Times Table Test Book = good practice workbook

I know lots of us and our kids get put off when we see the word test. But sometimes tests  just means good practice. Towards the end of last year I was looking for some extra times table practice for my youngest but I wanted something that had questions that would make him think a bit and were not just the straight forward 6 x 7. I went to a local bookstore that sells school workbooks and paged through a bunch until I found this test book – Times Tables Tests Book 2: KS2, Ages 7-11. And it is perfect. Now I must be honest we don’t use it as tests, I don’t time him or actually give him marks, we use it as practice questions.

Schofield & Sims Times Tables Tests 2. Key Stage 2 Maths

Each page is a test and we tend to do one page at a time.

Schofield & Sims Times Tables Tests 2.  Times table workbook for KS2 Maths

The page is divided into three different sections. Section A are sums written using mathematical notation (eg 8×8=). Section B are sums written in words and Section C are story sums, sums that are sometimes lightly more complicated.

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I see Section A as a warm up, Section B just makes him think about the different words you can use and then Section C is my favourite. Section C is where he has to apply his knowledge and think about how you would use multiplication and division is real life. There are 24 of these tests / pages in the book.

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And there are also two progress tests with a results charts (but I must admit we have not used the results chart but it is there and some may find it handy).

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Oh and just to mention there are no answers in the book.

The tests are also drown down into groups – the first 6 only deal with 2,3,4,5 and 10 times tables then the next 6 tests also include 6, 7, 8, and 9 times tables after which the rest cover all of the times tables.

I really do think this is a handy times table book, with lots of great examples for the kids, just don’t think of them as tests, think of them as practice pages.

Admin – for those of you interested I bought this book.

I do include Affiliate links. If you follow an affiliate link and go on to purchase that product, I will be paid a very small commission, however your cost will remain the same. I only include affiliate links for products that we use and love.

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Sweet Maths

I have been feeling like our Maths has been a bit dry lately and I always think fun maths equates to maths that is remembered. So last night while I was picking up some bread and milk I quickly grabbed some M&M’s (really it could have been any coloured sweets but the M&M’s were sitting right by the bread – yes I totally fell for the clever marketing strategy of the shop placing the M&M’s next to the bread). Anyway the M&M’s were perfect for some Maths so that is my excuse.

I started by giving each kid a set of sweets (I actually was just going to do this with my youngest but his sister wanted to join in so while I explained some concepts to the youngest my oldest got some fun revision). They started by representing the sweets with tally marks.

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Then we converted the tally marks into a bar graph (the graph paper the kids are using is the one I always use for Maths it is the 1cm Graph sheet from Activity Village).

Sweet Maths. Showing his tally marks as a bar graph. Using M&Ms ofamily learning together

Which lead to a discussion on things like range, mode, median and mean (all new concepts for my youngest he has only really read basic graphs before and looked for things like – who has the most or the least).

We then mixed in some fractions (just because) and he had to show me the different coloured sweets as a fraction. His older sister also had to write them as percentages and decimals.

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And lastly I got my oldest to convert the bar graph into a line graph.

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I must admit it turned out to be a really good maths session, I covered quite a few new ideas with my youngest and my oldest did a nice bit of revision, plus everyone got to eat some chocolate afterwards (always a win).

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HP Instant Ink – the way to this home ed mum’s heart

Yes I am being serious. Switching to HP Instant Ink has made me crazy happy. I know, I know who would have thought having an instant ink scheme would mean so much to me, but for this home education mum it truly is the way to my heart.

We had been talking about switching to the HP Instant Ink scheme for a few months and then end of last year we just decided to go for it. We searched and found a suitable printer, bought the printer and signed up for our package. Super easy and the printers are not that expensive (well there is a range of printers that work with the scheme so you can choose which one suits you). But even taking the cost of buying a new printer into account I am going to save money on my ink this year. When I think of how much I was paying for my old ink refills and how often I would have to order them it was crazy.

Now I just pay my monthly sub, print my pages and my refills arrive in the post, no fuss. (And no this is not some crazy sponsored post I am truly just that happy about the fact that I can not print for less money). They offer different packages (like 100 pages for £3.49 a months or 300 pages for £7.99 a month) and you can carry some unused pages over but you do also pay for going over the limit. However it is really easy to check on your account to see how many pages you have already printed and you can always change your subscription.

So if you need to print a lot like we do and you are finding your ink refills a bit expensive have a look at this scheme, it just might tick all the boxes for you.

HP Instant Ink Scheme

HP Instant Ink

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Fuse Glass – Fun craft for everyone

Last week the kids and I attended a Fuse Glass workshop held by the lovely Clare from Fused Glass by Clare Poore. She runs workshops from her home for kids and adults and we thought it would be a fun activity for the kids to try and something extra for them to add to their art award portfolios. We have never tried anything like this before but both my kids loved the activity and loved Clare, so we highly recommend her workshops (in fact both my kids have asked if we can go again).

examples of the fused glass items made by Clare

some of Clare Poore’s Fused Glass pieces

So what is fused glass? You get given a piece of glass and you decorate it using glass frit (small pieces of coloured glass).

glass frits

You can trace a design onto your glass using a sharpie (the outline disappears when the pieces get baked) or you can just draw your design onto a piece of paper and place it under your piece of glass.

frog before the frits are added

Then you choose your colours, apply some glue (just to make sure the glass frit stays in place) and you get started. The high temperature of the kiln fuses the glass frit to the main piece of glass.

working on a Glass heart

There are a couple of different options for this. You can create a design on a glass slab (roughly 12×16 piece), you can decorate some glass shapes that have already been cut (so things like hearts, stars, circles or tree triangle) or you could also go for a glass bowl. And the beauty of this is everyone ends up creating pieces that are completely original.

My son went for a frog design whereas my daughter wanted to play around with patterns and colours – and both ideas ended up with stunning results.

To see the full effect here are some “before the kiln photos”

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And then “after the kiln photos”

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I must add we chose the decorating workshop designed for kids (so the glass pieces already had the sharp edges removed) but Clare does also run workshop for adults which involve other options.

Oh and Clare also has a shop where she sells some lovely items (I bought some of her stunning earrings)

Fused glass earings by Clare Poore


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Punctuation Workbook for Key Stage 2

One of the workbooks that I am currently using with my son is the Understanding English: Punctuation: KS2 English Study Book, Ages 7-11. It is part of their Understanding English series which consists of 8 different workbooks and so far we have been using the Punctuation, Grammar, Spelling and Vocabulary ones. We don’t use every workbook every week, we tend to dip in and out of different ones and find the pages that cover the areas that he is learning about.

Understanding English range by Schofield & Sims

So I thought it would be helpful to give readers a breakdown of what is included in the different Understanding English workbooks so here is the Punctuation one. To start with it sticks to the tried and tested Schofield & Sims format – so just black and white with some red for headings and highlighting purposes. Each page has a quick explanation at the top – these are always well worded and explain the concepts very concisely. Then there are normally two activities for the kids to try and sometimes at the end of the page they include a little extra in a Did you Know section. Also these workbooks contain all the answers for the exercises at the back.

This workbook also has proofreading pages scattered throughout, which is basically an extra practice page of the different concepts covered in the preceding activities.

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This workbook covers

  • Full Stops and Capital Letters
  • Questions
  • Exclamations
  • Commas in Lists
  • 3 different pages on Apostrophes (for omission, possession and confusion)
  • Inverted commas
  • setting out direct speech
  • Commas for separation
  • Commas for subordinated clauses (this is over three pages)
  • Commas for clarifying meaning
  • Command and Full stops
  • Parenthesis – commas , dashed and brackets (again over three pages)
  • Other uses of dashes
  • Colons
  • Semicolons
  • Bullet points
  • Hyphens

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In total there are 33 pages of exercises in the workbook.

We really like the way these workbooks are set out.  The explanations are spot on.  We tend to cover a concept, do the activities and if necessary add an extra activity for more practice from the TeachitPrimary website. (You just need to set up a free account and you can download all their PDF docs.)

This range of Understanding English seems to be a good fit for my son.

Understanding English Punctuation by Schofield & Sims

I do include Affiliate links. If you follow an affiliate link and go on to purchase that product, I will be paid a very small commission, however your cost will remain the same. I only include affiliate links for products that we use and love.

Schofield & Sims Understanding

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Key Stage 3 Collins History Books

I wrote last year about the two Collins Key Stage 3 History books that my daughter bought after spotting them in a local bookstore. We started using the first one as her main History book but I kept feeling like I needed to find extra resources and questions for her so we switched to the Oxford University Press book – Invasion, Plague and Murder. However my daughter still really likes reading these books. She finds the format very easy and often just sits and reads sections to herself. So in December when we were in the same bookstore and she spotted the third book in the set I happily bought it for her (It costs £7.99 in the bookstore but you can get it for slightly cheaper on Amazon). It is the KS3 History Modern Britain (1760-1900) (Knowing History)

Collins Modern History Key Stage 3 Book by Robert Peal

It is written in the exact same format as the first two and she has already been reading sections to herself, understanding what she is reading and then either asking follow up questions or going to research items further. So for our purposes it is doing the exact job that I bought it for.

KS3 History Modern Britain (1760-1900) (Knowing History) covers the periods 1760 to 1900 and is broken down into 6 sections, each section is 12 pages long and has 5 sub-sections and a summary knowledge organiser at the end.

Collins Modern History. The French Revolution Knowledge Organiser

The Sections are as follows

  1. The British Empire – America, India, Australia, Ruling the Waves and Wealth and Trade
  2. The Americas – American Revolution, American War of Independence, Transatlantic slave trade, Life as a slave, Abolition
  3. The French Revolution – The Ancien Regime, Execution and terror, The rise of Napoleon, Britain’s response, The fall of Napoloen.
  4. The Industrial Revolution – The steam engine, Cotton textiles, Iron and coal, Transport, The Railway Age.
  5. The Age of Reform – Urbanisation, Factory Life, Social reform, Political reform, Law and order.
  6. The Victorian Empire – Queen Victoria, Indian rebellion, Ireland and home rule, The scramble for Africa, Ruling the Empire.

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It is a great summary and for our purposes a good introduction to the events of this period.

Key Stage 3 Collins History books written by Robert Peal ofamily learning together

The three books in the Collins Key Stage 3 History set are KS3 History Medieval Britain (410-1509) (Knowing History), KS3 History Early Modern Britain (1509-1760) (Knowing History), KS3 History Modern Britain (1760-1900) (Knowing History).

I do include Affiliate links. If you follow an affiliate link and go on to purchase that product, I will be paid a very small commission, however your cost will remain the same. I only include affiliate links for products that we use and love.

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2020 Calendar

After a bit of an unscheduled break over the past month I am trying to catch up on some planning so I thought I would share the link for my Calendar pages that I print out and keep on my desk as my personal reminder of what is going on.

I am using the 2020 Planning Pages from Activity Village. It is one month per page and they always include at least 2 versions of each month so you can select the colour/theme that suits you. (There tends to always be one page for Northern Hemisphere and one for the Southern Hemisphere.)

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For my uses I simply create two holes at the top and tie the pages together with a colourful ribbon. Then I jot down all the activities that we have signed up for – everything from one-off workshops to our weekly classes. I also include planned trips that we want to do with the kids (like English Heritage sites) and possibly holidays.

2020 Calendar pages from Activity Village

This year we are also including some of our own deadlines – my daughter wants to do a yearlong project which needs to be completed by a set date so to help keep us on track we are creating our own mini-deadlines for when we want to have certain stages completed. Just our way of making sure we stay on top of the project and don’t leave everything to last month.

I used the 2019 pages last year and I must admit I used them for the whole year – which was a first for me – in the past I have printed out planning pages and then changed part way through the year. So as straight forward an idea as it may sound having a hard copy lying on my desk really worked well.

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