Help your child learn to read in 4 weeks for free!

Feb 4, 2016

This post is sponsored by ABC Reading Eggs and Nuffnang

For children to learn to read, they need to do just that. Read! They should be read with and to every single day. In addition to reading stories and words that we see in everyday life, there are numerous activities and games that children can play, in order to help further develop the essential keys to reading success;

  • phonemic awareness - hearing and manipulating different sounds in words
  • phonics - recognising the connection between letters and the sounds they make
  • vocabulary - understanding the meaning of words, their definitions and context
  • reading comprehension - understanding the meaning in text, and 
  • fluency - reading aloud with speed, understanding and accuracy. 

ABC Reading Eggs – a favourite reading program of ours – helps children achieve this. The online program covers all five keys to reading success through fun games, interactive lessons, and books. And right now, they’re offering a FREE 4 week trial that parents can take advantage of here.


With both myself and my husband working regularly on computers, it is no wonder that of course my children want to get on computers themselves. In fact, technology is such an everyday part of our modern societies' way of life, that it is only natural that children want to be a part of this world as well. When it comes to screen time, I believe there needs to be limits for children. If I let him, my son (4 years old), would probably sit staring at screens for the better part of a day. He loves sensory play and construction but is also a very visual learner and gets very drawn in to focusing on what is going on before his eyes. Whilst my daughter (aged 7) isn't quite as obsessed with all things technological, she does very much enjoy using a computer or tablet when she gets the chance!
I don't mind my children having a certain amount of screen time daily, but I am very picky when it comes to what that screen time entails. If they're going to be on a computer or tablet, then I want to know that they are gaining something from that time, which is why there are set programs or apps that my children have access to.

ABC Reading Eggs is the perfect way to ensure my children are benefitting from valuable educational screen time. The multi-award winning educational program was created for children aged 3-13 years, by a highly experienced team of Australian primary school teachers, writers and developers, in order to assist children to become fluent and proficient readers. The games and activities throughout the program have been designed in a way that is self motivating, self-paced, entertaining and fun - and the program can be used on a desktop, iPad and most other tablet devices. This combination is what motivates children to want to play, which in turn helps them to develop and consolidate their reading skills. It is also used in more than 5,000 schools throughout Australia and is a program I've used previously with students I've taught.


ABC Reading Eggs program features:

  • My Lesson: 120 guided and interactive reading lessons

  • Skills Bank: 96 carefully graded spelling lessons

  • Driving Tests: 45 literacy tests that assess sight words, phonics skills, and vocabulary, and award children with fun racing car games.

  • Story Factory: provides a step-by-step guide to writing a story. Children can choose illustrations and access word and sentence suggestions to craft an original story.

  • Storylands: opens after lesson 60 and contains 20 new lessons that build young children’s comprehension and vocabulary skills. 

  • ABC Reading Eggspress Library: over 2000 e-books sorted by age level and Lexile level, including fiction and informational texts. The library also includes read aloud options for beginner readers. Each book ends with a comprehension quiz to assess children’s understanding.

  • Rewards-based areas: ABC Reading Eggs is designed to reward children for their achievements to motivate them to keep learning. The program includes multiple rewards-based areas, like Reggie’s Shop and the Arcade, where children can buy items and games with the golden eggs they earn.

  • Parent dashboard: Parents have access to detailed progress reports and hundreds of full-colour activity sheets that correspond with the lessons in the program. Parents can also print out a certificate for their child after they complete each map.

  • ABC Reading Eggspress (7-13 years) is included with the ABC Reading Eggs subscription and focuses on more advanced literacy skills such as spelling, comprehension, vocabulary and grammar skills.


Get your Free 4 Week Trial

ABC Reading Eggs is offering a free 4-week trial of their multi-award winning program for new customers. You can trial this program for no upfront costs and without needing to put in any credit card details. It's also really quick and easy to set up and, as I mentioned before, you can use it on your computer or supported devices, like your iPad.

Join over 3.4 million users worldwide and start your FREE 4-WEEK trial today.

During your free trial, you will also have access to ABC Reading Eggspress (for ages 7-13) and ABC Mathseeds (their maths program for children aged 3-8).

If you wish to continue using ABC Reading Eggs after your four weeks is up, parents have the option to purchase a 12 month or 6 month subscription OR a combined subscription which also includes ABC Mathseeds. You can purchase a 6 month subscription online for $59.95 or a 12 month subscription for $79.95.


The best part about it, according to my kids, is that it's fun!

Happy playing,
Debs :)

{Disclosure: this is a paid post for ABC Reading Eggs sponsored by Nuffnang. As always, opinions expressed in this post are my own and my children's.}

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The Lion Guard plus 10 interesting Lion facts for kids.

Jan 27, 2016

This post is sponsored by Disney Junior and Nuffnang

Most of us would have seen The Lion King movie once or twice (or more times) over the years. My kids have watched it and it's a favourite in their movie collection. Of course, when they heard the news that a new Disney Junior series, The Lion Guard, based on the original, "The Lion King" movie, was set to hit our shores here in Australia, they were excited! 

The Lion Guard features Kion, the son of Simba and Nala, with appearances by many of the original favourite characters, including Simba, Nala, Rafiki, Timon and Pumbaa. 

Set in the African savannah, the mini-movie, "The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar" and the series, follow Kion, destined to become leader of the Lion Guard, as he assembles a diverse group of animals, (unlike sticking with his pride as tradition dictates), due to his belief in their heroic qualities. The young team of animals will learn how to work together and how to best use their unique abilities to accomplish tasks and problem solve to maintain balance within the Circle of Life. Young viewers will love the colourful characters and learning about a vast array of animals that live in Africa.

The Lion Guard launches on Disney Junior The Channel at 6pm on February 6th, 2016.

Read on for 10 interesting facts about lions and a chance to win tickets to an exclusive premiere screening of The Lion Guard: Return of The Roar.

10 Interesting Lion Facts for kids.

Hearing about The Lion Guard resulted in a reignited interest in lions for my kids. We read many different and interesting facts about lions and came up with a list of our 10 favourite facts about lions.


  1. Lions are the only cats that live in groups, called prides.

  2. While the male lions are defending the pride’s territory, the female lions do most of the hunting. Despite this, the males eat first.

  3. An adult male's roar can be heard up to 8km away.

  4. A good gauge of a male lion’s age is the darkness of his mane. The darker the mane, the older the lion.

  5. The name for a baby lion is a cub, whelp or lionet.

  6. When cubs are first born, they weigh only around 1.5kg (3 lbs). They are completely dependent on their mother.

  7. The heaviest lion on record weighed a huge 375 kg (826 lb).

  8. In the wild, lions rest for around 20 hours a day.

  9. In the wild, lions live for an average of 12 years and up to 16 years. In captivity, they can live up to 25 years.

  10. Lions and tigers are so closely related that if you shaved them you wouldn't be able to tell them apart.

Win!



Win tickets for you and your child to the exclusive premiere screening of Return of The Roar, a mini-length movie that introduces the story and characters from The Lion Guard. We have 3 x double passes available to giveaway.


Event Details
  • Event will be held in Sydney on Saturday 30th Jan, from 10-12 noon.
  • Event address: Hoyts cinema, Entertainment Quarter, Moore Park, Sydney.
  • Additional activities and refreshments will also be available


To enter, simply answer the below question in the comment section.

Who is your favourite Character from the original movie, The Lion King and why?


Entries close Thursday 28th Jan, 2016 at 9pm AEDT. Australian entries only. See terms and condition here.



Happy playing,
Debs :)

{Disclosure: this is a paid post for Disney Junior The Channel sponsored by Nuffnang. As always, opinions expressed in this post are my own and my children's.}

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Watercolour and Salt. Science and Art exploration for kids

Jan 17, 2016

Watercolour paper, salt and watercolour paint come together to create some incredible results. What makes the best results? That's what you'll need to explore!

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10 fun school holiday DIY Projects for kids

Jan 4, 2016

The school holidays are a great time to have a go at some DIY projects with kids. Not only do they keep the kids occupied whilst learning new skills and experimenting with ideas, but they can create some really cool games and activities for very little cost.

This post is brought to you by Bunnings Warehouse and Nuffnang

My kids feel a real sense of pride and accomplishment from being able to take a bunch of simple objects and put them together in a way that creates something new.  This is what DIY is all about, creating and making things. As the number 1 destination for DIY, Bunnings is the place to go to get everything you need and their fun kid-friendly environment, with miniature trolleys, face painting, kids playgrounds and more, makes it the ideal location to pick up everything you need for your DIY projects with the whole family.

We recently discovered that the Bunnings website has a huge range of fun projects for the kids, with easy to follow video tutorials. Perfect for gaining inspiration and getting ideas for new projects! We've browsed through the kids DIY projects on their website and have made a list of 10 of our favourites! Here they are. (We've already made one of them and the kids think it's the coolest thing they've ever made!)
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Healthy Veggie Christmas Tree Share Platter. Cooking with Kids.

Dec 23, 2015


This year we thought that we'd come up with a healthy Christmas share platter, bound to stand out amongst all the sweets and treats that usually adorn the Christmas party table.

This fruit (my kids wanted to point out that some of the ingredients we use are technically fruits) and vegetable Christmas tree share platter would be perfect for taking along to a class party or family get together and is simple enough to get the kids involved in the preparation. I've found over the years that having children regularly involved in cooking and food preparation, makes them more inclined to try new things and gives them the information needed for making future choices for themselves based on their knowledge of foods, our needs and healthy living.

Healthy Veggie Christmas Tree Share Platter

Ingredients: (we used)
  • Celery 
  • Cucumber
  • Snow peas
  • Sugar snap peas
  • Red and Yellow Capsicum (peppers)
  • Red and yellow cherry tomatoes
  • Olives (black and green stuffed)
  • Carrot
  • Cheese (cheddar cheese slices) Optional- leave out for dairy free option

Materials:
  • Knife
  • Chopping board
  • Peeler
  • Star cookie cutter (optional)
  • Large platter
Don't forget, before you start any food preparation you need to wash your hands.

Chop your carrot, celery and cucumber into sticks around the same size and length. Depending on your child's knife skills, you might want to help them with this part.
Older children can assist with the peeling and chopping of the harder vegetables.
Younger children will enjoy cutting stars out of slices of real cheese.
Halve your cherry tomatoes, olives and cut thin slices of capsicum to decorate the tree.
With your ingredients prepped, you are ready to build your tree! Children of all ages can help with this part.
Use the carrot sticks for the base and your cucumber and celery sticks to build the shape of the tree.
Layer your snow peas and sugar snap peas over and in your tree.
Arrange your capsicum strips on top of the tree for tinsel.
Decorate all over the tree with your tomatoes and olives.
For the finishing touches, add your star shaped cheese. For a dairy free option, you could cut stars from yellow capsicum.
Serve your tree fresh with your favourite dips and watch it disappear.

We really enjoyed creating this Veggie Christmas Tree and got to practice many kitchen skills, fine-motor skills and talk about different foods and healthy eating along the way. The kids (and I) were really impressed with the results at the end and it was hard to photograph before my kids wanted to dig in!

Here are some more Christmas Recipe ideas you may want to try with the kids:

Happy creating,
Debs :)


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DIY Disney inspired Christmas Gift-Tags for Kids

Dec 21, 2015



Christmas always ends up being such a crafty, creative time for my kids and I. We love hand-making Christmas cards, making fun Christmas food, playing with Christmas playdough and so much more! It's always fun jazzing up the gifts with our own wrapping paper, ribbons or gift-tags and what I love about it the most, is creating those magical Christmas moments together that will become precious memories over time.

To get the kids excited in creating our Christmas gift-tags, we decided they would feature our favourite Disney Junior characters. Mickey and Minnie Mouse, (classic favourites) and Doc McStuffins, who we love for her healthy living messages and kind, caring nature.

Making the gift-tags ourselves allowed for the children to practice fine-motor skills, (it's not easy to trace and work with small items), cutting skills (this part was especially good for the younger kids) and even some reading and writing skills, in order to label the gift-tags. Younger children may need some assistance with the writing, or you could provide stickers or stamps that they could use instead.

Materials:
  • Blank gift tags or gift tag template and coloured cardboard (here is a free printable gift-tag template)
  • Scissors
  • Hole-punch
  • Marker
  • Glue
  • Ribbon
  • Fave Disney character pictures (we just printed some off the Disney Junior Website or you could always buy some stickers)
Either print our your gift-tags on the coloured card of your choice, or trace a plain template onto some coloured card. As we were using a few different characters, the kids wanted to match the colours of each character to the cardboard colour.
Cut out your gift tag.
Cut out your character picture.
Glue next to the pointed end of the gift-tag
Write or draw any greeting on your gift tag. You will also want to label who it is for and who it is from. You can put this on the front or the back.
Punch a hole near the point at the end of the gift-tag and then tie some ribbon through the hole.
Children can play around with the text and format for their gift-tag. It's a good idea to first provide children with a blank gift-tag so that they can practice their wording and the sizing of their text. Often trial and error works best for this.
When your gift-tags are done, coordinate them with matching coloured ribbons or bows and pop them on the presents for the lucky recipients.
There's just something about that homemade touch that makes them more special!

Disney Junior The Channel is where magical storytelling comes to life and is available on Foxtel, channel 709 and Fetch. I love that the Disney Junior characters and stories cover learning areas from early language and maths skills to healthy living and social and emotional development. You can use this inspiration for recreating your own Magical Christmas Moment with your little ones and share these with friends and family. Disney Junior Australia and New Zealand would love to see your ideas so be sure to tag in @DisneyJuniorAUNZ and #DJMagical Moments.

I've found that watching shows with familiar and trusted characters, that are promoting the same messages and values that we teach at home, can be very useful in helping children consolidate the knowledge and entice them to want to recreate the behaviours. 


Happy creating,
Debs :)

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