Hedgehog crafty fun with a template

There is something about Autumn that makes you think of hedgehog and Squirrel crafts and since we have done a few squirrel crafts we thought we would have a go at some hedgehogs.  Everyone has been feeling a bit tired so we decided to stick with a template.  We  used the Activity Village Hedgehog colouring page as our template – I purposely choose this as the template as the kids have been using the Learn How to Draw pages over the last few days and the hedgehog in the drawing pages is the same as the hedgehog in the colouring page so I thought the consistency would be a good thing.

We tried 2 different versions.  First we had some fun creating a Sand Art hedgehog.  We just used normal Pritt for this and our Coloured Sand bottles (my kids find it easier to pour the sand out of the bottles into smaller plastic cups so they can better control the amount of sand they apply to their pictures).

Adding coloured sand to a colouring page from Activity Village to turn it into Sand Art

After we had finished our hedgehogs the kids commented that the eyes looked a bit strange (they were hidden under the sand).

Autumn Craft. Sand Art Hedgehog made using a colouring page from Activity Village

So we tried adding some googly eyes that we had.

A Sand Art Hedgehog made using an Activity Village colouring page, coloured sand and glue

We also had made more multi-coloured hedgehogs.

Multicoloured Sand Art Hedgehog. A fun and easy Autumn craft for children you love cut animals

(Sand Art Tip – use trays to keep the coloured sand off your floors)

And we had a go at making a coloured paper hedgehog.  The kids cut out a strip of grass to go at the hedgehogs feet and  realized that the snippets of paper that we had cut out were triangular in shape and wondered if they could add it to the hedgehog as it’s prickles.  So we cut some more “grassy strips” in orange and yellow and then glued the off-cuts onto the hedgehogs body.

Add cut-off bits of coloured paper to the colouring page to get a crafty hedgehog

I must admit I really like the effect the paper gives the hedgehog (on this one my daughter used her oil pastels to add in the background).

Hedgehog paper craft for children using coloured paper and the Activity Village hedeghog colouring page

I Love our little hedgehogs.

Cute, easy hedgehogs for children to make using a colouring page from Activity Village as the template








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A Day off being a Home-educating mom

I Love being a home-educating Mom, I really do.  But here is the thing it is all-consuming, it has a tendency to take over my WHOLE life.  I am always reading up about new topics, find new resources, pinning ideas, sorting out activities for the kids, helping them with their activities, preparing for the next and it goes on and on.  I am no longer known as Shelly, I am now that Lady from dance class who home-educates her kids, that lady down the road who home-educates her kids or that person that someone used to know who home-educates her kids.  It just always seems to get tagged on.  It becomes an all defining definition of who I am.

And here is the crazy part I never thought I would home-educate.  I thought I would go back to work at some stage and the kids would just slot into the local school.  But very early on I recognised that my daughter was not going to fit into my idea of what she should be like but that I needed to change and become the mother that she needed.  So all my plans out the window and somehow we ended up a home-educating family.  It suits our kids and dare I say it – It actually suits our family unit.

But as much as I know it is the right path for us and as much as I do enjoy it there are times when I really just need a break, when I need to stop being that home-educating mom and just be me.

This past weekend I had that opportunity.  I attended Britmums#17.  And yes the blog is the reason that I attended and yes the blog is about home-educating but for a WHOLE DAY I got to be the blogger who writes about home-education instead of the home-educating mom who has a blog.  Maybe you think there is no difference.  But there is.  I got to go into a blogging world where no-ones knows me as the kids mom, no-one wants to chat about unschooling verses semi-structured home-ed, or which resources to use or how did I explain a certain Maths concepts.  Nope the conservation was about blogging, how to write better content, take better pictures (yes I paid attention).  It was about me learning just for the sake of ME learning, not me learning so that I could explain something to the kids.  And it felt GREAT.

Home-educating me kids is a privilege and I LOVE it.  I am incredibly grateful that I get to go on these learning journeys with my kids.  But every once in a while it is nice to escape that home-educating mom label and just be ME.

And after having my “day off”  I came back to lots of questions about what I had learnt. I explained a bit about backgrounds in photographs and how you can position your items and my daughter just went with it.  She converted part of their play area into a mini studio, she found a few goodies, drapped some material for a background and started creating a catalogue of book photographs (apparently she will let me use her photographs in return for hot chocolate from her favourite coffee shop).

Practicing her staging her photographs

Sometimes just one day away is exactly what you need. Thank you Twinkl Resources for sponsoring me and giving me my day’s break, for giving me a chance to just be me again and for allowing me to inspire my daughter.  I loved my day of just being ME and now I am quite happy to go back to my crazy home-educating mom label again.



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Little Acorns eBook and Calligrams

My kids love reading eBooks on the computer.  We have download a bunch of traditional stories for them but they also love “new” stories.  So this past week I download the Little Acorns ebook from the Twinkl Resources website.

It is a very sweet story about a little acorn who falls off his tree and gets buried in the ground and then starts to grow (includes the full life cycle of an oak tree).  We actually used it as reading practice for my youngest and it was perfect for him.

Reading Twinkl Original eBook Little Acorns which is filled with Calligrams

While we were reading the story both kids commented on how some of the words were written in unusual fonts and sometimes as pictures.

Twinkl Orginal Story Little Acorns. A sweet story about an acorn becoming an oak tree

I never knew this but these words are called Calligrams (words or phrases where the design and layout of the word creates a visual image which relates to the words meaning).

So we thought it would be fun to try to create some of our own.

Creating our own Calligrams after reading the Twinkl Original eBook Little Acorns

Both kids loved the activity and sat happily for ages writing and rewriting words trying out different fonts and ways to decorate the different words.

Creating Calligrams, is a fun way to get kids writing and practicing their spelling

It ended up being a great spelling activity for the kids.  And my youngest really impressed me with how much he wrote and how he kept trying to find ways to express the words.  I just love his idea of tall inside a giraffe.

Writing out Calligrams like tall inside a giraffe

And we even had a go at making some more crafty calligrams.

Creating crafty Calligrams after reading the Twinkl eBook Little Acorns

The words can be as simple or as complex as you want.  I like the fact that there is no right answer to this.  So everyone who tries can come up with their own idea.

Calligrams can be as simple or as complex as you want

Little Acorns in a Twinkl Orginal Story which means it was written for their website and can only be downloaded from their website.  It is currently available as part of their Platinum Classic package.  They also have a number of learning activities linked to the story.  Twinkl have a document on their website explaining what a Calligram is as well as a worksheet with suggested words that the kids could use to create Calligrams (both are also part of their Classic package)

Calligrams.  Fun way to get the kids writing and practicing their spelling.  Idea from the Twinkl eBook Little Acorns

Please note – The Twinkl packages I mention in my posts are the valid packages at the time of me writing the post.  Any changes that may occur with the packages are at the discretion of Twinkl.


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Autumn Sand Art Leaves

One of the side-effects of being a home-educating mom is I tend to hoard anything that I think we might use in crafts or some kind of learning activity (old boxes, glass jars, left over stickers from half-finished mosaics, toilet rolls – you get the picture).  I never used to hoard stuff like this before we started home educating but now anything with a crafting value gets stashed.  And if I have a themed / seasoned craft activity that we did not get around to using –  it gets packed away for next year in the hope that I remember where I stashed that season craft.  Crazy ?  Quite possibly. But my cramped cupboards often provide the kids with just the right activity without me having to go and buy something – which in my eyes is a victory and totally justifies my crazy hoarding of all craft supplies (this also applies to books that I spot and think oh that would be great for when we get around to learning about the Ancient Greeks etc – but lets not go down that road now).

This week my crazy craft storing was totally justified.  The kids had just read a book – Why Do Leaves Change Color? (Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science 2) (great book but it is American so has American terminology and spelling in it) so my youngest wanted to make some Autumn Leaves.  And in my crazy craft / hoarding cupboard was a 2-year-old Leaf Sand Art set (from Baker Ross).  Happy boy and a VERY happy mum.

Autumn Sand Art Leaf Activity for kids

I love using sand art with the kids as it is a great sensory craft activity and they always enjoy it but it does have a messy factor. My Top Tip when using doing sand art – get the kids to work on big trays – it contains the sand and it allows the kids to pour the excess sand into plastic cups to reuse again.

Sand Art. Get the kids to work over big trays to prevent the sand from going everywhere

And if the kids find that not all the sections peel off nicely, don’t be scared of adding some glue to the non-sticky bits.  It works.

Autumn Leaf Sand Art for kids

And all that left over coloured sand ?  We keep ours in a one multicoloured mixed sand cup and the kids often add it to their pictures just for fun or use it when we are making collages (ie to goes back into my crazy craft cupboard to get used again at some stage).






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Understanding Science – Our Bodies Workbook Review

One of the Workbooks in the Understanding Science series by Schofield & Sims is this one – Our Bodies.  It is part of their Key Stage 2 range which means it is aimed at school years 3 – 6 in the UK.

Understanding Science by Schofield & Sims. The Our Bodies Workbook for Key Stage 2 ages

The Workbook Covers the following

  • What is in food
  • A balanced diet
  • Animals diet
  • The digestive system

Understanding Science Our Bodies workbook from Schofield & Sims. The Digestive System

  • Teeth
  • Looking after your teeth
  • Keeping health
  • Drugs and medicines
  • Skeletons
  • Animals without skeletons
  • Muscles and moving
  • Heart and blood

Understanding Science Our Bodies Workbook includes a section on the Heart and blood

  • Pulse rate and exercise
  • Resting pulse rates
  • Investigating pulse rates
  • Human life cycle
  • Changes in puberty

The workbook is written in the typical Schofield & Sims style – it is well set out with one topic on a double page, a brief explanation of key points and then some questions (all answers are included at the back of the book).

Understanding Science Our Bodies workbook from Schofield & Sims. Each double page has a brief explanation followed by some questions

I like the way they have ordered the topics in the workbook.  The way they go from Food to the Digestive System or from Muscles and moving onto the Heart and Blood, the topics flow nicely.  But you could easily jump around and do a topic as you wish. (If they refer back to something discussed earlier on in the book they do give you the page number so you can always go back and read that section.)

Biology is not my comfort area but my kids love it so they have already done a lot of extra reading and activities with their dad.  This meant that a few pages were a bit too brief for them as they wanted more detail.  But that is really because they are fascinated by the subject and have done a lot of reading on it.

The book also brings in graphs when looking at pulse rates and comparing them, but they are not overly complex graphs and both my kids could easily understand the graphs.  We actually liked the inclusion of the graphs.

Also to mention the book has 1 page on changes in puberty.  Which includes a diagram of a woman and man and how their bodies change.  I think the diagrams were factual and they did not offend me but I am including a picture below so that you can be aware of what is in the book.

Understanding Science Our Bodies Changes in Puberty

I personally found this workbook very useful.  We have covered most of what is in the workbook but it was a great way of checking to see if there were any areas that the kids did not properly understand and also if there were any gaps in what we had covered in our more informal learning style.

As a home-educating mom I am finding the Understanding Science workbook range a very helpful series.

In case you missed my earlier post  – this is what is included in the Animals and Plants workbook

You can find the workbooks in most bookstores (have seen them in WH Smith and Waterson’s for £4.95 in the UK) and you can also buy them online from Amazon – Understanding Science: Our Bodies



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Christopher Columbus

One of the books that both my kids have been enjoying is their Christopher Columbus (Young Reading Level 3).

Christopher Columbus. Part of the Usborne Young Reading series. A great History book for children to read

They have found the story fascinating, lots of comments about how could people  have thought the earth was flat, how did they not know which continents existed, travelling on boats must have been the worst without any fridges to keep the food etc etc.  They found the whole story about the voyages really exciting and loved looking at our globe to see where he went (Oh and imagine thinking that the Americas was the Indies – my son).  The text of the book is at the right level for my two (my nine-year-old can easily read it herself and my six-year-old follows along in the book word for word as I read it too him).

Christopher Columbus by Minna Lacey part of the Usborne Young Reading series.

The book is well written (nothing scary) and is filled with interesting facts about his voyages as well as maps showing each trip and lots of illustrations depicting the scenes of his voyages and life.

One of the Usborne Young Reading Series books - Christopher Columbus

So when I spotted some of the new Famous people pages on Activity Village I had a quick look to see if there was anything on Christopher Columbus and there was. We love the Activity Village How to Draw pages so I immediately printed out the Christopher Columbus one and one evening while I was busy cooking both kids had a go and drawing their own Christopher Columbus.

Learn How to Draw Christopher Columbus using the How to Draw pages from Activity Village

(We are massive fans of the How to draw pages – I keep ours in a home-made drawing book and we keep it on the kids bookshelf – it is great for when one of the kids wants to try to draw something and is not sure how to get started).

We also printed out the Comprehension pages.

Christopher Columbus Comprehension from the Activity Village website

And my daughter loved the idea of the Captain’s Log.  (She is trying really hard to work on her creative writing and thought this was a fun activity to try).

Activity Village's Captain Log activity for Christopher Columbus

My son’s favourite page was the map of his voyages.  He loves using the map to help him retell (react might be the better word) the stories of the different voyages  – where they landed and what happened on each trip.

Map showing Christopher Columbus voyages from the Activity Village website

I love using the Usborne Young Reading series as a way of introducing famous people to the kids and I really like the fact that I can now link some of the books to the famous people pages on Activity Village.

Christopher Columbus. The Usborne Young Reading series book together with pages from the Famous People section of the Activity Village website




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At Home With Spelling 1 Workbook Review

I wrote a review about the At Home With Spelling 2 workbook which I am using with my son but I did not include anything about the first book as we never used it with either kid so I knew nothing about what was in the workbook.  I have since been sent a copy of the first book by Oxford University Press so I thought it might be helpful for some of you if I detailed what is included in the book.

At Home With Spelling 1 workbook by Oxford University Press. Spelling practice for key stage 1

The At Home With Spelling 1 book is written for Key stage 1 ages (UK-based year 1 / year 2).  Each page covers 1 topic.  The pages are not cluttered and they provide space for large writing.  They also stick to only black and blue text colours which means the pages are not visually overwhelming.

At Home With Spelling 1 workbook by Oxford University Press. They leave space for larger letter writing

The topics covered are

  • The alphabet (giving examples of lower case and upper case letters)
  • Vowels
  • Consonants
  • Rhymes
  • Two consonants, one sound
  • Consonant blends
  • Double consonants
  • ar
  • or
  • Syllables
  • Word sums (introducing basic compound words)
  • Plurals (when you add s to the words)

At Home With Spelling 1 Workbook by Oxford University Press includes adding s to words to create plurals

  • Verbs adding er and ed
  • Endings er and ing
  • of verses off
  • Word shapes
  • Common words
  • Hard words

At Home With Spelling 1 Workbook by Oxford Univeristy Press. Ways to remember how to spell hard words. Key stage 1 ages

  • qu
  • Code cracking
  • Word search

The book is written as a revision type workbook.  If you are home-educating parent you will probably need to reinforce the concepts explained again as there is not a lot of practice (eg they have 1 page for syllables which if you have explained syllables to the kids before is fine but if it is the first time you are talking about syllables with your children you will probably need to extend it with other activities.  Same thing with the compound words you would probably want to extend that with extra activities).

At Home With Spelling 1 Workbook by Oxford Press introduces word sums or basic compound words for key stage 1 ages

The workbook sells for £3.99  – I have seen it in some bookstores and it is also available on amazon – At Home With Spelling 1

If I had not already covered most of what is included in this workbook I would have been happy to buy it to use with my son (I will be using the pages for the endings ed and er with him a bit later on).





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