Festivals, Music, Bugs and Bottles…..

Time for an update…..

We’ve been busy with K2, for which we are following Waldorf Essentials. We are still enjoying the stories and activities. We have had a busy few months celebrating all sorts of autumn festivals, and now we are getting excited for our copy of The Gnomes’ Yuletide Advent Mystery’ which is a brand new book of magical Advent stories and activities. There’s also excellent video support to go along with the activities, so go check it out if you are celebrating Waldorf Advent this year!

I’ve been practicing my flute, took me a year to get started but thanks to Music Unfolds  I can now play a few songs, and The Bundles are enjoying singing along, which makes circle time and movement a lot of fun!



Our most regular home ed group stopped for a while back in September but we are getting back into the swing of groups again now with two regular groups, although this also means the inevitable winter colds and bugs which have now had us holed up for nearly a week! Lots of stories, drawing, painting and playdough going on here while we recover, and we’ve also been watching some old TV shows . There’s only so much CBeebies anyone can stand, and these older ones seem to have the added bonus of not making everybody wired and crazy, at least so far! Bundle Number One is finding Trumpton hilarious!

Image result for trumpton images free to share

Meanwhile, lots of knitting and podcasts for me after bedtime, and while the wind and icy rain rage outside. Currently listening to; 

The Home Education Podcast , 

Home Ed Matters 

and The Homeschool Sisters Podcast.  

On the subject of podcasts,  a fellow home educating mama (from ‘The Home Education Podcast’)  has written a fantastic book!  Great for reading aloud by the fire on those chilly winter afternoons, and you’re supporting a home ed family at the same time, win! Grab a copy here

In other news, after seeing the amount of waste collected on our local beaches we have been trying to reduce our waste, plastic usage in particular. We did some research and came up with some small changes we can make, beginning with using stainless steel bottles. A lot of the bottles on offer were pretty expensive but we did find these which are ideal. Great for keeping drinks hot/cold and they come complete with two interchangeable caps, and lots of other bits. Fun colour choices too 😉 

Image result for super sparrow bottles

What have you been up to this Autumn? Let us know in the comments 🙂





This post contains affiliate links

Badger Sleep Balm…a review

Recently we were sent a lovely bag of goodies by the lovely people at  Badger Balm UKIMG_1909


This is the first in our series of reviews…

Badger Sleep Balm

£7.99 56g 


Badger Sleep Balm is presented in a beautiful tin with a charming illustration of a Badger relaxing beneath the stars…

We love natural products here at Monster House and this one certainly didn’t disappoint. Containing Lavender and Bergamot, the fragrance is lovely, certainly very relaxing and gentle. The balm is very easy to apply, simply use your fingers to apply straight from the tin to your skin. Representing excellent value for money, the tin is huge and you only need a small amount for each application.

I have tried Badger Sleep Balm for a week now, and it is a keeper…we have had a busy time lately what with planning for home ed and various other jobs we have needed to get done and this makes it tricky to ‘wind down’ and relax at bedtime.  I’ve been applying it just before bedtime, having a read of a book for 15 minutes or so before settling properly and have had no trouble drifting off and getting a good night’s sleep…this stuff really works! (it also looks extremely cute on the bedside table 😉 )

I would definitely recommend Badger Sleep Balm (not least to my fellow mums and dads!) and for the little Badgers in our lives, we will be trying Mini Badger Night Night Balm next…

after the telling…Storytelling Schools review part five…

After I had told the story , I asked Bundle Number One some questions in order to find out what he thought of my efforts…

The Storytelling Schools Handbook has a comprehensive section on ‘After the Telling’, stating the importance of regular feedback in reinforcing the idea to the class (Bundle Number one!) that it is, in fact, o.k to receive feedback. It also serves to encourage them to ‘try out their positive feedback skills on you’ (before trying them on others)

Following the question suggested in the book, this is how our feedback session went:

What were your favourite moments?

‘I liked Mr Wolf, when he came down the chimney and he ran away, and I liked the bit where they (the Three Little Pigs) say ‘not by the hairs on my chinny, chin, chin!”

Why did you like those moments the best?

because they were funny and you did the voices!

What did you like about how I told the story?

I liked Mr wolf’s voice he is funny and a bit scary too…

If you told me the story, what would you change or add?

‘If I was telling the story it would be in Portuguese and Spanish’

(I should add here that we speak neither of these languages but he insists on watching ‘Winnie the Pooh’ in Portuguese or Spanish rather than in English!)

Next we look at ‘Types of story and how to tell them’ with plenty of ‘audience participation’ happening 🙂

telling the story…Storytelling Schools review part 4

So, the next thing to do was to tell the story to Bundle Number One…


I read the ‘Tips for telling to your Class’ which were extremely helpful in providing ideas in which to enhance the storytelling experience for all involved, ideas such as:

* ‘Vary the lighting’

 We had soft, cozy lighting for story time simply because that’s how we like it!


* ‘Group Chant’

In our case, we used the rhyme provided in the Storytelling Schools Handbook.

‘It’s story time’

‘it’s story time’

‘look, listen shhh!’

(there are actions to accompany the rhyme but we adapted it as actions usually lead to over excitement with Bundle Number One, who is still only 3)

Bundle Number one was immediately intrigued to hear this new rhyme and he soon came over to the story blanket, ready to join in.

* ‘Musical Sounds’

As I repeated the rhyme, I also introduced the sound of a ‘shaker’

* ‘Remember the story is wonderful’

I was mindful of the fact that the story was wonderful and the joy that it would bring Bundle Number One to hear me telling it.

* ‘Clarity with starting and finishing’

I remembered to make the beginning clear and to rehearse the story’s ending.

* ‘Eye contact’

This was easy (especially having told stories to large groups of children in the past!) as I only had one child to make eye contact with. 

* Standing or sitting?

We used a combination of both (me, Bundle Number One remained sitting on our story blanket!) for our story time which seemed to work well. i liked the freedom of whole body movement when standing, especially when being ‘Mr Wolf!’


* Perfect or good enough?

I was a bit nervous initially, but did manage to come back to that all important thought that it is ok to show nerves as this in turn can help Bundle Number One feel safe in the knowledge that everyone feels that way now and again, thus helping him when it’s his turn to be the teller.

Bundle Number One thoroughly enjoyed our story telling session, especially because this is one of his favourite stories (he loves the wolf!) He sat on our story blanket and joined in with some of the repetitive parts of the story, for example;

‘Not by the hairs on my chinny chin chin, i will not let you in!’

…and there was much squealing and laughing when ‘Mr Wolf’  made his appearances (my ‘wolf voice’ was obviously appreciated!) 


I feel the story telling session went very well, it was easy for me having an audience of one 😉 I knew the story well already which was a huge confidence booster and all I learned during the HMSS preparation proved very beneficial in jogging my memory when i needed to remember quickly what was to come next!

Next up:

after the telling…Storytelling Schools review part 5

The Gentle Sleep Book by Sarah Ockwell-Smith…a review

Having read Sarah Ockwell-Smith’s previous books, I have been eagerly anticipating the release of her latest work The Gentle Sleep Book. Imagine my excitement at being offered the opportunity to review it ahead of it’s official release! 

having received my review copy, delighting in it’s beautiful cover design and having time to digest it’s contents, I am now delighted to be able to share this post with you…


The Gentle Sleep Book 

‘A guide for Calm Babies, Toddlers and Pre-schoolers’ 

By Sarah Ockwell-Smith

(Published by piatkus)


‘The Gentle Sleep Book’ is a refreshing antidote to the usual offerings from so called ‘parenting experts’. Totally Non-prescriptive and written (BY A MUM!) in a way that offers comfort, practical suggestions and I think, most importantly of all, reliable, evidenced based information which serves to provide the reader with an all important insight into what is truly ‘normal’ in terms of our children’s sleep.  Dispelling the popular myths ‘(the problems with modern sleep-training’) all too often present in every conversation held by new (or indeed seasoned) parents…based on this chapter alone I have already recommended this book to numerous parents!

The book contains thirteen chapters , The first of which, *Understanding normal sleep physiology’examines a variety of essential aspects of sleep. A chapter filled with evidence based information focusing on areas all too often forgotten when thinking about our children’s so called ‘sleep issues’ including information on circadian rhythms, melatonin, sleep cycles at each age and stage, early waking, SIDS prevention, genetics vs environment, recommended amounts of sleep at each age/stage and common sleep disorders in early childhood.

This is followed by a journey investigating *‘Sleep throughout history and the impact of modern life’* . This one is a personal favourite, and includes an interesting description of sleep throughout history before going on to discuss changes in society over the past few centuries and their impacts upon sleep. Looking at factors such as artificial light, the effects of red light/blue light upon circadian rhythms, screen time, the increased prevalence of daycare and ‘pre-school’ in recent times and it’s potential impact upon both naps and night time sleep, 

Then we take a look at  *‘Sleep around the world’* in which we explore parenting practices of other cultures and consider the benefits of siestas and later bedtimes (yes, LATER bedtimes!|), carrying and babywearing, bedsharing and co sleeping and support (including lack of) for young families. A point which really resonates with me, having experienced postnatal depression and knowing all too well the impact ‘isolation’ can have.

 *‘The effect of diet on sleep’is discussed next, including consideration of the perpetual ‘debate’ surrounding breastfeeding/formula feeding, dream feeds and weaning in relation to sleep!. Thankfully here we are treated to the truth (I would have expected nothing less from Sarah!) evidence based facts, backed up by scientific research, which I only wish every new parent were provided with...

…On the subject of which, next comes *The problems with modern sleep-training’here we examine concepts such as ‘controlled crying’ (and its various guises!) ‘reward charts’ , sleep training clocks, and self soothing. Now, what really gives this book the edge, in my opinion is the fact that Sarah flips these concepts 360 degrees, giving a whole other perspective (the correct one in my opinion!) of these approaches. From the downsides of adopting these practices, as always backed up with scientific evidence, to the myths of self soothing and the very real risks involved with ‘sleep training’ including the potential long term effects of such methods. This chapter is so absolutely valuable that again, I really do believe all new parents should receive this information!


Next comes *’BEDTIME’:*practical sleep tips’ in which we are introduced to Sarah’s *BEDTIME* approach;

Bed sharing and co sleeping



Transitional objects

IT and screen time

Me- time


This is followed by a thorough explanation of each point, including practical tips suggestions for each.

The remaining chapters contain detailed sleep information for the following age groups;

* birth to three months

* three to six months

* one to two years 

* two to three years 

* three to five years

These chapters also incorporate case studies showing how parents have put the *BEDTIME* approach into practice, as advised by Sarah, with updates on their progress. Again, these provide all important comfort and hope to the reader.

The book concludes with Summary and sleep action plan, here you will find a summary of the points to consider, along with space to create your own personal ‘Parental sleep plan’ using the *BEDTIME* approach.

This is followed by a useful list of resources and recommended products to support you on your journey.



My Thoughts…

I particularly like the way each chapter not only contains evidence based information, so very important and yet so overlooked in today’s society, but also offers practical tips on coping with each issue raised. For example, the impact on sleep of red light/blue light was something I hadn’t previously considered. I since have started setting our nightlights to read rather than blue (a colour i assumed was comforting and soothing for bedtime!) I also really like stories shared by families which serve to further illustrate the points raised while offering all important comfort at the fact that you, as a reader, are not alone.

The Gentle Sleep Book speaks to the reader with respect for their individual family. This is far from the usual ‘one size fits all’ approach and the solutions held within it are not ‘miracle cures’ It is very important to remember that these gentle rhythms and solutions will take time to work ( at LEAST one month is suggested) and it is well worth sticking with them!

With this in mind, we will be implementing Sarah’s *BEDTIME* approach here at Monster House. Over the coming weeks we will be sharing our experience with you, beginning with my next post outlining our very own Sleep Plan…watch this space and please let me know what you think of The Gentle Sleep Book, are you trying this new approach with your family? I would love to know how you get on 🙂


I hope you have enjoyed this review and please do get a copy of this lovely book which is officially released TODAY! either for your own family or for any expectant parents you may know, it really is an invaluable gift  :-

Disclaimer: I was sent this book (free of charge) for review purposes. All opinions are my own.


Campbell Books…a review

Bundle Number Two was very excited to receive a lovely parcel from Campbell Books containing these exciting titles :

Flip and Find Farmers (Samantha Meredith)


Busy Swimming (Ruth Redford)


and Nursery Rhymes (Lucy Cousins)


We selected the above titles because they are all relevant to Bundle Number Two’s current interests. He is very proud of his animal sounds, has recently been swimming (for the second time ever!) and he loves trying to join in with the actions when we sing nursery rhymes… The first one to attract his attention was the Nursery Rhymes book, which we then shared together on our story blanket. I really like the bold, bright illustrations and the fact that there are a few rhymes (the old woman who lived in the shoe, for example!) that I had totally forgotten about, this was lovely as it immediately refreshed our rhyme time repertoire! Bundle Number Two enjoyed pointing to the pictures and finds this book very easy to hold in his chubby hands  with no difficulty in turning the pages himself (this book is very robust which is a must at his age!) .DSCF6630 Next, he selectedFlip and Find Farmers’, announcing ‘duck’ as he does for anything that might contain one! (luckily, this book did!) The wonderful thing about this book is that it has ‘giant flaps’ perfectly suited to the blossoming fine motor skills of toddler hands.   DSCF6605 The illustrations are bold and attractive with a lovely attention to detail and the story is simple and easy for little ones to follow without becoming distracted. What is really great about this book is that it also has a ‘can you find?’ section when you open the flap, involving pictures of animals/objects to be discovered on each particular page, which Bundle Number One (who is nearly 4) enjoyed, this provided a welcome opportunity for both Bundles to enjoy a book together which made me very happy!  DSCF6603 Busy Swimming was eagerly received by both Bundles due to the fact that we have recently been swimming ourselves. The Bundles loved the fact that this book literally comes alive  thanks to the ‘push, pull, slide’ design. This really gets those fine motor skills working and Bundle Number Two was able to manage all of the necessary movements, delighted to see what happened on each page. Bundle Number One discussed each page with me, pointing out what was happening and he especially loved the ‘swimming race’ DSCF6617           DSCF6618 and helping the children in the book get changed into their swimming costumes…                          DSCF6619                           DSCF6620 I really like the fact that this book is, again, very robust and easy to share with both Bundles without one or the other becoming disinterested. As a stay at home, home educating mummy this makes all the difference!

This was the first time we have tried Campbell Books and we would definitely recommend them for ages 0-5  🙂 New for 2015 is their ‘Campbell Baby’ range, offering lots of lovely titles for the smallest of bookworms. You can find out more about Campbell Books and all they have to offer here:


Disclaimer: We were sent these book (free of charge) for review. All opinions are our own.

What’s it all about?…Storytelling Schools review part 2


The approach begins at Foundation stage (children of 3 years and upwards) and applies up to ‘Key Stage 2’ (children of 11 years) as already mentioned in our case this equates to me as ‘Teacher’ and Bundle Number One (who is nearly 4 years old) as ‘Class’

The handbook focuses on the ‘core principle’  ‘…that telling stories is a great way to learn about language, communication and ideas…’

I especially like the fact that the approach enables teachers (in this case mum!) to utilise storytelling as a means of introducing a wide range of themes. This resonated with me because here in Monster House, we are already finding that, Bundle Number One in particular responds far more favourably to an imaginative, ‘story based’ approach when learning and, as a result, tend to use stories featuring favourite characters, including people, animals creatures and so on to illustrate key concepts.(as well as a very useful way of defusing potentailly ‘explosive’ situations such as tidy up time!) .


The book suggests relevant stories could be: 

Traditional tales;

biographic tales;

historical tales;

or a chosen narrative which can be told as an interesting story.

The idea is then to use a ‘series of techniques’ to enable learning and telling of a chosen story using their own words, thus ‘internalising’ the lanuage and content of said story. Following this, there are many possibilities for ‘deepening activities’  

In a school setting the idea is to have literacy/story coordinators working with storytellers towards the goal of developing a ‘story curriculum’ deciding upon a series of stories for each age group to learn. In Storytelling Schools, ‘a minimum of 15 minutes per day or an equivalent time per week is allocated (…for storytelling)’ Teachers are then expected to work from these chosen, learned stories throughout the curriculum.

The benefits of the approach are stated to include the following areas 








Inquisiteveness and questioning

Subject learning

Memory and sequencing


Rehersals for life

and (my personal favourite!) Wonder and magic

Which I’m sure you will agree is an impressive list!

Coming up

So, the next step was for me to explore the ‘Key features’ of this approach and then learn a story to tell Bundle Number One…

Disclaimer: We were kindly sent this book (free of charge) for review. All opinions are our own.