Friday, September 30, 2011

Little reader review with a Little Reader Giveaway

Hi Everyone,

I have been waiting with baited breathe to do a review on Little Reader for a long time and its even better now I have semester 1 to give away.

If you have been interested in teaching your baby to read and have felt overwhelmed by all the information or wondering where to start or even if you work outside the home than this is a great product to help you teach your baby to read. I have been using Little Reader (LR) now for two years. I first used it with my eldest daughter now 3 (yes she is reading) and I am now using it with my second daughter who is almost 10months. Both my DD's have really enjoyed learning from this computer based program and it has certainly been a stress reliever for me having an already ready curriculum to go, especially as I was working part time 3 days a week when I started this program with my eldest daughter. As it was already prepared I would show her one session in the morning before I went to work and Miss S went to day care and another in the evening when I got home from work.I found it a great thing to share with my eldest daughter she would sit on my lap and I would show her the words and the videos and we would giggle and do the actions together.

So I will do a Pros's and Con's List.

  •  It has a year curriculum already made so there is nothing to stress about. All you have to do is press play twice a day
  • It is convenient. Just take your laptop anywhere and the lessons go with you. If you go on holiday your child's lessons don't need to stop.
  • It has a printer function so you can print the words and stick them up around the house or if you just wanted to show your child some tangible flashcards.
  • The lessons are customisable. You can put your own voice over the words or make your own presentations which include pictures of family. 
  • There is a UK English version as well as a US English version. So you can change it to suit the English your region of the world uses.
  • There is a support team to help you if you have any problems getting LR to run.
  • Simplified and Traditional Chinese is available and you can purchase that if want to expose your child to another language.
  • Great for Mummy/Mommy's or Daddy's who work and do not have the time to make flashcards. 
  • A description of each word is shown so your child has a full understanding of what each word means. For example The word Jump with an arrow running under the word from left to right to show which way the word goes. Than a picture of someone jumping and then there is a video of a person jumping up and down.
  • Pattern Phonics which flashes family of words cat, hat, mat, van, pan can. So children understand that the words are made up of similar sounds. Also helps with being able to sound out new words latter on.Here is a you tube video of baby Nim reading at 16months
  • You can get a free 14 day trial and see if Little Reader is for you and your family by clicking on the Little Reader icon on the top right hand side Bar
  • Mine has been a little prone to crashing but it is all fixed now
  • Other than that there really aren't any

Now if you are interested in winning a 6 month Little Reader curriculum here is what you need to do

  •  Comment on this blog and tell me in 25 words or less why you would like Little Reader to teach your babies to read.
  •  Follow me on my blog.

Conditions of entry.

  • You can not already own Little Reader.
  • Any spam comments will be automatically disqualified from the competition and deleted
  • Entries that are received from today 1/10/11 to midnight (Australian EST time) on the 14/10/11 are valid.
  • The winner has met the above criteria.
  • winner will be drawn on the 17/10/11 and notified via Blogger messenger. 


Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of Little Reader basic 6 months curriculum to giveaway in exchange for my honest review.

**Please go ahead and enter the comments seem to be working***

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

More 'simple' baking

Hi everyone,

Since my last simple baking blog Miss S and I have decided to do some more baking and food preparation since she really enjoys it. Miss S like to tell me what a "Big Girl" she is so here is some of the baking and salad making we have done. I borrowed a children's cook book from the library called 'I can cook' and we made the Pizza Snake which was easy recipe for Miss S to follow but it does need parent help

 Sorry, that there are no pictures of the actual dough making my camera went flat and I had a very excited daughter not willing to wait for the camera to charge.
Cleaning up after the dough was made

Preparing the cheese slices for the 'snake'

When teaching a child how to use a knife make sure you teach them to hold the knife correctly.

Keep fingers out the way

and cut. I know how many of you are freaking out about Miss S using a 'real' knife. Teach them correctly and only let them use it under supervision. Miss S has excellent control of the knife and she is willing to listen to instruction. If your child is not willing to listen to instruction than do not teach them how to use a sharp knife

Preparing the tray to for the 'Pizza Snake'

Baking Tray is ready

Rolling the dough into a snake

Dough now rolled into a snake

Pizza Snake now ready for sauce

Being decorated with cheese

More cheese

Now olives but you can make your own toppings

Ready for the oven

Cleaning up the mess. It is very important in a Montessori school a child cleans up after herself so I have the same rule at home to keep up with the consistency of home and school.

The Final product

MMM delicious and very proud of her creation

Miss A enjoying her sister's cooking
 This was a lot of fun. Miss S and I had a great time.

Would you like the recipe?   Here it is
1 egg
1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil
2 teaspoons of easy blend yeast
200g or 8oz of Plain flour or Wholemeal (I used wholemeal)
1 teaspoon of salt
120mls or 4fl oz hot water
Black olives
Cheese Squares
1 teaspoon of dried oregano or basil
Green pepper for the tongue
5 tablespoons of chopped tin tomatoes (I used pizza paste to make life easier for my 3 year old)


1. Mix the flour, salt and yeast in a large bowl.
2. Mix in the egg, oil, and hot water to make dough
3. Knead the dough for 5 minutes
4. Leave dough covered in a warm place for an hour
5. Preheat oven to 190C/375F/gas mark 5 and prepare baking tin with baking paper
6. Roll dough into snake
7. Curl the snake on a baking sheet. Add tomatoes, herbs and cheese or any other toppings your children may like
8. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes Then add olives and the green pepper tongue.
9. Bon Appetite

Monday, September 26, 2011

Punished By Rewards

Hi Everyone,

I am reading a book at the moment written by a lady called Angeline Stoll Lillard called
Montessori, The Science behind the Genius. Which even though it is an academic read (and I am taking a very long time to get through it) It covers some interesting points about Montessori education.

One of the chapters in this book covers why Montessori does not use grades or rewards as part of her educational structure. It is very interesting that in her findings that she found children did not learn as well with grades or rewards as the children who were given the grades and the reward.

As a person who went through the traditional school system with grades and worked hard to make good grades I found this intriguing to see that it was more of a demotivater than a motivator. Since Montessori observed this in children and it was not backed up by a study at the time children this book looks at the recent studies on children who were rewarded by grades or a prize to children who were given nothing as a reward for doing the work. The interesting thing was the children who were given the reward when retested actually recalled less than than the children who were given nothing. The children who had the reward had learnt something enough to pass the test and get the reward. They had  what the psychologist refer to as 'surface learning' they later retested both groups of children and the children given the reward were not able to recall the same amount as the children who were given nothing. The children who were given nothing remembered a lot more of the subject matter and were also more motivated to go and learn more about the subject than the children given the reward.

In my own experience as a person who was traditionally schooled I was very motivated to get good grades and do the 'right thing' but as for my learning when I ask myself what I learnt at school I will be honest I have very little recollection of learning at school and I can still recall subject matter today of the subjects I enjoyed learning which was year 11 and 12 when I got to choose the subjects myself. I do remember cramming for tests because I wanted to pass and get a good grade but I would then completely forget the subject just learnt and start cramming for the next.

With my own daughter I have done sticker charts and rewards and it works for a short time and than I have to change what I do so she is continually motivated. When my DD first started toilet training I used a sticker chart with rewards along the way ans it worked great and she was going to the toilet all the time than as the sticker chart and the rewards came to an end she stopped going to the toilet when she realised there was no longer a reward in it for her. She has since gone back into nappies and flatly refuses to toilet train (Much to my disgust) because I have told her there is no more rewards and she wants something each time she goes tot the toilet. So rewards certainly don't work with her :(.

What is your experience with rewards for yourself and your children and do you use them with your children? Let me know what your thoughts are.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Simple Baking


Yesterday Miss 3 and I did some baking. I'm starting to do more practical life things with Miss S. Since turning 3 she seems far more interested in doing things for herself so I have decided that now she is wants to cook I am incorporating that into her day.

I found a really good recipe that most 3 year olds could easily follow with minimal parental supervision. When I say minimal parental supervision means I am still in the kitchen with her but I can be feeding my DD2 and not having to stand over Miss S to make sure she is following all the directions and I am there if she needs help.

 The recipe came from an excellent blog called How we Montessori (click on the link for the recipe) I used this with Miss 3 and she found it really easy to follow. Here are some photos
With all the ingredients ready to go
Cutting the banana with a child friendly knife. Bananas are a great fruit to use to introduce the knife and for cutting
Mixing the batter
Putting batter into pan she is using a measurement cup to 'spoon' the batter in with. I find these really good for little hands
"I want to bake"
A Montessori child always cleans up after herself
Doing the dishes
The Final product. Banana and Honey Muffins (YUM)

 I hope that this helps you to go and get baking in your kitchen.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Art, Art its everywhere

Hi everyone,

The more and more I read about early education and learning the more and more I want to incorporate into my day. It is one of those things with so much to do and such little time to do it in. Today I will talk about the art project I did today with my eldest child. This was taken from the Pre-School book from Artistic Pursuits.

Today's art project was to collect things from nature or backyard and then talk about the different textures and patterns they make by rolling them over play dough. This is a great little project because it takes 10minutes to collect a few things from the backyard and we all have play dough and if you don't I will include a recipe at the bottom of this blog.

1. Collect 'nature things' from your back yard or park. (Here is a photo of Miss S collecting nature from our back yard)
Sophia collecting nature things from our back yard

Her basket of Treasures
What we collected

2.  Get out your play dough and start pressing.

Miss S experimenting with the different material
Miss S feeling the different patterns that nature makes

3. Talk and ask questions about what they notice. How does the bark feel rough or smooth? Are the gum nuts soft or hard. What sort of pattern does the gum nut make? How does the tree pattern feel? Simple questions and build upon them. Get them noticing more about the things around them. Get them observing more of the world around them.

Since starting these little art projects with my kiddies I am certainly appreciating the world around me a lot more . I hope these projects inspire you and your little ones to get out more into your yard or park and start looking for your next 'art project'

Until next time. Here is the play dough recipe

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Montessori Book that started it all.


When I first became pregnant with my eldest child I was looking around for books on how to raise a child. As I had become very interested in Montessori I happened to stumble across this book when I was waiting to meet a friend.

The book is "How to raise an Amazing Child" The Montessori Way by Tim Seldin. Tim Seldin is the president of the Montessori Association in the UK but don't let that stop you from looking at this book. It has many practical ways that you as a parent can introduce Montessori ways into your home without a massive disruption to your lifestyle. It is also an excellent introduction to Montessori and what a Montessori education is all about and what to look for in a good Montessori school. Which I believe is very important.

This book covers everything from how to set up a playroom, to helping children become independent to how to discipline. I love especially how it goes about teaching children to be helpful around the house and be included in the chores without being paid to do them.

The book is simple and filled with beautiful pictures so you can see how you can bring Montessori into your home in very practical ways that don't break the bank.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Artisitic Pursuits! "Teaching" Art to little ones

Hi Everyone,

I don't know about you but I have never ever come across a child who does not like "getting creative." I recently purchased a book for parents about teaching art to kids. It is written by a lady called Brenda Ellis from Artistic Pursuits. It is an excellent resource to have in your little learner library as I like to call it. The activities are easy to do and even allow the young and old to join in. The activities are adjustable to suit age ranges. The book is aimed at Pre-School children ages 3-5 but I have been able to adjust some of the activities so my 9 month old can join in to. The book is easy to read and certainly allows you to appreciate the 'art' your children make but what I love the most about this book is how it gets you talking with your little ones about the world around you and makes you notice the depth of colour in nature, and picking things up and talking about the texture, the material, the colour and noticing the beauty outside in our back yard
Here are a few photos of some of the projects we have been doing.

This above picture entitled by my daughter "Silver Storm." It is Miss S's interpretation of the sky from Project no 2 in this book.  As you can see my dd has drawn a big silver cloud, The blue lines are rain drops, the pink, yellow and brown lines are 'lightning'. The Project is about observing the sky and talking about what we see and drawing it on paper. Although yesterday when this picture was created was a beautiful sun shine filled day my little dd wanted to talk about storms. So I said "what does the sky look like when there is a Storm coming?" and she talked about what the sky looked like as she drew. It was a lovely moment sharing together as I watched her create this. I also let go of the fact and shut my mouth when she drew pink lightning. Pink must be included in everything its her favourite colour. :)

Although it was not a proper observation of the sky as the book says the process of creation is far more important than the end result. This was the image in her mind about how the sky looked in a storm not mine and therefore Miss S's creation. What was the most important thing here was Miss S was creating something from her imagination and we were enjoying a moment together but all the talking about what we saw in the sky has already led her to notice other things in nature and want to 'draw' them. I believe the goal of this project is to take notice of what is around you.

The next project we did was one called "Mark Making" I adjusted this project so my youngest DD  who is 9 months could join in to. I have put cling wrap over the table, then added my finger paint, than added another layer of cling wrap and stuck it down with tape. This way I avoided dirty hands and the worry of my youngest dd putting the paint in her mouth. This way both my DD's could have the fun of finger painting and still make pictures without the mess.
This way also allows your kids to make "pictures' but it also gives the opportunity to teach about primary and secondary colours. In the above pictures you can see Miss S 'mooshing' blue and red together to make purple. Also you can see she has had a great time putting her hand prints everywhere.

 I hope this post has gotten you all inspired to start some 'art' projects with your little ones. Feel free to ask questions or post comments below.


Saturday, September 17, 2011

What I have been up to.

Hello everyone,

Sorry for the hiatus lately. Been really busy, my eldest Daughter is about to start at a Montessori school and has not taken as well to it as I thought she would. She is beginning to settle down now but I think the transition from a daycare environment to a Montessori environment has been a little harder on her than I thought it would be.

The reason why I think it has been harder on her is a Day-care environment is  more chaotic than a Montessori environment which is a very orderly and quiet environment. I think the transition from those two environments and what is expected of her in each one has been confusing. This has surprised me quite a bit as I thought she would have been really excited to go to Montessori and found it an easy transition but to my surprise it has not been that easy for her and my patience either.

Miss S is improving with each visit and starting to really enjoy being in the Montessori environment. She is far more tired after 3 hours of Montessori than she is of 10 hours of day care. A Montessori environment has a tremendous amount of things to do compared to day-care and I think to begin with the choice has overwhelmed her, even though the choice is limited the "work" as they call it in Montessori is very engaging and requires the child's full attention as Day-care does not.

I have actually been quite worried that our decision to send Miss S to a Montessori has been the right one. It is hard to say if this is the "right' choice for Miss S. My concerns have been about her settling in and making friends as she as a wonderful group of friends at day-care and I was not wanting to split her up from them, then my husband reminded me that when she goes to school that she will not be going to school with any of her friends from daycare any way. So I am only prolonging the inevitable. The other issue I have is that the Montessori school ask that children be toilet trained. My child the little darling that she is flatly refuses to go to the toilet. This has played on my mind quite a bit and I have been wondering if she is using the toilet as a delay tactic so she does not have to go. It is not a case of I cant go to the toilet it is a case of I wont go to the toilet.  Everybody tells me she wont do it forever but I'm beginning to think she will.

Just a ramble tonight. Trying to get all my worries together, Sorry if this post makes no sense.