29 February 2008

Encouraging Reading

As this year is the National Year for Reading and next week includes World Book Day, I thought I would write a post about how parents can encourage their children to read. Most parents (and grandparents) want their children to do well at school and want to support their learning so here are some ideas to help. The trick is to find ways of fitting this into busy schedules and to keep it fun. Even very young children can benefit from 'sharing books' − discussing pictures, looking at words, talking about the story and characters.

When trying to start reading activities with your children it is important:
  • keep it short
  • choose the time carefully − not while your child's favourite TV programme is on or when they are tired etc
  • do it regularly − 10 minutes every day or three times a week is better than trying to fit in a 'long session' at the weekend
  • make it enjoyable
  • understand the task and the learning purpose
  • use rewards.

Some ideas for reading activities:

  • use the local library for free access to a variety of different books to stop you getting bored of the same ones (unfortunately young children do like repitition so be prepared to need to read the same book every day for weeks!).
  • play reading games including; I spy, bingo, letter and word lotto, word jigsaw games for example, Nonsenses and Pass the Word
  • put a word of the week on the fridge, you could use word flashcards or magnetic words / letters
  • find time to listen to your child read and read to them.
  • ensure that incidental reading is part of everyday activities; reading recipes, DIY instructions and travel brochures can all provide opportunities for reading in the home over and above books and comics
  • read the same book as your older independent reading child and then then talk with them about the characters, the plot and their favourite parts.

26 February 2008

Fine Motor Fishies

These new Fine Motor Fishies are a lovely addition to our range of fine motor activities.

These brightly coloured linking fish are great for developing fine motor skills (pre-threading skills) as well as teaching colour recognition, counting, sorting and sequencing / patterning. The set of comprises of 12 fish (3 of each colour; red, yellow, green and blue).

After linking these Fine Motor Fishies has been mastered, children can move onto Snap Beads before threading with the Floopy and the Chunky Threading Shapes and Beads which all enhance their fine motor skills.

20 February 2008

Are you a fan of Littlesheep Learning?

If you like Littlesheep Learning and you are a member of the social networking site Facebook please become a fan! There will be lots of useful information on there including special offers and discount codes so it's well worth being part of!

15 February 2008

National Year of Reading

Did you know that 2008 is the National Year of Reading?

The National Year of Reading (NYR) is a year-long celebration of reading, in all its forms. It aims to help build a greater national passion for reading in England – for children, families and adult learners alike.

The NYR is being managed by a group of organisations committed to promoting reading, led by the National Literacy Trust and The Reading Agency, and on behalf of the DCSF.

If you haven't planned any events for your toddler group / preschool / nursery / school then don't worry - January to March in the National Year of Reading is the challenge period for organisations to decide what their activities throughout the year will be. Then April to December sees the public phase of the campaign and the monthly themes - look out for more details after the launch. Some things are already planned - check out the What's On pages to see anything happening near you.

14 February 2008

New Money Games

I've just taken delivery of the first of my new stock chosen at the Spring Fair - lots of exciting new Orchard Toys games including two new games to help children learn about money: Pop to the Shops and Piggy in the Middle.

Pop to the Shops is a favourite among many of my friends' children (look out for their reviews!). It is a fun shopping game which helps children learn about handling money and giving change. Each person goes from shop to shop using plastic money to buy lots of different items. This game is for 2-4 players, and is suitable for children aged 5-9 years.

Piggy in the Middle is an exciting game to help children learn about saving and spending money. As you travel round the board you earn and spend your pocket money as you race to fill your piggy bank! How much money can you save? For 2-4 players, suitable for children aged 5-10 years

13 February 2008

Mumszone Auctions - like Ebay but better!

Mumszone now have a fantastic new online auction facility - just like Ebay but much better.

Sign up for just £15 a year and list as many items as you want! No other charges apply unless you want extra features. You can even set up your own shop!

There are lots of great items from work at home mums (WAHM) businesses plus personal sellers items. So brilliant bargains and a superb range of products to choose from.

Take a look at Littlesheep Learning's auction items here. Happy shopping.

12 February 2008

Toddler Property Law

I found this whilst tidying up and it certainly rings true to me from my experience of toddlers!
  1. If I like it, it's mine
  2. If it's in my hand, it's mine
  3. If I can take it from you, it's mine
  4. If I had it a little while ago, it's mine
  5. If it's mine, it must never, ever, appear in any way to be yours
  6. If I'm doing or building with something, all the pieces are mine
  7. If it looks like mine, it's mine
  8. If I saw it first, it's mine
  9. If you are playing with it and put it down, it's mine
  10. If it's broken, it's yours

11 February 2008

Join in the Chatterbox Challenge

February 2008 sees the UK’s biggest nursery rhyme sing-along when I CAN’s Chatterbox Challenge kicks off. Thousands of children from all over the country will once again be performing their favourite rhymes, raising money for children’s communication charity I CAN.

Budding Bo Peeps and Little Jack Horners will be learning the words, rhymes and actions to old favourites and some exciting new songs, helping to highlight the importance of children’s communication. Supported by Openreach, a BT Group business, I CAN’s Chatterbox Challenge has become a firm favourite in the calendar, with parents and teachers alike all recognising the importance of fostering speech and language skills through nursery rhyme repetition and sound patterns.

I CAN Chief Executive Virginia Beardshaw says: “The Chatterbox Challenge is a really fun, simple and inclusive way for children of all ages to sing along to their favourite nursery rhymes, invent actions and enjoy a fantastic fun filled day. Whether taking part at nursery, with a childminder or at home, all the activities included in the free pack have been specifically designed by teachers and I CAN speech and language therapists with speech, language and communication development in mind.”

“Communication is the foundation life skill, yet one in ten children in the UK has a speech, language and communication difficulty. I CAN’s Chatterbox Challenge sees all children taking part benefit from the fun and educational activity, whilst also raising money and awareness to help others who struggle to communicate.”

You Can Join In!
If you want to join in - head down to your local Early Learning Centre on the 12th February (tomorrow) to add your voice by singing a favourite nursery rhyme for I CAN.

www.chatterboxchallenge.org.uk for further information

05 February 2008

'Write a Review' Competition

Win a copy of The Usborne Book of Everyday Words - Each page in this first words book has a scene or category with labelled objects to discuss, an excellent resource to encourage the direct association of words with objects and reinforce known words.

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 31st March 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 '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.

Competition Winner

We are pleased to announce the answer to the competition question: What colour is granny's shawl in the Little Red Riding Hood Puppets? is blue

And the winner of the Goldilocks and the three bears puppet set is Suzi from Walton on Thames.

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