Premier League Primary Stars

You may have spotted a new TV advert pop up during some prime time TV over the last few days. Every time I hear it it makes me prick my ears up.

Try, try, try again.

The Premier League have never advertised on TV before, let’s face it – they don’t really need to do they? We all know who they are and what they do.

But this is different.

This isn’t about football.  This is about our children.  About their education.  About inspiring our future generations.

Premier League Primary Stars - Teho Walcott reading with school children

The Premier League have launched a new project called Primary Stars and believe me when I say they are putting their heart and soul into this (and a whole lot of money). When we asked Premier League Executive Chairman, Richard Scudamore why they were doing this he replied ‘because we can’.  And he’s right isn’t he?  The Premier League commands a lot of attention and an enormous amount of respect on an international level and if they can use this influence for the good of our children then it’s a winner isn’t it?

Premier League Primary Stars is designed to use the appeal of the Premier League and professional football clubs to capture the attention of children and inspire them to learn, be active and develop important life skills.  The Primary Stars programme isn’t just about sport.  In fact it provides free downloadable teaching materials for English and Maths as well as PSHE and PE, there’s even resources for assemblies.

The Premier League Primary Stars programme has been developed in partnership with primary school teachers and subject experts to create inspirational National Curriculum-linked resources.  As a teacher the idea of being able to dip in and out of the Primary Stars programme at will is really appealing!  They’re not suggesting that you give your entire school a football-obsessed focus, more that you can pick and choose the bits you need to suit your class.  Let’s face it, not every child in your class will love football but plenty of them will.  And if you can enthuse those children about maths with the help of some footballs stats or turn around a reluctant reader with the right book then why wouldn’t you?

Premier League Primary Stars - chatting with Rachel Riley and Gabby Logan

At the Premier League Primary Stars launch last week, I had the pleasure of meeting Gabby Logan, Cressida Cowell (author of ‘How to Train your Dragon’, Rachel Riley (mathematical genius of Countdown fame), Dan Freedman (author of ‘Jaime Johnson’ series) who chatted enthusiastically about the Primary Stars programme and their own involvement in this project.

There’s there’s no such thing as a kid who can’t be excited about reading, they just haven’t found the right book yet.

Cressida Cowell

Cressida spoke passionately about the need to get our children reading for pleasure.  She explained that there’s a lot of competition for their attention and so many things are easier than reading – sitting down in front of a film, playing video games – but that if we can relate books to film or football we might just catch their attention.  Cressida has been heavily involved in the selection of books which go into the Premier League Primary Stars “book boxes” which are to be given to over 500 schools for FREE when they register with the programme.

Rachel’s love of maths was clear when she spoke of the need to make maths cool.  Maths can be scary and people panic but we need to stop it being ok to be rubbish at maths.  We want our children to be proud of being good at maths.  As a primary school teacher myself I know how important it is to give maths context.  How many times do you remember thinking “Why the hell am I learning this?  When am I ever going to need it in real life?”.  Rachel spoke of the “real life word problems” which are rarely “real life” and how football can tap into this – there’s so much maths to be found in football from league tables to accuracy ratios and time management.

Local deputy head, Henry Commander also shared his experience of working with the Premier League Primary Stars resources in his own classroom and described the way that seeing a respected Premier League footballer on the smart-board made the kids sit up and take notice.  It didn’t matter that they were saying exactly the same thing as Mr Commander himself, suddenly it was cool and they wanted to listen.  He explained the way the each Primary Stars resource begins with a video – which can be a great hook to get kids concentrating and interested – and that, in the pupils’ eyes the footballs stars give credibility to what is being taught.

Premier League Primary Stars - Juan Mata in the classroom

The Premier League are going hard on this epic community programme and have set themselves the bold target of connecting with 10,000 schools in the next two years!  If you want to help your school to access the free to download lesson plans, activities and video content then make sure you mention the programme to you child’s teacher as well as nominating them here.  I’m pleased to say that I spoke to the Deputy Head at my own children’s school last Friday morning and by the time I went to pick Ben up that afternoon the school was already signed up!

*This is a collaborative post*

Tried & Tested Tuesday (Week 13 – 2017)

If you’re on Easter holidays this week like us, then hurrah! Enjoy the sunshine and lie ins!  If you’re still stuck at work and school for a bit longer then keep your chin up – the bank holiday is on the horizon!

In case you are new here – let us tell you what Tried & Tested is all about. We all know how useful reviews can be. Most bloggers do them – be it things they have bought themselves or have been asked to review. They are a useful tool for people looking for honest and thorough reviews of products they need, things they are considering buying, or even to introduce people to exciting new products they have never even heard of. You can find out more about how to join in here.

If you have linked up with us before – welcome back! We love having you. Please have a quick read through the points below to remind yourself how things are working:

* Tried & Tested is open on Tuesday – from 8am to midnight on the same day.

* We’d love to share your post on Twitter – please tweet us your link (@Lollinski & @FamilyFever) along with the #TriedTested hashtag and we’ll retweet that for you.

* If you’d like a Twitter reminder each week when the linky is open then please drop one of us a tweet and we’ll add you to the list.

* Each week we feature our two favourite reviews from the past week and we have a super special “featured blogger” badge! If you are this week’s featured blogger we will send you over the code which we would love you to add to you blog post or sidebar!

That’s about it – it’s super simple to join in, so crack on, link up and share some commenty love – let’s face it, that’s what makes linkys work.

This week we have loved:

The Queen of Collage goes off grid with The Bush Craft Company.

Real Mum Reviews shares a gorgeous Hungry Caterpillar themed craft set.

We don’t have lots of rules for #TriedTested however the ones we do have are really important:

* Please do make sure you visit your hosts Family Fever and We’re going on an adventure to leave a comment on the posts we have each linked up
* Try to comment on a couple of other posts as well if you can – we know that people really appreciate the feedback!
* We do ask that you link a maximum of 2 posts each week to keep things fair for everyone – if you choose to link up an extra post please make sure you visit extra posts in the linky to balance it out. (Additional or irrelevant posts will be deleted out of fairness.)
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Me & Mine – March 2017

I’m a little late with this month’s Me & Mine – mainly because I had planned to take some photos at my parents’ house over my birthday weekend but didn’t get round to it then with a crazy busy week work-wise it was suddenly the end of the month and I had no post written!  Whoops.

Luckily, whilst I was getting ready to film a vlog a couple of weeks ago, we all pilled in front of the camera and took a few selfies which pretty much sum up the silliness and noise that is our household at present . . .

Every time I look at this set of photos I’m struck by how many people there are.  I know that sounds a bit ridiculous really but honestly, look how big our family looks – both in number and physical size!  You’d be amazed how often people ask us if we’re going to have any more children, as though once you’ve broken the “norm” of two, you might as well keep going.  But no.  Three is most definitely our number.

We’ve had some lovely quality time together through March celebrating my birthday and Mother’s Day and we’re really looking forward to our first trip of the year next week – keep an eye on our social media channels to see what we get up to, it’s not our usual kind of trip!!

The Me and Mine Project

A birthday day out in Whitby

A trip to Whitby has been on my seasonal bucket lists for as long as I’ve been writing them.  Yet, until this weekend, I hadn’t been for five years.

Living in Manchester means that we are far closer to the West coast – to Blackpool, Southport or Lytham St Annes.  All places I love to visit for different reasons but none of which really feel like I’m properly at the seaside.  Each year Mich and I take the kids to Lytham for the day and we have a lovely time playing on the sand but there’s no paddling to be done as the sea is literally miles out.  In fact, it’s often so far out you can hardly see it.

It’s different on the East coast – Whitby, Filey and Scarborough are the seaside towns of my childhood and when I think of a day out at the seaside, these are the places that spring to mind.  I’ve been a couple of times with Ben and Chloe but not so as they would remember – the last trip had been on Mother’s Day five years ago – it coincided with Dave’s Stag Do so Mum & I took ourselves off to Whitby for the day with Ben and Chloe.  But, for one reason or another we just hadn’t been back since.

Mum & kids in Whitby

Granny & Amy in Whitby

Boxer puppy in Whitby

Daddy & Ben in Whitby

I decided that, rather than us all going out for lunch for my birthday as we often do, I fancied a trip to Whitby for a wander and to finally introduce Dave to the infamous Magpie fish and chips.  As luck would have it, the weather was flipping glorious.  To be able to wander by the coast with no coat on was about as good as I could have hoped for!  Of course the downside of the bright blue skies and warm sunshine was that the world and his wife had also descended on Whitby for the day!

The kids were all super excited when they realised we were going to the seaside and had to be reined in a bit that this wasn’t a sandcastles and paddling kind of adventure but they thoroughly enjoyed exploring Whitby with it’s little cobbled streets and swing bridge (which we were lucky enough to see opening).  I think the highlight of the day for the three of them was sitting on the rocks near the lighthouse and watching the waves rolling in.  The rest of the water seemed really calm but in this particular corner they were crashing noisily onto the rocks and the three of them were so excited to spot which ones would make a huge splash and which would come to nothing.  I realised this isn’t something they’d experienced before as their seaside days have been fairly limited.  Something I shall aim to rectify this summer!

Watching the waves crashing onto the rocks in Whitby

Waves splashing in Whitby

Of course no trip to the seaside would be complete without fish & chips and an ice cream would it!  I’ve been raving about Magpie chips to Dave for years and worried that, after making him queue up for ages, that they might actually turn out to be a bit rubbish.  Thankfully that wasn’t the case and in actual fact they were even more delicious than I had remembered – perhaps as a result of the fact we were all starving!  You can’t beat eating your fish (or sausage in my case) and chips out of the wrapper by the sea can you?

Amy and Grandad in Whitby

Girls eating chips from The Magpie Cafe, Whitby

Donkey rides on the beach in Whitby

Chloe's first donkey ride of the year in Whitby

Little girl enjoying a 99 ice cream in Whitby

I won’t be leaving it another five years before we return Whitby I can promise you that!

Pink Avoidance

When I was pregnant with Chloe, I remember telling people she wouldn’t be wearing pink. It’s not that I was taking some sort of dramatic feminist stance or  making a trendy gender neutral statement . . . I just don’t like pink.

When it comes to buying clothes (or shoes, or toys or anything for that matter) pink seems to be the ‘go to’ colour for girls and I’m really not a fan. It’s often not just the colour but the fussy, frilly style that seems to come with pink as standard.

People told me I wouldn’t last, that I’d soon give in and end up buying pink for my girls but if I’m honest I think that just made me dig my heels in harder!  It was probably more challenging when the girls were really little, I didn’t like to put them in pretty newborn dresses tending to sway to the more practical sleepsuits or leggings – all the more so once they started crawling.   (I think from the age of 6 months to just past 1 year old, dresses are a right old pain for little girls, they just get stuck under their knees when they’re trying to crawl don’t they!)  I won’t deny being frustrated on occasion by people assuming I had a little boy in my pushchair just because they weren’t wearing pink, but if I’m honest it just gave me all the more reason to stick to my guns.

Outfit from Mayoral

Little girl and boxer dog

Of course as my girls get older, they like to have more say in what they are wearing and we all know that I’m running the risk of the pair of them coming home at 14 dressed in head to toe Barbie pink don’t we . . .  but in the meantime it’s something of an unwritten rule that Mummy doesn’t buy pink clothes.  Neither of them would really think to pick up pink if we were out shopping – perhaps I’ve brainwashed them – but that doesn’t mean they don’t love a girly detail.  From frills to sparkles, lace or all out glitter, it’s still entirely possible to be girly whilst not wearing pink.

They’re both obsessed with wearing dresses, Chloe more so than Amy but she’s soon learning to follow in her big sisters footsteps and insisting that she wants to wear a dress more times than not.  This can be challenging as kids’ dresses are not always practical are they – or at least not the ones Chloe wants to be wearing!

Refusing to buy pink clothes for my girls often means I often cut out huge swathes of a shop but that’s not necessarily a bad thing – sometimes reducing the options makes life much easier!  It also means that the girls have fairly staple colours in their wardrobes (hello navy!) so things are more likely to co-ordinate – both within their own outfits and with each other (though this isn’t usually intentional).  If only my own clothes were like this . . .  (in fact, being honest I do have massive wardrobe envy most of the time – I’m always buying them clothes I’d love to be able to wear myself!)

*Chloe’s outfit was provided by Mayoral for the purposes of this post*

Tried & Tested Tuesday (Week 12 – 2017)

#TriedTested badge

Did you enjoy the sunshine this weekend? I can’t tell you how pleased I was to be able to get some washing on the line!

In case you are new here – let us tell you what Tried & Tested is all about. We all know how useful reviews can be. Most bloggers do them – be it things they have bought themselves or have been asked to review. They are a useful tool for people looking for honest and thorough reviews of products they need, things they are considering buying, or even to introduce people to exciting new products they have never even heard of. You can find out more about how to join in here.

If you have linked up with us before – welcome back! We love having you. Please have a quick read through the points below to remind yourself how things are working:

* Tried & Tested is open on Tuesday – from 8am to midnight on the same day.

* We’d love to share your post on Twitter – please tweet us your link (@Lollinski & @FamilyFever) along with the #TriedTested hashtag and we’ll retweet that for you.

* If you’d like a Twitter reminder each week when the linky is open then please drop one of us a tweet and we’ll add you to the list.

* Each week we feature our two favourite reviews from the past week and we have a super special “featured blogger” badge! If you are this week’s featured blogger we will send you over the code which we would love you to add to you blog post or sidebar!

That’s about it – it’s super simple to join in, so crack on, link up and share some commenty love – let’s face it, that’s what makes linkys work.

This week we have loved:

#TriedTested featured blogger

This positive discipline course review from Hacking Parenthood. A lovely, gentle way to get some advice in the parenting minefield!

#TriedTested featured blogger

Hunkemoller Wellness Collection review from The Hearty Life. We loved the look of everything, from the products to the labelling!

We don’t have lots of rules for #TriedTested however the ones we do have are really important:

* Please do make sure you visit your hosts Family Fever and We’re going on an adventure to leave a comment on the posts we have each linked up
* Try to comment on a couple of other posts as well if you can – we know that people really appreciate the feedback!
* We do ask that you link a maximum of 2 posts each week to keep things fair for everyone – if you choose to link up an extra post please make sure you visit extra posts in the linky to balance it out. (Additional or irrelevant posts will be deleted out of fairness.)
We're going on an adventure



Afternoon Sleeps {Ordinary Moments}

After over seven years, I fear the afternoon sleeps are finally on their way out.

Afternoon sleeps have been my sanity.  My chance to get things done.  My chance to catch up on Phillip and Holly on This Morning.  Or my chance to just be quiet and not have to speak to anyone for a bit.

I’ve always counted myself lucky that each of my children have continued their afternoon snooze well into toddlerhood.  I’m sure my Mum has said in the past that I pretty much gave up sleeping in the afternoon the day she brought my little sister home and I was about 20 months old then.

Amy is now getting on for 3 and a half.  At the same age, Ben and Chloe were already attending Nursery at school five mornings a week.  I don’t think either of them were having afternoon sleeps then but I do remember that Chloe would basically veg in front of the TV once she’d eaten her lunch until it was time to pick up Ben.  I remember when Ben came close to giving up his afternoon sleep, I re-branded it as “A Quiet Play” and would pop him in his room for half an hour or so to play quietly by himself.  More often than not I would find he went to sleep anyway!

As it stands Amy does two full days at playgroup so obviously doesn’t sleep on those days, and quite often will miss a sleep on a weekend if we’re out and about.  We’re reaching a stage where nine times out of ten she insists she doesn’t want a sleep, and at least half of those I will know she jolly we does.  Sometimes I don’t give her a choice; if we’ve been swimming or if I know it’s the only chance she’ll get for a few days.  Other times we make a judgement together based on her mood.  If she’s grumpy she has to go to bed, if she’s happy she can stay up and we’ll do something together.  She has a similar arrangement with her childminder now on a Wednesday afternoon whereby Ange often gives her the choice – and sometimes she has the foresight to realise for herself that a good kip would be the way forward (like yesterday afternoon for example where she apparently had the best part of a two hours and had to be woken in time for the school run!)

I know the days are numbered.  Soon it won’t even be a question whether she goes for a sleep in the afternoon or not.  The dozing will be restricted to those car journeys where she just couldn’t keep her eyes open any longer or the days where she’s poorly.  Afternoon sleeps will no longer be a part of our routine.  My baby girl is growing up.

The Ordinary Moments

Teaching my boy to swear

My boy will be eight this summer.  He knows two swear words apparently (f*ck & f*ckers in case you’re wondering).  He has also learned to make two rude gestures with his hands… (both involving his fingers).

I’m proud that at seven and a half that’s as far as Ben’s knowledge of swear words goes… Although Dave & I both swear on occasion, we never (or almost never) do it in front of the kids.  After working with children for more than half my life, I have a fairly innate ability to keep my language appropriate around little ears.

However, as Ben gets older, I’m realising he’s reaching a point where he can’t really be sheltered from bad language anymore and that in fact he probably needs to know ‘rude words’ so that when he does hear them in songs, or the playground or anywhere else, that he knows what they mean and not to repeat them himself.

Being able to modify your language choices according to who you are talking to is an important speaking and listening skill – knowing that some words are slang and wouldn’t be used in your classroom or writing, or that you should speak differently to your headteacher in a different way to your mates at playtime is all part of the learning process.

Ben has had a fairly impressive grasp of the English language from the start – using and understanding sarcasm before he was even three and absorbing new, ‘grown up’ words like ‘penultimate’ like a sponge.

Of course I don’t want to add a massive list of profanities to his ever expanding vocabulary but tonight we chatted about how there’s a time and a place for swearing. That Grandad or Daddy might swear in the pub with their mates or that Mich swore when someone crashed into the car when we were going out for the day. But, that if you swear for no reason then those words lose their strength. They become pointless.

I still wince when I hear Chris Moyles use words like crap or arse on the radio and I remember debating with Dave over whether ‘knackered’ was ok to say in front of the kids. None of these are words I would accept in my classroom but are certainly far less offensive now than they were when we were kids.

I remember my Grandma being utterly horrified when me or Nic used the word ‘fart’ once, she told us it was ‘taboo’… I had to go and look up both words in the dictionary. I would have been about ten I think. Of course the word fart is now common place – just ask the Minions!

So, no I’m not teaching Ben to swear but I am going to make sure he has a good grasp of appropriate language.

37 Things I’ve Learned

It’s my birthday.  Whoo.  I’m thirty-flipping-seven years old today.  A good friend of mine from primary school turned 37 last Friday and when I wished her Happy Birthday she replied with “We’re nearly 40 now!“.  No.  No we’re not.  Wash your mouth out love.

Except we kind of are.

40 is not that far away now.

I don’t mind I suppose.  Getting older doesn’t bother me in that I’m really content with where my life is and the things I’ve achieved.  I think what does bother me is the speed at which time is slipping away.  The birthdays come round quicker every year.

In honour of my 37th birthday I’m sharing with you 37 things I’ve learned during my time on the earth:

  1. Buy cheap, buy twice
  2. You can only spend it once
  3. You will end up turning into your parents (and that’s not a bad thing)
  4. I’m not good at being drunk
  5. Hangovers aren’t worth it
  6. I can’t use fake tan
  7. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is
  8. Don’t waste your time on one-sided friendships
  9. Mushrooms are the work of the devil
  10. Manners cost nothing
  11. Being nice will get you a long way in life
  12. Sarcasm might be the lowest form of wit but it makes me laugh
  13. Your skin will age faster than you think
  14. Take the time to stay in touch with people who matter
  15. There’s ‘a rat’ in separate – I spelt it wrong for years!
  16. Always protect your “No Claims Discount”
  17. Washing dried on the line is the nicest thing ever
  18. Learning to touch-type is a ridiculously useful skill
  19. Tooth ache sucks
  20. People can’t spell Colette
  21. You can’t beat live music
  22. Comparison is the thief of all joy
  23. Building work always takes longer than you think
  24. There’s more to life than teaching
  25. Google is your friend
  26. You will miss your perky boobs when they’re gone!
  27. I love recording our memories
  28. Honesty is the best policy
  29. Diet coke isn’t a good substitute for water
  30. Wine is horrible
  31. Gin isn’t
  32. Good lipstick is worth spending money on
  33. How to get blu-tac out of hair
  34. Slugs are impossible to get rid of if they decide to live in your house
  35. Taking time for yourself isn’t selfish, it’s necessary
  36. The internet and procrastination are the best of friends
  37. Having kids was the making of me

I am sure I have learned plenty more over the course of my lifetime – most of which I’ve forgotten already – but these are the ones that spring to mind this morning.  Here’s to another 37 years of learning . . .

Lacing Letters from Learning Resources – Review

Learning Resources have been on my radar for more years than I care to remember – pretty much since the start of my teaching career I think and we don’t need to talk about how long ago that was *ahem*.  Learning Resources products are commonplace in classrooms – providing fun, quality resources to support teaching and learning.  But, they’re not just for school!  In fact we have several of their products at home already.

The most recent addition to our Learning Resources collection is a tub of Lacing Letters.  A tub of ‘sounds’ (or graphemes to give them their technical term) which can be threaded onto laces to create words.  Now this isn’t just a standard set of letters – this particular tub contains sounds from Phases Two and Three of Letters and Sounds.  (‘Phonics’ is taught in “phases” which means that sounds are taught in a specific order and the Phase Two and Phase Three sounds are taught fairly early on in your child’s phonics education).

Learning Resources Lacing Letters - graphemes

If I’m honest I don’t actually know what Phase Chloe is on now, but I would think she’s somewhere along Phase 5 (and getting ready for her Year 1 Phonics Screening Check – but that’s another post entirely!)  When I gave Chloe the tub of Lacing Letters to have a play with, the first word she decided to spell was mountain which she must have been learning at school that week – otherwise it’s a really random choice!

Writing words with Lacing Letters from Learning Resources

Learning Resources Lacing Letters - writing names

She quickly realised that she needed to thread the letters on the the other way to normal so as to avoid writing her word backwards!  And we chatted a bit about making sure the letters were positioned the right way round too.

Threading Learning Resources Lacing Letters

The letters (or graphemes) are easy to handle and the threading laces benefit from a nice long tip meaning that Amy was perfectly able to thread the letters on for the sake of a fine motor skills activity working alongside her big sister!

The yellow laces have a long tip - Learning Resources Lacing Letters

The Lacing Letters tub contains 12 laces and four of of each grapheme making it ideal for small group work in a classroom situation – there’s also a little leaflet inside with some suggestions for activities if you’re lacking in inspiration!

At over £20 for the tub I would suggest they are probably a bit of an expensive investment to have at home when your child will quickly progress beyond Phase Three (though as Chloe proves, they are still useful further down the line) but for classroom use they’re fab!

*We were sent the Learning Resources Lacing Letters free of charge for the purposes of review however all thoughts and opinions remain our own*