Classic stories and Little Women

This past week has been a really chilled week, the kids have been tired and overwhelmed and I have just wanted to curl up on the couch and not move.  So most of our learning plans went out the window but even without me guiding them, they have been learning non-stop.  Mainly due to their love of reading and stories.

We have a set of audio stories that I bought years ago (Ladybird Classics: The Complete Audio Collection).  Both kids love these CD’s.

Ladybird Classics the Aomplete Audio Collection. Lots of classic stories perfect for kids to listen to in the car

They are Classic stories and some of the language is a bit different to what the kids are used to so there are lots of “mom press pause, what does that word mean, or why is she saying that or what is a workhouse ?”  But they have been listening to these stories over and over again and keep asking for them when we are in the car.  They tend to pick 2 or 3 and then for a week or so they listen to those same stories a couple of times before they move on to the next batch.  But every now and again they ask for a repeat of one of the older stories.

One of the brilliant side-effects of these audio stories is that the kids have been seeking out the book versions to read – my daughter has actually now read 3 different versions of the Wind in the Willows after listening to the audio version.  And that has sparked another interesting conversation – Why are there so many different versions of these stories?  Why in one version does a character do or say x but in another version they do or say y?  Lots of interesting observations have been made.

My daughter’s current favourite has to be Little Women – she has loved being introduced to the wonderfully different characters by her audio story.  So she was thrilled when a copy of Little Women – Little Women: Band 18/Pearl (Collins Big Cat) arrived in the post for her.  She immediately started reading it.

reading the BIG CAT Classic reader Little Women

This is the second “classic” story that my daughter has read in the BIG CAT reader series (the first one was Black Beauty) and I am really happy with them.  They have managed to condense the classic story into a very manageable 77 pages (the book band for this one is Pearl which is aimed at Year 6 children – my daughter would be going into Year 6 in September if she was in school and easily managed this by herself).

Collins BIG CAT Classic reader Little Women. An example of some inside text

And yes we love the fact that Beth is home-schooled (look above).

I like this for the very simple reason – it makes an old classic accessible for my daughter.  Once she has read the more condensed version, understood the key story events she then has the confidence to look for a longer more complex version of the story and try that.  By reading this reader she is gaining confidence both in her reading ability and the actual story (she does not like stories that are too scary  – the fact that she now knows the girls will be okay means she will not put the longer version down midway through when Beth gets sick).

Collins BIG CAT Classic reader Little Women. A lovely way to introduce the story

One of my passions is to build a love of stories and a love of reading in both the kids.  And I want that love to include a wide range of stories.  I don’t want the kids to be “put-off” reading classics because the langauge is a bit different or because they don’t understand all of the events.  I think exposing the kids to condensed versions of the classic stories helps to prevent this.  They have already got a love for stories like Black Beauty, Little Women, Oliver’s Twist.  They are learning some of the older words and afterwards they are not as intimidated by a larger, thicker, more complex version of the story.

Collins BIG CAT reader Classic Little Women

From time to time the lovely people at Collins Primary send us a few books for us to use.  This copy of Little Women was included in one of our bundle of books.  I was not paid for this post and I am under no obligation to write anything.  I am sharing about this book because my daughter has enjoyed it and I think it is a great way to introduce a classic story to younger kids.

Collins BIG CAT Classic reader LIttle Women

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.

Little Women one of the Collins BIG CAT Classic readers.  Perfect for academic years 5  or 6 or home learning

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Twinkl Posters

We have different posters scattered around the house.  Some are semi-permanent and some we just put up while we are looking at a topic but either way these visual learning aids are a big part of both the kids learning.  So I thought I would share some photos and links for the Twinkl posters that we use (or have used).  A couple are FREE to download but the most are part of their paid for classic membership.  All our posters are displayed on really simple cork boards (we bought these ones from amazon – 5 Star Indigo Noticeboard Cork with Pine Frame W 900 x H 600mm)

One of our semi-permanent set of poster are our British History Timeline Posters.  There are quite a few and each page is A4 size so we used 2 of our notice boards for this but it is proving to be a really useful reminder for both the kids and me (I totally admit that I sometimes have a quick look to check dates if we are discussing an event or person and I want to make sure which period it/ they belonged in).

British History Timeline Posters from Twinkl Resources

There is also a World History Timeline set.

Most of the posters that we have up tend to be Maths.  One of the first ones we ever out up was this 0 – 200 number poster (I loved the fact that it included numbers great than 100).  If you are busy looking at Number Bonds we used their Rainbow Number bond Posters, there are three different ones – Number Bonds to 10, Number Bonds to 20 and Number Bonds to 100.

And our multiples poster – you can get the poster with all the numbers on one page – Number number poster.

Multiples, skip counting poster from Twinkl Resources

Or the individual numbers – we love these and they are FREE to download.

Multiples inside the NUmber Poster. Free to download from Twinkl Resources

If you are working on times tables – we really liked the 9 Times Table Easy Way Poster

Twinkl Resources Learning the 9 times table the Easy Way

and the 2, 4 and 8 times table poster.

2, 4 and 8 times table poster from Twinkl Resources

For Fractions I think this Fraction wall is a very useful poster (FREE to download) we have had ours up for ages.

Free to download Fraction Wall from Twinkl Resources

We also like this Fractions, Decimals and Percentage poster.

Twinkl's Fractions, Decimals and Percentages poster

And for Geometry – we have found this Angles poster useful.

Angles and Measurement poster from Twinkl Resources

Maps are another one we like – since I am originally from South Africa we have a large Map of Africa up so I can continuously point out the different countries in Africa (I get very irritated when people talk about Africa as  country so I am determined that both the kids are going to have a good knowledge of the different countries in Africa).

Twinkl Resources Map of Africa showing the different countries in Africa

They have lots of different maps on the site including this one of  Europe

Oh and this FREE to download Water Cycle Poster.

There are so many posters that we have used and I know I am forgetting a bunch but these are the ones that are up at the moment / or the ones I can think of.

This post is NOT a review post.  It is just me sharing some of the learning posters that we have used with our kids

Educational Posters from Twinkl Resources

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Co-ordinate Grid Copy Pictures

The kids have looked at co-ordinates before and as we are working on Geometry at the moment it seemed like a good time to go back and revisit it.  But we have also been slowing down the learning activities this week while my daughter catches her breath a bit so I thought it might be good to link the co-ordinates with a drawing activity. (In our house any learning activity with a slightly arty angle seems to be popular.)

We had completed a few of the grid copy pages from Activity Village before and I remember thinking at the time that it reminded me of co-ordinates so I went back and had a look.  I started off by printing out the butterfly grid copy page and then “added in an x and y-axis”.  I purposely labelled the one axis with letters and the one with numbers so as it avoid confusing my youngest.

Using Grid copy pictures to practice co-ordinates

My youngest actually told me that labelling the picture helped him and stopped him getting so muddled up when he was trying to figure out where he needed to work.

Grid Copy Sunflower picture from Activity Village with the 2 axis labelled to help the kids

And I noticed the more pictures he did the more comfortable he became with telling me exactly where he was working – the co-ordinates just started rolling off his tongue without a second thought.

Grid Copy the Tropical Island page from Activity Village

He did amend my idea though – he wanted the letters at the top and bottom of his page so he could quickly see where he was.

My daughter actually struggled a bit with this.  But what helped her was if she first plotted a few intersecting points on her page and then tried to draw the lines.

Grid Copy with co-ordinates. First plotting some points before you draw the lines

This definitely seemed to help.

Grid Copy Snowdrops from Activity Village

I really like these grid copy pages and I think the more the kids practice the easier the get.

All of the grid copy pages that we used are from Activity Village (you need a membership for their site which is currently around £15 for 12 months).

The Grid Copy Section is here – Activity Village Grid copy pages

And the individual ones that we used in the photographs are these ones – butterfly, sunflower, tropical island, snowdrops.

Grid Copy Sunflower page from Activity Village with the x and y axis labelled for the kids

This is a totally independent post. It is just a learning activity that we have been doing lately and I thought someone else might like the idea.

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A Short History of the World review

We enjoy learing about History and although I try to study individual time periods with the kids we often end up discovering other bits of history during our  learning activities and our trips into the museums. For me it is one of the benefits of living where we do, within such easy reach of the  London museums and attractions like Hampton Court Palace so we embrace and explore all the old wonders whenever we come across them.  But every now and then I do wonder if it becomes a bit mixed up for the kids so I like to try to use resources to discuss the general timeline of events so they are able to slot everything in a rough sequence of events.  We have used and still love our Story of London Book (real little gem this one, it has been read cover to cover and individual sections have been re-read after we have spotted certain landmarks in London).

But I really wanted a world history summary for the kids.  I wanted something that sorted the events into order but something that was kid friendly and not too detailed so they could read it and focus on the order of events.  I spotted the A Short History of the World and I was very intrigued.

Usborne a Short History of the World. A brilliant children's history resource

The book is NOT a detailed encyclopedia of History.  It is a well written, easy to read account of events throughout the history of the World.  They introduce key events that happened and also talk about general shifts in the way that people lived (eg the when towns starting forming in Europe or how cities grew because of new inventions and machines).

A Short History of the World by Usborne. Towns and Guilds start developing

The book itself is not massive (21cm by 15cm ) and it is 160 pages long yet somehow they manage to cover every major historical period.  (I actually really like the fact that they have not made this book big and thick as I think the size means lots of kids will not be intimidated by it).

It is divided into 4 general categories – The Ancient World (includes Ice Age), The Medieval World, The Early Modern World and the Modern World.  Each category covers all continents.

A Short History of the World by Usborne. An excallent summary of the key historical events

We really like the way they have written this book.  The pages are not crammed fill of fact after fact.  They have written it in a style which is just easy to read.  Short paragraphs explaining what happened, how it possibly linked to other areas of the world and any impact it may have had.  They mention key dates and figures but it is so naturally included in the paragraphs that you don’t feel you are getting name after name or date after date.

Usborne's A Short History of the World. The fall of Constantinople

They have also included interesting diagrams throughout the book which help explain key elements.

Usborne A Short History of the World. Ancient Greece

Usborne's A Short History of the World. Building an enpire. Ancient Rome

We really liked these visual summaries that are scattered through the book.

A Short History of the World. European Society

I have been very impressed with this book.  It is a great summary of the key events and written in a way that I think is just right for my ten-year old to read.

This book retails just under £10.

I searched for a world history book that I thought would be appropriate for us to use in our home education and this is the one that I choose.  After I choose it I approached the publishers and asked for a review copy which they kindly sent us. 

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Kindness that means everything

I mentioned that over the weekend my daughter danced in 2 shows.  She loves dancing but it comes with a number of challenges for her.  Part of her sensory processing makeup is that she battles to filter out background noise and focus in on the key stuff.  So she has to actively work on filtering out all the background information that most of us filter out naturally.  It takes quite a bit of work.  So as the day progresses, as she gets tired, it gets harder and harder for her to do this.

So what happens when she dances in two shows, she starts off focused and able to concentrate on the instructions.  For the first show she managed the costume, hair styling (it helped that she knew and adored the teacher doing her hair and make-up) and the dress rehearsal well.  Then it was straight on to the first show and immediately after that backstage to change and gear up for the second show.  I was backstage so I could help with the costume change and I could see she was getting tired and when I talked she was not focusing on my words.  Second dress rehearsal, lots of noise and when she went on stage to dance she did well but afterwards the teacher had a few last-minute points for the girls and at that point I could tell the background noise was overwhelming and she did not manage to get the teachers instructions (by now she was tired and she was not able to filter out all the noise and focus on the important stuff).  I gave her a quick drink and a snack and tried to explain what the teacher had said but even then I could tell she was not sure.  But she still had the 2nd show to do.

And then a friends gentle kindness came into play.  The friend was probably not even aware of how much it meant.  But this friend heard me talking to my daughter and came forward put her arm around her gave her a gentle squeeze and just said “look for me on the stage, make sure you position your chair next to mine”.  Then the friend sat quietly with her, away from the crowd, for a few minutes of calm before they had to queue up.

Now this particular friend is an amazing kid (she has lots of great qualities) but what I want to highlight right now is that she is a kind, considerate, gentle kid who saw someone else was needing some encouragement and was more than happy to be there.  Just a few words, a gently squeeze and a smile meant the world to my daughter and to me.

My daughter wants to dance in the shows, she loves it but it is a tough one for her. Having someone else in her group, someone who understand a little bit about how certain aspects may be harder for her, someone who was willing to reach out and help her just a little when it all got a bit much meant everything to us.

To this girls mom – You have a truly amazing daughter, one of the kindness most considerate young ladies I have had the pleasure of meeting.  She is a true blessing in this sometimes crazy world.

Dance show ofamily learning together

I want to mention that my daughter has been dancing with this particular dance school for a number of years now and they are incredibly supportive of her.  We would never have dreamt of her doing 2 shows if she had not had the amazing teachers supporting her the way they do.

Also the mom of the kind friend gave me permission to share this picture of the girls together.

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Schofield & Sims Geometry workbook

Those of you who follow our facebook page know we have been doing a number of Geometry activities lately.  We have been exploring Geometry doing some more laid back activities, but my daughter was keen to get a workbook so she could work through all the steps.  I had a look around and ended up sticking with my favourite educational workbook publisher – Schofield & Sims – they have a Geometry and Measurement workbook for Key Stage 2.  I wanted something that had the detail that my daughter needed but something that would also be suitable for my 7-year-old to join in (he has loved doing all the other Geometry activities so far so I knew he would want his own workbook).  We have been using it  for a few weeks now and so far it has ticked all the boxes for us.

Schofield & Sims Key Stage 2 Geometry and Measurement workbook

They have stuck to the tried and tested Schofield & Sims format – no overbearing colours (we really like this), not too much crammed onto one page (huge points for this ) and each page has a short explanation at the top followed by examples (this allows my daughter to work though the book without needing my constant input).

This workbook does not have as much practice as the Written Calculation range so I did have to add extra examples for the kids (I would either create something myself or download some extra worksheets).  If you are using it as a revision activity it would be fine but I did feel for new concepts as a home educating family we did need to add extra practice.

Also I was looking for a Geometry workbook and this one does include Measurement as well but I actually liked that as they kids seemed to naturally transition from the geometry to the measuring and the two did seem to fit really well together.

And the workbook does contain 5 “tests”.  We use these as revision exercises. Also the workbook has answers for all the questions at the back.

So what exactly is included

  • 2D shapes
  • Angles
  • Triangles
  • Quadrilaterals
  • reflective Symmetry
  • Co-ordinates
  • TRanslations
  • Angles again
  • 3D shapes
  • Drawing and making shapes
  • More co-ordinates
  • Reflecting patterns and shapes
  • Calculating angles
  • Circles
  • Length
  • Mass
  • Capacity
  • Converting units of measurement
  • Problems with length, mass and capacity
  • Reading scales
  • Perimeter
  • Time
  • Area
  • Imperial Units
  • Volume
  • Time problems
  • Area and Perimeter

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As you can see there is a lot that is covered by this workbook.  We have not completed the workbook yet – although that is our aim.  We are working through step by step, doing our extra activities as we deem fit.

I mentioned above that this workbook is aimed at Key Stage 2 children and my son would still be in Key Stage 1 if he were in school – so you may be wondering how did he manage?  He loved it, he loved that he had he same workbook as his sister and that he could work through the activities with her.  He did find that his handwriting is still a bit large but it was not a big issue – we easily adjusted that (sometimes he would extend the line or write under the line provided).

working through his Schofield & Sims Geometry and Measurement workbook

Disclosure – I searched online for a Geometry workbook.  I selected Schofield & Sims and then contacted them and asked if they would be interested in sending us 2 workbooks for my review.  The opinions expressed are mine and that of my two little testers (ie my kids using the books for their home learning).

I have seen this workbook at our local WHSmith store and you can also purchase them online from Amazon – Understanding Maths: Geometry & Measurement

Schofield & Sims key Stage 2 Geometry and Measurement workbook

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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Free book activities from the Oxford University Press website

I have mentioned a few times that we have two little bookworms in our house – they love their books and I love encouraging their reading and finding fun activities based on books that they have enjoyed.  We were recently reading the Magical Kingdom of Birds: Sleepy Hummingbirds which has a colouring-in picture on the inside cover page (part of the story is that the girl has a magical colouring-in book) but there is one picture and I have two kids so I emailed Oxford University Press to ask if there was a printout of the picture available.  There is.  And their PR person kindly pointed me in the direction of their library of FREE to download book resources. – OUP library of FREE Book resources.

Free to download the Magical Kingdom of Birds colouring page

We immediately spotted the Bee Boy fact sheet and the How to draw Bee Boy page (My son loves Bee Boy it was one of the first chapter books that he read).

Free to download interesting fact page from the Bee Boy book

We also spotted a crossword based on the New Adventures of Mr Toad.

Free to download crossword for Mr Toad's new Adventures

And this stunning pack – 27 pages – of Dahl Dictionary activities.  Now I must admit straight away the Roald Dahl Dictionary activity set does make reference back to the Oxford Roald Dahl Dictionary.  We don’t have the dictionary but after looking through the pages I realized that we could still do a lot of the activities so we printed out a bunch.  I love this set, there are some super English activities in here.

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If your kids enjoy some of the OUP story books I highly recommend you have a quick look on their site and see if there are any activities that might interest you.  They are all FREE to download and range from colouring, crafting to crosswords and activities that support their English Language learning.

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.


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