Tag Archives: parenting

Labelling your children’s clothes. Love it or hate it? Nametags Giveaway

Are you a labeler or not? Do you spend hours sewing name labels on everything or simply scribble initials on the label?

I used to be a meticulous sewer on of name labels. Despite this, my son’s brand new school jumper with a sewn on label went missing, never to be seen again.

Now some school clothing comes with a space to simply write on the name and I take advantage when I can.

I know in some schools sending children in with unlabelled clothes is regarded as a heinous crime

When I was asked by mynametags.com to review these name labels and I jumped at the chance. There is a great selection of designs available from plain black and white to a seemingly endless combination of patterns, pictures and fonts. My daughters loved the Hello Kitty design and that they could choose their own font, colour and patterns.They were really simple to order and arrived quickly.

They are really simple to use. Simply stick to the items you want to label.
The website says “My Nametags new colour stickers, there is no need to either iron- on or sew on the name tags. You can just apply a sticker to the clothing washing label, and it will stay on in the wash again and again. What was once a chore is now a quick and easy job. Colour Stickers can also be stuck onto shoes, bags, DVDs, iPods and other equipment. They are dishwasher, microwave and steriliser proof.”

I’ve been testing them for four weeks now on water bottles and clothing that has had four washes so far (including an item of clothing I stuck a label on then put straight in the wash which is not what they recommend). My verdict is all the labels have stayed put so far and do not look worn. My daughters actually enjoyed labeling their own clothes, which has a great help! A friend who works in an elderly care home saw out stickers and is going to tell her employer about them as they are so easy to use and would really help in that setting.

Would you like to win your own personalised set of my nametags? simply enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The worlds most stolen painting and flemish family frolics

Having seen a BBC programme about Renaissance art  in Europe, we simply had to stop off in Ghent on our yearly trip to Oma’s home in Germany. So this post is about the worlds most stolen painting and Flemish family frolics It is a very long drive from the UK, so a stop-off on the way is very welcome. familysmall

As a family of five it is often tricky to find a room for us. We found a brilliant room at the Hotel Onderbergen as it had a six bed room. The bedroom was really modern, with a double bed and two roomy bunk beds. We chose the bed and breakfast option for our one night stay. There was lots of local food on offer as well as a full Irish breakfast. It was really easy to find the hotel when we finally arrived in Ghent it and has secure on site parking which was perfect for us. The location was brilliant. It was only a two minute walk from the old town centre.

During our overnight stay in Ghent we visited the three main churches: Saint Bavo’s Cathedral, Saint Nicholas Church and Saint Michaels Church all with amazing architecture and decoration.

The main reason for our visit was to see the world’s most stolen piece of artwork. It is now protected by bulletproof glass and in a secure room: the altar piece by Jan and Hubert van Eyck  It is named the 1045_pp_ghent_overallAdoration of the Mystic Lamb, and better known as the Ghent Altarpiece of 1432. It  is an amazing work of art which illustrates Christian teaching for both the literate and illiterate. It shows people from all nations and backgrounds coming together to worship the lamb who was slain. It was awe-inspiring, simply by its size. The amount of detail was phenomenal. The longer you looked at it, the more there was to see. It kept the attention of my seven and nine year olds for ten minutes, which says a lot. We talked together about what we could see and bought a sticker book of the painting for the children do on the journey home.

In the other churches we looked at very ornate silver and gold chalices and articles used during communion. There was also a beautiful display of very ornate vestments made by very skilled craftsmen and women. The churches in Ghent were a display of the best work by those who were the most skilled of their time in many different fields.

We could not visit Ghent without trying the food and the language. As you need to speak to order food, these go well together. I was so pleased my Flemish is now good enough to order a coffee or two!
“Twee koffie alstublieft”

Although understanding how much money I owe them is still a challenge.

We attempted to order a children’s meal, which resulted in a LOT of hilarity! fritjes

„Een kiddie alstublieft.“

Other useful words

alstublieft            please (polite)

dank u   thank you

waar zijn de toiletten, alstublieft?             where are the toilets, please?

spreekt u Engels?             do you speak English?

ik spreek een heel klein beetje Nederlands          I only speak very little Dutch

For more basic dutch phrases check out https://www.speaklanguages.com/dutch/phrases/basic-phrases

We really enjoyed our short trip to Ghent. Have you visited Ghent? Did we miss any must-see places?

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 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?

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?

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.

Language learning à Paris

Language learning à Paris

If you follow us on twitter and Facebook you will know Pascal our French puppet has been out and about in Paris during May half term. Can you guess what he saw?

Our nine year old had been asking to go to Paris for a while. We found a good deal on the Eurostar and the most amazing apartment, Le Loft at Chez Bertrand.We’ll be posting a blog soon about our tips for visiting Paris with children.

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As you can see we had a lot of fun seeing the sights. As a family of language learners, of course we had to learn or improve our French as well. Hearing and reading so much French meant us grown ups were using it much more than usual. I realised when crossing the road I automaticly gave instructions in French “Vite!” “Allons-y!” “On y va” The children responded as if they understood. The girls were reading on the Metro “Sortie” Whilst looking around Notre Dame my youngest daughter said “that sortie is closed”.
After a busy day my daughter came home and flopped on the bed. Daddy asked “Est-ce que tu est fatiguée?” My daughter thought this was a very silly word so often said “I’m fatiguée” and “Je suis fatiguée”. Our son has studied French to year 9 and I was surprised how much he used on holiday, as his last school French lesson was two years ago.

Each morning We went to la boulangerie to buy le pain. The children helped write the shopping list. Les bonbons was their favorite thing to write. It was not all unhealthy though. My daughters found some apples with stickers to decorate them “tête du Pomme” I’ve not seen them enjoying apples so much before. In the supermarket the girls were really excited to find l’escargot. Strangely enough, they did not fancy eating them.

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We toured the notable landmarks in Paris and heard others speaking French. The children were really excited to see the famous landmarks in real life. Our Jasmin was so excited about the Eiffel tower I thought she may pop! As you may see from the pictures it was a very wet few days, one day it was so damp we could not see the top of the Eiffel tower and the Seine was close to bursting it’s banks. A few days later The Louvre was closed to move priceless paintings up a floor to safely and the Notre Dame was also at risk of flooding.

We visited Parc Asterix which Maik had wanted to visit for 25 years. We had a lot of fun and read and heard a lot of French there. The rides were really good for all our ages. We’ll tell you a lot more in a blog so stay tuned.

When in Paris we stumbled upon an amazing museum of Language and linguistics called Mundolingua. It was just up our street and really interactive so the kids enjoyed it as well. We could have spent much longer there than we did. It was huge fun and we’ll have a blog all about it on the way.

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Our time in Paris was a great boost to all our families French learning and gave them us real life examples to hang our language learning on.

What langauges are you learning as a family? Have you visited the country to help achieve this? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

You’ll never guess what happened on Friday!

On Saturday I went along to Mumsnet workfest 2016. I was still very surprised to be going along. Twenty two hours before I did not know I was going! I got a tweet from Barclays to say I’d won a pair of tickets. I looked at the website and was so excited about the line up. Just a quick call to my hubby to chat about childcare and I was all set to go. The Mumsnet workfest looked to be aimed as mums returning to work after maternity leave. I figured there were a couple of seminars that looked really good and it was a great opportunity to network.

The most surprisingCath andMe part of the day was when I met Cath. I arrived early and got chatting to another he. She had an awful lot in common with me. I’m from Bradford, and she lives there now. We both LOVE languages, especially German, so we chatted about that, about our families, and the Lingotastic classes I run. Anyone who has read my blogs, or met me in the flesh will know that family language learning is my passion, so another mum looking to bring more language learning into her family life and maybe run classes like mine is an absolute joy to me. Cath said this was something she’d like to do so discussed my journey and ideas for her to work towards something similar.

The first event was with the keynote panel of Karen Blackett OBE, Jo Whiley, Jess Phillips MP and Kirstie Mackey. It was awesome to hear them share their stories and “How they do it all.”Panel speaking
Karen is a truly inspirational women who has created a culture in her company which includes and celebrates family. Jo Whiley shared how through her radio career she has worked with supportive people who have allowed her to be a mum as well as an employee. The two shining light pearls of wisdom from this session were “One good parent is enough”- Jess, and “Bring the whole of you to work” – Karen. If the day had stopped there, this would have been brilliant already.

I’m self employed, so the break out session on The Key to building your business was just what I wanted to hear. It was so great to hear others stories. I heard what I know now to be true, “Starting your own business is not the easy option”. I also had the time to reflect on how lucky I am to have a hubby who has let me run a selfie2business which did not make any money for the first two years.
For the second breakout session I walked in, and the lovely Esther Stanhope was bouncing around with excitement. It was titled “How to network when you hate small talk” There were lots of brilliant little tips I could quickly put into practice. We had to break into pairs and speed network. I found out that Katie loves Bradford (where I’m from) and writing and blogging. I was so excited I took a silly selfie. She confessed that prior to this she was a selfie virgin!

Lunch was delicious restaurant quality food and great chance to network. I chatted with a bilingual Russian & English mum about what they do at home, and she said advice and support would make a massive difference to her as her daughter grows. This was a massive encouragement to me and something I am considering I how to work in practice.

 

I went along to the self esteem workshop with Kim Morgan from Barefoot Coaching. The room was pretty full. It was a high speed session including many ideas and a couple of group exercises. I came away with a revelation that as women we all struggle with similar issues which was a real eyeopener to me. Her book The Coach’s Casebook looked a good way to follow up on the session.

We were so fortunate to be able to find out “What we did next”-inspiring stories with five awesome women who were inspired to launch their own business by Workfest 2015.

I was so excited that the guest speaker this year was Matthew Syed. My hubby has been reading his book “Bounce”, so I was excited I could hear him speak. He presented so clearly. This was a real lightbulb moment, to see my own growth mindset and fixed mindset. It was a real eyeopener as a mum, to help me to encourage my own children to see that if things go wrong, failure is not final, and though failing we learn how to do it better next time.
MattSyed If you want to buy his books Black box thinking and Bounce for yourself, click through.

It was an awesome day and I came away feeling comfortable in my own skin and that I’m not doing a bad job as a mum. Not bad at all for an event I’d not heard about before the Friday.

This blog is the first in a monthly series celebrating women in business and the workplace. I believe that if something is not celebrated it can die, so I want to take the chance to celebrate some awesome women. If you’d like to write a guest blog for us get in touch.

Learning from the Romans


We spent a few days up North around Easter. As a polyglot family we could not stop language learning! We’ve visited a brilliant Roman settlement near our home in St Albans. There we learned much of the glassware found there was produced in Cologne (nearish where my mum in law lives in Germany) We took the children to see to Roman remains there last year
Cologne sightseeing guide
The most impressive part was the Praetorium discovered under the Rathaus in Cologne.

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Also near my mum in Law’s in Germany is the Varusschlacht museum. Near the site of another great wall and the site of a massive battle between the Romans and Germanic tribes Vindolanda
My son had learned some Latin at primary school with minimus This book follows a real Roman family who lived at Vindolanda (They identified them from their well preserved letters on the Vindolanda tablets) and a mouse called Minimus in the guide. My hubby has been using this book to bring back his school Latin so from the book all our Children had learned to introduce themselves in Latin. Quad nomen tibi est? Nomen mihi est Sarah. Last year they excavated a Roman Granary I’m sure that’s where Minimus loved to be. Our children had a lot of fun exploring the site and imagining what it would be like to live there in Roman times. The girls were really inspired to see the volunteers excavating as we were there. They were keen to find out how old they have to be to join in!
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I was so excited to see the real Vindolanda tablets and the actual shoes belonging to Lepidina the Prefects wife. It was amazing to see all the Roman remains found in such good condition for their age.
We visited a real section of Hadrian’s wall at Birdoswald on the way back.

As I said we bought tickets for the Roman Army museum as well. I was very different to Vindolanda. The children enjoyed just how interactive it all was, bringing the to life the Romans who were stationed here. We had chance to practice our Latin in the school room together. Picture. My favourite parts were the found Roman jewels and the film of the area from the air revealing yet another Roman fort.

Your family go learning from the Romans too. There are lots of Roman remains all over Europe. A great opportunity to let kids experience history for themselves and do a bit of language learning. Let us know where you choose to go!

Can you pass on a language without being a native speaker?

Today we have an interview with Rachel, who is teaching her daughter french, but she’s not a native speaker of french.
I’d been chatting to Rachel before. We met via the Speak to the Future LinkedIn group. I was really excited when I found out she’s teaching her own child French at home, although her mother tongue is English, like we’re doing at home.

Learning about le poisson d'Avril

Learning about le poisson d’Avril

We met Rachel in her hometown of Carlisle in the Easter holidays.

– The first question was from Emily: Why do you live in the north?

I’m from this area and my parents live here. There’s lots to do with little ones in Carlisle.

– What do you do for work?

I’m a freelance translator of French and German and private tutor of French. I also occasionally do some voluntary work in French classes in a local infant school.

– What made you want to introduce a foreign language to M?

I can see that it’s a massive advantage for her to be introduced to languages at a young age. Little ones are like sponges – they learn so quickly. She’s at an age where she’s not shy about using another language. I have the language skills so can pass them on to her. I know she won’t become bilingual through me – I’m not a native speaker and we don’t live in France – but I want her to have a good grounding in another language, to enjoy it and be confident in it. I was surprised from how early on she could distinguish between French and English and how much she has picked up.

– Do you do lessons with your little one?

No, we simply do it as part of our everyday life. She likes to watch “Pierre le lapin” (Peter Rabbit) and other English-language cartoons she knows on the tablet in French, as well as original French-language cartoons. We’ve also got some CDs of French songs – she in particular likes trying to sing along to songs on one called “Maxi Enfance”. We enjoy sharing French books and puzzles. I’ve got a French mummy friend we exchange books with, which is a great advantage.
I joke with friends that I teach her “French by torture” – we play a tickling game where I’ll stop tickling only when she says “arrête”. She often shouts “encore”!
We visit France together. Last time we were there, M bought herself a book. I explained the procedure/what to say, all in French, and she quite happily went to the counter and said all the right things at the right time, and was delighted to have “tricked” the lady into thinking she was French!
She’s just started French lessons at her preschool, so we’ll see if she lets on that she knows lots or is quiet and acts like she doesn’t know any!

"We love to share these magazines together"

“We love to share these magazines together”

Alongside learning the actual language, I also think it’s important to teach M about some of the traditions and culture of France. For example, we recently read an article together on Easter in France, from which M not only learned a couple of new Easter-related words but was also interested to find out about the “cloches volantes” that bring sweets to children in France. We also had fun making “poissons d’avril” as I taught her about this French 1st of April tradition. I was also able to use this activity to reinforce colour words with her.

– Finally, what would you say to other parents wishing to pass on their language skills to their little one?

Go for it! There’s no better time to learn than when they’re young – the younger the better! Especially if you’re a native speaker, but even if you aren’t but have the right background and skills in the foreign language. It’s fun for both of you and wonderful to see their progress.

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