By Small Talk Speech Pathology

Saturday, 31 December 2011

New Years Eve Fun ~for the little people in your life~

Happy New Years Eve dear readers. Whether your little ones will be in bed long before the 9pm fireworks for fighting every long blink until midnight, finding some magical activities for the special night can make it memorable evening for the whole family. 

Play At Home Mom have some fantastic ideas for adventures in the dark.

One of my favourites is this great idea of putting glow sticks inside balloons before blowing them up, turning off the lights and watching them come alive.

Play At Home Mom

If your little ones will be going to bed early, why not turn their regular bath time into a magical experience by adding glow sticks as bath time toys.
Play At Home Mom

Or make your own Glow Xylophone by filling glasses with different levels of water before adding glow stick bracelets.
Play At Home Mom
Note: If you store the glow sticks in the freezer after using them, they will last several nights.

What ever you find to do tonight, I hope it is a magical night for all.

Thanks to the wonderful ladies over at Play At Home Mom for their brilliant inspiration, and a bigger thank you to all of you who have supported From The Heart Up in 2011.

Wishing you all love, health, joy and prosperity for 2012!

Love, Lauren and Vanessa

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Handmade Paper Stars

Get the kids involved in some messy play Christmas craft courtesy of Family Fun!

  • 3 (9- by 12-inch) sheets of construction paper
  • Blender
  • Very hot water
  • Folded cloth towel
  • Plate
  • 3-inch star-shaped cookie cutter
  • Sieve
  • Glitter
  • Rag
  • Baking sheet
  • Ribbon loops
  1. Tear 3 (9- by 12-inch) sheets of construction paper into small pieces, about the size of a domino, and place them in a blender. Pour in about 1 1/2 cups of very hot water and let it sit for 5 minutes. Meanwhile put a folded cloth towel on a plate, add a paper towel and top with a 3-inch star-shaped cookie cutter.
  2. Heat the oven to 200 degrees. Pulse the blender until the mix is pulpy, about 30 seconds. Ina sieve set over the sink, drain the pulp, then spoon some into the cookie cutter to the top, taking care to fill the points. Have the kids help with this part. They will love getting their hands dirty and you can work on some messy play describing words such as "squishy" "mushy" "yuck" "gooey". Sprinkle with glitter. Use a rag to press the pulp down into the cookie cutter until most of the water is gone, then gently push the star out onto a baking sheet. Repeat to make two more stars.
  3. Bake them for 2 hours or until the moisture has evaporated (they should be firm and lightweight). Let the stars cool, the glue ribbon loops to the backs for hanging. Makes 3 stars.

Thanks to Family Fun for the wonderful inspiration.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Printable Christmas Writing Set

Head over to the delightful Picklebums blog and download this lovely Christmas Letter Writing Set for those last minute letters to Santa. 

Download Here

A big thanks to Picklebums for the lovely printables. 

Lauren x

Christmas Tree Sewing Activity

Christmas Tree Sewing Via Childhood 101

To Make: 
1. Cut a triangle from the plastic canvas.
2. Add a preschooler, relatively blunt needle, embroidery thread and sequins!
3. Target vocabulary words such as 'through' 'push' 'pull' 'thread' 'tie' as your child sews sequins onto their very own Christmas tree.

Thanks to Childhood 101 for the lovely inspiration.

Love Lauren x

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Teaching Kids Gratitude + A note of thanks from STSP

By Woman's Day | Moments Of Motherhood – Wed, Dec 1, 2010 7:28 PM EST
By Lisa Jones

Teaching your children to say "thank you" is only half the battle. It's equally as important to teach them to be thankful. By helping kids recognize the positive aspects of life-like sharing their favorite things to appreciating a kind gesture-they will find deeper meaning in their day-to-day experiences. Read on for little activities you can do with your children to help them grow into grateful, satisfied and optimistic adults.

Ages 3-7
Every night before bedtime, ask your child: "What were your five favorite things today?" says Jeffrey Froh, PsyD, director of The Laboratory for Gratitude in Youth at Hofstra University. Though younger children don't fully grasp the concept of gratitude, simply starting a habit that helps them notice good things in their lives conditions them to become more positive.

Ages 8 to 10
Kids at this age are just beginning to understand feelings of appreciation, so it's important to explain a kind gesture to your child clearly, suggests Dr. Froh. "If a relative or friend does something kind for your kid, help him understand the thoughtful nature of the gesture and how it made his life better." For example, say, "That was nice of Grandma to take the time to bake you a cake for your birthday. And, look, it's chocolate-your favorite."

Read uplifting true stories about kind deeds done by strangers.
Ages 11 to 13
Give your child a camera and tell her to take photos of the things she's most grateful for over the course of a week. Print the pictures and make a collage on a poster or bulletin board. In Dr. Froh's 2007 two-week study of sixth- and seventh-graders, those who wrote a daily list of things they were thankful for showed increased optimism, life satisfaction and gratitude. The idea is the same here: Turning grateful thoughts into concrete actions of selfexpression- whether writing, drawing or taking a photo- helps make them more real to your child.

Ages 14 and up
Watch a film that has gratitude as its theme, like Field of Dreams or The Pursuit of Happyness, and talk about it afterward. "Mirror neurons are brain cells that help us experience similar emotions to those around us," says Dr. Froh. "At this age, kids begin to think abstractly and logically because of the development of these neurons." So watching someone experience intense gratitude, like the characters do in the films, will help your teen feel it too.
Photo: © Getty Images

Why not take a few minutes and write down a short list with your child/ren about the things and people they are grateful for this Christmas? For example -

"I am thankful for my mum because _________________eg. she takes care of me"
"I am thankful for my dad because __________________eg. he reads me stories"
"I am thankful for my pet because ___________________eg. she gives me cuddles"
"I am thankful for my siblings because _______________eg. they help me learn" 

And please let us take the opportunity to thank each and every one of our clients, friends & loved ones -
We are truly thankful for all the love and positive energy that you have sent our way during 2011!

Looking forward to a wonderful festive season and an even brighter new year in 2012!

Vanessa & Lauren
The Small Talk Speech Pathology Team

More Christmas Games for Kids

Simply print, cut up and store in a zip lock bag. Another twist on the old classical memory game!

At Be a fun mum there are many Christmas story games including:


Print a few of copies of the Christmas Story Games printout.  Deal the pack of cards out evenly between players.  Each player should place the cards face down in a pile in front of them.  Players take turns putting a card down in the middle.  As soon as a player puts down a corresponding card, whoever cries “SNAP” first, wins all the cards in the pack and adds them to their own pack.  The winner is the one who has the most cards at the end of the game.


Place all cards face down on a flat surface.  Turn two cards over at a time.  If the cards match, the player keeps them.  If the cards are different, they should be turned over again.  The winner is the player who has the most cards at the end of the game.  This can also be played alone.

Story Prompts

Tell the Christmas story to your child/ren using the cards in sequence.  Then, ask your child to replicate the story.

Keep calm and have fun!

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Seasonal survival guide for allergy sufferers

Debbie Elkind - October 28, 2011

Essential Kids - allergy sufferers guide
Avoiding allergies ... feeding allergy prone kids at Christmas can be a challenge. 

Feeding allergy prone kids at Christmas can be a challenge.
Holiday food can be a minefield when your children are allergy sufferers.
Here are some helpful hints and tips for getting through the festive season safely, including substitution ideas for common ingredients; some tips for navigating holiday parties safely; and places where you can find allergy-friendly recipes and products online.

When you have children with allergies, particularly if they’re severe or even life threatening, you’re likely to find holiday meal planning and parties full of potential pitfalls. Some of the most common allergy causing ingredients – gluten, wheat, dairy, seafood and nuts – all tend to feature heavily on seasonal menus.

Make it safe – using substitutions

The obvious way to be sure your Christmas food is safe for consumption is to make or buy it yourself, using substitutions where necessary.
Some suggested substitutions for common festive fare:


- Cakes and puddings: This can be one of the trickiest areas as unfortunately there isn’t one wheat-free flour that works equally well for all types of baking. Rice, buckwheat, sorghum, potato, corn, coconut and tapioca flours, nut meal and flours or gluten-free flour mixes are all good options, but it can take a bit of experimentation to work out what works best for which recipes. You can, however, make your own gluten-free flour to replace all-purpose flour by mixing six parts rice flour to two parts potato starch and one part gluten-free cornflour. (Ground almonds can also be used in place of the potato starch, assuming your children don’t have nut allergies.)

- Biscuits: A mix of corn flour and rice flour is typically a good solution for biscuits, particularly shortbread, as it gives them a light texture. Other good options for gluten and wheat-free sweet treats are flourless chocolate brownies, meringues and slices made with gluten-free ingredients such as puffed corn or gluten-free oats or muesli.

- Stuffing: Stuffings often call for breadcrumbs and gluten-free breadcrumbs aren’t always a great substitution, as they can taste ‘heavy’. Good substitutions include polenta, cornmeal, dried fruit and nuts, cooked rice or quinoa.

- Sausage: Watch out for the breadcrumbs that are frequently added to sausage meat. Choose products marked gluten-free or make your own.

- Bread sauce: Simply substitute gluten-free breadcrumbs.

- Sauces and condiments: Hidden gluten can be found in things such as gravy, sauces, salad dressings, prepared soups, spiced nuts, cooking wine and frozen desserts. Always be sure to read labels carefully and call the manufacturer if need be.


- Cakes and puddings: Look for dairy-free (vegan) recipes or substitute dairy-free margarine for butter and soy, rice or almond milk for milk in equal amounts.

- Roasts: Use olive oil instead of butter to moisten meat and fry vegetables.

- Mashed potatoes: Use either olive oil or dairy-free spreads in place of butter and cream. You can also add soymilk for creaminess or stock for extra flavour and moisture.


- Stuffing: Nuts in stuffing, puddings and salads can often be replaced with chopped dried fruit to add texture and taste.

- Christmas cake: Christmas cakes are frequently made with marzipan or almond essence, which contain almonds. Decorate cakes instead with Royal Icing or Fondant or top with crystallised fruit.

- Fruitcake: Plenty of fruitcake recipes are nut free. Try to find one if you can rather than substituting and hoping the amounts work out. If not, substitute the same quantity of chopped dried fruit for nuts.

- Christmas pudding: Replace ground nuts with an equal quantity of flour and a tablespoon of butter or dairy-free spread.

Where to find allergy free recipes

Vegan recipes are fantastic for people with dairy allergies and there are plenty of recipes online. Try The Vegan Society of New South Wales and for starters. Also, try this collection of allergy-free Christmas recipes from

Buying safe products online

These days, allergies and intolerances are, thankfully, much better understood than they once were, so it’s easier for sufferers to buy safe products. Try Allergy Assist or Allergy Friendly Foods for starters.

Tips for surviving holiday parties

  1. Always let your hosts know about your children’s allergies well in advance and don’t be shy to specify what they can and can’t eat. People are usually happy to oblige if they can but a lot of people still aren’t clear on what ingredients might be risky, particularly when it comes to gluten.
  2.  If the risk is severe, call ahead and let your host know you’ll be bringing your own food and why. Even with the best intentions people may not understand the risks of cross-contamination and may otherwise be offended if you bring your own food.
  3. Keep a stash of easily portable safe snacks on hand that you can take to gatherings in case there’s not enough there that your child can safely eat. 
Happy Holidays ;)

Christmas Jigsaws To Print

Christmas jigsaws to print
Our Christmas dog jigsaw, assembled, with the heart shape in the centre.

A specialty of Activity Village, these cute printable jigsaws come in 15 Christmas designs and 4 levels of difficulty - and each jigsaw features a hidden "shape" at its centre. They make a simple, quick and easy portable Christmas activity and you can find one suitable for all ages of children!


1. Print the jigsaws out onto printer card, and cut carefully around the large and small jigsaw (either a rectangle or a square, depending on the design).

2. Choose one of our Christmas jigsaw cutting guides (see below). Print onto paper (scrap printer paper will do), and again cut out the rectangle or square. Do NOT cut the inner shapes yet!

3. Place the cutting guide over the jigsaw, matching the edges up carefully. Cut through both layers together on the inside lines to make the jigsaw pieces, discarding the paper pieces of the cutting guide when you are done. Store the jigsaw in a box or bag with the small image stuck or stapled on to help your child recognise and complete the puzzle.

Jigsaw cutting guide - rectangle - stars
Our jigsaw cutting guides and full instructions are here:
Jigsaw cutting guide

Why jigsaws for kids?
  • Jigsaws are wonderful for developing logical and spatial ability
  • Jigsaws encourage sorting, matching and problem solving skills in children
  • Jigsaw content can be educational
  • And of course, jigsaws are just good fun!

 These jigsaws can also be laminated and kept for future use.
Print here at Activity Village

Christmas Stories

Story telling is wonderfully enjoyable for children and has many benefits including:
- increased school readiness for reading and learning
- increased communication
- increased opportunity to teach concepts such as letters, shapes, counting and colours
- improved listening, memory and vocabulary skills
- increased opportunity to discuss social skills
- further development of imagination and creativity
- increased understanding of narrative structure eg. beginning, middle, end.

The festive season is a great time of the year to go through Christmas stories with children.  Children everywhere are often interested in the story of baby Jesus' birth especially during Christmas.  Here are all sorts of free printables that will help them understand the story in an enjoyable way.  We have also included other printable Christmas stories and blank templates for the kids to write their own story.

Activity Village has colouring pages,  the nativity story with captions and pictures, foldable booklets, felt board pieces and finger puppets.  There are even blank nativity story pages so that the children can retell the story in their own words - a wonderful narrative task to work on expressive language and literacy.

 Print here at Activity Village

 Print here for Christmas Stories & Poems
Print here for Christmas story lined paper

Here are some story telling tips to increase children's language skills:
- Focus on special Christmas vocabulary items such as Christmas, tree, Santa, reindeer, Jesus, Mary, sleigh, shepherds etc.
- Use describing words such as colours and sizes eg. red, green, white, large, small etc.
- Ask children to retell the story using their own words and the beginning/middle/end structure.  For a higher level task, you can get them to retell the story and to change one or more parts for some variation.

Happy Story Telling & a Merry Christmas to all!


Friday, 9 December 2011

DIY String Ornaments

Credit: Alison Czarnecki via Holidash
white string
Elmer's glue
pack of small deflated balloons
ribbon (to hang finished ornament)
wax paper and safety pin

Credit: Alison Czarnecki via Holidash
1. Blow up balloons to around the size of your palm. Set these off to the side.

2. Measure around the width and the length of the balloons with your string to see what lengths you need to cut to fully cover the balloon. I recommend cutting a little longer than you think you'll need. 

3. Mix together two parts water to one part glue in a bowl until completely combined. Use warm water or your glue will harden when you mix. Now add in your glitter. The glitter will get really diluted with the glue and barely show up, so if you want a lot, now's the time to get crazy with your glitter.

Credit: Alison Czarnecki via Holidash

4. Soak one string at a time in the glue mixture. Let the string get completely soaked with glue before removing.

5. Lay the string carefully across the balloon, making sure it meets the other end of the string on the opposite side. Pinch the two ends of the string together, set the balloon down on your waxed paper, and repeat with string #2.

Credit: Alison Czarnecki via Holidash

5. Repeat this until your balloon is completely covered in glued strings. Make sure your pattern doesn't all go one way or another or it will all slide off when the strings dry.

6. Once your balloon is all glued up to your satisfaction, set it the waxed paper and let it dry for 24 hours. Do this to as many balloons as you want for ornaments. Go really crazy here, these are cheap.

7. When your balloons are dry, it's time to pop your balloons. You're going to pull these out of the balloon (very, very carefully) so no one knows they were even there. It'll be our little secret.
Credit: Alison Czarnecki via Holidash
8. Tie on a ribbon to hang the ornament, and you're done. So cute and easy.

Thanks to  Allison Czarnecki for the wonderful inspiration!

enjoy x

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Christmas Craft- 3D Ornaments

via Family Fun

Download this adorable Penguin PDF printable from Family Fun

Via Family Fun

Download this 3D Elf PDF printable from Family Fun

Via Family Fun

Download this lovely angel tree topper PDF from Family Fun

To target language or literacy goals while you play try some of these ideas: 

Focus on verbs while you play
 e.g. "cut the paper" "fold the paper"
other verbs you can use:
- cut
- glue
- push
- pull
- bend
- fold
- hang

Focus on the alphabet tabs while you play
 e.g. "A" says /a/ like in apple, "B" says /b/ like in ball

Have fun and Merry Christmas

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Christmas colouring pages and activity sheets

Enjoy these free printable colouring pages and language activity sheets - all Christmas themed.  Print them off in advance and set up with pens, pencils and crayons for the kids to complete.
  1. Raising our kids is a brilliant site that is colouring in crazy! There are many colouring in pages available free of charge that are organised into specific categories eg. christmas, easter, learning colours, learning letters, learning numbers.

Click here to print

2. Activity Village - Christmas Language printables has numerous language based activity sheets including word searches, word jigsaws, X-mas vocabulary posters, X-mas flashcards and even X-mas bingo. The activities range from easy to more difficult tasks.

click  here for more word searches

Click here to print mazes

Click here to print these great word jigsaws

Click here to print X-mas vocabulary posters

Click here for more X-mas flashcards

**Be sure to visit Activity village - christmas language printables.  They have a very extensive range of activities - most are PDF format hence they are not very clear when uploaded onto the blog.  This site is great as it focuses on all things Christmas whilst enhancing receptive and expressive language skills.
Vanessa ;)