Best of the Blog 2021: raising a confident, curious grandchild

Here’s a roundup of my best educational content from 2021. It’s filled with activities and observations to make learning fun for your child or grandchild

I’ve been reflecting on the many blogs that I’ve written during 2021. 

A lot has changed in the past year. My granddaughter Daisy started the year in a Nursery class and she ends the year in a Reception class. She’s growing up fast!

But despite the changes at home and around us, the focus of the blog remains the same: watching Daisy grow, play and learn.

Hopefully you will find this selection of my favourite posts useful as you spend time with your child or grandchild. (And if you like this selection, you might want to check out the best of my 2020 blogs.)

Adaptable grandparenting

With the pandemic restrictions that continued into 2021 and living a distance from Daisy we have had to remain adaptable. 

We have found ways to maintain regular contact with her and continue to be able to spend time together, albeit using Facetime time for the first three months of the year when travel restrictions were still in force. 

During those first three months we established a regular Sunday morning session together, with a drink and snack. Grandpa read storybooks to Daisy, while I turned the pages and animated the stories with puppets and extra sound effects. 

Now that Daisy is at school each day, she has lots that she likes to fit into her weekend! But, on occasion, she still asks to have a ‘Facetime storytime’ with us.

2021 Favourite: Magnetic Letters

A girl holds up a metal baking tray covered by magnetic letters

During the first months of 2021 I had to adapt some ideas, to make it possible to have some ‘play’ time with Daisy and for us to enjoy each other’s company. 

Out of the need to be adaptable, Daisy and I discovered one of our favourite activities to share, using our sets of magnetic letters and upturned baking trays

At the time Daisy was developing her phonetic knowledge of letter sounds. This activity gave me the opportunity to help Daisy.

Together we put individual letters onto our trays. Then we sounded out each phoneme, before pushing the letters close together, ‘pushing’ the phoneme sounds together to make a word. 

From the first time we used the letters and trays Daisy was so engrossed in the activity that Mummy and Daddy could leave the room! Daisy chatted happily with me and we created words, with Daisy copying my letters. 

At that point it seemed right to allow Daisy to have her turn. She could create some words for me to copy and say!

During the year, we’ve continued to use the magnetic letters and baking trays. The repetition has given Daisy more confidence in the process of word building. 

2021 Favourite: Number Bonds

Daisy arranged the number squares by size...

A casual conversation in the car, returning from the beach, was the inspiration for another of my favourite blogs

Daisy had kicked off her wellies and pulled off her socks. We counted five toes on each foot and Daisy instantly told me 5 and 5 make 10. 

I was surprised that Daisy was already using number bonds for 10. But I was amazed when she continued the conversation to tell me that 10 toes and 10 fingers were 20 and that, with another 5, we could have 25 and make a ‘number 5 square’! 

Daisy has absorbed all of this from watching the BBC TV show Numberblocks. Watching Numberblocks episodes on the BBC has become part of Daisy’s weekly routine. 

On many occasions, Daisy then likes to follow up an episode by playing with Mathlink Cubes

Once we were home from the beach, we had to have the Mathlink Cubes out to play with. First we created a number 5 square. Then we made a number 4 square, a number 3 square and a square for 2. Finally, we watched the Numberblocks episode ‘Going on a Square Hunt’. 

The Square Club motto stayed with me for days! 

“Even though we’re different sizes, you can always recognise us: we’re as tall as we are wide; we’re the same turned on each side!”

2021 Favourite: Making Tracks

A girl follows a trail of white footprints up a residential street

When I asked Daisy’s grandfather for his two favourite blogs of 2021, he chose ones that involved interacting with the outside world. 

He’s a great walker and loves his garden so he picked ‘Making Tracks’, and the blog that features his hands, ‘Buried Treasure’.

He says that Making Tracks reminds him of the Winnie the Pooh story where Pooh and Piglet follow their own circular tracks in the snow.

Of course Daisy has a little more ‘brain’ than Pooh and knows she made her own tracks! She enjoyed the detective work in finding out who, or what, made the other tracks that she discovered. 

2021 Favourite: Buried Treasure

A girl sorts through potato plants in a grow bag or sack

One of Grandad Smith’s favourite sayings is ‘stay curious’ and the activities in the Buried Treasure blog support that idea. 

The potatoes mentioned in the Buried Treasure blog really were just that: potatoes planted in containers in the spring that had become obscured by the energetic foliage of a rampant wild rose. 

Their discovery was made thanks to Grandad’s efforts at pruning. The whole activity of unearthing and final cooking them was completely spontaneous which added to the enjoyment.

2021 Favourite: A School-Ready Child

Many preschoolers lack basic skills such as putting on their coat and shoes independently

I also asked Daisy’s Daddy which had been his favourite blogs this year.

He highlighted the blog about raising a school-ready child without a nursery.

This piece was inspired by some research undertaken by KindredSquared that highlighted the effects of the pandemic on preschool children, from the closure of nursery provision to the lack of access to local childcare services.

For Daisy’s Daddy, collaborating with me on this piece was very helpful. It gave him the opportunity to focus on building Daisy’s independence and resilience, during a challenging time for all parents.

2021 Favourite: Keeping children safe online

A preschool girl uses the internet under supervision to search for lion videos

On a similar topic, Daisy’s Daddy highlighted the piece I produced on keeping young children safe online. He said it could be particularly useful for parents during a period in which children across the country probably spent more of their time online than at any other time in history.

It just goes to show that parents and grandparents bring different perspectives to a child’s learning journey.

So much more to explore

Of course, I published many more posts than this, on everything from colouring inside the lines, to understanding odds and evens, to subitising, to making music and even celebrating the Olympics

And Daisy remains a bookworm, so there was no end to the material I had to work from there!

In fact, the image of Daisy from World Book Day 2021 is a reminder that, although some years may present more challenges than others, I can count on Daisy’s spirit and energy to inspire me, year on year!

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