NEW! Andy’s Amazing Adventures Magazine Review

If your little one is a fan of Andy’s Wild Adventure on CBeebies, Immediate Media have a treat in store for them: The new Andy’s Amazing Adventures Magazine which launches today.

What they tell us about Andy’s Amazing Adventures Magazine:

Andy's Amazing AdventuresThis magazine is aimed at 3 – 6 year olds, and the magazine is based on the extremely popular CBeebies shows Andy’s Wild Adventures, Andy’s Dinosaur Adventures and the forthcoming Andy’s Prehistoric Adventures and will cover all of Andy’s adventures.

In each issue, Andy will be their trustworthy guide as they explore the world and even travel through time, meeting creatures, facing dangers and solving problems along the way. It is packed with puzzles, stickers, colouring, stories and comes with a great free gift with every issue.

The magazine is based on the 7 key areas of learning that support early years development so it’s full of fun things while also supporting the readers’ learning.

What did we think of Andy’s Amazing Adventures Magazine?

We’ve received the first edition in advance of today’s launch, and the first thing I noted about the contents were that they are spot on for their target. My 6 year old finds all the puzzles and activities easy, but not boring and my 3 year old finds them challenging enough to do together, so I think it’s perfectly targeted.Read more: NEW! Andy’s Amazing Adventures Magazine Review

The Incredible Journey Free Printable Resources

Over the last few weeks we’ve been working on The Incredible Journey – by working on, I mean ‘reading’! We’ve also done a few other activities – a board game and an animal categorising ‘game’. I’ve also made some of our usual printable activities to share with you.

I remember reading The Incredible Journey as a child, and finding it disappointing compared to the movie, and reading it now as an adult I can see why – it’s not as Americanised as the movie – the characters have names you have to think about and they don’t talk as their movie-counterparts do. It’s not a long book, but it’s not always easy reading either. It’s a beautiful story of love, courage, friendship and perseverance and purpose though, and well worth reading together.

Below you will find letter writing practice sheet, a crossword that asks questions about the story (you won’t be able to answer this from watching the movie) and an easy and a difficult maze and finally, a word search. This is a harder word search, because some of the words go backwards.

To download a worksheet, just click on the image. It’ll open a PDF in a new window for you to print.

The Incredible Journey Writing Practice

Children can trace the letters to help them learn the sizing of letters compared to each other, or simply just to practice.

The Incredible Journey Handwriting Practice

The Incredible Journey Crossword Puzzle

An 11 clue crossword puzzle – the answers are at the bottom of the page. I thought rather than use a second page, just pop them on the bottom and fold the footer area over so little eyes can’t see the answers.

The Incredible Journey Crossword

The Incredible Journey Mazes

There are two mazes here to choose from – a simple one here and a tougher one. Pictured is the harder one.

The Incredible Journey difficult maze

The Incredible Journey Word Search

This word search is a little harder than the ones I normally do, I think, because the words run back to front and from the bottom up. I don’t normally like doing them this was as I think it’s confusing for younger participants, but it’s how it worked out this time.

The Incredible Journey Word Search

If you’ve enjoyed these activities, remember to check the rest of the tag for The Incredible Journey resources

Incredible Journey.

The Incredible Journey Board Game

I’d been trying to think of a way to do a story board around The Incredible Journey that showed the highlights and the progression of the story, but everything seemed to be a bit over Ameli’s (6yo) head, so I had the idea that a board game with the general outline of the story could work and so The Incredible Journey board game was born.

To play this game, you’ll need to print out the image below (landscape is best). You will need a dice and two or three markers. You can use small animal toys or pompoms or whatever, really. The game works well with two or three players.

The rules are pretty simple – start at Longridge’s House, throw the dice and move the required amount of spaces. If you land on a text space, follow the instructions and if not, carry on, each taking a turn until everyone’s helped Bodger, Luath and Tao find their way home.* The bad things that happen to the animals might cause players to have to miss a turn or go back a few spaces, while helpful humans help them progress. The only exception is when Tao is swept away by the river – land on that one and you can immediately skip 7 spaces to meet up with the canine friends.

We found that only playing with the dice up to 4 made the game last longer, so if we rolled a five or six, we just rolled again.
The Incredible Journey Boardgame

Click here for printable version of The Incredible Journey Board Game

*In the movie, Homeward Bound: The Incredibly Journey the animals had different names, Bodger is the young dog instead of the old one and is called Chance, Luath is the old dog, instead of the young energetic Labrador, and is called Shadow and Tao is called Sassy.

We designed this game and have been playing it as part of our study unit on The Incredible Journey

We hope you enjoy this little DIY board game!

Incredible Journey

Classifying Animals Into Categories

We’re busy reading The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford which starts off with a passage describing the landscape around Ontario, Canada, and the wildlife found in the forests.  I decided this passage was a great place to do some ‘classifying living things‘.

“… all these human beings together are as a handful of sand upon the ocean shores, and for the most part there is silence and solitude and an uninterrupted way of life for the wild animals that abound there: moose and deer, brown and black bears; lynx and fox; beaver, muskrat and otter; fishers, mink and marten. The wild duck rest there and the Canada goose, for this is a fringe of the central migratory flyway. The clear tree-fringed lakes and rivers are filled with speckled trout and steelheads, pike and pickerel and whitefish.”

I grabbed a bunch of photos from Canadian Geographic and put together a sheet of pictures with categories to divide them into.

Click here to download the printable worksheet.

I recommend laminating the cards. Canadian Animals

Create columns and sort by:

⦁ Bipedal animals and Quadruped animals
⦁ Nocturnal or Diurnal animals
⦁ Terrestrial or Aquatic animals
⦁ Herbivores, Carnivores or Omnivores
⦁ Conservation Status – Common or Endangered

And because most of us haven’t done Animal Sciences in some time, here are the Cambridge Dictionary Definitions to help you out. (Us mamas have to stick together!!)

  • Biped – an animal that walks on two legs
  • Quadruped – an animal that walks on four legs
  • Nocturnal – active during the ​night
  • Diurnal – active during the day
  • Terrestrial animals –  ​living on the ​land ​rather than in the ​water or ​air
  • Aquatic animals – ​living or ​growing in ​water
  • Herbivore – animal that ​eats only ​plants
  • Carnivore – animal that eats only animals
  • Omnivore – animal that eats plants and animals

Incredible Journey


Valentine’s Craft Ideas #BostikBloggers

I was really pleased to find out that we’d been selected to be Bostik Bloggers again this year, and our first box is Valentine’s themed. It may be about a month off the celebration of love, but it’s never too early to get started, so here are some Valentine’s Craft Ideas for you!

Valentine’s Heart-flakesHeart Flakes

These are as individual as snow flakes, but they’re fun to make.

You’ll need equally sized strips of paper, preferably of the double-sided variety. Fold them in half without squashing the middle, and glue the loose ends together. Once they are secure, glue the strips together – you may find it easier to glue them at opposite angles (so in a figure of eight) rather than all together like in the picture bottom left.

When they are all glued together you’ll have a circle of loops (bottom middle) and then push the middle of each loop to the centre, giving the middle a little squeeze to make a heart.

Add a loop or string to hang the heart-flake from. Read more: Valentine’s Craft Ideas #BostikBloggers

Money Saving Jar Ideas For Children

This time of year there are lots of goals floating about and one of the ones you’ll often see on Pinterest is a money saving jar, where you save 1p on the 1st of January, 2p on the 2nd January and so on. I think this is a great idea, especially for children as they can clearly see how the savings are adding up. Of course you’re starting small so it doesn’t feel like much of a sacrfice initially, but as the year goes on, you head into summer months and later on towards Christmas, and having to drop £3 and more a day into the jar, it will quickly start adding up.

I know this wouldn’t work for me and the knowledge that I’d have to suddenly ‘find’ an extra £20-plus a week for the money jar is quite stressful for me, and I know I’d give up probably somewhere around the £2 a day mark. So I decided that we would try it, backwards.Money Jar Savings

That means that January, with it’s short, cold days, where we tend to stay in more and spend less anyway, is the hardest month for filling the jar. Filling your money jar backwards means that no day for the rest of the year will require quite as much money as today, or yesterday did. I find that quite positive and uplifting! My daily ‘sacrifice’ will get smaller, but my savings will be ever increasing.

Of course that means that by the end of February I’ve had to magic almost £200 to put into the jar, but actually, it’s the perfect time. There’s no rule that says you *have* to put money in every single day, but if you’re decluttering the house, getting ready for spring, cleaning out after Christmas and so on, you can take that money and put it in the jar in lump sums as you receive it, just keeping track. Obviously that’s not the real spirit of the jar, but does it really matter? Taking a £5 note and breaking it on some sweets you didn’t need so that you could put £3.39 in the jar isn’t really saving.

Holiday Treats Fund

Holiday Treat Jar

Since for me this is an exercise in saving for the children, I actually did take a £20 and exchange it for £1 coins. I’m hiding the coins so that we can put one in the holiday jar every day. Of course if this was for me, I’d just do transfers from my bank account so that I don’t have the temptation of physical cash, and so that I could be earning interest where I can, but again since this is for the children, I think the physical visual of a jar (two in our case) is useful.

Christmas Penny Jar

Christmas Penny Jar

That means that January, with it’s short, cold days, where we tend to stay in more and spend less anyway, is the hardest month for filling the jar. Filling your money jar backwards means that no day for the rest of the year will require quite as much money as today, or yesterday did.

Because I’m a sucker for punishment  it seemed practical for us, we actually have two jars on the go: a Christmas fund, counting down from £3.65 and a £1 jar for our holiday in June. This is our ice cream fund, according to the girls. By the time we go on holiday, we should have £130 in the jar. Lots of ice creams for 7 days! It’ll be nice to have a little bit of ‘frivolous’ money though.

For the big jar, where you’r supposed to have over £600 saved by the end of it, we’ve set a date of 15 December, at which point we’ll add the last two week’s worth of coins on one day – totalling £1.34. That was we still have 10 days left to buy Christmas presents and food. I can see this as a really good way of making big things not break the bank when they come round – though I’ll probably just use my bank accounts for non-child projects!
Whichever way you choose to do a penny jar, it’s a good way to save some pennies and get the kids “hands on” involved too. And if we achieve it, we’ll have a financial stress free Christmas and a lot of ice cream on holiday too!

What Your Child *Should* Know By The End Of Year 2

One of the things I struggle with as a home ed mom is balancing knowing what ‘level’ my children are at with deciding how much I actually ‘care’ about what level they are at. I tend to trust that they know what they’re doing, and that I’m exposing them to enough of life that they’ll learn and pick things up as we go along.

That said, in a climate where there are always threats of ‘registering’ or of outside influences wanting to have a say on how we raise and educate our children, and equally being uncertain how our family’s future – home ed and otherwise – is going to pan out, I do like to know that if she did have to go to school suddenly Ameli wouldn’t be massively behind other children in her age group.

I have no intention of turning our home education into a home school but there is something comforting in having an idea of how deep to look into things. I generally have no idea how much information to give Ameli when we’re looking at a specific topic, and I find this guide – slash – syllabus really useful for gauging at least the baseline of what she is capable of knowing at her age.

Click here to print the chart below: Year 2 Targets

Reads fluenty
Reading Comprehension
Listen to, discus and give opinions on stories, non-fiction text and poetry
Check: Does reading make sense?
Does reading make sense?
Retell traditional and fairy stories with details
Sequence the events in a story
Recite poems by heart
Writing and Spelling
Explore Graphemes: (written forms of sounds)
Explore Homophones: (words that sound the same but have different meanings)
Explore contracted words (they’re, we’ve etc)
Learn about possessive apostraphe
Learn about suffixes
Hand writing
Practice lower case letters (check for similar size and spacing between words)
Writing – Composition
Write a range of stories, non-fiction and poetry
Learn to plan what will be written first
Encourage the use of more detailed descriptions in writing
Writing – Vocabulary, Grammar and Punctuation
Learn to make compound words
Learn to use adverbs by adding -ly
Joining sentences together with words like if, when, because etc
Change tenses
Number – Number and place value
Learn to count in jumps of 2,3, 5, and 10
Learn to forwards and backwards
Understand that a two digit number is made up of tens and ones
Estimate where numbers might appear on a blank number line
Compare and order numbers up to 100. Use ><=
Identify odd and even numbers confidently
Read and write up to 100 in numerals and words
Number – addition and subtraction
Sole addition and subtraction problems using measure (length, capacity, weight, time), quantities (money) and numbers both mentally and with written calculations
Subtraction and addition up to 100
Using mental maths to add and subtract: two and one digit numbers
: two digit number and multiple of ten
: two two digit numbers
: add three single digits
Understand that addition can be carried out in any order, but not subtraction
Number – multiplication and division
2 times table
5 times table
10 times table
Number – fractions
Learn 1/3,1/4, 2/4, 3/4 of a shape, length or set, writing and solving calculations
Recognise equivalent fractions like 2/4 is the same as 1/2
Order fractions on a number line
Learn to choose the correct units to estimate and measure mass, temperature, height or length
Learn to compare sizes using symbols > < and =
Tell time to the nearest 5 mins and make draw on a clock face
How many minutes are there in an hour, and hours in a day
Investigate combinations of coins or notes to make a given amount
Solve money problems including giving change
Geometry – Shape
Describe the number of sides and lines of symmetry for different 2D and 3D shapes
Sort 2D and 3D shapes depending on their properties
Investigate the faces of 3D shapes
Geometry – Position and Direction
Learn the link between angles and rotations such as right angle turns and three-quarter turns
Record, organise and interpret information using tallies, pictograms, block graphs and tables
Work Scientifically
Classifying living things, materials or objects and group them accordingly
Observe how things change over time and look for patterns, making simple measurements to gather and record data
Living things and their habitat
Learn about differences between living things, things that have died and things that have never been alive
Learn about a variety of plant and animal habitats, finding out how things are suited to their habitats
Learn about food chains
Animals, Including Humans
Recognise that animals and humans have babies
Understand the basic needs of animals and humans in order to grow strong and healthy
Learn about the importance of exercise
Learn about healthy eating
Learn about good hygiene
Investigate and describe how plants need light, water and temperature to be healthy
Observe how bulbs and seeds change over time
Uses of everyday materials
investigate how solids can change shape (i.e. melting)
Learn about developer of new materials and products they have helped to create
Art and Design
Digital Media
Record artistic inspirations using a digital camera and video recording
Use simple graphic packages to create images by changing line shape colour and texture
Investigate the effects of printing with a range of different materials such as potatoes, sponges or pine cones – anything that makes patterns
Experiment with rollers, printing palettes and printing blocks
Go on a pattern walk to investigate different patterns around you, take rubbings with wax crayons
Use different papers and fabrics to achieve different finishes
3D Sculpture
Use clay and other malleable materials to see how they can be joined together
See what effects different brush sizes create
Colour match objects
Learn about different paint types and the effects they can achieve
Know the primary and secondary colours
Look at textures when items such as sand, glue and glitter are added to paint
Cut and shape different types of material with control and accuracy
Learn basic sewing (running stitch, over stitch, cross stitch, back stitch)
Investigate dying fabrics and weaving using twigs, pipe cleaners, ribbons etc
Create collages from magazines etc – use different textured effects like overlapping, tearing, crumpling etc
Use pencils, charcoal, crayons, pastels, rubbers, felt tips, chalk to draw
Use darker or lighter shades to depict tone
Make observational drawings
Evaluate own and other’s work critically, looking for ways to improve
Learn how to keep safe online
Learn what personal information is and how to keep this information safe
Learn about being respectful online
How do we use technology in our lives?
Is everything we see on the internet true?
Learn about fonts, colours and sizes used in presenting data
Gather data in different ways (use a microphone, take pictures, create a chart etc)
Explore branching databases
Introduce programming with floor robots
Use software such as Logo or Scratch for basic programming
Design and Technology
Come up with ideas and create models or plans to explain ideas
Select materials and ingredients, measure, mark out, cut and shape materials to make something new
Evaluate own and other’s work
Technical Knowledge
Explore how to stiffen, strengthen and make structures stable
Learn how to use sliders, levers, axles and wheels
Cooking and Nutrition
Work with food
Investigate what makes a healthy and balanced diet
Learn about where food comes from
Location Knowledge
Learn to name, locate the world’s seven continents and five oceans
Place Knowledge
Look at the difference between an area of the UK and an area of a non-EU country
Human and Physical Geography
Difference between natural and man-made features of the land
Study the physical features of a specific place both in terms of physical (natural) features and human features (villages, towns, houses etc)
Geographical Skills and Fieldwork
Use aerial photograph and mamps to locate physcial and human features using map symbols
Create maps, construct basic symbol keys
No specific targets
Experiment with using voices to create effects, sing in tune and with expression
Learn how sounds can be organised, composing pieces with a beginning, middle and end
Represent sounds with symbols, create different moods with music
Physcial Education
Take part in competitive games
Work on improving co-ordination and controlling bodies
Recognise the changes in the body before, during and after exercise and discuss these changes
Work on exploring, remembering, repeating and linking different movements for expressive dance
Compose and perform dance phrases
Learn about warming up and cooling down
Lift, move and position gym equipment safely
Remember, repeat and link up combinations of gym actions
Practice control and co-ordination with a range of equipment
Outdoor and Adventurous Activities
Follow routes, find different places in a set time

Pizza Express School Visits & Home Educators

Some time during last summer, we booked a home ed visit for one of the Pizza Express School Visit sessions, and though we had to wait several months for our session, we arrived on the agreed date and had a fantastic and informative visit.

Pizza Express School Visits offer groups the opportunity to not only see how pizza is made but also to get hands on and involved. For some children this is a brand new experience, of course, and for our group there was a mix of abilities too, considering our participants ranged from about 3 – 14 years.

Obviously the details may differ from visit to visit, but for ours on the Isle of Wight, the children were decked out in chefs hats and aprons, and given loads of flour to flour their work surface – a set of tables in the restaurant. Each child was given a ball of dough. The chef – whose name I sadly can’t remember – was amazing. He had such great rapport with the children, and was engaging and informative and did a fantastic job of managing such a range of ages.Pizza Express Visit

They spoke about the different steps they went through, the chef demonstrated, and the children were able to take their own dough ball, and knead it, twist it and shape it into circles – they even got to toss it up into the air. Read more: Pizza Express School Visits & Home Educators

Autumn Leaf Crafts #Bostikbloggers

I’ll admit up front that I cheated with this craft and didn’t use real leaves. All the leaves, buttons and embellishments were provided in the craft kit from Bostik as part of the #BostikBloggers challenge, and we did a few Halloween crafts, but we also did two Autumn crafts (you can buy similar leaves here on Amazon*:

Autumn Carry BagAutumn Crafts

For this craft you will need:

  • A cotton bag
  • Leaves
  • Buttons
  • Owl decal or other designs

There’s no real trick to creating a bag like this, except sitting down and doing it. Here are a few tips to help you though.

Depending on the glue you’re going to use, it could be useful to put a page of paper inside so that the glue doesn’t seep through sticking the two sides of the bag together.

Lay all your embellishments out without glue so that you can decide on the pattern, then glue everything in place.

Set aside for a few hours, to allow the glue to dry

Leafy Candle Holder


For this craft you will need:

  • Leaves
  • Glue Dots
  • Glass Jar
  • Tealight candle

This really couldn’t be simpler. Lay the leaves onto the glue dots, then stick them onto the glass jar. If you’re not using glue dots you’ll need to be sure to use a glue that is adhesive to glass.

Add a candle, then bask in the beauty of backlit autumn leaves.

We were sent a box of goodies for crafting with, including Bostik Micro Dots and Craft Glue.

Roald Dahl’s Matilda Activities – Sailing Books

One of the lines I really loved from Roald Dahl’s Matilda movie was

So Matilda’s strong young mind continued to grow, nurtured by the voices of all those authors who had sent their books out into the world like ships on the sea. These books gave Matilda a hopeful and comforting message: You are not alone.

I didn’t realise this at first, but that’s not actually in the book. The book actually says,

“The books transported her into new worlds and introduced her to amazing people who lived exciting lives. She went on olden-day sailing ships with Joseph Conrad. She went to Africa with Ernest Hemingway and to India with Rudyard Kipling. She travelled all over the world while sitting in her little room in an English village

The very soul of me relates to this quote. I may not have read Ernest Hemingway and Rudyard Kipling as a 3 year old, but in junior school I read Famous Five, Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Secret Seven, and a bunch of others you would only know if you were Afrikaans, like Trompie en die Boksom Bende. At one stage I was reading them at a rate of a book a day, in school time. Really, I thought school just got in the way of my reading time!

Matilda's Books Like Ships

Well I am on the way to instilling the same love of reading in my girls. Their dad has a big part to play in that – he has read to Ameli almost every night he’s spent with her. On her sixth birthday, they finished reading the entire Chronicles of Narnia.

Anyway,  while preparing our current Matilda theme, I couldn’t get “ like ships on the sea” out of my head.

Matilda is also full of metaphors, it’s a fabulous book for introducing the concept too, with metaphors like:

Even when their own child is the most disgusting little blister you could ever imagine, they still think that he or she is wonderful

Matilda's Books Like ShipsIs the child actually a disgusting little blister? No. But what does it tell you about the appearance of the child?

It’s quite fun actually, talking through some of the metaphors in Matilda.

But, the one we were focused on today was that of ships on the sea.

For this craft you’ll need:

This craft couldn’t really be simpler. We printed some of our favourite book covers – Roald Dahl, Dr Seuss and so on – and cut them into squares or sail-shape (if you know the word for that, let me know!)

For the square – pirate – sails (clearly not a sailor, am I!) thread the large, then small sails through the toothpick. For the others, glue the sail to the skewer.

Apply a healthy helping of glue to the shell or driftwood, and place the skewer, holding it for a few seconds so that it can dry in place.

Matilda's Books Like Ships

It’s quite a quick craft, in the end, and before you know it you’ll have a literary armada.