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  1. Deaf Awareness Week

    When I heard about Deaf Awareness week, I knew I wanted to know more, it isn't something I have any experience of personally, however I find it useful to understand a bit more about conditions that others are living with. You never know when you might meet someone and it might come in useful. 

    Deafness or hearing loss happens when one or more part of the ear are not working properly. There are different types of deafness and different levels of seveerity, having done a bit of reading, it really its quite a complex and varied condition. However, when I started researching, I knew exactly the person I wanted to hear from!

    A few years ago Mary got in touch when shopping for Christmas Gifts for her two children. It was lovely to be able to recommend certain toys and since then Mary has given me so many recommendations of toys which I now stock and have be enjoyd by many. 

    Mary has a son called Ewan Age 5 who is Deaf, and they really are very inspirational.


    Here Mary talks about her journey with Ewan and provides an insight into how they have adjusted to living with deafness. 


  2. Developing Social Skills through Play

    Written by Sheila O’Reilly

    Now that lockdown is easing and we are beginning to return to some sense of normality, our children will hopefully have more opportunities to play together, so I thought it was good timing for a blog exploring social play and how children develop their social skills through playing.



  3. Toys for Out & About

    As the UK restrictions are starting to ease and things are opening up. It is great news that we will be able to enjoy days out, although I am also a bit apprehensive about taking the Children out again. 

    It used to be second nature to take a bag of toys craft activities, spare clothes and anything else we might have needed. However I have completely got out of the habit now and need to think again about what's on the list. 

    My two children have changed so much over the last year, so the bag of toys which once used to be a hit needed a review. I thought I would put together some of the things that will be in my bag once we start to go out and about again. I hope it helps: 

    1. Pen and Paper

    These are always in my handbag, where ever we go they are essential items. Whether your children like drawing or not a pen and paper can really help keep them entertained. You could draw a picture for them to guess, or for older children you can play noughts and crosses or hangman. 

    2. Tangram Puzzle

    I gave this to my children last year during the summer holidays when we had a few meals out. It was great for both of them Age 5 & 7 at the time and it will continue to come out with us. It is a selection of shapes in a tin, there is a leaflet for ideas of what to make. My son wanted to go through each one and make the picture and my daughter preferred to make up her own. The set was big enough to keep them both entertained with a bit of limited sharing needed! 


    3. Tic Tac Toe Travel Game

    Just like noughts and crosses but cute wooden piece instead which come in their own bag which doubles up as the board. A really good small game for two players. So easy to put in your pocket or handbag. 


    4. Nine Men's Morris Travel Game

    An old English game with the objective to capture opposing pieces by forming lines of 3. A easy to learn game, but requires great skill and patience. The bag includes the pieces and doubles up as the game board. 


    5. Catch a Fish Travel Game

    Included in this games are magnetic pieces and fishing rods. Requires skill patience - great for working those fine motor skills too. Would double up for younger children about ocean and sea creature play. 


    6. Smallworld play mat and figures

    Coming in different themes these play sets are so sweet and perfect for on the go. The Play mat doubles up as a bag and all of the wooden pieces can be enclosed. Great for smallworld play and story telling. 

    London and Safari Themes available. 

    tender-leaf-toys-safari-park-story-bag-01_720x tender-leaf-toys-safari-park-story-bag-02_720x

    7. Story Sacks

    If you are going out to a pub or restaurant, why not take a story sack, whether you buy one already put toegther or put together your own from books and toys you have at home. 

    Having a story can be really calming so often good for somewhere when the children need to sit still. My two will be happy to play along with the figures as I tell the story, but also continue their play after the book as finished by using the pictures and accessories I have brought along. We have a selection of Story Sacks available to buy which all come with a cotton storage bag to store all of the pieces included. 

    BettytheBee  DearZoo

    8. Safari Binoculars

    If you are going somewhere in the great outdoors, why not consider taking one of our adventure range. These Safari Binoculars keep them entertained for hours. These have to be the most popular along with our Easy Hold Magnifier

    Great for little explorers.

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    9. Magnetic Labyrinth

    A game of patience and balance, this is going to be a great new addition for my 5 nearly 6 year old and will be a good one for my 8 year old too. 

    No loose parts so easy to pop in your bag, the magnectic stick is attached to the board by a small string. 



    I hope you have found this useful and makes for lots of fun summer days out! 

    Please message if you would like any more recommendations. 

  4. Living in the moment: lessons from my ASD superhero


    Conall was diagnosed with aspergers and sensory processing disorder almost 3 years ago now. He’s a bright and curious 8 year old who overcomes daily challenges to access his school work and absolutely a superhero in my eyes! We’ve worked hard to help him to self-regulate by recognising and meeting his own sensory needs, or asking us for help if necessary. He’s become very good at this now, and our previous daily meltdowns have become far fewer and farther between.

    Conall is happiest outdoors, preferably under the two ancient oak trees on the far side of the field. He walks around and around the enormous trunks, running his hands over the bark, lost in the sensation. He lies on his back and talks about - sometimes to - the clouds he can see through the branches, or “craws” at the crows flying overhead. When he’s having a difficult morning, I’ll sometimes let him go out into the garden to play alone for a few minutes. I’ll often see him from the kitchen window, standing stock still, just gazing straight up into the sky. If I call to him at these times he is deaf to everything: he is truly connected with the world around him. He is entirely in the moment.

    Conall has always displayed a sensory approach to life. He likes to touch and taste things, touching not only with his fingertips, but his bare feet, his lips and his tongue. He experiences the world in a different, far more holistic way to the rest of us - and frankly when I hear that he has been licking puddles at school, or see him walking barefoot across our frozen gravel drive, I’m more than a little worried by it. But as long as they are safe activities, I have come to recognise these as very real ways of connecting with our world. Other children may jump in muddy puddles in their wellies; we have a clean water tray outside the front door permanently, for washing thick squelchy mud from between bare toes. Rather than discourage him, we now encourage his brothers to join in. We use it as a life skills exercise, running through a quick risk assessment before we begin. The kids can now spot a sharp stone or a pointy stick, not to mention a poisonous berry or potentially poisonous mushroom, at a distance!

    It does seem that we place a lot of emphasis on teaching children to live WITHOUT mindfulness. Our school system is geared towards the future from day one; to conforming to society, working our way through the accepted paths of education, and ultimately to passing exams with as high a score as our potential suggests we can achieve. We teach children to be disconnected from the world around them, to look but not touch, to keep their hands and clothes clean, eat with a knife, fork and spoon and wash their hands after every activity. These are important skills to learn, not least to keep ourselves healthy and germs at bay. But actually, getting our hands in the mud, or paint, feeling the texture of an avocado, lying in the grass and talking back to the crows all allow us to connect with what is around us. They ground us in the moment. Mud, paint and avocado will all wash off, even if the grass-stains won’t...

    I began documenting our journey to diagnosis right at the very start of Conall’s journey when the twins were three, and would like to close by sharing a paragraph from my journal:

    As I write this, I can see the twins and my husband crossing the field in the dusk light, on their way home from a visit to the oak trees. Both my twins and my husband have beaming, rosy faces, and my sensory son is catching snowflakes on his tongue. With a warm glow in my heart, I can’t help but think that, in his unique and contrary style, my lovely boy is showing us all the way. There issomething powerful in connecting to nature and, in fact, in connecting with our inner preschoolers - if only because they are so much more accomplished at living in the moment than we grown-ups ever could be.

    Thank you to Caroline for sharing her beautiful story of Conall, I have learnt so much this week about ASD, the spectrum and hearing real life stories has definitely given me insight into what it can be like.

    I hope you have found it useful. 

  5. Easter Activity ideas

    Written by Sheila O’Reilly

    The Easter holidays are finally upon us..yay!! A break from school runs and homework and more time for play, crafts and chocolate!! I thought it might be useful to share some Easter craft and play ideas to keep our little ones busy over the next while as we continue to stay home as much as possible.