08
Nov

Bon Appetit – Our Tactile Talking Menus Help You Sound Things Out

You know we all experience the world through our five main senses, and that everyone experiences it slightly differently, and you’ve almost certainly come across the saying “a picture paints a thousand words”. Did you know, however, that over 50% of the cortex, the surface of our brains, is dedicated to processing the visual signals around us?

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31
Oct

Autumn Celebrations: Day of the Dead, Diwali and Halloween

There can be a tendency to think of the end of October and the start of November as ever so slightly dreary. The September excitement of going to school for the first time, or going back to school or college to start a new year, has usually worn off a little.

In many countries where the clocks are put back an hour, the nights start “drawing in”, and the weather often starts to turn a little damp and chilly. And it seems to be a long, long way to Christmas….At this time of year, however, there are several major festivals to help to distract us from the weather and the dark.  

Hallowe’en

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06
Oct

Mantralingua Guest Post - Gill Aitchison (Mungo Makes New Friends)

Remember Mungo? He's been having a truly lovely summer, in his home in Bonnie Scotland. This blog post is gratefully received from Gill Aitchison (author of Mungo Makes New Friends). All appropriate permissions have been obtained to use the photographs - thank you very much to the schools concerned. 
 
Jill Newton (illustrator) and I (author) met for the first time in Scotland last week...or so we thought. In fact there was already a connection, we discovered that we had danced together at a mutual friends' Scottish wedding ceilidh a few years ago when Mungo was just a young horse.

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27
Sep

Languages for SEN: The origins of Braille, Sign Language and Makaton

When we think of “being bilingual” we often think of spoken language – but someone can also be bilingual in, say, their mother tongue and Braille; or their mother tongue and British Sign Language (or American Sign Language); or English and Makaton. And in our modern world we have flexible, supportive technology that can help us, such as the PENfriend family and various apps. Did you ever wonder, however, about the origins of some of the languages used in SEN settings?

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27
Sep

Language – so much more than just the spoken word

Language isn’t just about the words we speak. It can also be about how we carry ourselves, how we make contact with others, tone of voice. Sometimes it's even about what we wear. If you’re off to a formal meeting, for example, you’d probably wear a very different outfit from what you’d wear for weeding the garden or spring cleaning your house.

All of this sends out a message, though, just as body language does - so we thought we'd have a peek at how a few different gestures can sometimes be interpreted in different ways around the world.
In many countries, making a "thumbs up" sign is a sign of approval or agreement; but in some other parts of the world, like West Africa or parts of the Middle East, it's very rude indeed.

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22
Sep

So how many words per minute can you speak?

Did you know, on average, most people speak at over 100 words per minute (wpm) in their native tongue? That’s around four to five syllables per second. And although it’s a generalisation, it does seem that some languages and dialects are faster than others – just try getting an excited Geordie to slow down, for instance! (Disclaimer – I thought I’d use the Geordie dialect as an example as I’m from the North East of England originally. Read More
20
Sep

Bring resources to life with the personal touch – PENpals, PENfriend and ClassroomPEN

Anyone in education knows that every pupil is different, and learns in a different way. And for SEN teaching, making the curriculum as accessible as possible in an appropriate format is essential.

Our products are SEN-friendly, sturdy, practical, and simple to use, and re-use, making them an economical and sustainable option. The stickers are even waterproof (we do know of cases where they’ve been used to label the contents of plant-pots in gardens). Every label holds a very generous 60 minutes of audio, retrievable instantly. We also have Talking Phonics Magnets, Story Mountain and other audio A3 posters.

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11
Sep

Will The Interactive Elaborative Storytelling (IES) Method Work For You?

Stories are our business (and our delight), and we know from experience and observation that they’re an excellent teaching tool as well as essential to help children (and adults) develop oracy, logical thinking, vocabulary, memory skills, and compassion and empathy. It’s always reassuring, however, to see that we’re not the only people who know this. We also love to learn about research being carried out by academics into the science of storytelling.

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10
Sep

Breaking The Ice On Your First Day At School

It’s a major life milestone, your first day at school. Even for those who’ve already attended nursery, the first day at school can be so daunting. There are so many things to remember, so many new people to meet, new routines to get accustomed to – and that’s just for starters.

One of the most important aspects of starting somewhere new is learning the best ways to get on with all the new people you meet. And you’ve probably heard the expression “breaking the ice” when it comes to meeting people for the first time; but what does it mean, and what are some useful methods?

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30
Aug

Mind Your Language - A Note On the UN's International Literacy Day 2019

As the foundation for so many other aspects of education, literacy is one of the most important skills that we can develop. It isn’t just a case of reading fiction – we need literacy to understand instructions, read ingredients in recipes and on grocery packaging, to apply for jobs, and make sure that any medication we take is appropriate. Around the world, as educational opportunities have improved in many countries, the literacy rate has also gone up.

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