Monthly Archives: February 2016

Too young to be financially aware?

This evening L told a friend that he could buy himself a nerf gun modular, because he has “a hundred and something pounds in the bank”, but, he added, he won’t because he’s saving that for a car.  This was news to me as he had previously told me it was to go towards our house.  Never mind!  We chuckled at this but it did get me wondering, should he have a better idea of how much he has? Is he too young to be financially aware?  Would it be better to have money in piggy banks again so that the boys can see and count how much they have?  This of course would be a bad idea as he does have well over £100 and keeping that in the house would be far too tempting for me.

So how do we make our children financially aware?  I’m sure I’m not alone in remembering the savings accounts books we used to have; if we were lucky enough to have a few pound notes tucked into birthday cards (yes I am that old!) we could pay them into the building society and watch our savings grow.  Today, I have savings pots for the boys and they rely on me to tell them what they have.  Perhaps it’s now time they had their own accounts and can begin to learn that money in the bank earns more money, if you leave it alone.  To begin to understand about interest and lending is a valuable life lesson.  At 8 years old, the maths isn’t too difficult for C to begin to work out the interest on a savings account, so helping to research the best place to put his money would be a good start.

Now that he has picked an account I will sit down with C to help him plan.  Nadine Monks, from Evolution Forces Families discusses the importance of this for adults.  I see it as a useful process to go through from an early age.  She suggests that  you ask yourself:

‘What do you want to achieve?

Set a clear goal for yourself. What is it you want to achieve? Do you just want a regular income or are you looking for a lump sum further down the road. This will tell you how much you need to invest and in what time frame.’

This applies to children I think, too.  C constantly asks me if he can buy things from his ever depleting pot of money, so to develop a short term savings goal will really set him up well for the future.  L, with his stash, never particularly wants to buy anything!

To overcome this last issue, of not knowing how much he has, I have registered C for a Go Henry card.  If you’ve not heard of this, do check it out!  We first heard about Go Henry last year when he was still too young (you have to be 8) and so we are both pretty excited waiting for his card to arrive.  It works like a contactless bank card.  I can pay his pocket money directly onto it and we can both use the app to monitor spending and saving.  He gets to use it independently in shops and cafes which he will love, and  I love the fact that when he is older I can see how he’s using his money and help him look at his spending patterns (not that he’ll listen I’m sure, but it’s a nice idea in my head).

(note – I am not affiliated in anyway with GoHenry, and am not being compensated for mentioning them here)

Some time ago in school I was teaching a small group of Y6 children who needed lots of practical hands on learning to transfer back to the classroom.  We set up a role play bank to teach negative numbers and I supplied them with lots of bank statements to work out how much debt the customers were in.  They loved it and really got the hang of calculating in this way.  I do remember that they were rather shocked that it was even possible to buy something if you didn’t have enough money.  Let’s hope they remember that lesson and  don’t ever apply for an overdraft!  I have done something similar with C; we used Power Rangers and lent them money, only to take more back from them.  Interestingly he can get his head around this concept and is more surprised by the fact that the bank will give him money on top of his savings!

For very early money maths understanding coin values can be hard.  It can be such a frustration when a child can add quite easily until you put it into the context of money and then they get confused.  Lots of playing with money is essential.  When I first started giving the boys pocket money I laid it out in lines so they could see the equal coins.  So for the first few weeks it was only 20p.  Nice and clear to see, and cheap too!

one way to lay out the pocket money each week

Gradually increasing the amount reinforces this clear visual, and visualisation as we know can really help to move from the concrete hands on learning to the more abstract, on paper.    I’m currently tutoring a few children for whom this concrete part has been skimmed over.  It means that now, towards the end of Primary, problems are occurring with the more complex maths simply because the practical bits weren’t solid enough before they were moved on.  It’s a common picture, not just with money but in all areas of number.

So the message here then is if we want our children to be financially ‘savvy’, start them young!  Play with money, play shops, give them their own pennies to spend in the gift shop and let them work out the change.  As they get old enough to understand what they have, let them make choices about what to buy.  When We went to the Harry Potter tour, C chose to buy a wand and a broom, having already bought photos,  knowing that this wiped out all his savings but he was happy with that and it gave him the opportunity to have good long think about how much he wanted to buy both.  Hopefully, I’ll be setting him up with good money habits for life.  Maybe I will improve along the way too!

‘Kung Hei Fat Choy!’

Our Chinese New Year learning is a bit more low key this year.  Mainly as I can’t find anything much going on in our new area which is sad.  We will be making some masks, and having another go at sushi, as it was so easy and successful all round!  I enjoyed looking back at our post from last year… Maybe you will too!

‘Kung Hei Fat Choy!’











We are officially ‘pigs’.  Turns out C and I have the same Chinese sign of the Zodiac.  We’ve had some fun reading up on our characteristics to see how like the descriptions we are and have used this to explore connectives in our writing whilst trying to describe our ‘pig – like’ qualities.

Once we had researched these, it was onto the serious business of food!  After a recent trip into London’s Chinatown and a visit to the wonderful See Woo wholesalers in Greenwich, we marked the Chinese New Year by giving out some lucky coins in lucky envelopes and preparing a huge feast of dumplings, spring rolls, fortune cookies and some mathematical (fractions) sushi.  The boys, inspired by the vibrance of Chinatown, made some lanterns and had a go at some Chinese writing.  I think the writing says ‘See Woo fine noodles’ but we’re not 100% sure on that one!

Sushi making sequence…








The celebrations have led to some rich learning opportunities as we now begin to explore facts about China.  We’ve taken a Google earth tour and learnt how to take notes.  From these a draft leaflet has been designed which is now in the process of being created on the computer.  Preparation for a role play Travel Agents.  Or maybe a ‘school trip’.  I do always emphasise the importance of bringing learning to life so it could be justified…

Back to reality and, due to the lack of funds for a field trip to China, the learning… Note taking: Early note taking is best taught in stages, starting with key words around a picture (in this case The Great Wall of China) before moving on to taking notes from texts.  This prevents the temptation to copy out long chunks as they child first learns to note key words when there are no words to copy.  We then moved onto a very simplified site, where again there were too few words to be tempted.

The leaflet writing and subsequent advert for the Chinese New Year Parade has been the platform for teaching about persuasive writing techniques.  Once again he has impressed me with his ability to retain some pretty advanced stuff.  We have been putting our persuasive skills to the test in all kinds of situations, quite often in the car.  He did a very good job of trying to convince me that the skate park was better than riding a bike.  Needless to say I won’t actually be trying it.

Enjoying the parade
Enjoying the parade
Enjoying the parade
Getting up close!
Getting up close!

The Chinese theme continues as we embark on some basic learning about the economy and the concept of fair trade, to celebrate Fair Trade Fortnight.  Remember that small changes in our shopping make a big difference!

smellyarmus, and other magical stuff…

Don’t you think that JK Rowling should have included a spell called smellyarmus?  I couldn’t bring myself to correct L and tell him it should be expelliarmus, why not have a spell that gives smelly arms to your enemy?  I think he could be onto something!  The boys were very excited to have a day of Harry Potter again.  Our local library Harry Potter Book Night event was unfortunately cancelled so it was potions and spells at home for us today!  It meant a move away from our animations and story work which, if I’m honest, was a welcome relief as C is spending far longer than necessary on his.  It will be epic in the true sense of the word by the time he’s finished!

We started the day with a breakfast game of pairs – matching spell cards.  It was a draw so as a tie break we had to answer questions to name the outcome of a given spell.  Needless to say, C won when I was unable to explain the effects of petrificus totalus!  Following this C did a bit of handwriting, he used his feather pen to copy out some of the spell names in a calligraphy style, as ‘fancy’ as possible.  He’s getting quite good, and now thinks we need a quill!

Our activities weren’t dissimilar to last year, so here are a few photos, after which I’ve been a bit lazy and have included my blog from last year, which includes a letter from Dumbledore for you to download, should you be wanting to recreate your own potions session!

Breakfast before our day properly started – buttering the toast using a freshly whittled butter knife!


First was a bubbling mixture, using carefully combined ingredients to include vinegar, bicarbonate of soda and an alka seltzer tablet, amongst other things.


L then prepared several concoctions of his own, with some attempt by me to get him to read the measures on his  syringe and measuring jug (he was having none of it!). I liked how he got himself organised!

IMG_0277 IMG_0276


Meanwhile, C followed instructions to make his own invisible ink…


We ended with a bang, well maybe more of a pop!


We forgot to take a photo of our first exploding potion, but this was the result on one of the wall cupboards…


My kitchen has never been cleaner. This one really did explode everywhere, resulting in washing down all the wall tiles, the floor, the cupboard fronts and the kettle!

Tomorrow we will be formalising some of the learning a little by recording and reading measurements of potions, for now, here’s what we got up to last year:

I had identified a need to recap finding the difference as a method for subtraction.  This one is often tricky, but necessary, for younger children to visualise what it is they are doing when subtracting by working out the difference between 2 numbers.  C keeps telling me he “doesn’t like maths” and so I am trying to think more creatively about IMG_7047how we teach it; my solution for this was to incorporate ‘finding the difference’ into some play with the Scaletrix.  We  had timed races and when the timer was up, calculated how many laps we had each done by recording along a blank number line.  This enabled him to draw out the jumps, for example from 32 (no. of laps left) to 45 (the total no. of laps on the dial).  Our Scaletrix dials countdown from 45 so you can easily see how many laps are remaining:  It’s not so easy to see how many you have completed.  To follow on from this the next day, I stuck up some envelopes containing house points for the Hogwarts houses.  With these he had to work out the differences between the different houses and the winners.  We started together, with me modelling how Dumbledore would have mentally calculated how many more points were needed to put Gryffindor into the lead and then I left him to do a few more calculations independently.  This has all served to be successful scaffolding.  We started practically, followed up on paper with support and then gradually took away the support.  He’s got it!  And very pleased he is with himself too!

IMG_7051  IMG_7058

Upon leaving for Nursery one day this week we discovered a letter on the mat from Dumbledore himself, giving ideas for us muggles to make potions. IMG_7062 Once the letter was read and digested we set about, the three of us, creating some pretty disgusting tasting potions (recording and adding up the quantities as we went along).  The boys are convinced they made it snow with these as sudden snowstorm began while they syringed and mixed apple juice, lemonade and milk, yuk!  And of course, our crazy L loved it – drinking a fair bit until I insisted he stop before he was sick!


I have been so lucky with our HE community here.  Our lovely group organiser set up an online HP quiz for us all to take part in.  C has thoroughly enjoyed re calling his (limited) HP knowledge from his one film viewing and attempted all 6 rounds with very little help from me.  So good multi media comprehension there from him.   Some amusing, some random guesses, Professor Spinach instead of Sprout was my favourite I think.

To end this week, here he is sketching a portrait of Harry Potter, obsessed?   Who him?!


harry potter maths download