Why I Love Blogging | Reflections of 2014

I thought this would be a suitable post for the last day of 2014 (tomorrow Teacher Types turns 1!) Please check back in tomorrow - I have another special post ready to go!

made with wordswag

I really do love my blog, and love blogging.

Here's why...
  • It combines all of my interests - parenting, teaching, early learning, (a bit of) photography and (a bit of) ICT. I'm so grateful for a dear friend who suggested (when I stared the blog) to stick to one area - which for me is early learning, and I'm proud that I've managed to do this!
  • It's visual and gives me a chance to be creative - I have loved learning to use graphic design apps and websites such as canva, pic monkey and wordswag, plus I got reacquainted with instagram!
  • I feel like I'm helping others - sharing ideas with other parents and teachers and promoting local businesses (not sponsored - just love).
  • It gives me a hobby - when little Miss M is asleep during the day or in the evening, I have something productive to do which is relaxing at the same time.
  • Writing (well in my case typing) is so therapeutic.
  • I've made friends and internet connections with other bloggers (and I've found many other brilliant blogs to follow - just see my sidebar!) The blog world is such a positive and friendly web interwoven with links, comments, photographs and wonderfully written words. 
  • It's a record of what my little miss and I have done together over the year, it's made me get out our digital SLR camera and capture lovely little moments of our days together - it will be nice for her to look back on it when she's older :)
  • My blog has given me a place to retreat when I needed it - sometimes in the blogospehere I feel a million miles away from the daily grind.

Are you thinking of starting a blog? Jan 1st 2015 might just be your time to do it!

Have a look back at my first post here.
I remember scrutinising every word, sentence and image. Now of course I still edit for spelling mistakes and glaringly obvious errors, but I don't worry so much about my wording. I love that bloggers have the freedom to write how they talk.

I wonder how many friends joined Pinterest after reading my first post? (Because let's face it, it probably was only my friends who read my first post). I wonder if anyone got the 'collect' photo a day app?

I still love my blog name - wouldn't change it!

Little Miss M still loves playing with discovery bottles (although she likes to tip the contents out), however treasure baskets aren't really functioning as such any more. They're sometimes filled with play food, pebbles, or just random toys when we tidy up the lounge room. But I'm so keen to use them at school next year as 'phonics baskets' filled with items beginning with the letter of the day!

I could definitely write another 'books I love' post early in the year (for 1-2 year olds)... You can never have too many favourite books! I'll also blog again about Little Miss' 2nd birthday party in March. What a 'to-do list' I've given myself already.

Thanks to everyone who has followed along thing year. I'm so interested to know in the comments - when did you start following me? How did you find me?

Have a great NYE. 

Here are my kisses xx

Lauren

P.S. You may have noticed that I've slightly changed to the look of the blog - less of the green and I'm embracing the white. Hope you like it!
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A Cubby House! Merry Christmas Miss M

Merry Christmas everyone! May your day be filled with joy xo

Well it's been a labour of love - but Miss M's cubby house is finally finished all ready for Christmas! After researching and looking around locally, we decided to order this cubby (as a kit) from interstate (Design a Shed). We really wanted to avoid perma-pine/treated pine because it's so chemically - and as it happened the cubby itself was cheaper (but shipping expensive) so it worked out to be about the same price anyway. Hubby wanted to paint and assemble it himself - although we both didn't realise it would be such a big task! Notice all of the dark grey bits - they were my job! It's only a simple, basic cubby, but was just right for this little corner of our back yard.


Miss M knew she was getting a cubby for Christmas (but it was from us - not Santa, she knew Daddy was building it for her. When we would visit Santa, or when anyone would ask her what she wants for christmas she would say "daddy cubby").

Thought I should include a 'decorated' version of the photo as well :)


Here are our tips and advice;
- Make it an activity you and your other half can enjoy doing together! We made an effort each night after dinner to spend a few hours outside painting. We got more done this way - and was more fun doing it together.
- Paint it before you assemble it.
- Two coats of paint is always better than one.
- Allow yourself plenty of time - don't leave it until the week (or day) before you need it to start.
- The cubby may need modifications (hubby is quite the perfectionist so he wanted to make some alterations and improvements to it).
- Be prepared to make lots of trips to your local hardware store.

I am so looking forward to adding lots of accessories to it - a letter box, wind chimes, play kitchen (remember this guest post by the lovely Benita?), toys, books, chalkboard ... and much more! The hours of play she and her friends and cousins will have out in that cubby will be truly magical and the imaginative play opportunities are endless.

Thank you James for our daughter's amazing cubby!
And once again everyone - Merry Christmas.

Lauren :)
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Sensory Play Ideas | For Christmas Week

Christmas is nearly here! My little miss has enjoyed some Christmasy sensory play this week.

For something different (and just because it was in my pantry) I dyed some risoni pasta with red and green food colouring (hand sanitiser and few drops of pine essential oil was the best method I found - sets the colour and smells like Christmas). I raided my left over Christmas decorations, craft box and bits and pieces we had around the place and made her this sensory bin. Big success!


I thought a Christmas discovery bottle would be lots of fun for my little nephew (8 months old). I popped some of the red/green risoni pasta in with some jingle bells, red/green pom poms, red glitter and scrunched up cellophane. I hope he'll like it!


Last year (before I had my blog), I put together these treasure baskets - one red and one green. Thought I would give it another go, just with bits and pieces from Miss M's toy boxes. As I've mentioned previously on the blog, sometimes the same old toys presented in a different way can seem new, interesting and visually appealing to babies and toddlers. Older children could find the items themselves - set them the challenge! Count how many objects you found or make a pattern - red/green/red/green.


My last batch of playdough was getting a bit old and tired, so I thought it would be a perfect time to make some more. I made it with the traditional red/green Christmas colours in mind, but thought white would be fun as well. When you provide your little one with colourful decorations - they really stand out against stark white playdough. Some cookie cutters in Christmas shapes and loose parts completed this play experience for little miss.


If you're still thinking of a gift to give a little person, whether it be your own, a niece or nephew, or a friends child - consider giving the gift of sensory play (sometimes called 'sensory kits' if given as a gift). Children have so many toys already - why not give something handmade and a bit different?

Happy play.
Lauren :)

Linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT (my favourite link up I must say - if you're a blogger get onto it!)
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A Couple of Extra Busy Bags

Hello everyone! Remember last month when Alison (from The Way He Plays) and I posted 20 Busy Bag Ideas? Well I had this extra little one in mind and thought it should be shared...

You can find these containers just about anywhere and they're generally used for storing all of your craft bits and pieces. Miss M is just getting interested (well obsessed with) 'little things' and 'loose parts', especially the little gems (she calls them 'mini rocks' - bless!) She can't quite turn/twist the containers herself yet, but she certainly enjoys tipping, sorting and moving each item one by one from container to container. The kidney beans were also a big hit after some recent sensory play.


These 'Surprise Sensory Boxes' were Alison's idea - but I gave it a go myself and wanted to share my version. My little miss loves them. I'm teaching her how to slide the boxes out herself and it's go great for her language development - already she's learnt bumpy, fuzzy, soft, rough, smooth...


From L-R / top-bottom: Corrugated cardboard, sticky velcro dots, pipe cleaners, mini pom poms, cotton wool, sandpaper, straws, shiny paper, match sticks and scrunched cellophane. Make sure you glue everything down thought! I also thought these would be great to use at school during our 'five senses' unit for the sense of 'touch'. Thanks Alison for the idea!

As ever, please be wary of small items if your child is likely to put them in their mouth. I would definitely supervise my little miss with these materials, but am confident and trust her not to put them in her mouth - she seems to be over that phase.

Give these a try with your busy little person.
Lauren
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Christmas Gifts for Little Ones to Make

I think it's so nice having something special for little people to give their loved ones at Christmas time. Everyone is getting into the Christmas spirit at the moment - so I figured I should too!

I had originally planned to publish this post on the first of December, but obviously that didn't happen. So it's a bit last minute, but I hope some of my readers may still find these ideas useful and helpful!

You may have seen this one on the blog before. We made these salt dough footprints last year. An upside down footprint, carefully decorated can be made to look like a Christmas tree. (Click here for the recipe). You could also simply make a hole, add ribbon and hang on the Christmas tree. Another simple idea is to simply make a footprint in the Christmas cards you are sending.


To match last years footprint, I wanted to do a handprint this year. These mini canvas' were the perfect size for little hands. They looked a bit ordinary at first, but with a little red love heart and gold glitter I think they turned out really well! (Tip - have lots of practise tries before you do them on canvas, our got better the more we tried). On the back I included this little poem :)


Little Miss had so much fun doing handprints that we did a few extra pictures. She even tried to paint her own hand with the brush - so cute!


Something special I've made for my Mother-in-Law this year, is a Vistaprint photo mug with both of her grandchildren on it. Was so easy to do, and you can add text or even wrap the photo around the mug. Filled with Nespresso coffee pods, tea bags and choccies I think she'll love it! (Hope she's not reading this lol). I made one for my Father-in Law too last father's day and hubby made one for me for mother's day.


Finally, this isn't a gift (or something your toddler could make but maybe a school age child could help you) but I wanted to include it all the same. Do you keep your old Christmas cards from year to year? I kept last year's with this idea in mind - DIY Christmas Bunting! I suggest you make a template triangle shape first so that all of your flags will be roughly the same size.


I'm hoping to have a few more Christmas ideas on the blog over the next few days. I've been loving my first week of school holidays, and now that hubby is on leave as well things are falling into place.

Lauren
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How I Became a Teacher

I don't often tell this story, but I thought it would be a nice one to have on the blog as a bit of a reminder of where I was 14 years ago (wow that's seems like a long time when you add up 5 years of uni and 9 years of teaching).

made with canva

I didn't begin with an Education degree straight after high school. I was always good at computers and technology, and this is the field my dad works in, so we (my parents and I) decided I would apply for a double degree - Bachelor of Computer Science with Bachelor of Arts. Uni began and it was soooo different to high school. I suddenly became popular and as a result, more interested in the social side of uni life rather than the studying (well in my computing subjects anyway - I actually found the Arts subjects kind of interesting and hence got better grades for them). Part way through that year when I turned 18, I got a part time job working in my local Out of School Hours Care at the primary school I attended - just down the road from home. Not because I was particularly interested in this area, I just thought it would be a fun part time job. Meanwhile - I absolutely loved working with the children and several of the other staff (including my boss) would often say to me "You're so good with children - why aren't you studying teaching?"

So I made the big decision to change courses. I met with the Uni counsellor and Head of Education to discuss how I would go about it. I suddenly became excited about the prospect of learning about an area I was interested in. I dropped computing altogether but finished the arts subjects over the remainder of that year (which gave me credit for my elective subjects in the coming years). I continued working in OSHC, learning every day about the kind of educator I would become, right up until I completed my Bachelor of Early Childhood Education.

When I began my first education subject all of a sudden I experienced a love of learning. I wanted to do the readings, I wanted to learn more, I was eager to tackle the assignments... because compared to what I was doing the previous year - I actually found it interesting! I was an enthusiastic student teacher and put my heart and soul into my lesson plans at various early childhood education sites.

In 2005, I was in my fourth and final year (well fifth year if you count computer science). I was starting to think ahead about where I might be able to get a job once I was finished uni. A friend's sister worked at my current school - so this was my foot in the door. I completed my final student teacher placement there, applied and successfully won the position in a Year 1 class. What a way to start my career! I already knew the school, some colleagues and felt confident and comfortable.

I've learnt a lot since then, particularly about classroom management, different strategies to encourage students to do and be their best, various programmes to successfully teach literacy and numeracy, teaching students with Autism Spectrum Disorder and so much more.

9 years later I am still there! It's a wonderful school and next year's Year 10 students will be my first ever little class so that's really special. Part time teaching is working so well for me at this point in my life.

I'd like to finish with a piece of advice to anyone reading this who perhaps doesn't know what they want to be when they grow up. You don't have to have it all worked out straight after high school, or even in your 20s or 30s. Change is always a possibility, further study is always a possibility. We spend so many hours of our lives at work - I believe that it's important that you enjoy what you do. I could not see myself working at a computer in an office job from 9-5 which was where I would have ended up had I completed my first uni course. If you want to be a teacher - go for it! It's an amazing, rewarding and heart-warming profession.

If you're a teacher, I would love to read your story of how you got there in the comments below (or even a blog post of your own - leave me the link!)

Lauren
11

If I Wrote a School Report on my Toddler

So it's the last day of the 2014 school year - yippee! I survived a whole year of part time teaching whilst raising a toddler. The end of the year is filled with Christmas concerts, presentation assemblies, parties, assessment aaaaaaand...report writing. This funny idea came to me today while I was reading books with Little Miss. I wondered if I were to write a 'school' report on my own child - what would it say?

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M is a delightful little person who showed improvement when separating from her parents this term and is beginning to form bonds with other carers. She sometimes plays independently, although benefits from adult interactions during play. M's language development is pleasing and she is able to convey meaning and get her message across in order to get her needs met. She is beginning to combine words together to form simple phrases. After much persistence, M is now able to say her own name.

M enjoys reading books and certainly has her favourite stories. She is able to make connections between the pictures and real life examples. M can count 1, 2, 3 and has fun playing chasey and hide and seek. She has a love of living things and is always happy being outside immersed in nature. Cars, balls, rubber ducks and dogs are some of her favourite toys. M is able to hold a pencil or crayon, however requires reminders to draw on paper and not the floor, walls, books etc.

M is an active toddler and often finds it difficult to be confined to the pram or trolley. She enjoys being free to walk independently when out and about. M listens intently to known nursery rhymes and songs and will sometimes participate with actions and dancing. She is very strong willed and is beginning to follow instructions, although this is an area for improvement. I look forward to seeing M continue to flourish, learn and develop over many years to come.


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This is just meant to be a little bit of fun - I didn't write it too seriously. Maybe it'll be nice to look back on it one day. Maybe I'll write another one in a years time.

Any other teacher bloggers out there every considered writing a report on your own child? Any parents to 20-something month olds - does this sound like your child?

Happy school holidays to any other teachers reading,
Lauren
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Lauren from A-Z | My Alphabet Project Part 4

On our recent road trip, I got a rare opportunity to relax and read a magazine, which is where the idea of this post came from. I've done a few other alphabet inspired posts (here, here and here), but I thought one 'about me' would be nice. So often when I read 'blogging how to' or 'blogging tips' posts, something that always stands out is that readers want to get to know the blogger (hence the importance of a great 'about me' page). Have you seen mine? If this is your first visit to teacher types, please have a look :)

So here I am, the teacher who types... A-Z

At my 30th birthday, 2013

A - Archer. Our chocolate Labrador named after the pub in North Adelaide where hubby and I met :)
B - Blog. My new hobby in 2014. Love it!
C - Coffee. Cannot start my day without one (usually followed by a second later on in the morning).
D - Dance. I've always loved dancing, trained for many years and teach dance via various avenues at school. Am enjoying the Les Mills 'Body Jam' and 'Body Balance' classes at the gym I've recently joined.
E - Early nights. Since you can't sleep in when you have a toddler, this is the only way to catch up on some z z z
F - Friends and Family. Love you all! Xx
G - Greys Anatomy. All time favourite TV show and has been for many years.
H - Happy Home. I feel so at peace and happy when I'm home. We have created a beautiful family space that we love to be in and always look forward to being home.
I - "Innocence Personified" - was hubby's earliest nick name for me :)
J - Joy. One of my favourite words.  Pure, happy = Joy!
K - Kids! I spend so many hours with kids! School, home, play dates. I think that's the thing when you are a teacher AND a mum, you are only away from them when they sleep.
L - Lifelong Learning. Part of what this blog is about and what we encourage our students to be.
M - Miss Mellor (my first teacher name before I became Mrs Hunt). 
N - Neat (not always possible, but it's the goal!)
O - Optimist. I always try and see the positives and keep my hopes up.
P - Photos. Photography is just so special. LOVE!
Q - Quotes. Just look at my side bar for the quote of the month.
R - Rainbows. Here's a link to one of my old posts to explain the significance.
S - Snow Patrol, all time favourite band.
T - Teacher. My career, passion and livelihood. 
U - Uplifting. I try to lift others up when they're down.
V - Visual. I love making my blog beautiful to look at.
W - Wife and Mother. My two greatest roles in life.
X - eXcitable. I'm told is one of my characteristics. Although I've probably toned it down a notch in recent years.
Y - Yes. I say yes to everything. Must learn to prioritise more in the new year and say no when I need to. 
Z - Zest. At a professional development course earlier this year, we each did a personal character strength survey, and my number 1 was 'Zest'.

Did you like this idea? (I can't claim it to be original of course, but apart from the magazine article I hadn't seen it on any blogs before - correct me if I'm wrong though). If you're a blogger give it ago on one of those days or weeks when you have not much else to write about (a bit like 'taking stock'), or keep it in your drafts folder and go back to it every now and again when you feel like writing.

Take care, thanks for reading a bit about me xox

Lauren
10

Homemade Christmas Wrapping Paper | Guest Post

Today I'm welcoming my very dear teacher/artist friend Sarah! I wrote a guest post for her last week - Zip Lock Bag Painting 7 Ways, so being the lovely gal she is, Sarah is returning the favour and has written a guest post for 'teacher types'. She and her boys have been busy making Christmas wrapping paper this week!

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Thanks for having me Lauren! My name is Sarah from Sarah Tamblyn Designs. I design and create fun prints for little people. I also love to have fun with my two young boys and encourage creativity, imagination and mess...(sometimes)!

We recently attempted to create our own Christmas Wrapping Paper to go with my Christmas Stickers.  Instead of doing individual sheets we went bulk!!

I purchased a roll of gloss white wrapping paper and rolled it out on our outdoor table. This allowed me to simply roll it up once the paint was dry, ready to do some wrapping.

You can control the painting as much as you choose. I wanted the paper to have a few sections of different patterns, however depending on how old your kids are, you could just give them some paints and let them go for it.


We cut out some cardboard Christmas shapes using cardboard from the recycling bin and sliced a gladwrap roll into 5 pieces. For the other patterns we used fingertips and the toilet rolls on their side rather than the circular end. I used the same coloured paints that I used to design this year’s range of Christmas Stickers/Labels.



We worked our way up the sheet of paper, doing blocks of patterns.
Block 1: Gladwrap Roll circles
Block 2: Side of the Gladwrap Roll
Block 3: Cardboard Christmas Shapes (we cut from recycled cardboard)
Block 4: Fingerprints
Block 5: Go for it!! Risky.... but they loved it. The colours all mixed so didn’t look as pretty but some lucky relative will get this section ;)



Once it dried, I simply rolled the paper back up, ready for all the gifts that I am yet to organise  Have a lovely Christmas, get the children involved and decorate your home with handmade decorations, ornaments and wrapping!

Sarah
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Thanks so much for contributing to my blog Sarah! I once again am amazed at how a little give and take in the blog world can have such positive flow on effects!

To see more from Sarah you can find her here...




email 
sarah@sarahtamblyndesigns.com
11

Road Trip With a Toddler | The After

Ok so I thought I would write this post as we go... Did you read 'The Before'? No? Click here so you'll be right up to date!

8:00 am
Left Adelaide on schedule. Woo hoo!

8:45 am
We started singing 'baa baa black sheep' (requested by Miss M), a couple of snacks already, played with dolly (dancing, hiding and jumping) and doggy with the bumpy ears (which made her want to drive over bumps on the road). Trying to be positive, happy, not stressed, give her attention. 45 mins into the drive and we are watching episodes of Peppa Pig (but not giving in to every demand - "Yes you can watch peppa but no you cannot hold the phone.")

9:30 am
Note to self, make sure the magnadoodle pen is attached to the board. Impossible to find without stopping the car and getting out once dropped!!

But - favourite item so far are these 'view tainers' (raided them from Hubby's boys room - he tells me they were from Bunnings, followed by "I can feel a blog post coming on". Yes James I'm blogging about our road trip!) We spent ages posting Pom poms and pop sticks.



10:00 am 
First stop - sausage rolls for everyone. Patted some friendly dogs, successfully back in the car at 10:30. Driver swap.

11am
Sleep! Yay! Only half an hour but better than nothing. Grizzly for a bit but not as bad as I thought (made me imagine how it would feel waking up, not in my own bed, being tightly strapped in with no escape). Next stop at a playground at 12noon, followed by a bottle.

12:30 pm - 99 kms to go!
Rest of the trip went as well as could be expected. We had a 'toddler who cried poo' incident, thought she needed a change, got her out, no change needed, then refused to get back into her car seat! So I ended up sitting in the back with her for the last half an hour, reading books and putting coins in the money box. 

Arrived as predicted at 2:00 pm
Currently trying to get her to nap - not sure how we'll go...
Nope - didn't happen.

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The drive home...

Left at 10:00 am - off to a good start.
Played with dollies to start the long drive. Predicting it will be hard to maintain my positive, happy, not stressed and give her attention method on the drive home because I'm soooo tired. Looking forward to sleeping in my own bed, pitch black with A/C (I'm a fussy sleeper).

10:30 am
First stop already because I wanted to look at the 'trinketry' shops in a cute little town. James & Miss M go to the playground, and a lovely lady at a cafe heats up her bottle for her. Here's hoping a warm bottle in the car = a nice loooong sleep. Are you crossing your fingers for me?

11:30 am
Asleep! Better this time round because she had a warm bottle at the right time and took her dummy. Nice and cosy too in the car. I get to enjoy reading a magazine.

12:30 pm
One hour later - still asleep! We sacrifice our planned lunch stop (one of SA's best country bakeries mind you) and continue to the next town. Does your little one wake up as soon as the car stops or a door closes like Miss M?

1:00 pm
Awake & stop for lunch. Love all the little kid friendly rest stops we have discovered - most have play areas, pencils, chalk boards etc...

1:30 pm
My turn to drive. A few episodes of Peppa Pig kept her happy for a while, but she was quite grizzly on this next stretch. We made a quick stop for petrol around 2:30 and then I sat in the back to read books for a little while. Getting a bit over it now we think.

4:00 pm
Made it home safe and sound!

Phew! What a weekend. Was great to spend time with family.

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Do you have any road trip travel tips that you would like to add? If you're off on a holiday during the silly season, good luck! 

Lauren
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