Monday, 29 May 2017

Where to Buy Wooden Toys.

As promised, I've composed a little list of places we get Montessori toys from. I've tried to include all of Violet's faves and my favourite places to pick them up. I'm always looking for new items to add to our rotation, which we change a couple of times a month. Especially as she's getting towards being one (how did that happen?!) we're looking at toys to add and new things for her to try. So let's get started...


Babipur & Baba Me

These two are my absolute go-to when I'm looking for something in particular or for a particular brand. I know I can easily access the likes of Grimms, Holztiger, Plan Toys, as well as being able to get my cloth nappy fix. I've made lots of purchases from these stores, particularly Babipur, they have customer service that's second to none and a great online community for discounts and advice to when stock is available. Our bright 6-piece rainbow was a Christmas present for V, from the lovely Babipur and the pastel rainbow was a little treat from Baba Me, when the new Grimms stock was released. Both were delivered quickly and I received a 10% discount, using the loyalty codes in their Facebook groups. 


Yes Bébé 

Yes Bebe is another fab company, that's a little smaller than the others but still a brilliant place to buy toys. We actually get our Holztiger animals subscription from this website. Holztiger animals are the most beautiful hand crafted wooden animals, but can certainly be on the  proper side. The subscription service allows you to build up a collection, with a discount, depending on which tier you go for. We're currently on tier 2 which gives us a 20% discount on the animals each month. There's no contract and you can leave at any time. We really love waiting to see what animals arrive each month!

Independent Shops 

Small, independent shops are a gold mine for picking up unique toys. I'm a huge fan of a little place called Hebden Bridge, which is packed full of independent retailers and has at least three toy shops. Most of Violet's instruments have come from smaller shops, it's really lovely for her to be able to pick up the items and decide what she'd like. The bells in the photo were a Hebden Bridge purchase, which were shook the entire time we walked around! Museum shops and art galleries are a good place to hunt for different brands too. 


Supermarkets

A lot of supermarkets or high street shops seem to have clocked onto the fact that wooden or natural toys are "back in fashion". We go for wooden and natural toys because they're Montessori friendly, kind to the environment and will last for year to come meaning V will be able to keep them and hand them down. Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury's and even Aldi and Lidl have developed their own ranges of wooden and traditional toys. This apple shaped bamboo plate was from Aldi, and although it's great to eat off (we got some other designs), it's also fab for sorting games or storing toys when they're not being played with. It's definitely worth shopping around, sometimes the supermarkets have some amazing bargains. 


Facebook Groups & eBay 

Facebook is turning more and more into a marketplace. Which is great if you're looking for something second hand and for a reasonable price. I'm in several Facebook groups for wooden toys, natural toys and Babipur have a buy and sell page too. I've picked up some great bargains for our collection. The crochet bowls and peg people were actually from a wooden toy Facebook page, they're hand made by people in the UK and sold for a reasonable price. They're a great alternative if you can't quite stretch your budget to new or branded products. 

Car Boot Sales & Charity Shops

There is nothing more exciting than finding a gem in a car boot sale or charity shop. In the past I've picked up some Plan Toys goodies for less than £1 when they retail over £15. A few weeks ago we headed to brilliant car boot sale and picked up some gorgeous wooden toys that have been stored away for her birthday, we will certainly be heading back in search of other bits in the next few weeks. 

They're my top picks for wooden/traditional toys, I hope I've inspired you to go take a look for yourself and don't forget to head to Facebook to find any discount codes before you buy. Happy shopping!

Katie xx

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Sunday, 21 May 2017

Everyday Montessori Activities.

I've briefly mentioned in the past, that we follow some Montessori principles at home. We base a lot of Violet's play on independent learning, following her interests and "real-life" situations. She has free run of the house, with close supervision on the stairs of course! But other than that, she's able to crawl and climb around wherever she pleases and explore her surroundings. V will crawl off and play and come back to us when she's had enough or would like us to join in. She adores the independence and is constantly finding new things to investigate. With that in mind, I thought I'd share a few of the things we like to do that are Montessori-friendly. 
Violet has her own reading corner, where she can sit with her books and one of us will read with her or she'll flick through them herself. She's keen on reading lift the flap books and we tend to have a theme on going. It's usually farm or zoo related! We spend a lot of time at the library, which has a great children's area and plenty of space to crawl. But it also means we can rotate books regularly and can read new ones for free. V has her own library card too!
When we started out with Montessori, I did a lot of reading up. I remember distinctly reading that children need to see the real- life object before they can put a photo, picture or a toy into context. After reading this, it encouraged us even more to get outside and be more creative with learning. I'm the queen of finding free activities, and recently we headed to a local park to see the rare breed pigs. Violet was able to stroke them, get up close and we even fed them. We took this opportunity to get her pig toy out and show her some photos of the pigs when we got home. 

I did a similar activity after we'd been to a farm. We saw the cows being milked, fed most the animals and a calf had licked Violet's hand (which she found absolutely hilarious). We then talked about the cows and found them in her farm books. I really do think she is picking up words and will point to the cow in a book if you ask her to. 
One thing I love about Montessori is how you can use everyday objects to learn and play. All of our toys are open ended, we don't have any battery operated toys and he majority are natural materials or household items. As I've said before, we follow Violet's interests as much as possible. She loves water play, so sitting in her paddling pool is a must when the weather is nice. Instead of generic bath toys, she has pouring cups, a whisk, spoons and other kitchen utensils to use in the water. 

Violet loves spending time doing every day tasks too. She's really interested if we're in the kitchen and will often sit and watch what we're doing and join in if it's safe for her to do so. Her latest favourite task is helping me empty the washing machine. It does take a little longer than if I did it alone but she loves to get involved. We're not quite at the stage of helping me peg it out, but she will happily sit outside and watch me. We even watered the plants together the other day and she happily played with the hosepipe and watched the water for a good fifteen minutes. 
Our recent trip to the airport, ties back in with gaining real life experiences and understandings. We watched the helicopters and planes coming in and out of the airport. If we're close by Manchester airport she'll watch the planes go overhead so it was nice to get up close to smaller planes at the local airport. Plus it was another free activity that meant we had spent some time outside. 

Hope this was helpful if you're looking for Montessori ideas for little ones. I'm thinking of doing a post on where we get her open ended toys and which ones we recommend. Let me know if you would like to see this!

Katie xx


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Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Fighting Bleeding Gums.

Pretty much as soon as I found out I was pregnant with Violet, I noticed the changes in my gums. Weirdly bleeding gums are a pregnancy symptom and I really wanted to keep on top of the situation. I invested in an electric toothbrush too, which I'm pleased to say is still going strong (not the same toothbrush head, you'll be pleased to hear!).

Even after having Violet, your body is never the same and I still struggle with my gums at times. So when I saw Corsodyl* were looking for reviewers, I thought this was the perfect opportunity for me. The addition of Some Lulu Guinness goodies, did make the parcel even more exciting. 

According to Corsodyl, the Ultra Clean toothpaste is proven to be four times more effective than regular toothpaste, at reducing the build up of plaque, which is themain cause of bleeding gums. The toothpaste itself has a pinky colour to it and does appear quite grainy to look at. I've put this down to the sodium bicarbonate which helps to keep the mouth super clean but also gives a unique taste to this toothpaste. I would say it's an acquired taste and not your stereotypical minty flavour, it took some getting used to however both me and my hubby have commented on how fresh and clean our mouths felt. If you're not a fan of strong mint flavours, this might the perfect toothpaste for you. 

I've definitely noticed a big improvement in how healthy my mouth looks and feels. I will certainly be picking up another tube as soon as this one is finished and might even stretch to using the mouthwash alongside it, for extra protection against bleeding gums. 

You can find the Corsodyl toothpaste nationwide for £3.99 or over at http://www.corsodyl.co.uk/leave-bleeding-gums-behind

Katie xx
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Tuesday, 9 May 2017

DIY Busy Board.


Violet has a keen interest in anything fiddly. I'm talking zips, buttons, toggles and those ties you have on a hoodie. You name it and she'll want to investigate it. I've been threatening to make her a Busy Board for quite sometime and as we try to follow her interests, this seemed like the perfect opportunity. 

V's Busy Board was made really simply and for less than £10, which is a bargain compared to the prices of ready-made ones on Etsy. I picked up most the things from Poundland and Wilko, and managed to find a cheap bit of MDF in our local hardware shop. 

Our board has a mixture of items; a lock, light switch, artificial grass, mirror, ribbon, zip, padlock and a wheel for the bottom of a chair. These were all easily stuck down with super glue and after letting it dry overnight, we were ready to play. 

This is a really easy DIY and definitely something you can easily tailor to the little monkey in your life. Perfect for little hands that want to explore everything! 

Katie xx
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Tuesday, 2 May 2017

A Change in Priorities.

The past few weeks I've had this niggly feeling in the back of my mind. I've been neglecting my social media and blog and I was feeling rubbish about it. But then I remember what I'd been doing instead of Tweeting or scrolling down Instagram - I've been spending time with my family. My tiny girl is growing up so quickly and I don't want to miss a second. And if that means neglecting my Facebook page a couple of days a week then so be it. 

There is so much pressure to build up followers, get as many likes as possible and work with lots of brands. I love the following I've built up over the past five years and I, by no means, want to give up my blog but maybe it's time to take the pressure off. Post when I like, what I like, when it feels right. 

I don't think any anticipates how much your life and priorities change when you have a child. Now I'm nine months into motherhood and I wouldn't change it for the world. But my world HAS completely changed. I don't have hours spare to type up posts or edit photos, in fact I'm typing this after V has gone to bed and now neglecting my hubby for my phone. My little family unit come first, and if that means delaying a few posts every now and again, then so be it. 

With that in mind, here's a few photos of what we have been up to the last few weeks. We've been spending lots of time outside, making the most of the dry weather and I'm so excited to spend even more time out there. 
So you might not hear from me as often but rest assured, I will still be here. But for now I'm busy making memories. 

Katie xx
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