Jack and the beanstalk

Today we woke up to a letter from the giant:

Little Miss 5 was so excited, the letter was huge, from floor to ceiling , her face was a picture.

This is how it came together:

I filled mini bags with jelly beans and simply printed a label that said ‘edible magic beans’, I did enough for all her friends at school as Jack and the Beanstalk is their current core story.

I had bought new gardening tools for her, as well as beans to plant and pots-I put dots on the beans which corresponds to the numbers I put on the pots I made golden eggs by painting foam eggs I bought from a craft store, I found the paint went on easier if I papier-mâchéd them first, I also papier-mâchéd a ballon too for a large golden egg-which cracked dramatically under the great British heat we’ve had over the last few days! Luckily I managed to patch it up!

I had purchased a plastic ivy plant from Amazon, plastic golden coins as well as chocolate coins (I couldn’t resist), made a harp & large footprints out of cardboard, there you have it!

So we set to work on the giants requests straight away, as the magic bean treasure was irresistible!

we planted the beans.

we had an outdoor puppet show, where little miss 5 was able to retell the story-we used the same props. She even wanted to make us tickets

Little Miss 5, then measured her toys against the giants foot prints

There is so much home learning that can be done, just by knowing what core story your child is reading at school, and it’s not ‘boring’ or ‘homework’ as such, just quality learning experiences, in a fun way, but mostly it’s about spending quality time together!

Needless to say, we ended the day with a Jack and the Beanstalk tub-time and quite simply moved the props to the bathroom! Obviously reading the story several times too!

Little Miss 5 has a splashing time!

Digesting headlines

How much attention do your children pay to the news?

Do you think it’s important?

Growing up, I was never really interested in what was going on in the world, but as a parent I think it’s important that some news stories are relevant for our young ones.

My son has been receiving The Week Junior, for about a year now, it really simplifies news for them and great if your child is into fascinating facts! It is easy to read with plenty of pictures and entertaining headlines too.

This was our favourite article this week so to celebrate this great discovery we made Oreo penguins!-so simple (although ever so unhealthy)

1) dunk your Oreo in melted chocolate

2) stick on a large white button for its tummy, some edible eyes & half a skittle for it’s beak.

3) place in the fridge to set

4) Eat & enjoy!!

Making news fun……….and digestible!

Anti-bullying

First day of term and the breakfast table conversations are about reflecting on last term, what we hope to achieve this term, and our behaviours which influence our social circles.

I gave the children a plain piece of paper and told them to screw it up, I then asked them to flatten it out as much as they could…..we spoke about how the paper creases would not go away, similar to if we hurt our peers, as much as we can say sorry, the memories and scars will always be there.

I then gave them a toothpaste tube each and told them to squeeze as much out as they could……then, I gave them a spoon and told them to put the toothpaste back in the tube…..obviously they couldn’t. We compared this to the things we say, if we say unkind words, we cannot un-say them or take them back.

I do this every term with my children to reiterate the impact of our actions and words on our social circles.

Please share to support anti-bullying!

The Little Red Hen

Shorter days, dark evenings, orange leaves, can only mean one thing-Autumn! 

With Autumn, comes Harvest! How many of your children are learning about Harvest at school? Generally Harvest is about thanking the lord for crops and so forth, however, I am not religious, but I do see it as a good opportunity to teach my children about counting their blessings and recognising all things good in our lives! 

Anyway…..

For Miss 4, we read The Little Red Hen (lots!), we have a couple of versions with different endings, our favourite being the one where the Little Red Hen shares her bread with the baker and the miller as they helped her, thus showing kind morals. 

This year I decided to really ‘topic’ it in our family home and yes, it started with a tub-time! A little bit of red food colouring in the water to emphasise the colour.

Foam letters are brilliant for story titles & repeatitive refrains, supporting early literacy skills, if you don’t have any, craft foam is amazing! A couple of bunches of corn to add effect, and to add a sensory approach. 

Laminated copies of relevant pages, enough to prompt the story sequence. A few Schleich figures of the animals from the story, so Miss 4 can retell the story. Laminated story characters (an alternative to Schleich figures) and of course, the book. 

Needless to say, little Miss 4 did not want to get out the bath!! 

We then took a family trip to Bircham Windmill in Norfolk.


 A lovely, family run windmill, with tea rooms, shop, farm animals, 


dairy, interactive museum, not to mention the scrumptious smell in the bakery!! 


But the main reason for us visiting, is the opportunity for children to bake their own loaf of bread, a great, realistic experience for a 4year old to understand that bread and cakes, and milk and cheese do not just come from Tesco’s! 

A fantastic, educational but fun day out and quality time together as a family!! 

Our bedtime read that night, you guessed it, was the Little Red Hen. 

Having a daughter, that is very much into her drama, the laminated characters I used for Miss 4’s bath previously, I then backed with a lollipop stick to turn them into puppets, low and behold, being one of our favourite stories, little Miss 4 was able to retell the story using her puppets. She made us tickets from scrap paper and we even had to ‘buy’ popcorn! 

Laminated puppet theatre-Such a simple, yet effective way, for children to develop their attention and recall skills! 

I then found a simple bread recipe, (with pictures so Miss 4 could follow the directions)

 and together we baked some bread rolls for her friends at school, as it just so happens to be the book they are reading at school for Harvest too!

I love little Miss 4’s enjoyment when we bake together, measuring the ingredients, mixing & kneading, so much learning, whilst having great fun, not to mention dancing to the radio! 

Huge, huge learning opportunities from just one story! 

Many of my posts mention learning and development aspects, I am by no means a ‘pushy’ parent, I strongly believe children learn from the interactions their environment presents to them, as a parent you have so much control over this and I merely aim to show you how easy it is to make it fun, so children don’t even realise they are learning! In the process you have fun too! 

Children are sponges so feed them as much as you can whilst they are still little. It’s not about them being the cleverest in their class, it’s about them recognising their abilities, consequently gaining confidence to explore, make mistakes and find their ‘niche’. 

Seaside tub-time

That-‘Christmas is definitely over’ feeling took us to the seaside today!!!

UK weather never ceases to amaze me, it has the unique ability of being on your side one minute but not the next. With storm Doris due to visit, we presumed our trip to the sea would be an hour max! But as it turned out Doris didn’t make an appearance and the weather was almost spring-like! 🙂

The sun shone in the sky beautifully, reflecting onto the deep blue ocean, giving it shimmer and twinkle.  There’s always something most magical about being at the seaside, whatever time of year you go!

Aside the traditional Fish and Chips, we (well, when I say we, I mean the children!!) also managed to consume ice creams, yes! Ice creams on the beach in February! (Hubby and I consumed hot drinks!!)

img_7631                             img_7659

img_7640

A few pennies spent in the arcades and cheap ‘tacky’ winnings always please the children!

 

 

 

Then we finish the day exploring rock pools and paddling in the sea (with wellies), we found a crab and some shrimps and collected many shells, unusual rocks and some seaweed.

So, tub-time tonight could only be Seaside themed!!


                      

Little Miss 3’s story was Warren and the Sandcastle.

The literacy was seaside related.

The bathwater was blue food paste and I added all our plastic sea creatures.

Then around the bath I placed all our collections from the day!

 

 

 

Whilst at the seaside, Mr. 8 showed an interest in floating and sinking regarding pirate ships being made out of wood and so on.  So his bath was a little science experiment; we made a raft out of wooden lolli-sticks, and collected many other items from around the house. Including a message in a bottle! 🙂

       

I gave him a laminated sheet of paper  and a sharpie, so he could predict, then write down his float or sink findings.

both children, needless to say had a splashing time!! Simple ways of having fun!! 🙂

 

Screen time-A barrier to communication??

A huge debate I find interesting is screen time, and how parents manage it, not just for their children, but for them too.

In my blog ‘School Ready‘, I mentioned about my research with some local primary schools and the majority of EYFS teachers had stated that many children are now starting school with limited understanding of social interactions, communication skills and struggle to follow basic 2 key word level instructions, and the general reason for this is thought to be that children AND PARENTS being exposed to too much ‘screen time’.

Technology is everywhere and I do not dispute the fact that children need to be healthily educated to use it in the appropriate circumstance, in fact it came in very handy when my children where going through the ‘why?’ stage, we just ‘Googled’ everything!! To some extent I was also educated in many subjects I had never thought to question before, but the inquisitive minds of a 2 or 3 year old is mightily fascinating.

At this stage we only owned a very slow laptop and my husband and I had smartphones, (but not for the children)

It wasn’t until Mr. 8 started school 4 years ago and was going around friends house to ‘play’ that my niggles and fears began, I’d ask him what he’d played at their house and his reply ‘play station’ *gasp* ‘You’ve been there 3 hours and only played on the Playstation??!!!’ or, depending on the friend it may have been ‘X-box’.  Either way it filled me with despair and dread, I didn’t even know what games they were playing, were they appropriate? what did a 4/5/6 year old need with a Playstation anyway??!!  What happened to imagination? Exploring? Den building? Board games?

Well, it was here that my husband and I decided, that despite Mr. 8 wanting one for Christmas, there’s certainly no reason for us to buy one if he’s accessing one regularly at his friends houses!! Secondly, how anyone affords them in the first place is beyond me!

So that Christmas we bought him a child’s tablet with one games app (I think it was Angry birds at the time), and inside the box were  ‘rules’ from Santa, such as; not to be played with before school, always ask mummy and daddy to play with it’ etc.   He loved it, and I can honestly say, he’s had a lot more use from it than he would of a Playstation/X-box. He was able to use Google, You Tube and Spotify too!  Parenting success! 🙂

As of September 2016, Mr 8’s homework was computer based, with a super slow laptop and a child’s tablet, I’m not sure there’d be much ‘home’work going on, so that Christmas we upgraded to a family computer for us all to share.

January 2017, saw a family meeting discussion on the new house rules including our ‘screen-time sticks’, pictured below.

Red are Miss 3’s and green are Mr 8’s, for each chore they complete they are allowed a screen time for the number of minutes on the stick.

Screen-time can be computer or TV it’s their choice.  Screen time is only allowed after spellings, reading and homework are completed. There is no screen-time before school.  Clear boundaries for both aged children to understand.

Weekends are more flexible as we may have film nights together etc.

This is currently working really well, although I’m finding Mr.8 is enthused to do everything, while Miss 3 has little interest in any sort of screen time but still wants to help make dinner :).

So if that’s the children, what about us parents?

Do you have concerted screen down time?

MASSIVE MASSIVE PET HATE ALERT!!!!!!

It really frustrates me when a child who has been at school all day comes running out, excited to see their parent who has a phone 3 inches from there face and their thumb going at a rapid rate of knots-for if they don’t send that most important text, or like their friends most important post on Facebook the world will end, and clearly parents are finding these things more important, than face to face interactions with their child!Grrrrrrrr!!

I know it’s hard! I have to make a concerted effort, to put (& leave!!)my phone in the kitchen while, I help the children with homework, read, spellings and have a little play together.

Screen-times at meal times??-how do you eat yours??? Ours is most definitely a screen-down-time rule and absolutely NO exceptions (my husband finds this hard).  We all eat together as often as we can (hubby works shifts and I work late some evenings).  We talk together about our day, what we liked, didn’t like and so on .  It sounds like a cliche, but it works for us and I can honestly say it is more than valuable.

So before you have more social interactions with your 200+ Facebook ‘(sort of) friends’, than you do your own child, think twice before reaching for that screen, and you need to be honest with yourself!

Listen to your child and more importantly value their conversation.

Children spell love T….I….M….E!!

P.S I’m writing this while my munchkins are in the land of nod xx

School Ready

So, I just happened see some new uniform being hung in the store. 

Partly wanted to avoid and yet the organised parent in me only went and made a purchase. 

Miss 3, (4in a couple of weeks!!!) my youngest, doesn’t start school until September, but time flies and it gets expensive to buy all at once, so today, I bit the bullet and made the first (of many) school uniform purchase.

I took it to the counter, a tear trickled down my cheek as memories of the last 4years raced in my head. It honestly, truly feels like yesterday, when I held her for the first time. 

Where does the time go?

 I don’t really understand the emotions, I’m not sad that she’s starting school, I’m excited for her, proud of her and can confidently say she is more than ready!

Working in a pre-school myself, I send children to school every year, the phrase used by professionals is ‘school readiness’, this is an interesting topic….

I see it daily, how many parents feel that their child is ‘school ready’ because they know the alphabet and can count to 20. 

However, school readiness is much more than this, through a bit of personal research I did, many schools stated:

Children are lacking independence, basic communication skills, and emotional understanding. 

Lacking independence-this was things such as toileting, feeding & clothing themselves. Basic self care skills.

Communication skills-struggling to take turns in conversations, struggling to understand at more than 2word level, & unable to take direction. 

Emotional Understanding-sharing, recognising that their actions impact others, expressing their needs. 

Many teachers believe that screen time is a huge barrier for communication, not just the children using it but parents ‘ignoring’ children because of the infamous screen. 

How do you manage screen time in your house? 

Do you have screen-free times? 

Is your child starting school in September? 

Is your child school ready? 

Tub time-Phoenix, America 

When daddy goes away on business, mummy uses this as a fun learning opportunity for the mini peeps! 

We followed daddy’s flight on Flight Radar, we googled Phoenix, currency, weather & time differences, & made paper clocks to see the different times in Phoenix, UK & Australia (we have family here too) .

Then, there was obviously an American themed tub time! Flags & bath paints (shaving foam & food paste), passports & boarding passes 😁! Way too much fun!