Spielgaben: Activity 4

As part of our Spielgaben activity this week we will be exploring the times tables.

In this activity children will learn how to work out and remember times table facts using wooden points to help them visualise the numbers rather than making them memorise abstract sums which can often be frustrating for some children. Learning times tables is often laborious and traditional methods can lack engagement, where as this activity aims to keep the child engaged as there is an element of play. As we are studying the 3 times table, this is the example we will be using in this blog.
As always, although this is a Spielgaben activity, I’ve done my best to provide alternative ways to get involved at the end of this blog, even if you don’t own a Spielgaben yourself. I have also provided free downloadable content for those using other manipulatives. 

I would recommend this activity for children aged 7+ but obviously it doesn’t matter what age your child is as your knowledge on their ability will be more relevant.

All you will need is the Spielgaben Cookie Grid, which is free to download, a pen/pencil, set 9 and set 10 of the Spielgaben. It is not essential but you may want to laminate the cookie grid so you can reuse it multiple times with a dry wipe marker. Another fun optional extra for this activity is a baking tray!

Below I have provided a guided script that I feel works well for us.

Parent: Shall we make some cookies? I will start by making one cookie. I am going to put three chocolate chips onto the cookie. How many cookies are there?

Child: There is one cookie.

Parent: How many chocolate chips are there?

Child: There are three chocolate chips.

(At this point, have your child write a 1 in first cell of the ‘Number of cookies’ row and a 3 in the first cell of the ‘Number of chips’ row)

Parent: Would you like to make another cookie? We need another cookie with three chocolate chips.

(Child makes cookie with three chocolate chips)

Parent: How many cookies do we have altogether now?

Child: We have two cookies.

Parent: So how many chocolate chips do we have altogether now?

Child: We have six chocolate chips.

(As before, have your child write in the next cell along of both the rows with the correct answers. Keep repeating the process of making cookies with chips to work out each mathematical problem. As you work along the grid you may notice your child counting all the chips, if so, help them to see that they don’t need to do this. Have your child look at the grid to see the previous number on the ‘number of chips’ row and simply suggest that they count three up from that – it should save a lot of time) 

Once you have finished playing and you have finished your grid as far as you and your child wish to go, you can use your grid as a reference for the abstract sums (e.g. 5×3=) at a later date. You can also repeat this game until your child can recall the sums from memory.

If you don’t own a Spielgaben then you can download this free Plates And Jelly Beans Printout For Times Tables, all you will need to buy is some jelly beans and the best part is you can snack on them after you’re done playing! Or if you feel you have a bit more time, perhaps you could bake some real cookies and use real chocolate chips!

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A Week of English – And Story Cubes!

So this year, now Ava is older, we have introduced many new subjects and more variations of certain subjects for her. For instance, English no longer consists of Reading Eggs sessions everyday. Although this was fun and it served its purpose, there was only so much it could provide and it ended up just being a supplement to her English studies so I decided for her we would not continue with the subscription. Having said that, I cant recommend it enough for younger children just learning to read the basics, it gamifies the whole learning experience which makes it less laborious for both parent and child.
So here is how a week of English goes for us at the moment.

Every day of the week we follow the Writing With Ease Workbooks by Susan Wise Bauer. A big recommendation from us for its simplistic scripted lesson plans and worksheets to go with the lessons. She has literally done all the legwork for you so you don’t have to do a thing. Each book has a whole years worth of lessons! 

We also listen to chapters of audio books together daily with breakfast. We might also do this while we are drawing or doing some sort of handcraft. It’s an opportunity for them to hear a variety of different of writing compositions and words along with their correct pronunciations. The theory behind this practice is that even if they don’t understand the literature they’re listening to, the seeds are being sown for future understanding and it will help them to grasp the more complex literature down the line. Essentially we use audio books in place of television and both the girls love it! 

Monday: We follow First Language Lessons by Jessie Wise. I also cannot recommend this book enough. Just like the Writing With Ease books, the lessons are scripted so it makes it nice and simple for parents and each book also has a whole years worth of lessons!

Tuesday: Ava has independent reading, this is simply where she will read a book with literature that’s suited to her ability. She’s really enjoying David Walliams’ books at the moment. She’s almost finished the entire series of his books! 

Wednesday: First Language Lessons by Jessie Wise.

Thursday: First Language Lessons by Jessie Wise. 

And finally,

Friday: I try and make Fridays super fun and relaxed to round off the week and create that ‘It’s the weekend!’ atmosphere, so on Friday we explore creative writing together with the help of Story Cubes. Story Cubes are dice with icons that are designed to prompt story telling. Not only do we love using them for creative writing but we use them for puppet shows, I will use them for bedtime stories and sometimes we will play them as a game and each take it in turns to roll a dice and take it in turns to narrate the story in which direction we’d like. I love Story cubes, they’re so versatile and I love to make learning play based as much as I possibly can. 


Here’s how we use them for creative writing.

  1. I like to start by having Ava look at the different genres. We tend to choose one small genre pack or three dice from one of the large genre packs and mix them with five dice from the original pack, the orange one. 
  2. We then roll all the dice at once and set them aside while we look at our story template from Usborne’s Write Your Own Story book.
  3. Then, I’ll ask Ava to place a cube on each prompt on the template.
  4. For help with ideas on key words and settings we use the Story Genres Display Poster Pack from Twinkl, we then set about trying to think of a story to match the icons rolled.

And she ends up creating something like this..

(I have translated the image underneath as I appreciate not everyone will be able to understand her awesome and unique spellings). 

“Once upon a time there was a girl called Emily, she had a pink dress and ginger hair. She lived near a train station that always stopped outside a haunted town. One day Emily got on the train and she got off at the haunted town and a monster appeared. And so she ran into a haunted house but she did not know it was haunted. However as she walked in, the door slammed shut. She was locked in. Then a ghost chased her so she closed the door and locked the ghost in. Eventually she found a key and got out. In the end she never went back to the haunted house again, not even the haunted town. The end.”

I really love how such simple tools can spark imagination to allow children to create such exciting ideas. I’m quite impressed with how her story turned out. She grasped how a story works and was able to create her very own. 

Do you have Story Cubes? If so, how do you use them? We would love to see your ideas as we are always looking for new ways to make learning more fun and exciting for our family. Feel free to share your ideas on our Facebook page or leave a comment below to your website, we’d love to read and follow your journey!

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Emily’s First Day… Of Not Going to School!

Home education starts from birth – at least if that’s what you’ve planned from the beginning anyway! Nevertheless, this week still marked a special milestone. Emily’s first day… Of not going to school!

This week would have been Emily’s first week of school, she would have started reception. I know. We home educate so there’s no actual start date but I still wanted to take lots of photos and mark it as a big milestone because that’s what it is for us.

Some people may think it’s ridiculous to take lots of photos of another day of what is essentially her just doing what shes been doing since she was born – learning at home. But for us it was important to document, because these ‘first day of..’ photos symbolise something more than that.

When we look at these photos we have a memory of the day of course, the milestone, the ‘I can’t believe how fast you’re growing up!’ moment, but what we also have is images that makes us feel so grateful that we are able to home educate, images that say ‘You don’t have to wave goodbye for six hours a day, the fun still carries on!’

These images represent our freedom of choice, whether to home educate or otherwise and I am incredible grateful to live in a country that allows us those freedoms.

We have images of a little girl that is happy because she feels safe and because of this, she is open to learning and engages in the activities presented to her. For those of you that know Emily personally, you will know that she is extremely shy and she shuts down in very large groups. She refuses to engage. She is such a gentle and sensitive soul. My point is that these photos paint a bigger picture for us; they remind us of how we are doing the right thing and how we are on the right path, for us.

Whether you are home educated or you go to school, we hope you all had a fantastic week starting the new term! Good luck to all the new starters of 2017!

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Gone longer than expected…

I don’t want to make this a particularly long post but I know in the last post I said we would be gone for a while, while we set up YouTube. After much thought I decided against the idea. It’s been the longest that I’ve gone without posting. To be honest after I decided not to go down the YouTube route, I didn’t really know what direction the blog was going and decided to take some time out for myself. Home educating can be hard work at times and so it’s really important I have down time.

I want to start this blog up again but simply as a casual thing for friends and family to follow (and anyone else who is interested of course) which is actually what I originally intended when setting it up. I will still offer educational ideas and I do want to start making free downloadable content for my readers as I do really appreciate the support. I just wanted people to know that with life being so busy I cannot commit to weekly posts at the moment… I’m going to aim for once a month, maybe once a fortnight kind of thing.

I sincerely apologise for the absence and hopefully by setting myself some boundaries, I can continue to produce great content that others enjoy. Please let me know what kind of thing you’d like to see on here and I’ll do my best to put something together.

I know this was a bit long winded but I wanted to be 100% honest with my readers as I value you all very much. I want to thank all my readers and followers for sticking with me through my absence.

Spielgaben: Activity 3

As part of our Spielgaben series, this week we have been exploring the alphabet.

In this activity children will learn lowercase letter recognition. This activity in particular is designed to improve early reading skills. As always, although this is a Spielgaben activity, I will do my best to provide alternative ways to get involved at the end of this blog, even if you don’t own a Spielgaben.

I would recommend this activity for children aged 3+ but obviously it doesn’t matter what age your child is as your knowledge on their ability will be more relevant.

All you will need is the Alphabet Grids which are free to download and five medium circles from the number 9 Spielgaben drawer in whatever colour you prefer. It may also be beneficial to have some lowercase sandpaper letters for this exercise, although it’s not a deal breaker – some lowercase flashcards would also be fine if you have them.

If you would like the grid in a specific font then please feel free to drop me a message and I will do my best to assist you.

The objective is simple; encourage the child to identify the most common letter on the grid by placing the circles on the correct squares. There should be five of the same letter on each grid among a selection of other random letters. Take it slow – keep doing the same grid over the space of a couple of days before moving on to another. Most children learn best by repetition.

I also find sounding the letter out the same way as I taught animal noises effective. For example ‘This is the letter E. E says (or makes the sound) eh’.

If you don’t own a Spielgaben then instead, why not get your child to colour in the letters? Or you can use some hair ties or rubber bands to place on the correct squares.

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Things might be quiet for a while…

Just a quick post to apologise in advance. We may not post over the next few weeks while we plan curriculum, crafts and of course set up our YouTube channel. 

Soon as we’re back, we will post content on here at least once a week! 

We hope you enjoy the rest of your summer. Feel free to share what you’ve been getting up to over on our Facebook page. Are you on instagram? Check out ours by clicking here, and don’t forget to follow to keep up to date with our adventures.

We Couldn’t Believe It!

Today we visited the woods. As most of you know it’s our favourite place to explore, play and unwind. We never get bored with the woods as there is always something new to discover. Each time we go, there are little changes that make it a whole new playground. Nature is always renovating its landscape.

We spent extra time in the woods today at Ava’s request for her birthday. We got up to lots! We played with our new go find it cards (post reviewing the cards can be seen by clicking here).

We also managed to feed the squirrels! This is by far one of our favourite things to do when visiting the woods. It’s not always possible as they only tend to come out in the early morning. It was about eleven so we were really surprised to see them.

How adorable is this little squirrel!? I feel so grateful to have been able to get so close to these beautiful animals.

We were also lucky enough to spot some more exotic wildlife… Wild parakeets high in the trees! We couldn’t believe it! We live in London so we were really surprised to see a such brightly coloured birds! It turns out that there’s quite a few of them in the UK as they’re the only parrot to be naturalised in this country! So keep your eyes peeled next time you’re out as you may be lucky enough to see one of these beautiful birds! What’s the most colourful or exotic animal you’ve seen in the wild?

And look what is almost fully formed on the trees! We’re super excited that autumn is just around the corner! It’s our favourite season! The season to cosy up with hot drinks and craft lots. We can’t tell you how excited we are!

What’s your favourite season? Are you looking forward to Autumn? Let us know in the comments below! Be sure to share your photos of what you have been getting up to this weekend over on our facebook page too! Once again, we hope you’re enjoying this wonderful bank holiday weekend!

Go Find It!

The woods is our favourite place in the whole world! 

It has the power to engulf you with it’s lush tall trees and winding branches! Your imagination can run wild with it’s many secret pathways and hidden treasures! It’s like being encapsulated in a completely new world. 

With all this being said, we thought it was the perfect place to play with our new go find it cards.

Go find it cards are an outdoor treasure hunt, there is a descriptive word on each card. The aim of the game is to pick 3 cards at random and find an object that fits all three descriptions. There are 33 different descriptive cards so the possibilities are endless. 

For Emily, who is still young, we just gave her one card to hunt with. They were so much fun to play with, they really encouraged the girls to be even more explorative than they already are.

I imagine these cards can be used anywhere. Where is your favourite place? Perhaps it’s your local park or the beach. Wherever it is, why not have a go at playing with some go find it cards and turn anywhere into an adventurous game! You can buy the cards featured in this post by clicking here.

We hope you are having a wonderful bank holiday weekend! What have you been getting up to?

Don’t forget to share your adventures over on our Facebook page, we absolutely love hearing and seeing what our readers are getting up to. Are you on instagram? Feel free to check us out by clicking here.

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