24 June 2007

Summer Madness!

I've just added a new discount code at Littlesheep Learning - when entering SummerMadness07 at checkout you will save 10% (and yes that's on top of the sale prices!)

Take a look and get yourself a bargain - hurry though as the code expires on 30th June 2007

15 June 2007

Planning for Starting School / Class Transitions

I had an email from a friend who has a child with ASD about how to prepare him for the changes in work from play based learning in Reception to the more formal learning in Year 1. Replying to her email reminded me of some of the transition support work I have done in preparing children for school / new classes and I thought I would share some ideas to help ensure that the move anxiety free.

Firstly, preparation is the key to smooth transitions. Some children will need more preparation than others so work out your own plan in conjunction with your school and other professionals working with your child (as appropriate).

One of the best ways to prepare a child for the new term is to visit the school and meet the teacher and other children, this is usually organised by the school at the end of the summer term or first thing in September as part of a gradual transition to full time schooling. If formal visits are not possible, taking the child to see the school (even just to drive past it!) will help make it a ‘real’ place.

If possible take photos the building, the classroom, the toilets, the library, the dining hall, the teachers / teaching assistants and anything else of interest. These can be made into a personalised 'starting school' / 'moving to year 1 (etc)' book. This personalised book can also include 'rules' as appropriate, for example, we have to be quiet in the library, we hang our coats on our peg, class x can play on the climbing frame on Wednesdays and we take turns on the computer.

It is important that the adults (teachers, parents, carers and other family members) connected to the child starting school are positive about the prospects of the experience, however it is also important to allow the child to express their fears and concerns. Books, for example, the
Usborne First Experiences: Starting School or role playing school with favourite toys / puppets may help a child understand the process.

Another task that might help your child prepare for school is taking them ‘school shopping’, being taken to get their new school clothes, shoes and bags it can help build excitement about the experience and being able to chose items will add empowerment.

In the period before starting school, other skills that might be worth practicing include
self-help skills - dressing, toileting and feeding, following routines and playing with similar toys to those used in school.

To prepare children who are already have specialist support in school, find out whether their support workers will be staying the same or changing next term. Evaluate the strategies used this year and look at how they can be implemented in the new classroom setting, for example, if the child was allowed to have quiet time out in a side room is there the space for this to occur in the new room? If the child sat for carpet time on a specific cushion / space - can this be transferred to the new class? Don't forget to ensure that angled writing boards and other specialist equipment is moved into the new class before the start of term.

12 June 2007

Scope Communication Aids Survey

I've just received an email about the Scope Communication Aids Survey which is available here.

Scope believes that everyone should have the right to communicate. Lots of people with communication impairments have told them that they find it difficult to get the right equipment and support to speak for themselves. So they are conducting some research into the issues. The survey is for people with a communication impairment, who use, or would like to use, a communication aid. They would also like to hear from parents and family members or people that work with people with communication impairments. The survey ends on 1st July 2007.

10 June 2007


Here is my second featured 'WAHM'

We went to Twycross Zoo yesterday and whilst following the sign language trail I remembered Michelle's site! Michelle holds a level three qualification in British Sign Language (BSL) and is a communicator for Deaf people and enjoyed signing with her own (hearing) children but struggled to find the resources to help teach them. Chelltune is the UK's first specialist signing store containing all the materials you need to get you babies and children signing. The shop contains items from the BSL - Let's Sign and WOW! ranges, products to support baby signing classes (including Tinytalk, Sing & Sign and Sign with your Baby), Makaton compatible resources as well as fun signing puppets. As well as the shop there is also a forum to discuss signing and ask any questions - it's well worth a look!

08 June 2007


We are celebrating a birthday in our house today and it made me think about how children learn about birthdays and how we can help children with special needs experience the excitement / prepare them for their big day.

Some ideas:
  • share books about birthdays / parties (including the Usborne First Experiences: Going to a Party)
  • use a calendar to count down the days until the birthday / party
  • practice unwrapping presents to teach both the anticipation of 'what is in the present' and the skills needed to tear the paper
  • practice blowing out candles and singing happy birthday
  • think about your child's needs and difficulties when planning a birthday treat, you want them to enjoy it!
  • let your child 'help' with the preparations

07 June 2007

Learning Number Names

I was talking to my eldest son yesterday and he pointed out a number 9 - I had no idea he knew the number names (we haven't sat down with the flashcards although he does have a set to play with!). I realised he must have learn them from all the incidental talking about numbers that we do so I thought I'd share some ideas with you - feel free to use the comments function to add yours too.
  1. Look for house numbers
  2. Complete number jigsaws
  3. Play with number bean bags
  4. Play number matching games like number lotto
  5. Identify numbers on car number plates
  6. Ask what number the hands on a clock are pointing to
  7. Look at books with numbers in the story
  8. Colour or decorate number outlines (see our resources page for FREE number colouring books)
  9. Get your child to press the buttons for you in the lift
  10. Identify the numbers on the scales when cooking

Littlesheep Learning has a full range of products to help your children learn numbers, including Rol 'n' Write Numbers, Tactile Sandpaper Numbers, Number Bean Bags and Number Fans

05 June 2007

Autism Forum

As you may or may not know Littlesheep Learning came about as a result of our work with children with autism and that supporting parents of children with special needs is an area of importance to us. Whilst networking on MySpace we came across this new autism forum which will be well worth a visit if you are the parent or carer of someone with autism - take a look!

03 June 2007

Down's Syndrome Awareness Week

This week (4th-10th June) is Down's Syndrome Awareness Week. A campaign week that aims to raise awareness of the condition, dispel myths and allay the fears surrounding Down Syndrome. It is a national initiative organised by the Down's Syndrome Association. This year the main focus of the week this year will be improving employment prospects for adults with Down’s syndrome.

So bearing in mind it's Down Syndrome Awareness Week I thought I'd help raise awareness of Down Syndrome by a post about it!

Down syndrome is a genetic condition which is caused by the presence of an extra chromosome. The name ‘Down’ comes from the English doctor, John Langdon Down, who first described the syndrome in 1866 and ‘syndrome’ comes from the description of a collection of signs or characteristics.

Everyday in the UK, an average of one or two babies are born with Down syndrome, which means that one baby in 1000 has the condition. People with Down syndrome have a certain degree of learning disability however the degree of disability varies from person to person and it is impossible to tell at birth what that degree will be, most children with Down syndrome do learn to walk, talk, read and write just that their development is usually delayed.
There are certain physical characteristics that are shared by people with Down syndrome though not every child with the condition has every characteristic. Common characteristics are:
  • Low muscle tone (although this improves with age)
  • Lower than average birth weight and a slower pace of weight gain
  • Eyes that slant upward and outward, the eyelids often have an extra fold of skin (epicanthic fold) which appears to exaggerate the slant
  • A flatter than average back of the head
  • A single crease which runs right across the palm of the hand
About forty per cent of children with Down syndrome have an associated heart defect. These heart conditions vary from small holes in the heart to more complex problems which may require major open heart surgery. The majority of these defects can be corrected and the prognosis is very good.
All babies are different from each other and the same is true of babies with Down syndrome, this means that in some babies the characteristic signs of Down syndrome are fairly easy to recognise soon after birth, however others need a blood test to check the chromosomes.

Lastly, I'd like to add a little picture of the daughter of a friend of mine, I'm sure you'll agree that she is gorgeous! Her mummy is a great advocate for Down Syndrome and wants the world know that having a baby with Down Syndrome is NOT the end of the world.
Please feel free to add your comments about your experiences of children with Down Syndrome (and send me any photos you want me to add).

For more information:

01 June 2007

Competition Winner

Congratulations to Karen from Worthing, who is the lucky person who found the birthday cake and won a copy of The Usborne Book of Playtime Activities.

We hope you enjoy your book. Look out for more competitions coming soon.