Posted in Education, Fine motor activities, preschool, preschool curriculum, preschoolers, Toddlers

5 ways to teach your child using jellybeans

Each morning Hamish and I do an hours school work at the table where we concentrate on :

  • Colours
  • Shapes
  • Numbers and counting
  • Letters
  • Pre writing skills

I’m not a fan of worksheets at this age (3 years) so a lot of our work is play related.

Yesterday we were inspired by a packet of jelly beans in our morning lessons.

Here are 5 ways to teach your child using jelly beans

For each of these activities you will need:

  • White paper
  • Black marker
  • Jelly beans

1. Jelly bean Rainbow

There’s much talk about rainbows with #covid-19 and Hamish has become obsessed with them so this was a great way to have him sort the jelly beans into colours.

He had to, after sorting the colours make each colour by placing the right colour jelly bean onto the correct colour arch.

2. Jelly bean colour sort

For this I drew a coloured circle, gave him a few jelly beans and had him match them to the correct colour.

3.Count the jelly beans

I drew a jar with 10 jelly beans. Labled them 1 to 10 and had him count them out and place a jelly bean on each as a marker.

4. Counting jelly beans

We are doing number work and sums up to 5 this week so I stuck to only working up to number 5 but you can go as high as you like with this counting activity.

He had to place the correct amount of beans under each number.

5.J is for jellybeans

For this he first identified the letter J and then trace it with his finger.

Lastly he made a J with jelly beans ( We have already learnt all phonetic lower case sounds first and have now started to introduce upper case, so you may see a lot of upper case work on my page right now – please if introducing the alphabet to your child start with the phonetic sounds.)

These activities were a lot of fun and of course we both loved packing it all away.

Posted in Family Life, preschoolers, Tweens & Teens

How to start a Pandemic journal with your children

We are currently living through not only a worldwide pandemic, the Covid-19 virus, but a time in history that will be recorded and learnt about in the future.

Many people are recording these moments in photos, online videos, social media posts and memes.

But how are your children recording this time in history?

The Diary of Anne Frank

As we sit through a 21 day lockdown in South Africa, there has been a meme about Anne Frank spending 761 days hidden in a small attic and most of us unable to withstand the luxury of being confined to our homes, with our families, Wifi, food and all our comforts.

Image source : travel tales and tips

Whilst there is a vast difference between a young girl during a world war, trying to survive daily and our current pandemic, it is still a time of fear, sadness and uncertainty as the world fights this virus.

Because of that courageous young, frightened girl, who took solice in her diary, we have an accurate account of the world through her eyes.

A diary that has captured the hearts of all who have read it and taught us so much in so few pages.


How many of us today, still write an old school diary or journal ?

How many of us record our thoughts free of social media?

A journal is a great way for children to write or draw their emotions, record their experience and express themselves without judgement.

These books of raw, uncensored experiences will be invaluable to them 10 years from now as they open their history books to answer the question ….. What were you doing during the 2020 pandemic?

Tips to journal with your children

  • Make it a family activity – provide each family member with a book to decorate and use.
  • Make it a habit– especially with small children you could dedicate a specific time to journal as a family. With older children you can write this into their schedules until they are able to write unprompted.
  • Let them express themselves- this is their space. Let them express themselves as they are comfortable. There is no right or wrong way to journal.
  • Journal box – collect a box of stationary, stickers, washi tapes,ect that your child can use to decorate their journal with.
  • News – for older children, encourage them to print pieces of news that are noteworthy and record their feelings about it. Watching to see that this does not affect their mental health and cause them anxiety.
  • Add photos – if you can, add photos of your child and the activities that keep them busy.
  • Offer prompts -see The journal jar
  • Have fun – don’t let the journal become a chore.


There is no right or wrong way to journal. Each of us express ourselves differently and you may find your one child writes long essays, whilst another draws comics.

Encourage and support your child’s individual style of expression as well as their privacy when introducing your journals.

Happy journaling

Posted in Family Life, preschoolers, Tweens & Teens

The journal prompt jar

In the blog post, How to start a Pandemic journal with your children, I speak about starting a journal with your child during this pandemic to help them to express how they are feeling and what they are thinking right now.

I also share some valuable tips if you or your child are new to keeping a journal.

One of those tips is an idea we first used in 2011,and that is of a journal prompt jar.

What is a journal prompt jar?

The journal prompt jar is an old glass jar that has been cleaned and labled.

Inside are several slips of paper with a journal prompt written on
It is used to encourage your child to find inspiration as to what to write about.

Journal prompts

Some prompts to include:

• My favourite day
My best friend
• I live……

• My mother/father
• A new day
• Pets are……
• Guess what?
• My favourite sweets
• Last night i dreamed….
• My brother/sister
• My teacher said….
• I like school because….
• It rained….
• We went to the…
• I like the beach because…
• A bully is…..
• My favourite colour
• Don’t eat_________because…
• Friends should….
• A secret
• What i watched on tv this week
• Heartache is….

• My house
• Making pizza
• My best memory
• Good friends are….
• The time i lied
• My favourite school subject
• Rainbows are….
• Love is….
• A nightmare i had
• What i want to be when i grow up
• My favourite movie
• I know my parents love me because…
• My fears
• My worst day
• Rules of our home
• Responsibility means
• My favourite book and author
• My dream day

You could have as many prompts or as many jars as you require.

Happy journaling

Posted in Family Life, Family Time, Parenting

Have your photo taken with 3D animals thanks to Google

This morning we came across this wonderful feature from Google, which allows 3D animals to appear on my phone screen with an easy search.

This easy to use feature allows your phone to place 3D animals within your camera view finder in real life scale.

Whilst this is not a new concept, with so many children worldwide on lockdown due to the Covid-19 corobavirus pandemic, I thought I would share this fun feature with you to keep the kids entertained.

You will need:

  • An android smartphone running 7.0 or higher or an iphone running iOS 11 or later
  • Google chrome for Android/iOS

How to use the function

1. Open Google chrome and type the animal name in the search bar.

2. When the search opens opt the view in 3D option.

3. The screen will open, asking to you to point the camera screen to the floor.

4. Once it has scanned an area, the chosen animal appears in the camera lens.

5. To take a photo have your child stand in front of the camera and direct them to make the image look like they are interacting with the animal.

What animals can you search?

Searching for any of the following animals will give you the option of bringing them into your home in high resolution 3D.

  • Alligator
  • Angler fish
  • Brian bear
  • Cat
  • Cheetah
  • Dog
  • Duck
  • Eagle
  • Emperor penguin
  • Goat
  • Hedgehog
  • Horse
  • Lion
  • Macaw
  • Octopus
  • Pug
  • Giant panda
  • Rottweiler
  • Shark
  • Shetland pony
  • Snake
  • Tiger
  • Turtle
  • Wolf

To add to the experience and entertainment level, this zoo like list of animals also include realistic grunts, growls and groans.

This would make a wonderful addition to a homeschool lesson, is a fabulous way to pass the time during quarantine or lockdown and best of all you don’t have to view the animal in AR, you can see each of the animals in 3D on your Google search page.

Which is your favourite animal?

Posted in Education, Family Life, Family Time, Parenting, Tweens & Teens

A list of virtual tours, field trips and live cams around the world

Schools are closing early in 2 days all around South Africa, and many parents are wondering how to both work and entertain children whilst respecting the social distancing needed to help curb the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

One of the ways that you can keep your children entertained and learning is through the use of virtual tours, live cams and virtual field trips around the world.

I have compiled a list for you and will keep adding to the list as we discover new amazing places to visit


1. Aquarium

Two oceans aquarium

Monterey bay aquarium

Seattle aquarium

2. Zoo

The San Diego zoo

Smithsonian National zoo

Houston Zoo

Woodland zoo

Brno zoo

zoo Atlanta

Milwaukee zoo

Indianapolis zoo


Farm tours – A list of some Canadian farm tours:-

  • Milk & cheese
  • Dairy cow farms
  • Grain farms
  • Sheep farm
  • Mink farm
  • Egg farm
  • Egg processing facility
  • Canadian feed mills
  • Oat farm
  • Apple orchard
  • Pig farm

4. In the wild

African safari


The Louvre

The national gallery of art – American art gallery

Interesting Places

1.South Africa

A virtual drive through Baviaanskloof

2. Around the world

The great wall of china
Yellowstone national park

Panoramas of the world – a variety of interesting places around the world

Mount Everest

The secrets of Easter island

3. Geography

Explore an estury


Colonial Williamsburg – American history museum

The Smithsonian – American natural science museum

John Muir exhibit – Anerican naturalist and conservationist

The museo Galileo – museum dedicated to Galileo

Boston children’s museum

Du page children’s museum

Paso Robles children’s museum

The virtual toy museum

Heins history centre – toys of the 50’s, 60’s & 70’s

Lincoln children’s museum

Museum of play

Marx toy museum

Andersonville – Confederate military prision during the American civil war



This is an on going list and I will add new resources often. Check back regularly or join the mailing list to get news of when new resources are added

Posted in Family Life, Parenting

A receipe to preserve children

Preserving children

A reciepe to keep the innocence of childhood alive.

Source : unknown

You will need:

  • 1 large field
  • 4 to 6 children
  • 3 dogs
  • Goat or donkey ( optional)
  • Grass
  • Trees
  • Rocks
  • Flowers
  • Pool of water or stream
  • Hot sun
  • Deep blue sky


Mix the children with the dogs and goat or donkey.

Add grass, trees, flowers and rocks.

Cover all with blue skies and sunshine. Mix in a little rain for variety if you like.

Bake under the sun until children are well browned and happily satisfied.

Set them away in a bathtub to cool.

Serve them dinner, read them a story and tuck them into bed.

Posted in Education, Fine motor activities, playdough, preschool, preschoolers, Toddlers

Playdough activity – cutting with scissors

Your child should be ready to start learning to use scissors between the age of 2 and 3 years old.

But introducing scissor skills can be quite a difficult task for many toddlers and preschoolers to learn.

Why scissor skills are important

Learning to hold the scissors and cut correctly is a complex task that develops many areas of your child’s learning for example :

  • The continuous opening and closing as your child is cutting with scissors helps to strengthen the tiny muscles in their hand and palm.
  • Cutting enhances a child’s hand- eye coordination as they need to be able to see where they are cutting as they move their hand.
  • It encourages s child to use bilateral coordination. Thus means your child us able to use both sides of their body at the same time. An example is that they can cut with one hand whilst moving the paper with the other.
  • Learning to cut assists with developing early writing skills.

Cutting playdough

To encourage young children to develop their cutting skills you can have them cut playdough.

Playdough is a great medium as children are already familiar with it. It is soft, easy to make and you can control the size and shapes you want to cut.

It’s great for teaching snipping and easy to clean.

Also, playdough is not as restrictive as paper for left handed children.


We started our activity by first rolling the dough into long sausages and then Hamish cut the dough in short snipping motions.

Some parents mark out the interval to snip at but I left him to snip freely.

Although the playdough is soft, it teaches the hand how much resistance is needed to open, close and cut the dough.

You could also try to freeze the dough. Whilst the dough won’t freeze completely ot will be cold and harder to cut, adding more depth to the sensory play.

What are some of your favourite playdough activities?

Posted in Crafts, Family Life, Life with my bears, Parenting

We are the family who paints windows

I recently decided to let Hamish paint the sliding doors with some Dala finger paint as a sensory activity.

It started off very innocently. We called over his little friend and I set out a few paint tools and paints.

The boys were really excited and quickly set to work choosing a paint brush or roller and painting the glass.

Hamish and I will often paint the sliding doors and use a variety of materials to do so. Some of the things we use are:

  • Paints
  • Shaving cream
  • Flour paste with food colouring
  • Corn flour mixed with food colouring and water
  • Custard
  • Instant pudding ( and then he licks it off)
  • Ice cream
  • Coloured ice blocks
  • Creams or lotions
  • Mielie mel cooked runny with cinnamon or nutmeg
  • Cream, especially orley whip
  • Yoghurt

I also like to mix up our painting tools and let him use :

  • Paint brushes
  • Rollers
  • Mini sponges
  • Stamps
  • Spoons ( plastic)
  • Forks or knives also plastic, to make patterns
  • Kitchen utensils
  • Cotton wool
  • Pom poms
  • Feathers
  • Our hands
  • Toilet tubes as stamps

The most beautiful pictures are designed and if you want to keep a copy of your child’s masterpiece you can place a piece of paper over the image and take a print.

We were having a lot of fun, encouraging the boys to paint the entire window pane when Hamish suddenly decided he was going to paint ….me!

We will often have mini paint fights and I always use a non toxic and non staining paint as we very seldom use art aprons.

So, when he painted me I wasn’t worried about the mess and quickly met him in play and painted him back.

These are the moments I believe he will remember.

The moments that will make him unafraid to try new things and explore his creativity.

These are the moments I can show him that it is just a little paint and we can always clean a mess.

These are the moments where our spontaneity shines through and there is pure joy in the moment.

After many giggles, lots of paint and excitement we were both pretty colorful and decided to stop painting each other and concentrate on painting the window.

I showed the boys how to drive the toy cars through the paint and make tracks onto the glass. Another firm favourite boy activity.

You can read about how we were painting with cars when Hamish was much younger.

And then I went behind the glass doors and the boys painted my face. This activity we do quite often.

This is a great way to teach facial features and for little ones just learning to draw faces.

All in all it was a fun afternoon, the kids needed a shower and I was incredibly happy to wash all the paint off me.

Until our next paint explosion that is 🤣

Posted in Family Life, Parenting, Tweens & Teens

When your child tells you things you dont want to hear

Being the mom of 5 grown children, one thing I can promise you is that if you have children, the day is going to come when they will tell you something you weren’t prepared to hear.

As young parents we dream our children’s futures,and map out a path for them and then life happens and our children choose a different road or make mistakes discovering who they are along the way.

But how you react to your child confiding their choices, rash decisions or mistakes can determine the future relationship between you and your children.

The best advise I read shortly after one of my strong willed, independent children chose to make their way into the wide world, not heeding my advise was the following….

Give thanks

When your child confides in you thank them.

Your child has just trusted you enough, knowing that your reaction could be hurtful to them, to share something difficult. Thank them for being courageous enough to do so. Thank them for trusting you.

Show love

Remind your child that you love them, because you do.

Say I love you and follow this with a hug. If you and your child do not show much affection to one another , try reaching out and squeezing their hand or placing your hand on their shoulder. The physical contact will show them you care and are supporting them.

Be interested

Be genuinely interested in what they have shared with you. Ask questions and engage in an open conversation with them to learn more and correctly support them.

If they share something on a topic you have limited knowledge about state that you don’t know much about the topic, invite your child to share their knowledge with you.

An expressed willingness to love your child unconditionally and learn more about the topic they share,invites the conversation to continue and buys you time to be a rational parent rather than a reactionary parent.

Posted in Alphabet activities, Education, preschool, preschoolers, Toddlers

Using toy cars for name recognition

Hamish absolutely loves his cars and when I first saw this idea on @homeschoolingideas I knew it would be an activity that he would enjoy.

We recycled our Beacon easter egg box to make the parking garage and it took only a few minutes to set up.

I started the activity with him building his wooden name puzzle and revising the letters that make up his name.

He then identified each letter taped onto the cars and drove each car into the parking space that corresponded with the letter taped onto the top of the car.

To make your own you will need:

  • Cardboard box
  • A toy car for each letter of your child’s name
  • Stickers or paper to tape on
  • Marker
  • Ruler

To make

Inside the box write your child’s name and divide each letter with a line to resemble a parking space.

Stick letters onto each car. One car per letter of your child’s name. I used paper to write letters with a marker and then taped them on with tape.

To play

Have your child tell you the letters on top of the car and drive them in to the correct parking spaces.

If your child does not know how to read their name yet or how to spell it, build confidence by letting them match the letters in any order.

Once your child can read and spell their name have them drive the cars in from left to right in sequence.