Culturebaby has just reached seven, seemingly in the blink of an eye, and is keen to write her own reviews . So for the first time here's why she thinks you'll enjoy The Snowman, in her own words...
"On Saturday 24th November we went to the Snowman. It was magical because they fly to the North Pole and at the end snow falls on the stalls and you can catch it. Jack frost is naughty and cheeky.
In the first Act it is the most magical because the Snowman comes to life. The second part Father Christmas comes and they have a boogie and a funny ending dance. My favourite parts are when the banana, a coconut and the pineapple come out of the fridge, and dance with the Snowman.
It meant to the boy so much because the Snowman was his best friend."
If you want to read my more detailed previous review of this wonderful show see here for their 20th Anniversary last year.
Over the years we've had so much fun with the Snowman that we've now accumulated a list of specifically themed activities to accompany the show and provide some creative inspiration. These work for a wide range of children's ages:
1. Snowman and Snowdog Christmas Cookies
These simple Christmassy smelling and tasting biscuits are based on an extremely simple recipe. A golden syrup, ginger and cinnamon combination worked really well for the season.
Sift together 350g plain flour, 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Add 2tsp ground ginger and 1 tsp ground cinnamon
Add 125g butter and blend until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Stir in 175g soft brown sugar.
Lightly beat an egg and 4tsp golden syrup together, add to mixture and blend until the mixture clumps together. Knead until smooth, wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes or so whilst you preheat the oven to 180 degrees C/Gas Mark 4 and line baking trays with greaseproof paper.
Roll the dough out to around 0.5cm on a lightly floured surface. Create shapes using the cutters.
Place on baking tray and bake for 12-15 minutes.
Leave to cool for 10 minutes.
We then varied the recipe to suit tiny hands using roll-out icing to cover each biscuit (also using the cutters) and tubes of food colouring gel for decoration.
2. Running a Snowman on the Shelf Advent
Lots of parents arrange an advent activity called Elf on The Shelf, where a cheeky little helper is sent by Santa to keep an eye on the household and consequently gets into mishaps along the way. This isn't something we have ever done, but one year we decided that our large cuddly snowman might enjoy some elf-like antics. Given that he is the ideal companion for a child throughout this festive season, and he already loves exploring the house (and gets into a few scrapes along the way), he was the perfect messenger from the North Pole for us: our very own Snowman on the Shelf.
3. Create a Snowman Themed Christmas Play Basket
Between 2 and 3, little ones are beginning to draw with clear intention and increasing ability. Using playdoh is another way to foster this interest, and three years ago we tried modelling the characters from the Snowman, and watching others do so - as well as 'melting' (squashing) the snowman afterwards. Creating the scene of the house from playdoh and acting out certain parts of the book was really effective.
5. Imaginative Play and Storytelling with Characters
This activity was revived a couple of years on the run. The first year, we created a snowy landscape with a large white towel and, listening to the audio soundtrack, used one of Culturebaby's play cottages and characters, with her toy snowman, to act out parts of the story. The second year, we set up a sheet of faux snow material and included the scenes with the dance of the snowmen, when Father Christmas gives James the gift of the scarf and the final morning. The girls have reached the stage where they happily act out stories together. I may resurrect the materials to see how they use them.
6. First science experiments - Three years ago we took a few ice cubes and let them melt in a bowl at room temperature. We talked about what was happening and why - and of course why the Snowman had started to melt when he sat too close to the fireplace. Practical activities like this have also helped the girls understand and discuss differences in temperature.
The Snowman is currently on at The Peacock Theatre, WC2A 2HT until 6th January. You can book here.
Disclaimer: Many thanks to Sadler's Wells for press tickets to The Snowman and for media images, taken by Tristram Kenton.