I was so grateful to Melissa for interviewing me on her podcast. As a business owner and a Nanny, I think it is so important to support each other, lift each other up and let others know the amazing things everyone is up to. My favourite part was when she asked me about books! I could talk about those all day- We even carried our childrens book conversation off air!
So over to Melissa! I interviewed Melissa on what the The Nanny Endorsements is and how it all started:
When the pandemic started, I was so thankful for my circle of nanny friends. We met weekly on Zoom to play trivia, socialize, but also to share advice on how to become a better nanny. We helped each other find online classes in parenting, brain chemistry, and anything else that pertained to nannying. I knew I could ask them if a class was worth my time, or if a certain book would be good for my charges. I realized I was very lucky to have this group and that not all nannies have that. This job can be isolating, so it’s hard to get advice from other nannies.
I thought a podcast might be an easy way to help other nannies gain the knowledge I did. I’m a former singer/songwriter, so I was already well-versed in sound recording. I wanted the podcast to be easily digestible, so a nanny could listen on the go. I created a list of all the children’s books and a list of classes available to nannies, so people can easily access all the endorsements so far.
I love “talking shop” with nannies around the world, and I hope the information shared in the podcast helps other nannies!
The power of social media means you make connections with amazing professionals in the Early Years field. I am very happy to have interviewed Clare Stead on Oliiki Baby Brain Building App. I especially agree with instilling a love of learning (the last i in Oliiki).
How did the Oliiki Baby Brain Building App come about?
I am a primary school teacher by training and I kept seeing the same thing happening in the classrooms that I taught in. I would see some children arrive at school and thrive, others were special needs children who were on their own education journey and then there was this whole other group who seemed to find learning really hard. They seemed to find getting organised and down to the work a challenge. I wondered why that was. Especially as when you watch toddlers watching a caterpillar on a leaf, they are ALL fully focused and engaged. I wondered what had happened to prevent these children being able to access the learning that was on offer in school.
I’ve worked across three continents in literally hundreds of schools and I found the same thing. It made me curious, especially as behind each one of these seemingly failing children was very often a parent who felt lost, frightened, judged and a failure.
I knew there needed to be a different way.
When I was working in Zambia putting the whole of the primary curriculum on a tablet for African children to get quality education in their own language I was shown the learning that happens in the first 1000 days.
That for me was like turning the light switch on! I realised that if I wanted to ensure that every child thrived and that every child reached their full potential, I was working with the wrong age range! I needed to start working with those who were just pregnant or had babies in the first 1000 days of life, the time between conception to two as this is the time when the brain is literally building itself. It is an amazing window of opportunity for learning.
The challenge is, though the brain is developing at a rate that will never be replicated again in our life, babies spend the most time with their parents who are learning how to be parents for the first time and have little or no training on child development.
Having been a new parent myself, I’ve felt the bewilderment of the first days and wondering what on earth to do with my new born sat in the sitting room in their new car seat and I too have reached to the kettle and a cup of tea as the answer! I’ve felt the frustration of being newly pregnant and wanting to do things to help my baby develop but not been sure what to do or how or why and I’ve felt the tiredness of a toddler parent who needs to be a continual fount of new activities and adventures for their child and can’t be creative or imaginative because of that tiredness!
So I quit my job and built the app that I would have wanted if I had been a first time parent again. One that was grounded in the science and research that is now available so that I could be confident that I was not only developing my child, but also myself! That is how the Oliiki Baby Brain Building app was born.
What do your parents/readers learn from the Oliiki Baby Brain Building App?
Ultimately, through tiny daily playful adventures parents and parents-to-be build up an understanding of child development and how they can impact their child’s life outcomes. They become confident that they are giving their child the best start in life through the every day little interactions that they do. There are over 1000 activities on the Oliiki Baby Brain Building app, and none of them use dyed pasta or expensive resources.
Parents learn how to use the things from in and around their home to support their baby’s development and help them reach their full potential.
Parents also learn the Oliiki way:
O – Observe closely (You’ll learn so much from watching your child)
L – Learn what your baby is saying (babies communicate more than you think, even while in the womb!)
I – Initiate conversation (Chatting to your baby is one of the best brain building things you can do!)
I – Investigate their interests (follow their lead, be fascinated in what they are interested in, it’s called serve and return and builds your baby’s brain fabulously!)
K – Kindle connection, (your baby thrives in an environment of relationships, make yours one that lasts a lifetime)
I – Instil a love of learning (it’s the greatest gift you can give your baby!)
Tell us about books for parents.
Well, I LOVE books and encouraging reading from pregnancy onwards!
I advise my pregnant parents to spend time reading every day, it helps them relax which is brilliant for baby, but if they read out loud, it’s fabulous for brain building too. As an activity (from the Oliiki Baby Brain Building App) I suggest that parents make their baby their first black and white book!
It’s easy to do, and is such a lovely way to spend your first night together reading your new baby their first ever bed time story and have it be the one that you wrote for them!
What’s next for Oliiki/Clare Stead?
I am now starting to run courses for parents and parents-to-be The title of these courses are: How to parent so your kids become fabulous, and Learning and play in the first 1000 days of life, your role as a parent.
If you are interested in either of these courses you can message me on my social media pages for the next dates.
We have now completed our research with University College London and scientifically proven that the Oliiki app builds parental confidence in just 4 weeks, the new version of the Oliiki Baby Brain Building app has just landed in the app stores so I am spreading the word about the Oliiki Baby Brain Building app, (feel free to share this info with anyone you feel would find it useful!)
Follow Oliiki on Twitter
Thank you to Clare, I love this and it really does show that there is More to Books!
Love Kat x
Send in your pictures of the books you’ve made for your babies to feature in this blog!
The idea for Reading On Your Head began with my dissertation project at university.
I grew up in a very deprived area and wanted to do something which would give backto the community and others like it I grew up in. I created a simple multi choice PowerPointquiz where pupils could create their own story by answering multi choice questions.
The project was successful and I wanted to build on it. John (we’ve know each other since we were about 7 and were each other’s best man) came on board as he is a programmer and web developer.
Over several years we took it from a concept to a working website. With support from my school and academy trust we then fleshed out the idea into a working platform. We’ve trialed on several schools within out Trust to help develop the idea and are now at the point where we’re ready to launch as a business. My headteacher was happy for me to take time out from school to launch the business.
What do your readers learn from Reading on YourHead?
We aim to use raising reading engagement as a tool to improve confidence with reading which then raises attainment.
Pupils can use the website both in school and at home. Once they have read a short section of text they then answer a multi choice reading quiz. Teachers can then use the assessment data from the questions they answer to inform where pupils are doing well and where they need extra support.
Pupils can also create their own reading quizzes they can share with their friends and compete to answer each other’s quizzes.
All this allows pupils to become more familiar with how answers to reading comprehension questionsshould look, how to answer questions effectively and how to read a text effectively and efficiently to find the answers to questions.
What’s next for Reading on Your Head?
We think we’re completely different to anything else that’s out there. We’re working hard to spread the word about Reading On Your Head and get into schools, both in the UK and internationally.
We’re already booked in for the BETT show next year and are looking for primary schools who would like to work with us.
We’re also keen to begin working with parents as we think what we offer is perfect for parents who want to effectively support their children with reading at home.
Reading to children is such an interactive process and doing voices as well as facial expressions can help tell and story, with young children, getting them involved in the story brings it to life.
Here’s how I would use this book for development in the EYFS.
A little synopsis from me- Biff is a dog who is not like any other dog, he doesn’t do dog things. He likes moonlight, music and walking on his tiptoes! He thinks he is a ballerina. This is a great story for talking about holding on to your dreams and breaking down stereotypes.
Personal, Social and Emotional development
Throughout the book, Biff is told that dogs don’t do ballet- he doesn’t touch his food, he howls at the moon at night, his tail drops and his ears droop, and on stage he turns bright red.
Ask your children how Biff is feeling, this can help your children acknowledge different feelings. This is great to open up a conversation with your little ones about if they have ever felt like this and you can discuss what they can do to feel better.
Understanding the World
People and communities looks at the lives of people close to them, this can be looking at different jobs that people do, such as ballerina, dance teacher etc
Using this to break down the barrier of what girls should and should not do, boys should and should not do! Or Dogs! Remember, dogs do do ballet! Haven’t you seen Britains Got Talent?
This book lends itself to a ballet lesson, doesn’t it? Have some fun with plié, jeté, arabesque, pirouette, first position and even practise your curtesy’s. Did you know that your gross motor skills can help fine tune your fine motor skills so doing these big movements can in turn help their mark making skills. Using the Sugarplum fairy music by Tchaikovsky from the Nutcracker, after dancing, have some paper and coloured pencils and encourage them to mark make with the music. WriteDance is an amazing way to support your children in early writing.
Make your own musical instruments and play along with the music or use a triangle to tap the beat. Have a look at the picture of the orchestra and see if they can name the instruments?
Design a new tutu for Biff so he can have one all to himself.
Time- there is mention of different parts of the day in the book. Our really little ones have no concept of time so reading a clock is not the goal here. Talking about night and day/days of the week (she goes to Ballet on a Saturday) and that birthdays happen once a year!
Using the picture of the ballerinas, you can add counting into your reading. How many ballerinas are there? Counting in 2s? How many feet are there?
Communication and Language
This book lends itself for hot seating. Support your children in forming questions and then pretend to be one of the characters from the book. Be it Biff, the little girl, the father, Miss Polly or the Lady in the front row. by modelling first, they can take over and you ask them questions, it is brilliant for opening up answers in sentences and helping them think from a different point of view.
Depending on the age of your child, I love to give them the book and let them seek sounds or High Frequency Words. From my teacher days, with the whole class we would say “mirror mirror on the wall, who is the fastest of them all, who can find….” So, start with sounds such as ‘t’ or ‘o’, move on to digraphs (ee, th) and trigraphs (igh) and words that are used a lot (HFW) such as I, to, and, in, the.
A lovely activity for our older children is to write a newspaper article from the back of the book; the title is “Sugar Pug Fairy takes ballet by storm!”
Share pictures of your activities with your children! Email firstname.lastname@example.org
A few weeks ago I was exhibiting at the Bett Education show with Thinkably. I’ve been volunteering with them for a while on EQAG where we read books and discuss the content, age appropriateness and if it needs to be a supported read. For more info on Thinkably head to:
I met to many amazing companies with the same ethos as mine. Bringing learning to life through books, I believe there is more to books than Reading and Woongjin Thinkbig definitely prove that. There exhibit pulled me in, they definitely bring learning to life!
How did Woongjin Thinkbig start?
Woongjin Thinkbig Co., Ltd. started it’s business as a publishing company in 1980 but during those last 42 years we’ve extened our business into smart learning platform service specialized in Education via books and tutoring, with a focus on improving creativity and thinking skills.
In 2014, by digitazing the entire contents that we’ve developed and by using platform, we introduced the “smart education service” for the first time in Korean Education market. Furthermore from 2018, we started develop our sercives based on AI technology.
There are 3 major business department:
(1. Academic learning 2. Book content reading 3. Publishing) and there are hundreds of services each department offering to the customers in Korea so it is nearly impossible for us to explain all the details in this e-mail however, you can find more details about our company and business via our website below.
Our product is an innovative Educational approach that combines best aspects of traditional print-based books with digitalized material accessed through a tablet/mobile.
Readers can expand their knowledge of the world through interactive digital contents that spark their imagination and trigger visual and auditory senses. It’s not simply a static picture or video clip but it’s interactive. At children’s fingertips, ARpedia opens the doors to a world of learning that make reading engaging and fun.
What’s next for Woongjin Thinkbig?
– We continuously strive to create new values in the Educational culture by commiting itself to create innovate and differentiate products and service offerings to the world. And as you might know already, our new series in our pipeline waiting to be developed and launched such as AR English and AR Math in the future.
As some of you may know, I’m a few drafts in to a children’s novel with main character, Mousey Poopins, being not only a mouse but also a Nanny.
So when my friends’ village was having a Mousefest, she knew I’d be interested. Not only that, but they had knitted characters from childrens’ stories and if that doesn’t say more to books than reading, I don’t know what does!
So I thought we could play a game! Gather your children and guess which stories these mice are acting out!
All the money they raise will go to Children with Cancer U.K. charity.
I want to thank them for their hard work, expertise and bringing a little joy to our weekend.
Which was your favourite?
I loved the tiny dormouse on the Alice and Wonderland scene.
Love Kat x
Answers 1. Robin Hood 2. Pied Piper 3. Snow White 4. Alice in Wonderland 5. Emperors New Clothes 6. Goldilocks 7. Little Red Riding Hood 8. Wizard of Oz 9. Cinderella 10. Jack and the Beanstalk 11. Sleeping Beauty 12. Peter Pan 13. Frozen 14. The Snowman 15. Arabian Nights
My books support parents to bring learning to life in the home through books and organising and while they can support young families, as an EYFS teacher working in nurseries, reception and schools as well as private homes, my books are for children aged 2 plus. So when I connected with Bernie, I knew I wanted to share all she does for our little walkers!
How did your book, Finding Their Feet, come about?
A lock-down project! I was going to write about the adult foot as I had been seeing so many issues with my client’s feet – either the feet themselves or problems elsewhere in their bodies caused by their feet. As I researched it became evident that if I was to make any sort of change or impact in society it was by targeting the newest of feet and setting them on a better course for success. There were two things that really impacted the change in my focus – the first was an X-ray of an infants foot (this one here is of a 6 month old) and the other a journal article titled “Children’s footwear: Launching site for adult foot ills” by a podiatrist William Rossi. I knew I had to share all of my knowledge and experience of the human body with parents/carers and anyone working with babies – the caretakers of the newest feet – from womb to walking. I had to find the answers and explain why we should care about feet from day one.
My book has been described as a ‘parenting book like no other’ and that’s pretty accurate. I read many other parenting books and none really talked about how a baby actually gets up and walks! Something we just take for granted….but the journey to walking is so much more than that and each stage leading up to that joyous moment is important.
What do your readers learn from your book?
Hopefully an understanding of how their baby’s physical development can impact their future. I’ve shared a little bit of relevant anatomy from the brain to the foot so that as I explore and explain movement and milestones they can grasp concepts more clearly.
Parents are introduced to primitive reflexes – this is an area that I wish I had known more about when my boys (now 19 and 22 years) were little. They both had certain challenges growing up, and things could have been different if I had understood more.
I can really see dad’s picking up and running with this book, a bit like a Mechanics 101 – your baby!
It’s full of activities and movements that support healthy natural development and growth, access to online resources and videos via QR codes.
And I talk about shoes – going back to the X-ray – if their feet don’t fully develop until they are teenagers then we should pay attention to what we put on them!
One huge thing parents can do – right now – is create a ‘SHOE-FREE ZONE’ at home. How they can create an environment that is safe for the toes be exposed! Perhaps that’s where Nannies can help too!
We’ve heard how your story began, what’s next for Bernie Landels?
Spreading the word – any way I can. The book is just the tip of the iceberg, with the contents being one part of the puzzle – how children develop.
I’m excited to be networking with like-minded people and organisations to help and support parents, and help the newest of feet have a healthier and stronger future.
As an avid reader myself, I love inspiring a love of reading in children. After all, it is a pre-requisite for most other learning. So when I found Book Club Buddies on social media, I knew it was something I wanted to share.
Now is the perfect time to ignite a love of reading in children with new formats like Book Club Buddies®, an online interactive book club, www.bookclubbuddies.com which develops a passion for reading in primary school children.
How did Book Club Buddies begin?
Book Club Buddies® was born, through one teacher’s passionate desire to get children reading and discussing books. The aim of the book club is to develop and enhance a love of reading. It has run many successful book clubs, gathering 5 star google reviews and over 80% of children rebooking onto new book clubs.
“This Book Club has been amazing for my 7-year-old son. It’s transformed him from a child who didn’t want to read to one who would rather read than be on an iPad.” Joanne Jarratt
It launched in late 2021 and has chosen many wonderful books for children to read and discuss, featuring great storylines that will make readers laugh out loud, as well as talk about key issues for children from stress and bullying to friendships and family relationships.
What do children learn from Book Club Buddies?
There are enormous benefits for supporting children to read. The Department for Education paper, ‘Reading for Education’, shows that reading for pleasure has a positive impact on broader learning outcomes, linking the enjoyment of reading to better test results and showing that reading for pleasure is a stronger indicator of academic success than socio-economic background.*
Lizzy Laymond, who is the creator of Book Club Buddies®, explains, “As a teacher and a parent, I know that there is less time available for teachers to dedicate to reading for pleasure in the classroom and parents lead busy lives which can make it difficult to find time to read and discuss books with children at home. In fact, many parents believe they don’t need to read to their children once they can read when in fact it has huge benefits for both.
“Both these factors are resulting in less primary-aged children reading and getting the most out of their books. Book clubs are a fantastic way of providing an opportunity for children to have fun, exploring, discussing and reading books within a small group. It benefits them is so many different ways: socially, mentally and academically.
“Our book clubs are built around research on reading for pleasure,” continues Lizzy, “we know that talking about reading, creating an environment to celebrate it, and giving children a chance to choose what they want to read all help foster a love of reading.”
Ross Montgomery, author of ‘Max and the Millions’, was one of the first books that Book Club Buddies read, says, “I love the sound of Book Club Buddies – I would have absolutely loved an online book club as a child, and the chance to dive into a book and discuss it with other kids.”
Literary legend Michael Rosen said “Book Club Buddies® sounds like a great idea to me. Reading loads of books on all sorts of things, written in all sorts of different ways, is a great way to be in this world. It helps us think, care about others, know about what’s going on, how people tick, and how to have fun. Book Club Buddies® is a terrific route to getting into the world of books. Have a great time.”
I met the lovely Natasha Brame at a virtual networking breakfast. She is the Community Fundraiser for Ronald McDonald House Charities. We connected for a blog because I am passionate about supporting children and families.
Always wanted to try something daring and different?
In 2022, we are hosting a series of Ice Walk Challenges, with seven locations across the UK to choose from. You will be specially trained to walk across broken glass and experience the barefoot sensation of walking on ice. The Ice walk is made up of hundreds of broken bottles which are put into a frame that you walk across. It takes approximately one minute for each person to walk safely across and a training session is run before each session. It’s fun and great for everyone to take part with the minimum age to participate is 10 and no maximum age limit. Registration is free, however everyone taking part must agree to raise a minimum sponsorship of £100.
UK; Edinburgh, Warrington, Cardiff, Birmingham, Oxford, Central London and Brighton.
Link to sign up
About Ronald McDonald House Charities UK
Having a child in hospital is a frightening time for families. The nearest specialist hospital may be hours away. Where is there to sleep or get food to eat? Ronald McDonald House Charities UK (RHMC UK) is here to help. We provide free ‘home away from home’ accommodation to families with a child in hospital at one of our 12 Houses across the UK. Our Houses are close to specialist paediatric hospitals, enabling families to be by their child’s bedside in a matter of moments. Every year we help 6,000 families stay close to their child in hospital.
Where the money goes
All the money raised from the Ice Walk will go towards providing families with a home away from home, when their child is in hospital. It costs just £25 to accommodate a family for a night so by raising the £100 sponsorship target, you will be providing 4 nights of accommodation for a family.
More to books…
McDonald’s sponsors Ronald McDonald House Charities. I love the initiative at the moment where you can choose a book instead of a toy with the Happy Meal.