From this, an idea to help your children learn letters, words or numbers, is to use a marker to write on the bottom of the duck and let your child hook the duck to learn.
More to books…
Usborne have hundreds of books where little ducks are hidden on each page!
Tower and graffiti
Half way up the tower of the cathedral (not the dome- as you have to book in advance for that, just heads up if you do go to Florence) there was a little screen where you can “graffiti” on the “wall” and it gets published to their website! If you have a reluctant writer, use chalk on the floors and walls as in my blog on spellings!
There are two mini ‘Go Ape’ like adventures that your children can go on as well, with a zip line across a river!
They also have a puppet show, albeit it being in Italian, my nanny children still got the grasp of the story from the visuals. Just be warned if you do go here, it’s all in the trees so be sure to spray with insect repellent or you’ll be eaten alive!
Watching the Puppet show inspired (then) G5 to put on her own puppet show with little Pinocchios we had bought.
Why not put on your own puppet show. Make your own “theatre” out of a cardboard box or just use a fancy material like we did!
I really love Twinkl, it has resources for literally any topic. This download should be free, but think about signing up, when I was a teacher, a few of us would chip in and all have the log in details so maybe ask other parents or nanny friends if they want to join too!
Recently, I’ve been using it to print of pictures for G3’s phonics homework. It has activities for different sounds and pictures to go with it. I usually cut the pictures out and she colours and sticks them. She absolutely loves it.
There are all sorts of different kinds of puppets. Pinocchio is a string puppet. When I worked on a nursery they used to have two big bird string puppets and they’d constantly need untangling.
Shadow puppets are easy to do with your hands, or draw a character and stick it on a pencil.
Hand puppets or finger puppets could be a great DT project. Or buy some and put on a show.
There is a huge whale sculpture in the park, you have to cross stepping stones and then he sprays water out his spout. The children LOVE it.
More to books…
Across the road from Pinocchio park is some Gardens with a Butterfly house in it. Check out my blog from Spring to see ideas for life cycles!
As in other blogs, I always send a postcard with questions about a new place to my last Nanny Children. I don’t know about you, but I loved receiving post when I was little. Plus, it supports their reading. Why not let them write postcards while you’re away, even if you just go somewhere not far? It’s brilliant practice.
More to books…
Pinocchio by Usborne based on a book By Carlo Collodi, illustrated by Mauro Evangalista.
I like this book because it has a CD to go with it. Useful to listen to on car journeys or even better, to listen to and follow the words at the same time.
This book is for independent readers, so they can enjoy it on their own.
Pinocchio illustrated by Giuseppe Di Lernia
This is for a younger audience.
The Story of Pinocchio illustrated by Mauro Evangelista
This one is illustrated by the same person as the Usborne one and I love her style but with slightly different wording. One to read to your little ones rather than them read it alone.
When I was in Canada, my friend and I took a road trip to Portland. Mainly to go to the first Vegan Mini Mall which will be in another blog- lots of books from an amazing author/illustrator who is very passionate about veganism.
But for today’s, it’s inspired by Portland.
When I told my friends that I was having a Road trip to Portland, literally everyone said I should check out Voodoo donuts! And what an experience- 24/7 donuts! And all sorts of flavours and toppings!
I’ve decorated biscuits and even cupcakes, but never donuts!
Why not buy a pack of donuts and decorate them yourselves? Be as creative as you can! They put sweets and biscuits on their icing!
More to books…
There is literally a book for any topic…
This is a lovely book where Norman loves snails and tries on lots of different items as a “shell”.
To get to the Children’s museum, we took the trams which are really easy to use. The station you need to get off at is in a “mountain” and you have to take a lift for what feels like forever. It was interesting. Luckily, I’m over my childhood fear of lift doors. When I was little and we were in Madeira. I ran into a hotel lift and the doors shut on me. Years later, I went up the Empire States building with two friends. One was claustrophobic and the other was afraid of heights. And with my fear of lift doors, we must have looked like a comedy sketch!
I got to drive a train. (Pretend to drive a train!) Did you know the first female train driver in England was Karen Harrison in 1977! I have been researching for a book I’ve written for the Suffragettes and women’s empowerment. I’m currently seeking representation.
For all things trains, check out my blog on the Water and Steam museum for ideas on books.
I went to York University and went to York maize maze (I love saying that) often. One Halloween we went in the dark and they had live actors scaring us. Maybe don’t take your really young children to that!
But see if there is a maze close to you. It’s so fun getting lost. I have been to Hampton court maze with so many Nanny Children.
More to books…
I love Paddington Bear always but here he gets lost with Mr Gruber in Hampton Court Maze!
And to show there really is more to books than reading, I’m sharing a book of mazes!
These are amazing for children’s fine motor skills and are super fun to do. I’ve taught (now) G6 to put a x when she goes wrong and go back. It’s brilliant for logic, patience and problem solving. She’s taken to asking me to draw mazes for her. I’ll take some pics when I’m back at work on Wednesday. She even draws them for me too!
The Usborne big maze book by Kirsteen Robson (Photo credit: books.google.com)
We had an awesome time!
Show me your own made up maze drawings.
Send me a photo of you and your littles ones conquering a hedge or maize maze!
As with last weeks blog on Bears, this week is also inspired by the trip to Canada!
We took a trip to Granville Island and we found the most amazing toy shop. And I just had to go in the Humpty Dumpty Books and Music section. Some of the books in this blog are from here. If am at a book shop, I always skim through the books and note down if I think they are good enough to mention and research further. I usually buy at-least one book every trip, I tend to gift it to my Nanny Children as a souvenir. A good tip is to YouTube a book title. There is usually always someone who has done a book reading video. But you can’t beat a real life book.
Humpty Dumpty Books and Music
Vancouver is by the sea but the land makes a huge inlet which was great for kayaking. I only had a single paddle and when motorboat sped past, I ended up turning 360 degrees. It actually made me laugh.
Check out your local lake to see if you can go boating with your older nanny children.
We went for a gorgeous walk in the sunshine, all around the waterfront. We saw totem poles which were made by aboriginal and indigenous people of North America.
Check out this website for some awesome facts on Totem Poles for kids!
When I was a teacher, I used to use dltk-kids.com for inspiration. There’s a template on there but use your imagination, look up some real life totem poles, create an animal for each member of the family and stack them. Don’t forget to use lots of colour!
More to books…
Great for phonics but also finding things in Canada. They also have a 123 of Canada for learning numbers, this book is for your younger readers.
I am Canada-A celebration by 13 Canadian Illustrators
This is an absolutely beautifully illustrated book with each scene done in a different technique by a different Canadian Illustrator. My favourite one is the sledging scene. Definitely lots to talk about on each page, for learners of all ages!
What I loved about this book was it was literally written by children!
This is a brilliant one for phonics like the ABC Canada book but for older children. Also check out Anne of Green Gables books with your older ones, as she is the A in this book. (And for adults, Anne with an E is an excellent box set!)
Mike Ulmer also wrote C is for Canada.
This is a great book, also for the older ones, which goes into detail about all things Native American.
There are many many many more amazing books that I found through research. If you’re interested in Native American books, do get in touch and I will be happy to share, or maybe I’ll do a follow up blog in the future.
Write an ABC of where you live!
Send pics of you boating with your children.
Show me your Totem Poles!
Lorelei, Salem, USA (aged 5) on a boating trip in Alaska!
You definitely need a snack when boating. Elsie, London (aged 4- now 9)
So as some of you may know, I work as a travel nanny and fly all over the world, to Cape Town, Italy, Maldives, Switzerland, Ibiza and Tresco to name a few.
My first few nanny jobs were on a cruise ship for one private family all over Northern Europe and also a stint in North West Italy.
I love travelling!
When I was a teenager I got to go to New York and Washington with school, then Beijing and Xian with sixth form college.
Well, last week, I got to go to Canada on a rare non-work trip (and we also had a road trip to Seattle and Portland which will feature in another blog)
Showing a little vulnerability here, but I have had feedback that sometimes by blogs are very long, so I’m going to act upon feedback and start splitting them up…
So the next few blogs will have ideas generated from things I saw so your little ones can experience a little bit of Canada without even going there!
It must be from the movies but I had a little fear that I’d run in to a bear on this trip, and there were signs on our amazing walk saying they had been sighted.
We did meet a bear, but it was a cuddly one.
More to books…
Why not go on a bear hunt, just like that book?
Hide a teddy bear in your garden or in trees in your local park…if you actually might have bears, beware!
Reasons to love a bear by Catherine Barr, illustrated by Hanako Clulow
Why not write 10 reasons why you love your own teddy bear?
Get different sized teddies and line them up in order from smallest to largest!
I took this photograph from www.worldofbooks.com -they are a company that collects books from charity shops and sells them online. You can get many titles second hand, I have used them and they have always been in great quality still.
A big help by Daniel Fehr
In a similar ilk to Where’s my teddy? And We’re going on a bear hunt, this book sees badger looking for his bear.
I’m not an advocate for screen time. I think it should be limited.
But I’m also a 24/4 nanny, who knows that children need down time as much as nannies or parents do.
Here are five tv programmes that can be useful in those times that you need to cook or do jobs, and of course, books to go with them, because after all, there’s more to books than reading.
Odd Squad is an American TV show where a group of children run a department investigating all things “odd”
I particularly love the episode where someone steals a cake and they have to work out the shapes.
I usually get drawn in to the excitement as much as the children and there are many a joke that I also appreciated. The episodes tackle lots of mathematical problems.
Horrible Histories (photo credit: IMDb.com)
Eagerly awaiting the Horrible History film on Romans as I mentioned in my last blog, but I’ve watched this with Nanny children whose children are as young as three. The magazine style to this programme means the little short songs and sketches are interesting for all ages AND the amount they discuss poo will get any child giggling.
Andy’s Wild Adventures (Photo credit: cbbc.co.uk)
To take your child around the world without leaving the television are these short but sweet fact files on habitats, eating habits and offspring.
Not only could this be under history as well, these small delicious programmes are exciting and packed full of facts. Awesome for if your little one is obsessed with dinosaurs too. I once took a nanny child to the Natural History Museum just to look for Andy’s clock but sadly it isn’t there. I’d totally commission one if I worked there.
Encourage your child to look at the book while they watch the programme and they can match some of the speech up to what Charlie or Lola are saying. Although these are fiction unlike the 4 programmes above, they follow every day topics that support daily routine and life.
Literally, going to the library or book shop and finding books on maths, science, geography, history and daily routine will enhance their learning through watching these programmes and reading around the topics.
For maths books, Activity books that are interactive, you can get ones that come with a wipeable pen so children can re do maths sums/word problems. Above is an example of a times tables wipeable book.
For history books, as well as reading the Horrible History books, for older children, choose a period in time of the history you watched and get age appropriate books to enhance their learning.
For geography books, after watching the Animal programme, read books about the country that the animal is from.
For science, read books about the animal that is in that programme. These can be fiction or non- fiction.
For Charlie and Lola, get Charlie and Lola books!!!
What educational programmes do your little ones love to watch? Send me a photo!
Let me know if you’re coming to the ChildCare Expo in the Ricoh Centre on the 27th of September.
I am literally obsessed with Roman history to the point that I think I was Roman in a past life!
I went to Hadrian’s wall to do research for my chapter book which will be an adventure story for children in key stage 1. I am currently looking for representation for my children’s books.
But you don’t have to go to Hadrian’s wall to help your child become excited about Roman history.
Bath at the Romans Baths in Bath*
*sadly, you are no longer allowed to go in the actual water.
Get your youngster in a fluster for Chester
Visit the Dewa Roman experience (I have taken a school group here when I was teaching in Manchester, I highly recommend it) or simply walk around this amazing city as there are ruins everywhere for you to explore, especially the amphitheatre.
Muse in the Museum of London
Take a walk in York
I did my first Degree in York. There are some interesting Roman Ghost stories in the Treasurers house.
Why not make your very own Roman shield.
More to books…
Move over, Horrible Histories, a library find, Romans by Philip Ardagh is literally “packed with facts and fun!”
Just kidding, I LOVE Horrible Histories
Ruthless Romans by Terry Deary
Also, I am eagerly anticipating the new Horrible Histories Movie about Romans this year!
This is a library find, but I love it. For GCSE History, I made the Roman Villa. Roman Villa by Gillian Clements.
Today’s blog will show you how to make maths easy by bribing your children with sweets. Just kidding! Although this activity does make maths more fun and children actually want to do these “games”.
A great maths activity for a rainy day is what has become known in my Nanny family house as “Fruit Pastille maths.” To make this healthier you can use fruit (although it could get a little messy and don’t forget to wash your hands)
I also like to use Skittles or Smarties as the numbers get a little higher then.
There are many aspects to this activity and you can start with children as young as two. For the younger ones, just sorting them and naming the colours is a great start.
The next step is to count them. A target in the Early Years is to count to 5, 10 then 20. There are three ways to help your child to count. The first is to physically move them, the next is to put them in a line to make it easier and touch each sweet as you say the number name. These are examples of one-to-one correspondence.
Eventually, the child can count by sight.
It is good to start supporting your child to record their maths. I would encourage them to draw a dot in the colour of the sweet or fruit and you can scribe the number for them to copy.
The next activity is to start adding the colours together. To make it harder, add more than one colour together. I like to generate the sums to help the children memorise number bonds to 10 and 20. Eventually, using sums that go over the tens boundary such as 9+3 or 17+4.
Taking away (minus)
For taking away, (and this is the fun part) start with one less, let them eat one and count how many are left. For larger take away sums, encourage your child to move the sweets or fruit taken away to see what is left. Always put the biggest number first.
Times tables (multiplying)
Times table sums can also be generated using this “game.” Doubling is the times table to start with. Then counting in tens. Counting in 5s. (Eg let’s say there are 6 oranges. Orange times by itself, orange times by 10 etc.) I always remind them that when you times by 1, the number stays the same and when you times by 0, the answer is always 0.
My Nanny child’s favourite activity is “sharing” mainly because that’s when she gets to eat the treasures of her hard work. I select a colour and generate the sum. So an even number can be divided by her and her sister. Or 8 for example can be shared between her, her sister, her mum and myself, if I really feel like I need a couple of sweeties that day.
To share, they can literally move the sweet or fruit to the circle with the name of who it is going to above it. Eventually, they can draw the dot and count until they get to the number, then count how many is in one circle to get the answer.
The next step will be sums with remainders!
And even change the language to one of your choice. We use Italian colours and numbers.
As the sums get easier, increase the size of the numbers.
There’s more to books than reading…
The books I recommend to support counting and adding for nursery and reception aged children are as follows:
Show me your pictures of fruit or sweet maths fun…
Having been a Nanny in Kew for two years, I absolutely loved hopping over the bridge to Brentford to this fantastic little museum. I am still a South West Nanny so drive over for visits sometimes.
I shall use this museum to guide the topics of this blog and share all you can learn from there, and things you can do in your home to learn about this topic. The “More to Books” section will appear under each topic to make it clearer.
This museum is great for if it’s a little wet or cold outside as there are plenty of things to do inside, although, at the weekends, when they have enough brilliant volunteers, they also have a working mini steam train!
Small world train sets are fun. For younger children there is Happyland sets or for older learner, brio.
The London Transport Museum is an awesome museum and deserves a blog all on its own! But here’s the link if you want to plan a trip:
And again, totally needs a blog all to itself but The Beamish Museum is one of my great loves. I did my PGCE and Masters in Durham University and the yearly membership only cost slightly more than the day ticket so I spent so many weekends here, I took my little cousin A LOT! But for the purposes of this blog, the reason you should visit is the working steam train (and so much more)
Another anecdote that is in my book is when I was a very young, new, naive nanny on a cruise ship for a private family, we bought the children a toy boat in Germany. Having only a shower in my cabin, I decided to “plug” the hole to fill up the bottom of the shower with some water so the boys could play. But the plug hole wouldn’t unblock and I spent a lot of time draining it, worrying that I’d have to confess. Luckily, I got it unblocked and the boys had an awesome time.
Bathtime water play and learning
You can buy letters and number toys that stick to the side of the bath. We used to make words from the letters or pick out a number and match the ducks. It always reminded me of the soup in that children’s tv show that was on.
Also, you can get bath friendly pens or paint. I only do this when I have plenty of time to clean the bath after, however; I also “train” my older children to clean the bath themselves while they still sat in it- or they can’t have the paints/pens in the bath again.
Wilf, Manchester (aged 1) and his Daddy in the paddling pool.
Swimming is great exercise and totally counts as water play. Sometimes, public swimming pools have family times where they have inflatables to play on. Check out your local one.
In Richmond (London), they have a public outdoor swimming pool.
But water play doesn’t have to be clean! And with the weather like it is in our wonderful British summer, get your wellies on and go for a jump in those muddy puddles! Why not collect sticks and stones and build bridges or stepping stones for fairies or little creatures?
The museum has awesome freebies that you can use, the child-friendly ones are water eco action cards which are a little like top- trumps cards and a timer for your shower (which can also be used to time how long your little ones brush their teeth)
The museum has a little tv in the first section where the children can press coloured buttons. The last two buttons show child-friendly cartoons on how to save water in the kitchen and in the bathroom. See below for books on saving water and a website to help get clean water for children across the world.
More to books…
You can get books for in the water. Sometimes, if we have ran out of time in the day to due to a ballet class or play date, I will sit outside the bath and hold g5’s reading book as she reads.
Linking to last weeks blog, for our very young learners, introduce them to the Beatrix Potter characters.
The Rainbow Fish Bath Book by Marcus Pfister (Photo credit: Amazon.co.uk)
Do you remember the hose pipe bans in summer across England? I’ve been as a travel nanny to Cape Town, Africa during the water shortage where water is so limited that in the public bathrooms and some restaurants the taps were cut off and the toilets were flushed with grey water.
This next book is about a models childhood called Georgie Badiel and she is making efforts to make sure all children across Africa and the world to have access to clean safe water.
I am so in awe ofBeatrix Potter. I love the little world she’s created and the loveable characters she has shared with us. There was always be a place in my heart for Jemima Puddleduck as my Mums’ childrens’ day nurseries are called Puddleducks but I think my favourite characters have to be Flopsy , Mopsy and Cottontail or Mrs Tiggywinkle.
Visit an allotment, just like Mr McGregors garden! Or pop in to your local garden centre to buy some vegetable seeds.
Go to the park or your garden and collect leaves, sticks and other things in nature to make a setting for your Peter Rabbit.
Planting and small world
Just like sand play, use buckets and spades with soil. Use little plastic animals and role play in the soil with them.
Who knew you could by special soil just for children?!!!
You can get a kg of soil for Wilkos for a couple of pounds but you do have to be careful that it’s “child-friendly.”
On researching this, I also found out you can buy kinetic soil! It’s like kinetic sand which is awesome by the way- but soil- for indoors! For the weather we’ve been having in England, this might be the best option!
Counting and number play
To make it a learning activity, print and laminate Peter Rabbit characters as well as numbers and put in the soil. (I say print an laminate as it is a relatively cheap way- even better, draw them with your children on card and stick them in, then recycle them after the fun)
When they pull out a number, see if they can pull out that many characters to show they know the corresponding quantity. This can be up to 3, 5, 10 or 20.
Alphabet and phonics play
To make it a literacy activity, print and laminate the alphabet (and phonics sounds for older learners) and print out characters and things in a garden (or draw on card) that begin with that sound (eg P for Peter, R for Rabbit, G for garden) or have that phonics vowel in. (Eg aw in lawn)
You can even put words in such as Rabbit, flower with the corresponding picture for them to dig out and match.
Grow your own vegetable garden with this handy child friendly kit if you’d like more guidance.
If you are wondering where to visit in the holidays, plan a trip to Windermere to the World of Beatrix Potter. I’m a huge world traveller but I think there are some amazing places to visit close to home too. I dragged a (now ex) boyfriend here in return for watching a football match about 12 years ago. I think England lost!
It’s worth looking through your coins with your children. Separate them into different values which will help them with numbers and coin recognition, but also, there’s a fancy Peter Rabbit one in circulation, which may increase in value. So one to hold onto if you do find it- good luck!
Emma Thompson has written three more books called the Further tales of Peter Rabbit.
And to show there really is more to books than reading, get a cd copy to listen in your car for the nursery run/school run, travelling to ballet, drama club, football etc
I love non-fiction as much as fiction books. I believe the best way to use them is to do it hand in hand. This is a library find- whatever animal the main character is of a book, use it as a learning opportunity to find facts about that animal.
Rabbits by Charlotte Guillain
My First Book of Garden Wildlife by Mike Unwin, illustrated by Tony Sanchez
I love crafting and this next book is the perfect link between collecting things in your garden and being creative with your child.
Fun with Nature by Annalees Lim
And don’t kill me for this idea!!!! But maybe for older learners, think about getting a Rabbit!
But make sure they read up about the responsibility before you do.
Share a pic of your child with their favourite Beatrix Potter Character:
Laiq, Rochdale (aged 3) dressing up as Peter Rabbit
Show me your planting pictures with your child:
Taylor, Waterfoot (aged 4) engaging in soil play
Emilia, Oswaldtwistle (aged 2 and a half) digging and planting
Thank you to the wonderful parents that have already shared pictures of their little ones.
To have your child feature in this blog or future blogs, email your pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org