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How to keep your hair on during COVID-19 …DAY 30…

Hello!! Hope you’re all well, this post was motivated by reading all these posts and memes on social media about lots of families being stuck together and the thousands of parents who are finding this time hard. Especially working parents, we have to somehow to double the work expected normally because we’re under pressure to prove that we are actually working from home and do all the things at home without the usual help from people we outsource our chores to. We don’t even own a lawnmower so I was thinking of going out there with a pair of scissors today is what I’m talking about! My husband putting hand sanitiser on my son’s foot when he cut it, is another fun thing that happened today. We also played hide and seek and had to keep pretending not to find the 3 year old when she stuck her head under the sofa and I’m happy to announce- in an amazing turn of events our mish mash parenting style has somehow made the teenagers get around to not only cleaning their rooms but helped their brothers clean their room too!

IT IS HARD!! It’s not easy at all!! but you can do a few things to make it easier on yourselves by following three easy rules.

  1. Get ready. This means get ready in two ways -plan and prepare. Each day wake up and have a shower, get dressed, comb hair, brush teeth, – follow your daily routine. This puts you and the fam in the right mood for the day.
  2. Plan to have activities ready for the kids, my own kids are 3,5,10,13,16 which means that I have a little help with the little ones from the older ones but those of you that don’t, try to think of activities they can do with minimum supervision. The sensory boxes I spoke about last week are perfect for this. As is simple colouring, dot to dot, or an interactive toy. The 10 and 13 year olds have online lessons from their school, so we make sure the iPads are charged and ready for their day to save the whole “that was my charger” argument!
  3. Just as you would do in a normal day make sure the food is planned and the snacks are available -yes that might mean a bit of cutting up some fruits/veggies or buying some extra treats – this is a unique situation cut yourself and the kiddos some slack. If a biscuit will keep them busy for the few mins you need to send an email – do it. #Guiltfree

I really believe that organisation and planning are key to running a peaceful house but honestly we do still have times when everyone is just tired of being cooped up together especially with the new -no exercise rules. PE with Joe has been a life saver for us in this regard. As has story-time from Space and similar channels like National Geographic. Personally I don’t mind a bit of screen time each day and lets face it its literally a necessity now if we have other things to do but we should be mindful of how long they’re spending on screens.

I’ve found some really amazing websites online which allow the kids to have some downtime whilst also learning something (and their narrative voices aren’t as irritating as some of the kiddie YT channels,) one of these is NASA.gov -real pictures and videos taken in space provides prompts for some good, interesting conversations. Curiosity Stream has really piqued my interest and we will be getting the subscription as soon as I have a few mins.

Another point to note is to find something that you enjoy and do that as well, a good book, a long soak in the bath, doing your hair or nails will all give you a break and a chance to recover so you can be the best version of you. For me I like to keep busy so although my daughters started watching yet another Turkish drama (each episode is 2.5 hours long!) I try to stay outside and I began refurbishing a garden swing that we inherited when we moved to this house. I hope to share pictures soon and I also hope that my daughters will be so amazed that they might start learning to sew!! ( I can dream! can’t I?)

We’ve actually had a few moments of inspiration this most notably when we made KFC for dinner and also when my son logged into my husbands Google account on his PlayStation and we enjoyed an impromptu look through pictures from the summer holidays last year. We’re planning an online party with their cousins tomorrow as it’s the weekend here and I’m going to text my mum and sister to make some popcorn and poppadoms for a snack and we planned to cook a roast that we can enjoy in 4 corners of the world together.

Hope this post has inspired you to be a more creative and see the benefits in embracing this change for the betterment of the family. I am in no way, shape or form a perfect parent, I just wanted to share some ideas that have made life easier for me in the hope that someone out there will benefit. Take care, until we meet again. I’ll leave you with some images we’d all like to see in the house.

More fun, free ideas for your kiddos

So what’s been happening folks? Been anywhere nice lately? (sorry bad joke!)

It’s getting a bit tedious trying to keep the children occupied at home but we’ve (un)luckily been busy with their schoolwork most of the week. My high schoolers are on zoom meetings now some of the time as well as my husband and I teaching pretty much all day. So a fun activity has been to send the littles off on a little hunt around the house… it keeps them occupied and the game can literally carry on for ages. I was on a facebook group where this lists were shared so i’m sharing them here too! Thanks to Amber Kothe and Yesette Terrazas.

Another game to play is to hide a smallish object or teddy bear in the room and get them to hunt for it, as they get closer you say hotter and as they get further away you say colder. They’ll start practicing their english as well, they’ll start saying boiling hot or freezing cold, it gets more fun as they get more practice and more creative at hiding the toy!

Once we got into the idea lots of old car games came rushing back to the memory – ‘Name, Animal, Place, Thing, Total’ took us on many trips to London from Lancashire and back again when my siblings and I were kids! Just take a pen and paper for each player and draw a table with 5 columns; one player has to say the alphabet under his breath and someone else stops him, whatever letter he’s on you all write a name, place, animal or thing with that letter. Then you mark it, if you answer is unique you get 10 points and if someone else has it then you only get 5. You can change place to country or city if you prefer and do football teams instead of ‘thing.’

Both this game and I-spy has to be played phonetically so the 5year old can join in but it’s also good practice for him to learn the difference between the two sounds ‘g’ makes. Simon Says and copy cat also take some time to play and the old family favourite ‘Oh the hokey cokey!’

I hope this helps you, please let us know how you get on in the comments, take care and stay home – stay safe!!

Ideas to keep the little ones busy so you can teach the older ones in peace.

One of the things i’m enjoying is being at home with my preschooler and son in KG; they are really enjoying all the attention being lavished on them and being able to see us all day long with no long wait until we reach home from school. However they want to be involved and take part in lessons; last week I entertained them with dot-to-dot’s and colour by number printed from the internet but they’re getting a bit tired of that so I remembered an old favourite of ours when we had a sand a water table –sensory bins.

One of my main intentions in this blog is to make sure that the activities I choose are cheap or freely available so although we don’t have the sand table any more we can easily use a plastic tray of some sort and any props you find around the house. Take household objects like plastic bottles, cups, measuring spoons, funnels and get a plastic tray or box, fill it with sand or water and let them play, yes it will make a bit of a mess but it will give them practice with their gross motor skills. Those more adventurous families can even mix the two together but I don’t recommend it on the first day(!)

Get the children to practise writing by making lines in the water or sand. Each time you use the bins you can add certain toys like dinosaurs one or farm animals the next, be creative and add little props to make it more fun for the children. Let them make scenarios and you can let them create a story- it all leads to their development.

Another way to use them is to hide ‘a special object’ and they have to find it; all the while you will notice their language skills improving, their hands will manipulate the sand or water and they will probably even try to eat it – don’t get annoyed at them, this is all a normal part of growing and developing.

You can also use pasta, rice and lentils to change out the texture once they’ve had enough of the sand or water, just be sure to put some kind of cloth under the bin to collect it all or you’ll be finding grains of rice for weeks later! You can also put some pasta or rice in empty plastic bottles and give them wooden spoons and cooking pans to make music to change up the activity.

If you have any of those fancy stones you know those packets of painted pebbles we all buy ‘to do something’ with – they’re perfect for this kind of play. Another one that is nice is orbeez but you have to be careful when they squeeze them so hard they pop.

If you want to discover this idea further please do visit this awesome website https://littlebinsforlittlehands.com/books-bins-sensory-bin-play-ten-apples-up-on-top/ where she really makes interesting and amazing sensory bins.

Hope you and your little ones enjoy playing with the sensory boxes, please do let me know how it goes in the comments below. (I’ve added affiliate links from amazon to explain what I mean further and buying from these will benefit me at no additional cost to you)

Images from Clipart

5 TIPS FOR TEENAGERS’ MENTAL HEALTH DURING LOCKDOWN.

I’m writing this post at 1am probably because I drank too much coffee today trying to stay awake and do a zillion things at once. Long story short – I was teaching online during a thunderstorm outside and had to ensure all my own kids were actively engaged too. We did it -just about!

I wanted to write this post as a reminder we are only human and not to expect too much of ourselves during this time. In particular I want to focus on our teenaged children, and how all this change and upheaval has affected their mental health. Two months ago they’d only heard of one kind of Corona and now here it is affecting their daily life and I don’t know what your teenagers are like but I did manage to get some quotes from a few I know and it surprised me a little bit how deeply they think about these things. I honestly thought they’d be happy to have no school for a few weeks in fact I asked my friend’s nephew for his opinion for my blog today and his mum told us he was asleep and glad there was no college for a few weeks! Although some of the other teenagers are very worried and stressed about this whole new situation that’s come about affecting our ‘normal’ daily lives,

I don’t mind if I get the virus myself but I am worried about infecting my baby sister as she has a heart condition so she’s really vulnerable.

M, 14, Bolton, UK

I am probably one of the few people actively avoiding corona updates because of the stress and fear and anxiety it induces in me instead I am trying to focus on the positives. One of my friends pointed out our WhatsApp group was filled with articles and corona news ever since we first heard that the schools were closing so we’ve purposely tried to talk about other things as much as possible.

Anyway the motivation for this post was to support those who may be feeling blue after hearing all this news. For a normal healthy person the anxiety levels are rising due to the uncertainty of the last few weeks so spare a thought for this who suffer from anxiety and worry on a daily basis.

My advice is to deal with such issues spiritually, whatever your religious inclination normally is, call on your Lord to guide you, protect you and keep you safe. Keep the information limited and focus on things you can do and enjoy the free time you have to pursue your hobbies or catch up on your chores and spring clean like one of my sisters’ has decided to do.

I’m sad that I’ll miss my prom and I might have to wait another year to go to college.

R, 16, Devon, UK

I want to point out that our teenagers may be feeling extra worried and they have every right to be because they’re living though something their parents (and grandparents) are facing for the first time in their lives so they are bound to feel some sort of anxiety. I think we need to just focus on them and reassure them that this will pass and it’s a temporary phase. Although that’s easier said than done.

I feel like Corona has made everyone step back and think that this World is temporary.

M, 15, Dubai, UAE
  • Model a calm persona outwardly – the last thing your children need is to hear your worries and hourly news updates. Try to limit their exposure to the news and internet free time.
  • Try to maintain some sense of normality, allow them to socialise be it online or over the phone. Ensure that they keep to some sort of a schedule (I obviously need help on this point)
  • Listen to them and validate their fears without constant empty reassurances. Allow them to express their worry and instead of saying “Oh don’t worry about it,” or “It’ll be alright – you’ll see!” try rephrasing and telling them you understand they’re scared and you will be there for them. This is a way of you telling them their is something to be scared of and its normal to feel that way but we will work through it together rather than ignoring the problem altogether.
  • Answer their questions matter of factly empathise with them but try not to emote for them, some teenagers may literally feel like it’s the end of the world and you may need to convince them its not. Even with their proms being cancelled, their exams uncertain, their future plans changing. This is a good opportunity to teach our children resilience and enjoying the journey of life rather than focusing only on each destination along the way.
  • Practice relaxation strategies and guide them towards meditation and Yoga as a way of calming the mind. Again this is a good opportunity to practice mindfulness and limit their exposure to passive TV watching or listening to the same tracks on end. Show them the life outside electronics can be fulfilling too.

Resources and references for this blog and links that can help:

Article Relaxation tips Building resilience Validate their feelings

Title image from

A non-stop day… COVID-19 DAY 19!

It started normally but then spiralled into non-stop issues, I was helping one then the other then another one needed me – I was going a little bit crazy to be honest. Then I remembered the plan – oh YES ‘The Plan!’

The plan was hubby was going to take the little two out for a walk so I could work on whatever the others needed to do… unfortunately the plan did not work, ‘need to find a shoe, ‘ ‘need to change a nappy,’ ‘oh their t-shirt has a stain.’ I honestly thought this day is gonna be the end of me. Then I remembered its ok, deep breaths “we can do this.” I rolled my sleeves up and directed everyone to a particular job – in just 10mins the house was visibly tidier and my mind relaxed. The little ones went for a walk around the block; The electronics were locked up (in the safe!) and we started again.

Back to basics

We then spent a lovely afternoon playing cards (Maths) and hangman (spelling) with charades and ‘notes and crosses’ for a bit of variety.

During the week I was making dinner and accidentally put too much salt in I knew instinctively that I need to make a dough ball and chuck it in but I still double checked with my dad; when he confirmed I realised that I learnt how to cook by watching my elders cook; and I picked up some good tips along the way so I decided I’ll make more of an effort to include the kiddos in cooking

So the plan today was to prepare a roast chicken dinner together, Z cut a salad like a pro and the older girls took care of the oven jobs. We’d marinated the chicken the night before so we just did the sides and some garlic bread and we were ready to roll. As if to confirm my thinking was right Z asked me to teach him how I cut lettuce (I tell them to use a chopping board but I do it freehand myself!) I think the kids enjoyed their food because they had a hand in choosing what to cooking and then preparing it together. It’s definitely going to be a positive I take from COVID-19 that’s for sure.

Just as we were finishing dinner and wondering what to do next? as if by magic my brother sent me a lovely resource that I will share now with you from the lovely SCOUTS organisation. CLICK HERE!

We look forward to trying some of these ideas tomorrow. I’d love to hear what you’re all getting up to and how the children are responding to more attention and time from their parents. Today I really felt I could make a difference if I stayed home. C’est la vie – we always want what we don’t have and then when we get it think the grass is greener on the other side. Such is the human!

Shared from a Homeschooler:

Since many kids are or will be home from school,  today i’m sharing an awesome list of ideas from a parent who homeschools. Keep the children busy and their minds active so they don’t fall behind at school but be sure to mix it up with lots of board games, library books (and Kindle), tinkering/up-cycling with household junk, (look out for our up-cycled garden swing coming up at the end of this week!)

Here’s some more online resources to help with kids at home – my suggestion would be to focus on one link from each list and work through it with your children, allowing them to be a bit more autonomous in choosing what they want to study (For example ask them -Science or Maths?) will bring out a sense of ownership and they will want to do well. I used this web 2.0 app earlier and my son challenged me to a game – I had to beat his score – which meant that he had to then beat mine! https://www.timestables.com/speed-test/

MORE WEBSITES

BrainPop- http://www.brainpop.com

Curiosity Stream- https://curiositystream.com/collections/

Tynker- https://www.tynker.com/

Outschool- https://outschool.com/ (love learning also offers this service – contact us if you’re interested)

iReady-http://i-readycentral.com/familycenter/what-is-i-ready/

Beast Academy (Math) – https://beastacademy.com/online

Khan Academy- https://www.khanacademy.org/

Creative Bug- https://www.creativebug.com/ – Andvia media is a new channel dedicated to painting and art… its mesmerising: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDctfCBlBMFmVfl0pUnZikA

Discovery Education https://www.discoveryeducation.com/


YouTube Channels

Brainiac – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQPKOYjy8W3ouIz8CGWW3ow

Crash Course Kids- https://www.youtube.com/user/crashcoursekids/featured

Science Channel- https://www.sciencechannel.com/tv-shows/

SciShow Kids- https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRFIPG2u1DxKLNuE3y2SjHA

National  Geographic Kids- https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/

Free School- https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCebMFnw6WxozGmqGekJHOJg

Geography Focus- https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8HYERScBt-e0kV0fpe0asg

TheBrainScoop- https://www.youtube.com/user/thebrainscoop

SciShow- https://www.youtube.com/user/scishow

Kids Learning Tube- https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7EFWpvc1wYuUwrtZ_BLi9A

Geeek Gurl Diaries- https://www.youtube.com/user/GeekGurlDiaries

Science Max- https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1OHoETxoYa3Uvyc3hh8g0A

SoulPancake https://www.youtube.com/user/soulpancake


*Scholastic has created a free learn-from-home site with 20+ days of learning and activities.
https://classroommagazines.scholastic.com/support/learnathome.html
*Pretend to travel the world..Go on a virtual tour of these 12 famous museums.
https://www.travelandleisure.com/attractions/museums-galleries/museums-with-virtual-tours
*This is the awesome free curriculum that we use. Everything from preschool activities to 12th grade is here!
https://allinonehomeschool.com/
*List of thinking games by grade: https://allinonehomeschool.com/thinking/


**More awesome free learning websites that we like to use**
https://www.starfall.com/h/
https://www.abcya.com/
https://www.funbrain.com/
https://www.splashlearn.com/
https://www.storylineonline.net/
https://pbskids.org/
https://www.highlightskids.com/
https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/
https://www.coolmath4kids.com/
http://www.mathgametime.com/
https://www.uniteforliteracy.com/
http://www.literactive.com/Home/index.asp
http://www.sciencekids.co.nz/
https://www.switchzoo.com/
https://www.seussville.com/
https://www.turtlediary.com/
https://www.e-learningforkids.org/

Please feel free to share this with anyone who you think may benefit from this

WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS GO ONLINE!

I, like most of you, am worried about how I’m going to be able to entertain the kids during this time and ensure they don’t get into trouble while I’m at work (or busy with house chores-although to be fair I get them involved in house work as much as possible) (I bought a safe this morning to hide all their electronics in!)

I’ve listed a few of the websites that are offering free trials until May for homeschoolers and teachers alike. I know that some parents may feel overwhelmed with the number of websites out there; each website has its pros and cons and some are better than others so I’ve selected a few to focus on this week and will be adding to this list periodically. If you’d like a tutorial on how these websites work please follow my YouTube channel, I post videos each evening, look forward to seeing you there!

  • purple-mash Embed computing and digital skills across the curriculum for KS1 and KS2
  • teachyourmonstertoread – teaches children, the alphabet, phonics and how to read
  • ageoflearning -ABC mouse – reading app
  • classdojo -motivation tool and you can create a story of the day
  • curriki – Library of free and open teaching and learning resources, we offer educator-vetted, openly licensed, online educational materials
  • deck.toys -for the educators that want to create a online lesson with different elements
  • deltamath -Maths tutorials and examples
  • discoveryeducation -online research resource and puzzle maker
  • learnworlds -specialist support for dyslexia
  • edpuzzle – embed questions within a video to check learning is taking place
  • elementari -write interactive stories
  • flipgrid -using videos to enhance learning
  • khanacademy – video tutorials
  • inthinking -classroom materials
  • kognity -interactive textbooks
  • Nearpod – create and deliver interactive lessons
  • Schoology – Create folders online and set work for your children they can do independently
  • Quizziz – Find interactive quizzes on virtually any topic for your children

Thanks for reading – post your favourites in the comments below!

“And then what happened?”

A really nice way of getting your children to start telling imaginative stories is to simply ask them- ‘and then what happened?,’ other phrases to use are ‘where were you?,’ ‘who else was there?’ and so on…

Last night S told me a story about the time he was saving me from the tooth fairy who was stealing all my teeth; the tale was elaborate and became more exaggerated with all my extra questions

My 5 year old

Use family pictures of outings and scenery to prompt the conversation, in my experience young children love hearing about themselves and seeing themselves in situations they may not remember very well… they always insert themselves into scenes that were taken before they were born as well!

Have fun, talk to the kids! Enjoy the conversation and the subsequent journey your imagination goes on. An added bonus is that my children now prompt each other and I’ve noticed the older children use the same tricks to converse with the younger ones… once the stories have started they’ll develop them into more and more intricate scenarios -here’s a storyboard my 5 yo S made his sister M (15) as he was explaining his dinosaur story the other day:

You can even make food from different countries, find props from around the house, dim the lighting or sit with candles, just try to ignite their thought process and imagination; Have fun with it, let me know how it goes in the comments below!

SUPPLEMENT YOUR CHILD’S EDUCATION.. Don’t know where to start?

What’s your Aim? HAVE fun? learn? follow a curriculum? Support your children to do better or improve?

“I never know where to start”

Asiya, Housewife in Leyland, Lancashire

As we’re off school for an extended time now, it’s nice to fill up the time with worksheet upon worksheet so the children are busy but I would suggest to stay away from that temptation and allow them (and you) to be a bit more creative.

Anything that you want can be found on the internet now- instructables, worksheets on every subject known to man, colouring or puzzle pages so it’s nice to have an aim in mind and search for something that serves two purposes – educational and creative or ‘develops memory’ and entertains for example https://www.twinkl.ae has many ready made resources and your children will appreciate the extra time you’ve spent.

For my 5yo son and 3yo daughter I always search for their current obsession (dolls or army!) and cross reference it with a resource, yesterday I found a ‘dot to dot’ for my son and a colouring page for my daughter.

My older girls need some practice in writing so I searched one of the tasks on the IELTS website; ‘What’s your opinion on Advertising;’ I then found two conflicting opinions and told them to read them and write a summary, then they had to give their opinion. The actual word content was only 250 words but it was a nice exercise in scanning a resource and reading it to paraphrase and use it as evidence.

My 10yo is falling behind in Maths so I found a KS2 practice paper for him to solve to find out which concepts he was weaker on so I can focus on them more in the coming days. This way I found out his arithmetic is good but he needs help on figuring out sequences and patterns, so I can develop that skill with the work I choose today.