Tag Archives: number bonds

What Home Ed looks like in our house

If you know me or read my blog regularly you will know that I am quite structured in our approach to HE.  That’s not to say that we sit down at a table every day, but I do plan and guide the learning, aiming to teach the core skills every day, or at least 4 times a week.  Wanting the boys to recognise that everything we do is part of learning, we’ve taken to calling this our academic learning, emphasising that it is important to value everything we do, so the arts, the sports, forest school etc is all of equal importance in their all round development.  I haven’t found time to blog very much lately meaning that there’s a lot that I’ve wanted to share that is now out of date.  So I’m putting some ‘schooly stuff’ together here.  I suppose this is really a snapshot of kind of learning we do actually do at home.  It’s a bit longer than usual, so you might need a few minutes!

Here’s what we’ve been up to in our reading and writing

Linked to our Iron Age work, I ordered a copy of the classic The Iron Man for our bedtime story.  Both boys were hooked from the start as you can imagine and C did some reflective text editing from it, to think about how the story opens and grabs our attention.  As you can see from the photo, we went through picking out things he liked and then C attempted to replicate this style in his own short story.


He has fantastic ideas but struggles to keep to a storyline meaning that the story gets complicated and long, and he loses interest. This is quite a natural stage to go through but it is very frustrating when he starts with amazing ideas, uses a rich vocabulary, creates brilliant imagery and then he gets bored of his own story!  It will all come together I’m sure, and the main thing is not to stifle any creativity by letting the stories drag on and insisting he finish when he doesn’t want to.  My current thinking it’s better to have an abrupt ending to a great piece of writing than to have pages of story that bore the reader!  What’s great about him having me 1:1 is that we can try different approaches.  Sometimes he plans, sometimes he doesn’t.  When he plans it can be visual, as a story mountain perhaps, a mind map, or a storyboard.  We have tried planning characters in detail , descriptive settings and have made movies of stories to develop ideas.  In time he will decide what suits him as a writer, if he chooses to write more that is.

blurry copy of the letter with excited scarecrow whose permission Ive forgotten to get hence no face!)
blurry copy of the letter with excited scarecrow whose permission I’ve forgotten to get hence no face!)

C now has an email address so he can write regularly to his overseas Uncle and various friends, and he still loves a fan letter, more valid reasons to write.  He recently took part in a local production of The Wizard of OZ (scroll down their page and check out some of the promo videos;  they’re hilarious.  He particularly loved the Scarecrow, and so has written to him to tell him as much and to ask him a few questions about his preparation for the role.  Warmly welcomed into the group right from the audition day, he had a great time and a brilliant show week.  His image of a flying monkey for the Chair of the society, drawn on the audition day, was a sweet sign that he felt he ‘belonged’ from the outset.  Being part of the show has been amazing for not only his confidence, but all round literacy.  He has watched the film and so compared media; he regularly re-enacts scenes, trying out accents and expression and so creating his own oral re-telling:  This usually entails roping us in to play different parts and L now does a pretty good Tin Man impersonation!  Here’s his role model attempting a cup of tea, he loved watching this!

his interpretation of a flying monkey!
his interpretation of a flying monkey!

L isn’t keen on writing independently.  If I write his ideas for him, he sees no point in copy writing, because “then it’s written twice, and that won’t make sense”.  Fair enough!  We do a lot of small world or role play which helps develop ideas and ‘storylines’ and he will happily write lists, menus, cards, take an order or more recently, be a judge or Police Officer and take down notes, so the foundations are all there.  He understands that his writing carries meaning, which is an important first step.

I picked up this cute old writing desk in a junk shop, L loves it!
I picked up this cute old writing desk in a junk shop, L loves it!

We recently read ‘The Owl Who was Afraid of the Dark‘ and he’s produced some lovely sequencing based on this.  Next step will be to generate more words to rhyme with dark, and so reinforce the ‘ar’ sound.  It’s a lovely story and really good for remembering a sequence or adding more of your own chapters.

I loosely follow the letters and sounds guidance and Jolly Phonics for the order of teaching sounds.  This way I know I’m not missing anything and the structure is based upon research that understands that s-a-t-p-i-n are strong sounds for a child to hear and once learned can be manipulated to make lots of words, a great motivator!  What is important though, is not to follow any one approach slavishly.  I do teach him the letter names alongside, and we don’t use all the actions, only those which are useful for him.  We play lots of games with letters and sounds hidden around the place and he races to find them which he loves.  I also only use a reading scheme type book, to help him practise these new sounds, about once a week.   L is now theoretically on set 4, but we’ve gone over some of set 5 as they’ve come up naturally in reading.

A lovely resource that I don’t use enough is our set of story telling dice.  We made up some varied and magical stories with some friends using these.  They are great for building confidence speaking and obviously developing imaginative ideas.  They can be quite easily made and I’ve seen lots of story pebbles on various Pinterest type posts thatI’ve been meaning to try too. Pre writing skills don’t have to be written down!


And here’s a rather creative train track story set up.  I forget why there was knife and fork bridge, but it was appropriately named the cutlery bridge!

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Some other reading / writing activities that have worked well for him have been to create little story sacks.  It’s really quick and easy to gather a collection of items linked to a story and then use this to generate some writing.

I put together the props from ‘The Smartest Giant in Town‘ along with some word cards and L recreated sentences from the story that he then wrote out.











There are lots of books that lend themselves to this.  Even the very simple teaching books.


The lego words are high frequency words which we keep stuck to the wall as words to know by sight.

And recent maths…

We have introduced the idea of missing number equations.  They both enjoyed this and could work together but at their own level.  For L it was to reinforce his number bonds, while C learnt about balanced equations.


They then went onto successfully solve some similar problems on paper, with Q Pootle’s spaceship hiding the numbers.

Not one to miss a time saving opportunity, I decided that our usual home made wrapping paper would make a nice maths activity for L and we created some repeating patterns using potato prints.  They are meant to be spiders and butterflies.  Can you tell?


For me the trick to managing our time and still feeling like ‘mummy’ and not just a teacher, is taking our day to day experiences and either turning them into learning opportunities, or finding a way to reinforce or pre teach.  So C attending woodwork classes on a Monday evening has given him a practical and hands on experience, putting his measuring to good use, and I’ve been able to draw on this to begin work on area and perimeter.


He’s also getting rather handy with a power tool!


Lots of maths for C is about giving him practical experiences so that the abstract will make more sense.  If he were in Y3 at school he would be learning to add and subtract fractions.  Without a solid foundation this can be hard.  So we’ve been playing a lot with plasticine, finding equivalent fractions and then applying this to  some games on the iPad as well as picture representations on paper.  Too many times I’ve seen children completely confused by fractions because they haven’t spent long enough on the ‘playing’.

Maths for a 5yo is much easier to incorporate into life.  L joined in with the fractions by making his own plasticine snakes and ordering by length.  We cook about once once a week and share, add and take away wherever and whenever it is natural to do so.  He seems to be able to count in threes now too, thanks to the lovely Mr DeMaio’s times table song!  If you like Uptown Funk you must click on this link!


Lego Learning

What child doesn’t like lego?  Although what parent likes the aftermath?!  I love a recent FB post I saw, which is so true in our house…

Source unknown
(Source unknown)

Our first task when we prepared for moving was ‘Operation Lego’.  We sorted the whole lot  by size, into take away boxes.  ‘Operation Lego’ turned out to be not only rewarding (it appealed to the organised and tidy me who’s still in here somewhere) but also a really useful learning opportunity.  L started talking about bricks being double and half, we came up with all kinds of interesting categories and I decided that as we had a cheap deal available to visit Legoland we may as well make Lego our first topic of the new year.  It has worked brilliantly as a first joint topic.  The legoland trip was the icing on the cake, and if I had the money I think I would have been tempted to throw in a visit to Denmark too.  Another time maybe!

IMG_8186 We started by attempting our own lego model instructions to see how easy or hard this is to do.  It was interesting!  A great exercise in learning to evaluate and improve, as they both got irritated with me when my model (when following their instructions) wouldn’t turn out like they wanted it too!  I had lots of

“no mummy, it ‘s meant to go here”


“no mummy, not like that”



This led us onto learning how to draw a 3D drawing – a brick or 10 for L, and an attempt at a model for C.  They have also had a go at using colour to show shade and create a 3D image, which son turned into dragon painting for some reason!  We’ll revisit that one!

lego phonics
lego phonics
lego number bonds
lego number bonds

L has practiced his number bonds using 2 bricks, along with some segmenting and blending of CVC words.  Meanwhile C has learnt about systematic recording.  We learnt the amazing fact that there are over 9 billion ways to arrange 6 different lego bricks.  I thought it a bit much to launch straight into this so we started with 3, in a row.  Then , based on this he predicted the outcome for 4, and then 5 bricks.  The subject of averages came up after hearing a news report on the radio, so we had a couple of lessons on this too, working out the average number of bricks used in vehicle models, as well as across a selection of our sorting boxes.  If you have a child struggling with averages, why not have a go with our recording sheet, you can download it here, and check out this song.  We have sorted into bar charts, carroll diagrams venn diagrams and pie charts.  Safe to say there’s a lot of maths to be got from this topic!

Have you seen the lego story?  It’s a fascinating story and a very watchable animation. Take a look here.  The boys then sequenced the story using pictures and words, and knowing some of the background made us think differently at Legoland, knowing that a small idea can turn into something huge!


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If you intend to go, and have an interest in how the models are made – pop upstairs in the Star Wars area.  You can spy into the workshop and see employees at work.  Well, they were actually having their lunch at their desks when we looked, which led to a whole different discussion about work life balance, but it is really interesting, I promise!  Back at home, we watched a short clip of inside the lego factory and the boys have designed their own imaginary machines.  I’ve introduced C to the concept of a function machine which he loved, and has been practicing some of his times tables on these.  I designed my own for him, and he also enjoyed having a practise online with some more.

We revisited the lego movie app and both boys have made a short movie, fully edited and with music.  C of course created a story with Harry, Ron, Hermione and some dragons which has got me thinking about christmas.  I just took a look at the Harry Potter lego on Amazon… We will keep dreaming for now!  However, if it’s something you will be thinking about for your children, and you purchase via this link, you could be helping start our savings pot as this blog is now an Amazon Affiliate Associate.  Any purchases made via this site will now earn me a small payment.   Maybe one day he can get the real characters instead of making the best of his current mini figures (Ron is a little strange, and Harry has to make do with Batman’s cape!)

Finally, back onto the learning,  inspired by the lego art we saw, we tried our hand at lego pictures, can you tell what they are?

Can you tell what this is?

The lego topic was such a success that I have now used some of our activities to create a set of plans for another family.  If your children like learning through play and construction, then  please get in touch.  Some of this could work for you:  It’s been a fun one.  It came to a natural end as we went on a trip to see The Lion King last week, which unexpectedly led to a week of puppet theatre work; spending two rainy days working on a re-enactment of the show.  That’ll be another post!


crazy golf and green gloop rescue the would-be end of the honeymoon period!

I had a horrid feeling on Monday that the honeymoon period was nearly over!  After the ‘easy’ day we had on Friday I put pressure on myself and C to achieve a lot more on Monday.  Not sure why I put this pressure on us, but I did nevertheless and poor C was having none of it!  He was still incredibly tired and just couldn’t focus.  We spent a ridiculous amount of time on what should have been a 10 minute exercise.  Suffice to say that had I found an apostrophe shaped implement I probably would have done some damage with it!  Apostrophes for omission should have been omitted from our day, and yet still I persevered and still the battle and the nagging (me) and the staring into space (him) continued! On reflection though, we had been to a barbecue the evening before and he was clearly still tired.  We gave up in the end and continued with our deadly animals research and a bit of maths.   Making green slime in the afternoon lightened our mood.  It didn’t work – it is basically regular gloop with food colouring.  But we do like a bit of gloop: Sensory exploration isn’t just for Early Years! Continue reading crazy golf and green gloop rescue the would-be end of the honeymoon period!