Win One of Five Dummy Sterilisers!

win-dummy-sterilisers My previous blog post and giveaway was a  big success! The winner of the soother steriliser was Stephanie, from Pretoria.

I have now been given five more soother/ dummy sterilisers to give away. They are also all green, so you don’t have to worry about the gender preferences.

Just a recap on exactly what it is:

The Milton Soother Steriliser

The foam components.

The foam used in this steriliser took them about a year to source and that it is medical
grade PVA from Belgium.  They tried it at first with one foam and then found it to be better with two. The sponges absorb the water and are pretty special because they can also be used inside the human body.

MINI1_vert Pop water and the Milton tablet in this container, and within fifteen minutes you have a sterilised dummy that will last for 24 hours.

Mini green with strap RET Another nice thing about it is that it comes with a strap you can attach to your stroller. So it really is sterilisation on the go!

If you’d like to read more about Milton and their other sterilisation products, plus why you need to sterilise in baby’s first year, go to my previous post here.

To enter, use the Rafflecopter method. The competition closes on 15 August. Winners will be emailed and also announced on the Facebook page. You must be living in South Africa to enter.
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Weaning – I Just Can’t Do It.

weaning-I-can't-do-it Nicky has recently turned two and shows no sign of dropping the boob. Although the day feeds are a lot less, he still needs it to go to sleep and when emotionally distressed. I keep trying to stop, but I’m weak.

Here is a list of my procrastination methods:

1) Get another sippy cup. We have a variety. I have two kinds of no spill Tommy Tippee. I have a Avent no spill with a straw. I have two with a straw that spill. I have two push top lids. We have a cute car one.

Sippy cups haven’t totally been a total waste as I now have him drinking tea out of one of the non spill Tommy Tippee (pictured above). So if that helps for a morning or evening feed, great.

2) Read another book on weaning. It’s much easier to read a book than put the information into practice. Then you feel like you are doing something. Remember that post I wrote before on gentle weaning based on two other books? Great tips, right? I wrote them all down. Did I do anything about them? Nope.

I’ve just finished another one (pictured) which is actually really good and has a really good quote about how demanding weaning is.

3) Ask everyone for advice. I asked my mom friends. I asked my sister. I asked my mother. I listened as I was told about feeding Nicky yoghurt at night, I must rub his back to get him to sleep. I must sleep train. I must, I must… aaaah! I listened and I did nothing. (Oh by the way Nicky laughs when I rub his back)

4) Create a spreadsheet to track feeds and what is prompting them. I think my DH’s love for spreadsheets is getting to me. Also the yelling spreadsheet tracker worked really well, didn’t it?

Well that idea lasted one day.

The first day went really well. No day feeds apart from nap time. One feed to get to sleep.

And then.

And then the wheels came off.

Many night feeds because he didn’t sleep. The next day he was so grumpy because of lack of sleep he needed more feeds to calm him down. We have actually had a week of bad sleep. I think he’s teething or he was too cold or something. Who knows. I just rolled over and kept the crying down with the boob solution.

5) Assemble a variety of boob substitutes next to the bed. This was bound to make me feel better, right, and feel like I had some kind of plan, right? I went and bought a bottle warmer. I have a sippy cup. I had a dummy. I had a pouch of food.

Nicky enjoyed playing with the dummy – taking the cap on and off was lots of fun for him. He had the pouch for breakfast. I never had the energy to get the warm bottle. I was weak.

Well folks, I have nothing more to say. I am sure you guys have loads of advice, but then again, I probably won’t listen to it.  I just need support.

 

Why We are Drawn to the Train Wreck of Reality TV

why-drawn-to-train-wreck-reality-tv-harry-juan-pablo Two reality shows have recently finished their run on South African television and they had some pretty unique endings. The train wreck of watching people’s lives unfold on television isn’t a new phenomenon, as any seasoned ex Jerry Springer watcher will tell you. However, I have to say, that we have plumeted to new lows on “I want to Marry “Harry” “, and “The Bachelor” Season 18.  This doesn’t make them any less entertaining to watch, but you have to wonder why.

From the outset, “I want to Marry ‘Harry’” was bound to run into murky waters. Impersonating a prince with cameras, pretending to be a “Bachelor” situation with fake press and groupies entering at the right moments, well, I guess only gullible American girls would fall for that. We expected the train wreck from the beginning, but surprisingly, some of the girls bought the act. Even the girl who he chose in the end was fine with him not quite being royalty. The American public, however, did not buy into this show, and it was axed after four episodes. Lucky SA, we got to watch all eight, as “Harry” (actually Matthew) agonised over the deception. In the end I am willing to bet he is a better catch than the real Harry, the party prince who is one step away from rehab. Matthew actually came across as quite conservative and a genuinely nice person (apart from the deception). He is currently still enjoying a long distance relationship with the winner of the show. A good outcome from a dubious origin.

On the other hand, we expected better things from the latest season of “The Bachelor”. Although, I’m not totally sure why. If your requirement for a bachelor is only that he is hot and has fantastic abs, then I think you are headed for trouble. Juan Pablo was hugely popular in the aftermath of Desiree’s Bachelorette season. During his own season it initially looked like the familiar formula of romance of a man seeking his mate. (It is rather easy to be distracted from what a person is really like in far flung exotic locations on dates that most of us normal plebs would only dream about). However, when forced to spend a whole night with this man, Andi, an intelligent district attorney and, the chosen next Bachelorette, didn’t enjoy it too much. Here was a guy so busy talking about himself that he forgot to ask about her. Worse was to come for one of the final two in a helicopter ride. In a throw away comment Claire still refuses to divulge, Juan Pablo insulted her and questioned their relationship.

In final episodes of the series, unlike anything we have ever seen before, where we are normally all rooting for the lovers, there was a growing sense of unease among audiences. How would this all turn out? And could there be true happiness with this guy?

Juan Pablo chose Nikki. (In my opinion she was more of the “dumb blonde” type who would have been immune to his flaws). He did not propose to her nor did he say that he loved her. While people may be frustrated with that ending and wonder if they can really be happy, I think it is worth mentioning something that Nikki said on the final show.

She said that so often you see Bachelor engaged couples who wax lyrical about how in love they are and further down the line are broken up. Juan Pablo and Nikki are much more real in a way because they are honest about where they are at. At the time of posting this they are still together, although they will be filmed undergoing couples therapy. A promising beginning and a questionable ending.

Let’s also not forget the Oscar Pistorius Trial coming to an end on channel 199. To be honest I watched a lot of it at the beginning but by the end I had lost interest. Still, the fallen hero holds a fascination for many and we are still to see how this will end. (The odds are against him, though).

Why are we so drawn to watching the terrible undoing of people, falsely set up situations and men we clearly would never date?

1) It makes us feel better about our lives. Bridget Jones put the description of the “smug marrieds” rather well. We feel even more smug about ourselves watching desperate girls go for a man they clearly shouldn’t.

2) It makes us complacent about and / or gives us escape from our own demons. We would never shoot our girlfriend in a fit of rage, would we? We would never be that desperate for a guy, would we? We would never treat a girl like that, would we? We would never pretend to be a prince, would we? The truth is, we all have our dark sides and, given similar circumstances would have no knowing if we would have acted the same. In fact, reality television is a good outlet for those sides we would rather not recognise.

One final word or warning and application for us bloggers: do not think that the train wreck cannot happen to you. Read Mommy Odessy’s post – reflection on how her son’s death and increase in site stats are often just the “rubber neckers” having a look at the train wreck to feel better about themselves. But she has emerged a stronger woman and now has a wonderful child. Cause this train may be bruised and battered, but this train keeps on f**g chugging.

 

 

 

 

Opening and Shutting

opening-and-shutting-toddler I remember the nurse at the baby class saying that in the first year, babies want to know what things ARE (i.e. put it in your mouth and discover it with all your senses) and in the second year they want to know how things WORK. In other words, they love exploring the function of things.

As Nicky hits 25 months he is now actually in his third year, but I have been noticing recently that Nicky has been experimenting with how things work at the moment, particularly with regard to opening, shutting and turning things on and off.

1) Opening and shutting car doors and winding the windows up and down.  I’m not a bad mom, I promise. But often when we get back from a place Nicky wants to stay in the car and practice opening and shutting the doors and winding the windows up and down. He used to love the steering wheel but now he also likes to turn the radio on. I keep checking on him, bring food to him, but with shrieks and grunts he makes it clear that he is still busy on this developmental task. Until he gets tired of it, of course.

2) Opening and shutting the gate. The other day when we were putting out the rubbish I showed him how the remote works. Much joy. He did not want to come inside but spent a long time pressing the button while the gate opened and shut. Eventually I had to call him in before he did some damage!

3) Turning the heater on and off. Last winter Nicky enjoyed feeling the warm air from the blow heater. This year he has figured out how to turn it on and off. He really gets a kick out of that.

toddler-on-phone 4) Moving the mouse and turning the computer screen on and off. Nicky has made the connection between the mouse and the computer screen and chortled with joy as he moved it back and forth. He then had fun turning the screen on and off. He even decided to make a phone call (not fun for my DH who was on the other extension at the time).

5) Doors. He loves to slam doors. Of course I have to help him open them again.

6) Nicky likes to turn lights on and off. It just gets tiring to hold him up to do this! This evening I got nappy boxes so that he could stand up to turn it on and off. And there was a dimmer switch too that he enjoyed turning on and off.

toddler-using-dustpan 7) Opening and closing dustbins.He watched me use the dustpan the other day and then the following day he sweeps dirt into the pan and opens the dustbin, empties the dirt and closes it again!

 

My little explorer gets better and better dealing with his surroundings every day!

 

Why Baby Equipment Needs to be Sterilised – PLUS Win a Soother Steriliser

why-baby-equipment-needs-sterilising I went to the launch of Milton SA’s latest products with a certain amount of trepidation. I wasn’t quite sure if this event was a good fit for me. I  never really used Milton. I sterilised Nicky’s bottle and pumping equipment when he was little in the microwave and I have been breastfeeding ever since, so I felt like it wasn’t really for me. However, I decided to put my reservations aside and find out more. Also, my own bottles had been sterilised by Milton as a child. So, it is a part of my history after all.

Well, it turned out to be very interesting.

Steve Riley

Steve Riley

The speaker was Milton’s Global Technical Director and clinical biochemist, Steve Riley. He has worked in disinfection and sterilisation for thirty years.

I found out the following about why we need to be taking extra care in sterilising our baby bottles and pump equipment.

1) Babies don’t have much of an immune system in the first year. I knew this, that’s why we were washing and microwaving all the bottles etc.  But I found out some interesting stuff. During pregnancy the mom protects the baby. Once born, there is a substance called sIgA (secretory immunoglobulin A) from the breastmilk that continues to protect the baby’s immunity. It is an anti-infective agent that coats the intestines to protect against germs. In colostrum and that first week it offers concentrated protection, but in the second week, drops 65%. Between 5-6 months, the immunity is at its lowest. (Bottle fed babies don’t have any protection of this kind at all). By six months babies start producing their own IGA and by one they have 17% of what an adult has. I knew that breastmilk helped keep a baby well, but it really was affirming for me to hear all these statistics when breastfeeding hasn’t been the easiest path to follow, and it did offer some encouragement to me.

But whether you bottle or breastfeed, if you are using bottles at all, you need to keep them sterile to protect that fledgling immune system.

2) Prevent gastroenteritis. Steve says the goals to increase breastfeeding and decrease gastro in babies have not been fully met. He says breastfeeding has increased (well, I think the jury is still out on that one…) but not gastro. Did you know that in 1940 there was a gastro outbreak that killed 4500 babies in the UK? The ministry of health asked Milton (which had been around since 1916) to help. And  yes, they did name the company after the poet.

3) Kill nasty bugs. Apparently, with Milton, the worst are killed off in one minute (e.g. bacteria, fungus) and the real nasties within 15 minutes (e.g. rotavirus, norwalk virus, polio, influenza). Um, those sound like some of the things Nicky was immunised against in vaccinations. Double protection, then?

So, practically, how can we bring the effectiveness of hospital sterilisation to our homes?

Milton has three new products which you might want to take a look at.

Combi Steriliser white box RET 1) Combi Steriliser (using at home)

You can use this hot (in the microwave) or cold (with the Milton tablets or fluid). Steve told us something pretty interesting. He said they tested other makes and none of the others really went to the temperatures theirs did. The others could only do 90 degrees whereas Milton’s one could do up to 120 degrees. This is because it isn’t your regular “put two pieces of plastic together and have air vents”. (Before you panic about whether your plastic will melt, Medela and most bottles today can go up to 140 degrees). They have a special pop up vent technology where the valve will pop up in the microwave and release the steam pressure. They also have silicone seals. So all  you would do is pop 60ml water in and microwave on high for two minutes and bob’s your uncle. Sterile for 24 hours.
Milton-BilingualSolo-Carton2 2) Milton Solo (out of the home)

Similarly, you can use this hot or cold for a single bottle and it will be sterile for 24 hours. It also has the pop up vent.

3) Milton Soother Steriliser (for dummies)

The foam components.

The foam components.

Steve told us that the foam used in this steriliser took them about a year to source and that it is medical MINI1_vert grade PVA from Belgium.  He also said they tried it at first with one foam and then found it to be better with two. The sponges absorb the water and are pretty special because they can also be used inside the human body.

Again, pop water and the Milton tablet in this container, and within fifteen minutes you have a sterilised dummy that will last for 24 hours.

You can win one of these from me! See the end of this post.

 

I just want to mention two other things about this event.

bub-hub It was held at the lovely Bub Hub at the Broadacres shopping centre. Apart from the shop there are a lot of interesting classes (like parenting, antenatal, pilates, hypno birthing, baby massage). They are the only place in Joburg to do baby reflexology. The toddler yoga looks interesting to me!

richard-hardiman The other speaker was Richard Hardiman who runs Dudes to Dads, workshops preparing fathers for parenthood. A blog worth checking out, especially if you are about to become a dad.

Now, on to the giveaway! Click on the various categories to increase your chances of winning. If you know anyone that would like this, please spread the word. Sorry, this giveaway is open to South African residents only. Winners will be announced next Sat the 19th on Facebook and then emailed.

 

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Nicky and the Birds

toddler-at-montecasion-bird-gardens Winter holidays are here and a great venue to take the kids to is the Montecasino Bird Gardens. We took advantage of my father visiting and decided to make a morning of it.

The last time we took Nicky to see animals he was six months old and it was the zoo. He was more interested in the hedges in front of the animals. I had him in the pouch. This time he was a lot older (just turned two) so I was curious to see how he would react to the birds and animals.

I was in two minds whether to take the stroller or not, but in the end I was glad that I did. Little ones get tired of walking and adults get tired of carrying! The only thing I will say is that there are sections (e.g. the netted part in the middle where certain birds and animals are kept) where there are stairs and I was grateful to have two men with me to assist. Otherwise the rest of the park has great pathways. For the actual “Flight of Fantasy” show they request that you leave your stroller at the back or have it next to you where you are sitting. It needs to be away from the main walk ways as they need the areas for their performance.

Initially when we got there I could see Nicky was a bit scared of the big birds. He was glad to be safe in his stroller. I took him out but he clung to me so I put him back in.

frog We went inside an enclosure that had frogs. I put Nicky right next to the glass so that he could see the frog. There were big frogs too, but they were more difficult to see since they were not moving.

Nicky absolutely loved the lemurs. He laughed at their movements. I think the way they played together reminded him of our dogs and he thought this was hilarious.

He also enjoyed the parrots. As you approach them, they actually say “Hello!”

We then went to the netted area and saw more animals and birds. We also saw some huge fish which Nicky liked. He was familiar with them because we have seen them before at the Dstv customer centre.

bat We then saw a colourful bat which Nicky pointed at and then a black bat crawling on the wire  barrier.

By this time it was time for the show, so off we went. We sat right at the back to be near to the stroller.

I have seen this show before so for me I enjoyed watching Nicky and seeing what he thought of all of this. Suffice to say it is very entertaining and also provides a conservation theme.

montecasino-balloon Some of the birds were difficult for him to see, and much more interesting for him was the balloon going up and down behind the stage.

clapping-at-bird-show Nicky also likes clapping and enjoyed joining in the applause at the relevant moments.

sign-don't-poke-birds We continued to look at various birds. The other nice thing about the stroller is the ability to keep your toddler restrained, as the signs all around tell you to take care of biting birds. I even saw a bird attacking a phone that was held right up against the barrier.

jungle-gym We then went and had some lunch at the tea garden. This is a lovely place surrounded by birds. It also has a jungle gym. I would say this was more appropriate for older children but I helped Nicky up and slid down with him.
lunch-hotdog They also had cute little benches and tables for kids, one of which the waiter very kindly moved closer to our table so he ate with us. Nicky had a hot dog and some chips. He only ate the chips though.

All in all, a fabulous place for both adults and kids to spend the day these holidays.

 

For more information, go to their website here.

(This post was first posted on ZAparents / JoziKids in a shorter version here).

 

 

Pirates and Princesses: Lovely new kid’s range at Sheet Street

I know when we eventually manage to get Nicky to sleep in a separate bed that we will need some interesting bedding for him to get excited about. I look forward to the day when he is not waking up at night and can enjoy his own little spot to sleep in.

kids-duvet-set

In the meantime I will salivate at the cute stuff Sheet Street have: a stunning new kid’s range of bedding and accessories to choose from.

The themes are exactly what little boys and girls enjoy: princesses, pirates, dinosaurs and cupcakes.

dinosaur-bookmarks cupcake-clock And this isn’t only about bedding. They also have the cutest bookends, clocks, lights, photo frames and throws.

But don’t take my word for it. Look at their website yourself. Order online or in store.

Shop here. sheet-street-kids-range

This post is sponsored by Sheet Street through My Scoop

 

 

Terrific Twos

terrific-twos There seems to be a lot going on with Nicky these days so I thought I’d just do a bullet point update on how he is doing.

- toddler-climbing-down-jungle-gym Last Wednesday he climbed up a jungle gym all by himself. He needed help a few times to get down but after a while he could do it himself.

toddler-climbing-jungle-gym

 

- His speech seems to be picking up. It is so subtle and you really have to pay attention and listen carefully, but I can hear little bits of words. Last night he was turning pages in a book saying “What’s that” (or something like that). Of course when I tried to stop and tell him what the pictures were, he wasn’t interested, he just wanted to keep turning! Then this morning he hears a bird in a tree. “Where?” he says. He has also said this before when he dropped a toy. The gestures and grunts are still in place, but now are accompanied by “Mama!”

- photo (1) Cars are so calming. Other kids like to sleep with their teddies or a special blanky. Nicky finds comfort in a car he can push back and forth. Boob plus car equals sleep. When we go anywhere, a car must come with.

- Yes we have tantrums. He likes to throw himself down on the floor and cry when things aren’t going his way. But, we get through them. I keep learning about what he needs (food? sleep? attention?) and giving one of those three normally helps. By the way – a great article on tantrums is here.

-He is eating more and finishing his plate. He seems to have more of an appetite now. But is still particular about what he eats. At the moment the fave is yoghurt covered rice cakes. And he still loves boob.

-Sleep seems to be going backwards. We had a few nights of frequent wakings but now seem to be back on track. I have learnt also that it is no good sending him to sleep before he is ready – it will just frustrate me.

- pouring I am trying to do more activities with him and have dug out my Montessori practical life file. He loves pouring into different containers.

 

Toddlers and Balls – My little rugby player

toddlers-and-balls-2-year-old-rugby There is something that Nicky loves almost as much as he loves wheels and that is – BALLS!

He loves to kick, throw and enjoy playing with balls.

He will often come to me with his ball, wanting me to kick with him.

Recently I have noticed there is a lot of seriousness going on when he kicks the ball. He has been watching the sport on TV that we have on during the weekend. We often have rugby and cricket on.

toddler-hitting-cricket-bat He finds the cricket bowling quite enthralling and for a while did a little hand movement before he kicked the ball.

This past week I think he studied the rugby kick. This is because he places the ball in a certain spot. Then he moves to a particular place behind it. Then he lifts his head, focusing on a distant spot (copying the rugby players who look at the goal posts) and then, with very serious sighs, gives the ball a kick.

He can also drop the ball and kick, as this video shows:

He likes the lightweight ball as it is easy to kick.

He also likes the little rubber balls. Those are lots of fun because they bounce a lot.

ball-and-collander I used to do this ball skill exercise with a colander and a ball where you throw the ball into the colander. However Nicky preferred to use it as a bat or place to throw the ball from.

I think balls are a lot of fun for toddlers because they encourage movement, and that, of course, is something they love.

Montessori Sandpaper Letters vs Kids Academy Traceable Letters Review by a Montessori teacher

Sandpaper letters vd Kids Academy App Can concrete materials ever be replaced by screen applications? The short answer is no, but they sure are a great compliment to the learning process.

I was asked by Sverve to do a review of Kids Academy Company application.

I had actually already downloaded their Traceable Letters app. I often read about various apps in magazines or online and if they seem interesting I will go for them. Nicky likes the Petting Zoo app (where you can manipulate animals) and we’ve recently also been enjoying Piano Ball.

For me, at 2, he is still too young to be tracing letters, but I was very interested in this app.

I am a qualified Montessori Directress with eight years of teaching experience. For four of those years I worked with the 4-6 year olds teaching them to learn their letters. As long as I had my sandpaper letters, my little plastic animals and my three period lesson, I was good to go. I consider myself a professional at being able to teach a child to read and write.

However, there is a problem, when for some or other reason, the child’s writing is off. As a teacher, you teach them over and over not to form their letter in that way. But I have to tell you, just before I left teaching I was working with Grade Twos.

There is nothing worse to me than getting that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach looking at a child’s writing and thinking: He is now in Grade Two and he STILL isn’t forming his letters correctly! And I seriously don’t have time now to teach him.

Parents should be involved more, but many working moms just don’t have the time.

This is where an app like Traceable Letters by Kids Academy can help. It offers encouraging and interactive teaching of how to draw your letter. And it does upper and lower case.

In any case, I thought I would walk through both methods so that you can see how they could compliment each other.

MONTESSORI SANDPAPER LETTERS:

Firstly, we need to look at the child’s sensitive period for language.

0-2.5 years: sensitivity to heard language.

2.5 – 3.5 years: sensitivity to tactile impressions of words

3.5 – 4.5 years: sensitivity to mechanism of writing, shapes of letters and the patterns that words make

4.5 – 5.5 years: sensitivity to function of words

5.5 – 7 years: sensitivity to construction of words

The Montessori language material is generally used for children older than three. You start with playing “I-Spy” with them. You also use metal insets to help them gain control of muscles for  holding a pencil. The metal insets are used for tracing and you also get them to draw lines across them so that you can reinforce working from left to right.

I think the way that Sandpaper Letter are far superior to applications is that they utilise the child’s tactile sensitivity. Did you know that there is even a Montessori exercise for sensitising the fingers where you wash them and rub your fingertips vigorously? This makes the whole process even more heightened.

So would a three period lesson work?

1) Getting them to support the letter with the left hand, trace it with your right hand with your middle and index finger and then say the sound. Get them to trace it and say the sound. Repeat with two other dissimilar letters.

2) Place all three letters on the mat and ask “Show me A”, and get them to trace it again. This is really a fun section. You can really enjoy getting them to put “H” on their head or “F” on the floor etc. I used to have 4 boxes of plastic animals for them to match letters to. The letters were divided up into similar writing groups (e.g. a, o, d, g, qu go together as they all start the same way). You can get them to jump on the letter and lay it on the floor. The possibilities are endless.

3) Now, you take your three letters one by one and ask “What is this?” Obviously this is the hardest part and for some kids you may not, for a while, venture beyond stage 2. But eventually you will get there.

I had a manual record keeping system where I would make notes of how the kids did with the letters.

I must say I am looking forward, perhaps next year, when Nicky is three, to cut out some sandpaper or felt letters and get going on these types of exercises with him. I know we will have lots of fun with this and he will feel the texture in his fingers and it will reinforce the pattern of writing.

KIDS ACADEMY TRACEABLE LETTERS

I think what I like most about this app, is there is encouraging feedback to writing. In some of the apps you write, you collect fireflies in a jar if you get it right. There is a voice that tells you to do it over if you get it wrong. You can do the letters alphabetically or you can choose which ones you want to practice. You can choose upper case or lower case. There is a record keeping system – progress chart. There is fun music. You can set profiles so that more than one person can use the app. There is also a parent mode where you can adjust setting such as sounds, music and if you want a male or female voice.

How the app works:

Kids Academy Traceable letters

Kids Academy copy the letter

 

1) Trace

2) Write it independently

Each letter is presented with a picture or a word that begins with that letter so that they are introduced to the sound of the letter.

 

***

Also worth mentioning are the other apps included with Kids Academy.

There are also shapes, numbers and stories. Remember that R500 ITunes voucher I won in the #JoziMeetUp? Well I spend some of it on more worksheets (R119.99) and two stories.

I think  tracing shapes is a great way to start when learning to write (I remember doing patterns in my pattern book when I was in Grade One) but I also think they could expand into more shapes, e.g. trapezium, oval, ellipsoid. Catching the fire flies is a novel way to go, however. They also have a fun tracing one where you draw faces out of shapes which would be a step up in difficulty from the simple shapes.

They also have a section for teens and tens. Montessori also has a fab way of teaching this with the Seguin boards and beads. I think both methods would compliment each other. (Here’s a link from a Montessori blog I follow on how to make the teen and ten boards yourself.)

 

I downloaded the “5 Little Monkeys” (R36.99) and Nicky really enjoyed listening to the song. Actually I have pretty much been singing it to him since he was a baby because it is a great way to teach numbers plus I love the dramatic effect of getting the doctor more and more angry each time mom phones about those naughty monkeys! We also had fun with the jumping. Of course it is a lot of fun when I do it with him but now it is reinforced with pictures e.g. picture of a monkey and a doctor.

I also got “Three Little Pigs” (R24.99) which is a story. As the story is read the words are highlighted. You can also touch the pictures and they interact with you. Nicky loved the pig that kicked a ball when he touched it. The houses are built as you touch them. There are different options you can choose, like just being read to, the story and interaction and reading yourself.

So what’s my verdict?

I loved the stories and I think the traceable letters are a great compliment.

Nothing replaces real life teaching and reading, but for sure I think this would have been a great help to a busy mom to get her kid to write his letters accurately. It might just have helped an over extended teacher sitting with a kid that still can’t write correctly.