Categories
Parenting Advice

Homeschooling Activities

As we have all been thrown in the deep end of homeschooling our children and our struggling with what we should be doing, me included. I wanted to share with you a couple of homeschooling activities that have worked well for us this week. 

To make clear I have no teaching qualifications or knowledge of the curriculum I am just a parent doing the best I can and I am writing this post to share the learning activities we came up with that my girls enjoyed doing. Of course there was a lot of activities we tried that were a complete failure too. 

Research on different Countries 

We started this activity by getting up a world map, I then covered my daughter’s eyes while she pointed at the screen and whatever country she pointed to we would learn about. 

Once we had a country picked we made a poster of that country, drew the flag and then searched up on Google to find out facts about that country and add them to the poster. 

At first we did a poster together however my girls got into the activity and wanted to do it by themselves. Altogether they did posters on Canada, Mexico, India, Portugal, Chad and Italy finding out some amazing facts about each country. 

Animal A-Z

I set my girls the task of writing down a list of animal names from A-Z with 2 or 3 for each letter. They used Google to search these up and found out about new animals they had never heard off especially for the unusual letters. 

As an extra they then picked one of these unusual animals and did a poster writing down facts they found out about it. 

Jewellery shop

My girls enjoy making things so I bought some beads, charms and string for them to make bracelets. They used the different colour beads to think about patterns when making their bracelets. 

After we made them we discussed selling them at a stall and what price we should sell them at and I explained about profit. 

We then worked out from the cost of what I bought the beads for how much each bracelet would cost us to make and from their how much we would need to sell them for to make profit. 

This is a great activity to get them learning business skills from a young age, showing them how maths is important and used in everyday life and also to get them being creative. 

It doesn’t have to be bracelets you could make anything your children are interested in and then do this little activity. 

Write a silly rhyme

My girls seemed to enjoy this little activity especially as the rhymes they were writing were silly. My 8 year old just wrote a lot of small 2 line rhymes but it got here thinking about words that rhyme. 

My 10 and 12 year old managed to write a full silly rhyme each which they enjoyed as it gave them a giggle when writing. 

The YouTube channel 

My girls like most children these days are desperate to get a YouTube channel of their own and while I am not quite ready to let them have one just yet I used this to create a learning activity. I set them the task of coming up with a name for their channel and then creating a logo to go with it. 

I have to say I was so proud of what they came up with they really put their heart and soul into it. As well as drawing out a logo they then found a drawing app on their tablets and worked out how to use the layers and created their logos digitally. 

I won’t share their logos in case they do want to use them but below is some pictures my 10 year old made using the drawing app.

These were made on the app by my 10 year old
This was made on the app by my 10 year old

Create a comic

My girls abosutley loved this activity and made some fabulous comics it kept them busy for a while. Now I would love to say I came up with this task straight away and they got on with but it didn’t happen like that. 

I originally set them the task of writing a poem about lockdown that didn’t go down to well and then I changed it to write me a story about anything. Again this was a failure and all they did was write a title then moan for 20 mins. 

That was when I thought about getting them to make a comic instead. They all love drawing and comics have minimal writing so it was perfect. They still had to think about story lines and planning out their stories into the boxes they just got to do a lot less writing.

Learning Animation

I signed up for free accounts with The Khan Academy where the girls learned how to do animation and basic coding. This is a great way to get them started on the basics for coding and computers. My girls really enjoyed these activities my 8 year old needed a little bit of help but my 10 and 12 year old were able to follow the tutorials and get on with it unaided.

I do feel it is important to install a good concept of money and the basics of business in them from a young age, which is often missing from schooling. So lets try are best to embrace this homeschooling opportunity and focus more on some of the learning elements they don’t get from from school.

We have also found that the topmarks website, BBC bitesize website and The Human Heroes app have all been great homeschooling learning aids.

Please do share any activities that have gone well for you and your children or any useful websites.

Why not also read my other post –

Review of the educational Human Heroes App

A collection of lockdown poems

Ways to help with mental health and anxiety during CV-19

Review of Dino Rangers treasure hunt by Wonder Adventures

Why I wrote The Book of Silly Rhymes and how it can help children who find reading a struggle

Review of Jo Middleton’s fabulous new book ‘Playgroups and Prosecco’

Categories
Children's Books Product Reviews

The Horrorland Goosebumps series with Books2door

We had the opportunity to use and review Books2door’s online bookstore that is filled with lots of fabulous children’s and young adult books all at reasonable prices. 

Books2door’s website is easy to use and has a wide range of children’s and young adult books. All their books are arranged into helpful categories on the website so you can find age appropriate books with ease. 

I have used Books2door before and both times their customer service has been brilliant, I was kept up to date on my order and received notifications from them until it was delivered. 

From Books2door we were gifted the Goosebumps Horrorland series which are brilliant. I used to read and love these books from when I was a child so getting my children to enjoy them is brilliant. 

For those of you that have not heard of Goosebumps they are fictional horror stories written for young readers. All the stories are different and will have children intrigued and entertained. These books are brilliant for any child who likes a bit of a scare with monsters, ghowls and dummies although they are not too scary or gruesome. 

The Horror land series collection includes 18 books for children 9 – 14 years old some of which have 2 stories in one. These will keep children engaged and reading for quite a while. 

The collection includes the following Goosebump books –

  • Revenge of the Living
  • Creep of the Deep
  • Monster Blood for Breakfast
  • The Scream of the Haunted Mask
  • Dr Maniac VS Robby Schwartz
  • Who’s Your Mummy?
  • My Friends Call Me Monster
  • Say Cheese – And Die Screaming
  • Welcome to Camp Slither
  • Help! We Have Strange Powers!
  • Escape From Horrorland
  • The Streets of Panic Park
  • When the Ghost Dog Howls
  • Little Shop of Hamsters
  • Heads, You Lose
  • Weirdo Halloween

My girls favourite books in this collection are the books with Slappy the living dummy in, this may be due to the Goosebump films that came out recently.  They love reading what naughty things Slappy gets up to and how he goes about scaring people. If you have older children that like a bit of a scare then Goosebumps books will be perfect for them. Especially if they have seen the films this are great to follow on with.

You can order The Horrorland Goosebumps collection from Books2door.

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Why not take a look at my other children’s book reviews –

The Pointless Book by Alfie Deyes with Books2door

A Pirate Song by Justin Davis

Oscar the Orgo by R J Furness

Escape From Nettle Farm

Spy Danger

Why I wrote The Book of Silly Rhymes

Categories
poems

A Poem for Captain Tom Moore

Captain Tom Moore

Oh how we adore. 

You brighten up our day, 

taking our troubles away. 

*

At 99 years of age, 

You set up a just giving page

To raise a £1000 for our NHS, 

You wanted to do your best. 

*

You set the task of walking 2.5k

In doing 10 garden laps every day. 

100 laps total was your end goal, 

And you put in your heart and soul. 

*

Captain Tom Moore

Oh how we adore, 

You have done more, 

Than we can ever thank you for. 

*

You exceeded what you set out to do, 

As your fundraiser grew and grew. 

Your goal is now completed

but you are not remaining seated. 

*

You are continuing to walk every day, 

Until your 100th birthday, 

You have raised 25 million for your cause, 

And deserve the biggest round of applause. 

*

Captain Tom Moore, 

Oh how we adore, 

Your a true inspiration 

You fill us with admiration. 

*

You have done more for us than anyone, 

Your inspiration will forever live on. 

If fighting for us in the war wasn’t enough, 

You have now raised millions for the NHS trust. 

*

Your health in recent years has not been the best, 

But you didn’t just give up and take a rest, 

No you pushed on in our time of need, 

A knighthood you deserve the nation is agreed. 

*

Captain Tom Moore, 

Oh how we adore. 

No one has inspired us more, 

than you ‘Sir’ Captain Tom Moore. 

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Some of my post contain affiliated links to products where I may receive a small fee if these products are bought.

Why not also read my other posts –

Book review of Cassandra Farren’s ‘The Girl who refused to quit’ and ‘Rule your world’

Lockdown poems

Poem for an amazing mum

Pete the Cheeky Parakeet! My journey to getting my first book published

Why I wrote The Book of Silly Rhymes and how it can help reluctant readers

Categories
Children's Crafts and Activities

A Simple, Fun 30 Day Reading Challenge by Reading Unravelled

I do enjoy a good reading challenge and anything that can help inspire children into finding a love of reading is worth doing. There are many benefits to reading and it can open lots of doors so it is important to get children enjoying it as early as possible. 

When I found this fun reading challenge that was created by Reading Unravelled I just had to share it with you all as it is brilliant. 

These challenges are simple, fun and can be undertaken by children of any reading level. Children and adults alike will enjoy taking part in these challenges and if you share a picture of you doing the challenges either using the comments on the Reading Unravelled Facebook page or using the #readingchallenge30days on Instagram you will be in with a chance of winning a prize. You can also be in with a chance of winning a signed copy of either of my children’s books Pete the Cheeky Parakeet or The Book of Silly Rhymes.

Below are some examples of the challenges that have been set, you can start the 30 days at any time and you can follow the full challenge on the Reading Unravelled Facebook or Instagram page

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Why not also read my other posts –

Lockdown poems

Poem for an amazing mum

Pete the Cheeky Parakeet! My journey to getting my first book published

Why I wrote The Book of Silly Rhymes and how it can help reluctant readers

Categories
poems

Lockdown Poems

The very talented artist and illustrator Stephanie Jayne contacted a few of the authors that she has illustrated books for and challenged us all to write a short poem or story that she would then illustrate to keep all our creativity flowing during this period of lockdown. 

We all rose to the challenge and the results are pure brilliant.

The rhymes written by Nicky Gilbody and Sarah Morrell are fabulous and teamed with Stephanie’s wonderful illustrations they provide some humour and positivity in a time when we all need it most. 

Poem written by Nicky Gilbody – 

There are pigeons on my fence, in sunshine making hay,

They canoodle more than rabbits, randy buggers come what may,

They’re at it almost all day long, I wish they’d go away,

Just imagine if we joined them – what would the neighbours say?

Illustration by Stephanie Jayne

Poem written by Sarah Morrell

I wake up every morning with my poor head in a spin

Because again I have no clue which weekday I am in.

My legs- they ache- my stomach hurts and then there are my arms,

As Wicksey has me hopping high- I can’t resist his charms.

Then I try to teach my kids just how to read and write,

Which lasts for thirty seconds as they start to moan and fight.

Cue the crafts to ease the mood which always calms them down,

As YouTube shows us how to make a royal paper crown.

We paint and draw we glue and stick and keep ourselves amused

And end up with a sticky crown that’s too small to be used.

By lunchtime I feel tired and worn but thank my lucky stars

That they haven’t found the glitter yet or worse still the guitars.

An afternoon of baking and the garden to stay fit

Is the only way to keep our minds off all this awful s**t.

As night draws in we read our books and snuggle in together

When I wish that I could pause the clock and stay right here forever.

Illustration by Stephanie Jayne

Poem written by Cheryl Lee-White aka The Simple Mum

When times are tough, 

and you feel you have had enough,

it’s important that we all stick together, 

to ride out this stormy weather. 

You may be isolated inside your home, 

that doesn’t mean you need to be alone, 

send a picture, an email or call a friend, 

with virtual love there really is no end. 

Dig deep and find your inner rainbow. 

Then let that love and positivity flow. 

Spread those positive vibes far and wide, 

sending out happiness to others while staying inside.

Illustration by Stephanie Jayne

This was a great challenge and activity to help keep us all creating and busy so a big thank you to Stephanie Jayne for organising it. We have all got to know each other through our wonderful publisher Blue Falcon Publishing. If you want to see more about the authors and illustrators then take a look at their children’s books below –

Children’s books by Sarah Morrell

Children’s books by Nicky Gilbody’s

Children’s book written and illustrated by Stephanie Jayne

Children’s books written by Cheryl Lee-White

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Why not also read my other posts –

Poem for an amazing mum

Pete the Cheeky Parakeet! My journey to getting my first book published

Why I wrote The Book of Silly Rhymes and how it can help reluctant readers

Interview with children’s book publisher Justin Davis of Blue Falcon Publishing

Some of my post contain affiliated links to products where I may receive a small fee if these products are bought.

Categories
General

The One Star Review

My day didn’t start out that great. I wasn’t in a rush to get out of bed this morning so I lay awake looking through my phone. I decided to check Amazon to see how my books were doing when I noticed someone had left another review of my book The Book of Silly Rhymes. 

I excitedly swiped down to find it eager to read what they had thought of it but that excitement was short lived. My stomach dropped as I saw the 1 out of 5 stars on the review. As I read the full review I felt sick and wanted to cry, it was not good. 

I quickly put my phone away fought back the urge to cry into my pillow and tried to get on with my day but however much I tried it was in the back of my mind. The thought that someone hated my book made me worry and panic that it was bad and that everyone would too.

Thankfully the week before The Book of Silly Rhymes won an award. I know it was read and judged by at least 15 people and beat loads of other books to win silver so I had to remind myself that I know for a fact that not everyone dislikes it.

That made me start to  think that I can’t hide away from it and shouldn’t just sweep it under the carpet. As much as I hate to say it, critics are just as important as the glowing reviews (which thankfully I have far more of the glowing ones). 

So I built up my courage and re read the review a few times analysing it to see if there was anything I could take and learn from it. 

The one star review read – 

Don’t believe the other reviews.

Cheap and simple rhymes in a book that looks and feels like it was made in 1989, not 2019. Despite the font supposed to be aimed at children with dyslexia (a positive thing about the book hence the star), there are way too many rhymes that are about disliking school (school is boring), demeaning people/making fun of teachers (Mrs Balderdash), parents being disfunctional (mum’s had too much wine) and the remainder is basically just about poo or farts.

The rhymes themselves are simple and basic with very little humour found in word play that you could expect a preteen girl to write in the back of a school notebook. Perhaps this is the target audience but nobody should pay 50p for this in a charity shop, let alone over £5. Go spend your money on done roald dahl, Julia Donaldson or Michael Rosen instead. “

As you can see it is quite long and I had a lot of points to get through and analyse but in fact the more I read it the more it didn’t bother me anymore. This book is full of rude rhymes that are short and it clearly states this in the Amazon description as I know this book is not for everyone, but it is made clear the rhymes are a bit rude so anyone who doesn’t like this sort of thing can be warned not to buy my book. 

The Amazon description for The Book of Silly Rhymes –

“Do you chuckle, chortle or cackle? Are you more likely to smirk secretly, sneak out a snigger, or would you prefer to belt out a big belly laugh? Do you howl like a monkey, roar like a lion or snort like a pig? 

However you get the giggles, this hilarious collection of rude, ridiculous and rambunctious rhymes is sure to tickle your funny bone!

The Book of Silly Rhymes is a collection of poems written to amuse and delight children in equal measure. Each rhyme is short, and can be read quickly and in any order with the aim of appealing to reluctant readers. The text has been printed in a font designed to be easily read by those with dyslexia. “

I don’t really even understand the bit about 1989 and the book being cheap. I think my publisher has done a wonderful job of producing a great book and the illustrator to produce colourful fun illustrations. When Amazon first bought copies and put it up for sale they had it on higher than the RRP of £5.99 for ages so they obviously thought it was worth more. 

I 100% agree that they are simple rhymes as I have always claimed and have put in the Amazon description this book is designed for reluctant readers and if you have ever been a reluctant reader or have children who are, then you will know how hard it is to get them to read. Having a book that is full of short silly rhymes that they can read with ease and dip in and out of the book is a great way to inspire reluctant readers. 

Yes there are all those rhymes in the book which are a bit rude and yes not to everyone’s taste I completely get that and accept this comment. Most children I know love to laugh over poo and fart jokes . You could compare my rhymes to Marmite, you either love them or hate them. 

The rhymes are simple I agree but then again this is mentioned in the description but the book is also filled with 37 of them that I have put a lot of time and effort into writing. I believe they are funny and I have been told by a lot of others they are funny so I guess I will just have to leave this down to personal opinion and have knowledge that everyone sees humour differently. 

I am a bit older than a preteen girl but I did write them in the back of my notebook to start with so there is some truth in that. There are a lot of talented pre teens out there who can write amazing poems so I don’t take this as the insult I feel it was intended to be. 

I do believe the book is worth more than 50p (this is actually all I make from the book sale through amazon anyway) and I didn’t set the price myself my publisher did after lots of research and knowledge of the market. As I said before Amazon was selling it for £6.99 for a long time after it was released so they even believed it was worth more. 

I agree, Julia Donaldson, Roald Dahl and Michael Rosen are some of the best children’s writers ever. I am not even going to try and justify this and put myself in the same league as them. In fact a lot of people do spend their money on their books and not mine that’s why they sell millions more copies of their books than I do. Hopefully one day I will be in the same league but I understand anyone who would buy their books over mine. 

The Book of Silly Rhymes is intended for a different type of audience than most books. It is aimed at children who are reluctant to read that need to start with something a bit simpler, the rhymes are funny and a bit rude to help keep them engaged and bring some humour to reading time. 

I do welcome criticism and the only way I will ever learn and better myself is from hearing it and taking it on board. The reason I have written this post is not to discredit the bad review or the person’s opinion but to make clear what The Book of Silly Rhymes is about and who it is intended for so people looking to buy my book know what is in it and can decide if it is a book for them or not. It was not intended for the masses and I always knew it would not be welcomed by everyone. It was written especially for a certain audience and as I have heard from other reviews my intended audience enjoy my book.

I also rave and love to share with everyone the good reviews and positive feedback that I get from my books so if I hide away the bad ones I would feel a bit of a Hippocratic. I want people to see both sides and make their own choices on whether to buy my books. 

When I first read this comment I wanted to hide away and never write again but after sitting down and reading it more closely I am now inspired to write more starting with this post and then I will be getting out my notebook to start writing children’s stories again.

 I have been so busy lately but with the time we have all been given with lockdown I have no excuse and plenty of time to get on with it.

My other book Pete The Cheeky Parakeet is written for a completely different audience and in a different style so I know I am capable of adapting my style to suit the intended audience the same as I do when I write blog posts for an adult audience. 

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Why not read my other post –

Pete the Cheeky Parakeet! My journey to getting my first book published

Why I wrote The Book of Silly Rhymes and how it can help reluctant readers

Book review of Escape from Nettle Farm by Justin Davis

Categories
Children's Crafts and Activities Product Reviews

Interactive Easter Bunny Treasure Hunt with Wonder Adventures

We got to take part in the fun Interactive Easter Bunny Treasure Hunt that was put together by Wonder Adventures.

We have taken part in their interactive Dino ranger treasure hunt before that my girls really enjoyed so an Easter themed version sounded great especially at the moment with us all being in lock down.

The hunt comes with clear instructions on what to do and is easy to set up. There is a link to print off 6 colourful clue cards which you can then hide around the house or garden. If you are not able to print these off at the moment you can just draw and write what is on them on to a piece of paper and hide instead.

You start of the hunt by playing a video of the Easter bunny who has a message for the children and gets them up doing lots of engaging movements as he teaches them his secret bunny skills.

Once the video is over you will then get the first clue comes up that you can read out to the children. Once the children guess what the answer is they head off to find the clue card that has the correct answer on it.

Once they have found the right card they need to take note of the letter on that card and you can then go to the next clue, at the end of it they will have a word.

If you want to add in chocolate treats to the hunt you could add a small egg treat at each of the clues and then a big one at the end when they have their word or just a treat at the end of the hunt. I was felling generous so did mini eggs at each clue and then gave them their big Easter eggs at the end.

Wonder Adventures hunts are very enjoyable and well put together, my girls enjoy them. They loved trying to figure out the riddle then tearing around the house trying to find the right clue cards.

The interactive videos are fun and engaging, my girls are just edging on the older side for these videos but still really enjoy the hunt itself including my 12 year old. That said if you have younger children the video of the Easter Bunny is brilliant and will have them in amazement as they watch him dance and teach them his secret moves.

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Why not also read my other post –

Review of Dino Rangers treasure hunt by Wonder Adventures

Why I wrote The Book of Silly Rhymes and how it can help children who find reading a struggle

Review of the educational Human Heroes App

Review of Jo Middleton’s fabulous new book ‘Playgroups and Prosecco’

Categories
Mental health & Wellbeing

Lockdown Love

In a difficult and challenging time when everyone is struggling and having to change their way of life it is so amazing to see just how much love and positivity there is.

Everyone seems to have joined together even though they are being kept apart to help spread some lockdown love.

Children have created rainbows that you see in window after window when out walking to help spread some cheer and happiness.

Every Thursday neighbours have come together from the safety of their front doors to clap and cheer for all the key workers risking their health to save others and to keep the country going.

There are whole social media communities that have been created to bring people together and share tips and help one another. In fact nearly every where on social media right now you can find people coming together to help one another and support each other through these difficult times.

Even on the daily walks despite not being able to getting within 2 meters of each other people are all friendly, smiling and saying hello to one another.

Some supermarkets have donated their increased profits to charity and people and business everywhere are doing what they can to help charities and equip our key workers from helping to make masks and visors to simply baking a cake to show appreciation.

It is amazing to see the determination that everyone has to help one another through these challenging times and to work together so as not to let this horrible virus break us.

We are stronger together and together we will get through this.

Please do share in the comments any other ways that you have been helping to spread the lockdown love.

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Why not also read my other posts –

Indoor crafts and activities for children

Ways to help with mental health and anxiety during the corona virus

Please stop worrying about homeschooling your children

Why I wrote The Book of Silly Rhymes and how it can help children that struggle to read

Categories
Product Reviews

Our Review of the Human Heroes Educational App

We have been reviewing the award winning Human Heroes educational game apps for children and what a great app it is. 

The Human Heroes apps cover topics such as reading clocks, the states of matter, and counting seconds, as well as the basic theories behind more advanced subjects such as radioactivity, atoms, and the chemical refinement process. Human Heroes’ aim is to enable children to become inspired by real-life heroes from history. These apps feature Albert Einstein and Marie Curie to inspire children and they are voiced by Stephen Fry and Miriram Margolyes.

This is a great app for home learning. My girls have enjoyed playing it and have learnt a lot from it.  They were struggling with telling the time before but the Einstein Human Heroes app has really helped them with this and has been a fun way for them to learn. 

My oldest daughter is learning about atoms at school so she enjoyed playing on the Marie Curie app and continuing her learning on this subject while currently homeschooling.  

The graphics are very good, the games are vibrant and engaging so they keep the attention of children. Learning is a lot easier when it is fun and the Human Heroes apps definitely make learning fun. I would recommend these apps to help parents with their children’s learning. These apps are also a great aid for homeschooling and keeping children occupied. 

You can download the apps on android or apple, take a look at the Human Heroes website to find out more https://humanheroes.co.uk/

Why not take a look at my other posts –

Playgroup and Prosecco Book Review

Review of the Stylish Laptop Rucksack Bag from Estarer

Why I wrote The Book of Silly Rhymes

Some of my post contain affiliated links to products where I may receive a small fee if these products are bought.

Categories
Children's Books

The Book of Silly Rhymes is a winner!

I am so over the moon to announce that The Book of Silly Rhymes is a silver medal winner at The Wishing Shelf Book Awards. I just can’t believe it!

I was amazed when I found out my book was a finalist in the awards but to then find out it won the silver medal was the icing on the cake. 

Winning this award means so much to me as it is judged by children so to know the audience who I wrote the book for are enjoying it is just brilliant. 

It is a wonderful feeling to know that my book is being enjoyed by so many children. I wrote it because I wanted to bring fun and laughter to reading time and spread joy to children. I wanted to help inspire children to find their love of reading especially those that are reluctant to read in the first place. 

Why not also read my other posts –

Why I wrote The Book of Silly Rhymes

My journey to getting my first book published

Interview with Justin Davis children’s publisher at Blue Falcon Publishing

Some of my post contain affiliated links to products where I may receive a small fee if these products are bought.