Yattar Yattar March-April 2014 small

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Advice

Bleeping Marvellous!

video-game-kid

When we were children, we used to gather around a Rubik’s Cube or hop around the streets on a pogo stick until dark. Now, I’m not trying to recreate another Hovis advert but I remember life being good. Then we discovered Space Invaders and life was ace!

My eight-year-old has just had his own electronic epiphany – an inexplicably confusing game that looks a bit like digital Lego and goes by the name of Minecraft. As far as I can work out, your character wanders around, constructing and destructing things. Oh and there’s a monstery thing too… I think.

I wonder whether my complete bewilderment is how my parents felt when Donkey Kong and Tetris arrived on the scene. Maybe not – I seem to remember that the 80s golden age of gaming was more light-hearted and tame than it is now. We saved princesses from rampaging apes, helped frogs cross busy roads, and navigated mazes whilst eating dots – wagawagawaga-ing as we went!

Today’s video games seem to be solely about rage and destruction, which is why I  limit my son’s internet access and would never let him play Call of Duty or that one where you go around stealing cars. However, I’m not immune to outbursts of rage myself. I was trying to explain the 90s Gameboy phenomenon to the guy at Currys and he stopped me by saying, ‘Oh.  Yeah, I wasn’t born then.’

 Now I understand why they say video games make people violent!

 

Bleeping Marvellous!

video-game-kid

When we were children, we used to gather around a Rubik’s Cube or hop around the streets on a pogo stick until dark. Now, I’m not trying to recreate another Hovis advert but I remember life being good. Then we discovered Space Invaders and life was ace!

My eight-year-old has just had his own electronic epiphany – an inexplicably confusing game that looks a bit like digital Lego and goes by the name of Minecraft. As far as I can work out, your character wanders around, constructing and destructing things. Oh and there’s a monstery thing too… I think.

I wonder whether my complete bewilderment is how my parents felt when Donkey Kong and Tetris arrived on the scene. Maybe not – I seem to remember that the 80s golden age of gaming was more light-hearted and tame than it is now. We saved princesses from rampaging apes, helped frogs cross busy roads, and navigated mazes whilst eating dots – wagawagawaga-ing as we went!

Today’s video games seem to be solely about rage and destruction, which is why I  limit my son’s internet access and would never let him play Call of Duty or that one where you go around stealing cars. However, I’m not immune to outbursts of rage myself. I was trying to explain the 90s Gameboy phenomenon to the guy at Currys and he stopped me by saying, ‘Oh.  Yeah, I wasn’t born then.’

 Now I understand why they say video games make people violent!

 

Kids' Books

The Princess and the Wizard
Julia Donaldson

The Princess and the Wizard

‘The princess may try seven times to escape, by changing her colour and changing her shape.’ It’s Princess Eliza’s birthday, but instead of celebrating with her friends, she’s trying to outwit a wicked wizard. Following the clues, Eliza changes into a blue fish, a yellow chick, and a red fox but is still under his spell. Will this plucky princess be able to outwit the sorcerer and escape back to the palace in time for her party?

This illustrated edition of Julia Donaldson’s charming book uses simple repetition to engage the reader, and its sparkle and glitter is guaranteed to appeal to the most girly of little girls! Touching on basic maths, days of the week and colours, it’s not as scary as it sounds and is a bookshelf ‘must’! ****

Demon Dentist
David Walliams

Demon Dentist

Children are putting their teeth under their pillows at night, confident that the tooth fairy will leave them a nice monetary gift. Imagine their horror when they wake up to, not a shiny pound coin, but a dead slug, a live spider, hundreds of earwigs or, horror of horrors, an old man’s rancid toenail! Evil is afoot (literally) but who, or what, is responsible for these dastardly deeds?

Walliams has written a somewhat sinister, Dahl-esque tale covering a swathe of mature themes including poverty, illness and death. This is unusual, considering it’s aimed at eight to ten-year-olds, and it ends on quite a sad note, which is also a break from the norm. There are some funny lines and humorous situations but I hated it. However, my nine-year-old loved it so I guess yours will too! **

Choosing Crumble
Michael Rosen

Choosing Crumble

When Terri-Lee visits a pet shop to choose a dog, it’s unclear exactly who is choosing who! Crumble isn’t any ordinary dog and it doesn’t take him long to make it clear that he has very specific expectations of his new owner. His tick list includes; how many walks will you take me on? Do you like to dance? Will you tickle me? He also makes it clear that he will not answer to any inappropriate names! Can our heroine persuade Crumble that she is the perfect owner for him and will there be a happy ever after?

This is a lovely story, perfect for reading aloud to your little ones. The illustrations are extremely cute and the storyline thought provoking and very funny. A word of warning – your child will want a dog after reading this! ***

Five Minutes' Peace
Jill Murphy

Five Minutes Peace

Mrs Large, a kindly but harassed elephant, adores her children but needs some peace and quiet, if only for five minutes. She runs herself a lovely, relaxing bubble bath and takes a tray of tasty treats into the bathroom. However, with her cheeky elephant brood running riot, chaos follows her all the way from the kitchen to the bath and back again! Will she get a break from the hustle and bustle of kids at play or will her cheeky family completely invade the bathroom?

With a humour that appeals to both adults and children, Five Minutes’ Peace is a warm, funny story that mums (and dads) will find very familiar. This special edition of a modern picture-book classic is illustrated beautifully and its simple yet effective text will appeal to pre-schoolers and their older siblings! ***

 
 

Learning a Musical Instrument

girl-singing

The voice is an instrument that we’re all born with and is completely unique to each person. Whatever your singing skill might be, the voice can be nurtured, trained and developed. With five tuition centres across north Wales, North Wales Music Tuition Charity (NWMTC), are the people to talk to about music lessons. After a few lessons, learners can show off their skills at one of the regular concert opportunities offered by NWMTC that are open to all levels and ages.

NWMTC also offers lessons in many other instruments, including drumkit lessons. The centres can now lessons from six years old right up to advanced adults and tutors can guide pupils through all grades, right up to diploma level. Music is for everyone and with the care and skills of NWMTC, you too can learn an instrument.

The benefits of learning an instrument are well researched, particularly for children. As well as developing a valuable musical talent, benefits include improved study skills, focus, brain function and even self-esteem. Music lessons can even help to improve maths skills in children. Music in general has also been shown to soothe and give peace of mind to people of all ages. Classical music can even lower blood pressure and relieve stress in adults!

North Wales Music Tuition Centre offer lessons for both children and adults of all ages and abilities in keyboards, strings, woodwind, brass, percussion and music theory. They have centres in Abergele, Colwyn Bay, Rhuddlan, Queensferry and Wrexham. To find out more visit www.northwalesmusictuition.co.uk or call 0845 310 5374. 

 

Learning Brass Instruments

Brass instruments are a great choice for children. They’re inexpensive compared to many other instruments, are commonly taught in schools and lend themselves well to group lessons and play. While it is sometimes recommended that a child waits until they have lost their front baby teeth and their adult teeth have grown, most children can start before this happens – playing a brass instrument without front teeth can be a challenge, but it certainly isn’t impossible!

While there are many other brass instruments around, the trumpet, cornet, French horn, trombone, euphonium and tuba are the most common, and are often found in school bands and orchestras. They are also the instruments that make up most brass bands.

Trumpet or Cornet

Trumpets and cornets are very similar and often play the same part in brass bands. The main difference between the two is that the cornet’s slightly different shape gives it a more mellow tone. Trumpets and cornets are relatively low priced, are easy for children to carry around, and are suitable for most children at age 10, though some may be able to start earlier. The instruments are the most popular in the brass family, so there can be a lot of competition to play in bands. It’s also worth keeping in mind that the mouth shape used to play a cornet or trumpet is different to that needed to play other brass instruments, which can make it more difficult to switch further down the line.

French Horn

French horns are the only brass instrument where the left hand is used to operate the valves rather than the right. Despite this distinction, most players start with a different instrument before moving on to the French horn.

Trombone

Trombones are often used not only in brass bands, but also as part of jazz ensembles. They are the only brass instrument to use a sliding mechanism rather than valves, which can make it a difficult instrument to learn, and smaller children with shorter arms may struggle. Still, the relative rarity of trombone players means that any child that learns the trombone will never be short of opportunities to play.

Tuba and Euphonium

The tuba is the largest and lowest pitched brass instrument. Its large size means that it can be difficult to transport and its weight can make it difficult for small children to play. However, there are very few players around, which means there are plenty of opportunities for anyone who perseveres with it. Euphoniums are a lot like a smaller, higher pitched version of the tuba. Many children may find it easier to start with a euphonium before moving on to a tuba, though there are still plenty of opportunities should they want to stick with the euphonium.

For advice about buying a brass instrument for your child contact Pianos Cymru on 01766 515292 or Jones Pianos of Chester on 01244 675999.

 
 

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