Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Are you busy creating memories for your kids?

With just 4 days until we begin our little family holiday in Italy, I've started thinking about the places we will go and things to see. I booked some train tickets today and it got me contemplating our Tuscan adventure. Will William like it? Will it be too much walking and travelling? Will he be interested in the sights like the colosseum, fountain de trevi, the leaning tower or Pisa? 

As we live away from our family, we have been trying to make sure we do exciting things with them over the summer while we are visiting. Attempting to create memories for him, spending quality time with family. Williams grandma often says, "I wonder if this will be his first memory?!"

I'm starting to wonder whether there is too much pressure on us to create these magnificent experiences, holidays and elaborate birthday parties.

William has been on a few holidays with us now. He's no stranger to staying in different hotel rooms, weekend breaks and long haul flights. Also while living in Dubai he has experienced quite a lot, simply due to the nature of the lifestyle there. 

I'm not saying we shouldn't try to do new, exciting things with our children or to not bother entertaining them. Just that, when you think back to your own childhood, what do you remember the most? I remember climbing the tree house my brother built, riding my bike to the local park, making dens out of the garden chairs, and sliding down the snow covered field in the winter on an old baking tray. 

Sometimes, the best moments in life are simple, unplanned, spontaneous. 

While staying with Williams grandma, we took a walk down the lane to play pooh sticks over the little stream. When I told him it was time to go back, he said to me... "But I don't want to go yet, I'm just having so much fun!" 

A simple thing like playing pooh sticks with his mum and grandma, may be one of the memories he has of this summers holiday. Something he remembers forever - his grandma, staying at her house, digging around in the woods for sticks, breathing in fresh country air... the quality time he had playing with us. 

Tomorrow we are going crabbing. Grandad and grandma will walk down to the quay with us. We will patiently wait for the crabs, taking in the scenery, watching the boats. 

When we make our journey to Italy, I don't think I will be busting a gut to get to ALL the attractions, going on tours or constantly looking for child friendly entertainment options. I will be concentrating on meandering the streets, people watching, chatting to William about the Italians and their culture, eating nice food and most definitely an ice cream or two! 

What are your favourite childhood memories? 

What do you think your children would say?

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Letter games for kids

I'm a little bit sad... we have come to the end of our weekly alphabet activities. But I thought I would show you a few games we made up based on learning letters. Bare with me... Most were made up on the spur of the moment when we needed something to do! I'm sure there are tons of other ideas out there, these are a few ones that are realistic, easy to prepare for busy mums!
Popsicle letter building
Here we used Popsicles to make letter shapes, but you can obviously use anything you have to hand. It would work equally as well with pasta shapes, building blocks, small toys, etc. I had some letter cards which I chose at random for William to copy. You could make your own or simply write letters on some paper for your little one to copy.
We have done this many times before throughout our letter weeks, by using building blocks to build up letters on top of a template that I had drawn for William. This is super super easy and I was kind of surprised at how much he enjoyed doing this and how many times he wanted to keep doing it!

Magic messages!

William also had fun with this easy painting activity. I used a wax crayon to write letters onto a piece of paper, then called out letters for him to paint over with water colour paint. It works best with a white wax crayon, as then when you paint over them, the letter or words are revealed like magic! I used a pale yellow crayon just so that William could see the letters better to help him find them.
This painting activity can be easily modified to fit whatever theme you are doing. E.g. Spellings, words, punctuation, or you could make it easier for younger children by drawing simple images for them to find like shapes or animals.


Line up letters
Williams grandma found him this simple letter puzzle and we have used it many times in different ways during our letter of the week series. This time, we simply started by completing the puzzle. If you don't have one of these, you can easily buy wooden or plastic letters to put in order, trace around, use with play dough etc.


I wrote out all the letters of the alphabet onto small pieces of paper, muddled them up and helped William to lay them out in a line in the correct order. He is only 3 so did struggle with this a bit. He manages to recognise most of the letters but we had to keep singing the alphabet song to work out which one came next in the line.



We then used the wooden letters from his puzzle to match the paper ones he had lined up. You can probably tell that each step we took was kind of made up on the spot and although it seems very dimple, William took his time and was meticulous about lining the papers up straight. As we got to each letter we both made the sounds and I gave him hints about what words begin with that letter.
You could then go on to search your house for things that begin with each letter and blue tack the correct paper to them. 'D' on a door, 'w' on a window, 'b' on a bed etc. Good luck with x and z!


Letter hunt and matching
This carries on from my last idea really... I selected two letters and wrote them on pieces of paper. I then ran around trying to find items that began with the letters I had chosen. If your child is older they could do this too! I then gave William all the objects and we went through each one making the sound it makes and deciding which letter it belonged to.
(Please excuse his half nakedness... It was pretty hot when we were doing this!)




As one of the items we had were coins, this developed onto another game similar to what I began the post with, of using items to make letter shapes.




So there you have it, our random letter games and activities that you can set up in minutes! I do hope you give some a go with your little ones. As always, let me know how you get on! If you missed my letter of the week series, have a flick back through them using the Kids activities tab at the top or by clicking here.


Saturday, 4 July 2015

Back to school - Letter Z

It's out last letter of the alphabet! I can't believe we've done the whole alphabet, time seems to be going so fast! Just in time really, as we now have the summer to enjoy before William starting school! 

Zingy zebra!

Bit of an obvious one, but fun none the less. A simple Z zebra collage. William enjoyed sticking on all the stripes I had prepared for him and the black yarn for hair! He is trying hard to copy letters these days, so wanted to go over the outline of the z too. I really think these little activities are helping to make him aware of the different letter shapes. 

Zig Zag races!

This was a big hit with William! He is definitely a car lover and has quite a collection of toy cars now. I often have one or two in my handbag to keep him entertained when we are out and about. William also likes doing "trails", as he calls them. Basically, following mazes, lines and shapes. The kind of thing you find in puzzle and sticker books, he always does them first. So this little game was a must for him. 

I used a long roll of paper to draw him a couple of zigzag lanes, and he also had a go at drawing some too. We then had zigzag races with his little toy cars. William had fun playing with the cars but also got some practice in of following the lines and pen control. 

Dear zoo

This must be a favourite book of many children. They often read it at the library story time and it always went down well! The last time our library lady read it, she gave out a sheet of pictures from the book for the children to match up. I kept it in the cupboard, especially for this letter of the week! 

We decided to make our own dear zoo book using the pictures. I cut them out for William and provided him with some paper for him to stick the animals on. We then talked about the different sized animals and matched the boxes to each one. We worked together at glueing them into the papers and I sewed the edge of them together to make them into a book. 

William also had a go at coping the letters for each animal. I wrote first in pencil and he went over them in pen. He was really good at this and i was surprised he kept going and did all of them! 

So there you have it! Our last letter of the week! I really think William has benefitted from these letter activities and it gave me a basis to go on and a theme for each week to give me ideas of things to do with him. I imagine come September we won't have have much time to do things like this but I am sure we will fit some in on our afternoons off together! 

Next week will be our last in this letter series, and I have a round up of some letter games to play. Simple activities and games you can quickly put together when you need something fun to do! So do pop back next week! 

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Summer Bucket List

The summer has well and truely arrived here in Dubai! 45oc most days, no nice cool breeze, regular blasts of air conditioning. Its just for a short few months of the year and i would take this over rainy British days!
We have just made our trip back to England for our summer holiday break. We are splitting our time between both sets of grandparents in South and North Devon and my brother in Buckinghamshire this year. We have also planned a two week trip to Tuscany which i am getting more and more excited about!
So here are our plans for the summer, including a summer bucket list for William.

Most of the things on his list may seem kind of ordinary. When you live away from family, sometimes you just miss being able to do the ordinary things. So lots of playing with cousins, aunties and uncles. Tinkering in the garden or the garage with his Grandads. Maybe a trip to the cinema to watch the Minions movie.

So do you have plans for the summer? Are you lucky enough to be having a holiday? What is on your summer bucket list?