The Parts of a Flower

During our many walks we have started trying to identify the different flowers that we spot and just talk about plant life more. Things like how to you think those flowers came here – could it have been wind dispersal? What about these flowers design do you think make them so attractive to the bees? How do you think that plant has adapted for its environment? The aim has just been to encourage both the kids to think more about plant biology. Both of mine LOVE biology but they love learning about animal biology and not  plant biology so we have tried to use our lockdown walks as a way to encourage them to think more about plants. I was not pushing it too much because I wanted to try and just spark their interest and not force it on them.

Then this morning my son noticed that one of the tulip’s petals had flapped down and he could see the “parts of the flower” – his words. So we took the tulip out of the vase and had a closer look. And it was a really good example – you could clearly see the different parts.

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They both seemed interested so we pealed away all the petals to get a better look.

Looking at the parts of a Tulip

Then I asked if they could try and label the different parts. So we got some card and tape out and then they set about creating their own “scientific flower pages”.

They both started with taking an actual tulip and sticking that down.

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Then they both moved onto trying to do their own drawings – more of a cross-section look – because the wanted to include a bit more detail.

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I know I am biased but I think they did a good job.

Parts of a flower page created by the kids of ofamily learning together

I love activities like this because the more my kids use their hands when they are learning the more they remember – working with the actual flowers and then drawing them free hand is just more engaging. 

And yes this was totally unplanned and yes it did mean that our planned learning activity for this morning was not completed.  But I don’t mind.  I know that when they are engaged and asking questions it is the best time to just follow them, change gears and go with the topic they are interested in.  We will get to our “missed” learning activity next week.

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KS2 Grammar Workbook

I really enjoy the Understanding English series from Schofield & Sims.

Understanding English range by Schofield & Sims

One of the books included in this series is the Grammar one – which I actually used as a revision book with my daughter in her Year 6 (great way to make sure you have covered everything and to possibly highlight areas you might need to go over again) and I am busy using it at the moment with my nine-year old. Now this book is designed for the whole of Key Stage 2 so I am not covering everything with him this year. I have been dipping in and out of the different Understanding English books taking pages for different activities and will continue using them with him for his next academic year as well.

Schofield & Sims Understanding English Grammar KS2 workbook

I think the reason why these books have been so popular with us is their design. Simple but effective. A nice brief explanation at the top of the page followed by 3 different activities. And normally the topic is split over 2 pages (sometimes even more). I will add that we I don’t use these books in isolation. I do tend to print out extra pages from websites to add in extra practice of concepts when I feel we need to. But I like the fact that everything is contained in this workbook, so I know these are the concepts we need to cover.

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We also like the muted colours – they tend to be black and white with one other colour to highlight concepts and words. This suits my sensory kids because extremely colourful pages can often be more distracting than helpful.

So what is covered by this workbook? (The first 56 pages are activities and then they include all the answers at the back.)

  • Nouns
  • Adjectives
  • Comparatives and Superlatives
  • Singular and Plural
  • Verbs
  • Adverbs
  • Prepositions
  • Pronouns
  • Conjunctions
  • Understanding word classes
  • Linking ideas
  • Verb tenses
  • 1st, 2nd and 3rd person
  • Subject and verb
  • Standard English
  • Clauses (about 8 pages on clauses)
  • Sentence types
  • Modal verbs
  • Conditional sentences
  • Active and passive sentences
  • Informal speech and Formal speech
  • also a couple of editing pages

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Other Understanding English Books that I am using with my son are – Punctuation and Spelling

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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Ancient Algebra = Fun Maths

Whenever possible I try and make Friday maths a bit different – puzzles, codes, games just something that is a bit more relaxed. During the week I was searching for some Algebra pages and I spotted this set on the TechitPrimary website – Ancient Algebra – I immediately thought it looked like a fun Friday maths activity. We have often done coded pages (in lots of different formats and both my kids enjoy that sort of thing) so I downloaded and printed it out. Now I must admit when I went through it I thought it would be perfect for my nine year old even though it says it is a Year 6 activity – the reason being he has recently done Roman Numerals and actually asked for more pages where you have to figure out what the number value of different symbols is. Which is what a lot of this is – looking at the Aztec Symbols or Egyptian symbols and converting them into our traditional numbers. So I thought it would be perfect for him. But as soon as his older sister saw it and realized there was a history angle (ancient civilizations) she asked if she could also try it.

The set starts with a page showing what the different Aztec and Ancient Egyptian symbols were and what they mean in our number language.

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Then there are 4 different worksheets – 2 pages on the Aztec symbols and 2 pages on the Ancient Egyptian symbols.

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And they have also included the answers (although I must confess there are 2 answers that we disagree with – I am one of those moms that actually enjoys it when my kids find “errors” and point them out.  I like the fact that they question the answers given and are not afraid to point out when they disagree and explain why they disagree).

I must admit it was a great Friday maths activity.  Both my kids enjoyed it.

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For those of you who may not be aware you can create a Free account with the TeachitPrimary website that allows you to download all the PDF’s on their site – this is the account that we have and we have used it for years.  They have lots of great content on their site and they also have sister sites for the Secondary Years (I have links in this post – Teachit Secondary Subject Sites).

And no this is not an AD in any shape or form.  I just thought this was an interesting maths activity.

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Number Puzzle Book

I love the idea of number puzzles and word puzzles. I think they are a great activity for kids because there is always an element of logic and often an element of trial and error (which I think is important because kids will often do a Maths problem and get it incorrect the first time but they need to learn not to give up and to continue trying). So I was very happy when I spotted Schofield & Sims had both a Numbers Puzzle Book and a Word puzzle Book for Key Stage 2 ages – I am a massive fan of the Schofield & Sims workbooks. They are always well written and set out in a logical manner with examples getting progressively harder. And they always include a brief explanation at the top of the page (and yes answers are at the back of the books)

KS2 Number puzzle Book explaining how to do the puzzles

And this Number Puzzle Book does just that. For each type of problem there are three different double pages – each double page gets progressively more difficult.

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They also include a nice range of different number puzzles:

  • Latin Squares
  • Sudoku
  • Arithmagons
  • Magic Squares
  • Multiplication pyramids
  • Grand totals
  • Kakuro

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I wanted this book for my nine-year old.  He started with the easy examples which are perfect for the kids to figure out how they are going to solve these types of problems and great to practice on before they try harder examples.  Once he got the hang of it he moved onto the medium challenges (it is still a fairly newish book and we have not tried the most difficult challenges yet).

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By working through these puzzles kids do practice the basic 4 operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division) and I actually now think the multplication pyramids are brilliant for times table practice.  But it is more than just the four operations there is logic involved and number sense.  Understanding place value also comes into the puzzles.

I think this Number Puzzle Book is a brilliant addition to normal maths activities.  It is fun and perfect for Friday Maths or keeping busy on a train ride (yes I am looking forward to going on train trips again) or car trip.

You can get the Number Puzzle Book directly from the Schofield & Sims, at your local bookstore (when they open again) or from Amazon – Number Puzzles: Key Stage 2, Years 3 – 6

Admin Bit – I was sent our Number Puzzle book from Schofield & Sims together with a few other books.  It entirely up to us which books we use, when we use them and if we decide to include them in a post.

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.

Schofield & Sims Number Puzzle Book Key Stage 2 Maths

 

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Reading the Classics with Oxford Children’s Classics

One of the book series that we come back to time and time again are the Oxford Children’s Classics.

Oxford Children's Classic Books

I purposely sought out these stories because I was determined the kids would be exposed to a wide range of books and I wanted to make sure we included the more classic stories – and yes there is often old English words and phrases used and sometimes they talk about things like boxing kids ears or things that were acceptable back then but that are not acceptable now.  But for me this is part of why I want the kids to read them.  I want them to learn about how times have changed and how things/ words that were once acceptable are no longer considered acceptable.  And it actually makes for very interesting conversations, conversations that are actually really good to have with the kids.

I think the first time we tried one of these books was about 3 years ago – we started with The Railway Children – both of mine still rate this as one of their favourite stories and they often compare the characters in other books to the three kids in The Railway Children.  I really appreciated that it was an unabridged version of the story so whenever I have wanted another classic story I always first go and check to see if Oxford have it in their Classic range.  Which means we are now the proud owners of 6 different books in this range.

Great Books Oxford Children's Classics

We actually used our Black Beauty book as our English Literature study book – and by that what I really mean is we read the book really slowly, stopping a lot to talk about the characters, the events, the writing style, what the author was trying to do, why a certain word may have been used – yip slowly and with lots of discussion.  Both my kids really enjoyed it.  They loved the story and they enjoyed all the discussions and even after we had finished the story and moved onto another my son actually kept referring back to the characters in Black Beauty. (He did a lovely comparison between the horses in Black Beauty and those in The War Horse).

And as much as I like using these books for family reads (when the kids and I read them together) both of mine have read them independently.  My youngest tends to reread them to himself after we have read them together and my oldest just reads them for pure enjoyment – her current favourite is Little Women she is slightly obsessed with the story and the characters.

If you are looking for some classic stories then I highly recommend this range.

These are the books that we have are

Oxford Children’s Classics: The Railway Children (loved this one)

Oxford Children’s Classics: Black Beauty (my son’s favourite)

Oxford Children’s Classics: Heidi

Oxford Children’s Classics: The Secret Garden

Oxford Children’s Classics: Little Women (currently my daughter’s favourite)

Oxford Children’s Classics: Anne of Green Gables

Admin – This is not a sponsored post.  We just like these books.

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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Revolution, Industry and Empire – Year 8 History Book

My daughter does not technically start year 8 until September but with the whole lockdown going on she wanted more history resources to read and actually kept asking me for the next History book by Aaron Wilkes (we have been using the first book in a three book series written by Aaron Wilkes for KS3 ages and she LOVES it). The Second book in this series is KS3 History 4th Edition: Revolution, Industry and Empire: Britain 1558-1901 Student Book.

Revolution, Industry and Empire. KS3 History book by Aaron Wilkes

Quick background – last year I was not sure which books to use with my daughter (secondary resources were all new to me at that stage) so we started with some Collins History Books – which were good but they were just not detailed enough for her so after about a month we switched to the Oxford book (KS3 History 4th Edition: Invasion, Plague and Murder: Britain 1066-1558 Student Book) – which was a total win – it had more detail, lots of questions, lots of using source material and thinking about events for yourself – just a complete win all around. So there was no doubt that we would continue with the Oxford Books again for Year 8. Which means, for us, getting the Year 8 History book a bit early just seemed like a logical step.

So why is it that we LOVE this book so much (and I do mean LOVE because out of all the Year 7 resources we have used over the past 9 months this History series has been the one that was really stood out).

The detail – they include lots of information but it is the way they present the information that I think is key. It is not written in long boring paragraphs. The page is broken up into smaller sections and they use illustrations (sometimes cartoon like strips), they used boxes for key points, pictures, small bits of source documents – a wide variery of ways to explain what happened – which actually keeps it’s really interesting and helps to engage the kids.  My youngest who is nine-years old (would be Year 4 if he attended school) does not actually like History like his older sister but he actually sits and goes through these books with us because he even says the way they present the information is interesting. 

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At the end of each double page they include some questions which the kids can go through to check they understand what they have read. Which is really handy and is a quick way of reinforcing key points. Then at the end of each chapter they include longer questions – these questions are broken down into three sections – a basic set of summary questions about the chapter, literacy focus questions and then History skills questions. 

Knowledge Quiz part of Revolution, Industry and Empire KS3 History book

And I must admit these end of chapters questions are amazing.  I love these sections.  Love It.  The type of questions they ask and the way they help the kid’s breakdown the answers and help them structure it.  The entire end of chapter question section is just spot on. It really builds the kids answering and writing ability up, step-by-step.  For me, as a home-educator, these end of the chapter questions and the way they set them out is the best part about these books.

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So what does this 2nd Book cover?  It is Britain between 1558 and 1901.

The chapter topics are as follows

  1. Queen Elizabeth – an in-depth study – we loved the in-depth study included in the first book so I love that they have included another in this book and that it is about Queen Elizabeth.
  2. Life in Tudor Times – includes things like Tudor schools and crime and punishment.
  3. Exit of the Tudors and enter the Stuarts.
  4. Civil War to Commonwealth
  5. Restoration of the Merry Monarch
  6. Exit the Stuarts enter the Georgrians
  7. Industrial Revolutions
  8. Terrible Towns
  9. Slave Trade
  10. Britain vs France
  11. India – a British Empire case study – another in-depth study – again thrilled to see this included.
  12. From Tudor to Victorian Britain what changed?

We have only just received this book but both my daughter and I have already paged through it and read sections and already we are confident that it is going to be as much a success as the first one.

With both of these books my daughter actually reads them cover to cover herself (well she is about half way through this one).  And then we also go through it slowly, page by page together chatting about concepts and often trying to link in documentaries and other things when possible.  We like including things like documentaries and other books because she enjoys History and finds it fascinating but I honestly believe you could also just use this book by itself without adding in the extra stuff because they do cover everything in so much detail.

Also I want to mention that the answers to the questions are no included in these books.  Oxford produces Teacher books for each student book which contains extra ideas and the answers to all the questions.  We did not use the teacher book with her Year 7 book and we managed fine.  No problem.  But I am going to buy the teachers book for this one.  Why the change?  Really it is personal thing.  More and more my daughter is indicating that she might want to end up working in a History field of some sort (she is not sure what area yet) so I do think getting the teacher’s guide will help me guide her more.  But it is a personal preference.  If this was my son, I am not so sure I would buy the Teachers guide. 

Admin Bit

Oxford University Press have given us our copy of this book so we could use it as part of our home education.  I actually asked if we could review it because my daughter and I were so impressed with the first book.

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.

For those of you interested the three History books in this series are

KS3 History 4th Edition: Invasion, Plague and Murder: Britain 1066-1558 Student Book

KS3 History 4th Edition: Revolution, Industry and Empire: Britain 1558-1901 Student Book

KS3 History 4th Edition: Technology, War and Independence 1901-Present Day Student Book

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STABILO Woody Pencils perfect for younger hands

With lots of kids at home at the moment I have been asked a number of times about resources that we used when the kids were younger.  And I always end up recommending these pencils to everyone with younger kids.  They are brilliant and there are so many fun ways that the kids can use them that they really became one of my favourite items for younger kids – it’s the Multi Talented Pencil – STABILO Woody 3 In 1 Wallet of 10 Assorted Colours + Sharpener, EO880/10-1-20

We first started using them when my daughter was around 4 and was really struggling with colouring in and was just not wanting to do any at all.  She struggled with pencil pressure and found other pencils and crayons uncomfortable.  As soon as she tried the Woody 3 in 1 pencils she loved them.  She found the pencils easy to hold, the right size for her hands and for the first time she did not struggle with pencil pressure and was able to get colourful pictures.  She used them for years and she even learnt how to write her letters using these pencils.  In fact both my kids used these pencils as their first writing pencils.

using the Twinkl building block number cards to work out greater than and less than

The Woody 3-in-1 pencils are thick pencils (perfect for smaller hands) with a soft lead and like the name suggests the kids can use them for a multiple of activities.

STABILO 3-in-1 pencils

Just add some water and they become watercolour pencils. The kids can play around and they can create pictures where sections are coloured in normally and where sections have the watercolour effect.

You can use them to draw on glass – yip that is right – they just wipe off. We have used ours to create all kinds of art work on our windows and sliding doors.

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And my kids have even used them to practice some Maths (because writing Maths on the sliding doors is just a LOT more fun than using a workbook).

Maths on our sliding doors using our STABILO 3-in-1 pencils. A fun way for the kids to practice maths at home

And they work on laminated pages (or Write and Wipe pockets). We used ours to turn play dough mats into drawing mats and they were perfect for tracing letters and practicing Maths.

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I LOVE these pencils! Really one of the best items I bought my kiddies.

STABILO Woody 3-in-1 pencils

For those of you interested the links for the different worksheets shown in the photos above are as follows:

Maths building block cards (from Twinkl)

Scarecrow colouring page (Activity Village)

The Arithmagon maths page (Activity Village)

Playdough mat (Twinkl)

Number Tracing page (Twinkl)

The Write and Wipe pockets are ones that we used for many years they are these ones – Learning Resources Wipe Clean Pockets

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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