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Educational Play with Schleich I'm a big fan of learning through play. Unforced educational play. I'm not a teacher and I don't want to be. I want my children to naturally learn whilst they are having fun. When I was contacted recently...

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Say Eh-Oh to the new Teletubbies toys! There back!! Teletubbies made a joyous return to CBeebies last year, and this year marks the launch of the new range of toys. As you know I was sent a box just before Christmas, and today I can finally...

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Travel: Ox Pasture Hall Hotel, Scarborough Last weekend Nana and I took a rather lengthy journey north for a night away at the Ox Pasture Hall Hotel in Scarborough, with Little Dude in tow. The Ox Pasture Hall Hotel is a luxurious country hotel...

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A Place To Enjoy My Garden I love my garden. I love the fact that I have a garden, especially with the recent gorgeous weather we've been having. Whilst I have a pretty compact garden, there's a lot going on out there. Plants, fruit...

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Cuddles With Ben Cohen Some days I have a really difficult job. Days like this for example. *Ahem* That rather nice young man is former rugby player Ben Cohen. Ben is a bit of an expert when it comes to cuddles. He has...

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Read On – Get On

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Information | Posted on 15-09-2015

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We love books in our house. The boys get a story read to them every night before bed, and their bookcase is bursting with books for them to choose from. Little Dude has a small box of books in his room which he can pick up and look at, and there’s also a pile of them in the playroom. You’re more likely to find him with his head in a book than Little Man, but with him now off at school I expect his interest in books will explode as he learns to read.

Learning to read is such an exciting adventure for children, opening up a whole new world for them of independence and discovery. I couldn’t imagine not being able to read, but research has found that many children are leaving primary school unable to read well, and struggle to ever catch up. The Read On, Get On campaign is out to fix that, and ensure that by 2025 all primary school leavers are confident readers. I can’t wait to help and encourage Little Man on his reading journey so I’m a big supporter of this campaign.

Read On. Get On. aims to get all children reading well by the age of 11. Our reports set out this challenge and some of the solutions:

1. Our Read On. Get On. launch reports for England and Scotland, (September/November 2014) explore how reading well can help children escape poverty

2. Reading England’s Future (November 2014) maps how well the poorest children across England read, showing that some parts of England are doing vastly better than others at getting the poorest children reading

3. The Power Of Reading (April 2015) sets out our policy calls for the government in England to unlock every child’s potential through reading

4. Ready to Read reports for England and Scotland (June 2015) highlight the importance of closing the gap in early language skills so that every child can read well. Ready to Read reports for Wales and Northern Ireland are coming soon in September 2015.

So what can you do? Well there are lots of activities you can do with your children to encourage language and reading, and most of them are just simple day to day things which you no doubt do anyway. The Read On, Get On website is packed with tips but my top three are:

  • When talking with your child or looking at books together, help them to focus on what you are saying: Turn off the TV, the radio or the mobile. Removing distractions helps your child.
  • Conversations are more than questions and answers. When you talk to your child, try to comment on what they say and do. In the park, say something like “I love going down slides”. Then wait to hear what your child says next.
  • When sharing stories together, comment on what your child shows an interest in. Repeat back to your child what you know they meant, even if they didn’t say it quite right. This helps encourage them to keep trying.

The campaign was launched recently in Brighton at Costa Coffee, one of the partners. Janet Ellis hosted a gathering where books and reading was the talk of the day.

Janet Ellis-Costa Storytelling-Sussex Mummy

I’m looking forward to supporting both my boys on their journey to becoming readers. Let’s all help our children to Read On, and Get On!

Bigjigs Play Patrol Finalist: Farm House Sorter Review

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Bigjigs Play Patrol, Information, Product Reviews | Posted on 21-03-2013

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I was very excited and proud to reach the final stages of Bigjigs‘ search for members of their new Play Patrol. As one of the final 12 battling for one of just 5 spots we were sent a product to review as our final task. We received the brand new Farm House Sorter.
Shape sorters are something of a classic toy, one that I’m sure in some form or other every child owns. I know Little Man has owned more than a few in his life and they are a toy I’m generally a fan of. The premise is simple enough – you get a selection of shapes and a base unit with cut out holes in. You match the shapes to the holes and the shapes store inside. One of the reasons I like shape sorters is the fact that they are compact and the objective of them is basically to tidy up!

The Farm House Sorter from Bigjigs is pretty much what it says on the box. The ‘base unit’ is a wooden farm house. The ends are designed to look like the walls of a house and the top has a slate roof design, typical of traditional farm houses. Along each side you will find cut out holes in the shapes of things you’d expect to find on the farm – eight animals and a tree – and the shapes themselves feature the item on one side and then the name of the item written on the reverse. It all stows away nicely, with the “roof” removable for easy access and a carry handle so little ones can take it wherever they go.

From a parents point of view I think this is a great toy. Wooden toys are something I am very keen on. Yes we have plastic ones too, but only of the best quality. Wooden toys are long lasting and I can see this toy being used for many years to come. At the end of the day its not just a shape sorter. As well as improving hand-eye co-ordination and dexterity, it teaches animal recognition – Little Man is already pointing at and signing the names of animals he recognises – and can help with speech. If you clearly say the name of the animal as your child picks it up or puts it into the sorter they will eventually mimic you. It will be a great spelling aid in the future, with each word being written clearly on the reverse of the shape. Start simple with “Cat” or “Pig” and work up to the longer words such as “Horse” or “Chicken”. There’s a good range of animals featured, all of which you can point out on trips to a real farm, but I must admit I find the addition of a “Tree” a little weird. Trees are hardly farm specific. Surely another animal could have been thought of, or this strange ninth piece just eliminated all together.

I love that the roof comes off to allow instant access to the shapes but also the effort which has gone into designing the lid so it looks like a roof and the way it attaches to the house. This toy has a great aesthetic appeal to parents and children alike. The farm house will look great on a shelf in a child’s bedroom or playroom. It looks like a quality toy because it is a quality toy. The design team have obviously put a lot of thought into how it looks and that is abundantly clear. Each shape is a different bright colour so this toy could also be used to teach those. I love the handle. Its nice and sturdy perfect for toddlers to use. Little Man has already wandered around the lounge proudly carrying his new farm house. The handle ensures its carried upright too, so there’ll be no pieces scattered all around the house.

The Farm House Sorter is suitable from 1 year plus and is available now from the Bigjigs website.