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His older sister who had never tried a snap circuit before also managed to work away at the circuits by herself. The only time she needed input was when she wanted to adjust some of the circuits and she wanted to check with us that she was on the correct path. I love this, I love that after building a recommended circuit she is finding ways to adjust it, change it and then can discuss why the changes she made worked or didn’t work. I actually spotted that there is a design tool on the website that the kids can use to design their own circuits. We have not had time to really do this (my daughter did draw a few of the circuits that she created) but after Christmas we are definitely going to give this a go – Snap Circuit Designer

The circuits are proving a hit with both my kids, they especially like the ones when you can make the fan fly or when there is noise (from a parent point of view the noise may be slightly irritating but I look at it as an educational irritating noise – he has some far noisier toys that really irritate me that have NO educational benefits).

Ronja the Robber’s Daughter is written by Astrid Lindgren (my hubbie was thrilled when he saw this as he remembered her books from when he was younger and has STRONGLY suggested that we find more as he rates her as an excellent author). The story is about 2 competing group of robbers who live in a forest with some unique magical creatures. As it happens both tribe leaders end up having a child each and the kids become friends which cause lots of problems. gas stoichiometry practice sheet But in the end the friendship between the 2 kids ends the feud and both kids declare they will not follow in the family tradition of robbing. The friendship between the two kids is very sweet (and totally innocent so don’t worry about that) and they go on a few adventures together (nothing too scary). My daughter enjoyed the story and liked the fact that Ronja was such a head-strong, courageous, determined young girl. I personally enjoyed the writing style – descriptive, with good interesting characters that you get to know and understand as you story unfolds.

Seeker of the Crown. A more challenging read than Ronja and I did need to talk about the different characters and events with my daughter as she found it a bit more complex but we liked that. My daughter and I naturally talk about the stories that she reads and I often read the books myself anyway, so it was not an issue for us. The setting for this is Russia which we found interesting as it is somewhere that we have not explored that much and my daughter has actually asked if we can find more stories set in Russia as she enjoyed the context. There were two instances where she worried some of the main characters might actually die but they survived and it was not scary enough to put her off reading. Oh and she partially liked the fact that in this story only women could rule the land – ie be Queen, there are NO kings in this story – big plus for my daughter she kept telling her dad that if we lived in this story she would be Queen. a gas station I would definitely group this as one of the “older, more advanced” books that she has read.

Moonlight Tales (Animal Anthologies) is actually a book of short stories that I bought for my daughter 2 years ago but with Christmas around the corner the kids dug it out again and they have been enjoying the sweet festive animal stories included. They have been reading it together (my daughter reading sections to her brother and then him reading sections to her). electricity projects ks2 It is an easy read for my daughter but it has been perfect for my son. I personally LOVE the stories they have included, they are festive and sweet and great as a family read together book. I recommend this for some lovely winter tales.

We have a habit of always taking a few Usborne Young Reading books out from our local library. Our library always has a good selection and I have found them a really good way of introducing some well-known stories. Last month we borrowed Anne of Green Gables (Young Reading 3) (3.3 Young Reading Series Three (Purple)) and Beowulf (Young Reading (Series 3)) (3.3 Young Reading Series Three (Purple)) and they have both been read and reread and the kids just asked if we could renew them for a 3rd time. We have never read Anne of Green Gables before and he daughter just loved it and she has now asked for a more detailed Anne book. My son LOVES Beowulf, really LOVES it. It fits in nicely with his current Viking / Mythology interest. Both books are definitely worth a read.

And lastly a book that we rediscovered because I was trying to clear out old books (books that are now too easy for my youngest). He went through my charity shop stack of books and immediately took this one out and asked if we could keep it because it was one of his all time favourites. So if you have younger kids and you have not yet read The Day The Crayons Quit my son strongly recommends that you do. He says it is hilarious and according to him all kids are going to LOVE it.

For those of you who read the posts regularly my first pick is not going to be a big surprise – It has to be the How To Train Your Dragon book series. gas yourself in car Out of all the resources I bought the kids and the ones we were given, this set of fictional stories sparked the most learning and the kids interest just did not die down, book after book my two loved the antics and adventures of these very colorful characters. As far as good fictional stories go I really rate these books because the author does not shy away from using unusual, descriptive words and she paints such vivid pictures with her words. But these books did not ONLY serve as brilliant fictional reading books these stories have inspired so many of our learning activities throughout the year. The fascination with Vikings and their traditions has resuted in the kids searching for other fictional Viking stories to read (we recommend this one Riddle of the Runes ) but they have also learnt a lot about the Real Vikings. The stories inspired art and crafts – like our Viking Name necklaces and TinFoil Longships, the number of dragons that have been created both in drawings and written about has been amazing and they were instrumental in our current map craze .

Staying with books my 2nd great find this year has been the use of the Historical BIG CAT readers as a starting point for our History learning. My daughter LOVES History but my son is, well, not so keen, well not unless I find the right angle to get him into a topic. gas gas What I realized this year was using a good quality reader like the Collins BIG CAT books for his History meant he was getting these high quality bite-sized sessions, so they were not overwhelming him and putting him off. But the books actually encouraged him and he would often want to then go and explore what we had read about in further detail. These little readers have been an answer to my History dilemma of still covering the same topics with one child who loves History and another who is a bit more resistant to the subject. For us it really has been about finding the right resources for him that spark his interest and then he ends up loving the History as much as his older sister. (Examples of some of the BIG CAT readers we have used are here – Tutankhamun, The Life and Times of William Shakespeare, Victorian Railways, Mary Anning)

My third big find was buying a family years membership to the Wonderlab at the Science Museum in London. My son has a naturally interest in Engineering type projects and is current fascinated by Space but his sister has often struggled with our Science outings as she finds the Science venues we go to very overwhelming. q gastrobar leblon From a sensory point of view the Science Museum has always been the one Museum that she really struggles in which means we have learnt to go there for short sessions. For this reason I have kept putting off buying a ticket for the Wonderlab because I was worried she would be totally overwhelmed and it would be a total wast of money. But this year we bought an annual ticket and we just went for it.

When we first arrived at 1pm (this time was recommended because of the school groups) we still found it very busy and she really struggled, I had to find her a quiet spot and help her calm down. But then we went into watch a show – which was brilliant and by the time we came out it had calmed down and she was a lot happier. The biggest hit with her was the Gas Bar – she loved watching them work with chemicals, mixing and seeing the reactions. (I also must add that when we went to watch the show which had loud bangs in it, the staff were very quick to hand out ear defenders and before each loud bang they always gave us warning so the kids were prepared – from a sensory mom point of view I was very impressed with this.)

We still need to do manage the wonderlab (ie the time we arrive etc) but by buying a years membership we can do just that we can go as often as we like and just go in the quieter periods. (If you are visiting the Museums in London we highly recommend that you go the V&A Museum for a picnic lunch – they have a stunning courtyard with a water feature that the kids can wade in – it is one of our warmer weather favourites and it is perfect to combine with a trip to the Science Museum or Natural History Museum).

The fourth item was one of the kids Christmas presents last year although it kind of feels like it was my Christmas present aswell – their climbing fame from CostCo. This climbing fame has been brilliant. In the warmer months the kids are out in our garden every day and they spend ages climbing and playing games in, on and around the climbing frame (we discovered that if you add some sheets to the climbing frame it makes a great den). The reason why I said it feels like it was a present for me is because of the time it has given me. I have been trying to do more of my own activities – like writing some guest posts at Activity Village or my accountancy work, and having this climbing frame in our garden has given me a LOT MORE extra time to spend on my extra projects.

Disclosure – As I mentioned above this is NOT a sponsored post in any shape. If I had to choose our Top 5 items from the past 12 months this would be them. I bought the How to Train Your Dragon book set from the Bookpeople, I bought the Wonderlab membership, the Climbing Frame and the Insect Lore. We were given the BIG CAT readers by Harper Collins and they have really been one of our favourite new resources over the past 12 months. I was under no obligation to include any of these items in my list.

A few years ago we went to a Dinosaur talk mainly so my kids could meet Nigel Marven (which they did and my son thought he was amazing) but while we were there we also listened to a talk about the Fossil Lady (ie Mary Anning) and I was totally fascinated. So with my daughter’s desire to learn more about famous Historical Women I thought she might be someone interesting for us to investigate. f gas regulations I started searching for resources on Mary Anning and was thrilled when I discovered that Collins had a BIG CAT reader Mary Anning Fossil Hunter: Band 17/Diamond (Collins Big Cat) (the historical BIG CAT readers have ALL been very popular in our house). So I requested a review copy and once again it did not disappoint.

The book itself is well written, it tells the story of Mary Anning’s life from her childhood through to her legacy but it is not just about Mary Anning they include a lot more in the book. electricity vampires I like the way they include lots of background information which sets the scene and gives a good insight into her lifestyle – they talk about how her family was Dissenters and the impact that had on the family, they explain the area where she lived with the cliffs and the harbour which made fossil hunting so popular. These background bits help the kids to understand more about her life. We also really liked that they included some fossil facts in the book together with a short explanation of the other people mentioned.

My kids love displaying decorations on our window ledges. There is just something about Christmas that makes them want to full up all the window space with Christmas decorations. This year we spotted the Christmas Lanterns on the Twinkl Resources website and thought they would make a good addition to our Christmas window decorations. They have two different versions on the website (we used both) – the Christmas Nativity Mindfulness Lantern and the Simple 3D Traditional Christmas Lantern. Both Lanterns are part of their paid for Classic Collection.

The kids were also keen to create their own versions of the lanterns. So we printed out a few copies of the Simple 3D lantern template and then I also printed out some of the Nativity Story Stone images. The story stone images are not an exact fit for the lantern but it is very close and both of mine did not mind that a few of the images slightly overlapped the border of the lantern.

My son also wanted to try one lantern with something hanging in the middle. This was slightly more tricky but it worked. We cut out the white sections of the Simple 3D lantern and then stuck all the sides together to get our lantern. Then he cut out and coloured in one of the star images (coloured it on both sides) and we managed to hang in inside the lantern with a bit of sellotape – (I did have to help him with this).