How HappyCalc Puzzles can help teach maths skills
Are you searching for quality games, toys and activities for your next grandkids' visit? Are you and the kids tired of the same old board games and puzzles?
I have grandkids whose ages range from babies to 14 years and finding quality resources for them all is not easy. Sure, there are plenty to outdoor activities and fun for everyone and the older ones tend to entertain themselves.
But I was happy to discover HappyCalc, an attractive puzzle game/activity from an Australian company, and it's great for anyone 3 years and over.
We've heard it before: 'Play is the beginning of knowledge.'
In fact, for children, play is essential for learning. So I was interested in the HappyCalc maths puzzle. It promised to provide an exciting space themed challenge for multiple ages that would encourage understanding and learning.
Bright colours and exciting illustrations create interest
So... I watched closely to see the response of the kids when I placed the puzzle box on the table.
I didn't initially give them any instructions or guidance. But the bright colours and exciting illustrations on the puzzle pieces immediately caught their interest. They laughed at the characters and space creatures. "It looks cool!"
"How do I play?"
The next question was, "What do I do?" I avoided a direct response and soon the younger ones were sorting the pieces into colours and numbers and then joining pieces together to create space craft.
There's no wrong way to play
The pieces, 138 of them, all connect so there's no right or wrong way. In fact, that was one of the comments by my older grandson. "I actually like this. What I like about this is that you can use any of the pieces. I like this a lot."
Kids can create their own maths stories
After they had played alone with the puzzle for a while, I started linking together some pieces and adding to their creations. The puzzle number pieces are different sizes so I linked a '5' and '1' next to the '4' + '4' and '8' that Dakotah had already created. Then we tried adding some other puzzle pieces to fit in her '8' story. She tried another '4' but found that she need a '2' puzzle piece to fit the space.
Once she could see how to make the number pieces in different ways, she worked on her own addition creations.
"This is such fun. I love it," she said.
My observations and review of HappyCalc?
The people at Fun Comet have worked hard to create this new and exciting resource for kids that encourages them to explore maths concepts through play. It's fun and holds their attention and interest while encouraging learning. I really like the space theme, characters, bright colours and illustrations.
And... there's no boring rote learning involved, no rules to fight over while playing, and no one to tell them they're doing it wrong.
It would be a wonderful resource for home-schooling families.
As the people from Fun Comet state: "We are passionate about teaching kids critical skills that will help them master maths in an engaging way.'
Check it out and keep a box handy for the next time your grandkids visit. They'll enjoy it. In the words of one of my grandsons, "It's a thing. Yeah, it's a thing!" Apparently, that's pretty good. :)
You can find out more and order HappyCalc online and it's currently being sold at a discounted price, so be quick!
This resource was provided for my honest review.
Add a dainty floral arrangement to the lid of a gift box or bucket and turn a simple gift into something amazing!
(This post contains affiliate links and I'll earn a small commission, at no expense to you, if you shop through them. This is how I help to make money so I can continue to bring you amazing content.)
I wish to do something great and wonderful, but I must start by doing the little things like they were great and wonderful. - - Albert Einstein
There are times when I just want to give someone a small gift, an encouragement or a thank you, maybe. I don't need something big or want to make a big deal about it.... just something small but special.
Do you know what I mean? Are you the same?
Sometimes you just need a small but memorable gift idea
Recently, I wanted to give my daughter-in-law a small encouragement. She had been unwell but she still kept going, home-schooled her little family and organised her ministry team for the upcoming week.
I know that she loves liquorice but I didn't want to just hand over a pack. I know she'd still appreciate it and enjoy it. But I wanted to make it a special gift, a special memory.
So instead, I filled a clear-sided tub with liquorice allsorts and added a simple floral arrangement to the lid. It took very little time to complete and looked amazing.
Here's how to create one yourself.
Watch the instructional video below
I've created a simple instructional video that you can watch, and pause as you need, to complete the project yourself. Or... if you prefer to read instructions, I've listed the steps below.
1. Here's what you'll need to make this gift box decoration
*small container or box; *a pack of sweets, candy or dried fruit & nuts; *round mini florist foam; *small leaved greenery; *small flowers; *ribbon; * paper butterfly or other embellishment
2. Soak your mini florist foam and adhere it firmly to the top of your box.
I find the easiest way to soak the foam is to fill an eggcup with water, flip the foam upside down and rest it in the egg cup. Once the foam is soaked and heavy with water, attach it to the lid of your container or box. The mini foam has a circle of adhesive to make it easy to attach.
(N.B. You don't have to use a round container. If you can't find one, a square box or even noodle box will work as well.)
3. Add the greenery to your arrangement first.
Using small sprigs of greenery, push gently into the mini foam and begin to create a ball of greenery. The greenery should not extend much beyond the edge of your lid.
Continue to add small sprigs of greenery between the ones you have already pushed into the foam.
4. Once your foam is covered with sprigs of greenery, start on the flowers.
5. Attach a strip of ribbon around your container and a bow.
The bow will sit flat on your container if you tie a separate piece of ribbon into a bow and secure with some double-sided tape.
6. Finally, add a small embellishment to the handle of your box and it's finished.
If your box doesn't have a handle, attach your embellishment to a piece of wire or short bamboo skewer and push into your arrangement.
And... it's finished! Include a small gift tag if you wish. I'm sure your beautifully presented gift will be truly memorable and appreciated.
We all know just how valuable school is for children. It is not just a place of learning and education; it is also about learning to socialize and work with people. It’s about learning to respect teachers, and in time, making independent decisions too.
However, school time isn’t the only precious part of their year. So is the time that they have off school. During these periods, be they a few hours long or several weeks long, you should be encouraging them. Encouraging them to make the most of this time is something that you as a parent, grandparent or other relative should be doing. That’s because it is in these periods of time that your children become fully formed adults.
So, let’s take a look at exactly what you should be encouraging your children to do in order to make the most of their time off school.
During weekends…. Get a part time job
In most countries, you have to be 16 before you can be employed by a company. As, soon as your child reaches this age, encourage them to get a job. Make it clear that this is a fantastic opportunity for a number of reasons. Yes, they have to give up a day or two of their weekends. However, they get a lot in exchange. First and foremost, there is the chance to earn their own money! There is also the opportunity to meet new people, gain some independence and get on the career ladder.
During short holidays…. Volunteer and do work experience
If your child has just one or two weeks off school, this might restrict what they can do slightly. So, for example, just one week won’t allow time for a family vacation and for them to do their homework. So, instead, use these shorter holidays for a different purpose. Encourage your child to do some unpaid work. This might be volunteering in an area they are interested in, like animals and education. Or, it could be some valuable work experience in an area they might like to build a career in one day.
During long holidays… Travel
We’ve touched upon the fact that short holidays may not leave much time to travel as a family. Longer holidays, or a month or more, however, do! Avoid getting sluggish and lazy by trying to find the perfect family activity holiday. This is great for trying new things and keeping health and fitness levels up. You may even discover a new hobby you want to all keep up once you get home!
During evenings…. Get homework done
Help your children develop the habit of getting homework done as soon as they arrive home. It allows them to enjoy the rest of their evening without stress and gives them a proper break from work. Help them out with a timetable and find ways to motivate them. This could be through a weekly treat, like a night at the cinema. Or, something smaller, like allowing them to pick what you have for dinner one night a week!
Here's how to create a welcome for your guests that will always be remembered.
Please note: this page contains affiliate links. See below.
Unexpectedly, my sister phoned to say she was flying in for a conference the following week and, could she stay for a couple of days.
Could she stay? What a question! Of course she could stay!
I hadn't seen her for ages so it was a wonderful opportunity to share some quality time and catch up on family news. (No, news updates via email or FaceBook are not the same!)
How often do you have unexpected guests? How do you prepare?
I like to prepare some simple, yet meaningful, ways to make my guests feel welcome and special.
And... I thought I'd share some of these ideas with you. (I'd love for you to include your own ideas, too. See below..)
1. Freshen up the guest room
First up is, naturally, a brisk but thorough spring clean of the house and, particularly, the guest room. If you have time for a more thorough clean of your guest room, then check out this cleaning list.
Yes, the guest room looked and smelled clean and fresh. But I also found a lovely fragrant candle and lit it just before my sister was due to arrive. Mmmm... lime & coconut, my favourite.
I had previously popped into The Body Shop and found a small pack of shampoo and conditioner. The Body Shop also has some gift packs that would look wonderful as a small visitor gift pack. I slipped both into a soft fluffy towel, carefully folded, and placed it on the end of the bed. It looked a bit like a luxurious motel unit; at least, that's what I hoped.
2. Make it look attractive and welcoming
Small details can add lasting impact - I was able to find a couple of items that really made a difference in the guest room: a small glass jar with silk roses, a matching cushion for the small rocking chair and a fluffy white rug. They were only small details but they really made a difference to the room.
3. Make it fun with an unexpected detail
Actually, I added a couple of other details. I placed a tall glass of chilled infused water and a glass on a tray along with a glass container I'd filled with dried fruit and nuts. Tied with a satin ribbon and with a tag attached that read, 'Please Eat', it's an unforgettable way to show a guest how special they are. You can find and download the free tag below . See file.
4. Make it taste good and look amazing
Creating and serving meals for guests can be tricky. I love to serve smoothie bowls for breakfast. They are so easy to make and you can create 'designer' smoothies according to personal tastes and allergy requirements. Try setting up an area with toppings in attractive containers so that your guests can choose their own. Smoothie bowls are healthy, simple to make and look amazing.
Try and find recipes that will not take too much time to prepare. You don't want to miss valuable time with your guests while slaving in the kitchen. After all, your guests are more concerned about being with you than what you'll be serving.
Again, it's helpful if the food choice is up to your guest so try to present buffet-style meals. Check out these meals that look great but don't need much preparation time.
Please.. take a couple of moments to add your ideas and suggestions, in the comments, for making your guests feel welcome.
Get your FREE copy of Simple Smoothie Recipes here...
This post contains affiliate links which means that, if you purchase from some of these links, I will receive a small commission from the sale, at no extra cos to you. Please keep in mind that any products on this pate are included because I honestly feel they are the best programs or products out there, regardless of commission.
Learning to sew is an enjoyable and useful hobby; you are able to create wonderful things for your friends and families, make pieces for your home, and unleash your creative side.
First of all, you will need to purchase a basic sewing machine. You won't need the fanciest or most expensive to start off with, so check the reviews on the sewing makes me happy blog to find the best choice for you.
Get a pack of different threads and cottons, with all the basic colours you think you may need. Go for the better quality threads, as the cheaper ones will snap and break which can be very frustrating!
The material you choose to work with will have a big impact on how easy or difficult the project will be. The most important trick you will learn when discovering the art of sewing machines, is to control the fabric as it is fed through. So, starting off with a mid-weight, non -stretch material, such as cotton, will make it a lot easier for you.
A rotary cutter or sharp fabric scissors are also essential, for cutting straight and neat edges and to minimise fraying.
Once you have all your tools and equipment, it's time to start learning the basic techniques. Start off with threading your sewing machine, and setting it up correctly. Make sure you have pulled enough thread through so that the initial stitches don't pull it back in, and position the foot pedal so that it is comfortable to use. Use scrap materials to practice the different stitch settings, and keep going until you get the hang of using the foot pedal confidently.
Once you've got the hang of your machine, you'll want to start making things! Start off with a tutorial for a basic construction to ease yourself in. Look for straight lines, with few separate pieces, and avoid pleating and gathering until you've become a bit more experienced. Make sure you are using the correct materials for the project and try to stick with different pattered cotton and linen.
Although it may be tempting to create clothes and items for other people, wait until you have a bit more knowledge before you start showcasing your items. Creating clothes for yourself will mean you can tailor fit them to your own measurements. Getting items to fit perfectly is a difficult task, so try it out on yourself first.
And finally, practice practice practice! There are so many tutorials and patterns online, covering a variety of subjects and experience levels. Try as many out of possible; and when you have covered the basics, start experimenting with more difficult techniques. Most patterns are easily adaptable, so unleash your creative side by making your own alterations and additions. Before you know it, you'll be a sewing whizz and creating your own fab dresses and curtains with ease!
Ridiculously simple ways to create amazing (and healthy) breakfasts
Whenever you have guests staying with you, one of your first thoughts is 'What will I feed them?'
And... of course, you want anything you do prepare to look, and taste, amazing. You want to create wonderful memories for your guests but have fun, too. After all, who wants to spend hours in the kitchen when you could be relaxing and enjoying special moments with your guests and family?
If you’re looking for a simple, delicious and healthy breakfast option, look no further than smoothies. They make the perfect, healthy breakfast. The beauty of smoothies is that they are incredibly versatile. You could easily have a different smoothie each day of the year. For most of us though, it’s much easier to find a handful of smoothie recipes we enjoy and stick to those during the week.
Plus, a smoothie can become a work of art with very little effort.
How do you make a basic smoothie?
Having a few go-to favorites allows you to buy and prep the ingredients ahead of time, making it even easier to blend up your favorite breakfast drink in the morning. That’s the key to making breakfast smoothies work when you’re short on time. Head to the grocery store and pick up your favorite smoothie ingredients. When you come home, go ahead and wash, peel and chop the fruit and veggies as needed. Add them to storage bags or containers in portions that are perfect for your smoothies and store them in the fridge or freezer as needed.
The technique is simple
In the morning, just grab a container, add the contents to your blender along with anything else your smoothie needs (water, milk, yogurt, juice etc.) and blend away. Pour your smoothie, rinse your blender and breakfast is done. It doesn’t get much easier than that.
Take it one step further with a Smoothie Bowl.
Create a beautiful smoothie bowl
You can use your main blender and mix up a batch of smoothies for the whole family, or get out a personal blender so each family member can whip up their own favorite smoothie. There’s no right or wrong way to do this as long as it works for you and your loved ones.
Here's some inspiration from: Lovin Earth- Elsa's Wholesome Life - Half Baked Harvest
Add a couple of these healthy, but decorative toppings
Pour your smoothie into an attractive bowl and spoon a mix of the following ingredients on the top of your smoothie bowl. It looks really great if you spoon each chosen ingredient in a line across the top of your smoothie bowl. There's nothing quite like flowers as decoration. A couple of edible flowers such as violas, heartsies, nasturtium, or the petals of cornflower, carnations, marigolds and geraniums add a beautiful decorative touch.
Create unique smoothies to suit individual tastes and easily cater for any allergens.
*Blueberries, raspberries, goji berries or strawberries
*Sliced banana, kiwi fruit or apple
*Wholefoods gluten free cereals or mueseli
*Chopped nuts, seeds or LSA
*Edible flowers or petals
Smoothies are an ideal mobile breakfast option, too.
A smoothie is also an amazing breakfast for anyone who needs to grab something and run. Pour your smoothie in a blender bottle or an insulated cup to take it with you to the office or school. Adding frozen banana or other fruit, or ice to your smoothie will make sure it stays cool even if you aren’t able to drink it right away.
Smoothies are a great way to begin your day on a healthy note
One of the reasons I love smoothies for breakfast is because they help me start my day off right with a boost of nutrition. It’s much easier to ensure you get at least 5 servings of fruits and veggies per day when a big chunk of it is in your breakfast smoothie. Plus these smoothies are made with real, unprocessed foods. That alone is a big improvement from the usual breakfast choice of cereal, toast, or breakfast sandwiches.
The vitamins and natural sugars from the fruits and veggies give you the boost you need first thing in the morning and it’s easy to add some protein and a bit of healthy fat to your smoothies by using nut butter or Greek Yogurt and flax seeds, for example. I find that adding some coconut cream will help prevent any hunger pangs.
A smoothie will give you a filling breakfast option that will keep you full even if you’re taking a late lunch.
And.... it's an incredibly beautiful, and trendy, breakfast option to serve for visitors.
What to do next?
*Try a smoothie bowl breakfast yourself. Here are some simple recipes....
*Check out the inspiring ideas from Halfbaked Harvest, Elsa's Wholesome Life and Lovin Earth
*Follow AtGrandmasPlace on Instagram and Pinterest
Life as a grandma.. it's no 'quiet, restful days in the rocking-chair'. It's filled with activity, excitement and lots of family fun. Please share it with me.