Tag Archives: childminding

My Mood Stars

I met Wendy a few weeks ago as she was spreading word of her unique product.
As a mum I could see the value of this device in helping children to identify and communicate their feelings.
As a language teacher I can see how the product is useful in talking about feelings, whatever the language.
So over to Wendy to tell her story.

Whilst child minding, I came up with the idea for my mood stars. As a childminder, I had to adhere to The Early Years Foundation Framework. Three of the key areas of learning were,

Personal, Social and Emotional development
Communication
Understanding the World.

With this in mind, I came up with the idea for my mood stars.
As I came to create my Mood Stars, I decided to make them from felt with expressions sewn onto them, (Sad, Silly, Surprised, Shy, Cross, Scared, Sleepy and Happy) They covered these areas of learning as well as providing soft, safe and tactile toys for the children to play with.
I found that the Mood Stars helped children recognise their feelings, as well as those of others, by learning the names of the mood / expression on each Mood Star.
As I observed the children playing with the stars, I soon noticed that they began to develop empathy with Sad and Shy Star consoling them in their imaginary play which in turn helped them to come to terms with how they were feeling.

With the help of the Mood Stars, communication with the children became easier. Children were able to relate to the star that expressed the mood that they were in at any particular time. Sleepy Star was often carried to bed at nap time, Sad Star would be cuddled when Mummies and Daddies left for the day and Happy Star was sometimes handed to me just to say “I’m feeling happy!”
The children’s parents would ask me to make sets of My Mood Stars for them to use at home as a useful learning tool, a way of de-stressing night time routines and for behaviour incentives. The unique quality of the Mood Stars was that they could be cuddled and carried around. They were particularly effective for the non-verbal children in the setting. Because of the wider appeal, I set about getting My Mood Stars manufactured.
As I carried out my market research, it became apparent that a board for children to have in their room or play area or for teachers to use in a classroom would be a useful accessory. I wanted to avoid scratchy Hook and Loop type substance on the soft stars I invented a board made from a gentle form of hook and loop material onto which the stars could pop on and off. The sensory experience of this was an added benefit! What also became clear from my market research, from parents of children on the autistic spectrum, was the fact that these children need more help than others recognising facial expressions and facial clues. And that they also found social situations difficult because of this. I got a lot of feed-back from parents of Autistic children, saying that the simplicity of the stars’ facial expressions allow these children simply to focus on the expression on the face of the stars which would help with their social development.
The whole My Mood Stars project has produced a lovely toy, as well as a highly useful learning tool and with no small parts, safe for children of all ages.
Want to know more?
Please follow me on
Facebook
www.facebook.com/mymoodstars

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www.instagram/mymoodstars41

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Visit my website www.mymoodstars.co.uk for a free ‘Games to Play’ download and a video of me talking about My Mood Stars.

We can offer a special discount for Lingotastic readers. Simply visit www.mymoodstars.co.uk to take advantage of our 10% pre order discount from £29.99 to £27.00

Inspirational mum Fiona from Bitzbags

Fiona Gowing

Fiona Gowing

As a mum in business I love to celebrate the successes of other mums in business. This week we have an interview with the inspirational mum Fiona from Bitzbags.

Could you tell us a little about yourself and your family?
My name is Fiona Gowing, I have been a qualified Occupational Therapist (OT) for 17 years and have worked both in the UK and internationally. However, when I had my children, Ben & Ella, I decided to have a career break. It was while I was a stay at home mum that I decided to set up a childminding business and that’s when I had my light bulb moment: a new children’s product idea.

Why did you decide to launch your business?
Inspired by my children Ben and Ella and while running my childminding business I was looking for a play to pack away solution for fiddly kids toys. I dreaded the noise of a full box of Lego being tipped out onto the floor as it was time consuming to tidy up and the kids often wanted to go from one activity to the next, as fast as possible! The only products that were on the market were plastic storage boxes (which the kids loved to just tip out onto the floor), and mats with lengthy pull cord (which isn’t suitable for a child due to safety reasons). So I had to design something new.

Mess with NO stress (twitter)
Could you tell us a little about your business?
I designed Bitzbags a new 2 in 1 portable storage solution. It’s made up of a square mat, with detachable bag. The drawstring free design on the bag is what makes the Bitzbags design different.
I started the business from home, making my first batch of Bitzbags from my kitchen table to test the market at local fairs. Then, outsourcing the manufacturing enabled me to launch the product nationally in August of last year. We have exhibited at large Childcare Expo events in Edinburgh & London, and we are stocked in local retail shops. We are also available online through www.bitzbags.com and an early years resources website www.imagido.co.uk.

How are you finding it fits in with your family?
Owning your own business is hard work and I have been fortunate to have a very supportive husband and also to have the support from business start-up services such as Entrepreneurial Spark www.entrepreneurial-spark.com, Bright Ideas Scotland and Business Gateway. In regards to family life I am able to run my business around school pick-ups and drop offs and even get my children to be involved in the business! For example, they loved being involved in the photoshoot for our marketing materials and packaging, telling me that they “feel famous”, aww…

Anything else you wish to tell our readers?
I would encourage anyone out there, thinking of starting a business, to give it a go! This is the decade of the female entrepreneur, there has never been a better time for women to start their own businesses’ with a vast array of start up support specifically tailored for female businesswomen. So give it a go, dream big, and make it happen today.

At my Lingotastic classes I use a similar idea of wrapping up ducks in blue fabric ready to pull out as we start the song, or all the stuffed animals we use in story, wrapped in fabric so I can quickly get them out when we read the story.

Fiona kindly sent us a bitzbag to trial. My daughters were really pleased, I found my son’s outgrown Lego so they could play with it. I’d been meaning to do it for a while.
As she has said earlier it is brilliant for Lego and the brilliant storage bag is great if you want to put it away quickly to play later or take out with you.
If we’ve inspired you to buy your own (I’m not on commission) visit www.bitzbags.com

If you would like to see more of the Bitzbags products (including the new outdoor bitzbags visit www.bitzbags.com and follow them on Facebook, twitter, instagram and Linkedin.