July 21, 2014
by Kylie Gardner

Fridge Sight Word Practice

Fridge Sight Word Practice

Four and a half year old Pebble (never forget the half!) is so desperate to learn to read. We’ve played and learned with letters for a long time now, but I haven’t pushed anything too formal. I believe that play is way more important than anything else at this age. Now, though, it’s hard to ignore the fact that Pebble is just ready to learn more. There’s no reason why we can’t play with words!

It doesn’t get much simpler than this game and Pebble loves it! Grab a whiteboard marker and an old sock. Write some sight words on the fridge, pop the sock on your child’s hand and ask them to have a go at reading the words. Start with two or three words, and tell them the words the first time you play. If they can read a word, then they can erase it using their sock eraser. Pebble was giggling as she jumped from side to side, swiping words faster and faster. She quickly figured out that it’s easiest to wipe off the repeating words first, then attack a different word. As she learns more words we’ll add those to the routine. That’s your sight word practice done!

Fridge Sight Word Practice

We have a white fridge – I haven’t tried this on stainless steel but the internet tells me that you can. Test out a small area on either a white or stainless steel fridge before you go nuts covering it with words. Some dry erase markers are more stubborn to wipe off than others. I found a basic glass cleaner (like Windex) cleaned the fridge up easily afterwards. You can buy dry erase paint (whiteboard paint), if you’re really keen, and choose somewhere in your house to set up a whiteboard wall. Or use blackboard paint or a small blackboard. We have a mini whiteboard and a mini blackboard, but there’s something about standing up and moving that makes this activity extra fun for kids.

Why learn sight words? Sight words (or high frequency words) are the most commonly used words, and often are words that can not be decoded by sounding out the letters. When children learn to recognise these words instantly, by sight, it makes it much easier for them to read simple books. I use the Magic 100 Word list (not sponsored) and have also used the Dolch and Oxford word lists.

Other ways to use your fridge: You could also use this same activity to practice other things, like letters or numbers.

Fridge Sight Word Practice

Looking for more sight word practice ideas? Try these:


July 14, 2014
by Kylie Gardner

Hidden Towers – A Lego Game


I am absolutely soaking up these school holidays. I love my job very much but these long, lazy days with no where to rush to and no lunches to pack are just delicious. Today I even had an afternoon nap while Rocky slept and Pebble watched a movie. A nap!

This past week we’ve had some catch ups with friends, a mummy-daughter day while Rocky had a day with Grandma, we’ve played at the park and stayed in our PJs all day.

Now reality is starting to seep back in and I’m thinking about the classroom again and what I need to get ready for the new term. Term 3! Where has that time gone? This group of five year olds is coming along in leaps and bounds – that’s one of the awesome things about teaching this age group. They grow and learn right before your eyes!

Last term I taught the class a game using unifix cubes. It’s a very noisy game involving lots of talking! It’s lots of fun and with lots of learning too. I call it “Hidden Towers” and it’s all about spatial awareness, location, position and giving and following directions.

Today Pebble and I had a go at playing it using lego bricks (with a little bit of “help” from Rocky) and she had fun with it. I love that this game can be adapted to be easier or harder depending on the kids that are playing. More about that in a minute, for now this is how to play:

Hidden Towers – A Lego Game


Age: 4 – 6 (refer adaptations below for other age groups)

Players: 2

You will need:

Six lego bricks (or any coloured blocks that easily stack) per player, in exactly the same colours and sizes.
A barrier (eg. a large, hard cover picture book)

How to play:

Player 1 creates a tower or structure using the lego bricks without showing Player 2.
Keeping the tower hidden (we used a picture book as a barrier), Player 1 describes their tower to Player 2.
Player 2 follows the directions until the tower is complete.
Both players reveal their towers – are they the same? The should be! If not, try again.


  • For younger children use less blocks.
  • For older children use more blocks in a greater range of shapes and sizes.
  • To increase the difficulty set a time limit or a limited number of moves to achieve the matching tower (eg. six directions).

We played a simple version today, with just six blocks and a singular column tower. As Pebble gets used to the game we’ll introduce trickier structures and more bricks. And perhaps play at the table instead of on the floor, to avoid the toddler interference!

What games do your kids like to play with lego?


July 7, 2014
by Kylie Gardner

Thai Coconut Chicken Soup

When I was in my twenties I had a love affair with Thai food. I fell head over heels for the delicate balance of flavours. Not just eating Thai food- I loved to cook it. I would visit our pokey little Asian grocery, over powered by strange smells and fascinated by all the bottles and jars. I’d load up with unreasonably cheap meat, herbs and veg, dreaming of the culinary creations to come.

I don’t make Thai nearly as often these days. Some might argue that kids can eat bold flavours and spices, and I don’t disagree with them. I’ve just been very slow to offer them to my already quite fussy kiddos. Perhaps Thai food will unlock the secret to their taste buds!

Our family dinner table sees a lot of meat and three veg, casseroles, pastas…. meat and three veg. Did I say that already? I do look forward to Friday nights though. For some reason I always seem to need a special meal on a Friday night. Something that says “Hello Weekend! Pleased to see you!”. It might be homemade gourmet pizzas or a rich pasta dish that we enjoy with a glass of wine (not the kids, obvs!). Lately, though, I’ve been firing up my wok and getting back to that fresh, hot, spicy, sour, sweet and delicate Thai flavour.

Last week I made these spicy chicken noodles and they really hit the spot. I love a big bowl of steaming noodles with a kick to them. This week I reinvented an old favourite. Years ago I used to make a rich, creamy Tom Ka Gai (Thai Chicken Soup) almost weekly. It was slightly sour at the back of the throat with a big punch of lime. Delish! I wanted to find that flavour again but ease up on the creaminess while bulking up the veg content. This is what I came up with.

Thai Coconut Chicken Soup

Serves 4


500g chicken breast
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
2cm knob of ginger, crushed
1 stalk of lemongrass, bashed but left whole
5 kaffir lime leaves, torn
1 small red capsicum, thinly sliced
1 carrot, grated
2 bok choy, thinly sliced
5 button mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 small zucchini, thinly sliced
2 large red chillies, thinly sliced (optional)
1.25 litres of chicken stock
270ml coconut milk
4 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon palm sugar
the juice and zest from 1 lime
fresh coriander leaves


  • Heat the coconut oil in a large, heavy saucepan. Fry off the garlic and ginger until fragrant, then add in the lemongrass, lime leaves and vegetables and cook until just starting to soften.
  • Pour in the stock, coconut milk, fish sauce, soy sauce and palm sugar and bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer.
  • Throw in the chicken breasts and simmer until just cooked through, approximately 15 minutes, depending on the size of the breasts.
  • Add in the lime juice and zest, taste and adjust seasonings.
  • Remove the chicken breasts, shred the meat and return it to the pot.
    Serve with fresh coriander leaves.
  • This soup is packed full of flavour, but is still mild enough to offer to kids. The two chillies I used had hardly any heat, however if you’re concerned about the chilli just leave it out.

    What kind of food do you love to cook? Or do you prefer to dial for your food?


June 30, 2014
by Kylie Gardner

Finding My Style – From the Inside Out

Finding My Style - From the Inside Out

Now for another update on how I’m going with the Make It Look Easy girls, Nat and Tatum. You can catch up on my previous posts here:

In the past month I’ve been focusing a lot more on my health, with amazing support from Tatum, my personal health coach. Like many women in my age and stage of life I’m battling with a little extra weight around the middle. To be honest, I’ve always battled the bulge a little, I’ve tried every diet that ever was. Seriously. I’ve jumped on every dieting bandwagon that was rolling past. You know what? Diets. Don’t. Work. Yes, you lose weight. But the weight ALWAYS comes back. I’m so very over that game. It’s time for something new.

Over to Make It Look Easy and Tatum. When Nat and Tatum visited me as a part of the MILE High First Class Personal Package Tatum went through my pantry and helped me figure out what might help keep me healthy and which stuff needed rethinking and replacing with an alternative. She also asked me about what kinds of meals we’re eating, which foods my kids like, what exercise I am able to fit in and enjoy and what my health goals are. Then Tatum went away and worked her magic and came back to me with a very individual plan. We keep in regular contact about how I’m going and adjust the plan as we need to.

I’m taking things very slowly. I don’t want to crash diet, lose 15kg and then gain it all back again. I’m doing this very simple thing called eating healthy and exercising. No food is off limits, but I’m much more conscious of what I’m eating and why I’m eating it. Emotional eating is a big problem for me (tell me I’m not alone, right?!). I’m trying hard to stop that, and …. mostly… I’m succeeding. I’m still human. And that’s ok.

The best part for me is that I’m really enjoying exercise again. I’m actually looking forward to it some days, and get really disappointed if I can’t fit it in. Sure, there are days where it’s really hard to get going, but mostly I just want to move my body and feel that strength, tone, and energy improve every time. I always feel AWESOME after a good workout and it helps to keep me focused on eating right for the rest of the day.

Focusing more on my insides has also helped me enjoy the outside more. I’m feeling GREAT in clothes that I used to feel uncomfortable in and I’m stepping outside my fashion comfort zone more and more. I can’t wait to share more with you about that and how Nat has transformed the way I get dressed every day.

Here’s a few things I’ve learned about improving my health and fitness, without dieting. I hope they help you too.

How to Stop Dieting and Get Healthy!

  • Avoid the scales. They just mess with your head.
  • Find healthy foods that you LOVE and can’t wait to eat. Fill up on those and listen to your tongue and tummy sing. My favourites at the moment are juicy nashi pears, spicy tuna salad (I ate this one ten days straight! YUM!), healthy banana muffins and sweet herbal tea. You can find more yummy recipes from Make It Look Easy on Pinterest.
  • Stop. Think. Then eat. One of my biggest hurdles is stopping to think about whether I’m hungry or really need that extra row of chocolate before I eat it. One way that I’ve overcome this is to keep a photo journal of my food. You don’t even have to write it down, just snap a pic before you eat. It helps me to listen to what my body needs.
  • Keep busy. This might sound ridiculous, because most of us are already super busy. But sometimes food finds it’s way into my hands when I’m procrastinating about one of the 157 things I should be doing. Make a list of stuff that needs doing or that you want to do and instead of reaching for the fridge, go a get something done. Not only will you avoid eating unnecessarily but you’ll get stuff crossed of your list and feel good for it. I love a good session of list completion.
  • Move more. This was really hard for me to start doing. I have gone from doing NO exercise to exercising at least three times a week. Give yourself two weeks to get into it. It will be hard at first but soon you’ll be loving it. Or at the very least you’ll be loving how it makes you feel. Some of the ways that I’ve found ways to move more are going for a walk with the kids, using our much neglected treadmill, trying out a few classes at the local gym and following along with exercise videos on You Tube. My aim is to get huffy puffy. If I’m not huffing and puffing then I push harder until I am.
  • Be kind to yourself. I’ve spent many years being really, really good at beating myself up. This might sound naff, but lately when I hear that mean, nasty voice as I walk past the mirror, I stop and find something positive to tell myself instead. It feels a bit silly at first but I’m happy to say that it’s coming more naturally.

Would you like to join the Make It Look Easy club and start feeling and looking good? For just $9.95 per month you’ll get the latest MILE ebook delivery straight to your inbox, packed full of all you need to know about fashion, health and making it look easy. You’ll also get access to the closed MILE Facebook Group where you’ll find the most welcoming group of women to chat fashion, health, life and brioche tummies. It’s all completely private, only members can see the messages posted there. I can’t recommend this enough, it’s just the best.

What’s your favourite way to get moving and stay fit?

June 23, 2014
by Kylie Gardner

Balloon Squishies

Balloon Squishies

We’ve been having some cold, wet, loooong days lately. We love getting outside and splashing in puddles, but there’s only so much washing I can cope with before I start losing. my. mind. I am a big fan of finding stuff to make and do using the things lying around the house and that takes very little effort, and this week has been no exception. I’ve always got a bag of balloons in the cupboard because balloons = awesome. Play dough is another staple play ingredient in this house. Put em together and you get balloon squishies!

These little guys and gals are fun to squish and squeeze, to add to pretend play or to role play different emotions with kids. Pebble decorated her own balloon squishies and named them after everyone in our family. To make your own just push some play dough inside a balloon, tie a knot and draw on a face with a sharpie. Instant fun!

Tip: to get the balloon into the play dough make several small, grape sized balls of dough the stretch out the balloon using two hands while your little person throws the dough into the balloon. I managed to fill a few on my own too, using my index fingers to stretch out the balloon and my other fingers to grab the dough and push it into the balloon. Yep, I was impressed with me too.

Want more ideas for preschoolers? Check out the Three to Five: Playful Preschool ebook, it’s packed full of fun stuff to do.

What would you use these balloon squishies for?

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