Fun Ways To Celebrate Winnie The Pooh Day

Today was National Winnie the Pooh day, and my girls and I spent the day celebrating that willy, nilly, silly old bear.

Winnie the Pooh DayWinnie the Pooh has a very special place in my heart,because my mom used to love Winnie the Pooh, and we’ve visited Pooh Corner and Pooh Sticks bridge in Ashford, Kent, a couple of times, one of them to release a lantern after my mom died.

My kids love Winnie the Pooh too. Ameli’s first cinema experience (that wasn’t mum & baby cinema, and was in fact something actually for children) was Winnie the Pooh – and then there was her 2nd birthday party too… so you see – lots of reasons to love Winnie the Pooh and commemorate Winnie the Pooh day.

1. Winnie the Pooh Playdough

Winnie the Pooh Day

I used this playdough recipe, but doubled it and left out the cocoa powder, then split it into three parts for yellow, blue/grey and pink. I gave the girls a set of Winnie the Pooh cookie cutters and off they went

2.  Make Honey Cookies

Winnie the Pooh Day

These honey cookies are so delicious! They are superbly quick to make, and the kids like squishing them down. We left these plain, but my favourite is topped with glace cherries – the kids like them with chocolate.

3. Tigger Hop Game

Winnie the Pooh Day
It’s been so rainy and grim the last few days and we’re trying to get over and away from all colds and sicknesses so we decided to keep our fun and games indoors. With apologies to the neighbours downstairs, I put X’s on the floor with a start line and a finish square. The girls got to hop up and down the hallway from X to X, just like Tigger. This game was especially loved because I spend half my life telling them to STOP STOMPING!

4. Pooh Bear Picnic

Winnie the Pooh Day

If you go down to the woods today… we won’t be there, because we were staying indoors, as I said above. But we had to have a teddy bears picnic, and it had to include a lot of honey! So we made honey comb, honey muffins and honey cookies. And they were all delicious!

5. Quizzes and Puzzles



Word Search honey pot



Click on these printable worksheets to download and enjoy them!

Happy Winnie the Pooh day!


Money Saving Jar Ideas For Children

This time of year there are lots of goals floating about and one of the ones you’ll often see on Pinterest is a money saving jar, where you save 1p on the 1st of January, 2p on the 2nd January and so on. I think this is a great idea, especially for children as they can clearly see how the savings are adding up. Of course you’re starting small so it doesn’t feel like much of a sacrfice initially, but as the year goes on, you head into summer months and later on towards Christmas, and having to drop £3 and more a day into the jar, it will quickly start adding up.

I know this wouldn’t work for me and the knowledge that I’d have to suddenly ‘find’ an extra £20-plus a week for the money jar is quite stressful for me, and I know I’d give up probably somewhere around the £2 a day mark. So I decided that we would try it, backwards.Money Jar Savings

That means that January, with it’s short, cold days, where we tend to stay in more and spend less anyway, is the hardest month for filling the jar. Filling your money jar backwards means that no day for the rest of the year will require quite as much money as today, or yesterday did. I find that quite positive and uplifting! My daily ‘sacrifice’ will get smaller, but my savings will be ever increasing.

Of course that means that by the end of February I’ve had to magic almost £200 to put into the jar, but actually, it’s the perfect time. There’s no rule that says you *have* to put money in every single day, but if you’re decluttering the house, getting ready for spring, cleaning out after Christmas and so on, you can take that money and put it in the jar in lump sums as you receive it, just keeping track. Obviously that’s not the real spirit of the jar, but does it really matter? Taking a £5 note and breaking it on some sweets you didn’t need so that you could put £3.39 in the jar isn’t really saving.

Holiday Treats Fund

Holiday Treat Jar

Since for me this is an exercise in saving for the children, I actually did take a £20 and exchange it for £1 coins. I’m hiding the coins so that we can put one in the holiday jar every day. Of course if this was for me, I’d just do transfers from my bank account so that I don’t have the temptation of physical cash, and so that I could be earning interest where I can, but again since this is for the children, I think the physical visual of a jar (two in our case) is useful.

Christmas Penny Jar

Christmas Penny Jar

That means that January, with it’s short, cold days, where we tend to stay in more and spend less anyway, is the hardest month for filling the jar. Filling your money jar backwards means that no day for the rest of the year will require quite as much money as today, or yesterday did.

Because I’m a sucker for punishment  it seemed practical for us, we actually have two jars on the go: a Christmas fund, counting down from £3.65 and a £1 jar for our holiday in June. This is our ice cream fund, according to the girls. By the time we go on holiday, we should have £130 in the jar. Lots of ice creams for 7 days! It’ll be nice to have a little bit of ‘frivolous’ money though.

For the big jar, where you’r supposed to have over £600 saved by the end of it, we’ve set a date of 15 December, at which point we’ll add the last two week’s worth of coins on one day – totalling £1.34. That was we still have 10 days left to buy Christmas presents and food. I can see this as a really good way of making big things not break the bank when they come round – though I’ll probably just use my bank accounts for non-child projects!
Whichever way you choose to do a penny jar, it’s a good way to save some pennies and get the kids “hands on” involved too. And if we achieve it, we’ll have a financial stress free Christmas and a lot of ice cream on holiday too!

Teen Beauty: The Heavy Pressure On Young People

Whenever there’s a discussion on beauty, people talk about ‘youth today’ and the pressure they are facing. I don’t believe that’s a new thing that applies only to ‘youth today’ – I remember the horrible emotional swings of teen years and the pressure to be noticed, or not, depending on the day and place! And that was in life before the internet and celebrity culture, Facebook and being ‘on’ 24/7. I can only imagine the world my daughters are growing into, and I won’t lie: it terrifies me.

The media is partly to blame. American teen dramas like Gossip Girl and One Tree Hill depict teenagers as impossibly gorgeous, coiffed to within an inch of perfection. Adding to this is a magazine culture which delights in showing the failures of A-list celebrities, from cellulite to spots. Think about it: Society pressures society to look the way no one in society can!

Redtop newspapers feed off the imperfections of celebs like a vampire sucking a neck – and the more we buy into their spite, the more we indulge insecurities about appearance. But don’t think for a moment that this only applies to teenagers! Ameli is only 6, but she is more fashion conscious than I’ve been in all my life! Aviya is only 3 and today she told me she couldn’t wear her muddy shoes because ‘people will laugh at me’! Read more: Teen Beauty: The Heavy Pressure On Young People

Higher Education: What Path Will You Take?

When you look at your baby, the idea of them growing up seems almost impossible. But as we know grow up they will, and all too fast and we only want ‘the best’ for them.

And, when they’re old enough, many of our children may want a university education.

But attending university isn’t the ideal option for families on a low income. Tuition fees are costly (most will set you back around £9,000 at this point, not to mention 18 years from now), and living expenses are high. The idea of sending a child to university can feel like putting your life savings on one colour at a roulette table!

The costly situation at universities doesn’t look like it’s going to improve any time soon– Russell Group universities are actively campaigning for higher tuition fees – and it’s making many parents search for a viable alternative.

It’s the capitalist ideal that something new will come along to counter the problems of the old – and education is no different.

Beyond these old institutions, a number of other educational forms have gained traction, and they could help you trim your budget while still giving your child the finest possible education.

Education – going the distance

The first has technically been in existence for a century, although in a variety of forms.

Distance learning used to be considered the inefficient and impractical counterpart to a university education. To get the most from a course, you’d have to stay up late watching Open University programmes on BBC2, scour libraries for textbooks they might not even stock, and communicate with your tutor via snail mail. That’s how I started my correspondence degree!

When the internet began making waves, however, distance learning took on a more efficient form. Nowadays, it’s improved on the core aspects of university, allowing people with full-time jobs to study whenever they’ve got a few spare minutes – I know! I was working full time while I gained my degree!

Although generally vocational, online degrees can offer a variety of career paths. Anglia Ruskin University, for instances, offers a football degree, accounting degrees, managerial qualifications and much more.

So it’s a broad area, and will cut down on living expenses and tuition fees.

Making a decision

What if your child doesn’t know what they want to do when they leave school? Again, the internet has all the answers.

Free Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have become the in thing in the educational world. Essentially, they’re taster courses which allow you to dip in and out of short modules, providing you with a foundational knowledge of a subject – just enough to decide if you’d like a degree.

Fortunately there are years yet before most of us have to worry about our toddlers knowing what they want to do with the rest of their lives, and perhaps in that time the face of education – along with that of much of the rest of life as we know it right now! – will have changed, but it’s never a bad idea to know what’s going on and what the options are.


Narnia Party Decoration Ideas

Last year, before her birthday, Ameli and her dad finished reading the Narnia books, so when she asked for a Narnia party we were all very excited. We did, in the end, decide to limit it to a Lion, Witch and Wardrobe party, which she loved.

I had so many plans and ideas for this party. Everything from a horse drawn cart to take the guests from the ‘train station’ (the car park) 20 metres up the path to the manor house (the hall) and an indoor forest made of Christmas trees and a snow machine, but unfortunately in the real world, budgets prevent a lot of dreams. Story of my life.

None the less, I’m really happy with what we did manage to achieve.

Outside the hall, while we were waiting for everyone to arrive we had a thin vegetable soup, boiled potatoes, and butterless toast – war time provisions! We also had games suited to the era: pick up sticks, yo-yos, marbles. It was interesting having to teach most of the children how to play these!

Narnia Party Decorations Wartime

I didn’t have means to bring a backless wardrobe to the hall, so hung a sheet over the door, which the children revealed with great ceremony. I bought a couple of fur coats to hang in the ‘cupboard’ which was great for a walk-through experience.

Narnia Party Curtain Decorations Between WorldsRead more: Narnia Party Decoration Ideas

Top Tips For Conserving Battery Power On Your Laptop

As a mum who depends on my laptop for a lot of things – from colouring in sheets to templates to worksheets to my blogs and the social media work I do, my laptop sees some heavy action for one that isn’t in full time employment! One of the issues I have with my laptop is battery life, so here are some top tips for conserving battery power so you don’t have to keep running back to a charger:

Close Background Programs and Apps

A lot of computers will still run programs and apps in the background unless you manually close them. Even if the program is minimized, it may still run in the background to enable you to open and access it quickly when you need it. You can see on the task bar whether any apps or programs are still open. You can also head to your power settings to see if any specific program uses a lot of your battery power. It’s best to close everything you are not using on your laptop if you want to make your battery last longer.

Power-Save Mode

One great feature of Windows laptops like the G40 from Lenovo is that they come equipped with power-save mode to conserve the battery. Power-save mode makes small adjustments to enable your battery to last longer. Although the computer may not perform as well when you are in this mode, it will at least prolong the battery life. On your Windows computer, select the battery icon on the control bar to turn on power-save mode. You can quickly and easily turn it off once you have charged your battery so your computer is running normally when you have plenty of charge.

Don’t Run It Down Completely

Most newer laptops will shut down before you run your battery down to empty; however, that doesn’t mean you should try it. Running your battery down to empty multiple times eventually weakens it, so you should avoid letting it die completely. Conversely, you also shouldn’t overcharge it. Having your computer plugged in and constantly charging the battery even when it’s full can also weaken it.

Keep Your Battery Cool

Batteries don’t fare well with a lot of heat, and unfortunately laptops tend to generate a lot of it. Since heat breaks down both batteries and computers, it’s important to always keep your battery and your laptop cool. Make sure that you keep the vents open when you use your laptop, and try to set it on something that allows air to flow. Try to avoid setting your laptop on a pillow or on a heavy comforter where air can’t circulate as well. Finally, make sure the air vents stay clean. Consider buying a can of compressed air to clean off your laptop regularly.

Adjust Your Light Setting

Although your light setting doesn’t drain your battery in a big way, it can help if you are in a pinch. If your battery is running low, every bit helps. Turn down the light setting on your keyboard and your screen to help conserve battery power if you start getting low. If you want to save a little power day-to-day, turning the backlight and screen light down a bit will save some battery life and probably won’t even be noticeable.

Avoid Watching Videos

If you need to conserve your battery, then it’s important to avoid doing things that use a lot of your battery power. Videos and movies are some of the biggest power hogs. If your battery is getting low, avoid watching videos until you can get plugged in. Also be aware of some websites that may have videos automatically playing. Many websites now have video ads that automatically load. Social media sites also tend to automatically load or play videos as well, so see if you can disable this feature to save battery power.

Running out of battery power on your laptop can be very frustrating, but fortunately you can save your battery, both over the long run and when you just don’t have easy access to plug it in, to make sure it lasts as long as possible.

Image via Flickr by cheetah100

What Your Child *Should* Know By The End Of Year 2

One of the things I struggle with as a home ed mom is balancing knowing what ‘level’ my children are at with deciding how much I actually ‘care’ about what level they are at. I tend to trust that they know what they’re doing, and that I’m exposing them to enough of life that they’ll learn and pick things up as we go along.

That said, in a climate where there are always threats of ‘registering’ or of outside influences wanting to have a say on how we raise and educate our children, and equally being uncertain how our family’s future – home ed and otherwise – is going to pan out, I do like to know that if she did have to go to school suddenly Ameli wouldn’t be massively behind other children in her age group.

I have no intention of turning our home education into a home school but there is something comforting in having an idea of how deep to look into things. I generally have no idea how much information to give Ameli when we’re looking at a specific topic, and I find this guide – slash – syllabus really useful for gauging at least the baseline of what she is capable of knowing at her age.

Click here to print the chart below: Year 2 Targets

Reads fluenty
Reading Comprehension
Listen to, discus and give opinions on stories, non-fiction text and poetry
Check: Does reading make sense?
Does reading make sense?
Retell traditional and fairy stories with details
Sequence the events in a story
Recite poems by heart
Writing and Spelling
Explore Graphemes: (written forms of sounds)
Explore Homophones: (words that sound the same but have different meanings)
Explore contracted words (they’re, we’ve etc)
Learn about possessive apostraphe
Learn about suffixes
Hand writing
Practice lower case letters (check for similar size and spacing between words)
Writing – Composition
Write a range of stories, non-fiction and poetry
Learn to plan what will be written first
Encourage the use of more detailed descriptions in writing
Writing – Vocabulary, Grammar and Punctuation
Learn to make compound words
Learn to use adverbs by adding -ly
Joining sentences together with words like if, when, because etc
Change tenses
Number – Number and place value
Learn to count in jumps of 2,3, 5, and 10
Learn to forwards and backwards
Understand that a two digit number is made up of tens and ones
Estimate where numbers might appear on a blank number line
Compare and order numbers up to 100. Use ><=
Identify odd and even numbers confidently
Read and write up to 100 in numerals and words
Number – addition and subtraction
Sole addition and subtraction problems using measure (length, capacity, weight, time), quantities (money) and numbers both mentally and with written calculations
Subtraction and addition up to 100
Using mental maths to add and subtract: two and one digit numbers
: two digit number and multiple of ten
: two two digit numbers
: add three single digits
Understand that addition can be carried out in any order, but not subtraction
Number – multiplication and division
2 times table
5 times table
10 times table
Number – fractions
Learn 1/3,1/4, 2/4, 3/4 of a shape, length or set, writing and solving calculations
Recognise equivalent fractions like 2/4 is the same as 1/2
Order fractions on a number line
Learn to choose the correct units to estimate and measure mass, temperature, height or length
Learn to compare sizes using symbols > < and =
Tell time to the nearest 5 mins and make draw on a clock face
How many minutes are there in an hour, and hours in a day
Investigate combinations of coins or notes to make a given amount
Solve money problems including giving change
Geometry – Shape
Describe the number of sides and lines of symmetry for different 2D and 3D shapes
Sort 2D and 3D shapes depending on their properties
Investigate the faces of 3D shapes
Geometry – Position and Direction
Learn the link between angles and rotations such as right angle turns and three-quarter turns
Record, organise and interpret information using tallies, pictograms, block graphs and tables
Work Scientifically
Classifying living things, materials or objects and group them accordingly
Observe how things change over time and look for patterns, making simple measurements to gather and record data
Living things and their habitat
Learn about differences between living things, things that have died and things that have never been alive
Learn about a variety of plant and animal habitats, finding out how things are suited to their habitats
Learn about food chains
Animals, Including Humans
Recognise that animals and humans have babies
Understand the basic needs of animals and humans in order to grow strong and healthy
Learn about the importance of exercise
Learn about healthy eating
Learn about good hygiene
Investigate and describe how plants need light, water and temperature to be healthy
Observe how bulbs and seeds change over time
Uses of everyday materials
investigate how solids can change shape (i.e. melting)
Learn about developer of new materials and products they have helped to create
Art and Design
Digital Media
Record artistic inspirations using a digital camera and video recording
Use simple graphic packages to create images by changing line shape colour and texture
Investigate the effects of printing with a range of different materials such as potatoes, sponges or pine cones – anything that makes patterns
Experiment with rollers, printing palettes and printing blocks
Go on a pattern walk to investigate different patterns around you, take rubbings with wax crayons
Use different papers and fabrics to achieve different finishes
3D Sculpture
Use clay and other malleable materials to see how they can be joined together
See what effects different brush sizes create
Colour match objects
Learn about different paint types and the effects they can achieve
Know the primary and secondary colours
Look at textures when items such as sand, glue and glitter are added to paint
Cut and shape different types of material with control and accuracy
Learn basic sewing (running stitch, over stitch, cross stitch, back stitch)
Investigate dying fabrics and weaving using twigs, pipe cleaners, ribbons etc
Create collages from magazines etc – use different textured effects like overlapping, tearing, crumpling etc
Use pencils, charcoal, crayons, pastels, rubbers, felt tips, chalk to draw
Use darker or lighter shades to depict tone
Make observational drawings
Evaluate own and other’s work critically, looking for ways to improve
Learn how to keep safe online
Learn what personal information is and how to keep this information safe
Learn about being respectful online
How do we use technology in our lives?
Is everything we see on the internet true?
Learn about fonts, colours and sizes used in presenting data
Gather data in different ways (use a microphone, take pictures, create a chart etc)
Explore branching databases
Introduce programming with floor robots
Use software such as Logo or Scratch for basic programming
Design and Technology
Come up with ideas and create models or plans to explain ideas
Select materials and ingredients, measure, mark out, cut and shape materials to make something new
Evaluate own and other’s work
Technical Knowledge
Explore how to stiffen, strengthen and make structures stable
Learn how to use sliders, levers, axles and wheels
Cooking and Nutrition
Work with food
Investigate what makes a healthy and balanced diet
Learn about where food comes from
Location Knowledge
Learn to name, locate the world’s seven continents and five oceans
Place Knowledge
Look at the difference between an area of the UK and an area of a non-EU country
Human and Physical Geography
Difference between natural and man-made features of the land
Study the physical features of a specific place both in terms of physical (natural) features and human features (villages, towns, houses etc)
Geographical Skills and Fieldwork
Use aerial photograph and mamps to locate physcial and human features using map symbols
Create maps, construct basic symbol keys
No specific targets
Experiment with using voices to create effects, sing in tune and with expression
Learn how sounds can be organised, composing pieces with a beginning, middle and end
Represent sounds with symbols, create different moods with music
Physcial Education
Take part in competitive games
Work on improving co-ordination and controlling bodies
Recognise the changes in the body before, during and after exercise and discuss these changes
Work on exploring, remembering, repeating and linking different movements for expressive dance
Compose and perform dance phrases
Learn about warming up and cooling down
Lift, move and position gym equipment safely
Remember, repeat and link up combinations of gym actions
Practice control and co-ordination with a range of equipment
Outdoor and Adventurous Activities
Follow routes, find different places in a set time

Terrestrial Treasures: Metal Detecting With Children

As a mom I’m always looking for good ways to get your children off their screens and games, and get them outdoors? While strict TV-hours might be useful, I often find offering them a creative alternative is much more effective. One such an alternative is introducing kids to the pleasures of treasure hunting with a metal detector – something we often see on the beach near our house. It can be addictive in a good way, and even better, it can get your child enthusiastic about a physical activity. It’s extraordinary what a little hope of adventures can achieve.Read more: Terrestrial Treasures: Metal Detecting With Children

The Treasure Hunting Family: Tips for Gem Collecting and Metal Detecting Together

The gold rush of the latter half of the 19th century was a savage time. Hordes of people rushed westward to strip the earth of every speck of gold that they could find, robbing and killing one another, and causing general mayhem in the process. They did this not only because they lusted after riches, but also because they were reacting to the idea of “gold,” a material that almost casts a spell on people. 

If you would like your children to experience the sense of the energy that drove all those thousands of people to impossible risk-taking all those decades ago, there is one great way to do it without all the death and leaving the country and stuff – taking them treasure hunting. While the modern versions are completely safe, civilized and well-regulated, your kids can still pretend it’s the Wild West. Kids are good at it. The best part is, there is real treasure out there to look for.Read more: The Treasure Hunting Family: Tips for Gem Collecting and Metal Detecting Together

Fire Station Activity Book and Playset {Book Review}

The most recent delivery from Parragon for our Book Buddies review is the Fire Station Activity Book and Playset. It arrived a few days before Christmas, and since we were a gift down we wrapped it up and popped it under the Christmas tree for Aviya (3 year old). On Christmas morning, when she opened it, she did look particularly underwhelmed, but then she’s never been particularly into fire stations.  When we actually opened it up, however, she loved it.

Fire Station  Activity Book and Playset

In the box there is a 32- page A5 sized activity book with puzzles, with a lot of ‘count to 3,4,5′ type activities. It’s a lovely little booklet, with full colours and bold pictures and everything that appeals to a toddler.

Along with that however, were three (or four, I can’t remember now) sheets of press out card cutouts that when built together, form a fire truck, a fire station, a bunch of fire men (and women), a fire house dog, a tree with a cat up it, and a fire hydrant.Read more: Fire Station Activity Book and Playset {Book Review}