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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!

Days Out: Drusillas Park, East Sussex

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Days Out, Information | Posted on 31-03-2014

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Daddy and I had been talking for a while about talking Little Man out for the day somewhere special before his brother arrives. We wanted to do a last day out as a family of three somewhere that he’d love whilst I still had the energy. We considered a few options, but our ultimate decision was always going to be Drusillas. We haven’t been for a couple of years and we knew that at three he would find it much more fascinating than he had on our first trip there for his first birthday. Daddy planned to take a day off work so we could go mid-week when the crowds would be less and we hoped for some good weather. By some generally creepy coincidence I received an email just a few days later from the Press Team at Drusillas asking if I’d be interested in coming down to review the place. Clearly a sign we’d picked the right day out!

We visited a couple of weeks ago, lucky enough to choose a day where the sun was glorious. As you can see there were lots of cheeky characters to see, not least my Little Man who had a whale of a time. He loved spotting all the animals and pointing them out to Daddy and I. Every enclosure at Drusillas has special viewing windows for small children, or little steps for them to use. It makes the day much easier for parents and keeps the children feeling independent. Every so often there’s a learning area for the children to use as well, where they can lift flaps or open boxes or press buttons to learn more about each animal. Now obviously Little Man is a little young to be reading this information, but he had a lot of fun looking at the pictures and doing his best impressions of each animal.

I think the monkeys were his favourite – plenty opportunities to do his monkey impression at Drusillas – but as you can see above the lorikeets were a big hit too. At Drusillas you can walk into the lorikeet enclosure and buy a small cup of nectar. Daddy held the cup out and within seconds he was acting as a perch for several birds. Little Man thought this was brilliant and enjoyed watching them have their “little drink” as well as settling on his Daddy. I loved the meerkats who are such great little characters, and the lemurs were very funny too. I’m fairly sure they were all enjoying topping up their tans in the sunshine of their enclosure.

As well as a wealth of animals to see and discover, Drusillas has a rather popular train ride courtesy of Thomas The Tank Engine and a huge play area. There’s also a number of food vendors and gift shops to visit on your way out. One thing to bear in mind though is the seasonal openings. Last time we visited it was Easter weekend and everything was open. We went mid week during term time this time around and there was only one sit down restaurant open, none of the small vendors were open, and Thomas was only running once an hour as opposed to his usual “as and when required” scheduling at peak times. This was a little disappointing I must admit, but thankfully we’d taken a picnic with us which we enjoyed in the gorgeous sunshine, and we managed to get Little Man an ice cream as a treat before he dragged Daddy all around the play area whilst I put my feet up for a while.

There’s a bit of building work going on at Drusillas at the moment whilst they create their newest attraction which is opening this summer. The “Hello Kitty Secret Garden Experience” is due to open mid May and will include rides, a Hello Kitty House, and plenty opportunities to meet the star herself. No doubt this will be hugely popular when it opens – we spotted several excited children trying to sneak a peek around the fences surrounding the work area trying to catch a glimpse of the famous cat.


Drusillas continues to be one of our favourite family days out, and one that we hope to visit again once Little Dude has arrived. Online is the best way to buy tickets as thanks to their “Online Price Squeezer” you can save money compared to on-the-gate prices. There’s also always lots going on with famous characters visiting throughout the year. A certain Peppa Pig is there next week in fact, just in time for Easter. Definitely a day out to remember.

We were provided with complimentary entry to the zoo for the purposes of this review, but all opinions and comments are my own.

Review: BB Bear from BabogBaby

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Product Reviews | Posted on 14-03-2013

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As many of you know I went to Toy Fair in January. If you’ve read any of my articles on it, either on Yahoo or in Toy News you’ll know that I wasn’t overly impressed with what was on show. Apart from a few select highlights – BigJigs and Floppets – I wasn’t overwhelmed by much that I saw. I was relaxing/hiding in the Press Office when I got a tweet from one of the stands asking me if I wanted to test out one of his bears with my Little Man. Little Man is a huge bear fan and his favourite toy is his beloved “Teddy!!” so I was confident a bear would be a hit. I made my way to the stand to find that BB Bear was a little different from any bear I’d seen before.

BB (or “Ba Ba” as he is to Little Man) is the brainchild of Adrian Devane from BabogBaby. Teaching your little one to speak can be very difficult. Little Man has been doing baby sign language classes since he was seven months old and is now, at almost 2 and a half, a prolific signer. He is not however a big speaker. We get “More” (his first sign), and “Dadda” and “Mumma”. We get “Ba” a lot which refers to many things, you just have to get the right context – bird, breakfast, biscuit, Buzz, it’s pretty endless. He says “De” which to him is “Dip” when he’s having soup and dipping his bread in. We get a lot of sounds which are almost words, but we’re a bit short of actual words. Now I’m not worried about this, and I know he’s going to start speaking one day and he will never shut up when he does, but I’m happy to help him along without pressuring him. That’s where BB comes in.

BB is a talking bear. He has buttons on his ears, paws, feet and body which you press and they say a word. The buttons are very easy to press and Little Man can do it himself. Often buttons on soft toys are hard to push and he gets bored, but with this he loves pressing them each in turn. There are three modes on BB, changeable by three smaller buttons on his chest. which are ‘Numbers’, ‘Colours’ and ‘Shapes’. You choose a mode and then press one of the 10 main buttons and BB says a word. For example a number between 0 and 9, or the name of a shape, or of a colour. The voice is childlike and very clear so its easy for your little one to pick up what’s being said. Now we left the Toy Fair with the English speaking BB, but he is also available in Welsh, Irish and Scots Gaelic, to he’s ideal if you live in Wales, Ireland or Scotland or if you have relatives or friends that do. BB is suitable from 6 months old.

Now I wasn’t expecting a sudden flurry of words coming out of Little Man’s mouth once we gave him BB, but he does show an interest in him and he likes to press the buttons and more importantly give him big cuddles. I can see BB being very useful when Little Man learns to count and to teach him what shapes and colours are even without speaking them. Fingers crossed the talking will begin relentlessly soon. I’m sure BB is going to be very helpful whilst we await that elusive vocabulary to kick in, at which point I’m sure I’ll spend my time asking Little Man to be quiet!!

You can find out all about BB in his many versions at the BabogBaby website.

 

Product Review: Ministry Of Letters

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Book Review, Information, Product Reviews | Posted on 16-04-2012

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You’ll know by now how books are a big part of our lives in my house, and you’ll have some idea of the small libraries’ worth that my Little Man has, despite being just 18 months old. We hope that by having books in his life from an early age that he’ll continue to enjoy them throughout his life, and that he won’t be put off by the idea of words and reading. For a lot of children though reading, letters and the alphabet can be a hugely confusing and intimidating thing. “The Ministry Of Letters” has come up with a fun and interesting way for children to get to grips with this sometimes scary world with the help of a brilliantly entertaining book and website.

“Operation Alphabet” is the tale of Charlie Foxtrot, a little boy who starts school and finds letters and the alphabet totally confusing – he has a bad case of the ‘alphabetaheebeegeebees’. The SAS is called in – “Special Alphabet Services” – and with the help of some rhymes, songs and a whole heap of adventure Charlie finds that letters are so much fun.

This book is a brilliant tool for any young children who are about to start school, or have perhaps started and found themselves in a similar situation to Charlie. You also get a special poster of the alphabet to stick on your bedroom wall to remind your children of how the letters look and the order they come in. I think Little Man will adore this book and the Charlie Foxtrot story when he’s a bit older, and the poster will be a brilliant tool in helping him learn the shapes that make up the alphabet.

A brand new phonic app is landing on the website soon – The Orchestra Game – but for now why not take a look at the letters in action:

You can learn all about the Ministry Of Letters at their website, where you can order your copy of Operation Alphabet too!

 

 

Brit Mums Live: Introducing My Sponsor…

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Blogger Event, Brit Mums Live, Information, Product Launch | Posted on 15-03-2012

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It is with great excitement and much enthusiasm that I can officially announce my Brit Mums Live 2012 sponsor is… InspirationWorks!!!

How many people just said “Who?”

Whilst you might not have heard of InspirationWorks specifically, if you have children there is a reasonably high chance that you own a product which they have played a major part in.  Launched in 2005 InspirationWorks develop and distribute licensed electronic learning products in the UK. They have a huge range of laptops and phonics learning toys aimed at children from 12 months and upwards. Their licensed products feature popular characters including Peppa Pig, Bob The Builder, Waybuloo, Ben & Holly and the newest star of CBeebies Mike The Knight.

2012 will see InspirationWorks become more known as a brand as they release the Kurio – an Android tablet for children and families. The Kurio is a multimedia and entertainment device for children which has the benefit of full parental control and internet content filtering making the Kurio is THE safest tablet around to let your children use. You can even set timers for how long they play on it. What they are really going to love is the ability to personalise their own interface with their favourite licensed character. What you will love is that you don’t have to have Peppa Pig on your interface! Profiles are available so that it can be used by the children for fun and games, but can also be used by parents as a work device. Skins and cases will also be available for both children and adults for even more personalisation. Being Android it also means you can download any App you want from the same Android Market you’d find on your SmartPhone or other tablet.

The Kurio will be available to buy in July 2012 and comes in three sizes:

  • 7 Inch 800 x 480 capacitive multi-touch screen priced at £149.99 – Available from July
  • 9.7 Inch 1024 x 600 capacitive multi-touch screen priced at £199.99 – Available from Autumn
I’m sure you’ll agree that for something of this quality those are not-to-be-missed prices.
If you want a sneaky preview of the Kurio you’d better come and find me at Brit Mums because I will have a pre-release 7 Inch Kurio with me! The Kurio has advanced multimedia capabilities with a USB key and a SD card portal – it also comes with HDMI connection so can be used as a mobile HD video player.  A dedicated car mount system will be available to purchase to mount this in cars as a mobile DVD player – perfect for the children on car journeys. The Kurio has 4GB integrated memory, extendable up to 36GB using the micro SD card slot. The Kurio 7 Inch comes with a front and rear side camera so you little one can take photos of the world around them, or portraits of themselves!
I will be using it throughout the event for taking notes during the breakout sessions and tweeting, but I will also be demonstrating it to anyone who wants a look. The Kurio is guaranteed to be on your child’s Wish-List this summer so this is the ideal chance to get a first hand look at exactly what it can do. Bearing in mind that the Gadget Show Live named Kurio “Best of Show Gadget” at Toy Fair 2012 there is no doubting that this tablet is going to be huge.
I am so excited to be going to Brit Mums Live and so proud to be representing such a great company, and such a fantastic product. If you have any questions about InspirationWorks or the Kurio specifically don’t hesitate to tweet or email me and I’ll do my best to help!

Celebrate World Book Day With Autumn Publishing’s New Range

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Book Review, Competition, Product Reviews | Posted on 01-03-2012

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For an almost 17 month old Little Boy my son owns an alarming number of books. We are keen for books to pay a big part in his life, as well as the inevitable geeky toys and gadgetry. I’m always on the look out for good quality board books for him, or books for the future which I store in a box in the office. This World Book Day I would like to point you all in the direction of Autumn Publishing, and their new range of books where you’ll find something for children from 12months to 8years.

12 months +
Ideal first books are buggy books – board books which come with an elasticated strap and loop which can be fixed to a pram, a car seat or even the side of a cot. In association with Fisher Price, Autumn Publishing have two great buggy books which are beautifully sized for little hands. “My 123 Buggy Book” explores the world of animals with each of the pages showing a different number of animals. “My Animal Friends Book” contains more brightly coloured animal pictures from the usual birds and elephants to the less commonly used iguana. I love these buggy books because it means we can continue my Little Man’s love of books on the go!

If you’re looking for something a bit bigger for your little one to read whilst at home there is also a range of bigger Fisher Price books available, all containing the same characters from the board books. Four titles are available in this mini-series. “Roar” – which explores the noises animals make, “Where Do You Live?” – which as the title suggests looks at animals natural habitats, “4 Fluffy Ducks” – which looks at counting again, and “My First Colours” – which encourages counting and colour recognition. Unlike normal books this series has a shaped top which I think makes them more appealing and holdable to young children. As soon as this range left the box my Little Man was sat on the floor flipping through the pages – a bookworm in the making!

3 years +
For slightly older children Fisher Price returns once more with an amazing series of educational books that look great fun. The idea is to make learning fun, and I personally can’t wait until my Little Man is old enough to use these. A series of six titles are available and each contains progress charts, stickers and fun brightly coloured activities to encourage your child to learn, but also to enjoy themselves at the same time. Each book contains the same 5 characters – Maggie, Eddie, Sarah-Lynn, Sonya-Lee and Michael as they join your child in the world of learning. Titles include “Colours & Shapes”, “Numbers”, “Letters”, “Phonics”,  “Writing” and “Tell The Time”. These titles would make a great gift to set your little one on the road to learning.

For fun activities the “Fluffy Friends” range provides colouring in, puzzles and each book comes with over 100 stickers. Each book in the series follows the same pattern and design centred around a different animal – Kittens, Bunnies, Puppies and Ponies.

I have a complete set of these books to give away to one lucky reader!! For a chance to win all you need to do is tweet the following:

“I Want To #WinFluffyFriends With @AutPublishing and @SussexMummy”

The competition will close at 8pm on Friday March 9th and the lucky winner will be notified as soon as possible after that.

6 years +
These two books are perfect for your little one who has just started school.

“My First Atlas” helps them explore the countries of the world by telling them fascinating facts and providing brightly coloured detailed pictures. You learn about animals, industry, history, geography, weather and population in a fun and easy to read form. Each page also has a small globe at the top to show you where in world that country is!

“My First Encyclopaedia” introduces them to the the world around them. There are sections on history, the human body, space, the weather and so much more. The information is laid out in a clean and interesting manner to ensure your child’s attention is kept, and it will give them a great head start on topics they’ll cover in much greater detail later on.

Both titles include a special eight page section on the UK so they can learn more about the country in which they live, its history, its residents and its geography.

All the books featured above are available direct from the Autumn Publishing website and range in price from £2.99 to £6.99

Have a great World Book Day!!