Advent Activity Jars

Advent activity jars for Christmas. Fill with little toys, chocolate or activities. Suitable for any age and great for siblings

We have used our Advent Activity Jars every year since I first wrote about them in 2011.  We even did it last year when we moved into our first (non-rented) house in the middle of December with a 6 month old. I tried to convince E. that we could just buy an advent calendar but he was having none of it. Of course I was secretly happy that he loves it so much.

I put little activities, chocolates or gifts in each jar. If the activity doesn’t have any part that will fit in the jar I just write it on an old christmas card. In reality we don’t actually need the jars; envelopes would work fine but they are a cute decoration so they’ve stuck.  A few years ago I updated them by stitching numbers onto circles. It took ages so even though I think the circles are a bit too big they’re staying.


Here are my hints and tips for if you are thinking of starting your own personalised advent calendar

  1. Start by making a list of activities you were going to do anyway – if you’re going to a Christmas Fair on the 10th write it down for day 10! There really is no point in making life more difficult for yourself
  2. Gather up any Christmas themed things you already own and spread out giving them back throughout the month. When the decorations get put away I also put away all Christmas books and themed toys. Today’s ‘gift’ was E.’s Christmas Playmobil he got as a present last year.Advent activity jars for Christmas. Fill with little toys, chocolate or activities. Suitable for any age and great for siblings
  3. Buy some wrapped chocolates or little toys for the days when you can’t be bothered or haven’t got time.
  4. You don’t need to actually get the whole month ready for the 1st of December – most of my jars are currently empty. I try and makes sure I know what I’m doing for a few days ahead but it really isnt necessary to have the whole month planned out.
  5. Pinterest is your friend (kind of!) 
  6. The activities can be basically the same every year. I probably buy a new craft set or two most years but we rarely use the whole set up in one go so they come out again and again.
  7. It definitely gets easier – the first year I bought quite a lot of little toys to bulk it out but this year I’m fairly confident we can get by without them!

Advent activity jars for Christmas. Fill with little toys, chocolate or activities. Suitable for any age and great for siblings


I’m going to post mini updates of what we’ve done each day on Instagram and Facebook  and there’s Pinterest board for this year’s activities.  



I’ll probably post round-ups on here. So do keep checking back if you’re looking for ideas.

Two Tiny Hands
Posted in Christmas | 15 Comments

Homework Help – Times Tables Stack

This is starting to turn into a series! I tried to write a long post about the different steps to learning times tables with ideas for each stage – but it ended up being really dull! So instead I’m sharing a game we’ve been playing.

Times table stack - a game for practising times tables

Times Table Stack

(I didn’t invent this game – if you search for ‘bump game’ in pinterest you will find hundreds of versions. We prefer to ‘stack’ rather than ‘bump’ but the process is the same.)

You need

  • 1 piece of paper with 12 circles on
  • A 12 sided dice or 2 ordinary dice

Yes we actually have a 12 sided dice (my husband was/is a proper nerd) Also I am aware that 1 dice is a die but it looks weird to me!

Times table stack - a game for practising times tables

  • Two sets of  around 15 counters

We used 1ps and 5ps – you could use drought game pieces or ‘connect four’ pieces etc. If you don’t have exactly 15 it doesn’t matter as long as you have the same number each.


  • Ask the child to write the answers to which ever times table you are practising randomly in the circles

You can skip this stage if you want and print out a game board but it’s quite nice for the child to make their own plus it is a good way to ‘warm up’

  • Take it in turns to roll the dice and multiply the number on the dice by whatever times table you are practising. Place your counter on the answer.
  • If the answer already has a counter on it stack it on top.
  • When you have both  used all of your counters the game is over
  •  Count up the number of circles with your counter on the top. (The winner is the one with the most – or the least, or whatever you want really 😉 )

Times table stack - a game for practising times tables


Hints and Tips

  • Currently in the UK children are expected to know by heart times tables up to 12×12 – check with your child’s teacher which ones to focus on. In general I would start with 2s,10s, 5s then the rest in order starting from 3s


  • This game works best if the child at least knows  some of the times table already – if they’re really struggling write out the times table so they can refer to it – it will still help their memory.


  • As the ‘other player’ it’s good to describe out loud how you’ve got your answer – e.g. 7×2 – well I know 5×2 is 10, so 6×2 must be 12 so 7 x 2 must be 14.  You can also pretend you can’t figure out the answer at all. (Don’t do this every time or the game is really dull!!)

More ideas

Other posts I’ve written on Homework

My Homework Help Pinterest board 



Posted in Homework help, Primary School Children (5-10) | 7 Comments

Autumn Sensory Play – Play dough

Autumn Sensory Play- Play Dough

This is the third of the sensory activities we’ve done with our autumn collection. I’m so glad I decided to extend the life of the initial sensory tub by incorporating it into other forms of play. Little Miss has certainly learnt new words and it’s meant the whole thing has kept her interest for much longer than I had expected.

I use this recipe to make play dough. I used to always do it in the microwave but I think it comes out nicer on the hob and it doesn’t really take much longer.  If you haven’t made play dough at home before I’d definitely recommend it. The ingredients a cheap and it’s totally non toxic (and doesn’t actually taste very nice) Obviously, as with anything with young children, make sure you supervise closely.

Autumn Sensory Play- Play Dough


As before I basically took everything out of our sensory tub apart from the leaves.

  • Water
  • Muffin tray
  • Acorns
  • Pinecones
  • Conkers

How I use play dough

If you’ve been doing messy play with your children for a while you can skip this bit. But this is what I’ve found works in my house with my children.

  • We only play with play dough on the dining table and there’s no wondering around with it in your hand.
  • It isn’t a ‘free play toy’ – I’d tend to say yes if they ask for it but until E was at least 5 he wasn’t allowed to just get it out and play – this saves it getting squashed into the carpet and also keeps it ‘special’.
  • I like to create a theme. If there’s no specific theme I still don’t get out every single tool we own.
  • As with the sensory tub I sit and model/play too or I narrate what she’s doing.
  • When she’s getting sick of it we tidy up – if you put it in a plastic tub with a lid it will last for ages.

Autumn Sensory Play- Play Dough


This has lots of the same benefits as the sensory tub in terms of language development and understanding of the world. Play dough is also very good for building up muscles in the fingers which is important before children start writing.

For more ideas check out my Pinterest boards


Two Tiny Hands
Posted in Sensory play, Toddler | 5 Comments

A Q&A Blogger Tag

Karen from Two Tiny Hands tagged me in a ‘blogger tag’ (I didn’t know what one was either 😉 – she’s sent me some questions to answer and then I have to tag some new people) I’ve really enjoyed connecting with Karen in the last few weeks – I think we have a fairly similar parenting style and I like joining up with her Mess and Play linky and finding new things to do with Little Miss.

How long have you been blogging and what is your best and worst thing about it?

I started blogging early in 2010 when my oldest (E) was 1. I pretty much used it as a record of things that I’d made and activities that I did with him. I didn’t even share it with anyone for ages it was purely a journal and a way of storing memories really.

Bamm Boo was started in 2012 and was part of a ‘shop’ where I customised hoodies for children. (We moved some of the older posts over but not all of them). Eventually  I closed that shop and  continued to blog intermittently. At the beginning of October this year I decided to make a bigger effort to blog.

I love to write, I miss the creative outlet I got from teaching and writing is something I can do easily at anytime – so that’s what I love about blogging. I’ve also enjoyed linking up with other creative people and being able to ‘socialise’ while I’m in the house with a sleeping child. My personality means I tend to obsess other things and so for me the worst thing about it is that it’s so easy to obsess over trying to get people to read what I’ve written! (that and the slight social anxiety of hoping everyone likes me!!)

How will you be spending Christmas this year?  Any crazy traditions?

I think everyone’s Christmas is kind of crazy! Both sides of our family live fairly far away so the craziness involves lots of driving. There will be a big family party with my side – my parents, their 7 children with their partners and the 13  grandchildren – it’s very, very loud. Then we’ll go to my husband’s family which will be a bit quieter and my children will be spoilt rotten 🙂

And then there’s the ‘Advent Jars‘ of course 😉

Advent Jars - Alternative advent calendar with gifts and activities

What is your favourite dessert?  All the gooey details please..

I like really cheap rubbish trifle! (I like homemade trifle too but supermarket trifles are probably my favourite 😉 )

What is your favourite room in your house?

My bedroom. It’s really small and we’ve hung a tv on the wall so I can lie in bed and watch TV and pretend I’m in a hotel room.

In which ways do you entertain your children?

Err they watch a lot of TV 😉

E is almost 8 so he doesn’t really need entertaining in the same way. He talks to (at) me all day long given the choice. We like to play board games as a family and he quite likes to make things with my sewing machine (well start making things). His favourite thing to do at the weekend is wear his pjs all day and hang around the house!

Little Miss is 17 months.  She loves being outside. I don’t know if it’s because I’m a different parent this time round or her nature is just different but ‘shoes’ was one of her first words -by which she means, ‘Put my shoes on and take me outside please!’

How do you store your memories?

Badly – with no system! I post a lot on Facebook and I love the ‘on this day’ feature. I have a ‘perpetual journal’ that I’m rubbish at keeping up with. We put photos in flickr. (I think there’s some kind of backup but I stay out of the technical stuff 😉 )

Are you a savoury or sweet type of person?

Argh – I think this is the hardest question!! I like snacks 🙂 I don’t mind if they’re sweet or savoury. Through both pregnancies I ‘craved’ crisps and jelly sweets!

If you could go anywhere where would it be?

I love exploring new places but I don’t really have a wishlist. I’ve never been out of Europe so I’d love to explore the world a bit further afield – although long-haul flights with young children doesn’t sound like fun!

Is there anything you’ve ever regretted?

I don’t think I really have regrets but I definitely have ‘what ifs’

We never intended to have such a massive age gap between our two children and while they absolutely adore each other I am aware that I still haven’t given either of them a playmate. I grew up in a crazy noisy household where there was always someone to play with and I feel sad sometimes that they can’t really play together in the same kind of way.

Blogger tag

What is the best thing you have ever made?

I love to make things! I just flicked through the sewing category here on the blog and this train play mat this stood out because E. played with it for so long. It isn’t the most difficult thing I’ve ever made but it was well loved (and kept him quiet in coffee shops!)

Thank you  Karen! That took a lot more thought than I expected.


  • Thanks to Cara L McKee for joining in. I love reading Cara’s poetry so I’m looking forward to reading her answers!
  • If anyone else wants to join in let me know and I’l tag you in the post

Here are my questions – you’re supposed to tag 5 other people to play!

  1. How long have you been blogging? Do you think your blog now is different than how you imagined it would be?
  2. If you could write a letter to yourself the day before your first child was born what would you write?
  3. What’s your favourite Christmas tradition?
  4. What’s something that everyone else seems to love that you just don’t get?
  5. What’s your worst habit?
  6. What was your favourite subject in school? Does this have any relation to your life now?
  7.  What would be your secret super power?
  8. Do you feel like a ‘grown up’? Why?
  9. What would you serve at a dinner party (and would you be the chef?)
  10. If you could have been born into any period of history when would that be?
Posted in Life | 5 Comments


Usually I write because we’ve done something that I want to share, or sometimes things pop into my head and I want to record them. Last week I stumbled upon ‘The Prompt’ and I thought it would be an interesting challenge.

The prompt this week is ‘Messenger’ which made me think of Facebook messenger which made me think about how chatting has changed.

It’s not exactly a poem but not exactly prose; not totally fact, but not totally fiction and definitely hyperbole.



When Boo was small and I was home alone-but-never-alone,
I would talk to my sister on the phone for hours at a time.
There were mobiles but mine wasn’t so smart and it was easier to talk.

Before that, when I went to uni I would get letters -every day at first,
From my mum or a bullied younger sister to help keep me connected,
or give me something to look forward to when the homesickness took over.

Earlier still, in school  we would write notes during lessons,
Then talk all evening- hogging the one phone line to say all of the words, every single thought.

But now, the phone line is silent,
The letters only bills.
We chat off and on all day,
My sisters, my husband, my friends – with iMessage and Facebook and texts,
But no sounds.

With no beginning and no end the conversations meander through days,
And pick up a when random thoughts arrive.

But somehow, something is lost and much is left unsaid,
Because it’s too easy to type the happy words,
To make them laugh at the anecdotes, when sometimes what I really need to say is,

‘Help me, I’m drowning’

Messenger by Bamm Boo


Pink Pear Bear
Posted in Words | 9 Comments