Reading Eggs – App Review

This blog contains a review of an app which I was granted free access to.

Follow this link to get 30 days access free to try it yourself

I have begun to introduce Arlo to limited interactive technology during this lockdown as part of our home schooling activities, because let’s face it we can’t have PVA glue and poster paint out 24/7.

Reading eggs came highly recommended and I have been granted free access to the app for the purposes of this review. I have also been given a link to share to give my followers 30 days free access to try it out for themselves free of charge (click here).

So where do I start….. the sign up process is very simple, just like most apps it requires an email/password which gives you access to a parent dashboard to follow your child’s learning journey. Then you get going with a really simple user interface.

Arlo is almost three and so we have explored between the 2-4 and 3-7 age categories, and have really taken our time to get to know different features within the app.

The junior category for the youngest age takes you through to a menu where you can choose to read a book, participate in activities, watch videos or explore the lands.

Each of these options opens a multitude of different options for you – and the sheer amount of resources available is impressive. The videos are extremely child friendly and include educational content. The books feature common toddler friendly themes such as animals and vehicles – and a simple swipe interaction. The sheer number of titles available is worth the subscription fee, plus there books available in multiple languages.

The shining star in this app however is the activities. With fourteen different options to choose from, each focuses on different topics such as matching, sorting, colours and the alphabet , whilst also providing children with the skills they need to interact with technology.

Each activity has a pathway with clear levels, and once you complete an activity your child gets the chance to participate in sensory rewarding tasks and games such as colouring in and balloon popping, and then in turn you earn an egg, which you tap open to reveal a sticker.

The constant audio and visual feedback from the app when your child completes every single action is extremely rewarding and positive for Arlo, and I noticed that when we were going through the alphabet that alliteration was used to correspond to the letter we were working with – Amazing, Brilliant etc. That’s a subtle touch but shows the attention to detail within the design

Another thing I like about this app is that words are sounded out using phonics. This is something I do not know much about, but it’s the way kids are taught these days and so it’s fabulous to have the app teach me so that I can then work on this with Arlo outside of the app – for example sounding out “cuh” “ah” “tuh” when we see a cat.

Once your child completes a task/level this is logged in the parent menu and so you can track progress easily. After enjoying playing with the junior menus we decided to explore the 3-7 menus together.

The first time we accessed this section I noticed the difference in style but the menu layout and pathways idea was very familiar. Arlo instinctively knew where to press and how to interact with the screen to play the more complex games.

The first thing we encountered was a little pop up “quiz” – this is designed to check your child’s ability to guide you where might be best to start your journey. Please don’t worry this isn’t a test and obviously Arlo being not quite three was guided to start at the very beginning.

We began with lesson one which was all about the letter m. The same kind of interactions, (swipes and taps) as learned in the junior menus are required but this time the letters of the alphabet take centre stage and here the repetition of the phonics is even more apparent.

We have alphabet magnets on our fridge and a couple of days after using the app Arlo decided to point out the letter m to me on his own accord and this shows to me that through using this app to play he is learning not only about the sound of letters but their visual appearance in a way which is helping his memory recall.

There is a lot more to this app, we have only just scraped the surface with its features, because I limit screen time. For people who also do the same I have to say I really appreciate the menu design – activities are taking us about 5-10 minutes to complete before earning a sticker, and returning you a menu rather than automatically sending you to the next activity. This provides a natural pause for you to end the screen time if you wish.

Follow this link to get 30 days access free to try it yourself

Nature painting tuff tray

A really simple painting invitation to play.

You will need:

  • Paper plates
  • Brushes
  • Paint
  • Collected materials – pinecones and leaves etc.

We have been collecting all sorts of random bits and bobs on our nature walks, from pebbles, to pinecones and leaves because Arlo takes his scavenger hunting very seriously.

So finally putting all of the bits and bobs to good use I covered Arlo’s tuff tray in brown paper (it’s bright blue and I wanted a neutral canvas) and I then gave him a box with all the materials he needed.

I helped him squeeze out all the colours on to paper plates

Mum tip: I always split the paint colours up like this to help avoid the almost inevitable brown splodge effect when complimentary colours get mixed up.

Then Arlo dived right in with a brush and a pinecone. Painting pine cones is actually really hard work as you have to get the brush in to all the little books and crannies. So this kept him busy for quite some time.

We also moved on to painting other found materials – these giant leaves made a beautiful canvas and we all got involved, sitting around the tray and painting with all of our colours.

Not a bad way to spend an afternoon in the garden!

Jam jar candle holders

This is a really simple but effective way to brighten up a garden on summer nights.

You will need:

Jam jars

Tissue paper

PVA glue

Water

This really is a simple craft, preparation is key. Make sure your jam jar is thoroughly clean and free of label gunk, and get your tissue paper cut in to small squares.

We used animal print tissue papers we had in the craft cupboard and then contrasted these with bright plain colours.

Use a lot of glue, in stages to different areas of the glass but be delicate applying tissue as it can tear easily once it absorbs moisture.

You need quite a lot of glue, once our jar was covered I started dabbing the brush in a little water to make sure all the edges were smooth and added extra squares to fill the gaps. The layering of tissue in different areas helps create a more interesting glow.

Once you have finished use a brush to make sure the entire surface is covered with a layer of PVA and then you just need to wait for the glue to dry.

Here’s a video of the entire process – this is literally one of the easiest crafts. Add in a tea light and you have a lovely lantern for the garden ….. please be careful with candles around kids! You can use battery powered candles to be safe.

Toilet roll Peacock activity

This is a really simple craft activity which will be enjoyed by kids of all ages.

You will need:

Toilet roll

Paper plate cut in half

Paint

PVA glue

Bits and bobs

Googly eyes

Small yellow felt or card for a beak

When I say bits and bobs, you can use pretty much anything you have in the craft cupboard. We were going for a rainbow theme to match our window but you could easily divide up the resources and make this a specific colour theme. Think buttons, beads, sequins, lollipop sticks, feathers, pom-poms and tissue paper!

The first stage is to cut your paper plates in half and paint them, I provided just blue and green to make our peacocks tail.

And then you also need to paint your loo roll too. We didn’t waste any time and started to add our bits and bobs without waiting for the paint to dry, we don’t mind getting messy, but at this stage it could be good to pause for a snack or a walk.

Then it’s time to introduce the PVA glue, I pout a bit in a little dish and gave Arlo a paint brush and full access to the bits and bobs to do his thing.

We used glue and a bit of tape to secure our loo rolls to the plates.

Mum tip: for activities like this I sit beside Arlo with my own materials and create alongside him, he likes to imitate and so when I started arranging my feathers he copied me and we were talking about all of the bits and bobs we were choosing and why.

This final thing is to add googly eyes and a beak to your peacocks to give them a face, and voila, there you have it.

The Rainbow Trail

A little project we have been working on recently is to give something back to our local community. I have been using all sorts of inspirational quotes as captions on our Instagram page and I also recently designed a rainbow t shirt for Arlo.

You might have also read some of our scavenger hunt activities which have been going down a treat during lockdown – keeping us very busy.

So here we have our new Rainbow Trail – I have taken some quotes from our favourite films and laminated them with a rainbow. Over the next few weeks we will be hiding these in places we visit on our daily exercise.

We are now allowed to travel further afield for our daily walks and so we will be blogging about our favourite outdoor places to visit now that our amazing adventures can recommence and so if you happen to find a rainbow with our Instagram tag then please do get in touch.

This page will be updated as we hide more rainbows.

Rainbow Wave Cookies

Our sugar cookie recipe strikes again!

“Always look for the rainbow” – Christopher Robin

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🌈 🌈 STAY SAFE 🌈 🌈

I am sharing our Rainbow Wave cookie recipe:

These little biscuits, believe it or not contain three basic ingredients:

– 50g sugar

– 100g butter

– 150g plain flour

I added food colouring and a spot of vanilla essence to our dough before cutting out circle shapes to put the rainbows together and baking at a low temp for 12 mins – we served ours with a side of cream cheese frosting which Arlo enjoyed dipping to make clouds.

You can double up the recipe to make extra!

Stay safe everybody 🌈

Paper craft birds

These lovely little birds were made out of spare scrap book paper – we usually make these as a Christmas craft but as we have a lot of time to spare then we thought we’d try these one rainy day.

You will need:

Cardboard

Scrap booking paper (double sided pattern)

Craft paper

Scissors

Bird template

Pencil

First things first begin by creating your bird stencil using cardboard – this is just the body shape – and then draw around this on your scrap book paper and cut out. I prefer using scrap book paper for the body because it’s usually got a beautiful print on both sides.

Once you have cut out your birds you need to then take small rectangular sheets of paper and convertible fold them like so…. these will be your wings. At this stage you can round off the ends to make prettier shapes if you choose.

Then use a craft knife or scissors to cut a slit big enough to poke your folded paper through the wings. It’s as simple at that… use your fingers to tease out the folds in to a fan. Once you have repeated this with all of your birds it’s time to hang them up … I chose to use a needle and cotton thread, I find that they spin nicely once hung up and love how this looks. You could use a hole punch and ribbon or anything you have lying around.

DIY Bird feeder craft

This was a really simple Sunday afternoon activity, as part of our bird themed activities it only seemed right to make something to hang in our garden for the little robin who visits every day.

You will need:

Cardboard

Peanut butter

Bird seed

Hole punch

Twine

I chose to use our wooden shapes as stencils to draw around and then cut out – but you could easily use the cardboard from a loo roll or just go for one simple shape.

Once our shapes were cut out we used a hole punch first….this is important to do at this stage otherwise it gets messy!

Here’s the really messy fun bit…. smear peanut butter all over the cardboard shapes and then dip the shapes in to a container of bird seed.

This part was the most fun for Arlo and he enjoyed seeing it all sticky and messy.

Cut your twine in to short lengths to loop through the holes…. with hindsight it’s probably better and less messy to do this bit before the peanut butter but we didn’t mind getting our fingers dirty.

Then voila… one our shapes were strung it was time to hang them up in the garden and then sit and wait at the window inside for the birds to arrive.

This really is super easy to do and fun for all ages. Check out our little video if you want to see how we managed:

Let’s go fly a kite – product review

This blog features a gifted product – all views and opinions are my own

We were delighted to be offered the opportunity to review the Everfly Extra Large rainbow kite from Big Game Hunters. This is quite literally the biggest kite we have ever attempted with an almost 2 metre wingspan.

It’s super simple to set up – it arrives rolled up in its own bag – and all you have to do is slot two rods at perpendicular angles in to the slots and then attach your line to the flip side.

The line is reeled on to an easy grip handle and really comfortable to hold. It didn’t take us too long to get it up in the air once we caught a breeze.

The beauty of this kite is the tails – once it’s up in the air it looks absolutely beautiful and can fly so high it can be seen for miles!

We had so much fun, it was easy to pull and make the kite dance on the breeze in circles and loops so Arlo thought it was chasing him and he spent hours running up and down the hills in the meadows after it.

And once we were exhausted it was super quick to remove the rods, roll up and pack away…. ready for the next time we have a blustery day!