A Squash and a Squeeze by Julia Donaldson

a squash and a squeeze

I have previously blogged about two of Julia Donaldson’s books and now Samantha has found a new favourite among her books!

A Squash and a Squeeze is about a little old lady who feels that her house is too small. She consults a wise old man and he gives her some strange instructions, which she respectfully obeys. The result is ┬áreally quite hilarious, magnified by Axel Scheffler’s fantastic illustrations.

As Samantha is starting to name animals now, this book is perfect for her as there are 4 of them involved in the story – a hen, a goat, a pig and a cow. The book is written in Julia Donaldson’s usual rhyming and well paced style, with some repetition of text which the children will pick up and read after you in no time!

SingKids Playstation Vivocity Review

After being to a few indoor playgrounds (with fairly good experiences in each of them), we decided to try SingKids Playstation at Vivocity. It costs $18 for an hour of play, with one parent included, which is more than Amazonia and Polliwogs.

In a nutshell, I was extremely disappointed. Although the playground admits children under the age of 3, many features are clearly not suitable for under 3s.

There was an area that looked like it was for toddlers, but as it was not clearly designated, anyone could go in. The young toddlers in this playground will probably be mixing around with older children, who can get pretty rowdy at these places (I suffered a painful kick to the face while trying to shield Samantha from an energetic girl playing on the bouncy slide/castle).

bouncy slide
The bouncy slide/castle

The layout of the place is rather haphazard. There was practically no walking space between some playground machines, while there was a big empty space with just a few chairs near the back.

space 3

space 2

space 1
There was practically no space to walk

Some of the machines were poorly maintained. There is this boat that slowly rocks from front to back in the playground that has some broken/missing parts at the helm of the boat. What remains at the helm is a circular protrusion, which is dangerous if a child were to lose balance while the ship is tilting. The child could fall from the back of the ship to the helm, potentially knocking any part of his/her body on the circular protrusion. In fact, this happened to Samantha and she hurt her arm on that.

ship 1
Boat with missing helm bits

ship 2
Samantha demonstrating how one could get injured, before she really did

Also, some areas were poorly lit, especially a balancing beam area located under overhead tunnel.

While the balloon cage with colourful balloons flying everywhere was quite fun, there were more safety issues than the balloon cage could have made up for.

You could say that I am being overprotective, and it’s ok for kids to get a few bumps here and there, but I expected the indoor playground to be a safe, protected environment. They clearly did not even bother to deal with simple issues like spacing of machines.

I’m giving this place a thumbs down, because of the numerous safety issues (despite all the rave online reviews).

Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae

giraffes cant dance

This is a great book to read together with your toddler, especially if they love animals!

This story is about Gerald the giraffe who didn’t know how to dance. As a result of that, he was rejected by the jungle animals during their annual dance. Luckily for him, a kind cricket enlightened him, and soon he became the best dancer in the forest!

For younger toddlers this book is a feast for the eyes – there are lots of beautifully drawn animals on every page. The story is divided into neat paragraphs that rhyme, and have a somewhat poetic and musical feel to it. I also use this book to play ‘spot the animal’ games with Samantha.

For older children, this book can be used to teach grit and determination, important values that children should try to cultivate.

Look out for the cricket that appears on (almost) every page!

5 Ways to Bring Out The Reader in Your Little One

I have previously written about the importance of Reading in Children. Here are 5 ways to make reading more fun, and bring out the reader in your child!

1. Read and Play at the same time: Don’t just read the words on the page! Digress, have silly fun and pretend to be the animals on the page, or characters in the story.

2. Use voice variations, reading speed variations to your advantage: Why read the book with the same voice and tempo every time? Make every book reading sound different!

3. Guess the Story: Before reading a book for the first time, look at the cover and title and try to guess the story with your child. Make up a totally ingenious story and have a good laugh when your story fits/differs from the book.

4. Guess the Ending: Before the last page, guess with your child what the ending will be, and be surprised at how accurate your child can be!

5. Make sure you have a book wherever you go: Why let the time waiting for the bus go to waste? Turn it into reading time!

Shark in the Park! by Nick Sharratt

shark in the park

This really fun book is becoming one of Samantha’s all time favourites. The story is written in an easy-going style, with nice rhymes, and a little bit of repetition (that toddlers like). The book tells of how Timothy goes to the park with a telescope and sees sharks!..or are they?

Samantha has a really great time shouting ‘shark!’ every time she sees the shark fin through the cut-out. After flipping the page, she gets to learn how many different objects and animals can have parts that resemble each other.

She also likes how the book is so colourful, and we also spend lots of time identifying the various objects and animals in the park.