30 September 2007

New Site for Networking

I've just joined Giant Potential this is a new website for networking with other work at home mums.

28 September 2007

Teaching Emotions

I've posted before briefly about some ideas for teaching emotions and I am now pleased to announce the arrival at Littlesheep Learning of our Emotions category - starting with three great products that will help making learning about emotions, understanding feelings and recognising expressions easier and more enjoyable.

Firstly, the Mr Face Wall Hanging, this wall hanging is the ideal way to introduce children to emotions, feelings and facial expressions. The detachable pieces make it easy for any child to create their own version of happy, sad and any of a multitude of other expressions on the outline of Mr. Face. This fantastic resource can be used to promote the recognition of expressions and children change the expression to match how they are feeling.

Secondly, the Miss Face Cube, a delightful complimentary resource to the Mr Face Wall Hanging. The Miss Face cube features a different emotion on each side and is great fun for activities and games - a perfect way to discuss emotions and feelings.

And, lastly, the
Emotions Teaching Mitt as introduced in our Puppets post earlier this month. A lovely glove puppet that fits onto an adults hand and features the expressions of happy, sad, angry, surprised and worried.

27 September 2007

Bean Bag Learning

We've just added these lovely Letter Beanie Bags - a bean bag for every letter of the alphabet. These lovely bean bags each have letter stitched on - lowercase one side and uppercase on the reverse with the consonants stitched in blue and the vowels in red to help children distinguish between them. Each bean bag measures approximately 7cm and can be stored conveniently in the drawstring cloth bag.

These bean bags join our popular shape, colour and number beanie bags and are ideal for a wide range of letter and phonics games.

As promised on my previous post announcing the arrival of the shape, colour and number beanie bags here are some ideas to use them to make learning fun.
  1. Put the bean bags in their storage bags and take turns to take one out and identify it
  2. Spread the bean bags out and see who can find a specified one first
  3. Match the bean bags to shape, colour, letter or number flashcards
  4. Match the bean bags to objects (and objects to bean bags) - the same shape or colour or starting with that letter sound or the same quantity
  5. Try and put the letter or number bean bags in order
  6. Spread out the number or letter bean bags and using string make a giant dot to dot
  7. Identify colours / shapes / numbers and letters by practicing throwing - throw me the red one, the square one, the number three or the letter f
  8. Seperate the vowels / consonants or odd / even numbers by throwing into seperate hoops

Let me know how you use yours to enhance your child's multisensory learning experience.

26 September 2007

Down Syndrome Fundraising

I've just been sent an email about two fantastic fundraising projects that will help you get ready for Christmas!

Firstly Downsed Christmas Cards - there are six designs to choose from including three of collages made by Downsed Pre-school Early Intervention groups - my favourite being this lovely Father Christmas card.

The Down Syndrome Educational Trust is a charity that is leading international research to examine how developmental and educational interventions can improve outcomes for people with Down syndrome. Their work improves the lives of many thousands of people living with Down syndrome around the world today.

Secondly, the PROUD Calendar 2008 - This calendar is produced by P.R.O.U.D and features photographs of the children from PROUD and other children who are gathered from various online communities from the UK and across the world, whose parents feel as proud about their children.
P.R.O.U.D. (Parents, Relatives & Others Understanding Down's) is a parent led support group (based in Walsall), which aims to provide for the needs of individuals with Down’s syndrome, to offer support, acceptance, advice and encouragement for parents, carers, family and friends of persons with Down’s syndrome, to increase awareness and knowledge of issues relating to Down’s syndrome and to educate the community about the presence, the potential and the needs of people with Down’s syndrome.
If you have any similar fundraising projects please let me know and I'll try and feature them here.

25 September 2007

Starting School or Starting a School

Most school aged children will have settled back into school this month but what do you do if you can't find a school that you feel fulfils the needs of your child? Home education is one answer but it isn't for everyone, I just read this article and another option appears to be starting your own school. The article explains why and how four parents started their own schools; Lewes New School in Suffolk, The Family School at Larkhill in Clapham, Chrysalis School for Autism in Hertfordshire and Moon Hall School and Community College.
Lewes New School opened in 2000 and has sixty pupils, from ages three to 11 with fees 0f £1,750 a term. It was started by Adrienne Campbell and her friends Miranda and Stephanie, after they realised they kept moaning about their children's education. Their school has small class sizes, fosters respectful adult/child communication and involves creative and challenging learning, it does not follow the National Curriculum.

The Family School at Larkhill, Clapham, southwest London opened in September and has 12 pupils aged from ages six to eight with fees of £1,500 a term. The school was founded by Polly Griffiths, her husband Dil Green, and a group of other committed parents. Currently the Family School at Larkhall has no permanent home, but an eco-friendly building, will be ready next January. Currently teaching takes place four mornings a week, and the rest of the time parents lead activities such as gardening, cooking, dancing and days out to museums. The school took inspiration from the Human Scale Education movement that promotes small class sizes and values each child's individual talents. The families come from a variety of backgrounds, and all parents have to put in one day a week at the school, leading activities, cooking the school's organic lunches, driving or doing administrative work.

Chrysalis School for Autism, Codicote, Hertfordshire was opened in 2005 and has just three pupils, aged from four to 13. It has fees of £15,000 a term, with one-to-one teaching. Laura Dyer started the quest for a new school as she felt the LEAs special needs school did not meet the needs of her son William. Before he went to school, William had been using Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) at home, an intensive way of teaching autistic children that breaks tasks down into small stages and uses positive reinforcement to develop skills. Chrysalis aims to provide ABA teaching for other autistic children in the area.

Moon Hall School and Community College, Surrey. The school was opened in 1985 and the college in 2005. There are 100 pupils (aged 7-13) at Moon Hall School, and 88 (aged 3-13) at Moon Hall College. Fees are from £1,900 for mainstream teaching with dyslexia fees worked out on an individual basis. Berry Baker started the school as she was unhappy with the dyslexic teaching available locally for her child. With the encouragement from her friend Andrea, who also had a dyslexic son, she decided to teach the two boys herself at home whilst training in dyslexic teaching. When the school outgrewn her house, it moved into a new building in the 60-acre grounds of Belmont, a nearby prep school near Dorking. Moon Hall School's pupils have access to Belmont's games, drama and other non-academic facilities. Two years ago the charity bought a school near Reigate – Moon Hall College at Burys Court takes children from three to 13 years old, mainstream and dyslexic, with the intention of taking them up to 16 in the future.

These four stories are very inspiring - I'm sure it isn't an easy thing to do but certainly is worth considering as an option if you feel that your local schools are not meeting the needs of your children. Anyone can set up an independent school, but you are legally required to register with the Department for Children, Schools and Families (formerly the Department for Education and Skills) and undergo an Ofsted inspection to make sure the school reaches "satisfactory standards in relation to the quality of teaching, the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of its pupils, the premises and accommodation, the welfare, health and safety of pupils and the suitability of the proprietor and staff within the school". Independent schools can decide their own curriculum and ethos so do not have to follow the National Curriculum. Most independent schools are run as registered charities. More information about starting schools can be gained from Human Scale Education and The National Association for Small Schools gives advice and support to schools at risk of closure.

22 September 2007

Puppets now available at Littlesheep Learning

I've just realised I didn't write a blog post a few weeks ago that I kept meaning to write and that was about my trip to the Autumn Fair - a massive trade fair at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) in Birmingham. I spent a day networking with other WAHMs (the people behind Knot Just Jigs, PinkFairyCake, Boutiquetoyou, Gifts for Little People, Little Milestones, Kiddymania - shout if I've left you out?) and the best part of the day was sourcing some new products, the first of which - some lovely puppets have now arrived and are available to buy at Littlesheep Learning.

These puppets are great for use in
Story Sacks, to provide a visual reference point and to make learning fun.

People Who Help Us Teaching Mitt
A great glove pupppet for learning about occupations and the jobs people do. The puppet fits an adults hand and includes the following roles: fireman, policeman, postman, nurse and doctor.

Expressions Teaching Mitt
A fabulous glove puppet for talking about emotions; featuring happy, sad, angry, surprised and worried.

Plus Five Little Ducks,
Five Little Speckled Frogs and Ten in a Bed to provide a visual aid when singing these favourite counting rhymes.

We have also added story puppets and first animal finger puppets - more about them another day!

19 September 2007

Advertising Co-operative

A group of Work at Home Mums (WAHM) who use the WAH forums on Mumszone Parents Forum have joined forces and produced an excellent shopping directory. These brochures have now been shared out and are being added to our orders and distributed to potential customers - I received mine today and they look fabulous - plus there are some great discount codes to help people with their Christmas shopping!

Place and order with
Littlesheep Learning today to get your hands on one!

The following businesses are included:

Mumszone Parents Forum

'Write a Review' Competition

Win a copy of the Usborne First Experiences Book - this padded hardback book is a lovely collection of nine titles from Usborne's First Experiences series.

To enter all you need to do is to write a review of one of the products sold here at Littlesheep Learning. You will get one entry for the draw for each review that is accepted and the winner will be chosen at random on 31st October 2007.

To write a review of a product, log in (you may need to create an account if you don't already have one), choose the product to review, click on 'Reviews' and then on 'Write Review' and add your review!

Please note: We will accept reviews of products we stock even if you haven't bought them from Littlesheep Learning

Who Does What? Article Added!

Once you have had a child diagnosed with special needs you may find that you are inundated with many different professionals with long and complicated titles and a variety of roles. So who does what? I've an article to the Resources pages at Littlesheep Learning: People You May Meet - Professionals Involved which tries to identify some of the most common professionals involved with children with special needs and their roles. I hope you find it useful.

15 September 2007

Competition Winner

We are pleased to announce the answer to the competition question:

How many dressing skills are in the Fabric Skills Book? is 7

And the winner of the Dotty Dinosaurs game is Samantha from Leeds.

Look out for new competitions coming soon on our Competition page.

13 September 2007

IEP's the Dr Seuss way!

I was just sorting out some old files and I came across a pile of old Individual Education Plans (IEPs) for children I have worked with and amongst them was Dr Suess's thoughts on the matter! I'll write a more serious post about good IEP / target setting another day!

IEPs by Dr. Seuss
Do you like these IEPs?
I do not like these IEPs
I do not like them, Jeeze Louise

We test, we check
We plan, we meet
But nothing ever seems complete.

Would you, could you
Like the form?
I do not like the form I see
Not page 1, not 2, or 3

Another change
A brand new box
I think we all
Have lost our rocks.

Could you all meet here or there?
We could not all meet here or there.
We cannot all fit anywhere.
Not in a room
Not in the hall
There seems to be no space at all.

Would you, could you meet again?
I cannot meet again next week
No lunch, no prep
Please hear me speak.
No, not at dusk.
No, not at dawn
At 5 pm I should be gone.

Could you hear while all speak out?
Would you write the words they spout?
I could not hear, I would not write
This does not need to be a fight.

Sign here, date there,
Mark this, check that
Beware the students ad-vo-cat(e).

You do not like them
So you say
Try again! Try again!
And you may.

If you will let me be,
I will try again
You will see.

Say! I almost like these IEPs
I think I'll write 6003.
And I will practice day and night
Until they say
"You've got it right!"
Author Unknown

08 September 2007

Super Maths for the Supermarket

As I was shopping in the supermarket with my children I realised that there are a whole host of learning opportunities that it offers. This post will focus on numeracy (maths) skills - maybe after next weeks trip I'll look at literacy or another development area!

So here are some of our teaching and learning experiences:
  • Counting; ask your child to get a certain number of an item e.g. get me four carrots or count how many are in the packet e.g. counting the three peppers in the sealed bag
  • Number recognition; what numbers can they spot - the aisles are numbered as are the tills (checkouts), look for the numbers on packaging e.g. the number of eggs in the box or the number of pints in the bottles of milk;
  • Size comparisons; which is biggest / smallest, longest / shortest
  • Weight; which is heaviest / lightest, how much does it weigh? (in stores that allow you to weigh your produce)
  • Simple story sums; we've got three potatoes and one more makes? if there are four of us for dinner and we are going to two sausages for dinner how many do we need altogether?
  • Identifying 3D shapes; for example, tins are cylinders, cereal boxes are cuboids and oranges are spheres

And for older children you can introduce money questions and budgeting questions

  • which one costs more / less?
  • how much for two?
  • how much change do you get?
  • price comparisons - if six yoghurts cost £3 and four cost £2.20 which yoghurts are cheapest?

02 September 2007

Starting School Offer

As children everywhere are starting school, Littlesheep Learning are giving away a FREE copy of the First Experiences: Going to School book with every order over £10* placed before 10th September.

* after any discounts and not including P&P

September's Monthly Special Offer

This months special offer at Littlesheep Learning is 25% off the Insey Wincey Spider game. This is a best selling game based on the popular nursery rhyme and teaches both counting and shapes. Be the first to move your spider up the drainpipe before it starts to rains and it gets washed out.

We also still have a few Crash, Bang, Wallop! and Cock-a-Doodle Moo! games (tape versions) left to clear.