Category Archives: review

Meet Mums Now

Have you ever wondered where would be a good place to take your children to play, eat, spend a day out or meet friends for coffee? Are you a new mum who is finding it difficult to meet other mums?

According to a recent survey a growing number of new mothers feel isolated and find it difficult to meet other mums.   Toddler groups are often very busy and noisy, this is not always the ideal place to meet other parents. I was lucky to find a small friendly NCT group where I made some good friends, but these are not always available. Even with friends I  remember as a new mum trawling my local town looking for venues big enough to accomodate a number of prams and with good baby changing facilities. This new app could be very useful to mums in a similar situation.

Meet Mums Now is a new app available free from app stores which takes the mystery out of choosing kid-friendly venues and offers social networking for mums who want to meet others.

With over 400 locations in London already listed, users can find child-friendly cafes, restaurants, pubs and attractions near them which have been endorsed by other mums. I notice that the app has also recently updated to include venues in and around my local area of Bristol and Bath.

The app not only identifies locations, but also allows registered users to contact other mums who have recommended a local venue. It’s a great way to share information and meet other mums, especially for those without the luxury of a group of NCT friends in the area.

It’s an idea that was born out of necessity when Nik Dewar, the man behind the app was on holiday with his wife and two young children. Searching for an app which would show them child-friendly locations for lunch in an unfamiliar area, they were surprised to see that what they were looking for didn’t exist, and set out to fill the gap in the market.

At the moment, most venues in Meet Mums Now app are in London, but it’s an idea designed to grow as more destinations in the UK are added. Future versions will allow users to add location of their own, but if you know a great kid-friendly locations now you can email meetmumsnow@gmail.comor send your tip off to twitter @meetmumsnow.com.

* this is not a sponsored post

Review of ‘Your Baby Can Read’

Some time ago I was asked to review ‘Your Baby Can Read’, a system for teaching babies from 3 months old to read. The system aims to introduce the written word at the same time as a baby is developing a verbal vocabulary. As today is International Literacy Day I felt I should bite the bullet and go for it.

So why the procrastination?  My initial thoughts were that such a system goes against my beliefs.  I have seen many parents who focus far too early on reading and writing and become both stressed and competitive about it. A baby has so much to learn in the first years is it really necessary that we add reading to the list?  I also feel that a lot of the time a focus on learning to read and write means that many of the underpinning skills necessary to achieve this are overlooked.  However, I felt that it was important that such products are reviewed by someone with an early education background.  I was interested in seeing the products to help make an informed view.

The materials in the programme include 5 DVD’s, 5 lift the flap books, 5 sets of sliding word cards, music cd, 82 double-sided word cards, a sliding windows board book, word game cards, a parent’s guide and early learning workshop DVD.

To be honest, I liked the materials more than I thought I would.  My biggest reservation about the whole programme is that reading is taught through DVD’s.  There is a firm emphasis on how interactive the DVD’s are but there is no requirement to sit with your baby as you watch them.  I watched the DVD’s with my 10 month old and 2 year old, the 2 year old was mildly interested and the 10 month old paid no attention at all.  Personally I don’t see that there is anything that the children can learn from the DVD’s that they couldn’t learn from sharing the books with an adult. I may be wrong, but I feel that this is an easy way for parents to avoid feeling guilty for not  spending time with their children. The DVD’s themselves are watchable and encourage the children to interact.  It is unfortunate in my opinion that they are American, I think some of the pronunciation of words may be difficult for  young British children when listening to American accents and some words like colour use the American spelling.  I feel to transfer the programme to a UK market it would be beneficial if the DVD’s were remade with British accents and spelling.

I really like the lift the flap books.  These have the word printed on the flap and when the flap is  lifted  there is a photograph to illustrate it and a number of interactive questions and instructions eg. How many dogs are there? Point to your elbow and What is your favourite thing to eat?  My 2 year old particularly liked these and enjoyed focusing on the words, pointing to them and ‘reading’ them with me.  I can imagine that with her interest in books and the written word, having read them a number of times she will begin to read the words in the books.  The same words are used in the sliding word and picture cards and word cards (flashcards).  The word game cards have 2 of each word so that you can play matching pairs games with the words. I can imagine my 2 year old enjoying this, although I haven’t tried it yet.

The programme suggests that you begin by reading the parents’ guide and watching the early learning workshop DVD. The parents’ guide explains how to use the books with your child and gives practical ideas for sharing other literacy related activities   with your child. I thought the DVD was excellent, with a lot of sound advice about early language acquisition and literacy.  My worry is that it is very long and I wonder how many parents would actually sit through it before embarking on the programme.

Dr Robert Titzer the creator of the programme begins by explaining how the programme originated.  He explains that he created the DVD’s to occupy his baby daughter in those times when she was ‘doing nothing’ while he was making dinner or reading the paper.  I found this a strange choice of phrase – I  don’t think I have ever seen a baby ‘doing nothing’.  He also talks about early brain development and the rapidity of brain development in the first few years of life.  This is a perfect reason for interacting with babies, but I’m not sure it is a justification for the need to read at this age.

Having said that there are a number of very positive points about babies and learning that Dr Titzer makes.

  • Parents should be active as the child’s first educator
  • Spend lots of time interacting with your baby
  • Children have receptive language (the ability to understand the meaning of words) before they can speak.
  • Talk to your baby, talking about what they are interested in.
  • Babies learn through movement
  • Play games with babies in the mirror and follow their lead building on the things they instinctively do.
  • Don’t let  children watch too much television, it is far better to read with them.
  • The concept of number needs to be taught in practical situations
  • Children are ready to write when they can master the physical skills – there is no particular age at which this will happen and it should not be introduced too soon.

The children in the case studies shown on the DVD have clearly learned to read both individual words and whole books.  They enjoy reading, are happy and engaged.  I have no doubt that the programme works but I question the appropriateness of teaching young babies to read.

The main argument for teaching babies to read is that the earlier a child learns to read, the more educational advantages they will have later. There is  a wealth of research that shows that the size of a child’s vocabulary at the age of 3 is the biggest predictor of how easily they will learn to read . The programme encourages the development of vocabulary through the introduction of 164 key words. It gives opportunities to introduce other words related to the children’s interests, by providing blank cards and a wipe clean marker pen.   However, surely it would be as beneficial to focus on spoken language and oral/aural skills (such as rhyme, identifying sounds, alliteration) in the first 3 years, accompanied with fostering a love of books, story, song and rhyme?

Dr Titzer explains that the earlier a child learns to read then the more likely they are to love it.  From personal experience with my own children I disagree with this.  My 2 year old has been obsessed with books since she was around 6 months old but cannot read yet.  At almost 3 she is beginning to show an interest in words and is keen to read some for herself.   My 7 year old went to school without being able to read but with a huge vocabulary, an interest in books, the  ability to recognise rhyme and alliteration, a love of singing and poetry, the ability to keep a steady beat and some knowledge of the alphabet.  Within weeks of being in school she learned to read, she is now a well above average reader, an avid bookworm and reads aloud with more expression than most adults (including myself). Based on my 2 year old’s extensive vocabulary, love of books and ability to recognise rhyme I expect her to go the same way. From this experience I question the necessity of programmes such as ‘Your Baby Can Read’.

I think if you have a pre-school child who has built a good vocabulary, oral and aural skills, loves books and is showing an interest in the written word then this could be a useful tool in the journey to learning to read. Personally I don’t like the idea of teaching reading using DVD’s because reading is as much about sharing a special time and ideas with your child as it is about the act of decoding words. I will use the rest of the materials with my 2 year old daughter if she shows an interest but I wouldn’t choose to use them with my baby. For those who would like their baby to read I have no doubt that the system works and that if the system is followed according to the comprehensive guidance the babies and toddlers will get great pleasure from it.  From the perspective of an early educator, I would let babies be babies and use it when the children are a little older.

 

Little Princess – I Want to Play iApp

I’ve been given the chance to try out the new Little Princess I Want to Play iApp.  As I am always on the lookout for good apps for pre-schoolers, especially those of an educational nature I thought I would give it a try.

My first impressions were favourable – the Tony Ross illustrations are as vibrant as those in the books and there is a selection of 4 games to play.  The games are simple enough for young children to play, are very visual and have nice sound effects.  The instructions for the games are written on the screen.  As an app designed for pre-school children I feel it would be very helpful if they were also explained in audio, although once the rules are explained by an adult they are very easy to follow.

My 2 year old absolutely loved this app. She made her way through each of the games starting with pairs as this is familiar from many other apps. The cards are touched to reveal characters from the Little Princess stories and the object is to reveal all the matching pairs. 

 The dressing up game was a firm favourite, a selection of clothes and accessories are dragged onto the princess until she is dressed, you can then take a picture of your chosen outfit.  My daughter was a little disappointed that when she dressed the princess in her swimming costume complete with armbands, goggles, flippers and rubber ring, the princess did not go off for a swim.  Perhaps this could be an added feature? A helpful arrow appears to show where the accessories should be placed on the princess, helping to avoid unnecessary frustrations.

Bath Time was another popular choice, Puss and Scruff need to be cleaned.  To begin with you rub the animals to lather them up (an arrow appears to tell you if you have missed a bit) and once they are covered in soap, bubbles appear .  The object is to pop all the bubbles in the shortest space of time. Even my 9 month old enjoyed playing this one (much to the annoyance of her sister).

The final game is bunny bop.  Rabbits appear from rabbit holes and the object is to bop as many as possible on the head in the alloted time. If you bop Puss or Scruff points are deducted ( this didn’t deter my 2 year old who prefered to bop the cat and dog – clearly not as competitive as her dad then).

The app was a huge success with my 2 year old and my 7 year old enjoyed it too.  I wouldn’t say it has any particular educational value but is a very good entertainment app for under 5’s.

The Little Princess I Want to Play iApp is available to buy for £1.99. Money well spent I would say.

This app was tested on the iPad.

Hamlet Passes on the Love – Persil Pass on the Love Picnic.

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Hi, I’m Hamlet, a much loved  and very special pig.  I have been to many places including Cornwall, London and Italy.  Being a pig I quite like being dirty, consequently I have never been washed. Today however, I have received a very special invitation to a Persil Pass on the Love Picnic.  In honour of this auspicious occasion I had my very first wash.  Myself and a couple of friends (the friends were chosen to be given away for other boys and girls to love) were bundled into the washing machine with a capful of Persil Comfort Liquid. Hey Presto soon after we came out sparkling and clean and smelling like a summer meadow.  I wasn’t really sure about the smell, it was a little strong for me but my cuddle buddy liked me smelling of flowers.

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We headed off for our picnic loaded with food, games and lots of cuddly friends. We had a lovely feast and I think the picnic blanket would probably benefit from a spin in the washing machine with Persil Comfort after the baby squashed strawberries all over it.

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Our cuddle buddies then had great fun playing games and dancing on the picnic table before my friends were put into a green bag to be given to Oxfam to share a new life with some more cuddle buddies.

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I waved them goodbye as they headed to a new life and was glad to be a special and favourite pig – even if it meant I had to endure a wash.

I am a member of the Netmums Parent Bloggers Network, a unique community of parent bloggers from around the UK who have been handpicked by the Netmums team from our database to review products and brands on their behalf. I am paid an expenses fee to cover my time (and childcare if the fee is big enough!) but Netmums have no editorial control whatsoever about what I blog about. Being a member of the Netmums Blogging Network means that I get to try out products and brands and get my expenses covered but that I retain full editorial integrity.

Bristol Zoo 175th Birthday – Big Village Fete

What a fantastic day we had today at Bristol Zoo.  To celebrate their 175th birthday Bristol Zoo organised a Big Village Fete, hosting a multitude of local talent, stalls and crafts.  It could have been a washout looking at the torrential rain first thing this morning but by lunchtime the sun was shining and the children were dancing to the music.  My 2 year old although taken aback when she first saw a gorilla dancing around the lawn, soon became obsessed with following it everywhere.

On the dance stage there was an amazing group of young street dancers and my 2 year old couldn’t wait to get on stage when the Egyptian dancers asked for volunteers to join them.

There were some fun activities and stalls in the family area and the girls loved making masks.

My personal choice of the day, had I have been on my own would have been to sit in the beautiful flower garden listening to the acoustic music sipping a glass or 2 of wine – oh well, maybe in another life.

As members of Bristol Zoo we go there a lot and today made a refreshing change not to see the animals (though we did check out the new meerkat house which is a vast improvement on the small space they had previously).    There are a number of new sculptures dotted around too – we spotted a kangaroo (you can sit in its pocket) 2 new gorillas and a lion but I’m sure there are more. There are also a number of historical photographs dotted about and film footage of the zoo in past decades. 

To mark the 175th Anniversary of the Zoo  life-sized gorilla sculptures are dotted all around the city of Bristol. A map is available to download from the zoo’s website.   That’s another few days to kill during the school holidays.

Lauren Child

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I was going to write a very different post but have decided that on reading an email with a link to the new Lauren Child website, that it needed to be shared.

I am a huge fan of Lauren Child, I think she is a creative genius.  All of her books give me a warm fuzzy feeling, from the witty text to the colourful illustrations – and the children love them too. If I have as much talent in my little toe as she has, I will be happy.

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A while ago I took 3 children to the Lauren Child exhibition at Cardiff Museum.  I was awestruck.  The children had an amazing time playing in Charlie and Lola’s kitchen  and dressing up in their clothes.  They read books and played with puppets, even the one year old had a great time.

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For those of you who are aspiring writers Lauren Child’s website offers useful advice on writing for children and the Frequently Asked Questions  give  some great insights into her writing.

My eldest loves the Clarice Bean series, reading the books over and over. She loved them so much she wrote to Lauren and was very excited to receive a reply. One more reason to love her.

If you haven’t read any of her books, please do, I promise you won’t be disappointed

Where Has My Little Girl Gone? Questioning the Way We Bring Up Girls.

My eldest daughter has just turned 7 .  She will soon be going to Junior school and moving away from Early Education, my area of expertise.  I am not overly worried about her growing up too soon but  I am sure that the Junior school years will throw up new challenges.  So when the offer to review a new book ‘Where Has My Little Girl Gone?’ by Tanith Carey came my way, I thought it might be interesting to read about the challenges that might be faced along the way for all 3 of my girls.

The book ties in with a recent ‘mumsnet’ campaign ‘Let Girls Be Girls’ which campaigns to stop the sexualisation of young girls.

The book looks at the aspects of modern life that are fast-tracking our daughters through childhood. However, it is much more than a simple account of the sexualisation of young girls. It encourages parents to question the influence we have over girls growing up in this generation.  It discusses influences including body image, mobile phones and the internet.

 There are insights into the most extreme examples such as parents paying for their daughters to have plastic surgery and children pole dancing but is also full of practical tips on how to help young girls become rounded individuals, rather than focusing purely on beauty. The section on body image certainly made me question the messages I give to my daughters.  I am fortunate that I am naturally slim but I have never been completely satisfied with my body.   Though I don’t diet and try not to talk about losing weight I am sure my negative body image must have some effect on my girls.  I have hoped to have breast enlargements once my child-bearing days are over.   I hadn’t considered before now that this might make my girls view appearance as the most important factor in life, or see surgery as a quick fix.  Though I am not having second thoughts, it has made me realise that I need to approach the issue sensitively with my daughters.

 There is a particularly good section about boosting self-esteem.  It gives some lovely examples of things you can do to help girls feel unique, from simply asking their advice to building a scrap book of their artwork and writing, from the very first scribbles and sharing it together over the years.  I like the idea of this one and it’s something I can imagine doing with all of my girls.

 There is also some very practical advice on how to praise daughters and some lovely tips on how to help your daughter to understand about friendships that fall out or people being unkind.

 Another message that hit home for me was about spending quality time with your daughters, taking them for coffee and having  proper conversation. I think this was something I did a lot when my eldest was an only child but we don’t spend much time together alone anymore and I can already see her retreating into a book, game console or tv programme. The book talks about showing that you are interested in what they have to say and giving them your full attention.  I’m sure we have all glazed over when they talk about some television programme that we know nothing about, and how many times do we not really listen or give eye contact because we are too busy doing something else?

Spending time with your daughters, helping them to question things is a key message in the book. It doesn’t suggest banning commercial television, magazines, pop music or internet but to watch things with them and discuss the issues that arise.  In our house we have always been against commercial television and rarely watch adverts.  When we do we have frank discussions with our children about how advertising is often aimed at getting you to buy things you don’t really need, or promising you things that aren’t necessarily true. ‘Blah, blah, blah’ my daughter says every time an advert comes on.

There is also a lovely section for fathers and the importance of their involvement

‘a girl sees it as her mother’s natural role to care for her, she feels that time spent with her dad is his choice’

It talks about rebellious teenage girls testing their fathers to see if they would fight for them and encourages fathers to appreciate their daughters achievements instead of pushing them immediately to try the next thing.

I think that we are fortunate to have not seen too much evidence of our daughter growing up too soon.  She likes pop music and pretty clothes and sometimes wears make up, she is influenced by her older friends and occasionally speaks in an annoying american accent, but on the whole there is nothing that worries me. We may not shield the younger ones quite so well as they try to emulate their older sister. I’m sure that this book will give me many valuable tips for the things that life may throw at us as the girls grow up.  It has certainly made me think about the relationship I have with them and how I would like that to be in the future.

For anyone bringing up girls this is a really valuable read and it certainly made me stop and think about the quality of my relationships with my girls. Since reading the book I have reflected upon some of the messages I give to my girls.  Whilst my girls were watching a Disney Princess DVD, I considered that I may need to encourage my daughters to question the notion that finding your Prince Charming is the most important thing in life.  It has also made me think about the messages I give to them about the role of a mother.  I would like my daughters to grow up feeling that they can achieve anything and they do not have to give up a part of themselves to become a good mother.  Being a stay at home mum for a few years I feel that I may have reinforced the stereotype that it is a mum’s job to look after the children and house and that dad’s are the successful ones.  I hope that I can give my girls something to look up to so that they can see that women can be successful too.

This is a very practical and thought-provoking book – a worthwhile read for any parent of girls.

Lego Games – Just for Boys?

 

The good people at Netmums have been kind enough to let me and my 7 year old daughter review  a Lego game.  I say ‘kind’ because the original request went out to boys.  Strange, I thought, I’ve always thought of Lego as a unisex toy. Having heard good things about Lego games, I thought it was worth asking if they would like a girl’s perspective and hey presto our wish was granted.  My daughter has been eagerly awaiting the postman for weeks, especially as I promised she could invite 2 of her friends to test it with her.

The game that finally arrived was Ramses Return.  It is described as a memory game suitable for children aged 7+.  So far so good, Egypt is a fairly unisex topic and memory games are generally popular in our household.

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Before playing the game you need to build the board and the die which adds another dimension to the toy.  We had fun building it together and the instructions were clear and easy to follow.  It comes with a funny little tool (the red thing in the picture) to lift the tiles from the die  if you want to change it around . This is (as are many of the other pieces) very small.  In our house this means that tidy away time would need to be supervised to ensure that no pieces went missing or were eaten by toddlers, babies or dogs.

The rules are easy to follow.  The object of the game is to move around the board collecting crystals and treasure, some of which are hidden under domes.  If the die lands on a colour, you have to check the domes to see if you can find a matching crystal, the domes then can be placed back on the board in any position, so you need to remember where each colour is. If the mummy passes through your space you lose a piece of treasure and go back to the start. The winner is the first to collect 3 different pieces of treasure. The treasure and crystals fit neatly onto the heads of the playing people, my daughter loved balancing the funny hats on their heads.

We have played the game twice so far, once just the 2 of us and again with 3 children plus my 2 year old and myself playing together.  When it was just the 2 of us it took about 10 minutes to play.  I liked this because often board games are quite long and it is difficult to find long enough stretches of time when the babies are not around for us to play. With 4 players it took considerably longer, one of the boys became bored before it finished and then they all gave up.  The boy who gave up playing was younger than the recommended age so this may have been a factor, also because the board is so small with 4 players it is quite difficult to sit around it.  We passed it from player to player instead.

The thing that I loved most about the game is that it promotes creativity by encouraging you to change the rules.  We changed a number of rules such as when a player landed on your space you had to give them a crystal and if you choose an empty dome you had to go back 2 spaces.  It was lovely to see the children negotiating the rule changes.

So was the game a hit with girls?  I think that is a resounding yes.

Toddler Takeover @At-Bristol

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I’ve had a really fabulous day out with my 2 year old and her friend at the bi-monthly Toddler Takeover at At-Bristol.  At-Bristol is an interactive science centre with over 300 hands on exhibits.   The Toddler Takeover is a themed day targeted at the under 5’s.   The theme for today was ‘Come Rain or Come Shine ‘.  I’ve been impressed by the amount of exhibits that my 2 year old can enjoy when visiting with her older sister in the past.  There are 2 under 8’s areas that are always available .  A role play airport including a cockpit where the children can fly a plane, passport control, luggage and an x-ray machine and a hostess trolley.  When my eldest was 4 we spent most of the session playing here.playing airports  The other has an animal theme and includes a tunnel, dressing up, storytelling and a sticky spider’s web game where the aim is to throw bugs at it to try to make them stick in the web.

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I once saw a superb storyteller in this area so was disappointed to have missed the storytelling session today.

As our children were under 3 we only had to pay for the adults therefore the day was good value for money.  In addition to the usual exhibits, there were a number of theme based activities  designed with the under 5’s in mind.  These activities were on the whole well thought out and there was a mixture of child directed hands on activities and more structured adult directed activities.  Some of the activities involved making an end product – a windmill or weather wheel and some were more exploratory such as musical instruments that made weather sounds, pretend snow and water play.  These were suitable for even the youngest children and each of the exhibits included a list of  suggested questions and discussion points .

There were a lot of staff helping the children to make the most of the exhibits including a number of volunteers.  Some staff were better at engaging the children that others but in all I felt that the level of supervision was excellent.

For an extra 50p the children could watch a show in the planetarium.  This was very interactive and visual and at about 15 minutes short enough to keep the children’s attention.  It may have been better presented by someone with experience of working with large groups of under 5’s but he managed to keep the interest of most children.

My little one enjoyed running through the lights best of all and is looking forward to returning with her sister so that they can do it together.

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We had a lost child incident whilst we were there and would just like to commend the staff for the efficient way that this was dealt with.  The child had wandered from the cafe to the main exhibit area.  When  staff  observed that he was without an adult, 4 members of staff  kept in close contact  without approaching him directly, so as not to alarm him. When reporting the lost child the reception staff immediately alerted all the other staff and the child was found .

On a practical level there are a number of baby change areas and buggy parks throughout and a picnic area where you can sit and eat your own food.  The cafe has its own small play area so the children can play whilst you have a coffee break. Parking is on the expensive side but park and ride or public transport are an option.

As an added bonus to the day out, outside At-Bristol there are a number of water features that on sunny days become a great place for children to splash about in.

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My only real suggestion for improvement is that there could have been better signage from outside that the event was going on . I’ll definitely be recommending this to my friends and am looking forward to the next one.

At-Bristol is also a great place to visit with older children too, my 7 year old wants to go tomorrow and is disappointed that she couldn’t come with us today. ‘I want to play with the fake snow’ she said when she found that it was only available for the toddler session.

http://www.at-bristol.org.uk/

Leapfrog Maths Adventure to the Moon–A Review and the chance to win one of 3 copies.

Maths Adventure DVD 3DI wouldn’t recommend that you teach a child mathematical concepts via a DVD, however for all of us the electronic babysitter is at times a necessary evil .  If the kids are going to watch DVDs without me I’d like to know that it’s well made and entertaining and if it’s educational too that’s an added bonus.  Our kids watch DVDs in the car on long journeys, I think my husband may throw the Mr Men out of the window if he hears the music one more time, so a new addition to the collection is always welcome.

My 2 year old and 7 year old watched the DVD together, I didn’t expect the 7 year old to enjoy a DVD about counting but actually it has lots of levels and would appeal to a mixture of ages.  She managed to watch it till the end and  I even caught her joining in with the counting in 2’s, 5’s and 10’s.  The story revolves around  Tad and Lily ,a girl and a boy frog who are finding maths difficult and go on a journey to space where they see how maths can be applied in all kinds of contexts.MathsAdv1  It explores simple concepts like counting to 10, but also counting backwards, counting in 2’s 5’s and 10’s , following repeated patterns, sorting by shape, size and colour and simple addition. Many of these are introduced using a catchy song helping to engage the younger children.  My 2 year old has asked to watch it again after watching a few times so I think it will be popular with her.  I would say it is ideally suited to children aged between 2 and 6. It lasts around 40 minutes and there are additional features including 5 songs and a sorting game.

It is a good quality, entertaining DVD that I think children would enjoy for a number of years before growing out of it.  Don’t use it as a quick fix to teach your child maths, but if you want to use it to back up playful, active mathematical learning then I think it is a good choice.

This never before seen on television title is released on May 9th with an RRP. of £9.99. 

I have 3 copies of this DVD to give away.  To be in with a chance simply subscribe to my blog or post a comment on any of my posts before 9th May .  Winners will be chosen at random on that date.

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