Child-friendly green smoothie + 10 tips to entice your child

Are you looking for a green smoothie that will provide PLENTY of nutrients to start your child’s day and tastes delicious?  Are you feeling like your child could never come around to this?  Well then read on for the recipe and how to wean your child onto this delicious breakfast OR snack.

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Here is the recipe for one: (tip: write it out with the quantity for the number of people you are making it for and stick it up on the kitchen wall until you know it back to front!)

The ‘works’ green smoothie (AKA ‘the juice of a sea cucumber’)

  • 1 kale leaf, washed and stalk removed
  • 1 handful spinach, washed
  • 1/2 orange, peeled
  • 2 tsp almonds, soaked in water night before and drained (allows nutrients to be absorbed by your body better – ‘bioavailable’)
  • 1 tbs goji berries
  • 1 tbs chia seeds
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup water (or equivalent ice)
  • optional: probiotics, changing chia for sunflower seeds, linseeds or pepitas, 1 tsp Superfoods for Kidz ‘Vital Veggie Power’ (particularly used for Master 21 months who eats minimal orange or green veges if we’re being realistic!), swap 1/2 orange for 1/2 lemon + 1/2 pear.

Blend until smooth.

just some of the ingredients you can see...

just some of the ingredients you can see…

Superfoods for Kidz - Vital Veggie Powder

Superfoods for Kidz – Vital Veggie Powder

Here are some of the steps we took to wean the boys onto this smoothie….and who now SLUUUURRP it!

1. Start on an easier smoothie.  We started with 150ml almond milk, 1/2 banana, handful of soaked almonds, 1 tsp carob powder, 1/2 tsp honey or 1 date, probiotics, pepitas/sunflower seeds thrown in. See my post, ‘What About A Brekky Shake‘ for further ideas. Adjust the carob/cacao/cocoa or slightly more honey to entice them in.

2. Make small changes…slow and steady wins the race!  We started adding 1/4-1/2 tsp barley grass powder.  This is a great start in developing a taste for some supergreens and the boys gradually got used to 1 tsp barley grass powder.  This then became the green/chocolate smoothie.

3. Give it a name.  The boys were used to names such as ‘choco-coco banana’ or ‘honey cinna-banana’ so by the time I announced we’d try a new smoothie, they were excited to name this new one.  This time I drummed up more excitement by using Master 3.5’s new interest, sea animals.  I suggested ‘what about the juice of a sea cucumber?’.  A definite ‘YES’!

4. Introduce a new cup/straw.  As we are trying to get rid of plastic and the chemicals that go with it, I decided to invest in some stainless steel cups and drinking straws.  I brought these out on the day we tried the new smoothie.

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5. Plan to drink the new smoothie yourselves first and only offer a taste for your kids – miracles can happen when there is no pressure and they see others enjoying it.  The first morning I made the new smoothie (juice of a sea cucumber), I talked it up, but only made enough for my husband and I, not planning for the boys to drink more than a taste.  They both had a taste and Master 22 months took the bait…. ‘MORE!’.  So we donated one of our smoothies to him and made do that morning with some sneaky ‘low-fives’.

6. Slow and steady wins again.  I then made Master 3.5 his usual ‘choco-cinna banana’ in WITH the remnants of the new smoothie.  In fact, I knew half of the ingredients of the green smoothie weren’t THAT far off what he was used to.  So I added the almonds, goji berries and chia but left out the orange and greens (there was already some taste of them in the dregs) and added almond milk instead of water.  It was daring but he went with it!

7. Blend and blend again. Sometimes the smoother the better, particularly with fibrous foods like orange.  Be sure to start weaning off super smooth once you have the kids hooked in so they don’t rely on ‘no bits’ forever.

8. Know went to step up, and went to back down.  Again, slow and steady wins the race.  Keep making your green smoothie first, and making your child’s preferred one with more and more dregs.  I sensed that Master 3.5 was interested in the new smoothie after he saw Master 22 months slurp his up.  He just needed a day or so extra to get his head around a change in his breakfast routine, not SO much the taste.

9. Give some warning.  I planted the seed ahead of time and one day confidently announced ‘we’ll be getting up early to get out and go to the beach tomorrow morning, so we’ll all have the juice of a sea cucumber tomorrow okay?’.  He agreed, although I was probably still prepared to make his back up if he needed.  Nope, he was completely happy to enjoy the new drink with us!

10. Educate! We have drawn a picture and told the story of how each ingredient does something to help our body.  Master 3.5 is learning to have a sense of ‘taking care of his health’ as he asks me to go through each ingredient and what it does again!

your body will thank you!

your body will thank you!

Of course another idea would be to get your children involved in making the smoothie and talking about all the yummy ingredients in it, pointing out the ones they already know and the ones that sound enticing (like goji berries).  I didn’t play up the greens but maybe that was just me anticipating a reaction!

And the best bit about this shake is… you won’t even have to fake a ‘yummy’ smile as you drink, because it really is delicious!

Please let me know how you get on or other delicious variations  🙂 Heidi

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You can find language in your backyard!

Are you children interested in nature? Could they do with less screen time? Does your child love ‘treasure hunts’ or drawing? Do you need an activity that you can direct from the kitchen?

This activity promotes language-learning, getting outdoors, drawing skills and if need be, an opportunity for you to get the kids out from under your feet!  Of course you might find yourself out in the garden with your kids which is even better, providing you with fresh air and an opportunity to get to know your backyard better too!

Bring in the Backyard Treasure list! This is how we play:

1. Present your child with a special ‘notebook and artist pen’ and tell them they are going to find some treasures in the backyard.  They will need to listen up closely!

2. Challenge your child to find an example of each treasure description you provide (see list below for each treasure description).  Note, each description includes a word that the child must understand to find the correct item, great for language development.  You may need to discuss what the descriptive words mean before they go hunting.

Just a sample of ideas!

Just a sample of ideas!

3. The child must go and draw what they find, not touch.  This is to avoid little hands dealing with spiders and other not-so-safe delights in the garden.  Older kids might be fine to decide what they pick/bring back, but the main aim is for the child to then draw the treasure.  This is great practice for drawing what they see with the motivation of having a collection of drawings of their findings.

4. The child brings their notepad back to show you the drawing and to check if it fits the treasure description.  This is a great time to further promote your child’s language skills by discussing if the item fits the description and how they decided they would pick that particular item.  If it does not fit the description, you may need to provide some examples of the descriptive word, for example ‘wet means there might be water on it, it’s not dry‘).

5. Give the next treasure description.

For older kids, you could provide the written list, as above and let them go out and take on the task themselves.

This activity can then be repeated again and again, encouraging your child to find different items to match the descriptions.  Or think up a list of new descriptions!

Here is the list we have used so far:

  • brown leaf
  • a ‘forked’ stick (one with a ‘V’ in it)
  • a spider
  • something NOT green or brown
  • something moving (don’t touch)
  • something living
  • something when you look up
  • something you can eat
  • something wet
  • something man made
  • something that feels rough
  • something with a nice smell
  • something old
  • something new
  • a green leaf

Don’t forget even words like ‘NOT’ are descriptive words and are important for a child to understand.  A child may not understand the concept of ‘something new’  in the garden, so you may have to explain how ‘new’ relates to the garden.  If your child is not old enough for understanding words such as ‘man made’, think about some other descriptions you could add.  Here are just a few ideas to get you started – more descriptors of how items feel, look, colours, NOT….., quantity.  Remember the more you play with the same descriptions, the more your child has to think outside the box to find something different.

a few 'picked' items

a few ‘picked’ items

And if your child really does like to bring back a collection for you, why not save these in a basket and leave out for later imaginative play!

Let me know how your children get on with this fun yet educational activity!

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Literacy starts here..

[Birth+] A few benefits of baby books:
– clear pictures to keep your little one watching
– makes you talk in simpler language, which helps your child to understand and learn new words
– for 12mths + kids, extend the vocab (eg watermelon-seeds-red, juice-drink-cup, sheep-wool-tail)
– introduces early literacy skills such as left to right, turning pages, listening to words, pointing to pictures
– pages are easy to turn – keep your baby’s attention by bending the book back slightly so the next page pops open, say ‘turn the page’ and show their hand the action of turning
– older kids can even practice ‘reading’ the words to younger siblings

let's start from the very beginning

let’s start from the very beginning

ABC Reading Eggs – website/app review

[3 years +]  Are you keen for your child to look forward to literacy learning experiences?  Are they ready to learn before they start school?  Could they do with some help now that they have started school?  Do they have learning difficulties or autism?  Are you looking for fun and educational apps and games for your child?

ABC Reading Eggs is definitely a great place to discover!

image courtesy of daily telegraph

image courtesy of daily telegraph

What is it?

ABC Reading Eggs is a website and iPad app that is dedicated to teaching children literacy through fun, interactive games and based on research in developing literacy skills.  It was developed by experienced teachers, writers, animators and web developers, and you can tell!  It teaches phonemic awareness and phonics, sight words, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension and will have your child hooked to learning about sounds and words before you know it.  Just give it a go by checking out a sample lesson or taking a free trial.

The best thing I have found is the simple things that get your child hooked.  The fun games like spinning a wheel or popping bubbles, the funny and enticing characters that have your child working so hard just to hear them sing and the idea of getting to new eggs and seeing what will happen.  Each lesson ends in a story involving the sounds, words and characters they have just interacted with.  After your child has earned so many eggs, they then get access to play games with these.  We haven’t even gone to the game section as the lessons are enticing enough for Master 3.

Reading Eggs also sells Reading Eggs readers that we have found at our local library.  These match exactly what your child has learnt in the lessons which make it hard for your child not to be able to read successfully once they have done the lesson once (or more – they can be repeated as many times as needed).

Reading Eggs is available on the web and also on iPads.  You can get a mini-version on iphone app which is related games but certainly not whole program.

Who is it for? 

Reading Eggs is designed for children from three years of age with no literacy experience and will take them through until a grade 2 reading level.  Children with or without difficulties learning to read will benefit.  As long as your child knows how to work the mouse and arrow keys, they can be guided through it independently, but the games and characters really get you hooked in as well!  A simple test can tell you where your child should start, if you are unsure.

How much does it cost? 

It doesn’t sound cheap, but after you have taken a free trial, you will see how amazing this website is.  A year’s subscription costs $79.95.  There are other options including packs with books and access to only so many levels.  We were lucky enough to hear about a free 5 week trial and then got offered a discount to join after that.

So, if you can fathom at least checking out the sample lessons or taking a free trial, you can judge if it would be worth it for your child.  Of course, there are the simple ways to learn literacy, by first focussing on phonological awareness and exposure to books.  (link to post).

SOUND it out!

[2 years +]

Most children learn the names of the letters before the sounds that they make.  But is it really that helpful to know the names of letters when learning to read and write?

As a speech pathologist, my role in literacy is to promote pre-literacy skills such as book reading and churning out nursery rhymes but also ‘phonological awareness’, being aware of sounds in words.  Research shows any child with good phonological awareness skills entering school will succeed in learning to read and write.  But this has nothing to do with the names of letters!

When you think about it, knowing the names of the letters doesn’t get you much further than being able to spell out a word aloud to someone else (You spell it ‘A-I-M-E-E’).  This is definitely useful down the track, but not at the start of literacy learning.

What do you need to know to:

  • Sound out words (reading) : A child needs to be able to decode each letter into a sound (eg. ‘hot’ – h= ‘hh’, o=’oh’, t=’tt’) and then put those sounds together and say them into a word.  It’s not simple and the child needs to be good at decoding the letters into sounds and putting sounds together to make a word (either aloud or in their head)
  • Spell a word (writing it down) : Break the word into sounds in their head and translate each to a letter, before writing them (as above. ‘hot’ – ‘hh’=h, ‘oh’=o, ‘tt’=t).  This is not simple either!!!

But one skill you don’t need, is to know the names of the letters…  If you only know the names of the letters, you can only say ‘H-O-T’ when looking at the word, which gets you no closer to decoding what the word actually says.

A teacher I once knew actually only ever talked about the sounds of the letters in the first year of school and then introduced the names of the letters in the second year.  In the real world, most children will learn the names of the letters by osmosis anyway, but it can be helpful to put more of a focus onto the sound each letter makes.  This is particularly so for any child that seems as though they might find literacy a challenge, as learning the name and sound of a letter is just more memorising for them that puts extra load on the brain when it comes time to read and spell.

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So you think you know how to read a book to your child…? [3 years to school]

plenty of words that stand out in Pamela Allen books

plenty of words that stand out in Pamela Allen books

Did you know there is a direct relationship between the hours a child has been read to and their success in literacy?  It is also linked to their likelihood of attending university, better parent-child interaction and promotes far higher vocabulary, attention span and imagination skills.

Children learn through imitation, so the more you show them that reading is fun, the more likely they will be to enjoy reading too.  Below are some tips to get more out of reading with your child (remember reading to your child ideally starts from birth and occurs daily!!) and to take literacy learning a step further:

  • Point out parts of the book, the author’s name, what pictures you saw in the book that are featured on the back of the book, page numbers, index, and even the letter on the front relating to the author and where it is kept in the library
  • Talk about other books you’ve read that are written by that author
  • Run your finger under the words as you read
  • Point out words that ‘move’ across the page (eg. splash, oops) or those that stand out in some way
  • Point out a word that is repeated in a book (and then try to point out again soon after in a different book)
  • Find a letter such as the first letter in your child’s name
  • After the book, ask your child what they liked about it
  • Think about taking it for show and tell to daycare/kindy which also promotes your child helping to retell and talk about the book
look at those words!

look at those words!

Most importantly! Respond enthusiastically to all attempts to join in.  Don’t get caught up in just reading the book!

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So you think you know how to read a book to your child…? [12 months to 3 years]

Did you know there is a direct relationship between the hours a child has been read to and their success in literacy?  It is also linked to their likelihood of attending university, better parent-child interaction and promotes far higher vocabulary, attention span and imagination skills.

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Children learn through imitation, so the more you show them that reading is fun, the more likely they will be to enjoy reading too.  Below are some tips to get more out of reading with your child (remember reading to your child ideally starts from birth and occurs daily!!):

  • when at a familiar page, wait and wait some more for your child to join in by saying a word/words, pointing or doing an action previously seen
  • wait before you turn a page to see if your child knows what is coming next (they might say a word or a gesture to let you know they remember the next part)
  • ask questions
    • for ~18mths-3yr olds : what is he doing?, who is that?, encourage naming and pointing
    • for 3-5yr olds : I wonder what might happen next?, have you ever seen that?, what was it like?, encourage more story retell or relating to their own experiences
  • add in actions to add more meaning, particularly for little ones eg. hand showing ‘over’ for cow jumping over the moon, arms doing movement for wipers on the bus, hand movement to show what ‘tilt’ the boat means
  • after you have read that book for the 50th time (!!), encourage your child to help you ‘retell’ the book, by looking at the pictures and asking if they remember what happened. Encourage any attempts and try not to correct them. This is great for learning to sequence stories themselves (and to see what they understand of the book)
  • before the last page, ask your child what they think might happen. A great one for improving imagination! And after their idea, you could offer another possible ending so they can see there are many ways to write a story and different people might think of different ‘ideas’
  • refer back to favourite books in real life scenarios, for example, ‘that’s a pipe, like a water spout incy wincy was in!!’, ‘we fell in the water like the animals in ‘Who sank the boat’!’, ‘look, these are pumpkin seeds, remember like we saw in the book….?’
  • talk about the characters, relate them to your child (‘he misses his daddy when he is away, like you do’, ‘he’s got a little sister, like you do!’)
  • don’t forget to define words your child may not understand by using actions or other words your child knows (think Getting thrown into a new language is not easy.)   Don’t overlook any words as you might be surprised the words you thought your child would understand, they aren’t really sure of what it actually means.
  • Aim to pick a few words per book (do you know what ‘afraid’ means, what do you think a ‘tuffet’ is?) to discuss

Most importantly! Respond enthusiastically to all attempts to join in.  Don’t get caught up in just reading the book!

Stay tuned for some book ideas and reviews for Book Week!!

And for the little ones, So you think you know how to read a book to your child – [birth to 12 months].

So you think you know how to read a book to your child…? [birth to 12 months]

Where is The Green Sheep? will captivate the youngest of audiences!

Where is The Green Sheep? will captivate the youngest of audiences!

Did you know there is a direct relationship between the hours a child has been read to and their success in literacy?  It is also linked to their likelihood of attending university, better parent-child interaction and promotes far higher vocabulary, attention span and imagination skills.

Children learn through imitation, so the more you show them that reading is fun, the more likely they will be to enjoy reading too.  Below are some tips to get more out of reading with your child (remember reading to your child ideally starts from birth and occurs daily!!):

  • from birth to about 6 months – read the story or just point out the pictures or find a book you can sing to, which will interest your baby even more
  • from 6 months to 12 months (or more)…ditch the story!!! 
    • your aim is to keep their attention, whether that be naming one picture per page and flicking quickly, working towards pointing to two pictures per page until eventually reading the story
    • most little ones at this age will not have the attention for words on the page, so pick up any book with good pictures, especially pictures of everyday things your baby might know – single picture books, Spot, Maisy, Where is the Green Sheep, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, Brown Bear Brown Bear What do you see?, Old Macdonald, Wheels on the Bus
  • making up the story, just by looking at the pictures, encourages you to use words your child is more likely to understand, rather than relying on the actual story written
  • keep your child’s attention for longer by encouraging them to help you turn the pages.  This can be done from 6 months of age and is best done with board books.  Use the words ‘turn the page’ each time and show them with your hand which way to turn it.
  • discourage turning backwards in a book as this does not teach your baby the flow of left to right.  Most children who turn from the left are just not sure how a book ‘works’ and need some guidance.  Open the page from the right halfway and say ‘turn the page’, helping them to do so.
  • from birth, it can be easiest to lie down next to your baby on the bed and read, so your heads are together. They can turn to look at you (once they are able to) during the book which is more social than you sitting behind them.  You can also keep an eye on what they are looking at and be in a bit more control of the book.
  • let your baby guide the book – don’t get so caught up in reading the book, you miss the fact your child is looking at different pictures to what you are reading about (eg. if you are naming the page with the bear on it, but they are looking at the next page with the cat, skip to that so they hear the correct word for the picture)
  • point to the pictures that correspond to what you are reading, particularly if they are words your child may not know – imagine someone was reading you a book in Russian, you’d learn some new words quicker if someone pointed to the appropriate pictures at the same time
  • for those children that have limited attention span with books, don’t forget lift-the-flap books, touch and feel books, song books (eg. old macdonald) and books with attractive pictures and repetitive phrases (eg. Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see?; Where is the green sheep?; Dear Zoo; Peepo; Each Peach Pear Plum)
  • place books here and there throughout the house so your child can find them several times a day

Most importantly! Respond enthusiastically to all attempts to join in.  Don’t get caught up in just reading the book!

Stay tuned for some book ideas and reviews…

literacy begins

literacy begins