Setting up email for kids: 5 things to teach at the beginning

It’s that time and you’re email address shopping for your child. We’ve had a family email account for a little while as a handy catch all for all the children. It’s been useful to not have to set up separate accounts and all the friends could get each child right there. It was a taste of what’s to come.

As they get older the children have more rights and responsibilities and an email address is earned because of all the responsibility that comes with. There are so many things to talk about never mind all the fear based stuff we all see as parents.

What we should know before setting up that first email address and the conversation we have with our children.

Before I sent off my son with a new email address after the technical wrangling behind the scenes I needed a checklist of things to talk about. Cool Mom Tech has an excellent 11 point list of things to teach your child before they get their first email account  that we followed. I’ve added 4 things to teach or have at the very beginning that we found useful, along with a three messages for us.

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Back to School: Figuring out the Family Media Plan

How will we all use our media devices as a family? Figuring out our family media plan   + Printable questions to get started

How we use media, screens and devices creeps up on many of us.

Devices multiply and soon there are a bunch of portable devices to manage.

Before going back to school I love to go back over what worked and what didn’t work so well the previous school year. Doesn’t have to be long or written but there are usually some lessons I don’t want to repeat and a few I do want to encourage. I’m sure you feel the same way.

TV and Computer Games

We’ve had the plan as a family to have a streaming service and not a regular cable company. The boys have a profile and the parents have their profile.  Generally as a rule the TV isn’t on by default. It’s been an intentional decision from the beginning.  It’s rare to have the TV on during the week, after school unless there is a purpose. It does happen but it is rare.

Computer games are shared usually strategic games and a few mindless ones and always in an area where we can see with a timer like this one. If we don’t have a timer we totally lose track of time. Gaming usually happens on a Sunday.

Portable devices

So far no cell phones for the kids. It’s coming but so far there’s no need or pressure. I need to enforce better office hours for checking things online. It’s hard for the boys to see the difference between me checking Pinterest for the dinner recipe or Evernote for booklist recommendation to whether I’m goofing off on Twitter or watching a video on Facebook. I need to get better with that.

iPods are popular in our home. As a big listener of podcasts for me and the boys of audiobooks I’d love to encourage more audio stories. We are mid way through Mattimeo and loving it. It’s remembering that these portable devices aren’t for solo use. Ditto the iPad. We’ve just started to explore the apps area and find more than just games.

School use

We were totally new to school websites carrying so much information for the children last year. So this year the boys are encouraged to check the website for homework, games, textbooks and notes.

With their own profiles on the computer the boys are learning to login, find and do without distraction. Did I mention that having a timer helps?

Watch and Eat

Something unusual that we love to do as a family maybe once a week is to watch something and eat altogether. It flies in the face of everything yet we’re happy to show the flexibility and temperance we have for media.

So far we loving: How the States Got their shapes, Presidents ( We are trying to understand and learn this new place where we live) Cosmos, Planet Earth because we love stuff like that or the latest movie if it is family night. The conversations we have during and after keep this gathering as a vital part of what we do as a family.

These are some of our guidelines for the year. Like with all things we will modify them as we go along. We aim for these ideals and so far they’ve helped us stay productive and ensuring we all get a good night’s sleep.

Try these questions to get you started

Family media plan

Free Printable

What ideas do you have for your family media plan this school year?

Instagram tags on playful parenting

Clearly I’m late to the party with Instagram  and Instagram tags but I love it!

With the Instragram app on my smartphone wherever I am with my little ones I can snap a picture and share it. I love looking at my friends pictures and discovering new people.

We’re all about intentional play so I particularly like the playful parenting side of things like you, since you’re here 🙂 There are lots of tags or hashtags on Instagram that instantly connect you with virtual communities of likeminded folks.

I’m sure you have your favourite ones too.

No matter what time of year Instagram is great for capturing the season but during the summer it’s like a special secret weapon. During the summer most of our usual routines are completely different whether that’s blogging, working, and the kids. It’s easy to keep in touch with our playful sides and share our fun.

Here are some of best most well used Instagram tags on play and kid activities

Go find some fun friends and me on Instagram and have a fantastic summer!


How to find and use tags on Instagram?

  1.  Go to your profile page. See the yellow arrow in the picture below. Note the magnifier at the top.
  2. Click that to search.

Instagram profile for playactivities
3. You’ll come to a screen like the one below.

4. Select tags

5. You can see which tags I have used in the past or search for some new ones ( Hint: Use the tags below 🙂

search tags on instagram
6. I clicked #playmatters on my screen
No.1 is a thumbnail of all the photos at the moment. My phone said there were 5864 photos. That’s a lot of inspiration. ( current view)

No.3  Click to see more pictures.

anatomy of the tag

No.2 is the feed for this tag. This is really neat. Just like a twitter list or facebook list. It’s easy to track everyone. Toggle between thumbnails and lists. With the list function you can like as you scroll. ( see below)

Follow a #playmatters user Now here comes the list. I asked friends and looked around for the active tags. Those with lots of photos. Here the are in a handy graphic.


instagram tags kid activities


What are your favourite tags to see or use on Instagram to do with play, kid activities and parenting? Share them below along with your link to your instagram page.

How do I find a read aloud for my multi aged children that will work with them all?

Reading aloud is one of those precious moments that many of us reserve for the end of the day when we’re putting the children to bed. This week on Wednesday 7th March is World Read Aloud day a global movement of literacy and reading aloud by LITWorld founder Pam Allyn.

Reading aloud is probably one of the most squeezed activities in our household because of the time pressures. It doesn’t benefit from enough time and thought. The amount of reading generally gets smaller as new siblings arrive and older children learn to read. It doesn’t need to be that way!

In this short extract we hear founder, Pam Allyn tackle this problem When you have more than one child how do you choose the right book that fits them all without giving up on Read alouds?

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27 Parenting Podcasts for the 21st Century parents

You can’t have failed to notice how many ways we can find information. Podcasts have become a really important way that you will learn, are entertained, inspired, take action and grow. Podcasts are produced by enthusiastic hosts passionate about their subjects. The parenting world has a range of podcasts which are a perfect way to listen to information and be part of a community connected without boundaries. They offer comment on current issues in a way that leaves you thinking long after the show is over and urge you to take some action.

Podcasts in general take a huge amount of time to produce and in the parenting world this coupled unpredictable nature of it with more kids coming along, new directions, maternity leave over and normal life there is a tendency to see your favourite show on hiatus or podfade.

The podcasts listed here are in no particular order. They were all current for 2012. Visit the website or better yet download a show and let the host know what you think. They will appreciate it.

Podcasts of 2012

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Solutions for tackling tricky toddler emotions

Solutions for tackling tricky toddler emotions

Strong emotions are a big bug bear when you’re in a playful home or are they really? Our aim as parents surely is to train, teach and allow opportunities of growth. We allow ample unstructured playtime to build creativity; structured activities to encourage skills and further learning; outdoor skills to connect with nature and so on. However, since our children come with varied temperaments, there is that potential to clash. This power struggle of who wins and who loses is a big problem in most of our playful homes. Mostly because we rely on previous experiences and default scripts we are often surprised that really come out of our mouths.

Full-on temper tantrum cry session
{Image Credit}

We can all think of a sticking point in our playful experiences at home and wish we had a tool or trick to just fix it, and fix it forever. Tricks don’t last over time. Although they can get you through situations they often start you down a path that leads to more problems. A better solution is to arm yourself with ideas, tools and solutions that you marinate with overtime and gradually introduce into your family.

Remember, you only have to succeed the last time. 
Brian Tracy

What we know to be true with toddlers

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31 days to a more Playful Tot {Day Twenty Three} Problem solving

Some days you just get blown away by the simplicity of a message. Today was that day.

Do you ever find yourself  doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. What about the children do you see that in them? How do you get them to move to a point where they can set simple goals and achieve them. Concentrate and persevere in an age appropriate manner.

I’m a totally a visual person so really appreciated Dr Becky Bailey  demonstrations and explanation on the importance of developing the executive state in the frontal lobe. Before you switch off thinking oh no brain science how will this impact my child let me encourage you with a few highlights. [Read more…]

3 must have places to bookmark for preschool listening

Birmingham Public Library (AL)

Listening to audio is a skill that’s not confined to just car journeys. There are many times when we need to add some downtime or slow the pace down.

Listening is a very active form and a really easy way to provide imagination, inspiration and entertainment.

Here are 3 go to places for active listening

Listen and Play

This is part of the BBC school programming and is published on a Tuesday. They are available on demand for 7 days after broadcast.

Each programme includes familiar songs, rhymes, stories and sound discrimination games to develop children’s phonological awareness and confidence with spoken language.

Each show has kept my little one interested and we’ve subscribed via iTunes so can listen again to older versions. if you live outside of the UK access to the BBC iplayer is restricted but you can subscribe via iTunes and download as a podcast.

Listen and play


P-L-A-Y-T-I-M-E …It’s PLAYTIME! P-L-A-Y-T-I-M-E………

With the current interest in letters and singing of the ABC song along with the phonic game on the fridge this show is perfect for my soon turning preschooler. It’s full of energy and emotion that he’ll stop to listen. We pretend together and with siblings as well.

Songs, stories and movement activities for pre-school children inspired by popular themes.

This is also part of BBC programming for schools.


Barefoot books podcast

I’m a big advocate for diversity in book and literature with my family of boys we just love the Barefoot Books as they have a range of stories both traditional and from different cultures. We always have lots to talk about seeing the people and places in these books. Now you can read along or just listen to your favourite books.

Barefoot books publish a huge range of stories and many of them for the over 5s so watch out for the themes.

Barefoot books

We’ve been experimenting with audio and listening recently and have tried them at our family dinner time. Instead of the usual hustle and bustle we listened to a story and then discussed it afterwards. It was really a different way to celebrate dinner together.

We’ve tried the traditional sit down and listen but this doesn’t work as well for us . It’s been great tidy up ‘music’ and listen to in the morning music before everyone is awake.

Photo credit: Birmingham Public Library (AL)

When do you listen to audio and what do you listen to?

Family night and dinnertime play activities- April

What’s family dinner like in your home? Probably pretty busy. Anytime for play activities?

Family meal times can be a really chaotic time of day with the bewitching hour close by/ clubs and activities/ and the general hustle and bustle of preparing a meal with children underfoot. By the time we make it to the table we’re all a little frazzled. Once we start eating we try a conversation and get mixed results.


Dinner time is a great time to connect and feel that family bond. We’ve had a lot of success with Dinner games and now were extending the fun.

Extending the fun

During the meal we try the conversation starters to get to know our children. Then move onto family night activities.

At the end of each month I’ll be sharing a download full of activities to try over the month for dinner conversation and together family activities.

Photo credit

Download April here


Since we’re at dinner I thought I would continue the theme………………….

Appetizer: Conversation starters during dinner

4-6 questions to promote conversation with your under 5s plus space to add your own.

First course: Recommended family game or activity

Games we recommend that encourage team work, participation, conversation and appeals to various ages.

Second course: Book recommendation

These books work really well read aloud or working together as a family.

Salad course: Podcast recommendation

Podcasts for kids or parents to enjoy

Dessert: Music

Start their musical appreciation with some carefully thought out musical journeys.

Cheese course: find some excellent play activities to do for the month.


Combine them in one night and have a playful family’dinnight’ or try different parts over the month.

Photo credit

Happy family ‘dinnight’!

Download April here

Family night and dinnertime play activities- March

What’s family dinner like in your home? Probably pretty busy. Anytime for play activities?

Family meal times can be a really chaotic time of day with the bewitching hour close by/ clubs and activities/ and the general hustle and bustle of preparing a meal with children underfoot. By the time we make it to the table we’re all a little frazzled. Once we start eating we try a conversation and get mixed results.

[Read more…]

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