Fun Skeletons

The kids don’t know much about The Day of the Dead but they did have a childhood storybook which they loved –Funnybones: A Bone Rattling Collection – and ever since then whenever they have seen Day of the Dead colouring pages/ crafting activities they have always thought of it as a fun version of Funnybones.  My son especially remembers the skeletons as being very funny so he is always really keen to do any fun skeleton pages.

So when we spotted the new Day of the Dead colouring pages on the Activity Village website I knew my little guy was going to like them.  And he did.

Colouring in a Day of the Dead page from Activity Village

He and his sister did a number of different colourful masks.

Day of the Dead colouring pages from Activity Village

And because we have been doing quite a bit of  drawing lately we thought it might be fun to design some bodies to go with the masks.  My little guy went for a Day of the Dead combination with the BFG (yes The BFG – his explanation – I think when he says he combined the BFG into his picture he is referring to the size of the drawing).

Drawing a body to go with the Day of the Dead head

And his sister decided to stick to the skeleton theme and design a skeleton for her mask.

Drawing a skeleton to go with the Day of the Dead colouring mask

It actually proved to be a really fun drawing activity and I especially liked that the kids got to draw larger than normal  – we normally stick to drawing on A4 or A3 size pieces of paper but for this I unrolled some paper over our kitchen table.  I used to love creating art that was bigger than expected, there is just something about drawing or painting on  a super sized piece of paper that adds an extra fun element – my kids seemed to agree – the bigger size is fun.  The only problem is storing the larger pieces of art.

Skeleton to go with the Day of the Dead colouring page from Activity Village

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Explanatorium Nature Book

Last week I was busy looking for birthday presents and I picked up this amazing book and immediately added to my shopping thinking it could be a present for my son.

DK Explanatorium Nature. An incredible book on nature

But when I got home and showed it to my husband he was so impressed with the book that he said we could not keep it packed away for 2 months we needed to give it to the kids immediately.

We did and my son loves it.  As soon as he saw the book he started reading and reciting animal facts to me.

reading the DK Explanatorium Nature Book

Now I must say straight away both my kids love learning about animals and we already have a number of good quality animal books in our house.  So any new animal book that we buy needs to be one that ADDS to their already impressive knowledge of animal facts.  It CAN NOT be a basic animal book – we are past those, it needs to be detailed and full of unusual facts to hold our interest.

DK Explanatorium Nature book includes lots of fasinating detailed facts

So the fact that this book impressed my husband so much that he did not want to wait to give it to the kids really does SAY a lot about it.

This book is BIG and HEAVY – really Heavy so please don’t think it is something you are going to pack into your backpack and take with you on outings.  It is NOT that.  It is a comprehensive book about nature.  Really it covers a lot.  If you are looking for a book which deals with Nature Science I really think this book is going to have you covered.

Let me give you a breakdown of what is included in this 360 page book (yes 360 pages)

There are 10 main categories

  • The Basics of Life
  • Microorganisms and Fungi
  • Plants
  • Invertebrates
  • Fish
  • Amphibians
  • Reptiles
  • Birds
  • Mammals
  • Habitats

We have not had time to read this entire book – although I am more than confident that both my kids will end up reading every single page, but it is going to take some time.  So I can not vouch for everything that is included.  But what we have already looked at has been really good – some pages out of the Mammal section about Hierarchy, Pack Hunting, Insect eaters oh and some really impressive skeleton pictures and explanations of how certain animals are built and move.

The explanations are concise and the photographs are stunning, and I really do mean stunning, they are incredible close-ups which show amazing details.

DK Explanatorium Nature book. Id filled with stunning close of phootos of animals

The illustrations included are clear and really well explained.  My seven-year old has been reading it by himself and understanding it  (but I must clarify that he is a good reader and he has a very good knowledge about animals).

DK Explanatorium Nature Book. Amazing detail. Incredible pictures

I have paged through the invertebrates section and I am thrilled with it as I wanted to cover this in more detail with my daughter.

DK Explanatorium Nature book. Includes a diagriam of a snail

Also I am very happy with the Plant pages that I have looked it – I have felt for some time that we needed to spent more time on plants and I really think this is going to do just that.

I do want to say that the first category – The Basics of Life does include 2 pages on evolution (I know not everyone likes this) but it also includes pages on cells and DNA and a lovely classification tree.

DK Explanatorium Nature book includes detail like what a cell looks like

This book really is a brilliant book.  I bought ours at £12 but I have seen it advertised at prices between £14 – £20.  Personally for our family and my kids area of interest I would have been more than happy to pay £20 for this.

I bought this copy of the book at a local store near us but you can also get it from Amazon  – Explanatorium of Nature

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.

Explanatorium Nature Book by DK. The best and only Nature Science book that you will need in your house

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Swimming with Sensory Kids

Swimming has been a major “thing” is our house forever.  Originally my two sensory kids hated the idea of swimming and I mean hated.  I have lots of memories of them screaming hysterically when we tried to go swimming and my daughter would honestly strangle me and almost climb onto my head so that she did not have to touch the water.  It was tough.

To try to explain why swimming is so tough for my kids let me give you two examples – my daughter used to describe drizzle as knives going into her skin and when she cried and tears touched her cheek she said they burnt her – so now think of her having to stand in water or even worse the fear of having to submerge your head when your whole body is telling you the water is hurting you.  I can’t imagine how hard that must be.

Then a few years ago we were at my brother’s house and my kids wanted to swim with their cousins – I was blown away.  But my daughter got onto the steps of the pool and after an epic meltdown my son got in the water (I never realized how the style of a swimming costume was so important until my son was wearing a wet costume – even now buying a swimming costume for him is something we takes ages over as it needs to feel right on his skin).

But the kids saw their cousins enjoying the water and they were both determined to get to that stage.  So when we got back home after our holiday we started weekly trips to the local pools.  It did not go smoothly in the beginning.  I made lots of mom mistakes – like not chosing the right pools, wave machines are a big no-no, not listening properly when one of them told me it was time to leave, and not having the right gear.  I realized that along with the right costumes wearing swimming caps, goggles and ever nose clips all helped the kids feel more confident in the water.  So we do.  And we played, no expectation.  We have fun.  We listen to the kids and when they have had enough even if it is after only 20 minutes we get out quickly and then we go straight home – no dragging them to the shops after an overwhelming swimming trip.

swimming with sensory kids

It has taken us a long time and I was often very despondent, wondering what I needed to do to make them more confident in the water, I cried a few times and they cried a few times.  But we have persevered (my kids may have SPD but they can be very determined when they really want to do something).  And now both kids go deep under water.  They float on their back and kick like crazy (floating on the backs was a tremendously difficult thing for my two – it’s the feeling of the water in their ears as the lie back).

We still have a long way to go but compared to how we were just a few months ago the improvement is incredible.  And if you ave told me just a year ago that we would be planning our week’s activities around our swimming trips I would never have believed you.

So if you have a sensory kids who hates the water please don’t give up.  I know it is hard, IT IS.  I know it is frustrating and sometimes you wonder if you are failing as a parent but please don’t give up.  Please.  Every trip, every small step in the water helps them build up that trust that the water on their skin is not sore and with every small step they DO get more confident.

 

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Having fun writing poems

We are making a big effort to do more writing but we are trying really hard to find fun ways to work on the writing.  My oldest has gotten into writing book summaries for all the books she reads and even character descriptions of the main characters (the ones she likes) but my youngest is never really keen to try that.

I have noticed that he loves creating little rhymes and changing the words of songs so I thought possibly some poems might be something fun to do with him.  Now I must be upfront about something, as much as we read (and we do read lots) we don’t really do lots of poetry, at all.  So I decided to start with some Acrostic Poems – poems where the first letter of each line spells out a word.  Acrostic poems can rhyme but they don’t have to so I hoped it would be a good starting point for us.

I printed out a few templates from Activity Village and the kids honestly jumped right in. My son started with a spider poem – he loves spiders – he calls them the king of creepy crawlies, so it was a great starting point for him.

Writing a spider Acrostic poem using the spider template from Activity Village

While he was busy with his spider poem his sister had a go at a Rainbow Acrostic poem.

writing a Rainbow Acrostic poem using the a rainbow page from Activity Village

I actually think the Rainbow Acrostic poem is a brilliant one to start with.  It seems to naturally lend itself to a writing activity as the kids can write about all the different colours of the rainbow, how it appears after rain, even the gold at the end if they wanted.  Both of mine seemed to really enjoy the rainbow one and had so many ideas of things they could include.

Writing a Rainbow Acrostic Poem

With this poem writing – I was really just wanting to encourage a fun writing activity so I did not make a deal about handwriting, punctuation with my youngest as I know that would just put him off.  I really am just wanting to get him writing more and writing in a fun way that he enjoys.

Rainbow Acrostic Poem written using the pages from the Activity Village website

The kids also had a go at writing an Autumn one.

Autumn Acrostic Poem using a page downloaded from the Activity Village website

I really did not know what to expect when I suggested we try writing some Acrostic Poems but both my kids seem to really enjoy the idea and sat for well over an hour creating multiple poems.  My youngest is keen to try a few more of the animal ones and apparently this time he wants to see if he can introduce some rhyming.

The pages that we used are these ones

Spider Acrostic Poem

Rainbow Acrostic Poem

Autumn Acrostic Poem

Important to Notewe did have a bowl of popcorn on the kitchen table that the kids were snacking on while writing their poems – my son tells me this is necessary for good poem writing.  And I must admit after the lovely afternoon we had I am definitely going to put out more popcorn next time we try to write poems.

writing Acrostic poems while eating popcorn

 

 

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Side-steps are Good

I often worry are we doing enough ?  Are the kids making enough progress / improvement?  Sometimes it feels like instead of 3 steps forward 1 step back it is 5 steps in a totally random different direction that has no bearing on where I wanted us to go.  I call those side-steps.

Since we have started down the home-ed path I have come to see time and time again that often a step to the side is just as good as a forward step.  A step to the side, a step down a different route is not a backward step.  It is movement.  And yes a side-step is normally always unplanned on my side and most of the time (100% of the time) a side-step is made by one of the kids, as they branch off into a new interest.  Any movement that the kids are making, any progress is always actually a forward step for the simple reason that they are not standing still, they are directing their own learning.

One of the most significant things that I remember from my entire schooling career was a talk with a guidance counselor.  She said when you come to a decision in life and you have 2 options.  What is better –  to stand still, worrying about which is the correct path and to not do anything because you are so worried you are going to take the incorrect route or just go for it.  And what is the worst that can happen – you realize you choose the wrong path and then make changes to correct it.  But you if never try, if you just stand still with worry you will never get anywhere, you will never learn anything.

It is something that really spoke to me.  I would much rather make a wrong choice than let my whole life go past because I am too scared to choose.  And it is something that I have chosen to apply to our home-ed life.  Sometimes we take the “scenic route” to get there but at least we are still moving, we are always learning.  Sometimes we end up learning about something that is not considered part of  traditional kids education, sometimes we take what must seem to outsiders looking in a very BIG side-step down a strange path.  But if those side steps are following the kids interests then they are learning.

My son spent ages looking at airport designs, what the signs on the run-ways mean, learning all about different planes – and yes I totally admit that would not be what some people would consider an educational topic.  But while he has been doing all of this he has read LOADS, he has created all kinds of aeroplanes, even spoken about a business model for owning his own aeroplane business and how he would cost seats outs, maths, measurement, drawing and so much more.  Yes a lot of people would see this as a side-step because it is not part of the national curriculum.  But Side-steps like this are normally when my kids learn the most and when I look back those side steps are actually MASSIVE steps forward.

So instead of standing still worrying that we are not ticking all the correct boxes and doing everything everyone else thinks we should be doing, we are going on our side-steps, our scenic routes, enjoying learning about topics that the kids find interesting.

 

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Free Measurement Dominoes

We have been talking quite a bit about metric units for measuring length and how you convert from mm to m, cm to m or mm to cm. We did lots of hands on examples where the kids walked around the house and measured items in cm and then mm but I still wanted to find a way to practice moving between cm, mm and m.  Both my kids love using Maths dominoes so I had a quick look to see if  I could find something useful on the internet.  But after a quick search I could not find what I wanted and I did not feel like spending ages searching so instead I decided I would try to create some of our own dominoes.

Measurement Dominoes. Free to download in either black or colour

Nothing fancy but just a way for the kids to practice and hopefully to cement when they need to divide/ multiple by 10, 100 or 1000.

I kept ours straight forward with just black font for everything.  And I tried to mix in a combination of easier examples with some harder ones.

free to download meaurement dominoes. Converting between cm and m

However 2 other home educating moms said it would be useful to have a colour version which the younger kids could use if they wanted.  The idea being that the colours would help the kids – so 600 mm and 60 cm would be 1 colour and then 90 mm and 9cm would be in a different colour.  So I also converted my exisiting dominoes into a colour version as well.

Colourful Free to download Dominoes. Converting between cm amd mm

Measurement Dominoes. Fee to download in either colour or just black

Here are the dominoe sets that I created for the kids.

Changing between cm and mm

Converting cm into mm

Converting cm into mm colour version

Changing between cm and m

Converting cm into m

Converting cm into m colour version

Changing between mm and m

Converting mm into m

Converting mm into m colour version

I still want to create a complete set where the I mix converting between km, m, cm, and mm in one set – hopefully I will get that done soon.

Free to download measurement dominoes. Helps kids to practice converting between cm, mm and m

 

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Magical Myths and Legends Review

When I first heard about the Magical Myths and Legends book I immediately asked if we could review it.  Two reasons really, firstly Michael Morpurgo – really that is enough for us.  We are HUGE fans of his work and he selected the stories to go into this book.  And secondly we seem to be circling around Myths at the moment.  Without much planning we just seem to be reading and learning about them throughout our other learning activities.  Greek/ Roman and Norse Myths just seem to come up over and over again so any quality book containing some good Myths is going to interest us.  Oh and thirdly (yes I know I said two reason but I forgot about the third one), I knew the book included a version of the Legend of Robin Hood and my son recently read a version which totally put him off the story but I really think if we found a good version he would enjoy it.

Magical Myths and Legends as chosen by Michael Morpurgo

Now I must also admit something I was really looking forward to receiving this book but when it arrived I was blown over by how nice it looks.  Yes I know we are not supposed to judge a book by its cover but in this case the cover and the inside pages are just soo stunning, the colours, the glossy pages, it really impressed me and I immediately thought this would make a stunning present.  A Really Stunning Present.

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The Stories are simple versions, very child-friendly and a great way to introduce some of the classic Myths and Legends.  Before each story starts they have included a little introduction about it – which I really liked.

Age wise –  My 7-year-old loved them and happily sat and read story after story.

Reading the Magical Myths and Legends book chosen by Michael Morpurgo. A stunning collection of Myths perfect for kids

My ten-year old also enjoyed them, she does normally read more complex stories but there were a few Myths in here which she had never read before (I think due to some apprehension about the stories) so reading these versions, was a good way of introducing her to them without a scaring her.

The stories that they have included are the following –

  • Mulan
  • Icarus
  • Finn MacCool and the Giant’s Causeway
  • The Giant of Mont Saint-Michel
  • The Lambton Worm
  • The Legend of Robin Hood
  • Thor and the Stolen Hammer
  • Vulcan and the Fabulous Throne
  • Hercules the Hero
  • Gawain and the Green Knight

They are well-told with language that suits the kids and the illustrations are stunning (and in places a bit funny).

Both my kids and I recommend this book.  We think it is a real gem of magical stories that is sure to capture many other children’s imagination.

You can get a copy of this stunning book from Amazon Magical Myths and Legends

As I mentioned above we were given this copy of the book.  All opinions expressed are mine and that of the two little reading testers of the house.

I do include Affiliate links in my posts. 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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