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Oct 2014

Q&A with Dr Miriam Stoppard

Any parent will tell you that bringing up a family is hard work, but they’ll also say it’s immensely rewarding. It’s sometimes hard to know if what you are doing is right, especially as your child develops and grows. We asked parenting guru Dr Miriam Stoppard to answer a few of your questions.

Miriam Blog 2

Question: My one year old baby is getting quite good at using his hands, he can even try to put one block on top of the other but doesn’t always. Are there any special games I can play with him to develop hand skills?

Answer: I’m sure your little boy has gone through the pick up and drop down phase but if not sorting shapes to fit in holes is a good wooden toy. Your baby now will be throwing things deliberately so play with a soft ball together. Encourage him to try to hold on to two blocks in one of his hands.

What can you do to help?
To give him practice holding more than one block, keep putting two into one of his hands. And keep on helping him to build block towers. Encourage him to eat more of his food with a spoon and give lots of praise.

Give him two blocks to hold
To encourage a grown up grip let him get used to the sensation of having more than one block to hold on to although he’ll still continue to drop one or both. Play with any toy where pieces go inside each other.

Encourage the finger-thumb grip
This grip is the most sophisticated hand skill your child will ever learn. It’s a pre-writing skill and a skill needed to play a musical instrument. Encourage him by putting peas, sweetcorn, raisins on his high chair table so that he can use his thumb and forefinger to pick them up precisely.


Question: My little girl of 19 months is babbling away. She only has single words though and can’t put two words together. I’d like to help her with her talking as I know she’s dying to communicate.

Answer: Your toddler’s speech will become more and more complex and sophisticated. She may have a vocabulary of 30 words and starts to ask simple questions, such as “Where gone?” and give one- or two-word answers. “There.” In fact, she will soon use many two-word combinations. Then she’ll add to her vocabulary possessives, “mine” and negatives, “can’t”.

She’s learning the rhythm of conversing so your toddler waits and takes her turn at speaking. She’s becoming cooperative in communicating. She uses language in different situations – to get something, to tell about something, to relate to others. Her speech, however, may be indistinct because of poor muscle coordination. She may say “tebbair” instead of “teddy bear”.

What can you do to help?
Start to use adjective whenever you can. The first are usually opposites “good”, “bad”; “nice”, “nasty”; “hot”, “cold”. Couple them with nouns “cold milk”, “nice girl”, “good teddy”, especially when you’re describing food, people and toys – your toddler’s favourite subjects.
Use adverbs, too, such as “here” and “where”. Emphasise all verbs, and add actions to promote understanding.

Prepositions are understood long before your toddler uses them, but always stress them and show them what you mean. Always indicate where “under”, “on top of”, and “behind” are.

Language acquisition isn’t smooth, it stops and starts, so follow your toddler’s lead and don’t press. Don’t compare your child with anyone else; language is learned at different rates by different children.

Posted in First Years

Sunflowers by Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890)


Oct 2014

The fourth in Galt’s Mini Masterpiece series is The Sunflowers by Vincent Van Gogh.


Sunflowers by Vincent van Gogh

The Sunflowers, by the famous Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh, is special because it was painted during a rare optimistic time in the painter’s life (those who have studied Van Gogh at school may know that he wasn’t always the happiest of chaps!). Perhaps this is why Sunflowers was his favourite painting.

Did you know that The Sunflowers by Vincent van Gogh, on display in the Natural Gallery, is in fact one of five sunflower paintings by this famous artist? The artists created the series of paintings for his friend and fellow artist Paul Gauguin as a sign of friendship and welcome when they moved to the South of France together. Van Gogh created the artwork to decorate his friend’s room.

Create your own version of The Sunflowers

Step 1: To start, download the Sunflowers template from the Galt Activity Zone.


Step 2: If you look at the Sunflowers painting by Vincent Van Gogh, you’ll see that he uses lots of different tones of yellow and orange. To start your painting, use Galt Chunky Pens and Paintastics to create all different shades for the petals of the sunflowers. You can also use different tones of green and blue to shade the stems and the leaves.

photo 3

Step 3: Bring your painting to life by adding a tiny amount of brown paint to your orange and yellow Poster Paints and colouring in the side of the sunflowers. This will make it look like the sun is shining on the petals, leaving the other side in the shade.

Step 4: Add a line of brown paint along the same side of the vase. This will magically give it a curve and make it look 3D!

Step 5: Using your black or brownPaintastic brush, draw along the lines of the painting. This will frame the picture and make the individual flowers really stand out. Don’t forget to paint the table! We’ve chosen a bright green to compliment the colour of the leaves.

Finally, using a darker shade of green, paint the shadow of the sunflower vase on the table and voila – a bright and beautiful painting that’s perfect for decorating your bedroom!


Recreate The Sunflowers and get a FREE Greetings Card!

Why not follow in Van Gogh’s footsteps and give your Sunflower painting to your best friend as a sign of friendship? Everyone who enters will received a FREE greetings card from our friends at Snapfish, so you can send your masterpiece to your friends or family.

Snapfish and Logo

We asked a few friends to share their versions of The Sunflowers with us, which we hope gives you some great creative ideas for painting your own version!FINAL HIGH RES

These truly wonderful paintings are from The Brick CastleFamily BudgetingKid GL LovesJennifer’s Little WorldYou Baby Me MummyThe Gingerbread HouseSerenity You and Over 40 and a Mum of One.

A very big well done to all the talented artists that have shared their Mini Masterpieces with us! We’ve been so impressed with all the different designs.

 WIN a Big Galt Arts and Crafts Bundle!

In addition to receiving a FREE Snapfish greetings card, everyone who shares their Mini Masterpiece with us will be in the running to win a great big bundle of Galt arts and crafts goodies!

Prize Bundle

To enter, simply share your #MiniMasterpiece with us by tweeting a picture to @GaltToys or posting your picture on our Galt Toys Facebook wall. The competition closes on Friday 28th November at 12pm.

Please ensure that activities are completed under adult supervision and all instructions and warnings on Galt products used are read and followed.  Always protect clothing and the work area.
Posted in Art and Craft



Oct 2014

Q&A with Dr Miriam Stoppard

Any parent will tell you that bringing up a family is hard work, but they’ll also say it’s immensely rewarding. It’s sometimes hard to know if what you are doing is right, especially as your child develops and grows. We asked parenting guru Dr Miriam Stoppard to answer a few of your questions.

Dr Miriam Stoppard

Question: My baby is nearly five months old and she seems to be taking more interest in the world around her. I’d love to know the kind of things I can do to introduce her to wider experiences.

Answer: At five months your baby will have full control of her head. Even when she’s pulled into a sitting position from lying flat, or when she rocks to and fro, her head doesn’t lag.

What can you do to help?

In order for your baby to learn to walk and even stand up, her head must be entirely stable. To help her progress properly, give her plenty of rocking exercises like moving her gently from side to side and forwards and backwards. Show her how to raise her arms above her head so she learns to be stable in various positons.

Play for stabilising her head

Rock your baby frequently. This will give her plenty of practice in keeping her head stable. You can dance gently around the room with her or swing her in your arms. Sit on the floor with her, legs spread apart, and roll a large, soft ball to her so she has to bend to catch it. Also, with a toy bird show how a bird flies with your arms spread wide. Gently coax her to imitate you.


Question: My little boy of 10 months loves to stand with our help and take his weight on his legs. I’m wondering how I can encourage him to stand on his own and take his first step.

Answer: Your baby is discovering the thrill of being mobile and moving forward on his hands and knees. Encourage him to pull himself up on furniture and show him how to change from sitting to lying and vice versa. If you do this his lateral trunk muscles will get stronger so that he can begin to twist his trunk around while he sits.

What can you do to help?

Offer your fingers so he’ll be encouraged to grab them and pull himself up to sit and stand. He’ll be amazed and delighted at his prowess. Praise him well. To help him learn stepping while he’s standing up, bend one of his knees and lift his foot from the floor. When he does it, tell him “Clever boy”. To make him twist, place a toy behind his back. Support him as he twists around.

Encourage him to crawl to you

Put your baby on his hands and knees and sit a short distance away. He’ll come to you if you hold out your arms, call his name, or offer a brightly coloured toy. Once he gets on his feet use a stable tray of blocks on wheels to help him take his first steps.

As you probably know we’ve launched a range of toys with Dr Miriam Stoppard for babies and toddlers. The Dr Miriam @ Galt range comprises of 21 wooden, plastic and soft toys all designed to encourage learning through play. Each toy has engaging features for little hands and minds to explore. The range includes traditional favourites such as a jigsaw, rattle, soft books, soft toys, building blocks, a baby walker, activity centre, stacking rings, pull-along-puppy and a shape sorter among others.

Posted in Childhood development, Children’s Toys, First Years, James Galt