The Story of Christmas – Advent Calender book set

I was never big on Advent Calendars mainly because I was not keen on the chocolate versions that you always see but about 3 years ago we found an Advent Calender that is a small book set.  I quickly ordered it and it has become one of my favourite Christmas activities. Each evening the kids and I curl up on the couch and we select the correct booklet, read the story and the kids hang it on the tree.  ( I do LOVE chocolate but for whatever reason a chocolate advent calendar just did not appeal to me – just my own personal preference).

The Story of Christmas Story Book Set containing 24 booklets which you hang on the tree

All the books are packed into a hard card cover with flaps that fold out.

The Story of Christmas book set contains 24 mini booklets which you hang on the Christmas tree in the build up to Christmas

The books themselves are very simple.  The text inside is not complex and the illustrations are also fairly simple but we love them.  In fact I think the simple illustrations suit it.  There is no need for excess bells and whistles this is about sitting with the kids and reading the story of Christmas together. I love the fact that the kids are excited to sit each night and read the story.

The Story of Christmas book set. Inside one of the little booklets

We were recently digging in the garage getting some Christmas crafts out and my daughter squealed with delight – “mom it’s still here”.  She proceeded to take it into the lounge and re-read every story in one go.

Reading the booklets out of the Story of Christmas book set

It really is one of our Favourite Family Christmas traditions and we are all patiently waiting so we can start re-reading each book and then hang them onto our tree.

The Story of Christmas book set one of the books hanging on the Christmas tree

We bought our set from Amazon here is the link – The Story of Christmas

I have included an 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 own, use and love.

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Let’s go on a Measuring Walk

The last few weeks I have been feeling like we are not been doing as much hands-on Maths as we usually do.  So after we discovered a new stunning wooded area just around the corner from our home the kids and I thought it would be fun to do our Maths under the trees.  We “borrowed” their dad’s tape measure, grabbed our wellies and set off.  (My daughter loves making lists and notes of all kinds of different things so she brought a clip board and pen with her).  My idea was we could measure whatever we spotted while we were out walking.  The reason behind this was I wanted my youngest to start getting a bit more comfortable with measurements and words like length, height and width and I know if he spends time actually measuring items it will make more sense to him.

Take the kids on a measuring walk in the woods

He loved it.  He loved the fact that he could climb up onto the tree stumps with his sister and measure the width and that they could race up hill and then measure the roots of the trees at the very top.

Let's go a measruring walk in the woods. Just bring a tape measure with

We walked, ran and climbed for ages and both kids measured all kinds of items – benches, tree stumps, branches, distances between trees, roots, the hand railing on some old stairs, the small bridge.  Taking Maths outside and combining it with an activity is always a winner with my kids

Going on a measuring walk in our local wooded area

And his big sister wrote down a lot of different measurements. (The photo below is her list at the beginning of our walk – she actually wrote down a lot more but then the kids found some dogs to play with and her list got muddy paw prints all over it – not that she minded, she loved playing with the dogs.)

Go on a measurement walk and get the kids to keep track of what they measure

My daughter has being looking at decimals lately so it was also a great opportunity for her to practice converting cm into m (another great reason to take Maths outside you always end up doing other Maths topics that you never planned on working on).

And when we started getting a bit chilly (I forgot to bring the Rooibos Tea with us – my kids favourite hot drink is a South African tea called Rooibos), we headed home.  And while I was making everyone some nice hot drinks they started measuring the different rooms and objects in our home.

Sometimes all you need for a fun maths activity is a measuring tape and possibly a flask of your kids favourite hot drink (oh and my daughter says gloves are also a good idea)

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Colby the Amazing Mouse

Code and Go Robot Mouse Activity Set from Learning Resources. The kids programme the mouse to find the cheese

My kids have never done any coding activities before so when Learning Resources asked if we would be interested in their introduction to coding set – Code & Go Robot Mouse Activity Set I immediately said yes.  I was not 100% sure what to expect but as soon as the kids opened the box they LOVED it.

The set comes with following pieces

  • 1 Robot Mouse (Colby)
  • 1 cheese wedge
  • 3 orange tunnels
  • 22 purple maze walls
  • 16 grid pieces that connect together to form a large board
  • 10 double-sided activity cards (with examples of mazes for the kids to copy)
  • 30 coding cards (to help the kids set out the steps needed to programme the mouse)

My son was initially so excited that he had his own mouse that he did not want to put Colby down and my daughter immediately started connecting the boards (there was honestly no stopping them once they opened the box).  The direction buttons on Colby are fairly self-explanatory, the only one we really need to point out was the clear button – before you start programming a new sequence of steps you must clear the previous set of steps or they all just get added together into one long sequence.

Programming Colby the mouse using the buttons ontop of the mouse

They started by building the easier mazes depicted on the activity cards and practiced programming the steps into Colby so that he could manoeuvre around the maze and reach the cheese.  Having some example of possible maze layouts on the Activity Cards definitely helps the kids get started.

My youngest quickly understood how to programme the mouse but my oldest initially struggled (she kept leaving out some steps).  We used some of the coding cards as a way of setting out each step, which did help (the lightning bolt coding card means you need to programme an action into the sequence).

Code & Go Robot Mouse Activity Set. Using the programming cards to help map out the route

And then we tried using an object.  As she programmed the steps into the mouse she would move her baby hedgehog around the course.  This helped her see every move that the mouse needed to make.

Code & Go Robot Mouse Activity Set using a soft toy to help map out the route

She only needed to do this a few times and then she was happy visualising the mouse’s movements in her head and moved onto programming it by herself.

Code & Go Robot Mouse Activity Set. The kids programe the mouse so that it finds the cheese

Once the kids got the hang of programming the mouse they started to build their own mazes and also tried to see how many different ways they could programme Colby to find his cheese.

My youngest really enjoys the challenge of programming Colby to move backwards through the maze or to start off moving backwards and then to swing around and complete the maze forwards.

Colby the mouse manoeuvring around the maze to find his cheese

The kids also played around with programming Colby to move around our table, a shelf and even our lounge floor. It works perfectly on all the flat surfaces we have tried (it does need to be flat, if the surface is not flat Colby will veer off course so be careful about tablecloths underneath the boards).  The only issue was my youngest found it hard to judge the distance of each movement (one movement of the mouse is  equal to one of the green boards – so using the green boards helps the kids to judge the distance covered by each movement).

Code & Go Robot Mouse Activity Set from Learning Resources. Programe the mouse to find the cheese

I am really impressed with how the kids have gone from programming Colby to do a few basic steps to complicated sequences in just a few days.  I highly recommend this set.

We were given the Code and Go Robot Mouse in exchange for a review.  All opinions expressed are mine and those of my two kids.  In case you are wondering would I buy this for my kids ? –  YES YES without a doubt.  It one of the best items that we have EVER been given to test.

 

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Colouring Quotes

With my daughter’s new interest in creative lettering I took a chance and printed out a few colouring quote pages from Activity Village and left them in our colouring in / template folder for her.  When I first spotted the quotes I thought she might like the fact that they combined pictures around the words – a similar idea to the calligrams that she loved writing.

She LOVED the pages.  She liked the fact that they combined curly writing with big large capital letters and that some of the letters had pictures drawn inside them or around them or under them.

Activity Village Colouring Quote Page. Let Your're Ideas Bloom

She is still very new to doing “independent creative lettering” – her phrase which she says means she is still struggling to think of her own original ideas on ways to be creative with letters.  And she says that while she colours the pictures in she starts thinking of new ways that she could write the same phrases.  Small changes but still changes that she is thinking of.

Colouring Quote Pages by Activity Village. No Rain No Flowers

So sometimes some stunning colouring pages are NOT just colouring pages.  Sometimes they give kids ideas on ways in which they can be creative, sometimes they can be a springboard for creativity.

Colouring Quote page from Activity Village. No rain no Flowers

Even my youngest who is not into the current creative lettering phase joined in with the colouring quotes.  He says having the words on the page makes it more interesting than a normal picture.

The colouring quote page Let You're Ideas Bloom from Activity Village

The colouring in / template folder that we have is nothing fancy.  It is a folder in which I keep printed out colouring pages and templates that I think the kids might enjoy.  It is a combination of themes that I know the kids like (like animals) and also topics that we are currently learning about – so recently my daughter has been looking at creative lettering so I included these quote pages and we are starting to look at Egyptians so I added some new Egyptian themed pages.  The idea is that the folder is always available for the kids (they don’t need to ask me for it, it is always within their reach) and that way they can page through it and take whatever pages that want out of it and use the pages in any way.  There is never a wong way.  If it is in the folder they can use it.  We do sometimes use the folder for a joint art project that we have agreed on and I often use the templates in the folder for crafting projects.  But the main point of the folder is that they always have access to the pages and there is a never a wrong way of using the page even if it is not what the page was designed for.

Activity Village Home Sweet Home Colouring Quote page

The colouring quote pages included above are these ones (All from Activity Village and all part of their membership package – think it is currently £15 for 12 months).

Let You’re Ideas Bloom

No Rain No flowers

Home Sweet Home

Colouring Quote pages from Activity Village.  Great to use with Creative Lettering projects

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Maths Loop Cards

One of the Maths activities that we have been doing a LOT of lately has been Loop Cards / Dominoes.  The kids love them.  If I ask them to choose a Maths activity they often choose one of the Loop Cards.  And if I am totally honest from a home-educating mom point of view when the kids do the Loop Cards they end up practicing more sums than they would if I gave them a worksheet.

So I thought I would share our favourite Loop cards / dominoes with you.  All of the ones that we have been using are from Twinkl (they are all part of Twinkl’s Classic package except for the Ronald the Rhino ones which are FREE).

Place Value Loop Cards – I have been using these a lot with my youngest lately, he loves trying to see if he can create a maze with the Loop Cards or a crazy pattern.  And they are such a brilliant way of checking to make sure they understand the difference in tens and ones.

Place Value Loop Cards from Twinkl Resources

My son has also been using their doubling and halving Loop Cards.  We started with the Ronald the Rhino Doubling and Halving Dominoes (currently FREE to download).  These are great for when the kids are just beginning to double or half as they have pictures on them which help the kids to work out the answer.

Ronald The Rhino Doubling and Halving Dominoe cards from Twinkl Resources

And then after a bit of practice we moved onto the Doubling and Halving Loop Cards, but these ones do have large numbers on them so he needs some help from his older sister with these ones.

They also have been using the Number Bond to 100 Dominoes.  Which both the kids have been doing together.

Twinkl's Number Bonds to 100 dominoes

And one of my new favourite ways to work on money addition is the British Value Coin cards loop cards.

Twinkl's British Coin Value Loop Cards. Great maths resource for key stage 1

For the older ones there is also a 2-step money problem loop card set .

2 step money problem cards from Twinkl.

For the older kids we also really like the algebra dominoes (great for a quick game with one of the parents).  I love the fact that the kids get to practice solving for x in simple maths sums.  This is brilliant as it takes the “scariness” out of using x in sums.

Algebra Dominoes from Twinkl Resources. Fun way to practice Maths

And the Improper Fraction Loop Cards.

Twinkl's Improper Fraction Loop Cards from Twinkl Resources

If you have not tried some Maths Loop cards with the kids I really do recommend printing out a pack and giving them a go.  It really is a great way of practicing some sums without using worksheets.  We now always have at least 2 sets in our Maths basket (I will be writing a post soon on our very popular Maths Basket that we have started).

Number Bonds to 100 dominoes from Twinkl Resources

Maths themed loop cards from Twinkl resources.  Great maths practice activity.  pefect for practicing maths at home

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Creative Lettering For Kids

The kids loved writing their calligrams so I thought it would be fun to extend that into some more creative lettering.  I was looking for lettering ideas / examples that I could do with my daughter when I spotted this book Creative Lettering for Kids: Techniques and Tips from Top Artists so I asked if we could test it out.

The book is filled with lettering ideas that are totally manageable.  My daughter can page through the book, find a page she likes and she can try out the idea herself and she can manage them.  Okay her results will not look exactly like the photos in the book but she is able to get achieve something similar and her results are close enough that she feels proud. (I feel very strongly about kids art books that look stunning but contain activities that are not manageable for the kids.  I think it can squash a kids creativity).

Creative Lettering for Kids. A book filled with fun lettering activities for kids to try

Don’t get me lettering ideas are stunning, you get lovely results but the most important part for me is the kids can actually recreate these ideas.  And most of the ideas use art items you probably have at home – watercolour paints, heavy paper, pens and pencils.

Creative Lettering for Kids. Trying out some creative letters

And if you don’t have the exact item you can probably get away with trying something else.  In the one activity they used gel pens and we used our Sharpies instead and my daughter was still happy with the results.

Creative Lettering for Kids. Having a go at some bubble letters

We have tried numerous ideas from the book, sometimes copying everything exactly, sometimes taking inspiration from the book and adapting it in our own way.  Every time we have been happy with the results.  And my daughter is still eager to try more ideas from the book.

It is a great art book for kids but it is also a fun way to get kids writing, trying out different styles and getting creative with letters and words.  The book encourages the kids to see words in a creative light and have fun with them.  Whether you are using your paints or your pencils, whether you are writing chunky letters or curvy cursive letters it does not matter the kids can let their imaginations go and just have some fun.

Creative Lettering for Kids. Shape Mesh of letters

My daughter likes the book because it has given her some fun ideas and ideas that she can manage.  I like the book because it turns words into something creative and the more fun my kids have creating words and writing the more the kids will want to write.

Creative Lettering for kids. An example of a stenciled letter

 

We have only be using this book for a few weeks but we think it is a great addition to our creative book collection.  Both my daughter and I love it. (In case anyone is wondering about ages my daughter is 9).

Creative Lettering for Kids.  A fun creative book filled with lettering activities for children to try at home

As I mentioned above I approached the publishers and asked if we could review this book.

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Guy Fawkes Activity Village Pages

We have never really done many Guy Fawkes activities in the past so this year I decided it was time for both the kids and myself to learn about Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder plot. A couple of our history themed books mentioned it so we went back to those sections and reread the relevant parts and then I spotted that Activity Village had published a bunch of new pages so we were set.

I started by downloading the Gunpowder Fact Sheet for the kids (both my kids like to be able to reread what we have discussed).  It is 2 pages long and is a good summary of the events.

The Gunpowder Plot Fact Sheet from Activity Village. A 2 page summary of the main characters and events

I also downloaded their comprehension pages for my daughter to have a go at (nice way of reinforcing what we had read together).

Activity Village the gunpowder plot comprehension pages

And my youngest tried the Guy Fawkes Cloze page. He is not quite at the comprehension stage yet but he likes to be able to do a similar type page where he has to answer questions about the people or events that we have read so this really suited him well. (My son’s handwriting is fairly large but I believe Activity Village are going to make the spaces a bit bigger).

Guy Fawks Cloze from Activity Village

And of course with my two if there is a word search for a topic we just have to  print it out.

Activity Village Guy Fawks Word Search

They really liked the Gunpowder Plot one just because it was a slightly different version to the standard word searches that they normally do.  You need to search the page for the word gunpowder (seriously this is such a brilliant way of working on spelling – because they keep having to search for the same word over and over again – on my list to see if I can find other pages like this).

Activity Village Tticky Gunpowder Plot word search

And the kids also did a combined effort for the gunpowder plot word creator page.  I loved this one.  Because they both really though about different words they could create using the letters.  Talk about spelling and vocabulary extension especially for my youngest.

The Gunpowder Plot word creator page from Activity village. How many other word you can think of with the letters from gunpowder plot

We were actually planning on using the Guy Fawkes template to create our own Guy Fawkes but I must be honest we ended up spending a lot longer talking about what happened and why their was such a big divide between the churches and what treason meant and why would people fight and kill each other over something like going to a different church that we never actually got around to doing our craft (we needed to go out).  But maybe this weekend we might have a go at making our own Guy Fawkes.

Activity Village have a lot of other great pages all on Guy Fawkes so if you are looking for something it is worth having a look.

All pages mentioned above are part of Activity Village’s membership deal

 

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