31 January 2010

New Products: People Who Help Us Glove Puppets

We are pleased to announce that Littlesheep Learning now stock even more of the popular flat people who help us glove puppets adding the postman, keeper and farmer to the range, plus the bargain people who help us complete set of nine puppets.
These simple flat glove puppets are a fantastic resource for both role play and teaching about occupations / jobs people do and are great for inclusion in story sacks. Size 28cm tall.

21 January 2010

Other Spelling Help

From comments posted onto the Facebook link to yesterday's post about texting helping spelling it appears people are still sceptical!

If you would like a more traditional way of helping your child learn take a look at these Orchard Toys Spelling Puzzles now in stock at Littlesheep Learning. These lovely jigsaws have between three and five pieces and contain a lovely illustration with the word written underneath with each piece having one letter and a part of the picture. Children will enjoy completing the puzzle whilst learning to spell the word.

Older children might like the spelling game Pass the Word where they need to race against the timer to put together a word, trying to be quick as when the time runs out the letters have to be passed on to the next player.

20 January 2010

Does Txt Speak Help Spelling?

Well according to a new report it does! These latest findings of an ongoing study at the University of Coventry contradict any expectation that prolonged exposure to texting will erode a child's ability to spell and instead suggests that pupils who regularly use text language - with all its mutations of phonetic spelling and abbreviations - also appear to be developing skills in the more formal use of English.

Children who are heavy users of mobile phone text abbreviations such as LOL (laughing out loud), plz (please), l8ter (later) and xxx (kisses), are unlikely to be problem spellers and readers, a new study funded by the British Academy has found. The research, carried out on a sample of 8-12 year olds over an academic year, revealed that levels of “textism” use could even be used to predict reading ability and phonological awareness in each pupil by the end of the year. Also, the proportion of textisms used was observed to increase with age, from just 21% of Year 4 pupils to 47% in Year 6, revealing that more sophisticated literacy skills are needed for textism use. The study conclusions will come as a surprise to many who believe that textisms are vandalising the English language.

The theory behind the research, carried out by Dr Clare Wood, Reader in Developmental Psychology at Coventry University, relates to one of the early developing skills associated with (and believed to underpin) successful reading and spelling development. ‘Phonological awareness’ refers to a child’s ability to detect, isolate and manipulate patterns of sound in speech. For example, children who can tell which words rhyme, or what word is left if you remove a letter, have particularly high levels of phonological awareness.

The forms of text message abbreviation (or ‘textism’) that are used when sending messages include:

  • Shortenings: cutting the end off a word, losing more than one letter, e.g. bro = brother.
  • Contractions: cutting letters, usually vowels, out of the middle of a word, e.g. txt, plz, hmwrk.
  • G Clippings: cutting off only the final g in a word, e.g. goin, comin, workin, swimmin.
  • Other Clippings: cutting off other final letters, e.g. I’v, hav, wil, com.
  • Symbols: using symbols, including emoticons, and x used symbolically, e.g. &, @, ;-), :-p, xxx.
  • Initialisms: a word or group of words is represented by its initial letter, e.g. tb = text back, lol = laughing out loud, gf = girlfriend.
  • Letter/Number Homophones: a letter or number is used to take the place of a phoneme, syllable, or word of the same sound, e.g. 4, 2, l8r, u, r, c.
  • Non-conventional Spellings: a word is spelled according to legitimate English phoneme-grapheme conversion rules, but not the conventional one used to spell the word, e.g. nite, cum, fone, skool.
  • Accent Stylisation: a word is spelled as it is pronounced in casual speech, e.g. gonna, wiv = with, av = have, wanna, elp = help, anuva = another.
  • Missing Apostrophes: left out either in possessive or traditional contraction form, e.g. dads, Im, Ive, cant.

So what do you think does txting help or hinder spelling?

19 January 2010

New Products: Counting Song Mitts

Just a quick blog post to let everyone know the popular counting song mitts - 5 little ducks, 5 little speckled frogs and five little monkeys are all now back in stock at Littlesheep Learning AND we are now stocking the teaching song mitts for the favourite rhymes 5 little men in a flying saucer, 5 currant buns in a bakers shop and ten green bottles standing on the wall.

These puppets are great to assist children learning about numbers, counting, songs and rhymes - helping them to develop communication, imagination and fine motor skills and by providing a visual aid which makes songs and stories more enjoyable. They are fantastic as a material for acting out stories / the demonstration of different situations and role play scenarios and for including in story sacks.

06 January 2010


According to the news reports thousands of schools across England, from the north to the south, face closure and disruption in the cold weather but ours was open despite the snow so it was business as usual here at Littlesheep Learning.

Apparently at school today there were about 30 of them in the nursery, reception and year one (all combined into one class due to the absences of staff and children stuck in the nearby villages) and the curriculum included lots of outside play time (they made several snowmen and big snow balls), making hot chocolate for the whole school (including having squirty cream and marshmallows on top!) and lots of fun was had. It might not sound much like learning but they worked out how many people they were making hot chocolate for, what ingredients they would need - and wrote a list, some of them went to the shops to get the ingredients (money skills) plus of course lots of gross motor activity.

Whatever the weather at Littlesheep Learning we dispatch your parcels as soon as possible (usually next day) - you might want to take a look at this special weather game if you want to help your children learn to dress appropriately to the climate!

04 January 2010

Money Lessons for Children

I was just reading this article about how primary school children are going to be given lessons on managing debt from next year. Ed Balls, the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families has disclosed details of the new programme, which starts with lessons on how to save money in a piggy bank and continues through primary school with lessons about current and savings accounts and how to budget.

Littlesheep Learning we have 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 in a fun way.

02 January 2010

January Sale Now On!

The January Sale is now on at Littlesheep Learning.

Save up to 30% on a range of books, games and fine motor activities.

Our favourites items are Fine Motor Fishes (reduced from £15.50 to £10.50), the Going to School book (reduced from £2.50 to £1.50) and the Timestables Lotto game (reduced from £9.99 to £8). What are your favourites?

All items subject to stock availability and the sale will end on 31st January 2010!

If there are any other Mumpreneurs / WAHMs who want me to promote your sale - please do add the details in a comment!

01 January 2010

Writing Thank You Letters

Hopefully everyone will have had a lovely Christmas and everyone will have received lots of presents. Now we are in the new year in many families thoughts turn to writing thank you letters. I can remember sitting as a child handwriting my missives to the friends and family who had given us presents and now it is me trying to persuade my reluctant writers to carry on the tradition.

With the advent of computers into family life it is sometimes easier to get our eldest to type his messages as until recently writing was not something that he enjoyed. Typing a letter onto a computer is less personal if it is just the name and present details that are changed and it doesn't show the child's developing handwriting (although we did leave in the creative spellings!) but it does get the job done.

Having done our letters and felt proud that they are all in envelopes ready to post I then stumbled across this link on Filth Wizardry about a website where you can generate a font of your child's handwriting. You download a printable template for your child to write each letter of the alphabet (plus the common punctuation marks), scan it in and upload the image and wait for your font which you can then use in all of your documents. As I said - we haven't tried it yet but there are some great examples on the Filth Wizardry post so you can see how it works. I think we will try this for the birthday thank you letters later in the year - so watch this space!