Tuesday, 30 September 2014

The Lego Movie Review

My son has been a little bit poorly recently, so when the Lego Movie popped through the door thanks to Suppose, we were grateful to have something to occupy him with. With blankets and treats we cuddled up to watch the film that I had heard so much about.

The story centres around Emmet, just an average Lego construction worker who find himself in the position of saving the Lego universe from the evil Lord Business. Of course Emmet is a bumbling, haphazard character and no usual super hero so the story is of course full of funny scenes and plenty of jokes.

After meeting the sassy Wyldstyle and being mistakenly identified as the Lego to save everything, he starts on a quest meeting super heroes such as Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, the old wizard Vitruvius and a whole host of Lego favourites. Together they all hatch a plan to gain the 'Kragle' - a super weapon from Lord Business. Of course it doesn't go all that easy and Emmet finds himself on a mission to stop Lord Business from gluing all the Universe together.

The film has a very catchy song that the kids will be singing for ages afterwards although it did start to grate on me after awhile - only bad point. It is a great family film with an easy to follow plot that will keep both children and adults alike hooked.

We liked the scenes in the 'Wild West with the  funny stereotypical Cowboy movie scenes - person playing piano, hush as strangers walk in, the customary bar fight. All very funny.

I absolutely love the UniKitty character and my son of course liked Emmet. Daddy loved seeing the Millennium Falcon from Star Wars  after always longing for a Lego version of this spaceship as a young boy.

It is a real good spin to bring the real-life characters in towards the end and the Dad who is unhappy with his son as he's been playing with "Dad's lego" which is "not a toy"! You have to watch it, I do not want to give too much away but it is a great film for a rainy weekend and you will all enjoy it. 

**Disclosure: We were sent the film free of charge for the purpose of the review by Suppose.**

St Dogmaels and Poppit Sands - relics and markets

St Dogmaels mosaic St Dogmaels in Pembrokeshire, a little village by the river Teifi close to the coast of Cardigan Bay. Pretty coloured houses meet the ruins of an abbey and there is a real local charm to the place. This charm is particularly evident on a Tuesday when the Local Producers Fair is held between the Mill Pond and St Dogmaels Abbey.St Dogmaels Map St Dogmaels Mill Pond with musical accompaniment We were treated to all sorts of ducks entertaining us along side a gent playing the saxophone. One of those special moment of a holiday, little touches that warm your soul. St Dogmaels local producers market Cheeses, flowers, cakes....all sorts of tasty goodies and pretty delights. The dogs were happy with their homemade, natural biscuits.  natural dog treats  pretty Welsh sign St Dogmaels Abbey We had a walk around the ruins of St Dogmaels Abbey which was so atmospheric and you could just close your eyes and easily imagine the Tironian monks going about their business. It's free too and dogs are allowed on leads. old pathway Grave stones laid against the wall between the Abbey and the Parish Church of St Thomas. St Dogmaels church cemetary St Dogmaels Church St Thomas's Pembrokeshire Do not climb the walls Beautiful blue buildings - the old Bethsaida Chapel now renovated into a home and the building next door that I'm unsure about - is it perhaps an old school house...?St Dogmaels chapel Bethsaida The dogs jump back in the car and we tootle off up the road to Poppit Sands with its extensive sand dunes and wide expanse of sand. dogs travel harness Everyone had a run around and even in a rain shower this did not deter us. All that space. Plus there's a cafe by the car park where a nice cup of coffee or hot chocolate will warm you up. Poppit Sands Poppit Sands Pembrokeshire

Friday, 26 September 2014

Garden Care FAQs; Keep Your Lawn Looking Fresh This Winter

Ensuring that your garden is fully equipped to handle the cold weather can appear to be quite a daunting task. During the summer, you may be more willing to get your hands dirty and spend some time pottering around the garden thanks to the warmer weather and abundance of sunshine. But as soon as the winter months draw closer, you become more of a home bird and refuse to set foot outside in icy temperatures. This latest post answers a few questions about using your garden this winter…

How Often Should I Mow My Lawn In Winter?
This is a subject that has been debated many times and a quick search on your laptop throws up far too many answers! It’s true that some people believe that cutting your lawn too short is a way to create unsightly brown patches, but if it is a mild winter, keeping on top of the lawn and cutting the top growth off will keep it tidy for springtime.

Should I Still Use My Garden This Winter?
The simple answer is yes! Whilst you might not want to replace sitting by a roaring fire with shivering in minus numbers, your garden is still available to you. Our favourite option is to invest in comfy seating and an outdoor fireplace or chimenea for your garden. Combine this with a mug of hot chocolate and you have created the perfect winter get-together. Be careful of any icy grounds and take care not to run amok on your lawn, but sitting down wrapped up in a winter coat is definitely not a problem!

Should I Worry About Cleaning My Lawn?
Okay, we know that cleanliness is important all year around but we are so reluctant to keep up with this maintenance during winter. Unfortunately, it has definitely got to be done! During the colder months, it is essential that your lawn receives as much sunlight as possible. If there are leftover autumn leaves strewn across your garden, a high-quality rake is essential to keep your lawn clear. If you have a pet regularly scampering across your garden, I’m afraid you still have to go out and clean up after them!

Is Artificial Grass The Better Option In Winter?
Choosing to install artificial grass is not essential (it’s not always for everyone) and if you are more than happy to keep up with the maintenance then definitely go ahead! However, if you want to remove absolutely all ties to preserving your lawn, then why not take a look at introducing replica grass? Easy installation, no maintenance and it will remain looking fantastic all year around. If you are considering making this change or you would like to find some more information, check out reputable turf suppliers, Turf Express for honest advice. It may be the perfect choice for your garden, front lawn or any other place you can think of!

The post was written by Brittany Reid on behalf of UK-based turf specialists Turf Express.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Summer Bounty

summer vegetables gooseberry basket Now that we have tipped over into autumn and with my recent lack of blogging I thought that I really need to record all the lovely produce that summer brought from shows to my own allotment. From tart gooseberries that have their own competition that is taken very seriously to my favourite climbing beans.beans in potsLots of ideas of new varieties to grow from seeds in pretty packages like these from Pennards that have vintage illustrations on them. I bought a few and will frame the seed packets afterwards to put in my little allotment shed. seeds map gorgeous vegetables My son's interest in outdoorsy things has continued and we are using the garden and allotment as an educational outlet for him. Hopefully by next summer he will be helping weeding and not trampling plants :) We grew vegetables PECS symbols watering can vintage garden gooseberry weighing We learnt all about the serious art of weighing those goosegogs and about arranging fruit prettily for shows.red currant star
I didn't get round to making a scarecrow for the plot this year but we saw plenty around and about. scarecrow marrows A full rainbow of produce. All delicious and healthy. vegetables modern raised beds for veggies growing beans blackcurrants It's great to be in autumn once more but it was mostly a gorgeous summer. I feel full of ideas for next years growing and aside from weeding, tidying and fertilizing the plot, I will be doing plenty or armchair gardening by the fire. In fact, a seed catalogue plopped through the letterbox this morning so I'm armed with my pen circling what I want...summer fruits

Joining in with How Does Your Garden Grow? at the lovely Mammasaurus.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Autumn decorating

autumn home decorating
Hand tied posy from the autumn garden
Autumn mantlepiece
decorating with leaves
autumn leaf garland
September poem
autumn conkers and nature goodiesautumn mantle dressing Time for leaf garlands; easy to make in half an hour with a handful of leaves brought back from the park. Conkers collected by my son, the odd acorn - they seem harder to find; where are all the acorns? Already collected by squirrels or fairies?

Some flowers from the garden hand tied - dried hydrangea heads in purples, yellow daisies, Snip, snip around the borders, twirling stems around and securing with string.

My favourite time of year. Unseasonally warm of course but that will draw out the autumn days even more.......the cold will come soon enough with the fires, the scarves and pumpkins......

Follow Happy Homebird's board Happy Autumn on Pinterest.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Enjoy those Fairy Soft Moments #PowerOfSoft

My little boy has not started school as yet. We are home educating for a little while until we find the right school. That maybe this January or next September so we have a little longer together. When he goes to school I shall be in a pool of tears, I will miss all our cuddles and the days out mid-week.

It is strange how the time really does fly from when you bring your precious child home from the hospital to their first steps and then going to nursery. Fairy Non Bio have a lovely video 'The Softest they'll ever be'that is encouraging  all mums to make the most of all those hugs and cuddles, all the special moments when they are little before they go off for the first day at school. The video may bring a tear to your eye....sniff...

My little boy has always been so cuddly, contrary to the myth that autistic children don't like hugs and affection. Quite the opposite for my little man, he craves affection and has always wanted to be close to me. He still does! I love these days so much, these precious days when he still very much wants his mummy. 

When he first went off to pre-school he would run and wrap his arms around me when I went to collect him. Such a wonderful feeling and one that Fairy Non Bio are encouraging us to not take for granted. I feel lucky to have this extra time with my son now before he heads off to school full time. It is hard to believe that he will be 5 in January as I can remember so clearly when he was just 5 months and his cheeky smile was appearing. The cheeky smile that makes my heart melt.

So even though my house is filled with noise and toys and books everywhere I will really miss it all when he heads out with his little school bag, sigh.....I wish time would go slower. I have in the past wished for the next step, after a hard day. When he was a baby I wished for him to be a toddler, for him to be walking or for him to be able to do more for himself. However due to his needs these stages have taken longer and sometimes been extremely delayed such as with his speech. When his first words started pretty much exactly a year ago I felt like the happiest person on the planet. This has actually made me appreciate the small things in life a lot more and savour our precious moments. I feel like I get extra time with my boy being little and I'm making the most of it.

**This was a sponsored post, words are my own**

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Twinkl Review - from our SEN/Home Educating point of view

We are now home educating Little Bird. We couldn't find the right school in time for September and all sorts of other reasons. I think the pathway is a little clearer now and we'll maybe start looking at schools again but in the meantime we are very much home educating. We don't have a structured timetable and go with the flow depending upon the mood that LB is in and aim to do lots of fun things every day to help him learn.

It can be hard to know where to start sometimes. Little Bird has autism so his learning style takes a lot of work to understand, I can't lie - it is complex. Over the summer I had a bit of a head start using the Twinkl website which provides oodles of printables, activities and guidance. It has been a great help to me in order to get started on our home education journey.

Twinkl Resources is the trusted home and one stop shop for thousands of lovely, unique, printable teaching resources for Early Years, Key Stage 1, Key Stage 2, teachers, home educators, parents, childminders, nurseries and more.
They have an SEN section with everything from visual timetables to behaviour management. One of the first sections I went to was the Autism Spectrum Disorders page and got the full resource pack in one handy download which took only a few minutes.

This contained truly amazing printables that we can work on. From simple tasks like sensory activities such as the Playdough Mats which are great for us at the moment as LB has a love of the stuff, squelching it and squeezing it. We will use the mats to enhance our learning, starting with the Playdough faces so he can practice rolling up sausages to make a smile and rolling  a ball for eyes - great for his fine motor skills and the Playdough Mats make it that more interesting.  Then there are lots of matching games and further down the line for us, simple Numeracy and Literacy.

What I love about Twinkl is that the layout and the grouping together of activities is very easy to understand and navigate. You can easily find what you are looking for and also find the right level for your child straight away. Also, if like me you are home educating it acts as a good starting point and if you are following the National Curriculum it is a good guide to follow. Even if you are not following the NC, it is still a fab site for information and activities for your children. It will be invaluable to us whilst home educating. 

The illustrations of the activities are colourful and clear with a style that is consistent across the site. The instructions are straightforward on both how to download and then print the resources. All you need is a printer and a laminator - invaluable items for me with printing off lots of visual timetables and communication cards for LB. 

There are three subscription levels offered:
Free membership that allows access to the majority of resources; 
Gold membership which is the high quality, low cost option at £24.99 a year
Platinum membership which allows access to all resources and is priced at £39.99 per year

The Twinkl Forum is a further wealth of information covering all subjects and levels as well as topics relevant for teachers, parents and others in education. This was a really interesting area to browse through and I picked up some ideas for planning the day at Early Years Level and read an interesting SEN thread. Hopefully in time the forum will be utilised a lot more and have more contributions as it would be a place I frequently look too for help. 

Twinkl Create is a new section of the website where you can create your own resources from a selection of templates that you then whatever you need for the classroom or at home - perhaps labels for files or for drawers. You can select pretty borders and picture to tailor them to your own style. For instance, LB loves animals so I'd like to make some labels for our puzzles, games and activity baskets with his favourite animals on them to brighten up our home education area at home. It also gives another talking point with LB and I like to increase these speech and language opportunities throughout the day. 

I was thrilled to find a Home Education area under the Parents section and here I found some ideas of Lesson Plans such as a very relevant Autumn lesson plan ideas for EYFS. Now it can be really hard at home to think of some ideas some days so the lesson plan is great and provides activities across the curriculum. They even contain handy links to printable activities on the Twinkl website. I found an Autumn Display Poster that is perfect for LB as we are very much all about the pointing, naming and practising vocabulary. You will get so much help from Twinkl, it is an absolute life saver. 

Twinkl are open to suggestions and I can see that under each activity is a section where you can put forward ideas and improvements to which Twinkl quickly acknowledge. I like that, it feels very much like you are part of a community.

The SEN section has most definitely been our first stop. The Autism Spectrum Mind Map is superb and helps you to understand autism and what you can do with your child on the spectrum. Likewise are the visual timetables which we having been putting to good use in our daily work at home. 

The Story Sacks are amazing and give a pack of activities, it would be great to see more stories in time as they really are excellent. 

From a home educating SEN point of view they are fantastic and when LB goes to school we will carry on using the resources at home. They are fun whilst also being educational and I can see how they help teachers in the classroom too. Top marks from us and I feel the price is very reasonable too. 

** Disclosure: I received a Twinkle Platinum Membership for the purpose of the review and it is my own honest view of the service**

Twinkl Primary School Resources