Education · Kids · Parenting · Reading

Night Zookeeper Review and Discount Code

Night ZookeeperAs you may or may not know, we’re currently homeschooling the girls on a semi-permanent basis. Sausage is now in year 9 and will be home educated through to college age, whereas BB is in year 3 and is planning to go back to school once she’s had her COVID vaccine. This means that we’ve been using as many resources as possible to keep them both engaged by learning and also on par with their peers. Recently, I discovered Night Zookeeper and we were generously offered a 12 month subscription to try it for ourselves.

 It’s a subscription-based website which encourages reading and writing in a really creative way. It’s developed by experienced educators and brings together a compelling story, innovative digital technology, and effective curriculum-aligned educational content, to help your child boost their literacy skills.

The website is packed with games which help kids learn spelling, grammar and vocabulary and they’re so fun that the kids barely even realise they’re learning. I gave BB her login details and let her use the site without even telling her that it was a learning resource at first, and she was totally engrossed in minutes.

Night Zookeeper storytelling

Parents Point of View

One of the things I like about Night Zookeeper is the fact that it encourages kids to use their imagination. Sausage and BB have always had a thirst for knowledge and intense curiosity for the world around them and they’ve both channelled that through art and storytelling, so the format of NZK plays right into BB’s wheelhouse.

The site is really well set up in that there’s a separate login for parents so that you can see your child’s progress and see what they’ve been up to on the site. It even gives you a word count of how much they’ve written in each of their mini stories and it’s really interesting to see that the word count has been increasing with each time BB has used it.

It can also be used on tablets, laptops and PCs, making it accessible without the need for expensive new tech. There are lessons, writing challenges and word games which are immersive and exciting, telling fun, modern stories that the kids enjoy. There’s even a blog area where kids can write and share their own blog posts!

Perhaps the MOST useful feature of Night Zookeeper is the fact that real teachers can comment on BB’s work and leave her comments and suggestions to help her to expand her writing. Having that type of feedback is so valuable, I think it’s worth the cost of subscription all by itself.

Night Zookeeper teacher feedback

How does it work?

“By providing thousands of fun and engaging lessons, challenges, and games, Night Zookeeper helps children to learn new words, use them in sentences, and then create amazing pieces of writing that are shared with children from around the world. They receive feedback from our team of tutors as well as other children that highlight where they can improve. In-game awards and competitions keep them motivated to continue to learn and progress. They’ll write about everything, from stories about magical animals to instructions on how to make the perfect hot chocolate. All genres of writing are gradually introduced including newspaper articles, persuasive writing, reports, and poetry.”

What Does BB Think of Night Zookeeper?

“It’s really good! It feels like you’re playing a game and you don’t even really realise that you’re doing school work. My favourite thing about it is creating the animals because I like to get creative. I also really like the mini games because they’re fun and feel like other games that I play on my iPad” – Burrito Baby, aged 7.

Value for Money

Night Zookeeper PricingFor what you actually get, I think the subscriptions offer really good value. There’s content on there which suits kids from ages 6 to 12, so it can be useful even beyond junior level, and I love the idea of the continuity that will offer as BB progresses. All subscriptions come with a 7 day free trial, so you can see if you like it before you buy and if you purchase a 12 month subscription, it works out at just £7.50 per month.

Night Zookeeper Discount Offer!

We’re delighted to also be able to share with you an exclusive link for you to use, giving you a massive 50% off of a year’s subscription! By using this link you’ll pay just £46.99 for one child for a year or a truly bargainous £57.99 for up to three children per 12 month subscription! Click on the image below to nab your half price subscription:

Night Zookeeper half price membership!Conclusion

I’m really excited to see what else BB creates with Night Zookeper! We have a few different subscriptions for the girls to use during our home ed and I honestly think this is going to be the one which provides the best value for BB’s literacy. Thanks so much to the people at Night Zookeeper for giving us the opportunity to try the site.

Homeschooling · Kids · Learning · Music

Digital Piano: How to Choose the Right One

As you may have seen on my Instagram and Facebook stories today, we’re partnering with Casio Music UK to test out one of their learners keyboards. We’re so excited about the collaboration as I think Burrito Baby will benefit so much from music lessons. With that in mind, I wanted to share with you some information from Casio about how to make sure you’re buying the right digital piano for your kids.

DIGITAL PIANO

With children now back in the swing of things at school, a lot of parents may be considering extra-curricular activities their children can take up to aid their learning and development outside of the classroom. Playing a musical instrument offers a whole host of benefits for young people and allows them to express themselves in their own unique way.

Digital pianos are a wonderful resource for kids of all ages and all kinds of disciplines. They make learning and performing much easier but still offer the satisfaction of playing on a beautiful expressive musical instrument. However, finding the right digital piano can be confusing and time-intensive. Casio, one of the world’s most renowned producers of premium, digital hybrid pianos, is here to help with the five questions parents should be asking when purchasing a digital piano for their child – from piano teacher, ABRSM music examiner and digital piano expert Chris Stanbury.

  1. HOW MUCH DO I NEED TO SPEND?

A good beginner’s digital piano should cost between £300 to £400. For this, you’ll get a great quality instrument that’ll support your child’s learning for a number of years. Avoid anything cheaper than this from online sellers as these don’t tend to last and offer a poor quality sound. It’s important to invest in something that’s satisfying to play as it will maintain your child’s interest.

  1. WHAT FEATURES SHOULD I LOOK FOR?

Digital pianos can have various features but the one thing you must check is that it has 88 weighted keys. This is something all pianos have and it is essential for developing the correct playing technique. The keys also need to be touch sensitive, which means that they are the same as a traditional piano. The harder you hit the keys, the louder it will sound, the softer you play the key, the note will have less volume. This feature is very important.

  1. IS A DIGITAL PIANO BETTER THAN AN ACOUSTIC PIANO? 

A good, acoustic (traditional) piano usually costs £1,000 or more. Pianos that are offered free on marketplace or auction sites are rarely in good condition and should be avoided. Acoustic pianos also need maintaining: the strings inside must be tuned at least twice a year at a cost of about £80 a time.

You get much more for your money with digital pianos. They take up a lot less space and don’t need tuning. Plus, you can plug in headphones for silent practice, which is perfect for busy households!

  1. WHAT OTHER FUNCTIONS DO YOU GET WITH DIGITAL PIANOS?

A great benefit of a digital piano is that if your kids love their gadgets, they’ll really enjoy connecting a digital piano to their phone, tablet or computer. This makes learning a lot more fun as they can take part in interactive lessons and play along to backing music.

Casio provides a free music learning app with all their digital pianos, called Chordana, and there’s free lessons too from Dr Chris himself on the Casio Music UK YouTube channel; so anyone can start playing right away. All owners also have access to the Casio Music Academy too, which also includes music lessons exclusively for Casio piano users

  1. WHAT DIGITAL PIANO WOULD YOU RECOMMEND FOR A BEGINNER?

My personal favourite is the Casio CDP-S90. It’s light, very compact and has a great sound. It’s also important to mention that it comes with a proper piano stand included (worth £88). This means the piano is at the correct playing height, which is important for developing good posture and finger skills.

Kids · Parenting

Some Tips for Reading a Fairy Tale Correctly to your Child

It is not uncommon for you to find yourself in front of two bright little eyes, looking at you, asking you to read them another story or once again the same fairy tale. The fatigue of the day may have overwhelmed you, and reading another page may seem exhausting, but the joy and satisfaction that is painted on your baby’s face completely compensates you! So here are some tips that will make your story vivid and extremely exciting!

Read slowly and clearly

Read slowly, enjoying every word. Do not forget that your child does not just listen to a beautiful fairy tale but at the same time learns and understands the language better.

Add excitement to your story

Start with enthusiasm and fun – as all fairy tales begin after all. The introduction to the story must be done in such a way that the little listener feels like he is entering a new world!

Become more vivid with your narrative

It is great for the whole body to be involved in a narrative. So you can shake your hands, make faces with your face and create heroes, trees, and anything else you want in the air with your hands. All this representation will excite your child and will entertain you too! So the story leaves the paper, gets tangled in your hands, rests for a while between the eyebrows of your face, can even be found floating in front of your eyes to return again to the pages of the book.

At this point it should be noted that there are now widespread audiobooks, which offer another intense experience to children using special narrators who can immediately convey any emotion of the fairy tale to your children. With the use of a narrator, these tales gain “life”, transporting the children themselves to imaginary worlds, with special characters and adventurous stories. You can see professional narrators at Voquent.com, which lend their voices in all kinds of content at such a short price.

Adjust the volume of your voice

The volume of your voice plays an important role. Start with a normal intensity making sure it has a pleasant and playful tone. As the story progresses, our heroes are introduced, enjoying every word staying the same style. When the upheavals and adventures of the hero begin, increase your rhythm and the volume of the voice where the story requires it. And at the peak, in the big upset, you do not need to shout and scare your listener. Maintain the stability of your voice by speaking slowly and quietly. The evolution of the story is fascinating in itself, so we do not need to burden it with “narrative” ornaments.

It is important to breathe throughout the reading. By breathing, we mean not holding your breath as you narrate but letting the air flow as if you were speaking typically. When we read a story, without realizing it, we hold our breath perhaps because we know what to say, maybe even because we are not relaxed and comfortable. When we speak, we never know what our next phrase is because it always occurs. So the air usually flows, and our breathing is normal. If you manage and maintain a proper breath during the narration, you will find that you will be less tired, and you will enjoy it more!

Also study the images of the fairy tale

If you are reading an illustrated story, take some time to look at the pictures. A new fairy tale will spring up in front of you after you discover that you are hiding the second text in the book, given only with pictures! Ask your child about colours, the sun, the moon, the heroes, what they wear, what they hold and anything else that comes to mind. This sharpens your child’s mind and stimulates his imagination.

Take real interest in your child

But the most important thing, the most important of all, is when you read a story to your baby, to do it with love. Only then will the story reach his heart and make him happy!

Education · Kids · Parenting

Fab Career Tips For Kids Of All Ages

Fab Career Tips For Kids Of All Ages

Photo by Amina Filkins from Pexels

Part of being a parent is dispensing advice, no matter what age your kids are.

And career tips are no exception. There’s absolutely no rush to propel children towards the world of work, but when they start to become aware of it, it’s never too early to have healthy conversations on what a ‘good job’ might be and why that can feel different for everyone.

School is also the start of a journey which might have full-time work as an eventual destination, and even children attending university or even approaching destination don’t always have well-developed career plans.

All that considered, here are a few fab career tips for kids of all ages.

Career books for kids

Yup – career books for kids are a thing. But think wonderful Roald Dahl-esque wordplay and inspirational illustrations rather than the type of sleep-inducing pamphlets you used to pick up from your school careers service. Adele Writes An Ad by top pro copywriter Andrew Boulton is a brilliant example – if you work in advertising, reading it together with your little ones will explain how you spend your days in a superbly fun way. And even if you don’t, it might sow the seeds of a creative career choice in their minds.

Work and play

Another way that kids can serendipitously discover possible careers is through play. For example, an innate skill with Lego toys could transfer to an adult career in architecture and engineering, or for older children, awesome hand-eye coordination and manual dexterity developed through video games can possibly be adapted to a career as anything from a pilot to an eSports professional. With gentle encouragement, there’s no reason that play can’t lead to a passion for an exciting professional career.

Paid internships

Once children are a little older, a paid internship is a great way of them testing the waters of a full-time career and gaining great experience to bolster their CV – there are lots to choose from, so please take your time. Consult an employee-focused comparison site like Glassdoor for a selection of paid internship opportunities, then cross-check the employee reviews in order to ascertain what it’s really like to work there. Once you’re convinced that your child’s chosen internship is not exploitative and represents a genuinely great career progression step, encourage them every step of the way.

Online qualifications

Undergraduate degrees and postgraduate qualifications can still be passports to dream jobs for your children. But depending on their experiences at high school and other lifestyle and family commitments, full-time study on a physical campus might not be possible for them. However, an online degree which they can study flexibly when it suits them best is a brilliant choice that adds a new dimension in career possibilities. Lots of reputable universities now offer outstanding degrees online – for example, you can even earn an online Data Science MSc from ARU Distance Learning and progress to a terrific career in AI and machine learning.

These career tips for kids of all ages should help steer your offspring to success and happiness – enjoy putting them into practice!

Family · Kids · Parenting

How Can I Stop My Child Being So Messy?

Messy kids bedroomAlthough it can be normal for your child to make some mess, it can be frustrating when you know that, ultimately, it means more work for you. You may want to find ways to help them become a little bit more organised with their possessions, to cut down on the amount of fetch and carry, alongside wiping and other cleaning, that you then have to do throughout the day. No matter whether your child is 2 or 12, they can be taught to break their messy habits.

Bedroom Storage

One of the first considerations you may need to make when trying to get your child to be a bit tidier is the storage they have available to them. Items which are small, stiff, or even difficult to reach may prevent your child from tidying. An idea to resolve this issue can be to swap out their existing bed for a cabin bed, like those found at roomtogrow.co.uk, as this may have storage attached. A cabin bed is not overly tall, meaning your child will be able to reach the drawers and cupboards, as well as the under-bed space that they may use. This can also help to keep all items in one place, rather than you constantly going through a number of different furniture pieces to look for missing socks or other supposedly lost items.

Rules

A good parent knows that they cannot be fun all the time. Rules and boundaries are important for your child to be able to grow up with a good sense of morals, and know which behaviours are acceptable. You may have a list of rules within your household, that you expect your children to follow. Adding rules about tidying up can help them to understand that these tasks are important. If you choose to add penalties to breaking these rules, such as missing a day out, or no time on a games console, it is important that you stick to what you say, otherwise your child will think that they can continue being messy with no consequence.

Set an Example

Children of all ages can learn through copying any behaviours they have seen, which can either be useful or problematic. If your child sees you leaving mess around the home, they may think it is also acceptable for them to do so. Likewise, if your child sees you putting your books or clothes away, and helping out, they may think that is also what they should do. Setting a good example can be vital to your child’s development, as well as not allowing them to be influenced by any bad examples they may see from their friends, other adults, strangers on the street, or even via the media.

There may be a number of reasons why your child is messy, and each reason will vary from child to child. By finding ways to help promote cleanliness, and giving positive reinforcement for jobs well done, you may be able to replace these behaviours with those that promote a tidier and more hygienic lifestyle.