Amelia Earhart Study Unit {Women Who Did}

I decided this year to utilise some of the many books we have and use famous – or should-be-famous – women from history as our educational starting points. A friend gave me a guidebook for a mothers and daughters circle called The Heroine’s Club a few years ago, and I’ve decided to use that as the foundation for our studies. Our first woman from history is Amelia Earhart, the first woman to cross the Atlantic.

Who Was Amelia Earhart?

Amelia Earhart Study Unit Pic

Many people know the name Amelia Earhart and even know that she was the first woman to cross the Atlantic by plane. But here are a few other things you may not have known about Amelia Earhart:

  • Amelia was homeschooled until high school
  • She suffered from chronic sinusitis
  • She worked as a nurses’ aid during the Second World War
  • Amelia took her first flight in an airoplane at 23 years old. She started lessons 5 days later.
  • Amelia was the 16th woman in the US to be issued a pilot’s licence.
  • She gained her pilots licence less than a year later.
  • Involved in creating the first commercial airline in the world.
  • Amelia set 7 women’s speed and distance aviation records, including a world altitude record.
  • Amelia also created a functional sporty fashion line.

Read more: Amelia Earhart Study Unit {Women Who Did}

Letter Writing For Handwriting Practice And Life-Long Memories

I’m sure we’ve all been there – half way through handwriting something, our hand cramps up and we wonder when exactly we last had to write so much. A few weeks ago I searched all around the house for a pen! I call myself a writer and I don’t have a pen in the house! Finding this simply unacceptable, I popped to The Works while I was in town and bought a whole handful of pens which are now all safely nestled in the bottom of my handbag, waiting for their next use.

It did leave me thinking about writing though, and about how hard it is to get my kids holding a pen and paper. Ameli, for example, is quite happy to do worksheets, as long as she doesn’t have to write down any answers.  Or at least not those that require long answers.  I do feel, however, despite this amazing digital age and the fact that even infants know how to swipe a touchscreen, that handwriting is an essential life skill. Letter WritingRead more: Letter Writing For Handwriting Practice And Life-Long Memories

Tree Detectives’ Handbook For Tree Identification

Over the summer we bought a wonderful little book called the Tree Detectives’ Handbook with which the children are able to identify common British trees by their leaves, fruit and flowers.

Each two-page set has a species of trees, and each set contains vital statistics for the tree in question, including height, location, and fruiting and flowering times. The book contains fifty trees and common shrubs found in the UK including identification tips and detailed illustrations for every tree. There are also interactive boxes where little explorers can record their sightings.Tree Detectives Handbook

Read more: Tree Detectives’ Handbook For Tree Identification

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.

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

11 Fun Ways For Children To Commemorate Australia Day

My mom loved Australia.

She became a citizen in 2008 and whenever we traveled, she made a point of using her Australian passport and making sure the local consulate knew she was there. She was proud of Australia and I assure you there are Australian-born nationals with less national pride than she had in her adopted country.

Tomorrow (26 January) is Australia day. Tomorrow is also exactly one month since my mom took her last breath in my house in England. I could not think of a better, more fitting way to make it through tomorrow than to celebrate Australia day, for her.

Here are 11 fun ideas for celebrating Australia Day 2014:

1. Make Lamingtons


I’m pretty sure these are what we call Ystervarkies in South Africa, but you know, it’s Australia Day. I’ll not start a turf war over chocolate covered cake today. Here’s a Thermomix recipe for the Lamingtons in the picture.

2. Bake Cookies 

Bake Cookies for Australia Day

Use a regular sugar cookie recipe, and let the kids have a go. It’s like playdoh, but they can eat it afterwards.  Bonus! We used these Australian Animal Cookie Cutters from Australian Geographic, which were ideal for this activity.

3. Australian Animal Actions

We have a bunch of Australian animal toys – kind of like these. We put them in the bag and had the children blindly draw out an animal, then cross the room like their pick: hop like a kangaroo, climb like a koala, all fours like a dingo. Good fun, and they loved it. They stopped using the bag eventually, and just picked the animals they hadn’t tried or the ones they liked best.

4. Soft Play

Australia Day

For the smaller children we had a bunch of stuffed toys – koala bears, kangaroos and a wombat, among other things.

5. Masks

iChild has a fabulous koala bear mask. We ended up saving those for another day.

6. Flag Colouring

Australia Day Flag Colouring

Another iChild printable, but there are plenty of options available online. The children spent a bit of time colouring the flag of Australia. We had a kangaroo holding the flag for inspiration.

7. Music: Make A Rain Stick

Australia Day Rain Stick

We had a fabulous time making a rain stick. It worked out really well, and is still one of Ameli’s favourite activities from this week. Here’s a great YouTube clip of how it should sound, which obviously it won’t quite do in a cardboard tube, but it’s also nice to show children what it is you’re making.

8. Clapping Sticks

Australia Day Clapping SticksAnother fun and easy musical activity is making ‘clapping sticks’. We used lollipop sticks and decorated them. Easy peasey. (I also found this little ditty. It’s not at all Australian or aboriginal, but it’s quite sweet to get the children making music with their sticks!)  If you want to take the ‘knowledge of the world’ learning further, this Youtube video has aboriginal singing, dancing and great examples of the clapping sticks in use.

9.  Coloured Play RiceAustralia Day Play Rice

Green and ‘gold’ rice is good fun, always. In our group the almost two year old’s love it as much as the over four’s. It’s just a great sensory experience. Here are some instructions on how to make coloured rice, and we used Australian animals, but could have added cups, pourers, gardening tools, forks – anything really. It all adds extra elements to the game. To add a learning element to the fun, you can also add matching pictures for smaller children to find and make pairs.

10. Be A Boomerang

Australia Day Boomerang

Where were we before YouTube? We found a couple of videos to show the children how boomerangs work, but since we were indoors in a house we weren’t going to demonstrate with the real thing. Instead I pretended to ‘throw’ the children, and the ‘spun’ all the way to the wall and back to me. The simplest thing, and they loved it!

11. Where are We? 

Australia Day Globe
There’s little point to celebrating a country, yet not knowing where it is. We brought out a globe and spent a few minutes looking at where Australia is, where we are, and how we would get there. Something that could work well is getting them each to hold a string between where they are and Australia.

 How are you celebrating Australia Day?

{Playlearn} Rhyming Words

Last week Ameli was asking questions about words that sound the same – by which she meant rhyming words, rather than homonyms. With a degree in Languages and Literature, this stuff is right up my street, so I decided to break away from Summer Camp at Home for the week, and focus on rhyming words and sounds, and an introduction to poetry, using nursery rhymes she already knows and introducing a couple of new ones too.

20130712-223051.jpgI found an awesome website (thank you Mud Hut Mama!) with learning plans, resources and everything you’ll ever need for teaching nursery rhymes. A lot of it was a bit old for Ameli, but most of it was great, and easily adaptable.

We started with an old favourite: Humpty Dumpty.

Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall,

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall

All the king’s horses and all the king’s men

Couldn’t put Humpty together again.

We read through the poem, looked at the words together, and spelled it out, and then, we acted it out. This was so much fun. She absolutely loved building the Lego wall, and knocking the egg off it. Watch this 30 second clip. It was great.

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We used one of the resources for Hickery Dickery Dock. The printout is about forty pages, give or take a few, so I printed them six to a page, then cut those out. Each ‘page’ has a sentence on it, with a word left out. The child then finishes the sentence with a word that makes sense (all rhyming with dock and clock, so the -ock rhyme sound) and finds either the picture or the word that goes with it. We pared those up in matching pairs.


I had various samples printed, but she got a bit bored with that. The next ‘game’ I was going to do, however, was separating the -ock word cards from the -all word cards from Humpty Dumpty. Perhaps another time.

While I know she was just looking at the pictures in some of the words, there were plenty in which she was reading the letters. She can sing the alphabet song, and can identify most letters – not y, oddly – but was doing really well.


When we finished ‘school’, Ameli and I sat outside during Aviya’s nap and soaked up some sunshine while doing some arts and crafts. I cut out all the body parts for the mouse, and made the clock while she was painting the toilet roll. When it was all dry we stuck it together, and drew on the clock parts – and watched some Youtube videos about grandfather clocks, and how they work, since she was asking and I didn’t know how to answer!

While the paint and glue were drying, Ameli and I lazed on the grass making up rhymes. She didn’t always get it right, but she was trying.

During the week, we’ve also been reading The Puffin Book of Utterly Brilliant Poetry which has poems by  Roger McGough, Michael Rosen, Charles Causley, Benjamin Zephaniah, Jackie Kay, Spike Milligan, John Agard, Brian Patten, Allan Ahlberg and Kit Wright, and so provides a vast array and variety of poetry and writing styles, and engaging illustrations by different artists for each poet. There’s also an interview with each author, which I think will be great for exploration later on.

By the end of the week, Ameli was making up her own rhymes, and actually getting them right.

I see this week as a success!

Ameli’s first completely self authored poem:

Stinky socks don’t get pie,

stinky socks, poke you in the eye.

12 July 2013

Learning: Reptiles And Writing

From time to time we make giant strides forward in our desire to home school our children, and I reach the end of the day feeling like we may just be able to pull it off. Today was one of those days. I know it’s not really ‘schooling’ when your oldest child is three years old, but I think it sets a nice tone for what’s to come, and the way I’d be happy to teach the girls – through play, and engagement.

We’re planning on following along with the Summer Camp at Home schedule as set by Tiana at Two Cheeky Monkeys, who chooses a theme and posts her suggested activities that she will be following with her own sons every week. I loved doing it last year, because I found having a ‘theme’ to work with made it so much easier to keep busy and keep the children entertained, even if we didn’t follow everything, and often have to swap days around to make it work with our schedules.

So, today we started with week one:

  • Theme: Reptiles
  • Colours: Brown and Green
  • Shapes: Triangle and Circle
  • Letter: R


You can pop over to Two Cheeky Monkeys to see the plan for the whole week, but as Monday is our stay at home day, we did a lot of crafting.
We started with some letters, and while I wasn’t watching Ameli copied more than just the letter ‘r’. I was so impressed – more so that she actually knew what the letters were. I guess all that reading is paying off.

We decorating a paper snake, which we later hung up under the light fitting, so the ‘diamonds’ glitter.

Did you know that snakes don’t have ears, but hearing holes?
Did you know reptiles can have four or no legs?
Did you know they have scales, not fur?
Well, these were the talking points for our discussions today.

I also used the scraps from the triangle and circle cutouts (which I’ll use later on for Aviya’s colour and shape learning) for a DIY mosaic, which I thought is great for a bit of fine motor skill practice.

Tomorrow we have a totally unrelated field trip slash day out, but we’ve printed some free reptile colouring pictures to take with in the car for entertainment, and to continue on our theme.
Learning Points: