sellable standard, then the charity will have to pay to dump your toys, causing the charity extra expense.

3. Blackmail

This has also worked well in our house. Last October, I decided it was time to make room for the Christmas toys, so I asked my girls to put some toys that they didn’t want in a black sack. I told them, that for every five toys they didn’t want, they could choose one to buy in the Charity Shop when we were donating their toys. Both girls found five toys each that they were happy to ‘exchange’ and they enjoyed getting a new toy each in the charity shop. So much so, that as soon as we came home, my younger daughter found five more toys and the next day we went back to the Charity Shop and she choose another toy. This can work for charity jumble sales too. It’s inevitable that as soon as you go to one of these fairs, your child will want to spend lots of your money. You can make room in your playroom/child’s bedroom by paying them for unwanted toys and then they can spend it at the fair. It’s win/win as you’d be giving them the money anyway, and this way there’s room for their new toys. The only danger with this technique, and the next, is that your child may try and just get rid of very small toys (like what McDonalds have given them) or broken toys, so it’s best to set boundaries at the beginning.

4. Give to a Charity of your Child’s Choice

Last October, the girl’s school took part in the Team Hope Shoebox Appeal. They were each encouraged to fill a box with gifts for a child in the developing world. We had to buy some of the stuff for this but were allowed to donate ‘as new toys and stationary’. Giving their toys away does not come easy to my children, so we spent some time talking about what kind of lives the little girls receiving the shoe boxes had and watched a YouTube video of children opening the shoe boxes in Africa. My eldest in particular got very involved and was extremely generous with her unwanted toys. This is one of many great children’s charities. Take time making a case for other children who have very little and I think your children might surprise you.

Spring Cleaning Toys Team Hope Shoebox appeal

Spring Cleaning Toys Team Hope Shoebox appeal

5. Toy Rotation

If actually passing your toys on is virtually impossible and none of the above methods work in your home, you could attempt toy rotation. Put a box of toys on a top shelf or in your attic for a month or two. Then take them down and they will be like ‘new’ toys for your child. Fill the box with other toys and put it away for a couple of months and continue this rotation.

The reality is that whether you enjoy spring cleaning or not, it needs to be done unless  you have a massive house. And even if you do, there really is no point in keeping every toy your child brings into your house. I do, however, recognise that some toys should never leave our house. My kids play with wooden doll’s bunkbeds, that I played with as a kid and I wish my mum had kept my old doll house. I will keep some of these larger wooden items that my children play with, in case their children would like them. I will also keep some toys that are my children’s ‘favourite’ but everything else will eventually leave our house and be enjoyed, hopefully by someone else.

I know Spring Cleaning involves more than moving stuff out of your house – it involves cleaning and tidying what you want to keep. Unfortunately, I’ve run out of space to keep going on this topic, but hopefully I’ll address both soon.

Enjoy the Spring Clean!

Suzie

10 Toys that Encourage Language Development

A friend of mine, who works as a Speech and Language Therapist, recently suggested that I should write a blog highlighting some of my toys that would encourage language development. I was reluctant at first but after doing a little reading about it myself, I realised how many of the toys I stock fit into this category. So, here goes!

  1. Blocks, stacking cubes and shape sorters. These all encourage interactive play, problem solving and creative expression.Wooden blocks for childrenStacking blocksShape Sorter for children from Le Toy Van
  2. Books create literacy opportunities and introduce new vocabulary. Personally, I love the Tales of Acorn Wood books by Julia Donaldson. They are rhyming stories with lift the flap pages. Encourage your child to lift the flap and predict what might happen next.Acorn Wood Books for language development
  3. Cars and TrainsIt’s best to choose toys that don’t do all the ‘doing’ for your child. This encourages them get involved in playing. Encourage your child to make noises as they play like ‘choo choo’Car transporter
  4. Play Kitchens and Food. Role playing what happens in a kitchen will encourage your child to use verbs. As they play with the food they will understand and use concepts like ‘in’ ‘on’ and ‘under’. I am a big fan of the Melissa and Doug Shopping Trolley, Le Toy Van Kitchen and the Goki wooden lollipops.kid's play trolleyLe Toy Van KitchenPretend lollipops
  5. Dolls Houses. It’s easy to memorise words but not know how to use them functionally. Having a dolls house will encourage your child to figure out how to use words around the dolls and their living, functionally. Below is Sweetheart Cottage from Le Toy Van and Melissa and Doug’s Doorbell House.Sweetheart cottage from Le Toy VanMelissa and Doug Doorbell House
  6. Tools and Tool Sets. As your child gets engrossed in playing, they will start expressing verbally what they are doing. These chunky wooden ones from Small Foot Designs are lovely for little hands to hold and use.Small foot design tools
  7. Role Play outfits and accessories can aid your child’s cognitive development as they reenact what they see around them. Melissa and Doug make some really lovely, top quality costumes that suit boys and girls, and the Le Toy Van Doctor’s Set is one of my best selling toys.Le Toy Van Doctor's SetMelissa and Doug costumes
  8. Art – This can be a huge language stimulation tool. Here’s two sets that I’d recommend from Djeco.Djeco craft sets for young children
  9. Animal and Farm Sets. Making animal sounds has been linked with speech development and language. Try getting ones that don’t have the animals making the noises for you. I love this Noah’s Ark from Le Toy Van.Noah's ark wooden toy
  10. Dress up Puzzles. These types of puzzles help your child verbalise items of clothing and body parts. Melissa and Doug make gorgeous wooden magnetic dolls that come with a variety of clothes. Their names are Abby, Emma and Billy!Dress up dolls

From my research it appears that most speech therapists are encouraging children to spend less time in front of screens or with battery operated toys. I hope this blog has got you thinking about the toys you already have that may encourage language development and perhaps help you choose a few new ones!

xx Suzie

5 Activities to Bring on Holidays with 5-7 year olds

I am just back from a weekend break in Scotland with my husband and two daughters aged 5 and 7. We had a lovely time. Before leaving, I supervised my children packing a small backpack each of activities that they could do while travelling and sitting in restaurants/coffee shops. Here’s what they packed:

  1. Colouring books. I allowed them to bring one each. After all, I wanted their bags to be light enough that they wouldn’t complain about carrying them and I find that too much choice can mean that they don’t know where to start and then don’t start! My eldest daughter loves intricate designs (similar to adult colouring books) while my younger daughter still enjoys colouring in simple cartoon style characters.Travel activities for 5 and 7 year olds
  2. Colours. They both brought their own pencil cases with markers in them. Although this meant doubling what was needed, it avoided fights while we were away. At first my eldest wanted to bring colouring pencils but I persuaded her to choose markers instead. Colouring pencils are great for home, but sharpening them in restaurants and on planes is messy.Travel activities for 5 and 7 year olds
  3. A book each. Both had been to the school library earlier in the week, so they had a new book each to bring. Out of the five activities they brought, these were the least used. I think if we’d had a longer flight, they might have been read more. While in restaurants, there was just too much going on that they choose activities that they could look up from and not struggle to find their spot again.
  4. Putty Peeps. These are small and light to travel with and encourage so much creativity. I think these were the most played with toys/activities while we travelled.  For those of you who have never seen putty peeps before, it’s tough putty in a small tin and it comes with 2 eyes. The idea behind it is that you mould characters out of the putty. Both my daughters love this activity. They’ve had their putty peeps for several months now and it’s as good as it was when we first opened it. It doesn’t dry out or get grainy, like cheaper putty.Travel activities for 5-7 year olds
  5. I surprised them on the plane by giving them a packet of Djeco Mini Wordsearch Puzzles for them to have during the holiday. They both loved them, although my five year old needed a bit of help as she lost concentration easier than her seven year old sister. These packs of Djeco Minis have 30 cards in each and come with a pencil. They are small and easy to carry around. They also take about 20 minutes to complete, which means 20 minutes of adult time in a coffee shop or restaurant! The girls have used about 8 of their cards and I’ll pack away the remainder in my suitcase for our next holiday, so that they remain a treat activity and not something that they girls have grown bored of.Travel games

We were away with my sister’s family. Her kids are younger (1 and 3 year olds). She had also packed a few activities for her kids – cardboard books for her young daughter and some books, putty peep and a stretchy caterpillar toy for her 3 year old son.

If you’re going travelling with your children soon, I hope that this blog has helped you decide what toys and activities to bring for them. We went to Thailand last year and had to bring more, as our flights were much longer. If you’d like to read the blog about what we brought for this trip, you’ll find it here.

I’d love to learn from you too, so if there’s particular activities or travel games that you always bring on holidays with your kids, please comment below. Thanks,

Happy Travelling!

Suzie

6 Year Old Birthday Party Ideas

I got an e-mail enquiry today looking for ideas for their child’s birthday party. Here’s what it said:

Hi Susie, 

Looking to purchase the Scratch bookmarks again but I see they are out of stock. 
Can you recommend something similar for a 6yr old bday party. I like the Djeco origami boxes, but I don’t think they’d be able for them. 
Thanks a million, 
—-
Here’s my reply:
Hi —-,
Thanks for your e-mail. Yes, the book marks have been out of stock for a couple of months now. Melissa and Doug have said they will have them again in Feb/March time, so I will restock them, but probably not in time for your child’s party.  I do have Scratch Art Key Rings Party Pack in stock, which are similar. I have two girls and they love them.

Birthday party ideas

For my 6 year old’s birthday, I also did tattoos on them and gave a few tattoos in the going home bag for the children to use later. This is the boy’s pack and the girl’s pack. It was much easier than face painting (which I’ve attempted a couple of times). I gave each child a tattoo and a baby wipe and showed them how to do it but taking the top cover off the tattoo and then placing it on skin with the baby wipe on top to wet. The kids loved them.

Birthday party ideas

I also stock these cool paper plane kits. Each pack has 20 paper planes to fold and a pilot to slot in. Then, you could have paper plane races. There are boy’s ones  and girl ones. I haven’t used these yet, but I don’t think a 6 year old would have trouble doing them. Again, once the party is over, they can slip the air-planes into their party bags and it’s one less thing for you to buy!Birthday party ideas

I think you’re right about the Origami paper boxes – they would probably be too hard for a group of 6 year olds. I think they would be fine if you were working one on one with a 6 year old to show them but with a group, it would be too complicated and demanding to help everyone and some kids would get frustrated.
If the kids at the party are quite creative, then this table cloth could keep them busy as you prepare the party food. The great thing about this table cloth is that it’s re-usable. Just fire it into the washing machine after the party and it’ll be ready for next year’s party!

Birthday party Ideas
If you’re looking for some game ideas, this little box has 50 simple but fun game ideas I’ve done a small YouTube review that is linked on this site, which will help you see some of the game ideas.

Birthday party games
You didn’t mention if your child was a boy or a girl. If it’s a girl this Melissa and Doug Wooden Bead set has enough in it to make approximately 8 wooden necklaces/bracelets. Or, this mosaics kit has enough to make 4 mosaics.

I hope this helps. Feel free to fire back any further questions you have.

Kind Regards,
Suzie

Shipping Queries

 

I regularly get questions regarding shipping/delivery, some of which aren’t answered in my Shipping and Delivery Policy, so I thought I’d address them here today.

 

Why hasn’t my order arrived within 24 hours?

  1. I use GLS to deliver my products to customers. They work Monday to Friday. If you place your order after 12 noon on Friday, it won’t be dispatched til Monday and delivered on Tuesday. Similarly, orders dispatched on Friday morning, won’t be delivered to you until Monday morning. To get your order within 24 hours, you need to place it early in the week.
  2. You weren’t home with GLS called with your order.
  3. Delivery information is missing.

 

What happens to my order if I’m not home when GLS call with it?

It appears to me that it depends on which GLS Courier is working in your area. Some will call you and make an alternative delivery arrangement. Others will automatically put your order back in their van and bring it again the following day and others, especially around Christmas time, will leave your order with a neighbour.

What delivery information do I need to put with my order?

GLS require that you put a recipient’s name, a postal address and a telephone number for the recipient. If your order is missing one of these, they will keep your order in their warehouse, contact me and I’ll contact you to get the missing information. This can delay your order being delivered by several days. It is for this reason, that I require an e-mail address. If your house is hard to find, make it easier for the courier by supplying me with your post code. Or, even easier, put a business address down for the delivery address. GLS do not ring or text before delivery.

Is it possible to track my order?

Yes, all the orders I dispatch have a tracking code on them. If you are concerned that your order hasn’t arrived, please e-mail me and ask me for your tracking code. Then,  if you go to www.gls.ie and you put in your tracking code, details of your order will come in. This is especially useful if a neighbour has taken in your order, as their name will appear as the person who has signed for it.

What happens if my order goes missing?

There are two ways that your order could go missing:

  1. I accidentally miss it in my inbox and don’t dispatch it.
  2. GLS accidently lose it.

 

The only ways I can find out that you haven’t received your order is if you contact me or GLS contacts me. Either way I will do my best to either trace your order, resend it or refund you.

Can I order from abroad for delivery in Ireland?

Yes, I have lots of customers who live abroad but buy for family and friends in Ireland. After all, my delivery would work out cheaper for them than posting a gift from abroad and will get to them much quicker. It’s for this reason that I offer to gift wrap larger items for free. (I won’t gift wrap pocket money toys individually) If you are buying from abroad and you want a personal message written with the order, please state it in the comments box and I’ll hand write it with your order. Also, if you’d prefer for a receipt not to be included in your order, state this too. Finally, make sure that the telephone number you provide is for the recipient (or someone in that home) and not your own foreign number. If the order doesn’t have an Irish telephone number, I will hold onto it and contact you for one. This can delay delivery.

Do you deliver outside of Ireland?

Generally speaking, no. However, if you really want something from my site and you need it delivered outside of Ireland, please contact me and I’ll find out how much it would cost to deliver using An Post. This can be more expensive and delivery will take longer this way. Also, unless you are prepared to pay extra for tracking and insurance, this won’t be provided.

Can I collect my order from you?

Yes, my business is a home business based in Newtownmountkennedy in Co.Wicklow and I work it around my family. If you wish to collect your order from my home, please send me an e-mail (Suzie@toysandgames.ie). If you give me some options of when would suit you to collect, I will reply confirming one of your times (if possible) and also giving you a coupon code to use, so you don’t have to pay for delivery of your order.

I hope these answers provide reassurance to you.

Happy Shopping,

Suzie