Learning to read can be tricky. Phonics is recommended as the first strategy that children should be taught in helping them to read and write. It helps children hear, identify and use different sounds that distinguish one word from another in the English language.
Once a child understands what sound is linked to a letter they can then begin to blend them together in order to read or spell a word.
With a little creativity teaching and learning phonics can be fun, by keeping the whole process fun it will help the child to become engaged more. Phonics can be educational and fun.
There are lots of ways to keep phonics fun and different including
Sorting baskets – each basket represents a sound. Place objects into the correct basket
What is Fishing for Phonics?
Fishing for phonics can be done in many ways:
You can hide items or letters in a water tray and children can use a net to fish them out.
Print out letters or pictures and place a paperclip on them. The child can use a piece of string with a magnet attached to the end.
Or you can use the Fishing Game
Place the sounds or words that the child is working on on the underneath of a fish.
And just as you would play the game normally, using a rod, catch the fish. When you catch a fish the child has to say the word or sound that they have caught. If they get it wrong, correct them and then place it back in the game to be caught again.
If they are catching words, then ask the child to put the word into a sentence. This helps them to retain the information of what they have learnt.
This game also teaches children about turn taking and helps to develop their fine motor skills.
This game can be differentiated depending on what the learning objective is. It can also be used to teach number bonds or times tables.
We have visited the beautiful Island of Malta many times, and over the years visited many places. The following places in this list are places that we have visited with our young children and would recommend a visit.
Popeye Village is a film set that is over 30 years old, it’s the set of the 1980 Musical Production of ‘Popeye’ and it is now one of Malta’s major tourist attraction. Popeye the sailor and his friends are around the village to greet the guests and entertain throughout the day.
Take a walk around Popeyes cabin, explore Olives house, play games in the sawmill, become a part of the film in the main square or relax by the splash pool whilst the children have some fun.
Anchor bay comes alive in the summer with an inflatable adventure course, so whilst you top up your tan the children can have fun in the sea.
Popeye Village is open all year round.
St Peters Pool
St Peters Pool is the most beautiful natural swimming pools in Malta, situated South of the Island near the Fishing Village Marsaxlokk (which is where you will find the market where they sell fresh fish, local delicacies and an abundance of souvenirs to take home)
The drive and parking to St Peters Pool isn’t smooth but it is definitely worth it. I would advise anyone who has young children who are not strong swimmers not to leave them alone swimming. There are ladders to help visitors to get down into the water but for those who are feeling a little more adventurous, you can always dive down into the deep pool below.
There are no shop nearby, so take along everything you will need to spend the day there.
The sea water is crystal clear, the flat rocks surrounding the pool are ideal for sunbathing on and perfect for place to get away from the business of the sandy beaches.
The walk down from the parking area is about 5 minutes away
My boys loved it here and spent ages diving into the deep blue water, they even plucked up the courage to jump down from the highest point (not when Mummy was watching though!)
Malta doesn’t have many beaches to boast about the ones that it does have are beautiful. Mellieha beach being one of them. The beach is long and there are plenty of beds to relax on and kiosks to dine from along it. During the summer months it hosts an inflatable playground, costing £6 euros for the hour. The boys enjoyed an hour of fun whilst I managed to grab an hour of peace reading a book. We managed to barter the hire of the sunbeds down from £12 euros down to £8.
Lots of free parking is available and is easily assessable via bus.
Mdina and Rabat
Located in centre of the Island, Mdina is the old capital of Malta.
Mdina is a fascinating place to visit, one of Europe’s finest examples of and ancient walled city, it traces back more than 4000 years. Tradition says that The Apostle St Paul lived here after being shipwrecked on the Island. Just outside the city walls, in Rabat, you can visit St Paul’s Grotto.
Mdina was built high up on top of a plateau. Standing on the edge of Mdinas walls you have some spectacular views of the surrounding fields and villages.
Mdina and Rabat is full to the brim of cultural heritage and history. Lamp lit by night,the Mdina is also referred to as ‘The Silent City’.
Take a walk around the cobbled, narrow shady streets and take in all of the historical beauty within. It is home now to some of Malta’s noble families living in the impressive palaces that line the streets.
There are plenty of restaurants and cafes within the walls for refreshments and Souvenir shops to visit.
It is free the enter the Mdina but it costs to enter into some of the attractions, like the Malta experience and the Dungeons.
Mdina is a favourite place of my boys, they adore the Norman and baroque architecture in the buildings.
Just outside of the Mdina walls there are beautiful gardens to walk around and also a little play area for the children to enjoy.
The Splash and Fun park
Malta’s only water park, that’s not in the sea, ideal for all the family. The Splash & Fun Park has several swimming pools, water slides, Children’s Dinosaur Park & Splash Land, a large wave pool, diving pools, lazy river and deck chairs to relax on. Throughout the day there is entertainment put on in and around the wave pool area. We sat and watched a spanish dance routine, took part in the aqua aerobics and the boys entered a football competition.
My middle boys favourite thing to do was Dive from the high board into the diving pool.
On the way out of the water park we noticed that there was a trampoline enclosure, everyone had a good jump around before leaving
Pretty bay Birzebbuga
If you are visiting St Peters Pool then just a little further around the coast you will find Pretty Bay in Birzebbuga. It’s in the southern region of Malta.
The sight looking out from Pretty Bay isn’t spectacular, unless you like looking boats and dock yards, but the beach is pretty and there is a lovely play area and football pitches that runs along the beach. Also its the only beach that we visited where you can sit on the grass, and sit under a tree shielded from the sun.
Blue lagoon Comino
The only way to get over to see the beautiful blue water at blue lagoon, Comino is by boat or ferry. Situated in between Malta and Gozo, the island of Comino is only 3.5 square kilometers, it is car free and only has one hotel. The Blue lagoon is the popular attraction here, with the white sand and clear water, the sea becomes a gorgeous aquamarine. The water is clean and transparent, ideal for snorkelling and swimming, the water is shallow so it is perfect for young children to enjoy.
I would advice to attempt to get there early as in the peak times it can get very busy, and the beach is only small. Many people lay down there towels up on the rocks and walk down the steps to get down to the water.
There are refreshment vans parked up where the boats are, selling fruit, drinks and hot food.
This little bay situated just passed Kalkara is not normally a busy attraction to holiday makers, it used more by the locals. It is the beach that I myself attended regularly as a child when we holidayed in Malta as we had family living in Kalkara. Looking out from the beach you can see the Capital of Malta, Valletta. There are refreshment vans parked up and portable toilets to use.
Not only is this beach a little quieter than others it has a slide that goes down into the sea from the walkway. Beware that the sea is deep here, there are some steps coming out of the water very close to the slide.
Smart City is just around the corner, a new build to Malta, where you can watch the water fountain and have a bite to eat in one of the many restaurants and bars.
Kalkara marina is a pretty little place to stop after a swim, it’s quiet and peaceful. There is also a little park for the children to play in whilst the adults can sit on a bench and look out to the boats
I hope you like reading our top places to visit in Malta. There are many more places to visit like the peaceful island of Gozo, the stunning infrastructure of Mosta, the hustle and bustle of the capital city Valetta, the aqua marine park in Bugibba ( which also has a pretty impressive play area for the children to play in outside) and Marsaxlokk fishing village. I could on, but I think that I may have shared enough already 🙂
Keep energised with these mocha flavoured energy balls.
We’re big fans of no bake and energy balls in our house and are constantly thinking of new recipes. I personally think that homemade ones taste far better than any shop commercialised. They are much more fulfilling and with each batch you can make up to 25 balls at a fraction of shop bought prices.
These balls only have 1 tbsp of coffee in them plus I used decaffeinated, so they shouldn’t give you too much of a buzz (unless you eat them all – which is possible as they are very moreish)
16 years and 7 months ago, I held a tiny little helpless hand in mine and vowed to myself that I would be the best Mum that I could be for him.
That first touch taught me what love really was. In an instant I knew I had an unconditional love, a love that was so pure and strong.
A sudden overwhelming urge of protectiveness.
He was so fragile and innocent. I wanted to hold his hand forever. As his little fingers curled around my finger, me heart swelled. His grip was not only on my finger but onto my heart too.
For the first few months he relied on me – to feed, change and move him around but he soon began to do things for himself. Like other babies, he learned to roll, crawl, walk, talk and play.
As he has grown up he has become such a wonderful young man; a joy to be around. Always there for me and his siblings when needed, always by my side. As his siblings were born, he just moved aside for them always knowing that Mummy still loved him. That Mummies love was just growing and expanding but never getting less. He filled my days with joy and delight and has given me the strength to get through bad days.
His hand may have grown considerably over the years but one thing is for sure and that is the unconditional love is still there. He has become wiser and stronger, more than I could have ever imagined him to be.
A man now stands where a boy used to be. I may no longer carry him in my arms and his little fingers may not cling to my hand but I still carry him in my heart. He has given me so many reasons to be proud of him.
Three years ago, he held my hand and told me to be strong.
The tables changed and I was the one that relied on him – he looked after me; feeding and caring for me.
I remember waking up in hospital after having an operation to remove a tumour and feeling the warmth of his hand in mine. I felt so calm and overwhelmed with how much love this boy had for me.
I felt safe.
I’m strong again now but he still holds my hand. I now have not only a son but a friend too!
Escape rooms offer exciting challenges that are heart racing and fun. They encourage children’s problem solving skills with code cracking, clue solving and calculations to be made.
As a family we have visited a few escape rooms and the children really enjoyed the mystery and challenges that were involved in finding the clues to escape the room. They are brilliant activities for families that help to combine your skills and work as a team.
What are escape rooms?
An Escape Room is a physical and cognitive activity where you have to find clues and solve puzzles to escape from a room. It might involve padlocks, keypads, physical, mathematical and literacy problems to solve and many more. As you enter the room you are set a time limit where you need to complete the puzzles and solve clues to reveal combinations to unlock padlocks. Some rooms create an immersive experience with music and sound effects. Some may have a background story to escaping and others may just be about puzzles. Many escape rooms offer props to use in order to solve the puzzles, but also help to get you into the mood of escaping the room.
Setting up the escape room
I would like to say that it was easy, but it took me some time to think up some of the clues to use. I took to pinterest and facebook for some inspiration. Pinterest is ideal for discovering new ideas.
I first bought some padlocks, I went for number and letter combination ones.
I didn’t really want to lock the boys into a room (plus none of my rooms have locks on them) So I decided on using a box with the locks on them instead. The idea being that once they found the clues to the locks they would open up the box and find a key inside which would then unlock the back door.
I decided on not going for a back story or a theme just because my head hurt with putting it all together. But, I did tell them that they had an hour to escape in the back garden otherwise they wouldn’t get to do an Easter Egg hunt. I also told them that they had to work together to solve the clues and that they would have to run around the house to look for the clues.
I placed the box on the table along with three envelopes; each containing a clue.
They quickly realised that the first clue was in a Diary of a Wimpy Kid book so they ran upstairs to their bookshelf to search for the book. Once they found them they then had to look inside to find the next clue, which was a piece of paper with holes cut out. The boys first thought that it was a dot to dot. So I gave them a clue to take it to the first piece of paper. The holes were numbered and they had to line up the paper with the words underneath, following the numbers to reveal a hidden message.
“The first clue is in the fridge”
Racing to raid the fridge, not sure what they were looking for. They soon found that the small puzzle box was out of place.
The boys had to solve the puzzle, but it wasn’t as easy as you would think! The puzzle had a message written on the back of it, so it had to be solved back to front. They used the picture on the box as a guide, flipping over the pieces to the opposite side. This was tricky, but working together they managed to solve it.
The puzzle revealed a riddle. The boys love a good riddle so I thought they would like this clue. In fact it was too easy for them, straight away they said ‘Book’!
Back upstairs to the book shelf they went, having no idea what book they were looking for. I told them that maybe the puzzle was a clue to the book that they needed to search for. Finding two Cars books, inside one was some mathematical questions for them to solve in order to get the combination of the first lock.
This proved to be a little tricky for the boys and they then began to become competitive against each other losing the momentum of the good team work that they had been producing prior to this clue. Eventually after some arguments ,they solved the clues and had their first lock released.
Inside the next envelope the boys came across a letter that said
“To work out the this clue, you need to read between the lines”
Inside the envelope was a letter, an UV pen and some rune symbols.
The boys had to figure out that they needed to use the UV light that was on the end of the pen to find the hidden sentence – To read between the lines.
I had hidden balloons around the house, with pieces of paper inside them. they had to pop the balloons to reveal the next part of the clue.
Some of the balloons had clues in them and some didn’t. This was lots of fun running around the house searching for the balloons and popping them.
I had written three riddles with number words in them, each number word had a number about it, this was the order that they had to use to unlock the next lock.
Using the rune symbols they had to solve the words and then place them into sentences. Each sentence was cut in half.
There are seven days in a week
Jak is nine years older than Oliver
A quarter of a day is six hours
Some of the runes represented a few letters, so they had to work out which letter would fit into the word.
They now had the next combination for the second lock
The last clue was inside envelope 3. This was a bit like a treasure hunt. I hidden Match Attax cards in certain areas within the house, solving the riddles the boy had to hunt them down. Once the found all of the cards they then had to place them in order of highest attack and using the first letter of the players surname would be what they would use in the letter combination lock.
Finally they had unlocked all of the keys on the box. Inside was the key to the back door.
Where they were treated to an Easter Egg hunt.
I loved seeing the boys excitement when they were doing the clues, running around and enjoying them self. I was hoping that this would help them to understand the benefits of team work and although there was a arguments between them, I think that it taught them a lesson of relying on each other for help.
I found it hard being creative and putting it all together to form some sort game but I do think that what i did create was rewarding and fun.
Let me know if you set one up at home and how you found it?