Watercolour dabbling templates

We LOVE using Templates.  I have quite a big collection of templates that we have printed and cut out (we always print ours out on cards just because we use them so often).  I love using templates because it encourage the kids to get involved even if they cannot draw the shape they want free hand.  And when you use templates the kids practice tracing around the shapes (which for younger ones takes some practice as they have to keep the template still while they trace) and they get to practice cutting out all kinds of shapes.  I also always remember being told that using stencils is a great way for kids to engage both hands – in other words that non-dominate hand has to work together with the dominate hand – and I always think the same thing applies with templates – they are actively using both hands. Plus using a template is always a fun excuse to do some experimental art.

Tracing around templates

We recently bought some new tube watercolours – we normally stick to a set of block watercolours so the kids were a bit excited about this new form of watercolours and wanted to play around.  I suggested we get the pipettes out – thinking we could use them to create some coloured patters on paper.  Total idea fail !! But my youngest had a blast with the pipettes, mixing all types of colours and creating what I can only describe as a watercolour pool.

My oldest liked the idea of creating some colour patterns so we got out our old trusty paint dabbers and used those instead.  It allowed the  watercolours to mix together on the page but restricted all the excess water that using the pipettes seemed to result in and after my son got tired of his watercolour pool he also joined in.

Using watercolour and paint dabbers to get colourful paper for art projects

We did get some nice coloured pages.

Creating colourful paper to use in art projects with our watercolours and paint dabbers

Just to compare I later used our acrylic paints to see if I could get the same result – the colours were bright and bold but I thought the watercolours allows more colour mixing and blending. In the photo below the page on the left is watercolours and the page on the right is with acrylic paints.

Watercolour with dabbers verses acrylic paint with dabbers

We let our pages dry properly and then the kids selected some templates and all the tracing and cutting started.

tracing around the templates to create some colourful pictures

And I must admit that using the templates really ended up being an excellent cutting skills session for my son.  He tried to cut out some detailed shapes that he probably would  not normally have attempted and did surprisingly well.  In fact after getting one more difficult shape cut out, he was so chuffed that he purposely went to look for a harder template to trace and cut just to see if he could manage.

And some of the end results

Watercolour Swallows created by children using a template from Activity Village

Fun Easy Template Art for children. cats made using watercolours and templates

Spider Template Art Activity using watercolour paints and an Activity Village template

Kids bat picture made using Activity Village templates

Template Tree picture using paint dabbers and a tree template from Activity Village

In this one we actually used the teardrop tree template but just cut off the trunk (my daughter thought that way it would look like petals) and then created a flower.

Teardrop tree template from Activity Village used to create a flower picture

The Templates that we used are from Activity Village (part of their membership which I think is around £15 for 12 months).  They have a massive selection of templates so I will attach the individual links below

Animal Templates from Activity Village. Wide range including birds, cats, insects

The paint dabbers that we used are these ones 12 Paint Dabbers

If you like our template art you might also like our Spider Art

I do include Affiliate links in my posts. 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.

Easy Art Activity for kids.  Watercolour plus templates.  Fun and easy to do at home.  Templates from Activity Village

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Teachit Primary Free Animal Resources

Earlier this year I discovered the Teachit Primary website and started using some of the Free resources.  On the Teachit Primary website you can download all of their PDF documents by simply creating a FREE account. And they have A LOT of PDF documents on their website.  I started off by looking at their Maths and English Resources, but it was not too long before my kids love of all things animal related had me searching the website to see what animal resources they have.  And once again they have a wide range of FREE to download Science resources and luckily for us included in that wide range of Science resources they have a vast number of animal related resources.

We have honestly only just skimmed the surface of what’s available on this website but I thought I would share some of what we have found.

They have a number of different animal themed fact cards.  Which basically is a picture of the animal and a matching card with some key points.  We like turning ours into folding cards (so glue the fact card on the reverse side of the picture). Two of our favourites especially now that the weather is warming up are the Minibeast Fact Cards

Teachit Primary Website. Minibeast Fact cards include bees and wasps

and the Pond Life Fact Cards

Teachit Primary Website. Free to download Pond Life fact cards

And if you like the idea of the Pond Life Fact Cards you might also be interested in this Pond Life Spotter sheet – I have ours printed and attached to a clip board ready for our next nature work.

Teachit Primary Website. Pond Life Spotter guide. perfect for outdoors activity in the warmer months

We also really like the resources that they have on plant and animal adaptations.  particularly this matching activity – Plant and Animal adaptation Cards.  The kids need to match the picture of the animal or plant to it’s name and to a brief description about it.

Teachit primary Website Science Resource. Animal and Plant Adaption Cards. Key Stage 2 ages

You might also like these Animal adaptation Fact cards

And if your kids like Woodland animals they have a number of resources perfect for a great topic.  We found like the squirrel and fox research packs that you can download.

Teachit Primary Website. Free to download Squirrel Research pack

Teachit primary Website. Free to download Suirrel research pack

Teachit primary Website Free to download Squirrel research pack questions

They also have a Woodland animal spotter guide, woodland fact cards and this Woodland animal cut and label activity.

Teachit Primary Website. Free to download Woodland animal cut and label activity

And last on my list –  the very first animal resources that I downloaded from the Teachit Primary website these two – Vertebrates and Invertebrates fact cards 

Teachit Primary Website. Free to download animal classification cards

and the UK Food Chain activity

Teachit Primary Website. Free to download UK Food Chain activity

Teachit Primary Website. Free to download UK Food Chain activity

If you are looking for some good quality FREE science resources it really is worth having a look at the Teachit Primary Website.

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Botley – Coding Fun

Towards the end of last year the kids tested out Colby the coding mouse and both of them LOVED it.  Everything about the set was a winner with my two.  So when Learning Resources asked if we would like to try out their latest Coding activity set – Botley I immediately said yes.

Botley the coding robot from Activity Village

As soon as the set arrived the kids were eager to open it up.  It is very easy to set up – you just need some batteries and a few minutes to read the instruction booklet and you are set.

The set comes with the following

  • 1 Botley Robot
  • 1 Remote programmer
  • Detachable arms
  • 40 coding cards (small cards which kids can use to set out the order of steps required)
  • 6 double-sided boards (one side white with black lines and one side colourful)
  • Objects to use in mazes – 8 sticks, 12 cubes, 2 cones, 2 flags, 2 balls, 1 goal
  • And some stickers

You can code Botley to do a wide variety of activities – he can follow a fairly long sequence of steps and you can even loop the sequence so he repeats them over and over.

Botley also comes with an object detection button on his remote.  This allows you to code a sequence of events and then tell Botley that if he detects an object he then needs to do a certain action.

The set also include a number of items which you could use to build all kinds of routes/ mazes / challenges for Botley.  My son spent ages creating different routes for Botley, and then seeing if he could code the sequence of steps correctly so that Botley could get to the end of the route. (Botley has been great at reinforcing the idea that you will not always get something right the first time but if you keep trying you will eventually get there).

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The set comes with 6 double-sided cards (our cards did get slightly buckled and we needed to straighten them under a pile of very heavy books). One side of the card is multi coloured and the other is white with black lines.  If you select the Line function on Botley and set him on the black line so that the sensor underneath him can detect the black line he will follow it.  He easily follows all the twists and turns very happily.  You can even get the kids to draw a route for Botley on some white paper (just make sure you use a thick black pen so he picks up the route, our first attempt at this did not work but once we got a thicker line Botley was off).

Botley the coding robot following a black line

Once you flip the cards over onto the coloured section you can start following the coding challenges included in the instruction booklet.  The challenges get progressively harder.

And the Detachable arms – what a winner.  Create walls or obstacles for Botley and just watch him take them down (my son loves this).

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Oh and Botley also says a few words – my kids really loved this feature and his voice is sweet and gentle.

We have been very impressed with this set.  Both kids have already used it extensively and there is still more that they can practice/ learn how to do with Botley.  I do have 2 kids and we have 1 Botley and honestly it has not been an issue.  My kids have taken it in turns and worked together to solve the problems.

Both my kids and I highly recommend the Botley Coding set. (In fact my son says if he was writing the review he would give it 5 stars)

You can buy Botley directly from Learning Resources of from Amazon
Learning Resources Botley the Coding Robot Activity Set.

As I mentioned above Learning Resources sent us our Botley set in exchange for us writing a review.  All opinions expressed in the post are that of my kids and/or myself. 

In case anyone spotted s few red spots on my son – He did play with Botley a lot while he had chickenpox (it was great at distracting him from all the itchy spots).  I tend to take natural photos of the kids using the items and don’t pose them so in this case it was hard to find any photos without a few red spots.

I do include Affiliate links in my posts. 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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New Aprons

I have mentioned before that I have a few Home Education Essentials that are not really traditional learning items – ie not books and stationary.  For us home education is a whole family adventure.  Home education is not something that we do in set hours of certain days it extends to every aspect of our family life.  So we have found that certain items are essential for our home education – Wellington’s and good comfortable walking shoes always spring to mind (try taking the kids on a trip into london and explore a museum with them while your feet are sore – not fun).  We also do lots of baking and arts and crafts so a good wipe clean table-cloth is always a must have for me and Aprons, yes aprons  – my washing load always seems massive and having aprons for the kids to wear means I don’t have to worry about an extra set of dirty clothes every time they decide to bake or craft .

Since the kids were small I have always had aprons in the house.  And we use ours a LOT.  Baking, painting, crafting even in some messy play activities.  But I recently needed to replace my eldest’s and I noticed that finding nice good quality aprons for slightly older kids was not as easy as when they were younger (and the added complication that my oldest also wanted an apron that looked pretty and was not child-like because as she keeps telling me she is almost 10).  And then someone pointed me in the direction of the Ulster Weavers website.  They have a lovely range of aprons.  For younger and older kids, PVC aprons and lovely fabric ones.  I loved the choice and both my kids found something that appealed to them – my daughter went with a flowery one and my son choose a camper van one.

Baking Biscuits with her new apron from Ulster Weavers

And they both loved what arrived. My almost ten-year old was really chuffed that her apron arrived in a little pretty bag, she said she immediately knew it was for older children because of how they had packed it.

Ulster Weavers children apron. The Sophie Conran Reka Apron

My daughter’s is nice a pretty floral one and in her words looks like an adult’s apron and my son think’s his camper van apron one is “very cool”

Ulster Weavers children's apron. A Camper van PVC apron perfect for little guys

Our aprons are still fairly new but so far they have been easy to clean and have worked perfectly in both baking and some crafts that we have done (they have definately saved some kids clothes from being full of flour).

Creating a colourful background for an art project

My daughter actually informed me that my apron is now looking a bit sad next to their fancy new ones and has strongly suggested that I order myself one – she voted for the this blue one.

Baking Together always a fun a part of our home education

Ulster Weaver’s kindly offered to send both kids the apron of their choice.




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CK or K spelling rule

My youngest has been trying to remember the ck or k spelling rule but it has just  not been sticking.  (The Rule – if the word has a long vowel sound or an extra consonant then you only use a k.  If it has a short vowel sound then you need to use ck).

So we decided to make a home-made folder together.

k and ck spelling folder. Home-made and easy to create at home

We started with two pieces of different A4 coloured cards and folded then in half. I wanted the flaps to meet in the middle and then open outwards.  On the one we wrote a big k and then the rule underneath and on the second we wrote a big CK and then the rule underneath.

k and ck spelling folder. With flaps that fold outwards

I stuck both onto a third piece of A4 paper (just to give it some extra support).

Then we cut up some coloured paper and my son (with some help from his older sister) wrote out a selection of words that apply to the rule. Some of the words he was not too sure how to spell, so we spoke about the word – did it have a long vowel sound or a short vowel sound and did it sound like it might have an extra consonant in the word.

K verses ck spelling rule. Creating a home-made folder

Based on prior experience of creating folders I have found it better for the kids to write their words on small pieces of paper then you then stick them into the folder instead of writing the words directly into the folder.  Purely because it means the kids don’t get upset if they make mistakes and if they want, they can rewrite any words however many times.

Writing words on small pieces of paper to stick inside the spelling folder

Once we had a selection of words we stuck the words under the correct flaps.  One of the reason why I used two different colours is it helps to enforce the rule. The kids remember that yellow applies to k and the orange to ck (with  visual learners the colours often help them later recall the rule).

k verses ck spelling rule. As you open the flap you see examples the words

And it was done.  You open the flap with ck writen on it and you see a selection of words that use ck spelling.  You open the k flap and you see a selection of words that use the k spelling.

k verses ck spelling rule. Open the flap and see examples of the rule

Really easy to make at home and hopefully being involved in making something like this and then having it on his desk will help him remember the rule.

ck verses k spellng rule home-made folder idea. Learning at home

When to use K or CK for spelling. Easy to make home-made folder idea


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Oaka Digital

A little while ago I wrote a post about one of the Oaka Topic Packs that the kids and I tried out and loved, well Oaka also have a digital library.  The Digital Library is geared for KS3 ages (ie secondary school) but we have had a  look and love it. The kids and I have already learnt about some of the Geography that is included in the Digital library so we spent a bit of time looking around the sections that they were familiar with.

[ Just to mention, this is just me writing about a new resource that I am very impressed with.  I have not been paid for this.  This is my personal option.  Also all images are me photographing images off the computer so some are a bit grainy but I wanted to give you a good idea of what you get. ]

Straight away my daughter loved the 3D images (she is a very visual learner), she loved that the images could move and she could select the labelled numbers to get more information.  She also loved the screens where she could drag and drop items into the correct place.  And every section comes with a quiz.  Now we aren’t big on tests. But my daughter enjoyed the quizzes, she liked seeing how much she could get correct. (And there are never any negative language in the quizzes so even when she did not get all the answers correct – she got a positive well done for getting 70% – I also really liked the fact that I could then go back later and look at the quiz and see which questions she struggled with). Without a doubt the digital library is something we are going to be coming back to over and over again.

And even though it is aimed at Key Stage 3 ages.  I must admit my seven-year old found the 3D images fascinating.  He kept wanting to see more images and read the labels and ask more questions.  The extra resources completely grabbed his attention and he sat and worked through every image in the section.  He also LOVED the drag and drop screens.

Oaka Digital Library is aimed at Key Stage 3 years but is very informative for all kids interested in Geography and Science

So what is included in the digital library ?

It is broken down into 4 subjects.

Geography, History, Science and French.

Oaka Digital Library includes 4 subjects. Science, Geography, History and French

Then each subject is further broken down into topics (currently they have 42 topics).  So once you click on the Geography button you come to this screen which gives you the option of 6 topics to choose from.

Oaka Digital Library. Select your Geography Topic

In this case if you select the Plate Tectonics, Volcanoes and Earthquakes you then get taken to the next screen which gives you access to the Topic book, the extra resources (3D images) and a quiz.

The Online Topic Booklet is the hard copy topic booklet that you can order.  So it is short sentences,  bullet points, illustrations, summarized.

If you select the extra resources you will end up on another screen with a lot of extra options (these are all the extra resources for the Plate Tectonics, Volcanoes and Earthquakes section).

Oaka Digital Library. Geography Plate Techonics, Volcanoes and Earthquakes extra resources

The 3D Images (which are AMAZING) are what both my kids LOVE, they turn and spin so you can see the object from all angles.  And they are all labelled (again labels are concise).

Oaka Digital. An example of one of the extra online resources. A 3D image of a volcano that turns and spins

Oaka Digital Library. One of the examples of the labels on a 3D geography image

There are also interactive pages – drag and drop pages where the kids and test themselves.

And the quizzes.  The quizzes come in 2 levels.  Level 1 is easier and has images.  Level 2 is harder.  We have not done a lot of the quizzes and have only really tried the Level 1 quizzes but so far no issue.

I have been very impressed with ALL the Oaka products we have looked at.  They really suit my daughter and we are definitely going to be using more topic books and I am going to get her a subscription for the digital library when we get to Key Stage 3 work.

The Digital library is on a subscription basis (currently £149 for 12 months – free 30 day trial).

For those of you interested in the Science side.  Science is broken down into Biology, Chemistry and Physics.  To give you an idea those are then broken down into the following topics.


  • Breathing and Respiration
  • Cells and Organisation part 1
  • Cells and Organisation Part 2
  • Enviroment and Feeding Relationships
  • Food and Digestion
  • Fit and Healthy
  • Movement : Skeleton and Muscles
  • Plants and Photosynthesis
  • Puberty, Reproduction and Birth
  • Variation and Classification
  • Woking Scientifically

Oaka Digital. An example of one of the extra Science resources. A 3D image of a flower


  • Acids, Alkalis and Indicators
  • Heating and Cooling
  • Materials and their properties
  • Reactions of metals
  • Simple Chemical Reactions
  • Working Scientifically


  • Energy Resource
  • Electrical Circuits
  • Vibration, Waves and Sound
  • Light
  • The Solar System
  • Forces
  • Useful Energy
  • Working Scientifically

Like I said above we are not yet at the Key Stage 3 level but I have been very impressed with the everything we have looked at so far on their Digital Library.  I personally think it is an amazing resource which can also be used with younger kids.

Oaka Digital. Using the extra 3D images from their online library at home to help explain Geogrpahy


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Maths Basket April 2018

We started Maths Basket’s last year and they have proved successful with the kids and very useful for me so we are continuing with them this year.  The Maths Basket is a combination of Maths activities that I leave (in a basket) in our main living area as a way of encouraging more Maths practice. (And it also really helps me on those days when I have not planned anything, I just have a quick look in the basket and we take something out to do together).  I normally have a combination of games, loop cards, dice and anything that is linked to current Maths themes (eg my youngest is currently working on times tables so we make sure to include times table activities).

If you want to see what we have included in our past Maths baskets you can look here – Maths Basket, Maths basket Jan/ feb 2018.

I have included our Multiple Representation Dice set and our Even Steven’s odd game from Learning Resources.  I am a huge fan of dice activities and I love both of these.  The Multiple Representation Dice set is a foam set of dice with different visual representations of the numbers from 0 to 20.  My son really likes the dice and we have been using them for lots of basic maths – creating addition and subtraction sums.

Maths Resource. Multiple Representation Dice from Learning Resources. 16 foam dice which with numbers from 0 to 20

He is also constantly using them to create patterns.

Learning Resources Multiple Representation Dice

Even Steven’s Odd Game is a fast paced dice game which the whole family plays but I have really included it for my daughter as it encourages her to think quickly and the harder dice challenge cards are perfect for her.

I also included the Dice Tower which is really a fun activity for my son,  He loves rolling the dice down the tower, it turns any boring maths practice into something fun and he normally ends up giggling and laughing while he is doing his maths.

The Loop cards (or dominoes) are all from Twinkl Resources (all the Loop cards are part of their paid for Classic membership).  Loop cards are without a doubt one of my daughter’s prefered ways of practicing Maths.  She will happily sit and do Loop card set after Loop card set without complaining.  With the Loop cards we often add new sets as the month progresses and we often bring back Loop cards that we have already used (Because we use our loop cards so much and because I am planning on using the same cards for both kids I print ours out on card).

Currently we have – subtraction to 20 (for my son), telling time to 5 minute Loop cards  and larger place value sets – both of these – 5 Digit place value loop cards and the 6,7,8 digit place value loop set.

5 digit place value loop cards from Twinkl Resources. Key stage 2 maths resource

Also keeping our decimal theme going (my daughter) I have included these – Adding decimals

Adding Decimals Loop Cards from Twinkl Resources. Perfect for Maths practice at home

and this great calendar set.  All of the Loop card sets are great for practicing but I must admit that I love this calendar set – it includes questions like – the number of months in a year and a half, the number of days in a fortnight, the number of hours in three days, the season in which we find January and so much more.  I completely stumbled upon this Loop card set while I was looking for some new place value ones and I LOVE IT.

Twinkl Resources Days and Months Loop card set. Maths resource great for practice maths concepts at home

My son is all about times tables at the moment so we are sticking with our skip counting cards and the times table folding cards both from Activity Village (we have done 10x, 2x and 5x  – but still practicing them when they are all mixed up – and are now moving onto 11x – because he figured out the pattern himself and the 3x).

Skip counting cards and times table folding cards both from Activity Village. Great for working on times table at home

We are also sticking with the Multiplication Bump game although we are mixing up the themes – we have printed out some of the Easter chicks, the football themed pages and the new Spring themed pages.

Activity Village Multiplication Bump Games. Fun way to practice times tables with the kids at home

I have uploaded a video showing all the items in the Maths Basket to our facebook page


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