31 December 2008

Reading wih your child

I've just come across a great set of video clips showing people reading to children of varying ages from a baby to a fourth and fifth grader (that being the end of primary school here in the UK) so thought I would share it with everyone else!

I found it the long winded route... I was following Play Activities on Twitter and she commented about this blog post so I took a look.

If you want to go directly to the clips - you need to click on the Reading with your child link on the left hand column at Chets Creek Elemenary School website. Do take a look there are some great ideas for sharing books and the different levels of development and communication.

29 December 2008

Twitter

I've just joined Twitter and is busy connecting with people especially other work at home mums (WAHM) - check out my page here and follow my updates.

17 December 2008

Social Stories

When I used to work with children with autism I often made use of Social Stories... I've just been sent a link http://www.autismnetwork.org/modules/social/sstory/lecture01.html#topic1 for a FREE tutorial to help you write yours!

13 December 2008

Special needs battle highlighted

I've just seen this article on the BBC News Website:

Special needs battle highlighted

Nearly one in five children has a special educational need

Too many parents of children with special educational needs feel they have to battle the system to get what their children need, ministers admit.

Early findings from a review into special needs education say parents feel the system is not on their side.

Inquiry chairman Brian Lamb has said some local authorities in England are not meeting their legal obligations.

Ministers accepted his concerns and announced a £38m package to raise expectations and give support.

Schools Secretary Ed Balls ordered an investigation to tackle "the failure of some local authorities to comply with their SEN [special educational needs] duties".

The investigation would also look at the problem of poor information given to some parents and "lack of transparency in the SEN system".

In a letter to Mr Balls, Brian Lamb wrote: "A major concern for parents is the lack of transparency and lack of information about school and local authority SEN policies".

And he said no-one discussed with parents what their hopes and aspirations were for their children.

Fight
Mr Balls said he agreed with Mr Lamb that the government needed to "act now to improve the outcomes for children with special needs and to increase parental confidence".


"Every child should have the opportunity to reach their full potential, including those with special educational needs, but all too often parents tell us they have to fight the system to get what their children need," said Mr Balls.

"I am determined that this will change. I see today as the start of a new and more ambitious vision for SEN.

"I want to eradicate the presumption that mediocre achievement is the best this group of pupils can hope for."

Of the £38m promised to boost SEN provision, £31m would be spent on a pilot project involving 10 local authorities.

The scheme would aim to get all schools to rethink their expectations for children with SEN and develop approaches to focus more on their outcomes, he said.

The remaining £7m would be used to support pupils in schools and to boost leadership.

The Lamb review also said there was "a failure to consider SEN and disability issues in some mainstream policies and programmes".

Legal responsibilities
The chief executive of The National Autistic Society, Mark Lever, said: "We hear day in day out from families affected by autism who have to go through lengthy and stressful battles to get the education support for their children which should be theirs by right.

"Too many families we work with find that they are unable to access the support and information that they are entitled to, so we particularly pleased that the department will be investigating how local authorities and schools are complying with their legal responsibilities to children with special needs and disabilities.

"Autism affects one in 100 children in the UK and the right support at the right time can make the world of difference to a child's experience at school and their future outcomes."

Jennifer Owen Adams, from the British Dyslexia Association, said it was encouraged by the government's response to Lamb's early findings.

"Much more needs to be done to help parents and families with dyslexic children get the help their child requires. Recognition of this is just the first step," she said.

"We will continue to support the work of the Lamb inquiry and look forward to the report's conclusions."

The final report is due in September 2009.

02 December 2008

Christmas Post

Please note that the last posting date for Christmas is Saturday 20th December 2008. To ensure that your orders from Littlesheep Learning are despatched for Christmas please place them by midnight on Friday 19th December.

01 December 2008

December Special Offer: Wikki Stix

You can save £2 on all Wikki Stix Activity Sets at Littlesheep Learning until 20th December 2008.

The Wikki Stix Activity Set contains 48 brightly coloured Wikki Stix, a dry wipe board to use with the Wikki Stix, a reusable bag and a storybook. Wikki Stix are coated with a unique patented wax formula, they stick to almost any surface and each other with just fingertip pressure. A great resource for fine motor activities - mould them, bend them, shape them, use them to 'edge' handwriting lines / colouring sheets or for creating tactile raised pictures.
A great Christmas present for all children.

17 November 2008

Christmas Shopping Guide: Stocking Fillers

As Christmas is coming we thought that we would share our stocking filler ideas with you! You probably wouldn’t think of doing your Christmas shopping at Littlesheep Learning but we have lots of items that are under £5 which would be great for you to stuff your children's Christmas stockings with!

So check out our suggestions…

We have stationery supplies – our
handwriting exercise books, Handhugger Pens (with black ink or blue), Triangular Pencils (jumbo and slim) or even our Triangular Writing Set make ideal stocking fillers for those learning to write and draw, plus see our range of left and right handed scissors for those who want to cut and create craft projects.

For children who like books the range of
First Experiences Books are just the right size to pop in a stocking whilst the range of People who Help Us Puppets are gorgeous too and great for children who are beginning role play activities.

For the more mathematically minded – we have the fantastic
Numberball - with two giant, tactile eight-sided dice as well as counters, number grids and timer, it is a fun and colourful way to help memorise the basic multiplication tables. There are many different ways to use Numberball; playing 4-in-a-row, using the timer, filling in the blank chart, or placing counters on the squares all of which help children remember the times tables – a great stocking filler for a Key Stage 2 child. Also, check out our numeracy snap games – money, time and fraction action fraction action.

Our other favourite fellow WAHM suppliers of stocking fillers are
Knot Just Jigs, FunkyDoryParty Bags, Natural Nursery and Delicate Dreams - do go and have a look and see what they have to offer.

Look out for our other gift guides coming soon!

16 November 2008

Multiplication Products Multiplying!

We have even more new products at Littlesheep Learning to tell you about - and this time we've increased our range of products to help children learn their times tables.


We now have several sets of multiplication magnets:





Basic Magnetic Numbers; these magnetic number tiles make learning numbers fun and encourage arithmetic through play. Ideal for at home on the fridge to help your child recognise numbers 1 to 100 and perform simple arithmetic as part of National Numeracy Strategy.











Multiplication Magnets; these magnets make learning times tables fun and encourage arithmetic through play. Pack contains two sets of 'sums' and 'answers' - set one is designed to help your child learn the 1x, 2x, 3x, 4x, 5x and 10x multiplication tables before moving on to set two, designed to teach the 6x, 7x, 8x, 9x, 11x and 12x).










Multiplication / Division Magnets; These magnets make arithmetic (multiplication and division) fun and encourage learning through play. Designed to help your child learn multiplication & division upto 12x, the answer is on the reverse of each calculation. Ideal for at home on the fridge to help your child learn these important National Numeracy Strategy targets.




Check out these products and the other products to help teach multiplication and division.

15 November 2008

Orchard Toys News

We are pleased to let you know that some of our Orchard Toys favourites are now back in stock at Littlesheep Learning, including:
We have also taken delivery of some NEW Orchard Toys products: Magic Cauldron, Tell the Time and Flashcards. More information on those coming soon!

14 November 2008

"Me and My Disabled Child"

Contact a Family (CaF) have just uploaded a four-part series of video: Parent Stories - "Me and My Disabled Child" featuring honest accounts of parental experiences in raising a disabled child from receiving the news to finding support for their families.

Me and My Disabled Child - Part 1: Before The News



Me and My Disabled Child - Part 2: The Early Years



Me and My Disabled Child - Part 3: A Different Family Life



Me and My Disabled Child - Part 4: Finding Support



They've asked that you watch, give it a star rating, comment and share with anyone and everyone you think would be interested...

13 November 2008

What do you do if your child hates school?

Further to my post the other week about Antonia Chitty's new book about Special Educational Needs I've just seen this article based on her other new book "What to Do When Your Child Hates School" which gives advice on how to cope when you're in this kind of situation, as well as including experiences from both parents and experts.

In the Times article Antonia shares some of the best tips for helping your child: if school isn’t meeting your child’s needs, if your child is being bullied and if your child is struggling due to family trauma. It also gives excellent guidance as to how to work through these problems with the school.

What to Do When Your Child Hates School by Antonia Chitty, is published by White Ladder Press - look out for our reviews of both books soon!

12 November 2008

'Write a Review' Competition Winner

We are pleased to announce that the winner of our 'Write a Review' Competition is Sharon for her review of the Shopping List Game.

Sharon
says:

"We have had this game for quite a while now and our four year old loves it! It's simple to understand and very well-made, not flimsy at all. Our two year old tries to play as well and can do it a little bit!

Rating: **** [4 of 5 Stars!]"

Sharon wins a Knickerbocker Glory Game look out for her review of that!

10 November 2008

Road Safety Week 2008

This week is Road Safety Week and to celebrate Littlesheep Learning are offering their popular Policeman Glove Puppet and Lollipop Man Glove Puppet for just £4 (offer ends 17th November), so buy yours today and get role playing road safety with your children.

Every year Brake chooses a theme that for Road Safety Week, the theme for 2008 is…

FAMILY SAFETY: STOP. IMAGINE. CHANGE.

Brake and their sponsors of the Week 3M, DHL, KWIKFIT INSURANCE and MASS (Motor Accident Solicitors Society) have chosen to focus on the theme 'Family Safety – STOP. IMAGINE. CHANGE.

In particular, they will be raising awareness of the following 3 key things:

  1. The vital need for parents to ‘protect the ones they love’. They have released a Brake research report about child car seats, cycling and walking safely, and speed when driving your family.

  2. The terrible devastation caused by death and injury on roads. Families affected in this way and representing Brake will tell how their lives have been wrecked by death and serious injury.

  3. The need for drivers and parents to Stop. Imagine. Change. We are asking people to stop and imagine how horrendous it would be to lose a loved one in a road crash, or cause a fatal crash, take a long hard look at their behaviour on roads, and change their behaviour for the better. We can all make a commitment to improve our behaviour, whether that means taking more time to look twice at junctions, or committing to not ever overtaking unless it is totally safe, or simply always holding our children’s hands.

09 November 2008

Competition Reminder!

Don't forget to enter our 'Write a Review' competition to win a Knickerbocker Glory Game - it closes on Tuesday 11th November 2008. To enter all you need to do is to write a review of one of the products sold 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. 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 '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.


Some of the reviews added so far:


Shopping List
Review added by Yvonne Crossland
A fantastic game for children of all ages, we have this game + 2 add on's for it. I have 2 children (age 2 & 9) this was originally bought for my eldest approx 3 years ago but still is played often now. My youngest is starting to regonise more & more every day items because of this game. We lost one of the pieces & when contacted 'Orchard Toys' the company that makes the game they replaced it free of charge which I was amazed at. So easy to play but still enough to keep the kids amused for a long time.
Rating: ***** [5 of 5 stars]





First Experiences: Going on a Plane
Review added by Tracy Gladman
This book is an excellent buy for anyone going on a plane for the first time with a young child. It makes the experience fun and they can look out for the things in the airport.Made the 9hr flight with my daughter "fly" by.
Rating: ***** [5 of 5 Stars]



Police Man Glove Puppet
Review added by Tracey Boyd
I USED THIS ITEM TO TEACH MY DAUGHTER ABOUT WHAT TO DO SHOULD SHE GET SEPARATED FROM ME, WE HAD GREAT FUN USING IT AS A ROLE PLAY AID AND MOST IMPORTANTLY SHE TOOK IN ALL THE LESSONS I WAS TRYING TO GET ACROSS!

Rating: ****** [5 of 5 Stars!]






Magnetic Words: Years 1 and 2 Key Words (Mega size)
Review added by Rebecca Mason
These magnetic words are fantastic. My son loves writing messages on the fridge, especially funny ones! I keep them in a box on top of the fridge and he chooses words to use each few days, developing his vocabulary. They are very hard wearing- when my two year old daughter gets hold of them they dont break or wear. A super product.

Rating: ***** [5 of 5 Stars!]

08 November 2008

The Common Assessment Framework (CAF)

The Common Assessment Framework (CAF) was developed as part of the Every Child Matters initiative and is a key part of delivering frontline services that are integrated and focused around the needs of children and young people. The CAF is a standardised approach to conducting an assessment of a child's additional needs and deciding how those needs should be met. It can be used by practitioners across children's services in England.

The CAF will promote more effective, earlier identification of additional needs, particularly in universal services. It is intended to provide a simple process for a holistic assessment of a child's needs and strengths, taking account of the role of parents, carers and environmental factors on their development. Practitioners will then be better placed to agree, with the child and family, about what support is appropriate. The CAF will also help to improve integrated working by promoting co-ordinated service provision.

Q: What is the Common Assessment Framework (CAF)?
A: The CAF is a shared assessment tool for use across all children’s services and all local
areas in England. It aims to help early identification of need and promote co-ordinated
service provision.


Q: What does the Common Assessment Framework consist of?
A: 1. A simple pre-assessment checklist to help practitioners decide who would benefit from
a common assessment.
2. A three-step process (prepare, discuss, deliver) for undertaking a common
assessment, to help practitioners gather and understand information about the needs
and strengths of the child, based on discussions with the child, their family and other
practitioners as appropriate.
3. A standard form to help practitioners record, and, where appropriate, share with
others, the findings from the assessment in terms that are helpful in working with the
family to find a response to unmet needs.


Q: Why do we need common assessments?
A: There are four important reasons:
• To give all practitioners working with children and young people a holistic tool for
identifying a child’s needs before they reach crisis point and a shared language for
discussing and addressing them.
• To ensure important needs are not overlooked and reduce the scale of assessments
that some children and young people undergo.
• To provide a common structure to record information and facilitate information sharing
between practitioners.
• To provide evidence to facilitate requests to involve other agencies, reducing
unnecessary referrals and enabling specialist services to focus their resources where
they are most needed.

Q: What will the common assessment involve?
A: The assessment process encourages practitioners to consider the needs of the child or
young person in three key areas (‘domains’):

Development of child, baby or young person
• Health:
- general health
- physical development
- speech, language and communications development
• Emotional and social development
• Behavioural development
• Identity, including self-esteem, self-image and social presentation
• Family and social relationships
• Self-care skills and independence
• Learning
- understanding, reasoning and problem solving
- participation in learning, education and employment
- progress and achievement in learning
- aspirations

Parents and carers
• Basic care, ensuring safety and protection
• Emotional warmth and stability
• Guidance, boundaries and stimulation

Family and environmental factors
• Family history, functioning and well-being
• Wider family
• Housing, employment and financial considerations
• Social & community factors and resources, including education

The CAF has been developed by combining the underlying model of the Framework for
the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families with the main elements used in
other assessment frameworks.

Q: Which children and young people is CAF for?
A: Most children will not need a CAF. CAF is for children and young people with additional
needs. These are children and young people who, according to the judgement of
practitioners, require extra support to help them achieve the five Every Child Matters
outcomes:
- being healthy
- staying safe
- enjoying and achieving
- making a positive contribution
- achieving economic well-being

Q: Who will carry out the assessment?
A: It is expected that the majority of common assessments will be undertaken or arranged by
practitioners in universal services such as early years settings (for example children’s
centres), schools and health settings. These services are best equipped to identify
possible needs in their early stages. Common assessments, particularly in the context of
extended schools, will help schools tackle, along with other services, a broader range of
social and behavioural issues acting as a barrier to learning and attainment. Similarly, in
health, common assessments will help midwives and health visitors take a broad view of
the issues affecting unborn and new born infants, as part of the national child health
promotion programme; practitioners will apply these principles to older children and young
people in other settings, such as health drop-ins in schools and further education
colleges. The police will also have an important role in identifying children with additional
needs and arranging for common assessments.

However all practitioners working with children and young people should have an
awareness of the CAF and either know how to complete a common assessment
themselves or know how to arrange to have one carried out. Everyone working with
children should be aware of the sorts of situations that indicate the need for a common
assessment.
Q: When should a common assessment be carried out?
A: A common assessment can be done at any time – on unborn babies, new babies, and
children or young people. It is designed for use when:
• There is concern about how well a child (or unborn baby) or young person is
progressing (this includes particularly vulnerable children and young people such as
persistent truants and young runaways)
• Their needs are unclear, or broader than a service can address on its own
• A common assessment would help identify the needs, and provide a basis for
getting other services involved

The pre-assessment checklist can be used to help identify if a common assessment
should be completed. The decision about whether to do an assessment should be made jointly with the child and or parent. Children should always be encouraged to discuss the assessment with their parents. If the child is old enough and competent to understand, they may make their
own decision.


Q: Is it the intention of Government that all CAF forms should be exactly the same across the
UK or would it be possible to make some local adjustments?
A: The development of the CAF form involved relevant government departments as well as
practitioners, local authority managers and other stakeholders and has been cleared by
Ministers -it is preferred that no changes are made to the form although the addition of the
local logo is permissible.

Q: What is the process that should be followed to carry out a common
assessment?
A: Step 1: Preparation
This involves recognising potential needs and then discussing the situation with the child,
involving parents or carers unless this is not appropriate. The practitioner may talk to their
manager, colleagues, or others – possibly those already involved with the child. It is
important to find out whether a common assessment already exists. After reviewing the
existing information a practitioner decides whether to undertake a common assessment
with the agreement of the child and or family as appropriate.

Step 2: Discussion
This involves completing the assessment with the child and family, making use of
information already gathered from the child, family or other practitioners, and completing a
consent statement. At the end of the discussion the practitioner should understand better
the child’s strengths, needs, and what can be done to help.

Step 3: Delivery
This involves agreeing actions that the practitioner’s service or the family can deliver, and
considering what may be needed from other services. According to local practice,
decisions may be made through meetings with other practitioners and the family, and the
appointment of one practitioner as lead professional where integrated support is required.

Note: the CAF does not give a practitioner the ability to guarantee a service from another
organisation without consulting that organisation.

Q: Will the CAF produce records of unnecessary information about children and their
parents?
A: The CAF is about trying to understand a child’s needs in a holistic way, rather than
through lots of different assessments that are not linked. This is in order to provide them
with a quality service. It is not about information gathering for its own sake. Common
assessment, in line with established good practice for assessment, will operate with the
full knowledge and involvement of the child or young person or their parent or carer.

Q: What are the benefits of a CAF?
A: Potential benefits include:
• Quicker service provision to children and families - as a result of more appropriate
referrals to specialist services
• Better service provision to children, young people and families - due to the CAF
looking at the whole child rather than the needs of the child from the perspective of
one particular agency
• Less repetition and duplication for children, young people and families - due to the
CAF information being shared, with consent, between practitioners
• Better understanding and more effective communication amongst practitioners -
due to the promotion of a common language around the CAF
• Timesaving for practitioners - who will be able to build on existing CAF information
rather than collecting it themselves from scratch

Q: What is the CAF’s relationship with specialist assessments?
A: CAF will replace the assessment aspects of the Connexions Framework for Assessment,
Planning and Review. Other assessments such as universal checks and targeted
assessments (for children in need; those with special educational needs etc.) will remain in
place.

However, the CAF may be appropriate to be used before, or in conjunction with a
specialist assessment to help understand and articulate the full range of a child’s needs. It
can help ensure that the referral to a specialist service is relevant and can build up a
comprehensive picture of needs, rather than a series of partial snapshots.

Q: What is the relationship between the CAF, the lead professional and information sharing?
A: The CAF, the lead professional and information sharing are all essential for the effective
provision of integrated services to children and families;
• The CAF provides a process for identifying needs and bringing services together to
meet those needs more swiftly and effectively
• Where a range of needs are identified that require an integrated response, the lead
professional co-ordinates these actions and acts as a single point of contact for the
child and family
• Effective information sharing then helps practitioners work together to deliver a
coherent and relevant service to the child and family

Q: Can a parent or carer initiate a CAF?
A: If a parent or carer would like to initiate a CAF, they should discuss this with someone
currently providing a service to them. This may be a health visitor, a doctor, or someone
else.

Local services are responsible for determining how they use CAF, and there is no
entitlement to receive one on demand. If, after talking to a practitioner, the individual
wanted to discuss further what is happening locally, they would need to contact their local
authority’s children’s services department.

31 October 2008

28 October 2008

Wikki Stix Activity Ideas

What are Wikki Stix?
Wikki Stix are waxy sticks which look a bit like pipe-cleaners. They are made from a combination of a strand of acrylic, hand-knitting yarn and a microcrystalline, food-grade, non-toxic wax. Wikki Stix stick to smooth surfaces (like the Wikki Stick boards included in the Activity pack or onto white boards) and to each other. They are a colourful, tactile, sensory and engaging product that can be used in many different ways.

Who can use Wikki Stix?
Wikki Stix can be used by children and adults alike. Their non-toxic nature means that they are safe even for children who may try to eat them however their use should be supervised. Wikki Stix are also great for children with various disabilities – they are fun for children to manipulate and can be used to help children develop their fine motor skills, their clean mouldable nature makes them an ideal ‘fidget’ toy and their ability to make 3D pictures makes them a great resource for children with sight difficulties.

How to use Wikki Stix
There are endless uses for Wikki Stix so use your imagination to see what you can create however we have included some ideas here:

During pre-writing activities, Wikki Stix can be used to create patterns and mazes to draw between. They can also be used make raised edges to colouring pictures to make colouring inside the lines easier. In handwriting exercises, Wikki Stix can be used to make a raised border margin to show where to start and stop on the edges of the paper, or to make raised lines to prompt letter placement and size. Wikki Stix can also be used to create boxes to write letters / numbers within. Different colour Wikki Stix can be also used to add prompts of where to start and where to stop. Wrapping a Wikki Stix around the base of a pencil can also be used as a grip and a reminder of how to hold the pencil. Placing a Wikki Stix under the top of the paper will help prevent slippage during writing and drawing activities.

Wikki Stix are also good for kinaesthetic learning activities. Once patterns / letter and numbers have been created they can be traced with the finger to practice the formation. A fun game is to try to identify letters, numbers or shapes by touch alone.

Playing with Wikki Stix can help develop a range of creative skills. They can be moulded to form shapes, letters, numbers and pictures. As they are easy to peel up and reposition modelling with Wikki Stix is virtually ‘mistake-free’ which helps build self-esteem. Wikki Stix are a quiet and creative fidget tool, providing a calming effect which may help children better focus on classroom activities. Wikki Stix may help generate verbal interaction, as children create while using them. This may also be helpful in the development of social skills, through tactilely engaging play.

In literacy activities, Wikki Stix can be used to highlight parts of words or a sentence. A Wikki Stix cut into shorter lengths can be used to show the division of words into syllables. Different colours of Wikki Stix can be used to code types of words in a sentence for example red = adjectives, blue = nouns and green = verbs or divisions of compound words. Wikki Stix can be used to loop or underline responses for example; words that rhyme, have a certain ending or include certain sounds.

In numeracy activities, Wikki Stix can be used to teach concepts of long and short, as well as maths symbols. They can be used as counters, to demonstrate place value and also for patterning and sequencing.
Wikki Stix can also be used to improve independence and self-help skills. Wikki Stix can outline the area where an item should be placed, for example a cup on the table or toothbrush on the shelf. A Wikki Stix threaded through the hole on a zip and twisted makes it easier to pull up and down with the Wikki to hold onto improving independent dressing skills.

Buy Wikki Stix!
Wikki Stix are part of a range of Fine Motor Activities available from Littlesheep Learning.

27 October 2008

SENDIST Tribunals

I've just had this email - so thought I'd spread the word...

Dear all,

Please sign the petition at http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/SENDISTtribunals/. It is imperative that we protect special needs children and their families' right to appeal for choice in special needs education.

Should the proposed new labour government regulations go through it will create even more distress and potential financial hardship for families who are in desperate need of help not hindrance.

Please encourage all your friends, family and colleagues to sign up too!

23 October 2008

New Product: Wikki Stix

We've recently added the Wikki Stix Activity Set to our range of Fine Motor Activities.


The Wikki Stix Activity Set contains 48 brightly coloured Wikki Stix, a dry wipe board to use with the Wikki Stix, a reusable bag and a storybook. Wikki Stix are coated with a unique patented wax formula, they stick to almost any surface and each other with just fingertip pressure. A great resource for fine motor activities - mould them, bend them, shape them, use them to 'edge' handwriting lines / colouring sheets or for creating tactile raised pictures.


Look out for an article soon about some of the many uses of Wikki Stix.

18 October 2008

Special Educational Needs – A Parent’s Guide


I've just received information about this great book written by two fellow Work at Home Mums (WAHMs) to help parents who have children with special educational needs so I thought I would share it with you.

As many as one in five children may at some time need extra help with their education, but does this mean they have special educational needs?

Antonia Chitty and Victoria Dawson’s new book, Special Educational Needs - A Parent’s Guide, brings together the facts on special educational needs, looking in detail at the different types of additional needs and how parents and carers can cope with them in daily life.

Find out which professionals can help, how to get through the ‘system’ and gain support, how to handle behavioural difficulties at home and school, and how to get the best education for your child’s needs. The different types of SEN are explained and accompanied by handy checklists to help you look at a child’s behaviour and start the diagnosis process. Practical issues such as family life, sleep, education, housing and finance are also an integral part of the books.

Whether you are worried about your child’s development or work with children and want to know more about the area, this book contains all the facts about the world of special educational needs including the contact details for sources of help.

Discovering your child has special educational needs can leave many parents feeling unsure of where to go for help. This practical guide will spell out clearly how to deal with the problems special educational needs present.

Published by Need2Know – the imprint of People’s Publisher Forward Press that focuses on overcoming real life problems – Special Educational Needs- A Parent’s Guide is available now from the Need2Know website (www.need2knowbooks.co.uk) or by calling 01733 898103 or emailing
sales@n2kbooks.com. Also available from Amazon and bookshops. Buy Special Educational Needs Now Price: £8.99.

14 October 2008

New Products: Maths Games

We are very excited about the arrival of several new numeracy games.

First we have three different lotto based games - Fraction Action Lotto, Times Table Lotto and Tell the Time Lotto. These lotto games contain 4 boards (4 by 4 grids) and 64 cards in each set.

Players pick a card and take turns to try and match them to their board, the first to complete their board is the winner.

The games are designed to suit different levels of ability; the first level being simple matching and the second level being matching equivalent cards. The card pieces can also be used as a equivalence memory matching pairs game or as flashcards.




Secondly we have three new Snap games; Fraction Action Snap, Money Snap and Tell the Time Snap. These great snap / matching pairs game to help children learn these mathematical concepts.

The cards feature different representations of the concepts - find two that are equal to find the snap pair. The card pieces can also be used as flashcards for children learning about fractions, money and to tell the time.

13 October 2008

'Write a Review' Competition

Do you want to win a Knickerbocker Glory Game? This is a great first dice game where you race to make a colourful, fruity knickerbocker glory by colour matching or counting.

To enter all you need to do is to write a review of one of the products sold 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 11th November 2008.

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 '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.

12 October 2008

New Products: Magnetic High Frequency Words

We are pleased to announce the arrival of these Mega Magnetic Words to enhance our range of reading resources. We are stocking the key word sets for both Reception children and those in Years 1 and 2.

This set of large Reception Magnetic Words contains the first 45 High Frequency words which every child is expected to recognise by the end of their Reception school year as part of the National Literacy Strategy.

Building onto the Reception Magnetic Words pack, the Years 1 and 2 sets list the remainder of the High Frequency words which every child is expected to recognise by the end of Key Stage 1 / Year 2.

10 October 2008

National Bookstart Day 2008

Today is National Bookstart Day and the theme is Pirates Ahoy!

Bookstart, run by the independent national charity Booktrust, encourages a love of reading for reading’s sake; helping children in the earliest stages of their development to associate books with pleasure.

Posters, bookmarks and stickers have all been illustrated by Debbie Harter and over 500,000 free copies of ‘Pirates A-Hoy’ by Debbie Harter and Oscar Seaworthy will be distributed across the country.

There will be a special launch party taking place at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, featuring pirates, stories and games, and an appearance by the Bookstart Bear Pirate and thousands of families from across the UK will be invited to take part in a range of activities in bookshops, libraries and a range of venues, to highlight the fun of book-sharing. These will include rhyme times, appearances from the Bookstart Bear, pirate-themed adventures as well as song and story-telling sessions. This year, National Bookstart Day supports the National Year of Reading, who shares their aims of encouraging a love of reading in all its forms, from a young age.

Rosemary Clarke, Head of Bookstart said “National Bookstart Day is about reminding every family to make book sharing a regular part of their daily routine. Enjoying stories, songs and rhymes is a wonderful way to encourage children to be confident communicators and eager learners and children who enjoy books every day do far better when they start school. All the family can join in, including dads, and share the fun that books can bring."

This is the seventh annual celebration of the book-gifting programme, which gives three packs of free books to every child in the UK. The website http://www.bookstart.org.uk/ enables parents to enter their postcode to look up National Bookstart Day events taking place in their area.

Bookstart works with libraries, health visitors and early years professionals to give the gift of free books to every child at around eight months, toddlers and pre-school at around three years of age, along with guidance materials for parents and carers. Bookstart seeks to promote the importance of books and the benefits sharing books with babies, such as parental bonding and promoting emotional intelligence, as well as building good communication and listening skills, and helping to lay the foundations of early literacy. Bookstart also aims to foster a love of books through a range of fun activities like Bookstart Rhymetimes and the Bookstart Book Crawl.

20 September 2008

Book Time

New research reveals daily reading to children diminishes as pressures on parents increase Children now spending more than twice the time watching TV versus reading with parents or carers. It is widely acknowledged that one of the most important things a parent or carer can do to help their children's learning and development is to inspire a love of books and reading. But independent new research* commissioned for Booktime and Booked Up published today reveals that it is harder than ever for parents and carers to find the time to read with their children.

Findings include:
  • Daily reading aloud with children has decreased over the last two years. In 2006, 43% of parents of young children read to them daily but this figure has now dropped to one in three in 2008.
  • 23% of parents never or rarely read aloud with their children. For those who do, just one third of parents read with their offspring on a daily basis.
  • Mum takes the lead reading role: Mum is still the chief reader (64% of mums of 4-5 year olds say that they are the principle ‘reader' with their child compared to just 12% of dads). Among parents of 11-12 year olds, mums still dominate, with 46% stating that they are the principle reader compared to just one in 20 dads.
  • Time and tiredness stopping parents reading more: Top three reasons why parents/carers do not read more with children include: too much else to do (35%), tiredness (30%) and busy cooking dinner (25%).
  • Age of parent determines who reads the most with children: The older the mum, the less likely they are to read most with their child. Conversely, the older the father, the more likely they are to read most with their offspring.
  • Poetry reading not popular with the Scots but a hit with Londoners: 47% of Glasgow parents state that they never read poetry with their offspring. However, poetry is still a much loved genre among many Brits including London parents who claim the highest rate of weekly (or more) poetry reading with their children.
  • Poetry classics stand the test of time: The research also reveals the nation's favourite poet in 2008 is First World War soldier Wilfred Owen, narrowly ahead of late comic Spike Milligan and English Romantic poet William Wordsworth. ‘If' by Rudyard Kipling is the UK's favourite poem of all time.
  • Book time loses out to TV: The average four to five year old spends twice as long watching TV compared to reading with parents (and six times more than reading and looking at books by themselves). There has been a decrease in the amount of time spent sharing book time (a 10% decrease year on year from 3hrs 25mins in 2007 to 3hrs 4mins in 2008).
  • One in five of all children say that they don't read enough with their family and friends. This rises to 40% of 7-8 year olds and is highest regionally in Bristol and Newcastle (30% each respectively).
  • Time spent on household chores overtakes time spent reading for older children: The average 11-12 year old spends 4hrs 14mins surfing the internet compared to just 41 minutes reading with their parent/s. In 2008 Britain, they actually spend more time doing household chores than reading with mum or dad!
  • More poetry reading wanted: One third of all children said they would like to read more poetry or have more poetry read with them.

It's not all bad news though. While some parents unfortunately struggle to find time to read to their children, others don't: Sheffield and Liverpool have the highest rates of ‘daily parental reading' where four out of ten (mostly mums) read aloud with their child everyday. Plus, the research uncovered an additional benefit for parents in reading with their offspring, with 78% agreeing or strongly agreeing with the statement that ‘reading with my child(ren) is a good way for me to get away from everyday worries'.

* Booktime and Booked Up 2008 research: 1,507 UK parents of primary school aged children (representative of UK population) took part in the independent research between 12 Aug 2008 and 8 Sept 2008, conducted by Tickbox.net via an online and telephone survey.

The research also explored parents' views on reading poetry with their children:

  • Poetry reading with children strong in major cities: Poetry is still a much loved genre amongst many Brits. London (17%), Birmingham (14%), Sheffield (14%) and Liverpool (13%) have the highest rates of weekly (or more) poetry reading
  • Children's enjoyment: Parents and carers stated that the main benefits of reading poetry is that children enjoy the ‘rhythm and rhyming' (62%), humour (36%) and that the repetition and sounds of the poem aids a child's memory (34%).
  • Poetry saves on story time for some parents: 9% of parents (rising to 12% of dads) say reading poetry with their children saves them time.
  • The benefits of reading poetry were also explored as part of the research: 39% of parents say reading poetry sparks the imagination; 26% like doing it as it's enjoyable/fun; 25% say reading poetry reminds them of happy memories and childhood days; 22% believe it expands their language and vocabulary; 22% of parents say reading poetry represents the perfect escape from the stress of modern life; 18% say it helps them feel better; 7% say it helps them to understand life and the world more.

To help encourage a lifelong love of reading - both stories and poetry - over two million free books will be given to schoolchildren across the UK. These will be given to every reception-aged pupil and Year 7 pupil in England this term through two programmes from independent charity Booktrust, supported by the Department for Children, Schools and Families and education and publishing company Pearson.

The Booktime programme will give children aged 4-5 years across the UK a copy of Harry and the Dinosaurs go to School by Ian Whybrow, illustrated by Adrian Reynolds (both of whom have waived fees and royalties). The packs will also contain a guidance booklet for parents and carers to encourage sharing books with children. The Booked Up programme will give children aged 11-12 a book from a list of 12 carefully selected titles, encouraging independent reading. Both programmes promote reading for pleasure at important transition stages in children's learning and development. Plus, for the first time, free poetry anthologies will be given to both age groups in England. Reception-aged pupils will get a special Booktime edition of The Puffin Book of Fantastic First Poems, while Year 7 pupils will be able to choose a copy of Read Me and Laugh: A Funny Poem for Every Day of the Year (Macmillan) as part of the Booked Up programme.

Model and TV presenter Nancy Sorrell, herself a mum of two children and this year's Booktime and Booked Up Celebrity Ambassador, comments: "It's such a joy to snuggle down with the girls and a book to share in fantastic adventures, faraway worlds and meet exciting new friends. I'm proud to be supporting these two reading initiatives that provide free books for five year olds and 11-year-olds to enjoy. It's a brilliant way to keep children interested in books as they make the move from nursery to ‘big school' and from primary to secondary. Plus, the fact that it's free and available to everyone makes it even more appealing!"

Viv Bird, Director of Booktrust, says: "These wonderful quality books that children will be receiving through Booktime and Booked up will provide many hours of fun for them to share with families and friends. Booktrust is very grateful to Pearson and the DCSF for their generous support."

Marjorie Scardino, CEO, Pearson, adds: "We started Booktime because we wanted every child in the UK to have a book of their own as they started school, and we're proud to be working with Booktrust, DCSF and a group of very talented authors to make that possible again this year. We hope Ian Whybrow's story of Harry's first day at school plus a first taste of poetry through Puffin's fantastic poems will be the start of a lifelong love of reading."

For more information on see http://www.booktime.org.uk for more information and if your child has just started school look out for their special pack.

19 September 2008

New Products: People Who Help Us Puppets


These lovely People Who Help Us Glove Puppets are a fantastic resource for both role play and teaching about occupations / jobs people do. They are simple flat hand puppets which can be used by adults or children. Doctor, Fireman, Lollipop Man, Nurse and Policeman available now!

18 September 2008

New Products: Fantastic Fairy Tale Puppets

We have now added four new sets of story puppets - Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk and The Three Billy Goats Gruff to our range of puppets.

These fantastic puppet sets are come with a detailed story card to help you tell the story of the fairy tale and contains the main characters you would expect to find in the enchanting favourite story.



These puppet sets are great for children learning traditional tales, beginning role play activities and are ideal for giving as a gift coming in it's very own see-through PVC handy bag / carry case. They are also a great for inclusion in story sacks.

We also now have all of the other story sets:
Three Little Pigs, Goldilocks and the Three Bears and Little Red Riding Hood back in stock.

15 September 2008

The Communication Cookbook

BT and the children's communication charity I CAN have developed The Communication Cookbook, a resource book of activities to support children’s language and communication development.

The Communication Cookbook it focuses on 5 essential ingredients that support children’s communication skills, and contains simple recipes to help parents and teachers to develop these in skills in children.

These five essential ingredients are:
  • Attention and Listening
  • Vocabulary
  • Building Sentences
  • Story Telling
  • Conversations

Download your copy of The Communication Cookbook here and find out how to help your child learn to communicate.

12 September 2008

New Product: Magnetic Fractions Set

The second featured new product is this set of Fraction Magnets.

These colourful Magnetic Fractions are a fantastic resource to help children learn about simple fractions.

Children can play with the magnets on stuck on the fridge (or a special magnetic whiteboard) dividing up the red whole unit stick into halves, thirds, quarters, fifths, sixths, eighths, tenths and twelfths and visually see the equivelant values.

11 September 2008

New Product: Magnetic Money Chart

We've just taken delivery of the first of our new products ordered at the Autumn Fair - this includes the Magnetic Money Chart.

The Magnetic Money Chart is a fantastic resource to help children learn about money. The set contains a printed chart, 20 coin magnets, 6 note magnets and 1 wipe clean pen.

You can use the wipe clean pen to write a sum of money in the small blank box and ask your child to use the money magnets to get to this amount. See if they can make the same amount in different ways! Or do the reverse activity - you put out the money magnets and ask your child to work out how much money is there.

For children just starting to learn about money the coin and note magnets can also be used for basic money recognition as well as matching to the value space.

Check out
Littlesheep Learning for this and other Money teaching resources.

10 September 2008

Playdough

Another term, another town, another 'Stay and Play' group! We went to a new toddler group today and the 'take home idea' was play dough.

Playdough is great for children to play with and learn new skills at the same time. Play dough is:

  • good practice for sharing / turn-taking
  • soothing / calming
  • good for releasing tension
  • good for strengthening muscles / developing motor skills
  • good for developing language
  • creative
  • multi-sensory
  • fun!

Recipes

Cooked Play-Dough

1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
2 tablespoons cream of tartar
1 tablespoon oil
1 cup water
food colouring

Mix dry ingredients and mix wet ingredients and then stir together.
Stir constantly over a medium heat until the ingredients change from a lump paste into a more rubbery blob.
Turn out onto a working surface and knead the dough.
Store in an airtight container.


Cooked Play-Dough

1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
1/2 cup water
food colouring

Mix flour and salt, add water and food colouring.
Turn out onto a working surgace and knead the dough to make a clay consistency.
Store in an airtight container (doesn't keep as long as the cooked version though).

Other ideas:

Add:

  • glitter
  • spices
  • mint
  • herbs
  • cocoa powder
  • yeast (makes a stretchier dough)
  • raisins
  • pasta
  • ginger
  • lemon juice
  • curry

Use a variety of tools to play with the dough, for example;

  • lolly sticks
  • fir cones
  • toy cars
  • cutters
  • rolling pins
  • paper cases
  • straws

Play dough is suitable for children over a year old. Make sure that you supervise the play and use protective coverings for the floor, clothes and surfaces. Some children may try to eat the play dough but because it is so salty after a few tastes children will discover that it is much more fun to play with than eat!

Please feel free to share more playdough recipes / activity ideas.