Category Archives: Mini Makes

Kids’ posts including videos and games

Trying to be Sugar Smart Week 2 – Drinks

As you may have seen last week, we are taking part in a scheme with Kallikids to try and be a more sugar smart family. In week two our challenge was all about drinks.

We were challenged to make the world’s most disgusting drink, and the world’s most delightful (low sugar) drink. The goal was to show kids just how much sugar was in fizzy drinks, and demonstrate that low-sugar alternatives can be great.

So, just how much sugar IS in fizzy drinks? Well, in a 500ml bottle of coke for example, there are cubes 13.5 of sugar, or 54g. That is a huge amount of sugar. Enough to set my teeth on edge!!

How much sugar is in fizzy drinks?
How much sugar is in fizzy drinks?

I must admit, the drinks part isn’t too much of a challenge for us, as we’ve never allowed our children to have fizzy drinks, and consequently they haven’t really developed a taste for them. They are actually quite repulsed by most fizzy drinks, and will only try them when at a friend’s birthday party or occasion to be polite, but then come home really thirsty and want to drink juice or squash.

Iced water is so refreshing, but will the kids drink it?
Iced water is so refreshing, but will the kids drink it?

I’m not being too smug and self-righteous though. My kids still hate to drink water! Toby isn’t too bad, but Hugo flatly refuses. When very small, we used to give them fresh apple juice very diluted with water, and as they’ve grown older we also give them sugar-free squash. If we’re out we allow them to have fruit shoots or similar, or again they enjoy apple juice or squash when we’re out. They also enjoy milk and milkshakes, but they have learned at school about the amount of sugar in shop-bought milkshake, and were so disgusted that they often shy away from them.

Delicious smoothies, juices and milkshakes
Delicious smoothies, juices and milkshakes

They really enjoyed making smoothies as part of our experiments though, and it was their immediate choice when I asked them what healthy drink we should make. I’m really guilty of not making smoothies enough, as they are a brilliant healthy choice for kids. They also like making them into ice lollies too. It’s partly because my old blender broke, so I only have a food processor, and it’s quite messy to wash up afterwards. So if anyone feels like donating me a great blender/Nutri-bullet type machine, feel free! Just think of how healthy you’ll be making my family!!

Fabulous and healthy smoothies
Fabulous and healthy smoothies

The obvious choice for their disgusting drink had to involve vinegar and bicarbonate of soda. Explosions and fizzes go down a storm here! So we added the coke and mints experiment for good measure too. Shame the kids thought that one actually tasted nice! We also added the 13.5 cubes of sugar found in coke to our vinegar potion, to see if it improved any. Of course it did not! Toby’s face was a picture – take a look!

Please pin this for later:

Sugar Smart drinks advice and experiments for kids. Reduce sugar in drinks for your children and help them to make healthy choices.
Sugar Smart Drinks – please pin for later

Favourite Books For 7 to12 Years, & Younger Children Too

As it’s World Book Day tomorrow, we decided to record our family’s favourite books for 7-12 year olds,

and also some of our all-time favourites from when the boys were younger.

Hugo is 10 years old, and is in Year 5 at school. His current top 10 favourite books are:

  • The Harry Potter series by JK Rowling – Hugo read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in Year 4 as a class, and has worked his way through the rest. He is currently reading The Half Blood Prince.
  • The Ghost of Thomas Kempe by Penelope Lively – he read this with his class in Year 5
  • The Titan – I think he means The Titan’s Curse, a Percy Jackson book by Rick Riordan. He hasn’t read this, but his class teacher has mentioned it, and he really wants to read it.
  • Room 13 by Robert Swindells – this is his current class book for Year 5, and is about a place near to us, Whitby
  • How To Train Your Dragon series by Cressida Cowell – we have read most of the books in this series, and Hugo got the last few he was missing recently at Barter Books.
  • Paw Tracks In The Moonlight by Denis O’Connor – this isn’t actually a children’s book, it’s one of mine, but Hugo is really enjoying it.
  • Krindlekrax by Philip Ridley – Hugo read this with his class in Year 4 and really enjoyed it. Toby has also read it at school this year, but didn’t like it as much.
  • Black Beauty by Anna Sewell – he really enjoyed this classic
  • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by JK Rowling – having initially struggled with the style of this book, being a play rather than a story, he enjoyed it more by reading it himself rather than us sharing it as a story.
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them by JK Rowling – a screenplay version which again he preferred to read alone. He did say that he enjoyed the film more.

    Hugo's Top 10 Books for a 10-year old
    Hugo’s Top 10 Books for a 10-year old

Toby is 8 years old, and is currently in Year 4 at school. His top 10 favourite books are:

  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl – Toby read this with his class in Year 3.
  • Danny The Champion Of The World by RoaldDahl – This is Toby’s current ‘tray book’ at school.
  • Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl – out little Dahl fan likes this one best of all I think.
  • The Beast Quest series – Toby has drained the school library of all of the Beast Quest books, and I’ve had to buy him more! He absolutely devours them!
  • The Demon Dentist and Billionaire Boy by David Walliams – these are Toby’s favourite Walliams books, although I think he has read them all!
  • George’s Marvellous Medicine by Roald Dahl – This was another Year 3 Class book which Toby enjoyed.
  • The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney – he has loved all of these.
  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling – this is the book his current Year 4 class are reading, and he has also enjoyed the illustrated version at home in our story time, as well as The Chamber of Secrets.
  • How To Speak Dragonese by Cressida Cowell – this is Toby’s favourite in the How To Train Your Dragon series.

    Toby's Top 10 Books for 8-Year Olds
    Toby’s Top 10 Books for 8-Year Olds

All-Time Favourites:

We couldn’t choose 10 each, as when the boys were younger they always had (and enjoyed) the same stories. So, we’ve gone for 15 in total:

  • You Choose by Nick Sharratt and Pippa Goodhart- not much reading in this book, but lots of interaction which they always loved.
  • Ginger by Charlotte Voake – this was the first book Hugo ever read by himself
  • Fantastic Mr. Fox – On Toby’s current list, but one of Hugo’s ‘when I was younger’ inclusions.
  • The Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown – we knew this one off by heart from an early age!
  • The Richest Crocodile In The World by Daniel Postgate
  • Duck In The Truck by Jez Albrough
  • Farmer Ham by Alec Sillifant
  • Matilda by Roald Dahl
  • Hugo (The Invention of Hugo Cabret) by Brian Selznick – for obvious reasons.
  • The Magic Sky by Lucy Richards – an all time favourite!
  • The Owl Who Was Afraid Of The Dark by Jill Tomlinson
  • The Bear Under The Stairs by Helen Cooper
  • Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell
  • Tinga Tinga Tales – Why Elephant Has A Trunk
  • Who’s In The Loo (toilet humour never fails to amuse!) by Jeanne Willis and Adrian Reynolds
  • Animals In School by Julia Donaldson

    Some favourite books from when they were younger
    Some favourite books from when they were younger

What do you think of their list? Any they’ve missed out? I’m surprised ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ and ‘Guess How Much I Love You’ don’t appear here, and they also missed out the great ‘Hairy McClairy’ books too, plus Mum’s favourites ‘Each Peach Pear Plum’, and ‘Tiddler’, and Dad’s favourites ‘The Night Pirates’ and ‘The Little Old Lady Who Cried Wolf’!

It’s interesting to see their personal preferences and styles appearing though as they get older, even if they have forgotten some of their old favourites already!

Would you like to pin this to help you remember our recommendations?

See our favourite books for 7-12 year olds, as chosen by my boys, plus some all-time favourites for younger children too. Become a bookworm at Family Makes!
Favourite books for 7-12 year olds – pin for later!


Hot Pink WellingtonsRachelSwirl
Hannah SpannahYou Baby Me Mummy
ethannevelyn.comAfter the Playground


Nethermined – Ticket Giveaway For This North East Event!

Nethermined is back for its 3rd year, and it promises to be bigger and better than ever!

Win tickets to the 3rd Nethermined at NSU Newcastle 11-12th Feb 2017
3rd Nethermined at NSU Newcastle

***Please note – due to unforeseen circumstances, the Sunday event has been cancelled. Nethermined will now be Saturday 11th February only***

Arriving at the NSU Newcastle on 11th & 12th February 2017, Nethermined is an unofficial Minecraft Convention aimed at 5-16 year olds and their families, and indeed anyone interested in Minecraft and gaming.

There will be workshops, game zones, exhibitions and live shows. You will also find an increased number of special Guests around the venue.  Your favourite gamers and YouTubers will gladly stop and say hello! There will be opportunities for pictures and signings throughout the event, as well as taking part in the live shows and interactive sessions.

Nethermined Convention
Nethermined Convention

A large number of Minecraft educators, innovators and mentors are collaborating to provide the best workshop experiences. Local developer Coatsink will also be bringing their newly launched game Shu to the event. There will also be a large LAN area hosted by Club Minecraft, and a Parental Education area.

Nethermined LAN area hosted by Club Minecraft
Nethermined LAN area hosted by Club Minecraft

This year’s guests have been announced. They include Ibxtoycat, PhoenixGG2, Markoodle, SeaPeeKay, PerpetualJordan, Victoriarghhh, WhiteWolfEm, Dragnoz, AdamYT, LolaLove33, TheOrionSound, SirCutieYuki, Cheridet, TheTurkeyDinosaur, Ivexushd, DangThatsALongName, JackSucksAtLife. Visit the Nethermined web page for more details and links to all of their channels, or follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

We are so delighted that such an amazing and fun event is taking place here in the North East, and even more delighted to be able to give one lucky Family Makes reader a pair of tickets to the event!

Winners can choose a pair of standard entry tickets to either Saturday’s 11th or Sunday’s 12th February 2017 event. All you need to do to enter is complete one or more of the actions in the Rafflecopter widget below. Each action gains you an extra entry to the draw. Draw closes on Thursday 9th February. Tickets will be sent electronically.

***Please note – due to unforeseen circumstances, the Sunday event has been cancelled. Nethermined will now be Saturday 11th February only***

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you are not our lucky winner, you can still buy tickets from the Nethermined website.

How To Make An Anglo-Saxon House Model

Today we’re showing you how to make a model of an Anglo-Saxon house. You guessed it, another homework challenge! I absolutely relish these build at home challenges, but I’m aware that they make some parents (and children) cringe, so we’re here to help you!

Firstly, a very quick background history. The Anglo-Saxons came between the Romans and the Vikings in Britain. So around the period AD 400. They ruled England for 600 years, and formed the basis of its culture, language and borders.

They set up in mostly small settlements, and built their houses from wood with thatched roofs. The houses were one room, and had a hearth with a fire for cooking, heat and light. The fire had a metal cooking pot hanging from a metal chain above it. A small room next door sometimes housed the animals, and they were also kept outside the house in small pens.

Here, Hugo shows how he made his model:

Our model of an Anglo-Saxon house was not the best one presented. We should have perhaps used straw for our thatched roof, but it is difficult to buy in small quantities. It’s great if you have a horse, or keep rabbits or chickens though – you probably have plenty of straw to spare! We also made it quite small, using a cat food box, but Hugo insisted he wanted to use this as he liked the ‘flap’ effect to enable you to look inside. Some of the bigger ones were very impressive!

What have you had to make for your homework lately? Come and share it with us!

Please pin for later:

How to make an Anglo-Saxon house, witha demonstration video here. History homework sorted!
Pin for later…

Linking Up With:

Cuddle Fairy


One of Each #littlemakes

Things to Do With Kids on New Year’s Eve

Do you let your children stay up to see in the New Year on New Year’s Eve?

We don’t usually, but the boys are getting a little older now, so if they can manage it, I think we might let them stay awake. Otherwise, it’s just the two of us plus Jules Holland, and Cal falls asleep before 10.30, so it’s getting a little dull!

I always stayed up on New Year’s Eve when I was a child. All of the neighbours got together, including the kids who were all of a similar age, and went around each house having food and drinks, and doing the conga in between! If only things were so neighbourly these days!

I’m not sure what we did to entertain ourselves as kids back then. Probably spent time laughing at the adults! But here are some ideas if you’re spending New Year’s Eve together as a family, whether you stay up late or not…

  • Have fizzy drinks and mocktails – there are plenty of recipes out there, but try fruit juice mixes with lemonade or soda, or smoothies with cherries, umbrellas or sparkler decorations.

    Mocktails and fizz!
    Mocktails and fizz!
  • Watch fireworks – have some of your own fireworks in your garden, or join in with an organised display at a local hotel or park.
  • Crackers & party poppers – our kids go crazy for party poppers! For them, they are the ultimate permission to make a noise and a mess, and definitely say ‘celebration’. Crackers are another great pop and surprise – you may have some left over from Christmas, or could pick them up cheap in the sales. Alternatively, make your own.

    Party poppers, streamers, crackers - all signs of a great celebration!
    Party poppers, streamers, crackers – all signs of a great celebration!
  • Make a Photo Booth – grab a few props, silly hats, wigs and glasses, and have a fun photo shoot. Make some memories!
  • Dress up – see above. Dress up in something silly or fun, or dress up smart or in party wear. Whatever takes your fancy – anything goes.
  • Dance-off – have lots of fun dancing to your favourite tunes, or using your favourite video game maybe?

    Have a dance-off!
    Have a dance-off!
  • Make Resolutions – talk about resolutions, write or draw them, or maybe video them for future reference?
  • Games – board games or party games are always fun, especially when the whole family are together. I’m sure you’ve been given some for Christmas this year – what a great time to try them out!
  • Reminisce – look at photos from the past year, make a time capsule or a scrapbook of your year. Gather together any tickets, postcards or other souvenirs you have saved from special trips this year.
  • Make a Time Capsule for the future, like this one from My Kids Adventures
  • Bake some special treats – how about these fabulous New Years Confetti Clock Cookies from Repeat Crafter Me

    New Year's Eve Cookies from
    New Years Eve Cookies
  • Do some New Year crafts – you might like to try this New Year Wishing Wand from
  • Or some toilet roll tube confetti poppers from Smashed Peas and Carrots  
  • You could also make your own party hats or masks
  • Have lots of glow-in-the-dark activities: glow sticks, a disco ball if you have one, flashing glasses and other cheap Pound Shop novelties, torches, glow balloons…you get the idea! Lights out, party on!

Finally, and most of all, have some fun together this New Year’s Eve!

New Year's Eve Happy New Year Champagne and Streamers

Happy New Year!

Things to do with kids on New Year's Eve - tons of ideas for all ages
Pin For Later

Pleased to be linking up with:

You Baby Me Mummy
Adventures In Websterland

Easy Last Minute Christmas Treats to Make With Kids

Last minute? Me? Haha never let it be said!!

OK, I’m no Super Mum, but I’m trying my best! My kids are high as kites, and we need some activities which will capture their interest and keep them (relatively) calm!

If you are in the same situation, or are short on time or skill like me (!) here are two extra-easy yummy last minute treats to make with the kids for Christmas.

  • Chocolate Yule Log

This is so easy. Just take a ready-bought chocolate swiss roll of your favourite variety, and ice with chocolate buttercream icing. Then pull a clean fork through the icing in a slightly wiggly pattern, and decorate with ready made icing toppers or holly leaves, and sprinkle with icing sugar for snow. It’s a no-fail kid pleaser!

Chocolate Swiss Roll Yule Log
Chocolate Swiss Roll Yule Log

2. Chocolate Biscuit Houses

A great alternative to the gingerbread houses, much easier and much more likely to get eaten too! Take chocolate biscuits, put them in a triangle shape and stick together with icing. Once dried, put more white icing along the top and let it drip down like snow, then embelish with sweets, sprinkles or anything else your heart desires!

Christmas Chocolate Biscuit Houses with Sweets
Christmas Chocolate Biscuit Houses with Sweets

Pin for later:

Easy Last Minute (and very yummy) Christmas Treats To Make With Kids
Easy Last Minute Christmas Treats To Make With Kids

Vlogmas Week 2+ Is This The End?

Week two of Vlogmas saw us flagging somewhat. We managed 6 of the 7 days I think, plus a few more, and then….. well it’s all starting to fall apart a bit!

Last week was the final week of school, which meant so many busy things happening. Two nativities, school disco, and Santa visit which I’d co-ordinated via the PTA. I also had my little one off school sick,  which meant I missed out on the school dinner I was invited to. Lots of school events which I wasn’t allowed to share unfortunately, so no great Vlogmas content!

Then the panic also set in with Christmas shopping. Suddenly  I feel very disorganised. I haven’t bought everything I need yet, and haven’t wrapped anything at all. I didn’t even write a card until Sunday!

So I’ve pulled back with the Vlogmas thing. I hope nobody minds. I suspect nobody even noticed!

It isn’t likely to improve much any time soon. I was at the hospital today for a follow-up consultation from the procedure I had done last week. It was successful, but means that the doctor is going ahead with the Radiofrequency Ablation operation THIS THURSDAY!! I’m then going to be out of action for two weeks (like I wasn’t out of action already!), but I’m now in total panic mode trying to do all of my last minute Christmas preparation in the next two days. Or alternatively, I could just write about it…..!

Please wish me luck as you watch some of my Vlogmas videos from the past week or so….. Merry Christmas!

Diary of An Imperfect Mum


Vlogmas ’16 – We Made It Through Week 1!!

Did you know we were doing Vlogmas? Do you even know what Vlogmas is?? I didn’t until quite recently, when I made the somewhat rash decision to take part! It’s a Vlog a day in the run-up to Christmas, for the whole of December.

Shall I just reiterate – a DAILY vlog!

Crazy, I know! But when I started this blog, it was partly because my boys were really getting into YouTube and wanting to make their own videos, and I wanted to help, guide and supervise what they were doing to ensure they were being safe and sensible. Then, we kind of let things tail off, and it all went quiet for them. So I wanted to pick up the pace and re-spark their enthusiasm and mine.

I also wanted Family Makes to be much more crafty, and Christmas is the best time of the year for crafts, so another good reason to document it.

So, we’re winging it a bit, to be honest. I’ve made a list of ideas with possible dates, but we’ve already deviated from it, as I have such a painful back at the moment (and am going into hospital today to have a procedure done on it – eek!)

So without further ado, here are our first week’s worth of vlogs. Of course, it depends how it goes in hospital today, whether we’ll be able to keep it up or not. Wish me luck!

We’d also love it if you could follow us on Youtube, and leave some likes or comments too if you could please!

Thanks for watching!

RachelSwirlYou Baby Me Mummy
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

How To Make Chalkboard Gift Tins For Christmas Gifts

The nice people at Rust-Oleum sent us some lovely paints to use in our craft projects. They also sent us a link to their inspiring website where we found a fabulous idea for chalkboard painted gift tins, and decided to make it our own!

We recycled some sweet tins, one plastic and one metal, and covered them with Rust-Oleum Chalkboard spray paint. The steps are very straightforward, but we’ve made a how-to video for you to follow and see what we made:

  1. Eat all the sweeties from your chosen container. I know, this is the tough part!
  2. Make sure the tin is clean.
  3. Consider using a primer (or skip this part if you are impatient like me!)
  4. Spray the tin and lid separately with Rust-Oleum Chalkboard spray paint. Use two thin coats if necessary, rather than one thick coat which may run.
  5. Once dry, apply your chosen design with chalk or chalk pen – take care as chalk pen can be quite difficult to remove (although not permanent, it can leave a smudge). You might want to consider using a stencil or repeating pattern.
  6. Fill with your chosen gift and give to the lucky recipient!
All finished! Home made chalkboard gift tins
All finished! Home made chalkboard gift tins

You might also like to see our other project using chalkboard paint, the Advent Calendar.

Directions and a short video for how to make these lovely chalkboard painted tins. A great upcycle/recycle of your sweet tins or cake tins!
Pin this for later

You Baby Me MummyHannah Spannah
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking SundayWe Made This Life