Easter Maths from Twinkl Resources

Since it will be the Easter weekend soon I thought it would be nice to find some fun, Easter themed, where possible puzzly type maths pages for the kids. In past years when the kids where younger I found a number of great Easter Maths activities on Twinkl (they have a lot for Key Stage 1 ages – that cheeky Easter bunny ) so I thought I would start there and see what I can find for slightly older years.

When I started searching, I immediately went to their Maths Mystery sets to see if they had any interesting looking Easter ones (we are huge fans of the Maths Mystery series). I found a few and checked to see if any were revising the Maths activities that I specifically had in mind – and I found two that ticked the right boxes for us.

The Mystery of the Easter Bunny Costume – looked like it would be good for general lower key stage 2 practice.

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And the Mystery of the Contaminated Chocolate included simple solving for x and some coordinates which where two things I was wanting to practice if possible.

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I also remembered I had once printed off a code breaking page to do with simplifying factions and we have recently covered that with my youngest so I searched for Easter simplifying fractions and found it – Easter Code Breaking Simplifying fractions (both of mine always enjoy working out some wort of coded message)

Code Breaker by simplifying fractions

If your kids also like the idea of code breaking pages I did also spot some Easter ones for – multiplication, sequences and 24 hour clock which might be interesting.

I also found a colour by simplifying fractions page, which they took me on a quick colour by worksheet search and I spotted some colour by division pages and a colour by sum Easter egg page in their Secondary section – which had negative numbers included.

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We have also recently revised coordinates so I thought some Easter coordinate pages would be good. I found a bunch – Egg in one quadrant, Easter pictures in four quadrants that all looked interested but I really wanted something that includes translations and I found this one – Easter Coordinates with translations.

Easter coordinates and translations from Twinkl Resources

And finally I know this is not a Maths page but while I was searching the Secondary section I spotted this Easter Egg Hunt page where the kids need to name the countries and I am 100% slipping this page in so here is the link – Atlas Easter Egg Hunt

Easter egg Hunt - name the country

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Medieval Topic Packs

This past week I have still been out of it with the virus and as such we kept the home education routine to our scaled back version but the kids actually surprised us and ended up doing quite a bit of History by themselves.

Before we came down with the virus we were working through the Middle Ages, very slowly, watching lots of documentaries, reading a number of sources and doing a few little projects. The kids and I had already worked through the Black Death Topic Pack together but we still had the Peasant’s Revolt and the Becket and Henry II Topic Packs that I was planning on going through with them. And then the virus struck and all plans went out the window.

But this past week the kids unpacked the two unused Medieval Topic packs and worked through them by themselves. And I know they did a good job because when I came downstairs to check on them my daughter used the character cards from the Peasants’ Revolt to explain the order of events to me.

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And my hubbie told me they did the same with the Thomas Becket pack – apparently over lunch he was given a detailed lesson all about Becket and Henry II.

using the character cards to revise about Becket and Henry II

I have always enjoyed using these Topic Packs as part of our home education but the fact that both the kids (aged 9 and 11) were so confident with the topic packs that they continued using them and worked through 2 packs while I was unwell was not something I was expecting. And for me this once again proves that this Oaka style of a Topic pack – using key sentences with graphics, followed by a learning map and character cards and then a write your own booklet does work for kids. It is accessible learning and my youngest even told me he enjoys reading the topic booklets so much that he wishes we had more. (I will add only my 11 year old worked through the Write Your Own notes. My nine-year old just read the booklet with his sister and worked with the learning map and character cards – which I am totally happy with).

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I am thrilled with how these topic packs have worked this past week.  I have been exhausted, with a continuous headache and a strange mind fog where I just was not thinking straight and definately not on the best form for education.  But both kids still managed to continue learning and based on the explanations that they gave both their father and myself they definately understand the events and what unfolded in both cases. I definately agree with my son and think we are going to need more of these topic packs.

Medieval Themed Topic Packs from Oaka Books

A few extra photos to show what these topic packs look like inside.

Becket and Henry II

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The Peasants’ Revolt and Life in Medieval Towns

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I should also probably explain the way we store items in our house. The Oaka Book Topic Packs are stored on the kids’ bookshelf, next to other reference books that we have. And that includes the topic packs that we have already worked through and new “unused” topic packs. I have always had a policy that if there is anything in the house that is educational the kids have free access to it, I don’t hold back resources for when I want to do a topic.

For those who may be interested other History Topic Packs that we have used in the past are the Battle of Hastings and The Spanish Armada.

Admin Note – You can buy the Oaka Book Topic Packs directly from their website and you can also buy some of them on Amazon.

Oaka Books know that my kids enjoy their topic packs and have read some of my other posts so they have kindly sent us more packs to use.  If and how we use them is entirely up to us.  We are NOT paid for these posts.

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Please Don’t Compare

One of the most important lessons I have learnt while home educating is this. Every Family is different, what works for one is not going to be the blueprint for another so when it comes to home education every family is going to do it in their own way.

I really mean this. I have met LOTS of home educating families over the last 8 years (well 8 years in August) and none of us ever do everything excatly the same. Yes there are similarities, we often borrow ideas from each other and listen to resource suggestions, but the end result is always unique to that individual family. And this is the Main reason that a lot of us feel so strongly about home education – because you can adapt it to suit the family structure and your kids learning style.

But part of realizing this is accepting that comparing is never good. There is a fine line between sharing ideas, concepts, resources and comparing your home education to what one family is doing and then feeling anxious because you don’t feel like you are measuring up.

This is never a good thing.

It is amazing to borrow ideas from each other. I have learnt so much by following what other home educators do and seeing what worked for them. But you need to keep reminding yourself that everyone is different. And just because your kids might be taking longer on a concept than some other family it’s Okay. If you only get around to 1 thing whereas that family did 3 – It’s okay. The worst thing we can do is to beat ourselves up that we are not getting enough done. Or worry that other kids seems to be so further ahead in maths then yours. We need to remember everyone is different. Every kid is unique and yes sometimes your kid is going to take longer to grasp a concept but lets no rush them because we are comparing ourselves to that other family.

It might be a case that your gut is telling you, now is the time to take a few steps back and revisit some basics that your kids is still unsure about. Do that. Listen to what your kid needs and not what other families are doing.

When we first started down this path I kept comparing where we were to the local schools. And in the begining we took a lot longer learning basic sounds and getting going with our reading. And I fell into that trap of comparing and getting anxious. And then one day my oldest just got it and she started flying. Her reading took off and she now loves reading. She normally has about 5 or 6 different books that she is reading at one time and constantly amazes me with what she reads. I am now so glad that we took it slow and did not keep up with the local school pace. It was a lesson that I learnt and always remind myself to this day.

So please if you are a home educator or if you are a school parent who is now supervising distance learning I now it is hard but please try NOT to compare and get worried. Try to borrow ideas where you think they may work, adapt them if you need to and when you know something is just not suited to your situation just bin the idea. Really it is okay if you don’t do the current art craze or read the book that everyone is so determined is the one book you need to read. Borrow what suits you and your family, borrow and adapt but please please don’t start comparing what each kid is getting done in a day. And please, please remember home educators are going to do things a bit differently to distance learning families just like home educators do things a bit differently to schools.

ofamily learning together

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When the Home Educator is sick

This week has been a tough one, we are sure we have all caught the virus, yip, all of us, luckily the kids have managed really well but the 2 adults in the family have been struggling. So what have we done with the home education?

Well, we did not Stop 100% (in all honesty home education never stops even when scheduled learning activities do not happen – my kids have been reading, writing, helping with housework this week all without me asking) but we did scale back. Over the years (this is our 8th year of home education) we have realized that our kids do not do well if their routine is abruptly stopped but at the same time I suck at explaining anything when I feel sick. So we did our normal sick day routine.

The kids still did Maths and English in the morning but it was practice / revision. Nothing new. I have tried this before and trying to introduce a new concept when the person explaining / facilitating is sick – DOES NOT WORK !!!! So whenever I have sick days it is practice / revision activities. And I am really glad we did this. My daughter worked through some Maths pages I already had printed in her Maths file and for English she worked part way through a KS2 English Grammar book. Now my daughter is actually Year 7 but I had total brain fog, I could not think of any suggestions for English for her and I had zero energy so I grabbed an English Grammar book and asked her to work through it. Yes it was for a younger year and yes most of it was a breeze but it did highlight a section that we need to go back to. So it was not a waste. Revision is never a waste.

Now I had already planned that we were going to continue working on our History, Geography and Biology topics this past week (we have on going topics that we are working on) but I there was no ways that was going to happen. So I asked the kids that each morning they select and watch 1 documentary. I have a number of documentaries that I have taped and lined up for projects and normally we try and watch the documentaries that tie in with what we are working on. And normally I watch the documentaries with the kids and we pause and chat about different things as we are watching them. But this hit me hard and I needed a lot of sleep this past week so the kids choose whichever documentaries they wanted. And for those you may be curious they choose some fascinating ones – two documentraies about how areas like the Alps and Yellowstone were created, one about a River in the UK, one about the Moon and some Vet programmes where they watched some operations (my kids are not queasy about that type of thing). And yes they did also sneak in some other TV – they watched the Sound of Music for I think the 5th time.

The other activity I asked them to do was to select an audio book to listen to. And I asked that they select a Michael Morpurgo story (just because I think his stories are amazing). They choose The War Horse and listened to it over a few afternoons – it is quiet long. I am a HUGE fan of audio books and I often turn to them whenever one of us is sick (they are also brilliant when kids are sick). I like audio books for a few reasons, the kids hear a story read with emotion and they get pronunciations of tricky words (especially good when the kids listened to Viking stories which had strange names). But I also like audio books because the kids are not presented with a visual representation of the story so they still end up using their imagination to think about how a character looks or how an event unfolded. I find with audio books there is still a good level of interpretation. And after finishing the War Horse my son came and told me he thought there where lots of similarities between the War Horse and Black Beaty and he started explaining which characters or events he thoughts were similar and how they differed and why they differed. So yes audio books can be powerful. Also I need to mention listening to an audio book has never stopped my kids from reading the book themselves, in fact it often prompts them to read the book.

So that is what I asked the kids to do this week – some Maths and English revision, documentaries and an audio book. They still read, wrote, built their K’Nex, cooked and baked without my asking.

For us keeping a bit of a routine is important, it helps our sensory kids deal with uncertainty especially when they are worried about me being sick. And I must stress because we home educate and have done so for years I already had Maths and English resources that I could quickly turn to and I had a documentary and audio book selection already lined up.

I was very much out of it this past week so I don’t have lots of photos from the week, but this is my daughter making me a yummy breakfast.

making breakfast

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Some ideas from the Activity Village site

Whether you are a home educator or a parent who suddenly has to help with distance learning while the kids are at home there are a number of useful pages from the Activity Village website. So with everything going on at the moment I thought I would share a few of our favourite pages, but please these are just our favourite ones, there is a lot more on the site.

I have to start with the Acrostic Poem section. When we first discovered these pages I printed a few out and both my kids went on a writing spree.  They loved creating all these crazy Acrostic poems and we have come back to them a few times since then and each time both kids just write and write.  It is probably one of our favourite fun writing activities. And really you can find an Acrostic poem template for most themes on the site. (Here is a post I wrote out these poems – Having Fun Writing Poems)

Rainbow Acrostic Poem written using the pages from the Activity Village website

Sticking with the writing idea we also have used the printable story paper a lot.  It is really good when the kids are just writing sentences or paragraphs and I have found the pictures helps to get them going (in our house there is nothing less productive then giving our kids a blank piece of paper, they always do much better if they have a starting point of some sort).

And if you are working on characters have a look at the Story character pages.  My son loved the Monster set and my daughter loved using the History set.

One set of pages that we use over and over again are the Continent Maps.  Really I keep coming back to this section.  We printed out the labelled maps to hang up and then the blank maps have been used for activities – I created labels and the kids pinned the labels onto the correct place, we did sessions where I called out countries and they had to colour them in, we have used them to plot rivers and mountains as we watch documentaries.  And I know I am missing some stuff out.  But if you want to do some Geography these maps are really useful.

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Weather.  We love the extreme weather section – especially the clozes.  My son enjoys finding documentaries about extreme weather and then after we have finished watching the documentaries I tend to add in a few of these pages for him to complete.

And linked into the Weather section are the Water Cycle pages – everything you need if you are looking at the water cycle – we actually used some of the word cards to label a very large water cycle diagram that the kids created.

For animal/plant science have a look at the life cycle section. (Frog life cycle post)

creating his own life cycle of a frog poster using sequencing cards from the Activity Village website

If you search by type of animal (e.g. pet, African animal or Australian animal) you will also find a number of worksheets including word searches, vocabulary pages, how to draw pages, animal alphabet pages and a number of crafting templates.  Oh I love the animal templates.  That for me is just crafting happiness.  You can use the templates for so many activities – a basic outline for drawing and then the kids add detail, a shape for collages, use the templates for paintings or for creating stick puppets.  We use our templates so much that I tend to print ours out onto card so they last longer.

If you kids enjoy reading the Secret Seven or the Famous Five then you must look at the pages under these sections.  A few years ago we went through a Secret Seven craze and I printed out a number of the pages and the kids had a blast.  They created their own badges, wrote out club rules, created signs and actually ended up writing out a few of their own mini-stories.

Maths.  There are a number of different Maths and Basic Number pages for younger kids have a look here – Maths Stages but I want to mention some other maths pages.  Firstly for times tables we used the skip counting cards and the times table folding cards A LOT.

skip counting and times table folding cards from Activity Village

For telling time we like the different clocks that they have on the site.

But our favourite Maths pages are the ones that are more puzzly maths.  Like the Pyramid puzzles or the mental maths gym pages. And don’t rule out using their art pages for maths – we used the grid copy pages to learn about co-ordinates.

The Mental Maths Gym pages from Activity Village cut into strips so that we can mix up the order

Although not directly Maths as such the Sudoku pages are one of my favourites for logical thinking.  We have done these so MANY times.  I actually have a set printed out on the bookcase ready and waiting for an “I am bored session”. (Sudoku for Kids post)

Solving the Activity Village sudoku puzzles by using coloured pencils to help create a pattern

And I cannot end without mentioning the Famous People section.  We come back to this whenever we are learning about someone and I have found time and time again that you can use these pages with a number of different books – here are a few examples – Mary Anning, Guy Fawks and Christopher Columbus.

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And I forgot to mention the Phases of the Moon pages.  And I could go on and on but I am hoping that gives some of you a starting point with the Activity Village site.

PS. Don’t be scared to just type in few words into the search bar at the top.

Homeschool ideas using Activity Village pages. Maps, life cycles, maths, sudoku, weather, comprehensions

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Home education routine vs timetable

Let me start by saying I get the need for a timetable it is reassuring to know what is happening when and to figure out how you are going to fit everything in especially when things around us seem more chaotic than normal. I get that. I do.

But I want to suggest to people who are being thrown into this “homeschooling” for the first time to ease up on the timetable and rather try a routine approach. The difference may seem small to some but please trust me there is a difference. A timetable is rigid, it is saying between this set time period you need to do x and then when the clock chimes you need to move onto y. It is more school than home.

A routine is more loose than a timetable, it says we are going to try and get some Maths, and English done this morning but if you need to take a bit longer at breakfast and chat to us about what is bothering you we can do that. We can sit and chat for as long as needed until we all feel better. There is no rush to start doing “homeschool” at a certain time or have it finished by a certain time.

We follow a semi-structured approach for our home education. Which for us (it is different for every family) means we do Maths and English every morning. After that we often have an activity (right now we try and get out for walk when we can) and then we do project work / topics for other subjects. There is a loose routine but we are flexible.

This past week when my nine year old was sitting down to do some maths he brought his maths book to the couch and came and chatted with me (we have a couch right next to their desks). We ended up have a long chat and cuddle, he needed it, he had lots of concerns about all the changes going on. After the chat and cuddle we had a snack and then went for a long walk in the woods to one of his favourite spots. It was only after lunch time that he sat down and did his Maths. And by then he was happy to sit and do his Maths and he did it quickly and easily, his mind was at rest and he could concentrate.

The same goes for us adults, the ones doing the “homeschooling” if something has happened that has stressed you out, trying to sit down and complete that Maths session is not going to work. Last time I tried to go shopping, I came home stressed, I only got a few things on my list, I was stressing. Now for me to sit down and try to explain / help with Maths would not have been a good thing. I would have been impatient with the kids. Even though it was morning time and our normal Maths time we swopped it around. The kids and I watched a History documentary and then we all baked and had some banana bread for lunch. Later that afternoon when I was not feeling so stressed about my failed shopping trip we sat and went through the Maths. And I was better at explaining and helping because I was feeling better.

I understand why people want a timetable but please bend it, let it be flexible and more like a routine. Take time out when your kids need a chat or a break and please give yourself a break when you need it. I promise, trying to help with maths when you are stressed is not a good thing. I have done that in the past and it ever ends well. Bend that timetable to go with the rhythms of the family and what everyone needs that day. 

This is home, so Maths can happen with cuddles, fractions can get taught with baking, curling up on the couch reading counts, play some board games, talk about things.  Please, please bend those timetables and give your kids and yourself time to deal with whatever is stressing you out. 

ofamily learning together

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Rusks

I love baking with the kids and one of our favourite recipes has to be our rusk recipe. Now I must confess when I first tried baking rusks I tried a few different recipes and everyone was a flop – and I mean complete, utter flop – the kind when nothing can be eaten. But my kids love rusks so I kept trying and then my daughter’s Godmother gave her this recipe and we have used it over and over again and not one flop.

mixing her rusk mixture ofamilylearningtogether.com

In fact last weekend when we were getting worried about the food shortages in the shops we baked a nice big batch and the kids have been having rusks and Rooibos tea for breakfast.

So here it is

Ingredients

  • 250g melted butter
  • 1kg self-raising flour
  • 4 eggs (beaten)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 x containers of buttermilk (ours are normally 300ml containers but in our latest batch I could only get 2x 275ml and they turned out perfect)
  • 1tsp vanilla

Instructions

  • whisk the sugar and eggs together
  • add the vanilla and the buttermilk and mix well
  • in a separate bowl add the melted butter to the flour and rub it in properly
  • Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture and mix together.

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We bake ours in 3 loaf tins at 180C for 1hr (check on the time – in my old oven it was closer to 50 mins)

Take the rusk loaves out of the tins and let them cool under a dishcloth for about 2 hours.

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Now you need to slice the rusk loaves.  I cut our loaves into 4 sections and then slice each of those sections.

The next step is VITAL – you need to dry the rusks.  If you don’t do this properly they will end up yucky (yip yucky).

drying in the oven

You want to place the rusks on oven racks in a cool oven (about 100C) for around 3 hours.  We leave our oven door slightly open (we place a wooden spoon in the side of the oven so  there is a slight gap.  This drying process is vital.  And after the 3 hours I normally check one of the rusks by dunking it in tea and if it has not dried properly I even leave it in for longer.

In the past the drying period often messed me up – rule of thumb if you are not sure if they have dried out properly leave them in for longer.

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And enjoy !!!

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