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Tag: education

Learning Through Play – Activity Essentials

Learning Through Play – Activity Essentials

*This is a collaborative post. 

Learning through play is an important part of a child’s early development. Not only do they enjoy the time spent playing with their toys. They create avenues to improvements in skills children need, as they progress through their educational career. Learning through play enhances a child’s language and communication skills, it gives them the platform to develop their fine motor skills, it also allows them to express themselves and encourages their individual characters to surface.

I don’t believe that all of this can be achieved by placing a child in a room with a bunch of toys and leaving them to get on with it. It’s a matter of selecting the right products that are fun, but that also offer more than meets the eye. It’s about putting time and effort into working out how your child responds to certain activities and taking advantage of this knowledge to help them with their early development.

Playroom essentials –

In order for our children to get the most out of their early years, there are a few essentials that you can include in their playroom to encourage positive development. A huge part of the learning process for small children is role play. Whether that includes dressing up, playing house or looking after babies, role play encompasses a whole of host of skills that children benefit from learning. That’s why a home corner is our go to playroom essential! Take a look at Kiddies Kingdom’s range of Silver Cross products for sale to create the perfect home corner.

Problem solving skills – problem solving doesn’t have to involve your child sitting down at a table with a sum in front of them. Simply thinking for themselves, without constant prompts from adults gives a child the space to work out their next move all by themselves. In a role play setting, the scenario they’re playing out comes from within, children benefit from making their own choices in these situations and witnessing the aftermath of those decisions. Not all decisions will be the right ones, but that’s where the problem solving element to role play comes in. The chances are a bad decision won’t be made over and over again, if the negative outcome is witnessed by the child.

Social and emotional skills – playing someone else’s role forces the child into putting themselves into the other person’s shoes. They have to work out attitudes and feelings, which is an excellent way to develop social and emotional skills. This encourages empathy and boosts the emotional intelligence of individuals.

Speech and language skills – there’s no better way to encourage a child’s speech and language skills than by getting them to explore the vocabulary they already have. This boosts their confidence in their own abilities, which in turn encourages them to push the boundaries and try new words, tones and sentence structures.

More playroom essentials –

Here are more playroom essentials from parents in the know;

Claire from Red Kite Days – ‘ Plastic tubs with lids to group different types of toys. It’s easier to tidy up at the end too. We’ve got one with small animals, another for trains etc’.

Eliza from My Everything Beautiful – ‘Paint/colours because we can then discuss about what they’re doing. For example, when my toddler wants to draw a dinosaur, he will tell me when he’s drawing the nose, eyes, feet, etc., and that way he’s learning a lot of things. We do lots of other stuff with paint and it’s so fun!’

Laura from Five Little Doves – ‘We have lots of educational posters up around the play room such as a map of the world, the alphabet, days of the week, etc just so that even when they are playing they are still taking notice of them and some of that information is going in.’

Jennie from Rice Cakes and Raisins – ‘Pens and paper! They’ve had hours of fun creating designs, drawing pictures and colouring over the years.’

Jo from Cup of Toast – ‘Anything that is versatile. We love regular Lego (or Duplo / Mega Bloks for younger children) and wooden building blocks. We also have lots of role play stuff, with a dressing up box with play food. When they dress up they sometimes incorporate their Lego creations into their pretend worlds which I love!’

Erica from The Incidental Parent – ‘ Duplo! Without a doubt. My 7 year old still plays with his.
Great for learning colours, shapes, numbers and imaginative play. We make Minecraft worlds!”

Kate from Ever After with Kids – ‘ find my children learn the most through imaginative role play, when they’re dressing up or playing with figurines and creating story lines. I’d definitely include either costumes or figurines to enable this, maybe even both if you can!’




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How to Find the Right School for your Children

How to Find the Right School for your Children

When our eldest daughter started school, I dreaded it. It wasn’t even full-time education, just her pre-school nursery placement that meant she was out of my care for fifteen hours during the week. They were 15 hours that I’d never had to leave her before though and not only that, I would be leaving her with someone I knew very little about. As a parent, I don’t think it’s easy to hand your child over at any point never mind to a stranger, but as far as school is concerned it’s the standard thing to do.

As it happened, we were lucky and found a school that both Hubs and I were comfortable with. It wasn’t an easy task though and I know it caused both of us a headache or two. Maybe we over thought it, but in our house education is paramount. However, it has to be an education in the right environment that supports both parent and child to the nth degree.

Here’s how to find the right school for your children;

Do your research – 

The first step to finding the right school for you and your children is to research all of the school in your local area. Education may seem pretty standard, but you’d be surprised how different schools can be. They all offer a different approach to education, some you will agree with and some you won’t. Find out what kind of school interests you most, that way you’ll be able to make an informed decision on where you’d like to visit.

Look around as many schools as you have time to visit – 

Once you have a list of all of the schools you are interested in, make time to visit as many as you can. If I were you, I’d visit them all. You’ll never get a full picture of a school unless you wander around when the kids are in their lessons. You get to see how the teachers work, what kind of interventions are used and how well the kids respond in their learning environment.

Talk to every member of staff – 

Talking to every staff member can help you gain a better understanding of what they offer as a school. You’ll get a good idea of their level of knowledge and you’ll be able to make a judgement on their enthusiasm for the job. You’ll never get someone who is completely on the ball all of the time, but you’ll get an insight into their teaching style and whether you like it or not.

Look round the whole school, not just the nursery area – 

Once your child is settled into nursery, it’s probably safe to assume they’ll be in that school for a while as they go through the year groups. For this reason, it’s good to check out the whole school, not just the pre-school area, before to make a decision. If the upper school isn’t right for you as a family, you’ll know you need to look elsewhere.

Trust your instinct –

There’s nothing more reliable than parental instinct when it comes to making important life decisions for your family. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. You’ll know if you need to move on to the next school.

Let them go – 

As hard as it may seem, once you have found the right place, it’s time to let them go. You’ll probably cry and feel like you’ve lost a huge part of you for a while, but school is an amazing developmental stage. Your kids will come home with snippets from their day that will make your heart happy!

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Five Things being a School Run Mum has Taught Me

Five Things being a School Run Mum has Taught Me

I’ve had the joy of being a school run mum for a few months now. The novelty is wearing off and I’ve begun to countdown each term, eager for the holidays to start. It’s not because I don’t like school, we are very pro-education over here. It’s that the school run can become a bit of a bind! It’s a rat race, with everyone believing that they’re in more of a rush than the next person.

The good thing about the school run is meeting people on your wavelength. There will be at least one other mum, or dad, that you really get on with. You’ll laugh and cry with them as your children go through school and they will be your school run ally. Other than that, the school run is a real eye opener. So much so that if you did stand-up comedy for a living, you’d have fresh material for life!

Here are five things that being a school run mum has taught me;

Parents will KILL for a parking space –

Yes I drive to school, but in my defence we do live a couple of miles away. With a two and three year old to transport, walking each and every day is not an option. I’ve learnt though, that if you’re going to be driving to school then you need to be prepared to stand your ground.

People park their cars anywhere and everywhere and they get really shirty if you get in their way. The working parents are the worst, they want the space closest to school, so they can run in and run out in double-quick time. I understand they have to turn into work, but being a few minutes late is probably something they ought to have made their peace with when they had kids.

Kids are all sweetness and light until you get them out of the school gates. Then they turn into ‘hangry‘ monsters –

My kid is always happy at school. She’ll walk out with her friends talking and behaving like an angel. As soon as she gets into the car the ‘hangry’ monster appears. She wants food NOW and will be grumpy until she gets it. Why do parents always get cracked with the ‘hangry’ stick?

You’ll come across so may different types of parents. Remember though, you’re all knackered and you’re all stressed –

You’ll meet parents you like and parents you don’t. You’ll meet the ones whose kids you don’t mind your kids mixing with and you’ll meet ones you’d prefer they didn’t. What you shouldn’t over look though is that all of these parents are most likely knackered and completely stressed out, just like you are. Don’t judge a book by its cover and all that.

Hold back on the smug when your kids goes into school meltdown free. Your time will come. Believe me –

When our eldest started her school placement she went in like a dream. I would see the parents with screamy kids looking fraught as they tried to get their little one to go and play. I’ll be honest I felt a little smug, mine was doing so well, we had no trouble. Oh the naivety! Of course once she’d settle in and got her feet well and truly under the table, our angel daughter felt comfortable enough to wail at the top of her lungs one morning as I tried to leave. Not so smug now hey?!

Play dates are a thing. Deal with it –

I was so inexperienced at school mum life until recently, that I honestly never realised that I would have to schedule play dates into my already brimming diary. It wouldn’t be so intrusive if I dropped the kids off and picked them up tired and ready for sleep, but at their tender ages I have to stay with them. Now I’m all for being sociable, but I find squeezing work into my day hard enough as is it, never mind when I have to leave my own four walls for hours. Yes the kids love it and yes it’s good for them, but I won’t half been pleased when they can head off and see their friends without me!

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Our Generation Awesome Academy School Room – Review

Our Generation Awesome Academy School Room – Review

*We were provided with an Awesome Academy set for the purpose of this review. As always, all thoughts and opinions are our own. 

This week my girls have been very lucky, as they’ve been asked to review the new Our Generation Awesome Academy School Room, from Smyths Toy Superstores! Our eldest daughter has just begun her first full year at preschool and absolutely adores it, so when she found out this play set was a school room, she was so excited. She’s at the ideal age for toys like this, as her imagination has really started to kick in. She and her sister love to play make-believe games and Our Generation offer them the perfect arena to do so.

What’s in the range?

The Our Generation product range isn’t just restricted to the Awesome Academy School Room, there are so many more scenarios to be enjoyed. My favourites are the Horse Stable, the Mane Attraction Horse Trailer Set and the Retro Cruiser. This is by no means an exhaustive list though, to fully appreciate what Our Generation have to offer take look at their new Smyths Catalogue!

The Awesome Academy School Room –

When our school room was delivered, my girls were completely in awe by what they saw. The packaging allowed for them to see everything that was in the box, before we even opened it. As you can imagine I had two very excited little people, who couldn’t wait to get stuck in. As I previously mentioned, our eldest has just begin her school career and she was immediately impressed by the fact that she was able to play schools at home – I’ll remind her of how much she loves education when she’s a teenager!

From a parent’s perspective, this product looks like great value for money. The set comes with the school room with three walls and a floor. It has working lights and ringing bells. A real chalkboard and whiteboard with real chalk and a marker. Altogether the set has a whopping 92 classroom items. The guys at Our Generation really haven’t left any stone unturned. The play set was easy to assemble too, I usually leave this job to Hubs but I managed it perfectly well by myself. It’s good, solid quality, that will withstand hours of play with two very enthusiastic preschoolers!

Our girls and I sat together as we fixed up the classroom and arranged all of the items. I don’t mind admitting that I really enjoyed setting this play set up with them. Their imaginations had kicked in from the outset and they were creating school room scenarios from the word go. Out eldest took the role of teacher and the youngest was happy to play student for the remainder of the evening!

There’s so much in this set that it was impossible for the girls to get bored. As they worked their way through all of the accessories they became more and more impressed with what was included. Their favourites were the mini pencil cases, filled with tiny stationery and the super cute little lunch box. They were very taken with the teacher’s spinning chair and reward cards too!

Adding to our collection –

Like most parents, I often get stuck when I think about what to buy our girls for their birthdays and Christmas. The beauty of the Our Generation range is that there are so many items, you can keep adding to your collection on special occasions. No more racking your brains thinking about what to buy, Our Generation will always get you parenting brownie points!

Overall, we have been super impressed with the Awesome Academy School Room from Our Generation. I’m that impressed, I don’t have a bad word to say about it. Both girls continue to love playing with their set and we will definitely be adding to our collection in the future!

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Teachers. Do They Get the Respect They Deserve?

Teachers. Do They Get the Respect They Deserve?

I know immediately that the answer to this question is no. Teachers definitely do not always get the respect they deserve. I’m not just saying this because I’m married to an ex-teacher. I’m also not just saying this because I know a lot of teachers and I don’t want to upset them. Over the past decade I’ve witnessed numerous individuals working in the education system, be worn down by the sheer lack of respect that they get from students, parents and their employers.

Since Hubs left the profession a few years ago, I don’t suppose I’ve given it much thought. With the biggest starting school recently though, I’ve been thrown back in to the education system and its been a reminder of how hard teachers really do work. One of the main reasons I’m so impressed with the staff at my daughter’s school is because I am ‘that parent’. You know the one that looks at every single school within a ten-mile radius before deciding on the right one. The parent that wants to know what their child has been up to, for every second that they’ve been in another person’s care. Unfortunately for the school in question, I’m the parent that ALWAYS wants to help out too. Putting up with this is a lot of hard work, yet teachers make people like me feel at ease each and everyday. That’s before they even start teaching for the day.

The thing is, I find trusting other people with my children a difficult thing to do. They’ve been in my care since they were born, then all of a sudden I’m expected to leave them with a stranger to find their way in the world. I know it’s natural progression and thankfully the biggest loves school. Her teachers have given her an incredible start. This really makes me wonder though; how many parents recognise the effort teachers put in, to make sure their child is happy, safe and thriving in their school setting?


When teachers go above and beyond –

On meeting our daughter’s nursery teacher, I knew within seconds that she was ‘the one’. How ridiculous does that sound? It’s true though, I just knew that this lady and her team were the right people for the job. The whole team has such a high level of early years knowledge, they make the whole teaching process look so easy. The scene I witness daily is the image of the perfect learning environment.

One of the things I love most about the staff that teach in the school we chose, is that they work tirelessly to continue to develop their student’s social and emotional skills. The emphasis on learning through play creates a breeding ground for a fun education. They endeavour to provide a safe learning environment for children to flourish and they’re absolutely nailing it. Another thing that I’m incredibly impressed with are the links the class has with parents and upper school. No stone has been left unturned, to make the beginning of our daughter’s school career the best it can possibly be. I’m so grateful that the school we have chosen has such an amazing open door policy. After all, school is a journey for the whole family, parents and siblings included.


When the community get it wrong –


‘Those teachers, they get thirteen weeks holiday every year!’

‘I wish I had a job where you could finish at 3pm.’

‘I’d love a job where you only have to mark a few books.’


These are just a few of the things I’ve heard said about teachers. If you’re honest, I imagine you’ve heard them a few times too, you’ve probably even been guilty of saying them. Just in case you were wondering though, all of these statements are so wrong! Teachers may have 13 weeks per year when they don’t have to work in a school with children. That doesn’t mean that they’re not sat at their desk at home grafting until the wee, small hours every night. Believe me, they are. As for finishing work at 3pm each day, see the above statement. Oh and a few books to mark? What about reports, lesson plans and everything else teachers have to tackle on a daily basis? Teachers work damn hard and they deserve all the respect in the world for doing so. 



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Nursery Woes and Birthday Shows

Nursery Woes and Birthday Shows

When you have two children born ten and a half months apart, it’s hard work. Trust me, I know. When you’re the primary carer of two children born ten and a half months apart, it’s really hard work. Trust me, I know. I’ve spent the best part of three years willing time to pass. Looking forward to the next milestone because that’s when things will get ‘easier’. One particular milestone that’s been in my sights, is nursery. Life would surely be simple when the kids start their nursery placements.

Now nursery is literally just around the corner, the biggest has her third birthday and then BAM, she goes to school. I honestly didn’t think it would bother me, I would get the quiet time I’ve been craving. I’d get time to work as when one is at school, the other will nap. The perfect scenario. I’m absolutely dreading it though, how can she be three already? How is it possible that she’s old enough to attend a state nursery? Seriously, where did that time go?

Less than 24 hours old.

Ready for the next step –

Her, not me. She’s so ready, you can almost hear the cogs going around in her brain it’s working that hard. She loves reading, drawing, riding her bike and being outdoors. Everything that nursery will nurture and make even more fun for her. She’s been asking to go to school ever since we went to visit back in November. She loved every second and I know it’s time for her to spread her wings.

It’s me that’s not ready for the next step. I know she’s ready and I know how much she will blossom, but I just can’t help but think it’s too soon. She’s my first-born and time has just gone too quickly, time that I sincerely wish I enjoyed more. Just like everyone told me I should. Hindsight is a wonderful thing I know, but I can’t help but look back on the times I’d wished things were easier with regret.


Becoming a big sister at 10.5 months old.

Three is a magic number –

On the day that this post was published, the biggest turned three years old. Three whole years passed in a flash and she’s gone from a tiny 6lb 3oz baby to a walking, talking, tornado of incredibleness. She’s funny, she’s clever and she definitely knows what she wants. All I have to do is believe in her, believe that she’s ready to take on the world and know that this is where she needs to start. So Happy Birthday my beautiful girl, here’s where your next chapter begins!


Happy 3rd Birthday!
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Preparing your Child for Nursery – Including Tips on Working Towards EYFS Goals

Preparing your Child for Nursery – Including Tips on Working Towards EYFS Goals

Education has always been a priority in our house. We love to learn, just about as much as we love to have fun, it’s even better if we manage to combine the two. My husband is a perpetual learner and I’ve always been keen on keeping my brain in shape wherever I can. Educating ourselves is one thing, but with two little people under our belts education has become even more important. With nursery just around the corner I find myself drawn to enriching our children’s lives as much as I can.

Ever since our children were born, I’ve had a clear idea of the level of education they would receive at home. First and foremost, I recognise that it’s essential to make our children’s world as fun as it can possibly be. They are happy, healthy and loved which is paramount. Within the realms of fun though, I knew I wanted to teach them as much as I could along the way. I took some time out to educate myself on the Early Years Foundation Stage goals (EYFS), so that I’m aware of what goals our girls should be achieving and when.

Now that our eldest daughter is close to three years of age and therefore about to begin her school career, at an educational, state nursery. I’m keen to get her as nursery ready as can be.


The key thing to remember with EYFS goals, is that ultimately they’re just guidelines. I personally believe that it’s necessary to have an idea of where your child is on the scale, without getting hung up on, or upset about them not hitting every goal by a certain age. 


Photo Credit


How do we work on reaching EYFS goals, age 2-3 years?


Communication and language –

  • Reading together, recognising characters, discussing the story.
  • Role play.
  • Listening to fun and educational nursery rhymes.
  • Involvement in everyday activities, discussion, fun and giving them responsibility.

Physical development –

  • Visiting soft play centres.
  • Toddler play groups.
  • Outdoor exploration.
  • Messy play.
  • Use of different equipment and teaching how to use them e.g) sieves, pouring from jugs, holding and using scissors.
  • Practicing climbing stairs using the hand rail.

Personal, social and emotional development –

  • Making conservation.
  • Toddler groups – interaction with peers.
  • Organised classes – taking instruction and interaction with peers.

Literacy –

  • Arts and crafts – painting and drawing lines, patterns and shapes.
  • Flash cards – first words, recognising items.
  • Use of favourite characters to engage them in story telling.
  • Rhyme and verse to instigate learning phonics in a fun environment.

Mathematics –

  • Arts and crafts – painting and drawing numbers.
  • Flash cards – recognising numbers and putting them in order.
  • Rhyme and verse to instigate learning numbers in a fun environment.

Understanding the world –

  • Toddler groups – interaction and exploration of different situations with different people.
  • Allowing children to develop meaningful relationships with their peers.
  • Teaching them about themselves – how to recognise themselves and introduce themselves to others.

Expressive arts and design –

  • Organised classes e.g) dance.
  • Exposure to music, learning to enjoy rhythm using fun and educational songs.
  • Free play.
  • Messy play.
  • Role play.
  • Arts and crafts.

Photo Credit


Not everyone chooses to prepare their children for nursery in the same way. Here are few words from my fellow bloggers, giving an insight into how they got their children nursery ready;



Becka from Mummy Est. 2014: ‘I’ve always believed that the ‘Prime Areas’ are the most important part of the EYFS. I think that supporting skills such as having experience around other children (such as toddler groups), knowing their own name and identity, being able to communicate (signing, speaking or symbols) and having basic self care such as getting shoes on and off, washing own hands etc. These sort of basics I believe help children have a starting point to grow from.’

Beth from Twinderelmo: ‘We let ours choose their own water bottle and lunchbag so they were excited to go and use them. In terms of EYFS, we just practised their name. Jolly phonics is a great place to start and they used to watch on YouTube.’ 

Suzy from Our Bucket List Lives: ‘I let nursery prepare my little one. Because they are linked to the school they prepare the children by teaching them the basics for reaching those goals. I did no ‘learning’ with him at home at that age as I wanted him to enjoy the time he had with mein a non learning sense. I did no letters or phonics and he is doing really well because he has been taught by one person and not more than one. We did some maths such as counting to 20 and down from 20. If you aren’t sending your child to a nursery linked with a primary school then I’d concentrate on lots of play based activities that strengthen there grip and movement. I’d do a lot of counting songs with them and other similar rhymes. Again if there’s no chance for nusery then toddler groups, especially at centres, are great for children. They tried to get Jamie to get himself changed too early in his life and it made him scared of jumpers. I’m all for when they’re ready with regards to getting himself dressed.’

Jessica from Beauties and the Bibs:  ‘I wouldn’t worry about if they are ready academically that’s what nursery is there for. I would say make sure they are ready emotionally so if your offered settling in sessions take them and talk about nursery at home so they know what will happen.’

Jenni from The Bear and the Fox: ‘We found that reading books together about nursery beforehand really helped. I shared some of our favourites here…’

Michelle from Seeing Rainbows: ‘All I did was encourage to draw, colour and know/write their name. I also took them to playgroup from very young to encourage socialisation and attempt to avoid shyness. But of course none of this is necessary, every child is different and nursery will encourage all these things anyway!’

Emma from Bubba Blue and Me: ‘I didnt prepare him because he’s been in day nursery from a year old. So socially and psychologically it was just another step for him the same as going to school. At home we just did normal things through play. Lots of communication, singing and activities that helped with motor control. He wasn’t interested in phonics or writing even though they did it at nursery. I just made sure there were plenty of books and drawing things available for when he wanted to use them.’

Sinead from Sinead Latham: ‘We spoke a lot about exploring a new school (nursery), making new friends and having a teacher just for them. They had a good 2 weeks settling in period so when they went full time all the kids were ready. 
As for EYFS at home. We focus on play, imagination and encouraging his love of books. He’s too little for extra ‘teaching’ at home, he’s got enough of that ahead of him.’

Pete from Household Money Saving: ‘We took are daughter out to quite a few groups. One was a music group near to us that was run by the local library. A lot of the time, they would need to sit quietly in a circle and listen to the lady explain. We thought this was great leading up to nursery, and something she would never have learned at home.’

Jade from Thrifty Yorkshire Mum: ‘Our local nursery used to run ‘stay and play’ sessions, essentially a playgroup where we stayed with him. This got my son used to the environment, and members of staff. I also spent a lot of time explaining what he’d be doing etc. He’s a sensitive little boy but thankfully settled in very quickly.’


Thankyou to everyone who took the time to contribute to this post!

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Kick Start your Career: Inspire – Blogging for Beginners eBook

Kick Start your Career: Inspire – Blogging for Beginners eBook

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Do you need something fresh and exciting to get your teeth stuck in to?


If any of these questions relate to you, then learning how to blog successfully could be the key to securing the happiness of you and your family.

I started my blog; The Tale of Mummyhood at a time in my life when I needed more. Being a stay at home parent wasn’t enough for me, I need to be in business to thrive. I have drive and ambition that I felt was slipping away from me, I needed a passion outside of being a mother.

I wrote Inspire – Blogging for Beginners, to help out anyone who wants to make a positive change in their life. Learning how to blog professionally takes an immense amount of work. Inspire – Blogging for Beginners cuts out the middle man, helping you to lay the foundations for a successful career in blogging with ease!

Let me help you become the person you want to be!






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