Raising Bilingual Children

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It’s no secret to those of you that know us that, ever since Olivia was born, we have been trying to raise her bilingually.
 
Throughout my pregnancy I was adamant on this (even before I was pregnant I wanted my children to learn other languages and be brought up bilingually if possible).

It’s been harder than anticipated – the truth is, when the foreign language isn’t your first language, it’s difficult to remind yourself to speak it at home, especially when your partner doesn’t also speak the same language!

Jamie has been an avid learner for a while now, however he considers me fluent (I don’t consider myself fluent, but, yes, I can speak French fairly well) and he is still learning. That hasn’t stopped us from attempting it though! Olivia actually has a very good French vocabulary, considering she’s 2!

So, for any parents who are wondering how they can also cultivate a language skill in their little one, these are the resources and techniques we have found most helpful:

 

1. Muzzy

Muzzy are a BBC resource on DVD that are specifically aimed at children. For the first 18 months of Olivia’s life, she wouldn’t watch the television (partly because she didn’t want to and partly because I didn’t want her to), but, from her being a few months old and able to sit in a bouncy chair or baby walker, she would watch Muzzy. If I needed a little break, to have a wee, a shower, a cup of tea, or food, I’d plonk her in front of Muzzy and felt ZERO guilt for sticking her in front of the TV, because she was learning.

2. Youtube

This has been a more recent discovery, since dreaded Peppa Pig made an entrance into our lives. I mitigate whatever hatred I feel towards that damned pig by letting Olivia watch it in French, and, FYI, Youtube hosts an hour long video with back to back episodes in French.

3. Songs

I have always sung to Olivia at nighttime, and I used to sing French songs to her more often. I simply googled the lyrics to our favourite Disney songs and sang them in French. I also learned the French lullaby ‘Alouette’ and that one is a particular favourite in our house!

She has also learned body parts by singing ‘tête, époules, genoux, pieds’ (head, shoulders knees and toes).

 

4. Animals/Teddies

On our morning walks to the childminder, Olivia would of course see lots of things outside that she had never seen before. Each time she discovered a new thing, I would teach her the word in French (only French – she would have plenty of time to learn the English word later!)

This evolved into using her teddies, as she has many animal teddies, and teaching her the words for the animal using each of these.

5. Flashcards

Olivia has a ‘My First French Words’ set of flashcards that we have used since she was 14 months old. These have probably been the most valuable resource! She is able to tell me most of the French words for the pictures on the Flashcards on request.

6. Bath books

She has had bath books since she was a tiny baby, and I would use these to tell her the names of the animals in French during bath time from her being that young age!

I bet you’re wondering how much she’s actually picked up…

Well, on 1 January 2018 when she was 18 months old, she could already say:

  • Kaka (poop)
  • Pipi (wee)
  • Bras (arm)
  • Bouche (mouth)
  • T’aime (love you)
  • Papa
  • Couche (nappy)
A month later, she could also say:
  • Arbre (tree)
  • Cochon (pig)
  • Chat (cat)
  • Pied (foot)
  • Bon nuit (goodnight)
  • Dents (teeth)
  • Papillon (butterfly)
Now,  she can say full sentences. Her entire list of French vocabulary is in italics below:
kaka, pipi, bras, mains, dents, pied, jambe, tête, bouche, époule, genoux, oreille, nez, je t’aime, bon nuit, bon matin, au revoir, bonjour, couche, arbre, fleur, orange, jus, cochon, mouton, vache, canard, grenouille, cheval, chat, chien, oiseau, souris, flocon de neige, pomme, banane, saucisse, pain, croissant, poissons, pâtes, glâces, manger, grande, blanc, rouge, vert, papillon, s’il vous plait, merci beaucoup, trés bien, princesse, belle, petits amis, joyeux noël, à bientôt, ça va, je m’appelle Olivia, oui, non, 

un, deux, trois, quatre

 
Now she is 3 months away from turning three, and she recognises French words. She tells me that Cinderella is speaking French if I put the film on in French for her, and she tells me off for speaking French too!
It’s not quite what I wanted, but I’m proud of how much she’s come on and how clever she is! She will pick languages up easily at school, and I’ll continue doing what I can to teach her at home.
Have you ever taught your children another language? What did you find helpful?

Schooling in the UK and Denmark…

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This is a topic that has always fascinated me…
The UK, for all of its strict, formalised education system, isn’t doing as well as it should be. In fact, the UK’s PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) results demonstrate that we have fallen behind to 26 other countries in Maths, and to 21 other countries in Reading. The UK fell out of the top 20 for Reading back in 2006.
By contrast, Scandinavian countries such as Finland, Norway and Denmark consistently achieve high results. As of 2013, Finland was the only non-Asian country among the top-5s in any of the categories!
PISA test results from 2016
So what is it that makes them so different?

“Teachers in Finland are given a great deal of responsibility and are allowed unfettered flexibility in what and how they teach. Performance isn’t observed and graded.”– The Guardian

The same can be said for the school system in Denmark, with no compulsory testing until the child reaches the age of 15.
In Denmark, children do not go to school until 6 years old, and complete their compulsory education at 15 years old. Compared to the UK, that is 5 years fewer in compulsory formal education. Children begin school aged 4, and since the recent (or now, not-so-recent) reforms to our education system, they cannot leave formal education, employment or vocational training until they reach the age of 18.
This has its own criticisms, most valid being that this practice only serves to reduce the government’s unemployment figures post-16, however, is our approach to education fundamentally wrong?
The highest achieving countries in the PISA league tables are, unsurprisingly, China, South Korea, Singapore and Japan, however, South Korea has also been found to have the unhappiest students, whereas Indonesia (though at the lower end of the table and a relative 6 years behind those at the top) boasted the happiest students in 2013.
Is the secret to a good education a happier education?
Clare’s children will be attending school in Denmark, however she and her other family members attended school in the UK. Clare knows the differences in education and the whole system first-hand, with Denmark being a far more equity-based education system than the UK and similar to Finland’s education system in many ways.
Denmark in 2016 ranked more highly than the UK at Maths, making it into the top 12 of participating countries, so perhaps the UK could learn a thing or two from the Danish education system?
Thank you Clare for sharing this informative post with us!
 
Schooling in the UK and Denmark
1.     Tell us a bit about yourself and your family
I’m 31 years old from Runcorn, England and my husband is 26. He is Danish, and we met online at the end of 2012. I am a student, doing a Bachelor of Education and he is a mechanic. We have 1 boy and 1 girl. Jakob is 4 years old and Skye is 2 years old. We live in the south of the mainland part of Denmark, close to the German border.
      2.     How did you come to live in Denmark and how old were your children when you moved there?
I moved to Denmark in August 2013 and we now have 2 children. I found out that I was pregnant while getting ready to move here. I was working my last shift at Warrington Hospital when I got the positive test. When I moved here, I was 6 weeks’ pregnant.
      3.     How different is the school system in Denmark to the UK? Have you made any school applications yet?

There are a lot of differences between the school system in the UK and Denmark…
School in Denmark starts in the August after a child turns 6 years old when they start in grade 0 (reception class) and they stay in school until 9th grade (age 15). After that they can choose to stay on for 10th grade or go to ‘gymnasium’, which is a similar idea to sixth form in the UK.School days are shorter for younger children, starting at 25 hours a week for the youngest and going up to 35 hours a week for the older students.

School is separated into subject classes from the first year at school, so each class will have a different teacher for each subject.The basic subjects in school are Danish, Maths, English (as a foreign language), Nature and Technology, Sport and Social Studies for 0 – 6th  grade. German is taught from 3rdgrade, then instead of Nature and Technology, from 7th grade, they include Science, Geography, History and some optional subjects that vary depending on the school. These are things like Art, Music, Drama, Home Economics, Woodwork, other languages etc.

Applying to school is very different, the child is registered with a social security number as soon as they are born, instead of waiting until they are 16 to receive their National Insurance number in the UK. They are automatically given a place at the closest school to their address and there is no need to apply. You can get this changed to a different school, all you have to do is speak to them at the education department in the local council building.
4.     Are your children aware of when they are starting school?
My son knows that he will start school after he turns 6 and knows which school he will be going to. My daughter doesn’t understand yet, but she will be told about it when she is older.
5.     What has your experience of the school system in the UK been like compared to the system your children will experience in Denmark?
I prefer the schooling system in Denmark. There is a lot less stress on the children. The motto of the Danish school system is “learn through play” and they do not have any important tests or exams to worry about until their final year at school when they are 15 years old.
The Danish schools have a lot of focus on group work and team building and I have seen how well classes can work together on anything from presentations to experiments to workbooks. Also, it is illegal to separate children based on their abilities, so there are no classes full of only the smartest students. Instead, teachers are trained to incorporate mixed learning levels into the work and classes are quite varied in skill levels.
Photo by Ian on Unsplash
Children call their teachers by their first names which helps them to feel more secure and comfortable when talking to them. There are no school uniforms here but the “bullying culture” isn’t really present here so, no, children don’t get bullied for what clothes they are wearing.All added together, it makes a school, a more relaxing and comforting place to be and children learn better because of this. This leads to a very high level of children going on to higher education and there is a very low percentage of people that don’t go onto the next level after they leave school.

6.     Do you think you will keep your children in Denmark until secondary school age (11+)?
We have no plan to leave Denmark. I am hoping to get dual nationality soon and we would like the children to complete school in Denmark.

Schools here do not have the secondary school age, they simply have “folkeskole” which goes right through from grades 0-9.
7.     What kind of school/pre-school provision is there for under-6s in Denmark? Is it normal to have children at a nursery-like setting for childcare?
Children can attend a nursery setting from 6 months old. They are separated into two parts, 0-3 years (nursery) and 3-6 years (kindergarten). Smaller daycare settings are also very popular here, where someone is licenced and paid by the council to run a small daycare with 3-4 children in their own home. This is usually only 0-3 years old though. These small daycares also have the option to take children before 6 months old if needed, but it is unusual for children to start before they are about 9-10 months old anyway.
All childcare is subsidised by the council and the price you pay is based on how much you earn. The maximum amount you would pay, if you earned over the highest wage, is 2700 Danish krowns, or about £315 per month. This would give access to childcare up to 48 hours per week.
8.     Do you find that parents’ attitudes are different in Denmark from those in the UK?
I think it varies depending on the parent. But in general, I think that the school system allows for a difference in attitude.
In Denmark, homework is unusual, so parents feel less stressed and less strict when it comes to school work.
It is difficult to judge parents’ attitudes when the system is so different. I think for a parent from the UK or America, the Danish school system would require quite a big adjustment in attitude, a few examples being:

  • Young children sleeping outside at naptime. They each have a large pram with a duvet and rain cover and children sleep a lot better outside. Weather doesn’t change anything, and children sleep outside in snow and ice. Only being brought inside during extreme weather, thunderstorms etc.
  • Campfires. It is quite normal for a kindergarten to have a firepit where they will (with adult supervision) make a campfire and sit around and sing or cook.
  • Day trips. They regularly take trips out to the lake, the forest, the playground etc. These are normal trips that don’t require signed consent from the parents for each trip. Consent is given for trips when they start at a nursery, but it is only needed once.
9.     What are you most looking forward to with your children’s schooling in Denmark?
I am looking forward to seeing them start their language classes most. They are both already fluent in both English and Danish so they will not have any problems with their English lessons, but they will start to learn German as well and it is so good to see how important language learning is.
From my own experience, learning French in school in the UK, there is no real importance to the learning, the main goal of language learning (and most other school subjects as well) is to learn what is needed to pass an exam. However, here in Denmark, there is a large focus on learning and connecting the learning to real life.Thank you so much for sharing this with us, Clare! This is so interesting. Good luck to you and your family in Denmark over the years to come!Have you ever been educated abroad? What was your experience like?

12 things I’ve learned in 12 months of being a mum

Somehow, my teeny tiny person is a year old this month. It seems like yesterday that I was panicking about breaking her every time I touched her, and it’s a little crazy to me that she’s gone from this tiny human on the left, to the cheeky monkey on the right that would rather eat cheerios than do anything else.

So, in the spirit of turning one year old, here are 12 things I’ve learned in 12 months of being a mum.

1. It’s ok (and normal) to feel like you don’t know what you’re doing 100% of the time

Let’s be honest, when you deliver a baby, they’re not born with a handbook too (though that would be super helpful). While everyone would like to think they do, nobody has the perfect formula for the ideal way to raise a child – you can only follow your instincts, do your best and listen to guidance from sources you trust. Don’t let people make you feel like less of a person if you’re unsure on the best way to do something, it’s perfectly natural.

2. While babies are fragile, they’re more sturdy than you give them credit for

When my daughter was born, I was so worried I was going to hurt her because she looked so fragile. In the months to come, however, I’d learn she was anything but. At 8 weeks old she was diagnosed with Pyloric Stenosis (you can read about that here) and had emergency surgery to correct the issue. It was a scary time for us, but it showed us that she was stubborn, and a born fighter. Since then she’s been learning to crawl, and she’s now walking. I’ve seen her fall (and bounce) so many times and been worried she’s hurt herself, but she just carries on like nothing has happened.

3. It’s ok to ask for help

Everyone needs a break from time to time. Being with your little person 24/7 is physically and emotionally draining, and it’s really hard to keep up with everything and keep up with them at the same time! If you read my previous post on being a disabled parent, you’ll know I have a lot to contend with at the moment, so this is probably the thing I’ve learnt most in the last year. Before I had my daughter, I was so stubborn and tried to do everything myself. I’m trying to be better at knowing when I’ve hit my limit and realising I need to ask for help before I burn out!

4. Cloth nappies are a game changer

This one was a major learning curve. Before trying out cloth nappies with my monster, I’d never come across them before! Thankfully, with some encouragement from Maria we got to grips with them fairly quickly. You can read Maria’s post about cloth nappies here.
It’s so handy knowing I’ll never have to run out for nappies in the middle of the night, it keeps the £££ down and they’re good for my little one’s sensitive skin. The prints are adorable, and that extra chunky butt is oh so cute. Plus, they’re good for the planet, so they’re a win win really!

5. Make time for yourself and your partner

This one is for all of you who are in a relationship. Make time to maintain that foundation, because you model your relationship every day to your kids. Even if it’s just half an hour at the end of the day, make sure you sit down and communicate properly with your partner. And for those of you who aren’t in a relationship – make time for yourself. You can’t pour from an empty cup.

6. Be your child’s advocate

This (along with my next point) has taken me a while to be comfortable with, but honestly it shouldn’t have. At such a young age, my daughter isn’t able to verbally communicate that she doesn’t want to do something, but as her mum I can tell when she doesn’t want to do something, and I need to be there to back her up. This includes not making her hug or kiss people when she doesn’t want to. You can read more on this on Harriet’s post on sex positive parenting.

7. Be clear on how you want to raise your child, and don’t compromise for others

If you want to discipline your children a certain way, make sure you’re clear about it with everybody who will be taking care of your child, because there is nothing more frustrating than teaching your child for six weeks that they cannot play with your glasses, only to look over and see someone handing theirs over as a chew toy.

8. Your house will never be tidy 100% of the time and that is ok

Everyone knows that if a baby is having fun, there is a high likelihood that they are making a massive mess! I love having a tidy home, but I love seeing my smiler having fun more, and I’d rather take the time to enjoy her while she is small and have a tidy house when she’s older (read:she can clean up as payback) and make some brilliant memories now. Plus, as soon as she’s gone to bed I hide her toys away inside the TV unit and suddenly my living room is tidy again. Who knew.

9. Take photos, but be present

I love taking photographs as much as the next person, and now that she’s learning to walk I’d love to get it on video, but I’d rather watch it happen in front of me rather than through a screen.  We do tend to limit screen time in our house; little one doesn’t watch television so is fascinated by the television in other people’s houses. In 2017, researchers at the Illinois State University and the University of Michigan Medical School published a paper funded by The Pennsylvania State University, the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, in which the conclusion was that parent’s excessive use of mobile phones can drive behavioural problems in children under 5. You can read the NHS’s assessment of the paper here. While the study has some issues, I did feel convicted when I read it and resolved to try and be more present in the day time when my mini me was up and about.

10.Be prepared or prepare to fail

I’m an organised person anyway, but since having a baby I find I have to be an organised person on steroids. If we don’t have a meal plan for the week, we’re in trouble and I fall behind. We have a column in our calendar for jobs, and I write the jobs I have to get done each day, even the basics like hoovering and putting a wash load on (which is a must if you’re keeping on top of washing cloth nappies). We have spare clothes, thermometers, every cream you can think of, bibs, bottles, and practically the kitchen sink in our nappy bag, but it’s better it’s spare than desperately needed.It may sound like overkill, and I feel like I make lists for my lists sometimes, but it keeps us afloat so something must be working!

11. Always carry snacks

There is nothing worse than being hangry. Hanger. Is. A. Real. Thing. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, The Oxford Dictionary defines being hangry as

“ADJECTIVE – informal. Bad-tempered or irritable as a result of hunger.”   

There is no shame in keeping a snack in the nappy bag for adults and babies alike. It sounds like such an obvious thing, but you’d be surprised how many people have been shocked that I keep food in there for me too. Try it. You’ll thank me.

12. Allow yourself WAY more time than you’d think to leave the house

This. Took. Some. Time.
Ask anyone who knows us, and they’ll confirm, we were at least an hour late for everything until baby was at least a month old. It sounds stupid because at that age, they don’t move around, but my goodness was it a challenge. I’d try and leave the house 47 times and realise I’d left something vital inside every single time. Somehow, even though it’s much tougher to get little one ready and dressed now (think crocodile wrestling) we’re rarely late. It’s taken us some time, but we’ve finally got there.
I honestly can’t believe that time has flown so quickly and my little miracle is going to be one in just a few days time. The last year has been tough but so rewarding, and she makes my day every day.
What did you learn in the first year of being a mum?

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ENDED: Perfect Puppets Giveaway – just in time for Christmas!

Here is your chance to win one of our favourite products from the fabulous Fiesta Crafts!
“Children who love story time will adore these hand and finger puppets which have been beautifully designed to spur on even the wildest of imaginations. Reflective of the key characters in two of our most treasured children’s stories, one large hand puppet plays a key character supported by a series of embroidered fabric finger puppets to make the retelling of these classic fun and fully interactive! Not only is it a great toy for individual play, it is also designed to encourage role playing with others – improving confidence and social / communication skills. The finger puppets can be stored in pockets on the hand puppet after play making it easy to keep the whole set together in one place.
Beautifully made and thoughtfully created, the hand puppet and finger puppet sets which will stimulate and entertain, encouraging children to retell classic stories in their own, unique way. Suitable from 3 years plus. RRP £25.”

 

Closes at Midnight on 30th November 2018

Our Favourite Fiesta Crafts toys!

Fiesta Crafts create traditional toys with fun contemporary twists! They design and manufacturer toys that help children to develop their creative, imaginative, communication and language skills. Here are some of Mummykind’s tried and tested favourites!

 

Push N Roll Toys…

 


For walking, for crawling – a perfect developmental toy. The dinosaur push n roll along is beautifully colourful, sturdy and fantastically crafted. The Push N Roll Along toys are designed to be the perfect play toy for small children- supporting and encouraging them as they develop from sitting to crawling to walking. It comes with a detachable wooden rod that inserts easily into the back of the toy. The Push N Roll toy can be rolled (sitting or crawling) or pushed (walking) via the wooden rod with an easy-to-grip  handle. This 2-in-1 toy with its moving parts will keep little ones greatly entertained. The bright colours and attention to detail are sure to make this toy a much-loved addition to any toy collection while helping younger children to improve fine and gross motor skills as well as becoming familiar with new sounds, shapes and animals. Also available as a giraffe, pink elephant, police car and fire engine. Suggested for 18 months plus. 


Wobbly Garden Toys

Wobbly Garden from Fiesta Crafts is a bright and enchanting set of 18 hand-painted colourful garden creature pieces and wooden garden wobbly board. Children carefully place pieces onto the board without tipping over. But watch out! Don’t be the one who makes the board tip and make all the pieces fall. Wobbly Garden can be used as a fun children’s game for 1-4 players or individually for a fun way to enhance fine motor skills. Box contains 18 colourful chunky wooden pieces and a big garden balancing board piece. The aim of the game is to balance pieces on board before they all fall off!The wooden pieces include butterflies, ladybirds, flowers and hilarious goggle-eyed frogs. The game has been designed to help improve children’s fine motor skills and increase general physical awareness of balance. Suitable from 2 Years.          

 

Giraffe Play Blankie                    


The Giraffe Play Blankie is an adorable, exciting and interactive combination of a teething toy, a comfort blanket and activity toy all in one – perfect for keeping little ones entertained.These gorgeous Play Blankies have soft, friendly faces and bodies, and four entertaining and engaging activity paws. They are visually appealing with their brightly decorated fabrics and  entertaining with different textures to feel and squeeze. Each paw has something for the baby to interact with – one of the paws has a teether/chew piece, perfect for teething babies and sore gums. Another of the paws has a jingly rattle, a third with colourful fabric tags, and the fourth has a push to squeak stripy star. The Giraffe Play Blankie appeals to multiple senses, it is the perfect cuddling comforter, and even has two cords so that it can be tied on to a cot or buggy and provide comfort and entertainment wherever you go! Also available as an elephant. Suitable from birth onwards.

Musical Boxes

 

 
This beautifully crafted musical box is the perfect addition to any nursery. Nothing soothes our babies more than music. This hand made rotating music box plays Brahms lullaby, lasting approximately four minutes each cycle. The bright coloured wooden animals make it a cute but stylish accessory for a child’s room too. Recommended for handling from ages 3 and up.                   
 

Cush N Case                                                  

 


These amazing Cush N Case toys is soft, loveable and extremely practical! It’s a cosy kitty cushion that doubles up as a travel case. Perfect for using as a height boost at the cinema or at the dinner table, sleeping on or taking on adventures inside and outside the home. Fabulous for travel, with zipped storage for those little bits and bobs like lolly sticks and pencils that our cheeky children simply ‘must’ take with them. Our babies can also cuddle up to the very comfy Cush N Case and sleep on it during those long car and plane journeys. Featuring adorable little ears and beautifully sewn whiskers, noses and eyes. They come complete with a matching character soft toy so that children have a new friend to match their cushion and play with on their travels. The Cush N Case is genius, handy, practical and also transforms into a fun toy that can be accessed on the go, wherever your little ones are! Also available as a tiger. Suitable from 12 months plus.            

 

Hand & Finger Puppet Sets                

 
 


This is our favourite! The fabulous hand and finger puppet sets come with a soft and cuddly main character hand puppet and multiple other story characters as finger puppets! All of the little finger puppets attach to the hand puppet for tidy storage. Ideal for re-enacting their favourite stories and creating their own! I honestly feel that these are the perfect toys for encouraging imaginative play and enhancing social skills! Playing with these fun puppets is a fabulous way to entertain children and their families as well as furthering the development of children’s creativity and imagination. 
 
Also available as Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate FactoryJames and the Giant Peach, The BFG®, Puss in Boots, The Jungle Book, The Little Mermaid, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, The Big Bad Wolf, Red Riding Hood, Goldilocks, Jack and the Beanstalk, Nursery Rhymes, The Gingerbread Man, Cinderella and The Frog Prince. Suitable from 3 years plus.

If you loved these as much as we do stay tuned for a Fiesta Crafts give away, with the chance for two of you to win one of these fantastic items – Just in time for Christmas!

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Approaching Three: Toddler to Preschooler

My baby. My little baby. HE’S ABOUT TO TURN THREE. I’m not sure how but it’s really happening and here are some of my thoughts:

The birthday is approaching fast and this year it’s different, he is aware and he is quite excited. He has requested a “beautiful butterfly” cake because he is super into the ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ or as he says; “hungwy cat-pee-yaahh” because he’s 97% adorable. He has noticed a present arrive for him and he wants to open it but surprisingly he has accepted that he’s got to wait for his birthday.

But turning three isn’t just about the birthday. Developmentally,  a three year old is obviously going to be different from a two year old. For me, the most noticeable change, day to day, is the sass. I’m not talking about cute sass, I’m talking about well thought out arguments against me and my husband. As frustrating as that can get I am in awe of his thought processes now.  He will lie to me and maintain a lie for no reason other than… well he just can, so he does.

Even though he is figuratively and literally pushing his boundaries – I told him not to cross a line earlier this month, so naturally he spent 20 minutes walking up and down it and leaning over it – it’s not all bad. His comprehension of instructions, conversations and stories has improved at an incredible rate in the last month and I find myself completely stunned by this small human that I made.

We aren’t there yet, but the ball has definitely started rolling for the changes that are happening, I am apprehensive about some of the challenges but I don’t feel concerned about his development as I have done in the past and I am really looking forward to getting to know him, as his own person, even better. I want to hear his thoughts and fears and share in his joy and laughter. Time certainly flies, but I have a feeling this fourth year is going to be incredible.

My D.I.Y. fun toddler games part 1

As you will see from my other blogs, I’m a big fan of ‘make do and mend’ and ‘do-it-yourself’ crafts, to save some pennies. I did buy my daughter some flashcards from an online shop, with a number of different pictures and words on, (which she really likes), but I thought I could make my own card games and I could add new words she is learning, as she learns them.
This card game is an animal game. My daughter knows some of them but I wanted to help her differentiate between them. Her favourite thing to do now that she’s hit 17 months is to point and say “what’s that?” So I thought this would be fun way of learning, and it’s been snowing, so I have no intention of wandering around a cold farm on a day like this!
If you like this idea and wanted to know how easy it was for me to do, I used:
For my version of the game I have 4 pictures of different cows, 4 of pigs, 4 of rabbits, 4 of cats, 4 of dogs and 4 of chickens. If/once she learns these words, I can add some other animals to the game.
How to play:
This game is simple and involves putting the cards down face up, mixed up. I ask my daughter if she can find the “pigs” or the “cows” etc and the game is to pick them out from all the different animals. Showing her that the same animal can look different, but be the same, depending on its colours or breeds. The game is also to help with word association and to encourage her to pay attention. You could also play this game with the cards turned over, so that your toddler has to find the animals. Another way of playing this game would be to have buckets with another picture of the animal on/ or the word, (if they are older), and asking for your child to sort them into the right buckets.
Hope you enjoy playing this card game with your little ones!
Have fun! 😊
I’ll be coming up with some other toddler games soon.

5 Books to Read With Your Kids Before They Start School

My son is now a bit older and he has started  taking some level of interest in books, particularly those with a solid rhyme scheme and a lot of repetition. I’m no expert but I think the anticipation of me repeating a line or phrase that he knows is really exciting and he often squeals with delight when he knows what the next line is.

I’ll be the first to hold my hands up and say I haven’t read to my son as often as I should have. He’s all about playing and having fun and rarely wants to listen to stories. When I was pregnant I said I would read to him every day from the day he was born but I was hideously unprepared for how much other important stuff would need doing.

My son is now a bit older and he has started  taking some level of interest in books, particularly those with a solid rhyme scheme and a lot of repetition. I’m no expert but I think the anticipation of me repeating a line or phrase that he knows is really exciting and he often squeals with delight when he knows what the next line is.

Of course, chosing just five was no easy task because there are so many truly brilliant books for kids out there and the list does keep growing. I have included books that we keep coming back to, books that he brings to us to be read and a firm favourite from my own childhood.

1. How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? By Jane Yolen and Mark Teague

This is part of a series of books and we love them all but this was the first one we got and we found it dishes out just the right amount of excitement to keep our little guy interested and giggling before it winds right down to a beautiful “…goodnight, goodnight little dinosaur” at the end. As he gets older I hope he also starts to take lessons from these books, which are not so subtly filled with behavioural advice for ‘little dinosaurs’.

Weston Woods Studios Incorporated, 2004

2. Someone Bigger By Jonathan Emmett and Adrian Reynolds

A slightly more recent discovery on our part but it has quickly become one of our son’s favourite books, he ‘reads’ it himself a lot and brings it to us regularly. I suspect it’s because there is a fire engine in there about halfway through but the book has a gentle rhythm that keeps him captivated and the repeated line “This kite needs someone bigger” never fails to get a laugh.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2003
3. The Goat that Gloats by Joelle Dreidemy and Leyland Perree
We got this book when I was pregnant in a second hand book shop and we have loved it ever since. The whole book follows a very clear and bold rhyme scheme and although he’s not old enough to appreciate the moral of the story yet we hope our son is absorbing it all. It’s a very fun read filled with light humour – this one is for the parents as much as the kids.
Alligator Books Limited, 2012
4. One, Two, Flea! By Allan Ahlberg and Colin McNaughton
My first experience with this book was several years ago when my oldest nephew was given it at the end of his first school year by his teacher. He read it to us and we read it to him and we all howled with laughter. When he was seven I found him reading it to his younger brother, both were in hysterics. Fast forward again and my little boy thinks it’s brilliant. Having almost forgotten about it until it turned up in a jumble sale box, I was so exited to share what has now become a bit of a family tradition
 
Walker Books, 1998

5. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury

Here it is, the old favourite. I used to make my mum and nan (or anyone who would dare to enter my house really) read this to me over and over until none of us even needed the book in order to recite it in its entirety. It’s such an adventure and it needs to have the actions and the sounds to go with it. This isn’t a book, this is a script for a performance.
Walker Books, 1993
Do you have a favourite children’s book in your family? I’d love to hear your suggestions and recommendations!