Frankie’s Free One – To – One Tuition With toota

[AD] Frankie has struggled with maths for a long time now and a long time now and alongside getting additional help at school I have tried to supplement this at home which has often been a struggle. With there being different teaching methods to those that I am used to and the familiarity between us we more often than not hit a brick wall.

Something I have been considering for a while now is a tutor to give him some much needed expert help, and for me with this in mind I then had to make the decision as to wether I wanted a traditional face – to – face tutor or to explore online tutoring.

So when toota asked me to trial a 40 minute one – to – one maths session for Frankie I was eager to see how this was going to work for us both.

toota offers tailored online one – to one maths tuition from UK qualified teachers and cover key stage 1 all the way to A Levels. The sessions work in a pay as you go basis which allows great flexibility so you can book as an when you need.

Our session was super easy to book and a follow up email arrived shortly after, asking if there was anything specific we were looking to cover. As I said Frankie struggles with lots of aspects of maths so my brief was pretty vague WiFi got didn’t put off our lovely tutor Jan who just got stuck in with Frankie the minute our session began.

Jan introduced herself to us both and Frankie was was a little apprehensive before the session immediately warmed to her and amazingly offered her an insight into what he was finding hard at the moment, with fractions coming up as his sure team of choice for the session.

One of the reasons I was put off by online tutoring was the fact that Frankie works much better in a hands on way but toota quashed my worries here as Jan used visual aids for Frankie as well as an interactive board online that they could both write on. Frankie loves this aspect and it worked well alongside him being able to use traditional pen and paper too.

As the session progressed Jan quickly picked up his needs and sent me on the lookout for some dried pasta for him to use as counters which helped Frankie no end.

I loved the fact I could sit in on the session with him and pick up tips on how I could continue helping him at home which is something I always find hard and end up loosing my will with. The sessions are also recorded so you can go back time and time again to go over anything they have learnt and may have forgotten.

Frankie isn’t a willing learner and I never thought we would get through a whole 40 minutes without him trying to leave the table which would have been so easy to do when there was nobody there in real time, but with the combination of an engaging tutor and a fun and interactive session he finished asking for more which I honestly wasn’t envisaging at all.

For me an online tutor is more convenient for us and during these challenging times it is the only option obviously due to lockdown. We have pretty hectic schedules in this house and having an online tutor would allow me to fit in sessions easily without having to battle through traffic, sit waiting in the car for sessions to finish and allow us to have the session from pretty much wherever we want, also making this more cost effective as you are receiving the cost of traveling back and forth.

As I said earlier I loved being able to dip in and out of the session with him which is something you don’t get the chance to do if they are with an outside tutor and I would really enjoy being able to see his progression the through the sessions.

It also gives them the chance to navigate a different style of learning, mixing in computing skills along maths with the use of the interactive tools.

I was overly impressed with toota from start to finish and I would highly recommend taking up this offer of a FREE 40 minute maths supercharged session to see how it works for yourself. Simply click HERE and use the code JOFIVE to get started and don’t forget to let me know how you get on!

Outdoor Activities For Children During Lockdown

I now have no idea what week we are on in lockdown but I do know that during this time we have all been trying to find ways of coping with being around each other 24 hours a day and for me I have found structure is key and trying to give the children some kind of home learning has been a must.

I am no teacher and so with the help of work set by school and the wonders of the internet I have been trying to find ways to keep the children happy and engaged.

We have been lucky to have been blessed with this wonderful weather and have tried to utilise this as much as possible and taking our home learning outside.

  • Most homeschooling activities can be done outside as it allows children to have freedom of movement, increases their physical development, helps build towards a healthy and activity lifestyle and hopefully makes them happier and more motivated to learn.
  • I have compiled a few of our favourite activities below and hope you find something that’s a good fit for your family to try:

    Den Building – The boys love building dens, so this was a great excuse to get something set up in the garden where they could play and read independently.

    Skipping – Skipping is a great way to get them using their gross motor skills as well as burning off a lot of steam!

    Climbing Tree – This is great for them to challenge their dexterity and build their confidence.

    Digging In The Dirt – All kids love to dig around in the dirt and without knowing it they are getting a real sensory experience. From making mud pies to hiding and finding different objects this is a great exercise.

    Getting Out For A Walk – The government is still allowing us out for 39 mins exercise a day, and we can use this time to clear our heads, strike up conversations to check that your little ones are coming with this situation and make it into a game by spotting different things on the way.

    • Planting – It’s the perfect time to plant seeds and flowers in the garden which can turn into a science lesson by talking about the lifestyle of plants and then drawing and labelling what you have planted.

    • Still Life Painting – There are so many things that can be painted in the garden, just pick something that catches your eye and get painting.

    • Rough And Tumble – This might not be for everyone, but my youngest two literally can’t keep their hands off each other; so for me allowing them to battle it out for a while works. It’s a way for them to relive stress, read social cues, make decisions on their own and of course have a good cardio workout!

    • Nature Collage – Take some time to walk around the garden and pick up anything you find interesting to create a masterpiece with.

    • Painting With Water – A big pot of water, some paint brushes and some space on the patio, a wall or a fence will allow children to create their own murals with no mess at all.

    • Shadow Drawing – Grab some paper and some objects that will create good shadows…our favourites are dinosaurs; position them on the paper so that the sunlight casts a shadow on the paper and the draw around the shadow.

    • Make A Bug Hotel – Find a space in the garden where you can put together as pike of bricks, logs, sticks, tiles and just about anything else mini beasts can create a home. The children can then go back and take a look at the insects and write up their finding.

    • Scavenger Hunt – Write a list of all kinds of different objects you might find outside such as leaves, flowers, rocks and set the kids a challenge to find them all.

    Bug Hunt – Lift up rocks, dig around in the leaves and see what insects you can find and them write down and discuss your findings.

    Tree And Leaf Rubbing – Grab some paper and crayons and find all kinds of different tree barks and leaves to rub over with the crayons and compare the different textures.

    Giant Bubbles – If you have a tuff tray or something large enough to hold a hula hoop then make up a bubble mixture using washing up liquid and water. Place the hula hoop inside and make as many giant bubbles as you can.

    Outdoor Gym – Nature gives us a huge array of items we can use to build our own outside gym which allows the children to left off steam and build gross motor skills. Stepping stones from logs, a rope placed between two objects to limbo under, a bench to do tricep dips from a just a few ideas. Let me know what else you would use!

    The Cutty Sark:A Day Out For All The Family

    [AD] I am ashamed to say that although the Cutty Sark is less than an hour away from us I have never visited, either alone or with the children. It’s one of those places that is so close I’ve simply overlooked it and never made the trip.

    However during the half term holidays we were invited along and I was as excited as the children to have our first visit.

    After a short journey that was made extra special with a trip on the Docklands Light Railway – another first that I highly recommend if you have little ones we arrived and were immediately taken aback with the sheer beauty and splendour of the ship.

    There was no queue at all to get on which is always a bonus when you have children as hyperactive as mine. There is the option to take in the sights of a ship with an interactive guide that talks you though each and every step; but the boys are a little more hands on and decided they just wanted to go ahead and get exploring.

    A big worry for me was that the whole set up would be more aimed at adults but this couldn’t be further from the truth. All three of the magnificent decks have been geared up for inquisitive little fingers which certainly placated my nerves.

    The lower deck was the first to be explored and it gave you the first insights into the history behind the tea clipper and how and where it carried its precious cargo. It also allowed you to witness the skeleton of the ship and just how much detailed is in the inner workings. The boys were absolutely amazed by the length and the thickness of the huge chains that would have anchored the ship down all those years ago.

    Next up was the middle deck which was definitely the area my boys enjoyed the most. There was a special bench that mimicked the movement of the ship, lots of wooden toys for tiny ones to get their fingers on, a chance to sail your very own ship and a whole host of interactive displays to explain what everyday life would have been like onboard.

    For me it had to be the top deck that was most impressive. The beautiful glossy wood and brass fittings along with the masses of ropes the seemed to fill the sky really was an amazing sight to see.

    The boys ran up and down the decking and exclaimed, “we feel like a Goonie”. They loved being able to get inside the sleeping quarters to try out the bunk beds, peep through the port holes and take a look at the grand dinning area and see where all the food would have been prepared.

    The last port of call was to take a look under the boat. I was just expecting an area to take a look at the ship itself but it was in fact a really laid back, peaceful area where you can grab a bite to eat, sit down and take in the beauty on the boat or indeed the stunning views of London from the viewing gallery or take part in one of the many activities on offer for the children.

    Whist we were there there was a big group of children all playing a game to help them understand a little more about the ship in a really fun way(you can check out the highlights on my instastories to see a little more).

    My preconceived ideas of what the day was going to hold we’re completely smashed after our visit. I took on a whole host of knowledge from the trip as well as the boys and it is definitely well worth a visit.

    There is so much for the children to see and do and if you check out Royal Museums Greenwich they will keep you updated on all the fun things on offer for the family such as toddler time, meet the captain and Cutty Sark characters and lots more.

    Premier League Writing Stars Competition

    Earlier in the year a few of you may remember that I was lucky enough to attend the Premier League Primary Stars One Year On event which introduced me to the fabulous community project that has been set up to help develop literary skills amongst primary aged children.

    After hearing the children recite the winning entries I was absolutely astounded at the time, thought and love that had gone into these entries and the look of pride that beamed from the children’s faces was a clear indicator of what an amazing initiative this is.

    Last year the project reached out to over 25000 schools and brought a fun and different way to engage the children in learning, opening up a different world to so many of them who ordinarily may not have had an interest in the written word before.

    This year they are back with another poetry competition that has the theme of diversity. This is a great way to get the children thinking about and celebrating everyones differences as well as similarities and why these are so important.

    This subject is close to my heart as since starting school the differences and segregation that comes with Frankie’s food allergies have been hightened and I think that getting his feelings written down about this could be really cathartic for him; and reading through other entries may open his eyes to all the differences in the world and how each and everyone of these makes that person special, individual and just as important and anyone else.

    They have inslisted the help of poet Joseph Coelho who has written a poem entitled ‘Beautifly Different, Wonderfully The Same’ which I’m sure you will agree is just perfect to get the childrens imaginations and creativity flowing.

    Again this year they have a star studded panel comprising of former Premier Leaugefootballer – Rio Ferdinand, author – Lauren Child,  singer/songwriter – Olly Murs and Joseph Coelho himself who will have the tough job of picking winners based on a whole range of different criteria. The lucky winner will get their poem published in a limited edition book whilst there are other great prizes such a Premier League trophy school visits and author-ledwriting workshops up for grabs.

    I’m sure that after reading this many of you will see just how much this project could enrich your children’s own school and if they are not already signed up to Premier League Primary Stars then all they need to do is sign up HERE.

    The competition is running until 21st December 2018 so there is still plenty of time to get those creative juices flowing.

    *collaborated post

    Beaker Creatures Liquid Reactor Super Lab Review And GIVEAWAY

    Frankie is a big fan of anything science related. He loves making potions and pulling things apart to see how they work. This can sometimes cause more than a little bit of mess and chaos!

    So when we were asked by Learning Resources to try out there Beaker Creatures Liquid Reactor Super Lab I was more than happy to give it a go.

    Beaker Creatures is a science kit for young children to be introduced to the wonders of science in a fun and educational way.

    The kit took less than five minutes to put together and consists of a main tray with three chambers where the experiments take place.

    The main experiment is to dissolve a pod which is pretty similar to a bath bomb inside the main chamber to extract the creature within.

    To start the extraction we had to fill two syringes with water, place inside the other chambers and press down on the plungers to release the water into the main chamber. We did have a little bit of trouble getting this to work to begin with but once it got going the pod started to fizz and bubble away, allowing the creature to be released.

    Frankie was super excited by the whole process and loved them trying to identify which creature he had found on the identification sheet.

    Alongside this great activity there is also an instruction sheet containing another four experiments you can try out using products you can easily find around the home, including ‘alien slime’ which was of course a big hit!

    Beaker Creatures was a great way to introduce simple science experiments to the children in a fun and pretty mess free way!

    If this sounds like something they your little ones would like then go ahead and enter my competition below.

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    *Collaborated post

    The Tree, The Key And Me:Personalised Book Review

    Personalised books have always been a huge favourite with all of my children. They love the ability it gives them to transport themselves into the heart of the story and really connect with the tale.

    Personalised books are a great way to get reluctant readers to engage in a story and open up their minds to the potential rewards they can reap from reading. In turn this passion can help greatly with their speech and vocabulary and who knows might even help them to become a little book worm.

    For me though I think it takes a special type of personalised book with a good story and beautiful illustrations that keeps you wanting to turn the pages and discover more, allowing them to get excited about finding themselves at the heart of the narrative.

    All my children have been reluctant readers and it takes a lot to get them engaged in reading. My biggest challenge however has been Frankie who resists reading for different reasons to the other others. He has in fact struggled with his reading and is currently being kept an eye on as he is showing signs of dyslexia.

    For him the written world is a scary place and so anything to make his reading journey easier is a bonus for us. So when we were asked by Librio to review their personalised book – The Tree, The Key and Me I had high hope this would be something Frankie could fall in love with.

    I am sometimes overwhelmed by creating personalised items online and can often be disheartened that the character I am creating doesn’t look as I want. Libro however have created a configurator with over 8000 possible combinations so you can get an incredible likeness – glasses and wavy hair included for Frankie. They have everything covered so your character can be created using their own gender, skin tone, eye colour, hair colour and even hairstyle.

    Something that I have also never come across before to is the ability to have the book written in 18 different languages and dialects, including UK and US English, French, German, Swiss, Italian, Spanish an Welsh.

    As well as creating your own little person there is also the opportunity to add a special message at the beginning of the book which is yet another fantastic personal touch.

    The personalisation took very little time and our book arrived in a matter of days. We went for the paperback version that is made from high quality, 100% recycled paper from the award winning printers Pureprint Group. This offers a top quality finish to the beautiful book which came with stunning illustrations and a story of a little boy who finds a key whilst digging for treasure which opens up a door to a very special forest which is home to all kinds of adorable animals that need help to save their home from losing its colour.

    Frankie’s eyes lit up the moment he saw the picture on the front cover and realised before even opening the first page that this was him. It was an absolute pleasure to see him try and read this story and find out with each turn of the page where his was going to be off to next and what kind of adventures he would be getting up to.

    If you are looking for a story to is going to be a keep sake for many years to come then this is the book for you. Librio also give back a huge amount by planting a tree with Trees For The Future for every book sold and on top of that for each book sold they donate £1 to literacy charities who do some amazing work to encourage children to find a love of books.

    I now have to create one for Oscar who is keen to be part of the magic trees adventures too and if you order two or more books you can get a 15% discount by entering the code YAY15 which is perfect for the run up to Christmas.

    *collaborated post

    Behind The Scenes At Sea Life

    For many years now my gang have loved visiting Sea Life. They love being able the ability to wander around freely discovering all kinds of weird and wondful creatures that live under the sea…well actually a fare few that live above it too!

    The other week we headed to Southbank for a trip around our favourite Sea Life and the chance to take a look behind the scenes with their behind the scenes tour.

    In our usual fashion we were running late and had to rush in and get over to the behind the scenes tour. So a quick dash over the shark walkway which the boys weren’t to impressed about and a zig zag past everything else we got their just in time to be greeted by our friendly and thankfully laid back tour guide.

    The doors were opened and we headed behind all the exhibits to a small area that was home to some very special creatures. I was a little apprehensive about taking this tour with Oscar as he is only four but only being 30 mins long it was the perfect timing to keep him engaged and I was so pleased to see that all three of them listening intently as we were shown round.

    We got the chance to see some of the fish being feed, meet a beautiful chinese snapper turtle that had sadly been discarded by his owner, meet some super cool sea dragons that fast became my favourite of the day due to the male getting pregnant and so much more.

    The children loved being shown the huge variety of food the animals were feed, thoroughly enjoyed being able to get hands on and touch things from lobster shells to egg pods, and the highlight for me was how much information they were given and were able to retain as the tour was done in such a relaxed, interactive and informative way.

    Full to the brim with a whole host of knowledge on marine life we headed back out to explore the rest of Sea Life. One tip is to get there as early as you can to avoid the crowds although to be honest even though we were there in the middle of the school holidays it was really easy to navigate still and didn’t feel like we struggled to see things in any of the tanks.

    The aquarium is set out in sections which include Shark Walk, Atlantic Coasts, Ray Lagoon, Rock Pool, Open Ocens, Ship Wreck, Ocean Tunnel, Nemo’s Coral Reef, Seahorse Kingdom, Creatures Of The Rainforest, Thames Walk, Penguin Point, Conservation Cove, Shark Reef and Ocean Invaders.

    Each area has its own uniqueness to it and being in distinct groups means its a lot easier to for the children to understand where each creature is from.

    The sharks were certainly a huge hit with the boys and we sat for ages watching them glide around the tanks in their majestic manner, they all got to touch a star fish which I think is such a wonderful experience and something you certainly can’t do everyday! For me the highlight had to be the seahorses as I am always in awe of their delicate beauty.

    As we moved around each section I loved the fact it wasn’t all about gazing into tanks, We thoroughly enjoyed getting a shock from the jelly fish wall, getting a nip from a parihna and climbing on board a distressed ship that was getting battered with thunder and lightening.

    For us Sea Life gets better and better on each visit and there really is something for people all ages to enjoy. We will be back very soon!

    *We were asked along to Sea Life for the purpose of this review and they are all my own, honest opinions.

    Super Start To School With PJ Masks

    Over the past few weeks the reality of Oscar starting school has set in and I can safely say that it is me with the butterflies in my tummy and the waves of anxiety on a daily basis.

    Oscar however seems pretty relaxed about the whole prospect and is eager to get started, make new friends and start his new and exciting journey into school life.

    After five children I know all to well that even the most confident and self assured children can have trouble with coping this massive change and it is our job as parents to make this transition as easy as possible.

    One thing I know that mine have all had trouble with is the more structured day they have compared to nursery. Although the majority of their learning is still done through play a lot of it is tailored to help them learn and this is something I have been helping Oscar to get used to with the help of PJ Masks.

    Oscar has been a huge fan of the lovable charters Owlet, Catboy and Gekko for some time now and their inspirational super powers are the perfect way to motive children to learn and give them confidence to battle through their fears.

    Oscar really needed some practice with his hand writing skills and the PJ Masks First Writing book has been a fantastic aid for him. the wipe clean pages allow him to try over and over again without wasting endless sheets of paper.

    We have also been learning in a more interactive way with the PJ Masks Leaning Headquarters that has three different modes of play that allows Cat Car, Owl Slider and Gekko Mobile to complete different missions. The catchy theme tunes and familiar faces make challenges such as memory skills, problem solving and much more all the more fun.

    A learning tool that is pretty familiar to our house is the Leap Frog range. Oscar was trilled with his Leap Start which is just like bringing a book to life. He didn’t even realise that through the touch and talk games he was building his reading, numerical and problem solving skills.

    Lunch time at school can be a pretty daunting experience too with all the hustle and bustle of so many children and the noise levels going through the roof. With school encouraging independence having a lunch that is easy to get into is of great importance. Oscar will be able to get off to a great start with his PJ Mask lunch box filled with his easy to open…and leak proof drinks bottle and super cool snack pot that can be filled with different treats everyday.

    All thats left now is for some of those PJ Mask super powers to rub off onto my little superhero and hope this will get him and me through those tricky first few weeks.

    *collaborative post

    Celebrating The Small Things:Week Twenty Two

    This week was a busier week than usual and a lot of it involved being grateful for the people around me.

    Learning Through Play – I’m a great believer in children gaining a lot through play. As an adult I am certainly someone who learns better through practical experiences rather than gazing at a screen or someone talking parrot fashion at me.

    I think this is also true for children and I love to get out and about with my lot to explore and learn about the world.

    A trip to the farm with Oscar lead to us talking all things animals, building and shape naming in the construction area and answering question upon question on the runnings of the farm itself.

    Finding Good People – Sometimes in life you just come across people that amaze you with their kindness and thought for others. A while ago I met a lovely lady through a couple of projects that I was working on and her warmness shone through from the moment we met.

    Before we went away on our annual trip to Elderflower Fields I was looking into getting some henna put up my arm and she kindly asked me into her home, gave up her time and wanted nothing in return. In a world that can seem so selfish at times its refreshing to know there are certainly still a few good eggs.

    Our Little Bit Of Peace – As I mentioned earlier we have just been on our yearly trip to Elderflower Fields that I will be telling you all about next week.

    Aside from being a fabulous festival one of our favourite parts about the whole weekend is the chance to spend time together and switch off from the outside world. Its certainly a big bump back to reality once the weekend is over.

    Geomag Review And Giveaway

    I would say the toys that always go the distance and have been pasted down and much loved are anything that involves construction. From Lego to Mechano they have been favourites with both the boys and girls and have all stood the test of time.

    The benefits of constructions toys are endless and here are just a few reasons I love them as much as the children:

    Enabling Creativity – Construction toys allow children to build and create with no limit to their imagination and what they can create.

    Improves Gross And Fine Motor Skills – Moving around and manipulating small pieces all help with building their large and smaller muscles in a fun way.

    Building Hand-Eye Coordination – Moving pieces into place, lining things up and connecting pieces are all great ways to work their hand-eye coordination.

    Nurturing Problem Solving Skills – Thinking through what they initially want to create and then over coming hurdles that they come across along the way is a great starting block for building problem solving skills that will be essential in later life.

    Working Together – Construction play is so versatile in many ways and as well as being great for solo play it is the perfect way to get children to put their heads together and work as a team to create something special.

    With all of this in mind I was really happy when Geomag offered me two sets to try out with the children. The Panels and Mechanics set compromises of brightly coloured, transparent panels that can be joined together with with its magnetic steel spheres and rods.

    This invisible magnetic force allows mechanical movement and allows any of the structures you build to move and rotate.

    Geomag is aimed at children aged 5+ so I know it would be absolutely perfect for Frankie who has just turned six and is passionate about creating all types of buildings and structures at the moment.

    Frankie’s eyes lit up when he saw the boxes full to the brim with all the shiny pieces and he was itching to get started.

    He started simply by creating lines and triangles to get his confidence with them and then once he realised the potential of both the Geomag and himself then he was away!

    It wasn’t long before the rest of the children took and interest and joined in with the fun…much to my delight as it is usually a real struggle to get my eldest son interested in anything that isn’t aimed at online gaming!

    Unknowingly as well as all the above benefits I have already mentioned, Geomag hits all the STEM needs which cover science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Who wouldn’t enjoy a toy that allows the children to explore all of these important elements in a fun way.

    If this sounds like something your little ones would enjoy as much as mine have then below I have the chance for you to win a Geomag Panel set of your own worth £89.99

    Good Luck!

    a Rafflecopter giveaway