27 May 2009

Thomas that Tank Engine Emotions Game

I've just seen a link to a new game based on Thomas the Tank Engine to help children learn emotions so I thought I'd share it. The computer based (free) Emotions Game helps children to identify emotions ranging from happy, sad, angry, surprised or scared has been produced following a strategic partnership between Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect) and the popular children’s character Thomas & Friends, owners HIT Entertainment and Australian agent, Haven Licensing, to help increase awareness about autism. The game features five trains in their shed and the child is asked to 'click on the (emotion) train', when they click on the right train the others go back into the shed with the doors closed and you get a round of applause.

In the UK, a survey of parents of children with autism, commissioned by The National Autistic Society (NAS) and HIT Entertainment, demonstrated that many children with autism have a particular love for Thomas the Tank Engine which may be due to the clear facial expressions that make the characters easy to identify. In recognition of this all the royalties from the book How Do you Feel, Thomas? go to the NAS. This book is a lovely way for children to learn about emotions - pull the tab or turn the wheel to find out What makes Thomas the Tank Engine happy? What makes Harold excited?

If you are interested in teaching emotions take a look at the emotions resources at Littlesheep Learning or read our other blog posts.

23 May 2009

New Products: Colour and Shape Snap

These fun Usborne Colours and Shapes Snap games consist of a pack of 48 cards with six colours or shapes to match in a fun version of every child's favourite first card game.

The large sturdy cards have rounded corners, a blob of the colour shape in the middle and the name of the colour / shape printed underneath.

These cards are a great way for young children to learn to recognise colours and shapes and to develop matching and reading skills. Suitable for children aged two and up.

21 May 2009

Thinking Thursday - Emergent Literacy

I've been following a lot of new blogs recently and I thought I'd share some posts that I've enjoyed and think that others might find useful.

This post is about a selection of posts at Because Babies Grow Up on Emergent Literacy. These posts give lots of information and ideas about how to encourage and motivate little ones in their literacy development.

Emergent Literacy #1: Print Motivation
Emergent Literacy #2: Print Awareness
Emergent Literacy #3: Letter Knowledge
Emergent Literacy #4: Vocabulary
Emergent Literacy #5: Phonological Awareness
Emergent Literacy #6: Narrative Skills

Do take a look, let us know what you think and don't forget that you can find more literacy activity ideas on this blog get lots of resources to support literacy development are available at Littlesheep Learning.

15 May 2009

Blog Roll - Experimental Mum

Experimental Mum is a new blog from the person behind Sizzling Science and it is going to feature the home science experiments she carries out with her family. Check it out and get your children having fun experimenting with science.

14 May 2009

Special Educational Needs Podcast

I've just come across this podcast from Contact a Family (CaF) about the meaning of Special Educational Needs (SEN) and other related terms like SENCO (Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator). It explains what to do if you are concerned that your child has SEN and what schools and the local authority can do to help and also has more information about how to request a ‘statutory assessment’ and the ‘statementing’ process, what this means, how to make sure any provision best meets your child’s needs, and what to do if you are unhappy or want to appeal against a decision.

At Littlesheep Learning we have an article on our Resources pages People You May Meet - Professionals Involved which tries to identify some of the most common professionals involved with children with special needs and their roles.

I hope you find these resources useful.

13 May 2009

Children's Communication Q&A

I've just found out (on British Mummy Bloggers) that Tracey and Lisa (of Talking Tots) are going to be running a monthly Q&A on children's speech, language and communication skills at Totsy's Place - Tracey and Lisa, are paediatric speech and language therapists and experts in all aspects of early speech and language. So if you have any questions about your baby's communication, or how to help toddlers communicate better, then please read more here and ask your question.

12 May 2009

New Products: Jobs People Do

We are pleased to announce that
Littlesheep Learning is now stocking these lovely Jobs People Do books published by Usborne Books.

These books contain a story which follows the person through their working day, with plenty of excitement and drama along the way! They are written with experts in the field to ensure complete accuracy, creating an informative yet enjoyable idea of what people do at work. It is beautifully illustrated with Jo Litchfield’s model characters.

Book titles are: Daisy the Doctor, Frank the Farmer, Fred the Firefighter, Sam the Chef, Tessa the Teacher and Vicky the Vet.

These books can be found in our new People Who Help Us category along with a range of occupations glove puppets - look out for more new products in this category soon.

11 May 2009

Parent Blogs Top 100

Talking Tots Tots100 Once again we are proud to be part of the Talking Tots 100 - there iare lots of fab blogs on the list to have a look at - so get reading... and if reading inspires you to get blogging then don't forget to let us know (and blog about us!) and submit you blog to be included.

08 May 2009

Child Development

I've just been seen a blog post about some PDFs from Born learning that show child development from birth to 5 years. There are ten PDFs from birth to 5 years that helps answer the questions all parents ask - is my child on track to reach their milestones? They also include lots of ideas to help your child's development.

07 May 2009

More Birthday Celebrations

Littlesheep Learning may be four this month but Contact a Family (CaF) are celebrating the start of their 30th Anniversary year.

For the last three decades they have been supporting families with disabled children across the UK by providing advice and information and putting them in touch with others whose child has the same condition for support. They also campaign for better rights for families.

Throughout their anniversary year they will be celebrating our achievements, but also be taking the opportunity to raise awareness of some of the many issues for families with disabled children.

You can see their plans here.

06 May 2009

Birthday Competitions - Win a copy of Going to a Party

This month there are three chances from Littlesheep Learning to win a copy of Going to a Party (the full size version rather than the mini pocket ones usually sold at Littlesheep Learning)

First, enter the 'write a review' competition on the
Second, become a fan on our
Facebook fan page
Third, follow us on

See the competition page for full terms and conditions - all competitions close on 31st May 2009.

05 May 2009

Birthday Celebrations

Today Littlesheep Learning celebrates it's fourth Birthday, thank you to all of our customers from the past four years.

To celebrate our fourth birthday we have four pieces of news to tell you about:

  1. Spend £20 (excluding postage and after any discounts) and receive a free gift

  2. Use the code 'birthday' to save 10%

  3. Enter our fourth birthday competition to win a copy of 'Going to a Party' see the competitions page for more details

  4. This month's special offer is a saving of 10% on all the People who Help us glove puppets the for the month.

All offers end 31st May 2009

04 May 2009

Website Award

We are pleased to announce that Littlesheep Learning has been awarded a Bronze Web Site Award for Excellence. These Web Site Awards acknowledge individuals who have created a special website experience for its visitors and we are pleased to display our award.

Bronze Web Site Award for Outstanding Web Site Design & Performance

03 May 2009

10 in the Bed

There were ten in the bed and the little one said - roll over, roll over, so they all rolled over and one fell out...

This is one of our family's favourite rhymes, it's great fun to sing it when we are all in the bed together as a family on the weekend mornings to 'roll over' and make Daddy fall out.

This lovely Ten in the Bed book illustrating the song is published by Child's Play is bright and colourful and features ten children snuggled in bed. The book includes a cardboard wheel for the reader to turn at every page to tip one child at a time out of bed which is a great visual aid to show children the concept of taking one away each time.

Another brilliant visual prompt for this song are these lovely 10 in the Bed Song Mitts. Designed to fit an adult’s hand, song teaching mitts are perfect for using with young children and will provide hours of fun. This pair of glove puppets come with a song card in case you need help with the words and will help children join in the rhyme and learn counting skills.

Grandma bought the boys Penny Dale's book Ten in the Bed and it has quickly become a firm favourite. This lovely adaptation features 'the little one' and his soft toys all squashed into bed (sound familiar?). One by one, nine friends roll over and fall out of his bed with a bang, a thump, or a plop until... "I’m cold! I miss you!" the boy says, and back in the bed they all go and snuggle down to sleep. This book has lovely colourful illustrations with lots of detail and things to spot.

Other activities to go with this song:
  • talk about bedtime, what you need, what happens
  • sequence a set of 'bedtime routine' photos / pictures
  • match together things in the bedtime routine - milk and biscuit, pyjama top and trousers, toothbrush and tooth paste, pillow and duvet
  • sequence the numbers 1-10 (and 10-1)
  • make up a 'bed' on the floor and act out the song

Got any more ideas? please comment on this post and share them wih us.

02 May 2009

Rose Review

The findings of the Sir Jim Rose's review of the Primary Curriculum were published on Thursday 30th April (source http://www.dcsf.gov.uk). This is the most fundamental review of the primary curriculum in a decade, and a series of recommendations to modernise it for 21st century pupils. Ed Balls had asked Sir Jim to propose a curriculum which would inspire life-long learning while reducing prescription and giving teachers greater flexibility.

He was asked to look particularly at how primary schools could develop children’s personal skills to help them achieve academically as well as how to smooth pupils’ path between early years and primary, and into secondary school.

For the first time ever the proposed curriculum will set out what children should learn in three phases – taking them seamlessly from the Early Years Foundation Stage to Key Stage 1, and from primary to secondary education. The three phases show explicitly how the curriculum broadens and deepens to reflect children’s different but developing abilities between the ages of five and 11.

Sir Jim recommends that summer-born children should start primary school in the September after their fourth birthday rather than wait until January - however this would be subject to discussions with parents, taking into account their views of a child’s maturity and readiness to enter reception class. In some cases children might start school part-time. To give parents choice and flexibility, the Government is today committing, from 2011, to funding both the cost of all children starting school in the September after their fourth birthday, and the full-time costs (up to 25hrs per week) of those children whose parents would prefer them to be in private or voluntary early years provision.

Sir Jim’s recommendations also include:
  • literacy, numeracy, ICT and personal development should form the new core of the primary curriculum;
  • that the primary curriculum be organised into six new areas of learning, so children can benefit from high quality subject teaching and cross curricular studies;
  • schools should teach one or two foreign languages, being free to choose which, but focusing on those taught at Key Stage 3;
  • that teachers receive additional support to help them teach ICT;
  • a new focus on spoken communication, making particular use of the performing and visual arts, especially role play and drama;
  • that year six and seven pupils undertake extended study projects to help smooth their transition into secondary school;
  • that parents be given a guide to the curriculum, so they can better understand what their children are learning at school;
  • teachers to have new advice about how to stimulate play based learning, which would be passed on to parents
  • the introduction of an extra training day for primary schools in 2010 so they can understand and start planning for the new primary curriculum;
  • smoothing the transition from early years to primary by extending and building upon active, play-based learning, particularly for ‘summer-born’ children and those still working towards the early learning goals;
  • that the two Early Learning goals from the Early Years Foundation Stage he was asked to review be retained.
However, he has suggested that the DCSF should offer additional guidance for early years teachers on how to support young children’s emerging writing skills, including examples of how these two goals are being achieved by many children.

Sir Jim Rose said:
“The touchstone of an excellent curriculum is that it instils in children a love of learning for its own sake."

“From what I have seen on my visits, the best schools demonstrate that these priorities – literacy, numeracy, ICT and personal development – are crucial for giving children their entitlement to a broad and balanced education."

“My recommended areas of learning will not ‘abolish’ subjects, such as history or geography. The essential content of these subjects must be taught well in order for children to be able to make links between them, which is what having the six new areas of learning will allow teachers to do.”
With regard to the early learning goals, Sir Jim Rose said:

“Large numbers of children are already achieving these early writing goals so I fail to see why we would want to put a ceiling on them and stop children in their tracks. There are other areas of learning, such as problem solving and creativity, where similar proportions of children are already achieving them, but we have not seen a call for these to be scrapped. The goals are aspirations that teachers encourage children to move towards in a supportive way, they are not hoops to jump through.”

As part of his Review Sir Jim consulted with teachers, parents and subject associations, as well as visiting over 50 schools. Almost 2,000 head teachers and local authority advisers attended nine regional events held on behalf of the Review by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority.

Children’s Secretary Ed Balls today thanked Sir Jim for the comprehensive nature of his review and accepted every recommendation.

Ed Balls said:

“Many of our primary schools are already doing an excellent job in driving up standards in the three Rs, work which we want to build on. The new primary curriculum will slim down the existing compulsory National Curriculum subjects into six new areas of learning that ensure that all children learn core subjects like history and geography but also about their personal development."

“It’s a complete nonsense to suggest that it’s an either-or choice between learning history and geography on the one hand; and learning about personal skills and well being on the other. Children should learn both because that is the best way to raise standards for all."

“Sir Jim’s review will give primary heads and teachers more freedom to decide what to teach and how so children enjoy learning and make good progress. Children must be secure in English and maths and have good communication skills and learn these essential life skills if they’re going to succeed and that is central to the Rose recommendations."

"I believe that Sir Jim’s new curriculum will set a new standard in primary education in this country, which is central to us achieving the ambitions we set out in the Children’s Plan.”

Research being published this week shows that 97 per cent of parents think that reading and writing are the most important skills for their children to learn at primary school. But 55 per cent think that children should also learn life skills at primary school such as effective communication, teamwork and creative thinking.

The new curriculum has been reorganised into six areas of learning. These are:
  • understanding English, communication and languages;
  • mathematical understanding;
  • understanding the arts;
  • historical, geographical and social understanding;
  • understanding physical development, health and wellbeing; and
  • scientific and technological understanding.
The areas of learning will continue to incorporate traditional subjects - such as English, mathematics, science, history and geography for example - but will also contain more provision for ICT, personal development and health and wellbeing and include essential skills for learning and life. Children will learn how information and valid evidence underpin ideas and practice in science and technology through a greater emphasis on practical and exploratory skills and evaluation. Children will also explore the contribution of historically significant scientists. The range of learning will allow for more cross-curriculum activities and give teachers more opportunities to provide interactive and practical lessons which allow children to also develop maths skills, such as measurement and data handling, in science lessons. The range of learning will allow for more cross-curriculum activities and give teachers more opportunities to provide interactive and practical lessons.

The Department for Children, Schools and Families also issued research showing 97 per cent of parents think that reading and writing are the most important skills for their children to learn at primary. The majority of parents (55 per cent) also want their children to learn life skills such as communication, teamwork and creative thinking. The research showed that parents currently have a low understanding about the curriculum itself, but when questioned they support a broad and balanced curriculum. To help parents, Ed Balls said he wanted the parents’ guide to the curriculum, also published today, to be the start of a conversation with parents and pledged to involve parents more as the consultation on the detailed programmes of study progressed and they moved towards implementation in 2011.

A public consultation on the Rose Review recommended programmes of study and guidance will be led by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA).QCA Acting Chief Executive Andrew Hall says: "I hope pupils, parents and teachers will all take advantage of the opportunity to offer their views in the consultation process. This will be a vital element in determining the success of the new curriculum, since the more people become involved, the more relevant and robust the final curriculum will be. "It is expected that the new curriculum will be implemented in 2011."

For more information about the Independent Review of the Primary Curriculum please see

01 May 2009

Competition Winner

We are pleased to announce that the lucky winner of Littlesheep Learning's "What I want to be when I grow up" competition is Poppy who wants to be a Police Lady.

Congratulations to Poppy, we hope that you like your Firefighters DVD.