Our Top Ten Posts of 2016

Catch up on ten of the best of our blog posts from 2016 including some of our most popular educational printables.

The end of every year is a perfect time to reflect on the past twelve months and plan for the year ahead. Over 820,000+ of you found your way to our blog in 2016 to read more than 50 new posts this year bring the total number of posts to over 150 now. 

Our Instagram followers grew by some 20,000 in 2016 while there's now twice as many of you following us on Facebook and Pinterest than in 2015.

My life as a contract teacher saw me working several term long contracts across three different sites from ranging from preschool to Reception age children then up to Year 3/4 as well as managing a special education unit. 

This year on the blog was an exciting one as we listened to what you wanted in 2015 - more printables! Opening our very own online shop and adding many more printables to use in your own classrooms in January.

And we have many more exciting posts to share with you in 2017.

But to catch you up, we're sharing the best of our blog from 2016 here.

Our Top Ten Blog Posts of 2016 - Catch up on ten of the best of our blog posts from 2016 including some of our most popular educational printables | you clever monkey

15 Fun Ways to Reuse All That Christmas Rubbish

15 Fun Ways To Reuse All That Christmas Rubbish - 15 different ideas to try with your children to reuse, recycle, reduce and upcycle some of that Christmas trash that would otherwise go to waste.

For many of us, Christmas means spending time with family and friends. This year that meant 7 children and 9 more adults all opening presents and eating Christmas lunch at our house.

Lots of noise, lots of fun but also lots of rubbish!

Now as tempting as it is to just stuff it all in one of the many boxes that seem to appear Christmas Day and throw it all in the trash, there are some fun projects you can try with your children once all the visitors have left and they are not quite sure what to do with themselves.

15 Fun Ways To Reuse All That Christmas Rubbish - 15 different ideas to try with your children to reuse, recycle, reduce and upcycle some of that Christmas trash that would otherwise go to waste | you clever monkey

30+ Gifts My Children Have Loved But Didn't Ask For

Our pick of the best open-ended toys to gift this Christmas - 30+ toys your children will love but didn't ask for.

It's that time of year when our children are busy filling Christmas wish lists with their favourite things in the hope Santa or some thoughtful relative might bring them.


Quite often it's the latest and greatest toy that makes their list. 

This year IT toy is a Hatchanimal, a couple of Christmases ago it was a Furby. When I was ten, it was a Cabbage Patch Doll

Every Christmas there's always that one toy.

And it's oh so easy to get wrapped up in the sales pitch surrounding these items believing that this toy will make your child's day come Christmas morning. And sometimes, you get the fairy tale ending and this toy becomes one of your children's most beloved possessions.

Sometimes it doesn't turn out that way and the toy you just bought for way more than it's regular retail price finds a home at the bottom of your child's toybox collecting dust.

It's not that your child doesn't love this toy. They probably do but some toys are just better than others in engaging your child in play.

Being a teacher and parent of three young children one of whom in the spirit of full disclosure, is a owner of a neglected Furby, I'm often asked for my recommendations. Here's my list of toys my children have loved but never asked for.


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30+ Gifts My Children Have Loved But Didn't Ask For - Our pick of the best open-ended toys to gift this Christmas that will not be gathering dusk by the end of January | you clever monkey

How to Use Christmas to Encourage Writing

How to use the Christmas holiday season to encourage young children and their early writing attempts from beginning mark making to formulating a letter to Santa.

Before children begin to write, they make lines and circles. They scribble, they make marks and as their pencil control grows so does their awareness that these marks can help them communicate with others. They begin to understand that mark making can be an effective way to share their thoughts and feelings with the people around them. 
It's a crucial step in a child's early development.
Their first step towards writing.
There are many different types of mark making invitations that can be created in the classroom or at home to encourage a child's efforts and Christmas time is the perfect opportunity to get your child writing!

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How to Use Christmas to Encourage Writing - why mark making is important to writing development along with 20 different ideas to encourage mark making at Christmas time to help young children develop their writing skills | you clever monkey

Making Your Mark - How to Promote a Love of Writing

Why mark making is so important in Early Childhood plus launching a new ebook, Make Your Mark, full of ideas and resources to help educators and parents alike promote and encourage mark making by the youngest of children.

Developmentally, the skill of writing begins with mark making. 

Learning to write is a skill that requires time, opportunity, practice and encouragement. Mark making helps young children to make sense of their world but also opens them up to the realisation that marks and symbols can carry meaning that can be understood by others, allowing them to express their emotions and thoughts through a means other than verbal communication for the first time. 

Make Your Mark eBook - why mark making is so important plus ideas and resources to help educators and parents alike promote and encourage mark making | you clever monkey

Say It, Make It, Write It For Maths

Using our Say It, Make It, Write It FREE printable 5 different ways in Maths - the ideal resource that's ready to print for use any Early Years classroom.

This one simple printable is so incredibly versatile!

Originally I created the Say It, Make It, Write It mats to make practicing our sight words a little more hands-on and fun but like many of our printables, we've found it can be used so many different ways.

We started using them in our literacy centres

Since then, we've started using them in our math centres and they've proved to be perfect for small group or independent work in our classroom.
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Say It Make It Write It For Maths - how to use this FREE printable five different ways to create engaging maths centre activities in school for children aged 5-7 years | you clever monkey

One Sensory Rich Tub, Ten Ways to Use It

Ten different ideas of how to use rice to create rich sensory play in the classroom or at home.

Sensory play has an important role to play in Early Childhood. Exposing young children to sensory rich play can help them develop their early literacy and numeracy skills whilst also encouraging their imaginative play and problem solving skills. It can also be an crucial part in meeting the sensory needs of some children during play.

Previously I've shared some of our favorite non-food items for sensory play which led me to thinking about what our favorite items are for promoting rich sensory play. 

What is the most versatile material we use? 
What encourages play in diverse but sustained ways? 
What works for group play, mixed age groups and individual play? 


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One Sensory Rich Tub, Ten Different Ways to Use It - 10 different ideas of how to use rice to create rich sensory play in the classroom or at home to help develop early literacy and numeracy skills, imaginative play, problem solving and met sensory needs | you clever monkey
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