8 Reasons Octonauts are Awesome (Win!)

To say the Octonauts have captured my kids’ imaginations is an understatement, and I don’t think my children are alone!  I’ve overheard mums talking about the program, and kids role playing their favourite characters.  The Octonauts follows a team of adventure heroes who dive into action whenever there is trouble under the sea.  In a fleet of aquatic vehicles they rescue amazing sea creatures, explore incredible new underwater worlds and often save the day before returning safely to their home base, the Octopod. Continue reading

Screen Time for Kids

It’s a question often whispered amongst parents.  We don’t want to ask out loud for fear of judgment, but most of us admit to using it.  The TV.  The question is… how much is too much?

I spoke on air recently about screen time.  If you missed it on the radio, you might like to listen to the podcast below:

96Five Radio Podcast

Here are some of my thoughts:

  • I’m not against television viewing.  In fact, I quite often review children’s programs here on the blog.  BUT… I think as parents we should select what we allow our kids to watch, rather than leaving the TV to run.
  • The maximum time a child should spend looking at a screen is 2hrs a day.  Some new research is suggesting that children under two shouldn’t watch any television at all.  Keep this in mind especially if you have older children watching while your little one is in the room.
  • One of the biggest problems with television is what it doesn’t do.  It doesn’t converse with your child. It doesn’t improve your child’s fine or gross motor skills.  It doesn’t give them hands on experience.  It doesn’t replace the real world, or real people.  Make sure your child’s real experiences far outweigh their virtual ones.
  • Screen time includes more than TV.  If your child has access to a computer, iPod, iPad, iPhone or other smart phone it all counts towards screen time.  Two hours can pass quickly. It’s up to parents to monitor and limit use.
  • Use screen time when it best benefits your routine. For our family, it’s the late afternoon.  Usually the kids play outside in the afternoon, then they come in for some quiet screen time while I cook dinner.  Saturday mornings are the only mornings the TV is allowed to go on.

For a fantastic list of alternatives to screen time to try with your kids, check out this article “Installing Speed Bumps to Television Viewing” by Little Eco Footprints over at Childhood101.

Embracing Winter Days (like Dirtgirl)

Lately I’ve been hearing a message I really dislike:  Keep your kids out of the winter weather.  I’m not sure where the message is coming from, or why.  Of course we have to make allowances for weather, but there is no need to keep kids indoors.  Outdoor play is an important part of a child’s day – every day.

Almost a year ago to the day, I wrote here on the blog about Playing Whatever the Weather:

I don’t think we can expect children to tolerate extremes of temperature they are not accustomed to, but I do think they should be able to enjoy outside time in their home climate.  For my kids, temperatures range from about 10 degrees celsius in winter, through to around 35 degrees in summer.  Winter play means wearing lots of layers.  The days start chilly, but do warm up and beanies need to be replaced with sunhats.  Winter play doesn’t mean staying inside with the heater on.  Summer play means sunscreen, hats and sun-safe clothing.  It also means drinking plenty of water, and playing out of the sun during the hottest times.  Summer play doesn’t mean staying inside with the airconditioning on!  Ok, yes there are days when I use the heater in winter, and the air con in summer – but we don’t stay trapped inside and I always find the kids have more fun outdoors.

A year on, I am nodding along to my own words. My opinion hasn’t changed.  I still think it’s important for kids to get outside, whatever the weather.  Next week the school holidays start, and I know it will be a great opportunity for my two munchkins to play together outside.  Here’s what a typical home day in the winter holidays looks like for us (with the morning routine relaxed because we’re not in a rush to get to school):

  • 6:30 – 7:30 Breakfast
  • 7:30 – 8:30 Get dressed, brush teeth, make beds, do morning jobs
  • 8:30 – 9:30 Play inside (or help Mum with housework)
  • 9:30 – 10:30 Morning tea and outside free play
  • 10:30 – 12:00 Creative activity together, preferably outside (anything from painting to playing pirates!)
  • 12:00 – 12:30 Lunch
  • 12:30 – 1:30 Quiet Time in bedrooms (read or rest)
  • 1:30 – 3:30 Outside free play or continuing activity and afternoon tea
  • 3:30 – 4:00 Pack up sandpit, outside toys, creative mess
  • 4:00 – 5:30 Play inside, TV on (while Mum gets dinner ready)
  • 5:30 – 6:15 Dinner and bathtime
  • 6:15 – 7:00 Stories and BED

It’s a pretty fluid schedule – times are just there to give you an idea. You can see though that the kids can easily have three or four hours outside during the warmest parts of the day.  I know that some days they will have extra time outdoors, because they’ll be keen to get outside straight after breakfast despite the chill, or because they’re still hunting for dinosaur eggs at 4:30 and haven’t noticed the temperature dropping!

I don’t mind the tv going on in the late afternoons at all.  I know that the kids have had lots of outside time, and they’ve usually had enough of each other by then.  We’re all getting tired, crankiness creeps in, and I need to get dinner ready.  And what do I put on? Dirtgirlworld of course!

Dirtgirl knows that winter is wonderful outside.  She loves winter’s nourishing soups, rugging up in lovely warm clothing and gumboots, and making the most of the sun when it’s out – even if it’s just for a little bit.  Me and Dirtgirl? We’re so on the same page.  Even when my kids are watching tv, they are getting the message that outside is where the fun is at.  Dirtgirl and Scrapboy give my kids ideas for tomorrow’s play, and encourage them to get their boots on and head outside all over again.

Thanks to my friend Dirtgirl (and the gang at Madman) I have five amazing prize packs to give away. Each one has the Winter DVD, as well as Dirtgirlworld’s Spring, Summer and Autumn DVD collections!  To win all four seasons DVDs, just leave a comment below sharing what your kids like to do outside in WINTER.

Usual rules apply: Aussie residents only, one entry per person, winners drawn randomly, comp closes Sunday 26th June 6pm Qld time.

If you’re a fan, you might like to follow Dirtgirlworld on facebook and twitter, and check out all the cool stuff starting to happen on their blog too.

Giggle-icious Giveaway

Giggle and Hoot continue to go from strength to strength as the lovable co-hosts of ABC4Kids.  I’ve had the opportunity both to interview Jimmy Giggle (James Rees) and meet him backstage.  He really does deserve the attention he receives from kids across the country.  Late last year I watched him give the same genuine grin and hug to the 367th child waiting in line as he did for the first child in line.  He obviously loves what he does.

The latest offering from Giggle and Hoot is a DVD compilation of giggle-icious music.  Sing-along to new Giggle and Hoot songs and enjoy well known tunes like Hoot’s Lullaby.  On the DVD, Giggle and Hoot also present episodes or songs from some of my ABC favourites.  There’s a fantastic Playschool episode on Making Music, a Wiggle and Learn episode called ‘Beach, Beach, Sandy Beach,’ songs from Justine Clarke, The Wiggles and more!  It’s a great compilation DVD for weekends, school holidays or rainy afternoons with toddlers!

You can pick up a copy in ABC Stores or online for $19.99 or enter below to win one of FOUR copies!  To enter, simply leave a comment sharing something that makes your child giggle! (Aussie residents only, one entry per person, comp closes 6pm Sunday 8th May, 4 winners chosen at random.)

* I received a copy of Giggle-icious Music courtesy of Roadshow.

Other posts you may like:

Hi-5 Happy House Review

The latest release from Hi-5 has hit the shelves for January, and thanks to my friends at Roadshow I have THREE copies to give away to SquiggleMum readers. The album is full of boppy songs, bright colours, great costumes and lots of dancing.  The title track, Happy House makes for a catchy opening, and my kids have been singing this one around the house.


My favourite track though is Backyard Adventurers. We do a fair bit of backyard adventuring here at our house!  I appreciate songs that encourage kids to get outside. It would be great to see this with footage of kids (or the Hi-5 Team) actually in a backyard and out of the studio!  I’m still not fussed on a lot of the dialogue. I’d love to see the Hi-5 team move to more natural sounding language, and speak “to” the children rather than “at” them.  Still, the album is enjoyable, and my own kids have had fun singing and dancing along with the colourful gang.

The Squiggle Report:

Like - Happy House, Backyard Adventurers, the girls’ shoes!!

Dislike - dialogue patronising at times

SquiggleKids rating: 4/5

SquiggleMum rating: 3/5

WIN a copy

To win a copy of Hi-5’s latest release leave a comment below sharing what makes your home a happy house!  Aussie residents only please. One entry per person.  Comp closes 6pm Qld time Sunday 30/1/11 and winners will be drawn at random.

I received a copy of Happy House compliments of Roadshow.


This competition has now closed.

Congrats to the random winners Jodie, Funkymunkees and Simone!

Dear Jimmy Giggle

Dear Jimmy Giggle,

We loved meeting up with you when you came to visit Brisbane!!  Thank you for spending some time with us before the signing, and for welcoming us so warmly.

We’re glad you liked the Christmas card we made for you and Hoot. Thanks for taking the time to let us know on facebook (ABC for Kids – for Parents page) that Hoot enjoyed our special Christmas bird seed mix too!

We liked playing with you and seeing your funny button shoes.  (“Jimmy Shoos”?!!)  You made us laugh!  Is that why you are called Jimmy Giggle?

There was a very, very big line of kids and mums (and a few dads) waiting to see you.  We know that you stayed for a l-o-n-g time so that no one missed out.  You must really like kids, which is cool – because kids really like you.

We hope you and Hoot have a very happy Christmas!!  See you on ABC Kids

Love from SquiggleMum and Kids.

Giggle and Squiggle Giveaway

Jimmy Giggle and Hoot the Owl are fast becoming household names in Australia.  The hosts of ABC Kids have just released their first album –  Beak Bopping Tunes.  To celebrate the release, I had the opportunity to interview James Rees (aka Jimmy Giggle)…

Cath - Congratulations on your success as the host of ABC For Kids.  Other television stations have had hosts for children’s programs for some time. Were you intimidated by the challenge of taking on this role as the face of ABC Kids?

James - I would say more nervous than intimidated however I was greeted with the loveliest bunch of people who made me feel so comfortable and still do to this day. I couldn’t really ask for a better experience at the ABC.

Cath - Is it true that you didn’t have any television experience before landing the role as Jimmy Giggle? How did you get the gig?!

James - Yes that is true. I was involved in theatre and drama throughout my schooling and television was a pipe dream of mine. After spotting an ad in the paper for an audition for new kids presenters on the ABC I sent away a video and a few months later found myself filming the first episode. Crazy!

Cath - My kids really enjoy the songs “My Best Friend” and “Five Steps To Bed”.  Which song do you and Hoot most like performing together?

James - Well we have a number of new songs that have been released on our new CD and will appear on the show in the not so distant future. We both love the “Getting to Know You Song” and a favourite of mine is the new hip hop track on the CD called “Use Your Words”.

Cath - What do your mates think about Jimmy Giggle? Especially those PJs and slippers…

James - My friends think the Jimmy Giggle thing is pretty hilarious and they’ve taken it all on board and secretly really want a pair of PJ for themselves.

Cath - So what does the future hold for you?  There is already a “We love Jimmy Giggle (James Rees)” Facebook page for all your fans.  What’s next…?

James - Firstly, I have to personally thank all our fans. It’s very sweet to have people show their support for the show, whether it be on Facebook or via mail. In the future we hope to expand the show to keep it fresh, exciting and most of all fun. Personally, who knows what the future holds, that’s the exciting part.

Cath - As always with interviews I like to give my kids the chance to participate, so this is direct from my four year old:  “I know a lot about birds. What kind of owl is Hoot?  Mum said you are real but Hoot is a puppet.  Is it funny working with a puppet?”

James - Hoot says that he is a ‘little blue owl’ and he also said to make sure you are tucked up safe and warm in your bed every night as he flies on the night watch!

I received a copy of the CD compliments of my friends at Roadshow, and I have FIVE CD’s up for grabs for SquiggleMum readers.  Entry is easy – just leave a comment below.  Aussie residents only please.  One entry per person.  Five winners will be selected randomly. Comp closes Wed 17th Nov 6pm Qld time.

You can also buy copies at the ABC Shop Online for $14.95.

This competition has closed!

Congratulations to the randomly drawn winners (who have been notified by email):

  • #11 Jessie Persse
  • # 50 Kylie
  • #3 Danielle Wright
  • #60 Julie
  • #56 Candice