Dinosaur Train – A Review

dinosaur train

Dinosaur Train is a new programme for children aged 3-6 that came to Nick Jnr earlier this month.  Dinosaur Train is produced by the Jim Henson Company and as a huge Sesame Street and Muppets fan I had high hopes.

Each 22 minute show features two animated episodes. Based on input from paleontologists, science teachers and early childhood education experts, Dinosaur Train promotes critical thinking skills for preschoolers based on an engaging and creative curriculum.

Each episode features Buddy a T-Rex who travels with his family on the dinosaur train to find out about other dinosaurs and how they live. Dinosaurs and trains, I should think that this is most little boys idea of heaven. My 3 year old daughter and her male friend watched it together and they are suitably hooked.    The animation and storylines are colourful and engaging and  I learned lots about dinosaurs that I didn’t know before.  If you have a young dinosaur geek I’m sure it will become a firm favourite.

Paint Play – Colour Mixing

Included in our Baker Ross  parcel  was a box of acrylic paints. I use acrylics for my painting and find that one of the key components to painting is mixing the right colours.  I therefore thought it might be a good opportunity for the girls to experiment with colour mixing.

paintI provided them each with 2 pieces of tin foil, one had a blob of each of the acrylic colours on and the other was for mixing.   I avoided giving instructions about what to paint or even that they had to paint at all.  Often young children enjoy the process of mixing and don’t really want  to paint with the colours.  My 3 year old used up most of the colours mixing them into various shades.  I explained that acrylics dry quickly so once the colours are mixed they need to be used quickly for painting

My 7 year old on the other hand carefully mixed a variety of colours, trying out the different combinations.  I gave them a pot of water each to clean their brush and kitchen roll to mop up any excess water.

She proceeded to paint a picture.  Half way through she ran out of one of the colours that she had mixed and was unsure what to do next.  I explained that the new colour wouldn’t need to be exactly the same   as the good thing about acrylics is that you can layer one colour on top of the other.  She mixed another colour and came up with a pretty good match.

Finished Results


The Secret Garden – A Tots 100 Film Club Review

tots100 parent blogger film club

I’ve always been a bookworm and my children are inheriting this trait.  When I think back to the books that I devoured as a child I feel a sense of comfort. The Tots 100 film club offered me the chance to review one of a selection of films this month.  Many of them were adaptations of classic children’s books so it was a difficult choice. I chose ‘The Secret Garden’ as it is a wonderful story and the I remember the 1993 film as a beautiful adaptation.

My 7 year old has read the book but  I wasn’t sure that it would be suitable for my 3 year old in spite of its U classification.

The girls asked if they could watch it in their cinema room (a games console hooked up to a projector in our cellar).  As they settled down to watch I expected my 3 year old to watch for a while before becoming distracted.  She was riveted and even asked to watch it again a few days later.  On our trip to school today she proclaimed,

“I’m the girl from the Secret Garden.  I’m Mary.”

When watching the film for the 2nd time she told me correctly what was going to happen next,

“The mummy comes in a minute and gets cross, she tells her not to go poking around.”

The adaptation is faithful to the original story, is well acted and the transformation of the garden from an overgrown wilderness to  a carefully tended playground is beautiful.

I talked to my 7 year old about films that are adapted from novels, explaining that often people prefer the book as they feel the film doesn’t always tell the story in the same way.  I asked whether she prefered the book or the film,

“Hmm, I like both…. I think I prefer the film because it explains some of the things better.  You get more detail in the film.”

The Secret Garden is a great family movie and I think will be added to our list of favourites, a great start to the Tots 100 Film Club and the cinema room is set up eagerly awaiting next months film.

Justin Fletcher Hands Up the Album – Review and Competition

justin fletcher hands upCall me sad but I’m a little bit of a Justin Fletcher fan.  I’m a little bit in awe of how he understands what kids find entertaining and has them eating out of the palm of his hand.  So when I was asked to review his latest CD I jumped at the chance.

My 1 year old is just becoming old enough to play with her 3 year old sister. What fun they had when I put this CD on for them, I haven’t seen them laugh so much in ages.

Hands Up is full of children’s favourites like ‘Heads,Shoulders, Knees and Toes’ and ‘The Wheels on the Bus’ but the vibrant dance beats behind give the songs added energy.  The opening Song ‘Hands Up’ had me dancing around the room with them, much to the amusement of my youngest.

The children’s favourite is ‘The Hokey Cokey’, we all joined in with the actions before collapsing in a heap of giggles at the end. I’m not usually a fan of children’s CD’s with twee tinkly music and the same songs dragged out time and time again.  Justin’s enthusiasm and well produced, energetic backing tracks makes Hands Up a refreshing change.

If you have a children’s party coming up Justin Fletcher’s CD would be perfect (there is even a calming lullaby at the end to bring the children back down to earth).

Justin Fletcher Hands Up … The Album is available for a retail price of £8.97 From Amazon.

Right from the Start readers have a chance to win a copy of the CD. Simply enter a comment asking a question relating to musical activities with children.

You might like to  request  a song idea, tune or lyric, an idea for introducing children to music, ideas for games or movement, ideas for a particular age group, how to encourage listening skills or perhaps you would like to know about the benefits of musical activities for the very young. All questions will inform future posts about music with young children.

Terms and Conditions

  • This competition is only open to residents of the UK and Ireland
  • Only one entry per person
  • Post a question on my Facebook Page for an additional entry.
  • Winners will be drawn at random at 11.59 on 16th March
  • Winners will be notified by email and names posted on this site.

Congratulations to Maya Russell who won this competition.  Maya’s question and other selected questions will be answered in posts over the next few weeks.  If you weren’t lucky enough to win there is a competition on my other site Practically Perfect Mums which runs till the end of the month.

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Mess Free Painting

Today we received a very welcome parcel from Baker Ross.  Right From the Start has joined their blogger network, they send us lots of goodies and we come up with our own creative projects for using them.  The theme of our first parcel is painting.

Lanyan Quoit
My most recent painting

We love painting. I paint when I find the time and find it very therapeutic.  The girls also love to paint, in thesummer we paint outside .The girls enjoy painting on canvases and I display them in our hallway.

large scale painting

Today we went for the mess free option by trying out Colour Me Chubby Water Soluble Markers.

These are perfect for small hands, dry really quickly and don’t make a mess.  Even better they are washable, do not stain clothes and don’t dry out if you leave the lid off (although I didn’t tell the children this). The markers are great for an early mark making tool on large pieces of paper, they are sturdy and the paint comes out easily.

painting spiral

My 3 year olds latest canvas

My 7 Year old decided to try them with the wooden sea stencils.  These are great for little hands as they have large, chunky handles, meaning that they are easy to hold in place with one hand whilst drawing around them with the other.

This non-messy option was good for the baby too.  We did our painting on the floor so that she could move more freely.  She loved playing with the lids, taking them on and off and enjoyed painting on the paper although it was sometimes difficult to get them upright enough to make a mark.  She decided as all babies do that it would be a good idea to see what the paints tasted like.  However, as they are fully washable and non-toxic I didn’t need to worry – a quick wipe removed the orange lipstick.putting on lid

I was really impressed with the results and when we have limited time and I can’t face the mess involved with painting this is a great alternative.



The Final Results


Donate Children’s Books to Get Britain Reading

booksFor some time now I have been wondering what to do with all my children’s books. I collected children’s books before I had children and these were given to my children.  There are many that I can’t part with but every so often I have a purge of the children’s bookshelves as the space gets  more and more restricted.

It always seems a shame to give them away, especially when I hear about the high percentage of children who don’t have books of their own.  With the  Bookstart budget being cut I have often wondered if there was a way I could donate my books to a needy cause.

On a rare occasion that I turned on the television in the morning, a feature grabbed my attention. It was the ITV Get Britain Reading Campaign.  The Statistics are astounding,  1 in 3 children between the age of 7 – 16 does not own a book.  This makes me even more determined to get my books to children that need them.

Finally this is possible as Daybreak have set up venues across the country where good quality children’s books can be donated. Books can be deposited until Sunday 4th March and then they will be distributed by The Salvation Army, Booktrust and Dyslexia Action.