11 + exam

Summer 2018 has been a fantastic school holiday so far but a toughie at the same time. The 11+ exam is set for our first week back to school and the girls decided that they want to have a go so, our summer has been a mixture of fun activities mixed with a lot of studying.

We’ve been going over English and maths, we’ve checked their comprehension skills and we’re taking a look at verbal and non-verbal reasoning, two areas that aren’t covered at school as they’re not part of the national curriculum.

We’ve had tears and tantrums along the way but I’ve got to hand it to them as they apply themselves and are very upset when they don’t get top marks. They have the school they want in mind and are afraid they might not get in. I can’t take the exam for them but I can help them as much as possible to try and make their dream come true.

Husband and I took the decision to not tutor the girls. The cost was a huge part of our choice along with the fact that we didn’t want to push them into doing something that was out of their reach. I couldn’t think of anything worse than gaining a place in a school only to find them struggling to keep up with the class. I certainly don’t want to set them up for failure but I do want the very best for them.

I bought a set of Bond books from Amazon aged 9 – 10. The girls were doing very well and getting 80% and over which was very encouraging. The advice at the back of the book is to go up to the next level if they are getting 80% +. So I did.

Uh-oh. I didn’t know that between the two levels there was such an enormous gap and the girls were coming across work they haven’t even covered yet at school. After a quick online discussion a friend, who is also a tutor, informed me that that level was intended for children in Year 6 who take the exam in January and therefore are slightly ahead. With this knowledge, we started to look at the girls scores in a different light and saw that actually, they were doing well. My friend also advised me to concentrate on the verbal and non verbal reasoning with continued exercise in English and Maths.

Fingers crossed. The twins will sit their exam on 6th September. If they don’t get it, it’s not the end of the world, there are plenty of other great schools out there but for the moment, we’re going for the dream.

Good luck to anyone else who’s going for it.

Numbalee

Does the thought of helping your child master maths make you groan with despair? I feel your pain. I can show the twins spellings, comprehensions and English tests until my heart’s content but try anything maths related and it’ll end in tears if I’m not careful. When I was asked if we’d like to review the new fun maths game Numbalee, I jumped at the chance with every hope that it would be fun and the girls would become more confident in their maths.

Numbalee is a neatly packaged game in a zip bag containing 150 number tiles, two 12-sided number dice, one maths symbol dice and five symbol discs alongside an instruction booklet for 12  family games.

The game is aimed at players aged 6+ (perfect for Key Stage 1 and 2) and can be played from 1 – 8 players as there are a range of games to play solo for practice or competitively in a group. Players are encouraged to talk through the sums they are making to improve their understanding and their confidence.

Each of the games has been designed to cater for a wide range of abilities and specifically to improve skills in addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.

The game was initially created by Oliver Leck to help a friend’s daughter who was struggling with maths in school. He spotted that there weren’t any fun maths games on the market and together with his father, a teacher, he developed the game with primary school children in mind.

What’s the verdict?

With my teaching assistant hat on I can say this game is an excellent resource for practising the essential maths skills needed in everyday life. It also makes my afternoon interventions more exciting, the children look forward to playing a game with me rather than ‘doing maths’.

I also gave Numbalee to a few members of my school Blog Club to get some feedback and where they (Year 5 and 6) enjoyed the game and played happily for an hour, they said it wasn’t for them. I asked them why and they said it was ‘too easy’ for them.

Would you recommend it to anyone else? I asked. ‘Yes, for the younger students. It would be perfect for them.’ came my reply.

Numbalee is now available online (RRP £19.99) at www.numbalee.com as well as on Amazon.

Reima Go kidventure map

“Mum, can we take a look at our Kidventure Challenge progress on your phone?”

I know a lot of children that have asked for Fitbits which I have to admit, I found really odd to start with. But the more I think about it, the more I can see it from a child’s point of view … it’s a competitive thing. Look how much I walked today! And let’s face it, in today’s sedentary tablet world the more we can get them up and out the better.

Having said all of that, the twins still don’t possess their own fitbits. Which is a good thing as Reima got in touch recently and asked if we’d like to review their latest multi award-winning project, Reima Go Kidventure Challenge.

Reima Kidventure Challenge

Reima outdoor clothing for kids

Reima is a Finnish clothing company that specializes in comfortable and stylish outerwear for children. They’ve been making clothes for all the family since the 1940’s and as they stepped into the new millennium, they chose to focus entirely on children’s clothes and perfected their range from 0 – 12 years old.

In 2016, they took their product one exciting step further and introduced Reima Go which has won many awards for innovation, design and user experience.

ReimaGO sensor

Reima Go is a sensor that sits in the child’s clothes or on an arm strap and logs all of the activity that takes place every day. It has been created with kids in mind and allows parents to keep track of their movement via an app on their phone.

The sensor, created together with Suunto, turns on when your child starts moving and stores the intensity and duration of movement. It is very sturdy and waterproof plus it has a long battery life.

As the children move around and play they can check later on the app, that their movement has turned into energy for the game character and they can power through exciting new worlds. The more they move, the more rewards they get.

#REIMAKIDVENTURE

Reima Kid Adventure globe

The company mission is to “encourage children to discover the joy of movement” and the next step was to come up with a challenge to inspire children and grown-ups to get moving more! The challenge, set together with Visit Finland and Ruka Kuusamo, is to collect 1 million active hours from children all over the world

The benefits of movement

Whenever I ask the girls to put their tablets away I get groans of despair and more fequently, ‘I’ve got nothing to do!’ Of course you haven’t because you’re not using your imagination! It takes some careful discussion and some persuasive arguments but once they are convinced, they love it which just proves to me how important it is. Push through the initial argument and get them up and out.

If you’re stuck for persuasive arguments, here’s a few ideas to try on them to create their own Kidventure

  • A trip to the local park or playground is always a huge winner with my two.
  • Walk the family dog. I like them to think they are responsible for Baxter too and walking at weekends as a family is vital for him.
  • A walk on the beach searching for treasures brought to shore by the latest tide.
  • Put the tent up in the back garden and watch how much stuff they take out (and that will need bringing back in!)
  • Set up a gymnastics mat on the grass with cushions, mattresses from sun beds, blankets and anything to soften the blow a bit.
  • Get the bikes out and take them on a cycle ride, make sure you trace the journey to show them after.
  • Rollerblades, skating rinks, ice skating. All fabulous ways of getting children moving and having lots of fun.
  • Climbing walss – this will be our next challenge.

Our Reima Go experience

Reima Kid Adventure globe

As mentioned above, there was a lot of excitement when the activity sensors arrived and they wanted to start them up immediately and get going. My first thought was, ‘How long before they lose them?’

The sensors are small black discs about the size of a 50p piece and are designed to fit into the Reima outdoor clothes in specially designed pockets. Not having those jackets, the girls decided to keep them in their school shirt pocket. One week later and one has already been lost. It was on the day they had a swimming lesson so I am hoping someone has found it and handed it in.

I think it would be a great idea to make them into a wristband and that way you would have to take it off to lose it. I would also recommend sticking a name tag on them, firstly to differentiate whose is whose and secondly, in case one gets lost.

We downloaded the app on my phone which meant all daily checking had to be done on my phone. They did want to download on their own tablets – which would have been a better idea and given them more control over the games and challenges but it requires my email address. I was a bit worried it might be linked to sales and so I have said no.

Win a Trip to Lapland

Reima are offering a holiday to Finland for the whole family to be in with a chance to win here’s what you have to do.

  1. Post a blog post, vlog or share on your social media: Why is kid’s physical activity so important? using the tags #millionhoursofjoy and #reimakidventure
  2. Tag three friends on Facebook or Instagram who might like to join in too. Link your post to #millionhoursofjoy challenge campaign page www.reima.com/kidventure and ask your followers to donate their kids’ activity hours to the global challenge.
  3. Register your post here to be in with a chance to win https://www.lyyti.fi/reg/Reima

Disclosure: We were sent a lovely Gift bag by Reima for the purpose of this post and included were two Reima Go Sensors. All opinions are my own.

Summer Activities for kids and families

Okay, so we are on week 3 of the summer holidays, hands up if you have already heard ‘I’m bored!’ in that whining sound that grates every parent’s nerves.

Kids of today eh? There’s just no pleasing them. They are tired and fed up when it’s school time and they are bored at home with all the free time they could wish for! Mind you, if I look back to when I was a child, I said the same. My guess is some things will never change and this is one of them.

Sun-Pat Fuelling Families downloadable guide

SunPat fuelling families guide

Click to download a guide with 42 activities to keep busy this summer.

sun-pat football

I have come to the conclusion that with just a little thought and minimal planning you can actually keep them occupied and know that they’ll have loads of fun too. Sun-Pat have known this for a long time too and decided to come to all parent’s rescue this summer. They have put together an excellent sports kit held in a strong and handy holdall containing a football (which dad says is a very good one), a cricket set and a skipping rope.

With just these few items (which Sun-Pat sent us to review), we had an entire afternoon of fun and guess who was best at the skipping challenge? #JustSayin

Sun-Pat are convinced that all kids need to get outdoors is a little inspiration and some good company and on that note, they are giving away 420 special sports kits this summer and you can easily get one too.

In the photos, you can see us playing with our kit at the caravan but we shall be taking it to the beach and to parks, it’s such a handy bag with a carrying handle too. With the equipment included, you don’t have to stick to the traditional games but you can create your own like obstacle courses, or bouncing the ball as many times as you can, dribbling the ball around obstacles laid out and skipping forwards, backwards all sorts!

Summer Activities for kids and families

Research discovered that 85% of kids wish they spent more time outside over the summer so now they have no excuse. A bag full of goodies and the local park (plus a few peanut butter sandwiches for a half time snack) is all you need for an afternoon of fun.

Get your Sun-Pat summer sports kit

It’s very simple, just head over to the Sun-Pat Fuelling Families giveaway and click enter, with 10 being given away every day your chances of winning are high or, visit Sun-Pat on Facebook to enter.

Sun-Pat Peanut Butter is a perfect natural source of protein and fibre and helps maintain energy levels, and the guide also includes recipes for simple and delicious snacks to fuel your whole family this summer.

Disclaimer: Post in collaboration with Sun-Pat Peanut Butter

When it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle for your kids, ordering takeout can be a bit of a challenge. When kids have a menu full of options in front of them, some of their go-to favourites may be fish & chips, hamburgers, grilled cheese or chicken nuggets, which makes it even more challenging to steer them in another direction. While it’s ok to let your children splurge on this food once in a while, make sure you consider the healthier items on the menu and encourage your kids to try new things on a daily basis.

Below are just a few tips to follow when ordering takeaway for your family:

Chinese

chinese food

While most Chinese dishes include a high amount of vegetables, having them deep-fried and surrounded by noodles isn’t always the healthiest way to eat them. Since noodles can weigh in at nearly 200 calories per cup, be sure to consume them in moderation. Better yet, replace the noodles with a side of brown rice or tofu.

If your kids love dumplings, remember that Chinese takeout menus may serve them in many different ways. Wonton soup, for example, contains a few steamed dumplings and soup is considered to be more filling, which will prevent your family from overeating before the main entree. And, according to LiveStrong, a cup of wonton soup contains a high amount of vitamin B6, Niacin, B12, and pantothenic acid. Just keep in mind of the amount of sodium you might be consuming.

Pizza

pizza

Believe it or not, pizza can be a healthy meal when made with the right ingredients and when eaten in moderation. While you don’t have to forgo the cheese to make a pizza healthy for your kids, it’s important to know how to best utilise the pizza’s canvas. Rather than adding sausage, pepperoni, or bacon to a pizza, consider choosing leaner meats like grilled chicken and loading up on the veggies, including mushrooms, peppers, red onions, spinach, and artichoke hearts.

Building a healthy pizza is much easier than it sounds. Hungry House has an enormous range of takeout menus to choose from, including some of the best and healthiest pizza restaurants in your area. Whether you search by rating or price range, pizza restaurants today are much more accommodating to those with special diet requests.

Indian

indian

From deep fried samosas to rich paneer, Indian food has become incredibly popular in recent years because of its creative use of spices. If you haven’t noticed already, many vegetarians tend to veer towards Indian cuisine as meat is not often used in many of this cuisine’s dishes, but this doesn’t make ALL Indian takeout food healthy. Dishes that are prepared with lentils and chickpeas provide the protein growing kids need and are on the healthier side as these foods aren’t typically prepared with high amounts of oil and butter. Instead, Indian food is often prepared with a variety of spices to produce unique and delicious flavour combinations.

Turmeric, for example, can be found in many Indian dishes and is known to have health benefits such as anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, according to WebMd. In addition, Tandoori items on Indian takeout menus are often found to be lean because they are cooked in traditional clay ovens called Tandoor. Meats like Tandoori chicken or shrimp retain more nutrients because of the way these dishes are prepared.

If You Don’t Know, Ask!

As it can be difficult to judge how some takeout dishes are prepared, don’t hesitate to request details from the person who is taking your order. In general, try to avoid ordering deep-fried foods and overly processed meats with all of your meals and replace them with hearty sides of steamed vegetables, fruits, or brown rice.

While having family meals shouldn’t always be a task of choosing the healthiest foods, be sure to keep in mind the nutrients your kids (and yourself!) are getting from what you eat.