31 August 2010

British Mummy Bloggers Carnival

The August British Mummy Bloggers carnival is now live: http://www.playingbythebook.net/2010/08/31/british-mummy-bloggers-carnival-books-and-play/ and we are pleased that one of our blogs have been included.

Please pop by and have a read of Zoe's fantastic blog (where you can find lots of ideas linked to reading books). Read the carnival, follow the links to have a look at the other posts and get playing with books.

30 August 2010


This week in the Gallery, Tara asked gave us the theme: One Day in August - not any day in August but more specifically Sunday 29th August... it could be a photo of anything just it had to be taken on that day. The reason for this challenge is that on that Sunday threee UK parenting bloggers Josie, Sian and Eva flew to Bangladesh for a week to help raise awareness of the work Save the Children is doing with mothers and children there. 

So my photo:

This was taken as I took my eldest to Beaver camp for the first time. It was the first time he has been away from home staying with people who are not family (he wasn't a bit phased) and the first time he had responsibility for organising his own belongings for a whole 24hours! So I left him (in his uniform) with his bag of clothes and his pillow, sleeping bag and mat (and teddy). He now has to organise the independent living skills or self-help skills as they are called for himself; he needs to dress (buttons, zips and velcro - I wasn't mean enough to make him learn to tie his laces!) himself, he needs to brush his teeth, wash himself (ok so I am not entirely sure little boys at Beaver camp do that!), comb his hair and of course I am hoping he eats using his cutlery!

Anyway, I have written about dressing skills before and maybe I should teach him to tie his shoelaces sometime soon.

On Wednesday take a look at the Gallery and see the other posts and photos we will all have taken part in one giant Blip for that day - a journal for a Sunday in August.

26 August 2010

Does Cooking with Children = Mess or Learning?

There is an article on the BBC website If flour + sugar + children = mess, why let them bake? written by Katy from I Can Cook which got me thinking about cooking with children.

Of course cooking with children is messy but it also has a whole host of learning opportunities.

First, you need a recipe. Finding a recipe using cookery books, shows the use of non-fiction books and gives the opportunity to use an index or you could use a computer search engine. We have found using an internet search for a recipe interesting to see variations of the same recipe and deciding which one works best for us.

Then reading the recipe - older children can read it for themselves, younger ones will need help. This shows that reading is a useful skill and demonstrates the use of instructional text. If your children like cooking get them a notebook and help them make their own recipe book. This helps them practice writing skills (don't forget to add photographs or illustrations of the finished product). They can copy in favourite recipes but also make up their own simple ones for their favourite things like cheese on toast, home made ice lollies or popcorn, which gives them practice at writing instructions.

Next we need the ingredients (learning through shopping is a whole other post see
summer holiday market shopping or super maths for supermarket for some ideas). Have you got everything you need or do you need to make some substitutes (strawberry jam for raspberry jam, sultanas for raisins (or chocolate chips!). Looking at the ingredients gives the opportunity to increase vocabulary and general knowledge - what is oregano? where is butter kept? how is tomato puree made? what are raisins made from? where do bananas come from?

Measuring out ingredients using both weight and volume is a great practical maths lesson, what is bigger a teaspoon or a tablespoon? How many cups of flour do we need - can you count them?

Then the making part - this involves many fine motor skills; pouring, scooping, cracking eggs, stirring, whisking, cutting, grating, spooning, kneading, rolling, squeezing, sprinkling, spreading - every part of the making process using motor skills (which in turn will help them improve their handwriting!).

Recipes that involve cooking (or freezing) also teach patience / time telling as you can't eat them immediately!

Some of the things we have made recently...

24 August 2010

What can you see?

One of our favourite types of book at the moment are 'first word books' and in particular - First hundred words. This book is popular because the illustrator is the same person who illustrates 'the Apple Tree Farm books' and the First Experiences Books and my children love Stephen Cartwright's illustrations!

This type of book is one of the types of book that grows with your child. To start with they enjoy picking out the odd words that they know and pointing to the "big" items on the page, then as they get older they can actually hunt (and start remembering!) the items to find on each page. They can also look at the picture in more detail, describe what is happening and spot the more subtle things. It is also great for children who are learning to read as the words are printed underneath the picture so they can start to recognise the sight words.

The book has scenes from around the house; the living room, getting dressed, eating breakfast in the kitchen (my children find the broken egg and the burnt toast most amusing), tidying up (uh-oh what is going to happen to Dad's plate?), bathtime and bedtime, in the community - the park, the street and the swimming pool and having a birthday party. The swimming pool and changing room pages show body parts, whilst the shopping pages illustrate colours and finally the very last page has a numbers 1-5.

We love this book and I am sure you will too!

23 August 2010

August Business Mums Blog Carnival

blog carnival blue

I am so excited to be hosting the Business Mums Blog Carnival - my first ever time of hosting a carnival. As my business is education based the submissions have been split into lessons... so prepare to go back to school! I hope that you will enjoy reading this post and the ones that have been submitted.

First of all - we all need inspirational teachers - those people who inspire us... Kate at Mum's The Word shares
three very different examples of business success. Who has inspired you?

In lesson time:

Literacy - Helen from Business Plus Baby explains:
What I've Learned About Writing Books and Antonia from Family Friendly Working wants you to write your story.

Numeracy - Alli (Motivating Mum) looks at the value of money in her post
My husband my detractor and Becky at Baby Budgeting looks into buying a family friendly franchise.

ICT - a lesson from Joanne Dewberry about
fan pages.

Music - Karen from Learning Made Fun tells us about the 1st musical mini.

Citizenship - MidwifeValerie explains how to campaign to save independent midwifery.

PSE - Heather (The Efficiency Coach) talks about self-confidence in her post the-dreaded-c-word-how-the-lack-of-it-can-sabotage-your-business-efforts/

For playtime, Sam and Helen from Mums the Boss ask
How free should our children be? and Nomita at ebabeelikes reviews the Cachatou Maggy a bright and colouful shape sorter.

In assembly teachers share the best work - Antonia tells us about Family Vie where you can share the best work you find, also most schools have some sort of prize giving, star of the week - the world of business mums isn't without its awards - check out the post from TJ at Support4Women: Awards - Are they Worth it?

Not forgetting babies... Antonia and Karen at Kiddibase share their top ten baby activities.

If you read a post that you find interesting, amusing, informs or inspires you, then please leave a comment for the author – bloggers love comments (and please let me know if you think I have passed or failed!).

You can find the 2010 Blog Carnival schedule by clicking here.

20 August 2010

Social Networking (Test)

Ooooh I think I have just set it up so that you can share your favourite posts from my blog onto Twitter and Facebook and the like...

Have fun sharing them!

ps. Please follow @littlesheep on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook

19 August 2010


As I was viewing the photos on my camera I came across one of the stone face that the six year old had made at Beavers...

and this made me think about how this idea could be adapted to create a craft activity to help children learn about emotions.
First of all you need a collection of pebbles or stones, then things to decorate them with - as you can see this one uses googly eyes, wool and a bit of pipecleaner but you can use whatever you want - if you wanted you could just use paint or a marker pen to draw on the pebble.
Then make a collection of different faces; happy, sad, scared, surprised, angry - talk about the emotion, what makes people feel that way, or act out scenarios with your pebble people. You could also make an identification game by putting the pebbles in a bag and picking one out - or a matching game matching the pebble to a picture of someone showing an emotion or a scenario.
You can find a range of resources to help children learn about emotions at Littlesheep Learning.

17 August 2010

Obstacle Courses

Hooray, we've had a sunny day! We finally got to play in the garden and it was fun watching the boys play - they set themselves up an obstacle course... they had to go up the rock wall, down the slide, run along the decking, climb onto the grass and kick a ball.

The great thing about obstacle courses is that they are great for helping children develop their gross motor skills and improve sports skills. Some children like the addition of a stopwatch to keep track of their course times, others want to have a race with their friends whilst others would rather just go through the course for fun. It doesn't really matter which type of child you have they will still be getting active and improving their skills.

The list of possible obstacles in an obstacle course is endless - obviously some will be more suited to your individual child than others so choose these (and feel free to add any more ideas in the comments).

  • crawl through a pop-up tunnel
  • jump from stepping stone to stepping stone (paper / mats / hoops)
  • do star jumps
  • ride a bike / scooter / ride on
  • throw bean bags / balls into a box
  • throw hoops onto a hoopla
  • run in and out of cones
  • walk backwards for ten steps
  • hit a ball with a tennis racket
  • kick a football in a goal
  • walk along a “tightrope” (a skipping rope placed on the floor or a chalked line on the patio - the line can be wiggly too!)
  • stand on one foot
  • go down a slide
  • shoot with a basket ball
  • dribble a football between cones
  • jump over a line / small box / hurdle
  • complete a stage from a crazy golf kit
  • fire a “stamp on” foam rocket
  • walk on stilts
  • dribble a hockey ball through a slalom
  • shoot a hockey goal
  • bounce on a trampoline
  • skip with a rope
  • walk balancing a beanbag on head
  • hoola with a hoola-hoop
  • climb part of a climbing frame
  • jump off a box
  • walk heel-to-toe in a straight line
  • build a sandcastle
  • squirt water with a water pistol
  • hop
  • do a forward roll

16 August 2010

Marble Memories / Fine Motor Flicks

As readers of past entries will know I have just started joining in with The Gallery set by Tara at Sticky Fingers and this week the theme is "Memories" and I thought it really linked with a post that I was planning about Fine Motor Flicking Activities, so here goes...

First my "arty" picture of marbles - the toy of memories - ask any old person and they will give you tails about playing with marbles as a child (well my grandparents certainly did!).

And then about the "fine motor flicking"...

"Flicking" is a fun fine motor activity that can really help a child develop their fine motor skills. Flick by opposing each finger and thumb in turn (you can use either hand and when you get good use both together). Flicking can increase motor planning and accuracy, fine manual dexterity and can strengthen the muscles in the hand.

As you can see we were "flicking" the marbles... we had all sorts of games, for example; flick them the furthest, flick them onto the target, flick them to hit another marble and flicking two at the same time seeing if they could crash.
If you don't have any marbles (or you are worried about your children putting marbles in their mouths) you can scrunch up paper and flick that or make small balls of playdough or use peas.
Have fun flicking! And do have a look at the other photos in the "memories" photo gallery.

13 August 2010

Whatever the Weather...

I have been meaning to get involved in more blog carnivals and other blog linking things for a while and over the last week got more active on Twitter...

This lead me to find that there is a Gallery "challenge" each week set by Tara and that as she was away this week so set no prompt for the Gallery. Those who usually partake were missing it so instead, Chelle has a Pretend / Unprompted Gallery this week, with a water theme, for those who feel like they're missing out.

So for my first joining in - here's my offering for the week... this was actually taken two summer holidays ago but I could have taken a similar one several times this week!

Rain on the window pane

Where has summer gone?

Luckily we have a cupboard full of games to play (don't worry I have put a lock on Littlesheep Learning's stock cupboard so there are plenty for you too!).

Whatever the Weather - Rain or Shine!

What will the weather be today? Take a guess, then spin the spinner to see if you are right. You'll have to watch out for thunderstorms as you race to the pot of gold under the rainbow!

12 August 2010

Blog Carnival

At the end of August we are hosting the Business Mum Blog Carnival.

If you would like more traffic to your blog, links and comments and the chance to network online around the business mum community then this is for you. It’s free and will take you just a couple of minutes.

Here’s how it works. Each month, a different business mum blogger hosts the blog carnival, listing the best posts that month. If you’re a mumpreneur with a blog, you can submit your own favourite post of that month to the carnival.

We’re looking for posts that add value in some way, so maybe they inspire, inform or make us smile. It’s OK to talk a little about what you do (we’re all in business after all) but a post that’s just a sales pitch isn’t going to be much of a read and is less likely to be included.

Email posts to elaine (at) littlesheep-learning.co.uk by the end of Friday 20th August and the carnival will be posted on Monday 23rd August.

If you want to read July's for inspiration check it out at mumazing's blog.

09 August 2010

Water Safety

This week the big two are having a week's intensive swimming lessons to help them keep up their swimming skills over the summer break.

The Swimming Teachers' Association - the leading authority on learning to swim and water safety education, have produced a guide to give parents practical tips regarding water safety in the home, garden, at the beach and swimming pool.

Visit their
website for your free copy.

06 August 2010

Special Needs Software

Recently on Mumsclub I bumped into Carol from Special Needs Software - a fab site that I thought some of my readers might like too.

Carol has a 3 year old son with severe learning difficulties and sensory issues, which make it really difficult for him to engage with toys and activities. Once a week, he attends a Child Development Centre for specialist therapy, where they have discovered that he responds really well to their touch screen computer. In fact, he enjoys it so much that it is the one activity they choose to calm him down if ever he becomes upset!

After finding this out she thought it would be a great idea to get a touch screen monitor for home use and as she is a web developer by trade, she decided to put her skills to good use by creating simple games for him to play using his new touch screen computer. Carol is still at the very early stages of developing the games, but she has found that her son enjoys playing with them even when the interaction is quite limited! So, she created the website to share the games with other touch screen users – many of the games are still in development, but are still playable to some extent!

Examples include:

If you’re using a mouse, the rocket will follow the mouse pointer around the game. Click anywhere to hear a rocket sound! For touch screen use, touch the screen and the rocket will head to that spot, accompanied by a rocket sound!

Paint the Screen
Click on or touch one of the coloured squares to change the screen colour. You’ll also reveal a hidden picture and accompanying sound! For older children, why not try using this as a memory game (e.g. after going through all the colours & pictures, ask if they can remember where the digger is).

This is a really simple cause & effect game, where there are two on-screen objects (ladybirds initially) which are stationary. By touching the ladybird, you can make it run up and off the screen. When both ladybirds are off the screen, another two objects appear (there are also ladybirds, spiders, frogs and rockets). This is also good for turn taking, as there are two of each object. Your child could touch one then you (or another child) could touch the other, and so on.

05 August 2010

Seaside Fun and Learning

Are you off to the seaside this summer holiday (not sure whether we are or not yet - it wasn't on the boys MUST DO list so it depends how things pan out) but if you are there are lots of learning opportunities at the beach.

First, the beach is one big open space and if you are lucky enough to go to one that isn't crammed full of other holidaymakers (memories of the Norfolk coast in mid-winter when we very definitely were the only ones there spring to mind!) there is lots of space for running, jumping and throwing balls; plus the obligatory digging - trenches and sandcastle building and carrying buckets of sand / water / pebbles. All of these activities will help children develop their gross motor skills which in turn help develop their fine motor skills. Another thing that you can do is write big letters and draw huge pictures in the sand - this is great fun for children who may usually be reluctant writers.

Then of course there are all the different object labels to be learnt - sand, sea, cliff, rockpool, lighthouse, shell, crab, starfish, seaweed , bucket, spade, ice cream - the list is endless! And for older children identifying the different types of creatures in a rock pool - how many different types of crustacean can you find?

Lastly the shells and stones can be used for counting, adding and subtracting, comparing sizes and much more.

Have fun on your trip to the beach and see how much "accidental learning" goes on!

04 August 2010


Today is Playday the annual celebration of children's right to play. On Playday and throughout the summer, thousands of children, young people and communities will get out to play at hundreds of locally organised events across the UK. As well as a celebration of children's right to play, Playday is also a campaign that raises awareness about some serious issues affecting children's play.

The Play Day 2010 campaign is 'Our Place,' which puts children at the heart of our communities, and asks everyone, young and old, to help create better places for all of us to live and play.

We are off to an event for 0-8 year olds at our local Children's Centre (shame about the rain!) where there promises to be: face painting, messy play, entertainers and a bouncy castle and a picnic afterwards.

See if there is something happening near you -

02 August 2010

Summer Reading Challenge

Have you signed up for the Space Hop at your local library?

The aim of the summer reading challenge is to get children to read six books from the library over their summer holidays. The challenge is designed for children of all ages and all reading abilities.

To sign up children need to visit their local library and enrol (completely free), they then receive a foldout poster, to keep track of the books they are reading and a membership card.

In our library they also decorate a rocket to put on the space race which they move along the board as they read their books. Then when they finish the challenge they get a certificate.

What books are you reading this holiday?