Tag Archives: writing

Learning: Writing letters and numbers

Over Christmas a few developmental things seemed to fall into place for the small boy and he couldn’t get enough of activity books, specifically practicing writing letters and numbers. Not one to discourage this, I spent a small fortune on activity books, we were going through one book every other day over the Christmas holidays and he was thoroughly enjoying it. But there had to be a cheaper way.

I mentioned this to Karen from That Lancashire Lass and she suggested I have a look at Twinkl. Twinkl is a brilliant website full of fun educational resources for parents, teachers, childminders and home educators. It’s full of more resources than you could ever wish for, and whatever their flavour of the month is (it’s usually fire engines and dinosaurs here) there are loads of easily downloadable activities available. 

We thought we’d start off simple and just print off a number formation workbook and letter formation worksheets. Because we’re fancy, I got my OH to print them and bind them into workbooks (it is here when being married to a printer finally comes into its own), but they’d be fine loose or just stapled together.

Writing letters and numbers

The boy loves them. He’s had them about a week now and he comes home from school every day and wants to do a few pages with us, which is so great, we’ve not wanted to push him to do things too much so it’s a delight that he’s genuinely interested and excited to do things. We had an inset day on Monday so we spent some time doing crafts and working through some pages of his new workbooks.

Writing letters and numbers

Although he’s been able to write his name for well over a year now, I’ve found that since he’s been doing some writing practice every day that his letters are much clearer and smaller, he’s even grown in confidence enough to write Benjamin instead of Ben, it’s a big name for a little boy! As you can see from the above picture he’s totally nailed writing the number 12 too.

What we chose to start our Twinkl journey with were fairly straightforward activity sheets. I’m already planning for a few themed rainy afternoons using some of the downloaded Twinkl resources, so I’ll be blogging them at a later date.

If you need a bespoke resource they have a new tool to create your own resources – twinkl create.  I think Twinkl is a cracking website for anyone who likes doing activities at home with their kids, as well as for teachers needing some inspiration; I’m looking forward to doing some lovely learning with my boy.

Want to Write? Take my Advice

Since I was featured in the February edition of Writing Magazine, a few people have been in contact asking for my advice on how to get started. I’m no JK Rowling I admit, but I do write and I do get paid for it. So here are some of my thoughts and tips about starting and keeping on writing. And if all else fails, just follow what the wonderful Neil Gaiman has to say.

writing magazine feb 2014

Writing Magazine, February 2014

Write for yourself 
I just started blogging for myself, people liked my style and it just snowballed from there. When I started blogging I didn’t expect anyone to read what I wrote. I wrote it for myself, to get things off my chest or to pour my heart out somewhere. If you write because you love it then you’ll not go far wrong.

Blog for the love of it
The best thing I did was start my blog, it’s worth investing £50 or so in getting your own domain right from the start, but write for yourself at first, about your life, things you’ve done, places you’ve been. Make friends with local bloggers in your area and get on twitter and search out review opportunities and interesting things to do. Eventually once you’ve built on this PRs may approach you to write sponsored posts, you can earn some extra pennies that way. But find a balance, if your blog is entirely reviews for freebies you’ve got and sponsored posts then it won’t have a heart and people won’t embrace it.

Find a mentor
Find a mentor or an honest friend who will read what you write and tell you the truth. I’ve got a couple of mentors and friends who help me immeasurably both in my writing and generally in terms of my career. Writing is pretty solitary, or it can be and having trusted but honest people you can bounce off is incredibly useful. Writing is like a muscle, you’ve got to keep exercising it, so write, even if it’s just for you.

Just go for it
I started writing for free to build up my published portfolio again after my extended break from writing, now I’m getting paid. Approach local magazines and see if they’ll commission a free article maybe. Once you’ve got a decent portfolio you can start scouting about for paid work.

I got “spotted” via my blog by an editor and now they send me to review plays and things, as well as writing general articles for them.

Sleep on it
Sometimes when I’m in the mood I can bang out some pretty decent stuff which I’m instantly happy with. Sometimes I might really struggle to find the right words. Whichever side of the bridge you find yourself, it’s always a good idea to give yourself and your writing a bit of breathing space before you click “publish”. So sleep on it, or leave it for an afternoon. Come back to it with fresh eyes and pat yourself on the back, or make the drastic revisions it needs to make it a piece you can be proud of. Don’t be afraid to scratch it and start again, if it needs it, it needs it. Oh, and write tight, don’t witter on, like I’m doing now…!

Always remember, if you write from the heart and honestly, then you can’t go far wrong.

Happy writing!

What are my Five Favourite Things?

Here are my Five Favourite Things so you can get to know a little bit more about me. I have decided not to include family or friends in this because that absolutely goes without saying. These are my five favourite things…

1. Music. I love music and listen to it all the time, it can equally bring my mood up and down. Key moments in my life are happily soundtracked on my iPod and just hearing a song again can trigger memories. I am a confirmed indie kid and my favourite bands are currently James, The Wonder Stuff, Rage Against the Machine, Smashing Pumpkins, The Stone Roses and The Charlatans.

2. Exercise. I’m a real endorphin junkie. My physiotherapist described me as someone who binge exercises. It’s true, I’ve already spoken in a previous post of my love for dance, Zumba, yoga, Pilates, running, walking and swimming. I can’t do nearly as much as I’d like, but I make a point of walking every day to the point where the lovely happy endorphins kick in.

3. Writing. I love writing, crafting and twisting words into sentences. I’m really loving blogging at the moment and I’ve started writing the odd piece for publication. It’s a lost love, as a teenager I was a very keen writer and had lots of things published, I studied journalism at university and worked briefly as a journalist before I lost confidence in my writing abilities. I love that I’m writing again and hope I don’t lose my mojo any time soon.

4. Devon. We are incredibly lucky that we have access to a family cottage in North Devon so we frequently nip down for a holiday. Whatever the weather it’s always stunning. The cottage is near a cove and at night you can hear the waves crashing against the rocks. It is so peaceful. We love the ready access to beaches, great pubs, even the garden is lovely. It has it’s own orchard and that’s great to explore. It’s the only place where we all can completely relax. No TV, no Internet, very patchy mobile phone signals. Almost completely cut off from the world and that means 100% family time.

What are my Five Favourite Things?

5. Twitter. I am a Twitter addict, I’d check it every minute if I could. Over the past year it has been my saviour, my best friend, my source of distraction and solace and it’s been my enemy. I love it for keeping my mind off the physical pain of my operations and recovery. Twitter can be wonderful but I sometimes forget that reality is different to Twitter and that trips me up. It is one of my favourite things, but it can have it’s dark side.

Those are my favourite things. Simple things really, but the best things often are.

Properly Published!

I love writing, I always have. I like twisting words into sentences and I like putting my thoughts and feelings on paper and getting them out of my head. That’s probably why I love blogging.

Just before I started writing this blog I was asked by a good friend to write an advertorial piece for her shop, Giddy Goat Toys in Didsbury, Manchester for a local parenting magazine Mums & Dads. The article was about keeping kids of all ages entertained during long journeys.

I was incredibly honoured to be asked and I was really, really pleased with the finished article which was featured in the June issue. You can read my article here. Hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Mums & Dads