The Big Rocking Horse | A South Australian Icon

My little family of three spent a lovely morning yesterday at The Big Rocking Horse at Gumeracha, nestled in the Adelaide Hills, about a 40 minute drive from the city. We had such a beautiful day, and there was so much to do. It really was a perfect outing for our (almost) two year old!

Here's a summary of what we got up to...

Young children can really only go to the first platform safely. To get to the very top you need to climb a few steep ladders - older children would manage though.

Little Miss M had a 'ride' or rather sat on the mini rocking horse while watching her dad climb to the top of the big rocking horse!

We had a great late breakfast / early lunch at the cafe. Food was great & coffee was great (great kids menu too). Little Miss M loved the cute little kids play area and a fairy bread treat.

Then off to look around the toy shop (all the toys are handmade on site at the toy factory). I absolutely love wooden toys, I think they are beautiful. I couldn't help but buy a little something to put away from M's 2nd birthday coming up in two weeks!

Last stop was the Animal Park which was awesome. Kangaroos, goats, peacocks, chickens, ducks, geese, cockatoos, galahs, sheep and more. Very gentle to feed and only $2 for a bag of food. A nice, relaxed way to see some animals up close!

Finally, there's a fantastic kids outdoor play area!

Now I should mention that we visited on a weekday, the weather was beautiful (after a 40 degree weekend), and it wasn't too busy at all. I imagine that on weekends, it would get rather busy, but the cafe has plenty of tables indoor and out.

Here's the details you might like to know;

Rocking Horse Entry - $2 
Animal Park Entry - $1 (and $2 for a bag of food)
Open 7 days 9am - 5pm
Phone: 83891085
Follow the signs once you arrive in the town of Gumeracha - you can't miss it!
{not a sponsored post - just wanted to share our lovely day out!}

Thank you to the staff for their kind hospitality.
If you haven't been here yet with your little one - do it!


Get to Know Anna | Bombarded Mum

Every now and then you come across a great new blog - a blog that feels like the writer is speaking directly to you. I found Anna from Bombarded Mum via the Aussie Parenting Bloggers FB group I'm a part of, and this was the first article of Anna's I read - Coming out of the parent fog. She wrote about how her three children were at an age (5-9) where she and friends along with their kids could go out for a relaxing meal and actually finish a conversation! Gone are the days of nappy changes, high chairs, crying and tantrums. Anna succinctly divided raising children into three stages;
  • 0-5 Physically exhausting
  • 5-12 The dream years
  • 12-18 Mentally exhausting
I read this article and felt like she was writing to me. I felt completely smothered by the fog! And I knew that I had a few years of fog ahead of me - but that it would get better, although Miss M wouldn't be little anymore. You don't want to wish away the early years too quickly, but it was nice to ponder a more relaxed lifestyle to look forward to one day.

Anyway, like me Anna is a teacher too, however is also a parent educator and is dedicated to helping and supporting mums become the best parent they can be. I hope you find some useful tips from my interview with her.

Welcome to Teacher Types Anna!

1. Tell us about your kids – 3 children within 4 years + 3 months! Wow!

Yes, I had three children in a very short space of time. My adorable first daughter Zoe was born in 2005 and 19 months later I had a beautiful bouncy boy, Lachie at a whopping 4 kilos. Two and a half years after this we had our third child, our lovely little daughter Maddie. I won’t lie when I say it has been the most full on time of our lives so far! 

They are now 9, 8 and 5 and my youngest has just started school – time just flew!

I have to be honest and say that the years when they were all young were very busy and I managed on very little sleep. Much is of it is now a blur – thank goodness for an iPhone camera that captured much of what was life with little kids. 

To add to it, when the kids were 5, 3 and 10 months old we moved from Sydney to Washington DC – an international move was very exciting but logistically hard work and thankfully I found some lovely American moms who also had little kids and we joined a gym with a crèche attached and we survived. 

2. How has the start of school gone for your youngest?

It is hard to believe my youngest is already 5 and ready to go to school. She was completely ready to go and has settled in beautifully. Her teacher is lovely and very experienced and she already knew lots of the kids in her class from preschool, plus she had her brother and sister there to keep an eye out. 

In her first week she was ‘Star of the Week’ for her caring, compassion and good listening skills so we must have done something right! 

I am so thankful I had the chance to spend two days a week with her last year as Maddie/Mummy fun days where we just hung out at the beach or park or zoo or museum or wherever we wanted to go. It was a priceless time together. 

It has now been 3 weeks since she starts and I do miss her. It is a bizarre feeling having just spent the last nine years with a child (or 2 or 3) at home with me to have no one during the days. The days are just different without them around and I’m glad when it gets to pick up time. But the advantages are it is quiet, logistics of parking and getting places are easier and I don’t talk as much during my day!  

I am sure we will both have a good year, it will just be a transition time – a natural part of having children and going with the flow of them growing up. 

3. What are three values you want your children to have as adults?

It is hard to narrow it down to three values!! Honesty, courage and compassion are probably my top three.

Honesty: I remember my parents drilling into me that if you tell the truth; you get in far less trouble than if you lie and this is the same message I give to my children. Being honest with your self and using your intuition is also important to know the right path to take and make the best decisions. 

Courage: Stepping out of your comfort zone and doing something that challenges you every day helps you reach being the best person you can be. We encourage our kids to take risks – sure at this age, they are calculated, however they are proud of themselves for achieving what ever it was they tried or did. Courage in adulthood allows for freedom of movement, better relationships and a strong mind. 

Compassion: Teaching our children to have compassion and empathy for people will hopefully result in them being non-judgmental of others and understand that other people lead different lives. I have worked as the PR Manager for a homeless shelter in Kings Cross for the past few years and I take my children with me sometimes to meet people who have slept rough and they meet them as just people. From a privileged background themselves, it allows them to think about how other people live and gives them the power to be empathetic and compassionate to other people they meet in their lives.

4. Tell us about emotional intelligence? Perhaps a brief definition?

Sure. Emotional intelligence is a person’s ability to identify, evaluate, control and express emotions. As opposed to IQ that measures a person’s academic ability, Emotional intelligence measures a person’s ability to interact with others or our ‘social intelligence’.  

Having strong emotional intelligence helps us communicate with others, negotiate situations and develop clear thought patters and is really important to teach kids so they can identify their own emotions and perceive emotions around them. This will allow them to communicate well, develop solid relationships, negotiate tricky situations in workplace and in life and have empathy for their friends, partners and their own children. 

5.  Can you give us two tips for encouraging resilience in 5 year olds?

Resilience is one of the most important strengths to build in a child and set them on a path for a ‘good life’. The ability to bounce back from a negative situation will put our kids in good stead for negotiating life’s lows and highs. 

It’s hard to boil it down to two tips as I am writing a whole book on how to develop resilience in our children! So here are a couple of the main ones:
  • Don’t try to ‘fix’ your child’s problems – ‘be’ with your child and allow them to find their own solutions. You will need to guide some of their strategies and once they have the ability to problem solve in fights or know how to cope with disappointment – they can utilize it in different situations.  (There is more in my blog post on Disappointment is a big emotion).
  • Developing positive self-talk and self-esteem in our children will help them deal with their own problems. They develop their inner voice from the way we speak to our children, through experiencing positive situations and by us creating a family with a sense of belonging and significance. 
For the past two months, I have been interviewing child psychologist, parent educators including Maggie Dent and Kerry Spina, school principals, other people who work with kids, such as Indira Naidoo, parents and kids about what it means to be resilient for my book. It has been interested to see the strategies they use to bounce back personally and how they help children bounce back. Stay tuned for a release date.  

6. Any great anger management strategies to suggest?

Being angry is a completely normal emotion for our children to go through, however it can be hard as a parent to watch your child lash out. Here are a few strategies to deal with the angry outbursts: 
  • Remain calm – once your child has ‘flipped their lid’ the best thing to do is stop talking to them, make sure there is no danger and ride out the storm. When it is all over, then talk to them about what went on and some strategies to deal with the anger. 
  • Teach your child emotional intelligence to deal with anger.
  • Be a role model yourself and even if you loose your cool, talk to them about the strategies you use to calm yourself down.
  • Know your child’s emotional intelligence and react accordingly as the parent.
  • Reassure your child – when they are angry, acknowledge they are feeling angry and it is OK to be angry. Children are often scared by it and can feel just as overwhelmed as you do by it. 

7. I’m currently dealing with my toddler pushing other children! Completely unprovoked and often for no reason at all. And it seems that the more I tell her not to – the more determined she becomes, like the thought gets stuck in her head. I’ve tried rewards when she’s good, I’ve tried time out super nanny style. I’ve tried telling her ‘gentle hands’. Any advice for me? (She’s 23 months).

It is a stage! She will get over it…. At almost 2, children have not developed any sense of reasoning – in fact they don’t develop it until 8 or 9 years so it is hard to tell her it is the wrong thing and her take responsibility for it. At 2, they are trying to carve out their niche of independence and sense of significance and belonging in your family and in social situations. This is why time out and praise don’t work. Right now, she is feeling overwhelmed in the situation and that is her natural reaction. 

There are some great resources to seek here for two parenting philosophies I have found helpful – Positive Parenting and Conscious Parenting and specifically:
Positive Parenting on Amy McCready and 
Dr Shafali on Conscious Parenting  

8. What would be the first thing you would say to a ‘bombarded mum’?

Keep on being awesome! Parenting is the hardest job in the world and if you are a mum and feeling bombarded, chances are you are doing a great job shaping the lives of our future generation. 

9. What’s your favourite activity to do as a family?

Anything as long as it is together. Over the holidays, we did a big road trip up through Queensland and it was priceless to create those memories. We also love kayaking on the harbour, going to the beach, bike rides, walking the dog, having dinner together at our favourite restaurant and watching a family movie on the couch. 

10. Favourite quote?

This is a hard one as I am motivated by different quotes every day! Two of my favourites are;

made with wordswag

made with wordswag

Thank you so much for taking the time to contribute to my blog and sharing your words of widsom Anna. 

To connect with Anna you can find her here
Blog - Bombarded Mum
Website - Anna Partridge
email -

That Moment When...

I had a moment the other day when I picked up my little one from child care, and just felt like writing about it. Then it made me think about other moments I've experienced as a parent and just wanted to capture them in words.

That moment when you pick up your child from child care and she looks at you like she can't believe it's you. Like she was so immersed in what she was playing that she forgot about you for a little while. And then she gives you a real hug, wrapping those little arms all the way around you.

That moment when the staff tell you she had a great day. She's visited the toddler room for almost the whole day, played nicely with other children and was just generally happy. That moment when you feel like the staff really care for and adore your child when you hear them speak about her. That moment when your heart swells and you are just so damn proud of her, even though she still cries a bit when you drop her off in the mornings.

That moment when you feel that you made the right choice for her care, even though child care was not part of your original plan, but due to circumstances beyond your control, this was what needed to happen.

That moment when she tells you she is a 'big girl' and doesn't need to be carried like usual but wants to walk from her child care room to the car with her back pack on.

That moment when you leave a play date with a friend at a toddler pool feeling at ease and happy, not stressed because your toddler (hardly) pushed any other children.

That moment when you're at the shops and take a quick break to grab a coffee and lunch for the two of you - she sits on a big chair, looks around, eats her lunch, chats away and you feel like your baby has grown into a young lady right before your eyes.

That moment of amazing sharing when she invites another child to join her on one of those little car rides at the shops (she had to have the drivers seat mind you and this little man had to sit in the back seat). If you know my child in the real world you'll know that this was a HUGE step! :)

That moment when she counts to 5! After weeks of 1 2 3 4 6 8 10, she finally remembered to say 5.

That moment when your toddler holds a bunny rabbit for the first time and your heart melts.

That moment when she carries around her dolly 'Lily' with such care as if she really is a real baby.

That moment when your toddler falls asleep (and goes back to sleeping through) after a few rough weeks of sleep refusal and night wakings.

So this pretty much sums up the last few months of my parenting life. Things are looking up!

Lauren :)

I'd love to read the moments you are experiencing at the moment...please share below starting your sentence with "That moment when..."

Raising Bookworms | More Books I Love

If you haven't followed me since the beginning, you may have missed my 'Raising Bookworms' series when I just stared blogging. I wrote about; the Importance of Reading Aloud, Books I Love, and Homemade Books. Now that a whole year has passed since then, I thought I'd do a follow up of some more books we are loving at the moment. Today I've picked five of (almost 2 year old) Miss M's favourites, but I think children of all ages love some of these too!

Where is the Green Sheep? Mem Fox

I swear I have seen my daughter almost 'reading' this book. To quote her...

Car sheep, train sheep, green sheep?
Wave sheep, other sheep, green sheep?
Turn around ("turn the page" she was trying to say)
Moon sheep, star sheep... (and then she got distracted).

This is such a stunning book, beautiful illustrations and a simple yet cleverly written story. A well known Mem Fox classic! Visit Mem Fox's website here!

Rudie Nudie - Emma Quay

This is one of our favourites when we're getting ready for bed. Rudie Nudie was shortlisted for the CBCA (Children's Book Council of Australia) Book of the Year in 2012 and I remember my school students loving it! It's cheeky and funny and has lovely sing-song style text. Visit Emma Quay's website here.

Nursery Rhymes - Kate Toms

Miss M absolutely loves nursery rhymes at the moment, she has her favourites that she always asks for - Mary had a little lamb, Baa Baa black sheep and Humpty Dumpty just to name a few. When we read this collection of Nursery Rhymes she always likes to look for her favourites. Kate Tom's hand stitched illustrations are just charming - I really love many of her books.

Whose Teeth? Tail? House? Jeanette Rowe

This three-in-one, lift the flap book is another simple favourite. So great for language development, and it doesn't take long for little ones to know which animal is hiding underneath the flap.

Visit Jeanette Rowe's website here.

My First Body Book

This little one came in the 'Baby Reading Pack' from our local library as part of 'The Little Big Book Club'. Miss M is great with identifying body parts and this book really helped. It's got gorgeous photos and lots of detail - more than just body parts... 5 senses, counting fingers and toes, doing words.

Visit 'The Little Big Book Club' website here for many more great children's books divided into ages together with lots of activity ideas.

Do you have a two year old? What books are you loving at the moment?
Lauren :)


Liebster Award | Take 2

I'm feeling a little bit lucky and a little bit appreciated by other members of the bloggy world, and have been nominated for another Liebster award! (Here's the link to my previous one). The lovely Anna at Bombarded Mum nominated me - thanks Anna. So flattered because your blog is simply brilliant! I'm hoping that later this month you'll have to chance to get to know Anna a little better - she really has an amazing blog full of parenting advice.

So seeing as I've already done all of this before - I thought I'd just quickly answer the questions, but not follow all the nomination rules a such :)



What is your blog/business & where can we find you?

Teacher Types is where I share many 'Early Leaning' advice and activities I do with my toddler and school students.

What inspired you to blog in the first place?

I was returning to work part time, and felt that I needed something more, a productive hobby to pass the time while my little one slept - to avoid watching too many hours of TV.

What do you love about blogging?

I love how it combines all of my interests in the one place. And the virtual friendliness that you come across all the time is just lovely (like the whole theory of the Liebster award). Share the love!

How do you fit blogging into your day/week?

On work days I sometimes blog in the evening when Miss M has gone to bed, and on days off, I'll usually do a bit when she has her afternoon sleep.

Being a mum

I know you are a mum and my readers are also mums so let’s talk about being an awesome mum!

How many kids do you have and what are their ages?

I have one daughter. Little Miss M who is almost 2.

What is your proudest moment as a mum (you can add a few)?

Seeing how clever she is everyday! Her language and how much she remembers amazes me. She's always been a little clingy one - so when she does start to come out of her shell whether it be with family members or child care staff, I feel really proud that she's making progress.

What are your biggest challenges as a parent?

Dealing with toddler tantrums and behaviour issues at the moment :(

What is your favourite kid free time activity and how often do you get to do it?

Blogging! Well, apart from that, hubby and I love date night. Going out for an awesome dinner. We try once a month but this depends on babysitters.

Who is your inspiration to be such an awesome mum?

I found this questions really tricky to answer. I really look up to my mother-in-law, I think she's amazing. And I have this friend, who's little girl is only a bit younger than mine - she does amazing activities with her and always has great parenting advice. 

What is the best advice you have ever received as a mum?

I wish I could find the article I read! It was a whole article about how all of the parenting advice out there contradicts itself (e.g. breastfeeding is best / but fill their tummies with formula so they sleep, let them self settle / never let them cry etc). It made me realise that I really just needed to take it all with a grain of salt and do what felt right for our baby.

Wait a minute - I found it! (here) If you're a new mum READ IT! READ IT NOW!

What advice would you give to a first time mum?

Read the article above!
And also - it does get better. Every stage is easier in some ways, yet more challenging in others. You'll get over one hurdle, catch your breath and then another one will pop up!

Bonus question - Combining being a mum and a blogger

If a mum is reading this and has a burning desire to start a blog, what advice would you give her?

Great question Anna! I would suggest that she do it! Research first - read some 'how to start a blog' posts or look for some helpful links on Pinterest. I just sort of found my way and taught myself, but would maybe do it differently if I could start again (the old blogger vs wordpress debate). A very dear friend (the one I mentioned above actually) gave me some great advice when I started my blog - she suggested to keep it to the one main focus area. She said that if she's after recipe's she'll go to a blog that specialises in just that, after parenting advice - go to a blogger who's an expert in that area, after early learning activity ideas - come to teacher types ;)

Thanks again Anna for nominating me.

It's all busy in my world at the moment, back to school, Miss M is almost two so we are preparing for her birthday party. But the blog is still going strong in 2015!

Lauren x

Phonics Treasure Baskets | Another Alphabet Post

Hi there!
If you're a regular reader you'll know that I LOVE alphabet activities! I have posted so many of them on the blog...

...just to name a few.

I love teaching the alphabet to my students during their first term of school. We adopt the Jolly Phonics approach, which focuses on the sounds of the letters (lower case) rather than their names (upper case) eg - a b c rather than A B C. Another important feature of the Jolly Phonics Program is that you do not teach the letters in alphabetical order, rather a carefully constructed program of letters to allow opportunities for word building as quickly as possible. Read more about Jolly Phonics here!

When learning to read and write, it's important that children not only recognise the letter, but write it and identify some words that start with that letter. This is where my 'treasure basket' idea has been so successful in my classroom. Each day when we learn a new sound, we look at the treasure basket which is filled with items that begin with that letter.

Here's an example of the 'c' basket.

'c' treasure basket - cat, cow, crab, cup, carrots, cupcake, car and clip

Now 'c' is a tricky one because 'k' also makes the same sound (in Jolly Phonics we teach them together - and later on the children learn that 'ck' is another way to make the same sound). So to extend this activity, you could put items that begin with both kinds of 'c/k' and sort them out.

Once the children have learnt most (if not all) of their letters, you can fill the basket with a variety of objects for them to sort out into the correct baskets. I would probably start with 3-5 baskets/letters at the one time.

Alphabet Sorting Baskets

Alphabet Sorting Baskets | a - apple | b - blue bowl, ball, bunny | c - carrots, car, cupcake

I'm always looking around home (and the classroom) to find interesting objects for the treasure basket, I sometimes try to have a few days worth ready to go. Some letters obviously are easier than others! I thought it would be helpful to compile a bit of a list to keep these ideas in mind!

One little note, try to ensure the beginning sound is clear and simple for the children - I wouldn't put 'chalk' for example in the 'c' basket because it begins with the 'ch' sound. 

I quite often add some flash cards into the basket as well, some with pictures, some just the letter. Magnet letters are a great addition or any other alphabet letters you may have. 

  • a - apple, ant, arrow, aeroplane, anchor, angel, astronaut, avocado
  • b - bowl, ball, bunny, banana, balloon, bottle, bat, bed, bee, bell, bird, blocks, boat, book, butterfly
  • c - carrot, car, cup cake, cup, cat, caterpillar, clock, cotton, comb, crayon, crown
  • d - dice, dinosaur, dog, doll, dolphin, domino, drum, duck
  • e - egg, elephant, envelope, elf, eraser, echidna, 
  • f - fairy, feather, fire engine, fish, five, flower, frog, football, funnel, four, flag
  • g - goat, green, glitter, grasshopper, glue, grapes, guitar, 
  • h - hat, headband, horse, holly, hippopotamus, heart, helicopter, 
  • i - ice cube tray, ice cream, igloo, iguana, insect, instrument
  • j - jack-in-a-box, jar of jam, jelly/jelly beans, jelly fish, jug, jigsaw, jeans
  • k - keys, kangaroo, kite, koala, kettle, keyboard, kitten, king, kiwifruit, 
  • l - ladybug, leaf, lemon, lettuce, lion, lizard, lock, lollipop
  • m - magnet, magnifying glass, map, marble, mask, mirror, monkey, moon, mouse
  • n - necklace, net, nest, newspaper, number nine, nuts
  • o - octopus, orange, oval, owl, 
  • p - pink/purple pencil/paper, pig, panda, peacock, pineapple,, pom poms, plate, puppet, plant
  • q - quilt, queen, question mark, quarter (the fraction)
  • r - rabbit, rainbow, red rectangle, ribbon, rock, ring, rocket, ruler, rose, rope, robot, rice
  • s - snake, stop sign, sand, scissors, six/seven, soap, sock, spider, sponge, spoon, square, star, sun, stamp
  • t - texta, tambourine, teddy, teapot, toothbrush, turtle, two, tree, tiger, triangle, tractor, tomatoes
  • u - umbrella, unicorn, uniform, underwear
  • v - van, vase, vegetables, violet, vest, velvet, violin
  • w - watermelon, water, walrus, watch, web, whale, wheel, whistle, white, worm, window, wizard
  • x - tricky one! You could just do the usual xylophone and x-ray. 
  • Or you could choose items which have the letter x in them such as box, fox, taxi, mix, exit.
  • y - yellow, yoghurt, yoyo, yacht
  • z - zipper, zebra, zero, zucchini, zig zag

I have another very cool alphabet post coming soon! So please stay tuned and keep following along.

Hope you found this post useful. Do you have anything to add to my lists?

Lauren :)
Back to Top