As we’re gearing up for a brand new term it is definitely a mix of nerves and excitement at our house. The older kids are super keen to go back to school, but the younger ones are not so sure. The teachers, the students, the building, the school work… it all can be quite scary and daunting! If your little student is feeling a tad nervous too here’s a lovely EK Books read to help them prepare for the big day:
When Edward starts Knight School he is counting on his protective armour to keep him safe from any upcoming trouble. Giants, ogres, dragons… when he enters his classroom he sees scary creatures everywhere! Edward decides that Knight School is just as scary as he had imagined and he is relieved he is wearing his armour to keep him safe in The Battle (RRP $24.99).
Thankfully a friendly ogre reaches out to him, showing Edward that there are no monsters at all. Slowly he realises that his armour is actually stopping him from having fun with his new class mates. Time to take off his protective gear and open up to all the fun school has to offer!
Young readers will love the sweet illustrations by Cara King and Ashling Kowk’s lovely message of battling school nerves and facing your fears will hit home to everyone. The Battle is a perfect gift idea for school starters and a win for the family book shelf.
You can find ‘The Battle’ in leading book stores across Australia.
To find out more about EK Books, to browse the range and to order your favourite titles online visit www.ekbooks.org.
We all have them, those days where you wake up in the morning and you instantly know it’s not going to be a good day. You may not even know exactly why but you just want to hide under the blankets and avoid the day all together. I think during these last few challenging months we may have had more of those days than ever! Kids have days like that too and it is important we help them to stay positive and empower them to beat the blues and find the silver lining in every day. This gorgeous read by EK Books does just that:
The moment Tabitha wakes up on the wrong side of the bed and spots a dreary, dripping raincloud hovering over her she realises she is about to have ‘one of those days’. A yucky, miserable day where everything goes wrong and nothing goes right. From breakfast to class, from playtime to lunch, wherever Tabitha goes the raincloud goes too and ruins her day…
No matter how hard Tabitha tries she can’t seem to shake this bothersome cloud, until she decides to stop escaping the splatter and to make the most of it instead. The wet drops make perfect puddles to splash in and bit by bit her day gets a little brighter. Tabitha and the Raincloud (RRP $24.99) is a fabulous book for everyone who has a yucky day every now and then.
Author Devon Sillett has teamed up with up-cycle artist Melissa Johns to deliver a delightful picture book that kids will love to read and look at. It promotes the important message of optimism and resilience through the sweetest recycled paper illustrations, it even inspired my girls to have a go at their own mix and match paper art too.
You can find ‘Tabitha and the Raincloud’ in leading book stores across Australia.
To find out more about EK Books, to browse the range and to order your favourite titles online visit www.ekbooks.org.
Now that the older kids have settled back into school, I am realising more and more how much of a challenge our home isolation has been for miss Hattie. She was really enjoying her daily adventures with just mummy and Ted, then suddenly we were stuck at home spending our days madly trying to complete a gazillion homeschool duties for the big four. She handled all these changes like a champ and absolutely adores unicorns, so she totally deserves this amazing Kidizoom reward:
Like a good watch should the Kidizoom Smartwatch DX2 (RRP $89.95, ages 4+) helps busy kids keep track of the clock, never before was being organised and on time this cool! With more than 55 different 3D digital and analogue displays to choose from children are able to customise their clock face to suit their taste, mood and personal preferences. Other handy time elements include an alarm, timer, stopwatch and even a calendar.
So it tells the time, but what makes it smart? Think games and photos, videos and voice recordings, sound effects and selfies, a pedometer, a bunch of motion-controlled activities that will get kids up and moving and much, much more. As expected the front camera (for selfies) and side camera (to record exciting things kids spot when out and about) are getting a thorough workout in our house, and with 256MB internal memory there is plenty of room to store all the snaps.
As a mum I love that the Kidizoom Smartwatch encourages different ways of play, both on and off screen. When you’re on a long road trip, waiting at the doctor or have to sit quietly at grandma’s you can enjoy a fun on-the-spot game or brain buster. When you’ve got space to move and energy to burn you can challenge yourself in Funky Jump, Crazy Dance or Racing Run. Parents can also set a time limit to keep game time in check.
One of many educational functions of the Smartwatch DX2 is Time Master, a handy tool that teaches children to read the time using verbal cues (yay, for learning through play). Simply change the hours and minutes on the clock and then tap the owl teacher to hear your set time read out loud.
The Smartwatch DX2 features a super clear, full-colour touch screen that looks incredible and is very easy to use, so that even our young adventurer can easily control her very own smart watch. The strong, kid-tough design is durable and has been developed with active kids in mind, it is also splash proof for those little unexpected drops. Last but not least the gorgeous unicorn print watch brand is soft, flexible and adjustable in size to ensure a nice, secure fit on your child’s wrist. It’s definitely a perfect fit for our cheeky 4-year old!
Just like your kids the Smartwatch DX2 does run out of energy sometimes, but there is no need to worry about fiddly little button batteries. Simply recharge your watch with the included micro USB cable and within no time it’s good to go for more smartwatch adventures. You can use the same cable to upload your child’s photos and videos to your computer and save all the special memories for later.
The Kidizoom Smartwatch DX2 is start-ready with multiple built-in apps for play-on-the-go and you can get even more out of your watch by downloading additional content through the VTech Learning Lodge. Add some dazzling new clock faces, extra games, a real calculator or timer or maybe an awesome photo effect to spunk up your snaps, completely free of charge!
The Kidizoom Smartwatch DX2 is currently available in 6 trendy colours at select online stores and independent toy retailers across Australia.
As a mum of 2 boys and 4 girls I love seeing how our two sons are alike in many ways. Our oldest son Tommie (now nearly 12) was extremely interested in learning his letters when he was just a toddler and he still an avid reader now. He loved ABC puzzles, wipe off letter boards and any toy that would sound out the alphabet and the individual letter sounds. Five siblings and ten years later our boy Ted (2) is obsessed with the alphabet too so I had no doubt this cool VTech ride would get his (brain) wheels turning:
If your little learner is crazy about everything that moves the Playtime Bus with Phonics (RRP $34.95, ages 2-5), with its bright colours, realistic traffic sounds and push along handle, is guaranteed to be a huge hit. Initially there may just be lots of laps around the house, but there is plenty more to discover along the way…
Ted’s eyes instantly lit up when he spotted all the buttons on his new Playtime Bus. With more than 40 buttons to press, four different modes of play (Phonics, Numbers, Music Station and Challenge Time) and a door that opens and closes there is certainly no time for sitting still. All together this fabulous vehicle offers more than 100 interactive curriculum questions and 30+ melodies, songs and sounds so it really is jam-packed with learning fun.
On the top of the bus you find 4 chunky buttons to control the engine sound, horn, brakes and the intercom telling you where the bus is heading next (The next stop is the zoo) accompanied by a catchy song. By opening the door you can learn to count by counting the number of children get off the bus. Three happy passengers have a window seat and share easy-to-understand sentences about their trip when you press their picture, eg ‘A green light means go’, ‘Always wear your seatbelt in the car’ and ‘I sit with my best friend on the bus’.
The main reason the Playtime Bus caught our eye was because it teaches children all 26 letters of the alphabet, as well as the number 1-10. Simply press one of the coloured letters to hear the letter, the letter sound and an easy everyday word that starts with that particular letter. It even distinguishes between vowels (blue) and consonants (yellow), which you don’t see that often in pre-schooler toys!
Of course Ted is only just starting to practice his ABCs, but once he’s a bit more confident he can test his knowledge with a fun question and answer game in Challenge Time mode, eg. Which letter sound does elephant start with? Can you find the letter C? Let’s count how many children get on the bus!
As a mother one of the things I love is that VTech understands that praise and encouragement is a great motivator, therefor this clever bus is full of positive affirmations eg. Great job! Terrific! If kids get it wrong there is no harm done either (Nice try, let’s try again) and they’ll be keen to give things another go. Are you ready to hop on the VTech Playtime Bus?
You can find the Playtime Bus with Phonics right now at your local Big W store and soon at select online stores and independent toy retailers across Australia.
Learning to read is a huge achievement, some of my children instantly ‘got it’ and others took their time to work it out and that is totally OK. I have definitely learnt that keeping it fun, exciting and entertaining helps take away some of the pressure and allows young readers to playfully make the jump from looking at pictures to proper reading. Proving you’re never too young to become a bookworm, LeapFrog has released this amazing new invention called LeapStart:
The LeapStart 3D Learning System (RRP $89.95, ages 2-7) brings books to life while cleverly combining a whole range of important learning areas like reading, spelling, puzzling, languages, tracing, maths, comprehension and much more. This makes it exciting for curious kids with different interests and levels of development and perfect for our two youngest learners.
It all starts with the LeapStart 3D base station that flips open to hold any LeapStart book of your choosing. Once you click your book into the base and switch the device on you can begin your discovery journey with the chunky toddler-friendly stylus. Each page is filled with interactive fun: Pictures, words, sounds, games, tunes, letters, numbers… just touch anything you see with the Touch & Talk stylus and watch the magic happen!
The education experts at LeapFrog understand exactly how little minds work and have designed the LeapStart technology to help develop a love for reading through play. Letters, letter sounds, words and sentences become a lot more interesting when you can touch them to hear them being read out loud, and you’re in charge. LeapStart allows young readers to feel independent and once they start ‘getting it right’ it offers a wonderful sense of pride and achievement.
The futuristic pop-up holographic screen that is built into the LeapStart 3D base station makes LeapStart 3D an experience like no other. As children explore each page by touching images, playing games or answering questions they will be treated to special holographic animations on the full colour screen, it’s like your favourite characters have jumped from the page to take you on an out-of-this-world adventure!
We have started our collection with the two included Level 1 titles (Shapes & Colours and 22 Words in English & French) as well as the LeapStart 3D Sampler Book but there are plenty of other LeapStart 3D books across three different levels to collect. Featuring popular characters like PAW Patrol, Mickey Mouse and Peppa Pig and covering topics from maths to writing, reading to science and everything in between there really is a LeapStart adventure waiting for every child.
With several birthdays coming up in a September we have already added Pre-School STEM, Disney Princess Shine and of course First Day of School to our wish list. Our four-year old Hattie is gearing up for the start of school so this will be a wonderful help as we prepare for the big day. Bonus: If you already own one or more books from the earlier LeapStart version, you’ll be pleased to know those titles are compatible with LeapStart 3D too (obviously without the 3D effect).
A little heads up for parents: LeapStart 3D takes a bit of preparation to get started, you will need to insert 3 AA batteries and connect the device to your computer to set it up and download the audio content for your books. Once that’s done LeapStart 3D is good to go! A built-in carry handle makes LeapStart easy to transport for small hands.
You can find the LeapFrog LeapStart 3D range at your local Big W or Target store and other good toy stores or online at selected retailers.
For your chance to win a LeapStart 3D prize pack (RRP $89.95, LeapStart 3D + 2 bonus books) hop on over to the LeapFrog Australia Facebook page to enter, good luck! Be quick, competition ends June 25, 2020.
From home isolation to hoarding, from shopping limits to social distancing, from hand sanitiser to home schooling… it has been a crazy few months! There are days I myself can hardly wrap my head around everything that has happened and the impact it has on all of us, so I am not surprised that children’s heads are full of questions too. If you are looking for a gentle conversation starter to tackle COVID19 with your little ones I’ve got the perfect find for you:
Written by a lovely Australian mama-of-three When the World Went Inside (RRP $15-$20) tells the story of a young boy called Theo and how his life changes when COVID19 enters his little world. People are worried, playgrounds are shut and schools are closed, he can no longer visit Granny or see his friends, yet he still has to brush his teeth and eat his veggies? This gorgeous book translates the impact, worries and changes brought on by the Coronavirus in a language children will recognise and understand.
Author Charlie Golding has managed to create a book that will hit home with children of all ages, discussing the ways the pandemic has affected their everyday life and making it easier to understand. Often children are unable to express their concerns or word their questions, in which case this beautifully illustrated book might just be the reassurance they need to put their mind at ease.
You can buy When the World Went Inside as a printed book ($20, soft-cover) to read at home or share in your classroom, or you can buy the e-book ($15, PDF) so you can enjoy it anytime and anywhere on your iPad on tablet.
During our weeks of home isolation hip daddy finally finished off our outdoor cubby house and it has been a source of joy, giggles and adventures for all the kids (and even the pets). Tea parties, mums and dads, schools, deserted islands, picnics… there is no limit to their imagination and I love hearing their chatter as they play. Unfortunately the weather for outside play has now ended so we’re snuggling up inside instead. Bye bye cubby house snacks and hello toasty winter treats, welcome to the big LeapFrog Bake Off!
The adorable Number Loving Oven (RRP $39.95, ages 2+) is sure to appeal to budding bakers and curious chefs, our two pre-schoolers have been cooking up a storm. Yummy pizza, pretty cupcakes, a fried egg or even a freshly baked loaf of bread, this cute little oven does it all!
The Number Loving Oven is cleverly designed to suit a range of ages, development stages and learning interests, making it a great toy for siblings to share. For early learners the oven brings different types of food and colours, a shape sorting oven tray, the puzzle of building a pizza and a baguette, a sizzling stove top, a door that opens and closes and of course lights, sounds and songs.
As your master chef gets older he/she will start recognising the numbers on the pizza and the oven timer, you can learn about temperature and time, practise sharing and dividing food between guests and serving food on a plate with a spatula. Seeing how our 2-year old, 4-year old and even 7-year old ‘play kitchen’ together with the Number Loving Oven, yet notice, learn and enjoy different things about it, proves it is a toy that will last the distance in a growing family.
By moving the timer, opening and closing the door and pressing the green chef’s hat button children will hear a wide range of learning questions (Let’s see, how long will that take to bake? Set the oven to four. That’s it! Let’s cook and count), encouraging sentences (That turned out beautifully! Mmmm, delicious. Let’s share), cooking information (1. Pre-heat, this little oven must pre-heat before you start to bake a treat. 4. Hot hot hot, to cook the pizza that’s you’ve got) and catchy songs about hand washing, cooking, waiting and counting. Plenty of kitchen chat to make cooking fun!
Bonus: As a mum I am super chuffed that all the food items fit neatly inside the oven, just close the door and everything is properly tidied away. No missing pieces and easy to store, winning! It is also a perfect compact size to keep in the cupboard at Grandma’s for when the grandies come visit.
You can find the LeapFrog Number Loving Oven at a Big W or other good toy store near you and online at selected retailers.