school year 4

The twins have gone back to school today and they have entered the world of Year 4. New teachers – we have a job share this year so we have more than one – new classroom, stricter rules as children are expected to become more and more independent and focused for longer.

I know this first week will be a difficult one as they have been used to lazing around, playing and doing nothing, after all that’s what school holidays are about, right?

However as much as I like to let them relax during the holidays and enjoy a more outdoors lifestyle both husband and I take schooling very seriously, we want them to have the best education we can offer them. We have kept the reading ticking over, with the promise of completing a Brownie badge, we got them to keep up their handwriting by writing a daily diary for 4 weeks. That one got difficult towards the end when the novelty wore off.

And, we have been setting them 10 maths questions per day for the last couple of weeks, just simple addition, subtraction and multiplication to get their brains geared up again. This caused tears, BIG tears, so we bribed them with pocket money and that seemed to work.

We know we’re not raising tomorrow’s Einstein here but we’d just like to make sure they remember what they learnt in Year 3 with the hope of making Year 4 that little bit easier for them.

There is already talk of SAT’s and 11+ too and as much as we try to be laid back and relaxed we are very aware that they only get one shot at education. We feel it is our duty to make sure their education journey is the best they can get.

school reviewer

I was really interested to come across the website School Reviewer, this is exactly the kind of website parents need to make sure the choices they make are the correct ones and to find lots of additional advice and tips to making the educational journey as enjoyable as possible.

For a start School Reviewer includes stats and knowledge about every school in the UK. Each school has it’s own page and you can read an About page with contact details and lots of information about the school, the academic results for the past three years, you can check out the catchment area and read reviews from other parents.

There is also a parents forum enabling everyone to talk about all sorts of topics regarding their children’s school life. Not only that there is a very interesting Buy and Sell page which allows you to sell on your own items or search for a pair of nearly new football boots, ballet leotard or school tie.

school reviewer

As your child progresses through school you can also download SATS and GCSE papers, some are free and others for a small fee. These will help enormously on the run up to the exams.

Another point of interest for me was the Tutor page, inviting tutors from all over the country to sign up and be available for parents up and down the country.

So as we head towards Year 6 and SATS I like having the knowledge that I can use School Reviewer along my parental journey and help the girls out as much as I can on their educational experience.

Why not take a look for yourself and head over to post a review about your school today?

Disclosure: This is a collaborative post with School Reviewer, all opinions and words are my own.

 

painting pottery twitchen house

Our summer holidays are running along fine at the moment, a two week break in Devon (which still needs writing up – ahem) and a week back to work already under my belt with the help of some lovely friends who have looked after the twins for me.

This week my mum is doing her bit and taking the girls down to our static caravan at Birchington Vale for the week where they can swim, go to the beach and discover hundreds of things to do on the Isle of Thanet. I’m going to try and record what we do on my new blog and hopefully it will come in handy for others too when visiting the area.

It’s quite a chore keeping the kids entertained all the time isn’t it? If you feel you’re running out of ideas take a look at the great list below. I had a chat with some of my favourite blogging friends to see what great ideas they are coming up with and I’m amazed at the response. This is your summer holiday inspiration in one click, bookmark for future reference and keep the kids happy with all these great activities.

Things to do in the summer holidays

Days Out

Kirsty over at the Mummysphere has a great activity for Peter Rabbit fans, at Willows Activity Farm

Rebecca from Here Comes The Girls has taken her children to the Warner Bros Studios and tells us all about it

Michelle from Mummy from the Heart suggests cliff walking as a great outdoors activity

Crafts/Activities

Hopefully there won’t be too many rainy days with the remainder of the holidays but just in case here are some brilliant ideas to consider

Try your hand at gorgeous mosaics like Liz over at Me and My Shadow

Carolin from Mummy Alarm has top tips for camping

And Emma and 3 talks about the ABTA swim safety campaign

Recipes

Another fabulous way to keep kids entertained is getting them into the kitchen and making some delicious ice cream like my Snozzcumber recipe

Becky at Simple Parenting has a scrumptious recipe for Banana Muffins

Jenny at Mummy Mishaps has ice cream cones with sprinkles

Bucket List

Cass at Frugal Family has 100 Frugal Fun summer activities to keep you entertained all summer and light on the pocket too!

top tips for summer play

Our children are part of Generation Z; they spend approximately 7 hours a day at school, a lot compared to our European neighbours, and some children will attend Breakfast club and have after school clubs to attend. The summer holidays are the perfect time to put pens down and play.

Nintendo recently commissioned research that reveals 70% of parents worry that their youngsters are growing up too fast and may lack the ability to bounce back from adversity.

Leading child development and play expert, Dr Amanda Gummer advocates the introduction of play to areas outside of the playground, thanks to its proven impact on cognitive development. Working on the proven theory that when children play and have fun, they learn as well, they become more open to talking about what they think and how they feel.

Dr Gummer advises that parents who feel nervous about approaching difficult topics with children can easily apply playful tactics at home, helping to build on their child’s emotional resilience over the summer and enabling them to think more critically.

Dr Amanda Gummer’s top tips for summer play

1. Spark an enthusiasm for learning with fun educational activities

The summer holidays are the perfect opportunity to really get children enthusiastic about learning with fun, hands-on activities. For instance, they can practice maths by helping out at a car boot sale with the money, have a go at some amazing experiments with science kits or tell stories by creating their own characters.

2. Engage with videogames

It’s helpful to meet children where they are, in order to take them where you want them to be. Videogames are very popular with kids and the right ones can encourage critical thinking and discussion around an array of topics. For instance, the characters and their stories in the popular Nintendo 3DS game based on Japanese Folklore, YO-KAI WATCH® offers an imaginative platform to talk about real-life issues, such as falling out with friends or bullying – issues which often crop up during long school holidays.

Bess Nintendo car

3. Encourage playing together

Group games are brilliant for getting family and friends to play together, while helping children learn to think strategically, plan ahead, and work with others. There are many board and card games that also support key educational topics like maths so you can be confident that kids are learning whilst enjoying themselves.

4. Mix and match playmates

A good mix between playing with friends and family gives children the chance to expand their social skills, build relationships, and share knowledge. An older sibling can sometimes explain a topic to a younger sibling in a better way than a parent or teacher, it feels more playful, and at the same time this is reinforcing their own understanding.

play date

5. Don’t forbid screen time

There’s no reason why children can’t enjoy some screen time, it’s just important to select videogames that captivate them as well as support learning and development. This will help them to think imaginatively and creatively. Brands such as Nintendo offer a variety of games that will make your kids think and apply their brains, such as Disney Art Academy which helps teach children how to create their own art or Teddy Together which teaches them about friendship through the guide of a cuddly teddy bear and encourages chidren to practise their reading, spelling and interpersonal skills. They will feel like they are being given a treat but will be learning at the same time.

6. Allow time for unstructured play

It’s important for children to be in control of at least some of their play, so remember to schedule in time where they can play freely. This allows them to explore their own ideas and build on things they have learned, at their own pace. Building a den, for example, is an exciting way for children to explore the outdoors, harness their imagination and learn to solve problems.

7. Use children’s interests to grab their attention

These few weeks will give children a chance to explore their own interests. Parents can use something a child is big on right now, such as a particular cartoon or game character, to make all sorts of subjects more appealing and really tailor the learning to the child’s individual interests. For example, if a child likes superheroes, parents might get them to write a story about the character to encourage writing skills.

micro sprite scooter

8. Take them out for a breath of fresh air

Rain or shine, outdoor play has many advantages to a child’s development. It’s a great source of exercise, a chance for children to master physical skills, and offers a fascinating world for exploring and imaginative play. Going down the park can be a pain for parents, who end up standing around cold and bored while their children play; we suggest arranging play dates so that parents have someone to talk to and children get the added benefits of mixing with other children.

9. Boredom is good

Parents needn’t feel that children need entertaining every minute of the holidays, because children are perfectly capable of coming up with their own activities and this is actually really good for their development. It encourages children to think for themselves, supporting decision-making and independence, and can stimulate their creativity.

10. Use this opportunity to practice life skills

Life skills are vital, but unfortunately they aren’t always covered in school. So now is the ideal time for parents to get children to help plan and cook meals, clean the house, and generally get their heads around all the chores they will need to survive as adults. Of course they will still need plenty of time to play, but a good work ethic is a valuable thing to instill into a child, just make it fun, for example by bringing in songs and rhymes.

Nintendo blogger

Disclosure: We are part of the Nintendo UK Family Blogger scheme and review products for them on a regular basis plus bring articles that we consider will be of interest to you.

I started the new job last week, it’s brilliant and I am totally LOVING it, I’ll talk all about it in a separate post because I wanted to tell you about a song I’ve been humming along to in the car to and from work. I have embedded it above and if you click play you will most likely recognise it too. I like this song. It’s very catchy and has a good tune, it’s the lyrics that have been prompting me to write this post …

As the song is sang you quickly realise ‘your man’ is going to be locked up in jail pretty soon and he’s asking you to stay by his side. Now whilst I like the tune and I sing along, as he asks me the questions I find myself replying, ‘No.’ A lot.

It made me realise that the years have taught me and where, maybe as a starry eyed teenager, I may very well have replied, ‘Of course I’ll stay by your side, I will always love you. Don’t worry about everything we’ve lost, we can rebuild our lives.’ and all sorts of other naive nonsense.

This got me thinking about the twins and how they are smitten at the thought of finding their prince. It made me think of how innocent we can be. So Mum needs to put ’em right on a few things and what better opportunity than a pop song which they will remember?

lovehearts, street art dope

If I got locked away and we lost it all today

Tell me honestly would you still love me the same

Girls. If your man gets locked away and you lose everything you have, it means he hasn’t been honest with you. He has been doing things behind your back and putting your welfare at risk. This is not a man who will look out for you and it is the opposite of caring for you. A successful relationship is built on trust and friendship. If those two elements are missing move on, this man isn’t worth your time and I don’t care how good looking he is. There are BETTER fish in the sea.

If I showed you my flaws if I couldn’t be strong

Tell me honestly would you still love me the same

Being transparent with the one you love is also a vital ingredient to finding your soulmate. You and he will have to show your flaws. Don’t worry, nobody is perfect. We all have flaws but if his are petty crime or worse, that end him in jail or a courtroom then no, he’s not worth it. That is the truth and relationships demand 100% truth at all times.

Right about now

If I judge for life

Would you stay by my side

Or is ya going to say good-bye

LIFE??

Did he say he was being judged for life? Get your sweet ass out of there now and don’t ever look back. I don’t even want to know what he’s done but a life sentence is Bad.

Can you tell me right now

If I couldn’t buy you the fancy things in life

Shawty would it be alright

C’mon show me that you do

Earning money is what we do as adults. We go out to work in order to have the money to live and enjoy life, homes, holidays, evenings out and pretty things to wear. We are also bombarded by advertising, girls showing gorgeous designer gear that costs a month’s wages, sometimes more. It’s about being realistic and investing your money on the things that make you both happy. A relationship is all about give and take and trying to find a balance.

london street art love will tear us apart again

Now tell me would you really ride for me (would you really ride for me)

Baby tell me would you die for me (would you die for me)

DIE?? No, never. Your life is the most precious thing you have. Nobody should ever ask you to give it up for them.

Would you spend your whole life with me (wassup)

Would you be there to always hold me down (uh huh uh huh)

Tell me would you really cry for me (would you really cry for me)

Baby don’t lie to me (Baby don’t lie to me)

If I didn’t have anything (wassup)

I want to know would you stick around

If you are lucky enough to meet your soulmate first time round then you most likely will spend your life with them and it won’t be a hardship as you’ll be with the person you love most in the world. There will be moments that you will cry, that’s a huge part of love and you will see there is no need for lying, friends don’t lie to one another.

All I want is somebody real who don’t need much

You will find that there are some things you really do want out of life, one may be a future with children in it. If that is the case you will most likely want a place of your own. You may like the idea of an annual holiday, an occasional meal out in a fancy restaurant. You might like the idea of a family Christmas. I think it’s important to make sure both partners in a relationship are reading from the same page. If the above mentioned things are of no interest to your man then I can see problems ahead.

london street art tour this is not what you think it is

I gotta know that I can trust

To be here when money low

If I did not have nothing else to give but love

Would that even be enough

Yeah we need to know

 

Cuz I need a girl to hold me down for life

Would you still love me the same

‘Hold me down for life’ – You will find that if someone loves you as much as you love them, you will both happily stay together and enjoy every moment.

We have a lot of time ahead to talk through relationships and life but this song triggered these thoughts that I wanted to share with you both; basically girls, if he’s going to jail then let him go.

The official music video features three different scenes: a soldier leaving his family to return to service, a man and a woman fighting to make ends meet, and a father and daughter torn apart by her arrest. R. City did it this way because they wanted everybody to connect to the song’s message of perseverance through hardship.

Maleficent party food table

I took the girls to watch Maleficent at the cinema when it came out and all three of us loved it, we were totally taken with the story and I knew we would enjoy watching it again and again.

When Sky Movies got in touch and asked us to throw a party, one glance at the list and my eyes fell on Maleficent I knew that would be our chosen theme.

sky movies

We returned from our holiday to an enormous box waiting from them and inside we found everything we would need to throw a Maleficent themed party, so I spent some time on Pinterest looking for good ideas.

Follow Marianne’s board Maleficent party ideas on Pinterest.

I wasn’t disappointed and soon I had a long list of way too many ideas, now all we needed was a date and some guests. Maleficent party costumes We enjoyed great food found on the supermarket shelves saving valuable time to chat with the mums rather than being busy in the kitchen. We played games with prizes to win and we sat and watched the film. The party was called a success by all attendees and you can find all of my top tips below but first a chance to win a fabulous prize – 

WIN a NOW TV box and 1 x 3 month Sky Movies pass

Sky Movies have assigned one Now TV box and a 3 month Sky Movies pass to offer as a competition here on Mari’s World to one lucky reader. All you have to do is fill in the Rafflecopter box below and one entry will be picked at random. You will be contacted by the email address you use to enter so please take care when typing. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Our Maleficent Party ideas

Costumes

Kindly supplied by Sky Movies, beautiful black wings and long black cloaks. As it’s all set in the Land of Make Believe we decided that any costume would work which allowed each child to dress up as they wish.

Maleficent party food

Food

I didn’t have the time to prepare home made food as ours was a last minute party thanks to a wet weather day so I whizzed around the local supermarket and picked up some children’s favourites, once plated up I dreamt up some new names for the food to make the children smile.

Ham and cheese sandwiches – Roasted raven sandwiches
Berry and apple juice – Dragon’s blood
Orio biscuits – Coins from the Land of Make Believe
Sponge fingers with sultanas – Prick your Finger Surprise
Assorted mini cakes – Bites from Far, Far Away
Maleficent’s Chocolate Fudge Cake with custard or squirty cream

Games

Silent Warriors aka Musical Statues – to represent the fight between the warriors and and the King’s men.

pass the raven game

Pass the Raven. Sky Movies had kindly sent us a couple of decorative ravens and we used one as a pass the parcel, whoever was holding him when the music stopped was out. The above photo is when we were down to the last two contestants.

Watching the film

Of course this was the excuse for our get together and the girls settled down quickly to watch the film. They all enjoyed it and I must point out our afternoon started with watching the film to set the theme and then moved on to party food and games.

Party Bags

Black balloons, pink sparkly bouncy balls and a selection of sweets were given in purple and white striped paper bags.