Top 5 Books for the Easter Break

 Sales & Savings, Toys, Books & Movies  Comments Off on Top 5 Books for the Easter Break
Mar 252016
 

Dymocks

You’d think our kids would be excited about the prospect of no school for two weeks, but they’re actually a little sad. They very much enjoy school and they particularly love our (almost daily) visits to the library. If your kids are avid readers too make sure you pick up some great new reads to keep them entertained during the holidays.

Here are our top 5 books for the Easter break:

Tiny TimmyNot a day goes by where our 7-year old son doesn’t read a book or two, he is known to even read a book while walking to school! He also loves to kick the footy with his friends so Tim Cahill’s latest book Tiny Timmy Makes the Grade! (RRP $12.99) really is the best of both worlds. If your sporty kid needs a bit of encouragement to open a book this is an excellent pick that is sure to win them over.

Tim is determined to make it onto the famous rep team, but first he will have prove his worth on the field. Earning a spot in the school squad is not easy so he better put his best foot (and his head!) forward if he wants to succeed. It’s a great story about teamwork, perseverance, doing your best and of course being active, something all kids can learn a lot from.  Featuring a fun, appealing font and filled with cool illustrations this Tiny Timmy adventure reads very easily, even the most stubborn reader will read his way through all 124 pages without realising.

Room on the BroomLearning to read is a tricky job and can be quite exhausting too so our miss 5 is not always in the mood to do her reading before bed. We find the best way to keep her focussed is by choosing a book about something she already knows and loves, it makes the story much more fun and real. She has seen Room on the Broom (RRP $14.95) on TV before and thinks it is terribly funny (and a little scary too!) so this is a real winner!

Written by Julia Donaldson (creator of The Gruffalo) this gorgeous book is a joy to read and listen to. It tells the story of a witch on a flying broomstick, who picks up a bunch of interesting passengers on her way. The text flows beautifully and rhymes, which invites young listeners to join in and ‘guess’ the next word. The pictures are colourful and detailed so there is lots to look at and spot on every page.

Pig the PugNext up is miss Sybbie (3), our little busy-bee who struggles to sit still. She recently spotted Pig the Pug (RRP $16.99) at the ‘big school’ so she thinks it is pretty awesome that we now have it in our own ‘library’ at home as well. We have read Aaron Blabey’s hilarious book ‘The Brothers Quibble’ over and over again and his writing style is so appealing to kids, he really knows how to engage young children.

This interesting looking character is called Pig the Pug, a round and wrinkly dog who hates sharing his food or toys with anyone. Then Trevor, a friendly sausage dog, comes along… will Pig learn to share and play together after all?

Dear ZooRight now she’s more into chewing books than reading them but, if she is anything like her siblings, I am sure it won’t be long until baby Harriet falls in love with reading too. Dear Zoo (RRP $14.99) by Rod Campbell is a great choice for the smallest family members, this sturdy board book introduces children to different animals and their characteristics through a fun game of lift-the-flap. Can you guess what animal is behind the flap?

If I Were The Easter BunnyJust in time for Easter we can’t go past If I were the Easter Bunny (RRP $14.99) by Louise Gardner, a colourful hardcover picture book about an exciting egg hunt, scrumptious chocolate eggs, fun and games in the park, pretty handmade bonnets and of course the Easter parade, after all the best Easter is one spent with friends. What would this weekend look like if you were the Easter bunny?

The book experts at Dymocks are here to help you stock your bookshelf in time for the upcoming school holidays with this awesome book deal: Buy 3 picture books for just $30! There are more than 30 great titles to choose from, offer ends end of April.

To find out more about Dymocks, to locate a stockist near you or to order online visit www.dymocks.com.au.

LeapFrog LeapPad 3

 Toys, Books & Movies  Comments Off on LeapFrog LeapPad 3
Nov 182014
 

Right now kids around the globe are writing down their favourite toys on crumpled pieces of paper, dreaming of a special Christmas morning spent unwrapping gifts around the tree. In the meanwhile Santa’s helpers, responsible for the shopping, scratch their heads trying to select the items from the wish list that get the thumbs up from both children and their parents. If your child has requested a tablet and you feel they are too young you better think twice, check out the newest design from LeapFrog:

LeapPad 3

The LeapPad 3 Learning Tablet (RRP $169, green or pink) is specifically designed for children aged 3-9 years old: it’s fun, compact, portable, kid-tough and give your child access to a world of educational, age-appropriate content that is approved by learning experts. The sturdy device has been thoroughly drop tested and features a shatter-proof screen as well as special impact zones for added protection.

LeapPad 3 pinkThe LeapPad 3 is fitted with a 2-way camera, microphone and comes with 10 free apps to get you started, additionally you can purchase separate game cartridges that work on any LeapPad tablet. With 4GB of storage space there is plenty of room to store your learning fun and personalised videos, photos, music and artwork and through the LeapFrog Learning Library you can purchase more than 700 Educator Approved games, eBooks and apps.

But there is more to the LeapPad 3 than the learning apps and games, using a WiFi connection children can browse pre-screened internet content using LeapSearch™ powered by Zui™. Unlike with many ordinary tablets parents can feel confident that all information, pictures and videos their child sees on the LeapPad 3 are safe and age appropriate and there are no accidental downloads or purchases, spam or pop-ups. The internet connection can be turned off if desired. Our 6-year old son is very eager to read, learn and discover, he is like a sponge and loves having so much interesting information at his finger tips.

The LeapPad 3 has a built-in rechargeable battery with a 6+ hour battery life making it ideal for car rides and plane trips. The battery can be recharged using the included USB charger/adapter, so easy and much cheaper than single use batteries! You can use the same USB cable to connect the LeapPad 3 to your computer where you can follow your child’s progress, download and upload content and customise your child’s LeapFrog experience by name, age and skills. Using LeapFrog Connect parents can create different profiles for different users so each player enjoys personalised play, great for siblings!

LeapPad 3 GreenOur three older children all have their own LeapPad and the effects of their LeapPad play on their school work is very noticeable, even their teacher has asked me what my secret is. We actually call it a different way of doing homework, it’s all about finding ways to make learning fun and engage your child in a way that appeals to them. Sometimes they don’t want to sit down to read a book yet they are happy to read an eBook or play a spelling game so we’re still working with the same theme.

In our family we are currently using the LeapPad 2, LeapPad Ultra and LeapPad 3, they’re all excellent designs but the LeapPad 3 is definitely my favourite model to-date. I love the light weight (it’s considerably lighter than the Ultra and even slightly lighter than the LeapPad2), built-in battery, impressive 5-inch high resolution full colour screen and fast speed. Between the LeapPad 3 and LeapPad Ultra the kids really enjoy the peer-to-peer play and chat function, they can send each other symbols and put together simple messages or visit each others pet in Pet Pad Party. To use this function the two LeapPads have to be in the same room so it is completely safe and children can not connect with strangers.

LeapPad 3 Carry CaseOur 6-year old daughter has claimed the LeapPad 3 as hers so we’ve purchased the cute pink LeapPad 3 Carry Case to keep it well protected when not in use. The new carry case has a handy handle so children can safely carry it like a bag and the revamped inside features a neat pocket/pouch to keep the LeapPad 3 safe and snug inside when you zip open the carry case.

To find out more about LeapFrog, to browse the range and to locate stockist near you visit www.leapfrog.com.au.

Sep 162014
 

Story Mama logo

If you are a regular reader of Hip Little One you will know by now that I am a big book lover. I love reading myself and so do my four little ones, it’s one of our favourite family activities and a result we have an ever-growing collection of books. Not only is reading relaxing and fun to do, books can also help explain situations, celebrate milestones and deal with emotions in child-friendly way. The key is to find the right book for the right event…

Wombat Goes To SchoolAt Story Mama they understand that most parents don’t have time to visit store after store and sift through endless shelves of kids books trying to find the perfect book, which is why they have done all the hard work for you. From alphabets to animals, from colours to Christmas, from moving house to going on a holiday, from learning to swim to starting school and everything in between, Story Mama has got it all covered.

Going On A PlaneAustralian mum and owner of Story Mama Debbie has handpicked (or should I say hand read) every single book in store herself, read it over and over again and rated it to make your shopping experience as quick and simple as possible. The easy to navigate website allows you to search by age, milestone or interest to be presented with a selection of beautiful children’s books that ticks YOUR boxes.

Where Is The Green Sheep?If you want to spoil a special little person with a good read that is sure to get the thumbs up you can never go wrong with one of Australia’s Favourite Kids Books. I also love the section with Victorian Premier’s Reading Challenge Books, I know our twins would really appreciate this little encouragement to take part in this great initiative that gets school kids reading. Mem Fox, Eric Carle, Alison Lester, Dr. Seuss, they’re all at your fingertips.

Pete the CatRight now Story Mama is giving you the chance to win one of two copies of Pete the Cat by James Dean & Eric Litwi ($26.99, ages 3-7). It’s a gorgeous best-selling picture book about an adventurous little cat and his new white shoes, your kids are sure to love it. Entry is easy as pie but you have to be quick as this lovely competition ends next Tuesday, September 23, 2014. Good luck!

To find out more about Storymama, to browse the range and to order online visit www.storymama.com.au, all orders over $30 ship free Australia wide.

Welcome to The Play Hive

 Eco, Toys, Books & Movies  Comments Off on Welcome to The Play Hive
Sep 112014
 

The Play Hive

With just over 3 months to go until Christmas I am slowly making a start on my shopping list, jotting down cool gifts as I spot them and bookmarking fabulous stores I discover. With toys taking up the majority of Christmas wish lists for most families it is important to shop wisely and invest in items that are fun, age-appropiate, educational and encourage children to develop new skills. For a fabulous range of toys that fit all the boxes look no further than The Play Hive:

Wooden Picnic BasketCarefully handpicked by pre-school teacher Emma Butler The Play Hive stocks a wide range of toys, games, puzzles and books for children of all ages. With years of experience under her belt Emma knows exactly what to look for in a great toy and she loves sharing her insights with you so can shop with confidence and select the perfect gift for your child. If you need a bit of extra help or are in a rush you can even use the handy Product Finder, how easy is that?

Geo Nesting BoardPersonally I always have a soft spot for high quality, wooden toys so I am glad to see Emma has sourced a beautiful range of wooden toys that are sure to be enjoyed by generations to come. Not only are they durable, strong and timeless but they are eco friendly too, it doesn’t get much better than that. This beautiful Geo Nesting Board ($39.95) from sustainable rubber wood is stunning in its simplicity, it teaches little ones about colour, shapes, sizing and stacking.

Lunch Box GameAt our house we are huge fans of Orchard Toys, the kids never get enough of playing these games and it’s amazing to see how much they learn as they play. The fun and colourful Lunch Box Game ($28.95, ages 2-7) is based on the traditional lotto concept, the aim of the game is to collect all the foods pictured on your card and be the first to fill your lunch box with a healthy, balanced lunch.

It’s the perfect tool for small children to learn the names of everyday food items, recognise images and match them up while using their memory skills and practising taking turns. With only 6 items per card the Lunch Box Game is a fantastic ‘quick’ game for after dinner, short enough to keep young kids from losing their concentration yet challenging enough for little minds. There are lots of other great Orchard Toys games to choose from and I will definitely add some of them to my Christmas shopping list.

Orchard Toys Lunch Box Game

But The Play Hive is not all about shopping, Emma has also put together her best tips, advice and children’s activities for parents to enjoy for FREE. We can all use some refreshing thoughts, ideas and inspirations from time to time so make sure you bookmark the Fun & Advice category and you’ll always have Emma’s expert advice at your fingertips.

To find out more about The Play Hive, to browse the range and to order online visit www.playhivetoys.com.au.

Reading with Kids: Cheer or Chore?

 Mum  Comments Off on Reading with Kids: Cheer or Chore?
May 272014
 

Book Shelf

For as long as I can remember I have loved reading. As a child my parents took us to the library every Saturday where I picked six books and by the time the next Saturday came around I had read them all twice from cover to cover. As soon as I could ride my bike I went by myself, often visiting the library multiple times a week. When I was a teenager I would spend the whole weekend in bed reading and if I didn’t have a family to look after I would probably still do the same today.

Family Story Time

I always knew that when I would have children I would be doing lots of reading with them and with four little ones we spend countless hours reading every week. Because English is not my native language all this reading is not only good for the kids, it has always been (and still is) a learning process for me too. From looking at simple picture books with the baby and practising words with miss 3 to now reading longer stories out loud with the twins, as the children grow our reading ways do too.

Miss 3 relaxing with a book

Being able to read does not come easy to everyone and this is particularly obvious with our 5-year old twins. Even though they are the same age and have both been exposed to the same amount and same way of reading they are reading at completely different levels. Master 5 is reading well ahead of his peers and changes reading levels faster than the teacher can hand out certificates. He is reading independently, sounding out the letters, combining them to build words and sentences and he is always spotting words wherever we go. The teacher calls him a little sponge and he really is.

Reading Certificates

Then there is our little miss 5, I love watching her read with her index finger pointing at every word, her little tongue poking out in concentration, carefully making the sounds and trying her hardest to make sense of all these different letters. It’s hard work and very tiring after a long day at school, all she wants to do is curl up on my lap and just listening to me reading the story out loud to her and that’s okay too.

Miss 5 concentrating

I know that after a busy day, cooking dinner for your family, eating and cleaning up and then a quick bath the thought of practising sounds, doing sight words and reading several readers with each child may not be very enticing but I really want to encourage you: Every letter, every word, every sentence and every page you read aloud to your child, whether is with them or to them, matters!

A few reading tips from our wonderful teacher Mrs. T (and if you have great reading tips please share below, I’d love to hear them):

  • Choose a book that is age appropriate and a topic that your child is interested in
  • Find a quiet place to read without TV, radio or noisy siblings to distract them
  • Point at the words as you read, this will help your child to recognise words and follow sentences
  • If you notice that your child regularly has trouble concentrating try reading at a different time of the day
  • If your child is too tired to do the reading him/herself just read aloud to your child, he/she will still learn from it and it is a great way to relax and spend time together at the end of a busy day

Good luck and here’s to sparking a growing love for reading in every child!

ASG

Australian Scholarships Group (ASG) is a not-for-profit organisation and specialist education benefits provider who has supported over 509,000 children and their families to offset the cost of education But ASG is moving towards offering more than just education funds, they’re creating an ever-expanding suite of resources, online tools and guides – like the ‘Motivating children to learn’ e-guide – to support parents and nurture children in their educational journey so they can reach their full potential.

More articles regarding education issues, development, family members and parenting are available at www.asg.com.au/resources.

To find out more about ASG, to discover member benefits and to register your interest visit www.asg.com.au or call 1800 648 945.

ASG is also giving away a week-long, luxury family excursion and entry is FREE! For your chance to win enter here.

Feb 032014
 

Books 4 Schools

Last week I introduced you to the fantastic Books 4 Schools initiative from Australian Office and I am glad to see so many of you discovering this super helpful website. We also launched an awesome giveaway where you can win 1 of 2 $100 Books 4 Schools Scrapbook Packs to give your craft cupboard a boost for the school year ahead. But there is more…

Olympic Exercise Book Pack

Big or small, ruled, graph, grid or blank, thin or thick, project, exercise, science or notebook; there are so many different school books to choose from! Because shopping for school stationery supplies can be quite a time consuming task the helpful team at Books 4 Schools is saving Australian families time and stress with the practical Scholatic Ruling Guide.

Reflex Binder BookYou can download the free Scholatic Ruling Guide online and use it to create a complete school book shopping list from Australia’s favourite school stationery brands Olympic, Tudor, Reflex and Tudor Eco. All different book styles, sizes and details are clearly listed so it saves you lots of puzzling.  Using the unique reference code that is printed on the front of all the school books finding the correct school book is a piece of cake.

Olympic PP rangeThis school year iconic Australian brand Olympic is shaking things up a little in the school books department with the exciting new Olympic PP range. Featuring tough plastic covers in a selection of bright colours the new PP exercise books do not only look super stylish but they are also extremely durable and sure to last the year. Students can be pretty rough when packing their school bags so these strong covers will prevent torn or bent covers and you can even wipe off sticky messes with ease.

To celebrate the start of the new school year we are giving away two Books 4 Schools Stationery Packs filled with $100 worth of exercise books in all kinds of styles, sizes and colours. If you have little or big students in school this is the perfect giveaway for you!

To find out more about Books 4 Schools, to discover valuable tools for parents, students and teachers or to download the handy Scholatic Ruling Guide visit www.books4schools.com.au.

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Juliet and ‘Read with me Violet’

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Sep 102013
 

When I posted a photo of our beautiful birthday girl Juliet on Facebook a few weeks ago several people asked about the cute purple puppy in the photo. Well, her name is Violet and she is the best buddy of LeapFrog’s green puppy dog Scout. There are lots of different Violet toys available in the LeapFrog range, this one is brand new to the LeapFrog family and it arrived just in time to be wrapped up for Juliet’s birthday. Meet Read with me Violet by LeapFrog:

First present of the (very early) morning

First present of the (very early) morning

LeapFrog is well known all around the globe for its innovative range of fun and educational toys for children. They design toys that kids love to play with and at the same time encourage a love for learning, after all you’re never too young (or old) to learn! The newest family members Read with me Scout and Read with me Violet ($59.99, ages 2+) fit right in with the rest. As the name suggests Scout and Violet are more than just soft toys, while they’re definitely soft and cuddly they can also do something other puppies can’t: read!

Read with me VioletRead with me Violet comes with five 10-page board books covering a range of learning areas like colours, numbers, shapes, rhyming, patterns and more. Using the collar around her neck toddlers can explore their own little story library. The collar features five coloured buttons which correspond with the five books, eg. when you press the blue no.3 button Violet tells you to look for the blue book with the number 3 on it. She also describes the front cover of the book to help little ones find the right book.

Birthday Girl

Nothing like reading a book with a pal

Read with me Scout (3)As Violet reads the book she asks the reader questions about the story, making it more fun and keeping little minds engaged. With over 70 questions there is plenty to discover and of course parents can make up their own questions too. Children respond to Violet’s questions by patting her back, they can also kiss her cheek, pat her head or squeeze one the front paws to get a response from Violet. She sure is one friendly puppy, always keen to make a new friend and telling them how much she likes them.

Our first opinion of Violet was that she is big (an impressive size for little ones) and very huggable. Juliet immediately worked out that the symbols on Violet’s body triggered a response, she likes pressing them again and again and her favourite lines are ‘You’re nice, I like being friends with you’ and ‘May I have a kiss?’. Although we usually sit down with her the buttons are a great size for chubby little fingers so she can easily control Violet herself. Sometimes she gets a bit distracted so it is nice that Violet reminds her to get back to the story.

Read with me ScoutBoth miss 3 and the twins enjoy playing with Read with me Violet and it is interesting to see how different their approach is. Miss 3 randomly presses numbers but mostly reads the same book again and again (Let’s cheer up Eli, a sweet rhyming story), while the twins really listen to Violet’s instructions and read the books in the right order, recognising letters and even some words. This shows exactly how LeapFrog toys grow with your child over a certain time period and stay challenging and fun.

To find out more about LeapFrog, to browse the range and to locate stockist near you visit www.leapfrog.com.au.