So….what’s the story?

World Book day!🌍📚

I know, as a parent we can be extremely busy, & as much as I’m all up for making costumes, I respect this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

However, it’s world BOOK day, so before you go out and buy a random costume off the supermarket shelf, think about the books you actually read with your children, the ones your children know well!

Some children don’t even enjoy dressing up-keep it simple, there’s no competition for parent of the year award, best homemade costume etc, it’s about your child & installing a love for books. 

Bought costumes can get expensive, especially with multiple children, look around at household items you could use, and papier-mâché is the cheapest most valuable resource you could ever use! 


This was my son a couple of years ago as R2 D2-an adults white t-shirt, a few felt tips & a plastic mixing bowl! Cost=nil! 

Another year he was The snail & The Whale-must dig out those photos, absolutely phenomenal use of paper mâché!

This year Mr 8 (a huge book worm!) is Frodo Baggins from Lord of The Rings, and yes, he has actually read the books! (I hang my head in shame as I have not!)


A cheap eBay costume, with made accessories-paper-mâché feet with artificial hair. Homemade sword, again, paper-mâché & tin foil. 

Miss 4 wants to be Matilda, no it’s not a book she’s read herself, but it’s a book we read together of which she has a profound understanding and passion for. 


This costume was by far the most simple, I didn’t choose for her to be Matilda for the simplicity of the costume, in fact, that’s my point, I didn’t choose at all-it came from her. I simply assisted in putting the costume together.

So ask your children, what they would like to be for World Book day? What is their favourite book? Who’s their favourite character? 

Early literacy is so important, how often do you read with your child? Enough? How often is enough? 

I never read growing up, didn’t enjoy it at all, still don’t particularly, however as a mum and a nursery manager I recognise & understand the importance of reading with children. I’ve therefore always made a concerted effort to read to my children at least once a day, and as my first born got into Roald Dahl, so did I! 

Both my children could read and write pre-school, both my husband and I are busy people, work full-time, & not really readers, so why? I genuinely believe it is because I’ve read to them daily from the day they were born! 

So, if there’s one thing to do with your child on a busy working day-Read together.

World Book Day is almost like a religious festival in our house, don’t leave it until Wednesday night, get organised, make use of February half term-after all paper-mâché takes time to dry! It should be a fun occasion to share with your children not stressful! 

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Valentines fun

I used to think it’s a bit strange celebrating ‘valentines’ day with children, but now I’ve grown to think of it more as a day for sharing love and kindness ❤️! Educating my children in recognizing their words & actions have an impact on the people around them.

I begin on the 1st of Feb until the 14th I put a heart post-its on my children’s bedroom door, with reasons why I love them!

Breakfast on the 14th normally consists heart shaped pancakes & lots of red fruit!

Followed by a couple of little activities to get my children thinking about their actions…….

 

…….and words…..

Let the children squeeze a tube of toothpaste or tomato purée onto a plate……

……then ask them to put it back in the tube….. after a while talk to them about unkind words and explain that like the toothpaste, once they have been said they cannot take them back.

 

Then, to end the day, needless to say a heart style tub-time…..

Plenty of different sized foam hearts, and plenty of red food colouring!! To get the bubbles looking pink, you simply dilute the red/pink food colouring in a water spray bottle and spray them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bath Paints

Shaving foam and red, pink and purple food colouring.

-go easy on the food colouring, depending on the product they may stain your child.

 

 

This was quite a mathematical bath, using a lot of shape, size, numbers, counting, colour and positional language during Miss 3’s splashing!

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!!)

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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! 

Tub time-Weather

One of my signature parenting activities is themed tub-times.  Such valuable times you can spend with your child, engaging and have fun!  And generally the ingredients are similar!

The themes I choose are generally around my children’s interests, stories or related to topics they are doing at school/nursery.

Today’s was weather related, so as Miss 3 has taken a great interest in literacy recently I displayed weather related words using foam letters, the clouds, rainbow, raindrops etc, I simply cut out from craft foam, which is great for sticking to the sides of the bath and wall tiles!  I used shaving foam (sensitive! LOTS!!) to represent snow.  I used blue food paste for colouring the bath water-go easy though!

Then we had a little science experiment in the glass bowl, I filled it with water, and Miss 3 squirted shaving foam on top (Fantastic activity for developing those fine motor skills for early writing!!), she did need a little help to do this, the shaving foam here, represents clouds.  Miss 3 then used a medicine syringe (again, really working on those fine motor skills, but not even realizing it-parenting at it’s best!!) , to suck up some of her blue bath water and squirt it gently on top the clouds, as yo can see from the pictures, eventually the ‘clouds’ become heavy and it starts to ‘rain’!

Bedtime stories tonight were weather related ‘What Makes a Rainbow’, ‘The Other Ark’ and ‘Meet the Snowy Animals’.Great fun!

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

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An Ode to a Two Year Old

I must say, two year olds have to be my favourite age group to work with, such an exploratory  impulse, wanting to learn, but little understanding of communication and limited social skills, a time when a mummy (and daddy) is their best friend! And a time where their innocence shows no discrimination’s.

I thought I’d share with you a poem I wrote several years ago, relating to the frustrations of a mother in a supermarket referring to their child as going through the ‘terrible’ twos!!

 

I see it.

I want it.

It’s mine RIGHT NOW!

I take it.

They cry, but it’s okay; I’ve got it now.

I speak with my actions

           as words I have few,

I do what I do 

     because, me,

I’m only 2!

In fact,

It’s all about me,

In my  little zone,

You?

Them?

Her?

Him?

How can I understand their emotions

While I’m still learning my own??!!

I stamp my feet.

I shout and scream.

It’s my prerogative

       to be emotionally extreme!

After all;

Words I have few,

I do what I do

      Because me,

I’m only 2!

 

Sorry if I embarrass you

In the supermarket shop-

I don’t get why I can’t have what I see

So I tell you in a ‘strop’.

I don’t mean to upset you

Or turn your face tomato red,

I lay on the floor,

Shout and struggle-

An emotional puzzle in my head,

I can’t describe it as words I have few,

I do what I do

          Because me,

I’m only 2!

 

Physically,

Cognitively,

Emotionally,

I’m changing every day,

I’m becoming independent

And NOTHING can stand in my way!!

A determined explorer-

     that’s me at my best!

An inquisitive learner

On a twonager quest.

I see it, so I touch it,

I smell it then taste it.

“What are you doing now?!”

You then say to me.

I’m exploring with my senses

        Because me,

I’m only 2, not yet 3!

 

So before you throw negative comments

          my way:

“Yet another tantrum”

“It’s the terrible twos”

Please think before you say.

And just remember this:

There’s nothing terrible in me being 2,

I do what I do

   Because me,

I’m ONLY (not terrible) 2!!!!

 

By Katie Keeley