How to Draw Book Review

We have been working on our drawing skills lately and one of the resources that I have really enjoyed using with the kids is this book by DK  –  How to Draw

DK publishing How to Draw Books for kids

The book starts with a general introduction into different art materials – pencils, pens, crayons and pastels as well as the different type of lines.  Then the first real drawing activity was drawing trees – we have done a number of different tree drawing activities before but my daughter still found this one helpful and I must admit after she followed the examples her trees where more detailed and realistic.

DK How to Draw Book includes two examples if drawing trees

Then there are some really useful concept pages – what I mean by this is it breaks down some basic drawing concepts into understandable chunks which the kids can easily follow and try to incorporate into their drawings.  They were – Arranging Your picture (composition), Colours, Close and Far away (so perspective), How to draw a landscape, Shading and How to draw a 3D mug.  As someone who draws I was really impressed with these pages as they broke down drawing concepts which I think I take for granted and made them easy to understand, follow and then implement

Then the book goes onto drawing animals.  I loved these pages because it showed examples of how you break an animal’s body down into shapes and then use those shapes to get a realistic animal body. And after trying two of the worked examples my daughter commented that she felt more confident in breaking an animal’s body down (for drawing purposes).

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After the animal drawing pages the book went onto using grids (something we have done a lot already and I highly recommend), drawing an underwater scene and how to draw a face – another really useful page.  And then How to draw a person.  Both the face drawing page and the person drawing page are exercises which we are definitely going to do soon as they are good drawing exercises for the kids.

How to draw a person included in the How to Draw book by DK books

Then there are pages on drawing a still-life, drawing silhouettes, how to draw a dragon (this one is going to be popular with mine) and then a number of different pages on how to adapt your drawing and use them in fun ways like cartoons or patterns.

The instruction part of the book is 79 pages and that is then followed by a number of blank pages for the kids to draw on.

The book is aimed at kids aged 7-9 but I actually think that is a bit misleading as you could use it for a much wider range of kids.  For me this book is more about kids who need some drawing tools so they can become more confident with their drawings and then hopefully enjoy it more.

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I personally think this is a great drawing book and I have been very impressed with the pages that we have used and I am planning on going back and working through the other activities with the kids

I approached DK and asked if we could review this book because I like the look of the activities that were included.

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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What about Secondary School ?

Aren’t you glad your little attempt at home educating is over now that your daughter will be starting secondary school in September ?  What, why are you not placing your daughter in Secondary school ? So you’ve found tutors for all the Secondary school subjects ?

It turns out there were a number of assumptions that once our home educating kids reached Secondary school age we would stop with our “little adventure of educating them at home” and “come to our senses” and place them in secondary school.  And then when the realization dawned that we had not put out daughter’s name down for secondary schools a new assumption arose – that we would now be taking a hands-off approach and instead start using tutors.

Since January of this year I have had numerous versions of this conversation.  And my answer has always been the same – we are STILL going to be home educating our daughter in September (when she would in theory be starting secondary school), NO we are NOT using tutors, YES we are aware of the subject content, NO we are NOT forcing our daughter to stay at home she has NO desire to go to school, Yes we talk about this with her, she knows about the different options out there, she happens to think she is very lucky to be home educated.

I get that there is a “step-up” when it comes to school years and what is required of the students.  But the truth is for us that step-up has been happening very naturally since the end of last year.  My daughter has some very distinctive areas of interest – History and Animal Science  and she has naturally started working on longer more complex projects within these areas and has been actually been using secondary resources for these subjects for a while already.

reading up about the Battle of Hastings with an Oaka Books topic pack, the Spanish Armada and a Tudors and Stuarts book

And in the past few weeks what would be classified as English Literature took a giant step up and I spent hours searching for materials for her, all of which was designed for Secondary level students.  And then surprisingly in Maths – Geometry has emerged as something which she LOVES and again she has been asking for more and more Geometry material and I have had to once again started using Secondary resources.

I am NOT stressing about extending her hours of learning because the truth is our approach is working and as she grows older she is naturally extending the amount of time that she work on academic projects – although she hates being told that History and Biology are subjects because she thinks they are fascinating topics that she enjoys learning about and are NOT the boring subjects that her school friends moan on about.

So no, I am not worried about that academic “step-up” or that she is not doing enough.

Our approach to home education has evolved over the years and I am sure it will continue to evolve and develop as the kids get older.  And that is fine we adapt and change as needed.  For now our plan is continue on our semi-structured approach with a few more “workbooks”. (And Yes for those concerned I am already doing a lot of research into Secondary resources)

My husband and I are not qualified teachers but we are university graduates and believe that we are capable of guiding her learning and explaining concepts to her.  We know we are going to be spending long hours reading up, refreshing our knowledge on certain areas and even learning some new content. We actually enjoy that side of it. And I personally think one of the most powerful phrases you can say is “I actually don’t know the answer to that question let’s go and find out together.”  I have used that a LOT already because my kids want the detail – detail that is often not covered in the national curriculum but that does not stop us, I will search and find the answers for the kids.

We know the Secondary Years are going to have new challenges for us but my husband and I are both happy to dive in and learn when needed.  Our priority has always been providing the best learning environment for our kids, one where they can thrive and that is not going to change just because she would be starting Secondary education in September.

Winter walk. ofamily learning together

 

 

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Fun, Easy, Colourful Paper Pictures

We have been having a super chilled few days and had some fun playing around with some new colourful paper that we bought.

We started off with a few colouring pages (simple colour pages are easier) and we selected the paper that we wanted to use. (The example below used this Turtle colouring page)

Colourful paper collage. using a colouring page as a template

We turned the colouring page over and shaded over the lines.  Then we selected our colorful paper and traced over the shapes that we wanted – you end up with a  faint outline of the shapes.

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Some cutting and glueing and 1 colourful turtle emerged.

colourful paper collage a colourful Sea Turtle

It was such an easy art project and the end result was so cheerful so we selected a bird colouring page (this Kookaburra Page ) and did the exact same thing.

Colourful paper collage. Using a bird colouring page to create a colourful bird

And then we tried another version of the bird (my daughter actually wants to use the two kookaburra’s for some cards).

Colourful Paper Collage. Different bird pictures

And one last one a scarecrow (this is the colouring page we used for this one – Scarecrow page).

colourful paper collage. a colourful fun scarecrow

It really was such an easy little project but the pictures turned out super cute and I do agree with my daughter I think all of these pictures would be perfect on some home-made cards.

The colourful paper the we used was bought from local crafting stores and all the colouring pages that we used are from the Activity Village website.

Colourful Paper Collage. A scarecrow made using a colouring page from Activity Village

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On the Map Board Game

Last year the kids were given the Predators and Producers board game and I was so impressed with it that I wanted to try another one.  Oaka Books have three different Science Board games for Key Stage 2 and three different Science ones for Key Stage 3 and while they all look good (my aim is to eventually have all of them for revision purposes) I was very keen to try their geography game.  Now the game is aimed at Key Stage 3 years and my kids are 10 and 8 and I must admit we have not spent a lot of time on countries and capital cities so we changed the game slightly and made it more about learning/ discovering places on the map than revision.  Although after playing the game our way I really do think we will continue using it and it will evolve into a really good revision game.

Playing and learning with the On the Map board game by Oaka Books

The game is divided into two separate versions – The UK and Europe and The Rest of the World.  Inside the box you get a double-sided playing board and 2 different groups of cards depending on which version of the game you want to play (I really like that it is 2 games in 1).

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It is dice based – so you throw the dice and that determines how many blocks you can travel.  The aim is to win/ own as many blocks on the map as you can (ie as many different countries as you can).  You win a block/ a country by answering a question if you get the question correct you can place one of your markers on that block denoting that you now own it.  If someone else lands on your country afterwards and wants to challenge you for that country then the challenger and the existing owner have to answer a Quick Fire Question, which is all about capital cities.

board game learning with On the Map game by Oaka Books

Now if you are playing this game as intended ie as revision then the player answering the question should look away from the board but if you have younger kids you can alter that and allow them to find the answer on the board (this is what we did).  We challenged the kids that if they thought they knew the answer they should try to answer without looking but if they did not know they could use the map to find the answer and that was okay – so for us it really was more about the kids discovering new places on the map and learning as opposed to revision.  Both my husband and I felt that the game worked really well in this way – we used all the question cards and when necessary stopped to explain something but most of the time the kids really enjoyed searching for places that they have not heard of and were also very proud when they could answer a question without looking at the map.

Also the UK and Europe version does include a number of UK-based questions which I really liked as it is something that we need to learn more about.

On the Map question cards include a number of questions on the UK

We really like this game.  And I do think it works just as well as a discover/ learn about the map game.  My eight-year old who is not normally NOT a fan of board games actually asked if we could play it again this coming weekend so he could practice what he had already learnt and try to learn some new countries and cities.  That right there makes it a WINNER for us.

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Admin Bit – We went sent a parcel of goodies from Oaka Books earlier in the year.  It was up to us what we used / how we used it / when we used it and what we thought of it.

Geography Board game by Oaka Books On the Map

On the Map board Game by Oaka Books features 2 boards - UK and Europe and the Rest of the World

 

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Relaxing with Audio Books

We often go through phases with certain activities – we will have a period where we do a lot of art or spend ages gardening  and then it will switch and whatever it was that was occupying so much of time will suddenly seem to fade away for a bit.  The past 2 weeks our love of audio books seems to have come around again.

It started by accident, I mistakenly reserved the audio Viking Boy book instead of the actual book, so we ended up borrowing both from our local library and I am so glad we did.  The audio book really captivated my son, he loved the voices and the way in which the story was retold.  He loved it.  And after listening to just the first disc I noticed he was trying to read his books with more expression and some cool voices.  I really loved this because my son has a tendency to read and speak quickly but  when he is tries to use more expression he slows down.

The success of the Viking Boy Audio book prompted me to dig out our Michael Morpurgo audio book collection and we started to listening to some of those gems.  And they really are gems.  Both my kids have enjoyed listening to them and I must admit so have I.

I actually LOVE the audio books for the simple reason that I get to sit back and enjoy the story with the kids.  And I must admit it has become such a peaceful session for me, I really find it relaxing sitting there just listening, in a way it is so luxurious for me because I don’t need to do anything but sit and listen.

And while we are listening to the stories the kids will often work on a drawings or a colouring page – oh  I really do love these relaxing little sessions.

audio books

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Battle of Hastings

We have covered the Anglo-Saxons all the way up to Edward the Confessor so it was only natural that we moved onto the Battle of Hastings.  And it just so happens we were given a Battle of Hastings pack by Oaka Books so we dived right in.  The topic pack came with a Topic Booklet, Write your own Booklet and a Revision map.

We started with the Topic Booklet.  My daughter and I read through it together and I must admit I thought it was really well set out.  I liked that the booklet started with a  mind map of all the events.

Battle of Hastings Summary included in the Oaka Books Battle of Hastings Topic pack

Then it explains why the Battle of Hastings actually occurred – that Edward the Confessor died and there were 3 claimants to the throne. It goes onto setting the scene for the events that followed.

Battle of Hastings Topic Booklet from Oaka Books. explains the lead up to the Battle of Hastings

Onto the first invasion and battle at Stamford Bridge followed by William’s invasion and subsequent battle.  My daughter commented on how she found the pictures really helpful for remembering the events – the images of Hardrada dead, of Harold refusing to listen to his brother’s advice to rest his troops and of Harold with an arrow in his eye, were very effective.  The images are in no way scary, they have a cartoon feel about them but they were effective and key in helping my daughter remember the order of events very quickly.

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The Topic Pack ends with a 2 page summary of why King Harold lost and Why William won – a really good wrap up.

After going through the Topic Booklet she wanted to give the Revision Map a go.  We have never tried one of the History topic revision maps before and I think they are genius, very simple but so effective (and I don’t mean simple in a critical way I mean that as a compliment, we are not fans of pages that are crammed full of distracting images that overwhelm the kids).

As the kids work through the revision map they add the character cards that come with it to the map (they also give you plastic stands as seen in the photos below).

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My daughter also thought the character cards were a useful tool on their owns – she has since used the character cards to retell the entire story of the Battle of Hastings.

Revision map activity included in the Battle of Hastings Topic pack produces by Oaka Books

My daughter LOVES these revision maps and has very excitedly informed me that a similar one is included in the Spanish Armada Topic Pack and I had a quick look on the website and it looks like the Battle of Waterloo Topic pack also has a revision map activity.

My daughter and I recommend this Topic Pack !!

Admin Bit – We went sent a parcel of goodies from Oaka Books earlier in the year.  It was up to us what we used / how we used it / when we used it and what we thought of it.  One of the reasons I was happy to get the parcel in the first place was because we have already used 2 of their Key Stage 2 Topic Packs and played one of their games before and I liked the style so I was expecting more of the same.

Battle of Hastings Topic Booklet part of the Topic Pack from Oaka Books

 

British History for kids. The battle of Hastings Topic Pack from Oaka Books includes a topic book full of information and a game

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Frog Diary / Frog Life Cycle

I mentioned how much my son is enjoying the Animal Diaries and we now have a third one – Frog (Animal Diaries).  And it is just as good as the other two.

It is written in the same format – so the book is essentially the Frog’s diary and he is writing about the events that happen to him.  It includes some fact clips which are inserted as if the frog has stuck clippings into his diary.

 

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The book covers topics like the frogs habitat, what food the frog eats and who likes to eat the frog.  As well quite a bit on the life cycle and the fact that the frog has a “cold-sleep”.

 

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I also really liked the bit about the frog getting netted (ie kids pond dipping) as it reinforces that the kids need to be very careful and gentle with creatures that they might discover.  Oh and the little section about the frog getting cut on some glass also great as it started a great discussion about how litter can really hurt animals and it even made my kids think about toys that they might leave out in the garden over night.

The book actually inspired us to revisit the frog life cycle – I was honestly not planning on doing anything this year as we covered it quite a bit last year when the kids got frogspawn from a neighbour.  But my son decided he wanted to make his own life cycle poster – he initially wanted to make something to go inside the animal diary that he is writing but then decided he would rather make a poster (and yes you did read that correctly these animal diary books that he has been reading have encouraged him to write his own animal dairies but that will be a different post).

For his poster idea he selected these sequencing cards from Activity Village and he did the rest.

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

I think the cards worked really well as a home-made poster and he even inspired his sister to make her own poster.

 

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If you do have an Activity Village membership you can also download their Frog Life Cycle Poster (which is also good, although the mom in me prefers our home-made versions – totally biased I know)

Life Cycle of a Frog poster downloaded from the Activity Village website

And if you do manage to get your own frogspawn (my kids are hoping like crazy that our neighbour is going to give us more this year – he has a pond in his garden and normally ends up with a crazy amount of frogspawn), then this diary booklet might come in handy – and yes if we do get some I am totally going to print this out and get the kids to write about them.

Admin Bit – this is not an ad.  We discovered this range of books (the Animal Diaries) at our local library and my son loves them so I am borrowing as many as I can.

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.

Animal Diaries Frog. A fun informative book written as if the frog is keeping his own diary

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