The more you read, the more things you’ll know…

…The more you learn, the more places you’ll go. That very popular Dr. Seuss quote, and isn’t it the truth?

If you follow my Instagram account, you’ll see I’ve been posting in my stories quite a bit about reading with Israel over a long period of time. Reading, for me is an essential part of learning. Growing up, I read so many books and as I was born in Nigeria and migrated to England at a young age, it was important I learnt good English really quickly, I honestly believe reading is what helped me learn quicker and made it a lot easier for me. Nowadays, I don’t read as much as I’d like to but I do spend a lot of time reading to and with Israel.

Reading is an essential part of learning for everybody, but for children it’s even more important because this is how they learn new words which leads to the development of speech, gaining confidence in saying new words and being able to concentrate for longer periods.

“Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.” – Margaret Fuller

I try to read to Israel every night but of course sometimes we have a late night and he’s too tired to stay up for a story. When we do read, he loves it, we usually read a minimum of 2 books per night, sometimes we can have up to four, which honestly I don’t have a problem with because he learns so much from them.

Sometimes it can be difficult choosing which books to read to your little one and there have been days where he’s just not interested in the book I’ve chosen lol. So now, I let him choose, I get a collection of books and he picks out which ones he wants to read, this way I know he’ll enjoy our time reading.

I also try to read one book a few times in the week, so he really gets to know the story and by the end of the week, he repeats some of the words and ends some of the sentences. It is important to have books with rhymes and a little rhythm in them to encourage that, also pay attention to the length of the story (too long and they lose interest) touch and feel books are great too, for interaction. I also have books all over my flat so he has access to them throughout the day, I know sometimes as busy parents we don’t always have the time to sit down and read to our children so having books around is a good idea, then they can look at pictures themselves, talk about what they see and just show interest in books in general.

Because Israel’s been brought up on reading, he does bring me books to read to him even during the day, and we share stories whenever, not JUST at bedtime, so technically there’s always time for a story in our house!

Research shows that children who are read to are more likely to exceed in school which tells of the importance of reading to your children from a young age, even simply looking at the pictures in a picture book and discussing them will encourage some learning, reading shouldn’t be a chore, it should be fun! A chance to escape reality!

Here are a few essential books for toddlers, that I’ve used in teaching my kids at work and also some of Israel’s favourites;

Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell

Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see? By Bill Martin Jr.

Ten little fingers and ten little toes by Mem fox and Helen Oxenbury

The very hungry caterpillar by Eric Carle

We’re going on a bear hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury

Goodnight spaceman by Michelle Robinson

Where’s spot? By Eric Hill

I want my potty! By Tony Ross

Owl babies by Martin Waddell

There are so many books I haven’t even listed on here! But gosh I do love a good picture book myself, just thinking about all the picture books I’ve read over the years, there are too many to name! Now I’m also quite big on representation in stories, tv programs, media in general because it’s important for all children of all races and social backgrounds to see themselves being represented. Being able to relate to a character in a story is so important in this generation that’s literally being taken over by social media right before our eyes, so here are a few that we love:

Peekaboo morning by Rachel Isadora

Please, baby, please by Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee

Handas surprise by Eileen Browne

My mum is a supermum by Angela Mcallister and Alex T Smith

So much by Trish Cooke

Let’s have fun by Pamela Venus

Mad in the back by Michael Rosen and Richard Watson (I find this story so funny and relatable lol)

To name a few…

The next step in our reading journey is to visit the library more which I want to try and now incorporate into our routine but I really hope you’ve found this post helpful and if you have any books or know any authors you think we could do with reading up on, leave a comment below!

Happy World Book day!

Snowflake decorating

To continue our indoor activity for toddlers series, we’ve made snowflakes and designed them. This was a very quick and easy activity and was fun for both Israel and I. I thoroughly enjoyed making these snowflakes and playing with glitter lol.

What you need:

White A4 paper

Scissors

Glitter (we used white, silver, gold and blue)

Confetti stars

Pva glue

Glue sticks/paintbrushes

To make a snowflake: fold your piece of paper into a square and fold that square in half, you’ll get a triangle, now fold that triangle in half again. Then you fold that small triangle from each point into the middle, in a 30 degree angle (shown in the picture) once your paper is folded there’ll be two pointy ends sticking out which need to then be cut off. This part has to be done by an adult but older kids can help, using child scissors.

Once this is done, you can cut shapes into it, open it up and it creates a symmetrical shape. Remember no snowflake is the same so you can cut lots of different patterns if you’re making more than one snowflake.

The next part is the really fun part; just decorate your snowflake, this is where toddlers really enjoy this activity because once they have some glue and glitter, magic is made!

I let Israel use a paintbrush to put glue on his snowflake and sprinkle some glitter on it, we also put some stars on ours. I modelled the activity so Israel would see and he pretty much decorated his own snowflake independently after watching me.

This activity is good for developing fine motor skills, learning about patterns and shapes, making decisions and working independently. The finished snowflake can also be used as decorations around the house, hanging off some string.

Look out for our next indoor activity for toddlers!

Indoor fun for toddlers – A Christmas series 🎄

I’m back with another fun Christmas activity you can do indoors! Easy to make and so much fun for babies, toddlers and even the older kids!

This week I made a Christmas themed sensory tub for Izzy, with some coloured pasta and some Christmas props. It was so fun for him to play in and he loved all the different things he could feel and hear. This sensory tub is good for their sensory development, fine and gross motor skills and communication and language, as they learn about some colours, talk about what they feel, see and hear. It can also be used to discuss and explain the meaning of Christmas and why we celebrate it to older children, who are able to understand.

It’s so easy to make and really doesn’t take long at all, although mine did because I made a silly mistake, haha! I’ll explain as I go along…

What you need:

A small tub/messy play tray

Pasta

Green and red Tempera paint

A dash of PVA glue (so the paint sticks)

Carrier bags/ziplock bags

Christmas props

E.g.

bells

Christmas felt shapes

Tinsel

Snowflake confetti

Pine cones

(All these things can be bought from Poundland or you can even use decorations off your tree.)

The process:

Put pasta in two separate bags; now I’m all about inexpensive ways to entertain my kid so I used food bags that I had lying around in the house. Then, put green paint in one bag and red in the other, add a little pva glue in both and shake shake shake! Make sure all the paint is mixed in well with the pasta and all of the pasta is covered.

Let the pasta dry overnight by pouring and spreading it out onto a flat tray, put some foil paper on the tray first, again, another thing you can find lying around in your kitchen. It should be dry after leaving it overnight. However here’s the mistake I made, I laid all the pasta out on a tray but didn’t spread them out enough and it took three days to dry! Three days! I think I might have put too much red paint on the pasta too because it was the red pasta that took the longest. I usually use rice for sensory play and it dries in a few hours so this was highly annoying that it took so long to dry but we got there in the end!

When the pasta dries, pour it in your tub (I used a bowl I had at home) both colours on either side and throw in your Christmas props and, voila! You have a Christmas sensory play tub. I placed the props in and made the tub look pretty and inviting so Izzy would play in it, I also put in a cup for him to place the bits in.

Izzy wasn’t too sure of the tub at first, so I let him hold the pasta and I told him what colours they were, he repeated them after me, then obviously tried to eat them! I quickly told him they weren’t for eating and once he saw me playing with them, he didn’t try eating them again. **there is a baby friendly way of making the pasta with food colouring in case you have any little nibblers!**

The bells were his favourite, he loved putting them in the cup and shaking it, listening to the sound they made, he eventually added some of the pasta and continued shaking the cup, listening to the sounds. It is safe to say his favourite sensory experience were the sounds.

The good thing about this sensory tub is, you can keep it for as long as you want until your child gets the full play experience from it, after they’re done, you can still store the pasta away for the next time you want to play!

Have a go with this indoor fun idea this Christmas season and let me know how it goes!

Hannah xo

Indoor fun for toddlers – A Christmas series 🎄

Glitter winter sensory bottle

As it’s Christmas season and the temperature has dropped, Izzy and I have been doing a few activities indoors after work and on the weekends. This is the first in my series of Indoor fun for toddlers; Christmas edition. Enjoy!

Making a glitter winter sensory bottle was very quick and easy, the hardest part was probably collecting all the bits we needed and trying to keep Izzy from pouring the glitter and beads everywhere! (Which he still did eventually! Ugh! lol)

This activity is great for toddlers’ fine motor skills development and also communication and language because it requires focus and listening skills as they follow instructions and copy what the adult does. Kids also find these bottles calming and they just love watching how everything moves around and how the substances mix, there’s a lot you can put in your bottle but we used 5 substances.

What you need:

A bottle: we used a ‘smart water’ bottle because I find them quite sturdy and the size was perfect.

Baby oil

Gold glitter

Yellow food colouring (to mix with water)

Beads

Decorative glass shards (frit) – we got these from Flying Tiger

The process –

Put a few drops of the yellow food colouring in the water and mix with a spoon, set aside.

Pour baby oil into your empty bottle up to half way, mine was a quarter way up because I didn’t have enough baby oil, but it still came out amazing!

Pour some glitter into the bottle to sit on top the oil, then put your beads in (we only used white and clear ones to make it look a bit more wintery) then I added the glass shards.

Pour your water into the bottle all the way to the top, leave a tiny bit of air space at the top.

Glue the lid on the bottle to avoid disasters of spillages, I used a glue gun but you can use super glue.

When adding all your substances into the bottle, get your toddler to help, this is where they use their fine motor skills, and show so much concentration. I however, avoided letting Izzy put in the glass shards because of his delicate little fingers, but they’re actually not sharp at all.

It’s beautiful how the substances mix and it literally looks like liquid gold in a bottle! The beads and shards also make a lovely sound like rain when the bottle is moved side to side slowly. What’s also beautiful about this activity is how cheap you can get the stuff you need, perfect!

Izzy loves playing with his sensory bottle, I find he gets more fascinated by it everyday, it’s like he discovers something new every time he plays with it!

I hope you have a go making one of these and if you do, leave me a comment and let me know how it went! Also keep a look out for my next Christmas Indoor fun activity!

Hannah xoxo

Sneak peak into…

Izzy’s new bedroom

Israel and I got a place of our own quite recently (beginning of this year) and it has taken me this long to write this post because truth be told, it’s been a busy couple of months trying to get settled. I’m still not done! There are still a few things I need to do within our flat, especially in my bedroom and the living room. But one place in the flat that I was determined to fix up and make sure it looked amazing, was Israel’s room. I wanted it done up completely before we even moved in and I’d say it’s nearly there now, I’m still chopping and changing a few things but it’s definitely my favourite room in the flat so far.

I had a theme in mind when I planned Israel’s bedroom, it’s like straight away I knew I wanted to do a space theme, I love space for a kids bedroom and I didn’t want anything too baby-ish either because well, he’s gonna grow up one day isn’t he? Ultimately, the whole space theme idea came from Israel’s favourite song, Zoom, zoom, zoom we’re going to the moon! When he was really little he used to love it when I sang it to him and when I would count down from 5 to 1 and throw him up in the air, he used to smile and giggle so much and it melted my heart every time, he still loves it!

I did my research on google and Pinterest and found loads of images of space themed bedrooms but they were all quite dark and aimed a lot at older kids. Then I remembered that when israel was born, he had a Moses basket bought for him from Mothercare which had the space theme and it was a lovely light blue colour; that’s when I decided to buy all the wall stickers, bed sheets, covers, and space rocket wall lamp from that range called the ‘space dreamer.’

I wanted it all to match as well, so it made sense to get everything from the same range and when everything was up, it looked so amazing, I felt so proud of my vision lol. There’s just one thing missing from his wall which I haven’t yet been able to get, these are personalised wall stickers with his name on. I’m torn between getting wooden letters or just wall stickers at the moment which is why I haven’t yet got them. I’m also trying to find something that will match the colours of the entire room, I chose the colours light baby blue and dark blue because his room has a divided wall.

My absolute, absolute favourite part of Israel’s room has to be his reading corner! This was another idea I saw on Pinterest, using spice racks from Ikea as book shelves. I’ve always made an effort to read to Israel since he was born so it’s no surprise he loves books now but I want this to be something he grows up to continue loving and have access to. And what a perfect corner to have the perfect reading area!

As I said before, I did these with Ikea spice racks, which come in plain wood so I had to paint them white then had them put up on the wall, and it was so much cheaper than buying actual book racks. Painting them didn’t take long either, it was definitely worth it. Israel knows when it’s bedtime now so after his bath he goes over to his bookshelf and starts pointing at which book he wants to read!

I got Izzy’s space rug from Amazon (I think) or a website called ‘the rug shop’ I really can’t remember for the life of me, and I think that’s because I looked at so many different ones before I made my decision to get this one and I had to buy so many other bits for the flat. It’s a lovely soft rug and he likes to sit on it when he occasionally plays in his room, I love the bright colours and how simplistic it is. His curtains are definitely from Amazon, however, they’re a lovely grey colour with silver stars, I didn’t want it to be blue as well (would’ve been too much blue overload lol) His lamp shade is also grey with stars on which I think just adds to the theme perfectly.

You’re probably thinking, but why is your kids bedroom your favourite room?! I love this bedroom the most because of all the hard work I put in, the whole thought process of how I got to our chosen theme, making sure I stuck to my vision of how I wanted it to look and I like that he can go in and access everything himself, he’s got little pull out fabric drawers with his little toys in them, the bigger toys are in the living room in a separate toy box, I’ve tried to make sure his toys are at his reach so he can facilitate his own play. I love that I’ve made the room personal for Izzy, with pictures of him and us together, I do want to put more pictures up but I’m again, still trying to figure out how I’m going to do that. And one last thing; he said his first word in his bedroom, while looking at the stars on the wall after bath time he pointed at one and said, ‘star,’ it was just such a beautiful moment and now whenever he sees a star, he says, ‘star!’

I love everything about Izzy’s bedroom and I just hope he grows to love it as much as I do!

Hannah x

The Motherhood group lunch and goodies

I had the pleasure of attending The Motherhood group lunch and goodies event on Sunday, and it was such a lovely experience, as are their other events I’ve been too. The event was held at The Breakfast club and sponsored by Cantu. Meeting new mums and their babes and eating good food was fantastic but so were the goodies we received! We got a gift pack with Cantu hair products in and Nipper&co. organic kids tea. I actually use Cantu products on my natural hair already so best believe I was so excited to hear that they were sponsoring and we’d be getting goodies from them! I got the coil calm detangler in my goody bag and was very excited to use it. We all know how time consuming styling natural hair can be, when getting ready in the morning especially with a baby/kids around, so anything to make the process easier is always worth looking forward to.

The coil calm detangler worked wonders on my hair, made it so easy to comb through after getting out of the shower and my hair now feels super soft! I also didn’t lose my curls which I usually do when I dry comb. I recommend this product for any natural hair sisters, even those with the tightest curls/coils, it honestly works. I usually use this after washing with Cantu cleansing cream shampoo and conditioning with the hydrating cream conditioner. Perfect combo. But this time I used it on my dry, unwashed hair, and it worked just as well.

Now, let’s talk about this Nipper&co. Kids cuppa. Oh em gee. Right, so I’m not a herbal tea drinker myself, I’m more of a coffee girl but I thought I’d let israel try this (his tastebuds might be different from mine lol) and he actually really enjoyed it! I made it lukewarm for him in his sippy cup and he really actually enjoyed the fruity taste, he drank half of it and I finished it off (I liked the taste of this one lol) and I was actually quite surprised that Israel liked it too, it was his first ever time drinking tea! I love that this brand have a tea for kids, it’s a healthy alternative to juice drinks and when the weather’s a bit warmer, I’ll try it as ice tea and we’ll give it another go.

Thank you to The motherhood group for our goodies and opening us up to new experiences. Be sure to follow them on Instagram @themotherhoodgroup if you’re looking for some new mummy friends or days out with people like you.

A prayer for my One-year-old

I’ve been racking my brain for a while now, trying to figure out what to do for Israel’s one year update. He turned one a while ago and I still hadn’t blogged about it lol. It was between the regular update, on how he’s developing or I was going to write a letter, as I’ve seen a couple other blogger mums do. But each time I sat down to write something, nothing would come. It’s funny because, there’s so much I could put in a letter and even more I could write about his development but literally every time I went to write, I just couldn’t put my words down. Until today where I’ve just gotten this idea to just write a prayer for him, I pray for Israel all the time, I’ve done it since before he was even born. It’s something that’s very important to me. Obviously I’m not perfect and I do forget to pray sometimes which is exactly why when I do remember it’s so important to me.

As a Christian, I’ve grown up with a very prayerful family, and my Mum’s always prayed for me growing up and she still does till this day, and I believe a lot of the time when I forget to pray for myself it’s her prayers that keep the blessings and protection of God coming. God hears our prayers, he really, really hears a Mother’s prayers for her child, but not only that, a prayer is like a positive affirmation to your child, it reminds them how special they are and tells them all the hopes and dreams you have for them.

A prayer for my one-year-old…

Israel you are one year old now. A year that has been a blessing beyond doubt. I prayed for you before you were born and I continue to pray for you because that is the only way I know that God who has watched over me all my life will also watch over you for all the years to come. He has kept me and guided me and I pray He does the same for you.

You are truly a blessing, and I pray that you always remember that.

You are a born leader, and I pray that you’ll always be just that.

You are loved, and I pray that love radiates from you.

You are a special gift from God and I pray that you remember that too.

Israel, I pray you will be just as powerful as your name but remain humble, peaceful and joyful, for you are fearfully and wonderfully made.

I pray that you remain protected under the shield of the almighty, that society doesn’t reject, use or neglect you.

Although storms will come your way (and I tell ya, they will!) you will overcome them because you are strong, you are brave and there’s nothing too hard for the Lord I pray you one day will serve.

I just pray that you will always be happy.

Israel you are one! And I pray you live to see and celebrate many, many, MANY more years!

Even though he may not be able to read this right now, he’ll always be able to hear my prayers and understand them more as he gets older, and one day he will be able to read this, understand it and pray it for himself!

My prayer to my one-year-old.

6 ways to keep your kids busy

Today’s guest post is from Brittnay, creator of The NutButter Hub. A lovely website full of delicious healthy recipes, travel inspirations and loads of food tips. Here are 6 ways to keep your kids busy…

Kids always need something to do and there seems to never be enough time to plan enough activities with your children. On the bright side of things it doesn’t take much to ensure your kids are not bored out of their minds during breaks and other times where they would be spending more time with their parents. If you want to know some awesome ways to keep kids busy and engaged read on for some simple tips.

1. Indoor Camp Out

What kid doesn’t love to pretend play and make their dreams come true? What they would love even more is actually bringing their imagination to life. Brining the camping inside is just the fun they may be looking for.

For this activity you will need a tent, a real one will do or one made from sheets is good too. Pretend to light a fire and eat freeze-dried foods. You could also make indoor s’mores very easily at your stove or in your microwave. Be sure to get the sleeping bags and ghost stories ready for a fun night under the ‘stars’.

2. Do It Yourself Slide

More often than not there is so much cardboard around the house for kids to get into that we forget to be creative with it. Give a kid a box and they will have a blast for hours. The next time you are about to throw out that cardboard think twice because it could make a perfect activity for your kids. If you have stairs in your home you can make the perfect slide.

Take the cardboard and completely cover the stairs from top to bottom. Make sure the landing at the bottom of your steps is made soft by layers pillows. Now you have a safe slide to go down and the kids will love to go up and down over and over.

3. Make Your Own T-Shirts

Let’s be real, kids will practically draw all over the house if you let them. Foster their creativity skills and design your own t-shirts. It doesn’t take much to get this done and can be made on new or old shirts.

Use any type of art medium your child likes such as crayons, markers, or even let them paint on their shirt. Make sure to hand wash and dry your shirts so that your kids can cherish their creations for years to come.

4. Rainbow Bubbles

Bubbles are a great activity for hot summer days when the kids have nothing to do and can be made out of things you are guaranteed to have on hand. To create big rainbow bubbles get an old sock, cup, food coloring, and dish soap to make huge colorful foamy bubbles. Any age would love this activity and you could give the older kid materials and have them guide the younger kids. Everyone will be amazed at out cool they turn out looking and will want to make them all the time.

5. Outdoor Pizza BBQ

Pizza is the ultimate kids food and can be customized for even the pickiest eater. Make some dough in advance with the kids and tell them they can invite their friends over for a pizza grilling party. Bring out the picnic tables and let the kids add toppings and decorate their pizza with funny faces.

While the kids are busy decorating have an adult attend to the gas grill the kids will be so busy competing with their friends they will be too busy to notice the grill. Just be sure to ensure practice gas grill safety whenever you have kids near a gas grill.

6. Reading

Reading does not just have to occur before bedtime and kids love to sit and hear their favorite stories. For younger kids you will need to read lots of short stories like The Very Hungry Caterpillar that will keep them listening.

Older kids will sit and listen to longer books and would enjoy classic tales such as The Hobbit. Bonus if the book has a movie you can entice your kid into sitting and listening if they know they can watch a cool film once the book is finished.

Kids love to stay busy and will you love you so much for taking the time to have things for them to do. You will feel good knowing you were able to beat boredom with fun while encouraging creativity and learning in your children. Have fun and let loose with your kids they will thank you for it.

Brittnay is an Australian who lived in London for the past two years. She managed to squeeze in 21 trips to Europe and Africa in that time! She’s passionate about travel, health and nutrition, you will find her healthy and delicious recipes at The Nut Butter Hub.

Mum life

It’s 5am and I can’t sleep. So here I am deciding to write a piece about having gone back to work full time in January.

So in January I decided to venture back into work life, not as a free, single young woman but now as a full time single mum. First of all, I was meant to have a year off for maternity leave but decided to go back just after 7 months. Why would you do that?! You ask. Well, I’ll give you my reasons. Truth be told,

1. I actually thought I was missing my super busy, fast paced lifestyle at that point

2. I needed money

3. I missed work. I missed work?!

Yeah, sounds insane but I did… until I actually went back.

So for those who don’t know, I’m an early years teacher and currently teach 2-year-olds, and I love what I do, always have. But going back to work after being at home for 7 months with my precious boy was a whole new ball game, totally unexpected. Firstly, I literally couldn’t remember anything, call it baby brain or whatever but I could not remember how to do anything, I forgot my computer login, forgot how to do the register, forgot the code to the front door of my classroom LOL. Believe me, I struggled. Even though I had a settling in period I still struggled for a long time. I’ve been back a full term now (which was 5 weeks this term) and I’m pretty sure I only JUST got my head round (most) things.

Before I became a mum, I loved (okay, no. I didn’t mind) getting up for work in the mornings and spending a day with a bunch of 2-year-olds, and I loved those kids like they were my own but since having my own child, after the first week back, I missed him SO much, my heart would literally ache when I thought about being at work with other children while mine was at home. Obviously every parent would miss their baby after coming off maternity leave but this pain I felt was like no other and I think it hurt more because I’m surrounded by children, playing learning, doing all the things I should be watching Israel do. And it did throw me off my game at work to be honest, it took a long, long time for me to just suck it up and understand that I need to be where I am for both of our futures. To be honest I’m not totally over it, I just sound content because I’m on half-term holiday at the moment lol.

Although I did miss my fast paced life, going back made me realise what the most important thing in my life is right now, and that’s being a mum. I’ve read so many blogs and other things about oh you know, a woman not forgetting herself when she becomes a mum and I totally get it, I definitely haven’t forgotten myself but I actually just want to be a mum at this present moment. As stressful as it is being a mum, it’s even more stressful being a full-time working mum, and what’s stressful about it is, being tired when you wake up, being at work all day missing your baby but then coming home and being too tired to do things with your baby! It’s a vicious cycle! Yes I missed work life but now I miss (on maternity) mum life, I guess there’s a balance and I’m currently on a journey to find that, then that becomes the new mum life.

This is the beginning of another journey for us, Israel’s in great hands while I’m at work so at least I don’t have to worry about that, and going back was really the perfect timing because we just got a new flat and it needed a whole lot of work, so the money was definitely needed.

I think as parents we will miss our babies every time we’re away from them and I just have to keep reminding myself that what I do is for both our benefits and he will appreciate what I do in the future. Also unlike some, I get all the school holidays to spend loads of time with him <<< this is me giving myself a pep talk lol.

Until next time guys, all my love,

Hannah xoxo