Tree Detectives’ Handbook For Tree Identification

Over the summer we bought a wonderful little book called the Tree Detectives’ Handbook with which the children are able to identify common British trees by their leaves, fruit and flowers.

Each two-page set has a species of trees, and each set contains vital statistics for the tree in question, including height, location, and fruiting and flowering times. The book contains fifty trees and common shrubs found in the UK including identification tips and detailed illustrations for every tree. There are also interactive boxes where little explorers can record their sightings.Tree Detectives Handbook

Read more: Tree Detectives’ Handbook For Tree Identification

Being Enterprising & Learning Entrepreneurship With Clever Tykes Books

I grew up in South Africa where we had little to no social welfare system. As a result we were known as a very entrepreneurial people. You’ve never seen anyone with a bag of maize, a giant pot and some polystyrene plates till you’ve a South African turning a profit on the side of the road!

Teaching children to be entrepreneurial and enterprising is equipping them with a skill that will stand them in good stead for their whole lives.Clever Tykes Read more: Being Enterprising & Learning Entrepreneurship With Clever Tykes Books

{Playlearn} Rhyming Words

Last week Ameli was asking questions about words that sound the same – by which she meant rhyming words, rather than homonyms. With a degree in Languages and Literature, this stuff is right up my street, so I decided to break away from Summer Camp at Home for the week, and focus on rhyming words and sounds, and an introduction to poetry, using nursery rhymes she already knows and introducing a couple of new ones too.

20130712-223051.jpgI found an awesome website (thank you Mud Hut Mama!) with learning plans, resources and everything you’ll ever need for teaching nursery rhymes. A lot of it was a bit old for Ameli, but most of it was great, and easily adaptable.

We started with an old favourite: Humpty Dumpty.

Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall,

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall

All the king’s horses and all the king’s men

Couldn’t put Humpty together again.

We read through the poem, looked at the words together, and spelled it out, and then, we acted it out. This was so much fun. She absolutely loved building the Lego wall, and knocking the egg off it. Watch this 30 second clip. It was great.

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We used one of the resources for Hickery Dickery Dock. The printout is about forty pages, give or take a few, so I printed them six to a page, then cut those out. Each ‘page’ has a sentence on it, with a word left out. The child then finishes the sentence with a word that makes sense (all rhyming with dock and clock, so the -ock rhyme sound) and finds either the picture or the word that goes with it. We pared those up in matching pairs.


I had various samples printed, but she got a bit bored with that. The next ‘game’ I was going to do, however, was separating the -ock word cards from the -all word cards from Humpty Dumpty. Perhaps another time.

While I know she was just looking at the pictures in some of the words, there were plenty in which she was reading the letters. She can sing the alphabet song, and can identify most letters – not y, oddly – but was doing really well.


When we finished ‘school’, Ameli and I sat outside during Aviya’s nap and soaked up some sunshine while doing some arts and crafts. I cut out all the body parts for the mouse, and made the clock while she was painting the toilet roll. When it was all dry we stuck it together, and drew on the clock parts – and watched some Youtube videos about grandfather clocks, and how they work, since she was asking and I didn’t know how to answer!

While the paint and glue were drying, Ameli and I lazed on the grass making up rhymes. She didn’t always get it right, but she was trying.

During the week, we’ve also been reading The Puffin Book of Utterly Brilliant Poetry which has poems by  Roger McGough, Michael Rosen, Charles Causley, Benjamin Zephaniah, Jackie Kay, Spike Milligan, John Agard, Brian Patten, Allan Ahlberg and Kit Wright, and so provides a vast array and variety of poetry and writing styles, and engaging illustrations by different artists for each poet. There’s also an interview with each author, which I think will be great for exploration later on.

By the end of the week, Ameli was making up her own rhymes, and actually getting them right.

I see this week as a success!

Ameli’s first completely self authored poem:

Stinky socks don’t get pie,

stinky socks, poke you in the eye.

12 July 2013

Learning Colours – Make A ‘Book Of Colours’

Continuing on our current theme of colours, and learning colours, we decided to make a ‘book of colours. This took a little bit of ‘setting up’ on my part, but it wasn’t too hard.

  • First I had to make a ‘book’. You could use a ready made one.
  • Then I had to prepare each page, which I simply did by writing the names of the colours in the right colours on each page. (Children learn lower case letters first, if I recall, so I wrote it all in lower case).
  • I cut loads of pictures of different colours from magazines. Ours are a bit dull as we’re not magazine subscribers, apart from one natural parenting oriented magazine, Juno, which doesn’t really have masses of pictures and I don’t want to cut up, so we just used catalogues that come through the door and pile up in the recycling.) You could print pictures, but this seems a waste of resources to me.
  • Our first colour was red so I found all the red crayons, pencils, markers, and pens (and a paint, which hubby vetoed at the last minute!) and laid them all out, ready for use.
  • Daddy sat with Ameli and for about an hour, they drew and coloured and pasted together, using and repeating the name of the colour red a myriad of times. They dug through all the cut out pictures looking for red pictures, and glued them, and coloured around them. (Daddy doing most of the drawing, of course!)
  • And over a number of days, we’ve introduced a new colour each day, and repeated the process. (Not consecutive days though – we’ve been alternating the Book of Colours with other colour based games too as we don’t want it to seem like a chore!)

Aside from being a good indoor activity, a great way to stay entertained, and a fun thing to do together, it’s made a vast difference to Ameli’s recognition of colours.

For other colour book ideas, check out these then amalgamate the ideas to suit your own needs!

E45 Giveaway and Eczema Resources

Yesterday I shared with you the main points covered by speakers at the Against Childhood Eczema Launch event in London. Today I’d like to continue by looking at some of the suggestions they offered and what to avoid, as well as the products recommended by the representative from the National Eczema Society, Margaret Cox and Dr Steve Hewitt, a skin specialist for E45

Here are some assorted facts and tips I took away from the day:

  • Diet triggers 25% of eczema in children under three. The best way to determine what food is causing the problem is to remove everything and reintroduce one food at a time in six week intervals, but this must be done with medical input to prevent the child becoming malnourished.
  • When monitoring a child for eczema, remember that the thin parts of the skin will show the condition first, followed by the flexible parts such as the elbows and back of the knees.
  • Do not cross contaminate creams and lotions. Don’t dip hands that have been on eczema back in to a pot of cream. Use a spoon or spatula, or a pump-top cream.
  • Hard water aggravates eczema.
  • Put a light layer of emollient on the child during the day, and a thicker layer at night when the skin self-heals. Be aware of the products and detergents you use:
    Many baby products that parents are given as testers and samples contain harmful ingredients. One of these ingredients is called Sodium Lauryl Sulfate,  which was developed in the 1900s as an industrial engine cleaner!
  • Bio washing powders form a residue build up on clothes and are known irritants.
  • Household cleaners have just as many harsh chemicals in them – then our children crawl around on these floors and put everything in their mouths.
  • Make sure to use alcohol and fragrance free baby wipes or cloth baby wipes.
  • Baby shampoo should be fragrance and colour free.
  • A general rule of thumb in our home, which I think is generally good to follow, is if I can’t pronounce the ingredients, we don’t use it, eat it or wash with or in it.

E45 has been around for many years. The company make an emollient bath oil and wash cream and a moisturising lotion which are all on the ACBS list. This means that they can be classed as both cosmetic products and medical products and as such can be prescribed by a GP or bought over the counter.

Although E45 is working closely with GPs and pharmacists to spread awareness of the benefits of this cream, many GPs will still prescribe the old-fashioned aqueous cream, which was originally designed as a soap substitute and not as a leave on emollient. Hewitt recommends printing out and taking along to your GP the NICE guidance for childhood eczema and insisting on a prescription for a better emollient (like E45)

There have been periodic rumbles in the media over aqueous cream and its potential to make eczema worse when used as an emollient (although it’s fine when used as a soap substitute). E45 says it receives fewer than 10 complaints of a negative reaction per million users, compared to the 56% of people who reportedly experience aqueous cream as being ‘stingy’ or worsening the problem.

E45 skin specialist Dr Hewitt suggests starting on an emollient regime as soon as the redness starts. The more emollient used to lock in moisture, he says, the less need there will be for steroids which thin the skin and should never be used for more than two to three weeks at a time. He also recommends however, that no emollient should be used for more than one year. After a year, change emollient. However, don’t wait that long if a product or a regime does not work for your child.

The National Eczema Society has produced free downloadable packs for teachers and schools to better understand eczema and how it affects children
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has produced guidelines on dealing with childhood eczema.  It is a long read, but if you are a parent dealing with this, it is worthwhile.
The Against Child Eczema campaign Facebook site will have news and information that parents and health care professionals alike may find useful (I’ll post the link as soon as it is live).


At the event I received a duplicate set of E45 Bath Oil, Wash Cream and Lotion, which I’m giving away to a UK-based reader. Although the product is used for eczema it is also safe to use as a general cosmetic moisturiser.

To enter this giveaway, please leave a comment below. I will select a random winner on 19 March.

Although not prerequisite for entry to the giveaway, I’d be thrilled if you chose to become a follower of this website (see the widget in the sidebar) or signed up for the RSS feed.

If you are on Twitter please Tweet this information (and the previous post) to spread the message of hope and help to frustrated parents and suffering children, and to support the Against Childhood Eczema campaign.


Hayley! Please email me your address, and I shall post this off to you. Congratulations, and I hope it helps!

Thanks everyone for entering!

Uncomfortable Truths about Childhood Eczema

My mom suffers from eczema. Actually calling her skin condition eczema is like calling the Sistene Chapel a painting: somewhat of an understatement. I’ve been blessed to never suffer much from eczema myself, yet unfortunate enough to see the effects of it in its worst form. Whenever my daughter, Ameli, develops as much as a spot, my heart skips a beat and my stomach clenches and I watch the redness till it goes away, so afraid am I that this condition may have skipped a generation and passed on to her.

Read more: Uncomfortable Truths about Childhood Eczema