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Month: May 2017

App Review: ABCmouse

App Review: ABCmouse

One of the most commonly asked questions I get from parents and friends is about the apps we use at school to help children in literacy and numeracy. There are literally thousands of apps that promote knowledge of letters, sounds, numbers, counting and the list goes on. The fact is, the more practice that you do to promote foundational knowledge, the better. Now that my own daughter Ella is starting school next year, there has never been a more important time to spend time with her. Reading, drawing, playing. There has also been an app that I have come across that has literally propelled her to new levels of knowledge and confidence. If you have Foxtel at home, and your children watch Nick Junior, then you may be familiar with ABCmouse. Being both a parent, and a teacher I approached ABCmouse myself to ask them if I could check it out and review it from the perspective of both. I have been given the chance to try it out for a year with my children. This is something that I searched for myself, it was not something that was offered to me. I genuinely want to find products that help parents help their kids learn. We have been using the program for a month, and I have to say that I’ve never seen anything like it. Ella literally begs me to use ABCmouse. She has developed her knowledge of commonly used words and phonetical strategies. She is able to predict text before she reads is and uses the wonderful visual cues to help her sound out words. Ella is mid way through kindergarten. Her intrinsic motivation to learn to read has literally blown me away. As a teacher, I have to say that the personalised nature of the learning pathway is phenomenal. As a parent, seeing my daughter literally soak up the learning has brought me to tears. If I were another parent, I would literally delete all of the other educational apps and just install this one. It’s that good. I repeat, I have not been paid in any way to write this review. It’s not a sponsored post. It’s just a great educational find to help parents, help their kids.

What’s more is I’ve got a 50% off code to give parents an annual subscription half price. Read below to find out how!

Haven’t heard about ABCmouse?

ABCmouse’s reading curriculum helps children to quickly learn the letters of the alphabet and their sounds, as well as learn to instantly recognize the sight words that are most important for beginning readers. Your students will learn to love to read with our hundreds of fables, fairy tales, nonfiction books, and more.
The Reading Curriculum Includes:
  • Concepts of Print
  • Phonemic Awareness
  • Oral Language
  • Phonics
  • Word Families
  • Sight Words
  • And more

 

The Step-by-Step Learning Path™ presents the full ABCmouse curriculum in a carefully designed program of more than 850 lessons on ten levels. As your students complete each lesson, they are guided to the next one and are motivated to continue learning by the ABCmouse Tickets and Rewards System.
ABCmouse teaches numbers, shapes, patterns, and measurements. The site’s games and creative activities make math fun while giving young learners the practice they need to build a strong foundation for success. The Math Curriculum Includes:
  • Concepts of more and less
  • Counting to 120
  • Number Sense
  • Shapes
  • Addition and Subtraction Facts
  • Patterns
  • Measurement concepts
  • And more

It also includes Art, puzzles, games, songs and printable to help kids learn in all areas of the Curriculum!

Ella has literally loved it. The best part is you can create accounts for each of your children, for their level of ability. They create their own avatar and earn rewards to spend in the virtual online shop (decorating their bedroom online etc). It is the most well rounded app that I’ve come across for learning. Best of all, you can get 50% off right now by clicking on any of the images in this post. The normal cost for an annual subscription is $70 US. Right now they are holding a Memorial Day sale for $45 US. That is six months free! This offer is only available until May 29.

Ella’s personalised program on ABCmouse
Ella literally begs me to get online and learn
Available on any device!
You cant’t wipe the smile off her face!

To get this offer, simply click on any image in this post, or head to the link here: CLICK HERE FOR THE 50% OFF SALE.

 

 

 

 

Local Legend: Sam from The Empathy Gift Co

Local Legend: Sam from The Empathy Gift Co

Tonight’s post is one that is very close to my heart. For those of you who know me either online and real life, you’d know that this last year has been, by far, the hardest of both my and my family’s life. Last August we lost our beautiful Dad, very suddenly. Only three months earlier we also lost our beloved Nanna. Grief beyond words to describe the void that has been left. It’s been a very hard year. One that we’ve almost come through. Nine months later we are doing ok. We have our moments. Sometimes we laugh, and other times we just cry, still in disbelief that he is not here. One thing that has kept us going is our support network. A close yet far reaching net of family and friends who have gone above and beyond to make each of us feel loved, and not left behind. I’ve often spoken with my friends about the sense of helplessness they felt at the time. What could they do? My Mum’s home quickly grew into what can only be described as a florist. Something that gave us great strength knowing how much people cared for us. However there were many, many people who felt at a loss as to what to give us. There are only so many flowers that fit into vases. Only so much room in the freezer for meals. Whilst these things are (I can tell you) very much appreciated, there are also alternatives that can a bring a smile to someone’s face who is facing the hardest time of their life. Whether it be a death, a divorce, a sickness, break up, mental health issue or hard time.

A great family friend who had also recently lost her Father, and not too long ago, her brother decided to do something to help people, help others in such times. Sam Lehmann developed The Empathy Gift Co. Gifts to give those who need something to help them through. Her vast array of pre made hampers that include books, candles, creams and an amazing range of other unique products. Stemming from her own experience, Sam wanted to make it easier for others to help others. To help give them something different. I’ve benefited myself from her own forethought, and am very proud to promote her business to you. One day, you may be searching for something to help someone get through their darkest time. Sometimes it’s not about sympathy, it’s about Empathy.

Here are a sample of her gift boxes below:

Those who are dealing with sickness…
or a break up…
a hard time…
or an incredible loss..

*Tell us about your business: your idea, your dream….

I have always loved giving gifts and I think I’m a good gift giver, I feel I take a lot of time and effort to choose something right for my friends and family and loving seeing their reactions when they see what I have picked for them. Having experienced two major losses in my life, my gorgeous brother when he was 35 and most recently my darling dad  I have gone through some pretty intense feeling of grief and loss. I received a lot of flowers after both deaths and although I appreciate the sentiments I feel there are other items that could bring more comfort like books, candles, pampering products and keepsake gifts. I have also had issues with anxiety and depression over the years, more so anxiety. The symptoms I’ve experienced have been pretty traumatic at times, I have a deep empathy for people who suffer from mental illness, you are completely vulnerable, frightened and don’t feel your self it can be debilitating.

I feel  that knowing this I could offer gifts to those not knowing how to support someone with mental illness, People who have never suffered don’t know what to do or say and I think we offer suitable products that communicate love and support to someone struggling. I decided that I wanted to create a business that could really help people support others with gifts that were helpful in many difficult situations like grief, emotional distress, cancer, divorce or becoming a new parent.

I would love The Empathy Gift Co to be the type of online business that people go to because they know they are going to be able to communicate their support and kindness in a helpful and long lasting way. If they struggle with choosing gifts we can help you with our Pre-made Gift Boxes, some people actually do nothing when someone they love is facing challenges because they are not sure what to buy or how to help, most of the time the person suffering just needs to know that someone genuinely cares about them and we like to think we can really help do that with our beautiful Products and empathy cards.

*Magic: What is the most magical thing that has happened so far?

I have owned and managed 3 other businesses, fashion retail boutiques, two women’s boutiques and a baby/kids concept store, I was lucky enough to sell all three. I would have to say the most magical thing that has happened to me as a business owner is not the financial success I have had, I would have to say its the people I have met and connected with, the stories I’ve been told , the support I have received and the satisfaction I have got from helping people, helping them feel good about themselves, I love that more than anything. I have learnt a lot about what’s really important in life, its certainly not money or being a successful business person, its the people you love and care about and if you do something you love and are passionate about the financial success will come anyway, be true to your self and don’t ever forget the people, the relationships, helping others, having integrity and sticking with your values., these are what will make you successful in life!

 *Mayhem: What has been your greatest challenge?

My greatest Challenge would probably be this new business as I am used to having the face to face interaction in my stores. Having an online business and not being able to talk to everyone that visits my site is just something I will need to get used to. I really want to be able to make this shopping experience easy for people so even though I don’t get to meet them all in person I hope when they visit the website and read my story they get a pretty good idea of the type of business and person they are buying from.

*Milestone: What have you been most proud of?

My greatest achievement is not any of my business’ , its raising my 2 beautiful caring, kind and loving daughters. It hasn’t been easy and at times very stressful but they both make me so proud to be their mum. Being a mum has been my greatest challenge but also the most rewarding. Finding work/life balance is I believe a challenge for all mums, we want to be there for our children always but at the same time we feel the pressure to contribute financially and be an independent woman. We wear a lot of hats because we just want to get it right, but I don’t think any of us ever get it right, we just do our best, we make mistakes and mess up but all we ever want for our kids is to feel loved, accepted and be happy. We just want them to grow into capable, loving, resilient and  kind adults well that’s all I want for my girls.

*Pay it forward: who or what do you admire?

I source items for my business all the time I want to make mention  the amazing artisan creators out there, the skincare, body products, candle makers, crafters and cooking creators, these small business do awesome stuff and I am keen to support as many as possible rather than the big brands. When you visit markets and festivals support these people they put so much love into what they do and deserve to do so well.

Sam also has an amazing range of cards to say words that are often hard to say. From one person who has experienced loss and found it hard to get through, these gifts would be a tremendous help. Just knowing that you have someone in your life who cares enough, is enough.

Head to https://www.theempathygiftco.com.au

Life’s a stage with Netflix

Life’s a stage with Netflix

I’ve always been an avid lover of the theatre. There is something about heading to a show and just losing yourself for a couple of hours. Lately I’ve been obsessed with Mathilda and have had the soundtrack on high rotation, so much so that my children know the words to many of the songs. Secretly, am loving this.

What I find hard about the theatre is the fact that once you leave, you want to relive it straight away. You wish you could watch it all over again. That’s what is so good about the Soundtrack.

Recently I was lucky enough to attend a Netflix Blogger event with the Stream Team –  a group of Australian and New Zealand Bloggers who love nothing more than spending a night in watching their favourite bing worthy shows. It was one of those nights were I got to meet some amazing people, and felt very lucky to be part of such a creative team. Whilst I was there I got to talking to both other writers and the Netflix team from the USA about what I loved most about the content currently in their catalogue. I shared my love of the theatre and being able to relive some of my favourite musicals, as well as watching some pretty cool documentaries that reveal the magical process of creating a broadway hit, or not from scratch.

 

 

Netflix has recently started to add more titles that feature broadway content, meaning that you can bring the love of the theatre right into your own home.  I can’t wait to see their Broadway catalogue continue to grow to include some of the most loved musicals of all time. If you too are a stage show nut like me, then you might like to spend the night in watching the following:

Netflix Rent

Rent is a rock musical with music and lyrics by Jonathan Larson.   The story is about a group of poor young artists struggling to survive and create a life in New York City under the shadow of  AIDS.  On Broadway, Rent won a Tony Award for Best Musical among others. The Broadway production closed in September  of 2008 after a 12-year run of 5,123 performances.

© Sony Pictures Home Entertainment / Columbia Pictures – Annie 1982

Annie This adaptation of the smash Broadway musical follows America’s favourite urchin as she captures Daddy Warbucks’s heart with her unquenchable optimism. The best thing about this one is that it is the OLD one, the original!!!!

One of the most interesting things Ive watched, documenting the incredible highs and lows of Broadway.  MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG opened to enormous fanfare in 1981, and closed after sixteen performances.  For the first time, BEST WORST THING THAT EVER COULD HAVE HAPPENED draws back the curtain on the extraordinary drama of the show’s creation – and tells the stories of the hopeful young performers whose lives were transformed by it.

If you are yet to see Grease Live then all I will say it watch it! For the story and songs we all love, yes, but also to marvel in the incredible performance and organisation that must have gone into putting this entire show, live on national television!

 

Now for the little ones. To my delight we have recently been watching the new exclusive Netflix series: Julie’s Green Room.  Julie‘s Greenroom. Brought to life by the Jim Henson company, the enriching show advocates for the arts and the positive impact creativity can have on every child’s life. With an array of very special guests (Idina Menzel, Sara Bareilles, and Alec Baldwin to name a few), Julie‘s Greenroom might be a show you turn on for the kids but find yourself staying until the final curtain call. Each episode the children are taught about a different aspect of the theatre. Our favourite has been learning about percussion with STOMP! A truly gorgeous show that will instil a love of musical theatre in any one!

So if you count yourself lucky to be at home alone, or with the kiddies for a while then check out some of the above. You will be singing all the way home!

 

Superhero Sleepwear with Warner Bros & Best and Less

Superhero Sleepwear with Warner Bros & Best and Less

Winter is coming and we all know that this means time to rug up and battle the cold. Nothing is better than putting on a new, soft pair of pyjamas. Kids love nothing more than dressing up as a Super Hero, so when Warner Bros. Consumer Products Australia and New Zealand (WBCP) and DC Comics decided to combine the two and bring out a new range of sleepwear featuring your favourite Super Heroes, they were on to something! Available through Best & Less , their range caters for the Super Hero in any child, boy or girl, young or old. The sets not only include soft cosy pants and a matching top, but they are paired with their very own Super Hero mask to create the perfect sleep time costume! Your little Batman or Batgirl will go to bed dreaming of their favourite powers…. just like my two!

These awesome sets are available in sizes 3-7 for a limited time only. Whether you’ve got boys or girls, there is something for everyone!

Best and Less Super Heroes Warner Brothers Sleepwear
Batgirl!

Best and Less Super Heroes Warner Brothers Sleepwear
Batman!
What’s even better is the fact that I will be giving away six sets of pyjamas for six lucky followers.

To win, simply head to my Instagram account @happyellaafter  and:

  1. Like the image
  2. follow @happyellaafter and @bestandless
  3. Comment on which set you would like to win (Batgirl or Batman)
  4. Tag two friends
  • For an extra entry, leave a comment underneath this blog post indicating which Super Hero your child would be if they could choose anything they like!

Open to Australian Residents only.

T’s & C’s & Stuff

  • Comp opens Thursday 11th May at 8pm and closes Thursday May 18th at 9pm.
  • One entry per person (no comp accounts please)

This giveaway is not sponsored, endorsed or administered by Instagram. By entering you are confirming that you are 18+ years of age, and release Instagram of any and all responsibility and agree to their terms of use!

*In partnership with Warner Bros. Consumer Products.

Local Legend: Issy from Seriously Milestones

Local Legend: Issy from Seriously Milestones

Motherhood. Magic, Mayhem, Milestones. Some milestones are well known – first steps, first tooth, first sleep through the night. Then there are the milestones that we all love or hate, that never seem to be ‘celebrated’. Stuff like picking your nose for the first time, throwing your first real tantrum and becoming a threenager. I’ve adored milestone cards for many years as a way to help parents snap and document the incredible moments of joy with their children. However Seriously Milestone Cards takes these events to a new level. Recently my son Hudson turned three, and if you’ve been following along for long enough, you’ll know that some of his milestones have been the result of magical mayhem. Sleep has been an incredible huge challenge in our household, and the first night he slept through the night, I could have shouted it from the roof tops. With Seriously Milestone cards – the Toddler Edit – you can do just that. Issy Ker has developed what is simply the best set of cards to help us all laugh and cherish the times that make us all laugh. Sure, she’s got the set of baby cards as well, but when I was asked to recently test out the toddler edit, I was in love.

Here is a sample of what you can get in this fantastic, real pack!!! Seriously real moments. Seriously real milestones.

Simply Milestone Cards

Simply Milestone Cards

Simply Milestone Cards

Simply Milestone Cards

Simply Milestone Cards

Simply Milestone Cards

Awesome hey!! Issy is a Mum from Bendigo. Let’s hear all about this local legend, and how Seriously Milestones came to be!

1.Tell us a bit about your business, your dream, your story

Seriously Milestones was a total piss-take! My husband and I always talk about ways to make millions of dollars and not have to ‘work’ – this was one of those ideas and it just wouldn’t go away so I decided to run with it. Once I realised that it was actually going to happen, I put a lot of time and effort into making it the best product I could –ensuring the product and packing was all sourced locally and as ecofriendly as possible. Plus I wanted to donate to relevant organisations right from the start, and in less than a year I’ve raised 2K and taken on a sponsor child, which is definitely a highlight.

2. Magic: What is the most magical thing that has happened to you as a small business owner?

Having people believe in my product right from the start. My goal was to have 10 stockists signed up before I launched, which I achieved thanks to some amazing stores who could see my vision. And I say my vision because most of them were on board before I even had a physical product produced. It still blows me away.

3. Mayhem: What has been your greatest challenge, moment of mayhem?

Everyday is mayhem at my house! Honestly! I don’t have an ‘office space’ as such, well, I do, but there is no door…and with 2 crazy kids running around, it can be tough.

I’m super lucky that they are both good sleepers though and get to bed at a decent hour, and my husband works from home too so he can help me wrangle them while I do things if I really need him too.

Actual work challenges are that of most small businesses, the fact that I’d probably earn a better income from stacking shelves at Coles – but at the end of the day it’s about adjusting to the challenges so you can do what you love and what works for your family.

4. Milestone: What has been your greatest achievement, milestone?

There are SO many!

From things mentioned above like getting my first 10 stockist and raising money for charity, to being nominated for business awards and sending products overseas – I feel really lucky that the business is going so well in its first year and I’m looking forward to seeing what the future brings.

5. Pay it Forward: Who do you love? What small business are you lusting over right now?

This question is hard because I live for small businesses and the people who support them too! If I had to say just one right now, it would be @hello_zef because I just picked up a pair of Suzie’s shoes last week and they are to die for! Plus I am in awe of her ability to run this business, plus work another job, all while looking after her son – she is a legend and still totally chilled out!

 

That’s why they call them the terrible two’s

So if you are after something REAL to give to yourself or a friend, then head on over to SERIOUSLY MILESTONES and grab a pack today!