Current Posters and Boards

We have a few cork boards scattered around the house which we use to display different learning pages.  It is something we have done for years as it helps both my kids.  They are visual learners and we have found leaving posters/ pages up around the house helps to reinforces different concepts.  I have written a few posts in the past about the different posters but as we do often change them / sometimes reuse them I thought I would show what is currently up and share links of where we got the pages from.

Learning page we like to display on our boards

This is the board above the kids desk area and it changes quite a bit.  The kids tend to add their own pages with certain spelling words on it and my son actually made the poster with the number words himself (we had the number word cards printed out for something else and he decided he wanted them in a poster format – number words 1- 10, number words 11- 20 – both from Activity Village). The Water cycle poster is also from Activity village. The other pages are from Twinkl – How thunderstorms happen, Tudor Timeline, Geometry Vocab, 2D and 3D shapes and The Multiples Poster.

Then we have a board up in the Kitchen.

One of the learning Boards

There is the 2D shape page from Activity Village.  Underneath is the metric unit conversion page I made (you are welcome to download it from the original post) and then the Simile poster and List of Similes both from Twinkl. The History Timeline Cards are from Twinkl and so it is Quadrilateral Poster.  I bought the Grammar and Punctuation poster, it is this one Punctuation and Grammar.

Then the board up in the kids room.

Learning Board in the Kids room

The Map of Africa is an old map from the Twinkl site but they have a newer one which is almost exactly the same, then the 2x, 4x and 8x poster and the Fraction, decimal and percentage poster are also from Twinkl.  The Human Skeleton is one I bought – this one Your Skeleton and not a poster but our learning clock which is normally next to the board is this one (for sensory kids who hate ticking sounds this one is silent)Time Teacher Wall Clock for Kids with Silent Non Ticking Sweep Quartz Mechanism – Easy to Read & Learn to Tell Time – 30cm Diameter – White

silent learning clock

My kids also have boards that they can use for anything they like.  My daughter has 2 which are currently dedicated to History.  She has an Anglo-Saxon themed board which has the Timeline and the Anglo-Saxon Rune pages from Twinkl on it and the maps that we made (which you are welcome to download links on in the original map post).

Our Anglo-Saxon themed board

And of course the Anglo-Saxon Kings timeline that she made is still up.

Home-made Timeline of the Anglo-Saxon Kings of England. Part of British History

My son normally has animal related items on his but currently he is creating a Forces board and he started with these Types of Forces posters from Twinkl

Forces Posters from Twinkl Resources

Other posts which share different posters we have used are here – Learning postersTwinkl posters, Common Word Posters.

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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Animal Diaries

On a recent library trip we spotted an interesting looking book Shark (Animal Diaries) and with my son’s current fascination of sharks we immediately borrowed it.  It is such a brilliant book that I have since gone back and borrowed another animal diary. They are written in such a fun way that I really think even if your kids are not that into the individual animals they will still find the books interesting.

The concept for this series is that it is an animal diary and each diary is written by the animal itself.

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My son loves this angle.  You get thoughts and observations from the animals point of view and the writer has done this in such a fun way that the animals really do come to life (these books have actually inspired by son to write his own animal diary and he does not normally do fictional story writing).

Animal Shark Diaries a great book written as a shark's diary, perfect to encourage kids to write a story

The books are written from the animal’s perspective so the kids learn a lot about that individual animal but they also learn about the animals that they share their habitat with, both friends and possible enemies. My son loved the fact that sometimes the animals would spell the word incorrectly and have to cross it out and rewrite it.

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The author has also included fact sections which are inserted like little notes stuck into the animals diary.  These fact sections are very informative.

Animal Shark Diaries. some of the facts included in the book

And I must admit I am not a shark fan, at all, but even I enjoyed this lovely book.  Both my son and I loved this little hammerhead and his friends.

The second animal diary that I managed to borrow from our local library is the Animal Diaries: Spider.  It is written in the same style.  This time it focuses on a garden spider.

reading Animal Spider Diaries written by Steve Parker

My son really enjoyed the sections about the web building and actually spent some time walking around our garden inspecting areas that would make good web spots. Oh and he loves the fact that the spider calls humans “Giants”.

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The book introduces us to general “spider life” including who they would eat and who would try to eat them.  It also deals with the life cycle of a spider.

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We have been really impressed with these little Animal Diary books, so much so that I am trying to reserve ALL of the other animal diaries in the series (I love that we can reserve books at our library).

Animal Diaries. Fun and informative books written as if the animal is keeping a diary of events that happen

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. Books written as if the animals are keeping their own diaries. Brilliant, informative and funny

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Taking a week off

This past week has been one of those weeks when we all really needed a break so we took it.  I had a few medical appointments scheduled for the week and I was feeling very apprehensive about them.  So much so that last Sunday night my hubbie encouraged me to just give myself a break this week.  But that mum guilt took over.  I had planned some fun geometry activities to do with my daughter (she actually really enjoys geometry) and I have a bunch of animal activities planned for my little guy.  So I was determined to stick with it.  But then Monday morning arrived and both kids were congested and just miserable with flu so we decided a break from home ed would be a good idea after all.

And we did, well correction I did.  The only real thing I did this week was drive to the library to pick up some reserved books, watch some documentaries with them and chat about whatever they wanted.  But even though I gave all of us a break this week the truth is they still continued learning.

Both kids read a lot – a mixture of fiction and non-fiction, we listened to an audio story on the Anglo-Saxons (my son’s request), watched a documentary on the Tudors (my daughter wanted to watch it) and a bunch of new shark documentaries (both kids wanted to watch these – oh they were also prompted lots of ocean habitat learning).   My son spent ages comparing sizes of different sharks, he used his tape measure and we plotted them out, he discussed how if he combined certain sharks together they would total a different sharks length and he flipped between m and cm without a second thought.  My daughter wrote more of her stories and my son actually started writing a brand new story (inspired by a book he read) and while he was writing he was constantly checking his spelling with his older sister (so they both got a lot of spelling practice).  They also spent some time out in the garden catching and inspecting some of the new insects that have emerged and replanting some seedlings.  My daughter also  worked on new lyrics for a song that she is writing and she decided to give Shakespeare a go.

So that was the week when I officially declared we would not be doing any home educating, oh and they both did some art to go with their stories, sorry forgot about that.

(I am just including a happy smiling photo of the 3 of us because this is how I feel after this week.  So impressed with these 2 and how they are really driving so much of their own learning and teaching me a lot every day)

Winter walk. ofamily learning together

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Anglo-Saxon Non-Ficton Reading

The kids have loved all the Anglo-Saxon Historical Fiction books that we have been reading and although the books are very good at explaining which sections are fact and which are fictional I still wanted to reinforce some of the Facts and especially the order of events.  So we once again we dug out our Early Kings of England: Band 14/Ruby (Collins Big Cat) reader and reread it together.  This little reader has been read and reread multiple times by us.

Collins BIG CAT reader the Early Kings of England. An excallent source about the Anglo-Saxon rulers if England

When we first looked at the Vikings last year we read it for context, when my daughter was creating her timeline of Anglo-Saxon Kings she used it extensively for information.  Really for a reader (yes this book is part of a reading scheme) it has been so incredibly useful for our History projects.  So even though I have mentioned it a few times in multiple posts I have not actually written a proper “what is included” post about the book.  So here goes.

It starts with the Romans leaving Britain in the early 400’s.  Then the Angles and Saxons start invading and we get leaders like Hengist and Horsa, who were not really Kings but still significant leaders at that time.  It talks about general Britain during that time – how the land was divided, Serfs and Masters, Sutton Hoo, the famous attack on Lindisfarne.  All of this gives good background to the life during those times.

Then Alfred the Great, the King of Wessex – how he fortified bridges and built burhs, the treaty with Guthrum which lead to Danelaw and of course his children.  Edward the Elder who took control after Alfred the Great and who was father to Athelstan the First King of England.

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Then Edward the Martyr and Athelred the Unready.  It also talks about St Brice’s Day and how that lead to Swein Forkbeard’s invasion and fight with Edmund Ironside.

It continues with Emma of Normandy, Cnut the Great and Edward the Confessor until we get to the Battle of Hastings.

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So it covers a lot – not only the line of rules from Edward the Great until the Battle of Hastings but it also talks about the general environment at that time, key events, battles and other significant figures and really gives a build up to the Battle of Hastings.

This book is written as part of the BIG CAT reading series by Collins so it is aimed at children in Key Stage 2 years which means it is not a detailed account of every little event that happened.  But we like that.  For us this book has neatly summarized the key events, key characters and how they were all linked.  It has been a GO-TO resource for both my kids and myself (yes I admit when I have not been sure about a few facts I have found this little reader very useful to dive into and quickly check 1 or 2 items).  It is a great summary and a “brilliant building block” for this historical period.  It is one of those books that my daughter has turned to time and time again as she has further investigated the Anglo-Saxons, for the very reason that in order to do more detailed research she needed to understand the Key characters and events of that time.  And this book did just that for her it was her springboard.

For my eight-year old son this book was exactly the right fit – not too much detail but enough that he could understand what happened and who did what.

For a reader we have found this to be a little historical gem that we have used over and over and I have a feeling it will still get dug out again in the future.

Collins Early Kings of England. The Kingdoms of England map

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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Maths Mystery pages from Twinkl

I have mentioned a number of times that we like to do quite a bit of Maths practice.  We realized fairly early that my daughter needed lots of maths practice so that she would be confident in maths (maths is just not an area that she is naturally confident in).  But we have seen over and over again that even thought she starts off unsure with a new maths concept, the more we practice it with her the more confident she gets and the less scary it becomes.  However Maths practice can get a bit boring and there is also a lot of different maths concepts so it is easy to focus on a few new ones and forget about something that we covered in the past (I am guilt of this – thinking oh we covered that and she was fine and then forgetting to revise it).  One of the activities that we have been doing with her for a little while now  – a bit of a Friday Maths Tradition –  are Maths puzzles / Maths Mysteries and she really likes the Maths Mystery pages from Twinkl Resources.

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(The photos above are from The Mystery of Saint George and the Knights’ Table)

It starts off with a little blurb that involves a mystery that needs to get solved – and they give you a list of possible “culprits” or “winners” along with a number of characteristics – so they break the list down into people who have long hair vs short hair, or wear red gloves, possibly have a certain pet, who may like a certain drink something along those lines.

The Mystery of the Pirate Captain. A list of the possible captains

Then there are 4 clues ie maths challenges.  By solving each maths challenge the kids get a clue which helps then to eliminate some of the suspects.  (The clues in the photos below are from The Mystery of the Pirate Captain)

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The Maths Mysteries that we have tried covered a wide range of Maths concepts and it really is just a fun way to include some maths practice.

We tend to choose the maths mysteries based on the mystery that needs to be solves – ie we might choose a history looking mystery, or one that is linked to a holiday like Christmas or Easter.  This way we just work through the Maths challenges regardless of what the topics are which tends to be great revision and sometimes highlights an area that we need to revisit.  But I have also waded through the mystery pages and selected one of them specifically so we could practice a new Maths concept that we had just finished working on.  Either way it is Maths practice that is a lot more interesting than straight forward worksheets and makes for a nice end of the week maths session.

If you have a Twinkl membership you can use these links to see the different Maths Mystery pages that they have.

Maths Mystery pages aimed at Key Stage 1 ages

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Maths Mystery pages aimed at Key Stage 2 ages

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The Maths Mystery pages are part of the paid for Twinkl Classic Package.

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Bringing The Lady of the Mercians and King Athelstan to life

We have read a few Anglo-Saxon historical fiction books lately, every one has highlighted different aspects of that time and they seem to keep adding more and more to our knowledge and understanding of that time period. Our latest have focused on two key figures – Aethelflaed, King Alfred’s daughter who was known as a fierce fighter and was called Lady of the Mercians and then King Athelstan (King Aflred’s grandson) who was the first King to rule over both Wessex and Mercia and who actually established the borders of England way back in 937 AD.   They are two separate books but we think they go well together  – Athelstan is Aethelflaed’s nephew and the author has linked the two books with reference to a few key characters in both, however you could also choose to read them on their own.

We started with Shield Maiden (Flashbacks).  My daughter was gripped by this story from the very beginning.

reading her Anglo-Saxon story. Shield Maiden on the train

The story begins with the Royal family of Wessex (King Alfred’s family) who are attacked by the Danes and they flee into the outskirts – the marshlands – where they regroup and then launch their attacks, eventually taking back control.  So there is more fighting in this one compared to the other stories we have read. But the fighting scenes did not upset my daughter, in fact she hardly spoke about the fights, although she has admitted that she has learnt quite a bit about what it would have been like in an Anglo-Saxon battle of that time.

She loved the fact that this was a story about a strong female character – someone who learnt to fight as well as her brother and went into battle to protect her country but at the same time you see this other side of her, the gentler side.  I think reading books with characters like this is powerful for young girls – they can see women who are strong but can still be kind and caring.

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She also found the whole Pagan vs Christianity idea very interesting.  The Anglo-Saxons were historically Pagans but then they converted to Christianity. What really resonated with her was the concept that just because a ruling power declares that the people need to follow a certain religion does not mean that everyone will oblige and that even those who “follow” may not truly believe it.  And she even compared this to the Tudor times when the rulers kept flipping between Catholicism and Protestantism.  In the book the Royal Children have a nurse Ara – who is clearly a Pagan wise-women. And what struck my daughter was the fact the King and Queen knew and even though they expected their children to follow christianity they very clearly respected Ara and her beliefs, they trusted her to protect their children – this was something we discussed at great lengths – how you can believe different things but still be respectful of what others belief.

However my daughter did find it unkind when King Alfred had a church built on the Marshlands after his victory.   She pointed out that he was happy to take refuge from the Marshpeople (who were pagans), accept their help and protection but when he no longer needed it he disrespected them by imposing a church on their ground – again something that sparked a lot of discussion.

I did find it interesting that this theme resonated so much with my daughter but thinking about what life would have been like back then I am sure it would have been something very topical as people do not just change their belief systems over night.

After Shield Maiden (Flashbacks) we went onto The First King of England: The Story of Athelstan (Flashbacks).  And like I mentioned I do think they work well together as the main character of Shield Maiden  – Aethelflaed is also in this book, as is Ara (the pagan nurse although in this story she is more a ghostly figure of protection) and key places discussed in Shield Maiden are also discussed in The First King of England.

Anglo-Saxon Hsitorical Fiction for children. Shield Maiden and The First King of England

This book follows a young servant boy Edwin who mistakenly picks a fight with another young boy his age only to realise it is the prince of Wessex.  However it turns out the Prince is a not your typical royal and invites Edwin to be is a personal servant.  So Edwin has to start following the Prince around which means we get a very close up account of all the events as they unfold – the training, the battles that are fought, and the peace that is sought from the invading parties.

This story really does describe a lot of what living in those times must have been like – the clothes, the food, how they trained for battle, how they fought, the fact most people were focused on just surviving, that even in times of peace people were constantly waiting for the next battle.  For us one of the key themes that came through was that feeling of guilt, of sorrow after a battle, knowing you had to kill or be killed but still feeling bad for those who died and the uncertainty that someone could invade at any time.  My daughter kept commenting about that uncertainty and that a peace treaty did not really mean that much.  She also loved the section where the Prince of Wessex releases a Viking Prince.  She liked seeing that even in those time of uncertainty and violence people could still put aside their differences to be kind.

We really enjoyed both of these stories and I can honestly say that after reading them my daughter has a better understanding of what life was like in the Anglo-Saxon times.

Anglo-Saxon Historical Fiction books for older kids. British History brought to life. filled with Historical referencesI requested review copies of both of these stories because both my kids are currently very interested in the Early British time period.  All comments are that of myself and my two little readers in the house

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Kings and Queens Book by Usborne

With my daughter’s current interest in the past British Kings and Queens I have been looking for a comprehensive book for her. We have a couple of books that deals with individuals or groups of Kings and Queens but nothing that covers all of them.

I happened to spot the Kings and Queens (History of Britain) at our local library and immediately brought it home for her.  It has been such a hit.  This book is perfect for her current interest and I really have been so impressed with it that I am going to be adding our own copy to the family bookshelf just because I think it is a little gem of British History for the kids.  So here is what is included it this book.

Usborne History of Britain, Kings and Queens. A brilliant comprehensive guide to all the Kings and Queens of Britain. Perfect for kids to use while learning about British History

It starts with the Rise of the Kings and it the perfect starting point because it explains the background to how Alfred the Great came to be King of Wessex.  I really liked that it includes this as at the starting point and does not just launch into Alfred the Great.  The kids need to get that understanding that Britain was  a land of tribes with warrior chiefs and a land of multiple invasions.

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It also talks about Wales and Scotland which I thought was good because I want my kids to understand that they were originally separate Kings.

Usborne History of Britain Kings and Queen The Rise of Kings Early Scotland

They do talk about the significant battles – like Battle of Hastings but not in detail (and that is the same for other battles – the signficant ones are mentioned but it is never in a lot of detail).

Usborne Kings and Queens. History of Britiain. Includes a few battles like the Battle of Hastings

It goes onto the Normans and again they bring in a section called fighting for Scotland which I thought was good. Then the Plantagenet, Balliol and Bruce which really cover the Medieval Kings.

Onto the Stewarts, Lancaster and York – my daughter has been reading a lot about the Tudors recently and she really liked this section as it gave her a lot more context and background to the build up to what happened later.

And then the Tudors and Stewarts.  As I mentioned this is an area we have been reading about but even still I noticed my daughter took her time going through these pages.  She still found them informative and actually a few times she paged back to remind herself of something.  For me this is what makes this book so special, it gives context to so much of the History that we take for granted.  And it explains a lot about the times, by reading about the ruler you get an excellent insight into how the country was changing and evolving over time.

Henry VIII is covered in more detail compared to most other Kings but then I think we do consider him a significant ruler (8 pages in total).

Usborne History of Britain series. Kings and Queens Book includes Henry VIII and his Tudor dynasty

My daughter’s one complaint about this book was that Mary I, Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots were not covered in more detail – but that really is because she finds these 3 so fascinating and is reading everything she can find about them.

Usborne Kings and Queens. Mary Queens of Scots

Next the Stuarts. (which is about where my daughter has reached). Again they have included context for the kings which I find very important.  A bit about the religious issues of the time, issues with parliament, the civil war and a section on Oliver Cromwell and the Dutch invasion.

Usborne History of Britain. Kings and Queens Oliver Cromwell

Then the Hanoverians. We have skipped ahead and already read the 6 pages on Queen Victoria just because she was an impressive Queen and my daughter commented on the Family Tree that was included here.  There are family trees through the book which are very useful but this one got particular attention because it showed the link between Queen Victoria to Queen Elizabeth II.

Usborne History of Britain. Kings and Queens. Queen Victoria

And finally the Windsors.

After the Windsors they have included another very useful section called Factfiles which breaks down some royal information like the different jewels, palaces, awards and ceremonies.

So although this is a book about the concession of the Kings and Queens it also includes the events of the time which makes sense to me.   You need to be able to put the various Kings and Queens into context and this book does just that.  And by doing so it really does become more that just a list of Kings and Queens that ruled Britain it does become a wonderful summary of the British History starting with Alfred the Great and going through to Queen Elizabeth II.

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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