31 January 2009

Operation Play Time - Sugar Chalk

I'm very sorry to say that I didn't manage to get time to complete today's Operation Playtime task - Sugar Chalk but here is the information so we can try it another day...

Regular chalk drawings smear and smudge but not if you use 'Sugar Chalk' which will stay bold and bright and it won’t smear or smudge!

You will need:
pavement chalk or regular chalk,
construction paper

To make:
Place water and 1/2 cup of sugar in the bowl and stir until it is dissolved.
Place the chalk in the bowl ( make sure the bowl is big enough and there is enough water to cover the chalk.
Let the chalk soak a few hours or overnight.
Take the chalk out and give your child some construction paper and the chalk and them create pretty masterpieces! Black or dark blue construction paper makes the most bold chalk masterpieces but any color will work!!!

This idea and recipe came from the book "First Art" by Mary Ann Kohl.

30 January 2009

Operation Play Time - Make bubbles

After the mess of yesterday's Operation Playtime - today it is time to make bubbles.

Blowing bubbles is great for oral motor development - developing the breath control to make a bubble, fine motor development - dipping the wand into the mixture container / popping bubbles using fingers, and gross motor development - waving the wand to create a 'stream' of bubbles / running around chasing bubbles.

We love blowing bubbles (although meany mummy keeps them for a garden or bath activity). Today it was in the bath as it's far too cold to be in the garden and we blew our bubbles using straws having competitions to see who could make the most or the biggest or (our favourite trick) bubbles inside bubbles!

Operation Play Time - Playdoh, Gloop and Yuk!

Operation Playtime got decidingly messy today with Playdoh-gloop-and-yuk!

We've previously posted about
Play dough and Flubber.

Other 'substances' for messy play are:
  • shredded paper
  • sand (wet or dry)
  • uncooked rice
  • dried lentils / beans / peas
  • Angel delight
  • water
  • jelly
  • baked beans
  • bubble bath mixture (very slimey!)
  • gravel
  • gloop (cornflower mixed with water)
  • salt
  • cooked pasta
  • pebbles
  • paint
  • dry cereal
  • dry tea leaves
  • shaving foam
  • cooked noodles
  • margerine
  • glass beads
  • porridge
  • sweetcorn
  • mashed potato

Some are cleaner than others - Have fun!

28 January 2009

Operation Play Time - Kitchen Grocery Store

Today in Operation Playtime it is time to play shops.

We actually had a 'toy shop' and had to borrow the money from our new
Pop to the Shops game as we've only just started introducing our children into learning about money. Usually the boys use a 'demo' credit card for their shopping! We had a 'till' which was the plastic tool box and lots of reuasable shopping bags!

27 January 2009

Operation Play Time - Pretend Play

It's Operation Playtime again an today's focus is Pretend Play. Pretend play is an important part of creative development.

Today we played with puppets acting out the traditional tales but also being imaginative making up other stories and adventures for the characters. Later, I found some of them 'living' in a lego house so I think they'd been used as 'play people' too.

Another favourite activity is having a teddy bears picnic, this has multiple learning oportunities. First we get out a blanket and the box of pretend food / tea-set. The teddies are set up round the edge and then we need to share out the tea-set - this can be an exercise in learning colours, matching, counting and sharing. Then we share out the food - labelling foods, talking about meals / healthy foods etc. All learning whilst having fun and no realising it!

26 January 2009

Operation Play Time - Get Outside

Today we have been challenged to Get Outside as part of Operation Playtime.

We like many parents have 'the school run' and this week I've decided that if it isn't raining the middle one will walk and we will spend the time looking at things at his pace. So today was day one... we walked very slowly... We talked about road safety when crossing the main road with it's 'safety refuge' - cross to the middle and stop, look and cross again! We examined every ant, beetle, slug and snail on the way through the 'park'. We looked at the river (and played pooh sticks) and we talked about how we couldn't paddle in the (flooded river) puddle as it was too deep.

25 January 2009

Operation Play Time - Painting

Operation Playtime's activity for the day is painting.

Painting is a great learning activity - there are so many different things that you can do! You can talk about the colours - name them, mix them together, make them lighter and darker. You can paint on paper on a table or the floor, on an easel or the wall or you can paint objects.

Use different colours, shades and different sized brushes - try painting with rollers or cotton buds. Put the paint on a sponge on an old bowl or plastic tray and print with hands, feet, sponges, wellies, vegetables, fruit, bubble wrap, stickle bricks, pastry cutters, empty kitchen roll tubes or anything else you can find. Put a piece of paper in a biscuit tin and roll a small ball, marble or conker around to make marks. Push cars through paint to make tracks - giant tractor tracks, big small tracks, single motorbike tracks and the diggers caterpillar tracks. Put paint into empty spray bottles and try spray painting (probably best done outdoors!).

Lastly be creative about what you are using as 'paint' - this picture was created by our son out of yoghurt - it's a lady if you can't tell!

24 January 2009

Operation Play Time - Book Marathon

Today's Operation Playtime task is the book marathon.

As you can guess as people who have a company selling educational items - we love reading and our two year old would spend every day 'reading' his Mr Men collection or Thomas collection and our four year old has just discovered the joys of the Oxford Reading Tree school reading scheme and "can really read real words now" as he told us yesterday.

Here's a favourite book and a 'reading' activity:

First Thousand Words - This first word book has friendly scenes to encourage the direct association of words with objects and reinforce known words. Each page has a scene with labelled objects to discuss - great for increasing expressive and receptive language. Also contains illustrations for body parts, occupations, actions, opposites, time, weather, colours, shapes and numbers.

We can spend hours on each page just talking about the picture, finding all the things listed and then linking it to our experiences, songs, other books - it's and endless resource.

Cinderella Puppet Set - This seven puppet story set comes with a detailed story card to help you tell the story of Cinderella and contains the main characters you would expect to find from this enchanting favourite story. Each character is a finger puppet has an open loop on the back to allow finger access either upwards or downwards, a particularly useful feature when using with a puppet theatre.
We love acting out stories with puppets - they really help children understand what is happening, remember the story and help them use their imagination.

Live Barefoot...Imagine!

23 January 2009

Operation Play Time - Cooking

Today's Operation Play Time challenge is getting into the kitchen and letting the children do some cooking. We all know that it's easier to do it ourselves but children do really enjoy it and as I've blogged before (for example on the Christmas Biscuits post) for incidental learning; using maths skills with the measuring, weighing and temperature and using literacy skills with reading and following the instructions. Mixing, rolling, cutting and icing are all great to help develop motor skills and as cooking encompasses all the senses it is great for sensory play.

Today we made Apple Crumble, which is a popular pudding in Britain, and as I'm dairy and gluten intolerant ours is a free from recipe!

4 cooking apples
Mixed spice
50g/2oz Demarera sugar
50g/2oz Granulated sugar
100g/4oz Dairy free spread
150g/6oz Rice flour

Peel and cut the apples and cook them in a pan with a splash of water and some mixed spice (to taste - you can add sugar here if you want)
Mix the 'cumble' ingredients together until 'lumpy' (using fingers is great fun!)
Put the apple in a pyrex / casserole dish and cover with crumble mix.
Cook at about 180 degrees C/350 degrees F until golden brown.
Serve with custard / ice cream.

22 January 2009

Operation Play Time - Nursery Rhymes

It's day two of Operation Playtime - and todays challenge is Record a nursery rhyme or song.

We love songs and rhymes and have a special game that we play to choose which ones to sing so I thought I would share it with you!

We have a bag - a song sack (a drawstring bag - like the type children use to store PE kit in at school) and in it we put a collection of objects that relate to nursery rhymes. We take them out one by one and the children have to 'guess the rhyme' and then we sing.

Examples include:

Toy boat - Row, row, row the boat
Toy teapot - I'm a little teapot
Bath duck - Five little ducks
Pretend spider - Incy Wincy Spider
Toy bus - The Wheels on the Bus
'10 in the Bed' song Mitts - 10 in the bed
Star - Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
Doctor puppet - Miss Polly had a Dolly
Clock - Hickory Dickory Dock
Toy sheep - Baa Baa Black Sheep
Teddy - Round and round the Garden Like a Teddy Bear

I'm sure you get the idea!

21 January 2009

Operation Play Time - Blocks

We are joining in Operation Playtime - and todays theme is Blocks.

It was by coincidence that at the Stay and Play group today we had some new wooden blocks to play with. They were chunky wooden blocks and came in large trucks and trailers.

The children enjoyed making roads for their cars. They built towers as tall as them (and knocked them down!), they built houses, churches and castles, they worked collaboratively, competitively on their own. They also had great fun packing the blocks into the lorry and then moving the lorry around the room (including sitting on it and scooting!).

Thinking about playing with blocks reminded me of when I was an ABA tutor and I taught children 'block imitation' as one of the foundation skills - teaching imitation /copying and a play task.

This clip shows the early stages - copying the building of a structure brick by brick.

Further stages include - watching something being built and then building it (plus when it is no longer in view), being able to copy a pre-built structure with it in view, being able to build step by step from instructions, being able to build from the finished picture.

19 January 2009

Stop the UK Government Stigmatising Home Educators!

Following some friends I've just joined the Stop the UK Government Stigmatising Home Educators! group on Facebook because I believe the right to educate your child at home is vital.

Following that I read the article on he BBC News and dug a bit deeper to find some press releases from the Department of Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) and Education Otherwise's response.

The DCSF Press Release:

The Government has published revised guidance on children missing education and launched a review of home education. This will ensure that everything possible is being done to guarantee all children their right to a balanced education in a safe, healthy environment. The guidance makes clear that local authorities have a duty to make arrangements to enable them to establish that every school-age child is receiving a suitable education, and clarifies the roles and responsibilities of parents and local authorities to provide a suitable education for children.

A public consultation gathered a wide range of views – including many on home education. Some local authorities and children’s organisations expressed concerns about the current system’s ability to adequately support and monitor the education, safety and wellbeing of home educated children. The review of home education will investigate the current system for supporting and monitoring home education. It will look at safeguarding and how any concerns about the safety, welfare or education of children are dealt with. There are no plans to change parents’ well established rights to educate their children at home.It will assess the effectiveness of current arrangements for parents who home educate and of local authority systems for supporting children and families. It will also make recommendations for improvements, where necessary.

Delyth Morgan said:
"Making sure children are safe, well and receive a good education is our most serious responsibility. Parents are able, quite rightly, to choose whether they want to educate children at home, and a very small number do. I’m sure, the vast majority do a good job. However, there are concerns that some children are not receiving the education they need. And in some extreme cases, home education could be used as a cover for abuse. We cannot allow this to happen and are committed to doing all we can to help ensure children are safe, wherever they are educated."

"This review will look at whether the right systems are in place that allow local authorities and other agencies to ensure that any concerns about the safety, welfare or education of home educated children are addressed quickly and effectively. The review will of course talk to home educating families to ensure their views and experiences are heard."

Head of policy and public affairs at the NSPCC, Diana Sutton, said:
"We welcome the Government’s decision to review the guidance on home education. We believe the existing legislation and guidance on elective home education is outdated. We support the view set out by the London (LA) Children’s Safeguarding Leads network that the government should review the legislation to balance the parents’ rights to home educate their children, the local authorities’ duty to safeguard children and the child’s right to protection. We welcome the fact that this review will look at where local authorities have concerns about the safety and welfare, or education, of a home educated child and what systems are in place to deal with those concerns."

A central part of the Government’s commitment for all children is that, no matter what their background or circumstances, they have the right to achieve the five 'Every Child Matters outcomes': Be healthy; Stay safe; Enjoy and achieve; Make a positive contribution; Achieve economic wellbeing.

The Elective Home Education Review will investigate:
  • Whether local authorities and other public agencies are able to effectively discharge their duties and responsibilities for safeguarding and ensuring a suitable education for all children.
  • Whether home educating parents are receiving the support and advice they want to ensure they provide a good, balanced education for their children.
  • Consider what evidence there is to support claims that home education could be used as a 'cover' for child abuse such as neglect, forced marriage, sexual exploitation or domestic servitude
The guidance on children missing education is the first step in clarifying expectations in respect of the current system for supporting and monitoring home education. It also makes clear that parents' right to home educate is not being altered and that suitable home education can take many forms.Home education is just one area highlighted in the guidance, as it describes many circumstances which can lead to children missing education. The guidance describes how important it is for local authorities to tackle all problems around children missing education, in order to meet the vision set out in the Children's Plan, particularly keeping all children safe from harm. Graham Badman, former Director of Children's Services at Kent County Council will lead the review, which is expected to conclude in May 2009.

Graham Badman said:
"I am delighted to have been asked to lead this important review. Legislation affords every parent the right to choose to educate their child at home but with those rights go responsibilities, not least being to secure a suitable education. By the same token, local authorities are charged with ensuring that all children are safe, well and receiving an education that is both enjoyable and allows for the expression of all aptitudes and abilities. By discussing all the issues with home educating families, local authorities and other key stakeholders I will investigate whether the current system adequately supports these rights and responsibilities and if not, I will make recommendations for improvements."

Editor's Notes:
This press notice relates to 'England'
  1. Revised guidance to Local Authorities on their duty to identify Children Not Receiving a Suitable Education, can be viewed here: Resources and practice - Every Child Matters.
  2. The Education and Inspections Act 2006 placed a duty on all local authorities to make arrangements to identify children not receiving a suitable education.
  3. Parents do not have to register a child as home educated, although they are encouraged to do so. They have to notify the school if they intend to withdraw their child to educate them at home and the school must then notify the local authority. The DCSF issued guidance on home education for local authorities in November 2007.
  4. All parents are required by law to provide a suitable education for their child. Where this is not happening, local authorities can intervene and issue a school attendance order.
  5. Where there are child protection concerns the local authority has a duty to investigate.
  6. As parents are not required to register home educated children (unless they are leaving a school’s rolls) there are no official statistics on the numbers of home educated children. A study commissioned by the Department for Education and Skills in 2006 estimated around 20,000 children were known to local authorities. The figure may be substantially higher.
Education Otherwise's Response:

Response to “Morgan: Action to Ensure Children’s Education & Welfare” 19 January 2009

Education Otherwise (EO) has today expressed its dismay at the decision by
DCSF to launch yet another investigation into home education and at statements
contained in the press release announcing the review (1).

Education Otherwise and home educating families have contributed to three
major consultations on the guidance to local authorities since 2005. The latest
guidance was issued in autumn 2007 (2).

Annette Taberner, member of EO’s Government Policy Group said "It has become
clear to us that the Department and many local authorities have a very poor
understanding of home education and the law which applies to it. No other
community would be expected to suffer the prejudice and discrimination which
our community has to endure. Our community will be infuriated by these latest
statements. Many hours of time and much public money has been expended in
consultations. Ministers need to prioritise time to engage in meaningful
discussions with our organisation which has thirty years of experience helping
families who chose to exercise their right to educate their children at home."

Statements on links between home education forced marriage and child welfare
made in select committee hearings and by the London Safeguarding Board have
already been challenged by Education Otherwise. The charity requested sight of
the alleged evidence upon which the statements were made but no evidence has
been forthcoming. (3)

Education Otherwise continues to assert that the current legislation is adequate
but poorly understood.

Education Otherwise finds the implication from Government and local authorities
that home educated children are at risk purely because they are home educated

Ann Newstead, spokesperson for the charity said "The assumption that a child is
safe and adequately educated if in the state system is simply not born out by an
increasing number of families in the UK."

Notes to Editors

  1. DCSF Press Release "Morgan: Action to Ensure Children’s Education & Welfare"
  2. DCSF Elective Home Education Guidelines for Local Authorities in England -
  3. Alleged link between HE and forced marriage - http://www.freedomforchildrentogrow.org/hascr.htm

Education Otherwise is the oldest and largest organisation that provides support
and information for families whose children are being educated outside school:

4th November 2008 EO meet with House of Lords Minister for Children Schools
and Families:

29th August 2008 EO meet with DCSF to discuss the consultation in England on
children not receiving suitable education:

National Foundation for Educational Research report "Support for Children Who
Are Educated At Home:

Full explanation of the law relating to home education:

Follow this link to add your views to the consultation - http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/consultations/index.cfm?action=consultationDetails&consultationId=1605&external=no&menu=1

17 January 2009


As promised - more information about 'Flubber' as experienced at Messy Mice.

Making 'Flubber'
Materials Needed:
4 teaspoons Borax (find in cleaning supplies or laundry aisle of supermarket)
1 cup warm water
lots of food coloring
2 cups PVA glue
1 1/2 cups VERY hot water

How to make it
In a small bowl, mix the Borax with the warm water. Stir with fingers to dissolve. Add lots of food coloring as it seems to absorb it.

In a large bowl, pour the glue into the hot water (as hot as you can get it without burning yourself). Stir with your fingers as you add the glue.

Slowly add contents of the Borax bowl to the glue bowl, mixing with your fingers constantly.

There will be a cool chemical reaction as the Flubber solidifies.

Keep stirring and mixing until it no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl.

Pour off excess liquid (there usually is).

Begin playing!

Store Flubber in an airtight container (it will keep for about 2 weeks).

Note: Flubber may stain fabrics and clothes when fresh, so keep it away from carpeted areas and wear smocks or old shirt.

Warning: Flubber could be toxic if ingested

Flubber Play:
Flubber has the great property that it is hard when cold and somewhat oozy when warm. Leave it on a cool table top for a while, then pick it up, and it will snap into two clean halve when you pull it apart. Hold it in your hands awhile and it will warm and soften and begin to oooooze! Lay it on top of objects and textured surfaces and it will mould itself to their shape. You can use Flubber with all your playdough tools - cutters, rollers, etc, but it will behave a bit differently than playdough.

16 January 2009

Messy Mice

We went to a new activity at the children's centre today - Messy Mice.

The Messy Mice group involves a variety of activities including messy play, glueing, painting, sensory play (e.g. water, jelly, soil) - all the mess without any of the tidying up!

Everything that happens in a Messy Mice class has a purpose. It is more than just mess. Arts, crafts and sensory play in particular are wonderful tools to enhance your child’s: creative, physical and mathematical development, communication, language and literacy, personal, social and emotional development and knowledge and understanding of the world.

Messy play activities like at the Messy Mice group have lots of benefits including self-confidence, creativity, self expression, hand-eye co-ordination, concentration, fine motor skills, problem solving skills, sense of achievement, learning skills, self-esteem and exploring concepts (e.g. colour, form, texture).

At this weeks group there were the following activities:
  • painting
  • playdoh (see here for recipes / ideas)
  • flubber (see here for details)
  • water play
  • runny strawberry angel delight play
  • shredded paper play
  • giant Lego
  • sensory bottles (see here for ideas)
  • giant crayoning (big paper on the floor that children drew on)

Look out for more messy / sensory play ideas soon!

08 January 2009

Money, Money, Money (and January Sales!)

It's January and the news is full of doom and gloom in the retail markets - so thinking about money two things come to mind...

First that Littlesheep Learning has several products to help teach children about money! The Magnetic Money Chart, Money Snap, Pop to the Shops and Piggy in the Middle, all help children learn to start to learn the value of coins, money 'sums' and budgeting! All of these products and more are in our January Sale.

And secondly, that a lot of our Work at Home Mum (WAHM) business colleagues are also busy having winter / January Sales... here are some of them - take a look and grab a bargain today!

Funky Dory Party Bags - up to 50% off on themed partyware and fillers.

Friendly Baby - The simple choice for real nappies, and natural and eco baby products.

Perfectly Gorgeous - 20% off jewellery

Ethics Trading - Natural and sustainable solutions for garden, cleaning needs and you (we like this sale for novelty value you enter the code JanSale and the discount changes throughout the month!)

Bay-bee - beautiful, unique products for babies - a twins sale (having just found out that they are expecting twins) - enter the code 'twins' at checkout!

Ruby Iris - Simply Beautiful, Traditional Gifts for Children - closing down sale - enter the code CLOSING for 30% off.

PinkFairyCake - cooking with kids is fun!

Twinkle Twinkle - who are clearing all their clothing to focus on nappies!

Natural Nursery - Organic cotton clothes for babies and toddlers at reduced prices. Also, some treats for mummies and daddies too.

  Winter Sale Banner U.K. 468x60

If you are a WAHM and have a sale feel free to comment on this post to promote it!

07 January 2009

Creative Charlie

I've just discovered a great website that sells art and craft projects for children aged 3-6 so I thought I'd tell you all about them!

Creative Charlie art and craft projects are designed by Kerri Sellens, a mum of two and an artist with over 10 years experience of running art workshops for children in schools, galleries and museums. Each project contains everything you need to complete a variety of fun and stimulating artistic activities with your child. Easy to follow instruction sheets, along with all of the necessary art equipment, are included. All of the project contents are contain child-friendly and age-appropriate materials developed with the environment in mind so all of the paper and card used throughout is recycled and, where possible, contents and packaging are reusable rather than disposable. By using these materials, Creative Charlie provides an exciting way to introduce environmental issues to young children.

I think the Rainy Day Box is a great resource for all families and the Practical Pre-School Awards agree as it was announced the overall winner of the Toys and Games category in 2008.

Included in the box are:

25 sheets of recycled sugar paper,
5 sheets of recycled card and several sheets of wallpaper.
A sheet of star stickers

Activity sheets to make a mobile, make butterflies, make a pom-pom pet and make puppets.
3 paper doilies
3 paper plates

3 spoons
3 pegs
4 lolly pop sticks
A bag of pom poms
A bag of feathers
A bag of sparkles

A pot of glitter
Some scraps of material
A box of beeswax crayons, made without the use of chemical wax.
4 paints which are water based, biodegradable, and phalate free.
A pot of washable glue, which like the paint, is wheat, gluten and nut oil free (ensuring that children with these allergies can play safely).
A paint palette
A paint brush
A glue spreader
A pair of scissors - (and if you let them know when you order you can have a box with left handed scissors in)
A roll of tape
A recycled pencil
A window mount to present the finished art work
A stencil to practice writing letters and words


A kids apron made by a woman's cooperative in the Philippines from recycled juice packs is also included, which will protect your clothes and can continue to be used for future art and craft activities.

All of that for just £29.99 (plus P&P) - just think of the hours of fun and crafty makes you can do with all of that.

Along with the great creative product range, the website is also regularly updated with ideas for creative recycling, and lots of other inspiring things to do and places to go, plus there is a new blog which looks to be inspiring.

05 January 2009

Starting School

Good luck to all children (and parents - we know how hard it is for you too!) who are starting school this week. Don't forget that Littlesheep Learning has lots of resources to help your child - here are our top five recommended products for the rising-5s (as tested by our nearly-5 year old!)
  1. First Experiences: Going to School - this mini Usborne book is a lovely gift for a child starting school to explain what happens in school.
  2. Key Word Fridge Magnets - a great tool for learning key words (we stock the large size as we think they are more easily manipulated by small fingers) .
  3. Number Beanie Bags - fun for all sorts of games to learn about numbers (and reading the written number word).
  4. Triangular Pencil (Slim) - a help for children to ensure they form the correct triangular pencil grip when learning to write (we also stock the Jumbo size pencil for children needing a bigger pencil).
  5. Picture Word Lotto - a brilliant game for reading skills, matching skills, turn-taking and best of all fun!

03 January 2009

Listening, Attention and Comprehension (part 2 - Activity Ideas)

Good listening skills are important for language development and a child with good listening skills will be more aware of the sounds of speech and pick up new vocabulary. When working on communication / listening games it is good to encourage the child to make eye contact with you when you are talking and to be still, try and sit opposite the child while administering activities and work in a quiet environment. It is also important to keep the sessions short and frequently praise and reward. Here are some activituy ideas to help children develop their listening skills. Please comment on this post and let me know any others you may have!

Go game around room
Required Response: Children stand still and wait for go signal before moving along a line of chairs. Make the children wait a little longer each time.
Equipment: A line of chairs used as markers

Go game at table

Children put brick in a box (or build a tower) to 'go' signal. Make the signal quieter and then cover the lips and whisper.
Equipment: Bricks/box

Stop game around room
Children move around until they hear 'stop' signal. The signal can be the word 'stop', a clap, a drum or other instrument or noise.
Equipment: Instruments to make 'stop' signal noise

Stop game at table
One child gives the stop signal to a target word while the adult carries out a task, e.g. Stop me when you see a car (turn pictures over)
Equipment: Variety of picture cards (
Orchard Toys Flash cards are good)

Wake up
The children all pretend to be asleep and when they hear the alarm clock they all jump up
Equipment: Alarm clock (or recording of an alarm clock ringing/beeping)

Giants Treasure
The giant sits on a chair in the middle of the room blindfolded, under his chair are a set of keys. The children take it in turns to try and get the keys and return to their seat without the giant hearing them.
Equipment: Blindfold, keys

Point to a sound
Blindfold the child and stand behind them. Shake keys or quiet noisemaker above, below and to the side of the child and get them to point where they hear the sound.
Equipment: Blindfold, keys, bells, rice/dried lentils/dried peas in a small container

Following a moving sound
Blindfold the child and then move away and shake the noisemaker, get the child to follow the noise and as child approaches change direction repeating the noise frequently. After a few goes allow child to catch you!
Equipment: Blindfold, choice of noisemakers as above

Changing Action
First teach different actions to two noises, e.g. drum - run, bell - jump. Children move around room changing action to each signal. Add more noises/instructions as the child learns the game.
Equipment: A variety of musical instruments

Rhythm 1
Adult beats a drum/claps and the child must copy back the rhythm.
Equipment: Drum (if used)

Rhythm 2
Adult says a word/sentence and the child claps/beats a drum for the syllables/rhythm
Equipment: Drum (if used)

Simon says
Child listens to various instructions - if not prefaced by Simon says they do not do the action.

Fetch me games
Place a variety of
picture cards and ask the child to fetch a specific picture (gradually increase the number of items to choose from/the distance away/the complexity of the instruction etc).
Equipment: Variety of picture cards - cards from lotto games for example;
picture word lotto or shopping list are a good alternative to flashcards, the cards from red dog blue dog are good for more complex instructions - e.g. give me the yellow rabbit (from a selection including other colour rabbits and other yellow items)

Listening Games
Child listens to the sound and matches it with a picture
Equipment: Sounds tapes / CDs for example:
Crash Bang Wallop, Cock-a-doodle moo, Soundtracks games

Matching musical instruments
The adult shakes one of the instruments behind a screen and the child must find their corresponding musical instrument.
Equipment: Two sets of musical instruments, screen to make sound behind (a box turned on its side makes an easy screen!)

Posting games
Similar to fetch me, only posting specific pictures on request.
Equipment: Shoe box with slit for posting, variety of
picture flashcards

General noise awareness
Get the child to shut their eyes and identify all of the surrounding environmental noises - repeat in different environments to notice different sounds.

Identifying quiet and loud noises
The adult uses a shaker and makes a quiet or a loud sound. The child must identify whether the sound was loud or quiet and put a brick in the corresponding box. Some children may find it easier if the boxes are labelled with the words or symbols.
Equipment: Shaker, bricks, boxes, labels

Identifying animals
Put 4 model animals or pictures on the table and imitates one of their sounds, e.g moo, and the child must find point to correct animal.
Equipment: Toy animals/animal pictures

Identifying objects by the sounds they make
Put 4 objects/pictures that make familiar sounds on the table and imitates one of the sounds and the child points to correct object.
Equipment: Objects such as telephone, toy fire engine, clock etc

Listening to a story and reacting to specific words.
Read a simple animal story and get the child must make the correct corresponding animal noise every time they hear an animal mentioned.
Equipment: Short and simple animal story books (e.g. Elmer's Friends)

Listening a simple story.
As above but child claps or raises their hand when they hear a specific word.
Equipment: Short and simple story books

Listening, Attention and Comprehension (part 1)

A friend has just sent me some great advice about encouraging children to listen / helping them develop listening skills so I thought I'd share it. This first post gives some pointers for giving children information / instructions.

  1. When giving instructions / information use the child's name, check that they have turned and are looking at you and that they have stopped what they are doing before you speak.
  2. Make sure your language is clear - use short sentences, speak slowly and use simple words.
  3. List instructions in the order in which it is to be done.
  4. Don't talk for too long as they may stop paying attention.
  5. Use visual stimuli (including natural gesture if appropriate) where possible to back up the auditory information.
  6. Give children instructions immediately before they are to engage in the activity. Don't make them listen to instructions for others.

I've also got a list of activities to help children develop their listening / auditory processing skills which I'll post another day / later!

02 January 2009

January Sale Now On

At Littlesheep Learning we are starting this month with our annual January Sale - hurry as these offers are only available whilst stocks last and the sale will end when it ends! As an additional special offer place an order with a value of over £30 (after discounts and excluding postage) we will enclose a free gift.

If your new year resolution is to teach your child to understand money, tell the time, learn their times tables or to tie their shoe laces we have the resources for you (plus lots of things to help with other areas of learning too). Take a look today!

01 January 2009

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to everyone! 2008 brought lots of new challenges to us (not least my maternity leave and relocating twice!) and 2009, if we listen to the forecasts, looks like being much the same, if not worse with many companies falling casualty to the credit crunch!

However, at
Littlesheep Learning we are celebrating our best ever year and have lots of exciting plans for the year ahead with ideas for new products, new articles, special offers and competitions.

Keep up to date with us by reading our blog, following us on
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