Smurf House and Village


Smurf house and village is a fun toy to make from things you may already have at home.

It was inspired by Meemoo and Pook’s current interest, from watching it in German, plus seeing them on a recent trip to Brussels. This is not at all what I had thought we would do for week 4, see the plan!

The Smurf houses were fun, if a  little involved to make, but even Meemoo had a go. The best bit has to be that we are still playing with them a week later and have played with them everyday.

To make a Smurf House you will need:

Flower pots


PVA Glue

Hot Glue Gun

Foam Sheets

The first step is to turn the plant pot upside down,  cut out the door and window.  I used a craft knife to do this. Next  paint the pots your chosen colours. Mix the paint with a little PVA glue, this make the paint thicker and helps it to stick to the pot. Leave the pots to dry.  Then apply a thin coat of PVA, and leave to dry overnight.

Smurf House Decoration Time

Pook sat and helped me design the decoration and details for the Smurf Houses. All of the pieces were cut of of foam, I did not use a template the shapes were cut  by eye.

Pook was able to cut many of the simple shapes. Firstly we added foam around the doorways and the windows. Attach the foam using the hot glue gun. (Hot Glue guns are not suitable for children to use.)  Next we added flower pots  to the sides. The roof was attached last.

Making the Roof

First draw a circle on a piece of foam which is slightly bigger than the flower pot.  Add decoration spots to make it look like a Smurf house. It was easier to attach one edge of the roof, then the opposite side. This then leaves you with the slight rounded shape when the next 2 sides are folded in.

The roof took a bit of fiddling, I did have a few goes trying to get it to look right.

Making a Smurf village 

The Smurf Village was very simple to set up.  I found a large piece of green material and arranged the houses on it. Next I added small stones to make pathways,the inspiration came from seeing the shop windows displays in Brussels.

I made a small lake out of larger stones and small blue beads from a broken toy necklace!

Meemoo and Pook, have thoroughly enjoyed playing with it. Meemoo added all the small cakes from My Little Pony castle and then obviously the ponies came to live in the Smurf Village!

Stomp Dinosaur Stomp

We have stomped dinosaur stomped our way through week four of our Summer of Fun!

Here’s a quick reminder of what we’ve been up to this week:
reminder of what we’ve been up to this week:

Making Mondays Trip out Tuesdays Wacky Wednesdays Thinking Thursdays Foodie


Make your own dinosaur bones out of salt dough. Take a trip to a natural history museum Do you remember the bones you made on Monday?  Dig for them today in your own dinosaur excavation! Make some frozen dinosaur eggs.  How do we get the dinosaurs out? Make dinosaur footprint biscuits.

This week required a little bit of planning, as some of our activities were done over a couple of days.

 Making Monday,

We began the week making a basic salt dough recipe (equal volumes of plain flour and salt, mixed with approximately half the volume of cold water until they form a soft, but not sticky dough). Miss N was tasked with using her salt dough to make dinosaur bones. I then baked these at 100C (fan oven) for 3 hours.

I used up the leftover salt dough in the evening to make some footprint tiles. After baking and cooling, I painted the footprints and left them out with the matching dinosaurs for the children to explore.

Trip Out Tuesday

We are becoming dinosaur experts after our trip to the National History Museum in London – an amazing trip out Tuesday! Meemoo Pook and I took the opportunity on Tuesday to visit to refurbished Natural History Museum in Luxembourg. While small in comparison to London we still had a great time.

 Wacky Wednesday

I buried Miss N’s salt dough skeleton in the sandpit, and set out scraping tools and brushes for the children to excavate the skeleton. Add an explorer’s hat, and Miss N looked every bit the expert archaeologist!

Gemma had less space, but still was able to do this brilliantly on a smaller scale too.

Throw in a little dinosaur movement (flap like a pterodactyl, stomp like a stegosaurus or run like a velociraptor) and you have a truly Wacky Wednesday!

Thinking Thursday 

We had so much fun playing and exploring with our Dinosaur Swamp with frozen eggs.

 Foodie Friday

We put Mr Z’s excellent mark-making skills to good use by making a basic shortbread biscuit, and pressing the toy dinosaurs into the dough before baking. We added a little icing to the imprints when the biscuits were cool, to make them pop! Yummy! I think Foodie Friday is a perfect end to the week!


Please share your dinosaur adventures on Facebook, or follow us on Instagram.

Next week we are exploring fairy tales and imaginary worlds – where will you travel to? Come and join us for our summer of fun, just sign up in the pop box on the right to receive your exclusive and free play ideas for next week straight to your email inbox.

Dinosaur swamp with frozen eggs

Dinosaur swamp with frozen eggs


It’s time that Thinking Thursday’s fun got a proper airing. This is one to get thoroughly stuck into!  It’s a couple of ideas merged into one great play experience. It can easily be adapted to suit a wide age range.


To make the frozen dinosaur eggs, you need:

Small round balloons

Small plastic dinosaurs


Squeeze a dinosaur into an un-inflated balloon.  (Whilst it’s fiddlier, I found using the smaller balloons gave a more rounded egg-like shape).  Fill the balloon with water, tie. Then place in the freezer until hard.  If you can, make sure the eggs are flat in the freezer and have space, so they keep their shape.  If you can turn them over after a couple of hours, the air bubble is less noticeable and the dinosaur is more likely to be in the middle of the egg!


Once frozen solid, cut the neck of the balloon and tear off the rubber.  Your eggs are ready to go!  I tend to spray the surface with a little bit of water and sprinkle on some glitter for extra sparkle!



Dinosaur Swamp play ideas for older children (4+)

So, you could just play with the eggs.  In fact, Miss N did an experiment to find out whether hot water, salt or using a hammer would release the dinosaurs from their eggs the quickest.

We had lots of discussion around how to make it as fair as we could, and how to measure our results.  This was good practise for organising her ideas, recognising and comparing outcomes. it was perfect as preparation for her undertaking independent investigations in future.

If you have a go at this experiment, then let us know your results in the comments on this post.  I’ll put ours up later next week.

Dinosaur Swamp play ideas for younger children (18 months +)

For Mr Z, I decided to make this into a small world play set up, with the dinosaur eggs in a swamp!


To make the swamp, you will need:

A large tray or container



Natural materials to create habitats – we used logs, leaves, grass, flowers and stones

Washing up liquid (optional, but it added some bubbles and gave an extra dimension to the watery parts of the scene)

Large plastic dinosaurs

I used wet sand to create mounds on the tray, including a large nest for the dinosaur eggs, which I lined with leaves (we wanted the baby dinosaurs to be comfy when they hatched!).  I filled the rest of the tray with water, added the natural materials to create different areas of habitat, then put the large dinosaurs around the play set up and the frozen eggs into the nest. 

Mr Z was then let loose to explore and play as he wanted.  He loved getting the dinosaurs to walk along the logs and jump into the water, and getting them to stomp and sink in the sand mountains.  It’s an excellent introduction to imaginative play and storytelling, and increases his vocabulary when we talk about how we’re making the dinosaurs play.

We only stopped playing when it started raining heavily, and Mr Z was so upset at leaving his dinosaurs that we had to bring them in, and he kept playing with them in the sink!

Dinosaur Bath Eggs

Dinosaur Bath Eggs

I’ve been cheeky this week!  We’ve had so much dinosaur-based fun, that I’ve written an extra blog post so I can give you detailed information so you can have a go yourselves.  Trust me, it’s worth it – these are fantastic!


To make one dinosaur bath egg, you will need:

½ cup bicarbonate of soda

10 drops liquid watercolour

2 tablespoons citric acid (in granular form)

3-4 teaspoons vegetable oil

A small, plastic dinosaur

Baking paper


In a dry bowl, drop the liquid watercolour into the bicarbonate of soda. Next rub it with your fingers until the colour is mixed through.  Add the citric acid and stir.  Add the oil and rub it all together.  You should have a powdery substance that will hold together in a lump if you squeeze it hard!

In a cupped hand, put some of the powder and press it down.  Put the dinosaur on top, then keep adding the powder in small amounts and pressing hard. You need to do this until you have totally covered the dinosaur.  You will  have an egg-like shape.  Place very carefully onto a tray lined with baking paper, and leave to harden overnight.

We made several eggs in different colours, mixing the leftovers together to make multi-coloured eggs (which I think were my favourite!).  Miss N was able to make these with supervision. There were lots of problem solving skills used to find out the best amount of oil and how to handle the egg without it falling apart!

Now the fun really begins! 

We turned our bath into a dinosaur swamp, by adding a few drops of green liquid watercolour and some cut grass.  Both children loved watching the eggs fizz as they went into the water, and the force of the fizz made the water rise a fair bit.  We scooped up all of the grass at the end of the bath and made a nest in the corner for our newly hatched dinosaurs.

The older your children, the more detail you can go into about the chemical reaction taking place between the alkaline bicarbonate of soda, and the acidic citric acid.  It would be interesting to think about why adding the oil as a liquid when making the eggs doesn’t trigger a chemical reaction, but adding water does!

A note of caution: the oil does make the children and the bath a little slippery!  If you want a little less mess, then the children would have just as much fun putting the eggs into a deep bowl of water and watching them fizz away in there.


Great Artists Week – Summer of Fun

Week three of our Summer of Fun we explored the world of Great Artists!   We created with paints, pens, by building and with food!

Here’s a quick reminder of what we’ve been up to this week:

Making Mondays Trip out Tuesdays Wacky Wednesdays Thinking Thursdays Foodie


Get inspired by a famous Artist.

Create your own versions of their masterpeices

Take a trip to a local Art gallery  Who will you be today?

Spend the day dressing up and taking photos of all the characters you have been 

Let Sculpture inspire you

What can you build with?


 Make your own sensory food paints.


Here are the highlights of our Great Artisits week…

Making Monday

We made cut out art in the style of Henri Matisse. Pook enjoyed cutting out shapes and using them to create a picture.   Meemoo just enjoyed cutting the paper up, but it was good scissor skills practice.

Miss N made some beautiful Renoir inspired umbrellas by drawing on foil with sharpies.

Wacky Wednesday

We had great fun playing dressing up all day. Meemoo and Pook kept their costumes on all day, even wearing them out on the bus to the city centre.

Sarah made an amazing photo booth, then in the afternoon Miss N made some amazing Picasso inspired art with her photo printouts.

Thinking Thursday

It was an open ended challenge with toilet rolls and straws.  I quickly cut some straws in half, and made some very basic holes in the tubes. I then left it for Meemoo and Pook to discover what they could make.

Pook was inspired by the recent art installation we have in the city centre, using the toilet rolls and straws to make her own version.

Mr Z had some wooden bricks with velcro on to build with.

Foodie Friday

Finally on our Great Artists week, it was time to create art with food. It was messy fun, getting to paint with yogurt, which was dyed using fruits. It started out as natural yogurt to which, fruit was added. The best results where from fruits which have lots of colour, especially berries. Sarah added jelly crystals to her making it thicker to paint with and it looks a lot smoother.  Fun was had by all and it was a great way to encourage healthy eating.

Please share your animal adventures on Facebook, or follow us on Instagram.

Next week we are being dinosaur explorers. You can still join us in our summer of fun, just sign up in the pop box on the right to receive your exclusive and free play ideas for next week straight to your email inbox.

If you have missed out on weeks one and two, take a quick look

Summer of Fun; Ocean Activities

Summer of Fun; Animal Activities

Expat life, the good life?

A year on our expat life and I thought it was time to sit back, reflect on it all. Is it the good life?

It still takes me by surprise, most days, that we are living abroad. It was not in the plan, I am not sure what was but I had not considered that we would live abroad. Luxembourg is not far from the UK, not all has changed, but enough has to make you sit and realise, for it to occasionally take your breath away.

Learning, trying to speak French is hard work. I have had lessons for a year. Yes I can  manage buying food, ordering in a restaurant, asking for things and I can hold a  basic conversation. Fear of getting it wrong holds me back from speaking more. When I am in meetings at the library I can keep up with listening, I get the gist, but speaking in the meeting, I have not got enough brain power for that! My achievement of the year is reading 90% of the letters that come home from school with out a dictionary.  But we live in Luxembourg and it is a truly multi lingual place. French is spoken here but so is Luxembourgish and German. To illustrate how it works, Pook speaks mainly Luxembourgish in school, but letters and official paperwork are always in French and the main newspapers , well they are in German!

Pook  can now speak Luxembourgish well, having learnt though ‘direct immersion’ at Spillschoul. It is incredible to hear your child speak a language of which you can only master the basics. And I mean the basics, Hello, Goodbye and a few numbers! Meemoo is staring precoce in September so she will learn Luxembourgish too. I think it is time for me to start lesson so I have a small chance of keeping up!

Living in a capital city, all be it a small one, has given us so many things to do. It has been rare that weekend passes without some event somewhere. We have enjoyed Street Art Performances, Schueberfouer (massive funfair)  Apple picking festivals a bus ride away, Christmas markets, Easter festivals. If we have not we have a whole new city to explore full of museums and new sites to see.

Honeslty I did not think I would enjoy living in a city so much. Its charm is in is compactness. You can get on a city bus and within minutes discover beautiful countryside.

A change is as a good a rest….right? So the saying goes, but  some days it feels like everything has changed and you are left standing on shifting sands. Some days it is really hard. These are the days when I cant speak enough French, or I really want a Chocolate Digestive. Some days it is really lonely or too hot in the sun or too cold in the winter. But then it surprises you. You get to take delight in experiencing new things and making friends who are from all over the world. Please don’t think I am not enjoying my new life. I am having an amazing adventure. One that I never saw coming. One I am not sure I want to end!




Art Gallery with Under 7s

An Art Gallery is not a obvious choice for under 7s  when planing a trip , but this is where Meemoo, Pook and I found ourselves last Tuesday. I decided to visit Villa Vauban in Luxembourg City Centre for the opportunity to see some Art to tie in with our Great Artists theme of the week.

It was a surprising trip, in that it went better than expected. Meemoo and Pook are still talking about the trip a week later and asking when we can go back. It must of made an impression!

So if you are considering a trip to an Art Gallery with under 7s here are some top tips

  • A little preparation paves the way

Before our visit to the Art Gallery we had talked about artists, what they did and we had the previous day explored the story of Henri Matisse for our Making Monday. We had a go at making some art in his style.  Meemoo and Pook were aware what an Art Gallery was and how to behave, mainly DO NOT TOUCH !


  • Check out the Museum online

    Before your visit it is worth checking to see if there were any activities for children. I had had a brief look and it appeared that most of the activities were pre book and for those above 6 years old.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that there were so many child friendly activities to engage us as we went round one of the exhibitions.  Meemoo and Pook had a blast dressing up to match the portraits.



    They enjoyed getting to touch the ‘feely’ pictures.


  • Simple games to play at an Art Gallery

The first exhibitions that we encountered in the museum where not child friendly and Meemoo was finding it difficult to interact with the art. We started playing find your favourite picture, tell my why? It really is as simple as it states!

  • You don’t have to stay all day

Or that long at all.  It is a huge experience for young children to just see lots of Art, be it paintings, photos, sculpture or installations.  Do not expect a massive reaction like you would at the park.

The real surprise for me having taken the girls there is their reaction to it now. It is still talked about, Meemoo calls the story about Henri Matisse the “art gallery” book. Pook enjoys telling people about her trip. Both of them ask when we can go again!

So thinking of a trip you would not normally take young children too,  my advice is  with a little prep be brave. It may just inspire them!

Playdough Jungle

Here is our first guest blog from Sarah, who has been mad enough to help me plan this Summer of Fun. It sounds like they had a fab time making their Playdough Jungle.

Playdough Jungle

We have been enjoying the animals theme this week, and what better way to combine this with our love of playdough than to make a playdough jungle?!


You will need

Playdough ingredients

2 cups plain flour

½ cup salt

2 tablespoons cream of tartar

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Glycerine (optional)

1½ cups boiling water

Green food colouring


Small plastic jungle animals


A selection of small natural materials (we used stones, slate, bark and a mix of different leaves and branches)

Playdough tools, such as rolling pins (optional)


I made the playdough by mixing together the flour, salt, cream of tartar and oil.  I added the food colouring to the water, then gradually added this into the mix.  You may not need all the water, so go steadily with it.  Stir with a spoon until it clumps together.  When it’s cool enough for you to be able to touch, add a few drops of glycerine and knead until it becomes smooth and soft.  If it’s too dry, add a touch more water; if it’s too wet, add a bit more flour.


Once the playdough was completely cool, I set up an invitation to play for Miss N to create her own jungle.


She chose tools she wanted from our playdough box, and used lots of problem solving skills to get the trees and branches to stay upright in her jungle.  Her preferred solution was to use the broccoli as a base for the thinner twigs and stems to be stuck into.  I’m always particularly impressed when she comes up with solutions that I would never have thought of!


For Mr Z, I made a small playdough jungle for him to explore initially.


I then added extra animals and loose materials to his tray to further his play and exploration.  He enjoyed making marks in the playdough with the lion’s feet and the bark, and squishing lumps of playdough with his fingers.  It was a good opportunity to explore cause and effect, as well as give those little finger muscles some extra exercise.


If you want to keep your playdough for another time, it keeps for several months in an airtight container.  Let us know how you get on!

Travelling with Kids

Travelling with kids, something you cant avoid, especially if you are a family of expats.

There is often a trip planned somewhere in this house. By the end of the year I think we will have flown 10 times and been on at least 5 long train journeys!! Meemoo and Pook have got used to travelling.


Here are our 5 top travelling tips

Activities for travelling with kids

This is crucial to preventing boredom, little people are less keen to sit and watch the world go by.  For Meemoo and Pook I pack a bag with a few simple activities

  • Plain paper and pencils
  • Storybooks
  • Favourite small figures
  • Blind Bag Toy

The girls do also have a tablet to play on (well they nick Speedy’s and mine) but I try to save it until we are part way into our journey. This adds a bit of excitement as it is not something they play on regularly.


I make sure I take snacks and then spare snacks and a few more. The trickiest times we have had , have been when the hunger monster strikes.  I plan our travels around the food, what we are going to eat where and when.  Meemoo and Pook also love to suck on a lollipop as we take off. I have no idea if it stops their ears popping as most of the time they crunch them, but it gives them something to do. Also if they are really tired it must remind them of sucking on a dummy as they will often fall asleep part way through!

Toilet Time 

Going to the toilet becomes something of an obsession when we are travelling. Most of the time we see one and have time we just go to the toilet. Lots of the reason for this is that Meemoo has been difficult to toilet train , so we still have lots of reminders! There is nothing worse than having carry around wet/dirty pants for the rest of the journey. TBH I have often just binned them!


Its a fact, someone, somewhere will have a strop while travelling.  Go with it and try distraction or offer one of the spare snacks!

 Time to travel with kids

Time, is often a major cause for stress. It is no fun running for a plane or train with 2 children in tow and lots of baggage.  We recently missed our train by four minutes so next time we travel I will be making sure we have even more to spare.


What are your top travelling tips?

Leave a comment , we love to read them!


Balcony Play Space

Our balcony has become our new play space. Outdoor play spaces, I think are just as valuable as having a decent place to play inside.

Since we have moved to a flat , Meemoo and Pook have a small balcony to play, which is not quiet the same as having a garden to run freely in when you are 3 storeys high!

Rethinking our outdoor play 

Having a balcony and being three storeys high meant I rethink of how Meemoo and Pook would play outside. What exactly could they do safely in the space? How would we make the space safe?

How we created a  safe balcony play space?

The first concern being so high in the sky is safety. Our balcony had railings but they were not safe enough. It was too easy to throw toys threw the bars or climb up them.  The first thing we did was to buy some safety barrier in a lovely shade of green.

Our balcony also has a large section of wall that protruded into the space. The safest way to manage this risk , was by buying the biggest plant pot that would fit in the space. There is no space left to climb and it is too heavy for the girls to move.

Lastly in an effort to deter Meemoo from climbing I ensured we bough folding furniture that would not be left out as a climbing temptation.

How do we use our new  balcony play space? 

With a little space, I have managed to squeeze in many different play opportunities.

Meemoo and Pook adore playing in their house, which fits perfectly in the space.  It allows them to continue their many role play games from inside and does not stop their game. ( Yes it does mean toys are dribbled from one of my flat to the other!)

Water play is floor based with our new waterways toy. It is a wonderful toy for exploration of how water flows and moves.  We also have a small paddling pool, just big enough for the two of them to get in and cool down!

We no longer have our mud kitchen but we have in miniature a small box of natural objects to explore.

Perhaps one of my favourite things is our new painting easels. It was easily made from an old cardboard box and some pegs use to attach it to the fence. Meemoo and Pook had a great time painting. I cant wait to set it up again when the weather is dry.

Amazingly this all fits, with space still for a little running and perhaps more importantly for my table and chair to sit at and drink tea while they are playing outside.

How do you use your outdoor space? What is your children’s favourite thing to play with?