Bee Boy – Fun Reading

We were recently given a copy of a newish story – Bee Boy Clash of the Killer Queens.  As soon as I saw this book I knew my youngest was going to love it and he DID.  The very first day it arrived he sat and read the story while he ate his lunch. Everything about the book was just right for him.

Bee Boy Clash of the Killer Queens. A brilliant chapter book for kids

He loved the storyline, the text was spaced out and the words manageable for him and the pictures in yellow and black were very effective.

The story follows Melvin, he keeps bees in a beehive on top of their apartment tower.  Melvin is not a confident kid but as the story unfolds his bees start giving him confidence and he ends up with an excellent friend.  The story is sweet but what really got my son’s attention was when Melvin turned into a bee and could go inside the bee hive and talk to the other bees.  Wow, he loved this.  He loves the way the bees all spoke – with zz’s added onto their words and he kept reading the pages were Melvin goes into the hive over and over again.

Bee Boy Clash of the Killer Queens. My son loved the way the bees talked with z's on the end of their words

This was actually his first real chapter book but he did not flinch.  The story had him hooked and he wanted to read page after page (often reading 2 or more chapters in one go).  I think part of the reason was the way the text was formatted on the page.  It is not all crowded together, it was nicely spaced out so for a beginner chapter book it is not intimidating.

Bee Boy Clash of the Killer Queens. A great starter chapter book as the text is nicely set out making it less intimidating

There are also lots of pictures scattered throughout the book and speech bubbles when the different characters are talking.

And for me, the fact that it is a fun reading book would honestly have been enough.  Seeing my son pour over the pages and read and reread parts both to himself and then out loud to me or his big sister, that really is what I want in a children’s book – books that create a love of reading, books that make the kids want to curl up somewhere and get lost in a story.

Bee Boy Clash of the Kiler Queens. My son loved this story

But that is not the only thing this book offers.  There are lots of facts about bees brilliantly woven into the story.  You don’t even realize that you are learning because they naturally flow as part of the story.  I was really impressed with how the author managed this, a fun story with informative facts included without taking anything away from the story.

Both my son and I highly recommend this book.  In fact he is already asking when Bee Boy 2 will be reading for him to read.

You can get a copy of Bee Boy directly from OUP – Bee Boy Clash of the Killer Queens

or from Amazon Bee Boy: Clash of the Killer Queens

Bee Boy Clash of the Killer Queens by Tony De Saulles

 

We were kindly given our copy of Bee Boy by Oxford University Press.

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 use and love.

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Flight of the Honey Bee

I am always amazed at how our little themes seem to just pop up.  And they often have nothing to do with me trying to plan, it is normally the kids finding something interesting.  We seem to have stumbled onto a bit of a bee theme, my son found a book at the local library – Flight of the Honey Bee and we were given another book Bee Boy at around the same time and totally unplanned we are looking at Bees and pollination.

Bee Books. Flight of the Honey Bee and Bee Boy Clash of the Killer Queens

The Flight of the Honey Bee is a stunning children’s book which tells a short story about a Bee and manages to weave in lots of facts along the way.  It is part of the nature storybook series which is a series of books about animals that we love as the kids have always found the stories enjoyable but full of interesting facts about the animals.

Flight of the Honey Bee. A brilliant children's book filled with lots of information about bees

It starts off by explaining that bees are always changing jobs – from a cleaner to babysitter, a builder, a guard, a scout and then a harvester and the story is about a scout.  It follows the scout as she flies out in search of flowers, it details how she navigates, how she avoids rain as it can damage her and which predators are out there (I never realized so many other animals ate bees).

Once she gets back to her hive she does a dance for the other bees which explains where the flowers are.  I loved this bit about the dance and both my kids found it fascinating that the bees communicate where the flowers are by dancing.

Flight of the Honey Bee. Scout doing a bee dance to show the other bees where the flowers are

It also explains a bit about how the life in the hive works.

Both my kids found the book very interesting (even my older one).  And they liked the way the information was included in the story.

So I had a quick search and I found this page All about bees from Twinkl for my son (part of their paid for package).

All about Bees worksheet from Twinkl Resources

And for my daughter we went more onto the pollination process.  We found this really good Flower Anatomy page from Education.com

Anatomy of a Flower from the Education.com website

And we also downloaded this FREE Parts of a Flower page from Twinkl so she could label her own flower and include the diagram in her Science book.

Parts of a Flower labelling activity from Twinkl Resources. Free to download

My daughter has a notebook  where she keeps a very loose record of the interesting science things that she has learnt.  We often stick in pictures, diagrams of something that she has learnt about and sometimes she will draw a quick brain map of a few key words.

Parts of a Flower labelling page from Twinkl Resources. Completed and in our science book

My son liked the idea of the flower picture so he took the answer page and coloured it in and stuck it into his own book.  (The first time he did this I was very tempted to print out a copy of the page that his sister was doing for him, but he explained to me that if he has the answer page, he can focus on reading the words and decorating it and not trying to get his writing to fit in so he enjoys it more.  And the slightly easier way of allowing him to do the activity – he is 2.5 years younger – means he sits for longer, joins in and he does actually take in the vocab and the facts so it works well for us).

Parts of a Flower labelling activity Free to download from Twinkl Resources

The Two books I mentioned up top are these two

Flight of the Honey Bee (Nature Storybooks)

Bee Boy: Clash of the Killer Queens

My son is still reading Bee Boy but once he has finished it I will write a post on the book.

All links back to independent third-party websites and references to any subscriptions are correct at the time of writing this post. 

I have included 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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Noun word search

We have been talking about nouns and verbs lately and my youngest seems to have clicked quite quickly that a verb is an action / doing word but nouns seem to get mixed up.  He sometimes gets a bit confused when he tries to join in with his older sister’s learning activities (he loves working with her on projects) so I wanted to do a fun activity to help him spot nouns and make it a bit easier for him to join in with some other english activities we have been doing.

We dug out one of his old favourite story books – Night Monkey Day Monkey and I dug out a simple monkey drawing that I did for my daughter years ago and used the two together.  The idea being that as he reads the book he finds nouns and then writes the words on his page creating a noun monkey.

Night Monkey Day Monket Noun word search. A fun way to reinforce nouns by using a favourite story book

It was a “quick idea” that I had the day before yet it worked out so well.  It ended up being, reading, writing and spelling practice as well as noun identification, verb spotting and we even chatted about Adjectives and Pronouns.

Create a Noun Monkey. Using the story book Night Monkey Day Monkey for a noun search activity

I think it worked really well with the Night Monkey Day Monkey text but you could use a lot of other stories.  For us one of the keys to it working was that my son already knew the story, if it was a brand new story I think he might have been more interested in the story itself as opposed to hunting for the different type of words.  Also Night Monkey Day Monkey has a lot of different animals mentioned in the text so straight away there were some easy nouns for him to spot which boosted his confidence and had him asking me questions about other words.  eg “the word him is a noun but it is not the same as my animal nouns so what would I call that?” – and we chatted about pronouns.

For my son focusing on the Noun search and writing those words out was enough but you could extend it to including some verbs or adjectives.  Possibly have it that they write the nouns around the monkey and maybe the verbs or adjectives inside the monkey.

Night Monkey Day Monkey book activity. Do a Noun search and create a Noun Monkey

Just to mention we are home educating two kids. My youngest likes to be included in activities that his older sibling does, so often if his sister is doing a grammar activity or working on a topic I will try to find something linked to the same topic but more suited for his age – this is just our way of making it all work and it suites the nature of our kids.

Using a favourite story book for a Noun Hunt. Night Monkey Day Monkey by Julia Donaldson

Noun Search.  Use a favourite story book to search for nouns.  Easy activity to do at home with the kidsUse a favourite story book for a noun search.  Night Monkey Day Monkey is a good one to use

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At Home With Punctuation Workbook Review

My son has really found the At Home with Spelling book helpful and easy to use (not too much in one go) so when I was wanting to revise some Punctuation I first looked to see if there was something in their At Home With Learning series. And there was an At Home With Punctuation book, so I thought it might be worthwhile giving it a try (it is aimed at ages 7 to 9).

At Home With Punctuation by Oxford University Press. Ages 7 to 9. Good revision book

It is not a detailed book, filled with page after page of examples to practice.  It is what I would call a revision book.  The entire workbook is 32 pages long of which 26 pages are actual content for the kids to work through and 3 pages are answers.  So what does it cover?

The contents page of At Home With Punctuation by Oxford University Press

Each topic covered has a Learn about section – explaining what the rules are, followed by a Now try This – 2 or 3 examples and a Challenge section – something slightly harder.

Then the following page normally continues on the topic but expands slightly so example for Sentences the first page spoke about using a Capital letter to start the sentence and a full stop and the second page talked about the sentence needing to make sense eg including a verb and noun.

At Home With Punctuation by Oxford University Press. Sentence page

At Home With Punctuation by Oxford University Press. Sentences include verbs and nouns

We have found this book to be just the right fit for us.  Good, brief explanation of what the rules are, exercises to practice without overdoing the exercises because let’s be honest doing page after page of punctuation practice can be a bit dry.

At Home With Punctuation by Oxford University Press. Contractions

The At Home With Learning series style appears to suit my son.  Once he has read a rule, understands it, practiced it one or twice he is set.  He tends to grasp concepts quite quickly and gets bored with repetitive practice.  Normally with my daughter we would choose something with more examples in it (she likes to practice something over and over), but for punctuation revision this really was enough for her.

At Home With Punctuation workbook by Oxford University Press.

As far as a punctuation workbook goes we thought it ticked all the right boxes.

For more information about the At Home With Learning Range (including what other books they have in this series) please look here – At Home With Learning

Otherwise the books can also be purchased through Amazon – At Home with Punctuation (7 – 9) and possibly at a local bookstore.

At Home With Punctuation by Oxford University Press. A review of the workbook

The lovely staff at Oxford University Press kindly sent us this book after I mentioned we were interested in trying it out.  All opinions expressed are mine and taht of my two little testers.

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 use and love.

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One Year of Costco UK Shopping

Last year I went on a cost reduction drive.  Why ?  Well the main reason – home education.  Our decision to follow this route has meant I can not earn the second income that we had always thought I would (I am an Accountant), but we know it is a good sacrifice so we are trying as hard as we can to reduce our costs.  I knew about Costco and I had been inside one about 10 years ago when I visited a friend in the US (in fact the fleece that I bought on that trip is still hanging in my cupboard) so I had an idea of what to expect but I kept thinking that paying for the membership and then driving out to a warehouse would offset any savings I made.  So I kept putting it off.  Then last year we decided to go and see, walk the aisles look at what we would buy and work out the savings right there and then. (Costco do allow you to visit the store but you can not buy anything unless you go and get your membership card).

Within minutes I had worked out that I would save.  So we went and sorted out our membership card and started buying.  And one year later we have just renewed our membership and I have just been back to stock up.

I don’t have a big fridge/ freezer so I can not comment on that side of things but I do have some cupboard space.  So what do I buy ?  All my household items – cleaning goods, toiletries, tinned items, coffee, tea, snacks, baking (basically anything that does not need to be in the fridge).

They also have kids toys (we bought my son a huge hot wheels set for his birthday which was a good price), clothes (I have bought my husband a shirt ), shoes, furniture, electrical goods, stationary, books.  Oh the books.  As a home educator I love their table of books.  It is not a big selection but they always have stunning books at amazing prices – I have bought some books for the kids that were half the price I would have paid in other stores (the photo below was taken last year so please don’t rush into Costco UK tomorrow expecting to see the exact same books).

Some of the Stunning educational books you can buy at Costco UK

I only go every 6 weeks/ 2 months and then I tend to stock up on the items I need but after a year of doing this I can honestly say I have saved.

Do I have any issues with Costco shopping ?  Well two.

The membership card should come with a warning that you might be tempted to go and buy a bigger car.  Luckily my kids are good sports and happily share their backseat with all the items that do not fit into our boot.

Filling up the car including the backseat with our Costco shopping

And secondly beware of the Costco coupons that arrive.  You will think you have figured out all the cool things you can buy until your book of coupons arrive.  Suddenly you will notice some really good deals for items that you never spotted.  And the coupon booklet also highlights some excellent online deals – case in point their climbing frame (see my comment below about buying online).

In the UK you can also buy from Costco online – I have not spent much time looking at this.  I logged on once and I bought the kids a climbing fame for Christmas, I knew what I wanted and what the price was (thanks to their booklet) so I did not spend any time looking around.  The item arrived very quickly and the driver was helpful getting the boxes into the house (it was very heavy).  Based on this experience I will happily buy from them online again.

The Costco Climbing Frame. perfect for garden fun

Oh and the climbing frame is honestly the best.  The kids love it.

In case you are wondering – this is just me writing about Costco, it is not linked to the company in any way or form I have just found shopping there to be a good way of reducing our costs.

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Geometry Set Art

Most people don’t think Maths and Art go together.  But I actually think combining the two can be a lot of fun.  Who says Maths can’t be made into Art ?

So when my daughter got a geometry set this we spent some time just playing around with the different items included in the set and she realized that you can actually make some stunning Geometry Art. 

Geometry Art Project using a Maths Geometry set by ofamily learning together

My daughter loved using the compass (or the circle drawing tool as my son calls it).

Creating for own geometry art picture using her Maths geometry Set

She loved the idea of drawing circles around circles, playing with the angle of the compass to see how it affected her circles.  But it was not just the compass in the set that she used (although it is fair to say the compass was used the MOST), she used the other shapes as well.

A Drawing created using a Maths Geometry set. One way of combining Maths and Art

Once she had her drawings she then started adding colour – one of the pictures she painted with her watercolours and the other she just opted to use her sharpies (I also think oil pastels would work well with this).

Geometry Set Art for kids. Combining Art and Maths together to make learning fun. ofamily learning togetherWith the watercolours if you are painting the circles in a pattern like my daughter did be aware of allowing some drying time so that all the colours do not run together. She painted the red circles, had some lunch and then came back to do the orange circles.

Geometry Art using watercolour paints. Design created using a school geometry set. ofamily learning together

It was a fun activity and my youngest even joined in creating some of his own masterpieces (he has not finished his so I am not allowed to photograph them yet).

And honestly even if she had just created the pictures that would have been enough for me.  But as it often happens, as she was sitting and working we chatted and she asked questions, questions about the shapes, how they fitted together, angles and we even did a quick diagram of a circle and what some key words are.

Geometry Art. Great opportunity to discuss parts of a circle

If you haven’t already tried combining some Maths and Art, we highly recommend that you give it a go.  It is a fun way of making maths come alive (Quote from my daughter).

Maths plus Art. Geometry Set Art. Fun way of exploring a new geometry set

 

 

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High Frequency Word Bookmark game

My son recently reminded me about a little game we used to play when he was just starting to recognise words, I never thought that much of it as it developed by accident but the fact that he still talks about it made me think I should mention it.  I had printed out some High Frequency Word Bookmarks for his sister (they are from Activity Village) and they were just lying on the bookshelf (she already knew the words) so one day when I was reading to him he asked if we could use the bookmarks for his book.

High Frequency Word Bookmarks from Activity Village

So we did.  And while I was reading the story I noticed he was looking at the bookmark and then back at the text in the story and then he commented – “look mom those two words are the same” – he pointed to a word on the bookmark and a word in the text of the book I was reading to him.  And he was correct.  So I asked if there were any other words he could spot.  He slowly worked through the text and bit by bit he started matching the words back to the bookmark.

Using a high frequency word bookmark with a story book to search for words

After he had finished he asked for another story and as I read it to him he started looking for the words.  The bookmarks were laminated so I suggested we take it a step further and as soon as he spots the word he could circle or underline the word on his bookmark.  He loved this.

High Frequency Word Bookmark activity using bookmarks from Activity Village and Monkey Puzzle by Julia Donaldson

Our little bookmark activity continued for months.  He loved hunting for the words in the text of the stories and I do think it helped with his sight words and his reading confidence.

High Frequency Word Bookmark game. Kids search for the words from the bookmark in a story text. Story used Monkey puzzle by Julia Donladson

Extra comment – for those of you wondering we have followed a combined phonics and sight word approach with both kids.  I do think knowing the sounds helps with reading and spelling but I also think practicing basic sight words builds reading confidence.

Sight Word Activity. Kids match words from high frequency bookmarks back to favourite storybooks

 

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