Learning to read at nearly 3

Learning to read at nearly 3Monkey loves books, he has done for a long time. We read multiple times a day and he has so many books he adores. He knows all of his letters now, and can recognise them all. He sings the alphabet song almost constantly and we have been trying to help him understand the phonetics and sounds of letters too as I know he will need those at school and to help him with learning to read. He regularly spells out writing on things and so wants to read himself, and actually I think we are starting to head down the path of learning to read.

I am pretty impressed with this at his age I have to admit and as ever I am not saying “oh my son is amazing” or by any means taking credit for it. All kids learn at their own pace and he may be earlier with some things and later with other things. For example he is not ready for potty training yet but he does seem to want to learn to read.

He regularly points at words and wants to know what it says. When we say it, we try and spell it out and he will often repeat it. He now loves shouting Netflix whenever the big writing comes on the TV! One of his favourite books at the moment is a colours book from the hungry caterpillar collection, where he likes to spell out each word and read it. He is doing this with Daddy and how much of this is just memory I am not sure but it will hopefully help him learn that this is how you read.

Daddy is great at helping him with this and is explaining some of the more complex sounds like o o makes oo etc. I never know how far to go with it as he seems so little to me but at the same time he is so desperate to do it and to learn. He found a bottle of infacol the other day and traced the letters on the bottle and said “LM’s medicine” lol bless him!

He is so proud of himself when he tries which is just lovely and so I certainly don’t want to discourage him from it.

Were any of your kids early readers? I have no idea what is usual for this age and what isn’t!

Ethans Escapades
Not My Year Off

Monkey’s first day at playgroup!

This week was a big day for us as it was Monkey’s first day at playgroup! Looking after Monkey, raising him and teaching him about the world has been my job since he was born. It is why I wanted to be a SAHM and I feel privileged that I have been able to do so for this long. However there are many reasons why we think it will be good for him to go to playgroup. One day he will have to go to school and we want to be able to ease him into it, first of all with a couple of days of playgroup, then preschool before he starts school. The local playgroup generally feeds into the local school so our hope is that he will make friends at playgroup and pre-school and that they will move up together to school one day.

Making friends is the biggest reason we have been keen for him to go to playgroup as although he sees my friends’ children, with jobs and other commitments he doesn’t see them quite so often anymore and it would be nice for him to have more time playing with other children. But he has never been left without me, hubs or his grandparents before so we knew it would be a big change for him, and for us, for him to be in someone else’s care.

He was originally due to start in November, when he was 2 1/2, but with LM being born we didn’t want to make such a big change at that time, as we didn’t want him to feel that he was being taken there because  she was here. So we delayed his start date until after Christmas as we felt that would be the best time for a new start to the routine, and Friday afternoon was his first day.

WP_20150109_18_57_43_ProWe had been trying to prepare him and help him feel enthusiastic and excited about starting playgroup in the run up to the big day. We were recommended a lovely book by a friend who had used it with her son to help him prepare for playgroup, “Lulu Loves Nursery.”* We substituted the word nursery for playgroup but it is a really lovely book and talks about how Lulu is worried about being without her mummy, and feels shy at first, but then decides to be brave and she really loves her day at nursery. It is a great book and also comes with a certificate you can fill out and give to them at the end of their first day.

Monkey absolutely adores this book and we have been reading it over and over since we gave it to him, it has definitely helped Monkey with the concept of me leaving him there but coming back again afterwards. It has also helped that our playgroup provided a little leaflet, which reads like a story, about all of the things you can do there.

The big day dawned and we had a fairly quiet morning at home to make sure he was well rested. Daddy didn’t want to miss it so he came home and we all went off to playgroup together. Monkey had his little backpack on and was dead excited, running basically all the way there and dragging Daddy along! We got there much quicker than I thought we would have actually so had to wait outside for a little while!

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When it was time to go in, Monkey was straight in there, playing with puzzles, he didn’t seem bothered about us at all. We decided not to hang about too long so said our goodbyes after a few minutes and headed out. He only gave us cursory hugs and goodbyes, but as we were leaving we did see a bit of a sad fac, though we heard no cries and saw no tears.

We were both a bit on edge that afternoon, though I think because I still had LM to deal with I was a little less anxious than hubs who was back at work, unable to focus! I did keep an eye on my phone though in case they called but we heard nothing. When we went to collect him the staff said that he had been a little upset, and cried a few times, but that they had been able to distract him with books and toys each time and he had got over his tears.

At the end of the session they have all the children sat together to wait for their parents and then call them out one by one to us parents who are waiting in the foyer, though they can’t see us. I didn’t really know how they did it and if I had I would have asked if he could come out first, but I didn’t so they called out 4 or 5 other children before calling him out, so by the time he came out to us he was very unhappy again. I can understand it as from his perspective, sitting there waiting for mummy and daddy, watching other children go out to their parents, wondering if we were coming for him, it must have been pretty scary.

WP_20150111_11_11_05_ProWe had big cuddles though and he said he enjoyed himself. He showed us the fab picture he made and was excited about the fact he had been using glue.He was telling us about the books he had read and the friend he had played with (I’m not sure he actually did play with this little boy or just said it because we had talked about him beforehand) and within a few yards he said “I love playgroup” which we took as a very positive sign. In fact he even asked me if he could go playgroup again the next day, which is another very good sign. We stopped for an ice cream on the way home (as they do in “Lulu Loves Nursery“*) and he very pleased with his certificate from his  book 🙂

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I am expecting more tears on Monday, potentially even when I drop him off, and probably for a few more times, but hopefully he is off to a good start and it well get easier and easier the more he gets used to the playgroup, the staff and the other children. Fingers crossed anyway! But for now I am just a proud mama and think he did so so well for his first day!

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with his first ever picture from playgroup 🙂

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Our little reader – 28 mths

Storytime at 3 mths old

Storytime at 3 mths old

We have read books to Monkey since he was tiny. Both hubs and I love reading books to him and it has been a major part of the bedtime routine since he was just a few months old. As a result, Monkey loves books. He is constantly bombarding us with books saying “go read, go read, go read” until we comply with his demands!

Now that his speech is rapidly developing he likes saying words and pointing out the names of things in books. He’s also ‘reading’ or rather he has memorised some of his favourite books and joins in with reading them. One of his favourite books (at the moment) is one that Daddy doesn’t even like, “The Tiger who Came to Tea”. Monkey loves it. He goes through fits and starts with lots of his books, insisting on the same one for days at a time, and then moving onto another.

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“How to Catch a Star” Review, Activities and GIVEAWAY!

We have been sent a lovely book to review by Harper Collins. It’s the 10th Anniversary of ‘How to Catch a Star’ so we received the book in  a lovely presentation box and it came with some lovely extras. The book itself (and a spare copy to giveaway, see below!), a poster, some lovely activity sheets, some glow in the dark stars and a very lovely star shaped USB stick, which has the activity sheets on it.


The book itself tells an enchanting story of a young boy who loves stars so much that he wants to catch one and have lots of adventures with it. Monkey loves stars too so it went down very well in our house.

Our favourite quote from the story is

“He thought he could fly up in his spaceship and just grab the star.

But his spaceship had run out of petrol last Tuesday when he flew to the moon”

Monkey very much enjoyed reading the book and looking at the pictures with his daddy!

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And he loved the glow in the dark stars and the star shaped USB stick.

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We also had great fun with the activity sheets, though some of them were a little advanced for Monkey he loved colouring all of them in 🙂

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We then did a little star themed painting with a star cutter and a sponge cut in the shape of a star (well, I tried to cut it in the shape of a star! hehe It went a bit wonky! hehe

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To my surprise Monkey did manage to stamp a few stars with the sponges, but then smeared them all over with his fingers hehe. Ah well, at least he had fun!

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Overall it is a lovely lovely story that I am sure will be a family favourite for many years.

Out on the 27 March, the 10th Anniversary edition of How to Catch a Star is  now available from Amazon for £12.99. (At the time of writing it actually looks as though the price is currently reduced to £9.09!)


Alternatively you can win a copy of this lovely book by entering the below competition!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I was sent the book for the purposes of this review but all views and opinions are my own. Winners will be contacted within 48 hours of the end of the competition. Competition is open to UK residents only and the book will be posted  within a week from the end of the competition. I accept no liability for items lost in the post.

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Mini Creations

Book or Kindle?

I love reading, always have done.  I always had a high reading age at school and by the time I hit secondary school I was well and truly into adult fiction. Bizarrely it was mainly horror – James Herbert to be precise. I think I’ve read everything he has ever written and most of them when I was a teenager. If I re-read them now some of them seem so grisly it’s a wonder I wasn’t terrified of them , but I loved them.

I read very quickly too. Pre-Monkey I could read a novel in a day (there’s no way I have enough time for that now) but even now it still often only takes me a few days to get through a book if I am really enjoying it. I love all sorts of books, as long as it is well written and keeps to the point, I get really frustrated at reading pages of extraneous details that actually seem completely irrelevant to the storyline. I love fantasy, chick lit, historical fiction, science fiction, crime, thriller, drama, horror, romance (though I have to be in the right mood otherwise I just find it a bit cringy). It depends what I want. Sometimes it’s nice just to read a bit of lighthearted fun, whereas other times I want to be gripped or challenged, or sometimes I want to learn a bit of history at the same time. I love a good saga that extends over numerous books. Maybe because I read so quickly, I always want to know what happens next!


A great find!

Travelling was amazing as I did book swaps in hostels and read some amazing books that I may never have read otherwise, and what better to spend the hours and hours on a bus, plane or train than buried in a good book (pausing to look at the scenery from time to time too of course!). A few of the books even made it home, some I packaged up and sent home along with other gifts or souvenirs, others stayed with me for the final few months. “Safely Home” is an amazing book, all about Christianity in China, and one I will keep forever.

After watching a TV adaptation of Ken Follet’s World Without End recently I decided to re-read the book. I love Ken Follett’s books, they are very entertaining, but sadly the TV imitation was a poor, poor relation to the book, barely even the same story at times, such a shame! Anyway, I bought World Without End quite a long time ago, not realising it was the second book of a series. The prequel I did not buy until much later, by which time I had a kindle.

Now I know traditionalists love the feel of a book and I get it, there’s something wonderful about a book, but…. a kindle (or any other e-reader I’m sure) is just so much easier.


A Tome!

So I read the first book, Pillars of the Earth on my kindle. Then I dug out my copy of World Without End and well, as you can see, it’s a hell of a book. Huge. Heavy. Cumbersome. I started reading it in bed one night, and with any book of this size I always find the first pages and the last are the hardest to read as you are off balance, a few pages in one hand, a tome in the other. After nearly dropping it a couple of times, hubby just looked at me and said ‘Why don’t you just buy it on the kindle?’ so I did. I picked up my kindle, did a quick search, bought if for a few quid and there it was, downloaded and ready to read.

There are many reasons I love having my kindle. They include:

Portability, I can take it anywhere. usually just upstairs on downstairs but if i do go anywhere it pops in my bag and doesn’t weigh me down all day like a book. Also, if I don’t have my kindle with me at that moment, I have a kindle app for my phone (which is free) so wherever I am, I can pick up my phone, it will synchronise to the page I was on in the kindle and I can carry on. I have my phone with me all the time and when monkey was diddy if he crashed out on me and I couldn’t move, I just had to get my phone out of my pocket and I could have a good read while he slept.

I can personalise the font sizes. I have glasses that I should wear for reading and PC use. Do I remember to take them with me, or even use them when they are nearby? No. With the kindle though, especially I find if I am tired, I can just up the font size a bit so I am not straining my eyes. Which means less migraines! (I’m aware actually wearing my glasses would have the same result!)

Storage space. I love books, and because I read quite quickly, I love keeping them to read over and over. I do give books away when I know the story so well that it wouldn’t be much fun to re-read, or books I wasn’t that keen on first time round. But for the most part, I love hanging on to them. The problem is where to store them? We have some books out downstairs, some on shelves upstairs, some in a cupboard, and loads under the bed in the spare room. But we really don’t have room for any more. I have over 100 books on my kindle now too and I don’t know what I would have done with all of them!


There are downsides. You can’t lend someone a book as easily and in our family books get shared around a lot when we’ve loved them. Hubby and use the same amazon account for our kindles so we can both enjoy the same books (though not really at the same time) without having to buy them twice.

Browsing on amazon can be fun but it isn’t the same as browsing and reading blurbs in a library, book shop or charity shop.

Images aren’t the same on a kindle. If there’s a map or diagram at the beginning or end (or even a reference section of names or a glossary) you can’t flick backwards and forwards as easily on a kindle as you can with a book.

As much as I love my kindle, and find it immensely useful, we encourage Monkey to read from actual books and will continue to do so. In my opinion kindles and e-readers are fantastic and make some aspects of reading much easier… but they aren’t perfect and can’t entirely replace books.

What do you think? Book or Kindle?


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The Reading Residence

Heroes of the City Review and Giveaway

This is officially my first ever proper review and Giveaway!

I was contacted by the lovely people at Ruta Ett DVD AB  and offered to review the following Heroes of the City package (you have the chance of winning this package at the end of this post!).

Heroes of the City is an animated series aimed at pre-school children, which follows the rescue vehicles in a small town and shows how problems can be solved by helping each other.


I literally just took a picture of the set when Monkey appeared out of nowhere, and grabbed the cars in a flash. He loves cars and I had thought these may be a bit small for him (they are recommended for age 3-6 while Monkey is not even 2 yet) but, nope, he LOVES them. He has spent ages whizzing them around the floor making his doo doo doo noise (I think he means brum brum) and had a good inspect of them. But they didn’t leave his hands for ages.


We then got the book out and he has been having a good look at it (he liked rolling the cars down it). It may be a slightly long book for his age, but he really loves books at the moment so we’ll have a go at reading it to him, and I’m sure he’ll love it more as he grows. I did notice one little type, but that’s just an old proof-reader habit, I spot them everywhere (…except in my own writing!)


I popped in the DVD too and we had a watch, and I was pleasantly surprised by how lovely it was. Monkey can be a bit picky about what he watches on TV (he often ignores the TV if it doesn’t grab him, so we don’t have it on much) but he seemed to really enjoy the series and had a good chuckle at Calamity Crow which was very cute. Overall it has a really nice feel to it, positive messages and good lessons to learn through the programme, which is important to me, I’m quite picky about what Monkey watches too at this young age!


Please excuse the pile on the chair in the background! really should have tidied before taking these pics!

They have a couple of apps for the series too, unfortunately hubby and I are both Windows Phone lovers and there’s no app for it yet  so we haven’t been able to give it a try. The links for Apple or Android are here for you though:

AppStore: https://itunes.apple.com/app/heroes-of-the-city-movie-app/id602592310

GooglePlay: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.rutaett.HeroesMovie&hl=en

Time for the Giveaway! Enter below to win this set, courtesy of Ruta Ett DVD AB.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

I received the above items free for the purpose of the review, however all opinions are entirely my own and 100% honest. 

Giveaway is open Internationally. Must be of legal age to enter. The winner will be contacted within 48 hours from the end of the giveaway. I am not responsible for prize fulfillment or mishaps that happen with shipping. Giveaway ends March 16th, Midnight GMT. Prize comes direct from Heroes of the City.

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A Big Bus Adventure to the Library

Monkey loves buses. He seriously LOVES buses. We have loads of toy buses and he gets massively excited whenever he sees a bus. It could be a real bus – which he will shout and point and clap and wave to – or a bus in a book or on the TV, which again he will shout and point and clap and wave to. Bless him it is very cute.

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We don’t go on buses very often mainly because in our area to get anywhere by bus takes at least 3 times as long and is way more expensive than going by car. He has been on buses before – but not since our holiday in the summer. I have been meaning to take him on a bus for a while but we are generally pretty busy and I’ve just not got round to it.

On a no-plans Thursday however I decided it was time for our Big Bus Adventure. I didn’t want to take him too far and the local library is on the bus route, and I vaguely remembered they do a story time on Thursday Mornings so I thought it would be nice to combine the two. The library is actually about 2-3 mins away in the car, maybe 5 mins by bus (plus all the waiting time either end) but it cost us £2.40 to get there and back. At adult walking speed it only takes about 15 mins to walk… so you can see why we don’t get the bus very often!!

But it was a treat for Monkey and he was very excited when the bus came to the stop, and gave a big clap as it came up.

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He sat very seriously all the way there and I was explaining that it stops to let people on/off etc.


The library wasn’t open when we got there  so even though it was freezing cold we had a little play outside first.

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We had a lovely time at the library – he goes with Nanny and Grandpops to a rhyme time session most weeks but it was the first time we had been to Story Time, and they read one of his favourite Spot books which was lovely and he really enjoyed it. We had a look at some of the many lovely books they have there, but bless him he just kept getting excited to see some of the books we have at home. No matter how I tried to get him interested in other books he was obsessed by Dear Zoo and Dear Santa! Bless him! I did manage to tear him away from his faves though and we checked out a couple of other books on his library card to bring home with us.

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There was more excitement for the bus journey home and it takes a slightly longer loop home so we got a few more pics of him enjoying the ride! 🙂

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And that was the end of our big bus adventure, bye bye bus! 🙂



The Reading Residence