Books Books Books

Sharing Stories

Everyone loves a new story to share with their child and I often oi-doghave requests for some exciting and different book ideas, especially with  Christmas coming up. Another genius book based idea is a subscription to The Little Reading Club, who send the most beautifully packaged parcels full of books as often as you wish

Here are ten of the latest favourites in our household as well as suggestions from all our little learners. Happy reading!

  • Little Explorers range- mixed authors, excellent non fiction books
  • The Lion Inside by Rachel Bright
  • Pip and Posy Collection by Axel Scheffler outer-space
  • 10 Little Pirates/Princesses etc by M.Brownlow & S.Rickerty
  • How Big Was a Dinosaur? by A.Milbourne
  • Oi Dog! by K.Gray
  • Little Children’s Bedtime Music Book by F.Watt & W.Squillace
  • I Love You Blue Kangaroo by E.Chichester Clark
  • The Night Pirates by P.Harris
  • The Large Family Collection by J.Murphy



School Starters

School uniform is hanging neatly ironed, shiny school shoes waiting starting_school_200vfor their debut outing, book bag at the ready and nervous parents wondering how on earth the time has come for their darling four year old to start school? Not long now till the start of the academic year and little learners are expressing many different feelings about their impending ‘big school’ days. Most have probably been in some form of setting, whether it be full or part time and are therefore used to being apart from a parent. However a new school, with many new faces and routines can always cause a few very normal jitters from both children and their parents. To help you all along the way try sharing some of these lovely story books, which will help ease that transition.

Starting School Books: available at your local library, high street book shops or online at Amazon or The Book People.

  • Starting School by J&A.Ahlberg
  • Topsy and Tim Go to School by J&G Adamson
  • Do I Have to go to School by P.Thomas
  • Charlie Chick Goes to School by N.Denchfield
  • The Kissing Hand by A.Penn
  • The Things I Love About School by T.Moroney
  • Going to School by A.Civardi
  • Chu’s First Day of School by N.GaimanI am Too Absolutely Small for School by L.Child


Book Love

There is nothing better than getting lost into the fictional adventures book-time-2of a book, sadly not such an occurrence these days apart from the wonderful world of picture books! Master L and H both adore books and I am a huge fan of reading to both boys, as well as them having easy access to books at all times. All our delights go through the stage of choosing the same book every night before bed, which as much as we love reading, it does get rather dull for us, especially by that stage in the day! This week, I share our favourite books of the moment, which I hope inspires your book collection and gift ideas with some new characters, settings and stories. book-pile

  • Scaredy Cat! by D.Howarth & M.Joyce
  • Cops and Robbers by J&A.Ahlberg
  • Beautiful Bananas by E.Laird & L.Pichon
  • How to Hide a Lion by H.Stephens
  • Little One by J.Weaver
  • I Took the Moon for a Walk by C.Curtis & A.Jay
  • Sam who went to Sea by P.Root & A.Scheffler
  • Oh No, George! by C.Haughton
  • You’re Too Small! by S.Roddie & S.Lavis
  • The Giant Jumperee by J.Donaldson & H.Oxenbury

Does Pasta Grow on Trees?

Excuse the absence, my hands have been rather full welcoming Master H into the family. We are five months down the line and life is pretty busy with two boys in tow!

This post has been inspired by Master L who is currently fascinated mapsby where things come from and how things are made. The questions are endless and his three year old mind is not always fully satisfied by my answers! “How are our bodies made?” “Where does milk come from?” and “What is our house made from?” are a few of the latest examples. I hope the resources below aid your little learners inquisitive minds.

Books: Usborne have a superb collection of non fiction books and flashcards, written in a child friendly, colourful way with brilliant illustrations and diagrams. Their ‘Lift the Flap Questions and Answers’ range covering topics such as ‘the body,’ ‘animals’ and ‘the world’ I would highly recommend. Available at high street book shops as well as online. Approximately £9.99. books-group

Maps & Globes: excellent visual support for all those geographical questions, planning routes and making observations. Making maps is always a fun activity too. If you are looking for a child friendly maps book, look no further than the wonderful ‘Maps’ by A & D Mizielinska, approximately £15 from all high street book shops and online. The illustrations and information will keep your little learners entertained for many many years to come.

Do You Know?: a brilliant, very informative CBeebies show, which explains how and why things work. A firm favourite in our house at the moment.

Materials: exploring different materials in play is a fantastic way for children to understand how and why things are made from different things. Wood, plastic, fabric, metal etc are all great for investigating texture, strength, durability. Using different materials in construction activities can aid creative critical thinking skills from a very young age. A pile of junk, packaging, building blocks and sticks can all make a wonderful starting point.

Food: talk about where food comes from and how it’s grown really helps children’s interest in what they eat. New flavours and tastes are even more exciting when they come with a story!





Summer Learning

The holidays are well under way and I’m sure you aren’t being driven too crazy by all your little imagelearners quite yet! The summer holidays is traditionally very long and it is very common for children to have an educational ‘dip’ between finishing the summer term and starting their new academic year in September. There are many fun filled learning opportunities to encourage your child to keep their focus, concentration and learning brain alive as well as having a well earned rest this summer. These ideas are great for problem solving, critical thinking, independent learning, reading, writing, mathematical, fine and gross motor skills.

Outdoors: scavenger hunts, creating nature pictures, taking photographs of scenes, bug hunts, make an assault course, create a nature diary, explore new places, collect objects for a nature potion or flower petals for perfume, make and create a picnic, explore the many opportunities local National Trust properties have on offer for children this holiday.

Water Play: make bubbles, create a car/tractor/toy/dolly wash, use different objects for imagepouring/filling/collecting, create water shoots/slides for toys, experiment with floating and sinking objects, freeze small toys in ice blocks and then excavate them out.

Writing: use outdoor chalks, paints, sand, shells, seaside finds for name/word writing, write postcards to family, friends or godparents, create a holiday journal with leaflets, photos and memories, lists for packing, shopping lists, write instructions for making nature potions/perfume.

Reading: explore your local library, listen to story cd’s especially on long journeys, create a book together, sort through books and find stories you haven’t read for a while, look at recipe books, make up stories about places you visit, swap books with friends, set up a reading challenge, read maps and plan journeys, goo on a sound/letter/word hunt.

imageMaths: count objects,  make sand towers and count in 2’s, 5’s or 10’s, explore new recipes and make them, lay the table, count out objects ready for a picnic, shape hunts, sing number songs, make patterns with paint, shells, outdoor finds, go on a number hunt, label with numbers and fill containers with objects, play hide and seek for counting practise.

Other: dance, create songs, make musical instruments, try new foods, discover a new park/beach/place, enjoy a local pick your own, camp out in your garden, make a den, make a memory book, visit local events and attractions, try out a new sport and most of all have a super fun time.

Excuse the upcoming pause, Master L is about to become a big brother, but please keep following us, our ideas and activities, which will be updated as often as possible. 

Aiding Anxiety

Anxiety in children can be caused by many different factors and for many imagedifferent reasons. There are many articles out there on dealing with child anxiety and I’m not a child psychologist; however I often get asked my advice on how parents can help their children with certain situations in which anxiety is the underlying issue. From many years in the classroom and now as a parent, as well as being a very anxious youngster myself I have found many ways of helping aid a feeling that all children will have at some stage growing up. Anxiety can be caused for many reasons including change, new situations, leaving a loved one, a loss, over analysing, fear, failure, low self esteem etc. Below I share books, objects, television programmes and ways that have aided different levels of anxiety and I hope you find them useful if your little learner is anxious at any time.

Talking: Sharing feelings is something that should always be encouraged. Teaching children that it is ok to have both positive and negative feelings and how everyone has these feelings including grown ups often puts them at ease. For some children feelings such as anxiety may not easily go away and therefore teaching them how to deal with it is hugely important.  Asking questions about how and why they may have feelings may well provide lots of answers. Some children are reassured with warnings and talking through situations before they happen so they aren’t caught by surprise. If this is the case just remember that children may worry more if given too much notice, the element of time is very abstract so sometimes not too much warning is better. Children also may not need to know ‘all’ details of a situation, as again this can worrying them further. So the key is to strike a balance between timings, how much is shared and when is best to do it.

Role Modelling: As a parent we act as a constant role model to our children. If you act calmly and controlled in situations, children will often react in a similar manner.


  • Owl Babies, M.Waddell- brilliant for teaching children that parents do come back so perfect for a nursery or school starter.
  • The Huge Bag of Worries, V.Ironside- fabulous for encouraging children to talk about their worries.
  • A Pocketful of Kisses, A.McAllister- a very sweet story about starting school.
  • Topsy and Tim collection, J.Adamson- a brilliant collection of scenario style stories, such as going on an aeroplane, a new baby, going swimming etc.

Objects: Many classrooms may have a ‘worry box’ for children to post their worries into. These are fantastic for children to feel that they can express their feelings without actually telling anyone, so the sense of anonymity is there. Teachers are then able to plan for dealing with these worries. A friend recently told me about a very friendly looking ‘worry monster,’ which is a perfect way for children to put their worries into both written or orally and the monster eats them up:

Television: ‘My First’ is a Cbeebies programme aimed at pre-school aged children. It shows children in a new scenario such as going on holiday, going camping, having a haircut etc.

Read the Classics

The week is National Storytelling Week and I hope you’ve enjoyed sharing lots of stories with your little imagelearners. Recently I’ve had quite a few enquiries about appropriate books to read and share with more confident readers. I am a massive believer that no one is ever too old to enjoy a picture book; however sharing chapter books with your more established readers is hugely beneficial. Language and imagination develops hugely, which helps with story writing and creative ideas. Reading to your child role models to all ages how to read, through deliverance and sharing stories is such a pleasurable experience. Obviously each child’s reading develops at their own stage, but do not underestimate sharing a story, which is slightly more mature than their actual reading ability.  Below I recommend some of the endless all time classics for adults to read to their children on a regular basis. I fondly remember my father reading a few of these to us as a weekend treat!

Ages 5+ approx

  • R.Dahl: The Twits, Fantastic Mr Fox, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, James and the Giant Peach, The Giraffe and The Pelly and Me, The Magic Finger & Esio Trot
  • AA Milne: Winnie the Pooh
  • K.Grahame: The Wind in the Willows
  • C.S.Lewis: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe image
  • E.B.White: Charlotte’s Web
  • E.Nesbit: Five Children and It
  • J.Murphy: The Worst Witch collection
  • E.Blyton: The Famous Five collection, The Malory Towers collection
  • R.Crompton: Just William collection
  • H.Carpenter: Mr Majeika collection
  • S.Coolidge: What Katy Did collection
  • A.Lindgreen: Emil collection
  • J.Brown: Flat Stanley collection
  • H.Lofting: The Story of Doctor Dolittle
  • D.Smith: The 101 Dalmations

Ages 7+ approx

  • R.Dahl: The BFG, George’s Marvellous Medicine, The Witches, Danny the Champion on the World, Boy Tales of Childhood
  • J.K.Rowling: Harry Potter collection
  • M.Morpurgo: The Butterfly Lion, Private Peaceful, The Wreck of The Zanzibar, Shadow, Kensuke’s Kingdom & WarHorse
  • E.Blyton: The Magic Faraway Tree collection
  • A.Ransome: Swallows and Amazons
  • A.Lingreen: Pippi Longstocking
  • M.Norton: The Borrowers
  • L.Carroll: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
  • F.H.Burnett: The Secret Garden
  • P.Pearce: Tom’s Midnight Garden
  • A.Sewell: Black Beauty
  • L.M.Montgomery: Anne of Green Gables
  • R.L.Stevenson: Treasure Island
  • B.Jacques: Redwall series
  • L.I.Wilder: Little House on the Prairie collection

Bringing Stories Alive

Master L has always been very keen on books, stories and rhymes. He is now at the age where he is developing image favourite characters and certain books are very much loved. Bringing stories and rhymes alive can help children in many ways such as: feeding imaginations, being creative, aid story writing / story telling and understanding settings, characters, story structure and plot. This week we share easy ideas to help bring stories and rhymes alive for you to do with your little learners at home.

Character creation: make characters using junk modelling, natural resources such as leaves and sticks, play or clay.

Drama: act out scenes from stories, extend further with using props, set and dressing up costumes.

Puppets: make character puppets using paper plates, wooden spoons or simple finger puppets. You can then put on a puppet show.

Masks: make masks of your favourite characters. image

Outdoors: when out and about look for features that match or look like locations or settings from stories such as ‘a log pile house,’ or ‘Fantastic Mr Fox’s’ tunnel. Find natural resources which look like characters. We currently come home with a collection of ‘Stickmen’ from all our walks, which sadly for them always end up on the fire! This is great for encouraging small legs to walk further too!

Predicting and Variation: ask children to predict events and endings in stories. Creating new endings to rhymes or stories can be great fun for talking about and even acting out.

Story Maps: make a map marking out the main events of a story, children can add new settings, characters or events through pictures, words or both.

Theatre and Events: look out for performances of well known children’s stories at local theatres. Websites worth visiting are,,, and The Forestry Commission often have story trails, they currently have ‘Stickman’ trails in many of their forests nationwide, see to find your nearest event.

Local Library: your local library is an amazing (often free) resource for bringing stories alive. Check out sessions such as story telling, puppet shows or bounce and rhyme at your local library.

Festive Learning

After a super long term, the Christmas holidays are upon us. Exhausted and over excitable smallies can be a imagerecipe for disaster. This time of year is madly busy with visitors, family to see and often lots of travelling. Below we share some festive themed learning activities for you to enjoy as a family.

Reading: get relatives to read stories- new voices are always fun, let your child read to you, enjoy Christmas stories, listen to story cds, allow siblings/cousins etc to read to each other, read cards, read cracker jokes, read recipes and newspapers or magazines.

Writing: letters to Father Christmas, thank you letters for presents, shopping lists, name writing for place names, Christmas cards, menus, gift tags, write jokes for crackers or a holiday journal.

Maths: Christmas baking, count decorations, make Christmas patterns with colours, paint or stickers, laying the table, shape hunts, play adding and subtraction oral games, board games or sing number songs. image

Other thoughts: Christmas crafts, museum visits, explore local National Trust properties and their festive themes, visit Father Christmas,  make a photo journal, set up a Christmas themed competition, put on a play, play charades, collect greenery and make a wreath, research some Christmas traditions from around the world, make and try some Christmas food from a different culture, go carol singing, make a board game, junk modelling or den making using the many present boxes! Most importantly have fun and recharge your batteries for 2016.



Little Learning Seeds wishes you and your families all a very Happy Christmas.

We look forward to returning in the New Year with lots more inspiration.

Read with Me

Master L’s book collection was majorly added to this week, with boxes of immaculate hand me downs from a very generous friend with older children. He and I couldn’t be happier with all our new reading material. I’ve previously written all about the importance or providing a book rich world for children from a very young age. However I’ve had many enquiries recently about how best to support children’s learning when reading books and activities start coming home from nursery or school. Below I share ideas about how best to support your little learners when reading with them. Please just remember to enjoy diving into the wonderful imaginary worlds books provide us with.image

  • Encourage your child to choose books. Ones they would like to have read to them, or would like to read.
  • Discuss the title, author & illustrator. Very often the title contains tricky words or names from the book. You can introduce these to your child preparation for reading the text.
  • Give time to look at the pictures. Early readers use lots of picture clues to learn new words. Continue to allow plenty of time for looking at pictures before attempting the words. It is fun to do a ‘picture’ walk through the book and make some predictions about what may happen!
  • Run your finger under the words as you read. This helps reinforce the link between the words seen and heard. Encouraging children to follow the words with their fingers helps keep them on track.
  • Discuss different ways to decode an unknown word. Encourage your child to ‘have a go’ at an unknown word by talking about the different ways they may be able to solve it: breaking it down, sounding it out, looking for picture clues, recognising some sounds etc.
  • Talk about the text after reading. This helps check your child can understand what has happened and what has been read.
  • Stop. In the middle of the story and ask what might happen next.image
  • Ask your child’s opinion of the text. At the end, if he/ she liked it or not – and why?
  • Ask your child questions about the text. Aids comprehension skills.
  • Help your child with key words. High frequency words that appear very regularly in books are tricky and really effect the fluency. You can assist your child in learning them by heart with the use of flashcards and word games.
  • Keep it fun! Demonstrate a positive attitude to reading with your child and tell them you have enjoyed reading with them!