Book month! Part 1

I have spent a lot of time moaning about World Book Day this week. Anyone who knows me has probably started avoiding me because I’ve been on my soapbox all week.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love books. J and I love reading together; it is one of the highlights of our day, snuggling down on the sofa and reading the chosen books for that day. We go to the library and get out 20 books each time and get through them all each week. We’ve even bought J a reading light and now he also reads a book before bed by himself.

But what I’m struggling with is dressing up for ‘World Book Day’ – it seems to be a huge pressure for people. I’m a creative person and still find it massively pressured. Mainly because I could spend hours making an outfit and then J wouldn’t wear it at all! Or go and buy one and again he doesn’t wear it. Not only that my husband is a teacher and so we have two outfits to think of (I’m very aware that most of you have 2 or more to make, so I know that I’m not alone in this!) I know the purpose is to get children engaged in books, but mostly children dress up as characters from films – I checked out a stores website for their world book day outfits and out of 12 outfits only 4 were actual book characters! But enough of my rant because believe me I could go on!

So this morning I decided to stop moaning and be the change I want to see. So in our house we are going to have Book Month. We will choose one book a week (on top of our normal books) read it and choose activities to do from the book, and really try to engage with the books and inspire creativity and hopefully some learning.

Our first book is….

It’s a beautiful book encouraging the reader to look after our world.

Amazingly it also includes two of J’s loves — hoovers and diggers — so it’s a winner. Tonight at bedtime we had such a lovely conversation about protecting animals and replanting trees after they’ve been cut down.

I’m desperate for J to grow up loving books and reading. He already has a thirst for knowledge, so I want to support him in every way I can.

This morning I read an interesting/terrifying report from thebookseller.com

‘New report reveals 58% of parents of 3-4 year-olds struggle to read with their children every day’

I understand that there are a million reasons why this happens. being too busy, not loving reading themselves, lack of confidence with reading and so on. But hopefully our book month will not only inspire J and myself, but others too. So I’ll stop moaning about dressing up and start championing books! I’ll also share all our activities as we go along.

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Playing Libraries

I love going to the library, mainly because it means we get a fresh hit of books to read each evening. J enjoys going because he always manages to get the librarian to let him stamp the books at the end of our visit. We also love reading together, and J is also getting into reading, so I’ve been trying to find ways of encouraging more of a love of books.

At our last visit to the library, J asked if we could buy a date stamp and yesterday in Poundland we found these stamps. I know they are not date stamps but they have a similar action and date stamps are not very cheap and it might be a one time game!

So it pushed me into action and I’ve made a whole set of library cards, borrowing record slips and even a scanner (I might need to work on my scanner though!)

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I made the scanner out of a yogurt pot and some card, but you can probably come up with something better.

I’ve since laminated the library cards, hopefully this will make them last a little longer. And yes the QR code works too.

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I will spend time with J sticking the borrowing record cards in our books, so he can choose which ones go in our library. I just used a small bit of glue to stick them in.

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I personally can’t wait to play libraries hopefully he will too!

Let me know if you want copies of the cards and slips.

 

The ‘H Free running crew’

We are being introduced to the world of digraphs here. Now when I learnt to read this wasn’t a common thing in fact I didn’t really know the word existed until my husband became a nursery teacher!

Well now my little one is learning to read. So digraphs and split digraphs are becoming much more part of life!

Currently he’s finding ch, sh, wh and th tricky. There are loads of activities out there on the internet, but I wanted something a little more personal so that J would connect with it and he’s into free running at the moment, so meet the ‘H free running crew!’

This is Charlie and he likes chasing people.

This is Whitmore (there are not many wh names – that I could think of anyway) and he likes whistling.

This is Shelly and she likes shimmying into a spin.

And last but not least this is Theo and he likes walking on thin things.

Our best time to learn new things is whilst we are eating dinner together so these will come out whenever we’re not having a tired tear filled meal time.

Another activity I made was painting by sound…

(Yes it got J’d before I could explain how to do the activity!)

This is our sound monster. You have to use the right colour for the sound. We will use paint Dabbers as J isn’t much into colouring, but if you have a little one who enjoys colouring with pencils or pens, you can use them too. The great thing about this is again it could be completely personalised and you don’t have to be an artist to draw a very simple picture that has large spaces to colour in.

Kinetic Sand – What do you do with it?

I was asked this question last week, and I was slightly amazed at my shock and horror that someone wouldn’t know what to do with it.

We absolutely love Kinetic sand in our house. It’s one of J’s favourite things to play with and it’s one of the only things that really keeps him focused and spends more than 5 minutes playing with it. This is probably why I have a real love for Kinetic Sand (KS)!

We bought it mainly because J loves sand, and it’s a bit tricky to just have sand inside, so this is the perfect solution. It doesn’t go everywhere, and even if it is dropped on the floor, then it’s fairly easy to pick up in a clump.

There are lots of benefits to KS and Michaels Blog – The Glue String does a brilliant job of explaining those benefits. It can also be great for children (and adults with ADHD and ASD). Just having pot of it out all the time in their room or on their desk at school, can help them when feeling unsettled, or needing to focus or requiring that feeling of deep pressure. Just pouring the sand over your hand can really help with those who need that sensory feeling. The sand never dries up, so it can be left out.

There are all sorts of Kinetic Sand, and lots of different brands and I’ve tried out a few of them. But my favourite (Unfortunately because it is the more expensive) is the official Kinetic sand. It feels so much nicer than the cheaper brands.

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I know in our experience, it really does calm J, the feeling of the sand in his hands meets his sensory needs, but also creatively it can be almost anything.

So how can you play with Kinetic Sand?

We started off simply having having a scoop and some pots in but over time we’ve progressed in sand play.

  1. Get some little diggers and just have some scooping fun, especially if you have diggers and dump trucks.
  2. Carve the sand into roads and ravines for cars and diggers to travel along. Make it into a sand town and add houses and little people and cars.
  3. In a tuft tray or a roasting tin, add animals, sticks and maybe a safari vehicle if you have one, for a desert play scene.
  4. Add in a rocket, aliens and space men for walking on the moon play.
  5. Make pretend food out of it, it can be rolled, cut, prodded, made into chips, sausages, pies and ice-cream. Add some cups, spoons or some cupcake cases. (Hint don’t use silicone cases or chocolate moulds if you want to use them for food again, the sand doesn’t easily come out).
  6. J loved watching fall out of bottles…IMG_1765 2
  7. Use all different types of pots or vases or jugs.
  8. Roll it out and use cookie cutters.
  9. Roll it out and stamp different patterns into it.
  10. Roll it out and write in it, practice writing, learn shapes and letters and numbers.
  11. Make Skate Parks for mini BMX’s or Mini skate boards.
  12. Push Magnetic letters and numbers into it.

The more sand you have the better, we bought two 2lb packs of the sand and it definitely increases the fun.

Hopefully thats enough ideas to get you started!! And I also hope you have as much fun as we do!

Activity Advent

I’ve thought a lot about what advent calendar to get J this year. I’ve done a few different ideas in previous years.

My favourite is this Melissa and Doug Christmas Tree Advent Calendar.

Even when J was really little, he loved adding on the little baubles. It’s very durable and stands up to being played with and knocked on the floor. It’s also really pretty and adds to the decoration!

Every year we’ve written out the nativity story and we get the next instalment every day.

Last year he got a present every day. I bought a train set and play dough set and gave a bit everyday. But that came to so much money in the end and that was a little frustrating for him because he couldn’t fully play with the train set until he’d got all the bits.

The year before that I did a present everyday but to save money it ended up just being pointless gifts that didn’t really get a look in. I also remember him being more interested in our chocolate one!

I love the Lego ones (my husband has had one of them) and the Play Mobil One’s, but it does all add up in the end. I’ve noticed this year that there are so many different types out there now.

So this year I’ve gone nice and simple and I’ve bought him a Kinder Advent Calendar, I think this will bring great joy, we’ll do our Melissa and Doug one and my husband is getting a nativity one. But what I’m excited about is J’s activity advent, which I’ve made for him.

I haven’t thought up 24 activities as I know life will take over and we won’t get to do them, and if you promise J something you have to do it. But we’ve come up with 12 Christmassy activities from Carol Services, making Sugar mice and making Christmas cards and Chocolates.

I’ve made each one into a scratch off panel so on each day that there is an activity he can scratch it off.

I drew each panel and wrote in the activity, I then coloured in each panel with white crayon. This helps you see the writing once you’ve scratched off the paint.

I then mixed some washing up liquid with some green (and red in the end – we needed two go’s.) Acrylic paint and painted over each panel. You probably need a few coats.

I originally tried this with clear hand soap and it didn’t work, so my finished article looks a bit different.

Each panel needed about 4 coats of paint and you can still read some of them especially with the red, but that won’t matter.

Tomorrow is making Christmas Chocolates. And I was right the kinder calendar did bring great joy!

Chalk board Numbers

We went on our regular day trip to Ikea yesterday! We love a trip to our local store. There’s so much to see and do and now J loves going to the play room, whilst I have a sneaky cuppa!

Whilst there I found a wooden numbers puzzle. It was £4, which I thought wasn’t too bad.

When we got home J had a great time painting the backs of them.


Yes he painted the back, because I have painted the front, with chalk board paint.

J has shown an interest in numbers recently. So we are trying all sorts of ways to help him identify the different numbers. Counting isn’t a problem, but number recognition is a little more tricky.


I did two coats of the blackboard paint. Hopefully that will be enough to withstand the pressures of being drawn on. I also find that with one coat, the chalk doesn’t rub off as well.

Once dried, J can enjoy writing on the letters.


I’m also hoping to use at the toddler groups I’m involved with. I might get some wooden letters too!

Fixing meal times

Meal times can be a wonderful time of day. I have so many happy memories of family dinners and this is what I assumed would happen when we had our own family…but oh no!

For the last few years, they had become my worst time of the day and I would dread it. It would start with J asking ‘whats for dinner?’ I would reply and then he would say ‘and what am I having?’ I didn’t make him a completely separate meal, but he would mainly only eat white things. Dinner time would then arrive, and it would be awful. There would be food in his hair because he wouldn’t wipe his hands on a cloth, he would get up 10 times in one meal time, I would be kicked over and over because J couldn’t sit still, he would refuse to eat and then to top it off there would be a drink knocked over at some point again due to him not sitting still.

I think one night something literally snapped in my head and I had to do something about it and I went into solution mode…

Step 1
I bought a larva lamp (I bet you weren’t expecting that!). Over Christmas we had a candle on the table and J loved it. It gave him an object to focus on so I wanted something a little more permanent (and not as flammable) and he particularly likes it because ‘it looks like jellyfish.’ This helped a little but there was still some work to do.

Step 2
We made it so if J got down then he couldn’t have any pudding. Now this is a bit of a score for us because J loves fruit, so we didn’t even need to bribe him with chocolate: the thought of missing out on a fruit smoothie was enough to make him sit there! It took about four days of reminding him A LOT. I think he had one day where he missed out, but mainly it worked with reminding. We also made sure there was always a cloth on the table to wipe his hands without making out he has to get down to get a towel or a tissue or clean himself on my sofa!!

Step 3
After a few days of a more settled meal time, we started to work on fussy eating. I hadn’t done anything about it before for a number of reasons (or should I say, excuses). For a long time we thought J was colour blind as it does run in my family. J would literally only eat white food, save the odd strawberry, and I put this down to foods looking a bit ‘strange’ to someone who is colour blind. Excuse number two was that I just wanted pleasant meal times and didn’t want the fight so I just gave in. Well, we ruled out the colour blind thing and meal times were horrible anyway so there was nothing to lose!

I made a ‘J tried new foods’ plate rewards chart.

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Every time J tried a new food he would get a sticker – that sticker in the picture was roast chicken. J has essentially been a vegetarian since he was 18 months old, so this was a big deal.

And as of tonight his sticker reward plate is almost full and he got his sticker for eating spaghetti bolognese! You cannot imagine how proud I am of him.

I have been putting veg in a food processor, and using that as a base for sauces so we are getting veg in him, but it’s not as daunting.

The last week, we’ve eaten the same food and have been able to have lovely family meal times together. We’ve talked about our day and had a laugh together, which is such a difference.

It’s made me realise that you can’t always assume that over night these issues will change. Sometimes you have to make a battle plan and put in the hard work. Work out what you want the end goal to be and then work out how to get there.