21 January 2017

Playdough- one of your 5 a day, right?

''Paydoughs' Mummy, Pease'' I hear coming from over by the craft cupboard, a look of longing on Little 3's cheeky face as he tugs on the hairband I have wrapped around the handles to prevent him getting all the paint out. There are very few days that go by where he does not ask to play with the colourful squishy stuff, I find it hard to resist that little grin and he knows it.

After selecting his colours and the box of tools he will take it over to the table and ask to sit in the highchair. It is quite a therapeutic thing playing with playdough when you are a grown up and I actually really enjoy it!

We make all manner of things together but often lots and lots of little balls, you see Little 3 has a thing about rolling and throwing at the moment and loves making the little balls of playdough roll around the table and generally litter the carpet with for me to clear up!

Little 3 is fully in discovering and investigating mode at the moment, he will sit for ages trying to put the lid on the playdough tub or looking at the shape cutters and cutting out shapes. He can name quite a few now.

We have picnic parties together, where we make playdough biscuits and plates of food. Little 3 is using a little knife and fork at meals now instead of a spoon and loves to 'chop', he spends a great deal of time trying to chop his playdough and practice cutting.

But like many things with a 22 month old, the playdough always ends up in his mouth, sometimes we will play for nearly an hour and others just 5 minutes before the stuff gets closer to those cheeky chops. 

He gets a warning and I tell him 'No' but still he looks at me with that sneaky look and tries a nibble, I tell him if he does it again we will put it away and then we do because inevitably he has put it in his mouth again. But playdough, it is one of your five a day right?

19 January 2017

Little 1 tries 'Education Quizzes'

Little 1 is a very conscientious student, she works very hard at school and is doing really well. After school she often comes home and starts writing out her times tables asking me to check them or sits down to write a story practicing her joined up writing which is coming along nicely. She is trying very hard to write neatly and accurately with her pencil hoping that she can earn her 'pen licence' at school soon enabling her to use a pen instead. 

Often she will ask me to write a few sums for her or pick up one of the educational puzzle books we have and spend a while doing that always asking me to mark them and feeling proud of her attempts and pleased with her achievements. 

She has a genuine interest in doing well at school and is often looking for a challenge, as a parent I am happy that she has a positive attitude to school and look for ways to nurture her interest whilst being aware that she is a young child and needs down time from school and work too.

We have recently been asked to take a look at a website called Education Quizzes, obviously this is a website containing lots and lots of quizzes for children right through from Key Stage 1 (Year one and two at Primary School) to GCSE level, with all the quizzes being written by teachers. Little 1 was really interested in having a go and after my help logging in and finding the Key Stage One (KS1) section for her age at the top of the page she delved in and had a look at some of the quizzes.

We both loved the fact that every subject is covered, English, Maths and Science are there but so is Geography, D and T, and PSHE too name a few and even times tables. Little 1 was really impressed that she could choose all the subjects and have a go at something different. She chose to click on History- I was impressed that there were over 50 quizzes on the history page and having looked at the other subjects over the past couple of weeks and had a browse myself through other age groups there are absolutely load of quizzes on each subject. All the quizzes are related to the curriculum and there are so many different things covered too.

Last term Little 1 learnt about The Great Fire of London and clicked on that quiz, the quizzes are multiple choice with an image to go with each question. Little 1 was pleased to get all 10 right and started looking at other things she had done in the past and trying to remember them before having a go at one or two things that she has not learnt yet.

Little 1 enjoyed doing the quizzes but she did find the format a little uninteresting and didn't stay long on the site at any one time although she has returned to it on several different occasions, particularly when she did something new at school and wanted to hop on and and test herself on it. I think, especially for the younger ones, something a little more interactive and attention grabbing would hold their attention longer rather than just clicking on an answer, like moving images or coloured interesting font perhaps.

I think the site is great for children like Little 1 who want to test themselves or see what they know about a particular topic and even Little 2 who is in Reception had a go alongside her sister at a few phonics quizzes. I believe the site is more attractive to slightly older children whose attention is better and who aren't bothered by the plain format of the quizzes. I think this site would be a great tool for revision before an 11+ or GCSE's as it covers such a range of topics.

The cost of the subscription to the site is £9.95 a month which is a bit too much for me but it's good value if you have several children who would use it. The subscription can be cancelled anytime so if you just wanted to join for a couple of months before some exams or over the summer then it would be a useful tool. Education Quizzes is also available for schools to subscribe to so that all their pupils can use it so if you think it is something your child and their classmates would like then why not tell your school all about it, it could win them brownie points with Ofsted too.

Education Quizzes also has a blog Nature Matters where they write a daily post all about nature - Animals, Seasons, and Science type posts, we hopped on and took a look. Little 1 loved reading some facts about Venus yesterday as she has an interest in Space at the moment, she has returned to this site each day to see what the next post is, I think she quite likes it and I find it interesting too!

N.B This is a collaborative post.

12 January 2017

Taking in the Winter sun at Slimbridge

For Christmas we received a years membership to the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) from Uncle M as he knew the Little Ones love to feed the ducks and could only frequent the canal near us so many times before they were going to get fed up of the same few duck feeding haunts! We live a short drive away from the Slimbridge WWT centre and have been members before but not since Little 2 and 3 came along and so it was a lovely surprise to open our package, we couldn't wait to go and feed the birds.

So the day after Boxing day, having been indoors visiting relatives and eating far too much for two days, we decided to don the hats and scarves and go to see the birds. It was a beautiful fresh winters day, the sun was shining and everywhere was frosty and frozen.

After persuading the Little Ones to skip through the activity areas and puzzles indoors thinking we will come back and do those on a wetter day when we need something indoors to do, we stepped outside onto the boardwalk to admire the birds.

It was late morning and the sun was very low in the sky shining through the trees, the ground was wet as we had had a heavy frost the night before and there was still lots of ponds covered in ice and icy puddles to break and splash in. It was all quite beautiful, grey and dull winter colours, white, grey and brown muddy ducks yet the sky was blue with not a cloud in sight and the sun shone brightly reflecting off the water.

Usually you can buy a bag of seed to feed the birds but today some of the birds were ill and so the staff were just doing controlled feeds to help control the spread of infection from us visitors handling the seed. As the wheel barrow full of seed came around the birds all zoomed over and followed it around the edge of the lake, it was quite a view.

The keeper was happy to let the children throw out scoops of seeds and Little 2 got herself straight in the thick of it waiting her turn. She was one of the smallest there in the middle of the bunch but full of confidence putting up her hand when it was the next person's turn and pleased when she had had her go. Little 1 however was a bit nervous of the birds and preferred to wait the other side of the gate!!

Little 3 was happy to watch and enjoyed running along the path stomping in tiny puddles stopping to look at the icy ponds and watching the birds landing on the water.

We went for a short stroll but didn't venture far into the reserve this time, we looked to see if the harvest mice were hibernating and watched the otters swimming for a while. The children were getting hungry so I produced some cookies and we sat watching ducks trying to walk on the ice which made the girls giggle.

Soon we had been there 2 hours without realising and the little Ones were well and truly ready for lunch and it was time to head home, but not without a bit of tree climbing on the way back!

What I love about Slimbridge is that there is so much to do, not just all the birds and paths but there is a big play area further down on in where you can grab a coffee, a water play area for wellies in spring or a place to bring a costume and play on a summer afternoon. There is a tropical house, bird talks and places to sit and spot birds if you can persuade 3 Little Ones to be quiet for a moment.

I know we will come back a lot this year and do something different each time. On the way out we spotted a sign for a puddle jumping competition soon, the girls are eager to return and attempt the biggest splash, they have already started practicing!

9 January 2017

Win tickets to Babe,The Sheep Pig live on stage 2017

We all know the story of 'The Sheep Pig' by Dick King-Smith, where Babe the gutsy little pig lands himself on Farmer Hoggett's farm and after being adopted by 'Fly' the sheep dog becomes determined to become the first Sheep-pig. But does he succeed?

Well, this year Babe, The Sheep Pig, is arriving on stage in a major UK Tour. Adapted from Dick King-Smith's much loved novel which inspired the Oscar winning film in 1995, it is sure to be a great show for the family.

Featuring stunning puppetry, an original score and an utterly charming 'baa-ber sheep' quartet, it tells the story of the loveable Babe in a heart-warming tale of friendship, adventure and bravery.

Babe, The Sheep Pig will be shown around the country from right now in London until September 2017, to see where the show will be performing, visit www.BabeThePigLive.com.

Loving Life with Little Ones is giving you the chance to win a family ticket to see the production at the venue of your choice! To enter just click on the rafflecopter below but be sure to read the terms and conditions… 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

N.B We received a family ticket to the show in return for hosting this giveaway.

7 January 2017

The Little Ones go ice skating

Over the Christmas holidays there was a pop up ice rink in town and Daddy and I decided to surprise the girls with an ice skating treat the day before Christmas Eve as they had both tried so hard and done well at school this past term despite being under the weather for the most part of it.

With Little 3 being too young to skate we arranged to meet Nanny in the cafe across from the rink so that she could watch him for us while we skated with the girls. We had not told the girls why we were going into town and there had been a little reluctance on the part of Little 1 about 'going shopping'!!

On arriving the girls were surprised to see Nanny waiting there and as we stood next to the rink they couldn't help but peer over the rail watching all the skaters. It was then that we told them about their surprise. Little 2 just broke into an ear to ear grin and looked rather happy while Little 1 totally forgot she was grumpy and fist punched the air jumping up shouting ' Oh, Thank You'.

Years ago, and I mean about 15 (possibly more) years ago when Daddy and I still lived at home, we used to go ice skating at least a couple of times a month and both owned our own skates (they are still in the loft but are in desperate need of sharpening now). While neither of us could do anything fancy we were pretty nifty on our skates and able to weave between the other skaters at quite a speed. I remember Daddy had even learnt to skate backwards a bit (although he says he didn't but his memory is pants!).

Taking the Little Ones ice skating was something we both wanted to do as we enjoyed it in our teens and it is great exercise too, we knew the girls would have lots of fun. Having arrived early for our slot we got our skates on and waited in the waiting room for our session.

Little 1 being of a nervous disposition could not sit still and although she was very excited she was a bit nervous too about whether she would fall over. Little 2 was rather excited and sat quietly watching the other skaters with a big smile on her face.

We had hired one of those whale things to help the girls, you can either sit on it or push it around to help with balance. Little 2 didn't want any help and as soon as she set foot on the ice she was off holding on to the rail and side stepping her way around, she was determined to be independant.

Little 1 first sat on the whale to get a feel of the ice but was soon wanting to get up on her feet too, Daddy found his feet faster than me and so he was off helping the girls around taking it in turns to do circuits of the ice.

It had started to rain a bit before we had to go onto the ice and there was a lot of surface water, being an outside rink this had made it incredibly slippy, with me not having skated for 15 years I was slipping all over the place and found it tricky to help balance a child and myself but we didn't fall over! 

We soon all found our confidence and our feet. After going around with daddy for a while Little 1 had a go with the whale and did quite well .

Little 2 who is fiercely independent at the moment, was not bothered by all the adults and older children on the ice, she got her whale and off she went, she took herself right into the middle of the ice rink skating around the tree in the middle and didn't look back. She was out there ages smiling as she went around, perfectly happy as we skated around her.

The rink is down now but the girls are still asking to go again, as they had great fun, Daddy and I enjoyed ourselves as well. The quality of the photos in this post is rubbish as I took them on my phone in the rain and fading afternoon light. I didn't want to take the proper camera on the ice in case I fell over and broke it! I think we will be checking out our nearest proper rink very soon.

3 January 2017

Robots and Gadgets factivity review with Parragon Book Buddies

Little 1 has an all enquiring mind and loves to delve deep into the inner workings of things, she has a great interest in the Human Body, Space and how things work at the moment. I find the best way to help nurture her curiosity is with books as she loves to read. 

This month as part of Parragon Book Buddies gang we have been checking out 'Robots and Gadgets'*, a Factivity sticker and activity book and I must say it has been very well received by both girls especially Little 1.

The book is aimed at age 5-8 year olds and boasts 48 pages filled with information and activities and 8 pages of over 300 stickers to stick in the relevant parts of the book.

The language in the book is age appropriate and informative, it is laid out in a bright and engaging manner with lots of little fact boxes and bits to read here and there. Little 1 (age 7) has no trouble reading it and Little 2 (nearly 5) is able to understand the facts too when we read the book with her.

The pictures within the book are colourful and interesting, they certainly got me wanting to read more let alone the girls who sat together on several occasions to read the book together and complete the activities.

Little 1's favourite part of the book was reading about the robots in space and designing one of her very own. Little 2, having enjoyed reading the page about 'gadgets on holiday', went around the house asking 'Is this a gadget?' to almost everything she saw!

Robots and Gadgets Factivity*  is a great introductory read for enquiring little minds and the book is entertaining too. Little 1 says, 'I liked this book, it is definitely not just for boys!'

N.B We received this book as part of the Parragon Book Buddies programme in return for a review, all opinions are our own honest thoughts. *Affiliate links are included in this post.

31 December 2016

Looking back.... A year with the Little Ones

I was flicking back through the past years photos on the laptop and trying to decide which ones to use for a Happy New Year- last 12 months type blog post, my best ones, my favourite ones or a few in between. Each picture holds memories or moments that made me laugh or ones I want to remember and so looking back became more about what happened this year and the things we did rather than just a reel of photos.

It hasn't all been a bunch of roses but we have had some great times as a family in 2016 and so here they are my top moments this year.

January saw a great weight off my shoulders as Little 3 got the all clear from the heart problem he had had throughout my pregnancy with him and through his first 10 months, a great start to the new year for our family.

Feburary was the month in which Little 2 turned 4 years old, it is hard to believe she is now almost 5 and how much she has changed and grown up since then.

March was a celebration, a first birthday for Little 3 and plenty of outdoor fun with the Little Ones.

April was the month that Little 3 started walking and then the fun really began. A few changes were afoot and the Little Ones were suddenly growing up fast.

In May we were getting out and about at Westbury court gardens where Little 3 took his first outdoor steps and we spent time having fun with extended family.

June saw a family holiday to the Isle of Wight and with it lots of days out and fun together, one of my favourite afternoons of the whole year took place at Bembridge windmill where we all enjoyed bug hunting together.

In July we spent sunny afternoons having Roman battles at Chedworth roman villa and with Little 3 gaining independance he had some fun first adventures.. rock pooling anyone.

In August we spent time in Wales and enjoyed the summer holidays including having a family adventure at Wild place.

September saw a huge change in our house as Little 2 started school, there was some getting used to not having her around but she settled right in and took to reading with ease.

In October we had lots of fun with leaves, in fact I took my most favourite photos of the year this month and marvelled at how Little 1 was turning into a little young lady.

November saw an awful lot of illness in our house and it seemed never ending but there was still time for a few ups amongst the downs including indoor fun with Autumn art.

During December we spent time recuperating with a little more illness thrown in, before building up to Christmas. Little 3 discovered the fun of Christmas as a toddler and we relaxed and have all enjoyed our Christmas break.

Now the New Year is here and I am looking forward to more family fun, spending time together and watching the Little Ones grow in 2017.

Happy New Year everyone xx

25 December 2016

Merry Christmas from Loving life With Little Ones

It's Christmas, Whoo Hoo...

From all of us to all of you....

 Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year... 

 See you in 2017 xx