Castles

Last week, I went on a spa break to Arundel with a Nanny friend. When we had gotten over the fact that Arundel sounds very much like Arrendelle off of Frozen, we were amazed by the most beautiful castle, only about an hour and a half from SW London!

Odd Socks

I have always loved castles and have visited many as a child. We were English Heritage Members and we used to follow Odd Socks around to watch plays all over the country (we also used to wear odd socks!)

http://www.oddsocks.co.uk/

They are a travelling theatre company that put on plays on outside in historical grounds. They make Shakespeare fun.

Counting steps

The reason I love castles as a learning opportunity as well as the obvious history aspect is that it opens up counting and literary ones.

I have always loved climbing towers as well, which not only helps with counting (and fitness) but when you get to the top, you can use it to help with geography opportunities.

Why not take a pen and paper and draw a map from above?

Dressing up

Dressing up is not just for kids! And if you dress up with them, it will be an even more memorable experience for your child! This can lead to DT opportunities such as looking at fasteners (belts, buttons, zips)

Why not make a coin purse with your child to keep their pennies in? (And then you can do activities with money to help with adding, taking away)

Here is how to make a Donut Coin purse using magnets so no sewing!
https://youtu.be/qTmnXRXnzRg

Lego

Lego sets such as these are usually very intricate and have age guidelines…but there are Duplo sets or even Disney Lego sets that younger learners can build. It’s a great way to start talking about instructions with your child, just like the instruction activity in the Fruit and Veg blog from last week. https://moretobooks.blog/2019/05/15/fruit-and-veg/

You don’t have to buy a set…make it up. We make some really fancy palaces from Magnatiles.

We like to make castles for our small soft toys out of Jenga blocks too.

Postcards and Magnets

Check out my blog on Edinburgh (there is a castle there, dontcha know?)

https://moretobooks.blog/2019/04/03/edinburgh-scotland/

Find out how I use Siri as a learning tool at the end of that blog, and what I do with postcards from everywhere I visit!

I also collect magnets from everywhere I go, I really like them to be 3D! I had one of Carcasonne in France but my ex got that magnet when we broke up! I’ll just have to go again to buy a new one!

More to books…

The Kiss That Missed by David Melling is my favourite story to retell. I learnt it off by heart when I was at Durham University during my PGCE. I have since retold it at NannyPalooza, the International Nanny Day and my very own Book Launch back in 2016. It’s a great one for adults and children alike as there are many opportunities to get everyone doing actions such as the drawbridge coming down or the snow falling as well as getting the whole room noisy by being owls and bears and wolves! I like to choose (willing) actors to play the parts of the knight and the dragon. It’s a lot of fun.

A sleeping prince and a noble knight acting at NannyPalooza (Nov 17)

I absolutely love this next book; it has a little story in it but then it converts into a 3D castles and has pop out characters that mean you can bring stories to life with our younger learners.

Castle by Miles Kelly

This one has beautiful 3D artwork for our older learners.

A knights first tournament by Dereen Taylor

I am a lover of fiction books but it’s really important to use non-fiction too. The Usborne books are great for this. I always show the children the contents page and the index page, we use them by following what we are most excited to learn about. I encourage them to read the page number and go to the correct page. I also make a point of going to the Glossary so we can all learn new words.

Something I always talk about too, is the spine. We run our finger along the spine of the book and say it holds the pages together and then I run my finger along their spine so it tickles and we say it holds our bones together. In class, I would let them run their finger over their friends spine…making an action helps them remember better.

The Story of Castles by Lesley Sims

Show me your coin purses!

Send a pic of you dressed up!

Which castle have you visited?

Love Kat x

Fruit and Veg

Eating healthily is something that I’m really passionate about. I have been so confused about the advice and what I believed to be true from my childhood, that I wish for all children to be able to learn good habits from the start. Rather than retraining, yo- yo dieting and learning as an adult, as I did.

To help my nanny children ensure they were getting enough different fruit and veg daily, we made a chart. It was a lot of fun learning all the different fruit and vegetables of different colours, some, I had never tried either.

Rainbow Food chart

Whenever we ate a fruit or vegetable of a certain colour, we added a ‘diddi-dot’ of the same colour to our chart. It helped us to try new things and keep on track.

Role Play

Fruit and veg stall

Using role play is lots of fun, they do learn about fruit and veg, but this can be used for other simple learning opportunities for our little ones.

  • Counting
  • Sorting colours
  • Sorting fruit from veg

For our older learners, we can introduce maths and writing opportunities:

  • Labelling
  • Shopping lists
  • Dividing/sharing
  • Money

In real life, you can also use it to learn about fractions and even ratios, making their own fruit smoothies!

Snack time

Fruit Tea Party

Sometimes the children like to eat cold peas or sweet corn for snack!

Dragon (can you believe I made this out of a dog cutter!)

Butterflies

Easter eggs and chicks

Strawberry mice

More to books…

Avocado Baby by John Birmingham

I love avocado! This is a great book, a funny story too. It will definitely encourage your little one to try avocado.

Why not make a fruit salad using all the fruits in Handa’s surprise by Eileen Browne or The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.

Or make a sandwich (but hold the creepy crawlies) like in Sams Sandwich by David Pelham. Use this as a writing opportunity and get your older learners to write instructions as they make it. For your younger learners, take pictures of each step and let them order them after.

Library finds:

Vegetables by Honor Head
Are you what you eat? By Cynthia Sass

Go to the library and check out the non- fiction books but also, rummage through the fiction and get as many books as you can that have fruit and veg in them!

Also, have a look at recipe books. Let your children choose a recipe where you can cook together. Then you have maths opportunities but also, science.

I know why it’s yum mum – Natasha Gavin

Natasha Gavin and I met at NannyPalooza in London, November 2017 where we were both speakers.

I have since employed her to do a party for my nanny child and her school friends. I interviewed her on her tips to get your children to try new fruit and veg:

As a fussy eating expert who has tried to ‘sell’ healthy eating to thousands of children, I know it isn’t easy. Conflicting messages about what is healthy/unhealthy, busy lifestyles and supermarket aisles ruining your best efforts to keep the kids focused on the right stuff are just some examples of all the challenges parents and carers need to overcome. My top three tips for helping your charges eat healthily include:

MAKE IT FUN
Games, treasure hunts, songs, books, art and craft, TV shows.. all are a means to brainwash children without them realising they are actually being SOLD the concept of healthy eating. Be subtle, give information ‘in passing’ rather than with intent.. “Guess what, I heard that broccoli has the same amount of calcium in it as milk?” Amazing eh? Strong bones from eating broccoli..Then remind them of the fact later when telling another friend/ their parent?
VEG OUT
The healthiest thing you can eat is VEG. End of. If your charges don’t like fruit but love veg, you are so lucky. Focus on de-sensitising children to veg- handle it, shop for it, cook with it, play with it.. eat it often in front of them. Don’t offer it overtly- young children love stealing food from a grown up’s plate, especially if you are making all sorts of subtle sounds because you are enjoying 😉 
BE STRATEGIC
By this I mean think about how you can get healthy food into your charge- during a journey (for example when they can’t ask for anything else because you are driving), when they are hungry (and nothing else is on offer), when they are unfamiliar with the contents of a meal (at a friend’s house? in a restaurant? Then tell me them after they have eaten something they enjoyed about what was in it), when their excellent eater friend is over and they want to impress them, at an amazingly colourful street market? Give healthiest foods first (as a starter?), keep carbohydrate portions very small (so they aren’t too full to eat the really healthy stuff initially, and reward little steps (licks, nibbles) in the right way.
Our CD can be bought online at www.iknowwhyitsyummum.com (digital download and/or CD)
Top Trumps Cards- we love learning why the healthy food is good for us

Madeliene Karlsson

In my personal life, I also seek advice from an amazing nutrition and health coach. I asked her for her top tips as well as a healthy breakfast recipe that you can try with your children!

Check out her website at www.nutritionfornaughtypeople.com

Eat real food: our digestive systems were designed to digest foods we find in nature and these are the foods we survived on for millions of years before the industrialisation of our food system. Eating real food fills us up in a different way than eating processed foods or foods that come out of packets. Teach your kids about the virtues of real foods and the vitamins & nutrients they contain. 

Eat seasonal & local: foods grown in summer tend to be cooling and those grown in winter tend to be warming. By eating local & seasonal we are able to better regulate our internal temperature and it allows us to enjoy a variety of foods throughout the year giving us diversity in our diet. 

Ingredients:

1 ripe medium banana

2 eggs, large

2 tsp coconut oil, divided 1⁄4 tsp cinnamon

Toppings:

Fresh or frozen berries (reheated)

Almond or peanut butter

Coconut yogurt

Directions:

1) Melt 1 teaspoon of coconut oil in a fry pan over

medium-high heat

2) Mash the banana in a bowl and mix in the eggs to form a batter

3) Pour 1⁄2 of the batter into the pan, turning pan to spread evenly

4) Turn the heat down and fry for 4-5 minutes until edges of pancake loosen easily with a spatula

5) Flip the pancake over, and fry for another 2-3 minutes

6) Slide out of pan onto plate and do the same for the other 1⁄2 of the batter

7) Sprinkle with cinnamon and your toppings of choice

8) Enjoy!

Banana pancake- let your child choose their own toppings

Show me your snack plates!

Share a picture of you enjoying the pancakes!

What fruit and veg non-fiction books did you find?

Love Kat x

Recycling

Last Wednesday, I was in the audience of Loose Women (an ITV talk show) I got to do ‘a bit’ to the audience where I walked on stage as a ‘Loose Woman’ and announce the competition before the show started.

Anyway, Davina McCall was the guest and she was on to talk about her initiative with schools on recycling.

Myself and three other pretend ‘Loose Women’ with Ruth Langsford

Recycle Plastic to make your school fantastic by Garnier fronted by Davina McCall

In the discussion, Davina was saying clear plastic bottles are recycled but if we don’t take the lids off, the whole thing goes in landfill!

The initiative is to educate children and hopefully empower them and in turn, help parents to know how to recycle properly.

It’s also a competition where you could win a £10,000 Playground Makeover (using recycled plastic) at your school! You’ve got until the 5/07/19 to sign up. If you’re a parent or a nanny, you can encourage your children’s school to take part by downloading the PDF and taking it at drop off or pick up! ♻️

https://www.garnier.co.uk/plasticfantastic

Sorting

I would say I’m very good at recycling but I could be better. I always separate my food waste so what goes in my bin is very clean but then I always have to sort through before I take them down from my flat. My kitchen is very small and I’d been thinking about getting another bin…

Funnily, two days later, I was at my friend, Pippa Kay’s, house for a delicious vegan risotto. She has just moved house. Pippa and her housemate bought two recycling bins, but both were too small so they bought yet another albeit bigger one. She was explaining about not being able to return them easily and I just said, “I’ll take one”

But then she proceeded to try and sell it to me! She even got it out for a demonstration!!

Little bin, big bin

Knowing what things are made of will help your children in Science. Getting them involved in sorting the recycling can be made fun. So long as they are clean and safe (not sharp tins) then use it as a counting activity or colour for our smallest ones.

If the recycling has labels on, you can even use it as an opportunity to practice sounds and words…try “fastest finger first” from my previous blog on Spellings.

https://moretobooks.blog/2019/04/24/spellings-how-to-get-your-reluctant-readers-interested/

Walking

It’s not just in our own homes that we can recycle. Recently, on dog walks with my nanny children, we wear gloves and each pick up rubbish, mainly plastic…in the local park. It gives the little one something to focus on and we can talk about shape and colour and what it is made of, all while making our environment a better place.

My dad has always gone for walks to pick up drinks cans…he even roots through bins to get them out, as there is a local centre that actually pays for aluminium cans. I remember as a child, we would know which cans (Pepsi) were always steel so would have to bin those…and which cans were recyclable.

On another note, being an adult now, beer cans are good to keep the pesky slugs from eating your plants in the garden, as they are attracted to the smell…

Street Style Surgery with Sissy Rooney

If you are a school or group in the North of England, I highly recommend working with Street Style Surgery with Sissy Rooney. I employed her in a couple of schools while I worked as a teacher around Manchester. If you are a parent or nanny, why not consider using them for a birthday party?

We used old materials to sew flowers and we used magazines to make beads for necklaces Or bracelets as well using recycled pots and magazines for pen pots.

Magazine Bracelet and recycled flowers

For recycling workshops, go check it out:

http://www.streetstylesurgery.co.uk/workshops/particle-article-recycling-workshop-134/

They have other workshops including sports, music, fashion, drama, health and well-being, business. Well worth a look out for an exciting way into lots of topics.

http://www.streetstylesurgery.co.uk/workshops/

There is probably something similar in your area, so have a Google!

More to books…

It’s sometimes obvious to use non-fiction books. Most of the books are about the whole topic of how to save energy and save the planet, not just recycling. The first three books are library finds. I only share the ones that I like. Some don’t make the cut as they are toooo boring!

What a waste by Jess French was my favourite library find ad it was interesting and the pictures are fun and engaging.

What a waste by Jess French
101 ways to save the Earth by David Bellamy

For older children, What’s the point of being Green by Jacqui Bailey was a great library find:

What’s the point of being green by Jacqui Bailey

Fiction books that tackle recycling are brilliant.

Carol Bass is a Canadian author who is very passionate about recycling as it can save our oceans. When I interviewed her she said:

“I have been scuba diver for over 45 years and love the ocean. My first book on sharks was to impress on children that our oceans would not exist as they are shepherds of the sea. They have been in existence for over 400 yrs before dinosaurs. Marine life is ingesting all the plastic and garbage dumped into oceans and dying painful horrendous deaths. 70% of the oxygen we breath is generating by the oceans so if we dont save our oceans our world or at least humans will not survive. I wrote for children as they are our future and maybe they can have a voice to impress on government”

Go to her website for more information:

http://www.sharkeyandfriends.com

I love Lauren Child’s for her Charlie and Lola books as she covers most topics. “We are extremely very good recyclers” is a good one for reading about recycling.

Lauren Child at a book signing in Kew Bookshop. She gave me a quote for my book!

Show me your new objects using recycled goods!

Whose school is following the ‘Recycle plastic to make your school fantastic’ campaign?

If you are, lots of luck!

Love Kat x

Elephants

Elephants are my Mums’ favourite animal. She once ordered an elephant ornament off EBay and was so excited about it being such a bargain, only to find out, on its’ arrival, that it was an inch tall.

Well, now she can make her very own pint-sized (or rather four-litre sized) elephant by making one from a milk bottle.

https://theimaginationtree.com/milk-jug-elmer-elephant-craft/

This is a brilliant website that has all sorts of craft ideas on. Here’s one we made earlier:

The first time I was introduced to this, I was working as an after-school nanny and was helping out at my nanny child’s Brownies. Since then, I’ve made them with over 100 children in schools and homes.

By delving into the world of elephants, it opens the door to many aspects of learning, such as safari, zoo and circus.

Being a travel nanny, I sure do get to do some amazing things. This was on Safari last April.

I took this photo on the first day of our safari with my iPhone!!!!

This photo has inspired my children’s picture book “I did not know Elephants had eyelashes” packed full of facts. I am currently looking for representation from the right Literary Agent.

Make other 3D animals and hide them around the house or garden, and go on a safari. Don’t forget to whisper so you don’t frighten the animals away!

Also in the garden, make your own little circus; dance with scarves, put on a skipping show, or lie your skipping rope down and practice balancing.

This poor baby elephants tail had been bitten by an animal trying to eat it. Thank goodness it got away!

Also, the new Disney’s Dumbo has been out for several weeks in England. But the cartoon version is such a classic. (In other news, I love the train song in that movie, but I’ll save that for another blog)

I haven’t seen it but my Nanny Kid, G5, said it was very sad!

More to books…

There is, of course, the beloved ‘Elmer’ by David McKee. And I was brought up with the Large Family with ‘five minutes peace’, ‘all in one piece’ and ‘Mr Large in charge’ by Jill Murphy, but I want to shed light on some other elephant books.

A Quiet Night in By Jill Murphy
All in One Piece by Jill Murphy

I think we can use story books as a ‘hook’ to get children excited about a topic.

How Elephant got his trunk by Andrea Florens

There are several books of African Folklore that we have bought in Cape Town. I actually really love them all (and there is totally another blog post about those) but this one is just about how the elephant got its trunk. It’s funny and G2 loves it! On more research, there are actually many versions of this retold my many authors. Go check them out!

Here are some library finds.

Books can help you with the normal day to day routine, such as bathtime.

Small Elwphants Bathtime by Tatyana Feeney
What to do if an Elephant stands on your Foot by Michelle Robinson
Elephant White by Will Brenton

It’s a fun game with your children to go to the library and find as many books on one topic. Check the non- fiction and fiction sections and see what you find!!! Take turns in picking the topic. I’ve found some wonderful books by accident this way!

What other elephant books do you love?

What did you think of the new Disney Dumbo movie?

Show us your milk bottle elephants…

love Kat x

Spellings- how to get your reluctant readers interested

Getting reluctant readers reading is so fun! You just have to think outside the box. This blog will give simple ideas to help with spelling and sentence reading.

Bake it

In a few of my nanny roles, I’ve done something I like to call “Baking Thursdays”, I let the children choose the recipes the day before so I can make sure I get the ingredients in, and I also encourage savoury as well as sweet. Some recipes really challenged us, but that’s the point. Sometimes they looked disastrous but they usually tasted yummy.

To turn them into even more of a learning experience (not just maths- measures and science) but phonics too, I write their current spellings, sounds and tricky words, they have to read them before they eat them, and put them in a sentence. I also asked them to choose a word or sound for other people in the house to eat.

In one role, we had swimming on the Friday so I used the baking in their packed tea, the jelly was a little tricky to transport!

Chalk it

On sunny days, write their spellings out large on the patio. If you don’t have a patio, use the pavement or go to the park and use the path, chalk washes away easily. The rain will wash it. Other children might learn from the words too!

Play a game where they jump on the word that you shout out. For younger learners, start with sounds.

Let them write the words underneath yours. Or say the word and see if they can write it from memory.

Hide and seek it

There are four forms to this game!

  1. Sounds

For our younger learners, it is a good start to just write the sound on a piece of paper and hide it for them to find.

2. Words

I would take the word from the spelling, write it on a piece of paper and hide them around the house. Waiting in the kitchen, both siblings went around the house to find them together. Even though they were the eldest child’s spellings, the little one was so invested and got great exposure to the words. She could usually tell me what the words started (initial sound) with also.

The child has to read the word to you before they can find the next one.

You can repeat this game several times with the same words but add a timing element. How fast can they do it. Can they beat it? Repetition supports their learning.

On sunny days, hide the words in the garden or park but make sure they don’t fly away!

3. Sentences

Same as above but this time I would write the word in a sentence. Too often, as a teacher, I would have to give spelling tests and some children would have learnt how to spell the words but have no idea what it meant. By modelling the word in a sentence, it gives the child context. You can form the sentences together and you scribe, this helps you to know if they understand.

4. Missing word sentences

This really helps you find if they have consolidated the learning. Write out the sentence but leave a gap where the word from their spellings should fit.

You can hide either the word or the missing word sentence but keep the other set on the table. This time, they have to put the word in the correct place. If possible, get them to write the word instead of just placing it. Can you cover the word up and they write it from memory?

Scrabble it

I often use scrabble letters to help with spellings or Bananagrams.

Write the word for them to match the tile to each letter.

After that, say the word and see if they can do it from memory.

In the beginning, you can give them the right tiles all jumbled but to make it more challenging add some duplicates or more letters that they don’t need.

Crosswords and wordsearches

For younger learners, putting their spellings in a word search really helps them to think of the letters in the order, plus it’s fun.

For older learners, write clues for the word and then they write the answer in.

No word of a lie, I used to make these by hand for the children I worked with. Takes time, but it is possible. Now, there are brilliant resources on the web which generate them for you:

http://puzzlemaker.discoveryeducation.com/WordSearchSetupForm.asp

https://worksheets.theteacherscorner.net/make-your-own/crossword/#

These are easy and simple to use, print more than one copy for if they make a mistake, they don’t get too frustrated, and if they don’t make a mistake (or you use a rubber and pencil- I actually always write with pens that can be rubbed out, they are inexpensive from Wilkinson’s) they can retry it in a couple of day, it helps to consolidate learning.

Fastest finger

Pick up a book!

Something we did for phonics and guided reading in one of the schools I worked at is called “Fastest Finger.” The idea was to play in a group but they can play against you.

You say “mirror, mirror on the wall, whose the fastest of them all, who can find the word ______?” Then the child traps the word using the index fingers of both hands.

You can also do this for letters and sounds.

I check the book to see if the book has the words in beforehand. Sometimes, I would say what page it was on, but depending on the size of the book (if it’s not too big) they can search the pages.

You can say a word that isn’t there and make a joke of it. That means they can’t just guess and they will read other words that are similar. If only do this once or twice though as it can become frustrating.

More to books…

You can pick up any book to play fastest finger. I mean literally any book. Even a recipe book, a magazine, the book you’re reading…so long as it has words in it…have fun!

Which activity did your child love the most?

Love Kat x

Running and RNIB

Finish line of Paris Marathon (April 2019)

As some of you may know, when I’m not nannying, travelling or writing, I like to spend hours of my day running back to where I started!

Always wearing a smile! London Marathon April 2018

26th Mile of Dublin Marathon October 2018

I’ve just finished my third marathon. I’ve completed London, Dublin and Paris within one year!

Not only that, I have become a guide runner where I support visually impaired runners fulfil their running wishes. It’s a bit like nannying, where I put their needs before mine and support them.

Guiding Mark Rogerson in the Big Half (March 2018)

This blog will have two parts. The first will talk about running and the second will delve into RNIB (Royal National Institute for the Blind) and how we can help children with activities.

Running

Running is my passion! And I wish I had been introduced to it as a child.

When I was at the end of primary school, we lived three quarters of a mile away along a loooong road called Booth Road, from Waterfoot to Stacksteads. To make it quicker, my Dad told me to run a lamppost, walk a lamppost and skip a lamppost! You could do this on your walk to school or even just to the library or shop!

Jeffing is where you run, walk, run. A method coined by Jeff Galloway. With your children, get them to count to 10 as they run, count to 20 as they walk etc as they get better at counting and/or running, you can switch the numbers round or increase them!

parkrun

parkrun has junior 2km events on a Sunday for 4-14 year olds all across the country.

https://www.parkrun.org.uk/events/juniorevents/

Alternatively, make it a family event on a Saturday. Prams are allowed on most routes for their 5km events.

To make running even more exciting, (and totally why I do it) look out for official events that children can take part in for a MEDAL!

https://www.greatrun.org/events/family-events

More to Books…

When researching for this topic, it really saddens me that there are no books solely about running. There really is a gap in the market. There are books just about cycling or just about boxing or just about swimming. Obviously, I am bias as running is my life! But there are enough inspirational runners out there to inspire your little ones.

To find out all about Cathy Freeman and other amazing sports women, take a look at this book.

Brilliant Women- Incredible Sporting Champions By Georgia Amson Bradshaw

For amazing runners such as Usain Bolt and Kipchoge Keino, take a look at this one:

Sports People- celebrating lives of inspirational people in Black History

I have ran many races with Mo Farah, but I always let him win!

RNIB- Royal National Institute for the Blind

In London, on Saturday the 11th of May, there is a unique race where you can raise money and run like a Guide Runner. If your child is 8 or over, accompanied by an adult, they can take part. Be sure to sign up before the 26th of April with the code DASH50 to get 50% off.

https://www.rnib.org.uk/double-dash

Make it a family day out and take the little ones to cheer you on. They can make signs and cheer boards for you to read along the way. The best one I’ve seen is a “Tap this to go faster” board!

Talking Books

Imagine not being able to see all the page when you’re reading. RNIB have talking books. You could sponsor one today.

https://www.rnib.org.uk/talking-books-service

Take out audio books from the library or download them to hear what it feels like. Maybe start using audiobooks if you take the car on a school run!

Braille and Moon

Braille and Moon are alphabet systems for visually impaired learners. If you are a teacher or Nursery nurse, RNIB have free education packs with lessons and resources available to download. But even as a parent or a nanny, I would encourage you to use these resources.

https://www.rnib.org.uk/braille-and-moon-–-tactile-codes-learning-braille/braille-resources-schools

There was an amazing Nanny on The Nanny Collaborative who looked after a visually impaired child. She used icing to make a massage on his Birthday Cake. Explore Braille with your children.

Share a picture of a run with your child.

Love Kat x

Spring

Daffodils

Well, it’s official, spring has sprung! And it’s a great time to learn about all things in Nature.

Today’s blog will cover animals, plants and even weather through arts, crafts, food and even dance!

Animals

For our younger learners, it is a good start to name baby animals but I think it’s never to early to introduce life cycles. The usual suspects are chicks, frogs and butterflies. (Find your local butterfly house to get a close up look)

Butterfly at the butterfly house in the Natural History museum

But for your older learners take a look at the cycles of bees or ladybirds and expand their vocabulary.

Printables from education.com

I have found a brilliant website called www.education.com which gives you a certain number of free printables on all sorts of subjects (alternatively, you can sign up for premium and print* to your hearts content)

*If you don’t have a printer available to you, your local library will print for a very small fee or you can email to your local Ryman’s store (they charge a one off fee and then the more you print the cheaper it is for each page)

When we go for a family dinner at a restaurant, we always take paper, colours and stickers. Why not take a printable to keep them entertained until the food arrives?

Plants

Outside my house, the trees have turned into the most gorgeous pink blossoms which make me smile each morning. Talking about the changes which they have noticed is great.

I believe we shouldn’t pick flowers as then they die. I once tried to discourage one of my Nanny Children not to pick a flower by saying if you like something then you’d pick it but if you loved it, you’d let it grow. It backfired, because she told me she only liked this one!

Saying that; I love a good daisy chain.

Visit your local garden centre to pick up some cheap daffodils and watch them open, or let them pick their favourite pot plant to take home and nurture.

Garden Centre at Alnwick Castle and Gardens

You could also grow your own Grass Head. Find out how by clicking the link below:

https://www.redtedart.com/kids-crafts-grass-heads/

Red Ted Art has some other amazing ideas for arts and crafts for Spring too!

Food

Our foods are animals or plants (unless they have been heavily processed) yet some children only see their food in packages from the supermarket.

Take your children to a fruit and vegetable stall and let them pick something new to try.

Or even better, search for a local “pick your own” where they can pick their own strawberries. It’s an event that they will never forget.

Or make something fun out of the foods they eat already.

Cheese, tomato and cucumber “flower” starter

Painting eggs is always fun! I have never seen eggs made into a safari before! I think it’s inspiring! Let your child run with their ideas. They might surprise you!

Egg craft by Grace Barker (aged 10) From Rossendale, Lancashire

Weather

Discussing what they see when they look out of the window at breakfast will improve vocabulary, sentence structure and conversational skills.

But an even better activity that I have done with countless classes in PE and several nanny children is to put on Disney’s Little April Showers from Bambi.

Within the song, the instruments change from rain, to a storm, to the sun coming out again before another shower.

Listen (Do not watch as the impact is lesser) to the song all the way through and ask your children what they think is happening and how it makes them feel.

I usually separate the song into the different parts but you can dance together, let them experiment with their movements to best show the types of weather.

After the dance, ask them to show you how they represented rain, wind, storm and showers. It’s fun. And memorable.

You can use instruments, make your own, or use things around your house such as metal spoons for the rain to recreate your own April shower.

In this Nanny Family, we also listen to it in Italian to help our language learning skills.

Pioggerella D’Aprile.

There’s more to books…

Here are books from a library find. There is nothing that I love more than going to the library with the children and getting as many books on a subject as we can find. Sure, some books are old but I bet there is something to learn from every one of them. Choose the books that take your fancy.

I especially recommend the Days out in Spring book by Vic Parker as that is the one we enjoyed the most.

The Egg to Bee book by Camilla de la Bédoyyère also has some great notes for parents and teachers showing that there really is more to books than reading!

Days Out in Spring by Vic Parker
From Egg to Chicken by Dr Gerald Legg
From Tadpole to Frog by Sally Morgan
Life story of a Ladybird by Charlotte Guillain
Egg to Bee by Camilla de la Bédoyyère

Show me your crafts, plants or dances for Spring!

Paris, France

Notre Dame

In the sadness and disbelief of actually being in Paris while the Notre Dame Cathedral went up in flames on Monday evening, I believe it’s even more important to support our children in learning about the history of different buildings and cities around the world.

A rather poignant film to share with your children would be Disney’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” and sadly, smoke does blow up from the Alter at the end of the film. I will also be watching Les Miserablé, but that is not one to share with the children just yet!

The Eiffel Tower

Me in front of the Eiffel Tower with my Paris Marathon Medal

Postcards

As in Edinburgh, and you’ll see, from every place I travel to, I ALWAYS write a postcard to my Mum, Dad and my last Nanny children!

Remember when you were a child and you were so excited to get post through the door? The art of writing letters is almost dead, with emails, texts and FaceTime or Skype. But writing to your children will support their reading.

Send postcards from where ever you visit!

But also, giving your child a purpose to write will make it easier and more exciting. Send a postcard with your child to a friend or relative! It can just be a simple sentence, or even a picture and attempting to write their name for our younger learners. You don’t have to travel anywhere to write a postcard! You could even make your own!

Can you find the answers to these questions with your child?

As in the Edinburgh blog, I said that I send questions to my last nanny children, as before we had bedtime stories, I would always let them ask Siri (or Alexa) a question.

Also, forming questions with different word stems models how to form questions for themselves. How, what, and when are in this postcard. Do encourage ‘why’ questions too! They open up a world of exploration but also encourage longer sentences. I also love questions that encourage maths.

More to books…

I cannot tell you how much I laughed at this book. I don’t know if it’s because I’m an adult that I found it so amusing, but if you or your little one get as much joy out of this as I did, then it’s worth sharing, most definitely!

Mr Chicken goes to Paris by Leigh Hobbs

This next book is absolutely beautiful, the art work is phenomenal. Definitely one to share together (rather than independent reading) as you do have to be careful when turning the pages.

Paris- Up Up and away by Hélène Druvert

To do some of this with your children, check out products such as these. Be warned, even when they say they are for children, you have to press them really hard. They may need some help, but it is fun and looks really good. Can they make a pattern?

You could even use these to make simple but effective birthday cards.

https://www.google.co.uk/shopping/product/1?q=card+making+cutters&client=safari&hl=en-gb&biw=414&bih=622&tbs=vw:g,ss:44&prds=num:1,of:1,epd:16786674937283578738,paur:ClkAsKraXxJaf2549P06w6jtJrs8JDUCsgRrBRioPVAdKPog6WEAOwHvcbekMkDO_XoUfi1Y4dqlZ8vx94UDdnI2ZXhMU3PvYmjFX0gsmffxvWoobJBkzWwGzhIZAFPVH70ZhX9fASFXP_opKYWB-iaH_UkknA,prmr:1,pid:16786674937283578738,cs:1

This next book is like a Where’s Wally of today but around famous landmarks of Paris.

Paris- Hide and Seek by Masumi

My friend actually recommended the three books in the picture below, and then when in Paris, I found this one:

This is Paris by M. Sasek

Other cities by M.Sasek

A page out of This Is London by M. Sasek

I loved this bit, being a Nanny myself!

For the younger learners…

My Little Cities- Paris by Jennifer Adams

Show me your postcards by your little ones!

Send a picture of your Die Cut Cards.

What question did your little one ask Siri/Alexa about Paris?

love Kat x

The Writer’s Museum, Edinburgh

The Writer’s Museum in Edinburgh

How can a writer not go to a writer’s museum?

This museum is dedicated to Famous Scottish writers, such as Robert Burns, and it’s free to go in! I loved the curly wurly staircase.

Pressing or stamping

The Ballantyne Press

At the very top of the museum is an example of the Ballantyne Press. Two brothers in Scotland invented the pressing machine so that could print books.

You can buy alphabet stampers and press your names or other words out. With your child, can you press out a sentence and read them to each other?

For our younger learners, use potatoes to do some printing. Holding the potato will be a good first step into practising gripping. Then think outside the potato, and choose other things to print with. Dried pasta is an old favourite. What letters can you make with these? The thinner and smaller the implement, the more practice they will have of holding like a pencil grip.

Writing

A long time ago they used to have pen nibs and dip into ink. Everyone knows that authors such as Shakespeare used feathers. But let’s think outside the box.

Collect things that might be good to mark make with! Feathers, sticks…fold piece of card so it has a point and dip in paint. And obviously, fingers are ALWAYS fun. When I do finger painting with the children, I have them paint in their underwear as it doesn’t matter if they get paint on themselves.

I also prepare bubbly lukewarm water in a basin so I can get them cleaned up fast. Once, with twins I looked after, we just did the artwork/body paining in the bath, so as soon as they’d finished, I could clean them and the bath at the same time!

Theatre

Theatre made by children

At the very bottom of the museum is a theatre with characters and scenes drawn by children. Make your own theatre out of a cardboard box and you can even make yourselves as characters.

Make backgrounds such as a forest, a living room, a kitchen but also things they are not used to like a jungle or desert. Look up pictures in books and choose your favourite to copy.

Children’s books from the past

These are books for children in the 1800s!!!

More to books…

My Luve’s like a Red Red Rose by Robert Burns

Show me pictures of your Pressing, writing with feathers or home-made Theatres!

Love Kat x

Camera Obscura and World of Illusions, Edinburgh

The Camera Obscura itself is a ‘dark room’ at the top of the museum. Using a pole and mirrors and the sunlight, it reflects images from the outside, onto a concave table on the inside. The lady showing me today, said people in the 1600’s were so scared of this they ran out screaming. They had never seen outside without using a window before.

Me in the Light Corridor in the Camera Obscura Museum

This museum is so child friendly. I absolutely loved it. There was so so so much to see and all interactive. But in this blog, I’ll suggest books and activities so if you can’t get to Edinburgh, you can still experience some of these things and bring learning to life!

Food art

London skyline by Carl Warner

A couple of Carl Warner’s pictures are on display in this museum, to look at more of his work check out this website:

https://oddstuffmagazine.com/amazing-foodscapes-art-landscapes-created-with-eatables-by-carl-warner-19-pics.html

Why not make your own pictures with your child? (and eat them afterwards)

Write with light

Writing my name with lights (it was tricky)

This was an interactive display on the first floor. There was also a hall of mirrors and a turning tunnel that made you feel like you were falling!

The light drawings made me think of when I was child and we used to write out names using sparklers. So long as you supervise them, make sure they wear gloves and support them to know how to use sparklers safely, most children can use them to have fun writing in the air. Although, the nights are getting lighter and if you don’t feel comfortable with that, use a torch in the house with the lights off and curtains shut!

Kaleidodraw

Kaleidodraw- an interactive display in the museum

This was a lot of fun, you pick your colours and draw dots, lines or squiggles and then press spin. It made all sorts of patterns.

A kaleidodraw App is available to download for IPads.

Magic Eye

Magic Eye on display in the museum

Without even trying to look for the magic eye, these pictures can help start some good conversations about what they can see. I remember having these books as a child, and when the picture would appear, I’d be so happy with myself! Haha! See below, in the More to Books…section for books ideas for magic eye!

3D picture

3D picture in the Museum

How the 3D picture was made

Looking through the hole, it looked like a room with people standing at the front and different objects and people in the middle of the room or even the back! You can recreate this with your child. Make several frames identically and then stick one character or object on each layer, make sure you vary the position. Experiment and have fun with it!

You can buy 3D cards in most shops now. Sometimes they have things dangling down.

Moving images/Flip book animation

I loved doing this when I was a child. Take a notebook, go to the back of the book and on the bottom corner, draw a little stick person. Turn one page then draw almost the exact same stick person only millimetres different. Keep going, you can make it jump or get smaller and bigger, it’s really up to you. Then, with your finger flip the pages so the paper goes really fast and your image will move.

It is so hard to describe: how to make a flipbook animation with Mr Otter Art studio on YouTube is a great visual to help you.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Njl-uqnmBGA

I would use this to make up a story about the character with your child.

There’s more to books…

For our younger learners:

ABC Animals by Rufus Butler Seder

As you move the pages, the animals move. There are other books with “scanimation” too!For our older learners:

Magic Eye Gallery by Magic Eye inc

Where’s Wally? By Martin Handford

At my hairdressers, when I was little, they had a Where’s Wally? Collection to keep us entertained while having a trim.

Post a picture of your:

  • Food art

  • Kaleidodrawings

  • 3D pictures

I can’t wait to see them.

Love Kat x