I am so happy to have another great give-away to share with you in time for Father’s Day, this time from La Jewellery.
For those who may not be familiar with La Jewellery, they are a British Ethical jewellery company, specialising in recycled Silver or recycled Brass jewellery. They believe in keeping all of their business as green as possible; all their packaging is 100% recycled and all their silver and metal sourcing is carefully considered to make sure it is all ethically done.
There is a wide range of women’s jewellery that you can choose from, but as it is Father’s Day coming up – It’s time to treat the Dads!
So here is the prize I am able to share with you today: A really unique and lovely pair of recycled brass cuff links reading “I love my Dad.” This would be a fantastic gift for any child to present to their Dad on Father’s Day and I’m sure he would be proud to wear it. I love the look of them, they have such a nice personal message but at the same time they are subtle and professional – very stylish.
The cufflinks retail for around £30 but to try your luck at winning a pair then enter via the rafflecopter below. The first option is mandatory so please answer the question there and then you are free to go on and complete as many options as you like for more entries. Please do check the t&cs 🙂
This Tuesday, May 14th is the first annual Apraxia Awareness Day. This has been set up by CASANA (American organisation) to promote awareness about Childhood Apraxia of Speech.
Here in the UK, it is more often referred to as Verbal Dyspraxia or Developmental Verbal Dyspraxia (DVD) but it the same disorder and whatever country we are in, it’s important to raise awareness!
My second child has Verbal Dyspraxia (alongside other conditions). It’s not a condition that many people seem to be very aware of unless they have a child or know somebody who is affected by it. Verbal Dyspraxia is a speech disorder, not a speech delay. It is not something that children will just grow out of – it requires frequent and targeted speech therapy. This is something that not everyone is always aware of, and sometimes dangerous advice is thrown around by well meaning friends or relatives – “such and such didn’t speak til 7 years old then just started talking in sentence” “they will all do it in their own time” etc as if to say just leave it. For a child with verbal dyspraxia you can not just leave it.
With my son, his communication is already affected by his Autism and by having verbal dyspraxia on top of that, it makes it even harder for him. Children with DVD have difficulties in producing the sounds, so any words that they attempt to say can be really unclear. This is because of difficulty planning and producing the precise, highly refined and specific series of movements of the tongue, lips, jaw, and palate that are necessary to produce clear, intelligible speech. Naturally this makes it so hard for them to make themselves understood and can be so frustrating for the child (and the parent, when you really do want to understand what your child wants to tell you but you just can not!)
Think how irritating and difficult it would be to go through life not being able to express yourself to others and make yourself understood. This is what our children go through and the Apraxia Awareness day has been brought about the recognise their struggle.
My little boy is amazing he is always smiling and he is so friendly even without speech, he manages to win people’s hearts without any words, but as he gets older it is more and more difficult for him as the gap between him and his peers widens. He is now 3 and a half and in nursery, but he is not able to tell me at all what he has been doing during the day. The other day after coming out from nursery he saw some of his classmates, he pointed to them eagerly to show me, but not able to say anything. It’s the first time he ever showed me an interest in the other children like that, so I was so pleased to see this. Then he ran up to them but he isn’t able to say anything, and they didn’t want to play with him because he can not talk and interact like them. It breaks my heart to see.
Speech is such a major thing we rely on day to day, our main method of connecting with any other human being. To grow up without speech is such a disadvantage, effecting every part of a child’s life from their ability to make friendships, access education, and develop their independence. It’s something many of us just take for granted.
For a child with a speech disorder every new word or sound they say is a milestone and a big achievement! My little boy has improved massively from where he was, although he still has a long way to go, and we have a lot more work to do. I am really proud of him and the determination he puts in to keep on trying to communicate in whatever ways he can. One of the things that has really helped his communication is signing (using signalong) which I really recommend and will do a separate post on in the future!
If you want to read more in depth information about this condition click here, for a very thorough and useful article by Pam Williams of the Nuffield Centre. You can also look at Afasic a UK charity for speech disorders, which can give more info and support, and Dyspraxia Foundation which covers all forms of Dyspraxia.
My 4 year old is in reception and this half term their topic has been ‘In The Garden.’ Until now, he mainly considered the garden as a place to run around and play which is of course really good for children! But there is also a wealth of opportunities for learning and getting kids interested in the garden.
Yesterday he came home from school with a bean stalk which he had planted in school, and he wanted to transfer it to our garden. He was telling me all about what the bean stalk needs to grow taller – sunlight and water.
There are so many different ideas you could do with children to grow things in the garden:
Growing vegetables – in the past we have grown some pepper and tomatoes in pots in the garden
You could even get an allotment or consider helping out in a community allotment if you notice your child has a real interest in it!
If you don’t have much garden space, the easiest one is to start with growing cress seeds in a pot on your window sill
You can look here to learn more about growing seeds with children
There is so much to talk about with them about the different flowers or vegetables which grow – the different colours, shapes, sizes, or tastes of fruit and vegetables that are grown. If you grow vegetables perhaps it will help get them enthusiastic to eat them up too! This is something I would love to do more of with the kids, its lovely to see how proud they are when they make something.
Plants are not the only area to explore in the garden – what about all the wildlife, birds and mini beasts! Even in cities or towns, there will be plenty of life to discover in the garden. My boys are a little bit squeamish about worms, slugs or snails (I think they have got that from me – sorry boys! I should have kept my discomfort to myself and let them experience these things to learn! ) but they are comfortable enough with ladybirds, butterflies or the local cats which some times come into the garden, and very keen on birds.
There are things you could do to encourage more wild life into your garden, so that you can observe them with the children. I remember growing up we had large lavender bushes in the gardens which really attracted so many butterflies, and lavender is great too with its strong smell and colour all adding to the sensory experience for the children in the garden! To attract birds you could think of getting a bird bath and putting out bird food. For some expert advice on encouraging birds, have a look here.
A sample of the new Baked Snack from Walkers Hoops and Crosses!
The flavour were sent to try out is Roast Beef but after checking the ingredients, I was happy to see that it is suitable for Vegetarians (which is important to us as we eat Halal)
Each bag contains 85 calories and is made from wholegrains, have no artificial colours or preservatives so it is something I am happy to give to my children, either in a lunchbox or as a snack at home. I allowed my younger two to have some after their lunch. As they are only little, one bag was plenty to share out between them.
These snacks, as you could guess, all come in either hoops or cross shapes like the game of noughts and crosses:
The taste of the roast beef flavour is quite strong (in a nice way, I thought!) It actually reminds me of crisps I used to eat when I was little, a bit like monster munch. I have not come across any like this in a while! My children liked the interesting shapes of the crisps and also seemed to like the taste as they happily ate them up.
My 4 year old missed out as he was at school when we tried it! But I would happily buy these, so I am sure he will get his turn to try them. They also come in prawn cocktail or salt and vinegar flavours so I would be interested to see how those taste.
The topic on Playfest this week involved looking back on the toys we used to play with and love growing up. So many memories!
Pogs and Tazzos
My Little Pony
And loads more!! Have a look at our pinterest board here – I bet it will bring some memories flooding back!
I’m mainly a child of the 90s, being born in ’86 I don’t remember that much of the 80s – but 80s Popples are my favourite! I absolutely loved these from being really little. I had one of the baby ones, and carried around so much it’s arm fell off. I still have my other big Popple, and another one I got from eBay years later, which had been kept brand new in the box for so many years! Now my kids have these.
You can see above, my youngest little popple with one of my vintage popples!
And what about the toys you used to collect from cereal – the little Polly Pocket sets, and Puppy in my pocket, the Troll pencil toppers! I don’t know why they don’t seem to do this any more?
Playing out on our bikes, skipping (who remembers “Unders and Overs?”), jumping around with the skippit and pogo ball. Relaxing with bright blue ice pops, or Screwball ice-creams (the one with the bubble gum at the bottom!) Listening to TLC, watching Clarissa Explains It All, or the Fresh Prince. The 90s are the best!
It’s always fun to reminisce! Is there a toy or game you loved which we have missed off our Pinterest board?
To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the £1 coin, MoneySuperMarket are asking UK bloggers to come up with their best money saving tips. With 30 tips per person, they are aiming to collect a total of over 1000 fantastic ways to save some cash.
Here are mine!
Savings For Days Out
Using loyalty card points to pay for days out. With Tesco Clubcard you can exchange your points for upto 4x their value in rewards vouchers, which include all of the merlin parks and loads more. You have to get organised and order your tickets in advance, but once you have them they don’t have to be used on a specific day.
With Nectar, you don’t have to order the tickets in advance you can just pay directly with the points on your Nectar card – so suitable for those last minute trips! You will get double your points value when using it on days out
Look out for Kids’ clubs at the cinema, such as Odeon where certain children’s screenings are only £2.50, or Vue for £1.75 or £3 for 3D. These tend to run on weekend mornings or school holidays.
Many bowling places also have cheap offers in the morning during school holidays – such as bowling for as low as £1, so make sure you have a look and time your visit accordingly!
Taking a picnic rather than buying meals out at attractions. You could end up saving a lot and often it may be much healthier too.
There are lots of days out which are absolutely free, for example the Science Museum in South Kensington or many of the other London museums. We go on a Sunday so no congestion charge to get there, and free parking!
Look out for free weekends at the National Trust where they open many of their properties for free, making a very thrifty day out.
Look out for local fun days or events run by the council. Sometimes there will be activities on in the library during half terms, or for toddlers during term time and these tend to be free or very cheap.
Days out in the woods, park or countryside tend to be very cheap or free. You can also use the chance to collect stones, twigs or leaves for the children to use for crafts when you get home – so a 2 in 1 money saving opportunity, as well as a chance to get some exercise and fresh air.
If you use trains, think of a Family Rail Card which gives you 1/3 off adult fares, 60% off child fares. When we used this, it paid for itself in just a couple of trips and also guaranteed us a table seat on the train, which can be a life saver while travelling with toddlers – enabling you to do activities at the table rather than fruitlessly trying to keep a wriggling little one in their seat.
Plan your days out in advance – that way you have time to get all your vouchers and offers ready, and you will know the cheap places and tips for the place you are going. When you go last minute,I find it always costs more.
Money Saving Online
Use cash back websites, such as Quidco. For those who do a lot of online shopping, these websites work out almost like just free money! For things you were going to buy anyway, you can get a percentage back by clicking through from Quidco then over time your cash back builds up and is paid back into your bank account or paypal. Since joining Quidco a couple of years ago, we have earned nearly £500 in cashback!
Use voucher codes. Always have a look through the newsletters you get sent from companies. Sometimes we may be too quick to delete them as junk mail, but hidden inside could be discount codes and savings to get you a great deal. You can also try googling for codes before making big purchases, as you never know there may be codes on the internet which are fine for anyone to use. Some of the best places to look include MoneySavingExpert and HotUKDeals
Use daily deal websites, like Groupon for away breaks or general shopping deals or Zulilly for kids deals. There are loads more similar sites too if you have a look around. You can save upto 90% off the RRP, meaning you get great quality things for bargain prices.
Get free samples online. If you follow the companies you like on Facebook, or visit their websites, often you can find free samples being given out especially for things like perfumes or moisturisers, so you can see if you like it before you buy – potentially saving you money on purchases as you will only have to buy it once you’re sure! You can even get full sized samples of grocery products, from pages like this, which will of course save you money from your supermarket bill!
Have a look on Facebook for local buying and selling groups. Similar to E-bay where you may get some great bargains but as it’s local, you won’t even pay postage. It also gives you a chance to sell some of your own unwanted or children’s outgrown items and earn some money back.
If you do decide to use e-Bay, to reach a wider audience or browse a wider range of goods – have a look out for their free listing days to save you that little bit extra.
You can also connect your nectar account to ebay, earning you money for nothing every time you shop, enabling you to have free days out at premium attractions as mentioned earlier!
Join all the loyalty schemes, and if you have a baby then all the baby clubs. Boots is one of the best – when joining the baby club you can get a free changing bag! Aptamil also give you a free polar bear toy, and cow and gate a free cuddly cow. They will also keep you up to date with offers and money off vouchers which can come in really handy.
Use price comparison websites and always look around before committing to a big purchase. It may take time but you will do the best to have a look at several comparison sites, and then also double check the prices on the companies own website, and check those who have not included themselves in the comparison. For larger purchases such as car insurance, this extra bit of effort will normally pay off.
Every Day Money Saving
Meal Planning. This is something I really need to do, I keep meaning to start. Plan your meals and stick strictly to your shopping list. I have heard from my friends who do this, that it ends up saving a lot and also cuts down waste too – so more eco friendly!
Related to the above – cooking in bulk and freezing some can end up working out cheaper.
Eating more vegetarian meals can save a lot of money, as meat is expensive and many other forms of protein such as pulses are much much cheaper.
Write down what you spend. It will help you keep track and cut out any unnecessary spending patterns that you might not have been as aware of.
Enter competitions! Whatever you win, is something that you don’t have to buy so potentially saving you loads! Of course only entering for useful things that will be suitable for your family. Those who know me, will know that I am always on the look out for great competitions and I have been lucky to have plenty of lovely prizes over the years. Just this morning I won a dvd for the kids from All Baby Advice blog. We also have some great competitions running here at In The Playroom so click here and have a look!
Walking wherever you can – saves on petrol or transport costs. Also healthier and gets the children into good habits.
Recycling packaging to use for children’s junk modelling. You can save all sorts of kitchen roll tube, sweet wrappers, bubble wrap, ribbon and tissue from packaging and it will keep the children occupied in an educational activity, for absolutely free.
Downgrade your branded food to supermarket own, or supermarket brands down to basic. On some items you won’t always be able to tell a lot of difference, and can save quite a bit!
Always try to pay off your credit card balance in full each month – any interest paid is just a real waste of money
Always be generous to others, give to charity and never let money saving turn you into a stingy person. I truly believe when we give to others, it comes back to us in one way or the other and I have seen this so many times in life.
This great competition was mentioned to me by fellow blogger Eileen from Et Speaks from Home. To find out more and if you fancy entering yourself, click here.
My links Quidco and Zulilly are referral links, all that means is that if you sign up after seeing it here and use these websites, I will also get a little extra as a thanks for introducing new members. They are genuine recommendations from me as websites I do use myself and find good.
It’s Your Story is a great website specialising in personalised books. This is a really lovely concept so I was happy to get the chance to review one of their “Dad” themed books, in time for Fathers’ Day.
We were given a code to use on the website so that we could go through the whole order process and see how easy it is. It took only a few minutes to go through it all. You can upload a picture of any background, and they will crop the head out for you. The picture I chose was a holiday snap of my husband. I was a little worried whether it would be okay or not as it did not have a plain background, but it came out absolutely fine. There are also several simple questions to answer, so that the book can be personalised even more by including little details here and there.
Here’s the front of our personalised book below:
The book is A4 size and has a glossy finish to the front cover, and is made of good quality thick and durable paper.
The story tells of the child and their Dad going on a trip to the zoo, and all of the different things they see and do. There is quite a substantial story to it with plenty to read, rather than just a couple of words on each page.
Here’s an example page from our book, showing Dada swinging through the trees with the monkeys!
One thing I particularly liked about ordering from this company is that they allow you to specify exactly how you name the father, whether it’s Dad, Daddy, or in our case Dada. It would have been all too easy for a company to just take the easy route and leave it all as Daddy without putting any extra thought or choice into it – but my kids don’t call their Dad “Daddy.” It’s a minor thing, but it does make the book feel so much more personal to the child.
You also get the chance to include your street name, child and Dad’s age, and favourite colours and foods. I also really liked that you can choose 2 friend’s names to include – handy for me as I have 3 children so the 2 who weren’t featured as the main child at least get to see their name in it too. Although I may have to go back and order one each for the others later, to make it fair!
I decided to make it for my 4 year old, as he is learning to read I felt a book like this may really encourage him. He enjoyed it but actually the one who was most excited seeing Dada on the book was my 3 year old so I think he definitely would love one of his own. He found it so funny seeing Dada with all the animals. There are some pages where you can see him hiding behind trees with the panda or hanging upside down with the bats and all of this really amused him.
There is plenty of choice available on the It’s Your Story website, so if you want a different theme other than zoo there are loads more to consider. They even have a clothing range now too! So it’s definitely worth a look.
I’m really pleased with the book we’ve got and I think it’s a great idea! I remember having a personalised book as a child, back then it wasn’t so advanced – no photos or anything just the names inserted into a story (and it’s not that long ago – I’m not that old!) but even that, I remember feeling excited to have a special book featuring me and my siblings. It makes a great gift.
As you may have noticed, In The Playroom has moved! We now have self-hosting and a proper domain name – yay!
You may need to resubscribe via Email, Networked blogs, Bloglovin as all of this won’t carry over. (Twitter and facebook not affected)
Of course for the purposes of the competitions currently running, any subscriptions you have done on the old version will still be counted! But in order to stay up to date with anything new I recommend doing it again. All the usual subscription options are on the right hand side, or to make it easier I have put a couple here below! 🙂
LoveTea is a new service where you can have different Gourmet teas delivered every month. They kindly sent us a pack to try out and share our thoughts. I do enjoy relaxing with a nice cup of tea, and my husband is a real tea lover so I was interested to see whether we would be able to tell much difference from our usual tea.
The tea we were sent is Jun Chiyabari tea – a Himalayan Imperial Black. The tea comes with the full information about the tea estate on which it was grown, and tells that it is from a family owned estate and is certified as Organic, which is all great to know!
The tea is loose leaf, something I don’t normally make as I always think it might take more time or be more complicated but they provided some bags together with the tea, so that you can measure out the required amount of leafs and just place them into the net teabag and brew it as normal, so there is no straining required but you still get the effect and taste of having a loose leaf tea. I found this a great solution as its really convenient.
My husband and I both really enjoyed our cup of tea and could tell a difference from our regular teas. I found this has more of a stronger and fully developed flavour, and I will definitely drink it again. I would also be interested in trying out some of the other varieties they have available, including the green teas as I love green tea and find it really refreshing.
LoveTea is run by a husband and wife team with a real passion about tea. Many of the teas are Fair trade certified but all of them are bought from source for above the minimum Fair Trade prices. They don’t include herbal teas but do include black, green, white and oolong teas. There are gift subscriptions available so it could be a good one for any tea loving relative, as a thoughtful gift. Perhaps even for Father’s Day coming up – for any tea enthusiast dads!
LoveTea have offered me a great deal to share with my readers – for anyone who is feeling tempted to give it a try, I have an amazing 40% off to share with you. Simply use the code PLAYROOM40 and you will be able to redeem 40% off your first month of a tea subscription. Monthly packages start from only 4.50 a month which is very reasonable, working out at 30p a cup. Or for the insatiable tea drinkers you can get a much larger package to make sure you are in no danger of running out!
What is sensory play and what are the benefits of this for children? This is a basic introduction with suggestions of materials to explore for children aged 0-3, 3-5 and 5-10.
Sensory play is a topic that really interests me. My 4 year old Mr T has Autism and as with most children on the Autism Spectrum, that comes along with sensory issues. Mr T tends to be hyposensitive to sensory input, meaning that he is under sensitive to it and can be sensory seeking. Whether children are hypersensitive (over sensitive), hyposensitive, or neurotypical children with no sensory issues – sensory play is beneficial to every child to help them to understand the world around them.
Sensory play is often thought of just as messy play, and although lots of sensory play ideas can be messy – it is not just all about messy play but any play involving the senses.
Tactile – Touch, like exploring textures
Gustatory – Exploring Taste
Visual – Sight which could be exploring colours and light
Auditory – Exploring Sound
Olfactory – Exploring Smell and Scent
Vestibular – Exploring Balance
Proprioceptive – Exploring the relative position of your own body
All of this sensory play helps with creativity, problem solving, and supports children’s brain development!
Here’s a quick list some of ideas to get some inspiration at a glance, if stuck for something to do!
Ideas for 0-3
Exploring textures with their hands – paint, shaving foam, jelly, spaghetti etc
Nature walk to feel the wind on their face and explore the grass and trees
Edible paint (recipe is on the imagination tree)
Exploring different textured balls
Foam pieces stuck on a window with water
Nature hunts, and make a collage
Popping pom poms through holes in containers
Listening to music
Ideas for 3-5
Making instruments from Pea shingles, Lentils or Dried rice to explore cause and effect
Burying treasure in a sand box
Exploring light with torches and different coloured cellophane
Gloop from soap flakes and boiled water – left to cool over night
Spagetti as paint brushes
Hands in paint or finger printing
Painting with frozen paint ice cubes
Bringing stories to life with props or musical instruments
Experimenting with different flavoured and coloured drinks
Mark making in sand (even better with shiny card underneath, exposed when marks are made)
Making crayons (from broken crayon pieces, shape them and then bake)
Removing objects from science putty
Experimenting with moving sand on a sheet
Colour spotting walk with paint cards – to find the matching colours in nature
Ideas for 5-10
For this age group, the idea is more about adding a sensory focus to an idea or experience. I find my almost 5 year old often likes to use the textures or different sensory items as a background for his imaginary play rather than just experiencing the senses for its own sake. Sensory play can be incorporated into a lot of science and learning for this age group. Play can be linked to an idea or topic, or special interest of the child and then sensory elements incorporated into that.
Spellings in shaving foam
Fill containers with spices or herbs and identify the smells. You can make 2 of each and challenge them to find the pairs.
Make fossils by imprinting shells, bits of plant or plastic dinosaurs into Playdo. You can then bake and hide in sand.
Any form of cooking or baking
Making elf or fairy doors from wood or any natural items you can find
Building bridges with wood or bricks
Floating or sinking activities, with different items in water
Making a lego boat to float on water
Lay coloured paper on the floor outside and put objects on it to explore the shadows and silhouettes
Make a sensory car track, driving through mud, sand, leaves, dried rice, slime or any other texture
Blindfold taste test games
Making gloop or borax
Colour mixing with paint
Cinnamon sticks for number bonds
Excavating frozen dinosaurs or other toys from blocks of ice
Large scale junk play, or loose parts play
For even more ideas, Sue Gascoyne of Play to Z has a book on Treasure Baskets and Beyond – Realizing the Potential of Sensory-rich Play (Buy on Amazon UK / US)
Ideas for things to use or explore
Glass cubes or beads
Water beads (use with care these are dangerous to babies if put in their mouth)
Pea shingles, Lentils or Dried rice
Coloured foil or cellophane
Lemon or lime
Glitter or sequins
Fibre optic lights
Organza and streamers
For more in depth examples, check out our sensory play resource post where I share many sensory activities that I’ve enjoyed with my kids.
The ideas and activities are endless really and this is just a taste, but hopefully it will help you out if you are ever stuck for a sensory activity to occupy your little ones! If anyone has any ideas that I have forgotten, which you would love to recommend – please share it in the comments, and feel free to tell me which ones you and your children enjoy!
If you have blog posts or pictures of sensory play ideas that you have done with your kids, why not share them with us on the In The Playroom Facebook page, by posting them on the wall.
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