Messy tea party!

Last weekend we celebrated the baby’s 2nd birthday and I guess now is as good as any time to re-name her ‘The Toddler’. Gosh, that sounds wonderful but so sad! No more baby!

Moving on…

We threw The Toddler a dolly’s tea party for her birthday as there seemed to be no other party as fitting as that. She is a true ‘girl’ (which leads me to want to write about girls and boys and their toy preferences and how gender makes no difference at all. That’s another post!) and she loved every minute of it. Since then, we’ve been going tea party crazy and I thought I would expand on it a little further in our play. So we had a messy tea party!

messy tea party~



Haba Tack Zap for preschoolers

Just before Christmas we were told that we’d been chosen as Toad Testers for The Toadstool- you can read my wishlist post here, and my review of Janod’s Tick Tack Clock here. I ended up buying a few bits and pieces for the Christmas pile too, one of which I had written about in my wish list- the Haba Tack Zap on Duty set. I was sure that the preschooler would love this, and I was right!

This is not a review. This is a post to be filed under Luka’s learning and another activity for fine motor skills (and much much more) too. Actually, the Tack Zap set is so simple yet so packed with valuable learning potential that I couldn’t not share it with you! (more…)

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Learning to tell the time: Janod Tic Tac Clock review

So the news is that we are now official Toad Testers for The Toadstool! Yay! We’ve already bought a few things from this wonderful site so it truly is an honour to be chosen to review toys here. Look out for news on Haba Trix Trax and Haba Tack Zap- not official reviews, but we’ve been playing with them lots!

The Toadstool

Our first review for the Toadstool is the Janod Tic Tac Clock– a wonderful resource pack for aiding the teaching of telling the time. The official blurb says that it’s suitable for children asJanod Tic Tac Clock review~ young as 3-4 and features one large ‘teaching clock’ and 20 smaller blank clock faces, on the reverse of which are pictures of different domestic situations- such as brushing your teeth and going to school etc. The whole set comes in a really lovely box with a carry handle and is currently only £16.90.

So what did we think?

Like many teachers, I feel that teaching kids to tell the time can be tricky with some children. Telling the time is a concept that some children find very difficult even beyond the age of seven, but the preschooler has been showing signs of wanting to learn, so I thought… why not? The set itself reminded me of the sets we use at school, with the traditional teacher’s clock with hands and the class set of smaller clocks that the kids can draw hands on to. But I knew I needed to be quite creative with my just turned 4 year old. First I wanted to see what he knew about clocks. So we made our own. We used:

  • rocks and stones
  • pens to draw numbers
  • a clock for referenceJanod Tic Tac Clock review~

We talked about what clocks look like and practised counting around the clock, starting at 1 and going all the way round. Then I asked the preschooler to write numbers 1-12 on each of the rocks we’d collected. This was a fantastic way for me to see how his number writing had come along since we last practised- I was impressed! Next, I asked him to arrange the rocks like a clock, which he did with no help at all. We talked about how all clocks look like this, and even went out into the hall to check.

Janod Tic Tac Clock review~ used some of the pictures on the reverse of the smaller clocks and placed them by numbers on our home made clock, depending on the time the activity occurs but I realised the preschooler did not really understand this. We also talked about the hands on clocks, and the direction they moved; to practise, we counted around the clock in the correct direction. Toe extend, when the preschooler is a little older, we could count in tens and fives.

Once the preschooler was familiar with the clock, we moved on to the Janod set.

The set comes with a suggested game but I quickly found that the preschooler was a little young to get the most out of the set this way. I decided to invent our own games!

Hickory Dickory Doc

  • We took it in turns to be ‘the teacher’ with the big clock
  • We sang “Hickory Dickory Doc, the mouse ran up the clock! The clock struck… then I clapped a specific number of times.
  • The preschooler moved the hands on the teaching clock to indicate the number of claps
  • We sang the time and checked the hands were in the right place

We extended the game:Janod Tic Tac Clock review~

  • I moved the hands on the clock and the preschooler clapped the correct number of times
  • The preschooler changed the hands and told me the time so that I could clap the correct number of times.
  • We found the pictures that corresponded with the time we’d chosen

The aim of this game was to practise o’clock (and saying o’clock too, rather than just the numbers. There is lots of new language to learn too) and moving the hands on the teaching clock to different times. It was also a great way to get the preschooler to listen and concentrate well. I noted that the preschooler kept forgetting that the big hand always needs to be on the 12 for o’clock, so we moved on to the next game…

Match the times

This was a simple, quick fire game that really helped the preschooler to familiarise himself with the clock. First of all I drew a time on the smaller clocks and asked the preschooler to match it with the big clock. He needed more help remembering the big hand needed to be on 12 but we got there in the end! Next I laid out all the smaller clocks with different times drawn on them and asked the preschooler to match them up with times I created on the big clock. He did this easily- number recognition has always been his strong point! We extended this by making a time on the big clock and the preschooler drawing the time on a smaller clock.

Janod Tic Tac Clock review~

Find the time

Another quick an easy game. I made a time on the big clock and the preschooler found the same time on the smaller clock.

What time do we do…

At this point the preschooler began to question the pictures on the reverse of the smaller clocks, so we talked about them and what they represented. The preschooler was not able to tell me what time we did certain things such as bedtime or dinner time. This told me that his time telling abilities are still very much in their infancy. He can read numbers, but he does not understand times as a concept.

We did, however, talk about the times that we do certain things and the preschooler enjoyed drawing the times on the small clocks. This will be a wonderful activity when he is a little older.

Janod Tic Tac Clock review~

The verdict

The Janod Tic Tac Clock is a wonderful teaching resource. It is a solid set that will last us for years, and there are so many ways that you can play with it. Teaching the telling of time is notoriously tricky; it needs to be done in small steps, especially for younger children. The preschooler is not ready to move beyond o’clock and probably will not be ready for quite a while; he is also not ready for the intended game the set recommends because he simply does not understand that 5 o’clock is vastly different to 10 o’clock.  But that doesn’t mean that we can’t use the set. By exposing him to a clock he can manipulate himself, by talking to him about things we do at certain times, and by asking him to tell me the time and show me the time- all of these things are building solid foundations ready for the day that he is able to move on.

Janod Tic Tac Clock review~

The preschooler loved the small clocks best- drawing the hands and wiping them off again was great fun! And since we used the set he has been noticing clocks wherever we go, asking what the time is and trying to read the clocks himself. He also remembers that the big hand should be on the 12 for o’clock- HOORAY!

We’d definitely recommend the Tic Tac clock for children who are numerically confident and ready to start learning how to tell the time. BUT there is no reason why the set can’t be considered an investment for children who are not quite ready yet. Telling the time is something that comes to us all at different times, and this set will certainly help children to get there when they’re ready.

We were sent the Janod Tic Tac Clock to review; all opinions are my own


Outdoor play and being more brave

This is a featured post

I love outdoor play. As a year one teacher, my door was always open to the element all year round so that the children could access the equipment outside. We all wrapped up in coats and gloves and took lots of the learning outside. Being outdoors opens up so much for kids and it’s true that many children simply need to be outside where they can run and play. But I have to admit that sometimes I am not brave enough any more.

Outdoor play and being more brave: know the benefits but I hate being cold. And sometimes it’s easier to go to the soft play centre instead. The kids still get to run about and I get to stay warm… Well, enough. I want to make changes this year to make sure the kids get outside every day once more. Even in the rain they are ridiculously happy to be outside! So I’ve been researching ways to enhance our outdoor play and to build up my courage to brave the elements all year round. (more…)


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