What the Jackdaw Saw (deaf awareness)

61tQRblRM-L._SX258_BO1_204_203_200_Rather irritatingly after deciding to learn some sign language with the kids and blog about it, I thought I’d see if there was a deaf awareness week, so that I could schedule it for then. It turns out I’ve literally just missed it, so sorry that this post is just over a week late!

Anyway, this book is written by Julia Donaldson, with a group of deaf teenagers. She’s written two books, that I know of, aimed at raising awareness of deafness. The other is “Freddie and the Fairy”, which teaches the importance of speaking clearly, looking at the person, and not covering your mouth. This book (Jackdaw) introduces British sign language (BSL) teaching a few signs through the story. This post is all about BSL, so if you live in a country that uses a different sign language, my apologies, but you could find signing apps for your country and still do the activities.


Learning signs from pictures can be tricky, it’s much easier to watch someone signing. So download a sign language app. I usedĀ Sign BSLĀ  a very simple app, where you search for the word you want to sign and it shows you a list of videos of different people signing that word. Some of the people are more animated than others, try to avoid the really dull ones for your kids! Do check what they’re signing though in the text under, sometimes they’re signing a related word to what you searched for.

Before you read the book, double check that you can sign all of the featured signs in the book, either using This youtube clip of the signs, or by searching for the signs in your app.

As you read the book, sign the words with your child as it teaches you. If your child is showing interest in knowing more, as Jumbles was, open up the app and ask your child what they want to sign. Practice together with your child. Remember, when signing you still say the word at the same time. Your child is likely to want to know how to sign their name, so potentially learn to finger spell their name beforehand, as learning the whole alphabet might be tricky. I thought Jumbles might find his name tricky, but he enjoyed doing it and remembered some of the letters later.


Learn together the signs for various objects around the house. Play a scavenger hunt. Sign things for your child(ren) to race to collect. Have your child challenge you to find the things they sign.

Suggested items:

Apple (note, in the first video on sign BSL, she is signing an apple computer, so pick a different one to watch!)


A great way to learn signs is through songs. Check youtube for loads of BSL songs, maybe your child’s favourite is there. Or check out Cbeebies BSL nursery rhymes

links to apps/videos:

Sign BSL – search for words, see videos of those signs.

“What the Jackdaw saw” signing video

Cbeebies BSL nursery rhymes

Free online BSL course (for adults, putting it here in case you’re interested in learning more yourself)

Affiliate links to buy from Wordery (free worldwide shipping):

What the Jackdaw Saw

Freddie and the Fairy




Ketchup on your cornflakes (Nick Sharratt)

ketchuponcornflakesWow, sorry that it’s been 3 months since I last blogged, no excuses, I just haven’t got round to it. Anyway, I thought after a long break I’d do a nice easy activity, based on one of our favourite books.

This book is a split page book, where you turn either the top half of the page, or the bottom half, to create different funny combinations. e.g.octnov2015 043

“Do you like ketchup on your apple pie?” “Do you like a duck on your head?”

The set up for this activity is simple, just select as many of the “ingredients” from the book as you are comfortable with, put them out in bowls, cups etc. Then give your children a container for mixing.

Read further down for the boring bit of what I actually put out, but now, here’s the more interesting discoveries:octnov2015 054

Do you like ketchup on your cornflakes?

Yes. Yes they do, very much apparently.

Do you like ice cubes and milk on your toast?

Yes, that too, soggy toast is apparently delicious.

Do you like jam on your chips?

Yes, again, this is a tasty choice.

Do you regularly turn your noses up at a lovely nutritious homecooked meal, only picking at bits of it, then when you got to mix random disgusting combinations together in a messy play tray, eat loads of them as if you had been starved?octnov2015 066

Yes, that is precisely what they did.

Naively, I believed that by doing this activity straight after dinner and pudding, they would not eat the foods. So ensure you use clean containers and only things you’re happy for them to eat. I’m so glad I didn’t let them have the salt or toothpaste, which I intentionally left out.

What I added:

Ice cubes
Water (as my kids don’t drink lemonade, we generally say “water” or “drink” on the lemonade page
Old toothbrush

Things I didn’t add, but could have:

Apple Pie
A wooly hat
Rubber duck

This activity was planned and set up in about 2 minutes, when the kids were quite hyper and I thought they needed an activity after dinner. These were the things I just had available.
You could also add new things, that aren’t in the book.

This was really fun for them, Jumbles (just turned 4) loved mixing the things together to make a weird mush, plus taste testing everything. He was quite careful in picking what he would add next to the mix. Bean (2) mainly liked crushing the cornflakes and dripping ketchup on them. I think next I’ll let them choose weird things from the cupboard to add into their odd combinations.

If you like this book, you’ll also like “Accidentally on purpose” another split page book by Nick Sharratt.

Borrow “Ketchup on your cornflakes” from your library
Buy “Ketchup on your cornflakes” (Wordery affiliate link)

“Toddle Waddle” by Julia Donaldson & Nick Sharratt

This is a bit of an odd choice for a book to do an activity on, as I actually hate it. However, it’s Bean’s favourite book, she fetches it from the bookshelf every night (or at least on all of those nights that I haven’t “accidentally” misplaced it).

I don’t really know why I hate it, I should by all rights love it, I love both Julia Donaldson and Nick Sharratt, but I prefer books with a story, whereas this is sounds, no story in words to follow, just pictures and sound effects. Which is probably what makes it a great story that toddlers love, it has repetition, simple, excellent pictures, it’s just that I find it boring, but since I’m not its target audience, that’s fine.

As this book is not necessarily that well known, I’ll explain the set up, in case you are having trouble visualising, but really, you need to get a copy. The structure of the book is that it begins with a toddler and a duck walking, with the text “Toddle waddle” Then on the next page it shows the same, but with a woman wearing flip flops, with the text “Flip flop, toddle waddle.” It continues adding more animals in the line behind them, and the sound effects they make.

Anyway, this was the perfect book for working on listening and making sounds. Often when we talk about sensory play, we get caught up in messy play and forget our other senses (or at least, I do). So I wanted to ensure I covered the other senses too.

The activity

The idea was to find items from around the house to make the different sounds represented in the book. I thought that actually choosing the sounds would be a fun activity for Jumbles, but didn’t think Bean would be able to, so I waited for Bean’s nap. I did think that Jumbles would need a bit of help, so I collected up a lot of the musical toys and things that I thought might be useful and brought them into the living room. I purposefully didn’t bring enough to do all of the sounds, so that once we’d done a few Jumbles could start to try Looking further afield. I didn’t want to limit his creativity.toddlewaddle 001

He got really into this part of the activity and loved selecting different sounds. We worked through the pages, so we started with one sound, then on the next page added a new sound and then repeated the first, building up until we had reached the midpoint of the book where they stop, and watch a beach, with lots of new noises.

Initially, we just put the instruments down around us after we had played the sound, but Jumbles kept forgetting which order to play them, so I laid them out in straight lines, this worked much better.

We then, had to create 12 new sounds for the next part of the book, this is where his interest started to wane, it was also where Bean woke up, so I decided not to do sounds for the dancing and playing bit right at the end. Instead I wanted to reread the book with him from the beginning using his sound effects.

Bean really enjoyed listening to me read, while Jumbles playetoddlewaddle 010d instruments, and she joined in making noises on the drum etc. I want this blog to be honest and realistic, so instead of glossing over and saying everything continued beautifully, I will tell you that at this point, Jumbles got fed up and started shoving the instruments around and rolling around on the space hopper. I think I structured it a bit too much, so my advice if you’re doing this with the same ages, is, don’t worry too much about sticking to the story with the noises, just get them enjoying making the sound effects how they want. Try to avoid controlling too much as I think I took some of the fun out of it. Or it could just be that it took too long. I do plan on doing it again with Bean though, when Jumbles is at preschool, as she was really enjoying hearing the noises.

If you want inspiration for what to use for different sound effects, and find it hard to tell in the pictures, this is what we used (remember, a 3 year old picked some of them, if you’re thinking they’re odd choices):

Toddle waddle – Drumtoddlewaddle 024

Flip Flop – baby shoes

Hurry Scurry – egg shaker

Clip Clop – Stacking cups (banged on floor, or against each other)

Ting-a-ling – Bike bell

Leap creep – Slide whistle

Buzz buzz – kazoo

Flitter flutter- fanned paper

Boing Boing – bouncy ball, later changed to space hopper

Splish Splash – rice shaker

Puff Puff – Balloon pump

roly poly – bottle

Crunch Munch – biting a breadstick (typically we had run out of apples)

Slurp slurp – Drink with a straw

Chitter chatter – shaker

Helter Skelter – ball drop toy

See Saw – The scratchy instrument shaped like a frog (sorry, don’t know name!)

Snip Snap – The jaws from a toy digger

Ping Pong – a plastic plate

Choo Choo – a harmonica

So, in conclusion, use this as an activity for sound effects, but perhaps don’t structure as much, talk about what sounds they can hear, can they mimic those sounds using items in the room. Can they tap out the rhythm of the words with the drum?

I promise, my next book will not be Julia Donaldson, or Nick Sharratt, I do realise that’s all I’ve done so far! Honestly, I do love other authors too.

External Links:
Buy Toddle Waddle
Borrow from your local library
Toddle Waddle activity sheet

What’s it all about?

Ooh, a new blog, all pristine and filled with potential. I feel immense pressure in this first post to be witty and insightful, drawing people who’ve stumbled across it in and gathering loyal followers. Unfortunately, what I am is permanently tired, I’ve noticed a dramatic decrease in my sense of humour and ability to think. Please, parents of older children, reassure me that once they get past the toddler/pre school stage I’ll regain at least some of my faculties?

Anyway, I’ll get to the point. I’m starting this blog after being challenged to do so by my good friend Julie, who suggested I post some of the activities I do with my kids. I used to have a personal blog in the past, but never had a focus, and haven’t updated it in 3 years. The only trouble is, I get most of my ideas for sensory activities or crafts, from amazing blogs that are already out there, do I have anything to add? That’s when I thought, I could pick a more specific niche. Well, what I know best is books, having worked in libraries for the last 11 years, until stopping after the birth of my second child to be a stay at home Mum (not that I do stay at home, I’d go stir crazy, I’m a “how many groups can we get to this week” kind of Mum), I am used to planning and running events based on stories and books, I often use books as the basis for activities at home. Therefore, I plan (though don’t promise to stick to it) to mainly write about activites that could go with certain books. I don’t want to make anyone spend more money than necessary, and want to encourage library use, so my book links will take you to a page which lets you check your local library for a copy.Jan2015 256

I do however, have a habit of rambling, so expect that I will go off on many tangents if I see a cool craft or messy play idea. I also like crafting myself, so plan to share a few homemade gift ideas for kids, as I like to a) save money b) avoid buying more cheap plastic stuff to fill our houses c) give things that are a bit more personal.

I should introduce myself, it might have made sense to do that first, but hey. My name is Ali, I am married with 2 children. I cannot decide about the wisdom of sharing my kids’ names online, I don’t really have an issue with it, and have done in the past, but I think to be on the safe side, I’ll use their nicknames, so they are Jumbles (boy), aged 3, and Bean (girl) aged 1. We live in Leicester, England.

I am a Christian, who has spent many years planning and running a club for 4 to 10 year olds, so hope to sometimes include Christian activities or books.

And that’s about all I can think of for now. I will leave you with the simplest of book related activities, “Goldilocks and the 3 bears” by Nick Sharratt we love this lift the flap version. Simple activity of porridge oats, bowls and scoops. We happened to get a cardboard house for Christmas, which we set up as the 3 bears’ cottage, but it works just as well without the house. We began following the story, then it morphed into Goldilocks and the 3 Octonauts. Mainly Jumbles enjoyed scooping oats and throwing them everywhere, oddly Bean didn’t join in with the oats, she wanted to play with the door instead, but that is the way of play, lay out the invitations, they may not do it.