Saturday, 15 July 2017

Language Learning Part 1: Singing with Lingotastic

Over the next few weeks I'll be sharing a little about our language learning adventures and reviewing some of our favourite language resources with giveaways too! Learning languages at a young age can apparently boost brain power and increase memory but the main reason I decided to introduce languages to the Mini Reviewers was to promote a deeper understanding and awareness of different countries and cultures, which in today's diverse society seems increasingly important.

Sadly I am not a gifted linguist or an expert in language learning. However what I lack in skills, I make up for in sheer enthusiasm and I thought that by sharing our language learning journey from the start, it may encourage others to have a try. So what are you waiting for? Pick a language and here we go...

Getting started...

I speak a little German, albeit rather badly, so German still seemed the obvious choice of language for us to focus on.  As the Mini Reviewers are still getting to grips with English, the last thing I wanted to do was to confuse them completely, so our language learning journey has been an incredibly slow one with an emphasis on having fun and learning through play.

In my search for German resources, I came across Lingotastic. Lingotastic provide language classes in Bucks and Herts (UK), which is just a bit too far for us to travel but fortunately they also sell a CD of simple songs, which was just what we needed to get us started.

Mostly German CD from Lingotastic
I purchased The Mostly German CD at the beginning of the last school year and it quickly became a school run favourite and brightened up our morning routine. The Mostly German CD features, well you guessed it, songs in mostly German! However there is also some English, French, Spanish, Mandarin and even Esperanto too. Although the song lyrics aren't provided with the CD, these can be easily downloaded from the Lingotastic website.

There are nine surprisingly catchy tunes on the CD. Some of them are extremely familiar, for example Die Raeder am Bus (The wheels on the bus) and Blinke, blinke, kleiner Stern (Twinkle, twinkle little star). But our favourites are definitely Alle meine Entchen (All my little ducklings) and Gruen, gruen, gruen (Green, green, green), which is the perfect song for learning the colours. Bringing the songs to life with puppets or actions is definitely recommended but perhaps not during the school run!

This fun CD has been the perfect starting point for our language learning journey and I am sure it is something we will return to over and over again. The Lingotastic website has lots more tips for language learning and YouTube videos too.


The Mostly German CD can be purchased through the Lingotastic website for £10 plus postage and you can receive a 10% DISCOUNT until end of July 2017 by quoting LINGOKate. 

I also have a copy to giveaway below:

Lingotastic Mostly German CD Giveaway

Our next language learning post will focus on 
but in the meantime, we would love to hear about your language learning adventures. 
Please share your tips, games or favourite resources below...

Language books from One Third Stories

*This is not a sponsored post and all opinions are, as always our own.
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Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Five Favourite New Books for 2017

Hello July! The first six months of 2017 seem to have whizzed by and the summer holidays are quickly approaching, so I thought it was about time I shared a round up of some of the amazing new picture books that have been released so far this year. Perhaps it will even inspire you to pick up a new book this summer...

These fantastic five books have all been published in the first half of 2017 and, in the interest of full disclosure, we have been lucky to receive some from kindhearted publicists but others we have simply stumbled upon in the library - it's quite an eclectic mix!

We're All Wonders written and illustrated by R.J. Pallacio and published by Puffin.

This heartwarming picture book features Auggie, the hero of Pallacio's bestselling book Wonder. As I'm such a huge fan of the original Wonder, I was concerned that Pallacio's picture book may be a bit of a disappointment. However, I needn't have worried, Pallacio has produced yet another incredibly special book and this time she makes Auggie's story accessible to an even younger audience. For those of you who are not familiar with Wonder, Auggie is not an ordinary kid. Although he does ordinary things, he looks a little different from other kids. He understands that he cannot change how he looks but hopes people can change the way they see. This book promotes the importance of kindness and is a beautiful celebration of our uniqueness. It reinforces the message that We're All Wonders and, as a mum of three little wonders, this book is a must read for all.

Inspector Brunswick: The Case of the Missing Eyebrow written and illustrated by Angela Keoghan and Chris Lam Sam and published by Tate Gallery Publishing.

There's a mystery to solve at the art museum, something's gone missing from the Admiral's portrait but there's no need to panic as Inspector Brunswick is on the case and with his top hat and magnifying glass he looks the part too! This story follows Inspector Brunswick and his side kick Nelson as they follow the clues to track down the Admiral's missing eyebrow. Just when they think they've solved the mystery, there's a bit of a twist! This book is full of humour and quirky illustrations but we can't say too much more as we don't want to spoil it for you!

My New Room by Lisa Stickley and published by Pavilion.

If your little one is moving to a new room, a big bed or even a new house, this book is well worth a read. Join Edith and her array of toys as they move into their new room together. Each toy has it's special place to sit and role to play to ensure Edith settles in. The vintage-inspired collage illustrations capture the personality of each character perfectly, This is a really fun book to read aloud, with lots of different voices of course!

Goldilocks and the Three Potties written and illustrated by Leigh Hodgkinson and published by Nosy Crow.

In this story a very little Goldilocks is looking for pants and a potty that are just right! Will she find them? And will she get to grips with potty training? This brilliantly illustrated book really gave the Mini Reviewers the giggles. They found Goldilocks' potty possibilities (a teacup and a welly) very funny indeed. Leigh's illustrations are bright and expressive and really capture the imagination. I particularly like the fact that Goldilocks keeps trying and eventually gets potty training just right! This really is a fantastic take on the traditional Goldilocks tale and although it may not solve your potty training dilemmas (can any book?!), it certainly adds a little fun to what is otherwise a pretty soggy experience! 

Marie Curie written by Isabel Sanchez Vegara, illustrated by Frau Isa and published by Frances Lincoln Children's Books.

This beautiful book is part of the Little People, BIG DREAMS series and is our non-fiction choice for the first half of 2017. With simple text and engaging illustrations, this series is perfect to introduce young children to the inspiring stories of some of the most outstanding people that have ever lived. This new book outlines the lengths Marie Curie went to to secure her education and celebrates the discoveries that she made explaining how they have helped future generations. At the end of the book there is a detailed fact section with a timeline and photographs. This series is great for both girls and boys and show that with hard work and perseverance, incredible things can come from a childhood dream.

We recently featured the series in our top five books on female heroes:

Have you discovered any fantastic new books this year? 
Please do share your recommendations below!

*This post contains affiliate links.

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Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Mandy & Mitch and the Big Brave Boots - Review and Giveaway

Mandy & Mitch and the Big Brave Boots is the debut picture book from Little Boot Books.  It has been written by Alison Hanson and illustrated by Samantha Theobald-Roe. The team at Little Boot Books hope to create a series of stories for little readers that tackle big ideas and their first book explores the feelings of worry and anxiety. Here's the blurb...
Mitch loves Mandy Mondays, but not even his best friend can stop the worry in his tummy from bubbling out of control. As Mitch's worry bubbles grow stronger, Mandy knows that she must help her friend to pop those worries once and for all...but how?
Mandy and Mitch invite readers everywhere into the complex world of early emotional development. Exploring feelings of worry and anxiety, this book's visceral imagery provides a resource for storytelling, conversation and play. So dive in, boots first!
The story uses worry bubbles to explain to little ones how we all worry from time to time and there are useful discussion prompts available on the Little Boot Books website. At the beginning of the story Mitch is left by his mummy at his friend's house. Mitch becomes anxious and the worry bubbles start to build up inside him. I shared this book with Mini Reviewer, Theo, who is 3. He immediately understood how Mitch might feel if his mummy left him and we went on to talk about how he feels when he is worried.

The story then shows how Mitch's friend, Mandy is feeling. She is clearly fed up as Mitch won't play with her. Mandy's daddy advises her that she should try and put herself in Mitch's shoes, which confuses Mandy. We discussed the meaning of this saying and talked about how Mandy could help Mitch before we continued with the story.

As Mandy is unable to fit into Mitch's shoes, she puts on her Brave Boots (her wellies) and tries all sorts of things to burst Mitch's worry bubbles. Eventually Mandy realises that Mitch needs to share his worries with her. We talked about what it means to share a worry and why this can help. Together, Mandy and Mitch are able to pop and blow the rest of bubbles away and they go on to play for the rest of the day.

We enjoyed sharing this book together. I particularly liked the use of worry bubbles to explain  and visually show how anxiety can bubble up and become out of control. The book made a good conversation starter and I found the discussion prompts on the Little Boot Books website helpful. As a Welly fan, Theo loved the idea of popping bubbles in his own Big Brave Boots so maybe this is something we should try!
Credit: Little Boot Books
If you would like to get your hands on a paperback copy of this book, why not enter the giveaway at the end of this post? If you do not win, do not panic, Mandy & Mitch and the Big Brave Boots is available now from Amazon: £5.99 (paperback) £2.99 (kindle) £0.99 (audio book). There are also activity ideas available on the Little Boot Books website.

*Disclaimer: We received a copy of this book for the purpose of review. All opinions are as always our own.

Mandy & Mitch Book Giveaway