Wednesday, 20 June 2018

School maths in the real world

The other day I was helping Harry with his maths homework. Luckily he's quite good at maths so I don't have to do much, it's more about supervising him to make sure it gets done. I myself used to be pretty good at maths, but when I look at his worksheets I must admit that my eyes slowly glaze over, and I realise that my brain usually no longer works well enough to understand what he's supposed to do. It doesn't help that he's been taught different techniques to get to the answer, and most of them make no sense to me - more than once I've had to ask my teacher friend to explain something!

Nowadays, if I need to work out a sum I turn to the handy calculator right there on my phone. Remember when teachers said that we wouldn't always have a calculator with us?! But I'm also trying to demonstrate to the children how important it is to work on your maths. Even if you have a calculator it definitely helps to be able to make a ballpark guess in case you make a mistake when typing, and knowing times tables really does help in lots of every day situations.

I'm often stood in the supermarket in front of the shelves trying to work out which is the best deal. Sometimes there will be a price per unit printed on the shelf label, but I've found that it's not always correct and doesn't always take a special offer into consideration. So it's really useful to be able to work out a few sums and compare the prices.

I also remember being taught interest and compound interest at school. Unfortunately I don't remember it ever being put into context - it would have been much better if they'd given us a real world example, for example showing how the interest adds up on a mortgage or a credit card over time. I only learned it for my GCSE, I never saw how it could be useful to me in the future.

I do remember though a few years back when Ram and I were looking at pizza deals. We were trying to decide if it was better value to buy one large pizza or two smaller pizzas. We managed to remember the formula for calculating the area of a circle (A = π r2 of course) so between us we worked out the areas of the two different pizza combinations to see which would give us the most pizza for our money. I can't remember the result exactly, but I do remember that it wasn't the one we were expecting!

So the maths that you learn at school can definitely be useful!

Chalkboard with equations and teacher
Photo credit jeshoots via Unsplash

Monday, 18 June 2018

Our new fire pit

A couple of weeks ago we went on our first camping trip of the year. We didn't venture as far as usual, just a few miles up the road to Washington Caravan and Camping Park. Previously we've always camped in the New Forest, but our reason for making the change was that this campsite allows fire pits. Ram has had a hankering for an open fire for some time now, and we thought that it would be fun to give it a go. We were able to hire a fire pit at the campsite for £5 (plus refundable deposit) and we paid £7 for a net bag of wood.

Fire pit at a campsite

We all really loved it, we had no problems lighting it and keeping it alight, and the children loved running about hunting for sticks and leaves to throw on. We sat around it until it was dark, and wonderfully it really encouraged us to just sit around and chat as a family with no other distractions. There's something soothing about staring into the flames, and it's quite satisfying to watch the logs as they burn down. I noticed that both Ram and I were able to put our phones down and really spend time enjoying time together without feeling the need to turn to a screen every few minutes, which is definitely something that I like to encourage.

So when we got back we went straight on to Amazon to look into getting one for the garden and found that they are quite reasonably priced. After a bit of research we opted for this one - La Hacienda Firepit with Grill (affiliate link). It's very light, has a cover, and the legs fold down for storage and transport. It also comes with a carry bag, and can be used as a barbecue although we've only used it for toasting marshmallows so far! We also bought a big bag of firewood (affiliate link) to start us off.

Child lighting a fire pit int he garden

I was terrified of fire when I was younger, and I wouldn't light a match until I was in my late teens, so I was pleased to see that my timid Harry was more than happy to have a go at lighting the fire (under strict supervision of course!) He loved trying out different ways to get the fire to light (for reference, Amazon brown packaging paper is rubbish, newspaper is much better) and different ways to arrange the logs for optimum burning potential.

Fire pit in the garden

We have a never ending supply of dead leaves from some bushes next to our driveway which provide a quick burst of flame when they are thrown on, and both children love toasting marshmallows for us. Mia is a bit of a fidget, but Harry loved sitting around and staring into the flames as much as Ram and I, and it was so nice to sit together talking. We used some leftover coals from our earlier barbecue and only four pieces of the firewood, so I'm hoping that the bag will last us for a few evenings. I'm also looking around the garden for things to burn - there are a few bits of empty trellis that I'm sure we don't need!

Over the summer holidays, when we don't have to worry so much about getting the children into bed at a reasonable hour, I'm hoping for some lovely warm and clear summer evenings of sitting around the fire pit and enjoying our garden!

This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Making the most of our garden

We are very lucky to have a nice big garden, and I'm often aware that we don't make as much of it as we should. It's fairly low maintenance, mainly grass with a couple of small patio areas, and we have a lovely vegetable patch with a raised bed. We also have a little summer house which is great for storing toys and easy for the children to access. Being on a new build estate it is a bit overlooked, although not from our immediate neighbours, so that sometimes makes me feel a bit self-conscious when I'm out there.

Now that the children are that bit older and can generally be left to their own devices either inside or outside the house I'm determined to make the most of our outdoor space. I'm not much of a gardener and we don't have huge amounts of money to invest in anything fancy, so it's more about making the most of what we already have.

Plastic rattan garden furniture

A couple of years back we bought some outdoor furniture which was a really worthwhile purchase. It wasn't expensive, it's just a small sofa and two seats made of plastic rattan with cushions and a small table for the middle. It's really comfy though and it's so nice to have it out there ready to use. We also bought a couple of sun loungers although I'm not really one for lying about in the sun - the children tend to use them as ramps for their cars and trucks!

I think because the weather this year has been so lovely it's really motivated me to make the effort to spend more time in the garden. I work from home and so I've been trying to make the effort to sit outside for just a little bit every day when it's not raining. Whether that's to enjoy a morning cup of tea or hot chocolate or to catch up with some of my social media channels. Even if I feel that I have to justify to my unseen-yet-potentially-observing neighbours that I am "working" not just faffing about on my phone!

We already enjoy lots of barbecues in the summer. We are vegetarian but we are gradually increasing our repertoire - we still include the veggie burgers and sausages but have upped our intake of halloumi and have been experimenting with different ingredients to fill wraps and pittas. We've also discovered toasted marshmallows served on chocolate digestive biscuits - I think I'm indulging more food-wise than I do over Christmas!

A post shared by jenniferjain (@jenniferjain) on

The children like eating outside too and when they have finished we let them get down and play. I prefer them to be outside in the early evening when it's not so hot and they can burn off some energy before bed.

I'm really hoping that this lovely weather lasts through the summer, especially into the school holidays as it makes it much easier for me to entertain the children during the day and I don't have to worry so much about bedtime if we want to enjoy some late sunshine!

Thursday, 14 June 2018

June 14th 2018 is International Bath Day!

On June 14th each year we celebrate International Bath Day. Why June 14th? Legend has it that on the 14th June, the mathematician and scientist Archimedes was taking a bath when he was struck by the sudden realisation that it was possible to accurately measure the volume of an irregularly shaped object by submerging it in water. He was so excited by the discovery that he jumped out of the bath and yelled 'Eureka!' ('I have found it!) while running through the streets.

International Bath Day is a day to remember that bath time can be fun, but can also promote amazing discoveries. It's a great day to celebrate bath time with children! Mine have always particularly enjoyed being in the bath. I remember when they were little reading a quote somewhere about how if your children were grumpy you should put them in water and it's so true. It calms them down and relaxes them, and as well as being fun it's a great way for them to learn about the world around them.

Photo credit Lubomirkin via Unsplash

You don't need fancy bath toys to help children learn and discover. A recent survery conducted in the US for International Bath Day revealed that 84.3% of parents use plastic cups, bowls and other items around the house during bath time with their child and this is definitely me - they've always loved making 'soup' and pouring water from one container to another, and I save interesting plastic bottles and containers to add to their bath toy collection. It's a great way to teach cause and effect, help them to learn about the properties of water and how it can be used and manipulated. In fact 73% of the respondents in the survey believed that it's important to use bath time with children as a time to explore and discover.

92.6% of the parents surveyed said that bath time is a time to bond with your child and I definitely agree with that. Because you can't leave a child unsupervised in the bath it means that they have your full attention which is great for you both, and gives you the opportunity to interact with them without any distractions.

I don't always save bath time for bed time either. 89.3% of parents said that they look forward to seeing their child relaxed and happy after bath time and that's very true for me. Sometimes if we don't have anywhere to go during the day and the children are starting to get a bit bored and crotchety they always lighten up at the thought of a bath because it calms them down and gives them something new to focus on.

I'll definitely be making a special effort to celebrate International Bath Day today with my children and making the most of this time we have together before they get too old to want me in the bathroom with them!

Do you enjoy bath time with your children?

Yellow rubber ducks
Photo credit Andrew Wulf via Unsplash

This is a collaborative post. You can see more information about the bathtime survey and view results here - American parents weigh in on the importance of bath time.

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

How to make Hama bead Emoji magnets

Recently I was sent a bottle of the new Gorilla Glue Clear (affiliate link) to use in my crafting. Gorilla Glue Clear is an easy to use adhesive that can be used for a range of craft projects,and it will stick a wide range of materials firmly - including glass, ceramics, metal, stone and wood. I decided that I would try it out on one of my favourite materials - Hama beads! I've tried to glue Hama bead projects before and I've not had a great deal of success, so I was interested to see how well the Gorilla Glue worked. I wasn't disappointed!

Hama bead Emoji magnets tutorial

I decided to make some Hama bead emoji magnets. I started by coming up with some simple designs which I put together using the square pegboard.

Simple Hama bead emoji designs

Then I ironed the beads on both sides. If you are new to Hama beads, you can find some tips for ironing Hama beads here.

How to make Hama bead magnets

I glued my magnets to the back of each design using the Gorilla Glue. The magnets that I used are these ones - Very strong disc magnets (affiliate link) - they are small but very strong! A tip here - apply the glue to the magnet rather than the Hama beads so that you don't lose any glue through the holes! You just need to put a small blob of glue on the magnet and press firmly to the back of the Hama beads. Allow to dry for 24 hours for a full cure. If you are gluing larger items it is recommended that you clamp pieces together for two hours.

Gorilla Glue for sticking to Hama beads

I found the Gorilla Glue really easy to apply, there's no smell, and no stickiness when it ended up on my fingers. The glue dries clear and the magnets really are stuck very firmly, they aren't going to be coming off!

Gorilla Glue for making Hama bead emoji magnets

I'm really pleased that I've found an adhesive that works well with the Hama beads and now I'm a little bit addicted to making magnets! They'd be great for party bags or for children to give to their friends.

Hama bead emoji magnets on the radiator

I was sent a bottle of Gorilla Glue Clear to use in my crafting. This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Monday, 11 June 2018

Goodwood Home Farm on Open Farm Sunday 2018

Goodwood Home Farm for Open Farm Sunday

Open Farm Sunday is a yearly opportunity for farms across the UK to open their gates for free and welcome people to their farms to discover the world of farming and learn more about how our food is produced. We always try to make the effort to visit one of our local farms, and after a lovely visit to Goodwood Home Farm for Open Farm Sunday back in 2014 we decided to return again this year. Goodwood Home Farm is part of the Goodwood Estate near Chichester in West Sussex, and is one of the largest lowland organic farms in the UK. The farm produces cheeses, beef, ales and lager, lamb, milk and pork.

We started our visit with a tractor ride to the dairy, where we tried some of the delicious milk and cheeses and saw where the cows are milked. The children had a go at milking a (pretend!) cow, and we saw how butter is made from milk with the chance to sample some. Then we headed to Seeley Copse where there were a range of forest school activities for children.

The favourite activity was building fires. The children were given a tile, some cotton wool smeared with Vaseline, and a flint and steel lighter. Harry was the only one that was able to get the lighter to work successfully without help, and he spent ages building up his little fire with sticks. Then they had fun toasting marshmallows!

Goodwood Home Farm toasting marshmallows in the forest

Mia also enjoyed using some tools to saw a circle of wood from a branch and drill a hole in th etop. Then she was able to decorate it and make it into a necklace to wear and remind her of the visit.

Goodwood Home Farm forest activities

We finished our day at the main part of the farm to see the sheep and lambs, pigs and calves. There was a sheep shearing demonstration which was fascinating to watch, and also some ladies showing how to use a spinning wheel. Outside the children had the chance to plant some seeds to bring home and grind some flour which they loved.

Planting seeds at Open Farm Sunday

There was so much going on for children and adults of all ages and it was really well organised to make sure that there was plenty to keep everyone busy. We had a really lovely day!

Open Farm Sunday 2018

Friday, 8 June 2018

Enjoying the World Cup with Twinkl Resources

The World Cup starts next week, and it will definitely be dominating our household television for the next few weeks! I really like to help the children get into the spirit of big sporting events, whether that's by decorating the house, doing some crafting, or enjoying other related activities. Today I'm sharing some of the resources that Twinkl have produced to help get children involved in the World Cup celebrations.

If you don't have a Twinkl subscription, in the second half of this post you can find links to some fab free resources that just require a free Twinkl account to download!

I started our World Cup planning by printing the World Cup Wall Chart (subscriber resource). This lovely colourful poster has spaces to write in the scores and then follow the teams through to the finals. I've stuck it on the door to the living room so we can keep it updated as we watch the games!

Twinkl Resources World Cup poster to print

If you want to up your World Cup decoration game, Twinkl have lots of different options. You can print some cheerful World Cup Bunting (subscriber resource) or even download a World Cup Display Pack  (subscriber resource) which includes lettering, banner, posters, bunting and more - fantastic for decorating a classroom or role play area and perfect if you are hosting a World Cup themed party.

I've also printed some World Cup Countries Cards (subscriber resource) which are a great way to learn about the flags of the different countries taking part.

When it comes to football and World Cup related activities, Twinkl have plenty to choose from. Harry really loves the longer mystery games that Twinkl has produced with a variety of different themes. In the Football Maths Mystery Game (subscriber resource) which is aimed at KS2 children you need to work out who has sabotaged a team's football kits by narrowing down a long list of suspects using maths activities. There are lots of different clues to solve based around telling the time, working out the perimeter of shapes and more and it will keep him busy and entertained for ages.

He also loves a crossword, so I've printed him the World Cup Crossword (subscriber resource) which will also teach him a few facts about football and the tournament.

For Mia I've printed some Football Colour by Number sheets (subscriber resource) which she loves, and she also enjoys a word search so I found the World Cup Word Search (subscriber resource) which has three different levels so you can choose the most appropriate one for your child. These activities would all be great for the classroom to keep on hand when you need something to fill a few minutes.

World Cup printables from Twinkl resources

If you don't have a paid subscription, Twinkl also offer a number of great free printable resources, and you just need to create a free account to access them.

Here are some of my favourite free football themed resources:

Football World Cup bookmarks - These football themed bookmarks make a great gift - they'd be perfect for party bags if you are hosting a football themed party or event for children.

Design a Football - This would be a fun activity for children to work on while watching the football.

Football World Cup Players Colouring Pages - Another great activity to keep children entertained while the football is on and great to keep on hand for a football themed event.

Football Word Mat - I love the Twinkl word mats, they are great for introducing new themed vocabulary to children and helping them to spell the more tricky words.

Football Page Borders - A lovely way to display your child's football themed writing or artwork.

I hope that you have lots of fun watching the World Cup with your children!

I'm a Twinkl blogger and have been provided with a subscription in exchange for sharing the resources on my blog and social media.
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