Busy Ant Year 1 Maths activity book

My son really enjoys the idea of working alongside his older sister.  Lately she has been working through a number of Maths workbooks so naturally he wanted his own Maths workbook.  However he wanted something more like an activity workbook as opposed to his sisters maths practice books.  He wanted something a bit colourful with fun illustrations.

I had been eyeing out the Collins Busy Ant activity books for a while so I thought I would try one with him.  For my son’s year they have 3 activity books – Busy Ant Maths – Year 1 Activity Book 1A, Year 1 Activity Book 1B (Busy Ant Maths) and Year 1 Activity Book 1C (Busy Ant Maths).  To be honest I really was not sure which one I should try so I just randomly ordered 1B for him (I paid £3.25 for mine from Amazon).  I have since spoken to someone at Collins and they have confirmed that the books are written to coincide with the British school year (one book for each semester).  They also told me that although all of the books will include examples of addition, subtraction, place value etc there will be some topics which are only covered in the individual book.  For example Activity book 1B is the only one that includes time.

The books are written as a revision type book and are NOT a complete Maths curriculum for home-educators.  So although he loves the book, as a home-educator I do need to give him more examples to practice with.

Busy Ant Activity book 1B one of the money problem solving pages

I have only bought my son the 1B activity book (although he is enjoying it so I probably will be getting him some more).  So based on the book that I have it is broken down like this.  The entire book has 53 pages of maths examples.  It is one concept on one page (we are not fans of the books were they cram lots of different things onto 1 page).  It covers number patterns, addition, subtraction, money solving problems,  shapes, slip counting, introduces multiplication and division, measurement, time, writing number word and introduces basic fractions.

Every page has fun illustrations to go along with the topic. Counting in 2’s have toucans and leaves, counting in 5’s are on funny looking monsters.  The illustrations are always fun and cheerful, nothing scary.

Collins Busy Ant Activity book 1B counting in 2's and counting in 5's

There is not a lot of writing required.  Often the kids draw a line matching two items together and when they do need to write a number there is enough space (my son still writes his numbers on the large size).

Collins Busy Ant activity Book 1B and example of one of the addition pages

He is enjoying his activity book.  He likes the fact that he can do a page out of his own maths book when his sister works in one of hers and he is NOT finding it boring.

Busy Ant Activity Book. The sharing pages which introduce the idea of division

For me the activity book is working well.  As a home-eduactor I use the book in two ways.  Sometimes it is revision of something we have already covered and other times it is our introduction to something new eg the sharing pages are a great starting point for bringing in division.  He wanted a fun maths workbook and this one is ticking the boxes for him.

Busy Ant Activity Book 1B

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She loves to dance

This weekend was a big weekend in our little home.  My oldest danced on stage in a show.  And for the first time in three years I actually got to watch her dance and yes I cried.  My daughter loves her dance class, she loves dancing and she adores her teachers but it has not always been easy for her.  On a sensory level it can be very challenging.  But we are incredibly lucky we found dancing teachers who nurture their students. Over the four plus years my daughter has been attending her dancing classes I have watched her confidence soar thanks to these loving teachers.

We have had difficult times, times when the music was loud and trigger all her sensory avoidance instincts but she was determined and she continued dancing using some ear-muffs to damped the noise (and the teachers happily allowed her too).  In the first 2 years she never wore tights with her uniform, at that stage the feeling of tights on her skin was still too much for her to handle, she described it like scissors on her skin, the teachers did not make a big deal she danced with pale pink leggings under her leotard. During class when she got over-excited and started reaching her sensory limits she would start flapping her arms or jump continuously, I am sure that must have been very distracting for the teachers but they never made a big deal about it.  When she did go over her limit and end up in tears her teachers always had a big hug for her and they always kindly spoke to me about it so they I could monitor how she was coping.

Then three years ago I heard that she was going to be in her first show and I was SCARED, I was not sure if she would cope but she loved her dancing soo much so we tried.  I organised with the teachers that I could be backstage and in-between shows she sat on my lap with her ear-muffs on, I read to her and body brushed her but she did it.  She danced in two shows and she LOVED IT.

The following year she danced in a show again and again I organised to be backstage but although she insisted I was there she barely needed me. I actually spent most of the time helping the other dancers with their costumes.  Now the third year and again she asked if I could be backstage but this year for the first time she was happy with me actually watching when she was on stage (in prior years I was not allowed to move while she danced, she needed to know exactly where I was).  This year she allowed another person to fix her hair and put in hair pieces (if you have a sensory child this is massive, my daughter hates having her hair brushed and never wears a tight ponytail or extra hair accessories, but for the show she did, she was determined).  And my husband and I watched like hawks, she did not flap her arms, chew her tongue or do any of those little sensory twitches, she danced and she loved it.

Afterwards she was EXHAUSTED.  That Exhausted when she could hardly move and had no energy to play or engage.  But she did it.  SHE DID IT !!!

For a sensory child who battles to wear certain clothing because she can not filter out that sore feeling of how it feels on her skin, she spent hours in costume with hair pieces in.  For a sensory child who hears every small sound amplified, who can not register what is background noise and filter it out she spent the day in a noisy theatre, with lots of background noise and I know she listened to every little sound and I know that brain must have been so exhausted trying to process it all but she was determined and she did.

She loves to dance and she got to dance on stage.  Yes it was exhausting for her and today she is shattered.  Today will be a home-day, with lots of deep pressure activities to help her clam her body down and I will be trying to get her to eat but SHE DID IT.

We found an activity that makes her heart sing and we found a group of teachers who nurture their students, teachers who are caring and loving and who always put their students needs first.

So when it comes to registering her for a new dancing semester I will be one the first parents to have my child booked in so she can continue to do something that she loves and continue to prove to herself that she CAN.

Character dancing

(I don’t have photos of her dancing in the show – but I always need to have a photo in my blog posts – so this is my daughter character dancing in one her classes)






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Addition pages from Twinkl

I am often asked about our Maths learning, which resources we use and in what order we use them.  With addition one of the questions was – what did we do after number bonds ?  And which Twinkl Maths worksheets have we used for maths practice ?  So I thought I would try to set out a rough idea of how we worked on addition and which Twinkl worksheets we used at the different stages (I am not going to list every Twinkl Maths worksheet that we have used as there are too many to do that but I am hoping if I share a few links it will point you in a direction).

When you are just starting basic addition Twinkl have a lot of Themed addition activity sheets eg Minibeast Themed addition activity sheet (In their search bar type in – “themed addition activity sheets” – you will get a wide selection.  They also have a number of these under the different story book topics)

Number Bonds.  Breaking a number down into it parts and understanding that there is more than one way of making that number up.  When we introduced Number Bonds we always did it with a manipulative so the kids could physically see the sum and we often combined a fun printout with our snap cubes like this – Number Bonds to 10 .

This cute Ladybird Number bond activity is free to download (you could also get the kids to make the spots on the ladybirds with play dough).

Free to download Ladybird Number bons activity from Twinkl

Practicing Number Bonds.  Lots and Lots of practice.  But I tried to find fun ways for the kids to do this – matching heart addition activity, butterfly and flower maths

We also used number lines quite a bit and got the kids comfortable with the idea of what adding would look like on a numbers line – hops.  There are lots of worksheets which show addition on a number line –addition to 10 using a numberline, addition up to 12 using a numberline.

Numberline Addition page from Twinkl Resources website

Another great way of doing some of the repetitive maths practice is with the Cut and past worksheets.  Addition 7, 8,9 cut and stick activity (free)

7, 8, 9 addition cut and stick activity free to download from Twinkl

Adding more than two numbers together.  There are a series of worksheets which you can use for this  (In the Twinkl search bar type in the words – adding three one digit numbers – eg Adding three one digit number using number facts, adding three one digit number numbers using doubles, (free) adding three one digit number adding the smallest numbers first. (free)

Column addition.  First lots of practice with basic adding in the column without any carrying.  You can start with adding 3 and 2 digit numbers no carrying (free) and then go onto adding 3 digit numbers no carrying

Column addition.  Introducing the idea of a carrying a number and then practicing it over and over. Adding three digit numbers with carrying (free)

While working on column addition we also did some missing number addition pages

Twinkl also create Year Addition and Subtraction workbooks which have a number of examples in them.  eg Year 3 addition and subtraction workbook or Year 4 addition and subtraction workbook

They have a wide selection of Maths worksheets and they are constantly adding more.  These are just a few of the ones that we have used.



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Minibeast Crafting

We seem to have been doing a lot of Maths lately and not much crafting so last weekend I did a search to try to find something to inspire us.  I ended up printing out some basic Mininbeast  shadow stick puppets (from Twinkl) onto some crafting card and then just left them for the kids.  I actually did not have anything planned but I was hoping that the kids might get inspired.

Surprisingly the first thing they wanted to try was to decorate the templates with some of their decopatch paper.  I was surprised by this as my youngest is still not a fan of using glue (he still struggles with the feeling on his skin).  However the Minibeast theme inspired him.  He first tried the spider template but the legs were too fiddly and the glue was just going everywhere so he switched to doing a butterfly.

Creating a butterfly using the shadow stick puppet templates from Twinkl and some decopatch paper

We stuck with the idea and the kids made a few more – the butterfly template was popular with the decopatch as the kids had fun creating patterns for the wings, also the snail was a winner and even a few beetles.

Decopatch Butterfly created using a shadow stick puppet template from Twinkl and some decopatch paper

Decopatch Snail created using a shadow stick puppet from Twinkl website and some decopatch paper

We had a few Minibeast templates left over which I forgot to pack away and the next day my daughter decided to try some more of her colour blending, this time using some water-colour paints and the left over templates.

Using the Shadow stick puppets to practice some colour blending

Simple but it ended up being a great painting activity for her.

Spider shadow stick puppet from twinkl painted using water colour paints

Easy Minibeasy art for children. Giving them basic shadow stick puppet outlines to paint

Sometimes I need to remind myself that as important as all the Maths is that we have been doing lately we still need to step back and spend some time being creative.  It does not need to be a complex craft project but it is so important to just relax, take sometime to unwind and have fun creating something.

Butterfly shadow stick puppet downloaded from Twinkl website and painted with some water-colours

For those of you in the UK – I tend to buy our decopatch paper from Baker Ross – they have a wide selection – decopatch paper selection

Easy Mininbeast craft using a shadow stick puppet template from Twinkl, water-colour paints or decopatch paper





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Nine Years

Nine years ago my oldest was born.  She challenged all my pre-existing ideas that I had about being a parent.  She is kind, gently, loving, protective, smart, funny, sensitive to other people’s needs, she is an incredible daughter and the most amazing big sister and Yes mixed in with all of that she also has SPD (sensory processing disorder).  But SPD does not define her.  It does not make her the person she is.  She is that amazing person even though she struggles with lots of everyday things that most people take for granted.

Her SPD does play a large part in our life.  It has changed the entire way we parent and they way our family works together.  It is the reason we chose to home-educate and it is the over-riding factor that influences how we structure the days and weeks.

But her SPD has also allowed her to be the amazing big sister that she is.  She understands her little brother better than anyone else and she will often remind me when I have missed something – “mom you are not noticing that piercing sound that is distressing us” (in case you do not read my blog her younger brother also has SPD).

We have come a long way in the nine years since she was born.  I have read a lot about SPD and we have worked with three brilliant Occupational Therapists who have helped both the kids and me deal with how SPD affects them.  But although she is managing so much better the truth is she will always have SPD.  It is not going to go away. She will get better at dealing with situations but it is going to stay there a part of the unique combination that makes her who she is.

We will continue to find more ways to help her, that will never stop.  What I have come to realise is that I need to change my attitude towards SPD.  As much as there are days when I HATE that they have SPD and I still cry about it I need to help them view it as positive so that as they both grow older they do not become ashamed by it.

As much as I want my daughter to do have good body image I also want her to have good mental health and for her that means accepting that SPD is a part of her and that it is not a negative thing.  I need to let go of the final twinges that I have, the final little thoughts that linger because my kids may not fit the typical “normal ” kid criteria but that is just FINE with me.

We have two kids with SPD and they are AMAZING !!!

Kids at Wisley Gardens



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