No Neat Bows

I have always liked the idea of doing our topics in order, for me that makes sense.  And I always want to finish off a topic 100% and tie it up with a neat bow before we start the next topic.  So I want to finish looking at Reptiles before we move onto Sharks or I want to finish with Tudors before we start looking at the Battle of Hastings.

But the truth is, that is just not how my kids work.  My daughter often has 4 or 5 books that she is reading at the same time (currently a book about Elizabeth II, an Anglo-Saxon fictional story, a library book,  the Railway children and a book on Tudors).  And she switches between them without batting an eyelid and never gets the books mixed up.  She just likes it like that.  And I am noticing the more that she is driving her own learning topics the more she is doing the exact same thing in her learning.

We are still working on some Tudor activities (no neat bow yet) and even though she loves the Tudors – she recently told me that History should not be considered a subject because it is just so fascinating – she is still branching off and reading up about other Historical periods/ people.  Over the weekend she started talking to her dad about the battle of Hastings which lead to a whole morning of the two of them researching different Anglo-Saxon rulers and where everyone came from.  She loved it.  But I must admit there is this part of me that wants to say “Wait lets finish the Tudors before we start something new.”  And a few years ago I probably would have been a bit irritated that her dad encouraged the new topic when he knows we are still working on a different History topic (really doesn’t he know we need to wrap a neat bow around it and pack it away before he can start them on something new ???)

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But the amazing thing is she never once got mixed up or confused.  She totally gets the difference.  For her there is no need to only learn about only 1 History topic at a time.  She is driving the learning, fascinated by it and just soaking it up.

And it is exactly the same with my son he is doing crazy in-depth learning about Reptiles and Sharks at the same time, and switches between them almost mid-sentence without a thought.

Why did I assume that we had to only work on 1 topic per subject at a time ?  Not sure, maybe that is from my school days ? Maybe that is just the way I like to work ?  Really not sure.  But when it comes to subjects that the kids are interested in they are both capable of learning about multiple topics at the same time without getting confused.

So time to forget about those expectations and those neat bows.  Afterall they were really just about what suited me and really had nothing to do with facilitating/ encouraging learning.

FYI – for those interested the book in the photo is the Usborne History of Britain Tudors and Stuarts book and the Battle of Hastings booklet is from the Oaka Books topic pack for KS3 ages.

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Creating a Tudor Family Tree

My daughter’s British Kings and Queens History theme is still going  strong and I must admit I am finding it fascinating.  I went to school in South Africa so even though I did History as a subject for our equivalent of A levels it did not cover the British Monarchy in great detail.  So I am very much discovering all these colourful characters with my daughter and I am loving the fact that there are so many amazing books and documentaries about the British Kings and Queens.

One of the time periods that has really fascinated us are the Tudors.  And I have actually been impressed with how well she knows the whose who of the Tudor family (she knows exactly who the 6 wives were, the order they married and when they were either divorced, beheaded or died – I am realizing she is brilliant at remembering dates!)

So I suggested we make our own Tudor Family Tree with the intention that when we get onto the Stuarts we stick a page next to it to show how the Stuarts were linked through Henry’s sister.  My daughter was very keen so we started searching for pictures that we could use and then realized that the 6 wives of Henry the VIII booklet from Activity Village actually had pictures of all 6 wives and Henry VIII on it and it printed out onto 1 piece of A4 – perfect.

The 6 Wives of Henry VIII booklet from Activity Village

And that gave us the idea to use the pictures from the other Activity Village booklets as well – we also printed out these ones – Henry VII, Mary I, Elizabeth I and Edward VI.

And she started.

Creating a Tudor Family Tree using pictures from the Activity Village website

We came up with the idea of just using blu tack under the pictures while she created the family tree as she wanted to play around with how she set everything up.

Under Henry VII we made a long line that effectively goes off the page – this line will then link Arthur and Henry VIII to our Stuart Page were we will include Henry VIII’s two sisters.

Creating our own Tudor Family Tree using pictures from the Activity Village website

She also included details like who was beheaded or divorced.

Home-made Tudor family tree using pictures from the Activity Village website

And our Tudor Family Tree completed (well stage 1 completed).

Tudor Family Tree made using images from the Activity Village website


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Night Zookeeper. The Penguins of Igloo City

Last year my son read the first two Night Zookeeper books (The Giraffes of the Whispering Woods and The Lioness of Fire Desert) and loved them. He enjoyed the whole idea of the Night Zookeeper – a young boy who has to protect the Night Zoo – a world where animals talk and do unusual activities, like fly aeroplanes. It really sparked his imagination.  So we were thrilled when Oxford University Press sent him the third book in the series – Night Zookeeper: The Penguins of Igloo City.

Night Zookeeper. penguins of Igloo City by Joshua Davidson

The third book is written in the same style as the first two.  Will, Riya and Sam the spying giraffe enter a new area of the Night Zoo so that they can help another set of animals (the penguins).  Again they go on an adventure but it is never too scary (nothing that would cause nightmares) and in the process they discover that the so-called “bad character” is NOT actually a bad person at all but someone who is trying to help – love the little life lessons that come through these stories.

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My son espically enjoyed the new character Eek – a mouse who has a very strong will even though he was physically smaller than the other animals.

My son’s one complaint was that the story was over too quickly for his liking (it is 149 pages). He was desperate to continue reading about the next adventure that Will and his friends were going on. (There is a fourth book planned).

reading Night Zookeeper penguins of Igloo City Book written by Joshua Davidson

One of the other bonuses about this new book is it sparked a renewed interest in the website.  I must admit that with the Christmas holidays, visitors and then a bunch of winter bugs and other things happening in January we had not logged onto the website for quite some time.  But after reading the latest story he was very keen to log back on and asked me to choose a some new lessons for him.  And I must admit that when I did log back in to select some lessons I was very impressed to see some great looking new content on the website.  I ended up selecting a number of lessons for him to try and he has already made a start.

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To mention the way we use the website is I log on and send lessons to the kids and then I leave them to select which lessons they want to do in whatever order.  Although the lessons do give you a suggested school year as an indication I tend to select the lessons based on the topic.

As I mentioned above Oxford University Press send us a copy of the book but I  paid for access to the website myself.

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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Feel the Force Book

I mentioned last year that I am actively looking for good Science books to add to our bookcase but over the weekend when we were reorganising the kids area and I was packing and repacking the books my son spotted our Super Science: Feel the Force and started reading it again.  His renewed interest in the book made me realize that I never wrote a post about it even though we have had the book for about 18 months.  So here goes.

Feel the Force. A super Science Pop-Up Physics book for kids by Tom Adams and Thomas Flintham

It is an introduction to physics book with lots of colourful flaps, small fold out sections, experiment ideas and interesting bite-sized information but it is NOT detailed so don’t expect that. Think introducing concepts and encouraging discussions.

It starts with explaining what Physics cover with a “flap Flower of Physics” – that is what my kids call it. Then each double page after that covers a new concept.

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Forcing It – Push and pull, including gravity and how to effects everyday life.

Feel the Force, Super Science Pop Up Physics book. All about forces

Feel the Friction – covers reducing friction, friction in action, air resistance, simple machines.

Bobbing Along – all about floating and sinking, including how salt affects the water

Under Pressure – my son loves this page purely because it compares the effect of sitting on a pin to someone lying on a bed of nails.

Super Science Feel the Force Book. Under presuure using a bed of nails as an example

Sounds Great – again a popular page with my son he loved reading about sound wobbles and using the sound machine included in the middle of the page.

Super Science Feel the Force book. Includes a sound machine

Shine a Light – Light, colour, shadows, including a but about the colour spectrum.

When Sparks Fly – atoms, electricity – and a brilliant pop up picture of Frankenstein

Super Science Feel the Force, atoms and electrictity

Magnetism – natural magnets, electromagnets, microphones.

We have found this book a great addition to our home bookcase for the simple reason that whenever the kids read a page or two they always come to us with more questions and it opens up further reading and discussion.

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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Sensory Swimming Update

Last year I wrote a post about swimming with Sensory Kids and it seemed to really connect with a number of other parents with sensory kids so I thought I would give an update.

One of the comments I received was regarding the kids using nose clips.  And that they should NOT be using nose clips because in the REAL world if they fall into some water they would NOT have a nose clip and they would need to be able to swim with them.  I understand that argument.  And I will totally admit that our long-term aim is that both kids will be swimming without nose clips, we see them as a temporary measure.  But they have been VALUABLE, VERY VALUABLE.  Both my kids did not want to submerge their heads at all, in fact in the beginning if anyone suggested they needed to put their heads under water my daughter would be in tears.  Introducing the nose clips was a way of us being able to make the kids more comfortable in the water so they would try to put their heads under.  And it worked.  They now love swimming under the water and diving down to fetch items from the bottom of the pool.

I have always felt very strongly that the kids needed to enjoy the water.  I did not want them to be scared of it and I did not want them to feel anxious before swimming lessons.  And they LOVE it.  They love the water and they love their swimming teacher so we are NOT making an issue about the nose clips we are letting them decide when they are comfortable to remove them.

And yes I get that some people may feel like that is me taking the easy way out.  Fine.  But I want to mention 3 things that happened in todays lesson.  Firstly we arrived slightly early so the kids joined me in the big pool.  My daughter was off by herself happily swimming in the deep end, not a care in the world.  My son stayed close to me, mainly because he just likes company.  But while he was swimming with me I noticed at one stage he switched onto his back and just floated for a bit and then switched back.  I asked him if everything was okay and he said -“It’s fine, when I get tired I just float for a bit and then I start swimming again.”  Perfect ! So if he ever does end up in water in a tricky situation he already knows to get onto his back.

Secondly during their lesson a lady who was swimming lengths in the pool stopped me and asked if they were my two kids.  After I confirmed they were she said that she loved seeing how much they were enjoying the water.  LOVED that.

Thirdly during their lesson and after their lesson while the kids were just playing in the pool both of them were removing their nose clips for very short bursts to go under water.  I could see they were testing the feeling out, getting used to it, but they were removing their nose clips, and no-one was demanding that they do and they were not getting upset by it.

I completely understand that for someone who does not have sensory kids our swimming journey that we are on might seem strange.  Before I had kids I would probably have thought that.  But this is all part of us making our sensory kids comfortable in a world that is often overwhelming for them.  Yes we take it slow, yes we introduce steps that others might think unnecessary but our end goal is to have 2 confident swimmers who enjoy the water.  And I do feel like we are getting there, even with their nose clips.

Sorry not the best photo, I tend to just watch and enjoy seeing them in the water so I don’t have lots of photos

Swimming with Sensory Children

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Shark Resources

At the beginning of this year my son became fascinated by sharks so I decided it would be a good learning topic for him and he has really enjoyed it (well he is still enjoying it as it is an ongoing topic).  Even though we are still working through our Shark Topic I thought I would share some of the learning pages that he has used and liked up to this point.

I actually found a Shark Lapbook on the Twinkl Resources website (part of their subscription) and it has some great items included in it but my little guy has decided that he wants to write his own animal book this year, so he is no longer interested in lapbooks.  He is going to collect different items that he finds interesting about his favourite animals over the next few months and then use them to create his own book.  He chose a few items out of the Lapbook set and made them up and then stored them in his animal draw so he can later include them in his book.

The first one he selected was the Parts of the Shark flapbook.

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He thought the booklet was cool but he wanted a bit more detail so he decided that he would create his own shark and label it himself (the shark picture he used is one he traced from the Shark Colouring Sheets).

Labelling his shark

He then went onto the Sharks Teeth book (included in the lapbook set)- we actually added a few extra blank pages into our booklet so he could included his own facts as well as the facts included in the template given.

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And the Shark Myth or Reality set – on the website this set is actually a sorting activity with little pockets to place the cards in but he used the cards to create his own Fact or Fiction Poster instead.

Shark Myth or Reality Sorting cards part of the Twinkl Resources Shark Lapbook

He also liked the Sharks Book of World Record Activity and the Life Cycle Resource (both part of the Lapbook resources).  He made up the Life Cycle wheel using the information cards that are included but he also asked me to print the extra blank template as he wants to create a wheel with his own facts aswell (I really liked that they included a blank template in the Life Cycle Set).

Life Cycle of a Shark from Twinkl Resources

And the Comprehension – I was very surprised when he asked to try the Sharks Comprehension as normally he tries to stay clear of written work but he liked the fact it was all about Sharks so he had a go.

Shark Comprehension from Twinkl Resources

This is still an ongoing topic for him but I wanted to share some of the resources that he has found useful up till this point.  I am really hoping that his new determination to write his own animal book does not die down and he continues planning his animals and resources to include in his book, it is such a fun way of learning about animals while also encouraging him to write more.

Other posts which cover our Sharks learning topic are – Sharks a Chapter Book and our Tracing Post.

Sharks Resources from the Twinkl Resorces website

I was given a Twinkl Resources subscription last year for us to use as part of our home education and so that I can share which resources we like and find useful.

Shark Resources downloaded from Twinkl Resources website. Great for an Ocean themed topic



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Sharks ! a Chapter Book for Kids

My son is currently fascinated by marine animals and is wanting to learn more about sharks, whales and dolphins and although we have some of the stunning Usborne Beginner Chapter books which covered these animals and they are now too basic for him.  He really wants more detailed information about the different sharks and how they are unique.  I was given an Snake Animal Chapter book last year and it was the prefect fit for my son – a combination of a good chapter reading book and lots of information so I was thrilled when I saw that they had a Sharks version Sharks! (Animal Planet Chapter Books) and it did not disappoint.  In fact I have just ordered him the Dolphins!: Book 6 (Animal Planet Chapter Books) book.

Sharks ! Animal Planet Chapter Book. Filled of information about Sharks

Now let me start by saying this is not a glossy, coffee table type book.  It is a children’s chapter book filled with information about sharks and some stunning photos but they are not high-gloss.  My son is NOT fussed by this at all, in fact he has NOT once commented on the fact that it is not glossy.  He finds the book fascinating and has already read it cover to cover and is going back for a second read. (Yes he does had a toy Tiger shark on his shoulder listening to him read about sharks).

Reading his Shark book

Oh and someone commented that the font is slightly bigger than normal – it is, but my eight-year old actually likes this.  And I personally think a slightly larger font is great for a beginner chapter book, it makes the pages a bit more inviting for younger readers.

So what is included in this book.

Sharks. Animal Planet Chaper Book the contents page

We like the way the book is set out.  It starts with the body of a shark and goes on to talk about how sharks differ and seems to naturally build from there. I found this interesting as I always thought of sharks as fairly typical like a great white or hammerhead and never realized how there are so many smaller and some rather stranger types of sharks.

Sharks. Animal Planet Chaper Book. The Body of the Shark

In fact whenever they discuss something like what a shark eats or the life cycle of a shark it is never just general – all sharks do xxxx they always point out that different sharks will behave differently – so different types of shark prefer different prey and even the way they reproduce is different – some lay eggs some give birth.  This is why we like this book so much, it is the extra detail that my eight-year old was wanting but complied in a way that allows him to read it independently.

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We really like this book in fact I wish they had more titles in this series.  It is perfect for kids who like reading non-fiction and who find animals fascinating.  On Amazon they say the age range is 6 – 10, which is probably a good guide, my 8-year-old has managed to read it independently (I do consider him a good reader) and his 10-year-old sister even had a read and found the book interesting, as did I.

Sharks. Animal Planet Chapter Book. Social Sharks

We have also found a number of great learning activities to go along with this book but I will share those in my next post.

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 love.



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