Sunday, 25 October 2009

Organised Fun Team at Selfridges

If you're looking for something to entertain the kids this weekend then head on down to Selfridges in London who in partnership with Tatler magazine are hosting a Halloween event in the children's department. There will be a host of Halloween fun with face painting, fancy dress and a Tatler photo shoot, and the Organised Fun team will be there to run a whole stack of Halloween games and crafting fun.
To find out more click here

Monday, 5 October 2009

Halloween Crafts - Bouncing Egg Carton Spider

This egg carton spider is easy-peasy for kids to make and ideal to decorate a Halloween outfit or to hang around the home.

What do I need?
An egg carton, paint and paintbrush, pipe cleaners (colour dependent on the chosen colour of the spider), white paper and felt tips, scissors, glue, something to pierce holes (a wooden kebab stick is ideal) a conker and some elastic.

How do I make it?
Cut out one of egg holders from an egg carton, and pierce four holes on either side and one at the top (best that an adult does this part). Next get the kids to paint the egg holder black or whatever colour they fancy (my friend Snow was very keen on her multi-coloured spider - see pic).

Leave the egg holder to dry and meanwhile cut out two eyes and a mouth and colour these in. Once the egg holder is dry stick these into place.

Finally once the egg holder is completely dry, stick a pipe cleaner into each of your holes and bend these into leg like shapes. Pierce the conker, thread this onto the elastic and then thread the elastic through the hole at the top of the egg cup. This will give the spider the weight it will need to bounce.

All done.

Wooden Spoon Puppets

My friend Snow who also lives on our island popped around this morning for a puppet making session. We decided to make some Wooden Spoon Puppets as I had a load of old material scraps that needed using up.

These are really simple puppets for kids to make, and it provides a whole other puppet theatre game once they're made. You can theme them to different times of the year. I have an event at Selfridges Store in London on Halloween, where we're going to be making a whole theatre of scary puppet characters.

What do I need

A wooden spoon, some felt tip pens, a stapler and some old scraps of material.

How do I make a Wooden Spoon Puppet
First of all get your kids to decide what type of puppet they want to make. They might choose a Halloween themed witch or even decide to model one on themselves.
Get them started by drawing their characters face onto the wooden spoon using felt tip pens. Next get them to cut some long
strands of wool which you can then staple into the wooden spoon as hair.
Finally the fun part, get them to rummage through your pile of material scraps and design their puppet an outfit.

Bolving or The Dr Dolittle Game

Bolving is a traditional Devonshire sport played out on the tussocked hills and craggy plains of Exmoor throughout October. It's essentially a competition to see who can best imitate the roar of the Red Stag that lets out its unearthly autumnal cry to attract the ladies ready for the amorous rutting season.

The game isn't confined to country folk, we had a go in our local London park over the weekend with suprising success. To play, competitors take it in turns to do their best imitation of an amorous stag, intent on telling the ladies what a catch he is. Each time you get a response you score a point, the player with the most points at the end of the game is the winner.

Now we've been playing a similar game for a number of years when out on country walks. It's called the Dr Dolittle game. The same principles apply, but in this format it's open season on whatever animal responds to your imitation cry. I've always been rather good at this one, you should hear my turkey impression.

Saturday, 3 October 2009


With conker season well underway, now is the time to wrap the kids up and head out into the great oudoors to get foraging. The game of Conkers has been a playground favourite for centuries and was recently voted as school kids number one in a poll in the Daily Telegraph.

Although a British invention, the game has since gone international. From Canada to France, wherever the horse chestnut prospers schoolchildren can be found hanging the shiny seeds on string and smashing their mates’ ones to pieces. The game's popularity has grown to such an extent that a World championship is held each year in Northamptonshire. Although tempting to come up with a variation, some classics shouldn’t be messed with.

How do I play it?
  • First up, select your conker on the basis of form, symmetry and lack of cracks.
  • Next, prepare for battle. Drill a hole down the middle using a sharp skewer (probably best to make sure an adult does this bit) and thread a piece of string through the hole. You need one that’s about 25 centimetres in length. If drilled badly you can weaken the strength of the conker. Try to drill or skewer as straight as possible. Avoid the lighter-coloured circle on top as it’s not as waxy as the rest of the skin and therefore more likely to crack.
  • Once you’ve threaded your string through, tie multiple knots at the bottom to ensure it doesn’t fall off.
  • Once conkers are threaded and contestants are ready to play, two players face each other with their conkers hanging down on the string and the string wrapped around their hands a couple of times for extra support.
  • Players then take it in turns to thwack and hopefully crack their opponent’s conkers, by stretching the string taught with the hitting conker drawn towards them, and then using this length to target the full force towards the opponent’s hanging conker on its release.
  • If a player misses, they are allowed two extra goes. If the strings tangle, the first player to call, ‘Strings!’ gets an extra shot. If a player strikes and causes their opponent’s conker to spin in a full circle, the player gets another go. If a player drops their conker or it’s knocked out of their hand, the other player can shout, ‘Stamps!’ and then is able to jump on it, hopefully to crack it. If the first player cries, ‘No stamps!’ first, then the other player is not allowed to stamp on it.
  • The winner is the one whose conker lasts the longest. Each time a conker defeats another it clocks up its victim’s numbers. In a contest of two new conkers the winner’s conker thus becomes ‘a oner’ (bring back memories?). If the same conker beats another successful conker who was, say, ‘a fourer’, the winning conker then goes on to take on its defeated conker’s score – making it ‘a fiver’.
  • Now when I was younger there was a whole lot of jiggery-pokery around how to make your conkers as un-crackable as possible, from soaking them in vinegar to baking them in the oven. I’m not sure how effective any of these are. I remember being convinced that doing both was the secret behind my ‘elevener’ at school. One tip I recently heard which does make a lot of sense is: if you put a selection of conkers in water and some of them float, discard these ones and use the heavier and denser ones at the bottom of the bowl as they’re likely to be stronger.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Just a Minute

One of my favourite car based pieces of organised fun, has to be 'Just a minute', pilfered from the brilliant Radio 4 show of the same name. It's a regular feature of long trips and we often use our loud hailer (as demonstrated in the picture by Hannah) for added dramatic effect. The game basically requires players to keep talking about a given subject for sixty seconds. The game was invented by Ian Messiter when riding on the top deck of the number 13 bus. He remembered being petrified when one of his schoolmasters challenged him to talk non-stop for one minute, but soon recognised its entertainment potential when played with erudite and articulate friends.

How do I play it?
  • All players write down five topics of conversation, which are then folded up and put in someone’s hat or a similar vessel.
  • Players take it in turns to pull a topic from the hat and then must speak on the subject for a minute without hesitation, deviation or repeating a word, with the exception of mentioning the given subject.
  • Points are awarded when other players make a correct challenge for perceived hesitations, deviation or repetition. I’d suggest nominating a non-playing umpire to prevent arguments occurring.