Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Book review - The Lost Kitten by Komako Sakai

The Lost Kitten is a new picture book from Japan's leading illustrator, Komako Sakai. The story is about a tiny stray kitten that turns up on Hina's doorstep. Hina and her mother take her in, take her to the vet, make her home and learn to care for her. But then one day the kitten goes missing.

The Lost Kitten by Komako Sakai

It's a very sweet little story, and the illustrations are beautiful. They really bring the characters and their emotions to life. It's a lovely book to share with your child.

The Lost Kitten picture book

I received a copy of this book to review.

Monday, 6 February 2017

Lovely new picture books for young children from Gecko Press

Today I'm sharing two gorgeous new picture books for toddlers from Gecko Press.

Bathtime for Little Rabbit by Jorg Muhle is a very sweet, interactive board book for the very youngest toddlers, and especially perfect for those that have a reluctance when it comes to bath time!

Bathtime for little rabbit book

Children are encouraged to follow along with Little Rabbit while he enjoys his bath, and help him by lathering up the bubbles, wipe the water off his nose, and blow to dry his ears at the end. The simple language and pictures are perfect for reading aloud to little ones, and it would be a lovely book to share at bedtime.

Bathtime for little rabbit

My Pictures after the Storm by Eric Veille looks at the concept of 'before' and 'after', using fantastic illustrations to look at a series of pictures before and after something has happened.

My pictures after the storm

For example, what happens after a storm, after an elephant has passed by, or after the hairdresser. There's plenty of scope for discussion and lots of humour in the illustrations and text.

My pictures after the storm book

I was sent these books to review, Amazon links are affiliate.

Monday, 30 January 2017

A new e-book from Twinkl - Ronald the Rhino

As a parent I'm a huge fan of Twinkl Resources. Twinkl offers a huge range of educational resources for schools and parents to download, covering just about any theme that you can imagine. Some of the resources are free, and some are available to subscribers only, with packages starting at just £2.50 per month.

Twinkl have recently published a new eBook - Ronald the Rhino - which is available for subscribers to download and share with their children. It's a Twinkl original rhyming story, and each page features a hand drawn image to illustrate it. The story follows Ronald the Rhino, who isn't happy because he doesn't feel as special as all the other animals that have their own unique trait. He tries to copy the other animals but he still isn't happy, until his animal friends teach him how special he really is.

Ronald the Rhino from Twinkl

To accompany the story, Twinkl have produced a wide range of resources for children of all ages. The youngest children can retell the story using Ronald the Rhino Sequencing Cards, having fun with the Ronald the Rhino Colouring Pages or practice their scissor skills with Ronald the Rhino Cutting Skills Activity Sheets. Slightly older children will enjoy exploring different words and phrases linked to the characters with these Ronald the Rhino Character Description Activity Sheets, or trying a Ronald the Rhino Count and Graph Activity Sheet. There are also reading comprehension sheets, activity sheets to help children draw the animals themselves and many many more - have a look at all the Ronald the Rhino Themed Resources here.

I am a Twinkl Blogger and have received a Platinum Plus subscription in exchange for sharing their resources with my readers.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

How to use a sleep training clock for an early rising child

A sleep training clock is a very simple invention, but remarkably effective. It is a way of helping a toddler understand the difference between night and day, and helping them to stay in their bed until morning. There are various sleep training clocks on the market, but they all feature some kind of device which tells the child when it is time to get up. This might be a picture on the front that changes, or some kind of coloured light signal.

You can achieve the same effect more cheaply with a lamp or some fairy lights on a timer switch, but buying a clock especially for the child makes it seem much more special. Some of the clocks also come with a bedtime story book which can help a child to understand the concept behind it.

If you have an early riser, it's very tempting to set the clock for your preferred wake up time one morning (perhaps 7am or so) and assume that they will just stay in their bed until that time. Unfortunately you need to put in a bit more work than that. We had a lot of success with our sleep training clock, so here are some tips to help it work for you.

  • Your child needs to be old enough to understand the concept. Certainly at least 2 years old, and probably a little older.

  • Use the clock in conjunction with a bedtime routine that is already in place, for example bath, milk, teeth, story and bed.

  • The clock may have a demo mode. Use this to role play with your child during the day - let them pretend to go to sleep, then get them up when the clock signals that it's morning, then back to sleep again when it's 'night time'.

  • Begin by setting the clock for a time before your child usually wakes. Then you may like to reward your child, perhaps with a sticker, because they have stayed in bed until morning.

  • Move the time forward on the clock very slowly, perhaps by just a minute or two each day or five minutes each week.

  • If your child wakes or gets out of bed before morning, return them to bed and keep re-inforcing with them that they should stay in their bed until the sun comes up.

After buying a sleep training clock, our early mornings went from 5.10am until 6.30am, sometimes later. If you are struggling with an early riser I would really recommend one, and good luck!

We used a Gro-Clock Sleep Trainer , which we liked because it came with a bedtime story book. You can read the story to your child, and when you reach the appropriate moment your child can press a button to put the sun to sleep. There are also lots of different sleep training clocks which work in a similar way and you might want to consider to match the interests of your child - here are a couple of different ones:

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Playmobil toy review videos for children

In this house we love Playmobil, and we are lucky enough to own several of the larger sets. They can be expensive to purchase though, so it's well worth doing your research before buying, and so to help I've published reviews and videos of some of our favourite sets. You can find them all together in this post, I hope that it gives you some inspiration if you are looking for gift ideas, or help if you are making final decisions about which sets to buy. Unfortunately some of these sets are now no longer available as they have been discontinued, but it's worth looking around for them second hand.

Amazon links in this post are affiliate.

Playmobil Dragon Knights Fortress - 5996

Written review of the Dragon Knights Fortress

Buy Playmobil Dragon Knights Fortress - 5996 on Amazon

Playmobil Cargo and Passenger Aircraft - 5261

Written review of the Cargo and Passenger Aircraft

Buy Playmobil Cargo and Passenger Jet 5261 on Amazon

Playmobil Lion Knight's Empire Castle - 4865

Written review of the Lion Knight's Empire Castle

Buy Playmobil Knights Lion Knights Empire Castle 4865 on Amazon

Playmobil Family Camper - 4859

Written review of the Family Camper

Buy Playmobil Summer Fun Family Camper 4859 on Amazon

Playmobil Leisure Jet - 5954

Written review of the Leisure Jet

Playmobil Recycling Truck - 4129

Written review of the Recycling Truck

Buy Recycling Truck 4129 on Amazon

Playmobil Roman Gladiator Arena - 4270

Written review of the Roman Gladiator Arena

Buy Playmobil Gladiator Arena 4270 on Amazon

I hope that you enjoyed these videos! You can find many more over on my YouTube channel.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

The YouTube Kids app has launched in the UK and it's well worth a look

YouTube Kids logo

These days it's inevitable that children are going to be spending some of their time watching videos on tablets or smartphones. I'm of the opinion that, like most things, screen time is fine for toddlers and young children as long as it is in moderation and balanced with plenty of other activities and interaction.

Many young children enjoy watching videos on YouTube and mine are no different, but it's always been a bit of a worry to me that although you might set them off watching a suitable child-friendly video there's no knowing where they might end up if they keep clicking through to recommended videos. It can also be difficult for children that aren't yet able to read very well to find the content that appeals to them the most.

So the new YouTube Kids app is a brilliant way of solving these problems. The front screen curates content which is suitable for young children. The homescreen is divided into four categories - Shows, Music, Learning and Explore - including content from many children's favourites like Postman Pat, Thomas and Friends and Wallace and Gromit. The app will also select new, suitable content, and it's designed in a way that makes it easy for little ones to find what they are after. There's even a Nostalgia section featuring classics like Paddington and the Care Bears as well as classic cartoons which you can enjoy along with your child!

YouTube Kids homescreen

The search function can be used by you or the child to find other family friendly videos, or you can disable the search function entirely if you want to restrict what your toddler sees to a more limited set. There are also plenty of other parental controls in place, for example you can set a timer which displays a countdown bar at the top of the screen. When the time is up the little face on the app goes to sleep! The app is a signed-out experience with no ties to any account, and it isn't possible to upload, share or like videos.

The app is completely free to download to your tablet and is currently available in Google Play and the App Store. You can use the YouTube Kids app on a smartphone or tablet with iOS 7 or above or Android 4.1 or above. You can also watch YouTube Kids on your television using Chromecast, Apple TV, games consoles or a smartTV.

You can find out more information about YouTube Kids in this blog post from the YouTube UK Blog. If you have young children that enjoy spending time using a smartphone or tablet I'd definitely recommend giving it a go. As well as the peace of mind that you'll having knowing that the content they are watching is suitable for them, it's so easy for them to use to find videos that they will enjoy watching, as well as introducing them to some new favourites!

Monday, 23 November 2015

Two gorgeous new board books for small children

Today I'm sharing two lovely, recently published board books for young toddlers.

New simple board books for young children

The Snowball, written and illustrated by Giuliano Ferri, is a lovely picture book to share with small children this winter. There are very few words, and instead the illustrations and cut out shapes tell the story as a little mouse begins to roll a snowball. With the help of his friends they push it up and up the hill, and it gets bigger and bigger, but of course a hill can only keep going up for a certain amount of time, and in the end it is all going to come rolling back down! It's a charming story, with a funny ending!

The Snowman by Giuliano Ferri

Triangles, written and illustrated by Yusuke Yonezu, is perfect even for the very youngest toddlers and babies. It explores triangles through the use of cut out shapes which are perfect for little fingers to trace and to guess what the shape might turn into on the next page. The illustrations are simple and brightly coloured and will definitely keep the attention of even tiny babies.

Triangles by Yusuke Yonezu

I received copies of these books to review, Amazon links are affiliate.
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