Winnie The Pooh’s Real 100 Acre Woods

Did you know Winnie the Pooh is based on a real boy and his bear?

100 acre wood

The 100 Akre Woods – which are actually 500 acre woods – are located in Ashdown Forest, in Kent, South England. There’s a little town called Hartfield where you’ll find a teashop and giftshop – The House at Pooh Corner.

Read more: Winnie The Pooh’s Real 100 Acre Woods

How We Plan Our Home Ed Learning Themes

Something I’m often asked is how we choose our learning themes, and how we ‘schedule’ our time. People often comment about how much I do with my children too, and the question about how I fit it all in comes up from time to time too.

In the beginning of our home education journey – what we called Play Learning – was that we could spend a week on a theme, quite happily. As the girls got a bit older and other activities and routines and groups began cropping up, we found that a theme a week was too much, so we stretched it out to about two weeks. In time I became less concerned with the number and days, and more with doing things until the activities I had prepared ran out, then starting on something new.

Anyway, for those interested, here’s how I go about our learning themes:

1) Pick a theme

I actually try to have a few themes ‘up my slieve’ so to speak, so that we never run out, but most importantly, I try to have at least one externally determined theme a month. For example Roald Dahl Day is a theme for September. In October our local theatre has a performance of Oliver Twist, so we will read the book and spend a week to two weeks dealing with themes and activities from that book. November sees a free film festival where we’ve managed to book tickets to see Little Women, so that will be one of our themes for then. December is so busy with Christmas, family, holidays and our annual advent calendar that we will probably not do one specific theme – but so we go.

Assuming one to two weeks per theme, each month will also have a seasonal theme: Halloween, National Friendship Day, Change of Seasons and so on. If there’s nothing exciting coming up, we look at what National Awareness Days are coming up, or our favourite thing to do, what author birthdays are coming up.

2) Brainstorm the theme

brainstormThis is a part I really enjoy. Having chosen a theme – let’s use Matilda as an example – brainstorm things that you can do with it. For example, there are huge themes in Matilda, like bullying, fitting in, a love of reading, for example. In Matilda Roald Dahl also uses a lot of similes and metaphors  – something is like something else – so that’s a good talking point. He provides the measurements for the Chokee, so that’s something we could measure it out for a bit of numeracy. There’s the section with Amanda and her pigtails – plait some pigtails, which will be great dexterity exercise. And so on… if it’s a book you’re using as the theme, pull apart the main themes, and brainstorm how you can tie them in.

Once I’ve exhausted my own ideas, I head to Pinterest, Twinkl, and Google to see what they can offer.

3) Put together a rough schedule

Matilda ScheduleSay I have decided on 10 activities, the next thing is to roughly divide them into days. In this instance we’ll look at a five day week. We have no time for learning themes on Thursdays, and Wednesdays we only have a couple of hours at home. Mondays and Tuesdays are largely our quiet days, or field trip days. So I’ll arrange the ten activities into the five days in such a way that we can fit them all in comfortably. This isn’t strict. If we run out of time on one day, or have more time on another we switch activities around. We are not captives to the plan.

4) Prepare the activities

Envelopes of activities

Nothing can ruin a good plan like lack of preparation. If I leave the preparations for ‘on the day’ it can be lunch time before I’m ready to go, and by then the children have probably been watching movies or playing computer games, and they are no longer amenable to learning anything.

Instead, I try to prepare a few things ahead of time. I have a plastic tub filled with plastic envelopes, and inside the envelopes I have as many activities as time permits, ready to go.

Also in this tub I have the ‘fillers’. Things like colouring pages related to the theme (Google is your friend here!), word searches, activity books – for example a Rainforest Activity book when we’re doing the Rainforest theme – but mostly just printed bits from internet freebies, or Twinkl.

5) Set the scene

I don’t always do this, but it is a fun way to introduce a new theme. And my kids love it. For example for a Lorax theme, I set up a Truffula Tree Forest in the living room, complete with a ‘bed’ floating down the ‘river’.


One week they walked in and found (extremely badly drawn) Charlie and Lola figures sitting at the breakfast table. Recently I moved all our giant candy crafts to the garden for a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory ‘party’.

charlie and lola

So this is very simply how I plan our themes, and pull them all off. It may seem a bit overwhelming at first, but once you get into it, it’s as if a new part of your brain switches on and it all rolls. Well, that’s how it is for me, anyway.

Hope you find it useful!

Study Unit: Roald Dahl’s Charlie And The Chocolate Factory

Last year my children had watched most of the Roald Dahl movies available on the market, but we hadn’t read any of the books, so our Roald Dahl inspired arts and crafts were varied and mixed. Over the last few weeks we’ve been reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, however, so all our activities the last few weeks have been around that.

Next week we’ll be working on Matilda, so check back in if you love that book too!

PIN THIS: Roald Dahl WeekThere are two versions of the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie:

And there is the book, famously illustrated by Quentin Blake

While we like having fun with our ‘themes’ as we call them, I do try to bring elements of learning into them too. Remembering that my children are 5 & 3, I do keep things pretty simple, but I’m quite excited about the possibilities of redoing all these themes in years to come, and seeing how much they have grown in their understanding, and how much ‘deeper’ we can go on each topic.

Having watched the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie and read the book, I decided to do a reading comprehension ‘test’. I designed a comparison chart, so Ameli could compare what happens in the book with what happens in the movie, and also make a note of major things that happen in a similar fashion. For example, in the book, Mr Bucket tells them about the golden ticket competition, in the movie, Charlie sees the posters going up. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Reading Comprehension Worksheet

Sticking with the loose ‘English’ or ‘Language Learning topic, we decided to make up words, something Roald Dahl is incredibly good at! This little making up words activity went down a charm, and made an amazing platform for telling our own stories. Make up words like Roald Dahl

I use the word math very lightly here, but since we’re starting out, we used measuring a bag of candies as an introduction to units of measurement.Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Units of Measurement

It’s Charlie and the CHOCOLATE factory, so we had to get some inventing with chocolate going – I went for the easy option and made Jazzies, with DIY decorations for my little inventors. DIY Jazzies Charlie & The Chocolate FactoryNot all the creative activities this weeks should include tons of sugar, so we decided to make our own party decor. We made giant lollipops, giant boiled sweets, and giant lollipop swirls. This was a great afternoon’s paper sweet crafting.Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Decor


Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a great theme for introducing some science too – see what happens with popping candy when you pour water, coke and then vinegar into three different bowls and top them with popping candy.  Measure jelly babies and put them in a bowl over night – how much did they grow? Put boiled sweets (the kind with stripes on them) into a bowl with a few drops of water. What happens to the sweets? How do the colours disperse? Could you do it on paper and see what happens with the colours? Does the paper remain in tact? Put boiled sweets in mould and put them into the oven. When they melt, do the colours mix? Do they retain their shape? Do they re-set into their new shapes? There are loads of candy experiments you can try!

At the end of a long and exciting week of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, everyone needs a good, long, relaxing bath, so this Chocolate Bath Salt recipe smells delicious, and helps induce a deep sleep too.

DIY Chocolate Bath Salt

Printable Unit Plan

Click on this image for a downloadable, printable study unit plan.


Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

What have other Charlie and the Chocolate Factory fans been up to?

Easy Paper Giant Candies For Charlie And The Chocolate Factory

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a superb theme to do with kids, but it does make for a pretty heavy sugar week! We are having a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory ‘party’ in a couple of days, and rather than just having endless amounts of sweets to set the scene, I wanted décor that didn’t cost an arm and a leg and wasn’t really consumable. I also wanted it to be something that kept the kids busy and helped them learn a little something too.

1) Giant LollipopsCharlie and the Chocolate Factory Decor

I loved these giant lollipops I spotted somewhere on Pinterest, but I didn’t have the budget to make them as they were done originally, so I used a giant bubble wand to wrap an A3 page round, then cellotaped a blown up balloon into the cylinder. Next up, wrap some clear or spotty spotty cellophane* around it to look like the sweet wrapper. You don’t have to do this, but it does make it look a whole lot more authentic!

2) Giant boiled sweets

For the giant boiled sweets you will need a paper plate, tissue paper* and cellotape. Take a sheet of tissue paper and wrap it around in a rectangle, then at the edge of the plate, squeeze the sides together and wrap cellotape around. Easy peasey giant boiled sweets.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Decor Sweets

 3) Painted Giant Rainbow Lollipops

Again using paper plates, draw a spiral from the center to the outside of the plate, and get children to paint from the inside out. I used this as a colour mixing lesson on primary and secondary colours = start with blue and then yellow, then mix the two together (overlap them in the middle) to get the  mixed colour. The same with the blue and red (to make purple) and red and yellow (to make orange) and so on. Work your way to the outside, and leave to dry. Next, glue a stick, or a lollipop stick to the plate and there you have your rainbow lollipops.

Stick them all up in the garden for your own Charlie and the Chocolate Factory party, and see happy little faces like this!

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory party

Study Unit Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Find more Charlie & The Chocolate Factory activities here.

Charlie And The Chocolate Factory – The Book Vs The Movie

It’s Roald Dahls’ birthday in a couple of weeks, so our home-ed theme to get us back into a learning routine now that summer is over, is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. We are really easing into it since it’s important to me that at 5 & 3, the girls still have a lot of time for simple play. We started today with watching a favourite movie for us – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with Johnny Depp – and then we started reading the book*.

I thought that a good way to gauge reading comprehension would be for Ameli to keep track of the differences between the movie and the story, so I created a chart for her with two overlapping circles.

On the one side I wrote ‘Movie’ and on the other ‘Book’ – where things overlap between the book and the movie I wrote ‘Both’. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Reading Comprehension Worksheet

On first reading we got five chapters into the book, which is a very short distance into the movie, but Ameli has been really quick to spot the few differences between the two, and pointing out the main storyline similarities. She sometimes even points out differences in the spoken words between the film and the book, but since we’re not trying to de-construct the story, I’ve tried to steer her towards major themes.

Similarities include the fact that the grandparents spend all their time in bed, and that Grandpa Joe worked for Willy Wonka and that the family ate a lot of cabbage. Differences include things like Mr Bucket being the one who finds out about the Golden Tickets in the newspaper, while in the movie, Charlie sees the signs go up.

We’ll keep track of differences as we go through the book, but it’s great to see her engaging with this as much as the movie, and being conscious of and excited by the differences. I love knowing that she’s actually comprehending what we’re reading.

You can use our chart if you like. Download it free here.

Study Unit Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Find more Charlie & The Chocolate Factory activities here.

Simple Resources For The Solar Eclipse

I am so excited to hear that we’re expecting a solar eclipse in the UK. We’ve missed things like meteor showers and lunar eclipses over the years usually due to cloud cover, but with the sun – well, dark is dark, so we’ll experience something no matter the weather. In my corner of the world we’re only expecting a 40% darkness, but as you head further up into the UK, there’ll be more to about 94% darkness in Scotland. The last time the UK saw an eclipse like this was in 1999, so this is pretty epic.

You can learn more about what to expect in your zone here:

Solar Eclipse Zones

I intend to take  full advantage of this eclipse and make it as engaging a learning experience as possible. I remember seeing a full solar eclipse with my mother as a child, and I intend to make the same memory for my girls. 

Here are a few of the Solar Eclipse resources I’ve pulled together so far:

I’ll add some more here if I find more resources to use – and if you have any you’re planning on using pop the link in the comments and we’ll add it here!

Disney Frozen Themed Shrinkles, Ice Play And DIY Jewellery

Our ‘Ocean’ Playlearning theme didn’t really go down well this week. The girls just weren’t interested, and I’ve been working long hours on top of it all, so I just let it go (see what I did there?) and decided to follow their lead. That lead took us to Elsa and Anna – the two sisters in the Disney movie “Frozen” that has taken seemingly everyone by storm!

We’ve had some gloriously hot weather, so I decided it was time to turn our new found Frozen frenzy into fun and crafty activities.

1) Make Disney Frozen Shrinkle tokens

2) Create a Frozen ice block for excavation

3) Make jewellery out of the ‘jewels’ from our digging


Shrinklesare a staple craft product in our house. If you use the right kind you can print directly onto it saving yourself loads of time and effort.

I Googled Frozen Edible Toppers and printed off one of the groups of images I found there. The ones with the white backgroundcame out better than those with the blue background.

We cut out the circles and used a hole punch to make a hole in each one.

A couple of minutes in the oven, and our Shrinkles become disks.

The kids had fun playing with them as tiddlywinks/coins/whatever else came to mind for a while, before I took them away for part 2.


In an ice cube tray, pop tokens and beads, and fill with water and freeze.

Once they’re frozen, fill a container with the ice cubes and top with cold but not frozen water to freeze again – this is so that the beads and tokens will appear throughout your whole ice block, not just all lying in a layer at the bottom. I found that if we used a really big block the girls lost interest before it was all chiseled away. A soup bowl size works well for a four and two year old though.


Once solid, removed the ice blocks to the water table outdoors and gave each child a garden shovel to use for ‘excavation’. They had a blast banging and knocking and discovering their treasures.

Frozen5Finally, I took blue and white wool – we were out of string, and the wool was sparkly – and made bracelets, a necklace and a ring.

We took a string of each colour and held a side each. Ameli turned to the right, I turned to the left and we twisted the string together. When you let go, the string snaps together, twisting to make a perfect ‘friendship bracelet’.  For the necklace we did that, and just added two beads on the end threading one through the other to attach it.

For the bracelet we threaded the disks through carefully before letting go of the two ends to snap it all together, then just moved them around so that they were placed properly all the way around.

For the ring we use a much smaller amount of string, and a single bead.

Ameli loved it. I had to get her to take it off for bed time, but with the firm promise that she could ‘be Elsa’ again tomorrow.

Does it tie into any learning goals? Well, no. But the kids had fun.

Skills - Sensory Skills - Imagination Skills - Creativity Skills - Fine Motor

disclaimer for links

Body Integrity And Anatomy For Toddlers {PlayLearning}

Ameli is four years old right now, so while I think it’s valuable and important to introduce a discussion on our bodies, this won’t be a very academic week (not that they ever are, but what I mean is that it won’t be deep biology or anything). We’re also having a shorter ‘themed’ week this week, because it’s Aviya’s second birthday, if you’ll believe that.  I want to incorporate two things in the ‘My Body’ theme this week: how the body works, yes, but also bodily autonomy – a brief discussion on no being no, and on respecting your body and expecting the same respect from others. I’m not entirely sure how yet, but I will let the conversation flow, I guess. Below are some of the ideas we’ll try out this week, but below that is my Pinterest board with plenty more ideas for you to peruse.


Book Recommendations:


I think it’s really important to mention here that this isn’t meant to be about ‘stranger danger’ (for us, anyway). Not least because I don’t really agree with the concept of stranger danger. Rather than teaching children to be afraid of strangers, I will be teaching mine to set their comfort limits, listen to the voice inside them, and how to act when something feels wrong. I believe those are lessons that will carry them through teenage years and into womanhood better served than ‘stranger danger’. Here’s our Pinterest board for “My Body”, feel free to follow along! Follow Luschka van Onselen’s board {PlayLearning} My Body on Pinterest.