Category: Services

The magic of Julia Donaldson on ShowMax

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Julia Donaldon on ShowMaxIt was on a day when the kids were finally down for their midday nap. I sat down on the couch for a little break and found myself watching what was showing on the kid’s channel. It was The Gruffalo animation by Julia Donaldson, and it was brilliant. I spent the  time relaxing on the couch and listening to the voice of narrator Helena Bonham Carter as she followed a clever little mouse through the woods. I’m sure you have also found yourself enjoying animated shows even more than your kids, and get so involved you have to find out what happens in the end! Rest assured the little mouse does very well to escape the Gruffalo, and his daughter in the sequel.

Since then I enjoy reading Julia Donaldson’s books and watching the animated shows with the kids on ShowMax. Julia is a talented writer and she collaborated with illustrator Axel Scheffler for the books featured below. Together they have created stories which bring out various emotions and make you engage with the characters. The animations are available online with subscription service ShowMax, and can be viewed from any device and downloaded to watch anywhere. I recommend watching these shows with your children for the first time. The characters in The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child can be a little scary, my kids were very worried for the witch as she was chased through the clouds in Room on the Broom, and sad that Stick Man had lost is family and bitten by the dog. You may feel sad, happy, and even scared, and fall in love with the animation as go on a journey through the woods, over meadows and even out to sea.

The Gruffalo

Julia Donaldon's The Gruffalo on ShowMaxThere is a mouse who takes a walk through the deep dark woods. He meets a fox, an owl and a snake who would rather eat him, than have a nut for their tea. This little mouse outsmarts them with a tale of a Gruffalo, who turns out to be real. After convincing the Gruffalo that he is not little at all, but a Big Bad Mouse, he finally gets to enjoy his nut for his tea. Daddy also enjoys reading this book, but he doesn’t do the voices as well as mommy does. He knows it off by heart and whenever there is talk of a mouse, he recites the lines and how the Gruffalo has purple prickles all over his back! This book is a must read and to watch now on ShowMax.

The Gruffalo’s Child

Julia Donaldon's The Gruffalo's Child on ShowMaxThe sequel to The Gruffalo, this is the tale of the little girl Gruffalo who ventures out of her cave one night looking for adventure, ignoring her father’s warning about the Big Bad Mouse that lives in the woods. The little Gruffalo meets the same characters as she searches for the mouse through the snow. She finally discovers why her father is afraid of the Big Bad Mouse and returns home a little less curious and happier to be safe with him. The Gruffalo’s Child – watch now.

Room on the Broom

Julia Donaldon's Room on the Broom on ShowMax

Possibly my favourite of the four books, Room on the Broom has all the characters you could want. There is a friendly witch, a jealous cat, a keen dog, a green bird, a clean frog and even a dragon. The witch welcomes her new friends on to her broom, and they do something very special for her in return. You must also see the broom at the end! Room on the Broom – watch now.

Stick Man

Julia Donaldon's Stick Man on ShowMax

This is Stick Man. Stick Man loves his family and jogging in the morning, but not everyone recognises him as Stick Man. He ends up on a grand adventure as he tries his best to get home to his stick family in time for Christmas. It’s not an easy journey, and my kids were worried about him so I needed to be there to reassure them that it would all be ok. Santa Clause also makes a guest appearance. The award-winning film is an African success story as it was brought to life by South African animation company Triggerfish. Stick Man – watch now.

Which is your favourite?

Julia Donaldon on ShowMax

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Helping kids reach their full potential

Helping kids reach their full potential SSISAWhen I read posts about investing in your children, I usually assume it’s to do with a financial plan for education. However, investing in the future of your children also involves their health and well-being. It doesn’t involve money or savings accounts, but has lifelong effects and the best thing you can do for your child. The Sports Science Institute of South Africa (SSISA) is interested in promoting the health and wellness of all South Africans. One of their new areas of interest is how parents can promote the health of their kid’s – particularly physical activity, screen time and sleep. They share their top three recommendations for parents on helping kids reach their full potential. SSISA would also love to hear your success stories about how you get your kids active, put health boundaries on screen time, and make sure they get enough sleep. If you share your stories, you can also stand a chance to win a membership to their Kids on the Move programme. Entry details below.Helping kids reach their full potential SSISA

Moving more

Physical activity plays a vital role in children’s health and well-being, and has a wide range of benefits for not only their physical health – helping to maintain a healthy weight and reduce risk for diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease – but for their mental health as well. Kids who are more physically active have been shown to have better self-esteem; less stress, anxiety and depression; and improved cognitive and academic outcomes.

Physical activity is not just sport and physical education at school, but includes other activities like walking (for example, to school, or on a family outing) and active play. Research consistently shows that children who spend more time outdoors are more physically active, so whenever possible, encourage kids to be out rather than in. The evidence also shows that children who are more active when they are young stay active through childhood and into adolescence, and often into adulthood as well. So it is important to get kids active early, so they can enjoy the benefits later in life as well.

What is recommended

Children who are of school-going age (6-18 years) should be getting at least 1 hour of physical activity every day in order to realise these benefits. This should include activity that is intense enough to get them to sweat and breathe hard, although activity of a lighter intensity is also good for them if it means less time sitting. Younger children (3-6 years) should be active for at least 3 hours per day, and this can be activity of any intensity.

The lure of the screen

In contrast to the benefits of physical activity, lots of time in front of screens has been shown to have a number of negative consequences for kids, which is a sobering thought in this era of ubiquitous screen-based technology. Research shows that kids who spend more time on screens will be more likely to be overweight, and have unhealthy eating behaviours, such as eating less fruit and vegetables, consuming more fast food and fizzy drinks, and skipping breakfast.

Kids with higher levels of screen time are also more likely to score more poorly in things related to their cognitive development and academic performance, including attention, maths scores, reading and language comprehension. High screen time is also associated with a wide range of unpleasant mental health outcomes amongst children and adolescents: increased anxiety, social dysfunction and depression; low self-esteem; school disconnectedness; unfavourable behavioural conduct; and difficulties connecting with parents and peers.

What is recommended

The general limit for daily screen time is not more than 2 hours per day for school-going children, while some recommend not more than 1 hour for preschool children. For children under 2 years, the advice is no screen time at all. Similar to physical activity, screen time behaviours tend to stick from childhood into adolescence and adults, so limiting these behaviours from an early age is essential.

Getting enough z’s

The importance of sleep for the health and well-being of kids is becoming an increasingly hot topic in research, and has been shown to be associated with healthier weight, better emotional regulation, academic achievement, and improved quality of life for youth. Lack of sleep is particularly detrimental to adolescents, and inadequate sleep in this age group has been linked to higher levels of depression, anxiety and pain; low self-esteem, social support and life satisfaction; decreased academic achievement; a greater chance of engaging in future risky behaviour; as well as attention difficulties, withdrawal, tiredness, and aggression. Screen time is a sleep thief – it not only takes up sleep time, but it also displaces behaviours that help with sleep, such as physical activity, and it exposes kids to artificial light that negatively affects their body’s sleep system.

What is recommended

While there are a number of different recommendations for kids’ sleep, the guidelines are generally around 10-13 hours of sleep per night for 3-6 year olds, 9-11 hours for 6-13 year olds, and 8-10 hours for 14-17 year olds.

All of these health behaviours, along with a healthy diet, help to set kids up for a future in which they are physically and mentally health, emotionally and socially adjusted, and prepared to do well at school.

Sports Science Institute of South Africa

The Sports Science Institute of South Africa (SSISA) would love to hear your success stories about how you get your kids active, put health boundaries on screen time, and make sure they get enough sleep. With your permission, these stories will be included in online material that SSISA is putting together, and may be used on their social media platforms, either with your name, or with a pseudonym.

If you would like your story to be included in a lucky draw, please comment below before Monday, 27 February 2017. Your email address will only be used for the lucky draw, and won’t be used with the story. Up for grabs is a one term membership at the Cape Town SSISA Kidz on the Move programme (2 days per week, 4-5pm Mon-Thurs), valued at R1030, which includes an assessment.

For more information about SSISA, visit their website and if you have any questions about what we offer for kids, email kids@ssisa.com.

This post is not sponsored. Information provided by the Sports Science Institute of SA (SSISA). Graphic is my own.

 

Date night at home and a Valentine’s Day gift for under R200

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ShowMaxIs this year going past quickly, or is it just me? It’s already February and that means it is Valentine’s Day coming up very soon. We don’t make a big deal about Valentine’s Day. Well, my husband doesn’t because he isn’t a fan of the commercialisation of the holiday. I, however, like the idea of setting aside a day where you show each other some love in your own special way. As long as both partners are happy and don’t feel pressured by unreasonable expectations of gifts, I think it’s up to each couple to celebrate the occasion how they like.

ShowMaxOnce you have kids though, your expectation of date night is a takeaway and an evening spent on the couch watching anything other than kid’s shows. The takeaway will also mostly likely be cold, as it took you an extra hour to get the kids to sleep as they suspected something was up when you tried, and failed, to shower at 5pm and dress in clean clothes. You don’t mind though, because you would rather be cuddled up at home than have to use your last bit of energy going out or arranging a babysitter. That’s how we feel anyway, and so here is my choice of Valentine’s Day gift for him/her for under R200. A blanket + ShowMax voucher + popcorn + bucket. Add in your favourite drinks, and you have a relaxed Valentine’s Day evening all planned out. If you don’t already know how to set up ShowMax, please read by easy guide on how it works.

ShowMaxNow that you have ShowMax, you need to select your pick of romantic movies and series to watch. Going through all the options, it’s hard to choose just a few of my favourites to share. There is something for everyone, and many of these movies are old favourites. One of the funniest movies is What to Expect When You’re Expecting. It has a fantastic cast who explore the funny side of pregnancy and how life changes when you start a family. If I had to pick just one to watch, that would be it. I may have to debate the movie choice with my hubby, who also likes Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Chasing Mavericks. Have a happy Valentine’s Day cuddling up to your loved one!

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Everything you need to know about ShowMax

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Guide to ShowMax My hubby is into IT and knows his way around computers, devices and the internet. It’s his job. So whenever I need to set anything up, I usually hand it to him and listen to whatever instructions I need to follow once it’s all set to go. He was the one excited when ShowMax announced their launch and signed up to the online subscription service the day it became available. After he explained ShowMax offered series and movies on-demand – without adverts – I was sold on the idea too. Most importantly, for an affordable monthly subscription we could watch the latest international shows, legally (we don’t do illegal downloads and recommend you don’t do either).

When we set up ShowMax, my hubby assured me it would be easy and that I could do it too. He even showed me how to do it myself (so I wouldn’t keep asking him for help, I’m guessing). Here’s my easy guide to using ShowMax and answers to my questions when signing up:

How to get started with ShowMax

ShowMax offers over 20 000 episodes of local and international series and movies for the whole family. Watch online, on-demand at home or on the go, from your smartphone, tablet, laptop or smart TV. Follow these 3 steps to get started:

Step 1: Get a subscription
Step 2: Internet Access
Step 3: Set up your devices

Step 1: Get a subscription

Guide to ShowMax

What’s the cost? R99 per month. Get a free 14 day trial when signing up for recurring billing.

Where do I sign up? You can sign up and subscribe on the ShowMax website.

How do I pay? You are spoilt for choice as ShowMax keep making it easier to sign up. Choose whichever option suits you best and follow the links on their website to buy your vouchers.

  • Credit card: MasterCard and Visa
  • ShowMax vouchers: available at selected Pick n Pay and CNA stores, Game, Makro, HiFi Corp and Incredible Connection stores.
  • Pick n Pay Smart Shopper
  • FNB eBucks vouchers
  • Standard Bank UCount Vouchers
  • ABSA Rewards Vouchers
  • Add to your MWEB account
  • Add to your DStv Account via debit order
  • Add to your Telkom account
  • Add to your Vodacom bill
  • PayPal

Can I cancel? Yes, anytime. There are no fixed contracts or penalties. You will still have access to ShowMax for the remainder of the month that you have paid for.

Step 2: Internet access

Besides your monthly subscription fee, you will need to pay for data. How much you spend will depend on your usage and video quality. ShowMax have created a data usage calculator, so you can work out how much this could cost you. This video shows you have to cap your bandwidth to limit data use under the app settings menu, if needed. You should have a minimum speed of 2 megabits per second though an uncapped 4Mbps connection or faster is recommended for the best experience.

Step 3: Set up your devices

Guide to ShowMaxWhich devices can I use? ShowMax works on laptops (via web browsers), smartphones (via app), tablets, Apple TV (4th Generation), Smart TVs  and via AirPlay. Go to your device’s app store, download and sign in to the ShowMax app.

Can I use ShowMax on multiple devices? Your subscription allows you to watch on 2 devices simultaneously on up to 5 registered devices.

What’s currently showing on ShowMax? If you want to know about more the latest series and movies on ShowMax, please visit and Like their Facebook page.

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Back to school with educational shows on ShowMax

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With much excitement, Paige and Ethan started their new preschool this week. It has been a long holiday for us, especially with moving and all the festive celebrations. So I was all smiles as the kids happily followed their teachers to their classrooms and playground, safe in the knowledge that they would have a blast whilst I had my mornings back to work. Now that the school term has started, we are getting into learning mode and it’s so interesting to watch how quickly they pick up new words and skills. They are getting too big!

As we are back to school, I have chosen my top picks of the many educational TV shows available on ShowMax. ShowMax is an online subscription service that allows you to watch load of movies, series and kids shows from any device as long as you have an internet connection. You can stream or download them, so you can watch them anytime. This comes in handy if your kids have to wait with you for siblings to finish school or extra mural activities.

My top picks from ShowMax:

Monster Maths Squad on ShowMax

Monster Math Squad

Max, Lily and Goo make up the Monster Math Squad who uses their collective math skills to overcome any obstacle they face. The scream screen always surprises Goo when a monster is in need and asks the squad for their help to solve a problem. Language: English.

Why your teacher will love it:

The monster friends are relatable to children as they don’t pretend to be the biggest, bravest or brainiest. They like to work together as a team to solve the problems, and aren’t afraid to ask for help.

Why your kids will love it:

Monsters (but not the scary kind) teach concepts such as numbers, weight and measurements through fun animation and scenes. They will love the bright monster world and helping Max, Lily and Goo solve the problems with the help of a maths monitor. The catchy theme tune will also have mom singing along.

Pirates: Adventures in Art

Pirates: Adventures in Art

Imagine a world of grey. No colour, no art and everything the same. That’s what Queen Conformia wants unless Princess Cleo, Pirate Leonardo and shipmates Fresco and Skelly can stop it. Join the mates, create something great, and sail along with the pirates. Language: English.

Why your teacher will love it:

Aimed at preschool kids, this show explores art through the ages and how the main characters can use their creativity to solve problems during their adventures.

Why your kids will love it:

Colourful characters, singing and a talking gecko will keep them entertained whilst learning about portraits, collage and cubism. Let’s not forget that they are pirates!

Hopla

Hopla on ShowMax

Hip, Hop, Flip and Flop are four rabbits which play along with their friends, learning about colours, shapes and numbers. Set on a white background, these four animated furry friends hop around and take instruction from the narrator. Language: Afrikaans

 Why your teacher will love it:

Kids are taught basic principles of colours, shapes and numbers through the use of flash cards, dance routines and visual references. The plain background allows for the kids to focus on the central characters without distractions. Episodes are 12 minutes each.

Why your kids will love it:

Younger children will love the hopping bunnies, the friendly narrator and the voices of the children who learn along with Hip, Hop, Flip and Flop.

Super Why

Super Why on ShowMax

These super fairytale friends of Storybrook Village have a book club with a difference. Whenever there is a question or a problem, Whyatt calls together his friends to their secret clubhouse, to use their literacy powers to jump into a book to find the answers. Alpha Pig has “Alphabet Power,” Wonder Red has “Word Power,” Princess Presto has “Spelling Power,” Super Why has the “Power to Read,” and Super You has the “Power to Help!”. Language: English.

Why your teacher will love it:

Each story focuses on a popular children’s book, and the Super Readers need to follow along with the storyline to solve the problems. Literacy concepts such as spelling, pronunciation and sentence structure are taught in a fun and inclusive way.

Why your kids will love it:

The kids will love to shout out the answers to our fairytale heroes as they solve the clues with the help of their super powers. With the “Power to Help”, children are encouraged to participate and feel the satisfaction of solving the many problems along the way.

You can stream or download these educational shows on ShowMax for just R99 per month. Sign up for your free 14 day trial now.

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How 1000 days can change a child

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1000 days. This is the length of time from the start of pregnancy to a child’s second birthday. That sounds like (and often feels) like a long time when you are taking care of your family and baby, as they grow to a cute and curious toddler.  Looking back at the 1st 1000 days of both my children, it went so quickly and shaped them into the little people they are today. Ethan is 3 years this month and Paige turns 5 in January.

The quality of care and nutrition you and your child receives during these 1000 days has an important impact on the rest of their lives. I knew that eating right and feeding my child was important, but I didn’t appreciate the full impact it can have on their later development. We are providing our children with the essential building blocks for brain development, healthy growth and a strong immune system. If a child does not receive proper nutrition during these 1000 days, it can cause irreversible damage to their brain development and bodies.

Benefits of nutrition and healthcare:

1st 1000 days and the Cipla FoundationIf you have ever been without a meal for a day, you will know how hard it is to concentrate and what little energy your body has. Hungry children are more likely to have a worse school performance, than learners who have proper meals in the day. This will impact their future work prospects and ability to support their families. Healthier children and adults also place less of a burden on a country’s healthcare system.

Children who get the right nutrition in the 1st 1000 days are:

  • 10x more likely to overcome life threatening childhood diseases
  • More likely to have healthier families of their own
  • More likely to go on to earn 21% more in wages as adults
  • More likely to complete 5 more grades in school

You can start to see from the statistics, the long term impacts and benefits healthy nutrition and healthcare play in those crucial two years.

Ajuga and making a difference:

Accessibility to healthcare is a key issue for pregnant moms and children in South Africa, especially in rural areas. Cipla Foundation recognises these challenges and established the Ajuga initiative which provides fire-resistant structures to local communities. Knowing that these 1st 1000 days are crucial, Cipla ensure that all children at their early childhood development centres receive pre-school education, nutrition and healthcare for at least two years. These children are given a chance to grow up as healthy and caring people, who will become good parents and community members.

1st 1000 days and the Cipla FoundationThese children and caring individuals like Mama Martha at an Ajuga centre in Gugulethu, also need your help. You can show your support for their good work by donating to the Cipla Foundation. From as little as R75, you can contribute to a child’s access to crucial childhood development services. Or educate a child for a whole year for R1080. Be Santa this Christmas, and donate here.

* Research supplied by Cipla Foundation. Find out more here.

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Home from Home and the August Challenge

Home from Home August Challenge by The Mommy CityThis month I am taking part in the Home from Home August Challenge, to raise awareness and funds for this Cape Town based non-profit organisation. The decision to jump all in to their 31 day challenge came after receiving a press release about the work that they do to help care for orphaned and vulnerable children in our local communities. It was a few days after news broke of the Manenberg children who tortured and killed a dog. This story upset me terribly and like many others, questioned how society is failing to protect children who grow up to be violent and cruel. It is my hope that through efforts such as Home from Home, communities will raise children who are loved, and who love.

Home from Home provides support and supervised community-based foster care for orphaned, abused, neglected and vulnerable children in South Africa. In 2005, Jane Payne and Pippa Shaper envisioned a future where orphaned and vulnerable children of South Africa would not have to grow up in institutional children’s homes. This vision led them to found Home from Home, which became one of the first non-profit organisations in South Africa to practice Cluster Foster Care.

They believe that living in a small family unit with a dedicated foster mother or foster parents is the next best place for children who can’t be cared for by their own biological families. The children grow up in a network of small, family homes in their communities where they can retain their culture and grow up speaking their mother-tongue. They have a foster family to support and care for them. The hope is that one day the children will either be reunited with their biological families, or failing that, are provided with the best possible foundation to lead happy, successful lives with the support of the organisation.

The majority of homes are run alongside a community associate, which is either a local community or faith based organisation. These associations ensure community support for the homes. Working with these associates ensures the communities have access to the expertise and resources required to provide a high level of care for their children. Through a network of 34 homes across fifteen communities, they care for over 200 vulnerable children.

So how can you get involved in the August Challenge fundraiser? Set yourself a challenge and get friends, family or colleagues to sponsor you. The challenge can be committing to their wellness programme (which I will be doing), running or cycling everyday or even giving up Facebook for the month! Every cent raised goes towards Home from Home so pledge here. What’s your challenge?

Home from Home August Challenge by The Mommy City