Podcasts for kids

We’ve loved audiobooks and story CDs for a while now. Recently, my 4.5-year-old and I have discovered podcasts, together, and we’re loving it.

There’s a huge variety out there and many (most!) of them are free. I like that they are short and that there’s lots of non-fiction on offer. Great for a fact-hungry school child.

First thing Saturday mornings (which means, you know, FIRST thing) have become podcast time, while making breakfast or pottering about the house. There’s something really great about learning facts together while listening, and being able to pause the content and talk about it!

There are of course loads of round-ups of good podcasts, such as this top 21 from Time Out New York, and this top 10 from Fatherly. This list is nice because it’s organised by theme including bed-time and road-trip recommendations. The BBC also does lots of kids’ podcasts.

I’m planning to try the boys with some of the music shows for kids soon, like maybe Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child… and also Wow in the World, which is a non-fiction for kids from NPR – who I’m a fan of already from the time Before Children when I did things like listen to music shows not aimed at children…

Anyway, our current favourite is “But Why?” from Vermont Public Radio.  Continue reading “Podcasts for kids”


You brush your teeth…

One member of our household is extremely reluctant to brush her teeth. We’ve tried everything…

  • Brushing her teeth to the ‘You brush your teeth‘ song.
  • Letting her watch Bob the Builder while brushing her teeth.
  • Letting her brush her doll’s teeth at the same time.
  • Letting her brush her dinosaur’s teeth at the same time.
  • Letting her brush her own teeth.
  • Changing the toothpaste.
  • Changing the toothbrush to one that looks like a pink monster.
  • Making things she wants to happen contingent on brushing her teeth .
  • Telling her everyone else brushes their teeth.
  • Giving her sips of water from a child’s medicine syringe and other weird things she likes.
  • Reading about and watching Peppa and George going to the dentist and brushing their teeth

To little avail.

This has made a difference though.

Brush baby, baby sonic toothbrush suitable from 0-3 years of age

She sees everyone else using an electric toothbrush and I suppose she wanted one too. This baby toothbrush has a very gentle movement but she likes it. Most important it lights up, and we turn the main light off in the evening to make it even more exciting – for a minute or two, we just use the light of the brush.

As a nearly-two-year-old, she loves being awkward and saying no, but so far – touch wood – this toothbrush has changed toothbrushing time from a stressful time of day to a fun one. And maybe she’s finding she also likes everyone saying how great she is for brushing her teeth.

Match and Spell game

s-l640My last post was about the Ladybird Game, which I bought for my one-year-old who plays it in her own unique way.

At the same time, I bought the Match and Spell game – one of Orchard toys best-selling games that has enormous numbers of five star reviews from parents. It’s easy to see why.

It’s a great way for children to become familiar with the letters of the alphabet, and take steps towards spelling and reading, but within the setting of a game. So it’s entirely fun and fairly versatile and, I’d say, good for most children aged three or over.

Depending at what point your child is at, you’re given two ways you can play the game. But here’s the version we’re on.

  • You’re given some tiles with short words spelt out – there’s a picture so non-readers know what the word is – but we’re talking things like ‘hat’ ‘dog’ and ‘cat’.
  • The letter tiles are placed faced down.
  • You take it in turns to take a letter and put it on your word tile if there’s a space for it.
  • If you want to, you can encourage your child to sound out the word when it’s complete, which should help them with their reading.
  • The winner is the one who completes the most words.

Even within that, there’s the chance to make the game your own. My four-year-old has brought in a snatching rule, where someone who is dawdling over a tile can have it ‘taken’ by their opponent. and we’re thinking we might add some more interesting words starting with our names.orchardtoysmatchandspellgamecontentsa

For children who are already reading and spelling, you can turn the word tiles over and there are no letters. You have to know which letters to pick up, but otherwise the game works in a similar way.

Both Match and Spell and the Ladybird game have been popular since we got them and have been played frequently. There’s nothing complicated about them, and you can get up and running playing them straightaway.

21 piglets

Mum and two of her babies

There are 21 gorgeous piglets at Surrey Docks Farm.

21! Count them.

(Or try. It’s tricky when they’re clambering over each other to get a prime feeding spot on their mums).

They’re part of two litters recently born at the farm.

Visit them while they’re at their cutest.

If you haven’t been to Surrey Docks Farm before, it’s free to visit, it’s open every day 10am-4pm and it’s in Rotherhithe. It’s a similar size – perhaps a bit bigger – than Stepney City farm. It has goats, sheep, a shetland pony, donkeys, ducks, rabbits, guinea pigs and rabbits, and there is an impressive selection of fruit and vegetables being grown.

You can buy food to feed the goats and sheep, and if you visit during the week, you can have a closer encounter with some of the animals in the afternoon.

There’s also a cafe (not open on Mondays), which was serving some seriously delicious looking food. There’s a kid menu, and high chairs.

Surrey Docks Farm is in a great location on the river, looking out onto Canary Wharf, so you can combine a visit with a scoot or bike ride down the river.



The ladybird game

downloadI ‘spotted’ this game at a friend’s house and ordered it as soon as I got home. Although it says it’s for age 3+, I bought it for my one-year-old who is very proud of her first board game. We play it several times most days although she isn’t much interested in the rules. She’s made up her own.

I think games like this are a great way of learning, and she’s already picked up the concept of ‘turns’.

“My turn,” she says, throwing the dice and picking up cards randomly, saying “Oh dear. Oh no.” as if a national tragedy has occurred if she picks up a card with no ladybirds on. download-1I’m sure it won’t be long before she plays by the actual rules, which are:

  • Throw the dice
  • Pick up a card with that number on (the numbers are displayed as per the dice making it easier for younger players who can look for a match if they don’t know their numbers yet)
  • Try to accumulate as many ladybirds as possible

It’s nice to find we can, sort of, play together and have a laugh – the one-year-old, four-year-old and me.

If you’re looking for a starter board game to start playing with a young toddler, here’s a previous post that might be useful.



Passing on a skill

My grandma was born more than a century ago. She grew up in the north east of England, part of a working class family. Like many girls from her background at that time, she wasn’t educated beyond the age of 14. But she was clearly an intelligent person and it showed in the many skills she acquired.

She was a great baker. A good 25 years since I last tasted one, my mouth still waters at the thought of the amazing biscuits she made using her Be-Ro cookbook and artery clogging quantities of Stork margarine. Mmmm! Melting moments, oat crunchies and ginger biscuits. She could sew, making clothes where the seams were invisible, the pattern matched across the garment and it fitted the wearer perfectly. She could knit complex arran cardigans. She could decorate and do DIY. She was a really good gardener. And she made lovely cards using pressed flowers.

I can’t do any of those things as well as her, but I can knit. I can bake. I can do a bit of sewing. I try to grow things, and I know how to press flowers.

That’s all thanks to her.

This post is about pressing flowers, but it’s also about passing on skills.

Did your parents or grandparents or anyone else teach you anything you can pass on? I’m sure they did – from a story, to a song, to a skill. If you haven’t already, try sharing them with your child.

We had lots of fun collecting flowers and leaves. We tried to experiment with as many different things we could find, and then put them in the press.

Then we decided to forget about them, because as I told the four-year-old, flower pressing takes ages (I couldn’t remember how long) but I knew we’d get some wonderful surprises when we took a look in the press again a few months later.

Then one day she said, “Can we look in the flower press?”

It was time to do some sticking.


We sent our truly special cards to people who remembered my grandma and would be happy to know the great granddaughter she never met is trying her hand at her old hobby.

Priceless necklaces and other finery

This simple craft project has kept us busy and happy, on and off, for a while.

First, get yourself some macaroni.

Paint the pieces lovely colours as and when – gold and silver metallic paints were a big hit.


When you’ve got a decent number, thread them onto an elasticated string (the paintbrush is to stop the macaroni going straight off the other end).


Tie a knot and your necklace and/or bracelet and/or anklet and/or crown are ready to wear.