Review: The Fairytale Hairdresser and the Little Mermaid

We were chosen to review the children’s book ‘The Fairytale Hairdresser and the Little Mermaid‘ by Abie Longstaff & Lauren Beard.

 The Sea Witch has a wicked plot to trick the Little Mermaid – can anybody help?

Dive into an underwater adventure with the fabulous fairytale hairdresser. This twist on the classic fairytale features swimming sweethearts, soulful singing and sparkling seaside styles.

hairdresser

Here’s an interview with Abie and Lauren, the author and illustrator:

I sat down to enjoy the story with my almost 6 year old daughter N… She was instantly excited that the little mermaid, or, ‘Ariel’ as she was more commonly known in our house, was on the cover!

Once settled into the story, of course, you realise it isn’t Ariel as such, the leading lady in this story is a little mermaid called Coral, though, of course, this is based on the Hans Christian Andersen classic story.

Now as a parent, I have to be brutally honest and say I didn’t find much depth to this version. It was the story of the Little Mermaid of course, but ended with the mermaid becoming famous for her singing. What I don’t want to take away from the book are the the beautiful illustrations. The cover is glittery and eye catching, and my daughter absolutely loved spotting all of the fairytale characters throughout.  The ilulstrations are clever and there’s lots to spot for both children and adults alike.

Conclusion: My almost 6 year old loved the illustrations, but perhaps she’s just a little on the old side for this particular version now?

L xxx

Walk, Forage & Woodwork…

Days like this are just the beginning of the world of home education.

We started out by inviting over our Thursday science gang. Of course, in this science gang, fish & chip lunch has become a regular occurrence too haha! So, after some overindulging in lots of yummy chips whilst sat out in the garden, we decided it was time to head off into Sherwood Forest with the children…

We always like to tie in taking the dog out with education in some way. Today, our first aim was to do den building at our favourite ‘spot’ in the forest…

The children had an absolute blast building their den, and creating wands and such… Watching their imaginations work is wonderful…

Meanwhile the dog decided he was off to Australia….

They spent a good amount of time kicking off steam here, but then it was time for more walking and trying to forage for bits and bobs for our project of the day…

BUG HOTELS.

Yes, it was minibeast investigations last week, so this week it was decided we would get the children to build their own bug hotels.

The children collected moss, bark, sticks, pine cones and so on.

 When we got back from our walk, we went onto the garden and set out what was needed for each child’s bug hotel… Then we took to the woodwork part of the day… This was interesting for the children and grown ups alike haha!

After a little frustration (a little more perhaps from the parents) and determination, the bug hotels were built, and then it was up to the children to decorate them with whatever they fancied from our collection from the forest.

So, we managed to tie in lots of education, lots of fresh air and lots of fun… Oh and chips!

If I can recommend something that is limitless in its education, it is the outdoor world… Children and adults, it is something that is constantly teaching…

L xxx

A world at your fingertips…

When we took our 5 year old out of school 6 months ago, we couldn’t get her to sit and have a book anywhere near her, let alone get her to read! Now, my amazing, little lady is on the GOLD book band (using the book banding system used in school), and not only that, she ENJOYS reading, and regularly requests we sit and read lots of books!

I figured, since I had been through this sort of fight to help my daughter with her reading, coming from a point of particular distress to her, that perhaps letting readers know what we did that helped may prove useful to them…

One of the first things we did on the journey to help our daughter was to try and bring in some sort of fun and game aspect to the table… Enter, Reading Eggs!

This amazing, online and completely interactive site uses games to teach reading and spelling! Aimed at ages 3-13 (reading eggs 3-7 reading eggspress 7-13).

The children have their own account, and they gradually work their way through maps and collect eggs from each activity. They have an avatar they can change, and a house they can visit, though, to be honest, my daughter never bothered with that bit!!

Another bonus of this wonderful site, is that they will do a home education discount. You just need to contact them. All this as well as a free trial, what are you waiting for?!

 

Next on the list of helpful tips? Reading Chest!

A great book rental service! This company work with the Oxford Reading Tree, book bands, and send out all similar coloured band books… You are completely in charge of when your child progresses or incase they need to take a step back. The children receive certificates for achievements, and my daughters personal favourite part? The envelopes are always addressed to her!

…and for an idea of cost.

 

Of course, a very, very important tip that I would give to ANYONE with children… YOUR LOCAL LIBRARY!

Believe me, the library is your best friend. It’s free, to join, it’s free to visit, it’s free to borrow books. If you’re lucky like us, there’s also a great children’s play area in the library too! We just so happen to go to a Home Ed family meet up at our library every week, and I absolutely love it, as does N…

The library really is a fun place to her, and I think if you feed your children the right information about everything they can get from the library, then there’s no reason it shouldn’t become a favourite to your child too!!

 

Next recommendation? … Twinkl!

In my opinion, THE best website for educational resources… Worksheets, PowerPoint presentations, reward charts, play dough Mats, colouring pages, lined paper, handwriting help, phonics help, numeracy, literacy, curriculum, lap books… EVERYTHING…. Worth every, single, penny!

Rewards wise, we praised her overly at the beginning… She needed it! Now, a normal amount of praise, telling her she should be proud of herself (it’s important to me I teach her to notice and be proud of her own achievement, and to strive for her own acceptance, not someone else’s)… We have a sticker system, but to be honest she feeds best off of her own achievement, rather than gifts…

I hope this has been helpful!!

Happy Reading!

L xxx

Minibeast Investigators!

…and so began another Thursday of The BSA’s Crest Science Experiments…

The topic this week was ‘Animal Adventures’, which required looking on and under different surfaces outdoors and finding which minibeasts inhabit the found area…

Though, as a preface to the story of our science research, I must remember to add in a wonderful touch of reality…

My morning started, or should I say, my night never ended after my littlest lady decided that she wanted to stay up chatting and crying all night… This is actually *touch wood* not a regular occurrence, so I suppose I could perhaps cut her some slack haha, however, this mamma is tired and cranky, so ner!

Consequently, my little M was a complete nightmare all morning, screaming and doing the, oh so wonderful, swinging from the leg manoeuvre, that seems so favourable to grumpy toddlers.

We eventually left the house, late, to head out for the day…

Yes. We ALL have bad days…

Anyway, the science began. The children were happy to rush out into the garden together in pursuit of some creepy crawlies. No rock was left unturned. They lifted wood, stones, pots and pretty much everything else in sight. They had an absolutely whale of a time together.

 

 

The children found LOADS of little critters, including worms in the compost bin, worms in the mud, worms in the grass, spiders under rocks, slugs, wood lice and centipedes!!! What a fantastic loot to find for our project!!

The children also took notes about where each critter was discovered.

 

They used little, plastic containers to view the critters for a short while, before releasing them back into the garden (I’m very strict on being nice to the creatures haha!).

 

The kids loved being outside, and they loved working together to find all of these creatures, and their habitats.

We all then went inside, where the children did drawings of what they had found, with labels…

 

Tomorrow, me and N will work on writing up our investigation and findings, as we like to throw in a little writing and remembering… You never know, one of my lovely HE ladies who we join for our science investigations may write up their own version of what they do with their family’s findings… The beauty is that we can all take one thing and make it a hundred different things that work for us… Home education is pretty much educating them in preparation for life, not just for exams… Find what works for you and run with it…

After two hours of investigation, we decided it was time for a little PE… That for us meant… THE PARK!! Haha…

It was lovely, and we had a great day. I realise this is a short and sweet post, but in the interest of being honest, home education is absolutely wonderful and absolutely, bloody TIRING!!! So this tired mamma is off for some R&R…

L xxx

Matlock Meadows had a farm, ee aye ee aye… NO.

Hello again everyone! Lauren here!

So, we went on a Home Ed trip to Matlock Meadows Dairy Farm the other day… The weather was glorious, it was nice to get the feeling that, perhaps, spring has finally sprung?! It was a perfect day to be out in Derbyshire.

Off we headed, excited for the day ahead… After a few wrong turns and a good old husband/wife argument about who was at fault for said wrong turn, we arrived at the Farm.

It was a great turn out, with plenty of our wonderful Home Ed friends. The children all instantly shot off in pursuit of the park (isn’t that always the case?!) and a spur of the moment game of football started between a lot of the older children, and the rest seemed to all take it in turns on a very large swing! It was so wonderful to see them all playing together and helping each other. This is normally the case in Home Ed world. You may not know someone yet… So let’s go play and get to know each other!!

N was pretty much stuck to the hip of her 2 friends J and C for the entire trip… She loved every second. Something I really love since home educating, is that Nola no longer looks for our reassurance before building the confidence to take part in things. She is so happy and confident, and will join in anywhere!

So, I think most of the parents arrived expecting an ice cream making workshop, or at least seeing how the ice cream is made… It actually turned out to be a tour of the dairy farm.

We enjoyed a tractor ride around the fields. When we came back, the farmer let the sheep out of their fields to walk amongst the children, and the children were able to feed and stroke them! I thought this was wonderful. There are far too many safety regulations these days. I really want my children to get a hands on experience with animals, animals truly are one of the most enriching beings you can bring into your lives…

They also brought the resident pig in to be petted and fed too.

Being a vegan, at this point I was happy to see how much space the animals had to roam free. They seemed happy and clean and free…

This took a slight nosedive.

When it came time to look around the dairy part of the dairy farm, my heart started to break…

The cows are kept side by side in an enclosure to feed, be impregnated, give birth, have their calves taken away as soon as they’ve given birth, be milked constantly, given 2 months off and then the cycle begins again… And the calves? They all looked frightened in a separate enclosure 😔… They don’t get ANY of their mothers milk. They get forced onto formula, because it’s cheaper for them and they get more cows milk to sell as the mothers aren’t feeding the babies…

My heart was truly broken.

We had an ice cream as the end… Yes, it was technically tasty, but it was tainted with everything we had seen and learnt about this industry…

It was the last time any of our family will be touching dairy.

What I will say is that experiences like this are what educate in a way that a school room cannot. I really appreciated the day as a whole, with the children having such a wonderful time together. I suppose I also did really appreciate being educated about the reality of such a major part of the food industry!

Nola did a write up about her day…

‘My Day at the Dairy Farm

Me and my friends went to the farm. We went to see cows, sheep and pigs. And we fed the animals. We had a ice cream. I had a sprinkled cone and I had mint ice cream. We watched the cows being milked. I played with J on the park with her.

By Nola’

 

L xxx

My Introduction…

Well, hello there!

I’ve finally managed 5 minutes of quiet time in my very crazy and very busy home edding life, so I should introduce myself!

I’m Lauren. I’m 26. I’m married to a wonderful children’s entertainer, Martin, 28 and we have 2 beautiful girls, Nola (5) and Maya (1). We also have a Weimaraner x German Shorthaired Pointer called Marley and a White cat called Luna…

We made the decision to home educate just after Nola began Year 1. She had done playgroup, nursery & reception, but when the change to a more strict and pressured environment happened, she just crumbled. I couldn’t put a book in front of her without a complete meltdown, she was gaining a very, very bad attitude and she was starting to cry before going to school… This would have been reason enough for our concern, but I’ll be completely honest with you here, our biggest reason for home educating was the pure and simple fact that we MISSED OUR DAUGHTER. My goodness, she was gone from 9am till 3.30pm, she came home in a foul mood, didn’t want to speak or play. It was not our child, and THAT was terrifying.

My husband is also self employed, and works whenever the school kids are on holiday, so he was never seeing Nola… There were many reasons behind the choice to go ahead and home educate, but the simple fact is, we missed our daughter.

It started out as a bit of a joke really… ‘We should home educate!! Haha!’ It stayed as a joke for a few weeks until someone I know posted a link to a blog post about a day in their world of home ed… This my friends was the turning point for me. This woman’s world involved cooking, baking, playing in the garden, planting veggies, playing in a mud kitchen and taking care of the family animals… It was absolutely beautiful. It ‘had me at hello’…

Of course, the hubby wasn’t convinced quite so easily! (They rarely are!)… I, however, started my research into the reality of home educating, or more specifically, the legality…

I started with the government website, which links to your local authority. They had a specific Home Education page and it was full of information that I, personally, needed… We have a somewhat structured approach, so I needed to know the ins and outs of the curriculum, and what was required at the various levels.

After I had found what I considered to be rather encouraging on the Local Authority website, I again approached the subject with my husband. He was far more open to the suggestion that time… He also likes to do this i’s and cross his t’s…

So, thus, our Home Education journey began in late September 2014….

We stocked up on curriculum work books, we joined various sites (I’ll post my favourites below!) and we joined every yahoo and facebook group related to home education that we could!! We started with a local library meet up, we met amazing families, and our confidence grew from there.

Home educating is not always the easiest option, it’s not always the cheapest option, but it is definitely AN option, and shouldn’t be pushed out as a possibility if you are willing to give the time and patience. It’s incredibly rewarding.

In the past 6 months I have seen my daughter go from strength to strength, from barely reading, to reading outstandingly well. From being a shy, introverted lady, to a bubbly and confident one! She enjoys learning, and she absolutely loves her home ed friends!

So there’s another hoop we always have to jump, right? Socialisation. Let me tell you right now, or let my diary tell you, this is absolutely NOT a problem… I think we have the over socialisation problem Hahahaha! My diary is jam packed with home ed activities, such as:

  • Pottery
  • Horse riding
  • Book & Craft Club
  • Circus skills
  • Recorder group
  • Baby music group
  • Science Club
  • Library Meets
  • Forest school
  • An allotment
  • Drama workshops

Our lives are education. We live and breathe learning, but we don’t restrict that to books, pens and paper alone. Yes we have our structured time (normally 1-2hrs a day), but we also do a lot of learning from our environment! It’s important to me that my children are educated by the world around them instead of text books alone.

My children are both out in the Forest nearly every, single day. We walk the dog, we get fresh air… We are very lucky to live the life we do.

 

So, that is us… Somewhat structured, and loving it!

Please find some of my favourite home ed resources below:

 

(Here is a photo of my lovely husband, who was upset he wasn’t in the above pictures haha! He ran the home ed circus workshops!)

 

L xxx