Why Busy Bags Make Great Stocking Stuffers

Busy Bags make great stocking stuffers and are the perfect Christmas gift for toddlers and preschoolers.

Christmas morning is still my favourite time of the year. It is filled with a sense of magic, excitement and glistening in the eyes of all the children who wake up to see what Santa has left for them.

Christmas morning in my house used to consist of a tummy full of treats. Besides Easter, it was the only day of the year we were allowed to replace the usual healthy breakfast with lollies and chocolates.

My Christmas mornings used to go something like this…

Wake up when it was still dark outside (on a Summer morning in Melbourne that is well before 5:30am) and creep excitedly into the lounge room where our Christmas stockings (we actually had decorated pillow cases) were waiting, full, under the Christmas tree. My brothers and I had strict instructions not to wake my parents until a reasonable time (6am). We were allowed to open our stockings and use/play with/eat anything inside it. Once Mum and Dad woke we would then open the wrapped gifts.

The time from when we woke until when Mum and Dad would get up often felt like an eternity. We used to spend that time watching Christmas cartoons which was fun but could have been more fun if only Santa had left us each…a busy bag!

Busy Bags make great stocking stuffers and perfect Christmas gifts

Busy Bags make the perfect stocking stuffers!

Busy Bags make great stocking stuffers and are the perfect Christmas gift for toddlers and preschoolers.

There are plenty of moments on Christmas Day when the kids need a little quiet time; some down time to focus and relax. Busy Bags are the perfect item to motivate little ones to sit in peace and play while they let their batteries recharge (or give you a little time to get things done).

Busy Bags make great stocking stuffers and are the perfect Christmas gift for toddlers and preschoolers.

Still not convinced? Here are a few more reasons why Busy Bags make great stocking stuffers (or more generally, fantastic Christmas gifts!):

  • They are light and portable
  • They don’t need batteries
  • They don’t make noise
  • Once the sugar high has worn off, a Busy Bag can be a great way to keep your child engaged and entertained
  • If your little one gets bored or impatient waiting for guests to arrive, they’ll have a fun and educational activity to keep them occupied
  • Busy Bags can keep your child out of the kitchen while you are cooking the Christmas feast
  • After lunch when everyone feels like napping the Busy Bags can give you some peace and quiet
  • The activities within the Busy Bags encourage play and interraction with with cousins and extended family
  • Travelling will be pain-free on Christmas Day with a Busy Bag; they are designed for travel after all!
  • Busy Bags include everything needed to complete the suggested activities, they are great to use while other toys are being put together or batteries are being sourced

You can find a great range of Busy Bags, including Christmas themed ones, right now here in the Flying Sprout store.

Budget Friendly Gift Ideas for Preschoolers

A fun, fresh collection of preschooler gift ideas costing less than $20. Most stocking stuffers are from Australian small business!

Stocking stuffers for preschoolers and budget friendly kids gifts are what I’m hunting for at this time of the year!

I’m always on the look out for presents costing under $20 (under $15 is even better!) so I thought I’d share some of my favourites to help you with your Christmas or birthday present shopping.

I dearly love supporting Australian small businesses (I am one myself after all), so most budget friendly gifts on this list you can buy from Aussie mums. Of course the big guys have some great gift ideas too, so they will also be mentioned. If you’re a DIYer, I’ve got a few great ideas for you too!

Busy Bags make a great gift. They are easy on the purse, educational, fun and can be taken anywhere. Flying Sprout (me!) has a nice big range to choose from.

Pineapple Busy Bag, $14.95
Pineapple Busy Bag, $14.95

 

Play Doh stamps are personalised name stamps, great for little ones learning to read, write and recognise their own names. Doh Stamp offer fast turn around times and a huge variety of coloured name stamps.

Name stamps, $17-$19
Name stamps, $17-$19

 

Play Dough is a wonderful gift that can be used again and again for fun and learning. Happy Hands, Happy Hearts have a range of beautiful smelling, handmade play dough options.

Licorice playdough $15
Licorice playdough $15

 

Shaped Crayons are a novel little gift that preschoolers are sure to love. Tinta Crayons make toxic free crayons in lovely bright colours and a variety of fun shapes.

Insect Box of 6 Crayons, $16.95
Insect Box of 6 Crayons, $16.95

 

Animal Figurines are great for play and learning. Oh Ivy stock a huge range of animals from all continents of the world.

Edward the Elephant, $10
Edward the Elephant, $10

 

Head Bands are fun accessories for little girls. Top Knot has a large range of styles, sizes and fabrics from sweet newborn and playful toddler through to funky adult. All styles are practical and fun.

Classic Grey Big Bow Headband, $18
Classic Grey Big Bow Headband, $18

 

Toy Necklaces are the perfect two-in one gift. Critterz create fun necklaces which are great for boys and girls! They can be worn as well as played with so there is entertainment anywhere your child goes.

Readymade Caveman Batman, $18
Readymade Caveman Batman, $18

 

Fidget Tools are great for developing fine motor skills and keeping restless hands occupied. Happy Me Shop stocks a range of fidget tools for little ones through to adults. These cute worms are actually little puzzles!

3D Worm Puzzle, $9
3D Worm Puzzle, $9

 

Ok, this company is not Australian but it is too good not to share! The Idea Box stock a huge range of these fantastic boxes. Each box contains many activity ideas to keep little ones learning, exploring and engaged.

Mini Wiggle Box, $14.09
Mini Wiggle Box, $14.09

Water Painting is a simple, mess free and totally relaxing activity. Emma and Doug’s Water Wow books are great for travel and quiet play. There are a wide range of these books and they are all great!

Available from various locations, $8 at Officeworks
Available from various locations, $8 at Officeworks

Wooden Toys are super cheap at Kmart. If you are after some big bang for your buck, Kmart is a great place to find wooden toys and activities that encourage learning and free play.

IMG_1301
Learn the Alphabet Chunky Wooden Puzzle, $5 from Kmart

LEGO and Duplo is always popular. It is unisex and everlasting! You can now purchase small kits, perfect for budget friendly gift giving.

LEGO Duplo Family Pets, $10 from Kmart
LEGO Duplo Family Pets, $10 from Kmart

Other fun suggestions:

DIY Cubby kit – Consisting of rope, pegs and a strong material. You can buy your own supplies from Bunnings.

DIY Small world or sensory play kits – Include some water beads, a tub and animal toys for endless fun.

Books (is it possible to ever have too many!?) – We love the authors Julia Donaldson, Bruce Whatley and Aaron Blabey.

Activity Books and stationary – Crayola brand is great quality, child and budget friendly.

 

If you have any suggestions, please share them. I’m always keen to find out about wonderful gifts that won’t break the bank!

Multiplication and Times Tables

Tips, tricks and strategies to make recall of multiplication number facts faster and more accurate.

Learning times tables or multiplication facts can be a challenge. It is often a struggle for children to recall them and they can be very boring and tedious to learn. So I thought I’d put together a collection of tips, tricks and strategies to make recall of multiplication number facts faster and more accurate.

Usually schools start by teaching the 2,5 and 10 times tables, followed by the 3,4 then the 6,7,8,9s. I don’t believe the 11s and 12s are taught anymore.

My approach is more 2,5,10 (which most children learn early on), followed by 11,9. Then 4,3. After that they will be able to fill in most gaps when it comes to 6,7,8s. I find this easier because the 11s and 9s have some tricks that make them easier to learn and therefore boost the confidence of the student learning them.

***

Here are a few confidence boosting tips/tricks to help your child learn their multiplication facts:

Tips, tricks and strategies to make recall of multiplication number facts faster and more accurate.
The original image can be found here: http://www.theowlteacher.com/teaching-multiplication-shortcuts/

2x Doubles

4x Double 2s

5x Half 10 times tables

9x Using the finger trick (see trick below)

10x Write a zero on the end

11x Write the same number twice

The original image can be found here: https://reliefteachingideas.com/2014/02/18/number-sense-craftivity/
The original image can be found here: https://reliefteachingideas.com/2014/02/18/number-sense-craftivity/

8×8=64 – I ate (8) and (x) ate (8) until I was sick (6) on the floor (4).

56=7×8 – Consecutive numbers, 5,6,7,8.

6s are easy enough if you think about it being one set more than the 5s.

The original image can be found here: http://laughterandconsistency.blogspot.com.au/2016/02/freebie-five-for-friday.html
The original image can be found here: http://laughterandconsistency.blogspot.com.au/2016/02/freebie-five-for-friday.html

***

It is important to be able to instantly recall the multiplication tables and that is only made possible by practising them a lot. Here are a few ways of doing that:

Times Tables raps or songs – TV or radio adverts with jingles are effective because they stick in our head. Times tables raps are much the same. You can find songs on CD, i-tunes, YouTube or with a simple google search.

Rote learning – Though it is boring, it can be very helpful to write and re-write a set of multiplication tables until they are retained and can be instantly recalled.

Posters – You can purchase large posters of the multiplication tables to display in your child’s room but you can also have your child create their own set to display in a location that is regularly visited, such as the toilet.

Games – Online and off line games are a great way to make learning these important number facts fun. You can practise with flash cards, dice or simple playing cards. Hit the Button is a favourite online game of mine but there are many others that can be found with a quick search.

Real life practise – Asking your child to solve multiplication equations in real life settings helps them to understand the importance of learning their times tables. Whether you are preparing dinner, hanging washing or organising a birthday party, there are plenty of opportunities to multiply.

Modelling using various materials – Creating arrays and grouping everyday items is a great way to make the times tables come to life. Using play dough, peas, beads or toys to show the various sums might help to make the multiplication tables easier to remember because they can be linked to a visual memory.

Teaching others – Encouraging older students to teach their younger siblings or school mates a set of multiplication tables is a great way to cement the number facts in the older child’s mind while also helping the younger child.

You can find the original image here: http://missgiraffesclass.blogspot.com.au/2015/07/how-to-teach-arrays.html
You can find the original image here: http://missgiraffesclass.blogspot.com.au/2015/07/how-to-teach-arrays.html

You can find more tips and fun ways to practise multiplication facts by heading over to Flying Sprout’s Times Tables Pinterest board.

Making Bath Time Fun for Kids

The bath can be much more than a place to wash. It can be a place to play, explore, learn and relax. Crayons, bubbles, food dye, ice, toys and treasure hunts can make the humble bath a blast!

Having a bath is more than a necessity for most kids, its a fun time to relax and play.

When we don’t have early morning activities i’ll often let my son have a long bath and and some watery fun. There are many things we do to make bath time special, here are a list of them:

Bath crayons – I remember having special crayons when I was little and I’ve bought them for my son too. Kids can draw on the glass, the tub, tiles or on them selves and the colour washes off easily. They can draw and scribble, write letters, numbers, practise spelling words or solving sums, play Pictionary, Hangman (or the child friendly version I call ‘The Ladybird Game’), Noughts and Crosses…they can write and draw as they would on paper. The bath crayons pictured below are available here.

The bath can be much more than a place to wash. It can be a place to play, explore, learn and relax. Crayons, bubbles, food dye, ice, toys and treasure hunts can make the humble bath a blast!
Available at Target

Bubble bath – A bath full of bubbles is just good, clean fun! Of course it’s nice to sit in mountains of bubbles but your children (and you) can also put the bubbles on their face and head to give the appearance of facial hair, fill small plastic container with bubbles to make cappuccinos or cup cakes and play shops, hide as much of themsleves in bubbles as possible, scoop up hand fulls and blow them off or clap to make the bubbles scatter away.

Food dye – I saw a friend of mine comment on her son loving blue water in his bath and was instantly inspired to try it out. We’ve had blue water, green, purple, red (not my choice!) and everything in between. It’s great fun and all it takes is a few drops or regular food colouring. Adding the colour and watching the water swirl and dye disperse is a great experience for the little ones too.

The bath can be much more than a place to wash. It can be a place to play, explore, learn and relax. Crayons, bubbles, food dye, ice, toys and treasure hunts can make the humble bath a blast!
Food dye in the bath

Measuring capacity – taking a few, various sized containers into the bath and pouring water from one to another is a great way to develop an understanding of capacity. Encouraging your child to predict, order and test out theories as to which container holds the most water, how many cups it might take to fill the rectangular container etc is great fun and real-life learning.

Find and seek underwater – Taking toys into the bath is great, but losing them under the bubbles and having to find them is even better. Your child might like to search with their hand under water or they could wear goggles or even a snorkle while they go exploring for the lost ‘treasures.’

bath toys rubber ducky bath time fun

Washing toys – Whether its giving a doll a bath or scrubbing a dirty monster truck, washing toys is far more fun for the little ones than washing themselves.

Sea themed toys – Fish, animals, boats, mermaids and pirates are great toys to play with in the bath. Of course any waterproof toy would be fun but these ones are especially good because they encourage small world play. The pictured toys are available from here.

The bath can be much more than a place to wash. It can be a place to play, explore, learn and relax. Crayons, bubbles, food dye, ice, toys and treasure hunts can make the humble bath a blast!
Available from iHerb

Melting ice blocks -In Summer we made coloured ice cubes with a dinosaur in each. Once the ice cube was added to the water it melted fast, the colour of the water changed and the dinosaur was free. You can use ice to discuss the different states of water, different coloured ice and water to discuss primary and secondary colours or frozen creatures in big ice blocks to make bath time last a little longer.

Eating – When babies start eating solids it is a messy time in most house holds. Ours was no exception! Spaghetti was especially fun and particularly messy! I once heard of a mum (or maybe it was a dad?) who put their young one in an empty bath with a bowl full of messy food. The child could make as much mess as they wanted and cleaning up was a breeze!

Singing – I must admit, I’ve never really been much of a singer (trust me, that is a good thing!), however I do love to break in to song at bath time….’Splish splash I was taking a bath, all about a Saturday night….’ I sing, my son splashes, we act it out and have a crazy good time. If you have any great bath time songs please share them below! I’d love to add a few to my list!

As you can see, the bath can be much more than a place to wash. It can be a place to play, explore, learn and relax. What are your child’s favourite bath time activities?

The bath can be much more than a place to wash. It can be a place to play, explore, learn and relax. Crayons, bubbles, food dye, ice, toys and treasure hunts can make the humble bath a blast!

Finding the Right Babysitter or Nanny

Finding the right babysitter can be a bit of a challenge...Do I ask the neighbour's teenage daughter, find someone off Gumtree or use an agency to organise it for me? How do I ask for references? How much will it cost me? Worry not, I sat down with some of the lovely ladies from Mini Nannying Agency to answer all your questions.

Finding the right babysitter can be a bit of a challenge…Do I ask the neighbour’s teenage daughter, find someone off Gumtree or use an agency to organise it for me? How do I ask for references? How much will it cost me? Worry not, I sat down with some of the lovely ladies from Mini Nanny Agency to answer all your questions.

 

Q. What should I look for in a babysitter?

A. Someone who is fun, responsible and reliable. The simple answer here is ‘someone who lines up with your values.’

Look for a babysitter who is fun, responsible and reliable. The simple answer here is 'someone who lines up with your values.'
Photo by Freepik

Q. I’m a bit nervous about leaving my child with a stranger, what can I do?

A. I feel you! I was very reluctant for a very long time to leave my precious little boy in the care of someone I hadn’t known for years. There are a few simple things you can do to help ease your nerves. First and foremost of course is to choose someone you trust! Let your babysitter know you are nervous and seek reassurance from them, a few comforting words should help you feel a bit better. Asking them to keep you updated with texts or photos may also put your mind at ease, you can see what your child is doing and (hopefully) see they are smiling and having fun.

If you aren’t in the position to choose a babysitter that you know and who knows your child well, using an agency can help. If your babysitter has been referred through a nannying agency, you can trust they have had a thorough background check completed. Mini Nanny Agency has been operating for 10 years so have thorough processes in place to match parents with carers. Knowing the process is thorough, choosing a babysitter you can connect with and relate to, as well as keeping clear lines of communication open will help ease your worry.

 

Q. How much should I expect to pay?

A. For a babysitter you’re looking at $20-$25 per hour. $25-$30 per hour is the going rate for experienced nannies while high school students might charge considerably less. The pricing would need to be discussed with your sitter and would depend on things such as experience level, household chores they might complete, the age of the children, whether the children would need to be transported to and from different locations, the number of hours and how regularly you would need the babysitter etc.

If you are using a nanny agency like Mini you can expect to pay $55 for a babysitter referral, which includes a thorough background check on the individual.

 

Q. What will they do with my children?

A. If you were hiring a babysitter during the day she might do craft activities with your children, take them to the park, cook with them, help them with schoolwork, play with play dough or engage them in imaginative play. It depends on what you have agreed upon before hand. Some nannies undertake house duties too. If your sitter will be putting your children to bed then you can expect her to follow the normal routine which you would have communicated with her.

Finding the right babysitter can be a bit of a challenge...Do I ask the neighbour's teenage daughter, find someone off Gumtree or use an agency to organise it for me? How do I ask for references? How much will it cost me? Worry not, I sat down with some of the lovely ladies from Mini Nannying Agency to answer all your questions.
Photo by Freepik

Q. What about tricky issues; things like diet or discipline?

A. Making any dietary requirement, requests and rules clear from the beginning is very important. If your child has allergies, make sure you inform the babysitter. If you are a strict sugar-free household, make that clear too.

Discipline is a tough one! Perhaps you know your child will test the boundaries and display some rather challenging behaviours. The key here is to choose a babysitter you believe will be comfortable dealing with such behaviours. Warn her before hand and give her some strategies and suggestions you know (hope) work. Make it clear what you are comfortable with, what behaviours you are happy to let slide Follow up with any inappropriate behaviours your child may have displayed.

 

Q. Where can I find a babysitter?

A. There are a multitude of places you could find a sitter. Be mindful that you will be trusting this person with your children so be sure to do your homework. Nannying agencies can find the perfect carer for your child without you having to do the work. Michelle from Mini says, “agencies eliminate the time pressures. They know the industry inside out, have a good name and ultimately do a good job.” Trusted friends, family and neighbours are also great people to ask, perhaps they have people they use and recommended. If your child goes to day care some staff there might babysit after hours. You could also search on Gumtree or local Facebook pages. Just be certain you do a thorough check…..

Finding the right babysitter can be a bit of a challenge...Do I ask the neighbour's teenage daughter, find someone off Gumtree or use an agency to organise it for me? How do I ask for references? How much will it cost me? Worry not, I sat down with some of the lovely ladies from Mini Nannying Agency to answer all your questions.
Photo by Freepik

Q. How do I ask for references without seeming rude?

A. Just ask. Your children are your most valued possession (for lack of a better word), no babysitter should be offended if you were to ask for references, they’d expect it! If you choose to use an agency, they will have done all the back ground checks for you and will provide you with all the references you need.

 

Q. What experience should my babysitter have?

A. This is totally up to you. If you want your ideal carer to have specific skills or experience then make that known from the beginning. If you’re asking for recommendations from friends, going through an agency or placing an ad, specify what you are looking for. If it matters to you that your babysitter be of a particular age, speak a particular language, has a background in teaching, is athletic or has experience working with babies or children with special needs then say so from the beginning.

Finding the right babysitter can be a bit of a challenge...Do I ask the neighbour's teenage daughter, find someone off Gumtree or use an agency to organise it for me? How do I ask for references? How much will it cost me? Worry not, I sat down with some of the lovely ladies from Mini Nannying Agency to answer all your questions.
Photo by Freepik

How do I select the perfect carer for my child?

Think about your top 3 must haves and consider this…what will keep them with your family long term? Is there a connection there or not (between you, the sitter and your kids)? If not then they may not be the right sitter for you.

 

Once you have settled on the right babysitter for your family trust them to do a great job and take the opportunity to enjoy some precious adult time for yourself!

 

Screen Free Activities To Keep Kids Cool On A Hot Day

I love the idea of sitting under the air conditioner all day and watching movies but that’s just not possible in my house with a toddler and well, lets be honest, it's not ideal. So….here’s a list of simple activities to keep your children entertained while keeping cool on those scorching Summer days.

Australian Summers can be HOT so keeping cool and calm is a priority, especially when the school holidays are stretching on and you’re running out of ideas for how to entertain the kids.

I love the idea of sitting under the air conditioner all day and watching movies but that’s just not possible in my house with a toddler and well, lets be honest, it’s not ideal. So….here’s a list of simple activities to keep your children entertained while keeping cool on those scorching Summer days.

 

Sensory Play

Quiet activities are a great option when the weather is really hot (or wet, or cold). Activities that allow your child to use their hands to manipulate materials are great for the development of fine motor skills, encourage imaginative play and are wonderfully calming.

*Play dough – play dough can be made at home or bought. It can be moulded with the hands, flattened, rolled, cut or stamped.

*Water beads – these tiny little balls absorb water and grow. They are soft, colourful and fantastic to play with.

*Coloured spaghetti – cook a few batches of spaghetti with a little food dye, let it cool and play away.

*Rainbow rice – rice can be dyed a rainbow of different colours with some food dye and a little vinegar.

*Bubbles – watching bubbles floating through the air is simple but always special.

play dough hot day

Bring The Outdoors In

When the outdoor environment isn’t welcoming, just bring the fun inside!

*Indoor forts – build a cubby inside using sheets draped over clothes horses, chairs or tables then make it cozy with cushions and soft toys.

*Inside picnic – pack a picnic basket full of goodies, set up a rug on the floor and have a special picnic in the living room.

*Treasure hunt – write clues and hide objects around the house for your children to find.

 

Water Play

Playing with cool water is the best way to escape the Summer heat but there are many more options than visiting a public pool.

*Paddling pools – set up a small pool, clam shell, tub or even bucket at home for your children to splash in.

*Washing dishes – washing dishes with cool water and plenty of bubbles can be fun on a hot day.

*Playing in the bath – having a long, cool bath is a great way to pass time.

*Floating/sinking – encourage your child to explore the concept of floating and sinking by making boats and testing the properties of different objects.

*Bath crayons – drawing in the bath tub or on their bodies with special bath crayons and soaps is a great way for your children to get clean and be creative.

*Paint the house/fence – give your child a bucket of water and a paintbrush, set them up in a shaded area and encourage them to ‘paint’ the fence or house.

*Wash  a car – using water from the hose and bubbles from a bucket to wash the car is cooling and helpful.

baby hot day activity water bucket

Cooking

If you cant stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen. Right? Or maybe not. If you choose simple foods that don’t require heat, the kitchen can be a great place to pass the time on a hot day. Think non-bake slices, icy poles, dips, smoothies or cheesecakes. Yum!

 

Out of the house

Sometimes the heat is just too much and a change of scene is needed so a trip out of the house is needed.

*Drive – if your car has air conditioner sometimes being stuck in traffic is the coolest place to be.

*Forest walk – head up into the hills and go for a walk in some well shaded forests, the temperature is sure to be much more bearable.

*Shopping centre – shopping centres are temperature controlled and will always be cool on a hot day.

*Gallery – visit a gallery and immerse your children in the arts.

*Museum – spend some time learning new and interesting facts in a lovely cool museum.

*Library – local libraries have fabulous kids sections, take some time to browse the shelves before borrowing some books to enjoy at home.

*All you can eat lunch – spend a hot afternoon in a cool restaurant grazing on the delicious foods, all you can eat style restaurants are perfect for this.

museum kids activity

More suggestions…

*Busy bags – these are a great way to learn while having fun and keeping cool.

*Stories – grab a few favourite books and enjoy reading them as a family.

*Performance – encourage your children to put on a performance; sing, dance or act out a favourite book

*Board games – pull a classic game out of the cupboard and play together.

*Card games – teach your children a new game or play an old favourite.

*Arts, craft, painting & drawing – the possibilities are endless.

*Stickers – peeling stickers off a page and sorting them or sticking them down to form an image can take a while to do and is often very satisfying.

*Lego – build a big tower, a house or other design. Lego is fantastic for imaginative play and motor skill development.

keep cool art

Dolls, cars, dress ups…..the list goes on. For more great ideas head on over to Flying Sprout’s Pinterest page and look at all the clever options to keep your little ones cool and calm on those hot Summer days.

 

50+ Activities to Make Spelling Fun

Make learning fun with this huge collection of spelling activities. Your child can clap, whisper, bake, sing and stomp their way to spelling success. Learning to spell and practising spelling words has not traditionally been a fun task. It’s time that changed!

Make learning fun with this huge collection of spelling activities. Your child can clap, whisper, bake, sing and stomp their way to spelling success. Learning to spell and practising spelling words has not traditionally been a fun task. It’s time that changed! Let’s move away from rote learning, chanting and testing and learn to spell by using Morse code, creating word searches and writing in shaving foam!

Help your child choose activities to suit their personality; do they like using the computer, singing or food? With more than 50 suggestions of fun ways to practise spelling words, there is sure to be an activity to suit them!

letters on a line

Active

  • Bouncing ball – Spell out the words while bouncing a ball.
  • Clapping – Spell out the words while clapping your hands.
  • Hop – Spell out the words while hopping.
  • Stand and sit – Spell out the words, standing up when a consonant appears and sitting down for each vowel.
  • Stomp – Say each word while stomping your feet.
  • Shake it – Spell your list, shaking your head when a consonant appears and clapping for each vowel.
  • Air writing – Use your fingers to write each word in the air as you spell it out.
  • Sign your words – Use sign language to sign your words!
  • Finger tracing – Use your finger to spell out each of your words one letter at a time on your Mom or Dad’s back. Swap over so you get to feel the words spelt on your back.
  • Other handed – If you are right-handed, write with your left, or vice versa.
  • Body letters – Spell your words by forming each letter with your whole body.
Yoga body letters
Image courtesy of Freepik

Computer

  • Type your words – Type all of your spelling words on the computer or on a typewriter.
  • Spread sheet – Use Excel to type your words into separate cells. Then make each cell a different font, colour, and size. Finally, let the computer sort them into alphabetical order!
  • Type your words in Word Art – Type your words into the computer using your favourite colours and fonts.
  • Online games – Visit Spelling City, type in your list of words and play games using your words.
  • Building words – Use buildings, shaped like letters, from around the world to type your words.
  • Word search – Create an online word search with all of your words, print it out then find them all!

Creative

  • Paint – Paint your words on a big piece of paper then hang them on an easel or wall.
  • Etch-A-Word – Use an Etch-A-Sketch to write your words.
  • Picture words – Draw a picture and write your words in the picture.

alphabet-1223623_1920

Tactile

  • Delicious words – Write your words in whipped cream, icing or anything else you can eat!
  • Clean words -Write your words in shaving cream on a counter or other surface that can be cleaned easily.
  • Dirty words – Write your words in mud or sand.
  • Moulded words – Use clay, plasticine or play dough to spell your words.
  • Pasta words – Write your words by arranging alphabet pasta.
  • Bake – Make, bake and eat your words using cookie cutters to shape the letters.
  • Chalk – Write your words on a concrete surface using chalk.
  • Pipe cleaners – Use pipe cleaners to create each letter of your spelling words.
  • Lego – Build Lego letters to spell the words from your list.

lego letter

Mathematical

  • Telephone Words – Translate your words into numbers from a telephone keypad.
  • Morse Code – Convert your words to Morse code.

Searching

  • Favourite books – Search for the words in your favourite books.
  • Scrabble – Use Scrabble tiles or magnetic letters to spell your words.
  • Ransom words – Write your words by cutting out letters in a newspaper or magazine and glue them on a paper.
  • Magazine words – Use an old magazine or newspaper to find each of your spelling words. Cut them out and glue them on a piece of paper.
  • Define – Use a dictionary to find the definition of your spelling words.

Writing

  • Trace around – Neatly write out one of spelling words. Take a coloured pen and draw an outline around the word, closely following the shapes of the letters.
  • ABC Order – Write your words in alphabetical order. Then write them in reverse alphabetical order.
  • Story writing – Write a story using ALL of your spelling words.
  • Single sentences – Write a sentence for each spelling word.
  • Black/White boards – Use chalkboards or write and wipe boards to write your words on.
  • Colourful words – Use two different colour pencils to write your spelling words. Use one colour to write the consonants and the other for the vowels.
  • Backwards words – Write your words normally, then backwards.
chalk spelling
Image courtesy of Freepik

Breaking Down Words

  • Vowels – How many vowels in each word?
  • Syllables – How many syllables in each word?
  • Phonemes – How many phonemes in each word?
  • Consonants – How many consonants in each word?
  • Swat words – Write out your spelling words in big letters on a big sheet of paper. Give your parents clues “The first letter is _ and the last letter is _.” See if they can “swat it” with a fly swatter!
  • Words without vowels – Write your words replacing all vowels with a line.
  • Words without consonants – Write your words replacing all consonants with a line.
  • Pyramid words – Write your words adding or subtracting one letter at a time. The result will be a pyramid shape of words.
  • Words-in-words – Write one spelling word at a time then write as many words as you can using the letters of your original word.
A letter matching activity from Flying Sprout's Grape Busy Bag.
A letter matching activity from Flying Sprout’s Grape Busy Bag.

Musical/verbal

  • Sing – Sing your spelling words to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
  • Whisper – Spell the word aloud, whispering each vowel.
  • Sing Them Loud, Sing Them Soft – Have your Mom or Dad sing the letters of a spelling word to you in a loud voice. You echo the spelling and then sing it again softly. Then both of you sing the word in the voice you choose!
  • Song writing – Make up a fun song to teach the spelling of a word.
  • Cheer your words – Pretend you are a cheerleader and call out your words.
  • Sound Words – Use a recording device to record your words and their spelling. Play back your recording, checking to see that you spelled all the words correctly.
Photo courtesy of Freepik
Photo courtesy of Freepik

Entertainment: When All You Have is a Pencil and a Serviette

Picture this for a minute. Your phone battery is dead, the kids are getting restless, you've left their toys and books at home and all you need is something, anything, to occupy your rowdy offspring. You search in your bag and find a pencil and a single serviette. “What the hell am I supposed to do with that!?” you ask yourself in despair.

Picture this for a minute. Your phone battery is dead, the kids are getting restless, you’ve left their toys and books at home and all you need is something, anything, to occupy your rowdy offspring. You search in your bag and find a pencil and a single serviette. “What the hell am I supposed to do with that!?” you ask yourself in despair.

Well, I’m glad you asked! Here are a few ideas of how those two simple objects can stop your head from exploding and the children from tearing each other apart…..

 

LITERACY

*Play Scattegories – list a variety of categories e.g. food, animal, colour, cities. After the list has been completed name as many items as possible for each of the categories OR choose a letter and think of an item for each category beginning with that letter.

*Play Ladybird (A child-friendly version of Hangman) – choose a word and draw a dash for each letter in that word. The other player/s must guess the letters of the word. Each correctly guessed letter is written in the correct position. For each wrong letter a part of the ladybug is drawn. The aim is for the word to be guessed before the ladybird is completely drawn.

*Write a story with each person contributing a sentence at a time.

*Write down the alphabet and as many items you can see that start with each letter.

*Retell/write a traditional fairy-tale or fable such as Cinderella or The 3 Little Pigs

*Play boggle – draw up a 3×3 grid and think of a 9-letter word. Place the scrambled letters of the word into the grid and challenge your children to create as many words as they can from those letters.

 

MATHS

*Choose a number (whole number, negative number, fraction or decimal) and write as many sums with that number as your answer as you can.

*Play Bingo. Tear off a piece of paper so each person has enough space to draw a 3×3 grid and place a number in each box. Call out sums for them to work out. If the answer is on their grid they can cross off the number. The winner can be the first to cross out three numbers in a row or all numbers in their grid.

*List as many different coin/note combinations you can think of to total $10.

*Place the numbers 1-9 in a 3 by 3 grid, one number per box, so that the vertical, horizontal, and diagonal sums are all the same.

*Use the numbers 123456789 in that order, add in any combination of + and – to see if you can create an equation with the answer of 100.

 

ARTS

*Fold a paper plane and have a competition to see who can throw it the farthest.

*Play Pictionary – draw something for the other players to guess

*Fold a fairy sized hat.

*Sketch a portrait of the people around you.

*Create a Snap Dragon-remember that old future predicting, origami-inspired entertainer?

 

GAMES

*Play naughts and crosses – take it in turns to draw either a circle or cross in a 3 x 3 grid. The winner is the player who has three of their symbols in a row.

*Play paddocks- section off a section of paper and fill it with a grid full of dots. Take it in turns to draw a small line from one dot to the next (either vertically or horizontally) with the aim of forming as many squares as possible. The player who completes a square (by drawing the forth line) writes their initial in the middle of that square. The winner is the player with the most completed squares one the whole grid has been completed.

mini-activity-kit-pencil-and-paper

If you don’t trust that you’ll always have a pencil and piece of paper handy or you think you may not remember all these simple activities to entertain your kids, head on over to Flying Sprout’s Etsy store to purchase your own Mini Kit with a notepad, pencil and activity booklet. Next time you’re out with the kids and your phone battery dies, at least you’ll know how to pass the time.

 

Travelling with a Toddler – Unnecessary Stress and Worry

Travel can be an exciting adventure. It can also be a stressful struggle. In many cases, the difference between these two experiences is simply our mindset.

Travel can be an exciting adventure. It can also be a stressful struggle. In many cases, the difference between these two experiences is simply our mindset.

Travelling with a toddlerWhile we certainly cannot control everything, and children have their own way of creating chaos, we can control ourselves. The way we plan for and approach our travels can help ensure things run as smoothly as possible, with the minimum amount of stress.

I am very fortunate to have travelled a lot with a toddler so I know the stress that can come before setting off on a big journey. I also know the anxiety that comes from imagining the worst-case scenario and the relief when you realise all the worry was unfounded.

When my little one was 18 months old my family went on a European adventure. We flew from Australia (2 flights, 23 hours in the air) to France and road-tripped through six countries. In that time I spent 5 days travelling alone with my son, driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road through non-English speaking countries and …. I had a blast!

I look back and think of all the time I spent worrying about what could potentially go wrong and seriously regret all the unnecessary stress I caused myself.

I worried about:

  • My child crying throughout the flights and disturbing everyone
  • None of us sleeping on the aeroplane
  • Not being able to communicate with locals
  • Not finding places to park or being able to read road signs
  • Having an accident in the hire car

None of those things, which I’d spent so much energy worrying about, actually eventuated. Not one!

  • My little one was wonderfully behaved and we all slept in the flights.
  • There are many English speakers in Europe plus loads of translation apps you can use to communicate.
  • The GPS worked wonderfully, so reading road signs was a non-issue and finding car parks was easy.
  • We handed the hire car back without so much as a scratch.

I've got 99 problems and 86 of them are completely made up scenarios in my head that I'm stressing about for absolutely no logical reason.

They say ‘live with no regrets’ but I’ll tell you what, I seriously regret the time I worried about all the things that would never even happen!

The only benefit that came from worrying about what could go wrong, was an increased motivation to through plan our trip; good places to stay, activities to keep a toddler amused, apps that make travel easier etc. Good planning meant everything that could go right did!

It was an amazing learning experience and I am so proud of what we achieved. We made memories that will last us a lifetime, I discovered abilities I didn’t know I had but most notably, I learnt that worry is a serious misuse of my imagination and there is no need to worry about what may or may not happen in the future because, that only takes away from the present.

Worry is a misuse of your imagination

Disclaimer: The worst we experienced was 2 days of seriously grumpy teething in 35 degree heat without air conditioning. But hey, plenty of cuddles, gelato and taking things a little slower was all we needed to get through that!