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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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Review: Ravensburger Flashcards

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Product Reviews | Posted on 11-09-2014

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Readers of my blog will perhaps be aware that Little Man has some speech issues. I think it is technically described as “Speech Delay”. He has full understanding of what people are saying to him and he wants to respond or reply, but he doesn’t always know how. He uses a mix of speech and sign language and more often than not he gets his point across. This has improved vastly since he began preschool last September and everyone who knows him has commented on a great improvement again since the arrival of Little Dude. There are lots of people out there that are helping him and guiding us, but basically talking to him is going to get his vocabulary and speech improving. As a reviewer I like to keep my eyes open for product offers that I think will help us in our quest to get Little Man speaking, and so I was very keen to review the new flashcards from Ravensburger. I’m aware that there is mixed opinions about flashcards as a learning tool, especially with children this young. I think they’re great, and Little Man reacts well to them so I was sure they could only help. We were sent two sets to review: My First Flashcards and My First Number Flashcards.

My First Flashcards is a set of 34 double sided cards. On one side is a child friendly picture of an object with the word written below, and on the other side is just the word. This means you can show your child the pictured side and you’ll be able to tell what they are looking at. It also means you could put the cards picture side down and ask your child to pick out a certain card by reading the word, but at almost four we’re not quite at that point yet. We’ve been using the cards in groups, taking out eight at a time and going through them. I ask Little Man to identify the picture if he can, and if not I say the word for him. We try to talk about the picture as well, for example with the picture of the apple I might say “Oh you like apples don’t you? You had one for your snack this morning. I like apples as well.” With some of the shorter words, and especially with words that he can say we also sound out the words and highlight each letter. This works best we’ve found with the three or four letter words like “Cat” or “Fish”. We also make a bit of fuss over words that start with the first letter of his name as that’s one of the letters he instantly recognises.

My First Number Flashcards is a set of 35 double sided cards, set up in quite the same way as the other set, but contains smaller sets within it. First of all there are cards with numbers and pictures on one side counting up to 20 from 0. On the reverse is the word, again going from zero to twenty. Next up there are five symbol cards, with the symbol on one side and its name on the reverse. This set incorporates plus, minus, times, divides and equals. There are then the mathematical terms more and less. The remaining cards feature a number of dots ranging from 1 up to 20 set out in a variety of patterns for your little one to count. All numbers aren’t there but there is a decent range. We’ve only used the picture cards so far, encouraging Little Man to count past ten and up to twenty. He’s really good at counting from 1 to 10 and with these cards he now can go a little further with some help when saying each number.

We’ve had a lot of fun with these cards, and I think they’ve helped Little Man greatly. He’s learnt a selection of brand new words and numbers and has greater recognition of words and numbers he already knows. I am a big fan of these cards as they are a great handy size and are all so bright and colourful – perfect for appealing to young children. The style of the pictures is really fun and the words and numbers are all written clearly. A great tool for expanding vocabulary as well as encouraging reading, spelling and basic maths later on. Definitely something we’ll be coming back to again and again.

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.



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.


Toddler Talk & Chatting With Children

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Information, Product Reviews | Posted on 29-11-2012

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Little Man has been doing baby sign language classes since he was 6 months old, and I couldn’t be more thrilled with how he’s taken to them and the vast number of words he knows and signs because of it. One this he doesn’t really do is talk. He was 2 in October and his speech isn’t that good. He says “Dadda” and “Mamma” and we get the occasional “More”. He also has good attempts at saying “Teddy” and “Jessie” – the name of his beloved toy cat – but otherwise he’s not very vocal. I know it’ll come and I’m not worried at all, but I was definitely interested when we were offered a couple of products from I-Can – a children’s communication charity.

Toddler Talk
The Toddler Talk pack comes with a series of A5 cards with a tasks to do with your toddler to help encourage their speech. There are five key skills for your toddler to learn – “Attention & Listening”, “Understanding”, “Learning & Using New Words”, “Building Sentences” and “Talking Socially”. It all sounds a bit dramatic I know, but reading through it, it makes great sense. Toddler need to listen to learn, they need to understand what is said to them to respond, they need to know what words to use, they need to use sentences that make sense, and they need to be able to talk to people other than their parents. The five skills are then broken down into tasks and activities on 6 subjects – “Outside”, “Me & My Friends”, “Body Parts”, “Animals”, “Food” and “Clothes”. There is no need to find any of this daunting – its all very relaxed and you probably won’t even need to cover every card and activity. Whilst Little Man doesn’t speak he has incredible understanding. He understands what is being said to him and can respond by doing what he’s asked or signing his response. We just need to make that leap from signing “Drink” for example to him saying “Drink” or “Can I have a drink?”.
I’m really impressed with the way Toddler Talk is laid out and the reassuring advice it provides. I’ve tried a few of the activities with Little Man and whilst we’re still waiting on a vast change in his vocabulary its giving us fun activities and increasing his knowledge and understanding. He jabbers away in his own little language and the noises he makes are increasingly sounding like real words as opposed to vague noises. His speech is coming and I know he’ll be chattering away before long. Hopefully with the help of Toddler Talk it’ll come a little sooner or at least be of a wider vocabulary than without. No doubt he’ll be talking none stop soon and I’ll be wishing he’d shut up!

Chatting With Children
Following on from Toddler Talk, Chatting With Children is aimed at children aged between 3 and 5. The set up is exactly the same as the previous series with the same skills and subjects being used, its just a matter of widening the range of words and giving your child that extra boost of confidence. As your child approaches 5 they’ll be heading off to school. Even if they’ve been in Nursery or Pre-School before then, this will be the start of their educational journey and a good understanding of words and ability to communicate will be hugely beneficial. This set of activities also comes with extra ideas in case your child finds the original activity either “Too Hard” or “Too Easy”.

As well as providing you with activities to help your child speech these two packs from I-Can also provides you with a great opportunity to spend quality time with your child. Teaching your child anything is hugely rewarding, and what better than the ability to talk to you, and others. Baby sign language has given Little Man and I the ability to communicate from early on, and I’m convinced its reduced the frustration that we would both have felt had we not been able to tell each other what we want. Talking and speech is the next step, and I honestly can’t wait!

If you have any concerns about your childs speech and development the best person to speak to is your Health Visitor and GP. For helpful advice and tips, and to learn more about the I-Can charity, take a look at their comprehensive website and online store.