Birthday Cards with Dimensional Paint

We have had a few birthday’s lately and the kids have been getting a bit frustrated with the birthday cards that they make – apparently they have been a bit on the boring side – according to the kids.  So I suggested for the new batch (we need to post 4 birthday cards to family in South Africa) that the kids try to use their dimensional paint.

Dimensional Paint Birthday Card created by children, a colourful heart design

They loved the idea – both of them love using the dimensional paint.  So they started with drawing simple designs onto the cards.  We are still very new to using dimensional paint so we are still sticking to simple designs and always drawing everything first (once you apply the dimensional paint you can not remove it / change the design).

One of the reasons that I love the dimensional paint is the kids have to squeeze the bottle to get it out.  For my son (he is six years old) this does end up being a work-out for his hands, but he enjoys doing the designs so he end up creating design after design and it becomes an excellent hand strengthening activity for him.

We left the cards to dry overnight (the dimensional paint does need to dry properly as it can smudge when still wet)

Birthday ccard templates created using dimensional paint. leave it to dry properly before you start painting

And the next day we finished the designs with our watercolour paints.

Birthday card activity for kids. Using dimensional paint to create a design and then filling it in with water colour paints

And the end result.  Some cheerful birthday cards.

Dimensional paint birthday cards created by children. A flower design

And I know I suffer from “being a biased mom” but I do think they make really cute home-made birthday cards.

Dimensional Paint Birthday Cards created by children. A modern colourful design

We are still very new to using dimensional paint but the one that we have is this one Tulip 3D Fabric Paint 4oz Slick (Black).  This is the only one that we have used so I can not compare to any others but the kids and I are loving using it in our projects and I have actually just bought a second bottle of this same brand.

Dimensional Paint Birthday Cards created by children. Fyn, easy, colourful art activity for kids

I have included an Affiliate link. 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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Core Knowledge Year 2 Book

It is that time of the year again when I start thinking about what we want to cover in our upcoming academic year.  I don’t do detailed planning (ie I do not create a plan that states on day 1 cover pages x to y – it just does not work for us).  But I do like to think about some broad goals for each child for the upcoming year.  Eg what do we want to cover in Maths and what resources will I use.  It helps me to know where we are going and it also helps me to have some ideas for themes / topics that we can cover.  As part of my broad planning I like reading the Core Knowledge books for the relevant academic year for each of my 2 kids.  I have been using these books for a few years now and I like the way they are set out, I like the resource recommendations that they give and I have found some of the ideas and explanations in the Maths, English and Science sections extremely helpful.

Core Knowledge What Your Year 2 Chiild Needs to Know contains lots of helpful explanations and ideas

As my youngest would be going into the UK year 2 I have been going back through the book reminding myself of a few things (I used this book with my daughter so I have already read it) and I thought it might be helpful to give a breakdown of what is covered in this book – What Your Year 2 Child Needs to Know: Fundamentals of a Good Year 2 Education (Core Knowledge UK)

The Year 2 book sticks to the same format as the other books.

  • Language and Literature
  • History and Geography
  • Visual Arts
  • Music
  • Mathematics
  • Science

Language and Literature. 

What I love about this section is the all the recommended poetry and books that they suggest.  They have pages of poems that you can read with kids and extracts from a number of stories.  It really is a vast selection and gives you a good idea of what literature you could include.  And yes they include extracts from the stories that you can read to the kids but no they do not include any ideas on how to extend the learning.  So there are no suggested activities for each book.  You would need to search for these yourself.

It also includes a small section about familiar sayings.

Core Knowledge What Your Year 2 Child Needs to Know the lanuage and literature chapter includes familiar sayings

At the end of the chapter they do include a good list of recommended books for beginning readers.

History and Geography

I actually like they group these two together as I find they are so interlinked.  While we are doing a history topic with the kids we always end up naturally covering geography of that area.  They cover the Ancient Egyptians, different religions, a section on British and European Geography, British History (Romans in Britain, post-Roman Britain, the Vikings in Britain and Normans in Britain).

Core Knowledge What Your Year 2 Child Needs to Know the History and Geography section includes a fair bit about Britian

The British History section is about 20 pages long.

Visual Art

In this section they include some Egyptian arts which tie in nicely with the Ancient Egyptian section in the previous chapter. Also Primary and secondary colours and shapes in Art.

Core Knowledge Year 2 book Visual Arts includes a shape activity based on a painting by David Hockney

And a quick look at portraits.  What I really like is at the end of the visual art chapter they include a list of where all the works of art discussed in the chapter are stored/ displayed.

Core Knowledge What your Year 2 child needs to know includes a chapter on visual arts and shapes in arts using Picasso


Starts off with breaking different musical instruments down into their families eg what is included in the String family or the Brass family of instruments. A quick bit about Mozart and then a section about how music can tell a story. And lastly a number of words of some favourite songs for children to learn.


This is the chapter that I tend to use the most.  I find the suggested activities and explanations very helpful.  It includes the basic concept of place value, even and odd numbers, greater than and less than, using graphs, addition and subtraction, introducing two digit addition and two digit subtraction, money, flat and solid shapes, calendar time, introducing multiplication and practicing multiplication, introducing division and practicing it, word problems.

Core Knowledge What your Year 2 Child needs to know includes 50 page of Maths that I find invaluable

It covers a lot in roughly 50 pages.  I find these 50 pages invaluable for ideas and also ways of explaining the concepts to the kids.


It starts with animals – their habitats, the food chain, oceans and then moves onto the human body.

Core Knowledge What Your Year 2 Child needs to Know the science chapter includes the human body

It also includes Solid, liquid or gas, units of measurement and an introduction to electricity. And then ends with a bit about the solar system.

I find these books very useful as I get lots of ideas and the recommended resource pages have been invaluable to me.  But for me that the strength of the books is that they make suggestions/recommendations and it is up to you to decide if these suggestions are suitable for your kids and the current stage of learning that they are at.

(sorry some of the text is a bit wonky in the photographs – combination of it being an older used book that I was trying to photography and just the way the pages lie)




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PAINT LAB for Kids – stunning art ideas book

We love doing art activities. But sometimes the kids want to paint something and they just don’t know what to paint.  This, for me, is the beauty of the Paint Lab for Kids book.  It is a visual gem filled with lots of great painting ideas.  Perfect for the kids (or parents) to page through and find an inspiring idea.

Paint Lab for Kids. An art book filled with lots of inspiring painting activities for kids to do.

Each idea is featured on a double page and includes a brief introduction about the painting activity, as well as what materials are needed and then step by step instructions.

More pictures showing different stages of the painting activity and a brief paragraph about the artist who inspired the activity (this is great as the kids can then go and search for more paintings by these artists) and also a little bit about how you could adapt the activity for younger kids.

Paint Lab for kids each painting project includes pictures showing each stage, a bit about the inspiring artist and how to adapt it for little hands

We have done a number of the activities and so far the only additional art material that we needed was some dimensional paint (by the way this stuff is stunning we now LOVE dimensional paint – stained glass window painting).  Most of the activities require – paints, watercolours or acrylics, brushes and paper – watercolour paper or heavy weight painting paper.  The one thing I have found is it is better to use the decent painting paper especially for the projects where the kids paint “layers” on top of each other.

Paint lab for kids book. Doing the Clean and Bright Acrylics activity

The book does include quite a few painting projects where the kids need to paint a background, leave it to dry and then add onto it.  And I must admit until we started using the book this has never gone down that well with my two. But both of mine have loved doing the backgrounds, leaving them to dry and they have always reminded me that we need to go back and finish the activities.

I have also found that when we select a painting activity from the book and the kids complete the steps required they normally end up staying at the table and ask for more paper and do their own version of the activity – which for me is what any good art book should be aiming for – inspiring the kids to take an idea and make it their own.

Paint lab for kids book. After finishing the painting activity in the book my kids would often continue painting and try their own versions of the art activity

And a few of the painting activities have been such big hits with the kids that they keep going back and redoing them again and again – The Watercolour Blob Characters is now a favourite painting activity for my kids.

Creating Watercolour Blob Characters from the Paint lab for Kis art book

Watercolour Blob Characters from the paint Lab for kids book

My kids love this book so much that they have actually gone through each page and colour tagged which activities they want to do (pink are activities we need to do ASAP and the orange are for when we have finished the pink).

Paint Lab for kids a stunning children's book filled with painting projects for you to try with the kids

Paint Lab for Kids: 52 Creative Adventures in Painting and Mixed Media for Budding Artists of All Ages (Hands-On Family)

This book was sent to us by Quarry Publishers in exchange for a review.  But it has honestly become my favourite art idea book.   The kids and I Highly recommend this book.




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Fraction shapes

As my youngest has been learning more about different fractions and my oldest is trying to get her head around decimals, I kept trying to think of MORE activities that the two of them could do together.  And as the kids have been playing around with shapes a lot lately (we are loving out Dive into Shapes set) I wanted to do a home-made activity with shapes and fractions, something along those lines but I was stuck, completely stuck on what we could make together. And then I remembered an Easter Egg card that we made a few years ago and I realized we could do a similar activity but include our fractions and instead of sticking the shapes onto a card we could stick the two ends together.

Easy to make fraction circles

We started by cutting out a lot of circles and squares (all the same size) in different coloured paper (the paper we used is thicker than normal printing paper).

Both kids wanted to try the circles first.  They divided the circles into equal shapes – first by folding them and then drawing the lines in – and on each circle they labelled the equal segments.

Writing the fractions on each circle

Once all the circle had been labelled we started glueing the halves together (you need to glue the 1st half of the 1/2 circle to the back of the whole circle and glue the 2nd half of the 1/2 circle to the 1st half of the 1/4 circle and continue until you glue the last circle to the very first piece – in our example the 1/8 circle ends up being attached back to the whole circle).  The end result is that each time the kids turn to the next circle they see new fractions.

Dimensional Fraction circle. Each circle shows different fractions and they are all glued together

You could add as many circles as you want (my son included a whole, 1/2, 1/4, 1/6 and 1/8)

Home-made fraction circles where each circle is divided into different fractions

My daughter did the same thing except she labelled her circles with decimals.

Dimensional Fraction circle where each circle shows a different set of decimals

And we did the exact same thing using squares.  With the squares the kids also added in thirds. And the nice thing about doing it a second time I could see both kids were more confident with how to fold and divide the shapes equally, how to glue all the bits together and my daughter did not need to keep checking which decimals numbers needed to go where.

Shape fraction fun. creating a booklet of shape fractions, each square shows different fractions

Home-made square fraction booklet. Each page shows a different fraction or decimal number

It really is easy to set up (coloured paper, scissors, glue, pencil and ruler) and it ends up being a great learning activity.

Easy fraction activity to make at home with the kids.

Please bear in mind all activities are made by my kids and so are not going to look perfect.  The blog is a blog showing ideas on how we learn at home.  I also try and take photos without disturbing their activities.











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THE STORY OF LONDON – part of the Usborne Young Reading Series

My kids and I are slightly hooked on the Usborne Young Reading Series. They have so many great titles, written at just the right level for the kids (nothing too gruesome and frightening) and perfect for our current History phase we are going through.

One of our Favourites has to be The Story of London (Young Reading Series Three).  We love learning about our city (we live on the outskirts of London and often travel into the city with the kids, so the kids call it their city).

The Story of London. Part of the Usborne Young Reading Series. An excalent children's version of London starting from The Romans and going all the way to Modern Times

The book starts with the Roman rule in 43AD. The kids and I loved the way it sets the scene………”At the head of the army, a war elephant stomped and snorted through the marshes, it’s curled tusks slicing the misty air.  Behind, a golden eagle – the symbol of Rome – glinted in the sunlight.”  My youngest says he can picture himself part of the Roman army marching to the river Tamesa and setting up their settlement Londinium.

The Story of London starts with the Roman town Londinium. Part of the Usborne Young Reading series

Next the Saxons and the Vikings came and then the Middle Ages.  We have been spending quite a bit of time on the Middle Ages and Tudor times recently so this particular section has been read and re-read multiple times.

The book mentions how King Henry wanted to show off his wealth and power so he converted existing buildings into new impressive palaces – one of the examples being Hampton Court which was seized from cardinal Wolsey.  The kids love visiting Hampton Court Palace so the fact the book brought in one of their favourite palaces was so exciting for them (and of course it meant a few more vists to Hampton Court Palace was needed).

The Story of London also includes a section on London in the Tudor times and mentions Hampton Court Palace

It talks about Guy Fawkes, the Great Plague and the Fire of London.  All British historical events which we have talked about so the kids liked reading how they fitted into the sequence of events and contributed to London as we know it today.

The Story of London includes historical events like The Great Fire of London

In each stage of the City’s history the book mentions which famous structures were built which for kids who have been into London or are planning on going into London makes it more exciting.

My kids also loved the fact that book included the first underground trains in 1863 (We visited  The London Transport Museum after we read the book for the first time).

Then the Victorian area and onto the World Wars and then Modern London.

The Story of London. Usborne Young Reading Series. Starts with the Romans and goes all the way too Modern London

We LOVE this book.  It has been fascinating for us to read about how London developed over time and when lots of the famous landmarks were built.    I love that it is written in language which makes the History accessible for my kids but at the same time is not too simplified.

My kids have loved reading about the City that they know but I also think this book would be great to read with children who are planning on coming to visit the City as it would give them context to a lot of the sights that they are about to see.

We highly recommend this book.





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