Creating four Quadrant Coordinate Pictures

I was recently searching for some new coordinate pictures to use with the kids and although I could find a number with just one quadrant I could not find that many using all four quadrants so I decided to have try and create my own.

I set up our own four quadrant page using the 1cm grid paper from Activity Village.

I started by just drawing very stylized images – trying to keep the line straight and then plotted the coordinates for them. Stylized, simplified images were definitely much easier to work with (well for me they were)

four quadrant coordinate flower picture

But then I remembered the new templates on Activity Village specifically the shark ones and since my son is fascinated my sharks I thought I would see if using a template would also work. I choose this Shark template and cut out a few different sizes. Then to start with I simply traced around the image.

using a shark template from Activity Village to get the starting point for a coordinate image

But then you need to start adjusting the image  – some points need to get stretched and others shrunk a bit so they fit into the grid a bit better. There is some trail and error involved.

I also added in an extra fin (my son asked me to do this) and we had something that we could work with, so my son tested out the Big shark image.

plotting his shark coordinate picture

And once he was finished he even added some of his own details (eye, teeth, gills etc and coloured it in).

four quadrant shark picture created with free to download coordinates

I also created a second shark coordinate image for him

In the end I ended up with 4 different coordinate images – a Big Shark, 2 sharks together, 3 fish and a flower.

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I have typed up the coordinates and you can download them on the link below.

Coordinates by ofamily learning together

I must admit I quite enjoyed the challenge of creating the pictures so I am thinking I might try and create a map version.

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Arithmetic Workbooks – extra Maths practice examples we have been using

Earlier this year I was looking for some extra Maths practice examples. I already had books that we were using for explaining the different maths concepts and I am totally happy at creating a few of my own maths pages but sometimes my brain just can’t think of a new sum and I end up sitting at the computer wondering what sums I could create. So I went to a local bookstore and started paging though the different workbooks they had to see if I could find something that would really give us extra maths sums that we could use for practice. I spotted the Bond SATs Skills: Arithmetic Workbook: 10-11 years and it was exactly what I was looking for so I bought the book and we started using it.

Oxford University Press Bond Key Stage 2 Arithmetic Worbook for ages 10 -11. Year 6 practice book

As I mentioned this for us is really a workbook which gives us extra maths practice for concepts that the kids already know (so not what I call an explaining book). But as a maths practice workbook I have found this really useful, REALLY useful. I really just flip to whatever section I want and then circle a few sums and the kids then do the sums in their own maths books. Okay so let me clarify the Bond workbooks do include space for working out the sums but I have chosen to NOT write in these books so that if I want to I can mix up examples, redo examples and use it for both kids. So it is just my preference that the kids do the sums in their own exercise books and not write in these workbooks – totally my personal preference so we can get the most out of these books.

I was actually so happy with the book that I had bought that I contacted a Press contact at Oxford University Press and asked if we could get the 8-9 years and 9-10 years book for review purposes because I wanted to compare the content in all three books. They kindly agreed and sent me the other two.

Firstly general setup of all the workbooks is the same – each workbook is divided in 10 Units (roughly 46 pages of exercises), they include the answers in the middle of the workbook – which means if you want to remove them it is easy to do so, they also include a page explaining key words at the back and there is a progress chart if you want to use it. At the top of the pages they do include short Helpful Hints of how to tackle the sums and at the end of each Unit they is one story sum page (really like that they have included the story sum page so often – you get 10 story sums pages in each workbook).

So what is included in each individual book?

Bond SATs Skills: Arithmetic Workbook: 8-9 years.

  1. Place Value – up to hundred thousands and includes rounding practice.
  2. Addition – straight forward addition practice.
  3. Subtraction – practice including numbers in ten thousands and needing to borrow.
  4. Addition and Subtraction – mixed up examples.
  5. Multiplication – need to know times tables for this section.
  6. Division – including the bus stop method.
  7. Multiplication and Division – mixed up examples including some bigger numbers.
  8. Fractions – adding and subtracting fractions with the same denominator, including some mixed numbers.
  9. Decimals – multiplying and dividing a decimal number by 10 and 100.
  10. Test Your Skills – mixed examples covering all sections in the book.

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Bond SATs Skills: Arithmetic Workbook: 9-10 years

  1. Place Value – up to a million, includes rounding and finding common factors.
  2. Addition – practice including adding numbers in the ten thousands.
  3. Subtraction -practice including sums with numbers in hundred thousands.
  4. Multiplying and Dividing by 10, 100 and 1000.
  5. Multiplication – includes square and cube numbers and long multiplication examples.
  6. Division – bus stop method with remainders and showing remainders as fractions.
  7. Multiplication and Division – mixed examples.
  8. Fractions – equivalent Fractions, simplifying fractions and converting improper fractions into mixed numbers.
  9. Decimals – adding and subtracting decimals.
  10. Test yours Skills – mixed examples covering all sections in the book.

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Bond SATs Skills: Arithmetic Workbook: 10-11 years

  1. Place Value – up to ten millions, rounding and negative numbers.
  2. Addition and Subtraction – mixed examples.
  3. Multiplication – including squared and cubed numbers and long multiplication.
  4. Division – with remainders and long division.
  5. Multiplication and Division – mixed examples.
  6. Fractions – adding and subtracting mixed fraction where denominators are different, multiplying and dividing with fractions.
  7. Multiplying with decimals.
  8. Dividing with decimals.
  9. Percentages – writing a percentage as a fraction and as a decimal and calculating the percentage of a number.
  10. Test your Skills – mixed examples covering all sections in the book.

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If you are looking for books with extra Maths practice examples we think this set is very useful.

As I mentioned I bought the year 10- 11 book and then I asked for review copies of the 8-9 and 9-10 books so that I could include the detail of what they cover.

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.

Oxford University Press Bond Key Stage 2 Maths Workbooks. Arithmetic Practice

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Time Hunters. Fun adventure stories with a bit of History

I have mentioned a few times that my youngest is NOT as big a history fan as his older sister but he does like reading and I discovered with the How to Train Your Dragon books – if I find a good story with some adventure and just a bit of history thrown in he will devour the books. So I bought the Time Hunters series (well I bought the first 10 from the bookpeople). He LOVES them, really LOVES them. He loves the whole adventure angle and without even realizing he is absorbing a bit of History.

The first 10 of the Time Hunters series. written by Chris Blake

The stories follow Tom (a normal boy whose father works in a museum) and Isis (she is an Egyptian princess who was trapped in a statue after she failed to pass one of the tests on her journey to the Afterlife). They have to travel back in time to find some missing amulets so that Isis and her Chloe, pet cat can succeed on their trip to the Afterlife. And that is one of the reasons I like these books – straight away in the beginning of the very first book he was reading about Ancient Egyptian beliefs. And what he has been reading really sticks. We were watching something on the Vikings the other day and he chirped up – in the book Anubis said…………….. about the Vikings and they did …………………..” So yes it is all going in.

an inside page from one of the Time Hunters book by Chris Blake

When Tom, Isis and Chloe travel back in time they end up in the thick of some historical event, which normally has a few twists in it but nothing very scary. And the adventures all include  historical items – like clothing that they would be wearing, weapons, possibly food they eat, where they sleep – all expertly woven into the adventure, so much so that the kids don’t even realize how much they are learning.

And at the back of the books they include some Historical fact pages – pages about the characters mentioned, the timeline of that period and even the whole timeline of the entire series. My son, without me even explaining any of this is now totally confident in the order that these events occurred.

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He loves these stories (and I must admit I can see why they appeal to him).

an extract from Time Hunters Knight Quest book written by Chris Blake

And I am thrilled that he has found another series which encourages him to read and also manages to teach him a bit along the way. (In case anyone is wondering my son is currently 8 – I would say these books are for reading ages 7 and over).

Both my son and I highly recommend these books.

Harper Collins Time Hunter Series. Fun reading with historical references

As I mentioned above I bought the first 10 of these books in a set from the Bookpeople – Time Hunters Set of 10

You can also buy them direct from Amazon Gladiator Clash (Time Hunters, Book 1)

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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Secondary History Book – Medieval Britain

In the beginning of June we were out shopping and I happened to stop at a book store to browse through some educational books for the kids. While I was paging through a few books my daughter spotted two of the Collins Key Stage 3 History Books – Medieval Britain and Early Modern Britain and immediately asked if we could buy them. Now I must admit I normally like to read reviews about the educational books before I buy them, I don’t normally just grab some off the shelf. But my daughter had found these and thought they would they were interesting so we bought them.

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As soon as we got home she was reading them – she immediately skipped ahead to the section about the Tudors (in the Early Modern Britain book) and then went back to the Medieval Britain one and started reading that one in order. She has actually now read it cover to cover (she loves History books). And she has already been using the Medieval Britain book to help when she creates her timelines.

Using her Collins Medieval Britain book to help her create a timeline showing all the medieval rulers of England

I have read parts of the Medieval Britain book – I have been using it to find information for History projects but as off yet I have not really looked at the Early Modern one. However both books follow the same format so I will give a breakdown of the set-up and what is included.

The Medieval Britain book starts with the Anglo-Saxons and goes up until the Battle of Bosworth. It divides this period into 6 units and each unit is further split into 5 double pages each of which covers a new concept relating to the unit. Each unit is roughly 12 pages long and ends with a Knowledge organiser page – which is a brief summary. I am guessing for most this would be a good year 7 history resource – for my daughter because she loves History so much and wants the detail we will need to get her additional History resources and she will cover a lot more than just this book in 1 year.  But for someone like my son this would probably be enough.

Each double page starts with a brief summary at the top and then gives the detail below along with some photographs or pictures of what is being discussed. At the bottom of the double page they have a Check Your Understanding Section – which is roughly 4 or 5 questions based on the text you have just written. (FYI – Tthey do include sample answers for these questions in their teacher guide which is free to download from the Collins website but we have never had to use it for the answers – the answers really are in the text).

Key Stage 3 Medieval History stident book by Collins.  An example of the questions at the end of each double page

Everything is set out in chronological order. So the events unfold in a logical manner and the kids get an idea of how some things build up over time.

I also really like the inclusion of their knowledge organisers at the end of each unit. This includes a timeline of that unit, along with key vocabulary and key people mentioned.

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So what is included in the Units for the Medieval Britain Book?

  1. Anglo-Saxon England – background, their rule, Vikings, Alfred the Great and the Anglo-Saxon golden age
  2. Norman England – Starts with explaining the main characters in 1066, The Battle of Hastings, Norman Conquest, the feudal system  and the Norman Monarchs
  3. Medieval Life – The medieval village, the medieval castle, the medieval knight, medieval church and crime and punishment.
  4. Medieval Kingship – Henry II, King John, Edward I, Henry V and Medieval Queens.
  5. The Crusades – The Islamic World, The First Crusade, Crusader states, Life as a crusader knight and the end of the crusades.
  6. Late Medieval England– The Black Death, the Peasants Revolt, the War of the Roses, Yorkist Rule, The Battle of Bosworth

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Like I mentioned above I have not looked at the Early Modern Britain book yet but it written in the same format so I thought I would just include what it covers in case any readers are looking for something specific.

  1. Henry VIII and the Reformation – The young Henry VIII, the Reformation, Henry’s Great Matter, The English Reformation, Henry VIII and Edward VI.
  2. The Age of Encounters – The Italian Renaissance, Printing press, Gunpowder and Astronomy, Global Exploration, Christopher Columbus and The New World
  3. The Later Tudors (this is the section my daughter has read) -Mary I’s Counter-reformation, Elizabeth I, The Elizabethan Golden Age, The Spanish Armada, Rich and Poor in Tudor England.
  4. The English Civil War – James I and the Gunpowder Plot, Charles I and Parliament, The outbreak of war, Fighting and the English Civil War, Trial and execution.
  5. Commonwealth and Restoration – Cromwell’s commonwealth, The Restoration, Restoration England, The Great Fire of London, The Glorious Revolution.
  6. Georgian Britain – Creation of Great Britain, Parliamentary Government, Jacobite Uprisings, Georgian Aristocracy, Poverty, Violence and Crime.

We bought both of our books at a local bookstore but they are also available on Amazon – KS3 History Medieval Britain (410-1509) (Knowing History), KS3 History Early Modern Britain (1509-1760) (Knowing History)

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

Younger kids you want to read about Anglo-Saxon England might find this book useful – Anglo-Saxon Kings of England





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Summer Holiday Break?

One of the big questions everyone seems to be asking at the moment is do you break for Summer Holidays?  If so when do you start and for how long?

I don’t like answering No we don’t or Yes we do because everyone I know home educates in a slightly different way, so there is no one-answer that applies to all.  Every family is unique so what works for one family might not work for another and also what works one year might not work the next.  For me that is the beauty of home education you can mould it to what suits your family.

Bearing all that mind – for us that means home-education is non-stop, it’s a lifestyle.  So no we don’t stop for the traditional school holidays and no we don’t stick to traditional school hours or even a traditional school week.  But our home education  does have a seasonal rhythm to it.  Over the warmer months the kids are outside a LOT which means our learning style has a very different feeling to it when compared to the winter months.  We tend to make the most of the longer days and the sunny weather and enjoy all the little creatures visiting our garden. But even with the different seasonal rhythm to our days both of mine like a bit of structure so we do keep a little of it but we bend it to the summer days.

And I must also admit once the schools break for holidays I tend to steer clear of the museums and historical sites.  So that also impacts the natural rhythm of our days.

When the kids were younger there were 2 years when I felt like I needed a complete break.  So we took it.  But at that stage I think I was also still finding what worked for us and I was not making sure I took breaks on a regular basis so I would get to a point of complete exhaustion.  It also took me a while to figure out what learning styles suited my kids and for me to relax and stop worrying about what the schools were covering, so the first 2 years of home education were more mentally exhausting.

Now both the kids are brilliant at driving their own learning.  They are constantly creating little projects, totally indpendently – from writing stories based on books that they have been reading, to researching facts on a new topic, creating their own factsheets – all of that never stops.  The reading never stops, documentaries are still watched and the questions continue.  In the summer months these projects often just end up being completed outside in the garden.

Along with the extended hours outside we also seem to do more art.  For some reason the summer months always means extra art projects.  I think it is because art is very much a relaxing activity for us and it just seems to slot in perfectly with the summer feeling of longer days and sunshine. We do art both outside in the garden and also we sometimes retreat into the house when it gets a bit too hot and get creative in our cooler kitchen.

Some of you may be wondering but what about the more formal side – what about Maths.  Maths for us is continuous – it is working out how to change the ingredients in a recipe so instead of 10 biscuits we could get 14 biscuits, it is converting the measurements in my son’s latest insect book so they are all in cm and then seeing if he can draw the insects to scale (one of the projects he created himself), it is managing their pocket money and working out a budget for an activity.  My son wants to learn his 8 times and 7 times tables over the summer so we will work on that and I know my daughter has some geometry ideas linked to art that she wants me to try and help her set up so that will also happen.  And yes inbetween all of that we do slot in a few pages of maths for my daughter because it is part of her routine that she actually likes to keep going.

It really is what works for us, what works for the kids.  Mine love creating their own projects, it is a great source of pride when they show us what they are working on and it means the projects are no longer seen as “school work” but they see them as fun so they are not restricted to week days, or school days only.  So for mine their projects don’t stop just because the local schools are on holiday.  They continue working on the projects that they find interesting all year round.

summer art project ofamily learning together


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DK Insect Book

In May my son spotted this DK Insect book at our local library and we immediately borrowed it. It turned out to be a little gem of insect facts for my son. He has poured over this book, page by page, multiply times and even taken it out with us when he knew he would be waiting somewhere.

reading his DK Insect book

Unfortunately someone else reserved our Insect Book and we had to return it so I asked DK if they would send us a review copy and they kindly did. But really this is my son finding a book he loved in the library and then me going and asking the publishers for a copy, that is how much he loves it.

Why do I think he likes it? Because it does not dumb down the topic. It uses all the big words and they keep if factual and accurate – he does not like books where they oversimplify the topic.

And I must admit I find the format easy to read (and I am not as insect obsessed as my son) – each page has a brief summary at the top of the page and then below the summary they include lots of detailed facts – all labelled and with stunning photographs.

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The photographs are truly amazing – the detail is incredible. The way the skin and hairs stand out and you can really see the texture.  Wow my son and I were blown away by the photographs.

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So what does the book cover –

  • What is an insect / parts of an insect
  • The first Insects
  • Then wings / insects eyes / tough, smell and hearing / legwork / mouthparts – love the detail in these sections.
  • Battling Beetles
  • Complete Metamorphosis
  • Beetles / Flies / Butterflies and Moths / Bugs / Wasps, bees and ants – so the 5 main types
  • Then other insects
  • Living with plants and how the hide from predators
  • A watery life – this is great if your kids like pond creatures
  • Building a nest and Insect Architects
  • Social Ants
  • Honeybees and Hives
  • Helpful verse harmful
  • Looking at Insects
  • Extra did you know
  • Insect Classification.

Really it covers a lot.  A LOT

And if that was not enough the book comes with its own poster.  Which is a brilliant summary.

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Oh and after the huge success of the Insect book we also spotted a Reptile version at our library which we borrowed just yesterday and I have a feeling it is going to be just as popular

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As I mentioned above we first spotted these books at our local library but you can also get them from Amazon – Insect: Explore the world of insects and creepy-crawlies – the most adaptable and numerous creatures on the planet (DK Eyewitness)

Reptile (DK Eyewitness)

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

DK Eyewitness Insect Book. Filled of amazing facts and details

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Wild Flowers and a Log Pile

I tend to write lots of posts about the books and resources that we use but one area I probably don’t talk about that much is our garden. It is such a sanctuary for the kids.

Last year when we cut down a dead tree we cut the branches into some small logs and stacked them at the back of our garden. Our back garden joins up to our neighbour who has a wonderful garden filled with flowers, a pond and lots of creatures. We knew some of his frogs liked to wander into our garden so we hoped the log pile might become a second home for a few of them. And it did.


We also bought some wild flower seeds and scattered them in some old sad looking flower beds.

The flowers bloomed. And the insects love them.

The combination of our little log pile and the wild flowers (together with on existing apple tree, my strawberries which the squirrel loves stealing) has meant we have had more creatures visiting our garden than ever before. The frogs love it, bees, butterflies lots of insects, squirrels, bird life – we have a robin that had been named Bertie, a family of magpies, a very cheeky pigeon that does not understand personal boundaries, a family of woodpeckers, foxes that sneak in at night oh and just spotted a slow worm. I am sure I am forgetting a bunch of others but these creatures are providing both kids with an amazing learning environment. The hours they spend in the garden, watching, catching insects to examine them up close – and even a few small bites have not put them off. They love it.


I love seeing how connected both kids are with our little garden creatures. They noticed when the bees did not appear during 2 very hot days, the immediately spotted when a fledgling got stranded – they kept their distance and watched as one of the parents came to help.

Yes I buy books and other learning resources and I will continue to do that, but the £3 we spent buying wild flower seeds and the time we took to cut the branches and turn them into a log pile are two of the best money/time spent activities.

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