Christmas Craft Ideas for Kids

Everyone loves Christmas, especially kids, and there’s nothing better than seeing their festive creations around the house during the Christmas period. Better yet, not only will you keep the kids entertained, you could even save some money on decorations! Here are some Christmas craft ideas that can be made using simple bits and bobs found around your home.

Pinecone Christmas Trees

You’re about to create your very own pine cone forest! You can sit these cute decorations on window sills, on the mantle, or even the kid’s bedside table.

What you need:
Pine cones
Old wine corks
Green paint & paintbrushes OR green spray paint
Glue gun
Something for decoration – buttons, beads etc,.

Okay, so you might not have a glue gun laying around the house, but you can pick up a mini one from the craft store for a very reasonable amount and it will come in handy for many future creations. If you’ve got much younger children you could even use something like PVA to make this work.

In this example that we spotted on babble, they’ve gone all out and ordered some mini craft stars from Amazon. However, if you’re feeling frugal you can simply use a button, bead or other small items you already have in your home. It’s all about being creative, so encourage the kids to find their own mini tree toppers amongst the odds and sods you’ve collected.

1. Paint or spray the edges of each pine cone in green, or even white if you want to go for something different.
2. Cut a wine cork in half and glue it to the bottom of the pine cone, once dry.
3. Glue your decoration of choice to the top of your pine cone tree.

Xmas activities for kids

Making Xmas Decorations with Children

(photo source: babble)

HandPrint Santas

This crafty creation is super easy and ideal for younger kids. A unique Santa head made from a handprint. Hang it on the fridge, fireplace or turn it into a card.

What you need:
Plain coloured card
Cotton wool balls
Red, White & Black paint, felt tips or crayons.
PVA glue
Optional googly eyes.

1. Get your kids to draw around their hands on a piece of plain card and carefully cut this out. Fingers can be together or apart, depending on the type of Santa beard you’re going for but the thumb must stick out.
2. Turn the hand cut-out upside down so the fingers are pointing downwards. Use PVA glue to stick down a line of cotton balls along each finger. (excluding the thumb) This will of course form the beard. On the thumb cut-out stick one cotton ball on the end.
3. Use paints, felt tips or crayons to draw a santa hat and eyes at the top of the hand. Use the thumb cut out as the end of the hat. You can also glue down googly eyes if you have them, instead of drawing.

Making Decorations with your Kids

Helping Children Enjoy Christmas Through Arts & Crafts

(photo source: rightstart)

Beaded Candy Canes

We thought we’d throw in a no-mess crafty creation. This is definitely the simplest of the three ideas and requires on two types of things.

What you need:
Pipe Cleaners

1. Fold a ½ cm of the pipe cleaner over to create a little fold, then add beads until you have about 1cm left at the top of the pipe cleaner.
2. Fold the top of the pipe cleaner over to create a stopper so the beads don’t fall off
3. Bend your beaded pipe cleaner into the shape of a candy cane.

Arts & Crafts for Young Children

Helping Children be Creative over Christmas

(photo source: buggyandbuddy)

If you’re looking for some more inspiration, Pinterest is your best friend for crafty ideas and all-round inspiration!

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The Benefits of Holiday Childcare at an Activity Camp

school holiday childcare

Find the best childcare for your child during all school holidays

Activity camps are a great option for meeting your childcare needs for a number of reasons, including being cost effective and flexible for working parents. But what’s more, children also stand to gain a whole host of long-term benefits that will stand them in good stead for years to come.

Self-esteem and confidence

Activity camps offer children the opportunity to try out new activities in a fun and relaxed environment. They may just find they have a particular skill or strength they didn’t know about previously, which will boost their confidence.

It will also help make them more confident in dealing with new situations, so they’ll be less likely to fear change in future.

By fostering an environment for healthy competition, our activity camps give children the opportunity to build their resilience. We’re sure you’ll agree that’s a useful trait to help them face the challenges they’ll inevitably come across later in life.

Social skills

The experiences shared at activity camps often help forge long-lasting friendships for many children.

Plus, they’ll get to meet a different set of people to their usual school friends, which will help build their confidence for meeting new people. Being able to mix with different people is a valuable life skill that is often easier to pick up when you’re young.

If you have a shy child, you may be reluctant to send them to an activity camp but we see children of all temperaments have a great time with us. Our staff appreciate that every child is different and they’ll do everything they can to make sure your child feels welcomed and settles in well.

New hobbies and experiences

Activity camps offer children the opportunity to try out a whole host of new activities. At Barracudas, children can take part in activities ranging from swimming and science to arts and crafts.

With such a wide variety of activities on offer they stand a good chance of coming across something they’ll love doing. They may even kindle a lifelong interest in a new hobby.


There’s nothing better than heading outdoors – if the weather allows it! Spending time outdoors also has a range of benefits for mental and physical health. According to some research, the rise in allergies in children may even partly be caused by a lack of contact with nature. For children living in cities, an activity camp can offer a rare opportunity to get back to nature.

Nature can spark children’s naturally inquisitive side and open their eyes to the wonders of the world. They don’t have to go on a David Attenborough style expedition to get excited about the natural world. Even simple encounters with little creatures on a nature trail can feel like an adventure when you’re young.


Children nowadays have a whole host of entertainment options they can enjoy while remaining pretty sedentary. But we know being active can help their long-term mental and physical health. That’s why, activity camps like Barracudas, can help all children develop a lifelong habit of being active.

There’s always a range of active games at our activity camps, and you don’t have to be sporty to enjoy them either. It’s all about having fun, so your child can choose to take part in a way they’re comfortable with. The exercise is an added bonus!

Plus, as a parent, you’ll be glad to know it will make your life easier too because they’ll be more likely to get a good night’s sleep at the end of an active day.

Thank you to Barracudas for this article

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Teaching Children a Second Language at a Young Age

Teaching young children French

French classes for children

Why learn French?
French is the second language worldwide in politics and the importance will be growing with the boom of Africa and the Francophonie. More than 220 million people speak French on the five continents. French is the second most widely learned foreign language after English, and the sixth most widely spoken language in the world. The ability to speak French and English is an advantage on the international job market and it is for your children a language of culture. Speaking French opens up study opportunities at renowned French universities and business schools, ranked among the top higher education
Teaching young children a second language institutions in Europe and the world. I can also say that French is both a working language and an official language of the United Nations, the European Union, UNESCO, NATO, the International Olympic Committee, the International Red Cross and international courts.

Teaching young children a second language

French Holiday Camps

Why teach children a second language?
Speaking two languages can slow down cognitive decline and help to keep the brain sharper in later life, research has found. A study shows that being bilingual has a positive effect on cognition among older people, including those who acquired the second language in adulthood. learning another language is good for young children and it will give them more options in education and work. Evidence shows that children may be better able to learn a foreign language if they are given the opportunity at a younger age. Research also suggests that being taught a foreign language can help to improve conversation skills and literacy in English, as well as benefit study in other subjects.

When to start learning French?
From 2 years old, children catch up phonics. We recommend learning from a very young age in order to learn French through songs, rhymes and dancing. From 2½ to 4 years old, we recommend our Fun French lessons. Children then progress to the Saturday French school Et Patati Patata at West Kensington for all levels aged 4-14 years. Fun French Day Camp with 30 hours of French immersion is fun and the best way to catch up or improve their French in February, Easter and Summer 2016!

Special thanks to Caroline, founder of Et Patati Patata, the french immersion programme in London for supplying this article.

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Are we nearly there yet?” could soon be a thing of the past!

Travel games for children

Keeping children occupied during car journeys

Let’s be honest – although we love our kids, none of us relish the thought of embarking on a long trip with them. Between the endless choruses and perpetual groans of “Mum, are we there yet?!” to “But I need to go to the toilet again”, it’s any wonder sometimes why we set off on the road at all!

But we do it because of what waits for us at the other end – our family holiday destination! Those special places where we get to leave the daily grind behind and focus on filling our memory banks full of golden beaches, glistening oceans and smiling faces. Places where you can truly relax and connect as a family as you collectively indulge in your temporary surroundings – such things make the stresses of the trip worthwhile.

But what if the journey was an extension of your vacation/holiday rather than a necessary evil? What if rather than the kids counting down the seconds to their arrival they were engrossed in fun, educational games which are both easy to follow and FREE?! com have created a suite of such games for all ages to enjoy whether you’re travelling by road, train or plane.

Games include Car Bingo – where you have to cross off pictures from the sheets provided as you see them out the window, and Consequences, where each participant takes it in turn to draw a section of a person/creature (which has the head pre-drawn on the sheet) without being able to see what the previous person drew.

Simply visit the following page to save, download or print the games of your choice, take them with you on your journey and enjoy hours of feud-free family bliss!

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Useful information for parents on head lice

removing head lice

Helping get rid of children’s head lice

What are lice?


Head lice are tiny blood sucking insects that live in human hair – clean or dirty, they aren’t fussy! Lice can’t fly, hop or swim instead they spread by head-to-head contact.


Stats for number of children sufferiing from head liceHow to check for head lice


Persistent head scratching could indicate your child has lice. Hair can be easily checked with a head-lice combe with 0.3mm tooth spacing. While combing look for white empty egg sacs (nits) glued to the hair shaft and brown-red, sesame-seed-sized adults lice. If live adults are found, you will need to apply a head-lice treatment to prevent an infestation.

How to use a nit comb

This works on dry hair but live lice are easier to spot on wet hair that has been washed but with conditioner left in.


Step 1 in getting rid of lice

Detangle hair with a wide-toothed comb



Step 2 in getting rid of lice

Starting at the neck, temples and behind the ears, divide hair into sections. Using the lice comb, comb each section from the scalp to the end three times.


Step 3 in getting rid of lice

Between each use of the comb check the teeth for lice or eggs

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Top tips for buying a Bunk Bed

Bunk beds and bedroom furniture sets

Bunk beds from children’s funky furniture

There is no doubt that bunk beds are simply fun for children to sleep in. Sleeping in a bunk bed gives children a sense of adventure, whether it is sleeping in a cosy den or way up high off the ground!

There is a practical side to bunk beds too. They are great for space saving but work equally well in larger rooms where there is a need to have more floor space. Most families think about a bunk bed because they have a need to sleep two siblings in one room and need floor space for all the other essential items of children’s furniture and some space for play. Also bunk beds are a great idea for a child that has a small room and frequently has friends for a sleepover.

A novel idea is to consider sleeping two siblings in one room even though there is another room available. Take the second room and turn it into a playroom for both siblings. This will give them both dedicated room for play, storage and socialising when friends come round. The beauty of this idea is that you can close the door on a messy playroom whilst the children still have a calm, comfortable bedroom to sleep in at night.

If you are considering buying a bunk bed, bear the following things in mind:

1. Safety, Safety, Safety
Bunk beds are suitable for children who are aged six and above. Buy a good quality bunk bed; you are looking for one that has a good reputation and is sturdy and robust. The bunk bed needs to last for some time, so see it as an investment. It is important to give strict rules to the children about the type of play that is allowable on the bunk beds. A few key points are below:

    • No jumping off the top bunk bed
    • Always use the bunk bed steps or ladder to access the top bed
    • Avoid tying ropes or anything similar around the bunk bed that could provide a potential strangulation hazard
    • Look for a bunk bed with good guard rails and comfortable, sturdy steps or ladder to access the top bunk bed. Make sure that you buy mattresses that are made to fit the beds and that the bunk bed itself adheres to European Safety standards.

2. Where will it go?

      • Measure the available space in the room and compare with the dimensions of the bunk bed
      • Consider the ceiling height in the room (particularly in a house with low ceilings). Your child needs to be able to sit up comfortably in the top bed without bumping their head
      • Bunk beds should never be positioned under a ceiling fitting like a light, a ceiling mobile or a fan
      • Do not position the bunk bed next to a window. It could be draughty and may also provide a potential falling hazard
      • If the bed has an under bed drawer, make sure that there is enough room to pull out and access it

If you have any questions or you are considering a bunk bed and want to get more information about bunk beds and the selection that we have at Children’s Funky Furniture, please leave me a comment below.

See the Children’s Funky Furniture website to see their fantastic range of bunk beds and other children’s bedroom furniture

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How to find a good children’s entertainer ….

Kids birthday parties

Children’s science party entertainers

…. and spot the good from the bad!

With an overwhelmingly large number of children’s entertainers out there nowadays, to actually find a good one can be like finding a needle in a haystack. It’s every parent’s nightmare to be landed with a less than decent entertainer that can’t control the kids.

There are a lot of good kids’ entertainers around but there are a huge number of bad ones too. So how do you spot the good from the bad?

Here’s a helpful list of things to look for that will certainly help you on your search.

Energy – a kids party entertainer needs a natural energetic personality and this should be conveyed in their voice when you call them up. When you speak to them on the phone make sure they sound enthusiastic. If you call a company you may end up speaking to someone who just works in the office doing admin as opposed to the entertainer so if that’s the case make sure to ask a bit of info about the entertainer you are getting.

Variety – no matter how good an entertainer is, kids won’t concentrate on any one thing for long, especially not a party, so your entertainer needs to offer a huge variety of activities to keep it nice and engaging for the children. Avoid people that offer just one or 2 activities or kids will get bored very quickly.

Good value – kids parties aren’t cheap but you shouldn’t get fleeced either, so shop around for an idea on the going rate. The average cost of an children’s entertainer is £200-£250. Don’t just look at price though, look at what’s being offered. A kids party entertainer might offer a really cheap price but just offer magic and games and nothing else. Whereas someone for a bit extra might offer a whole lot more.

Birthday party organisers

Science parties for kids

React to kids on the day – the mark of a good entertainer is someone that can adapt their show to the way the kids are at the party rather than plan a magic show for 30 mins at the start, then games for 20 mins and so on. If kids are really lively they won’t sit and watch a magic show for 30 mins so you need someone who can make their show fit around how the kids are on the day. Ask y if this is something they do. Avoid ones that have a set time constrained set of activities.

Up to date music – check what music your entertainer has. Kids aren’t interested in songs they don’t know so ask for songs that are up to date or for songs you know your child likes. A good entertainer should be able to keep up with the times and accommodate most requests.

Referral / recommendations – its always great to get a recommendation from a friend who’s had a good experience. So ask around. If no one can help though check out impartial reviews on websites to find out who has come highly recommended.

Party Extras – these other points won’t determine the quality of your kids entertainer but they are things you should consider nevertheless:

  • Back up entertainer – does the company have a back up person if your entertainer falls sick?
  • DBS check and insurance – its a legal requirement for entertainers to have a DBS c heck (CRB) and public liability insurance but check they have it as some may not.
  • Pat testing – it’s not a legal requirement but it is highly recommended to have all electrical equipment pat tested to ensure its safety. With kids you can’t be too careful so ask if your entertainer has this.

There are so many children’s entertainers around and it really can become choice paralysis after a while. If you’re looking for help with planning your kids party, Froggle Parties is a reputable children’s entertainment company that has also featured on CBBC and has a huge range of children’s entertainers and parties you can choose from. They also offer free party invitations and help with finding a venue.

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MCC Cricket Academy Kids Coaching

children's cricket coaching

Cricket coaching for children at MCC Cricket Academy

The MCC Cricket Academy is London’s premier indoor cricket destination and one of the finest facilities of its kind in the world. Based at Lord’s Cricket Ground in St. John’s Wood, the MCC Cricket Academy offer a range of coaching courses for children aged 3-17.

  • Little Legends – Age 3-4
  • Cricket Cubs – Age 5-7
  • Future Stars – Age 8-10
  • Academy All-Rounders – Age 11-13
  • Cricket Masters – Age 14-17

All stages of development are nurtured by dedicated coaches and cover everything from a

cricket holiday clubs

cricket coaching for young children

basic introduction to the movement, skill and rules of cricket for total beginners through to advanced batting, bowling, fielding and wicket keeping techniques including an understanding of the laws of the game.

Coaching is available throughout the year with intensive courses being staged during school terms, half term and school holidays. Below is a selection of courses, coaching and analysis on offer.

Weekly Group Courses
These 12 week courses are run on set days and times (depending on age), during each spring, summer and autumn school terms. Specifically designed programmes are taught by our professional coaches to provide progression for young cricketers of all abilities giving your budding young cricketers every possible chance to develop their game to their full potential.

excellence in cricket coaching

MCC Cricket Academy

School Holiday Courses
You can book your budding young cricketers onto one of these popular courses, where vastly experienced coaches teach all disciplines of cricket. These run during Half Terms and Easter, Summer & Christmas holidays.

One-to-one Coaching
The Academy offers a net session with Coach for personalised lessons. All MCC Coaches are minimum ECB Coaching Level 2 qualified and are highly experienced in all forms of the game. Coaching sessions can focus on batting, with the use of a bowling machine, fielding and on your bowling or wicket-keeping technique. All coaching sessions are customised to suit individual requirements and abilities.

Hawk-Eye Bowling Analysis
Nowhere else in the world can a budding cricketer get the opportunity to use this state-of-the-art kit. Hawk-Eye allows cricketers to analyse their skills in minute detail, accurately pinpointing speed and line & length of deliveries bowled. At the end of the session you can view video analysis of performance and graphical Hawk-Eye breakdowns of statistics, in the Analysis Suite. You can see how fast you bowl, watch each delivery back in ‘Virtual Reality’ and measure how far you are turning the ball through spin, seam or swing.

PitchVision Batting Analysis
PitchVision, like Hawk-Eye, is a fantastic analysis tool to help improve your batting game. The state-of the art technology enables MCC coaches to offer in-net assessments of batting techniques. See instant replays of your performance on a laptop and gain more from your coaching session at Lord’s. All video is then available to view, upon registration, from the PitchVision website. PitchVision’s batting analysis tool is the most instant form of video feedback in the net itself.

The Academy facilities

cricket lessons for all ages

Cricket school holiday camps

  • Net sessions
  • One-on-one coaching
  • Birthday parties
  • Free parking*
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Viewing balcony
  • Disabled access
  • Baby changing facilities
  • Coffee Shop, open from 9am to close, selling hot and cold snacks and drinks
  • Newly refurbished dressing rooms and showers
  • Gym facilities

Lord’s cricket store
A new addition to the Home of Cricket is the Lord’s Cricket Store, bringing you the latest top-of-the-range cricket equipment from all the top brands and for all age groups. Situated in the MCC Cricket Academy and staffed with cricket equipment experts, who are on hand to advise each purchase, while visitors are also able to try equipment before they buy. Open from 10am weekdays and 8am on weekends.

For more information on the MCC Cricket Academy, availability, coaching courses, facilities and prices please call 020 7616 8612 and email Follow us on Twitter @MCC_Academy.

MCC Cricket Academy at Lord’s the Home of Cricket NW8 8QN
*Parking is subject to availability and may not be available during major match days. The closest entrance to the MCC Cricket Academy is the North Gate, off Wellington Road.

See more information on the MCC Academy and other after-school activities and holiday clubs on the All 4 Kids UK Directory

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The benefits of horse riding for children

Horse riding club for kids

Horse riding lessons for boys & girls

Where do I start? For me personally the list is endless. By letting children begin a relationship with these loveable animals at a young age it allows them to build their confidence with animals a lot bigger than themselves. This can become more difficult as we get older, something I am sure a lot of you reading this can relate to. Young children have a lot less fear than adults, which can be a positive point, even though it means we as parents do double the amount of worrying for them!

We are constantly being told by the media that we are becoming an inactive nation whose children are

Horse riding parties for kids

Horse riding birthday parties

spending more and more time watching TV and playing computer games. When children are around horses, be that riding them or helping out around the stables they have no idea how much exercise they are having. If you haven’t ridden a horse before it’s hard to realise just how much effort it can take to do it well, particularly if you are learning. As long as children are having fun, that is all they care about! Horses can become a way of life which stays with them throughout their childhood and teenage years. This leads nicely on to my next point of horse riding being a fantastic way to keep teenagers off the streets and stopping them causing trouble! Once children reach an age where they can be useful around the stables you will find the only time you will hear off them is for a lift to and from the yard. Whilst you may start feeling like you should have a taxi sign on the top of your car you will have the peace of mind of knowing exactly where they are and that they are under the supervision of a number of responsible adults.

Horse riding is a fantastic way to improve balance and coordination in children; studies have shown that it can be extremely beneficial to those who struggle in these areas.

Horse riding club

Liberty Horses offer horse riding lessons and parties for children

I am writing from a community interest company called Liberty Horses and we are based near Bridgend in South Wales. We work predominantly with children who have some sort of additional need but our doors are open to everyone and no experience is necessary! We use the art of Natural Horsemanship to provide a person centred approach as we believe our clients are able to learn a lot more than if they attended an average riding school. On Saturdays and during school holidays we offer pony days where children can spend a longer period with us and can learn a variety of things ranging from the correct way to muck out a stable to grooming and plaiting their favourite pony. If you live near us or are ever in the area come and see us, our gate is always open as we would love our ponies to meet some new friends!

Find out more information on after-school activities for children HERE

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Music and Drama for All!

Drama lesson

Drama and music classes for boys and girls

As a Performing Arts practitioner, I’ve spent my whole life, from being a kid myself who loved her drama, dancing, singing and music, to being a Music teacher in secondary schools, to running my own Performing Arts company with my husband, trying to articulate just what it is about the Performing Arts that makes them so unique and such a positive force in life.

Whilst I very much believe that most people these days have a better understanding of why the arts should be a part of everyone’s life and their development as a human being, there are still a few who are fairly stuffy about what they see as a frivolous hobby, or at best a peripheral activity to be engaged in whilst not ‘having a proper job’. I remember a friend’s father being utterly bewildered that I wanted to make a career in the arts when I was very academic as well!

The way I see it, whilst performing on the stage isn’t for everyone, when you think about it, aren’t we all performers in life? It’s true that performing on the stage cultivates many personal qualities that are prized in everyday life – dedication, hard work, perseverance, the ability to push through nerves, leadership skills, and many more. I’m sure I could fill volumes on case studies of individual children and young people who I’ve seen transformed and shining with new confidence from their experiences and accomplishments.

In the last four years, my husband Stuart and I have been teaching in a large International

Boys and girls in a music lesson

SoundSketch offer music classes for children of all ages

School in Qatar (of 2022 World Cup fame!). As Head of Music there, I had the privilege of constructing a meaningful programme for kids of many diverse nationalities and cultures, some with artistic backgrounds, most with next to no experience at all. It was this that really brought home to me how powerful a medium Music is, and how it really does speak to us on so many different levels. Without any level of technique at all, everyone has the ability to engage with music on an emotional level, and on a communicative level, the old adage being that it is the universal language. Whilst our cultures and musical traditions may be diverse, the power to engage and transform is always there.
It was in Qatar that the idea for our new venture ‘SoundSketch’ was born. SoundSketch is inspired by the group STOMP! For those of you that don’t know, they use household and industrial items such as brooms, metal dustbins and even kitchen skinks to create exhilarating pieces of rhythm, movement and theatre. The thing that appealed to us was that we instantly knew that this would be fantastic for kids. Most kids love making noise, but we also saw a way to engage all kids in music-making and physical theatre without having the pre-requisite of being able to play an instrument or having technique. Without these, we can get to the fundamentals of music and drama – physicality, ensemble work, rhythms and cross-rhythms, character building, you name it!

The idea is quirky enough to grab attention, but the best part for Stuart and I is the sheer exhilaration on the kids’ faces when everything comes together and the rhythms sound funky and you see each child’s character shining through. We started in November thinking that this would be great as a weekend club for kids, but since then things have snowballed as people have latched onto what we do and can see potential for things that we didn’t to start with! Every week, we’re in various schools in Gloucestershire delivering workshops, and even corporate team building has started to take off! We’re also really excited to be collaborating with Olà Samba for holiday workshops – ‘Beat Camp!’ The first of these runs at Easter in Cheltenham, a link is available via our website.
If you fancy getting involved with our unique brand of music-making and drama, do get in touch with us! Email or call 07815 500459. You can also contact us via Facebook or Twitter, and find more information on our website

See the All 4 Kids UK Directory at

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