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.


"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…


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

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
- 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
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
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
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

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

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.