More dimensional / black glue pictures

Over the years I have noticed the kids and I seem to find arty activities that we enjoy and then we tend to do various versions of them on repeat.  When the kids were younger it was often collages – boy did we do lots of different collages and tissue paper pictures.  These days we are doing more painting and working with our watercolour pencils  but one of our favourite fun arty crafty activities has to be our dimensional paint (very similar effect to black glue that you use on Pinterest). We have used it for all kinds of designs.  The kids enjoy the effect of having the outlines raised and my son likes that it prevents the watercolours from mixing.  I like the fact that they are exploring and having fun with colours and squeezing the tube is a brilliant hand strengthening activity.

The latest idea was to use our dimensional paint for tree outlines

Dimensional Paint Tree outline for watercolour paiting

and some fun modern circular flowers.

Dimensional Paint outline for some circular flowers

If you have never used dimensional paint before it does take some time to dry and while it is drying it can smudge so once the kids have created the outlines you want to leave it overnight to dry properly.

Once it is properly dry the kids can start decorating their pictures.  We used our watercolour paints this time (in the past the kids have also used their Sharpies with the dimensional paint and the effect was stunning).

Adding watercolours to our circular flower pictures

And a few of the finished pictures.Dimensional Paint and watercolour tree picture

Easy and stunning children's art. Dimensional paint tree with watercolour paints

The Dimensional paint that we use is this one – Tulip 3D Fabric Paint 4oz Matte (Basic Black).

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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Black Beauty Book

Both my kids are really into the more classic children’s stories  – Heidi, Gulliver’s Travels, Secret Garden and Black Beauty.  They have been listening to audio versions of the stories while we drive to our different activities and then they have dived into reading the stories themselves over and over again.

reading the Children's classic story Black Beauty. The version used is the Collins BIG CAT reader version

They really do love their books and stories so I wanted to use this love for stories to work on some other English activities.

We have looked at Verbs, Nouns, Adverbs and Adjectives before and my oldest is fairly confident with them but I always like finding a good excuse to practice hunting for the different types of words.  So we unrolled a large sheet of paper across our kitchen table (our kitchen table is not massive it seats 4 people) and I divided the sheet into sections and  we wrote out a few headings.  Then armed with their book they took it in turns to page through the story and find words that they thought fitted into each category.

hunting for Vebs, Nouns, Adverbs and Adjectives in the story of Black Beauty

I also purposely included Proper Nouns in this activity as the story of Black Beauty includes a fair number of names – names for people, horses and places. And yes spelling mistakes were made but we just crossed them out and tried again.

Using Black Beauty for a Verb and Noun hunt activity. Great for younger kids learning the differences

I really like this sort of activity as the kids found words that could fit into more than one category.  In the story they have grooms who look after the horses (so the groom would be a noun) but my daughter was quick to point out that we could also use the word groom differently and then it could be a verb.

And although the kids and I talk a lot about the stories that we read, the characters and events that happen in the book we are trying to include more writing activities for my daughter.  One of the ways has been comprehensions.  But I have to be honest I don’t always download comprehensions for her, I often just type up a few questions and then she sits and writes out some answers for me.  I actually find this easier because I can build the questions to include possible topics we have been talking about – like the bearing rein or  building a story map.  It is nothing fancy but I sometimes think we get so caught up in finding the perfect download when we could just open a word document and create something ourselves.

Comprehension Questions for Black Beauty

I have uploaded the questions here

Black Beauty

There are numerous versions of the Black Beauty story. We used our Collins BIG CAT reader for all our activities.

Collins BIG CAT Class reader Black Beauty. A lovely version of the children's classic story

It is a nice full version of the story, but written in a manner which allowed my 7-year-old  to read along and join in (yes it does include some bigger more challenging words but nothing that I thought that was too complicated for him).

Children's Class story Black Beauty. The Collins BIG CAT reader version

I also really liked the fact that they included a little summary at the end of the book (really fitted in well for us as we have been talking about story maps).

The fortunes and misfortunes of Black Beauty. Included at the end of the BIG CAT reader Black Beauty

For more information about the BIG CAT readers have a look here – Collins BIG CAT Readers (we have used a number of them and so far have been impressed with the quality of all our BIG CAT readers).

You can also get Black Beauty from Amazon  – Black Beauty: Band 16/Sapphire (Collins Big Cat)

We were given our copy of Black Beauty by Collins

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.

Classic Children's story Black Beauty.  Using it for a verb, noun, adverb and adjective hunt

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STABILO Woody pencils Giveaway AGAIN

In April I ran a giveaway for a set of STABILO Woody 3-in-1 pencils and STABILO have since contacted me and asked if I would like to give away 2 more sets of the pencils to my readers.  Since we are such HUGE fans of these pencils I immediately said YES.

STABILO Woody 3-in-1 pencils

These pencils are amazing for little hands – the shape fits perfectly, the lead is soft and the colours are vibrant.

But apart from being my favourite “first pencils” I also love them because of the different ways that you can use them.

One of our favourites has to be the fact that you can use them on glass – so sliding doors and windows become the kids canvas.  The kids can stick a picture on the outside of the sliding door and trace over it, they can draw their own creations, practice spelling or even some maths.  Anything goes and all you need to do is wipe it off and they can start all over again.

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And they work on laminated pages or if you prefer the Write and Wipe pockets – I have found this very useful for pages that we want to use more than once.  Just slot them into the Write and Wipe pocket, the kids can practice, you can wipe off the answers and they can try again or you can change the page.

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And of course straight forward colouring or dipping the pencils in water and you create water-colour effect pictures.

Colouring in a butterfly picture using our STABILo 3-in1 pencils

We love these pencils and are so chuffed that we have two more packs to give away.  So comment below this post or on the facebook page and I will draw a winner next week (on the 18th June – you must be in the UK to enter).

Disclosure :  I was not paid in any form for this post, STABILO are giving prizes to the winners.

The pages that are featured in the photos above are these one –

Fireworks colouring page (Twinkl), Division page (Twinkl – the exact page we used has been replaced with something similar), Maths Arithmagon Challenge (Activity Village) and the Butterfly colouring page (Activity Village).

Also the Write and Wipe pockets are our own ones that we have used for years – Learning Resources Wipe Clean Pockets.

For more posts on these stunning pencils look here – STABILO pencils on laminated pagesMaths on sliding doors, Our Christmas Tree, Pens and pencils

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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Springwatch reading comprehension

While I was recently searching the Twinkl website for Reptile resources I came across a new series of reading comprehensions that they have created all about British Wildlife and based on the BBC Springwatch series.    All the resources are FREE to download (in order to download a FREE Twinkl Resource you do need to set up a FREE Twinkl account).

BBC Springwatch and Twinkl reading comprehensions. Free to download for the month of June

The resources are linked to the BBC Springwatch show but I must admit we have actually already used the British Reptile reading comprehension without first watching the show.  There are 8 different reading comprehensions (so far we printed British Reptiles and Pond Life).  Each comprehension consists of 3 versions – you can choose which one you think is the correct level for your kids.  So don’t just download and print as you will duplicate content.

Twinkl's BBC Springwatch Pond Life reading comprehension questions

From what we could tell based on the two that we have printed there are only 2 questions under the Wild Academy Challenge section that requires you to have watched the series.

Twinkl and the BBC Springwatch reading comprehensions include a Springwatch Wild Academy Challenge

We are planning on watching the BBC Springwatch series (I have taped the first 2).  However I do think that these comprehensions are brilliant even if you don’t watch the series as they contain lots of information about British wildlife.

BBC Springwatch and Twinkl KS2 reading comprehension Pond Life

The Twinkl resources which they have created for the BBC Springwatch series are these ones

Doorstep Wildlife

British Reptiles

British Mammals

Our coasts and a Rock Pooling Identification sheet

Garden Birds

Plastic Pollution

Art and Nature

Pond Life and a Pond Dipping Identification sheet

Twinkl's BC Springwatch Free to download Pond dipping identification sheet

As I mentioned above all are Free to download however they will only be available to download until the 12 July 2018.

My advice is if you think they are informative resources then download them now so you have a copy.

BBC Springwatch and Twinkl KS2 reading comprehension about British Reptiles

For more information about the Springwatch series including the Wild challenge have a look here – BBC Springwatch.  There is also a very condensed version of the reading comprehension on the BBC website under the Wild Academy worksheets

All Links to Twinkl and reference to resources being FREE are correct at the time of writing the post

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Just add Watercolour Books

About a months ago I was looking for some watercolour painting books for the kids.  I wanted something that would build on our current theme of choosing a colour palette and trying to add dark and light but I also did not want something that was too advanced for them.  I stumbled upon the Just Add Watercolour books but I must admit I read a review  that was not great and had second thoughts.  Luckily I ended up chatting to the books distributor about other educational books that they had and I mentioned these and he kindly offered to send us copies.

Right off let me say the negative review was about the fact that the 8 pictures included in the book are printed in a very light grey.  But honestly after using the books I 100% disagree.  The pictures need to be in the light grey.  If the outlines where darker it would ruin the end result.  So if anyone else reads that review please ignore it.

Just Add Watercolour books by Robin Pickens. Perfect to use at home for watercolour lessons with kids

Okay so the two books are very much the same but different themes – the one is quotes (Just Add Watercolor Happy Thoughts: Easy Techniques and Beautiful Patterns for True Beginners) and the other is flowers (Just Add Watercolor Flowers: Easy Techniques and Beautiful Patterns for True Beginners).  The author starts the book by introducing watercolour basics like paints and brushes (the book is not actually a children’s book it is a book written for beginner watercolour painters). Then in the middle there are 8 different pictures – in the grey outline and printed on thick watercolour paper – the pages are also perforated which makes tearing them out very easy.

Just Add Watercolour Flower book by Robin Pickens. Includes 8 grey pictures for the users to experiment with

Followed by coloured, detailed step by step instructions on how the author would paint these pictures – and she even mentions the names of the colours that she would use eg Scarlet Lake or Winsor Orange.

So how did we use these books ?  Each kid choose a picture (pictures) they wanted to do and then we had a quick look at the step by step guide for that picture.  In all cases my kids choose to do their own version but they did take hints from the detailed guide – like colour choices, shading etc.

Working on a picture out of the Just Add Watercolour Flower book by Robin Pickens

Before the kids started their pictures we spoke more about the colour palette – they choose 4 or 5 colours to use (when I say 4 of 5 colours I mean they would choose green, orange, red and blue I am not including the dark versions of the colours).

The very first picture we started using our watercolour paints but after just doing a few leaves my daughter immediately decided to switch to her watercolour pencils.  She found the pictures are quite detailed and have lots of small areas and she has more control with her pencils.

Just Add Watercolour Flower book. We used our watercolour pencils

Just add Watercolours Happy THoughts book by Robin Pickens. the Joy in my heart picture competed by one of my kids

The watercolour pencils that we use are the STABILO Aquacolor Watercolour Pencil – Assorted Colours (Pack of 36).  My kids love these.

STABILO watercolour pencils. Perfect for art activities for children

They tend to colour in an area and then use their paint brushes to add some water and smuch (that is the word they use) the colour to together.  When the kids are using the watercolour pencils they don’t need to get the colouring perfect because as soon as you add the water it blends it all together.

Just add Watercolour Flowers books by Robin Pickens

Another nice advantage with these watercolour pencils is after they have added the water both of mine then use their pencils to go back and add extra depth and definition to the shapes – it works really well.

My younger one (who is 7) did comment that he found the lettering a bit difficult and he prefered the flowers (he actually asked if I could find him an animal version of this book – I am looking for something suitable for him).

My kids were very happy with the books and both agreed with me that the grey outline is a necessity as it does not ruin their end pictures.

Just Add Watercolours Happy Thoughts book by Robin Pickens. The Imagine template completed by one of my kids

And I must admit that having the pictures already printed out on watercolour paper, a coloured detailed step by step plan on how you could complete the pictures does make for an easy watercolour lesson for me (I did not have to prep anything).

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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Snake Life Cycle book and activities

I am sure I have mentioned a few hundred times how terrified I am of snakes – truly am.  Grew up in an area where we had snakes in our garden and I hated them (and I mean HATE) but both my kids are fascinated by snakes and as I have discovered there is nothing better than finding a topic that you kids love and letting them sink in and learn as much as they want about it.  So we have been doing that.  We have been watching documentaries about snakes and a snake catcher from Durban (my son sits and holds my hand so that I don’t get scared so it is totally worth it).  We recently spent ages at the Reptile House in the London Zoo and we have been reading everything we can about them (although I will admit we don’t read about snakes as night as it would give me nightmares).

I recently discovered that we had a Snake Life Cycle book on our bookshelf (Life Cycles: Snakelet to Snake).  I had totally forgotten it was there.  I bought a whole set of life cycle books about 3 years ago and we have dipped in and out of them whenever we have covered an animal or plant.

Snakelet to Snake Life Cycle book by QED publishing

It is not a very detailed book but it is a perfect introduction to snakes and I must admit it was the perfect reading book for my seven-year old – he prefers reading non-fiction books to fiction. The book is 23 pages long and covers the entire life cycle and a bit about hunting and habitats.

Snakelet to Snake Life Cycle book by QED publishing

My son loved reading it and I actually think I am going to dig out the other life cycle books so we can use them as readers.

Snakelet to Snake Life Cycle book produced by QED publishing

I must be honest I have not found a lot of learning activities based on snakes (and I don’t mean cute cartoon snakes my kids want realistic snake activities) so I was impressed when I found a few goodies on the Twinkl Resources website (all part of their Classic package).

They have a set of Dangerous Australian snake fact cards.

Dangerous Snake Fact Cards from Twinkl Resources. The Lowlands Copperhead

To say that these cards have been a hit with my son is such a understatement.  He read extracts from the cards to his grandparents over Skype and he keeps laying them out on tables, ordering them and retelling us the facts about the different snakes.

Reading his snake fact cards

He desperately wants more of these cards so I am going to have to search and see if I can find something similar for snakes in Africa for him.

We also found a snake themed word search

Snake wordsearch from Twinkl Resources website

And A Python comprehension.  Honestly I have never seen my son so happy to sit and do a comprehension EVER. (They do have three versions of the comprehension on their site so you can choose the level which you think is suitable for your kids age).

Python Comprehension from Twinkl Resources

Oh and we als found this cool activity where the kids can map the location of some snakes.

The Snakelet to Snake Book is one I bought may years ago.  The Twinkl Resources pages are part of their paid for subscriptions.  All links are correct at the time of me writing this post. 

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Brick Building 101 Review

My kids love Lego and I must admit I have often seen other people using Lego for STEAM activities and thought Wow what a cool idea we should do that and then I don’t.  Yip totally admitting to this – lets call it one of my Pinterest Love / Hate things.  So when I recently received a lovely bundle of books from Quarto Kids I was very chuffed to see the Brick Building 101 book included in our set.  The Book is all about using Lego in fun learning activities.

Brick Buiulding 101. 20 Lego project ideas for kids to try at home

There are 20 projects that are broken down into Easy Projects, Moderate Projects and Challenging Projects.  The Book is aimed at ages 5 to 7 ish which I think is quite accurate as the ideas did seem to appeal to my 7-year-old more than my ten-year-old (although she did really like the Balloon racer and the Catapult).

So the Easy projects are a good starting point – ideas like using your Lego to create letters (really wish I had done this with my son when he was learning his letters he would have loved it), shadow monsters (still going to do this one), created a Lego Geoboard that type of thing.

Brick Building 101. Lots of ideas for using Lego. Building a lego alphabet

Now the Moderate and Challenging projects were a bit more exciting and we actually think they could be regrouped as Exciting projects and Practical projects.

An example of an exciting one being building a catapult  – the whole family ended up testing out different objects with the catapult (my hubbie especially enjoyed doing this one with the kids).

Brick Building 101. 20 lego project ideas. Building a catapult

Brick Building 101. 20 Lego project ideas. Using the lego catapult

And the Balloon Racer – LOVE LOVE this one.  Such fun idea. (Other ideas include building a sailing boat, a Lego maze and well I had better stop listing all of the activities).

Brick Building 101. The Balloon Racer

And our third group would be practical projects like – the bird feeder and pot plant idea.  Which I must be honest got me thinking what other useful things could we make with our Lego – maybe a pencil holder for the kids desk or even a little box for all my daughter’s hair accessories.

All of the projects have step by step instructions and lots of colourful images.

Brick Building 101. Build a sailing boat idea

I think this is a fun book perfect for home educating moms with kids in the  5 to 7 /8 age bracket.

You can also get Brick Building 101 from Amazon here – Brick Building 101: 20 LEGO® activities to teach kids about STEAM

Brick Building 101. 20 Lego projects to try at home with the kids. STEAM activities using Lego

I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I was not obligated to write a positive review.

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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