By Small Talk Speech Pathology

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Easter Australian Style

Here are some Aussie Easter traditions from Embrace Australia 

Article by Lisa Valentine

You may find yourself diving for eggs in Australia.

Britain has lots of Easter traditions such as the kids favourite Easter animal;  the Easter bunny and the joys of the Easter egg hunt. You may think that most other countries that celebrate Easter would have many of the same traditions and whilst that is true, some of the traditions have a rather surprising twist to them. So let’s have a look at how Australia celebrates Easter.
Easter is traditionally associated with spring and new birth. It’s the time when blossom starts to appear on our bare trees and the first daffodils are peeping out of the ground. Lambs and chicks are popular images with children as the dead, dark, dreary days of winter finally give way to the life and joys of Spring. But of course April in Australia is not in the Spring, instead Easter is celebrated in the Autumn when the countryside is bathed in glorious colours of gold, burgundy, deep purples and dazzling orange hues. So for Australians, Easter is when they bid farewell to summer and start making preparations for the coming of winter.
The Australian Easter is generally a four day weekend, starting on Good Friday and ending on Easter Monday. Every shop is closed on Good Friday and it is the only day of the year when newspapers are also unavailable – an event unheard of in the UK! The religious significance remains the same, with many Christian Australians observing mass on either Good Friday or Easter Sunday.


The Easter Bilby

Now the Easter bunny – what could be cuddlier? This friendly little chap traditionally goes around with a basket of eggs hiding them in your garden all ready for that Easter egg hunt. The tradition started in Germany and the bunny was seen as a symbol of fertility, perhaps some couples hoped the bunny would bring more than eggs to their houses. However in Australia the bunny has a rather different perception and it’s none too friendly.

Rabbits are responsible for the destruction of vital vegetable crops in Australia and because of that destructive trait they are not generally welcome sights at Easter, in fact the Foundation for a Rabbit-Free Australia discourage shops from stocking chocolate bunnies. Rather than the Easter bunny therefore, the Aussies came up with their own Easter animal – Bilby.

Chocolate Bilbies are now popular in Australia.

Chocolate Bilbies are now popular in Australia.
The bilby is a rabbit-eared Bandicoot that is currently endangered in Australia. The idea of the bilby replacing the Easter bunny is thought to have come about from the South Australia National Parks Service. The Foundation for a Rabbit-Free Australia have successfully campaigned for the Bilby to become the traditional Australian symbol of Easter. And with its long floppy ears, large dark eyes and pointed nose it’s just as cuddly and cute as its British counterpart. The famous Australian author Jeni Bright wrote a story about Burra Nimu, the Easter Bilby for children to further the cause of replacing the traditional bunny with the bilby.


Chocolate Hot Cross Buns

The Hot Cross Bun also has a different variation in Australia. Not to be seen to be missing out on life’s treats, the dried fruit is replaced with chocolate chips and the spiced mixture of the dough has another ingredient – cocoa. Making the Australian hot cross buns deliciously different.


Royal Easter Show

Each Easter Sydney plays host to the famous Royal Easter Show, a unique agricultural show where the very best of Australian produce is proudly showcased and exhibited. Everything from farm animals to fruit and veg is displayed here – but only the best of the best! The event has now become a spectacular carnival and a much celebrated date in Sydney’s calendar. Other highlights are fairground rides, fireworks, amazing robot displays, parades and of course the tasting of Australia’s finest cuisine.


Egg Knocking

In families all over Australia the Easter game of egg-knocking will be played. Everyone involved has to find a partner and then choose an egg each – these can be chocolate eggs, hard boiled or for the more adventurous, fresh eggs. One partner then taps the other’s egg with their own and so on, each taking it in turns to tap the egg. The first egg to crack loses and the winner is then free to challenge the winner of another pair. The game continues until there is only one egg left which the winner presumably has to eat. Especially if it’s a fresh egg and the winner is being all smug about winning.


Easter Egg Hunts

The huge Easter egg hunt in Bendigo.
The huge Easter egg hunt in Bendigo.
Of course Australia observe the traditional Easter egg hunts, but this being Australia, some of the egg hunts are organised in slightly unusual places, such as the Dolphin Scuba Diving Centre in Perth where chocolate eggs are hunted by divers. One of Australia’s biggest Easter egg hunts is organised by Vision Australia, a charity that works with visually impaired people. Over 75,000 eggs are hidden in Bendigo, Victora on Good Friday and around 2,500 children participate in the egg hunts every year. Blimey, that’s 30 eggs per child!

Easter is just around the corner and we look forward to passing on many more Easter-themed ideas to 
our dear readers!
Vanessa & Lauren

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

20 Indoor Activities for Kids - besides TV

As the weather begins to cool down - the list below from Simple Mom will definitely come in handy as the little ones spend more time indoors..

Photo by Woodley Wonderworks

1.  Read a book.

This is a go-to favorite in our family.  Our library is right in our living room, available for access any time of day.  Our kids know they can pull a book off the shelves at any time and enjoy, even though they can’t read on their own yet.  And don’t forget about your public library.

2.  Write a book.

Photo by nd.strupler
Even if your kids aren’t writing fluently yet, they can still compose literature on their own.  Create a collection of blank books, and let your kids illustrate a story.  Later, you can write the words for them as they dictate them to you, or they can sound out the words phonetically and write the story on their own.  These books will make great keepsakes later.

3.  Act out a book.

Does your child have a perennial favorite book?  Have her act it out — the plot may take a unique turn, all her own.  While I was making breakfast, my daughter said, “Mom, right now I’m going on a walk at half past nine.”

4.  Listen to a book.

Audible Kids has a great selection of quality literature for children.  Download a few to your mp3 player, and either give your child some headphones, or play the book over speakers while they play quietly.

5.  Make an indoor clubhouse.

Corey wrote a great column on how to build a blanket fort.  Get your child started, and see how else they architect a little place of their own.

6.  Perform a puppet show or play.

Photo from Make and Takes
Hopefully you have a collection of hand-me-down clothes and thrift store finds in a dress-up box for your kids.  They can use these to create costumes for a play, with you as the audience.  Or they can let their stuffed animals star as puppets, and hide behind the couch for a dramatic reenactment starring their pretend friends.
You can also make a simple puppet show theater with a spring-loaded curtain rod and a piece of fabric in a doorway.

7.  Have an indoor picnic or tea party.

Lay out an outdoor tablecloth on the floor, and enjoy lunch together down there.  Kids think it’s a big treat to do the everyday in a special place, and the floor is one of those places.  Or brew up some warm tea (my daughter’s favorite is blackberry), and have a little tea time in cups with saucers, alongside crackers or sweet bread for an afternoon treat.  This is best done during baby’s naptime.

8.  Make homemade play-doh.

Play-doh made from scratch is incredibly easy, and you can make an endless array of colors with basic food dye.  Plus, it doesn’t have that awful commercial-brand smell.  Spread the outdoor tablecloth on the floor, and give them dull knives, a rolling pin, and some cookie cutters.

9.  Help with chores.

Many younger kids think it’s a blast to help Mom with the chores — but even if they don’t think it’s fun, it’s good for them to do chores anyway.  It teaches kids that running the house is a family effort, and that life involves work (and things we don’t always enjoy doing).  I’ve recently updated our family’s preschool chore chart on the downloads page.

10.  Save up those TP rolls and wad up your socks.

Arrange TP rolls like bowling pins on one end of the hall.  Stock up a few balled-up socks on the other.  Bowl or throw at the “pins,” and you’ve got an indoor bowling alley.  There’s tons of other crafts you can do with toilet paper rolls, too.

11.  Get your groove on.

Even the parent can benefit from this little break in the day.  Crank up the peppy music and get dancing.  Even 10 minutes of jiving with release some wiggles, and it’s a stress relief for you, too.  I like finding new adult and kid-friendly music at Kids Music That Rocks.

12.  Craft, craft, craft.

Photo by laffy4k
In our family, we draw or create near daily.  Keep a well-organized art cabinet handy, and your children can grab supplies whenever their muse strikes.  If they want to paint, simply use that handy outdoor tablecloth again, and spread it on the kitchen floor.  This is another baby’s-taking-a-nap activity.

13.  Write a letter to a friend.

Old-fashioned letter writing is a dying art, what with e-mail being today’s communication method of choice.  Help your child write a letter to Grandma, her cousins, or a friend, and make someone’s day when they open their mailbox a few days later.

14.  Have a simple playdate.

Invite your child’s good friend over — this often makes for an even easier day, because your kiddo has a playmate instead of asking you to play all the time.  It depends on the age and the particular friend, of course, but I’ve found that when my daughter has a friend over, I don’t see her for hours.  They’re engulfed in their own little world in the playroom, content with each other’s company.

15.  Play shop.

Create different shop kits from thrift store and sale finds.  The next time you’re at a craft store, pick up some fake flowers on clearance.  Make some homemade plant labels, save some empty seed packets, and hang on to those temporary pots from store-bought plants — all these supplies will make great tools for a flower shop at home.  A notepad, pencil, apron, tray, and play food are all you need to play restaurant at the dining room table.

16.  Rearrange the bedroom.

If your child is old enough to safely move small furniture around, let him explore his creative side and rearrange his bedroom.  Depending on the result, it could be an afternoon set up, or it could be a new permanent look.

17.  Supply some cardboard boxes.

Photo from ehow
If you haven’t recently moved or purchased a new appliance, go to your local grocery store and see if they have any cardboard boxes you could take off their hands.  Bring a few home, and let your child’s imagination take over.  They might build a castle, take off on a spaceship, or go sailing to a new world.

18.  Go on a treasure hunt.

Think of some unusual spots around your house, or plant some treasures in rooms and on shelves (in an age-appropriate location, of course).  Then make a list of objects, and have your child go on a treasure hunt.  If they can’t yet read, draw a sketch of the hidden item.

19.  Have them help with batch cooking.

Do you have a batch cooking day planned?  If they’re old enough to stir, sift, and pour, let them help you with the basics — pasta and pizza sauces, muffins, and breads are all kid-friendly.  And it’s a good chance to teach about numbers, fractions, nutrition, and providing for the family.

20.  Nothing.

i guess she's bored
Photo by yours truly
Boredom is good for kids.  Children are seldom truly bored, they just haven’t lately exercised that part of the brain that requires them to use their imagination.  Make a rule that if your kid announces they’re bored, they’ll have to do chores.  So if they truly can’t think of anything off-hand to do…  eventually, they’ll think of something.
It’s a good lesson to learn that life is not always entertaining, and that they’re not the center of attention.  And if you’ve got a typical home, there’s actually plenty they can do.  So don’t feel like you always have to provide options and events for your children.  They’ll be just fine exercising their brain.

Vanessa & Lauren

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

101 Affirmations for Children

via Abundance Tapestry by EVELYN on MARCH 22, 2010

Most certainly, we can help our kids with instilling good values, confidence, focus and belief. Positive affirmations for children can do a lot to assist them in developing healthy self esteem. We can also target some for the purposes of having an easier time with their school work.

101 Affirmations for Children
1. I can do whatever I focus my mind on.
2. I am awesome.
3. I am very intelligent.
4. I am a fast learner.
5. I am worthy.
6. I deeply love and accept myself.
7. I enjoy learning.
8. Learning is fun and exciting.
9. I understand the lessons taught in school completely and quickly.
10. I believe in myself and my abilities.
11. While I appreciate details, I am able to also see the big picture in things.
12. I have many gifts and talents.
13. I learn from my challenges and can always find ways to overcome them.
14. I am open to possibility.
15. I embrace my fears fully and calmly.
16. I make like-minded friends easily and naturally.
17. I am healthy and am growing up well.
18. I have persistence in what I believe in.
19. Miracles happen to me all the time.
20. I am very creative.
21. Ideas for problem solving come easily and quickly to me.
22. I am a great listener.
23. My family, friends and teachers love me for who I am.
24. I am unique and special.
25. Opportunities come to me in good time.
26. I may make mistakes sometimes but I choose to learn from them.
27. I accept myself even though I sometimes make mistakes.
28. Every day and in every way, I get better and better.
29. My intuition guides me in what I do.
30. I am calm, relaxed and peaceful.
31. I am always in the right place at the right time.
32. I enjoy being, feeling and thinking positive.
33. Problems challenge me to better myself in every way.
34. I trust myself in making great decisions.
35. I am loving kindness to all.
36. I do my best in my work and tasks.
37. I am present.
38. I trust in my ability to solve problems.
39. I enjoy my own company.
40. I accept compliments graciously and openly.
41. I am whole and complete.
42. I enjoy trying new ideas.
43. I embrace changes in peaceful, harmonious and positive ways.
44. I believe I can be whatever I want to be.
45. I can visualize very well.
46. I am vibrant and have lots of energy.
47. I am divinely protected.
48. I am kind, generous and loving.
49. I complete my school work on time every day.
50. I am deserving of love, trust and kindness.
51. I achieve great and successful results.
52. I am brave.
53. I experience beauty wherever I go.
54. I have got an awesome imagination.
55. I am able to solve problems creatively.
56. All is well in the world.
57. I am thankful for my blessings.
58. I have a healthy relationship with my teachers.
59. I choose to forgive all others for any mistakes they have done.
60. I feel confident and secure.
61. I enjoy letting events unfold in good time.
62. I have loving, positive and happy thoughts.
63. I express my ideas easily.
64. I am courageous even when things are unknown to me.
65. I reach my goals easily.
66. I am in charge of my own life.
67. I enjoy playing games with my friends.
68. I am gentle with myself.
69. I have many friends who like being near me.
70. The trees, flowers and birds are my friends.
71. I radiate love and compassion.
72. Miracles happen to me every day.
73. I am on my way to creating great wealth.
74. I am excellent in languages.
75. I am quick and accurate with Mathematics.
76. I am able to analyze and see clearly for problem solving.
77. I read, write and learn fast.
78. I absorb knowledge like a sponge and am able to apply what I have learnt.
79. I do my best for my studies.
80. I am attentive in class.
81. I am a natural in _________ (sports).
82. I am on top of my classes.
83. I enjoy challenging myself in new ideas, possibilities and directions.
84. I am a winner!
85. I turn failures into opportunities for success.
86. I handle all my responsibilities and tasks well.
87. I enjoy eating healthy snacks.
88. I love my body.
89. I am honest and trustworthy.
90. I choose to look for the best way forward for myself.
91. I am able to understand and solve complex problem sums or questions easily.
92. I enjoy experiencing life in multiple ways.
93. I love being healthy!
94. I manage my time well.
95. I like being punctual.
96. I enjoy having habits that will help me have a happy, healthy and successful life.
97. I listen to my gut or inner wisdom closely.
98. I am able to easily draw inspiration from nature and life.
99. I believe in my dreams.
100. I have an excellent memory.
101. I am Me, and I am Okay! 
(Words quoted from Self Esteem Poem by Psychologist Virginia Satir. Featured in my How to Love Yourself post here).
For more affirmation ideas go to the Children Lights website.
Click on the link for details on How to Make Affirmation Cards For Children.
L & V

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

FREE St Patrick's Day Activities for Kids

"May the good saints protect you
And bless you today
And may troubles ignore you
Each step of the way"

Happy St Patrick's Day for this Saturday lovely readers. To help you celebrate all week with your little ones we have compiled a range of our favourite St Patty inspired freebies and ideas.
Enjoy :)

St Patrick's Day Craft Activities Via Enchanted Learning

St Patrick's Day Craft Activities Via Activity Village

St Patrick's Free Printables Via Activity Village

"Lucky stars above you
 Sunshine on your way
 Many friends to love you
Joy in work and play
Laughter to outweigh each care
In your heart a song
And gladness waiting everywhere
 All your whole life long!
May your pockets be heavy

Your heart be light
 And may good luck pursue you
 Each morning and night"

L & V

Thursday, 8 March 2012

FREE learn to draw printables - tutorials for kids

Fun, printable step by step drawing lessons for kids! Learn how to draw animals, cars, trees and flowers and more with an easy, step by step method which makes drawing fun for all ages! Our fun learn to draw printable tutorials make great little time fillers in the classroom - or print out a stack and use them at home or when travelling to keep kids busy for a while. And of course, they are a great way for children to learn drawing skills too - the more you can break difficult subjects down into smaller parts and shapes, the more you will be able to tackle! 
Print these worksheets for free at Activity Village.

Learn to Draw Flowers

 Learn to Draw Animals

We've got a fabulous collection - growing all the time - of these fun printable sheets which teach children how to draw animals in a step-by-step way.
Learn to draw animals

Learn to Draw - Famous People

Learn to draw the Royal Family
Learn to draw Abraham Lincoln
Learn to draw Barack Obama
Learn to draw Charles Dickens
Learn to draw George Washington
Learn to draw Martin Luther King
Learn to draw Robert Burns
Learn to draw Saint David

Learn to Draw - Seasons

Learn to Draw - Holidays

For Christmas:
Learn to draw a Christmas stocking
Learn to draw a candy cane
Learn to draw holly
Learn to draw a Christmas candle
Learn to draw a robin
Learn to draw a Christmas present
Learn to draw a Christmas tree
Learn to draw a Christmas pudding
Learn to draw a penguin
Learn to draw a Christmas cracker
Learn to draw a Christmas decoration
Learn to draw a snowflake
Learn to draw a snowman
Learn to draw a Christmas elf
Learn to draw Father Christmas
Learn to draw a gingerbread man
Learn to draw a reindeer
Learn to draw a Christmas wreath
Learn to draw a shepherd
Learn to draw a sheep
Learn to draw a stable
Learn to draw a horse
Learn to draw a cow
Learn to draw a wise man
Learn to draw a camel
Learn to draw Joseph
Learn to draw an ox
Learn to draw Mary
Learn to draw a donkey
Learn to draw baby Jesus
Learn to draw an angel

Learn to Draw Characters

Fun printable drawing lessons for some of your favourite Dr Seuss characters!
Learn to Draw Dr Seuss Characters NEW!

With thanks to the wonderful Activity Village site for all these drawing tutorials.

We have definitely improved our drawing skills through the use of these clever step by step 

 Happy drawing and creating!
Vanessa & Lauren

Monday, 5 March 2012

FREE printable masks for kids

Pretend play through the use of costumes and masks is a great activity for kids.
It can promote and extend their speaking and listening skills as well as their social skills by taking on different characters and the perspective of their assigned roles. 

Small for big

V & L

Saturday, 3 March 2012

FREE printable phonics worksheets an, ap, at

The word families an, ap & at are a good phonics group to start with.  They all have the short vowel a sound.  There are a good variety of words in the families that have familiar picture clues (like cat, van, cap, etc).

Print these wonderful resources for FREE here at Kidzone

Please note we have only displayed the worksheets for 'an' & there
are more for 'ap' and 'at' on the link above

Happy Learning!
V & L

Friday, 2 March 2012

Free Sentence Sequencing game - nouns, verbs, adjectives cards

Sentence Sequencing

What is it?
An activity/game that allows children to practice combining nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc to make a sentence.  

Activity Suggestions

1. Free Play

  • arrange the cards into piles (you can add coloured backgrounds to make it easier for the children to sort the words into nouns, verbs, etc).
  • allow the children to create their own sentences using the cards.
  • If you pre-sort the cards for them it makes it simpler. You may not want to provide them with all the sets at once. Here are some set ideas.
    • three piles: helpers, nouns and emotions
      Example sentence: The boy was happy.
    • four piles: helpers, nouns, verbs and nouns
      Example sentence: The boy ate the apple.
    • five piles: helpers, nouns, verbs, colors and nouns.
      Example sentence: The boy ate a red apple.
    • six piles: helpers, emotions, nouns, verbs, colors and nouns.
      Example sentence: The happy boy ate a red apple.
  • Get silly! It's fun to create silly sentences (like "The angry boy ate a green monster.") Encouraging the children to create silly sentences can help keep them involved and motivated in this activity.
  • ADDITIONAL ACTIVITY: Have the child spend some time creating their favorite sentence. 
    • Once the sentence is completed, encourage them to write (or dictate, depending on their skill level) a short story to go with the sentence.
    • With young children, 3 sentences is a great story length. It helps reinforce the fact that a story has a BEGINNING, a MIDDLE and an END. 
    • Let them illustrate their story (draw pictures).
    • Talk about the roles of the author and the illustrator of a story.

2. Memory (Guided) Play

  • In this activity, we'll use sight (showing), sound (reading) and repetition (memory) to reinforce sentence structure.
  • arrange the cards into piles (the verbs have a colored background to make it a tad easier for the kids to sort things) If you pre-sort the cards for them it makes it simpler. You may not want to provide them with all the sets at once. Here are some set ideas.
    • three piles: helpers, nouns and emotions
      Example sentence: The boy was happy.
    • four piles: helpers, nouns, verbs and nouns
      Example sentence: The boy ate the apple.
    • five piles: helpers, nouns, verbs, colors and nouns.
      Example sentence: The boy ate a red apple.
    • six piles: helpers, emotions, nouns, verbs, colors and nouns.
      Example sentence: The happy boy ate a red apple.
  • Create a sentence, show it to the child and read it aloud twice. 

  • Now put one of the cards back in the appropriate (noun, verb, emotion, color) pile 

(you may want to mix up the pile and then set some or all the pile out so the child can see their options, like so):

Now have the child chose the correct card from memory to replicate the sentence you showed them.
  • When the child has mastered replacing a single card, try removing two of the cards (maybe kissed and dinosaur in our example above). Then remove three, etc. Progressively make the sentences longer until they are successfully replicating complex sentences -- For example, "The happy dinosaur and the green monster ate a red apple."
  • Eventually you can move away from showing them the sentence. You can just READ the sentence to them and have them replicate it.
  • Don't forget to throw in some silly sentences to keep the children's energy level up!

Print these wonderful sentence building cards for FREE at Dltk Activities

V & L