Our choices may be different but I would not change them

I am totally aware that a lot of the choices that my hubbie and I have made are not what most people would make.  And I am totally happy with that.  We choose to have kids, our kids are amazing, I honestly would not change them and I don’t want to “Fix them” Please don’t get me started on the backward thinking the kids on the spectrum need to be fixed somehow because that makes me crazy mad.  Kids on the spectrum may not view the world as most kids do but that does not mean we need to force them into some predetermine mold that society has deemed correct.  My kids do have additional challenges and that is why we choose to home-educate them so I could offer them as much support as possible and so that they could grow up knowing they are fine, just the way they are, that they don’t need to be fixed.

Our decision to home-educate means I gave up a career and we halved out income, it means we don’t do fancy,  but then fancy was not ever really that important to me.  Giving up my career may mean we do not have new cars or nice furniture but it means I get to be a full-time mom, I get to be there when the kids are facing challenges and I get to watch them learn and grow.  We get to spend ages on topics that the kids find interesting, we get to spend as long as we need on topics that they may struggle with and we get to explore their strengths and hopefully build their confidence.

Don’t get me wrong being a home-educating mom is not all roses, I do not always respond the way I should when we are dealing with sensory-tough situations, I loose my cool way too often, I don’t always know the answers but I never stop trying.  My kids are no stranger to hearing me say I’m sorry and they know they can tell me if I have been a “grumpy mom ” and I will not be offended.  I don’t have much of a social life (I do have some amazing mom’s in my life who I really appreciate), but I have no need for going-out-clothes (wellies are much more important these days) and the knowledge of which are the best restaurants in town is totally wasted on me.  But then I don’t feel like I am missing out.

Home-educating is not for everyone and those families that do choose to educate at home do it differently to us, they make different choices, choices that suit their families.

So my choices may be different to yours but I am OKAY with that because I would not change one thing about my kids and I feel so lucky that I get to spend my days with them.

Playing Magic Maths by Orchard Toys. The player who fills their board with the ingredients is the winner

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Christmas Alphabet Challenge

Both kids are very excited about Christmas, we have family out from South Africa and they are loving having everyone around.  But even though they have family around and even though it is Christmas their thirst for learning is still all around.  My oldest is reading a lot and my youngest still has his never-ending questions about almost anything.  He also keeps trying to spell out words for me and I have been really impressed with some of the harder words that he has been trying so as a way of encouraging his interest in figuring out words I thought we could try an Alphabet Challenge but since Christmas is just around the corner instead of trying one of the birds or animal challenges we went with this Christmas Alphabet Challenge from Activity Village

Christmas Alphabet Challenge page from Activity Village

I love these pages.  And yes the kids do make mistakes but that is how they learn.  To beginning with one of them wrote wreath without the w (which is why it is on the r line) but then we chatted about silent w and even had a go at trying to figure out other words with a starting wr.

I love practicing spelling like this.  I always hated spelling, I could never spell and trying to spell words always filled me with fear so keeping spelling fun and interesting is just as important for me as making maths hands-on.  And when the kids associate spelling a word with an activity they remember it.

Trying the Christmas Alphabet Challange page from Activity Village. Fun way to practice spelling during Christmas

We have found with our youngest that doing a word search on the same topic before we try an alphabet challenge does help.  He seems to be more confident and that extra confidence means he tries other harder words.  Earlier this week we did some Christmas themed word searches and crosswords like the one below – Christmas Word Search  and I noticed he included most of the words from his word search and the ones that he included were all spelt correctly.

Christmas Word Search from Activity Village

(We do a lot of word activities and have found we tend to do them in a pattern – word searches, followed by crosswords, then word scrambles and then alphabet challenge type pages – it is just the order which seems to work with us).

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Basic Christmas Templates

The past week has been very busy, the grandparents arrived and both kids have just not wanted to leave their sides.  But this morning my oldest woke up with a cold so we cancelled our plans for the day and instead just stayed home.  I had some basic Christmas templates that I had printed out and my son spotted them on my desk and asked if we could try to use them for some Christmas cards.  So we decided to paint a few and then decide if we could use them (we could have actually used all the ones that he worked on but he ended up only selected two).

Basic Christmas Templates from Twinkl Resources. A painted bauble

The basic Christmas Templates that we used are from Twinkl and are part of their Classic range.  The templates are really basic colouring pages with the outlines and not much detail so the kids can decorate them as they want.  I liked this pack because I thought the kids could paint, colour, add crafty bits like tissue paper, beads and gems and honestly just let them imagination go.

He started off by painting a few of the presents.

painting some of the Basic Christmas Templates from Twinkl Resources to use in some home-made Christmas cards

And then decided to glue on some craft gems that we have.

Adding Craft Gems to his painted Christmas Templates

Basic Christmas Templates from Twinkl Resources. Presents

We also tried glueing some craft buttons on a Santa Hat but afterwards he decided that the craft gems would look better.  I actually love the Santa hat and have another idea on how we could use it so fingers crossed next week I might be able to persuade him to try my idea.

Basic Christmas Templates from Twinkl Resources. Santa's Hat

And of course tissue paper (yes we do love tissue paper).  It would probably have been better to cut the star out and stick it onto the card before adding the tissue paper but crafting with my youngest often means that things happen as he gets ideas so we did the reverse (I did have to help him cut out the star as he was worried about damaging the tissue paper).

Tissue paper Christmas Star made using one of the Basic Christmas templates from Twinkl Resources

Anyway a morning of some fun, easy crafts and he now has two extra Christmas cards to give to his grandparents.

Home-made Christmas Cards made using one of the Basic Christmas Templates from Twinkl Resources

Oh and while I was packing it all away he decided to paint some colourful bells.

Basic Christmas Template from Twinkl Resources. Some painted bells

 

Basic Christmas Templates used for easy art activities for children.  Templates from Twinkl Resources

 

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Memory Maze Game

I tend to be the parent who buys the kids educational resources and I tend to steer clear of noisy items (my daughter’s hypersensitivity to noise comes from me).  So about 2 weekends ago while I was looking at some new logical thinking games for the kids for Christmas (I have still not settled on which ones to buy but at the moment it is looking like Smart Games – Jump In’ and Smart Games – Temple Trap), I noticed my hubbie had picked up a noisy game and then proceeded to walk to the till to buy it.  I may have uttered an irritated moan under my breath because noisy games normally equates to a weapon to torture me with. (He is the one who bought the kids a set of electronic bongo drums that the kids LOVE playing right next to me for hours on end and I have not quite forgiven him for that purchase).

Memory Maze Challenge game for children

Anyway it actually turns out that the Funtime Memory Maze Educational Toy is actually great.  My youngest LOVES it (my oldest also enjoys it but does find the noise a bit much so plays it in shorter spurts).  The noise is not as bad as I initially thought although I do think a noise control option would be nice.

The kids have to try to copy the sequence of lights and each time they get the sequence correct it gets longer.

Here is a short demo

 

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Dice Games for Kids book

I recently mentioned that one of the permanent parts of our Maths basket is our dice.  I find dice a very versatile Maths tools, starting with basic number recognition and counting up to addition, subtraction, multiplication or division.  Dice are so brilliant for Maths practice and most people already have a couple in their house.  We have come up with a few of our own versions of dice games but sometimes I wish I knew more dice games.  Which is where this little book comes in.

Dice Games for Kids written by Lindsay Small the editor of Activity Village website

Dice Games for Kids: 38 Brilliant Dice Games to Enjoy at School or Home

The book contains 38 different dice games.  We are still going through them but so far the games only require – dice, paper and pencil, sometimes some counters or existing kids toys oh and some of the games do need boards but you can download these off the Activity Village website.

Mountain Dice Game from Dice Games for Kids. A book written by Lindsay Small the editor of Activity Village

So what ages are the games for?  From ages three.  A breakdown of the games included in the book are as follows

ages 3+ = 4 games

ages 4+ = 2 games

ages 5+ = 11 games

ages 6+ = 13 games

ages 7+ = 2 games

ages 8+ = 5 games

ages 10+ = 2 games

I am a firm believer that Maths confidence comes from Maths practice and it helps to make that Maths practice fun.  Dice games, especially when the family joins in together is a great way for kids to get some extra Maths practice.

Dice games are also very easy to take with you – perfect for family holidays or just to keep in your bag for those moments when we need to keep one or more kids busy while they wait.

I think it would make a great stocking filler for a parent or someone who works with children.

I personally think it has been a great addition to our Maths basket.

Here is a link for the book on Amazon – Dice Games for Kids: 38 Brilliant Dice Games to Enjoy at School or Home

Bank Dice game included in the Dice Games for Kids a book written by Lindsay Small

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Colourful Santa again

When my daughter was younger we printed out some colourful Santa’s from Twinkl, she loved them so when we were finished with the Santa’s I packed them away and this past week while we were trying to tidy up for our visitors the kids rediscovered the colourful Santa’s.  My daughter remembered the activities that we did with the Santa’s and took “charge” or explaining everything to her brother.  Naturally as it often happens with my two if the one has done something the other wants to join in or do it themselves so no big surprise my son started ordering the colourful Santa’s.

Colourful Santas from Twinkl Resources.

He started off my placing in them in one line and then he remembered the coloured presents that we used for writing and spelling practice (I was very impressed that he remembered the presents and knew where they were).  He decided each colourful Santa needed a matching colourful present.  (The pack of presents that you download does contain a pink present but ours has been misplaced).

Colourful Santa with his colour Present. Both resources are downloaded from Twinkl

After the presents he added the Ordinal Santa’s.

Adding the Ordinal Santas to the Colourful Santas. Both are from Twinkl Resources

And then he decided that for writing practice he would write out each of ordinal number words on a piece of paper and add them to the correct Santa.

By the time he got to the Pink Santa he decided that Pink Santa needed to have the word pink added to his ordinal number paper as he was missing his pink present and then he decided that it would be better if he wrote the colour word underneath the ordinal word for each Santa. No prompting needed (although I do think the fact that his sister had done this a few years ago prompted him to try really hard.)

Red colourful Santa part of a multicoloured santa download from Twinkl.  The presents and the ordinal numbered santas are also from Twinkl

 

I Love it when we get to reuse our printouts over and over again and I really think the colourful presents worked well with the colourful Santa’s.

The colourful Santas are part of Twinkl’s classic collection

The colourful Presents are Free to download from Twinkl – we printed ours out a few years ago and reduced the size to 4 presents on a page.

The Ordinal Numbered Santas are part of Twinkl’s classic collection.  We printed our out in Black and White but they also have a colour version

Colourful Santas with their coloured presents and the Ordinal Santas. All items from Twinkl

All Twinkl Links are correct at the time of me writing this post.

 

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Linking Decimals to Fractions

Maths for my daughter needs to include using her hands and being involved.  Giving her worksheet after worksheet without using manipulatives does not work for her.  While we have been working on decimals we have once again been using our Learning Resources Fraction Tower Cubes Equivalency Set.  We first started using these when we looked at Equivalent fractions and my daughter loved them.

In case you have not seen this set before they have the fraction on one side, the decimal on the other and then the percentage a third side.  The set comes with 9 different towers – whole, halves, thirds, quarters, fifths, sixths, eighths, tenths and twelfths.

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They are also all made to scale so the half piece is the same size as two of the quarter pieces or three of the sixth pieces.  We have found them to be brilliant fraction manipulatives to have in the house (and they appear to be fairly hard-wearing – we have used them quite a bit over the past year including having the pieces mixed up with play dough, on the kitchen table covered in flour and cookie dough and so far we have been able to clean them every time.  My sons also dropped them onto a hard floor and they were fine).

They are great for kids to use when they are learning how to convert fractions to decimals (or percentages) and are perfect for some basic decimal sums.  We used them as a visual way of showing that adding and multiplying decimals is not such a scary thing. (Can not stress how is makes multiplying decimals easy – 6 groups of 0.1 is 0.6.  When I first mention multiplying decimals my daughter looked a bit shocked but when we started talking about it with the cube pieces she totally understood).

Learning Resources Fraction Tower Cube Equivalency set. The tenths tower

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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