|#letslearn|Lets learn linky - #1

Welcome to #LetsLearn, my weekly linky for all your learning blog posts, from early motor skills with babies, to reading and writing for early years to GCSEs and beyond with your older children.  You are welcome here at #LetsLearn.

Please link up to 2 posts, old or new, got more?  Never mind, more to link up in the future ;)

The rules are pretty basic, please comment on the post immediately before you in the linky, one other and on my post, I'll make sure I post on as many as I can, including the last one.  Please make sure you've commented by the following Thursday evening. This way everyone participating should get at least 1 comment so it should make it a nice friendly linky! 

I'd really appreciate you grabbing my badge please too, or at least pop a link back to here to say your joining in.


By linking, you agree for me to share your post on any social media channel and you will be added to my email and Twitter 'reminder' list.

If you tweet out using #letslearn and tag me in @LarabeeUK I'll make sure I like and re-tweet for you and if you tag me on Facebook I'll give you a share.

I'd also really appreciate any social sharing or spreading the word about this new linky please, I really want it to be a success!

So without further ado, let's get started and link-up shall we?

Have a wonderful weekend x

An InLinkz Link-up


I recently took part in a little shopping challenge on a new haggling website called FFOSHO, basically the site shows you the highest price on an item and you have 2 minutes in which to haggle them down to a lower price, they claim that the better you are at haggling the better discount you get.

The site has a good range of products for sale from toys to kitchen electricals to iPads, I had a play around with with the bidding and found that the higher the value of the item the better the deal.
The shopping challenge was against my good blogger friend Jenny from Monkey and Mouse we each chose an item for between £25 and £30 and whoever saved the most money won.  I chose a kettle to bid on and managed a 6% discount, personally I felt it was a bit of a faff for such a small percentage, I'd rather know what I was paying up front, whilst the bidding only takes a couple of minutes I must admit, this bored me.  Jenny on the other hand really enjoyed the haggling process and got a fantastic 22.8% off the toy she was bidding on!   So I think it's all down to whether you like this style of shopping.
I did have a good look around to see if I could purchase my kettle cheaper elsewhere and could not find it cheaper, when you consider that that postage & packing is free it does make for more of a bargain.

Jenny had a go at haggling for some larger items such as an iPad and found she saved much more and got it less than anywhere else, this reinforces our theory that the higher priced the item, the better the deal.
I don't think that this method of shopping would become my first port of call for smaller items as I much prefer to just be given the best offer price rather than have to haggle for it, however, if I were in the market for a larger electrical item I think I'd definitely look at FFOSHO first.
Disclaimer: This is a collaborative post.

|FUN|loo roll crazy golf

This activity is great for families or play dates and is lots of fun from start to finish!  We actually had planned to do this with friends for a play date but we had to cancel at the time due to T being ill so in the end T and I did it together, I can see us doing this again in the summer outside possibly for cousin club through the summer.

We started off by talking about the crazy golf we've done elsewhere and this lead to the props we used for our crazy golf, we went with pirates, dragons and castles for our theme.  I only set up 5 holes for T as I thought that he would get board with the official 9 holes! 

You will need
Loo rolls
Washi tape
Play golf clubs
Golf ball
Plastic cups

We started off by setting up the 'holes' using the loo rolls and washi tape, I tried to make each hole slightly different, T helped by sticking the loo rolls down, we also added a cross of washi as our 'tee' and added the number of each hole.  At this stage T gave our holes a name, this would obviously be more fun with more children as they could either work together to think of the names or you could even have a little competition. 

Hole 1 - this was just a simple hole to get the ball through 2 loo rolls into the cup, we called this hole 'knights crossing' and our prop was a knight on a cart.  This hole took T 2(ish) attempts and as you can see, he was pretty chuffed with himself.

Hole 2 - Dragon mountain (not sure where the mountain is!) for this hole, we made a nice and simple ramp using a cardboard box and a small dish, the idea being to go up the ramp and down into the cup.

Hole 3 - pirate ship T came up with this one himself, he attached a long tube onto an upturned dish and secured with washi, the dish acted as our Tee in this instance as you can see, a cup is placed by T's toy boxes to roll the ball into! 

Hole 4 - I thought that hole 4 would be a bit more difficult but T totally flunked a hole in one on this!!!  We called this hole 'trolls bridge' (not sure where the bridge is though!)

Hole 5 - this was our 'grande finale' and we used the 'ghost castle' as our last hole, using the drawbridge as the hole, by this time I was beginning to think I should have made the course a bit more difficult as T seemed to whizz round it and contrary to me thinking he would be bored. He was rearing to do more, whether he would have kept going if he had to take more goes remains to be seen but he really did love this activity

As I said, it would be absolutely perfect as a play date activity, there's s little bit of problem solving - setting up the holes, co-ordination - putting and maths - keeping score.

We're joining the Playdate Activities Blog Hop hosted by Crafty Kids at Home  take a look at some of the other fantastic posts also participating, like Crafty Mama in ME's How to plan cupcake decorating and this Edible chocolate playdough from 3 Princesses and 1 Dude!, a fantastic creative art collage from Clares little Tots and Fun with a ball of string from Teach me Mommy.
And last but not least Crafty Kids at Home's Invitation to make Jelly Playdough

Pink Pear Bear

|REVIEW|Mr Nutcase iPad case

I was asked to review an item from the website Mr Nutcase just after Christmas, now, I don't usually take this long to 'review' but I really wanted to use this product before I gave a fair review as in the past, I've reviewed a product within days and then a couple of weeks later it's ruined and I feel that had I waited I would have a truer picture to share!  Anyway I chose an iPad case from Mr Nutcase in one of their set designs, I did contemplate designing my own, but after 3 attempts I couldn't get the art work right and so I gave up!

Selecting from the website is nice and easy, within minutes. I had my design all really and pressed the order button.  There are quite a few designs but dare I say most are a little 'boring' but then I guess that's why they allow you to upload your own.

The iPad case I ordered was white leather and cost £29.99, a lot more than the cases I've bought in the past.

However, after using it solidly for nearly 4 months I've now realised that spending the extra was definitely worth it on this occasion.

The stitching is very high quality and tough.

Where there are free edges, they are sealed so that there is a really nice and neat finish.  As I said, I've now been using my case for a while and except for a couple of chocolate marks on the inside of the cover, it really does look as new.

I honestly never thought I would spend £29.99 on an iPad case but this really was a quality above the ones I've bought, I will certainly be visiting Mr Nutcase when I'm in the market for a new one, although inexpect I'll be bored of it before it wears out and starts to look tatty!

Disclaimer: we were given a free iPad case in return for this honest review.  All words and opinions are my own.

|OUT AND ABOUT|beckets park, Northampton

Becket's Park is a traditional park formerly known as Cow Meadow, running along the bank of the River Nene it was originally designed for promenading.
It was re-named in the early 1930's after the famous Arch Bishop Thomas a Becket who is quite well acknowledged round here.

There are many facilities around the park, including tennis courts, a play area, marina, lovely river walk and a cafe.

We've not yet visited the cafe or walked along the river, but as this is so close to the centre of Northampton T and I often visit when The Hubs is at the barbers.

This is a great green space a stones throw from the centre of the town, we are so lucky to still have so many areas like this, in which to play, explore and relax.

Here you can see all my Out and about in Northamptonshire posts.

I'm always on the look out for new places, so please do give me suggestions if you are local! 

|#LETS LEARN|announcing our new linky!

An exciting announcement from us this week, next Friday we start a new Linky!  It's something I've been considering for some time and decided this week to actually do something about it.

Our new linky will be called #letslearn and will be for any kids learning activities, it's for children of any age and any form of 'learning' is welcome!

If you'd like me to tweet you a reminder please leave me your Twitter handle in comments and I'll send it out.

Thanks so much for reading!  Can't wait for Friday 22nd!

|COOK|slow cooker sausage and beans casserole with polenta

With The Hubs trying to eat a bit healthier I've started to have one meat-free day a week, this also really helps me as it means that I'm not cooking 2 separate meals every night of the week! 

This week I made a declicious and incredibly simple Quorn sausage and bean casserole which I served with creamy polenta, this made for a much lighter casserole than our usual one served with mash.  And The Hubs had one of his favourite foods whilst cutting a LOT of calories and fat in the process. 

As a veggie, I love Quorn products, whilst I don't personally feel like I need a meat substitute it does help when entertaining or eating at friends so I can eat the same foods although veggie versions. 

I'm sure that Quorn is now going to be part of The Hubs meat free days, why not swap the meat in one of your meals this week for a Quorn substitute?
4 chef's selection Quorn sausages
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1/2 tbsp Italian mixed herbs
1 tin haricot or black eye beans
Polenta to serve 

1. Put everything in the slow cooker, fill one of the empty tins halfway with boiling water and add to the slow cooker.

2. Cook on high for 3 hours.

3. Make your polenta according to the instructions & serve

It really is as simple as that! 

If you would like more information about the health benefits of swapping your meat products for Quorn versions, check out their website here.

Disclaimer: written in collaboration with Quorn

|BOO BAG|the weather story bag

I've got a little behind in writing up T's story bags, I was determined to do it this month!
This months bag is slightly different as the book is not a story book, I looked for a long time to find a suitable book about the weather for his age group and in the end opted for this one which actually is recommended for 7+ I'm not sure why as it's great for any age.

In fitting with this months 'weather' theme I included some weather related learning elements.
Some Twinkl weather printables, both games, some weather stickers and a jam jar and pen for a little science experiment to do through the week.

We stuck some of the stickers onto 3 sides of the jam jar and left the fourth side blank and popped the jam jar out Sunday evening.

Monday evening when we got home from nursery we went outside with a sharpie (and tea towel!) and marked how much rain we'd had on Monday.  We popped the jar back on the table and will record how much rain we've had for the rest of the week too.
Our book talks about different weather types and what weather comes with each season, T and I talked about April showers and reasons why showers particularly comes in April T came up with the genius idea of it being to wash the blossom away (which, whilst beautiful at first was starting to make a mess in our garden!)   I love how some learning really gets his imagination going and when he can justify his thinking he amazes me.
This bag would be suitable for any aw child from toddler as the activity is simple and the book has some great pictures and information.
You can find the rest of our weather themed activities and food here.
You can see all of our book bags (we call them 'boo bags') here.


|REVIEW|snackeez cup

I'm always happy to review things which will make my life easier especially when I know T will love it, so when I was asked to review the snackeez cup I was very pleased!  I was pretty confident that T would like it as it's quite novel, and I would get lots of water down him to keep him hydrated which would be a pretty big Mum win for me!

The cup is well made in a lovely turquoise blue and green, so it was very appealable for my little man, other colour options are available and character versions are due out very soon.

Priced at £9.99 it is a little expensive but it is very well made and actually remarkably stable given that there is the snack pot at the top.
It's recommended for 8+ but T at 4 got on fine with it, his only complaint is that he can't take it out and about with us, it would be a great additional feature if it was portable.

We've been using ours whilst watching movies with popcorn, playing and when crafting so our crafts don't have to stop due to hunger and thirst!

The Snackeez is a really big hit in our house and I can see it being top of T's cup list for a while!

Disclaimer: we were sent the snackeez cup to try out and give our honest review.
Family Fever

|OUT AND ABOUT|Pitsford reservoir, Northamptonshire

We finally got to Geocaching last week and because we went with our friends at Crafty cooks Northampton we actually found some and kind of know what we are doing! 

We decided to go to Pitsford Reservoir as there are loads there, in the hope that we'd find at least one. 

The weather started overcast but warm with threats of rain later in the day. We met early in the Northampton Road car park.  There was no pay and display meter there when we visited but I believe that there usually is one. 

We set off around the reservoir which was perfectly still and beautiful. T of course, wanted to venture too near to the  water, but there is a good distance between the paths and the water so he was safe. The paths are well kept and there were many people on bikes although I wouldn't fancy pushing a pushchair round so I think you'd be better off with a sling. 

We managed to find 4 of the caches in the way round. We were hoping to walk round to Brixworth Country Park but someone's 4 year old legs were struggling after 1 1/2 miles so we walked back to the cars.

By the time we got back, the ice cream van was in the car park so we refuelled with ice cream and drove round to Brixworth country park for a picnic and play in the park.  Parking is £3 for the day and non-transferrable between cars.

The park is very impressive with equipment for both smaller and older children.  We had a fantastic 4 hours at the reservoir with the added bonus of a successful geocache too!

Here you can see all my Out and about in Northamptonshire posts.
I'm always on the look out for new places, so please do give me suggestions if you are local!