Preschool learning activities- on a budget!

Today i have a guestpost by Jenny, Jenny is a qualified teacher and a parent. She blogs at Rabbit Ideas about Early Years literacy, on a budget. She enjoys reading, writing and thinking about how to use technology in education.   

Raising a child is notoriously expensive. Even the basic needs of food, housing, and clothing take a massive chunk out of most incomes, before you start thinking about ‘wants’ or ‘nice to have’ items on top of those needs. There is also a lot of pressure on parents to buy certain toys or gadgets for their children. So, here are three ideas for pre-school learning activities which won’t break the bank; many of them are completely free! 

 1) Start a ‘loose parts’ collection.
‘Loose parts’ is the term given to materials which can be moved around and picked up; fantastic for developing fine motor skills. Loose parts are so versatile; they can easily be utilised for early maths work, counting, weighing, balancing, ordering by size, grouping by shape or colour. They are also easily used in early art work, exploring pattern, texture and colour.
-Lolly sticks, glass beads, dominoes… are all bits and bobs we have collected.
-Stones and pebbles, shells, pinecones, acorns, conkers, feathers, twigs and sticks… are totally free in natural environments.
-Store them in a big Tupperware box or, even better, an old tool chest which has dividers inside.
-I usually choose 3 or 4 types of item from the box and set them up, then allow time and space for the kids to unpack them themselves and see what they come up with; for us this is the best of both worlds- they are directing the activity but are not overwhelmed by too much choice to start with! (Make sure you stay with children who are playing with small objects due to potential choking hazard).  


 2) Make a list of FREE things to do and rotate through it.
Although this is undoubtedly much easier in the warmer/drier months of the year, there are, nevertheless, lots of opportunities for free activities, wherever you live. For some of us that is a beach, woodland or park, for others, museums, train stations or even airports! Hopefully for all of us there is also a library relatively close by. If you make a list of free things to do and keep it handy- on the fridge works for us; then whenever you are at a loose end there should be some ideas for places to go! Taking an ‘eye spy’ list of things to look out for on the way can keep it fresh and exciting, even if it is somewhere you often visit.

3) Involve kids in daily life.
For young children, daily life is fun and interesting. They can:  
-chop mushrooms using a safety knife
-peel the layers from an onion
-sort socks into matching pairs
-water plants
-sow seeds into a pot
-mix ingredients when baking
-have boxes or shelves for their toys and help with tidying up
-wash toys in the sink or bath
This kind of activity is important; not only does it teach children about daily life, giving them vital experiences, but they are all things we can do whilst speaking and listening to each other. Being together like this while you are occupied, but still able to talk, is a great way to build relationships and communication skills; and it doesn’t cost anything!


What free or low-cost activities do you like doing with your preschooler?

Thank you Jenny thank you for sharing your ideas!


Blogger Essentials Box with Dot Creates

When it comes to my goals for this year I included goals for blogging and one of them goals was to be more organised. I came across the blogger essentials box with Dot creates and knew it would perfect because I love pretty stationery and it has the ideal contents for me to be more organised. 

After sharing images on social media of the box I found that quite of a few you are keen to see what is inside and my thoughts.

What's in the box?

- The ultimate blog planner ( you can choose which of the colours) 
- Blog planner note pad
- Believe and achieve sticker sheet
- You got this! sticker sheet
- Life is better in rose gold A5 print
- Eat, sleep, blog repeat A5 Print
- Do more of what makes you happy A6 print
- Learn to rest not quit A6 print
- Gold foil print pencil set

The planner
The planner is a great size (A5) and ideal for keeping me organised with my blog content. The planner has the ideal sections that I need such as loads of post planning pages, upcoming events, sponsored content space, AND notes pages. I like that it is spiral bound and has a clear plastic cover. There are monthly hand drawn quotes which I adore and will be keeping once I've used the planner all up. Its a 12 month planner which I also prefer, as its not dated you can also start using the planner at any point during the year. You can also keep an eye on monthly stats and much more. 

The stickers
The stickers are cute hand drawn with motivational quotes and illustrations which look great on/in your planner, notebooks, laptop etc. 



The prints
I love that you can purchase a wide range of prints from them and so I also ordered an extra print "Never let anyone dull your sparkle" All prints are on premium thick paper and the quotes and any images are hand drawn. They are ideal to use in flat lays as props, on your desk as motivational reminds or any other way you can think of. 


Pencils
These 4x white pencils with gold foil text are super sweet addition to your stationery collection. They are pretty, have great motivational quotes and if like me you can also use them in flat lay images. 


Blog Planner Notepad
Like the planner, the notepad has a content to-do section ideal for ideas on the go or if you run out of space in your planner. It's also A5 like the planner and has 50 tear away pages.

Overall the blogger essentials box has everything that a blogger needs to be organised and motivated on a daily basis. I feel that it is worth the money I paid for it and I fully recommend the set if you are in need of an organisation boost. 

A year and a day, lists and home made jumpers

Another week has flown by and it's time to share my little loves of the week.

Read

I'm getting my way through A Year and A Day by Isabelle Broom. A moving and romantic novel weaving  the love stories of three women who are on holiday in the snowy backdrop of Prague. I'm loving this book so much and its even made me add Prague to my list of places I'd love to visit one day. 


Watched 

A few craft videos on Facebook there are some great ideas of things I want to make with Blake and I'm definitely going to have to give some a try over the coming weeks.

Heard

First of all Blake has been counting and naming colours this week which is so sweet. I've also heard that annoying stick song from Hey Duggee that's doing the rounds on Facebook. 

Made 

Lists! I feel like I have so much I need to do at the moment and its so satisfying ticking them off. I also have started a list of blog post ideas and trying to plan a proper blogging routine.


Wore 

Blake is getting very fussy about clothes we put him in and wants to choose what he wears more often now. He is loving this gorgous jumper my mum made him. 


And lastly...

We are planning to go and see the snowdrops at a national trust place this weekend. I'm just hoping its not going to rain and have to change our plans. 

How to ensure your Party is Child-Friendly

*This is a collaborative guest post

Hosting a children’s party can be a nightmare, considering you have to somehow keep them all entertained, fed, watered and, most important of all, safe. If you have opened your home up to an army of little boys and girls, you can guarantee that if there is anything that is unsafe for children in arm’s reach, they are going to find it.
Don’t worry if it is your first time hosting a child’s party as even more seasoned, battled-hardened, parents get into a tizzy about making sure the home is safe. Just in case you are unsure as to whether you have covered all bases, below are our top tips for ensuring your party is child-friendly.


Remove Choking Hazards
Depending on how small the children are that you have come over, removing any potential choking hazard is a must. Small plastic toys, ornaments and anything else that is insight that you think an unknowing child may want to put into their mouth.
This also means that you should be smart with any keepsakes and party games that you are planning. Keep to age-appropriate games that kids can play as a group to avoid them from breaking up – it’s much harder to keep an eye on what they are doing when they are not altogether.
Plastic to a Minimum
As well as presenting a possible choking hazard, plastic can be a nightmare full-top. Children may decide to play with plastic bags and put them over their heads, which as we know can cause suffocation. On top of being a safety hazard, plastic is certainly not the most eco-friendly option that you can make use out of.
Paper bags are a safer and much more environmentally-friendly alternative to plastic that children can use to play with and take home any party favours. You can find a vast array of paper bags available from Little Cherry, which specialises in eco-friendly assortments.
Keep Pets at a Safe Distance
You obviously love the family pooch, and so too does your little one. However, not everyone may be as fond of dogs as you and could actually have a fear of them. It is not uncommon for children, who likely have not grown up around dogs, to be uneasy around a dog that may be the same size or bigger than them.
Even if it is in your dog’s nature to be friendly and introduce themselves, this could strike panic into the child and may lash out. Also, your dog may not contend well with numerous children running about the place where he would usually relax, so it is probably best to keep a safe distance between the children and pets.
Electricals
In the modern day, electricals present the biggest safety hazard for children in the home. Faulty wiring and open plug sockets are an accident waiting to happen. Ensure that all unused plug sockets are turned off and, better yet, are filled in with a safety plug, prohibiting children from attempting to force fingers into the holes.
If you have a number of electrical devices plugged into the same socket via an extension, you must make sure that a surge protector is fitted. This way, children can use as many electricals as they please without fear of the plug socket blowing up.
Food Allergies
Lastly, when inviting your children’s friends round for a party where food will be served, ask other parents for any special dietary needs. It can be easy to overlook a nut allergy and serve a snack that may contain nuts.
It is the parent's responsibility to advise of any allergies, but it is always best to be safe than sorry and double check before serving any food if you do not know for certain.


Bathroom interior design trends for 2018


*This is a collaborative guest post
Feature Image Credit: Photographee.eu/Shutterstock 

New Year, new bathroom interior design trends! The bathroom is where a lot of people find peace and some‘me’ time, whether they spend 5 minutes brushing their teeth or 30 minutes having a relaxing bath. Not to mention the fact most of the time the best lighting to take selfies is in the bathroom. This is why it’s important to keep this room up to date with the latest trends.
  1. Pay attention to detail
Credit: Kyle Santee/Shutterstock
As the adage goes ‘the devil is in the detail’, and this has never been truer than it is for your bathroom. If the taps in your bathroom are old and rusty then it can let down the look of the whole room. This is usually the first thing people truly notice when walking into the bathroom and washing their hands, so you need to make sure they are nice and shiny. Bristan taps are great as they can suit a multitude of bathroom designs, you just need to find the ones that work for yours. They are designed to last you for a long time and the latest collections are modern and eye-catching,
2. One material bathroom
Credit: Saulich Elena/Shutterstock 

This is a trend that was very popular in the 80s and has come back into style with fervour. If done properly it can make your bathroom look fabulous and extremely fashionable. Whether you choose to go with fun colours like bubble gum pink or lime green, or with more sober colours like pastels, greys and blacks, make sure you do your research or hire an interior designer to help you achieve the perfect look.
3.Invest in your bathroom radiators

Credit: archideaphoto/Shutterstock

You can use bathroom radiators not only for the heating purposes but also as a statement piece. Aluminium radiators are of particularly high quality and they can come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colours to suit your taste and bathroom design. A beautiful radiator can become the focal point of your bathroom instead of an eyesore.
4.Floating vanities
Credit: Koksharov Dmitry/Shutterstock 


So-called ‘floating’ vanities are usually made out of materials such as stone or wood, and the idea is that these materials will cover the plumbing components which will be tucked neatly underneath them. This way you eliminate unattractive plumbing peeking out from underneath the sink.

5.Move your bathtub to the bedroom 
Credit: Beyond Time/Shutterstock 

Yes, you heard that right. A trend that has been blowing up this year is having your bathtub in your bedroom. It isn’t something for everyone, but would definitely suit the romantic type. Light some candles around the room, put on a chick-flick, fill the bath and you have the perfect ending to a romantic evening.

6. Invest in a high Tec toilet 
Credit: supawat bursuk/Shutterstock 
For years Japan has invested in high-tech toilets, and lately the rest of the world is starting to pick up on this innovation too. With seat warmers, built-in deodorizers, automatic lid openers and many other amazing features, the high-tech toilet is definitely something worth purchasing. After all, you can’t put a price on comfort, or modernity!

A Guide to Choosing the Right Baby Bib


*This is a collaborative guest post

To paraphrase the great American statesman and scientist, Benjamin Franklin, there is nothing certain in the world, except for death, taxes and the fact that babies get really messy during feeding time. It is also an undeniable scientific fact that, regardless of how careful you are, babies will only consume a tenth of what they are fed – everything else will be smeared on their faces, clothes, walls and floors. Thankfully, we can count on baby bibs to save the day – as well as protecting baby clothes from being permanently stained.


In case you have been trapped inside an underground bomb shelter since World War II, baby bibs are basically napkins that are wrapped around the neck of babies. However, for obvious reasons, they are not made from linen or silk. Instead, baby bibs are usually made from a blend of synthetic materials that are light, easy to clean, and quicker to dry.


Aside from feeding time, bibs are also useful during teething and weaning as babies generate a lot of saliva. They can also be used on slightly older toddlers during messy activities such as painting.


Today, baby bibs have become one of the must-haves baby accessories in every home. It probably wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that there are hundreds of thousands of different varieties of bibs that are available in the market. Amazon alone carries over 142,000 different designs. However, don’t be alarmed by the huge number of choices, because all bibs essentially fall into one of the following four categories.




1. Regular/Feeding Bibs


This is the starter model, the barebones bib that gets the job done with minimal fuss. It comes in varying sizes, shapes and colours, and can be either tied or hung around a baby’s neck. The area of coverage is rectangular, and extends from the neck to the stomach. It’s always a good idea to keep a few of these lying around so you have ample time to wash and dry a bib after every meal.


2. Drooling Bibs


This is much smaller than a regular bib, and can be worn throughout the day. It’s perfect to stop the saliva and drool of teething babies from dirtying clothes, cots and floors. The small size ensures that babies don’t get tangled up in them.


3. Long Sleeved Bib


The long sleeved bibs are usually twice as large as regular bibs – sometimes larger. They are meant to protect a baby’s entire body from food, water and even water colours – anything out of the ordinary, really.


4. Dribble Bibs


Dribble bibs, sometimes known as bandana or drool bibs, serve two functions. The first is to protect babies from the usual suspects (food, saliva, etc.). The second function is fashion. Yes, you heard it right. Dribble, or bandana, bibs are fashionably designed bibs that are worn to complement a baby’s attire. Designs ranges from cowboy scarf and sailor’s scarf to flowery themed ones. In addition, the bibs are also sealed around the neck with adjustable Velcro snaps. Babies have never looked cuter!

Is 3 too young to have a tablet?


Hi everyone it's time for #TacticalTuesdays again  with Vicky and I 


If you have not joined in with this linky or need a reminder the idea behind the linky is that you share with us your Tactical Parenting posts/hacks for the week. This can be crafts, recipes, meal plans, reviews, parenting posts etc. Both old and new posts are welcome in the link up all you have to do is grab the badge at the end of the post and the rules are also stated below too.

It's a question that Stuart and I had been asking ourselves a lot recently. After a long debate about it we decided to get Blake his own Amazon fire for kids. It's definitely a topic that has mixed opinions and screen time is a topic I've wrote about before. 

At 3 some people feel that its too young for children to have their own tablet. Which I think is fair enough as everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Blake loves playing games on both my tablet and phone and so now we decided to get him his own tablet and be pretty strict with his usage. Here are the things we have decided to implement:

-Internet is turned off
-He is only allowed to use it for  short periods of time
-He has to do educational apps first such as learning shapes and numbers
-Once he has done 15 mins of educational stuff he can move onto playing a game or watch a kid's show.
-We also have a pin code so he can't go into mine and Stuart's accounts to change any settings. 
 We have it set so that he can only see and use age appropriate content 
- only we can download apps etc for him so we know what he is watching etc.

The Amazon fire for kids is suitable for children aged between 3 and 12 years.  I feel as children tend use technology a lot these days especially when it comes to some pre-schools and schools its worthwhile Blake learning how to start using them now.

I feel that a tablet at this age is perfectly fine if their are strict parental controls and that its not used all the time. I think apps can be a great way for children to learn as well as fun for them too.

This week's featured  post is from  Rabbit ideas with her post on 9 ways to support early literacy in your community. The post has such great ideas and definitely some I'll be doing I especially love the story sack idea.



Tactical Tuesday at Joanna Victoria

Win a £20 Amazon Voucher






 I'm giving away a £20 Amazon E-Voucher to one lucky person. To be in with the chance of winning all you need to do is enter via the rafflecopter below. The more entries you complete the better chance of winning! The winner will be announced on Twitter and Facebook a few days after the giveaway ends. 



HOW TO ENTER:
- Enter via the rafflecopter below
- Leave a comment below anwsering the question in the rafflecopter 
- The more entries you complete the better the chance of winning

T&C
- This competition will close on 5th of February 2018 at 12.00am GMT 
- The winner will be chosen at random and notified via email, twitter or facebook
- Open to UK residents ONLY
- You must be a UK resident and over 16


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Grimm, Disney and Wellies #LittleLoves

This week has been a rather busy one for me with not only having quite a few appointments and things to do. I decided to set up my own book club over on Facebook called Hooked on Books with Joanna Victoria

Here are some of the wonderful things from this week:

Read
I've finished last weeks book off and I have been dipping in and out of  Blogging your way to Riches by Emma Bradley and Lynn James. If you are new to blogging or are thinking of setting up a blog than this book is ideal for you. If like me you have been blogging for a while now than you may find some useful information depending on how advanced you are. For me the section of SEO  (Seach Engine Optimisation ) is very helpful as it's one area I've not really focused on and wish I had. 

Watched
I've recently started watching Grimm as it popped up as a reccomendation.
I've only watched the first 2 episodes of season one and liking it so far. If you enjoyed Once upon a time you may like Grimm as well. There are 6 seasons on Netflix with 22 episodes each apart from season 6 which has 13 episodes. 




Heard
Disney songs have been stuck in my head this week so I caved and listened to Disney songs on spotify. 

Made 

It's my Mums's birthday today, and we are seeing her tomorrow for lunch out. Blake and I made a super cute hand print flower craft as a little gift to give my mum. I found the idea over on Pinterest and am so glad we gave it a go.

Wore

We got wellies out for Blake this week as there was a day of it being wet and muddy. Unfortunately we had a meltdown with getting them on from Blake who refused to even walk in them to begin with and when he did it was so funny seeing him walk so stiff like a robot. As for me I've spent most of the week in jumpers as its been so bitterly cold.



And lastly...

After discussing with a few other bloggers on ways to improve my blog. I decided to purchase a new theme with pipdig. To save me much needed time they will be installing it for me over the next few days or so. 

Book Review: Pasta Kidz (The Inventing Tubes)

With sticking with the book theme this week I have set up a book club over on Facebook for all you book worms and would love for you to join. All you have to do is search Hooked on Books with Joanna Victoria over on Facebook. It's a friendly community to chat all things books from recommendations, questions, current reads etc. Both Bloggers and non bloggers are welcome to join in. 

Now onto a review of a fun kids book suitable for primarily 4- 7 years old that younger children such as Blake who is 3 will love too. Written by Bryony Supper.

"The Pasta Kidz and Pasta Petz Adventures introduce a brand new magical Pastaworld with different Pasta languages! Pasta musical instruments! Plus the Pasta Petz in their very own Pastamobile! Always at hand to help the Kidz and much, much more! All the Pasta kidz have their own unique personalities, and the differences in both appearance and language do  not matter. Friendship is the most important thing as they encounter fantastical Beings and Beasties. The Pasta Kidz and Petz invite you into their world."


The Inventing Tubes is the first book in the Pasta Kidz and Pasta Petz adventure series, with eleven more books to follow. In the book Marc Macaroni uses the inventing tubes to invent the fantastic Pastaball, Sarah Spaghetti is impatient and tries to invent her own without reading the instructions properly! The Pasta Petz arrive in the Pastamobile to save the day, however they are so busy no one hears the Pasta Beasties in the distance!

The book is a fun read I can see children finding this serious of books loads of fun. The Illustrations are colourful and eye catching. Near the end of the book is where you meet the Pasta Kidz and the Petz and I personally feel that I would have preferred this to be at the beginning on the book. There is also a Pasta Volcabulary which again I feel would have been better at the front of the book. Other than that It's a lovely read and we are looking forward to hearing more about their adventures. 

Raising A Reader (Tactical Tuesdays )

Welcome back to the third #TacticalTuesday of 2018 with Vicky and I 

If you have not joined in with this linky or need a reminder the idea behind the linky is that you share with us your Tactical Parenting posts/hacks for the week. This can be crafts, recipes, meal plans, reviews, parenting posts etc. Both old and new posts are welcome in the link up all you have to do is grab the badge at the end of the post and the rules are also stated below too.




If you are a regular reader than you will know that books are a big part of our lives. I've loved books and reading from a young age, so raising Blake to love books just as much as I do is important to me. At 3 Blake can't yet read but he does love his books whether its being read to or looking through them on his own.

There are many ways in which we can raise our children to be readers and I wanted to share with you how we are doing this with Blake.

1. Be a reader 
If you want to raise your child to love books and reading than be a reader yourself. You are a role model and by seeing you make time for reading they will want to follow suit.

2. Make books accessible
Blake has a bookshelf that he can easily access with a wide selection of books. We also have a basket in the living room for him to access books there.

3. Visit the Library 
We make sure we visit the library and choose a few books from there for him to take out so that he doesn't get bored of the books he has at home. It's free and you can make it a monthly or weekly visit for example.

4. Build reading into your routine
We always read to Blake everyday at different times when we can fit it in. Every night before bed while he is having his milk one of us will read him. It's part of his routine and something he looks forward to. 

5.Reading traditions
We have some books for set occasions for example Easter and Christmas. On these Occasions out come the books and its great for Blake to rediscover them. We also include the same book each year in Blake's Christmas Eve basket (The night before Christmas) 

This week's featured  post is from  Mummy from the heart (Parenting in the digital age). The internet is such a scary place and its so important to be one step ahead especially with how easy children can be groomed. It's so important for our children to also be taught to be aware of strangers.




Tactical Tuesday at Joanna Victoria