Friday, 30 August 2013

Math reference sheet freebie

Another freebie to help with maths - useful for all age groups Years 1 - 11 or K-12.  Housemate created this one.

Math reference sheet

Feel free to share, but please do not use this document for commercial gain.  A link back to my blog would be appreciated.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Math practice freebie

I've been having fun creating some maths worksheets for Small, although I'm not entirely sure I have absolutely no doubt who does the most work.  Me!  He's 4 and it takes him about 10 minutes, if that, to complete the answers.

Anyway, I thought I'd share this one with anyone who wants to use it.  Comparing the content to others I've seen, it's aimed at Year 1/Kindergarten (age 5-6) or Year 2/Grade 1 (6-7).

Beachball math worksheet

Do leave me a comment if you use it.  Please feel free to share this worksheet set with others, but I would ask that you give a link back to my blog and do not duplicate for commercial use.  Thanks.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Backyard maths

Sometimes Small's enthusiasm for maths way beyond what he'd cover in reception year just amazes me.  This is what he's been doing for fun today ...

Housemate's son, by contrast, has been having one of those days and making a lot of ...

Ah well.  Part and parcel of me home edding one, while housemate tries to get the schooled one up to speed.

Until next time. x

Monday, 19 August 2013

A bargain in the works

Actually, that should be entitled "a bargain from The Works" as a rather nice package arrived today to help us in our home schooling.

I got what seems to be a really good deal on document wallets and square-cut folders for our lapbook projects - easily enough to last us until small moves on to notebooking.

I also got some A C Black science experiments books - a lot of schools use these, and there are plenty of good and quick experiments aimed at age groups 6-8, 8-10 and 10-12.  Alongside those, I also got a book aimed at littlies on magnet power.  As I think I've mentioned before, I've nothing against the national curriculum per se, just the way it's taught with a one-size fits all mentality.

The best bargain of the day though, has got to be the "Geography Today" series.  I'd seen these books on Amazon - they're primarily aimed at teachers - but even there, the books are about £23 each.  Much to my amazement, the whole series (from age 5-6 up to 10-11) was available on The Works' website (I've never seen them in the shops) at £1.99 per book.

I think that apart from actually buying the Galore Park history curriculum, which I mentioned in another post, that's us pretty well sorted as far as structured stuff is concerned all the way from age 5 right up to age 11.

We've been busy working on another lapbook, this time all about life on the farm, so I'll post some photos soon.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Using what I have

In an attempt to save a few pennies, I've been using up foods that I already have.  Also, to save on electricity, I tend to have a "cook up" and made sure the oven is full when I put it on.

I made two dishes the other night that will see me through several meals, and all without any additional money being spent.


Make 4oz of shortcrust pastry.  I used 1oz Trex and 1oz of Stork, combined with 4oz of plain flour and just enough water to make a nice firm dough.

Roll out and line a pie/flan/quiche dish, and bake blind for around 10 minutes at 180C.

I cooked up 4 slices of streaky bacon which were lurking in the fridge, grated some Aldi medium cheddar and some Aldi double Gloucester with chives and onion that were lurking alongside the bacon, and chucked them in the dish.  This is quite a deep dish and it took 9 beaten eggs to fill it to just below the brim, so perhaps start with 6 and add more if your dish needs them.  Bake at 180C for around 45 minutes and serve hot or cold.

I already had the items I used, but to break down the cost: pastry - 20p, bacon 28p,  Cheddar 30p, double Gloucester 20p, eggs 85p.  Total cost of quiche £1.83 and it divides into 8 decent portions, so about 23p per portion.


While I was preparing the quiche, I browned some beef mince that I'd found in the freezer.  Once browned and the fat drained off, I added some mushrooms (also hiding in the freezer) and a jar of Asda's own brand Bolognese sauce with onions and garlic which I found in the cupboard.  I also added a good slug of red wine, but that's entirely optional and was from a bottle I've had for ages and keep for cooking.

After all the ingredients had been combined, I transferred everything into a casserole dish and put it in the oven.  If your oven isn't already on, you could of course simmer everything gently on the hob for a while.  Mine was on, so I put the casserole dish in the oven along with the quiche.

I know Bolognese is traditionally served with spaghetti, but I can't stand the stuff!  I eat mine either with a jacket potato (which I didn't have) or on toast.  I also served it up some cabbage that needed finishing.  The remaining two portions of Bolognese will be put into containers and frozen for a later date.

The mince will have cost £1.50, the mushrooms about 5p, and the jar of sauce 89p, so the total cost of the Bolognese = £2.44.  The additional ingredients were cabbage 10p, and toast 10p.  The Bolognese easily makes 3 portions, or 4 if you're a bit more frugal, so works out at around 80p or 60p per portion.  Even with the toast and cabbage, each portion is £1 or less.

I hope the above recipes ideas will help make your pennies stretch a bit further.  Do have a look around your cupboards, fridge and freezer.  It's amazing what's lurking in there!

Until next time. x

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Cheap meal

Evening all.

Okay, so the photo above doesn't show the healthiest meal in the world, but once in a while there's nothing wrong with bangers and chips.  I was so looking forward to it I ate half a sausage before I remembered to take the photo!

A very cheap and filling meal, this costs less than £1 per portion and both the sausages and the chips are from Aldi.

Sausages:  Cumberland (they also do plain or Lincolnshire) at £1.09 for a pack of 8
Chips:  Crinkle cut grill/oven/fry chips at £1.00 per pack.
Optional ketchup and/or mayo = pennies.

This will serve me and Small twice, with plenty of chips left over for another day, and we do usually have a helping of Aldi petits pois and Aldi frozen sweetcorn with it.  Altogether, this costs around 50p for an adult portion and about 30p for a small's portion.

Even if I ate half the sausages, with some chips, sweetcorn and peas, the cost would still be around 70p per portion.


Until next time. x

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Dinosaur lapbook

Small has been working on dinosaurs lately - which is one of his favourite topics, and we've put together a dinosaur lapbook so he can look back on what we've covered.

Dinosaur lapbook front

Left inside cover with minibooks

Right inside cover with mini books and factfile


Fold-down section of dino facts and photos

Page from the dinosaur alphabet

The dinosaur fact file

Back of the lapbook with words booklet

Page from dino words booklet

Inside one of the mini books
All the resources used were free.  The dinosaur alphabet was downloaded from First School, the word booklet, mini books, fact file and dino photo book were from Kids Dinosaurs, the dino on the back was from Primary Treasure Chest, and the rest is from bits and pieces I had lying around.  There are other dinosaur lapbooks out there, but many seem to be based on 'creationism' which I don't subscribe to.

While working on this project, we've also read Usborne Beginners Dinosaurs, and Usborne Discovery Dinosaurs, and Small has played interactive dino games on the computer.

We enjoyed putting together and colouring our dinosaur lapbook, and although this was our first foray into lapbooking, I suspect it won't be our last.

Until next time. x

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

And so the quest is finished

I've been on a quest that seems to have gone on for an awfully long time, a bit like Tom and Elenna in housemate's son's favourite series, Beast Quest.  Unlike the children in the stories, my quest has not been in search of beasties and dragons, but in search of a history curriculum that makes sense.

I've never quite understood why in state schools that follow the National Curriculum, history appears to be such a hotch-potch that jumps around and makes no chronological sense.  So far, housemate's son has covered Florence Nightingale, the Romans, the Aztecs, the Great Fire of London, and a few other things, and next year I believe it's Ancient Egypt.  While I can't quite fathom why history frightens the living daylights out of him, it's certainly no wonder he gets confused over what happened when.  They jump around in time more than Dr Who!

My philosophy with Small has been to start at the beginning - we're doing dinosaurs at the moment - and work forward chronologically from the first people and the stone age, to the more recent past.  We probably won't do anything too serious with history until he's a couple of years older, but that hasn't stopped me hunting for something suitable to use as a starting point to guide us through it.

At last, I have stumbled onto Galore Park, whose junior history curriculum is aimed at kids from 7-11 (KS2), and it starts at the beginning.  In a series of three books, it works its way from dinosaurs up to the Battle of Hastings.  Anything post 1066 is in their secondary curriculum.  The books btw, are those commonly used in independent schools and are, apparently, a bit more challenging.

So if you too want a more structured approach to history and are looking for sensible history, do check out the Galore Park publications.  The books are available cheaper via Amazon than from the publisher, but if you want a preview of some sample chapters, these can be downloaded from Galore Park -  Book 1, Book 2, and Book 3.  There are answer books as well, but most home schoolers probably won't want these.


From the reviews and testimonials I read, it would appear the course is, to quote Ian Hislop, " a bold decision not to dumb down but to wise up."  That'll do me.

Until next time. x

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Would you drink these things?

Ask yourself these questions ...

 Would you like to drink:
  1. Something used to remove blood from the road following an accident?
  2. Something so acidic, it dissolves a T-bone steak?
  3. Something that cleans your toilet?
  4. Rust remover?
  5. Something that cleans corroded battery terminals?
  6. Something that removes grease from clothes?
  7. Windscreen cleaner?
  8. Something that causes osteoporosis?
  9. Something that needs a "highly corrosive" warning to be transported?
  10. Engine cleaner?
Or would you prefer to drink:
  1. Something that effectively stops the midnight munchies?
  2. Something that can effectively prevent waking up with a hangover?
  3. Something that can help prevent several types of cancer?
  4. Something that boosts your brain power?
  5. Something that can help prevent fatigue?
  6. Something that keeps you healthy?
Strangely enough, most people seem to prefer drinking the first group.  All the liquids in this group are sold under the single, lovely-sounding name of ...


Personally, I'd prefer drinking the second group - water.

Until next time. x

Monday, 5 August 2013

Getting ahead of ourselves

One of Small's favourite interactive learning tools is the Starfall package.  It's an American-based website that housemate told me about, and although some might criticise me for using a site that's not British English, it's one of the best learning-to-read sites I've found.  In fact quite a lot of the best resources I've found are from US-based websites, but that's a story for another day!

A lot of Starfall is free, including the learn to read section, and in conjunction with books like the Oxford Reading Tree "Floppy" series, and Usborne's "Very First Reading", Starfall's what he's used to learn to read.  The rest of the site is well worth subscribing to, and costs roughly £20 for the year (depending on the exchange rate).  Small's learned so much and had so much enjoyment out of the site, I consider it worth every penny. 

The Starfall website is always updating and adapting.  One of the newest sections they've added is for 'first grade', in line with the US core curriculum, whatever that is.  I'm guessing it's along similar lines to our national standards for maths, literacy, science etc, but perhaps one of you lovely readers from across the pond could clarify?

Anyway, I had always assumed that the US kindergarten class was equivalent to our reception year, and that 'first grade' equated to our 'year 1' - it turns out this is not so.   I was quite surprised to discover that the American 1st grade is actually equivalent age-wise to our year 2 - in other words, it's for 6-7 year olds, or the second year of KS1 (key stage 1).

This discovery makes me even more proud of my little four-year old that he's happily reading and doing maths that's aimed at 6-7 year olds.  All the more reason I'm so glad he's not starting school this September as he'd be bored rigid in reception class, and I've no doubt he'd be expected to do very little until everyone else caught up.  This is something already confirmed to me by a friend whose daughter was well ahead when she started school, and who had to wait until the other kids reached the stage she'd been at 12 months earlier - by which time the poor child was totally disillusioned with the whole concept of school.

In other news, apologies to anyone waiting for photos from the allotment.  I dashed down there today, but once again forgot the camera.  I've left myself a note which will hopefully remind me to take it tomorrow!

Until next time. x

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Onwards and downwards

Some progress has been made on the two allotment plots, which I think from now on I will just refer to as "the allotment".  A small section of plot 56 has now been strimmed down, but it's no real surprise that the weeds on plot 57 which were cut have regrown now that we've had some rain, and will have to be cut back again.

I stupidly forgot to take the camera down with me today, so will have to post some photos tomorrow of what's been achieved, but we now have two pallet compost "bins" around 20m down the plot, and nearby, I've been digging downwards into the beginnings of the first veg bed.

I've measured out an area that's 3ft wide by 9ft long, which will be divided with string lines into square-foot planting areas, and made a border from planking around the edge.  It might seem daft given the huge space we have available to make such a relatively small bed, but the whole idea is that once dug, the soil isn't walked on again, and the 3ft wide area is just nice so I can reach everything without having to step on it.  Once that one's completed, we'll make some more, and at least after today's work, I can see the beginnings of something achieved.

Until next time. x

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Why the yearly panic?

As a home educator, the annual trip to buy school uniform is not something I have to worry about. But it's amazing how many parents are last-minute Charlies to whom it comes as a yearly shock that a uniform needs to be bought and the money found to pay for it.  I overheard one mother moaning to another earlier today that she couldn't afford it, yet earlier in the conversation she'd been talking about the twenty quid it had just cost her to get her nails done!  Do them yourself love, and put the money towards little Johnny's uniform instead.  He needs the uniform; you do not need garish green polkadot nails.

Your children go to school, so they need a uniform.  Your children grow, so they grow out of last year's uniform and need a new one.  Why is it then that there seems to be an annual panic about the process?  You know this happens every year, just like Christmas and birthdays.  And just like Christmas and birthdays, school stuff is something that needs to be factored into the annual budget and saved for.

With supermarkets like Asda and Tesco providing very reasonably priced uniform clothes, it's not all that difficult to set aside a couple of pounds a week towards the uniform.  And even if your child has awkward sized feet which means supermarket shoes just won't fit him, there are often very reasonably priced second hand hardly worn Clarks or Start-rite shoes on offer on eBay which cost far less than buying new.

Both Aldi and Lidl recently had "school week" with very cheap stuff on offer, and you could have bought 3 sets of 'uniform' from Aldi for less than £20 - that's 3 pairs of trousers, two twin-packs of polo shirts and two sweaters/cardigans plus pants and socks.  So if you saved £2 a week, you'd have £84 to put towards shoes, trainers, PE kit and other things school kids need.

Budgeting for these items is not rocket science, and no-one needs to get into debt to pay for them.

Until next time. x

Friday, 2 August 2013

Calling the tooth fairy

Housemate's son went off back to his mum's today.  He's not always the easiest child to cope with as he's prone to totally disproportionate tantrums, but all in all it's been an enjoyable fortnight and I know Small will miss having him around.

While he's been here, he's joined in well with Small's home school life, and much to my surprise has shown a willingness to do "learning" as he calls it.  I can but hope that some of what we've covered has sunk in and will stand him in better stead as he progresses into year 5 in September.

A little piece of him is staying behind though, as literally seconds after the photo below was taken, the tooth fell out, and was put with much glee into his tooth pillow to be left out for the tooth fairy.  She had to hurriedly disappear round to a neighbour's in search of some change, but all worked out well in the end.

Canine tooth hanging by a thread - literally!
Until next time. x

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Happy Yorkshire Day

It's the 1st of August, so that means it's Yorkshire Day.  I hope you're all having a lovely day no matter where in the world you are, but to those of us in Yorkshire, happy Yorkshire day.

The paperwork has now been signed, and the money handed over, so I am now the proud tenant of plot 56, complete with all its weeds.  I have another box bed to finish in the front garden so I can get some broccoli plants in and a vigil to maintain, keeping the cabbage white butterflies off the cabbages and sprouts already planted out.

Until next time. x