Tuesday, 29 May 2018

b/d reversal strategy

 Reversing the letters b and d is not uncommon.  There are many strategies to support those students.  I recently used this one with a student who particularly liked it as she said the strategy was always in her hand.  

Monday, 30 April 2018


Being fit and healthy is essential to all humans and nationally there is concern that children are not as physically active as previous generations. Being involved in sport or a physical activity is a great way to encourage a healthy lifestyle.  In addition, through sports we can develop our self-esteem, a sense of achievement and respect for others. It also teaches us to adhere to rules and develops an understanding of fair play.  Sport is something families can participate in together, whether it is as athletes or spectators.

Your child’s learning across the curriculum can also be developed through sports.   Listening and communication skills are developed not just by participation in a sport but also through discussion.  Encourage your child to explain their viewpoint objectively and to accept that others’ views may differ.  Reading skills can be developed by sports reports, sport themed books or biographies.  Encouraging your child to write their own sports report or create a fact file of a chosen athlete will develop their non-fiction writing skills.

Observing and recording results or sport statistics develops both maths and science skills.  For example, drawing bar graphs of gold medals won at the Olympics or recording their own times and those of other family members lapping the garden. Working out what time it will be when the match finishes or measuring how far they can jump. 

Through sport, your child can learn about the world and different cultures, for example, where is Pyeongchang?  What is the time difference there?  What was the average snowfall during the Olympics? 

Children can also be inspired by sports.  Sports can provide positive mentors and role models.  These people inspire us all not only with their achievements but also with their skills and determination to overcome any difficulties and to improve.   Unfortunately, there are also negative role models in sports but children may learn from these too, for example, it is not acceptable to verbally abuse another player or to cheat.  The following observation by John Wooden perhaps explains what we can learn from our role models, and about ourselves from sports - "Sports do not build character.  They reveal it!"

Friday, 30 March 2018


I used this strategy with one of my students who was finding multiplying TU x TU using the compact method confusing.  It really helped him to understand what to do.  In fact, we only used the method a few times before he felt confident  enough to use the more conventional method. 

Another student was having a similar difficulty.  I showed her the method and we discussed it together.  That conversation enabled her to complete multiplication sums without the need to draw the shapes and colour code the numbers.  The conversation was enough.

Thursday, 1 March 2018


There is strong evidence that people who are bilingual have stronger communication and cognitive skills.  Being bilingual gives the brain a good workout, enabling an individual to focus for longer and retain information more effectively.   Learning a language develops confidence in speaking and listening skills.  It helps us to understand our own language and culture whilst at the same time developing an awareness of the world.  These advantages can also be developed by learning a second language.

The main advantage of learning a language at an early age is confidence.  Young children learn their own language extremely quickly, constantly exploring, playing and mimicking words. Learning a language can be a rewarding whole family activity. A child who is learning alongside an adult, frequently experiences good role modelling in perseverance. Learning together can also be an opportunity to share strategies. 

The internet has many free resources and materials that can support your child, and you, in learning a second language.  Songs, poems, rhymes, TV programmes and stories in other languages which can develop listening, speaking and comprehension skills are easily found on you tube and other search engines. Many of these will include sub-titles and may be familiar to your child.   There are also good Apps which can be downloaded for free.

Use post-its and flashcards to learn everyday words and phrases; you may wish to label objects around the house or create a treasure hunt with the words.  The flash cards can be used to play matching games such as snap.  Flashcards can be created by you and your child, using magazines or by drawing your own images.  

Another activity to develop language skills is to create your own shop, recycling food packaging, etc.  Playing shop is a fun way to practice vocabulary and counting; it also develops mathematical skills.

 In our increasingly globalised society, the benefits of speaking other languages are invaluable.  This is perhaps best expressed in the words of Nelson Mandela;

"If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head.  If you talk to him in his own language that goes to his heart."

Thursday, 1 February 2018


This activity was one of my favourites in primary school.  Pictures created using lines were really popular at the time; they could be drawn, sewn using card and thread or created with nails and thin wire. 
As a tutor, I have used the activity to support my students with learning the multiplication tables.  The activity is good practice for drawing lines with a ruler and develops the fine motor skills.  

Use the templates and images below to create your own curved stitching patterns. You can adapt them so that the student draws a line from dot 1 to dot 1 or use a multiplication table, e.g. 1 to 4, 2 to 8, etc.

Straight Lines to Curved Lines 1


Straight Lines to Curves Lines 2

Straight Lines to
Curved Lines 3

This pattern has been created by drawing a line to every fifth dot.  When I was at school we would continue to count  -  15, 16, 17, 28, 19, 20 ... (sometimes writing the numbers by the dot) so that we were drawing lines to the next multiple of 5.   


 Use the template to experiment with other numbers.  What patterns can you create? 

Wednesday, 3 January 2018


Science is part of our everyday lives; it exists all around us. 

Scientific skills that enable us to enquire and question, to predict, test fairly, to observe, classify and conclude can be developed by sharing activities such as cooking and gardening with your child.  Your local library as well as the Internet and a variety of device Apps are excellent resources of fun scientific activities.  Another way to develop your child's scientific skills is to create a science box filled with magnets, torches, mirrors, plastic containers, a range of materials and paper and construction bricks, etc.  This will help your child to learn through direct experience and play.

The following are just a few science activities that you can complete with your child.  Encourage your child to ask questions, to make hypothesis and predictions and observations. Results can be recorded using words, graphs, pictures or photos.

Grow seeds in a jar using either compost or kitchen towel.  This can be extended by planting the same type of seed in the same type of container and material but placing the seeds in different location, e.g. a jar in sunlight, a jar in the dark. By only changing one variable your child is beginning to learn how to test their hypothesis/question fairly. 

Place white flowers or celery in jars of water with different food colouring and observe. 

Use torches to test which materials are transparent, translucent or opaque.  Place blue, red and green tissue paper over the lens of three torches and shine them onto the same spot, experimenting with light and colour.

Experiment with air resistance by building parachutes with different size materials and paper, using the same object i.e. a small toy.


Fill four identical containers with the same amount of the following fluids: orange juice, vinegar, water and coke.  Place eggs shells in each container and observe which dissolves the quickest.

Grow crystals by dissolving salt into a beaker of water and suspend a thread in the solution.

Encourage your child to ask questions by asking questions yourself. 

"The important thing is to never stop questioning."
Albert Einstein.

Monday, 27 November 2017


I have created this activity to support a student with recognising and understanding square and prime numbers; it encourages the student to reflect on their learning and to explain their reasoning with me.  It has proven to be popular with other students too.  The colouring is beneficial to the development of fine motor skills.  The student can also cut out the completed tree which in turn can be used as part of a display.  I have also included a tree template so that you can design your own tree puzzle (I also have a long ea and short ea tree).  My students also like to use the tree template to design their own puzzles too.