Category Archives: Making Things

A Valentine tree made of twigs in a vase with pink paper hearts


Sharing feelings

Sharing moments with the little ones in our lives allows them to voice their own thoughts.  Out walking in a park or making things in the kitchen children naturally get talking, which often gives parents and grandparents insight into how they really feel. Gradually by sharing experiences and almost without realising it children gain valuable insight into their own and others’ feelings.  A few conversation starters can be helpful and coincidentally may kick start ideas for Valentine’s Day!  

Heart in the Park

Make a Pebble Heart

Make a Pebble Heart

This puzzle is a good way to get the kids outside but could also be saved for a rainy day at home.  Materials needed are the outline of a heart and a selection of random stones or a mix of stones and other smallish natural objects. Looking for these bits is part of the fun - so eyes open on your next walk together. Incidentally doing puzzles and piecing things together helps develop children’s spatial awareness.  

Invisible ink

A picture made with invisible ink

Use Invisible Ink

Children love invisible ink and secret messages. They also work well for Valentine’s Day. You need a few sheets of printing paper, a cotton-wool swab/bud, the juice of half a lemon mixed with very little water in a small bowl and a cooker set at about 210˚C.  Using the cotton bud as a brush (well saturated) children write/paint something then allow it to dry. Sheets MUST be placed in the oven by an adult.  After a couple of minutes the message appears.  This occurs because the lemon juice oxidizes (reacts with oxygen) and turns brown when heated. As the invisible ink burns faster than the paper, it turns brown first revealing the message.  

Red Hearts and Pink Roses

A Valentine tree made of twigs in a vase with pink paper hearts

Make a Valentine tree

Valentine’s Day is all about feelings.  This Valentine Gratitude Tree is inspired by the Gratitude Tree tradition of Thanksgiving, using hearts instead of leaves.  Make extra hearts for visitors to add their thoughts to the tree.  Surprising discussions can result from reading the paper hearts.
Giving and Receiving

Giving and Receiving for Kids

A social experiment in the U.S. in 2015 asked children to choose between giving and receiving the perfect present. Surprisingly instead of choosing the gift of their dreams for themselves, they all chose to buy something for a parent. Thoughtful gift-giving really can develop a sense of empathy and on that front alone it’s worth considering. For time- and cash-strapped families shopping for birthdays and Christmas presents can be stressful. Parents often end up buying more than they intended and spending more than they can afford. But things are changing and many are questioning and discussing what the act of giving actually means.

Want, need, wear, read

The 4-gift rule beloved of so many parents in recent years, may be a little sanctimonious, but it has helped many families simplify their present-shopping strategy, primarily at Christmas. It leads to fewer unwanted gifts and kids (especially tots) aren’t overwhelmed by too much ‘stuff’ all at once. The 4-gift rule explained -

Talk about it

As children grow up and in family discussions the idea of a gift can be explored and expanded to include giving time to others and valuing what we already have, as well as considerations of excess and waste.
free gifts

free gifts

Think home-made

More recently the 4-gift rule has morphed into 5-gifts and includes something home-made. Making their own gifts gives children the personal satisfaction of actually seeing the surprised look on mummy’s face when she opens her present. Some cookies or a tiny posy of flowers from the garden are fun things to make with granny, especially for Mother’s Day. IMG_0467_s[1]


Saying thank you becomes an act of giving in its own right and writing thank-you cards can be a fun activity to share with kids. If they can’t think what to say, here are three simple steps to follow. Easy-peasy… . ‘No one has ever become poor by giving’ - the words of Anne Frank
Family Tree

Talking History

Family heritage

It’s amazing how enthusiastic children can become about talking history, especially talking family history.  They’re endlessly fascinated to know about your life as a child, before they were born. They love facts about their own history, where they came from and who everyone is. A good starting point is an old photograph album.  If you don’t have one, don’t despair.  Now’s the time to get that box of old photographs from the roof and go through it together with the kids.
Photo Box

Photo Box

Get printing

You can preserve this knowledge in a special book, which the whole family can contribute to.  You can sort and print photographs (instead of leaving them unprinted on your laptop) and add those to family stories and traditions.  There’s something supremely satisfying about having an actual book for everyone to handle and share.  Often an older family member is only too pleased to explain who’s who.

Make a family tree

Then you can create a simple family tree.  Here’s what you’ll need to make one: 1 fairly large piece of thick white paper or card (no larger than A3), Brown and/or black felt-tipped pens and sheets of light and/or darker green paper Alternatively, simply use poster paints or a combination of all the above. Scan and print photographs of the various family members.  Stick to faces, as these are more recognisable for small children, especially if they don’t see some family members very often.  We made a family tree for Binky Bear himself. If really short of time, here’s a link to the outline of a tree, which you can download and print on a sheet of A4:

Looking at evidence

Finding things out is a useful skill to develop.   Learning how to ask questions and listen carefully to answers is something we all need to do.  Interviewing a real human being gives life to a story, as opposed to researching stuff on the Internet. Interacting face to face with real people away from a screen is something that we at Binky Bear are really keen to see children develop.  So here’s a fun game to try together: Talking about what you are doing and doing things together is what Binky Bear books are all about. Check out our adventures here.
Gardening For Kids

Mucking About In The Garden

Gardening is something we do all-year-round, not just in Spring and Summer.  So, as a kids activity it ticks all the boxes by getting our little ones into the open-air and sharing experiences. Plus, it’s fun AND you don’t even have to have a garden to do it! Here are some practical ways of getting started.  The BBC working with the RHS has made it easy to stimulate enquiring minds with lots of great ideas.  These include projects to do at home, in your own garden, indoors and there’s plenty of factual stuff too. What little boy can resist fascinating facts about wriggly creatures. Go to the BBC link below.
Bee On A Beautiful Flower

Bee On A Beautiful Flower

When planting in the soil or in pots choose easy to handle large seeds for little hands like peas, beans and sunflowers.  Look for plants, which can be readily distinguished from weeds. Keep a pet dandelion! An interest in gardening can be fostered anywhere and doesn’t have to be in a formal garden setting.  Scent trails, where you search for and identify different plants can be followed in your own garden, along a country trail or in a public park.  Challenging for grown-ups as well!

Green-fingered benefits

The RHS and schools, who have collaborated throughout the UK in recent years in setting up gardens and gardening clubs, point to the many health benefits of gardening for children - getting them away from screens and into the open air. RHS research suggests that kids perform better at school and develop healthy eating habits as a result of their interest in self-grown veg. The RHS Campaign for School Gardening found that children built “life skills such as confidence, teamwork and communication”. The Kings Fund in 2016 reported feelings of positive well-being, personal achievement and empowerment among young gardeners, particularly amongst children with learning and behavioural difficulties.  These youngsters in particular experience a sense of pride in a world where so often they are unable to shine.  They also find gardens to be peaceful places, “conducive to meditation”, suggests Caroline Levitt, founder of Diggers Forest School and Nursery, Midhurst.  Children learn to communicate with the world about them, which in turn puts them in touch with their inner selves.

Life-long love

Gardening with the little ones in your life can initiate a shared life-long love of plants and the outdoors. The continuity of the seasons fosters a long-term commitment to the world about us and a better understanding of the environment.   You never forget seeing your first seed emerge from the dark earth and from that moment we become a part of the wider ecosystem. Take them into the garden one warm night and just let them lie on the grass and look up at the sky.  They’ll never forget it!

Drama for kids can substantially improve confidence and sociability in kids

Drama for Kids

With a growing interest in children's confidence and sociability, we predict drama for kids will be one of the hot topics for parents this year.

So, is drama for kids a good thing?

Not long ago a Drama teacher friend made an interesting case for encouraging children to join Speech and Drama classes and groups. “I don’t think for one minute that every child I teach will end up on the stage”, she commented, “but I do think, besides enjoying themselves, they’ll gain in self confidence and public speaking. They’ll all have to do an interview or speak up for themselves at some time in their lives and this will stand them in good stead”. She has a point.
A confident child makes eye contact

Drama for kids develops confidence and sociability

We asked our Binky Bear Facebook fans why drama is good for kids and Sylvia from Southampton, summed up most comments when she said: “Drama gave my daughter confidence. It placed her out of her comfort zone, meeting new people. All this helped her grow as a person and this has benefitted her as she faces challenges of growing into an adult.”

How to find a drama club near you

Just search online using Drama Clubs for Kids and you will find a whole list of people to contact near you. There are some big names like Stagecoach and Theatre Bugs and there are some wonderful local clubs doing great things.
Drama for kids can substantially improve confidence and sociability in kids

Kids in action at Drama Beast in Alresford

Take Drama Beasts in Alresford for example. We also asked Binky Bear fans which drama clubs they would recommend in Hampshire and Drama Beasts was top of the Leader Board. Founder Nicky Gower describes what drama can mean to children: “Our ultimate aim is to help children improve their social and communication skills, grow their self-esteem, highlight the importance of teamwork and foster an appreciation of performance.” Nicky goes on to explain, “Our drama sessions are never about 'auditions' or 'securing the lead role' but instead, we aspire to bring out the best in every child, so even the shyest of children begin to feel more confident as they perform in front of others.”

If music is more your thing...

Try one of the many Music with Mummy or Moo Music groups. Again, our Facebook fans talk very highly of our local Moo Music group. which is clearly adored by the children who attend and highly rated by parents.
Kids play musical instruments and sing at Moo Music Alresford

Kids enjoying Moo Music in Alresford

Denise Rosewell who runs Moo Music in Alresford Hampshire describes what they do: “We use all sorts of exciting props, puppets, toys and percussion instruments as we sing, dance and play.” Sounds great to us.

It’s Panto time! (Oh yes it is…)

Binky Bear

Make Your Own Pantomime with Binky Bear

Drama for kids is also the theme of our January Muddy Paws Club download and those clever people at Binky Bear HQ have designed this wonderful Create your own Pantomine activity sheet just for you.
Binky Bear Posts his letter to Father Christmas

Three Ways of Writing to Santa

What better way to start the build up to Christmas than writing to Santa. Here are three ideas.

1. Make Santa a picture

For really young ones, all you need is a piece of card, a large envelope and some bright toy catalogues as well as glue and glitter of course and children can tear their favourite pictures from the catalogue (or kids’ magazines).   Everyone can join in with writing to Santa or it may be just two of you at the kitchen table.  Either way the letter will be a visual feast for Santa!  You may end up doing the writing but that’s fine as the fun bit is choosing and tearing out the pictures.
Writing a letter to Father Christmas

Writing a letter to Father Christmas

2. Write a Binky Bear Letter to Father Christmas

There are loads of freebies on line but the best one (of course) is the Binky Bear Letter to Father Christmas.  If your kids prefer colouring in, try this download which we gave out last year to all our Muddy Paws Club members.  All the children have to do is fill in the blank list at the top of the page and then colour in Binky and the rest of the picture. You can download your Binky Bear Letter to Father Christmas here: binky_bear_activity_colour_sheet_dec. december-colouring-sheet

3. Write a letter via The Royal Mail and Santa writes back!

The third way is to write a good old letter and you can send this letter to Santa via the Royal Mail and get a letter back.  In fact you can send any of these pictures and letters to Father Christmas via the Royal Mail and providing you send it to Santa's correct address you are very likely to get a reply. The Royal Mail ask that you send your letters by first or second class post to arrive by their deadline on Friday December 9th.  They don’t guarantee a reply but it is likely and it will be personally addressed.  Send your letters to: Santa/Father Christmas, Santa's Grotto, Reindeerland, XM4 5HQ
Binky Bear and the red post box in Alresford

Binky Posts his Letter to Father Christmas.

For blind or partially sighted children

And the magic does not end there, blind or partially sighted children can write to Santa too and get a reply in braille, audio or large print.  The deadline for this is December 1st and send letters to: RNIB, Midgate House, Midgate, Peterborough, PE1 1TN. The closing date for letters is Thursday 1 December 2016.  You can find out more here.

Receive a letter from Santa

The NSPCC can arrange for Santa to send out personalised letters if you make a donation of just £5 (suggested).  So you don’t actually write to Santa but if you set this up for your kids they can each get a lovely personalised letter from Santa himself and the NSPCC benfits from your money. All you have to do is choose a template to suit the age of your child, add in a few details about what your child likes to do, (there is a drop down menu to help you: dancing, playing football etc) what their achievement has been this year (behaving for your teachers, tidying your room, etc) and you can name a close friend or relative they are close to and those clever people at the NSPCC will write a lovely personalised letter to your child from Santa himself or if you prefer from Father Christmas or Siôn Corn if you want the letter written in Welsh.
Little Elf

Getting Your Own Letter From Father Christmas Is Very Special

The deadline is December 16 and" target="_blank">here is the link you need. th. So time to get out the glitter and glue? And if Binky Bear appears on a little person's Christmas List then all you need to do is click here and find out all about the World of Binky Bear.

Halloween for Toddlers

Halloween can be fun for everyone and just takes the tiniest bit of planning. We at Binky Bear have come up with a few ideas which are fun for the little ones without being too scary.

A Halloween for Toddlers Alternative to the Pumpkin

This year forget the torture of pumpkin-carving! Mandarin-pumpkins are so much easier to do with small hands. They also happen to be a Binky exclusive and no knives or metal spoons are involved. Plus, they’re healthy to eat afterwards but don’t tell the kids! halloween_1034_a-c You will need Mandarins/tangerines or similar and whole cloves. Give everyone a mandarin and about a dozen cloves for the jagged mouths and staring eyes. It may help the tiny ones if you prick holes in the skin as a guide. A tray of these combined with banana ghosts (skinned halved bananas with chocolate chip eyes and mouth) makes a sweet and healthy treat. halloween_1032_a

Ghostly Trail

Tailor-make your own Haunted Trail for the garden (or indoors). You can pitch this to just one age-group or a combination of older and younger kids. This may involve a bit of preparation for you but nothing complicated. We love these Spooky Eyes from Rust and Sunshine: And why not hang up a few scary signs:- On a piece of old wood or card-board hand write something simple enough for a 5-year old to read out loud to everyone “Don’t go into the woods!” or simply “Keep Out!”.

Get outside

spider-web-tree-branches-pattern-39494 Alternatively, search on-line for a spooky wood near you for a late afternoon spot of spookiness with all the family. Make a Chilling Check-list and tick them off: 1. Spiders’ webs preferably with spiders! 2. An old tree-trunk. What’s inside? 3. Footprints in the mud. 4. Rustlings in the trees – who’s there?

Kids In The Kitchen

With the Great British Bakeoff in full swing how about getting the kids in the kitchen and inspiring the next generation of bakers? Butterfly cakes for garden treats, bobbing boats to take to the beach. Making them with the children and grand-children - what better way to spend an afternoon as the holidays draw to a close or as younger brothers and sisters are left at home when the older ones go to school.Continue reading this article...

Binky Bear Goes To Woodlands Primary

A rather wonderful thing has happened at Binky Bear - Woodlands Primary in Carnoustie, Scotland has opened a Binky Bear trail. We spoke with Deputy Head teacher Judith Connor to find out more.

1. Tell us about your school and your part of the UK

Our school is Woodlands Primary School which is in Carnoustie in Angus. Carnoustie is often called 'the home of golf'. We are very lucky to live in a small town on the coast with a beautiful beach. Woodlands Primary School caters for children from 5 - 11 and we also have a nursery class for 3 - 5 year olds. We are an eco school and are currently working on our 4th green flag and we are also a fairtrade school with a fairachiever award. reading-about-the-trail-at-woodlands-primaryContinue reading this article...