Maths Basket April 2018

We started Maths Basket’s last year and they have proved successful with the kids and very useful for me so we are continuing with them this year.  The Maths Basket is a combination of Maths activities that I leave (in a basket) in our main living area as a way of encouraging more Maths practice. (And it also really helps me on those days when I have not planned anything, I just have a quick look in the basket and we take something out to do together).  I normally have a combination of games, loop cards, dice and anything that is linked to current Maths themes (eg my youngest is currently working on times tables so we make sure to include times table activities).

If you want to see what we have included in our past Maths baskets you can look here – Maths Basket, Maths basket Jan/ feb 2018.

I have included our Multiple Representation Dice set and our Even Steven’s odd game from Learning Resources.  I am a huge fan of dice activities and I love both of these.  The Multiple Representation Dice set is a foam set of dice with different visual representations of the numbers from 0 to 20.  My son really likes the dice and we have been using them for lots of basic maths – creating addition and subtraction sums.

Maths Resource. Multiple Representation Dice from Learning Resources. 16 foam dice which with numbers from 0 to 20

He is also constantly using them to create patterns.

Learning Resources Multiple Representation Dice

Even Steven’s Odd Game is a fast paced dice game which the whole family plays but I have really included it for my daughter as it encourages her to think quickly and the harder dice challenge cards are perfect for her.

I also included the Dice Tower which is really a fun activity for my son,  He loves rolling the dice down the tower, it turns any boring maths practice into something fun and he normally ends up giggling and laughing while he is doing his maths.

The Loop cards (or dominoes) are all from Twinkl Resources (all the Loop cards are part of their paid for Classic membership).  Loop cards are without a doubt one of my daughter’s prefered ways of practicing Maths.  She will happily sit and do Loop card set after Loop card set without complaining.  With the Loop cards we often add new sets as the month progresses and we often bring back Loop cards that we have already used (Because we use our loop cards so much and because I am planning on using the same cards for both kids I print ours out on card).

Currently we have – subtraction to 20 (for my son), telling time to 5 minute Loop cards  and larger place value sets – both of these – 5 Digit place value loop cards and the 6,7,8 digit place value loop set.

5 digit place value loop cards from Twinkl Resources. Key stage 2 maths resource

Also keeping our decimal theme going (my daughter) I have included these – Adding decimals

Adding Decimals Loop Cards from Twinkl Resources. Perfect for Maths practice at home

and this great calendar set.  All of the Loop card sets are great for practicing but I must admit that I love this calendar set – it includes questions like – the number of months in a year and a half, the number of days in a fortnight, the number of hours in three days, the season in which we find January and so much more.  I completely stumbled upon this Loop card set while I was looking for some new place value ones and I LOVE IT.

Twinkl Resources Days and Months Loop card set. Maths resource great for practice maths concepts at home

My son is all about times tables at the moment so we are sticking with our skip counting cards and the times table folding cards both from Activity Village (we have done 10x, 2x and 5x  – but still practicing them when they are all mixed up – and are now moving onto 11x – because he figured out the pattern himself and the 3x).

Skip counting cards and times table folding cards both from Activity Village. Great for working on times table at home

We are also sticking with the Multiplication Bump game although we are mixing up the themes – we have printed out some of the Easter chicks, the football themed pages and the new Spring themed pages.

Activity Village Multiplication Bump Games. Fun way to practice times tables with the kids at home

I have uploaded a video showing all the items in the Maths Basket to our facebook page


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Sensory Inconsistencies

I think one of the hardest things for an outsider looking in on a sensory family is how inconsistent the sensory side may appear to be.  There are days when the kids will be totally fine doing an activity and other days when they just crumble.  I think sometimes this is the reason why outsiders doubt us sensory parents when we say the kids have SPD.  They wonder why last week a certain activity went so well and this week it did not. Sometimes they quietly (and sometimes not so quietly) think it is more down to parenting (and believe me I am not saying I have this parenting thing down because parenting 2 sensory kids is full of constant challenges of which I don’t get everything right).

But you have to think of all those variables that happen before the event and are happening during the event in question.  Did the sensory kid arrive after already having a busy overwhelming morning or did they arrive having had a quiet morning, is there lots of extra outside stimulation happening that you can filter out (maybe you don’t notice the wind, the light drizzle or the sirens and extra noise, maybe this week there is more background activity going on which you have not picked up on).  It is so hard to know what may have happened differently this time compared to last time, it could be one single thing or it could a whole bunch of things.

We recently went to a party where they had an entertainer and to be honest I did not think it would work with my youngest but it did.  The entertainer was noisy, the kids where jumping, shouting, singing bumping into each other (which is a huge struggle for my youngest as he really battles with touch) and there was constant change (again transition is something he really battles with. He normally takes a bit longer to move from doing one activity to another. He is focusing so hard on what he is trying to do that he struggles when he has to suddenly stop and change).  But for some reason it worked and he LOVED it.  I was shocked.  Honestly SHOCKED.  I spent the whole time standing on the sidelines just waiting for his face to start crumbling because it was getting too much.  I did not chat to anyone or get a drink I stood on high alert ready to swoop him out to try to avoid his sensory struggles upsetting the party.  But it never happened.  He did all the activities, he joined in, was pushed around and managed.  At one stage I saw it was getting a bit much and he started struggling but his older sister was in the group and he went up to her and reached out and held her hand and said something and for 5 minutes while he calmed down she held his hand and kept him close by.  Towards the end of the party (he lasted 2 hours) I could tell he was over his limit so we made a very quick exit.

But here is the thing if we tried to recreate that afternoon again it might not work because there are so many variables that could change.  We were one of the first ones to arrive at the party, the mom of the party girl had taken time to explain to him what was going to happen, before the entertainer started we had been able to have a quiet swing in a calming room.  Would it have all worked out like it did if we had arrived later or if he had not had the chance to speak to the mom and find out the planned order of activities?  Probably not.  What if before the party we had done something overwhelming and he had arrived already near his sensory threshold – it would probably not have worked.

As a parent of two sensory kids I am aware of a lot of the triggers, I know for my son touch is extremely hard for him to process and for my daughter noise and visual input overwhelms her.  For the most part I know what to look out for but I don’t always see the clues and I don’t always know what has happened.  Some days they will surprise me and cope really well in difficult situations and other days something which we have done successfully multiple times will be a total right-off.  There are so many variables that may impact how well an activity goes and even as a parent of two sensory kids I don’t always know what is causing the problem.  So I do understand how for an outsider looking in on us that it might seem strange how they coped one time and did not cope the next.  I get that. I do. But please give me the benefit of the doubt and acknowledge that no two events or two activities even happen exactly the same way and that every time we try something there could be changes that have happened that you and I are not always aware off.

The sensory journey we are on feels like a never-ending rollercoaster ride and I am never sure if the next bit it going to be a straight section or a massive upside down loop.  I can try to guess what is coming next but the truth is I did not build this rollercoaster course I am just trying my best to get the kids through it.  So yes some days it will look like we are managing just fine and other days when you did not notice the drizzle that triggers my daughter or extra noise caused by the road works you may wonder why my daughter is stimming like crazy to calm herself down before she starts her 2 hour dance class.  Just accept that nothing ever happens exactly the same way week after week.  And some weeks a sensory child may find doing the exact same activity more challenging than before because all the outside variables that affect them have been different.  It is not down to the kids being difficult or me not setting boundaries or whatever you may want to call it.  It is just part of a sensory kids world where small changes in things that we often don’t even realize have changed can have a huge impact of their sensory world.

(And if I ever disappear every quickly from an event or activity I am not being rude it is probably me realizing we have pushed the boundaries and need to exit at lightning speed).

ofamily learning together kids enjoying Wisley Gardens

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Toad in Troubled Waters

Both my kids love the Wind in the Willows.  We have an audio copy of the book and I have taken out a few different versions of the story from our local library for the kids to read.  They love the characters especially Mr Toad because he is always getting himself into trouble and although he is a bit naughty he is quite a character.  On one of my many web searches for reading books for the kids I saw a new series called the New Adventures of Mr Toad (think there are currently 3 books in this series) and I was looking at the books for possibly readers for my son when Oxford University Press contacted me and asked if we would be interested in reviewing the latest one – No big surprise I said YES.

The New Adventures of Mr Toad. Toad in Troubled Waters by Tom Moorhouse and Holly Swain. a good first chapter reader

The story is written by Tom Moorhouse and it does not include all the old characters from the Wind in the Willows but it is based on life along the river and the chaos that is caused by Mr Toad and his “adventures”.  The book we read appears to be the third in the series but you can easily read it as a stand alone story (we did).

In this story Mr Toad causes chaos by driving his fancy new boat inconsiderately around the river while he follows a Treasure Hunt.

The New Adventures of Mr Toad. Toad in Troubled Waters. The fake treasure hunt

The Treasure Hunt has been created by the naughty weasels as a way of keeping Mr Toad away from Toad Hall so they can use his dock to load logs which they are cutting down illegally.

It is a light heart, entertaining story, nothing scary or dark in it.  The story is well written and would be suitable as both bed time reading for younger kids and independent reading for younger readers who are just starting to read chapter books.  The books itself is 156 pages long but the font is a good size and the chapters are not too long, which together with the easy writing style really makes it a great started chapter book. (I mention font size because my son recently took a book out the library where the font was way too small and he got very frustrated with trying to read the book.)

The New Adventures of Mr Toad. Toad in Troubled Waters. Good size font and good chapter length make it a good first chapter book

I also really liked the fact that they introduce all the characters in the beginning of the book and that they include a bit about Kenneth Grahame (the author of the Wind in the Willows) at the end of the book.  Nice extras which just add to the story.

The New Adventures of Mr Toad. Toad in Troubled waters introducing the new characters in the story

My son recommends the book.  He really enjoyed reading about the “mischievous Mr Toad” and is keen to read the other books in the series (he is 7 years old).

The series currently contains 4 books.  The first two are

The New Adventures of Mr Toad: Toad Hall in Lockdown

The New Adventures of Mr Toad: A Race for Toad Hall

followed by

The New Adventures of Mr Toad: Toad in Troubled Waters

and to be released in the summer

The New Adventures of Mr Toad: Operation Toad!

As I mentioned above we have only read Toad in Troubled Waters but we are definitely going to get copies of the others to see what else Mr Toad and his friends get up to.

As I mentioned above Oxford University Press send us a copy of the Book.  All opinions expressed are mine and my son’s.

I do include Affiliate links in  my posts. 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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Even Steven’s Odd! Fun Dice Game

It is no secret that I love using maths games with my two kids.  I think they make maths more alive and the kids always end up practicing more maths if it is in a game format.  It is one of the reasons why I always try to include games in our maths baskets.  One of our newest games is this one – Even Steven’s Odd.

The game comes with the following – Steven (he is the cute little dice person), 4 coloured dice holders, 24 Dice (each player will need 3 coloured dice and 3 white dice) and 40 Dice challenge cards (the easier challenges are marked with a little red star at the top of the card).

Even Steven's Odd!. A fun fast paced dice game from Learning resources

The objective of the game is to be the first person to fill their dice holder with their dice matching the challenge card selected.

Even Steven's Odd! You need to get the dice to match the dice challenge cards

The game is great at getting the kids to think about, remember and then copy some number patterns – eg coloured dice must be even and white dice odd or have dice going in a pattern of one coloured one white while also representing the numbers from 1 to 6.

Even Steven's Odd! a fun maths game by Learning Resources Some of the easier dice challenge cards

And the harder challenge cards can really get you thinking (we tend to stick to the easier cards when my youngest is joining in).  Some examples of the harder ones are – the total of the coloured dice must be great then the total of the white dice or the coloured dice need to add up to 15 and the white dice need to add up to 7.  You can also make up a few challenges yourself – my daughter really likes to do this.

Even Steven's Odd! by Learning Resources. Some of the harder dice challenge cards

We wanted this game for our oldest and I am very happy with it for two reasons.  When we play it with her younger brother, we stick to the easier cards and then it is a speed game.  You want to fill your dice holder as quickly as you can, so you need to roll your dice, check to see if any of your dice match the requirements, place those on the dice holder and then roll the dice again and again.  But you need to do this quickly.

My oldest tends to question her maths, so a lot of the time she knows the answer but doubts herself.  In this game she had to just go for it.  She wanted to be the person to grab Steven so she had to speed up, she had to roll those dice, look quickly trust that she took the right ones and move on.

Even Steven's Odd!. A fast paced dice game from Learning Resources. Be the first person to get Steven, the dice person

We think it is a fun speed game.  Secondly the harder dice challenge cards which she plays with either myself or her dad, they really do make her think and have been the starting point for a number of interesting questions.

Although we have only had this game for a few weeks it has become a fun game that the four of us can play together as a family.

Even Steven's Odd! Maths Dice game from Learning ResourcesLearning Resources kindly sent us this game so we could include it in one of our Maths baskets.

You can buy this game directly from the Learning Resources website or from Amazon here- Learning Resources Even Steven’s Odd

I do include Affiliate links in  my posts. 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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Adding ed

We love simple home-made learning aids (not even sure if that is what you call it) but they seem to work well with my two visual learners and they help them when we are learning rules or patterns to apply.

One of the spelling rules we have been going over lately  –  when do you double the consonant of a word if you are adding ed to it (turning the word into past tense).

Home-made Learning aid for kids. When do you double the last letter of a word when you add ed

The Rule is – if the word ends in a single consonant and has a single vowel which is a short vowel sound you double the ending consonant before adding the ed.

So if the word has a long vowel sound, magic e on the end or ends with more than one consonant who DO NOT double the ending consonant.  Sounds like such a straight forward rule but I never knew these spelling rules when I was younger and spelling was always a struggle for me, which is why I really want the kids to know these basic rules.

So piece of card fold it into three equal sections (we use card as paper tends to be a bit too flimsy).

Home-made learning aid. First fold the card into three equal sections

Now the middle section you want to leave alone.  The two side sections you want to fold those again in half so they have a flap.

Home-made learning aids, creating flaps

One the one flap we simply wrote Add ed.  One the second flap we wrote out the rule – single consonant + single vowel (short sound) = double consonant +ed.

Home Learning folding aid. Label the flaps with the different rules and then write the words that apply under the correct flap

In the middle we wrote our selection of words.

If the word would just need an ed added to it then the past tense of the word would get written under the first flap.  If the word needed a double consonant then the past tense of the word would get written under the second flap.

Home-made learning folding aid. When you add to ed to a verb and need to double the last letter

My kids choose to cut the flaps into individual strips.

Past tense verbs home-made folding learning aid. When do you double the last letter before adding ed

Nothing fancy and easy to create at home but something fun to reinforce the rule.

Home made learning aid for past tense verbs when you need to add ed and double the last letter

(And yes we left out the bit about if the word ends with a y – but for now we are focusing on the doubling side of things and will expand on that next).

Home-made learning aid. When adding ed to change the verb tense when do you need to double the last letter


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Easter themed Activity Village pages

Easter is just around the corner and my two are not really in the mood for our normal learning activities but we have found that even when  we have our “breaks”, maintaining a little bit of a rhythm to our day helps my two SPD kiddies.  So I tend to exchange our normal learning activities for more themed activities and we tend to do them around the kitchen table often with some fun snacks (yes chocolate was consumed).  It seems to work better for us than a complete break.

I thought I would share some of the Easter themed puzzle type pages that we have used from Activity Village.

Activity Village Easter themed pages

As always word searches (my kids always enjoy a good word search and I LOVE word search pages as I have seen with my oldest how much they help her spelling).

Activity Village Eatser themed word search. 2 options available

Same thing with the Easter word scramble –  I Love words scrambles – writing and spelling practice.

Activity Village Easter themed word scramble

And while my oldest did her word scramble my youngest had a go at a crossword – he often battles with crosswords because he can not spell the words but this crossword had the words down the side so he loved the fact that he could do it by himself.  (I definitely need to find more crosswords like this. I am sure if he tries a few more with the words down the side he will get more confident and try doing some without the words). Easter Crossword Easy page

Activity Village Easter themed crossword puzzle, easy version

The kids also loved the idea of the Easter How Many Word Page – they had to see how many words they could create with the letters in Easter Egg – we did this as a family page – all three of us together – my kids said I needed to add that this page works better if the kids get to eat an easter egg while thinking of the different words.

And one of our new favourite word puzzle pages – the Sudoku word pages.  I have mentioned a few times how much my we love the Kids Sudoku pages from Activity Village, I keep a bunch printed in a folder.  So when I saw that Activity Village were now creating Sudoku word pages I knew we had to give them a go.  I LOVE THESE (my printer has been working over-time printing out a whole stack of letters ones which I am adding to our Sudoku folder.  I love them because the kids have to apply logic but I also love the letter ones because for younger kids like my son who are not keen on writing it does actually end up being great writing practice.  They have four different Easter Word Sudoku Pages

Activity Village Easter themed Letter Sudoku pages. four different versions

Activity Village Easter themed letter sudoku page. Lamb.

And another old favourite with my two is the alphabet search page – although I must admit we did struggle a bit more with finding Easter themed words (we have found other alphabet searches a bit easier than this one) so we have attached ours to a clip board and given ourselves the challenge of coming up with all the words by the end of the week.

And for those of you looking for some easter themed Maths pages – we recommend the  Easter Multiplication Bump page

Activity Village Easter Multiplication Bump Game. Fun way to practice times table at home

and the  Bunny Addition page

Activity Village Easter themed maths page. Bunny Dice Addition

They also have some lovely looking maze pages, I am keeping the maze pages for later on this week.

Activity Village Easter themed pages.  Word puzzles, maths pages, mazes and more

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Animal Planet Chapter Book on Snakes

I may have mentioned over a million times by now how much my son loves anything and everything to do with animals.  He loves playing games with animals, reading books about them and watching all kinds of documentaries on them.  So when I heard about the Animal Planet chapter books I knew they would be perfect for my little man.

We have two of the four books – Snakes! (Animal Planet Chapter Books) and Bugs! (Animal Planet Chapter Books). (The other two are on Sharks and Dinosaurs)

Animal Planet Chapter Books Bugs and Snakes. Non-fiction chapter books for young readers

My son finds snakes fascinating but I must be honest I am petrified of snakes and as a result I never watch anything about them or read anything on them (seriously they SCARE me).  But I also know that the best way to encourage him to read more is to give him books on topics that interest him.  So our very first snake book………….

Animal Planet Chapter Book Snakes. Lots of information about snakes and great pictures

This book is 107 pages long. It includes lots of pictures with labels and captions on them and is fill of facts (and yes even I will admit they are fascinating facts) about snakes. It starts off by explaining the body of a snake and what makes a snake a snake – including a great picture of a snake skeleton.

It talks about the different ways a snake can move (really did not know there were so many ways), how snakes attack and defend themselves (hmmm, not sure I needed to know this), what they like to eat for dinner (and no this did not include nibbling on poeple).

Animal Planet Chapter Book Snakes. Great chapter books for kids you are interested in animals

There is also a whole chapter on Rattlesnakes and one on Boas and Pythons (my son loved this).  The life cycle of a snake and its sense which actually work differently to that of a human. And finally the weird snakes of the world and the superdeadly ones (just to mention this book is written from an American angle so there is an emphasis on American snakes).

The pages are not glossy pages but that did not bother my son.  My son loved this book because it is filled with facts about snakes and written in a way that allowed him to read most of it to himself (the text in the book is slightly larger than normal which is actually perfect for newer chapter readers like my son).  It is a great book for any child who is interested in snakes (although if you are as scared of snakes as I am, I would suggest you don’t read it at night).

Animal planet Chapter Book Snakes. Very informative book for younger readers

The snake Animal Planet Chapter book was given to us by the Distributors – GMC Publications

Animal Planet Chapter Book Snakes. Informative chapter book for younger readers

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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