Thursday, 20 October 2016

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Sometimes You Just Need The Shoes...


But sometimes?

Sometimes you haven't bought yourself anything nice for four years because your children need new shoes and they have ruined your cheap couch with a delightful concoction of bodily fluids, milk, play dough and felt tip pen.

And sometimes you see some shoes and they remind you that there are other things in life to spend money on instead of stocking your kitchen cupboards with crap like Dairylea Dunkers and Fruit Winders, which masquerade as calcium and 'real fruit' laden snacks but which are so full of sugar that they immediately begin to decay your children's teeth on impact.

And sometimes, because you spend so much time couch-ridden of an evening, listening with baited breath to the baby monitor, desperately praying the children remain asleep ALL EFFING NIGHT, you realise it might be more comfortable to 'relax' on a couch which cost £2000 rather than £200.

And sometimes, because you basically spend almost every penny you earn on your children bar paying for petrol and wine, you decide that sod it.

You will buy the shoes and you will buy the couch (it's on 0% interest free credit and you pay nothing for a year anyway) because you realise that you can actually make life about people and love and warm fuzzy feelings like that. But you can do it all on a fancy couch in a shit-hot pair of heels.

Pink Pear Bear

Kidloland App Review

Me before kids: "I will not use electronics to entertain my children."

Me now: "Me before kids was a very na├»ve person."

The thing I have discovered about electronics - namely apps for children - is that they can be so educational.

I remember taking the Big One on holiday when he was two years old. I had an app of puzzles on my iPad. He loved it. He had the choice of ten jigsaws - I would never have been able to take that many actual jigsaws with me. I needed room for nappies, swim nappies and other essentials needed when taking a toddler abroad.

Ok, so he didn't develop the fine motor control he would have done with actual jigsaws (and we did take a few in our case) but trying to do a jigsaw on an aeroplane tray table would have been extremely stressful anyhow and as it was a 6am flight, I thought I'd be frowned upon if I ordered gin from the refreshment trolley to calm myself as I watched jigsaw pieces going everywhere.

So he used an app. The aspects of spatial awareness and problem solving were still being developed, not to mention the key skills of using technology (which, as a primary school teacher, I know is a key part of the curriculum and is becoming more and more challenging with every academic year - infants are now expected to program and code).

So when I was asked if I would like to try out the Kidloland App, I jumped at the chance. I read another review of it and checked it out as it sounded fab! The review said that there was so much within the app. Well I completely underestimated what they meant by 'so much'!

It is packed full of stories, songs, games, phonics, puzzles - and every aspect is interactive. There is tons my children have not yet discovered or explored which of course keeps it exciting and fresh for them.

Image result for kidloland

The Little One loves the stories and the songs. His favourite is Insy Winsy Spider - you can tap the spider and he moves around the screen - if you tap him at the right time, his movements will match what is happening in the song. That's one of the best things about this app - children can of course explore it independently but there are loads of ways an adult can help support them with it. I like to sit with him and show him what happens when we press the characters and explain cause and effect; "If we press him now, he will climb up the water spout" etc.

The Big One loves the games and there are some of varying degrees but all educational in some way. You will see in the video below that there are simple 'tapping' games where you burst balloons or bubbles. Of course, this develops hand-eye co-ordination which is where the Little One is still at in terms of development. But it also tells you shapes or colours or animal sounds or countless other things. There are more complex games (you can see them both playing Train Adventure in the video - they love trains - in fact any vehicles - so the whole section on Vehicles in the app is very popular!) which combine different skills - tapping, dragging shapes to fit (matching), and picking objects by initial sound - to name just a few.

I was a bit dubious about the phonics initially because it is an American app and I was unsure about whether it would focus on letter names rather than sounds and I know how important learning the sounds is. However, the phonics section is structured brilliantly with a song for every letter which explains how the letter name makes a particular sound. You can then follow each letter through and play games like recognising the letter and selecting initial sound objects. The only thing I'd like to see here is more lowercase letters as this is what my son is learning primarily at the moment. Having said that, he seems to have picked up the relationship between letter and sound with the uppercase letters on the app and it is having a really positive effect on his sound and letter recognition and, as a result, on his reading.

We are really enjoying this app - there is so much more to explore. I think the eldest is probably just getting to the point where it wont challenge him for much longer but he's four so I suppose that's the be expected. The youngest however, will have loads of fun with this - it can really grow with him and he can develop different skills as he gets older. There is more than enough content for him to do something different every day for a year I reckon!

Have a look at the boys exploring the app below:

If you want to check out Kidloland simply search for it in the App Store or on Google Play as it is available for both iOS, Android and on the Amazon App Store. Click below for the appropriate link. It is £29.99 for a year's subscription but it is something I will definitely consider updating when ours runs out as I think the youngest will get another few years out of this!

iOS (KidloLand)

*I was given a year's free subscription in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and experiences are strictly my own*

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Fab Friday Linky #50

Welcome to the Fab Friday Linky hosted by the fantastic Su at Ethan n Evelyn and co-hosted, this week, by me!

I linked up to one of the first Fab Friday linkys and was a featured blogger so it's lovely to be asked to co-host for the fiftieth Linky!

So come and share your posts with us today!

Please grab the badge code from the sidebar on the Ethan and Evelyn homepage and add it to your post. 


The posts could be about anything relating to parenting, lifestyle, crafts, reviews and related competitions. Either Su or I (if you are lucky you get both of us!) will comment on your link and we will pick two to be featured on next week's #FabFridayPost blog.

#FabFridayPost weekly linky open every Friday – Monday, (11:45pm)

Here are the rules:

  • This week you can link up to 3 posts – old or new.
  • Please add #FabFridayPost Badge – it is only fair that everyone play by the same rule. If not, it will be deleted. Thank you.
  • PLEASE kindly Tweet us with #FabFridayPost @ethannevelyn & @attwtwo to let us know that you have posted and we will RT back. Thank you.
  • Share the love – please do not drop and run away! Comment on all host posts and also comment on at least 2 other posts, including one in front of you.
  • Please also share all posts you have read on Twitter with the #FabFridayPost hashtag. After all this is what it’s all about!
Onto the posts! Can't wait to read them all and thank you for linking up :) 

Saturday, 17 September 2016

I'm a Finalist!

Well I can't really believe it! I'm a finalist in the Mum and Working awards 2016! (Disclaimer: there may be a lot of exclamation marks in this post due to excitement!)

I was amazed and thrilled to make the shortlist so to make the final six is such an honour. I'm so grateful to anyone and everyone who voted to get me this far (thanks Mum!) and I'm in amazing company with Tired Daddy, A Working Mum's Blog, What the Redhead Said, Honey Mumster and Mumpreneur Inspiration.

They are all absolutely brilliant (and I'm the only one without my own domain name). As a result I don't fancy my chances for the win! I wouldn't say my work related blogging is particularly inspirational but it is honest and from the heart. My most recent post (which is equally about parenting and teaching) is my most read by a long way and has had the best response on Facebook by teaching parents who can obviously relate.

I love my jobs - as Mummy and as Teacher - and it was natural that I would blog about both: they complement each other. I genuinely think that being a mum has made me a better teacher, and being a teacher has made me a better mum.

So whether I win or not, I will continue to blog about both. I am humbled and honoured to be recognised in both roles and to win would be the icing on the cake.

But, no matter what, I will always be proud to be a teaching Mummy. And I'll always be proud to have made the finals.

To find out more about Mum and Working, the great things they do and the awards, simply click here.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Dear Parents. From Teacher.

Dear Parents

I'm sorry your child wet themselves today because they were so busy playing and didn't make it to the toilet on time. I'm sorry I didn't realise they had their own spare pants in their bag. I'm sorry I put them in pants from the 'spare uniform' box.

I'm sorry your child fell off the climbing frame today and bumped his head. I was standing right there. He was so excited to show me how he could swing upside down from the monkey bars. I'm sorry I turned round to answer the child who had just wet himself. I'm sorry I wasn't quick enough to catch him.

I'm sorry I haven't had a chance to read with your child yet this week. Another child had fallen off the climbing frame and came in with a head injury. As important as your child's reading is, head injuries will always take precedent over reading. I promise to try and read with her tomorrow.

I'm sorry your child came home with paint all over her shirt. I told her she needed an apron on and they are hanging up right next to the painting area. I was reading with another child so I didn't have my eyes on the painting area the entire time. I'm sorry I didn't see until her shirt was covered in paint.

I'm sorry that another child pushed your child over today. I was busy trying to clean paint off another child's shirt and I had my back to your child. I'm sorry that I couldn't stop the pushing and that all I can offer is that the other child had 'time out'.

I'm sorry that your child has sand in his hair. I was busy explaining to another child why we don't push each other and talking her through the rules of time out. I couldn't see the sand tray from where we were talking.

I'm sorry that your child cannot, with the best will in the world, be the only child in my care. I know how you feel. I want my child to be looked out for in school too. I don't want him pushed over. I don't want him to fall off the climbing frame. I want him to read with his teacher every week.

But, maybe because I understand the demands of the classroom, I know that this might not always be the case. Because I know this:

I am teaching your child to be independent.

That means letting him climb to his heart's content on the climbing frame whilst sharing in his successes and making sure he doesn't push himself beyond his limits. But sometimes accidents happen.

It means that sometimes she will have paint all over her. She is learning to take responsibility for things like putting an apron on. But more importantly, it means that she has been learning to express herself creatively.

It means that sometimes other children might push him over. Your child might understand socially appropriate behaviour. Others don't. It is my job to help teach them. Without these situations, some children will never learn. They will become adolescents who push then adults who push. Sometimes they need a reason to have 'time out'. To reflect on their behaviour.

It means that sometimes your child might be wearing spare uniform. As her independence develops, she will need to wear it less.

But you know what else it means?

It means I allow someone else to look after and care for my children (and I pay for the privilege) so that I can come to work and care for your children instead.

Whilst my child is busy painting me a picture at nursery, I am being grumbled at because your child has paint on her shirt.

Whilst my child has split his lip falling off the slide at nursery, I am being told I should have been watching your child more closely.

Whilst my child is playing in the sand, I am being told I am not caring for your child properly.

I am caring for your child instead of caring for my own child.

Not just for money. But because I love my job. Because I know how important it is to me to have caring, loving professionals looking after my children.

I am that caring, loving professional for your child. But I only have two eyes. I only have two hands. Your child is your world. But I have thirty little worlds in one classroom and that's a lot of worlds to take care of.

So please don't take me for granted. I am caring for your child in place of my own. And I am doing so much that you don't see.

From Teacher

Pink Pear Bear

Monday, 22 August 2016

When Peppa Pig is Just Plain Silly

Peppa Pig is silly.

All the animals walk on two legs, talk and live in houses on the top of hills*. Miss Rabbit does all all the jobs. But I'm not even talking about that. I'm talking about moments within the world of Peppa Pig which just make no sense and are borderline ridiculous/confusing. 

Here are a few of my bug bears (and yes, I have devoted way too much time to Peppa Pig here):

1. Most of the characters have alliterative names. Even Zoe Zebra's twin sisters have (made up?!) alliterative names in Zuzu and Zaza. What, therefore, is the explanation for poor George Pig? Chloe Pig has also been denied a name in fitting with her pigginess although I think the creators were going along the lines of 'Cousin Chloe'. Poor Chloe; destined forever to introduce herself as a relation to Peppa Pig in order to capitalise on her alliterative name. And her baby brother, also a pig? Alexander. These poor infant piggies.

*2. Whilst we're talking about most of the characters, let's talk about the fact that being true to nature went decidedly out of the window the moment the creators decided to make animals talk. And live in houses. Why, then, did it suddenly become crucial to maintain a bit of scientific fact and have the rabbits live in a burrow. These rabbits talk, wear clothes and make carrot soup (in a blender probably - no doubt the burrow is on grid) so why not just let them live in a house like the rest of the inhabitants of Peppa Pig world? I appreciate the education in the episode where we learn about the burrow but this then just makes my children think it's all educational and that pigs sleep in bunk beds.

3. Now I know Peppa is in some sort of Narnia where time never really moves on and so, despite the odd birthday party here and there, the animals remain forever the same age. So I understand why George never really grows his vocabulary or the ability to speak in sentences. But I am perplexed at the way he says "Ganpa ig". He can clearly pronounce the 'p' because he says it in "Ganpa". Why then can he not pronounce it in 'pig'? 

4. Have you ever blown arm bands up? It's tough going sometimes. Now imagine blowing them up whilst already on your kids' arms like Daddy Pig does when they all go to the swimming pool (the same episode in which eighteen month old George is left to change himself for swimming independently in his own cubicle?!) Poor Peppa and George; it'd be like having your blood pressure checked before entering the pool.

5. My eldest is four. I'm considering sending him alone on the train to France and then calling his destination a few minutes before his arrival just to inform them he's staying there. Sound ridiculous? Spare a thought then for poor Delphine Donkey who is, at a similar age, sent from France with a quick courtesy call to inform Peppa's family of her arrival two minutes before she gets to the station. Her parents don't even know if Peppa and the gang are at home! They could be on a month's holiday in Barbados. Thankfully they are at home and Delphine gets to enjoy such wonderfully cultural experiences as 'The Bing Bong Song' whilst attending playgroup with Peppa. Lucky Delphine. She probably wishes the pigs had been in Barbados. 

6. The animals have pets. It's confusing. Some animals can drive cars and shop in supermarkets whilst others remain as nature intended (ducks, Goldy the fish, Tiddles the tortoise). Maybe it's a mammals vs others thing?

7. Whilst we're discussing different animals, with the exception of the pets, all the animals are the same size. So an elephant is the same size as a cat who is the same size as a hamster (with a PhD in veterinary practice and an irritating voice). The only exception to size is age. Otherwise kangaroos and rabbits are one and the same.

8. Mr Potato. As if Peppa Pig world wasn't weird enough, the inhabitants have a potato the same size as an adult pig/rabbit/zebra/elephant (see previous point) who talks, hosts his own TV show and has his own theme park. As a local celebrity he is definitely an unusual choice. 

The thing with Peppa Pig is that, despite all the silliness, it is somehow genius for children. I'll never forget the moment I realised that Madame Gazelle (the French, single, playgroup leader with delightful eyeshadow) sounds so close to 'Mademoiselle' that it can't have been an accident. 

All  ridiculousness forgiven. Just.

Proudly linking up with:
Pink Pear Bear
Rhyming with Wine