Hi! I’m Alanna. A proud mum of three little monkeys under 5, Savannah 4.5 yrs, Hunter 2 and Axel 8 months. I’m also a passionate primary school teacher with a desire to educate children through exploration in a fun way! Savannah is the drive behind ‘little sponges’ being created with her desire to learn!!
Empowering young minds… As knowledge is power!
I’m also very passionate about health and fitness! And believe it is valuable to educate and model how to be healthy and active in front of our children. Don't worry, I fail often at this, icy poles on a hot day, who can say no.
I decided to start a Facebook page (Little Sponges) in 2013 just after my second child was born.The aim was to educate and show parents some simple, easy, fun and non-expensive ways to entertain whilst educating their little sponges. These early years should be about fostering a love to play, explore and learn, as they are the prime years in which they learn.
Why would I bother? You might ask?? After receiving numerous questions asking what I do with my Savvy, I decided I would love to share my ideas with other parents, and teach them creative, fun playful ways to interact with their children with a learning focus in mind. Ideas that are inexpensive (things we can find around the house or easily at the shop that will serve a variety of purposes). I LOVE CONTACT ACTIVITIES. You will see the many activities that my kids love to do that keeps them out of my hair when I need to get stuff done!
After finally becoming a teacher and after my first year out of university it all happened. It was 2010. I was teaching year 4 and eager & so excited to put all my ideas into action. I also had just gotten married that year and then bang fell pregnant with Savvy. After having Savvy I didn’t go back to teaching full time and still buzzing with an eagerness to teach I started researching and trialling fine motor skills and age appropriate activities for her that engaged and challenged her thinking. As she progressed so did the activities. We progressed and it became a daily thing we did together that we both loved.
If I was asked what three things are a must to do with your child… these would be it:
Communication/ talking and listening:
Language development supports your child’s ability to communicate, and express and understand feelings. Developing thinking and problem-solving, and developing and maintaining relationships. It's the basis for learning to read and write. Explaining what you're doing, asking them questions and explaining new words helps develop effective language users.
Playing /Role Play /Modelled Play:
"Play" is NOT just for pleasure but it’s how children learn.
Through play children benefit immensely. It's a positive way to enhance their learning experiences, their self-esteem but also for parents to build upon their relationship with them. Role modelling real life situations (playing shops, Drs, or mums and dads etc) helps them develop new language appropriate to the situation and how they are to act etc.
Reading to your child:
WE are our children's first teachers.
1.Spend at least ten wildly happy minutes every single day reading aloud. From birth! It’s never too soon.
2.Read at least three stories a day: it may be the same story three times. Children need to hear a thousand stories before they can begin to learn to read. Or the same story a thousand times!
3. Read aloud with animation. Listen to your own voice and don’t be dull, or flat, or boring. Hang loose and be loud, have fun and laugh a lot. Read with joy and enjoyment: real enjoyment for yourself and great joy for the listeners - our children.
4. Read the stories that your child loves, over and over, and over again, and always read in the same ‘tune’ for each book: i.e. with the same intonations and volume and speed, on each page, each time.
5. Let children hear lots of language by talking to them constantly about the pictures, or anything else connected to the book; or sing any old song that you can remember; or sing nursery rhymes in a bouncy way; or be noisy together doing clapping games.
6. Look for rhyme, rhythm or repetition in books for young children, and make sure the books are really short.
7. Play games with the things that you and the child can see on the page, such as letting kids finish rhymes, and finding the letters that start with your child’s name and yours, remembering that it’s never work, it’s always a fabulous game.
8. Read aloud every day because you just adore being with your child, not because it’s the right thing to do!
AT OUR HOUSE…….
Bedtime stories, snuggles and my three bed time questions! Best time of the day!
Reading as I've mentioned many times before is so important for fostering imagination, language bonding and the pure enjoyment of a story.
I like to ask her to predict what the book might be about just from reading the title and looking at the picture. (If a new book or one not commonly read)
I think about identifying words that she might not understand and ask her what she thinks they mean. For example ‘transport’ and ‘scolded’ were in a book we read tonight. Broadening her vocabulary and giving meaning and understanding of that word within the story. By reading on and looking at the pictures it may help your child decode and build understanding of any new vocabulary.
Remember to ask your precious child at the end of the story what their favourite part of the book was? Or ask why they think something happened? All great questions to see what they absorbed.
Now for my favourite 3 questions before bed!
1. What made you smile today?
2. What did you learn?
3. What made you laugh?
A great wrap up of the day! Recounting some of the happy memories of the day to send lovely thoughts in their heads before bed. I love her stories too! They are in depth and usually very funny and entertaining. A nice way to end the day.
If you head to my ‘little sponges’ Facebook page with the star icon and request to join the group you can see what we do and scroll through the many activities we have done. I'm hoping to have a web page soon to have all the activities categorised by age and learning objective themes. It is my aim to share my ideas with parents who want to know more.