Posts tagged educational

Teaching gratitude to teenagers



Big kids. Enjoying a bit of cheese in Paris.


Those of you who’ve followed me for years will have kids the same age as mine. So you are likely to also be mired in the joy of teen and pre-teen children. There’s adjustments to be made at this stage for sure, but generally I completely adore this bit of parenting. The kids are interesting, engaged and independent. But also slowly removing themselves from family life in a heartbreaking way. I miss them and their pestering little ways. The silence is sometimes deafening. But then it’s also pretty nice to have time back. I can read a book. Or sleep in. Or eat grown-up food. Suddenly my life has returned to a version of pre-kid normal. But with added people to love. It’s pretty great.

Of course, while they’re off catching buses and pursuing their own interests (screens, screens, more screens) it’s easy to forget that parenting continues. And that lessons you think are obvious may not be. We somehow assume that being a good human comes naturally. And while they do soak in the world around them by osmosis, there’s also room for a bit of blunt parental intervention. No one expects them to learn algebra without a teacher. And I think a bit of forced guidance over some of life’s more intangible aspects doesn’t go astray. Which is why I’ve created this super-simple gratitude sheet. At first they resisted doing it (of course). But then they got right into it, and we had a really good laugh comparing their answers.

And a little bit of learning may have happened. A reminder that we can be grateful every day, and it’s always good. Crucial life-lesson stuff that no-school can teach.

It’s nothing fancy at all, but feel free to download your sheet here.


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Dad is fun. Mum is mad.

I’ve become the ‘writing lady’ at my kindy reading groups. Each week, armed with white boards, markers and plenty of patience (I stay firmly focused on getting home afterwards to a cup of tea and a sit down) I teach rotating groups of 5 year olds (the groups rotate, not the children) how to write beautiful sentences. Unlike my verbose writing style, I’m finding at this stage that their sentences are much more statement-like. Stating truths and myths from life as a kindy kid. It’s pretty interesting. Fact.

Today they had laminated sentence starters that they had to copy down and then they got to finish off with whatever words they liked. Conversation starters like, “I can…”, “I went…”, “My family…”. And of course “Dad is…”, and “Mum is…”.

Without fail, Dad was fun. Every time. Sometimes fun. One was funy. Another funne. One other funee. But always upbeat, jovial, joking, FUN.

Generally, Mum was mad. One mum was nortee (naughty). One mum was sad.

Now, I’ve noted in my own life, that dad is fun and mum is mad. So perhaps it is a universal truth. What do you think, is this the case at your house? Or maybe the genders aren’t important and actually it’s the primary caregiver that has the shits most of the time and whichever parent arrives home in time to read a book and have a cuddle at bedtime finds it much easier to remain AWESOME.

Or perhaps it was just a morning for clichés. Even without overhearing each other, the same word patterns got repeated again and again. Pretty much all the kids had also apparently been shopping or to the zoo on the weekend (“I went…sopig”), and they all like treats (“I like… pinc cak”).

Which seems like a perfect segue into food clichés, except we don’t cast such a negative connotation on them if we call them ‘classics’, which is what this beef stew is. It’s a slow-cooker classic, bubbling away for 8 hours in its glorious simplicity. I’ve been trialing a bunch of fairly similar ‘casseroles’ and this is my current favourite. This version (based on a Women’s Weekly recipe) is gluten free, but if you prefer to toss the meat in flour before you brown it, feel free – you’ll end up with a thicker gravy. If you don’t, make sure you pat the meat with paper towel to dry it off before you chuck it in the pan.

slow cooker beef stew casserole

Before I could photograph it, it was eaten or frozen…

Beef & vegie slow cooker casserole.

1.5kg chuck steak, cut into large chunks
Olive oil for frying
2 large brown onions, cut roughly
2 large (or 3 smaller) carrots, peeled, chopped into thick rounds
3 stalks celery, chopped thickly
2 medium parsnips, peeled, chopped into chunks
1 swede, peeled, chopped into chunks
4 cloves garlic, crushed (use fresh garlic)
¼ cup tomato paste
400g can diced or crushed tomatoes
1½ cups beef stock (Massel brand is gluten free)
2 Bay leaves
Half a bunch of thyme
1 zucchini, sliced into rounds (optional)
8-10 button mushrooms, sliced (optional)

Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium/high heat. Once hot, brown your meat in batches, turning to seal all sides (yes, this may take 20 minutes or so to get through all of the meat, but the flavour will be AWESOME, and you can chop up the vegies while you’re doing it). Tip each batch into a 5.5ish litre slow cooker after it’s done.

Add more oil then fry off the onions, carrot and celery for 2-3 minutes, then add the garlic for another minute (add it later so it doesn’t burn). Tip into the cooker.

Add more oil and fry off the parsnips & swede for 2 minutes. Take the pan off the heat, splash in a bit of stock to loosen all the yummy stuff stuck on the pan and and also tip this into the cooker, along with the rest of the stock, tomato paste & tin of tomatoes plus the herbs. Mix everything in, set the cooker to ‘low’ and leave for 8 hours.

If you’re out all day, then don’t worry about adding in the zucchini & mushrooms, but if you’re home after 6 hours, add these in, give everything a mix and leave it for another 2 ¼ hours (this extra cooking time makes up for you lifting the lid).


Have you got a link to a slow cooker recipe? Add it below – I’m going crazy with mine at the moment and am on the lookout for some tried and tested awesomeness.

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Letters MNOPQR

More letters for your pre-schoolers to enjoy.

I’ve been a bit slack on this old alphabet thing, haven’it I? So at the risk of your kids only being able to write words that contain letters between A-L, here’s the worksheets for the next set of letters.

Promise I’ll try to get around to finishing the rest soon.

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We have lift off! (1-10 or 10-1 if you prefer)

A Midnight Oils album cover? Maybe not, but numbers 1-10 nonetheless

Just a quick pre-school worksheet this week – a break from the alphabet – a bit of early learning counting. The kids can practice their scissor work by cutting out the squares, then try to recognise the numbers and pop them into order (there are counting dots to help them) before getting to some good glue action with fabulously gooey pasting required on the second page.

Download the counting PDF worksheet here


Like this project? You can find it, along with 39 other boredom busters in the ‘Craft for non-crafty Parents’ e-book. There’s a stack of silly fun stuff, projects that encourage healthy eating and a bunch of worksheets covering preschool education and school readiness. You can buy it at the shop now!

128 pages, 40 projects, 85 pages of printables…

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Why I love letters GHIJKL

educational worksheets for pre schoolers - letters g-l

I have been playing WAY too many games of 'words with friends'

Gee, how I just love kind labradors.

Gosh, haven’t I just kicked Lucas?

Generally, half ignored jackasses keep lampooning.


Last week I disappointed many by only posting the alphabet worksheets for letters A-F. My only excuse is that I got bored drawing the pictures after that. But, egged on by guilt I finally pulled my finger out today and drew… well, just another 6 letters.

So here are the alphabet pages G-L. Which I hope you and your kids enjoy.

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The best things in life are ‘b’

Big boy bravely betters brain...bravo!

With a move across town, I’m full-time mummying for the rest of the year until Mr M&P heads off to school. He’s a good little thing and I’m a bit of a sucker for him, so it’s a glorious chance to make the most of these last few months before he becomes a big cool boy who says things like ‘whatever’ and banishes me to the school gate (with no public affection). At the moment I’m allowed to cuddle him and smother him in kisses whenever I want and I’m thoroughly enjoying it.

So with no formal care or school readiness program, I’m trying to pick up the teaching mantle a little and find a bit of time most days to do a bit of basic learning. A while back I started on the alphabet, and today I’m starting to work a bit more on details. Perhaps you’d like to too – so attached are sheets A-F with a bit of colouring-in and some letters to trace.

We’re a bit alphabet obsessed in our house – each of us with our own set of favourite letters. I’m a big fan of ‘c’, with its cakes, cookies, cuddles and chocolate. My best friend is a staunch supporter of ‘b’ – boobs, beer, bums, bacon and bonfires. Mr Meat & Potatoes agrees with dad and thinks ‘bumhead’ is the funniest word ever. Further proving the ‘b’ point are bananas, boys, buses, batman and BANG! Which leads us off into onomatopoeia territory (boing, boom, bonk, buzz, beep). But that’s a whole other post.

Stay tuned over the next few weeks and I’ll churn out the rest of the alphabet too.

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