Tag Archives: creative

Shutting Down

22 May

I’ve been pretty silent, I know! Its not like me, not to blog for long periods of time, but these past few weeks have been different! I’ve actually been completely out the loop when it comes to social networking, my tweets have been few and far between and Facebook has been left unvisited.

I’m not to busy, I won’t lie! I’m not on holiday or having some girly time someplace fun. I’m at home, in pyjamas on the sofa mostly.

In my everyday life, my social commitments have suffered too. I’m not spending much time with friends, I’m not even answering my mobile or home phone when somebody calls. Its actually really stupid but I haven’t been able to complete the smallest of tasks. I dread having to do almost anything.

That’s how I knew…. The signs are all there, ones I’ve experienced before making them so apparent this time! Depression… I was depressed and knew I had to do something about it, and do so fast. But that was just it… I was lacking any get up and go which meant that the prospect of visiting a doctor or even booking an appointment to see one was all to much to bare.

Thankfully, I’m starting to feel myself again and though it will take some time to get on top of it all, I’ve started and that’s the hardest bit done.

So, why was she depressed, you may ask? Many assume its the pressures of parenting a child on the autism spectrum but for me that’s a little bit of a cop out. I’ve been parenting little man for almost 13 years. Since the age of 18 its been my life. I’ve since had two more children and being a mother to all three of my children has brought great joy into my life. Yes, when little man is refusing to get up from his bed or even leave the house of a morning I do feel a tad close to breaking point, but guess what? Its not made me depressed… I don’t think it has anyway!

The truth is, life can be a bit full on somedays and when all your problems collide that’s when things go a bit tits up. I can’t put my finger on just one thing and say its this whats caused this depressive period. That’s impossible!

With deadlines looming for reviews and guest post, I just shut off. This blog and that of my other were left at times for days without a post. With my hair thinning at age 31 years and my doctor telling me it was down to stress I just had to let go a little and remember what it was like to be me again.

I love blogging, that much I’m sure off. I just wanted to take a little me time in order to remember that.

So here’s to the continuation of blogging… Here’s to me smiling again.

Oh, and before I drop off, a message for the world! “If you ever feel like your slipping into a black hole of depression then act quickly to nip it in the bud! Many of us are not visiting our GPs, mainly due to the stigma associated with depression! Just remember its an illness and lucky enough its a fixable one too! To be the best we possible can we need to feel our best… Fact!

NatWest Search For A New Iconic Piggy #pigsbykids

6 Nov

Have you heard about the NatWest #pigsbykids Campaign?

No? Well, let me fill you in then…

NatWest are encouraging children to save by way of launching a fabulous campaign based around its iconic piggy.

NatWest Piggies have long played a massive part in the banks advertisements and savings promotions… Its actually a huge part of NatWest as we know them! And I for one have always related the two very closely, especially given how I always wanted one of my own piggies. Its fair to say that the last piggy became somewhat famous within its own right, what with it being worth a good few quid nowadays. Maybe your lucky enough to still have one of your own?

Well, its a new generation of saving and with it must come a new generation of pig. So, with this, NatWest are encouraging kids to bank their pennies with a fabulous competition. They are on the look out for a new piggy icon and they want your children to get their creative juices flowing by way of creating one.

The winning child’s pig will then shoot to fame by becoming the brand new NatWest Pig.

Little Man and Alice-Sara have both been extremely busy creating their pigs. They have started the design plan on paper and are now applying their ideas to clay model designs which are not yet complete and still very much a working progress.

Nonetheless, I can’t wait to upload their final designs and enter them into this exciting competition.

It really has given little man lots of motivation, given his not all that keen on art due to his difficulties with fine motor skills and low concentration levels. Its really is a positive step that he feels inspired to give it a go.

I really like the message behind this campaign and love how NatWest are delivering it. This is a fabulous opportunity to get your children’s imaginations over flowing while teaching them why saving money is important. I wanted my children to have a good understanding about the campaign and the reasons behind it! I’m all for children having some degree of independence when it comes to money. Children need to learn the importance of saving and the true value of money at an early age.

I also think it would be pretty awesome to see a design created by a child used in such a way by NatWest. Children tend to have the most magical, wonderful and if not sometimes slightly strange ideas floating around in their heads. So, I for one cannot wait to see what both my children and others produce in the name of #pigsforkids

Alice’s paper creation

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As the competition has a deadline of the 11th November 2012 I wanted to make sure everyone was aware so they could join in the fun and get creating Piggies of their own. However, I will be sure to pop back and share the children’s designs that they are currently creating with the use of some fantastic art materials that were so kindly supplied by NatWest.

Read the information below to discover some of the competition requirements and a link to the full terms and conditions over at Natwest.

The competition is open to children up to 13 years old.

The winning design will become the new NatWest pig.

The closing date for entries is 12pm on 11th November 2012

Terms and conditions apply and should be read over on the NatWest website.

This is an advertising promotion for NatWest.

I am promoting the competition as its one of great interest and something the children will be taking part in themselves. I was not paid to write this but NatWest did supply the children with a great craft kit to help them create their own little piggies.

Creative minds, pupils with autism use ICT to create Art.

9 Sep

There are so many things I love about blogging, hearing good news alongside inspiring stories of success from my readers, has to be the ultimate highlight to blogging.

Last week, I got my kicks of happiness, when I received an email from reader and teacher, ‘Joanne’

Joanne contacted me and asked if I was happy to upload some art work to the, ‘Autism & Art’ Page, here on the blog.  The art was created by pupils with Autism and Severe Learning Difficulties who attend a unit for children with autism and SEN (special educational needs) that forms part of the mainstream school, “Evergreen”  Most of the children at the unit are non-verbal but are very expressive when it comes to art. The  children’s artwork has been created on computer with the use of free art software packages, which Joanne has been kind enough to share (this can be found later on in this post).

Of course, I informed Joanne that it would be an honour to feature the children’s fabulous artwork on the blogs Art page, however, while chatting with Joanne, I felt inspired to write a post to show the world how talented these budding little artist are!

Yes, they really are some talented lot, and it’s not just me, Joanne or the rest of the staff at Evergreen Primary school, who think so!

The pupils were nominated for the Northern grid awards (ICT In Education Awards) where their work has been widely showcased and celebrated as a result.

The Northern Grid Awards recognise and celebrate the excellent practice happening in North East Schools. The pupils at Evergreen, were actually Highly Commended in the “Surprise me” category. This was for an activity that was actually formed to support literacy for the KS1 class. The presentation began as a teacher made resources to present the story, ‘We’re going on a bear hunt’ to pupils. The pupils were then involved with developing the presentation into their own, ‘Bear Hunt’ story through their interaction with the story props and resources. Seriously guys, check it out on the site hosting the awards, the teachers and parents of these pupils must be beaming with pride!

Joanne is a lady who is very passionate about her work and she has a great fondness for those she teaches. She told me that, “Most of the children are non-verbal but can actually teach me a thing or two!” It’s refreshing to see teachers and teaching assistants, so passionate about what they do, I really love that, it’s something so simple but for a mother of a child on the spectrum, it’s something you are truly grateful to find.

Joanne’s role with the children is to create creative & sensory friendly learning experiences and her success shines through within the children’s beautiful, yet talented work. She talked about the way the children use computers to create and learn and like myself and many other parents, she really understood the importance of using ICT as a resource for children with autism, both in education and within their everyday lives.

It’s my belief  that children and adults on the spectrum, have an amazing way about them when given a computer. A child that is branded a menace due to their refusal to participate in written work can then excel if put in-front of a computer. When I went to view Little man’s work at a past parents evening, at his old mainstream school, they didn’t have a single exercise book to show me! The only work they had to display was all done with the use of a PC. Little man has fine motor skills difficulties and like many children on the spectrum his handwriting took the force of this. Little man is extremely aware off these difficulties and the fact he is often considered less able within certain areas of his learning (despite his intelligence). He is overly proud and he would rather not engage at all if it meant that by doing so, It would only portray him as some kind of “failure”. Its my opinion that every child with autism as-well as those children with other communication difficulties, should be able to express themselves with the use of ICT, by way of having regular access to a computer. Now, I’m not stating we should give up, stop encouraging them to engage with written work, not at all! I’m just stating that expression is important especially for non-verbal children like those whom Joanne teaches.

 Here’s the wonderful creations of art, that will feature on the Autism and Art page.

Spiderman, By: Thomas Age: 9 

Mr Men, By: Liam Age: 6 

Thomas the tank engine By: Ethan Age: 5

Worms By: Jacob Age: 4 

Wow, I think they are simply wonderful!

 Joanne was kind enough to share the resources that herself and the teaching team regularly use with the children in the unit. All resources are ICT packages that are used to create  different types of art. What is so awesome about these resources, are… amazingly all are “FREE!” meaning you can use these with your child at home.

Tux paint: A great piece of free computer software for kids.

Sumo paint: A free piece of software introduced to Joanne by one of her pupils. Sumo paint has a complicated yet detailed set of features. Greater colour and texture options, fine detailing, filters, layers, and effects. Here you will be presented with endless possibilities.

Nga Kids: Interactive art you can make online. The National Gallery Of Art’s great range of resources enables you to create your own classic masterpieces.

Art pad: An online canvas with basic tools, its appeal to it’s users is that you can re-play you’re painting to watch your creation take shape; you can also email a finished painting.

Cbeebies: Cbeebies have a fantastic selection of activities with characters that appeal to Joanne’s pupils’ interests. Programmes such as Mr maker and Get Squiggling, have magic paint-box activities.

Help kidz learn: Free online games from the guys at inclusive technology with its own creative section.

Create Comics: Create your own comic strip Joanna’s pupils like Garfield, DR Who and Marvel comics.

Audactiy: a piece of kit that can be used to record voices, sound effects, music etc… and can also be used in developing resources. (Free downloads)

Having obtained these from Joanne, I discovered there was only one or two I have used before (Cbeebies, Help Kidz Learn). So, I tried the rest with both Little man and Alice.

Little man enjoys art on a much greater scale when It’s created with the use of a computer. He loved Sumo Paint and has used it for the last three days.

Alice is very creative and like me she has a passion for Art. Though she loves the more practical aspects of art, she also had great fun with this.

I love the comic strips and find the software an invaluable tool for children with autism. These comics can be used to build social stories together which your child. The Comic strips you make, can also be used to help a child with autism to communicate perspectives, feelings and more. All this while remaining fun and creative.

 A massive thank you to Joanne and her wonderful pupils at Evergreen Primary school’s unit for children with autism. Check out the Class website by Clicking HERE  (please note… there is also a special members only section for parents of the pupils whom attend the unit).

Disclaimer: Please note that the above images are the property of Evergreen Primary school and should not be copied without the permission of its owner. The images are subject to copyrite and all terms apply. 

If you are interested in the story or want to find out more, then please leave your details, and I’ll be sure that Joanne gets them.

Thanks Claire-Louise

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