I can’t claim to have grown up with much awareness of religious diversity, and I can’t claim to be one way better or worse off for it, but I do know that my children are growing up in a much different way and in a very different place to the close, conservative, and supportive community that I did, so I think it’s important for them to learn two things: 1) Tolerance for other religions, 2) an understanding of other religions in relation to what I believe, and what I hope they will believe. Religious observances are also different now, and sometimes more commercial – for example the Colour Run, based on the Holli celebration, or locally, we have Electric Woods, where Robin Hill lights up the autumn nights inspired by Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights. While we could just go and enjoy the prettiness, I think there’s value in explaining what it is that we’re exposing ourselves to, so that the children can learn something about ‘other people’. As it was, the Electric Woods event saw us walking through the woods at Robin Hill enjoying the cold evening air, listening to music and looking at light displays. It was a lovely evening out, fuelled by hot chocolate. Read more: Learning About the Hindu Festival Of Diwali
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 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 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 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.
If you’ve enjoyed these activities, remember to check the rest of the tag for The Incredible Journey resources
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.
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!
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: There 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.
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.
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.
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. Not 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 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.
Printable Unit Plan
Click on this image for a downloadable, printable study unit plan.
What have other Charlie and the Chocolate Factory fans been up to?
- Wayfair has a fab roundup of Roald Dahl activities (I know it’s fab, because our post from last year is in there too 😉 )
- Verily Victoria Vocalises actually went to see the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory show in London. She tells us all about what looks like a fantastic performance here. Also, if you’re able to make it to London soon, Amazon Local has a fantastic offer on the tickets right now*!
- Treading on Lego has a great recipe for Chocolate Play Dough which would be a great alternative to DIY Jazzies too – or just another activity to do!
- Gramma Luvlee has an amazing list of party games for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – super imaginative!
There’s nothing like sweets to get a sweet-toothed person excited about learning something maths-ish, so as part of our Charlie and the Chocolate Factory week, I bought a mixed bag of candy – I wanted chocolates, but apparently we aren’t close enough to Halloween yet, so no one in my town sells the mixed bags of chocolates yet!
This is a super easy activity, involving a mix of candy and a ruler.
In Ameli’s notebook I made three columns: the name of the candy she was measuring, Inches and CM.
She measured each bit of candy first in Inches then in CM, writing down the numbers for each. I didn’t want her to open all the candy so we included packaging and rounded up to the nearest half CM or Inch.
Once we had all the measurements, she was able to eat the shortest (based on numbers) and arrange the sweets in size order, again, based on measurements rather than by looking at the sweets themselves.
I wasn’t sure how this activity would go down – as Charlie says, seeing other people eating chocolate bars was torture, and I thought working with sweets she couldn’t eat would be a bit torturous too, but she handled it really well and din’t moan about it too much at all!
Walking to school in the mornings, Charlie could see great slabs of chocolate piled up high in the shop windows, and he would stop and stare and press his nose against the glass, his mouth watering like mad. Many times a day, he would see other children taking bars of creamy chocolate out of their pockets and munching them greedily, and that, of course, was pure torture. 1
I’m quite pleased with this Charlie and the Chocolate Factory candy measurements activity. It’s introduced units of measurements, and a bit of numeracy, and gives us something to build on.
- Charlie And The Chocolate Factory – The Book Vs The Movie
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – DIY Jazzies
- Make up words like Roald Dahl
- Easy Giant Paper Candies For Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
- 10 Top Buys For Roald Dahl Fans
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Chocolate Bath Salts
- Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Roundup
- Food Activities Crafts To Celebrate Roald Dahl Day
- http://roalddahl.wikia.com/wiki/Charlie_and_the_Chocolate_Factory_(1964) ↩
One of the benefits of home education for me is the ability to learn through play. Of course learning through play is relevant whether children go to school or not, and one of the fun ways to encourage learning without anyone even knowing they’re learning is through puzzle and board games.
We were sent a selection of Ravensburger games to review, and they’ve come in very handy over the wetness of these British “Summer” days.
Ready Set Count! Ravensburger Games
This game is a first counting game, perfect for my 3 year old. While it can be played with the included dice, we found it best for learning what each number looked like. Each card set has an animal(s) image, fingers that show the number, the numeric image and the dice representation of the number.
I set like with like – so fingers in one pile, dice in another, numbers in a third and the animal images in the last. She picked an animal card, counted the figures on it and then found the corresponding fingers, number and dice. She has a great time sorting the sets together, and then organising them into their correct numerical order.
Played as a game each player can roll the dice and find the corresponding number set to match.
This set has the obvious learning goal of counting, but also number recognition and a taking turns/sharing. It can be played by 1 – 4 players.
My First Clock Ravensburger Games
The My First Clock Game consists of a clock and 27 game cards. They bill this as having three ‘games’ in one, with double sided ‘clock’ cards that show analogue and digital times. The cards can be used in different ways – put them in order of time and describe what you would normally do at that time. You can also us it to look at the digital times shown on the cards and try to put the hands on the clock face to the correct time, winning a card each time you do this or finally, players take turns to set a time on the clock face and everyone else must try to find the clock card that is closest to that time. Or of course, you can just let your child figure it out on their own, setting the time to match the activity.
This definitely helps to develop “number association, recognition of routines and sense of the abstract concept of time” as it says in the description, and with a little help it’s a very useful device for learning how to tell the time.
The cardboard clock face has movable plastic hands that you assemble yourself, so it’s a good opportunity for learning the difference between the long and short hands too. These aren’t the best design ever, as the clock ‘hands’ come out quite easy but for £6.99 for the whole set, it’s sufficiently effective and safe enough for a 4 – 9 year old.
ABC Ravensburger Games
Based on a ‘flashcard’ style of learning, the ABC Game is filled with two-piece puzzles with one for every letter of the alphabet and a corresponding image card – a & apple, b & bird and so on.
These cards are ‘self-correcting’ which means if you try to put the wrong image to the wrong letter, you won’t be able to slot the puzzle pieces in together. This is good as it’s a gentle prod to try something different, rather than a ‘YOU’RE WRONG!’ which I like.
The final game we have been playing is My First Words, which is a great follow on from the ABC game. Having learned the alphabet, this game introduces little ones to their first simple words. As compared to the other games, I think this one is more about word familiarisation rather than actually learning words – largely because they can put the word together by putting the picture together, but it does help with familiarity of the words. I like that it’s fun, and that it’s play, but that my girls feel a sense of achievement when they can shout out what the word is, and be right.
For all the games, the cards are decent quality – you have to remember these aren’t expensive puzzle sets – and they last well. The can all be stored within the boxes they come in, and these are stackable in a toy box or shelving unit too, so it’s easy to tidy it all away.
It’s a little hard to find some frogspawn without discovering the other things in a pond.
All things slimey and erm… fun.
Our local canal centre offers a fabulous guide to help children identify what they’ve found in the pond, and over the spring and summer months, pond dipping is a favourite activity among the children – and one that ages me. I’m not fond of water I can’t see the bottom of and the thought of a child landing in it… well, not great! But so far so good. My girls have stayed safely on the side. And they do love pond dipping!
Apart form the canal centre’s guide we also have the RSPB guide to pond life*, a brilliant little book that lets them tick off what they’ve identified. Money well spent in my mind!
What benefit does a child derive from a few hours of pond dipping, I hear you ask?
Well, aside from learning about what lies beneath the water, increasing awareness of their environment and learning about other ecosystems, pond dipping also works on balance – so you don’t fall in the water – and teaches risk management – just how far can I lean before I start falling?
The excitement on their faces as they realise that there’s life in the bottom of those nets is priceless, and finding the critters in their pond life book is so good for instilling that sense of excitement and discovery. It’s like a treasure hunt, following clues, finding answers, handing eager young minds a love of learning and inquiring without them even realising that it’s happening.
And so little scientists and discoverers and adventurers are born, just there by the local pond, with a net and a guide book in hand.
We’re completing the National Trust’s #50Things campaign because, well, it’s great. This was number 35: Discover what’s in a pond on their list. You can see the full list here.
I don’t climb trees. Actually, I don’t know that I ever have. It’s not that I was ever stopped from climbing trees, but I’ve always been a little afraid of falling out of them. My daughter does not have this problem! And no one ever told her that climbing trees is for boys.
I think it’s great that she wants to climb trees. I think it’s wonderful that she wants to see as far as she can see.
Do I get nervous when she’s climbing? Of course. Do I pray silently every moment she’s dangling between earth and sky? Absolutely. Am I about to stop her? No chance.
I loved this paragraph from Risky Kids on what climbing trees will teach a child:
Scaling a tree teaches them vital lessons, such as dexterity, risk assessment, focus, and planning. They have to decide how high they’re comfortable climbing, the best way to get there, which branches look sturdiest, and figure out how to get back down. A successful climb builds confidence, gives them a sense of freedom, and helps them appreciate nature. An unsuccessful climb has the most valuable lesson a child can learn: how to pick themselves up and get right back at it again.
So many things to learn from climbing a tree! That’s the ideal, isn’t it? Learning through play, learning without knowing it.
We’re completing the National Trust’s #50Things campaign because, well, it’s great. This was number 1: Climb a tree on their list. You can see the full list here.
This week we’ve been reading Hold That Thought, Milton and it’s a book that makes me think of Donkey from Shrek. It has so many layers, it’s pretty genius. While not the ‘point’ of the book, it was a great story for reinforcing our body safety PlayLearning theme from a few weeks ago, revisiting the need to speak to people when something makes us unhappy, and casually going through a list of people we can speak to when we have a problem (and who to go to if that person isn’t listening.) It’s really a brilliant book for helping young children understand how to get our attention when they need it. (And I don’t mean whining and complaining!)
About Hold That Thought, Milton
- Age: 3 -5
- Pages: 32
- Format: Paperback
- Parragon Books
Hold That Thought, Milton is a simple one, like most children’s books. Milton’s frog goes missing, but the whole family are so busy running around trying to get things finalised for Aunt Lulu’s wedding, that no one has time to listen to him. His frustration builds and builds so much that he starts looking like a frog, until on the day of the wedding, he explodes green goo all over everyone. Of course then they listen and there’s a happy ending with the frog returned to Milton.
The way it’s written and illustrated is sweet, and my daughter thought it was hilarious.
Themed Activities For Hold That Thought, Milton
We had some fun with this book. After serious discussion in a ‘light and breezy’ way, it was great to just have fun with it. Ameli loved making the frog. After our craft she went to a friend’s house for a couple of hours’ play and when she got home, she went straight to the frog and started ‘ribbit’-ing around the house. You can see instructions for our frog craft over on PlayPennies.
Since the raging success of our Stained Glass Windows Jelly at Aviya’s birthday party a few weeks ago, the girls have been constantly asking me for jelly, so I thought we’d make some green jelly, just like Milton has in the story. I didn’t have a frog mould, but I had a firefly and a bee, so I used red jelly to make bugs, then set them inside green jelly. Unfortunately I poured the green jelly in while it was still too warm, so the the red jelly melted a little, but the idea is there! The girls thought it was Christmas.
I’m pretty sure we could come up with a bunch more activities for this book. Some stories are quite hard to ‘bring to life’ but Hold That Thought, Milton has loads of interactive ways to make the stories pop right off the pages.
We have so many books in our cupboard at the moment waiting to be read, enjoyed and reviewed, that we haven’t set a PlayLearning theme for this week – we’ll focus on catching up on our books for now instead. Today’s book is perfect for this time of year in a number of categories: Spring, planting, sunflowers and even Mother’s Day or Mothering Sunday).
About Mummy’s Little Sunflowers
- Age: 3 -5
- Pages: 32
- Format: Hardback
- Little Tiger Press
It’s called Mummy’s Little Sunflowers, and is one of those lump-in-the-throat stories about two little mice who decide to plant sunflowers for their other. The youngest mouse, Scamp, eats the seed, leaving big brother Scurry very disappointed that they can’t grow a sunflower for Mummy anymore. The boys come up with a plan, however, and make their own sunflower masks. The book deals with creative problem solving – like getting a cow to lift them to a top of a sunflower so they can eat as many seeds as their tummies can handle – and still having sunflowers to give to their mama. It deals with kindness, when Scurry accepts what happened to the seeds, and it deals with a mother’s love for her children – a topic that never goes out of fashion here. I also particularly love the illustrations in this picture. They are just delightfully beautiful, summery and full of that warmth’ a real sunflower gives you.
Themed Activities For Mummy’s Little Sunflowers
This book also gives you loads of opportunities for learning, and activities for ‘sunflower’ themed play. The most obvious one is planting your own sunflowers. Bizarrely, sunflowers aren’t that easy to grow! We have planted over 10 seeds so far this year, and at the moment, we have four still alive and kicking, and we just planted a new batch this week. Hopefully we’ll have better luck as the weather warms up.
The wait between planting your seeds and actually having sunflower faces smile down on you is a long one, so in the meantime we made a Sunflower from a torn up box, and yellow and orange paint. (I think it looks more like a sun, but Ameli insists that it is her sunflower. Who am I to argue with an artists interpretation?) By the way, I bought a cheapie glue gun for these heavier-duty craft projects, and it has been brilliant!
If you want to make the learning a little more formal, head over to Twinkl for free and paid printables to help underpin the learning.