5 ways to keep the kids learning over the holidays

 5 ways to keep the kids learning over the holidays parenting school holidays boredom buster activities

5 ways to keep the kids learning over the holidays

So the school holidays are fast approaching and you’re asking yourself how to keep the kids’ brains active and keep them learning over the hols.

Here are 5 tried and tested ways to do just that:

Let them get bored!

Yes, ditch the structure and don’t plan anything.  Let them get bored occasionally and I’ll bet that their imaginations will start doing the work to keep their brains active the scenes!  While we certainly son’t be banning electronics, turning them off and letting our 8yo ‘be’ will be quite a regular occurrence this Summer.

 

That said, boredom busters definitely have their place…

We all know those days when bedtime can’t come fast enough (ours not necessarily theirs!).  So keep a few easy ideas up your sleeve for the “I’m boooored” moments.  Check the local activities for the summer.  Many school children receive a kind of activites directory and many of the sessions are drop-ins.  Meaning happy kids and peace and quiet for you… for now.

 

Give them a challenge

From riding a bike to swimming, from reading to tying their shoe laces; being active doesn’t have to mean be physical activity all the time.  Maybe they could learn to do some of these challenges, giving them a sense of achievement, building confidence and keeping their brain switched on.

 

Get them up!

I’m all for lazy mornings in the hols (trust me!) but there are times that the sleeping until lunchtime habit needs to be broken for older children.  So give the older children jobs to do with the condition that they’re done in the morning, and maybe even pay them or give them a non-monetary incentive.  It’s a really good idea to do this in the last week or so before ‘back to school’ because it gets them used to the idea of getting up and getting going after a long break, and also gets them tired if they’re up ‘early’!

 

Have a tidy up

This works well for younger children.  A good tidy up reveals long-forgotten toys that refresh the imagination and gives you some breathing space in a less cluttered living space.  And what do you do with all those toys, you all get out of the 4 walls and take them to the charity shop!

5 ways to keep the kids learning over the holidays parenting school holidays boredom buster activities

 

I asked some other bloggers for their thoughts and here are some of their fantastic suggestions:

Jen from Just Average Jen says: My son has always loved to make his own newspaper or guidebook full of things he has found out or enjoyed. He then sells it to people like Grandma and gets extra money to spend!

 

I love this idea and will definitely be using it, from Victoria at Lylia Rose: My daughter loves the learning workbooks they sell in our local office supplies store. They are for each key state and they have spelling and maths books. She has a word search one at the moment which she finds fun, but it’s aimed at helping with spellings. They’re only a couple of pounds each and she thinks they’re something fun rather than ‘work’!

 

Rebecca from You Me Raising 3 suggests: Limit screen time as I find this can reduce their motivation to get outside and explore. My kids love experimenting and making things so anything science based is a hit! Ice eggs with dinosaurs in for them to dig out is one activity we will try. wipe clean books to practice letters and numbers are also great (preschool age), taking them out on walks to explore nature and recording what we find.

 

Finally, Kelly from School Run Shop says let them be: Let them explore – nature, their surroundings, new places. There’s no better learning than letting them just ‘be’.

What would you add?  I’d love to know!  Comment below or tweet me @AllSortsHere .

Thanks.

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Meet the new kids on the veggie plot

Meet the new kids on the Veggie Plot Vegetarian Family Clean Living Diet Food

Meet the new kids on the veggie plot

 

Our 8 year old has asked about being a vegetarian a few times over the past few months (and beyond) and she’s decided she would like to try being a veggie.  Hubby and I have been toying with the idea of introducing a ‘cleaner’ diet into our house too so it’s the perfect opportunity to embrace it.

Meet the new kids on the Veggie Plot Vegetarian Family Clean Living Diet Food

But what constitutes veggie food these days?  And what do we do with it?  I asked some bloggers to point me in the right direction:

Chantele from Two Hearts One Roof has a little treasure trove of ideas and inspiration.   I love the sound of the lasagna with the layered veg and it got my mouth watering!

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Eva from Captain Bobcat suggests a yummy sounding pudding.  Mmmm I love avodaco and chocolate’s always a winner!

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Here’s a recipe that we’ll be trying out from Sophie at Life as Mrs D ~ peanut sauce.  Perfect with pasta!  Yum 🙂

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I love the look of this feta and spinach puff pastry dish from Gee Gardner.

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Ben at Wood Create thinks pizza is a great idea: We decided to go vegan 6 months ago and the kids have really taken to it. We love to make home made pizza with vegan cheese and veg. (Sweet corn, spinach, chopped tomato, red pepper and mushroom) we sometimes even add a little vegan pesto. It’s quick and easy and the kids can help out putting their own topping on! Just 15 minutes prep and 7 minutes in the oven. Tasty meal in under 1/2 hour.

Sounds good to me!

~

I’ll report back soon and let you know how we’re doing!  Until then, tell me about your veggie journey.  I’d love to know!  Comment below or tweet me @AllSortsHere .

Thanks.

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A new chapter in our reading journey

A

A new chapter in our reading journey

Just last week, we returned some books to the local library (mine and our 8yos).  I love visiting the library with her.  I always have.  It literally opens up a whole world of imagination.

On this visit though, she said she was running out of books to read.  She’s read all the Rainbow Magic books, all the Harry Potter books and various other series.  So, we asked the nice man behind the desk what level would be suitable for a fluent nearly 9 year old to read.  And we were shown the Teenage Junior (TJ) shelf while being told to leave the Teenage Advanced (TA) section for now.  I could almost feel our daughter’s disappointment as she looked at the 4 shelves of the TJ section.  Not many books there when you’re used to browsing through what seems like a whole world of imagination.  Still, we can order books in from other branches and I’m sure they’ll have some sort of reading challenge to keep her going through the summer.

A New Chapter in our Reading Journey

Magical memories as we enter a new phase

While she browsed, I sat on the little toddler seat next to the board books and had a little think to myself.  The days of reading out loud to her, the same books over and over and over again came to me.  The days of her sounding out her first school books, learning phonics and learning to blend the sounds.  Magical memories.

We still have a bedtime story and I’ve recently got the reading bug again and started reading actual books again – partly for my own relaxation but partly to encourage her to continue.  With all the distractions in our childrens’ lives, reading can easily be put on the back-burner.  So at bedtime, because she now reads chapter books with few (if any) pictures or drawings, we only read a couple of pages.  Her school has a 20 minutes a day reading challenge.  She easily manages this because she reads at breakfast too but we incorporate into her bedtime routine, which I love and so does she.  So after I’ve read 2 pages and kissed her goodnight (on her still oh-so-soft cheek) and showered her with a hundred kisses all over her beautiful face, I give her 20 minutes.  She often uses this time to read to her teddies and role play.  She clearly needs this little bit of time to process the day.  Long may it continue.

Times to cherish

Then we often have the panic of her losing her unicorn bookmark among her duvet and the handful mountain of teddies.  It’s the one she cut out from a template in a magazine.  There are 2 others but it has to be the unicorn one.  Eventually, all is still and I often pop up to our room for something and can hear her little voice being narrator.  It’s these times, after a busy day, that I cherish and I never want to end.  But I know they will.

Until they end, I’ll continue to indulge us both in a quick read and then let her enter her own world with her teddies, the characters from the book and feed her imagination as she slowly drifts off to her dreams for the night, wherever they may take her.

Has your child run out of reading material?  Do you use your local library?  I’d love to kmow!  Comment below or tweet me @AllSortsHere .

Thanks.

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Ideas to keep your kids reading over Summer

Ideas To Keep Kids Reading Over Summer Parenting Boredom Buster Activity

Ideas to keep your kids reading over Summer

When I was at school (all that time ago!), I remember when I went back after the long Summer holidays and it felt really odd to write again!  And this was waaay before we all had phones glued to ourselves and were texting all the time.  We generally had no need to write.  It’s the same with reading isn’t it?  It’s easy for our children to get out of the habit of reading over the summer break – no ‘carpet time’, no reading buddy to read to, no guided reading, no excitement of choosing a book from the library, no reading record to update…

oh wait!

We can do all of these things out of the school environment and maybe, just maybe make it even more fun than it is in school!  You should know that I’m passionate about literacy in our children and firmly believe in the building blocks it gives them in all areas of their learning.  But I’m always open to suggestions and I asked some fellow bloggers for their ideas on keeping kids reading over Summer.  Some of them I had already thought of (great minds think alike eh?):

Ideas To Keep Kids Reading Over Summer Parenting Boredom Buster Activity

Make your own books

Karen from The Mini Malpi says: How about making their own books?  My son has always enjoyed doing this and, now he’s started to learn to read and write, he could add his own words.

I’ve got fond memories of our now 8yo doing just that and I’ve still got them tucked away in ‘memory corner’!

 

Engagement is key

Claire from This Mummy Rocks suggests getting your child to choose their favourite book:  Use Pinterest to find engaging activities to link with the book or relating topics. Keep referring back to the book and re-read. Bring the book to life.

And let’s face it, there are so many ways to do this.  We just need a little extra inspiration by way of Pinterest as Claire says!

 

Make it personal

Emma at The Family Hub says that personalised books can be great for engaging little ones so much fun to be part of the story!

 

Make it fun!

Carla-Marie from Bump2Baby suggests making the book buying process fun: let them choose and have an hour no electrics – reading time only!!

 

Contact the author

This is one of my favourites and something I’d never have thought of.  Adam from You’ve Got All This To Come says: Get in touch with the authors on Twitter- ask a question or leave a comment, they’re usually willing to reply!

 

If all else fails…

And THIS from Jess at Tantrums to Smiles says: A reading den! Both my kids love a good den so sometimes I will set up a reading den in a shady bit of the garden. It can be as simple as a sheet over two chairs with a few books inside a jug of cool icy squash and a few biscuits. We have a lovely time reading together, enjoying a cold drink and getting out of the sun for a bit!

Our daughter has a little den in her bedroom which she chooses a book from for bedtime reading but i’m going to do this in the garden too.  Book, biscuits and bonding time.  Bliss!

It’s similar to Sarah’s idea from Digital Motherhood: Go to the library and let them pick as many books as they like. When you get home sit down with a drink and a snack and look at the books together.

Have you got any more ideas?  I’d love to hear!  Comment below or tweet me @AllSortsHere .

Thanks.

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How to have a wonder-filled family adventure

How to Have a Wonder-filled Family Adventure

How to have a wonder-filled family adventure

What is wonder?  Is it being amazed at something?  Is it being in awe?  Is it experiencing something for the first time?  Is it doing something or going somewhere you’ve been before?

The answer is, surely all of the above?

How to Have a Wonder-filled Family Adventure

To have our wonder-filled family adventure, we chose to visit one of our favourite places.  Why is Ferry Meadows one of our favourite places?

 

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The benefits to children of learning music ~ #IfShesHappyImHappy

The Benefits of Children Learning Music

The benefits to children of learning music

When I was a child, I learnt the guitar and violin.  And I remember that I enjoyed them both.  Nowadays, my guitar sometimes gets an ‘airing’.  I’d like for it be more often but at least it’s not collecting dust.

Since our 8 year old took up the violin, I’ve been tempted to learn again – with her.  It’s so nice to see her with the violin – she suits it very well and has taken to it very well too.  Quite apart from the fact that she enjoys playing, it’s good to know the benefits of learning music too, particularly for our children.

 

The Benefits of Children Learning Music

From an early age, our daughter has been stimulated; she’s creative and is thriving at school.  But hubby and I were keen to get her on to learning an instrument.  The first time she took the bow to the strings, I stopped in my tracks and it took my breath away.  Yes, I’m her Mum and biased by default but she really does suit it: her composure when she holds it, her control of the bow, how she gets right into ‘the zone’.  And what a lovely zone to get into.

When we find a second hand violin at the right price, I see no reason not to join her on her musical journey.

We’ve got a violin, a guitar and a piano in our home.  Out of al of these, my personal preference is the violin and it seems that’s our daughter’s too.  That’s fine by me because…

#IfShesHappyImHappy

Does your child play an instrument?  Please tell us in the comments below or tweet me @AllSortsHere

Thanks.

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The benefits of school clubs vs the potential for overwhelm

How to get the School Club Balance right for Your Child Positive Parenting Wellbeing

The benefits of school clubs vs the potential for overwhelm

After months of encouraging our now 8 year old to join in with some school clubs, we found ourselves with an uber-enthuastic daughter on our hands!

Due to after-school childminding because of work commitments, she was limited to what she could do.  But come year 3, she wanted to try every club going – gymnastics, dance, science club, cheerleading, music, youth club… which was great but we had to fit homework in somewhere too.  How inconvenient!

We didn’t want our weekends taken over with homework.

When she asked if she could do this club and that club, we told her that if it fits around work and homework, no problem (so long as she got in!)

How to get the School Club Balance right for Your Child Positive Parenting Wellbeing

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Why we let our young daughter use makeup ~ #IfShesHappyImHappy

How To Make A Father's Day Card With A Difference Create Make Do

Why we let our young daughter use makeup

As our daughter grows up (and up and up!), I’m most definitely realising that her baby days are long gone, and her toddler days too.  But I often find it really hard to let go and her her find her way, let her independence grow and let her discover the world around her in her way.

But it’s vital for their development isn’t it?

One area that we give her absolute free-rein is make-up.  She loves to experiment and I adore to see her ‘apply it’, seeing the end result of invariably blue or pink eyeshadow smudged all around her eyelids.  It’s an adorable part of a little girl being no-so-little and growing her make-believe fairy wings out.  Though it makes me sad and even pine for my beautiful newborn, I can equally see my beautiful, wonderful daughter blossoming and growing, expressing herself and becoming her.  To me, that’s just as important as remembering her baby and toddler days.

Why We Let Our Young Daughter Use Makeup With Printable

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How to make a Father’s Day card with a difference ~ #IfShesHappyImHappy

How To Make A Father's Day Card With A Difference Create Make Do

How to make a Father’s Day card with a difference

There really is nothing like a home-made card from your child is there?

And when it’s a card for an occasion like Father’s Day, it’s somehow even more special!

Our 7 year old has got all creative and turned her Father’s Day card into a book-card.  A different take on the traditional card but if she’s happy, I’m happy!

How To Make A Father's Day Card With A Difference Create Make Do

It will be kept as a treasured memory for years.  Want to make one too?  Here’s what you need and how to make it: Continue reading

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Pocket money – an alternative approach ~ #IfShesHappyImHappy

How To Teach Your Child The Value Of Money Pocket Money Spending Saving Earning Jobs Parenting Kids Virtually All Sorts

Pocket money – an alternative approach

I recently introduced a regular feature #IfShesHappyImHappy and this week I’m talking about pocket money.  #IfShesHappyImHappy is all about the cycle of happiness – you being happy, making your child happy and it coming full circle to make you happy again!  You can read it here if you missed it.

How To Teach Your Child The Value Of Money Pocket Money Spending Saving Earning Jobs Parenting Kids Virtually All Sorts

Our approach to pocket money is probably not the most common one.  But perhaps it’s more common than I think.  Maybe you can tell me!…

Whichever way you look at it, money is something that our children will have to get to grips with in some form.  Be it physical money or by bank transfers or ‘plastic’.

Money makes the world go round…

Money is said to make the world go round and even if she has modest amounts of it when she’s older, hubby and I both agreed that our daughter needs to be empowered by it and not see it as a ‘problem’ or even worse, ‘dirty’.

We both agree that our daughter should understand that generally you have to work for it.  Yes, it’s nice to have some given to you, but more rewarding to have earned it.

To that end, we introduced weekly jobs for her.  In the early days, she earned 1p for each box she ticked on her weekly ‘job sheet’, of which there were 5 boxes a day.

So that’s potentially 5p a day, if she chose to do the job.  We’ve never put any pressure on her to do a ‘job’, simply telling her that she wouldn’t get her money if she didn’t do the job.  Of course, there are days when she’s sick and on holiday from school.  In which case, she gets her money anyway, because most people get sick pay and holiday pay after all!

So, what are her jobs?

We started with tidying, putting clothes in the linen basket and helping to hoover her bedroom.  That takes us up to the present day when she also sets the table for tea (by that I meaning putting the cutlery out.)

It works really well and there have only been a few occasions when she has ‘opted-out’.  At the end of each week, she counts how much money she’s earned by counting the boxes on her job sheet.  Sometimes we purposefully over pay or short-change her to see if she’s really counting and notices – which she does!  She’s honest when overpaid too!

What’s the point?

The point is not the jobs she has to complete but that she’s empowered, just like we are (generally!) in the real, grown-up world of work.  She has free-will and has experienced the consequences of choosing not to do a job (or 2…).  But she’s also felt empowered from earning her money.

Just the other day, we were out shopping, she saw something, knew she didn’t have enough money and said she would pay me back.  I felt mean by saying ‘no’ but otherwise, there’s little point in doing this little exercise at all…  It’s about earning money, maybe saving and spending as you earn it.  Not about spending it before you’ve earned it.

Unwittingly, our 7 year old is already learning about the value and power of earning money and that fuzzy feeling you get when you’ve saved for something or simply ‘earned’ something.

And that’s good enough for me because…

#IfShesHappyImHappy

  How do you approach pocket money?   Please share your thoughts in the comments below or tweet me @AllSortsHere

Thanks.

~

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