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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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#BookReview: “Play” by Amanda Gummer

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Book Review | Posted on 03-05-2015

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As parents we want to give our children the best possible start in life, and we want to do all we can to aid their development. Milestones are something I don’t take much notice of because all children are different and they all develop at different rates, but I still want to ensure my two boys are following them “approximately”. ‘Learning Through Play’ is a great way of encouraging and aiding development in children of all ages. Play is a massive part of their lives from very early on, and can be a big part of their learning as well as their entertainment. A new book from Dr Amanda Gummer entitled “Play” provides a guide to “help your child reach their full potential.” We were sent a copy to take a look at.


The book is divided into age based sections, following a similar pattern to clothes sizes actually! With my two I was most interested in the 12-18 months section and 4 years and older, but I did have a brief look at the other sections too. Each section talks a bit about what your child “should” be doing – again with the milestones pressures – and how you can encourage the different aspects of their development by playing certain games, or doing certain activities. For example with Little Dude who will be 1 in just under a fortnight (how, I do not know…) it suggests shape sorters, building blocks and ride on toys as something to focus on. There is a lot of focus on the child’s new found mobility, and both the fun and dangers this can present. For Little Man who is just four and half, there is a focus on starting school (which he will be doing in September) with activities to encourage social skills, following instructions and their imagination, like small world play and simple ‘Simon Says’ games. Each section also includes ten fun activities to do with your child, as well as space to make your own notes and observations, so its rather like a memory book as well.

I found this to be a very interesting book to dip into. Some parts definitely got me thinking, other parts didn’t seem age appropriate for my two, but as I said children develop at different speeds and nobody knows your child better than you. Some of the activities and toy suggestions generally seemed a bit young for my boys, but that’s just us. I like the idea of using the book as somewhere to write your memories in, but we’ve never been organised enough to do that in any form with either boy! There was a lot of information which I regarded as obvious, but there were certainly tips and play ideas that I will definitely be utilising as a parent. We’ll definitely be looking in more detail at the advice on preparing for school with Little Man as we approach September for example.

On the whole this is an informative book and certainly one to use as and when required, but for us at least, I wouldn’t live my life by it. As with all parenting guides they should be taken as just that, guides and not rules. No two children are the same, and they certainly haven’t read any of the manuals, so I don’t think they can be expected to live by them. Parenting is a chaotic and fun journey, and whilst all the advice that’s out there is helpful and well meant, I think at the end of the day its down to US to raise our children, not the “experts”.

“PLAY” by Dr Amanda Gummer is out on May 7th.

Guest Post: Toddlers & Tablets – What You Need To Consider

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Guest Post, Information | Posted on 07-02-2013

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Bringing up children before the digital age was far more basic. There has always been plenty to do using pens, paper, toys and a little imagination, but now it can be hard to narrow down exactly what you need. As a modern parent you are probably keen to use tablets in your parenting – and here is how you can:

Tablets for drawing

One of the things children love to do more than anything else is draw. Obviously, you could just give them some paper and some crayons but there are tablets available that can bring this activity into the modern age and
many parents already are already doing this.

Take your pick from standalone tablets for colouring, drawing or attachments to games consoles. The latter of which can save you a lot of money by using a console you already own, such as Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 or Nintendo Wii.

Parenting apps

A new tablet, of course, doesn’t only have to be for your toddler. As a parent, these handy devices can also help you by offering tips and advice when needed. There are apps available on the Android store that help you to cook the right food and respond correctly to your child’s concerns so you can get even more use out of your tablet.

Always supervise

It goes without saying that your child’s tablet use should be supervised at all times by a parent or guardian. Tablets aimed at the child market have been designed to be perfectly safe but as with any toy, youngsters should not be left to their own devices. By interacting with them whilst they use the tablet you could also enhance the benefits which they gain from it too.

Limit their time on tablets

A tablet can be a fantastic learning aid for small children, with apps available to help them spell, learn and talk. However, it should be used sparingly as a supplement to your child’s learning and development rather than a straight substitute for other methods.

Festive Family Fun: Dear Santa

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Christmas, Competition, Days Out, Product Reviews | Posted on 13-12-2012

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If you are lucky enough to live within reach of Horsham, West Sussex and are looking for something festive to do with your little ones this Christmas I implore you to go to the Capitol and see their production of “Dear Santa”. Its based on the lovely book by Rod Campbell and is ideal for children under 5.

We’ve never been to the Capitol before and Little Man has never seen any kind of stage production so I was a little nervous heading in there on my own. Santa is a new concept to Little Man, but he is beginning to recognise him in shops and on decorations so I was hopeful for some enthusiasm. Upon arrival we collected our tickets from the Box Office and Little Man immediately made himself at home in the foyer.

About ten minutes before the performance was due to begin we began making our way to the “Studio”. It is upstairs at the Capitol but there’s a good sized lift as well as a flight of stairs. Prams can be left downstairs in the bar area. The “Studio” is a compact room with tiered seating which is essential for a performance aimed at little children, and has a small stage area which was set up and ready. It looked magical.

The stage was split into two rooms – the bedroom of Sarah, the little girl who writes to Santa, and Santa’s workshop where he and his Elf wrap and sort presents ready for Christmas Eve. By having both rooms on the same stage at the same time it allowed the production to flow easily and kept it to about 30 minutes. We were sat three rows back and Little Man had a great view from my knee pointing out things he could see on the stage. It took me a while to spot most of them myself!

The length of the production is ideal for even the most fidgety child and the cast of just three characters – Sarah, the Elf, and Santa – are a joy to watch. There is plenty of interaction with the audience and the chance to sing songs, clap along and call out for Santa when he makes his big entrance. The story itself is a simple one but gives a great message to the young and old members of the audience as Christmas nears and the great shopping fest begins. After the production ends there is even a chance to meet Santa himself and get your photo taken with him, and there are small presents for the children too. An amazing and magical family treat.

I would hugely recommend this to anyone who can get to Horsham this winter to see it. The show is on now until Christmas Eve with at least two performances a day, with extra on Saturdays and the days before Christmas. Tickets are £9 for adults and £7.50 for children, and if you book online you can choose your own seats. Full details can be found at the Capitol website.

Competition: I have a copy of the lovely Rod Campbell book “Dear Santa” to give away to one lucky reader. To enter just tweet the following message:

“I Want To Win #DearSanta This Christmas With @SussexMummy!”

The competition ends at 8pm on Tuesday 18th December and the winner will be notified asap. I will also endeavor to get the book to you in time for Christmas!!

Rainy Day Play: Big Jigs Toys

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Product Reviews | Posted on 25-09-2012

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I think we can officially say that the summer has ended, and somewhat abruptly at that! Its been a fairly constant downpour here for the last few days making going outside to play a little tricky. Playing indoors doesn’t have to be dull though, and it certainly doesn’t need to mean hours plonked in front of the TV. How about letting your little ones use their imaginations?

Cup of fruit tea anyone? Piece of cake? How’s about a biscuit?

These sets from Big Jigs are just adorable. First up is their “Tea For Two” set. This is made up of two plate, two cups, two cupcakes, two biscuits and two halves of a ham sandwich – this is held together with velcro so can be taken apart and put back together. Next is a box containing six additional cakes – chocolate, Victoria sponge, a custard slice and three more cupcakes. It also comes with the fetching checkered tablecloth you can see. Finally there is a box of tea bags. This for me was THE cutest thing ever. Four wooden teabags with strings attached and small labels indicating their flavour.

Wooden toys are brilliant, and these are just gorgeous. They are so well made and the detail which has gone into decorating them is exquisite. My Little Man loves to have little tea parties and if Mummy is very lucky she gets invited too. The cakes look very realistic and Little Man can often be found sucking on the end of one. Thankfully the paint used is child friendly so he’s in no danger. He sets it all up himself and even pops teabags into the green cups. I’m currently trying to teach him “Cheers” but he just laughs at me at the moment!

This is a beautiful toy for both boys and girls for indoor play, but also for picnics in the garden with friends or teddy bears. These are going to last a very long time, and I can see Little Man, and Mummy, getting many years use out of them.

You can find these sets, as well as many other additional cake items and imagination toys, on the Big Jigs website where you also be able to find details of your nearest stockist.

Product Review: Outdoor Toys From Chad Valley

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Product Reviews | Posted on 13-09-2012

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The summer holidays might be over, but the weather at the moment is far from Autumnal… well here anyway! If you’re looking for some toys for the garden to keep your toddlers entertained, perhaps now their older siblings have returned to school, look no further than the Chad Valley range.

Chad Valley Golf & Cricket Set
For those sporty little ones this is a great toy. Suitable from age 3 this adorable set comes with two sporting kits. The Golf set comprises of 3 clubs, 3 balls, 2 “holes”, 2 flags and a bag to carry them in. The Cricket set has stumps and bails, a cricket bat and two balls. This is ideal if you’re little ones are fans of watching either sport on TV or perhaps if Daddy plays already and they want to mimic. Made of sturdy plastic this set is ideal for playing in the back garden or even at the park with friends.

Chad Valley Play Tunnel
Hours of entertainment can be had with this simple toy. The play tunnel is 1m in length and can be used indoors or out. It “pops-up” and can be folded down flat for easy storage. This is great for crawling through, rolling around inside, or playing the ever popular “peek-a-boo” with. Multiple tunnels can be purchased and then fastened together, and you can also get a larger tent which these tunnels can feed into. It would also make the perfect addition to an obstacle course!

Chad Valley toys are available from Argos.