Blog : Little Lilypad Co

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The Little Lilypad is a lifestyle blog mostly written by a mum to two beautiful, cheeky and entertaining daughters. It is sometimes written by the Man on the Pad or by one of our baby bloggers. Occasionally we accept guest posts too. There is frequently talk of shoes and clothing (we love fashion and savvy shopping), chocolate (who doesn't love chocolate) education and swimming (we love this too). It is hopefully helpful, sometimes funny and always honest.

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Category: Views & Ramblings

  1. What Makes a Great School Playground?

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    As the end of the year draws near, many of us reflect on the good bits, the bad bits and all the bits in between. When it comes to schools, we as parents tend to look at the essential bits. How well is the school performing from a grade perspective? What is the local opinion of the school? What facilities does the school have? Whilst all of these questions are extremely important and very valid when making a decision, one of the things we tend to overlook is the quality of the playground.

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    Nobody knows your child better than you and I’m sure we can all agree that a good playground can do wonders for our children, helping them grow and develop in ways that we often don’t notice. So, this post is dedicated to highlighting the key activities and factors to look out for when judging a school playground. The hardest part is trying not to be swayed by your own childhood playground memories!

    Physical Challenges

    The first point to consider is the physical challenges that your child should be undertaking in the school playground. Physical activity has been proven to have a positive effect on classroom learning, so for your child to make the most of their time at school, they must have room to push their physical limits and expend energy.

    In particular, you want to keep an eye out for physical challenges that encourage healthy competition or interaction like agility trails, climbing apparatus and themed equipment (depending on the age of your child of course). A good school playground will have a variety of different physical challenges for children to enjoy and use based on their personal tastes.

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    Socialising Opportunities

    The second essential feature to look out for is socialising opportunities that encourage the school children to interact with one another. Humans are social creatures and a massive part of child development is directly linked to speaking, picking up social clues and generally interacting with others.

    Social opportunities can be presented in a variety of different forms. Meeting places and seating is always a great way for children to come together and interact but equally, large thematic equipment can be great at encouraging children to engage with each other.

    Brain Teasers and Discovery

    The final key points we’re going to look at is the inclusion of brain teasers and discovery. This is particularly important in nurseries and primary schools, where the children are still full of imagination. The brain behaves just like a muscle - it needs practice and continual use to become more efficient. Giving children the equipment and materials to let their imagination run free is a great way of helping them develop. For older children, riddles and mental challenges are more appropriate for developing critical thinking and problem solving.

    In general, discovery can be incorporated in school playgrounds for younger children through moving parts and physical puzzles. In particular, puzzles that involve walking or moving are really good, which is why lots of school playgrounds feature mazes on the floor. Keep an eye out for this when you’re visiting a school playground. On the flip side, trying to put tougher brain teasers into a playground is much more difficult, though there are still some puzzles that might be appropriate.

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    Overall, the key to a healthy and positive school playground is variety. No playground should focus on a single goal, whether that be physical growth, mental challenges or social opportunities; instead, they should combine all of these targets into one and have equipment that works towards this overarching goal.

  2. 3 easy ways to save money before Christmas

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    With Black Friday Week  and Cyber Monday Week done and dusted, we’re all feeling the pinch in our pockets this week. Although we’ve all supposedly been paid last week, I’m shook. My bank statement sure doesn’t look like it!

    As the end of the year gets closer and we are cozy in our homes, it is usually a time when we all think about new years resolutions and maybe a new home. Moving house is a massive undertaking for anyone, so before you start getting moving quotes we have some top tips for saving money before Christmas. It sounds like an impossible task but it can be done! 

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    We all know that December is tight. It’s no secret that when we get towards the end of the month, there’s an element of scrimping and saving. Luckily, we’ve already bought sufficient supplies of snacks, so at least we don’t starve. So long as you’re happy feasting on Festive Friends biscuits, M&S chocolate rounds, Pringles, and Quality Street toffee circles. If you’re lucky, there might even be an allusive After Eight left lurking somewhere amongst the empty wrappers.

    In all seriousness, while this is certainly the season for splurging, there are ways your can keep hold of some of your hard-earned cash.

    1. Go a bit Grinch with gifting

    OK, so that’s not in the holiday spirit, entirely, but it’s definitely worth rethinking your gifting. Sure, if you want to splurge on your children at Christmas, that’s great. You do your thing. But do you really need to be a second Santa Claus for the children of extended family and friends? Do you have to gift your parcel delivery lady, the staff at school, your colleagues? Probably not. Tot up what you would spend on presents you actually begrudge gifting and consider gradually decreasing the amount your pocket parts with. Alternatively, if you’re brave enough, scrap it altogether and simply explain you’re cutting back should the conversation arise.

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    1. Say no to seasonal outings

    Not all seasonal outings, of course. You want to head somewhere special with your family, whether it’s Christmas markets, a panto, or Santa’s grotto. Sure, you do. However, you don’t need to show your face at every festive event with extended family, friends, or co-workers. Prioritise your time. Don’t go to anything that really doesn’t do it for you. Choose the odd one or two occasions, and really enjoy them. As well as saving money, it could well save your sanity at this time of year!

    1. Bag the bargains

    There’s two ways to save mega bucks when it comes to buying presents: get gifts early or get them real late. Chances are, if you’re considering this tip, purchasing pressies early is out of the equation. Luckily, during December, stores start to panic and slash the prizes on prezzies. For example, M&S frequently slashes Christmas gifts by as much as 50 per cent at this time of year. Keep an eye on your inbox, as companies give sales a final push, you should see a whole host of discount codes appear in your emails. Don’t panic buy, put a couple of evenings aside, search online for the best prices, make use of offers and discount codes, and save some cash on the RRP.

    If you take heed of some of our top tips, you will notice that your savings will quickly add up. Good luck! 

  3. 10 Fun Christmas Ideas for Under 5's

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    Ever since they start walking and talking, kids love to help their parents and ask to participate in all happenings around home. Even small kids, like toddlers and preschoolers enjoy crafting and baking with mommy as we approach holiday season. Same goes for Christmas! Invite your toddlers and preschoolers to help you with Christmas crafts and decorations. And they can even make Christmas gifts for family members and friends!

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    1. It’s fun when your Christmas tree is twirling and whirling on the wind! Invite your kids to create Christmas tree twirler from paper plate and decorate it as they wish. Then attach it on your ceiling and let them spin!

    1. We always keep a stash of paper rolls in our recycle bin for crafts. This inexpensive crafting medium is so versatile and we love reusing them to recreate different items. Like this lovely toilet paper roll reindeer! Adorable, isn’t he, with his red nose!?

    1. Little ones enjoy sensory play and while you’re busy preparing for Christmas holidays, prepare for them Christmas themed sensory bin to occupy them and let them explore different textures and senses.

    1. Is your child looking forward to white Christmas? As years go by, we are lucky if snow really falls on Christmas. But you can still let them have a sense of white Christmas if you make with them homemade snow recipe.

    1. Do you have buttons laying around your home? We always have some spares for crafts and one of crafts we made with them are lovely button snowflakes. If you are looking for more easy Christmas decorations, you can take a look at collection in Handmade Ornaments book.

    1. Gingerbread man is one of my children’s favorite Christmas themes. We made many gingerbread man crafts over years and we still have gingerbread man cards we made years ago as keepsake!

    1. Thinking to put together a Christmas party or you need a larger scale Christmas decoration for your classroom? We love how kids get to collaborate to make handprint Christmas tree. Looks wonderful displayed on bulletin board!

    1. Crafts that can be completed in super short amount of time, when you need something to quickly distract and occupy little ones are sometimes hard to find. Let them create their own personalised easy solstice lanterns as last minute project before Christmas.

    1. Christmas crafting comes as good practice for your toddlers and preschoolers fine motor skills. One of the crafts where they can use their little fingers and practice waving are yarn Christmas trees. Love how each and every one of them is different and unique!

    1. Every child is looking forward to Santa coming on Christmas eve! As they wait, invite them to make their own paper plate Santa! Easy craft to make after reading your child’s favorite Christmas story!

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    Christmas is one of those holidays every child loves. We also love to spend time over Christmas holidays crafting and baking together. Perfect opportunity to spend time bonding as family and create memories for years to come! You can start new Christmas tradition this year with your kids too!

  4. 5 Things to Decorate Other Than A Gingerbread House

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    It’s beginning to look at lot like Christmas! And now, with Halloween and Bonfire Night done and dusted, the weather has turned colder and we’re officially allowed to crank up both the central heating systems and our plans to go full Crimbo! Eeeek!

    I don’t care what anyone says. No matter how much you dread spending hundreds on stuff you don’t need, and food, and all that jazz, we definitely do it because Christmas is simply magical. It captures us from October onwards and gives some sparkle to our cold and dreary winter days.

    You’re tired. But it’s OK, it’s Christmas. You’re skint. But it’s OK, it’s Christmas. You’re having a glass of wine straight after the school run. It’s OK. It’s Christmas.

    Such a special time of the years deserves to be celebrated with crafting and all things creative. We’ve got Elf season coming up, and I’m even excited for that. Don’t judge me. Our Insta is going to be merry and bright!

    That being said, there’s one thing that I’m absolutely not feeling.

    Decorating the dreaded gingerbread house.

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    OH MY GOSH. Tell me I’m not alone on this one? I can’t be the only mum who finds it darn near impossible to piece together gingerbread with watery or clumpy royal icing (there’s no inbetween) and make a delightfully festive and equally delicious gingerbread abode.

    My attempts always look like the Hansel and Gretel witch’s dwelling, after she’s been burnt alive and the house is left in ashes.

    Gingerbread houses cum war zones aside, there has to be some other stuff we can decorate with the children in the run up to the 25th December. Here are five of my favourite, and totally doable, Pinterest-worthy ideas.

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    1.    Christmas Bauble

    The beauty in a bauble is that it can literally be any craft whatsoever… on a string. Just make some fabby Christmas creation with your youngster and thread a hanger through it. Job done. Literally.

    2.    Christmas Cake

    You might have to nip to M&S to make sure you have a reserve in play, you know, just in case, but Christmas cake decorating is the perfect way to spend an afternoon with your sprogs. Rank up the degree of difficulty depending on your baking skills. Mums and dads who are a dab hand in the kitchen can make fruit cake and chocolate yule logs from scratch. Parents who aren’t, well, no one will no. Nip to Asda. Stockpile all your decorating bits and bobs and let your children create their own snow scene. A chocolate log complete with perched robin is a traditional and easy-to-do festive favourite.

    3.    Christmas Cards

    Three options. Visit Santa with the children, go to the photo shop and reprint your snaps. Create photo cards. Turn a fantastic morning out into a crafty and productive afternoon at home. Alternatively, finger prints make for some unusual abstract reindeers and snowmen cards, or so I’ve seen online. Or, you could just nip to ELC or Tesco and buy a card kit. Like the rest of us.

    4.    Christmas Wreath

    If you want to make a wreathe with anything other than tissue paper, I suggest you attend a class before introducing eucalyptus leaves and holly to your children. You’re a better person than I am. For those of us that wish to stay sane, scrunching shades of green tissue paper onto an O-shaped piece of cardboard looks surprisingly brilliant. Adorn with pinned pinecones, dried orange rings, holly berry tissue paper balls, and any other Christmas decoration your DD/S fancies.

    5.    Mini Christmas Tree

    Mini Christmas trees can be picked up almost everywhere on the highstreet, in supermarkets, and in gardening centres for next to no cost. Pick one up and let your little one decorate their own tree for their bedroom. Mini baubles from Paperchase are slightly expensive, but fun and young, and definitely worth it if you reuse each year.

     

    So with the cold weather on the way, stay in the warm and get crafting! You never know it might warm your soul too!