3 simple strategies to get children excited about group time!


Gathering children for group time is probably one of the main transitions throughout the day in early childhood. There can be quite an art to a successful transition, and knowing what your group will respond to on a particular day is the work of an experienced educator. Below are some strategies you may want to use to signal a transition for group, or to use during group time. 

Musical instruments

Do you have access to percussion instruments? Playing a rhythm on the drums, tambourine or even a wood block is a great way to gain the attention of children and encourage them to come and join in the group time. Children will quickly pick up on the cue and you may even want to share around the responsibility of playing the instrument.

group time tambourine.jpg

Play a movement song

Movement song are a great way to begin group time as children get excited and want to be involved. Heads, shoulders, knees and toes is a classic song with a lot of actions to get children moving and engaged. There is a high level of success for varied ages to experience during this song as it is familiar and easy to follow.

group time heads shoulders knees toes.jpg

Also, on the CD Jumping Jelly Beans, Gen Jereb has a great track called "Row The Boat". This is a fantastic partner game/song as children are encouraged to work together rowing through the water. Your children will love looking around seeing their friends rowing and try and work with their partner to row faster. Be careful, they might even see a shark!


Every child loves holding something in their hands during group time. You could use one prop, such as a talking stick. Whoever is holding the talking stick has their turn to talk. Or, you could have each child holding a prop, such as a piece of felt for the story. They will each have a turn to contribute to the story and place their prop onto the felt board.

You could also have a box of fidget toys which every child can have access to. In this scenario, the prop they are holding might not relate to the group time, however, it will help each child to focus and maintain attention.

Your aim is for each child to be asking themselves "What amazing things will happen at group today?" as they make their way towards you.

Sarah Cameron


5 tips for a successful group time


 So much learning can take place in group time, make the most of it! 

Group time.jpg

1. Know the children in the group

Does Adele need to dance or jump before group time so that she can sit still, or does Sam need to tell the group a super exciting story before he can sit and listen? Sometimes Lucas might need a fidget toy to help him to focus or Tom needs to be at the front during group time. You've also noticed Lucy is more relaxed and engaged during group time when she can see the visuals and knows what is coming next. 

And I know educators say it ALL the time, but it's true, plan for the children's interests. If they love playing with dinosaurs, why not include dinosaurs in your group time, you could be dinosaurs for your movement, count/sort dinosaurs or read about them in a big book.

The length of your group time will rely soley on the group of children you have and what stage they are at.

2. Be prepared

Have all of your resources ready to go, practise reading the book you are going to read, or singing the songs. Stop and think through each step of the group time and visualise it.

Questions to consider:

  • What strategies will you use to gather children for your group time? (It is important to plan each transition, the start and finish of your group time)
  • Will the group be sitting on the floor or at a table? (Indoors, outdoors, it's up to you. A place with minimal distractions, plenty of space, nice temperature)
  • How will you get the group's attention? (Is there a song you could sing, or musical instrument to play)
  • Are there enough resources for each child? (If your movement experience uses scarves, count them before group time begins)
  • What will you do if it looks like they're losing interest? (Have Plan B's - If something is not working, or if it is taking too long, have something prepared that you can move onto)

3. Use visuals

Visuals can be used as a schedule for group time, as rules/reminders, or as songs/books/dances. Feel free to use them however it suits your group of learners. Here are some examples below of visuals used as group time rules.

group time rules.jpg
group time rules two.jpg

4. Include a variety of sensory experiences

To create a balance of interactive and quiet learning experiences you need to plan experiences that use different types of sensory input such as...

  • Movement - songs, games
  • Touch - games with resources that have various textures, partner games/songs
  • Listening - told story, music that requires actions, playing instruments
  • Visual - books, or a science experiment to watch reaction

5.  Routine, routine, routine...

Routine makes young children feel safe and while we may be more easily bored by it, children crave it. Sticking to a routine doesn’t mean for example that  you have to sing the same 4 songs after you do the weather every day, but it does mean that you should sing something after the weather every day. Keeping to a general routine for your group time makes it predictable and lets children know what is expected of them. 

What will your next group time hopefully look like? Children are sitting, watching you and are actively engaged. Un-rushed, relaxed, fun.


Sarah Cameron


Wow! A library just for toys! Is that a real thing?


Toy Libraries Australia (TLA) is the peak body for over 280 not for profit toy libraries across Australia.

This website has some brilliant information, answering questions such as:

What is a toy library?

According to Toy Libraries Australia, toy libraries are where fun, creativity and play are valued and promoted! At a toy library you can borrow from a vast array of well made toys that have been designed to support your child’s skill development and imagination. Toy libraries aim to support families and encourage togetherness with quality time spent playing with children.

Toy libraries vary from library to library. They may be located in the local scout hall or within the municipal library; have 20 member families or 1200; employ a staff member or rely solely on their members doing roster duty.

Toy libraries do have some fundamental characteristics. They:

  • Provide quality educational items for loan.
  • Are inexpensive (usually an annual subscription is charged).
  • Principally cater for younger children.
  • Have a range of items covering all stages of growth and development.
  • Provide an opportunity to meet other caregivers to share concerns, interact with others and make new friends.
  • Help parents and carers learn about the ages and stages of child development.
  • Usually open on set days and hours.

Where is your closest toy library? 

When looking at the map, you may not see a little carousal image in your area. Instead, type in your town in the "Type Keyword" box (grey area above the map) and it will give you a more accurate idea of where the closest Toy Library is located.

Why is this article so amazing?

This would make a great newsletter item for your parents. I'm sure they would love to have access to a huge amount of free toys which they can borrow and return, rather than finding storage in their lounge rooms!

Sarah Cameron


5 chickens that will make great children's pets...


Chooks are the ideal pet for introducing kids to responsibility. If pet hens are not fed, their egg output drops. If the chicken coop isn’t locked up at night, a sad pile of feathers may be all that’s left in the morning. Chooks help kids to accept the realities of life.

Chickens will eat your food scraps and will help prepare garden beds by fertilising and turning the soil, however they can make a good old fashion mess too. Are you willing to go free range? Or do you have a designated spot picked out for their new home?

When thinking about having chickens around children, it's important to choose a breed that has a quiet temperament.

Here are 5 chickens that would make great pets for children...

1. Silkies

Silkies are well known as one of the most affectionate, loving chicken breeds your little flock will ever come across.  All people who own Silkies fall in love with their gentle nature and tendency to want to snuggle on your lap – adults and children alike!

They aren’t great egg layers, but these chicken breeds make up for it in being adorable, sweet pets that children will love to pat and play with. Plus, they will love touching their fuzzy feathers!

2. Orpington

These heavy-set, fluffy and cuddly chickens are super friendly pets for kids. Their docile and curious natures make them the perfect backyard companion – happy to follow your kids around and assist on their garden adventures. 

They have a beautiful silky coat that can come in an array of colours, and they lay an average amount of eggs – around 175-200 per year.  They really do love to be held and petted, and are one of the more affectionate chicken breeds perfect for little hands to hold. 

3. Pekin

Pekins are docile and gentle-natured girls who are so cute! Their small stature makes them an adorable and easily handled pet for small children. Not to mention their beautiful full plumage which will delight young and old as they busily forage around the backyard.

They don't produce a huge amount of eggs, so you would choose a Pekin to enjoy their good looks rather than in the hope to do some baking.

4. Isa Brown

The Isa Brown is one of the chicken breeds that seem to just be perfect in every aspect.  They have a friendly, calm personality, which means that they don’t mind children holding and petting them, and might even follow children around as they do the gardening. They are very inquisitive creatures!

What’s even better is that these chicken breeds are amazing egg-layers, and will produce over 300 per year! Which means not only do your children have sweet natured pets that they can run around with and (gently) hold, but that they will have a constant supply of fresh eggs that will keep them well fed at every breakfast! 

5. Sussex

The Sussex is a curious and friendly bird that are intrigued by humans – so much so that they often love to follow their owners around the yard.  They love to be petted and held, and delight in foraging and exploring with their human friends.

They also are very good egg layers, so you can expect around 4 large brown eggs per week.  The Speckled Sussex is particularly popular as it is one of the most beautifully feathered chicken breeds, displaying a beautiful spotted coat.


According to Burke's Backyard, pet roosters are definitely out; even the most placid bird will either become bored and nasty or overly protective of his hens. Roosters can inflict serious injuries so have no place around children.

Rules for kids:

  1. No chasing chooks.
  2. No teasing.
  3. Never carry birds upside down by their feet.
  4. Never leave small children unattended around chooks.
  5. Cover arms and legs before handling chooks in case of scratches.

I hope this inspires you to find the perfect chooks for your playground or backyard...

Sarah Cameron


Eeek, don't sneeze on ME!


It’s worse than we thought!

When you sneeze, you don’t just produce a spray mist of potentially infectious saliva droplets. Instead, you launch a wide sheet of fluid that starts off ballooning, then bursts like a bubble, and finally disperses into a spray - much like the dynamics of tossing paint into the air.

Most people instinctively just use their hands, which is a terrible idea. All that fluid - a nice mixture of saliva, mucus, and germs - ends up on your hands, and will transfer to the next surface you touch, where it can live for at least a few hours. Furthermore, the hands usually don’t cover all of the droplet cloud, and the potential for spreading disease is still high.

NSW Ministry of Health advises that you should use a tissue to cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing - and importantly, throw that tissue out afterwards. This advice is echoed by health departments worldwide. If you don’t have a tissue or paper towel handy, it’s best to sneeze into the crook of your elbow.

According to a Mythbusters program back in 2010 called The Safe Sneeze, sneezing into your elbow is the most effective way to prevent the fluids from spreading, whereas if you sneeze through a tissue or hanky you will end up with fluid all over your hands. Don't even think about putting that handkerchief back into your pocket! Eeek! Whatever you choose to do, cover up that sneeze and wash your hands afterwards.

The Sneezesafe® program is an educational health program designed and developed for Australian classrooms and has been running in schools since 2011. By participating, teachers can download resources to teach children how to prevent the spread of coughs, colds and flu whether at school or home. This might be something helpful to get you through this upcoming flu season.

Sarah Cameron


School holiday adventures...


No more school lunches to pack or rushing to catch the bus. Two weeks of freedom! What are you going to do with yourself? Whether you're an educator on a well deserved break, or a parent with children to entertain, here is a quick guide of what's happening in each state during the school holidays. There were so many amazing events I've come across, this is just a small sample.


  • The Visit NSW website has a lot of ideas for school holiday trips and adventures.
  • Australian Museum in Sydney has a school holiday program for children aged between 3-12 years.


  • Queensland.com has a list of ideas for school holiday adventures.
  • If you are wanting to visit Brisbane, they have a great website with planned events throughout April.


  • Weekend notes have put together a list of events happening in Canberra during the school holidays.


  • Play and Go have a great website with the mission "Keeping South Australian families in the know and on the go". 
  • Monarto Zoo is always an interesting place to visit with children.


  • Buggy Buddys have put together a list of what to do in Perth during upcoming the school holidays.
  • Scitech are based in West Perth, they have so many amazing workshops planned across the school holidays. It's definitely worth a look!

Wishing you safe, fun and restful school holiday adventures,

Sarah Cameron


3 things to remember when greeting a friend


At around 18 months, children begin to grasp that there are certain accepted social graces. Start teaching in small doses, setting realistic goals. Greeting friends is a great place to start. Children would have been watching how you greet and interact with adults and children, and will be keen to learn.

1. Eye Contact

Good, solid eye contact shows others that we are both interested in what the person has to say and that we have confidence in our ability to listen. Remember to look someone in the eye when you greet them.


2. Smile

A friendly smile adds warmth and will make both children relax during the interaction.

3. Say "hello"

Introduce yourself if you have not already met "Hello, my name is ..." or if you know the person, you could say "hello, how are you?"


This is a Hello Song that you may want to use during group times to practise the new skills.

If you are wanting to find social stories about greeting friends or visuals, there are so many on Pinterest, or simply spend some time on google.

Sarah Cameron


Emoticons + Easter Eggs? What's next?


Kate from Laughing Kids Learn has put together a fun article on a simple learning experience to teach children about expressing their emotions.

Resources you will need


You may have already gone out and purchased some plastic Easter eggs for art experiences. All you need now is a black texta and to channel your inner artist.

Begin to draw a variety of facial expressions on each half of each egg. It may be easier at this stage to keep the eggs together as you draw each expression. If you get stuck for ideas, Kate suggests referring to your Emoticons on your phone. Brilliant!

Time to play!

Set the eggs up wherever you like, it may be in a basket in a quiet corner, on a mat outdoors, or on a table. These eggs will be something that children will be drawn to and can't wait to play with as I'm sure they will find them amusing. As children interact with these eggs and begin to match the facial expression, it is a great opportunity for you as the educator to discuss emotions.

Questions you might want to ask during play

  • How do you think the egg is feeling?
  • Why do you think the egg is feeling that way?
  • Can you show me how they are feeling? (This will end in lots of giggles and may lead to role playing)

I hope this is a fun little learning experience to help your children discover more about emotions.

Sarah Cameron


How to raise polite children to say "Please" and "Thank you" on their own


At the heart of good manners is a respect for oneself and others. When you say “thank you,” you’re taking the time to make the other person feel appreciated. When you ask for something, end your statement or question with “please.” This simple word conveys respect and graciousness.

A study by McCrindle Research says, “Manners have made a comeback, although the way parents teach them is new in some ways. Children are not taught good manners out of a sense of obedience to parents, but out of a sense of mutual respect and empathy for others. Gen X parents want children who can be assertive of their needs but also respectful." 

Things to remember when teaching manners to children...

Start Early

As soon as a baby is born, you can start to demonstrate that good manners and politeness are important, using words such as ''please" and "thank you" frequently. Children as young as two can learn to say “please” and “thank you.” Even though they don’t yet understand the social graciousness of these words, the toddler concludes that “please” is how you get what you want and “thank you” is how you end an interaction.

Role model polite behaviour

How do children learn their manners? They learn from watching the adults around them. This sounds so basic but it's true. The easiest way to get children to display certain behaviours is to do it ourselves…frequently. 

Recognise the long lasting benefits

 The very act of saying thank you puts us in a positive state of mind. "It is not happy people who are thankful. It is thankful people who are happy" - Unknown.

Expect politeness from children

The more children see their parents or educators acting polite, the more they will do it on their own…even if you are not around. When an opportunity presents itself where children can display that they are grateful, pause, and see if they remember how to respond. If not, role model a polite response so that they are able to observe and maybe their confidence will grow for next time.

There are so many beautiful books that will help to make your job easier, enjoy!


Sarah Cameron


On the lookout for a Social & Emotional Skills program? Look no further!

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PALS Social Skills program

Playing And Learning to Socialise

This is a social skills teaching resource for educators and parents for children aged between 3-6 years. Children are taught constructive ways to solve problems that arise in social situations. 

The program is suitable for small groups, 6-8 children, or can be altered for larger group sizes.

This is done through stories acted out by puppets, video scenarios, probe questions which may be asked by the educator, role playing activities and songs.

PALS program consists of ten sessions, each focussing on a particular skill. One skill builds on another, so that the program gradually progresses to the more complex skills required for competent social interaction.

PALS kit includes resource books, CD, DVD, puppets, posters. Cost - $360 inc GST plus $15 postage within Australia.

For more information…



*In no way is Pencil receiving an incentive or benefit from sharing this information with you from PALS, just the knowledge that it might help you out*

Sarah Cameron 

A Robot's Can-Do Attitude Rubs Off On Children


According to Timothy Revell's recent article in New Scientist, a robot's can-do attitude might be able to rub off on children. Timothy writes "It seems that children's behaviour can be influenced by the personality of a robot companion - playing with an enthusiastic or attentive robot, for instance, makes them engage more and work harder."


The aim of the experiment, according to Goren Gordon at Tel Aviv University in Israel, is "to have a companion that has all of the behaviours that we want to instil and promote in a child."


Researchers ran a series of experiments with Tega, a companion robot that looks like a cross between a Furby and a Telletubby. The robot was programmed with different responses to test how their personality would affect a child's behaviour. 

- 40 children played a puzzle game against Tega.

- For half of the children, the robot had a "neutral" personality, meaning that if it won a puzzle, it would say something like "I solved the puzzle" and when it lost, it would say "That was hard."

- For the second half of the group, Tega had more of a can-do attitude. When it won, it might say "That was hard, I tried hard and nailed it" and when it lost it might say "You worked hard and succeeded!"


The differences in the robot's personality and phrasing were subtle, but the effect on the children's reactions was not. "We found that the children in the second group tried much harder, and when they lost, they were far more determined to win - they had grit" says Hae Won Park who led the research. These children also made more attempts to complete the puzzles. The robot demonstrated that effort pays off and it likes challenges.


It is hard to tell what the long term effects of a robot's personality will have on a child's attitude to learning, as the positive findings may be linked to the "novelty effect" from the child's first encounter of the robot. The researchers are hoping that Tega may be useful in a home and school environment.

Sarah Cameron


Setting up a child proof Ipad/Iphone in just 8 simple steps!


Have you tried exploring a topic with a child on an Ipad and their little fingers constantly touch the screen, exit apps or delete your photos?

Here are 8 simple steps to help take the stress out of using this technology in your classroom or at home…

It's called Guided Access. Here's how it works:

  1. Head to the Settings of your iPhone or Ipad. Tap on General. And then tap on the Accessibility section.

  2. Scroll down to find Guided Access under the Learning section and tap on it. Turn on Guided Access.

  3. Tap Passcode Settings and set a passcode. Or, alternatively, set up Touch ID.

  4. Now, press the Home button to exit Settings.

  5. Enter whatever app you want to use and triple-click the Home button.

  6. In the top right hand corner, click on Start to enable Guided Access

  7. If you want to exit the app, triple click the Home button and enter your passcode.

  8. In the top left hand corner, click on End to finish using Guided Access. Press the Home button to exit the app as usual.

* If you need further instructions, here you will find the relevant Apple help page *

I hope this will help you have many creative Ipad adventures ahead…

Sarah Cameron


3 ways to effectively praise your child


Praising effort can encourage your child to look for challenges and to try hard in the future. Praise should be given mindfully and take into account a child's age and abilities. Effective praise can motivate children.

Here are 3 ways to effectively praise your child:

1. Praise the strategy

For example, “You put your shoes on by yourself!” 

2. Praise with specificity

For example, if your child draws a picture, provide feedback — not judgment — on what you observe: “Those clouds are big!” or “Boy, you sure used a lot of blue today!”

3. Praise effort

For example, "Wow, you have worked really hard on that painting."

This image is sourced from Kidsmatter.

This image is sourced from Kidsmatter.

A brilliant Stanford University researcher Carol Dweck says “If parents want to give their children a gift, the best thing they can do is to teach their children to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort and keep on learning”.

Sarah Cameron


5 simple ways to foster curiosity in children


It takes a lot of confidence as an educator or parent to encourage children to question – many of us are worried that we may not know the answer, not realising that it is actually okay not to have the answer. This just promotes more exploration and questioning, by both children and adults. 

Here are 5 simple ways to foster curiosity in children:

1. Pay attention to their questions!

Young children are naturally curious. They have an itch to explore their world and figure out how things work. And parents have compelling reasons to foster this inherent inquisitiveness. “When children are encouraged to be curious, ask questions and are given the opportunity to discover the answer themselves, they are much more likely to embrace curiosity as an adult, continuing their learning for as long as they remain curious,” Ms Bennett added.

2. be patient

For parents, children’s unending questions can challenge our knowledge—and our patience. But if we want to nurture their curiosity, perhaps the best response we can give is simply this: “Good question. Let’s find out.”

3. Don't give the answers away!

Resist giving the answer to your child, instead, encourage them to investigate and find the solution together.

4. Buy toys which foster creativity, such as... 

  • Construction sites - Lego/Duplo, building blocks, farm and zoo animals, road and traffic signs, sensory blocks or coloured window blocks.
  • Science explorations - magnets, bug catchers or magnifying glasses.
  • Artistic adventures - musical instruments, chalk to draw on cement paths, a writing pad, a variety of textas, pencils, glue, paints, clear contact, glitter, textured paper and scissors. Collect your recycled containers, toilet rolls, ribbons, wrapping paper, milk bottle lids or yoghurt containers.
  • Fostering the travel bug - World map puzzles or a children's world globe.
  • Books - a fantastic way to building upon a child's imagination and to start creative conversations.

5. Role model continual learning and exploration, show children learning is fun.

Shared discovery gives the greatest pleasure. In the classroom, the curious child will want to share his/her discovery with you. The attention, smile and shared joy you show will provide a powerful reward to the child. This is an important part of the cycle of learning. You will encourage positive exploration with your attentiveness.

Final note...

“‘How does this work? What happens if I…? Is it possible to…?’ If we as educators and parents, encourage young children to start ‘thinking in questions’ like these then we are fostering an environment of curiosity; an exciting place where the impossible becomes possible and where innovation becomes reality,” Maria Bennett, Children’s Services Manager at Campus Life, Macquarie University has said.

Sarah Cameron


3 amazing books for curious children

Image supplied by pbs.org

Image supplied by pbs.org

As we know, curiosity is a desire to learn and is the spark that helps children grow. For educators and parents, fostering a child’s curiosity is one of the most important ways they can assist a child’s development. These books are a great way to spark a conversation and to encourage curious minds to think outside the square.

1. Where does Thursday go? by Janeen Brian. 

Thursday is Bruno’s birthday, and he wishes it didn’t have to end. But Friday is coming, and he knows his special day will be gone in the morning. What will happen to Thursday during the night? Where will it go? 

2. Not a box by Antoinette Portis. 

Not a Box tells the story of a rabbit who is asked what he's doing in or to a large box, and repeatedly responds that it's not a box, it's a spaceship, a race car, a mountain... This fun, clever book is a great anytime read.

3. If by Sarah Perry. 

If...is a book of surreal possibilities. It can be explored in many different ways. You can use a single illustration or combine several to create your own stories. For example, "If frogs ate rainbows... what would their croaks sound like and what would they say?"

Sarah Cameron


Sunglasses, should your child be wearing them?

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ABC News have written a story this week focusing on the need for children to wear sunglasses. This topic comes up about once a year, and yes, ABC News have covered a similar story here and here before. They have quoted an eye specialist Dr Shanel Sharma, who is a Lecturer at University of Sydney and an eye surgeon and specialist based in Sydney. Here's what I've found on the topic, see what you think.

Important points

  • Big pupils and clearer lenses means up to 70 per cent more UV light reaches a child's retina than in an adult's eye.

  • Blue eyes are particularly at risk because the less pigment in the iris means more sensitivity to UV.

  • The long-term effects of sunburned eyes are cumulative and not reversible.

  • For kids, bright summer days at the beach, surfing or sailing, pose the highest risk, as sand and water reflect the UV light.

  • Hats only protect from above, not below, where reflected UV from water, sand or concrete can do a lot of damage.

Image sourced from The Vision Council.

Image sourced from The Vision Council.

Hold your horses, there's a BUT...

Doctors warn that some sunglass manufacturers are taking advantage of the lack of conclusive studies on the subject. "Many manufacturers use tactics to make parents scared that if they do not put their infant and toddler into sunglasses, their child won't be able to see in adulthood," said Dr. Robert Gross, a paediatric ophthalmologist in Texas. "There's insufficient data to warrant mandating that all infants and small children must wear sunglasses at all times," Dr. Gross said. "However, it certainly would not hurt a child to wear them when in the sun for long periods."

According to an Australian company Zeiss, "sunglasses are not suitable for very small babies. Their nose bridges and ears have not yet developed enough to wear glasses. The best protection for babies is a wide-brimmed hat or keeping them in the shade. Children should have suitable sunglasses when they start to attend pre-school at the latest".

Tips for buying sunglasses

  • Choose sunglasses that have Australian standard UV 400 lenses or 100% UV protection. 

  • Polarised lenses to eliminate glare, so his may have a more immediately beneficial effect, making your child more likely to keep wearing the glasses.

  • Find impact-resistant, scratch-proof lenses that don't pop out of the frames. Avoid glass lenses, unless recommended by a doctor; plastic is safer. Frames should be bendable but unbreakable. Make sure the glasses fit snugly, close to the face.

  • Sunglasses need to fit your children comfortably. Sunglasses that pinch or are scratched are less likely to be worn.

What is a UV Alert?

Sunsmart have created a great resource to help parents with young children. The sun protection times can tell you whenever UV levels are forecast to be 3 or higher. This makes it easier to know when you do and don’t need sun protection. These times are forecast each day by the Bureau of Meteorology.

You can find the sun protection times for your location at the Bureau of Meteorology website .

SunSmart recommends using a combination of the five sun protection measures during the daily sun protection times: Slip on  clothing , Slop on SPF30 or higher  sunscreen , Slap on a  hat , Seek  shade  and Slide on  sunnies .

I'll leave this one with you,

Sarah Cameron 


5 ways to move beyond asking "how was school today"...


When your child gets home from care or school today, here are 5 conversation starters that will hopefully spark their interest.

  1. Tell me something that made you laugh today.
  2. Was anyone away today? 
  3. What was the yummiest thing in your lunch box today?
  4. Did anyone do something nice for you today? Did you do something nice back?
  5. What was your favourite thing that happened today?

And a bonus question that is always absolutely lovely to ask:

What are you looking forward to tomorrow?

Remember that a conversation is a two-way street. You can open up your questions with an anecdote from you own day. “I went grocery shopping and found the yoghurt that Dad likes for lunch. What was the yummiest thing in your lunch box today?"

Keep the conversation going and maybe, just maybe, you’ll actually get to know the answer to “how was school today?”

Sarah Cameron


Australian study relates birth date to ADHD diagnosis

Happy birthday cake.jpg

The youngest children in class are more likely than their older classmates to receive medication for ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), a study has found.

This study has been compiled by researchers at Curtin University in WA and has been published in the Medical Journal of Australia. The results of the WA study, has again raised concerns children are being misdiagnosed with the psychiatric disorder and medicated for what could simply be age-related immaturity.

As a new school year begins, the study has also added to the debate about the best age for a child to start school.  Read the full story

Sarah Cameron


How to enjoy your kitchen garden...


If you had a few moments before Christmas, you may have planted some tomato crops. Now is your time to enjoy them. You may also have overflowing supplies of tomatoes, here is one quick idea for a nutritious snack. Dips are a great way to encourage a child to try vegetables and increase their intake. Salsa is the perfect way to use your home grown tomatoes.

If you’ve been growing herbs such as coriander or basil, they would also be perfect to use with your freshly picked tomatoes.





Jamie Oliver's Tomato Salsa

Here is a simple salsa created by Jamie Oliver. Play with the quantities, depending on how many children you are sharing this yummy salsa with.


  • 6 ripe tomatoes
  • 1 bunch fresh coriander
  • 1 onion
  • 2 fresh chillies
  • 1 clove fresh garlic
  • 1-2 limes
  • extra virgin olive oil


  1. Finely chop the tomatoes and coriander (stalks and all) and place in a large bowl.
  2. Peel and finely chop the onion, deseed and finely chop the chillies, then scrape into the bowl. Peel and finely grate in the garlic.
  3. Squeeze in the juice from 1 lime, add 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and mix well. Season to taste with sea salt, black pepper and more lime juice if needed.
  4. Serve straight away or cover and set aside for a few hours to let all the flavours develop.

Variations - add in some diced capsicum or cucumber. You may choose to skip the onion, garlic and chillies if cooking for children, it's totally up to you.


Are you familiar with Upcycling?



“Reuse (discarded objects or material) in such a way as to create a product of higher quality or value than the original” Oxford Dictionary.

Recycling vs Upcycling

Recycling takes consumer materials — mostly plastic, paper, metal and glass — and breaks them down so their base materials can be remade into a new consumer product, often of lesser quality.

When you Upcycle an item, you are not breaking down the materials. You may be refashioning it — like cutting a t-shirt into strips of yarn — but it’s still made of the same materials as when you started. 

Here are two examples of great upcycling projects children will love to create...

Fantastic wind chimes for the playground, your home or backyard.

Fantastic wind chimes for the playground, your home or backyard.

This newspaper fort is simply made with rolls of newspaper and tape.

This newspaper fort is simply made with rolls of newspaper and tape.

How can I get started?

I have tracked down some great organisations who are providing their communities with a one stop shop for recycled goods. If you don't live near a city, it's always helpful to ask parents to donate recycled materials to add to your art supplies. I would love to hear from you if you have a similar organisation in your area and I can add it to our list.


Urban Upcycle - based in Grovedale, Victoria

New South Wales

Reverse Garbage - based in Marrickville, Sydney


Reverse Garbage Queensland Co-op - based in Woolloongabba, Brisbane

Western Australia

REmida Creative Reuse Centre - based in West Perth

South Australia

That’s not garbage! - based in Beverley, Adelaide


I’m sorry Tasmania, I can’t find any upcycling services online for you. I’d love to find out if you have anything similar, please comment below and let me know.

Recycling near you…

Another place to consider looking when on the search for supplies…