Tuesday, 4 February 2014

New App Review for Pre-Schoolers: Jonty - The Dinosaur Who Could Not Go to Sleep

My daughter has been testing out a beautiful new App called “Jonty – The DinosaurWho Could Not Go to Sleep”.  When I first saw the title I felt like replacing ‘Jonty’ with her name, to be honest!

This is a very cute story about a lively young dinosaur that has trouble getting to sleep at bedtime.  The story is fully interactive so your child can help to get Jonty to sleep, encouraging ‘invisible learning’ while having fun at the same time. 
My little one, who is 3 ½, loved that she could get involved in the story and make the characters move and interact with other items on the page.  I can’t really count the times that we’ve played it but the fact that she goes back to it over and over again, finding new things to do each time is wonderful.  She loves me to read it her as well as have it read to her by the narrator.  For her, getting to interact with the characters on the page really brings the story to life.
You can interact with the app in these four ways:

  1. Choose to have the story read to you by a narrator.
  2. Read it yourself.  If your child gets stuck on reading a word you can tap on individual words to have them read out by the narrator. 
  3. If you would prefer to not interact with the story at all then you can select the ‘Auto Play’ option.
  4. In the creative ‘Add To Story’ mode, you can drag and drop additional items onto the page, such as a rainbow or a robot.  For each page, you can also record your own audio in this mode.

We used the app on an iPad Mini and my daughter finds it very easy to use and interact with.  I like that even in the ‘read to me’ mode, you can press on the words which are highlighted briefly and then read back to you.  This means my daughter can say the word out aloud and learn to recognise it too.
The animated images are lovely and perfect for both goys and girls.  The interaction throughout the story also helps your child with problem solving skills as they actively help Jonty to get to sleep.
No personal information is collected via the app and it contains no ads or in-app purchases.  This really appeals to me because I don’t like the idea of my personal information being shared with 3rd parties and in-app purchases really ruin game play.  The fear in the back of my mind that she will somehow learn my iTunes password and download apps and ring up a huge bill is also put to rest.

I would highly recommend this App for little ones who are just learning to read.  It is especially good for children who don’t like to read as it encourages them to interact in a very different way whilst still learning new words and holding their attention at the same time.  I really hope that there are a few more of these to come as they are really lovely and are a great way of introducing the skill of being able to read to a pre-schooler.

The App costs £2.99 and is available via the Apple App Store.  An eBook version, for Kindle fire and Apple devices is also available.

Ally x

Find out more here:

Note: We were sent the App free of charge for my little one to put through it’s paces and give her views on.  All opinions are our own.

Monday, 3 February 2014

It's true. No two pregnancies are the same...

We waited for over three years before thinking about trying for our second child, and in the one month that we weren't trying, I fell pregnant.  Shock was the first reaction along with utter disbelief.  That lasted for the best part of the first month.  Waiting for something for such a long time and then suddenly having it is a very surreal feeling.

So, now at nearly 18 weeks pregnant I am still stunned by my every expanding belly and my voluptuous upper body.  Other than extreme tiredness, a bit of swelling and my bump, I've had no 'real' symptoms.  I was sick from just after 5 weeks until 11 weeks and 4 days (yes, I remember it well), twice a day, if not more with my daughter.  I could barely eat never mind how I felt when I caught a whiff of something my senses now decided to despise.

This time round I couldn't eat enough.  I was like a machine in the first three weeks after I found out, shovelling everything and anything in to try and satisfy the most ridiculous hunger that couldn't be appeased easily.  This all went straight to my thighs.  Awesome.

I now also have a belly that is growing at rate of knots, so much so that I feel like I need to use Bio Oil three times a day in order to ease the itchiness and make it feel less like the living daylights are being wrapped out of my skin.  I must look like a bit of a crazy person, holding onto my belly at one second and rubbing it in a moment of love and adoration for my growing child, and then scratching the heck out of it the next as if my life depended on it.  All I want to do at the end of the day is come home, layer on enough oil to make me greasy enough to win every slip and slide challenge known to man and enjoy the freedom of chilling out in my underwear while my skin breaths.  Bliss!

I now have insomnia some evenings (but I'm tired, right?!) and the inability to get comfortable at night even at this early stage is definitely new.  The snoring is apparently another addition to the list of firsts.  Whilst it doesn't bother me I'm sure my husband is plotting his revenge as I type, and I can see myself waking up on the floor on morning, cuddling on to my pregnancy pillow.

My husband has started to refer to my pillow as my 'anti-roll bar' or 'contraceptive barrier'.  Once you get comfy in that thing, sleep or no sleep, there is no letting go of it.  Better than having to use the excuse of having a headache I guess? "Sorry Hon, I'm tucked into my preggy pillow.  Can't get out of it now, you know.  Took me a few minutes just to get comfy!"

My memory seems to fail me and random words slip into sentences.  I know what I'm saying but often am at a loss for words.  This definitely didn't happen this early on, so now that I feel like a bit of an old fart, I can use the excuse of actually thinking about what I'm saying before I say it, because I often am.

All things said, it's pretty smooth sailing this time.  I've felt movement from about 12 weeks; the little butterfly feelings, and just yesterday I got my first real kick from the outside, which was out of this world.  Energy levels during the day are good though but I do find that if I stop and rest on the couch, I somehow lose about an hour or two of my day and suddenly it's dark.  Amazing how you can close your eyes for one second and that happens?!

I'm pretty much convinced on what the sex of the baby is, which is being confirmed in the middle of this month.  To be honest, I'd be happy with either sex as long as baby is strong and healthy.  My daughter wants a brother so baby, you had better be a boy!

Ally x

Limerick: Ireland's City of Culture for 2014

Named Ireland's City of Culture for 2014, Limerick is playing host to a programme of events this year. Straddling the River Shannon, it's a traditional Irish city with a gritty but intriguing past, as seen in the famous book Angela's Ashes, that hasn't lost any of its working class charm in the years since its modernisation.

As a small city, it's easy to navigate on foot - or perhaps you'd prefer to hire a bike and see the city at a somewhat faster pace? With friendly locals, a great café culture, traditional pubs, a historic castle and a great art gallery, there is much to be found here.

Visit St John's Castle, the ancient stronghold built by King John of England between 1200 and 1212, as his military and administrative centre in the region. Take in the stunning architecture at St Mary's Cathedral, founded in 1168, where parts of the 12th century building still survive to this day. Or perhaps visit Limerick City Gallery of Art, which showcases a stunning collection of pieces by artists such as Sean Keating and Jack B Yeats.

Take a walk along the West Bank and see the treaty stone, the place at which the Treaty of Limerick was signed, or join a walking tour of Limerick, guided by local experts. These tours are a great way to learn about the city from the people who know it the best - you'll see the sights and learn about the history of the area. Perhaps you'll choose a tour of a Medieval English Town, the People's Park tour, the Georgian House & Garden Tour or maybe the tour of the North Munster Masonic Centre.

It's worth keeping an eye on the event calendar after booking your stay at one of the Travelodges in Limerick - with 2014 being such a big year for the city, there is so much going on that you won't want to miss it.

Note: This is a guest post.
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