Tag Archives: family

James and the Amazing Gift book

If you read our blog regularly you’ll know we love books. When Nicola asked us to review her first ever book James and the Amazing Gift we were over the moon!

This book is about a boy called James. He has an amazing gift. He loves to James and the Giftsmile.

If you’ve ever traveled on the Underground with children you’ll recognise the scenario. People, packed like sardines refuse to make eye contact, let alone speak to each other, but littles who do not know the “rules” happily smile and interact with other passengers and even get the carriage talking to each other. As you can see my girls have beautiful smiles that others cannot resist.

A smile is an amazing gift, and this is exactly what the story is about.

James also has an incredible ability to make everyone he meets, smile too. But one day, whilst he is at a garden centre with his mummy, he sees an elderly lady who does not want to smile. She is sitting in the corner with her purple hat pulled down over her face. She is all alone. James has to work really hard to get her attention. Will he be able to make the old lady feel as if she is no longer just by herself?

This book is interesting as it really brings out the question of empathy and how others feel.


And over to my girls

Jasmin: My favourite character is James because he makes everybody smile. I think James is amazing because he cheers people up when they sad.

Emily: I like James amazing gift because his gift is smiling and I makes him happy and other people happy. I think at night time he even makes the owl smile! I think it was good when James made used his amazing gift to make the lonely elderly lady happy.

contact-the-elderly

James and the Amazing Gift illustrates beautifully how a smile can go a long way to impact upon the lives of others.
Nicola has written this, her first book to raise awareness of the loneliness of elderly people, especially at Christmas time. For every book sold, £1 of the proceeds will be donated to the UK charity Contact the Elderly, which
tackles loneliness among older people by holding tea parties.

James and the amazing gift is Available to buy from http://bit.ly/Amazing_Gift, as well as
Amazon and other selected stockists. It makes a lovely gift to share with your own smiller.

The good news is we have a copy of James and the Amazing Gift signed by Nicola for you to win. The giveaway closes on 31st December.

Mudpie Fridays


Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Percy the Pigeon – Katie’s first book

family-katieI love to celebrate the achievements of other mums in business. This month we have an inspirational interview with full time mum Katie who has just fulfilled her dream of writing a children’s book.

Hi Katie, could you tell us a little about yourself?

My name is Katie Budge, I’m 25 years old and I live in the town of Stevenage in Hertfordshire. I live with my two young sons and my boyfriend of five years. My sons – Gerrard-Anthony (2 and a half) and James (7 months) are my whole world and my full time job is getting to spend every day with them being their mum.

I’ve previously worked in schools but stopped working when my first son was born. That’s where most of my inspiration came from when writing children’s stories. I started writing children stories years before, when I was in college studying a ‘diploma in child care and education’ course, we were asked to write a story that helped to teach children valuable life lessons or had some sort of moral to it. I got wonderful feedback both from my tutors and peers and I thoroughly enjoyed writing them.

What was your biggest challenge in writing you first book?
My biggest obstacle was getting published by a publishing company, unfortunately I didn’t manage to find anyone and had to self -publish my book. Although that was my biggest obstacle it meant I got to choose my illustrator, who drew in a way that I liked, which I wouldn’t have got the chance to do, had I been published by a company. I also got to take my time, keep editing my book along the way and at the end of it, I could say, I did it myself. Which is a fantastic achievement and one I’m very proud of.

What would you say is the most important thing when working from home?
Balance is a very important thing when writing stories and having my two boys. Whenever they are taking a little nap or fast asleep in bed by half past seven each night (they’re very good boys) I use that time to write and re write my stories. I’m very lucky that I have so much inspiration around me everyday from my two beautiful boys, but I haven’t yet bought myself round to writing a book about eating snot, which is a daily occurrence with a two year old!

percy the pigeon

Could you tell us a little about your book?

Percy the Pigeon was written after I spotted a very aggressive and greedy pigeon scoffing all the bird food put out in the garden while I was washing up. The story about a very greedy pigeon who doesn’t like to share food with his friends which eventually gets him into trouble. The story follows Percy and his over indulging ways and we find out whether he eventually changes his ways, or if he always puts his belly first.

I really hope people enjoy reading it, especially all the boys and girls out there, and I would love to hear feedback from anyone who purchases it. My book can be found and bought at:
http://www.blurb.co.uk/b/7500674-percy-the-pigeon

It’s been a pleasure to chat to you Katie, thanks so much.

This beautiful book would make a love Christmas present. It’s lovely rhyming book about the value of sharing and friendships. I’m sure you’ll enjoy snuggling up to your little one to share this story. Let me know what you think.

What has an Armadillo got to do with homophones?

A few months ago I met Guy Moore. He has created a fun educational app to help with language learning, inspired by his grandfather. I was so intrigued by how story told to a young boy could in time become a learning tool for many, I’ve asked him to share his story on our blog. So here goes, over to you Guy… grandfather

This project all began because of my grandfather Clifford Frost who loved to tell me stories, and one day he told me a story when I was just six years old, and it has stuck with me all these years.

He sat me down and said
‘When I was a little boy Guy I was locked in a tower that was so high it went into the clouds. There was only one window with metal bars and I wondered how I was going to get out. Well I thought and I thought until my head grew sore, and with this/ saw I escaped from the tower. I was miles away from anywhere so I shouted and shouted until my voice grew hoarse ‘Help Help’, and on this horse I rode away until I reached an endless wall. Well I found half an orange, and a little bit further along I found another half of an orange. Two halves make a whole, so I climbed through the hole.
Even though it was quite short, I found it absolutely fascinating, charming, engaging and very educational.

Even at such a young age I realised how helpful it was.

We have also created a lovely back story film called “Aarchie. Where it all began’.

It was his creative use of the English language which was one of the reasons I decided to get into advertising.

So eventually 44 years later I decided with my writing partner Tony Malcolm to take it to the next level and create an interactive edutainment book. The Tales of Aarchie was born.
My granddad lived to the ripe old age of 103 and was overjoyed that Archie would be his legacy, and be passed down from generation to generation.
Working with a fantastic team of developers in Cardiff, and my best friend Les the illustrator, who is a veteran in the games industry including working on Angry Birds with Rovio, we wanted to create an educational story that makes learning for children fun. What has an Armadillo got to do with homophones?
The Tales of Aarchie is a funny, charming animated story that explains that quirk of the English language, the homophone.
Homophones are words that sound the same but mean completely different things like witch/which, horse/hoarse, plane/plain and so on.

The interactive app encourages children to press the homophones to move the story on, and therefore literally highlighting the play on words.
The benefits of this are pretty simple.
65% of people are visual learners and take in a lot more information when they are having fun.
We have created two versions.
An animated interactive app while reading, or a ‘read it to me’ mode.
Plus we also have a digital e-book.

The interactive story is aimed at children between the ages of 5-9, but we have seen other children who aren’t English be a little bit older.
At the moment it’s only available on an i-pad, but we are currently working on an Android version too.

There is a Lite version of the app which is free, and then there is the full all singing and dancing version which is £2.99.
Both versions are available on The Apple Store.
The one thing we all really believe in and as a team feel very strongly about are in app purchases. Well, with The Tales of Aarchie there are none and never will be.

However, he haven’t stopped with the app and book, we also have Aarchie…the Puppet.
Aarchie has been magically transformed by a brilliant puppeteer called Phil Fletcher.
So we acquired a YouTube channel just for Aarchie and we want it to be a brilliant edutainment channel that children and parents will enjoy, and refer back to again and again for new episodes.
With our gorgeous puppet and blue screen technology we’ll create broadcasts of funny stories and facts about English presented in both short 20-30 second bursts or longer formats.
We have yet to start filming, but this will hopefully start in the very near future. How much fun can be had with homophones?

Want to try the app for free? Guy has kindly provided two free passes for our readers. The two lucky winners will be chosen at random on Monday 12th November

COMPETITION NOW CLOSED

Language learning with bilingual animals? Whatever next!

Regular readers of our blog will know we love books so when Hennie asked us to review this book I was excited to find out more. Language learning with bilingual animals? Whatever next!

Il neige chez Betty and Cat In the snow by Hennie Jacobs and Christine Duvernois

Betty and Cat

Betty and Cat

It is a really interesting concept I’d not come across before. Hennie contacted me about her books and I was very interested to find out more.

In this story, Betty the dog and cat have lots of fun/ don’t want to play in the snow. It’s a fun story as Betty eventually shows cat how much fun snow can be (If you dress for the weather) hilarity ensues as they find ways to stay warm whilst they explore the beautiful snowy landscape outside the front door.

Hennie describes the books as follows: Betty & Cat is a series of children’s books that reflect the way today’s children play with language. You won’t find a translation, just two animals communicating: Cat in English and Betty in Dutch or French depending on the book.
I found it a bit strange to start with, never having come across a book like it before. As a multilingual family, we do often have conversations in two languages at the same time. For our family, this is very normal but I’ve never seen it on paper. Nathalia’s CD does this a lot.
My daughters had a look with me, and commented on the beautiful pictures. As a mum of children who have always loved to read (sometimes the same book over and over!) the illustration of the book is very very important.
This books helps bilingual children to see how normal and acceptable it is to switching between the two languages. This is often needed as bilingual children get older and want to fit in with their peers.
These books offer adults the opportunity to participate in the bilingual experience of the children. If relatives only speak one language they are still able to share a story with the child.

The books are also good for children who are struggling with learning English and who may not see the point of learning another language. The fun of the stories brings learning in by stealth, part of the everyday family life, in my opinion the best way to learn together as a family.

The books are a really interesting concept and a fun way to bring language learning into everyday. Have a look for yourself on http://www.bettyandcat.com/

The books are available in Spanish/English and Spanish French, as well as Dutch/French and the usual English with French, Dutch, or Spanish.

To find out more check out http://www.bettyandcat.com/

Language Show Live fun

Language Show Live

language-show

This weekend we had a lot of fun as a family at Language Show Live. We found some brilliant resources and met some lovely people along the way. Check out our (rather crazy) video of our visit.

Here are links to get in touch with the people featured.

Confucius institute

European Schoolbooks

Apple Languages

Superstickers

Hekayatona- Arabic resources for children

Rockalingua

uTalk

FlashSticks

One Third Stories

Tutor Ming

Bonjour Grammaire

Did you visit Language Show Live 2016?

What was your favourite part?

The Return of the Young Prince

the-return-of-young-princeThe Return of the Young Prince
Before I start I need to admit I have not read the Little Prince. I thought many times about reading it in French to help my French practice but had never done it.
When I heard the sequel was coming out in English I was intrigued.
My nine year old daughter began to read it but found it really hard going as she did not understand it. I would say the book is written for adults and deep thinking teens.

I expected a story, but it is actually a reflection on the joys and secrets of living a meaningful life.

I’ve not read a book like it before. We are invited on a journey with the traveller and his passenger, the boy (The young Prince). We listen in on the conversation they have with the driver often thinking aloud and the boy listening with interest. It is as if we also have a seat in the car with them. There is much to provoke thought and reflection on our own lives. The journey is not purely physical but a spiritual one. The book is full of rich description of the journey, it reminds me of Tolkien in Lord of the Rings. The dialogue on the journey encourages us (the reader) to take the time to notice the world around us and our place in it.

The writer AJ Roemmers says “ I see life as a great opportunity in which spiritual development is all important. I wrote this book in nine days of isolation. Emanating from the very depths of my being, it is an attempt to give some answers”
This sense of seeing another’s soul is strong in the book. At times, I felt like a voyeur on another’s personal journey. The book challenged me to think deeply about my worldview and what is important in life.
If you’re looking to go on journey to examine the importance of friendship, family, community and compassion this book is for you.
I’ll finish with some words of wisdom from the book.

“The path to joy and spiritual fulfilment requires the courage to change and grow”
“Really there’s only one way of changing the world, and that’s by changing yourself”
“if you are thankful for the obsticles in your way, you’ll waste less time complaining and lead a fuller life”
“True love is when you put another’s happiness above your own”

Watch the promotional video here.

If you wish to read this book in another language, The return of the young prince was written in Spanish and translated into English in 2016 but, not yet available in French.

Disclosure: I was given this book free of charge by the publisher for the purpose of review. The thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

It’s Lingotastic’s birthday

It’s our birthday!

This week we celebrate Lingotastic’s third birthday!

I can hardly believe my dream of encouraging and supporting family language learning would come so far!

Here are the photos of our first ever class in the newspaper

laterneumzug

 

  • Thanks to our weekly Lingotastic classes:
  • A number of children have started school already able to communicate simply in four languages.
  • Parents have grown in confidence in their own language skills and ability to pass on these skills to their own children.
  • Bilingual families have found others to share their journey together.
  • Families have found books, songs, toys and simple activities which they can use day by day in their family language learning journey.
  • Families have experienced the joy of singing together (whatever the language)
  • Children have had their eyes opened to other languages, cultures and traditions which leads to a greater acceptance and understanding of others. (So needed at this current time)
  • Children are able to sing in many languages with almost a native accent!
  • My own family have also been learning the songs and sharing the stories from the classes and are really progressing in their language learning.

Lingotastic provide weekly language classes, school lunchtime clubs and private classes in German, French and Spanish. We simply make, play, sing and have fun with languages together and it’s amazing to see the results.

Classes run in Bucks, and Herts.

To help with your language learning at home we’ve produced as CD of songs in German, English, French, Spanish, Mandarin and Esperanto. Available on www.Lingotastic.co.uk/shop

To celebrate our birthday, we have three copies to giveaway. Do you want to win your own copy? Enter in the rafflecopter below. You can get up to 12 chances to win. Good luck!

It’s our birthday!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Is that the mummy of Kleiner weißer Fisch?

kleiner-weisser-fisch

This weeks book is Kleiner weißer Fisch by Guido von Genechten published by ArsEdition

I’d love to tell you about my favourite German picture book. I first came across it in our local library who had it on loan from bright books. It is a beautiful, colourful board book written for native German speakers over two years.

The story follows the adventures of a little white fish who has lost his mummy. The text invites you get involved in the story “Is this the mummy of the little white fish?” No spoilers but it has a happy ending!

It has lots of repetition so it is quickly understood. I’ve used this book in a library setting and none native German speakers quickly joined in with ja and nein.

Through the story you will learn the names of the sea creatures in German, colours and yes and no. You will hear how questions are asked in German. My daughters learned their colours in German with the help of this book and bath fizzers (but that is another story)

I’ve used it with children up to eight years who have no previous knowledge of German. As you can see I use lots of props so the children can match the animal to the one in the story. I made my own little white fish. It is a really fun interactive story when can be enjoyed again and again.

This book was originally written in Dutch and I’ve also found a translation in French if these are your target languages.

I hope this blog has inspired you to share stories with your little one, however young or old they are.

You can buy your own copy here.

If you’d like to hear me reading the story in German. Have a look here.

If you missed the last picture book review have a look here.

Do you have any picture books you would recommend and why?

The hundred mile an hour dog -Master of disguise

 Jasmin and the hundred mile an hour dog

Jasmin and the hundred mile an hour dog

Hello, I’m Jasmin and I have been asked to write a review of The hundred mile an hour dog -Master of disguise by Jeremy Strong. I have already read The Problems with a Python so I was pleased to be asked to review this book.

My most favorite character is the dog named Streaker because he is fast and funny.

A brief outline of the story is that the dog was naughty and the dad tried to send it to boot camp so the boy disguised the dog and the dog gets dog-napped by accident.

I would recommend this book to boys and girls aged 6-10 who like books about mystery.
I like the whole book but my favorite bit was when they dyed Streaker’s fur white to disguise him.

There is an exciting competition running on the Jeremy Strong website. Print out a picture of Streaker the dog and create your own amazing disguise.

If this review of The hundred mile an hour dog -Master of disguise has made you want to read other books by the same author check these out.

Bird food as a language learning supertool

We started a homeschooling adventure at the end of May. It was a bit unexpected but it is a lot of fun.

We’ve done a lot of project based work, so when I heard Ivel Valley were looking for bloggers to review their bird feed, we jumped at the chance. It begs the question: Can you learn with bird food?

Here is our very silly Unboxing Film. (They do say not to work with children or animals)

There are so many learning experiences in everyday life, for languages, science, maths, literacy and lots more.
We’ve been feeding the birds for a while, but just cheap bird seeds. As you can see in the video, this is so much better than what we usually feed them. I’m sure the birds will love us now!

wp-1467922052827.jpg

There are so many learning experiences in everyday life, for languages, science, maths, literacy and lots more.
Feeding birds fits into science work on food chains. It fosters a nurturing attitude to caring for nature. We can use maths whilst measuring out what we need. We can spot birds coming and chart it. (Maths too) We can chat about the birds in another language, German is our second language at home, I’ll be learning too as I don’t yet know many bird’s names in German!

So whilst following the nature topic this week we came across some brillant things. So, why is bird food a language learning supertool?

We came across a traditional German Children’s song. Alle Vögel sind schon da. I hope you enjoy this lively version.

In our garden, this week we’ve seen pigeons, robins, sparrows, bluetits, thrushes, blackbirds and red kites.

So the German names for these are

We found some poetry on birds to use literacy skills. We’ve been looking at symmetry in nature. We read about food chains and my daughter wrote some food chains including birds both as predator and prey. As the work we did was rooted in the project for the week there is a direct link which helps to keep an interest in the work we are doing.

Would you like to buy some of this brilliant bird food for yourself. Pop over to the website Ivel Valley

Are there any more names for birds you think we’ve missed? Add you comments below.

Are you home schooling? How do you work with your little ones? Let us know in the comments below.

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