Destination Dubai

Oct 30, 2014

This Bloggerati Getaway is proudly sponsored by Dubai Tourism

In the almost 3 years that I have been writing this blog, I have been blessed to have some fabulous experiences, but none quite so fabulous, quite so amazing, as what I am soon to be embarking upon.

Thanks to my fabulous blog agency, Bloggerati by Nuffnang, who are responsible for coordinating the majority of the work I do for clients, and Dubai Tourism, I, along with 20 of Australia's top bloggers, will be going on a Bloggerati Getaway to Dubai!

Whilst this is a location that excites me for all the obvious reasons, (the culture, the architecture, the shopping, the food, the wonder, the opulence, the experiences!) there is a reason, even closer to my heart that makes Dubai somewhere that I have desperately wanted to go to. My closest cousin and her family live in Dubai!

Growing up, Julie-Anne and I were very close as we were the only female cousins out of many. We spent many school holidays staying at one another's houses, were bridesmaids in each others weddings and she's the closest thing I've ever had to a sister. When Julie-Anne and her husband, Corey, moved to Dubai for work, the family were sad to lose them but they told us that it would be for a maximum of 2 years. Well, its been almost 7 years now (!!) and they have no plans to return home to Oz yet. They love it there. As you can see by the above picture, since living in Dubai, my first-cousin-once-removed was born. I have been wanting to visit them ever since they left and I am so incredibly excited to finally be getting the opportunity!

I asked them recently, Why should families visit Dubai? They said:
  • To experience a different culture (there are a lot of misconceptions regarding the Middle East)
  • Architecture (Dubai has a mix of both Arabic and modern contemporary buildings which creates a unique and interesting landscape)
  • Local attractions (everything is bigger, better, opulent)
  • Dubai is conveniently positioned as a layover/stopover to other destinations.

Photo Credit: Dubai Tourism

While I am there, I will be sussing out things for the time when I will be able to bring my whole family over to Dubai. I am very keen to find out how kid-friendly Dubai really is and hopefully uncover some of the lesser known places to go or experiences to do with children. 

My own children will not be accompanying me on this trip which gives us even more reason to learn about Dubai, The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the Middle East together, as a way to include them in my experience. 

Photo Credit: Dubai Tourism

Before I leave, the kids and I will be looking closer at the Geography and a little bit of History of Dubai and the Middle East. We will learn how to research about other places as we discover more about the culture and customs of my destination. (We will also see how important it is to research your destination before you go, especially as I pack).

When I return, I can't wait to show the children Dubai through my eyes and use my photos and experiences to inspire further learning and exploration together. My kids are already keen to cook a Middle Eastern dish (I'll have to try out lots of food while I'm there to find a suitable recipe. It's ok, I'll manage... for the kids) and I know that the incredible architecture and sights could well inspire some fabulous construction building and art work.

Photo Credit: Dubai Tourism

Whilst in Dubai, I will be joining the #MyDubai initiative, created by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council. The intention is to celebrate the everyday lives of the people and communities of the Emirate and show the city that is beneath the landmarks, headlines and superlatives. The Australian #MyDubai initiative will provide the opportunity to showcase and uncover some of Dubai’s hidden gems and lesser-known highlights to the Australian market.

Want to come with us?

That's right, we are actually taking one, (very lucky), blog reader plus a friend, with us to Dubai! The trip will include airfares from your capital city, accommodation and activities. (You won't have to hang out with us the whole time.)

It's really simple to enter, all you have to do is tell us, on social media, "What do you dream of in Dubai?" with the hashtags #NNDubaiDreams #mydubai 

For your entry to be valid, be sure follow the below instructions: 
- Post your answer to the question "What do you dream of in Dubai?" on your choice of platform (Facebook, Twitter or Instagram)
- Your answer can be text, image or video and must be publicly visible
- You must use the two hashtags #NNDubaiDreams and #mydubai

This giveaway is open to Australian residents & will close at 5pm AEDST on November 12th 2014.  Full terms & conditions available HERE.  Competition details are also available HERE.

Good luck,
Debs :)

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Parent Direct. For educational toys and gifts direct to parents.

Oct 27, 2014

Finding good quality, affordable educational toys and materials is not always easy from home. That's why when I'm introduced to places that have these things available, I love to share them with you. Read on to hear more about this great site and for your chance to win one of five $50 vouchers. This post is sponsored by Parent Direct and Nuffnang.

As a school teacher, one of the many jobs I loved doing was the ordering for the classroom. We usually did the bulk of our ordering at the end of the year so that the supplies would arrive before the new school year started. I would love pouring over the catalogues from educational suppliers and checking out all the fabulous educational resources available.

When I had my own children and was on family leave from teaching, like many parents, I was excited about buying toys and materials for my children. That's the really fun stuff! (Especially if you love to play too.) I was already aware of the awesome resources available for children to play and learn, and these were the sort of toys I wanted for my children. I discovered though, that finding these toys and resources was actually more difficult than I'd thought. I knew the names of a number of educational distributors and attempted to find places to buy or order their goods. I often found the sites and the ordering to be overwhelming though. Many are not really set up for individual purchasers (more for schools or bulk orders) and require you to print out large forms and fax them off. Often with freight costs, the items would end up too expensive.

It wasn't until my daughter was attending 3 year-old kinder that we started getting the fundraising catalogues sent home. I couldn't wait for the book club ones (yay, love book club!) but I was even more delighted when we were sent the ones for educational toys! Finally I had a way to not only easily purchase the educational toys I wanted, but to also help our school or centre. What a great idea!

We loved ordering through the Parent Direct catalogue that was sent home from our kinder but it wasn't until recently that I was made aware that I didn't need to be given a fundraising catalogue to order. They have a website that you can order from any time you want AND you still get to nominate a school or centre to receive fundraising points. YAY!

Why I enjoyed ordering from the Parent Direct website:

  • They stock a large range of good quality education toys/materials that are often unavailable in mainstream shops
  • The prices are very reasonable
  • 20c from every dollar I spend on the site (not including shipping) goes to my nominated school or centre. As a teacher, I love this! Schools have to manage their budgets very tightly so every little bit extra that can be spent on getting new resources for the children outside of the budget is so appreciated! I nominated my daughter's school with my order.
  • The site is user friendly, easy to use and well set-out
  • I like the big pictures and descriptions of each items. You can click into them for even more pictures
  • I like that I can add to my cart without leaving the window. A pop up box opens so it's easy to continue shopping
  • You can see the catalogue in full in an online flip-through version or just browse by the category or brand
  • If like me you often get distracted half-way through making an order online, I found that you could leave it for a little while without the cart emptying and needing to start again 
  • You don't have to go anywhere. Shop from the convenience of home
  • A set postage rate for all your items. $7.90 Aus wide.

You can pay easily via your credit card and I was happy to learn that Paypal will be available soon. My order took 7 days to arrive and was securely packaged.

When browsing the website, the first item that I really wanted for my house was the above SES - Carpentry Building Playset. My children love building in all sorts of different ways, and this was a great set to introduce them to simple carpentry and a different way of building and connecting items together.

Both of my children (aged 2 and 5) love working with this set. I love that there are so many possibilities for creating with this set and that my children experience working on their fine-motor skills, problem solving, creative thinking, imagination, designing etc.

These are the other items I ordered off the site. There were many more items I could have ordered, in fact, there were a number of items on there that I already owned or had very similar items to. As you can see, we are really into building and dinosaurs here! As it's my son's birthday soon, I have popped these other items (minus the book) aside for him.

The seek and find book was for my daughter. She is quite a good reader these days but I wanted to get her a book that she could use for some quiet time after school that didn't just focus on reading words. This book focuses more on some key words and numbers as children seek to find varying amount of objects hidden in the pages.

Overall, I found browsing and ordering on the Parent Direct website an easy and enjoyable experience. I have no doubt I'll be ordering from them again, as there always seems to be another present giving occasion just around the corner.


Thanks to Parent Direct, we have 5 x $50 vouchers to giveaway.

To enter pop over to the Parent Direct website and then leave a comment here telling us what you'd buy with your $50 voucher and why.

This giveaway is open to Australian residents. It is open until 5pm AEST Friday 31st Oct and you can see full terms and conditions here. If commenting under an anonymous profile, please leave a name and email so we can contact you if you win.

Good luck and happy playing,
Debs :)

{Disclosure: this is a paid post for Parent Direct sponsored by Nuffnang.  We were given a voucher to experience the online shop. As always, opinions expressed in this post are my own and my children's.}

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Fizz, Pop, Bang! Playful Science and Maths ebook

Oct 26, 2014

I am delighted to bring you another great ebook. This hands-on book full of maths and science activities has been collaborated on by a fabulous group of bloggers and is jam packed full of fun activities with easy to follow instructions and explanations. With multiple authentic learning opportunities in maths and science, incorporating art, sensory learning, motor skills and discovery, for a whole-brain approach.
Whether you are a teacher in the classroom or a parent at home, you will love the clear text, bright pictures and ideas for further learning, brought to you by a group of mums and teachers that have tried and tested all of these activities. With 20 printable resources that you can use to complement the activities or for your own creative pursuits, I am sure you will enjoy your copy of Fizz, Pop, Bang! Playful Science and Math Activities. 40 Projects for ages 3 to 8.

BUY NOW for the introductory price of $7.99. Regular price, $9.99

What's included in your purchase?

  • 40+ ideas for children aged 3-8 (These activities have not been published by us elsewhere and are only available in the book)
  • 20 printable resources including maths and science graphing and recording sheets, magnet maze, monster match and sort game, print and build 3D solid blocks, rocket math game, tracing shapes, fact family dominoes, catch and count fish game and engineering challenge cards.
  • Additional links to over 80 more activities!
  • Hands-on fun and learning Maths and Science activities for kids. All with clear, easy to follow instructions and plenty of information on how to do, how to extend the learning and so on.
  • Clear, inspirational photos with activities using mainly things you already have at home
  • Suitable for school, early learning centres, homeschool, weekend projects and summer camps

Have a sneak peak at what's inside

How to buy

  • This e-book is available for all no matter where you live in the world. Don't worry about the currency, paypal will sort it out automatically for you
  • Click on the banner ad below or click here and follow the simple instructions to checkout
  • You can buy it now, on any device, and then download it when you are ready. Depending on the apps you have installed and your operating system you might be able to go ahead and download the book on your mobile device, but if you have any doubts or problems, I recommend you use a computer to download the book and then share it to your mobile devices

You can also check out our other eBook. 3-5 Playful Preschool, here.

Happy playing,
Debs :)

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Sewing with Children

Oct 23, 2014

I've always wanted to do some sewing with my kids, but being someone who's not big on sewing herself, I've found it hard in the past to get motivated about it and wasn't entirely sure where to start. When our friend, Trixi from Coloured Buttons sent us a copy of her new book, "Sew Together, Grow Together" I knew this was going to be my best shot at giving it a go.

I love the idea of sewing with children as they would need to practice fine-motor skills and hand-eye coordination, it allows them to be creative and resourceful, not to mention the fact that we could create, by hand, special, beautiful and useful things. Sewing can be challenging for children and they need to practice patience and concentration. The best part is the pride that they feel from creating, accomplishing something and learning something new.

One minor problem with attempting to do some sewing with my daughter (aged 5) was that her younger brother (almost 3) always wanted to join in too. As he doesn't have naps and we were yet to find a time that we could try sewing without him around, I needed something that would allow him to join in as well.

Sewing with a toddler

  • 2 paper plates
  • hole punch
  • wool/string
  • Plastic needle (find these where you'd find sewing supplies. Alternatively you could wrap stickytape around the end of your piece of wool until it is stiff and needle-like)

  • Hold 2 paper plates evenly together and punch holes through both plates all the way around the circumference.
  • Thread your large plastic needle with the wool (or wrap one end in sticky-tape)
  • Tie the other end of the wool through two of the holes to hold the plates together and to give a starting point
  • Show children to concept of pushing the needle through the hole and pulling out the other side. Push back up through the next hole and pull through. Repeat.

My son wasn't able to complete the plate sewing the entire way around. He got bored and gave up before he finished. He did however, get to experience something similar to his sister. He got to try and feel important and special. For the time he did work on it, you could see how much concentration and skill was required and he loved the special sewing just for him.

Sewing with older kids

If you are inexperienced with sewing yourself or with project suitable for kids, a good step-by-step book could be just what you are after. The great thing about this is that it can give you a great starting point, inspiration, templates and how-to's. It certainly made us feel more confident with finally giving sewing a go. The book we used, Sew Together, Grow Together was written by Trixi Symonds and photographed by Nicola Bailey. It is recommended for children aged 6 and up. (My daughter is currently 5y/o).

Maddie loved flicking through the full colour Sew Together, Grow Together book, trying to decide which project we would start with. She finally decided on the Hippy Bag which was fine by me as the majority of the sewing was in straight lines. I thought this'd be a good starting point for us.

I love that the book included templates and lots of handy hints. We chose to make ours without using any templates. The inspiration and instructions from the book were enough of a starting point for us and we love to be able to customise projects to our own tastes.

Trixi clearly knew the audience she was writing for when she did this book as it's full of the types of projects that kids are into.

How to sew a felt bag 


  •  2 x rectangular pieces of wool blend felt for the bag
  • A long strip of felt for the handle (I stitched 2 smaller strips together to make one long strip)
  • Extra coloured felt for embellishments for your bag
  • Thread (embroidery thread is recommended in the book but we used some cotton thread we had. I think the other thread is slightly stronger so could be more appropriate for kids projects.)
  • Fabric scissors
  • Needle (Bigger needles easier for younger children)
  • Pins
  • Chalk/pens (something to mark lines on your felt)


  • Draw the decorations for your bag on your extra coloured felt and cut out. In the book they decorated their bag with flowers. My daughter wanted hearts so that's what we went with.

  • Sew your embellishments together (this step happens before putting them on the bag)

  • Get one of the rectangular pieces of felt that will be the front of the bag. Draw a line along the bottom a few inches up. This line will be the line you sew the bottom of the bag and below it will be where you cut your fringe. Drawing it in now shows you where the bottom of the bag will be so you can centre your embellishments.

  • Sew your embellishment onto the piece of felt that will be the front of your bag

  • Place your 2 rectangular pieces of felt together to form the bag shape and then pin the handle in place.
  • Sew a square shape where the handles attach to the bag. This keeps them on really well.

  • The sewn on handle will help keep the bag together while you sew around the edges. Use pins to hold it in place properly so that it's all lined up.

  • Sew all the way around the edge of your bag. Try to keep the stitches as close together as possible to avoid having gaps in your bag.

  • When your bag is all sewn up, the last thing to do is to snip in your fringe. After all her hard work sewing (with minimal assistance), my daughter was too nervous to do the cutting of this bit so I did this bit for her.

Taa-daaa! My daughter was very proud of her achievement. The bag project took us almost all day. We would do parts of it and then if my daughter was getting a little frustrated with her pace (children tend to sew much slower than we would), we would leave it for a bit and come back to it. She was really glad she persevered and couldn't wait to take it to school for show-and-tell!

I hope you've found some inspiration to try some sewing with your children.
For a copy of Sew Together, Grow Together, you can purchase it directly from Trixi's Etsy shop in paperback or PDF format or from Booktopia here. You can also read a great review on the book by Children's Books Daily.

Happy sewing,
Debs :)

{Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. I received a copy of Sew Together, Grow Together but was under no obligation to write about it. The opinions are my own or my children's}

To win one of 5 awesome Zoku Machines. 
Pop over and enter here:
(Hurry, ends October 24th, 2014 at 7:59pm)

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