The space man

J is doing brilliantly with his writing, but he gets a bit carried away and then forgets to add spaces between each word. So today his teacher was so proud that he had written lots, but she couldn’t read it as it was one continuous flow. Or should I say onecontinuousflow.

J has massive writing and his fingers are only little, so when he uses his finger as a space it still looks like ramblings.

This evening I’ve made him a space man and an alien.

They are just made out of a cardboard box, and when J is writing he can use one of these to help him make a space. I guess you could make these to match your little ones interests. I should have probably made a minecraft one.

Hopefully these will help him remember his spaces.


Fun with reading and addition

I haven’t written a blog for ages, life has been very, very busy and J is in school full time, by the time we’ve been somewhere after school, made dinner and done the reading for the day I don’t have much time to make resources for him, but my job on the other hand is giving me the opportunity to make lots of fun resources, but I haven’t then blogged about them.

So New Year, new blog! I can’t promise this will be a sign of things to come, but I will try.

I work with children with SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities), but the ideas that I use can be used for all children. Basically I love children learning through play and learning in a fun and interactive way.

Now these are ideas that I have gleaned from Pinterest, and will try to put links in, but I forget to save them. I mainly look at the idea and then interpret it in my own way!

I am a very visual learner, so I generally make resources for children that are very visual. Which brings me to my MATHS Machine…

There are loads of different addition machines on Pinterest like this one. I have gone for a toned down version because some of the children I work with need as little distraction as possible. So basically you get two tubes. You can make them out of paper cups, plastic piping, light bulb boxes (as I have) or toilet roll tubes. Stick them to a decorated box or a wall or flat, hard surface and underneath put a tray or something to catch whatever you are adding up. I am using Pom Poms but you can change what you are adding up if you work on a theme.

Then put the sum in the middle. I am only doing number bonds of 10 and numbers under 10. Down the first tube drop the first number and down the second tube drop the second number. Then in the tray you will hopefully have the right number. This is a very visual representation of addition, which can be very handy for kids who can’t quite get the concept of addition. It can also help with fine motor skills. I am thinking of adding a pair of tweezers as we go along to really hone the motor skills.

If you wanted to use this for other subjects too (and you haven’t labelled it the math machine), you could put pictures down the tubes and then the children have to use the pictures to make up stories.

Another resource I made this week are some word envelopes…

I read a great blog about helping support children with sight words or they are more commonly known as tricky words. Some of the children I support are not learning to read with an emphasis on phonics but on whole words. So thought this might be a fun way to encourage learning. I haven’t done seven envelopes (I didn’t have enough room) so I’ve gone for three.

The idea behind it, is every time, they get a word right it moves into the next envelope, thus encouraging the child that they are making progress. The lady in the blog post linked, always makes sure that there is 10 words in the 1st envelope. I will probably only go with five and I may even go from three back to one. Once again this is brilliant for fine motor skills, trying to get the cards out of the envelopes and when children feel encouraged in their learning they want to keep going.

All thats needed to make this was the back of a pizza box, two pieces of card and some envelopes. I’m not sure how long these envelopes will last, but if it is something that works, I will make some more durable word envelopes.

You can put words in there that your children keep finding hard or you can even put spellings in there for them to learn. You take them out read the word and they spell it. If they get it right it moves to the next pocket.

Have fun with your reading and counting.

Reusing crayons

We’ve been away for a while and when we come back home it always makes us want to do a massive sort out – we cleared out loads of stuff. It was great fun!

Whilst clearing out we found a lot of crayons. Instead of throwing them away we remade them!

You’ve probably seen lots of blogs about this and I’ve always wanted to give it a go. J loved making them so I thought I would share.

Please be aware this whole activity needs supervision and you need to let your children only do the bits you feel they are able to and ready for.

What you need…

▫️ Wax crayons about 20 will do

▫️ A silicone mould (you should be able to heat it)

▫️ A chopping board and knife

▫️ Baking tray

How you make them…

First job is to take off all the paper labels so you are only left with the wax crayon.

Then you need to either cut them or break them into little chunks.

My little one used a knife to cut up the crayons and I was with him the whole time, but you may not feel your little one is ready to do the cutting yet.

If they can’t do the cutting, see if they can break them up or they can fill the shapes in the mould.

Once you have all the chunks, fill each section in the mould. My husband was very particular about what colours went together, but you can make them as multicoloured as you like. In a way it’s best to slightly over fill them because they reduce right down in the cooking.

We then placed on the baking tray and put in the oven on 200 degrees. They were in there about 20 mins until everything looked like it had melted.

Then just leave to set and cool down. It took about 1 hour. They were so easy to remove from the mould.

They look so great and will make fab presents. You can buy small cellophane bags that would finish them off great for either Christmas presents or a party bag present.

Just remaking them got J interested in colouring!

Have fun – what shapes will you make?

So much more to Lego

I didn’t really play with Lego as a kid, so it didn’t enter my radar until I got married and not only did my hubby move in but so did his collection of Lego. Now can I just mention it’s just confined to a few shelves and a few boxes so I’m very aware it could be a lot worse.
But as soon as our little one appeared so did a lot of Duplo under the guise of our 1 year old definitely needs Duplo!!!! And I got suckered in because it was only Daddy who played with it for about 2 years!!
Up until recently I only really saw Lego/Duplo as something else to be tidied up, expensive and something else to be stored – what a grump. I think it’s mainly because loads of parents buy Lego for their kids and they sit there playing with it nicely and mine just wouldn’t play with it.
But I have developed a whole new love for Lego mainly for my job and at home, but I’ve had to think outside the box and to think of new ways to play with lego.
I probably should mention at this point that there are other construction brick kits available. For example Wilkos sells a their construction kits at a fraction of the price but I’m afraid to say it doesn’t have the same feel to it and also it doesn’t have the same stickability. But in terms of price it does the job. They also use to do a duplo equivalent which was good. But they stopped it. Wilko if you’re reading please can you bring it back!! But if you can go to the price of Lego/duplo it is a good investment and will last for literally generations.
So to the real reason for this post – why I’ve had a change of heart.
I’ve seen the added benefits to children using Lego. Now I know there are loads of posts out there about the benefits of Lego from very esteemed professionals, but I feel like I want to add in my own. But the only letters after my name are MUM.
I run a SEND group for under 5’s and the changes I saw when we added some Duplo were definitely worth a blog post. But even at home we’ve seen changes.

  1. Focus
    At home
    My little one has definitely struggled with focus, in fact he loves the world so much he is so distracted by EVERYTHING. A slightest noise outside will grab his attention. Now up until recently he wouldn’t really sit and build, but I used Duplo to create games. For example get a dice and a handful of bricks (about 20 of the same size brick). Each person rolls the dice and whatever number it lands on you get to add those bricks to a tower, and the tower which is the first to 10 is the winner. This was one of the first games we were able to play with J and he kept asking for it over and over. Not only did we work on focus, but numbers, taking turns, appropriate dice throwing skills and sometimes how to handle loosing!


    Another way to help with focus is to just build together. We’ve been buying kits that are slightly to old for him and sitting with him and talking through where each bit goes. Sometimes he can work it out himself and sometimes he needs a bit more help. But this has really developed his patience, his focus and helps with communication skills. I guess it’s on the same lines as Lego therapy but not half as structured.


    At work
    : I noticed children who struggled with focus would love it when the Duplo came out and would spend time and focus playing with it in a way that they haven’t with any other activity. I was also able to pick up a box of quatro (even larger than Duplo) at a car boot sale, which were again a favourite for kiddies who struggle in fine motor skills. The focus here was so evident.

  2. Writing
    At home
    J has got into minecraft and with that minecraft Lego (this time not instigated by his Dad!) He is now old enough for normal Lego, but the fine motor skills he’s picking up with having to put all the tiny pieces in place is outstanding. At the same time his writing is improving, now I know it won’t be only Lego, but the muscle control needed to build, is that similar to writing. He doesn’t love writing (probably because he can’t do it as well), but even if we sit down and do some Lego I know this is helping in other areas. Yes I know writing is important, but its about finding ways of supporting them that are fun (I’m in the process of writing another blog about this, so I won’t go into too much detail).


    At work
    This is the same at work, now the age group I’m working with arn’t necessarily working on their pencil grip as a priority, but all the building will be helping. Over the weeks you see that their ability to push the bricks together becomes more accurate and faster!

  3. Being able to read instructions
    At home
    J is still quite young so I suppose I assume that he won’t be able to understand the instructions. But after building one or two models, he’s definitely picking it up. This morning whilst playing with his new kit, I told him to put it where I thought it should go and he corrected me by showing me on the instructions. Just think how much Ikea furniture he’ll be able to put together in the future, by learning to read these instructions!! So although this isn’t reading per say, this is helping him with accuracy, with spacial awareness and again focus. You have to do a bit of counting when placing Lego bricks ‘3 across and 2 down’ that type of thing and we were building the other day with a wooden construction kit and he was counting the circles either side to see if he’d put it in the middle, such a helpful skill to learn and all transferable skills too.


  4. Rewards
    At home
    When J was little (why am I saying when he is little – it’s still the case) because of his complete love for the whole world and distractibility – listening to us has always been tricky.  He either listens goes off to do it but gets distracted on the way or just chooses not to hear so doesn’t do what you say. I get so bored of talking about the negative, so we turned it on its head and said every time you do good listening, you get a brick and we have to see how big the tower is at the end of the day.

    This was just a tower we made one day, but you get the picture!!
    Somehow this just focused his mind and the towers we were getting although not this big, were impressive and it meant that it was positive reinforcement rather than always negative. We often use this approach to this day, even yesterday we had to use it, but we drew the blocks instead!

    6. Feelings
    At work
    At my SEND group we have a few children with Autism, so unstanding feelings is tricky, so at work I use Duplo faces to show feelings, the children can point to which one they might be feeling or when we have sessions about feelings, the Duplo faces help us. It’s a lot less pressure using a picture of a lego person, rather than a real person. So these come in handy!


So as you can see Lego plays an important role in our house and my workplace. The benefits of Lego go far beyond ‘just building’ and can impacts for children (and adults) beyond the pleasure of seeing a creation coming alive. And I am sure there are more than those I have mentioned here.

Now all you have to find out is are you an Emmet or a master builder?


Intriguing ways to get kids reading

I love reading now. I don’t remember choosing to pick up a book as a kid and to be honest I don’t remember learning to read. But I must have.

My little one is in reception and he’s doing really well with his reading, but encouraging him to read is another matter. He knows how to but doesn’t want to, which is a shame because the things he could read if he was willing to give it a try.

So instead of having a battle every time we are going to read together, we’ve started devising new fun ways to read. Now be warned this does make reading time a longer process but he enjoys it.

Road track reading

I made a track out of our k’nex roller coaster kit with the car on and each word he read the car would move along the track. He could finish reading when the car got to the finish line and sometimes he got a little treat. When this lost its interest we moved onto….

Skatepark reading

This time J would set up his ideal skatepark, and at the end of each page he would get to show me a trick on the skate park.

Planet jumping

We’ve been looking at different planets recently, so we set out the planet cards (in order) and then at the end of every page he could make a Lego man jump onto the next planet card. The challenge was to get the Lego man to the sun.

Writing the story on paper

One day I just wrote the story (well some of the story) onto yellow paper (his favourite colour). He enjoyed this, I think it worked because there were no distractions just pure and simple reading.

Tricky word challenge

One day I wrote out all the words that he might find tricky (from the current book we were reading) on a large bit of paper, I also numbered each of the words 1 – 6 and played a game before reading. We each had a some Duplo bricks and we had a dice. You have to roll the dice, and whatever number the dice lands on you have to try and read the word with the same number. If you get it right you add that many bricks to your Duplo tower and it’s the first person to 10. This was great fun.

Minecraft jumping

I set up six letter tiles and at different stages I also placed a fidget spinner. After each line he read the minecraft man moved along to the next tile. At the tile with the fidget spinner he was able to show me a trick. It was J who suggested that the minecraft man should say the letter that he lands on.

There is a slight transporty theme to all our reading challenges, which is fun. I like including things that he’s interested in at the time so that he is more engaged. We do each game for about a week and then move on so that boredom doesn’t set in. I know it probably seems like a lot of work, but it is worth it because we both enjoy practicing our reading.

I’ll have to get my thinking caps on for more intriguing reading fun.

Being thankful.

We’ve heard them over and over again. Those words that feel like they are ripping your brain to shreds because they’ve been spoken over and over and over again… ‘Mum can I have….’ Well my little one takes asking to things to a whole new level.

It’s not just can I have… it goes on for days. ‘When I get this…’ ‘when you buy me that…’ ‘Mum please can you get me’. It’s constant and it’s annoying. The way he goes on you’d think he never gets anything or has no toys to play with. I’m probably not putting it into words very well, how painful it is. But last week it got to me.

I know he doesn’t have the life experience to know how blessed he is. I also know that all he knows is what he has and he’s also a completionist like me, so if you buy him a toy like Minecraft Lego, of course he wants all the other kits.

But I want him to become someone who is grateful for what he has, and to be a person who is thankful.

“Clinical trials indicate that the practice of gratitude can have dramatic and lasting effects in a person’s life,” said Robert A. Emmons, professor of psychology at UC Davis. “It can lower blood pressure, improve immune function and facilitate more efficient sleep.” Quote from

Having a thankful attitude changes something in you, it switches your perspective and helps you see the world differently. When my little one isn’t thankful he’s upset, moody and not content.

‘But what about when there is something horrible going on…’ I hear you cry. Yes life isn’t all roses and fairy cakes (or whatever the saying is) but I do think it’s a good practice to even in the hardest of times find something to be thankful for, even if it’s something tiny.

I’m sure my husband won’t mind me saying but about a year ago he was finding things tricky, he was feeling lost and like life wasn’t on his side. He couldn’t see the good things in front of him. So I encouraged him to write a thank you diary. So everyday now he finds 5 things to be thankful for, and it’s really helped him to see the good things to help him look at his day through a different lens and be positive. A friend of ours who is a music therapist says that ‘a thank you diary is the best form of therapy’.

So with this in mind and with my brain feeling torn apart by the constant pecking of ‘can I have’, I went into action.

I asked J to choose a note book – I have lots at home. We designed the front cover of ‘J’s Thank you diary’ then turned it over and on the back wrote ‘J’s wish list’.

So in the front of the book we write one thing we are thankful for from that day. He’s at an age that he can actually write this. But we’ve been asking him to find something he’s thankful for every day since he was 2 and he’s just said it out loud, but we could have written those down.

Then in the back, we sat down together and found pictures online and stuck them in the book of the things he would like, once we’d concentrated it down there were actually only about 5 things, it just felt like more because of the dripping tap effect. Our rule with the back of the book is, once it’s in there he doesn’t need to ask for it again, because if we want to buy him a present or it’s his birthday and we or others need ideas we know where to look. He is allowed to add to the list should he wish to, but he doesn’t need to go on about it. And do you know what, it’s worked. I think him writing down his ideas just meant there was a place to file them instead of him feeling like he had to all the time talk about them in case they got forgotten.

I also think the practice of gratitude at the same time as asking for things (because let’s face it we all want things) just puts the need for things in its right place not a dominant place.

We do talk about how blessed he is and we do talk about others who don’t have as much as us and we also talk about how we can help those who don’t have as much and put it into action.

I’m hoping this is a practice he will continue in his life.

Some other ideas to record things your thankful for…

• A thank you jar – decorate a jar together and have strips of paper ready and every night write down something you are thankful for. Then every now and then have a look through those wonderful thank yous.

• A thank you garden – cut up petals and write on your thankyous’ and then every so often add them together to make a flower. How big can your garden get?

• Over dinner time think of something to be thankful for and then share that, it could spark a lot of dinner chat.

Have fun creating your thankful ideas and thank you for reading!

Plastic Easter Eggs

Don’t panic I’m not talking about getting rid of chocolate! That could never happen in my house. But this year I bought a few packets of plastic eggs and I’ve amazed myself at how much I’ve used them we’ve used them in many different ways.

You can buy these eggs in loads of places, but of course I bought mine from Poundland. I bought a pack of 10 large and a pack of 18 which included smaller ones too. In fact they had an amazing Easter range this year and I’ve lost count of how much I’ve spent. From eggs, bunny crayons, felt egg decorating and cute pom pom bunnies. (I promise they are not paying me to say this!)

You can fall into the trap of only using these eggs for an Easter egg hunt, but there are so many ways you can use them and we’ve loved it here at home and the many toddler groups I run too.

1. Tuff Trays

This one we used butter beans (dried) and mung beans and material for the pond. The eggs were brilliant as the kids loved opening and closing (great for fine motor skills) and also they made great scoops for the mung beans and the chicks. The rabbits and chicks also fit inside so that brought great fun too!

This one was for J. I don’t tend to spend too long on setting out Tuff Trays for him in case he doesn’t touch it. But he liked this one. I added spoons and cups to this one.

One surprise I added to all the trays I made, was felt eggs inside. So when they first opened them out popped an egg.

This is just so you can see the felt eggs. This is great for little fingers too as they try and push them back in!

I didn’t take pics of the tray I did for my under 3’s group. But it was just a tray full of the eggs and rabbits and they all had great fun opening, closing (and trying to open and close) the surprise of a rabbit inside never got tired!!

2. Easter Egg Hunts

I did use them for one Easter egg hunt. We invited some of J’s school friends round for an Easter party and egg hunt. Absolute chaos in my flat but the kids loved it. They ate lots of cake and choc, worked together as a team to find the eggs and then had a disco! Brilliant.

The hunt was for over 4’s so I wanted a bit of a challenge. We drew a giant egg on say yellow paper and then cut it into four pieces. Each piece went in a yellow plastic egg.

The kids were divided into colour teams and they had to find their colour. Once they had all four eggs they had to put together their egg puzzle then they could have another plastic egg which contained 4 mini chocolate eggs. This worked really well as some get really into the finding and some don’t. Which in the past when I’ve just put out chocolate eggs someone finds all the eggs and then leave non for those who aren’t so much into the finding.

3. Snack Time

Again sorry no pics 🤦🏼‍♀️! But on Good Friday we had a long long journey but train to Heathrow airport to meet up with some family who were arriving in the UK. So I wanted to add a bit more joy to snack time.

I used an egg box and in each slot put a plastic egg. I did sneak some chocolate into one of the eggs, but there was popcorn, dried pineapple and raisins.

His face when he asked for a snack and I pulled out an egg box was classic. Also it also made others peoples journey a little more fun because of J’s reaction!

4. Reading and Numbers

Now I bet you didn’t think I’d add that into my list!

Our homework from school was to learn our numbers from 1 – 21. So I wanted to make it a little more enjoyable for him. So in came the plastic eggs.

If you crack open the hinges you can then twist the top and bottom. So on one side I wrote either a 1 or a 2 and then wrote other numbers on the other side.

So at dinner time (our best fun learning time) he could twist the eggs and then he’d have to tell us what number he made.

I also made eggs to help support reading and tricky words.

This was his favourite type – there is a word on the outside of the egg, which we would help him read. Then you open it up to find the letters on bits of paper, which he had to put in the right order. Interesting when the word was ‘Was’ and you can put it back to front and make another word.

Another way we did it was with twisting again…

We’re working on diagraphs so I made an egg for beginning sounds and the different sounds you can make. These are now sitting in a bowl on our table so whenever it takes his fancy he can have a go.

5. Role Play

Eggs for your play kitchen. Make some felt eggs put them in a egg box and there you have some pretend eggs.

I’m sure there are loads more ideas you can use them for, but these are the few we have done over the last few weeks.

I have one Easter Party where they will come out again and then maybe next year I’ll think of more ideas!!

Book Month – Part 5

My LO has been really poorly this week tonsilitis, ear infection and now on an inhaler poor little thing. So let’s just say we’ve all been a bit exhausted! But amazingly it hasn’t quenched his thirst for exploration. He’s been really interested in flowers so we did book Month a bit differently and read books based around flowers rather than me choosing a book.

We came upon this because my wonderful hubby buys me flowers every week, and one morning I came into the front room to find J intently studying a flower.

He was fascinated! So we looked up online about the different parts of the flower.

So I scoured my book shelf for books about flowers and surprisingly I didn’t have many. Of course we have lots of books that have pictures of flowers but only 2 that specifically mentioned them.

Any suggestions for the future?

What I did come up with was…

It’s not written by Dr Seuss but in the same style. It loosely explains the process of making honey, which definitely involves flowers. You can also watch the Bee movie which is fun and again explains the process, but don’t expect too much science! And of course we had honey on toast.

Our second book was…

There are questions in there about ‘why do flowers smell nice?’ ‘Why do trees loose their leaves’ and ‘do trees breathe?’

We made this little book about the parts of the plant (I’m sorry I can’t remember which site it’s from, but if you google parts of the plant there are loads).

This was one of our activities that were handy when the Calpol had kicked in!

We also tried an experiment of putting flowers in different coloured water to see what would happen.

For some reason it didn’t work. But we had fun anyway!

He now has a bunch of flowers in his room and his minecraft world is currently being littered with red flowers.

Another book which is BRILLIANT is…

There are no words in this book only incredible pictures which spark the imagination and have helped us to write a story about Jelly Fish called the ‘Jelly Fish Backflip’ (don’t ask I still don’t understand!). It’s a beautiful coffee table book.

So we couldn’t do much this week, I would have like to collected some flowers and do some flower pressing and I’d also like to have done some flower dissection, but illness took over.

This is the last post of Book Month. We have loved it, I didn’t make a big thing of it. J probably didn’t know it was happening, but we have loved exploring new books, it seems book Month has been very based on our world from ‘Tidy’ by Emily Gravitt and books about space and flowers. And who can forget Robot Week!

I’m definitely just going to carry on bringing books to life in ways that makes reading more enjoyable, educational and enduring!

Book Month – Part 4

Space week was a little bit like a collapsed star – the first week just disappeared because for some reason we were sooo busy but eventually something happened, but it wasn’t as successful as previous weeks.

It all started with a book from Twinkl (an online store of resources for people working with children). It’s a Twinkl original so you can’t get it anywhere else, so I know this is a bit mean. It’s called ‘Back to Earth with a bump’

It’s a great, because it is Augmented Reality (AR). So on certain pages you put your phone over the pages (you have to download the Twinkl app) and out of the page pops the little boy holding his bear, or the planets moving around the sun. It really got J interested in the Solar system. It was also another way for him to engage with the book.

Other books we read…

We love this series of Ed Hart books with Albie.

We also read a few non fiction books from the library about the solar system, which were fascinating. Although J prefers Mars Rovers!!

So down to the activities…. or should I say activity.

I made a space Tuff Tray, which he didn’t touch 🤦🏼‍♀️. The sandy stuff is quinoa and seeds. Then the foil is just put over some boxes. I printed off some planets too.

I did order a decorate your own solar system but didn’t realise it was coming from China, so we’ll just have to do that another time.

I did have a long list of things I wanted to do…

Decorate the solar system

Make Space Rock Cakes

Make a Rocket

Make moon sand

but he’s also been poorly so everything went awry!

Book Month – Part 3 Robot Week!!

We have loved Robot week. We started with the book ‘Robot Rumpus’ by Sean Taylor.

This is one of J’s favourite books, so much so recently on a car Journey we were both able to tell each other the story without the book! The book is about two parents who leave their child in the care of 7 robots with the line ‘what could possibly go wrong?’ as they close the door!

So our week of Robot activities started…

Firstly we had some friends round and they helped J build a basic robot, then the next day I set out a Robot Factory tuft tray.

There were lots of random bits we put on the tray – circuit boards, light bulbs, wall plugs, screws and strimmer wire (yes I do have lots of random things in my house!) and in the end we were able to make our basic robot have a bit more life!

J then wrote another story about a little boy called Joe Joe (we read Horton Hears a Who – Dr Seuss) who loses his toy robot and then a police robot finds it and brings it back. So we’ve been making this into a comic strip.

One evening I left on the table some robot magnets I made ages ago (hence they are a bit beaten up) and to my amazement he made all the robots without my prompting.

These are really easy to make. I used the robots from this blog and printed them onto Magnet paper.

Then just cut them up and put them on your fridge or baking tray and there are endless combinations of robots unless you have a perfectionist as a child and then there are only the set combinations! I made these for J when he was about 2 and they are still fun!

You may or may not have access to Twinkl (a resource website – I use it mainly for work but there are some great things on there for J). Well we used their robot writing sheets to practice his letters and a grid sheet to design a robot. So I guess if you had the time or inclination you could just design your own.

Other books about Robots we read this week…

So all in all a good robotic week!

We also had World Book day (rescheduled due to the snow!) all my fears were confirmed as he refused to wear the outfit, so I’m glad we didn’t spend any money or time! But also pleased we are still celebrating books in our own way!