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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Does It Fart?

So there is a title I never thought I would write.  Ever.  But my husband bought this book for my kids and it is Honestly one of the BEST ones we have ever bought them.  This book totally engages the kids.  They often corner us, first thing in the morning to quiz us (yes before I have had any coffee) – Do you think this animal Farts ?  And then we get given the answer (plus giggles and laughter).

Does it Fart Book. Pure enjoyment reading for kids

The picture above is my 7-year-old (yes that is bed hair), he rushed downstairs to read the bit about the Dinosaur and show his dad the funny picture – while his dad was trying to eat breakfast before work this morning. (Note – there are some big words in this book but my two kids tend to read it together so his older sister – who is 10 – does help him with the larger words.)

Does It Fart Book. A book about animal flatulence. The Dinosaur picture

The book is filled with funny cartoon-like pictures showing the animals in action, we especially love the expressions on the animal faces.

Does It Fart book. Includes lots of funny animal illustrations

So for pure enjoyment of reading this book is 5 stars, the kind of book that my kids do not want to put down and are always coming to find us in great excitement to read out the latest extract.  But surprisingly it is actually incredibly factual.  While the kids are reading and laughing they are actually learning about different digestive systems, feeding patterns, even habitats of some of the animals.  I was amazing by how many facts they have included in this funny, engaging book.  And the vocab that my kids are picking up from reading it – brilliant.

Does It Fart. Funny yet informative. Great book for engaging kids

And although the book is written about real animals we enjoyed the fact that they included a page on the Unicorn.

Does It Fart. The Unicorn

I admittedly would not have chosen this for the kids.  My husband bought it for them but I am so glad he did.  This book is a GEM.  And I am going to buy some for birthday presents because I know a few kids  who are not going to be able to put this book down.

Does It Fart Book. Brilliant for getting kids reading and laughing

The kids, the husband and myself (yes I admit it) highly recommend this book.

We bought our copy of this book from Amazon – Does It Fart?: The Definitive Field Guide to Animal Flatulence.

I do 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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Predators and Producers Board Game

Those of you who follow the blog or Facebook page probably know by now that we have an almost continuous animal theme going on at all time.  Both my kids are fascinated by almost anything linked to animals, they love reading about them, learning about them and doing any kind of activity linked to any kind of animal.  So I was thrilled when Oaka Books sent us their Predators and Producers Board Game.  Let me say right at the outset the game is aimed at children in Key Stage 2 (UK school years 3 to 6) and my youngest is not quite there yet but he is obsessed with learning about animals so this game really suited him. (Even when I unpacked the box the first time and had a quick look at some of the questions I knew he would be able to answer enough so he would not get despondent).

The game arrived in a lovely box which is perfect for storage (Big points for me as I hate it when you order something and then need to find a suitable storage box or container for it).

Included in the set –

  • one sturdy Board that folds out
  • question cards (the cards are colour coded lighter blue for lower key stage 2 years and darker blue for upper Key stage 2 ages – so you can stick to one set if you like of combine them – we combined the two and it worked perfectly).

One of the question cards from the Predators and Producers Board Game produced by Oaka Books

  • Dice and 5 playing pieces (my son especially loved that they were things like cars and boats)
  • The Cocoa Beans and Banana cards – the Cocoa Bean cards are worth 5 points and the Banana Cards are worth 10 points each

The objective of the game is to collect as many Cocoa Bean and Banana Cards as you can (you get these by answering the questions correctly) while making your way to Rainforest Rob (the person in the very top square).

Oaka Books Predators and producers Board Game

Now I must admit that as we started looking at the questions in more detail I realized that the game covered a lot more topics that I expected.  It is not just about animals, life-cycles, food chains and their habitats.  The game also covers Plants, Photosynthesis, Skeletons and Muscles, Teeth and Eating and Circulation.  And I must also admit that we have covered these topics with the kids but not in as much detail as animals.

But we played the game with all the question cards mixed up so there were some questions that my kids did not know but there were also lots that they could answer.  And it worked perfectly.  The first day we played it with the kids they did not want to stop (we ended up playing it 3 times on the first day).  They liked the fact they could answer a number of the questions and with the ones that they did not know we often ended up talking a bit about it.

Playing the Predators and producers Science Board game from Oaka Books. Fun Science activity for Key Stage 2 ages

I love this game.  It is a great way to revise facts and to learn some new ones.  We are not huge board game players but this one was a massive hit with my kids and with me because it really was learning / revising in a relaxed manner.

Oaka Books Biology Board Games aimed at Key Stage 2 ages.  Predators and Producers

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Swimming with my Sensory Kids

We have just gotten back from another swimming session and although I can see small improvements, they are such small steps that I find it hard to stay positive.  I never realized until I had my daughter how swimming for some kids could be such a challenge.  And it is not doing the actually strokes it is just being in the water.

As a kid I always liked being in the water, I was never a fast swimmer but I enjoyed being in a pool.  When my daughter was still a baby I tried taking her to the pool and she screamed and shook with fear so after 2 failed attempts we left it then tried again and failed again.  Then she was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder and I forgot about swimming while we started Occupational Therapy and Speech Therapy.  It was after a few months of the therapy that she started to explain how water felt on her skin – she described the feeling of drizzle through her raincoat as sharp items piercing her skin. That was the first time we started to realise how swimming was a sensory issue for her. If she describes being out in rain as so painful imagine how having her body submerged in water must feel?

After about 1 year of Occupational Therapy we tried private swimming lessons  – and the panick set in again so we backed off.  Another 2 years of Occupational Therapy and still no swimming.  Eventually a holiday with her cousins and she allowed herself to sit on the steps in the pool. It was a massive step forward but still we could see even sitting in the pool she felt uncomfortable in the water.

Slowly, slowly we have been going to swimming pools, playing and trying to get them to enjoy the water but still 3 years on from the first time she stepped into the pool with her cousins, three years of visiting pools and still she can’t swim with a noodle or a board.

It is one of the hardest things I have had to witness.  She wants to swim, she really does but her body is still screaming out that the water is not nice.  Just today I heard her whispering to herself – the water is not hurting me, the water is not hurting me, over and over again.

So please if you see a child like mine in a learning pool, struggling in the water.  Please don’t assume anything.  Maybe that child is trying as hard as they can just to be in the water.  And if you ever hear a parent saying “we can’t meet up after swimming” – maybe it is because that child is going to be so emotionally exhausted after being in the water that they are just going to retreat to their bed, curl up with their favourite soft toys and read for the rest of the afternoon.

There are so many challenges that we have faced with our sensory kids, challenges that I would never have understood if we had not been living through this journey with our kids.  But the biggest lesson it has taught me is this – Never Judge Someone  – because chances are you just don’t understand the journey they have been on.


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