I’m not a stranger to home schooling. I did it with both my eldest children many years ago. We had a computer and internet back then but it was difficult to find resources online. You either had to be a teacher or pay lots of money to access any available resources. If only Twinkl was available back then.

In the end I had help from home tutors who came to the house and eventually my Eldest Daughter got through her exams. No1 son who also had a home tutor for a while ended up going to a BESD (behaviour, emotional and social difficulties) school where he was supposed to be for six months and ended up being there for three years.

I can’t currently Home School the littlies as much as I would love to, but I do like to encourage further learning at home, so finding a good website with so many resources is great.

Twinkl Teaching Resources is the trusted home and one
stop shop for thousands of lovely, unique and FREE printable teaching resources
for EYFS, KS1, KS2, teachers, home educators, childminders, nurseries and
more.

Twinkle has an excellent section for Parents including time tables and behaviour charts as well as work sheets for reading, writing and numbers just to name a few.
There is also a free trial of resources for schools which can save time with all it’s unique and helpful tools and materials.
As it is Halloween we decided to try out the Halloween activities resource pack and had fun with the colouring sheets, wordsearch and trump cards as well as finding a pumpkin soup recipe sheet. 
I also printed off the Autistic Spectrum Mind Map which is really useful and I’m planning on giving a copy to Star’s teacher. In fact there are lots of resources for Special Needs and I will be working my way through them.
There are lots of resources for Autumn and I’ve been looking through the Bonfire Night activities. I will be downloading some word maps and getting the girls to write some Bonfire related poetry. As well as having fun while learning I hope I can prepare the littlies for the noise and sensory overload that is Bonfire Night.
Twinkl also has a great community forum you can join along with lots of other parents, students, teachers and teaching assistants. It’s easy to join in and chat with others or ask those niggling questions.
Twinkl also has an awesome blog, a recent post has lots of Halloween Crafts for you to do with your children, or why not enter their fantastic competition to win a bundle of goodies from Hobbycraft?
You can join Twinkl for free and if you like what it has to offer you can upgrade for as little as £24.95 a year for Gold Membership or £39.95 for Platinum Membership where you can have access to over 97,000 resources!
I was gifted a Platinum membership of Twinkl for the purpose of this review, all thoughts and opinions are my own, and be prepared as I will be sharing more of our activities that we have found from Twinkl in the future. 

You may have notice a new tab at the top of my blog with says My Little Zebra, this is where I am now going to keep my posts about Star and her progress and problems.
Currently I am trying to get a proper diagnosis for her, she has already been diagnosed as having high functioning autism and hypermobility syndrome, but I want further investigation into the hypermobility syndrome in a vain hope that she will get better treatment in the future.
Earlier this year at the beginning of the school holidays, Star woke up with, what is effectively, a slipped disc in her neck. At this moment in time she still has that slipped disc and all the physiotherapy she has been given has strengthened her neck so she can hold this twisted position without so much pain. No treatment she has been given has actually improved the position of her neck and I’m beginning to believe that it may be permanent. The medical slang for someone with a rare or obscure medial condition is a Zebra. Medical students are sometimes taught ‘when you hear hoof beats, think horses not zebras’ In other words, always look for the obvious problem rather than the unusual. In many ways this is a good thing, but not when it gets to the point where people are forgetting what zebras look like, or even the fact that they exist. I believe that Star has Elhers Danlos Syndrome (or Hypermobility Syndrome type III) and this is considered a rare zebra condition.

The past few months have been difficult for the whole family but even more so for Star. First she had to leave a school where she was progressing well. She had lots of help in place and I had a good relationship with the school and we worked together. It was sad that she had to leave but we really had no choice. Then she had her neck problem, the hospital still insist she must have fallen or injured it somehow, they won’t accept that it happened while she was sleeping. Most of the school summer holiday was spent in hospital or visiting hospital. We barely had time for anything else. Although we did manage a couple of days away in Blackpool.
Then we moved house. That was traumatic for all of us, I had lived in our old house for twenty four years. We left behind family and friends and although we didn’t move very far, it’s not the same being on the same street.

in hospital

Next up was a new school. I’d had real problems finding a school for the littlies because there were no places for all of them at any one school and I didn’t really want them separated. Also the school holidays hampered my looking and contacting schools, especially as the Local Education Authority in our area had recently handed back the school admissions back to the schools rather than taking applications themselves. By a stroke of luck I managed to find a school that had just take on a new teachers so they could have another year two class and the girls where accepted. This meant no planning, no visits, no preparing. Just one morning to say hello to the teachers and tour the school and then BAM back to school after nine weeks off. Of course, Star is still visiting the hospital twice a week so that has been another thing to contend with, as well as still having to wear a collar.

back to school, finally

So now we are currently seeing a severe regression in Stars behaviour. She’s not sleeping again, she’s having tantrums, being miserable and refusing to go to school. She has lost all control over her emotions and is constantly breaking down. I am hoping that this is just a temporary back step, only time will tell. It’s half term this week but my plan is to go into the school when they return and see what I can do to make school life more easy for her and make sure she has everything she needs in place.

However, despite this being a fairly negative post I still have to think of all the positive things we have achieved. We had a lovely new home for one, after being cramped up in a tiny house for so long it’s like a dream come true having somewhere big enough for all of us. Also, I did manage to find a school where they could all attend together, I really thought for a while that they would be split and I would be working out how to be in two different places at the same time every morning and afternoon. Finally, despite everything, Star has made a new friend. She doesn’t make friends easily, but she has really clicked with a little lad who lives in our street and goes to the same school. They walk to school together and really enjoy each other’s company. That’s a big achievement for Star, a little shining light amongst all this stress.

Ethans Escapades

Oh, I wish I’d looked after me teeth,
And spotted the dangers beneath
All the toffees I chewed,
And the sweet sticky food.
Oh, I wish I’d looked after me teeth.

My mother, she told me no end,
‘If you got a tooth, you got a friend.’
I was young then, and careless,
My toothbrush was hairless,
I never had much time to spend.

Oh I showed them the toothpaste all right,
I flashed it about late at night,
But up-and-down brushin’
And pokin’ and fussin’
Didn’t seem worth the time – I could bite!

Exctract from Oh I Wished I’d looked after me teeth by Pam Ayers.
Taken from the The Works: The Classic Collection 2008.

When I was a child I remember watching Opportunity Knocks with my mum when Pam Ayres came on and recited her poem, Oh, I Wish I’d Looked After Me Teeth. Even back then I hated my teeth, and I hated my mum’s teeth even more because she didn’t have any. She was brought up during the war when toothpaste was rare and gum disease abundant. If you were unfortunate to suffer gum disease then your teeth were taken out and you were given false ones. This happened to mum when she was only nineteen years old!
I wasn’t happy with my teeth because they were crooked, but not crooked enough for a brace, and the enamel was already damaged. Mum said it was because of all the Penicillin I’d taken for my constant ear and throat infections. In those days it was not sugar free. As I grew up I hated showing my teeth and rarely smiled properly for photos.  I tried all sorts to get them looking whiter, even bleaching with a home kit, but nothing worked. Then one day, my dentist, the lovely Gino, asked me if I’d like him to ‘do something’ to make my teeth nicer. I said yes, of course, and wondered why I hadn’t been asked this before at the dentist? A few weeks later all my front teeth were covered with veneers, they were made to look straighter and for the first time ever I was happy to see my own smile. 
Nearly ten years later and I’ve had most of my five veneers replaced at least once, and two of them have been replaced with full crowns. I’m still fairly happy to smile. 
Sadly, my gums have suffered too. I’ve had five children and although I managed the first two unscathed, the other three caused me gum problems during pregnancy and I have lost two of my back teeth. 
So I’m not a perfect example of how your teeth should be, I’ve had plenty of problems and my nicer teeth are ‘fake’
The advice I give my children is to clean their teeth regularly, visit the dentist regularly and report any bleeding or sore  gums. We usually have around four or five tubes of toothpaste in our house so there is something to suit everyone because even in the same family our teeth are not the same. 
To make teeth cleaning fun for the littlies we have a little song we brush to, it goes to the tune of the Okey Cokey.

Put your toothbrush in, your toothbrush out
In out, in out, brush it all about
First you do the front and then you do the sides
Then spit the toothpaste out.

We sing it twice, once with toothpaste, once with water.

I have been trying out Oral B Pro-Expert Premium Gum Protection toothpaste for the last couple of weeks. I do still occasionally have problems with my gums so anything that can help prevent that is welcome. I like the taste of Oral B Pro-Expert Premium Gum Protection, it is not too strong, just a mild minty flavour, it leaves a tingly fresh feeling in your mouth. For adults and Children over 12 years it claims to prevent and reduce gum problems in just four weeks of regular use. 
This post is an entry for Britmums  #ORALBLoveYourGums Challenge sponsored by Oral B, promoting healthy gums – something especially important for pregnant women. Get tips and advice on www.oralb-loveyourgums.com 
All thoughts and opinions are my own, and so are (most of) my teeth.

The Little Man has settled well into his nursery, he’s had a few teething problems getting on with the other children but nothing too bad, he seems to have made friends anyway. Today I joined him for the last hour before he broke up for half term. We did some crafts together, we decorated an orange (like a scary pumpkin) and made some spider cupcakes as well as some cutting and sticking activities. Afterwards we were stuffed with lots of sweet sugary things and E numbers before being allowed home for the afternoon. I thought he would be all hyped up, but quite the opposite, he’s currently snoring his little head off here next to me.

The Little Man’s Halloween crafts (no cupcake, he ate it!)

Yesterday while in the bath he told me that he had heard the story of Snow White in nursery. So I asked him who Snow White lived with and he replied ‘her daddy’ mmmm I thought, so I asked him ‘what about the seven dwarfs’? He replied, ‘they huffed and they puffed and they blowed the house down’

I’m thinking he may have got his stories a little mixed up!

Wot So Funee?

Today I took the Little Man along with a couple of friends to soft play. My friend commented that there was nothing like soft play around when we were young and she’s right, that got me thinking how about how excited I would have been as a child. Of course, these days I have to help Little Man climb around, and go down the bigger slides with him, it’s a tough life but someone has to do it. (No, honestly, it’s tough, I was shattered at the end of it!)
For me, soft play means giving the children an opportunity to get some exercise and have fun while being indoors. Great for winter days out. It’s also a chance for me to catch up with friends while our children have fun. If I’m honest though, I prefer soft play centres when they are quiet and full of younger rather than older children. The older children do tend to go a little crazy, and sometimes the noise levels are astounding. All my children love soft play, although the Little Man is only just getting to grips with climbing. Star sometimes gets worked up if there are too many children or it’s too noisy, but mostly she just joins in and enjoys herself.

Here are some photos of today’s venture, although not very good as it’s difficult to take decent pics of children rushing around especially on your phone.

Our soft play session today was paid for by the vouchers you can collect with Bassetts Soft and Chewy Vitamins. A recent survey by Bassetts showed that 71% of mums in the Uk enjoy treating their children to a soft play day because it is guaranteed high-energy entertainment that can be enjoyed whatever the weather.*

Bassetts Soft and Chewy Vitamins come in a range of flavours for children to take one-a-day to support a healthy lifestyle. We tried out the orange and strawberry flavours and the children liked the flavours and the chewy texture.

Each packet of Bassetts Soft and Chewy Vitamins comes with a Free Soft Play Sticker. By going online to https://www.bassettsvitaminssoftplay.co.uk/ you can enter the code and print off a voucher. You then need to stick the sticker off the pack onto the voucher and then take it along to your soft play centre of choice. With half term coming up it will be a great way of entertaining your child for free.

I received two packs of Bassetts Soft and Chewy Vitamins to try along with the free soft play stickers. All thoughts and opinions are my own apart from the survey statistics.

*Bassetts Soft and Chewy Vitamins research study of 1,000 mums of 4-10 year old children carried out between 25/06/13-27/06/13

Please Note: Food supplements should not be used as a substitute for a varied diet and healthy lifestyle.