03 December 2009

Happy Christmas

Happy Christmas to all our readers

We would like to wish all our readers 10% off their Christmas shopping at Littlesheep Learning - Quote Christmas2009 at checkout (offer ends 20th December 2009)

02 December 2009

Ethical Christmas Gifts

As readers of our blog will know, we recently posted about Crash Bang Wallop being featured in The Green Familia Christmas Guide as a suggested stocking filler for children.

We are pleased to announce that What a Performance -was also rated on Day 28 - gifts under £20 AND Bus Stop was featured on Day 29 - gifts under £10.

So why are Orchard Toys winning recommendations in Ethical Christmas Gift Guides - they are just games right? WRONG! These educational games have ethical credentials because they are made in Britain AND they are made from durable recycled board. They are hardwearing, long lasting and most of all fun!

Check out the rest of the TGF Ethical Christmas List to get lots of Christmas gift ideas.

22 November 2009

Put on a Panto!

The pantomime is a great British Tradition and this Robsinson's Put On A Panto site contains a fun game that takes children through the steps of putting on their very own pantomime at home - from planning, to practising to performing.

It takes you through everything you need - first choose your favourite pantomime (Snow White, Peter Pan, Cinderella or Aladdin), then you can print the script, follow directions to make your own costumes and props, add your details to print out your poster or invitation. The site even takes you through practicing (younger children could mime along to this script rather than having to learn their lines!) with some fantastic special effect sounds.

Plus, it even features the chance to enter a competiton to win tickets to your local pantomime up to the value of £250. Oh yes, it does!! (Sorry - couldn't resist). Entering the competition is simple;

  1. Simply take or dig out a photo of your favourite panto costume

  2. E-mail the photo before 30th November 2009 to amodernmother (at) gmail (dot) com with PUT ON A PANTO in the subject line. The winner will be selected by a third party before 4th December 2009, and the winning entry gets tickets for 2 adults and 3 children to a 2009 local pantomime (or equivalent) worth up to £250.
Good luck (for full details see A modern mother).

If your children would rather put on a puppet show using the Cinderella script Littlesheep Learning have fairytale puppet sets including Cinderella (and lots of other ones too!).

19 November 2009

Great Toy Guide Top 100 Toys Under £10

We are pleased to announce that Doodlebugs has been reviewed and placed in the Great Toy Guide Top 100 Stocking Fillers in the pre-schooler (3+) category.

The article states that Doodlebugs is a great game that helps kids learn about colours, shapes and numbers.

See here for the full review.

The Orchard Toys Doodlebugs Game is simple but very exciting, game to match the same colour or quirky 'doodlebug' character cards to the last card played. Take a look and get your award winning stocking filler game today.

13 November 2009

Top Parent Bloggers

We are pleased to announce that our blog has jumped a massive 38 places to number 49 in this months Tots100 index - we suggest you go and take a look at all the blogs listed there are some great reads!


10 November 2009

British Mummy Blogger Carnival

We are very pleased that our post on Preparing for a New Baby has been added to this weeks BMB carnival - Thank you Yummy Mummy Tips. This weeks carnival has a birth / birthday / rebirth theme and there are lots of great posts there to read - so take a look.

08 November 2009

Friendly Baby Competition

If you sign up to receive the Friendly Baby monthly newsletter before the end of December you can win two Usborne first experience books from Littlesheep Learning.

Friendly Baby is the simple choice for cloth nappies, and natural and eco baby products.

06 November 2009

Featured on Family Friendly Working

I am pleased to say I have been profiled as the Mumpreneur behind Littlesheep Learning on Family Friendly Working - do go and take a look there are a lot of very inspirational Mumpreneur Profiles on there - Mums at all sorts of different stages of their business careers.

05 November 2009

While Shepherds Watched

'While Shepherds Watched' sell Handmade Children’s Nativity Costumes and today they opened for the 2009 Nativity Play season.

Lucy, who started the business in 2006, says "I am so pleased to be able to offer tunics made from Fairtrade Organic Cotton for the first time this year. After working closely with Bishopston Trading I now have a 'limited edition' range of Fairtrade certified cotton tunics that are just perfect for Shepherds, Joseph, Mary, Inn Keepers - just about any traditional Nativity role! I team these with appropriate head dresses and head bands, and you have distinctive, unusual and beautiful costumes for your little star. The quality of these skilfully made outfits is unrivalled, which means the costume will last and last."

'While Shepherds Watched' has always aimed to be the best place to buy affordable, great looking, handmade Nativity Costumes. Let them take one of the worries of the festive season away, and leave you free to enjoy seeing your little star shine!

29 October 2009

Featured in the TGF Christmas Gift Guide

We are pleased to announce that the Orchard Toys game Crash Bang Wallop has been featured in The Green Familia Christmas Guide as a suggested stocking filler for children
Do take a look at the rest of the list too - and keep checking back for the rest of the TGF Ethical Christmas List to get lots of Christmas gift ideas.

27 October 2009

Fine Motor Skills - Finger Rhymes

I was reading Melitsa’s blog post about finger rhymes and it reminded me how finger rhymes and action songs can help children develop their fine motor skills. Copying finger movements will strengthen muscles, increase dexterity and help children develop control of fine motor movements.

From as young as six months babies will love action rhymes like Round and Round the Garden, Pat-a-Cake, or This Little Piggy Went to Market. These songs and rhymes are great for encouraging interaction and whilst they are starting to hear these songs and see the actions they will start to join in.

One of the easiest motor actions in songs and rhymes is clapping and one of the most popular songs is "If Youre Happy and You Know it" which also incorporates the gross motor actions of stamping feet and nodding your head. Other songs which involve clapping are Clapping song, We All Clap Hands Together and Open, Shut them. Other favourites action songs and rhyme, Insey Winsey Spider and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,

Songs that can include a multitude of actions eg Copy me are great for introducing new motor movements as the repetitive nature of the song makes it easy for children to learn and then they can use imitation skills to practice new motor skills.

Other favourite ones with small children are Two Little Dicky Birds, One Finger One Thumb, Tommy Thumb, and Two Fat Gentlemen, and as Melitsa says bigger children might like the finger play Here is the Church.

What are your favourites?

26 October 2009

Personal Customer Service

One of the things I like about owning a small business is that when you get a request from a customer - for example "If there is any chance of any of the order being yellow, great. It is my little boy's favourite colour! Any incentive to write is good!" as the note accompanying an order for triangular pencil grips we can usually fulfil our customers wishes.

12 October 2009

'Suitable' home education review

My home educating friends have alerted me to yet another review challenging their way of life and I thought it was worth writing a post about it.

The government is to commission a review into what a "suitable" and "efficient" education means for home educated children in England. Contrary to popular belief there is no legal obligation for children to attend school - but there is a responsibility of parents to provide an education that is suitable for their age and aptitude. The government has now decided in response to a report into home education, that they need a clearer definition of what is required.

I think this seems crazy - how do you prove whether something is suitable - what are the outcome measures? Is there actually any proof that HE children receive a less suitable education than those same children would have received in school and does anyone actually assess whether a child in school is actually in the most "suitable" and "efficient" school for them (rather than the one their parents have picked for their convenience) - and actually as it is the parents responsibility to provide it why do the government really care?

07 October 2009

New Article - Sensory Play in Autumn

We are pleased to announce that an article we have written about Sensory Play in Autumn has been published at TreeHugger Mums - do take a look and tell us what you think.

05 October 2009

Children's Book Week

This week (5th-11th October) is Children's Book Week. Children’s Book Week is a celebration of the enjoyment of reading for children of primary school age. Schools, libraries and bookshops all over the UK hold events and activities aimed at encouraging children to view reading as a source of pleasure, explore libraries and bookshops and even start writing themselves.

The aim of Children’s Book Week is to celebrate reading for pleasure. Designating a special day or week for book-related activities can help children to see reading as pleasurable and fun, stimulating them to discover new books, extend their reading choices, discuss and share books, explore libraries and bookshops, and do their own creative writing.

02 October 2009

Road Safety

In our School Newsletter there was a plea for us to make time to enforce the "stranger danger" message to our children and make use of this link http://www.personalsafetyadvice.co.uk/what-stranger-danger.html so I thought I would share the request!

There is also a feature on the Keeping Healthy, Staying Safe DVD-Plus about Safer Strangers which is well worth a look and you can role play with our People who help us puppets.

01 October 2009

Spooky October Offer

October is the traditionally the month for all things spooky and whilst most of the things we sell at Littlesheep Learning do not fall into this category we are delighted to announce that our Magic Cauldron Game is our featured product for the month so you can celebrate Halloween with spooky sums and save a third off the usual price!

This Orchard Toys Game is a unique way to make learning addition and subtraction exciting! Fill bubbling cauldrons with weird and wacky ingredients as you solve the sums. Check the answers by rubbing the heat sensitive 'ghost' patches on the cards to see if you are right. For 2-4 players. Ages 5-8.

24 September 2009

Scottish Class Sizes

Fiona Hyslop the Education Secretary in Scotland has announced that Local Authorities are to be given the legal protection they require to limit P1 class sizes to 25 - this is in comparison to the England and Wales legal limit of 30.

The right of children to more time and attention in the classroom and delivery of improved literacy and numeracy in early years are at the centre of the Scottish Government's decision to introduce new regulations, which will allow local authorities to tackle the largest classes and help drive down P1 classes towards 18. The Scottish Government plans to introduce regulations to establish a maximum class size for primary one from the start of the next school year. This is the first time since devolution that legislative action has been taken to limit the number of children in primary one.

Ms Hyslop also announced the Scottish Government is establishing a Class Size Review to examine the variety of rules and regulations governing individual class sizes across primary and secondary levels, and how to make them more coherent, giving consideration as to whether primary legislation is required.

So how many children are in your childs class? do you feel it makes a difference?

My children are lucky to go to a small school - there are about 25 in each class, but I am aware that this causes other issues in terms of the school budget as a bigger proportion of the funding per child needs to go on teachers.

21 September 2009

Award Winning Products

We are pleased to announce that the Child's Eye Media DVDs People Who Help Us 1 and People Who Help Us 2 as stocked at Littlesheep Learning won the 2009 Overall Winner Gold Award in the Practical Pre-School Awards (Multimedia section). Well done to everyone at Child's Eye Media.

Healthy Kitchen Competition

03 September 2009

Primary school children in deprived areas get free school lunches

All primary school children in two areas will from today get a free, healthy lunch every day throughout the school year as part of the Government’s action to reduce childhood obesity and improve the health of all children.

The start of the free school meal pilots in Newham and County Durham comes a week after new research by the School Food Trust (SFT) finds that one in five parents on low incomes are not checking if they are eligible for free school meals. In Wolverhampton more children at both primary and secondary schools will be entitled to free school meals this year.

Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families Ed Balls said:

“Eating a nutritious meal at lunchtime from a young age can help improve the behaviour of children in school and at home – that’s why these pilots are so important. Healthy school meals are vital to helping children do well at school and to prevent obesity.

“I encourage all families who are entitled to a free school meal to claim this valuable support. For those who are not eligible school meals are still a great deal and give parents good value for money. We know from recent research by the School Food Trust that parents with two children could save over £1,000 in a school year if they chose school meals – as well as the reassurance that their children are eating good quality, healthy food.

“We want to make sure that children are getting a healthy, balanced meal at school which is why we have introduced the new nutrient standards. Teenagers are the hardest group to reach but that doesn’t mean giving up, we must simply work harder to encourage them away from the take-away and into their school canteen. The Government is creating a legacy of healthy eating in children from a young age so by the time they reach secondary school they are more likely to want to eat a school meal.”

Andy Burnham, Secretary of State for Health said:

"Obesity is the biggest health challenge this country faces. There are currently 1.5 million children who are overweight or obese, leaving them at an increased risk of developing conditions such as type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart and liver disease later in life.

"Nutritious school lunches can make eating well a healthy habit for life. The measures announced today are an important part of our work to tackle childhood obesity, alongside the national Change4Life movement and our new ambition to move from 'relegation candidates to play-off contenders' in the international physical activity league tables."

Last week the SFT launched their new campaign ‘Bringing down the Barriers’ that will target pupils and parents to show them how much money they can save per year if they claim their free school meal, which is especially vital in the current economic climate. The campaign will also continue to work with schools to make sure they don’t stigmatise children on FSM, for example, 34 local authorities are using the £100 million government funding for dining rooms and kitchens to install swipe card systems so that FSM pupils cannot be identified.

Judy Hargadon, Chief Executive of the School Food Trust said:

“The nutrient standards are key to ensuring all children have access to a healthy and nutritious lunch at school but they will only be beneficial if children take up the meals on offer. Recent research highlights that there could be as many as 300,000 children currently missing out on the opportunity of a free school meal. Reasons behind this are complex, but parents tell us that stigma and not knowing whether they are eligible or not can put them off signing up.

“We are working with schools and Local Authorities to promote free school meals and make sure parents have all the information they need in order to claim them. As the recession bites and unemployment rises, families will want to be making all the savings they can so we would urge any parent to check with their school or local council and if entitled, start claiming this great benefit for their children.”

Newham Mayor Sir Robin Wales said:

“Everyone knows how important school meals are and here in Newham we pride ourselves in having some of the best. This pilot means we can make a huge difference to the lives of our pupils and our families, particularly those on the breadline. We are one of the country's poorest boroughs and many families have felt extra pressure on their budgets during the recession. This is a great way of both putting money in their pockets and of improving children’s health and fitness - one of our top priorities - to boot. We are with them every step of the way."

So should this be rolled out nationwide? What do you think?

31 August 2009

Research - Professional and parent attitudes to dietry intervention ASD

I've been sent details about a study into parents' and child health professionals' attitudes to dietary intervention and I thought some of my readers might be interested in participating - so here are the details:

The study

Researchers at Newcastle University would like to find out about parents'and child health professionals' experiences of autism research and their attitudes to the use of the gluten- and casein-free diet as an interventionin ASD. We are carrying out two web-based surveys; one for parents/carers and the other for child health professionals who support children with ASD and their families. The results of these surveys will help us plan thedesign of UK research studies into biomedical and complementary andalternative therapies for children with ASD. ParticipantsParents/carers of pre-school or primary school-aged children with a diagnosed autism spectrum disorder, and child health professionals who support children with ASD and their families, are invited to take part.

What happens next?
If you are interested in taking part, please visit our website: http://www.ncl.ac.uk/cargo-ne/PADIA.html. When you follow this link, you'll go to a web page that tells you more about the study, and will ask you to enter some details. We will then send you a letter of invitation with a unique ID number and the link to an information sheet. This information sheet has the link to the web-based survey.

If you would like any more information about this study, please contact: Professor Ann Le Couteur.

25 August 2009

Going to the Dentist

We've just had a family trip to the dentist so I thought a post about preparing children for 'going to the dentist' would be a good idea.

So - how do you prepare your child for visiting the dentist? Here are our top dos and don'ts

  • make the trip enjoyable
  • let the child bring a favourite toy along to show the dentist / hold in the chair
  • show by example, brush your teeth daily at the same time as your child
  • play at dentists, show your child how the dentist will examine their teeth and then allow them to do the same to you
  • read children's books about the dentist for example, Going to the Dentist the story of a brother and sister who go to the dentist which explains most things that happen at the dental surgery
  • watch DVDs about Dentists for example People Who Help Us 2 in which you can see Amy have a check up and look after her teeth at home, join Amy as she becomes a dentist for the day at the surgery, follow Amy as she explores the dental hospital and watch children role playing dentists in school
  • always answer truthfully any questions your child may have about the dentist
  • encourage your children to role play being a dentist using their dolls / teddies or other soft toys as patients - you could use this glove puppet as a dentist


  • allow your child to hear any negative dental stories from other people
  • use the dentist as a threat or punishment, but also do not use bribes in order for the visit to happen
  • use words that may instil fear in your child such as needle, pain or hurt

Our trip wasn't too bad (the baby didn't open his mouth though!) how did your last trip to the dentist go?

24 August 2009

Starting School

It's that time of year again when talk on education / parenting blogs turns to the issue of starting school or going back to school - we've written here in the past about planning for starting school / class transitions.

So what are our top tips for preparing for school?
  • Encourage your child to speak clearly and ask for what is needed, using ‘please’ and ‘thank you’
  • Check they can go to the toilet alone and flush the toilet
  • Get them to answer the question "what is your name?"
  • Practice tidying up toys after use and sharing things and taking turns
  • Leave them in the care of others for a few hours
  • Make sure they answer questions with words rather than shrugs and nods
  • Practice doing up and undoing fastenings on clothes (buttons etc.)
  • Check they can open their lunch box / unwrap food or use cutlery
  • Share lots of stories - get them to sit and listen to a story and encourage them to handle and enjoy books
  • Start to get them to hold a pencil / crayon and do 'mark making'
  • Encourage your child to know the names of lots of everyday items and understand their uses
  • Talk to your child whilst things are happening and encourage your children to ask questions
  • Tell stories about what you enjoyed at school and the fun things you did.
  • Use colouring activities like these printable school colouring pictures on Netmums to encourage your child to start thinking about school.
  • Build a school with your child from cardboard boxes or play-bricks, and role play schools (or get them to teach their teddies)
  • Read some books about starting school, including Topsy and Tim Start School, Starting School, First Experiences: Going to School, Do I have to Go to School? and (the ever popular Charlie and Lola) I Am Too Absolutely Small for School
  • Walk or drive to school together so your child gets to know the route (note how long it takes so you leave in plenty of time on the first day!)

Is your child starting school this year? Please comment and tell us about your experiences.

18 August 2009

New Product: Wipe Clean Alphabet and Numbers

We are pleased to announce the arrival of the My First Wipe Clean a-z Letters and 0-9 Numbers boards at Littlesheep Learning.

These sets are great for encouraging children to write their letters and numbers and are also a great resource to teach children the alphabet / letter sounds and numbers.

The sets contain a sturdy white 30x25cm board with pre-printed dashed letters or numbers on a wipe clean pen (and a spare) and a clip to keep the pen and chart together!

15 August 2009

Special Offer: First Experiences Books

At Littlesheep Learning we have the remainder of our old priced First Experiences books on special offer. These titles now RRP at £2.50 each but whilst stocks last you can get them for the old price of £1.50 each. So if your child is starting school, you are having a new baby or moving house or planning a trip to the doctor, dentist or hospital - take a look.

14 August 2009


I know my children ask a lot of questions and I feel fairly confident to answer most of them, but a news report on the BBC website says that four in five UK parents have been stumped by a science question posed by their children, a poll has suggested.

The top three most-asked questions by children were: "Where do babies come from?", "What makes a rainbow?" and "Why is the sky blue?" (have your children asked you those ones yet?) and more than half of the 1,002 parents surveyed thought their children knew more about science than they did.

The survey of UK parents with children aged five to 16 was carried out to mark the launch of a new website by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. The website - Science: So what? So everything - gives information to parents on answering those tricky questions from children, as well as downloadable activity sheets and ideas of places to visit.

How to answer about where babies come from? The website explains that babies are created when a cell from the mother and a cell from the father join together or "fuse". After the two cells fuse, the site goes on, they divide over and over again to create a ball of cells called an embryo that goes on to become a baby that grows inside the mother for nine months.

The website explains how a rainbow is made from light and water - with help from the sun.
And the sky is blue, it says, because the sun produces white light which is made up of all the colours of the rainbow.

But a clear, cloudless day-time sky is blue because molecules in the air scatter blue light from the sun more easily than they do red light.

So if you are stuck for the right answer and want another resource - take a look at Science: So what? So everything

13 August 2009

Left Handers Day

Today (Thursday 13th August) is the annual Left-Handers Day for 2009 and is a chance for left-handers everywhere to celebrate the advantages of being left-handed and raise awareness among righties of the daily frustrations for left-handers living in a right-handed world. The Left Handers Club are people to create a Lefty Zone in their home, office or club where all tasks must be conducted left-handed – an interesting experience for right-handed friends and family!

Left-Handers Club spokesperson Lauren Milsom explains: “Many of us appreciate how awkward it is for left-handers having to use right-handed implements, or develop a good writing style, but few people are aware of the many advantages to being left-handed, and the outstanding achievements and successes of left-handers in a variety of fields. Left-Handers Day is the ideal opportunity to celebrate those advantages.”
The Left Handers Day website and has lots of ideas on how to celebrate the day, free posters to download, a left-handed quiz and loads of information about being left-handed.

At Littlesheep Learning we stock a range of adaptive scissors including those for left handers - if your child is showing signs of being left handed these standard left-handed scissors as used in school classrooms are ideal to help them learn cutting skills.

Get your children to use their left hands today and see how easy or hard they find it to do their usual daily activities - and let us know their experiences.

08 August 2009

Benefits Threats

A friend has just sent me the link to the Benefits and Work website and a information about disability living allowance cuts and as this affects lots of parents with children with special needs I thought it was worth spreading the word here so more people can contribute to the consultation.

The Shaping the Future of Care Green Paper published by the DWP and the Department of Health on 14th July sets out government plans to get rid of attendance allowance and, depending on public reaction, also leaves the way clear to end the care component of DLA. The consultation period for the green paper ends on 13th November and if there has been no significant outcry against the plans by then, it is possible that whichever party is in power after the next election will take the opportunity to cut public spending by over a billion pounds a year. Unfortunately, only a few agencies are speaking out in spite of the fact that a report in November 2008 by the Institute for Social and Economic Research warned that taking DLA and AA from claimants and making it part of a ‘personal budget’ administered by social services will leave millions of disabled people worse off and with less independence.

The lack of protest is caused at least in part by ministers deliberately choosing ambiguous terms for their plans. The green paper refers only to cutting ‘disability benefits, for example Attendance Allowance’. Benefits and Work state that some organisations with predominantly younger members believe that because DLA isn’t specifically named, it isn’t going to be cut but they believe the reality is that if the government was intending to axe only AA it would have said so clearly, instead of deliberately and repeatedly using the term ‘disability benefits’ to cause uncertainty and confusion.

Benefits and Work have launched their own campaign to save these benefits and are looking for one thousand people to sign up for our No More Benefits Cuts campaign. All you need to do is provide them with your email address and first name and be prepared to give up a few minutes of your time once a week to send an email or post on a forum. So, if you think that DLA and AA are benefits worth fighting for, then please join their campaign. You don’t need to be a claimant – you might be a carer or support worker, for example – and you don’t need to be a subscribing member of Benefits and Work. You also don’t have to send any emails if you choose not to and you can remove yourself from the list at any time you wish (and they promise to never pass your details on to anyone else under any circumstances).

There is a summary of the proposals and the National Autistic Society's statement here so if you have a child with autism - please also contact them and give them your feedback.

Please share your opinions and add a link to any other organisations that have asked for feedback - get your voices heard.

05 August 2009

Play Day

Today is Playday - the annual celebration of children’s right to play. Now in it's 22nd year Playday is a national campaign where thousands of children and young people get out and play at locally organised events.

Playday events range from small-scale neighbourhood get-togethers to large-scale public events organised by local authorities and national organisations. Anyone can organise a Playday event or take part in celebrations. Your Playday doesn’t have to be a huge public occasion, you may prefer to organise a small residents-only street party or celebrate with a group of friends and family.

Each year Playday has a campaign theme, this year it's Make time! The campaign is calling for everyone to make time for play. From parents, carers and teachers, to policy makers and planners - everyone can make time to support children’s right to play. Find out more about the Make time! campaign here.

Make time to play with your children today - outside play here is going to be wet and puddle splashing!

31 July 2009

Percy the Pigeon’s anti-bullying campaign

We've just been introduced to Percy the Pigeon via Facebook and I thought it was such a good idea that I'd help spread the word!
Anita Hunt wanted to support the work of Bullying UK – http://www.bullying.co.uk/ , by raising funds and promoting their work. Bullying UK supports over 500,000 people a year for a cost of just £50,000 a cost of just 10p per person supported, Founded 10 years ago Bullying UK is the leading Anti-bullying charity and a safety net for UK children when all else fails. As a part of Anita’s fundraising efforts, they have a Just Giving page for this purpose – www.justgiving.com/areyoubeingbullied.

Due to her experience of bullying through personal experience, research, and working with young people, one of the most difficult aspects surrounding this sensitive issue, is it that many people whether children or adults, find it very hard to talk about.

Anita wanted to find a way to encourage families, schools and communities to talk about this subject. She decided to write a children’s novel aimed at 8-12 year olds which is a fun story, but has the underlying theme of encouraging those affected by bullying to tell someone / a safe adult.
The book – ‘Matty-boy & The Secret Pigeon Racket’ was published in April 2009 and very quickly a website was developed to not only provide a platform to talk about the book, but to be a place where a discussion could take place, to offer suggestions of how to cope and where to go for help. 50p from every book sale will be donated to the work of Bullying UK. The book is available through their website for £8.99 plus p&p as well as other gifts, or the book can be ordered through other online stores such as Amazon.

The book gave an ideal opportunity to begin a campaign to spread Percy’s message; a pigeon that helps his friend Matt to tell a safe adult that he is being bullied, so that he may be able to receive the help that he needs.

Percy’s campaign has been receiving great support through twitter, if you would like to follow their work on Twitter please follow @percythepigeon . Recently the campaign has spread to Facebook, you can find his page here - http://companies.to/percythepigeonscampaign

As a part of the campaign, they are working on spreading his message into as many schools as possible, by inviting knitters to knit a mini Percy from their specially designed Percy pattern by Alan Dart, which can be found through their website. Kristina from Flutterby creations, has very kindly set up a Ravelry group for knitters to join the campaign, as well as putting a Percy Kit together, with all that you need to make a Percy for £2.50, (50p will be donated to Bullying UK from each sale.)

If you would like to help with this campaign, more information can be found on Anita’s website http://www.areyoubeingbullied.com/, they have many suggestions of ways you can help.

If you are affected by bullying please contact Bullying UK, or one of the other organisations listed on their website, you do not have to deal with it alone.

28 July 2009

Summer Holiday: Letter Writing

One of the ideas suggested in a discussion with some friends of mine for free / cheap summer holiday activities was playing Post Office/ postman. You can print off some signs / stamps/ passports etc. from CBeebies Postman Pat website, make a cardboard box Post Office / post box and use old envelopes and scrap paper (finally a use for junk mail!). Then the children can have great fun posting and delivering the post to various rooms around the house or if weather fine you can include bikes in garden to deliver to shed etc.

This then reminded me of a post at Let's Explore about making up 'summer fun bags' one of which was a letter writing kit - Amy suggests gathering up odds and ends of cards, stickers, envelopes, etc. from around the house and included a couple index cards with helpful letter -writing words, and names of friends and family for reference. She also has designed some lovely outdoor stationery - do take a look.

Letter writing is a great way to get children to practice their writing over the summer holidays - children love receiving post so see if you can find a relative or friend that they can write to so they get a letter back!

24 July 2009

Summer Holiday: Messy Play

Today we did 'messy play' luckily for us it was at the local Children's Centre so no mess in our house for once. I've posted lots of messy play ideas before here and today wasn't any different - the eldest two liked finger painting - blobs of squeezy paint on the top of the paper and useur fingers / hands to draw patterns and mix them up and the baby enjoyed playing in a bowl of runny strawberry angel delight (don't ask how much he ate!). They also played with coloured sand, cooked pasta, playdoh, water and grains of wheat and jumped in bubbles with the bubble machine. Maybe something to do on a sunny day at home when you can use the garden so as not to make too much mess in the house!

23 July 2009

'Virtual schools' swine flu plan

I found an article on the BBC News about a plan to set up 'Virtual Schools' in case all schools have to close due to swine flu.

Apparently officials in England have considered extending the school summer holidays to try to limit the spread of the virus before a vaccine is widely available. Head teachers want schools to stay open but say they will do all they can to continue lessons if they do close but England's Schools Secretary Ed Balls has said the government will monitor the situation closely over the holidays and review the evidence in late August.

Scientists at Imperial College London have asked the government to consider closing schools this autumn to curb the spread of swine flu cases, while outlining the costs in terms of disruption and impact on business and essential services. England's chief medical officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, said yesterday that "it would take a lot for us to move in that direction; it would be extremely disruptive to society".

Becta has confirmed contingency plans are in place. Its officials have been liaising with the government and are working on revising government guidance to schools about how they can help children's education continue using technology. Guidance released by the government in December last year details plans schools and local authorities should make in case schools are closed for extended periods. It includes provision for long-distance learning using email, the internet and the post.

The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents more than 350 councils in England and Wales, says that any decision to order the nationwide closure of schools would have to be taken extremely carefully as it has a potentially massive knock-on effect because of the numbers who could be expected to stay at home to care for their children rather than going to work.

The government advice says if schools are closed for an extended period in a flu pandemic "students should be provided with a reasonable degree of teaching and learning".
The overall planning responsibility "lies with the local authority, working with schools on planning and delivery". It calls on local authorities to discuss plans with schools now and for schools to review "the proportion of students with IT facilities at home" and the extent to which students with such facilities could access school IT systems from home. Local authorities should also consider posting work or making it available at central points such as libraries or town halls, for children without access to online systems. It adds: "A severe pandemic would cause major disruption to all aspects of life, including what is reasonable to expect of schools and local authorities - but that is not a reason to neglect planning".

22 July 2009

Summer Holiday: Play dough

This afternoon we played with play dough (playdoh) and I was reminded of the fine motor benefits of playing with play dough and all the different things you can do.

First off play dough is fairly cheap to play with - you can make it yourself and make lots of different colours, textures very easily, plus you don't need any fancy tools as you can use your hands and other household objects to mould it.

Fine motor activities with play dough:
  • roll into tiny balls using the palms of the hands facing each other and using only the finger tips
  • make designs using toothpicks
  • practice cutting using plastic scissors
  • practice using a knife and fork to cut it up
  • knead the dough
  • stick small objects into dough and pull them out
  • poke holes in it
  • squeeze it
  • press it flat
  • pinch it (pastry pinches)
  • roll into a sausage using palms
  • make models
  • use cutters
  • squeeze in garlic press
  • play with paydough tools eg spagetti making tool, rollers, molds

Most importantly - have fun.

21 July 2009

Summer Holiday: Market Shopping

Tuesday is Market Day and school holidays are no exception to the need to get fresh produce so that is our first activity of the day but how can this activity be extended. In our blog post on Super Maths for the Supermarket we looked at some of the maths related activities that supermarket shopping could involve and many of these are the same when shopping at the market.

Other activities that could be incorporated into market shopping are:
  • writing a shopping list (or drawing one)
  • reading a shopping list
  • labelling the different fruits and vegetables
  • labelling the colours seen on the stall
  • thinking of recipes to use the ingredients
  • classifying foods into food groups - fruit, vegetables, meat, dairy, fish
  • counting in 6's (eggs!)
As the rest of the day seems quite likely to be raining other ideas to extend the 'shopping' theme of the day include:

20 July 2009

Summer Holiday - Library Reading Challenge

Today we went to the library and signed up for the summer reading challenge - Quest Seekers. Run from 13th July until 5th September the challenge asks all four to twelve year olds to join in the annual reading challenge! This year’s theme is fantasy – dragons, knights, fairies, space - so let your imagination soar! Everyone who signs up for the challenge receives a membership card and a special fold out poster to record the books read and to stick the stickers on. Plus there are themed activities, worksheets and competitions at many libraries over the holidays - today we've designed a 'crest' to enter a competition and collected a dragon colouring sheet and we are hoping to go to a workshop to make a dragon puppet later in the holidays.

Have you signed up? Please share your favourite books and the activities you've been doing with your library.


We are very pleased to see that in the latest TOTS100 index we have gone UP twelve places to number 75. Do take a look at the list there are some fab blogs on there and do keep reading and commenting on here!


18 July 2009

Summer Holiday Plans

The summer holidays are now here and in the Littlesheep household we have seven weeks to fill with things to do. There are lots of activity ideas already on this blog and I'll post some of our activities, adventures and things to do ideas over the coming weeks in the hope of inspiring others. If you have anything exciting planned / any great activity ideas then please comment on this post and share them - I'm sure there are thousands of parents over the country who want to know the ideas!

The first thing we are going to do is sit and write a list of some of the things the boys want to do over the summer and put it onto a calendar - I've found this planner on netmums which also has 20 activity ideas to help you fill some of the slots!

So far on our list of things to do we've got:
  • going to the library
  • a week at Grandma and Grandpa's
  • a week's intensive swimming lessons
  • setting up the womery
  • setting up the ant farm
  • making popcorn
  • making cakes
  • making bread
  • making ice lollies
  • homework sheets from school!

We are also going to keep a holiday scrapbook so we can remember all the fun we've had.

23 June 2009

Child Safety Week

Child Safety Week 2009 - 22nd-28th June is the Child Accident Prevention Trust's (CAPT) flagship community education campaign. It aims to raise awareness of the number of accidents that tragically lead to serious injury or death of children and young people and how to prevent them. The theme for Child Safety Week 2009 is: “Safer together”.

The theme for Child Safety Week 2009 is ‘Safer together’. Whether you are a parent, a teacher, childminder or working in a role that involves caring for children, we all have a part to play, no matter how small. By working together as a family, alongside parents, with community groups or directly with children we can protect children and young people from serious injury and death from preventable accidents.

Accidents are one of the biggest childhood killers in the UK, with five children and young people dying every week. This is four times as many children as are killed by family abuse or neglect, and 12 times as many children as are killed by strangers.

Accidents also put more children in hospital than any other cause. Every week, over 2,000 children and young people are admitted to hospital because of their injuries. Many are left scarred for life or permanently disabled.

Children from less well-off families are particularly vulnerable – they are far more likely to be killed or admitted to hospital with serious injuries than their better-off counterparts.

However, many of these deaths and serious injuries can be prevented - and without wrapping children up in cotton wool. Child Safety Week helps people understand the real risks to children and the simple changes they can make to reduce those risks - so that children and young people can enjoy safer, healthier, more active lives.

At Littlesheep Learning we want all children to stay safe - check out the Staying Healthy, Staying Safe DVD and our range of People who Help Us products.

22 June 2009


This week 22nd-28th June 2009 is Recycle week

Recycle week is an annual event to kick-start new habits that can help us all to all waste less and recycle more. This year, the theme for Recycle Week is 'let's waste less...' encouraging all of us to try something new in an effort to go greener and cut back on the waste we all produce. From recycling more of everyday items like glass and plastic bottles to reusing carrier bags or composting at home, there are lots of opportunities to promote how we can all reduce the amount of waste we send to landfill.

"Recycle Week is now in its fifth year and this is the first time we'll be promoting a waste reduction message" said Jane Hall from Recycle Now. "As part of this we're encouraging people to sign up and pledge to either try something new or do more of what we already do".

I've made a pledge why don't you make one too? To help me I've been looking at The Reusable Bag Company for some new bags!

At Littlesheep Learning we reuse as much packaging material as we can and now have a People Who Help Us DVD which explains about rubbish and recycling collection from a child's perspective. In the film Megan, Jamie and the refuse collectors and recyclers, Megan (aged 5) and Jamie (aged 6) follow their rubbish to the landfill site, they help recycle their plastic bags, make compost and find out how their Christmas tree, newspapers, bottles and cans are recycled, then in the at school section, they are recycling in the home corner – and watch the arrival of the 'recycling wagon'.

19 June 2009

Unschooling Conference

With today's news about the Badman report on the monitoring of Home Educated families, this conference seems more important than ever. The first unschooling conference is on 25th July in London and will play host to a number of key speakers.

Organised by educational consultant and home educator, Matt Speno, the London Unschooling Conference has been set up because many believe that unschooling needs a voice and a forum in the UK. The event will take place at The Music Room just off Oxford Street and alongside the lectures there promises to be lots of exciting funshops and activities for children. Expect to meet new friends, find support, discuss ideas and get inspired! This conference is a forum for the exchange and discussion of ideas. A place to mix with other advocates of peaceful parenting and learning in joy and freedom. Presenting Dayna Martin as the key-note speaker – a leading light in the unschooling movement in the USA.

17 June 2009

Award Winning Products

We spend time looking for the very best products to stock at Littlesheep Learning and we are please to announce that one of the films - The Child's Eye View of People Who Help Us - Firefighters DVD featured on the People Who Help Us DVD has been won the Royal Television Society Educational Television Award 2008 in the 0-5 years category.

The judges said
“The winning series is a clever way of looking at careers, through a child's eyes, and it was well shot at child level. It provided lots of jumping off points for a teacher, with cross curricular opportunities, including role play.”

16 June 2009

Get Children Cooking

Picnics can be much more than just soggy sandwiches and convenience foods, Children, Schools and Families Secretary Ed Balls said today as he joined a group of primary school children to prepare recipes from a new picnic cookbook for children and parents to use over the summer.

Endorsed by celebrity chef Phil Vickery, the cook book, 'Simple cooking - cold food that tastes great', is the second in the series of free Real Meals recipe books. The cook book features healthy meals and snacks such as rainbow salad, deli wraps, open cheese and onion pie and mighty muffins, which have been designed to help children and their families prepare fun, nutritious and well balanced food for when they are out and about this summer.

If you want to get cooking with your children check out the 'mum owned' PinkFairyCake and Mums who bake for your supplies!

11 June 2009

What's On 4 Little Ones Awards

More than 14,000 votes have been counted and the results of the prestigious What’s On 4 Little Ones Awards 2009 have been revealed! The award programme, which is sponsored by pioneering children’s food company Organix and supported by Prima Baby & Pregnancy magazine, is now in its third year. It aims to celebrate the best pre-school activities across the UK, as voted for by parents, and to highlight the selfless work of all the volunteers who help run groups across the country.

2009 What’s On 4 Little Ones Award Winners
Best National Baby Development Activity
WINNER: Water Babies
RUNNER UPS: Baby Sensory www.babysensory.co.uk, Gymboree www.gymboree-uk.com, RhythmTime www.rhythmtime.net, Sing and Sign www.singandsign.co.uk

Best National Toddler Development Activity
WINNER: Sing and Sign
RUNNER UPS: Gymboree www.gymboree-uk.com, Puddle Ducks Swimming www.puddleducks-swimming.co.uk, RhythmTime www.rhythmtime.net, Water Babies www.waterbabies.co.uk

Best National Pre-schooler Development Activity
WINNER: Gymboree
RUNNER UPS: Jo Jingles www.jojingles.com, Music Bugs www.musicbugs.co.uk, RhythmTime www.rhythmtime.net, Water Babies www.waterbabies.co.uk

Organix Food Hero
WINNER: Kate Sanderson and Jackie Moon of Runner Beans in Birmingham
RUNNER UPS: Debbie and Andrew Keeble of Ellie & Roddy’s healthier children’ssausages www.debbieandandrews.co.uk, Steve Runaround in Dingwell, Ross-shire http://www.runaround.biz

Best New Activity
WINNER: Runner Beans in Birmingham
RUNNER UPS: Dramabuds in South West London and Surrey www.dramabuds.co.uk, Talking Tots www.talkingtots.info, Tiddlers in Liphook, Hampshire www.tiddlers.me

Best Local Activity
WINNER: Runaround in Dingwell, Ross-shire
RUNNER UPS: ChatterboxBabies in Watford www.chatterboxbabies.com, Little Splashers in Coventry and Rugby www.littlesplashers.co.uk,

Most Outstanding Activity or Class Leader
Our judges were especially looking for an activity or class leader thatwent beyond the remit of their activity as well as being passionate aboutwhat they do and why they do it. Nominations from parents were particularly important evidence when judging this award.The standard was so high for this award the judges have awarded a highly commended as well as a winner

WINNER: Julie Maughan of TinyTalk in Cramlington www.tinytalk.co.uk
HIGHLY COMMENDED - Jo Tolley of Waterbabies in Dorset www.waterbabies.co.uk
RUNNER UPS: Sylvia Johnstone of Hulabaloo Kids in Middlesex www.hulabalookids.co.uk, Brain MacNair of Socatots in York and Ripon www.socatots.com, Lynne Maclaughan of Lindy Lou’s in Barton Le Clay, Bedfordshire http://www.lindylous.co.uk, Linda Sykes of TinyTalk in Grays, Essex www.tinytalk.co.uk

Most Outstanding Committee Led Pre-School
(nb This award is not associatedwith OFSTED assessment)
WINNER - Sherwood Community Centre Playgroup in Nottingham, wins £200 ofproducts from Mini IQ
RUNNER UPS: Bolton Under 5s Playgroup in Old Basing, Hampshire, Lover and Redlynch Pre-School in Redlynch, Wiltshire

Most Outstanding Baby and Toddler Group
WINNER - Brunton Babies in Tyne and Wear, wins £200 of products from MiniIQ
RUNNER UPS: Belhaven Toddler in Dunbar, East Lothian, Jacobs Well Toddler Group in Guildford

Do you agree with these results? Please comment on this post and tell us about your experiences and don't forget to visit What's on 4 Little Ones to find more even activities.