Ten Terrible Dinosaurs by Paul Stickland, paperback picture book, first published by Ragged Bear Publishing Ltd. in 1997, this edition published by Picture Corgi in 2014.
This is a cute count-down book perfect for toddlers and preschoolers. It uses simple language and large text, making it easy for young children to follow the words. The illustrations are bright and colourful. The story is funny, it rhymes, and most importantly there are dinosaurs!
My toddlers have been asking me to read Ten Terrible Dinosaurs a lot lately. They like to make roaring sounds throughout as they pretend to be the dinosaurs in the story. The repetition of the numbers has been helping them to learn the numbers, and we like to count the dinosaurs together. Knowing that the number will rhyme with the previous line has encouraged them to try to predict the next number. They also laugh every time we get to the dinosaur whose silly trick goes wrong, and when one of the dinosaurs gets stuck in a tree!
Dino Shapes by Suse MacDonald, board book, published by First Little Simon in 2014, previously published as Shape by Shape in 2009.
My toddlers are obsessed with dinosaurs at the moment. As soon as they saw this cute little board book, they wanted it. It has been read over and over and over… They love it. I also like it, it has been helpful in teaching them some shapes.
Each page is a bold colour, the text is easy to read and simple. It starts with two black circles for eyes, and each page uses a new shape in the story, adding detail to the dinosaur. There are cut-outs on the pages for each shape the story uses. These accumulate to provide the final picture. It is quite clever really, though as far as I know, Brachiosaurus didn’t have big pointy triangular teeth!
Inside the front cover there are also different shapes printed in bright colours with the name of the shape beneath each one. I often ask my toddlers to point out certain shapes before we read the story. They like to repeat the names of the shapes after I read them out too.
Dino Shapes comes in a sturdy board book format and is perfect for babies and toddlers.
Optical Illusions by Dr Gareth Moore, hardback non-fiction, 96 pages, published by Parragon Books Ltd in 2013.
Optical Illusions presents more than 150 different images with explanations of these truly amazing illusions. The book was broken up into sections containing different types of illusions, such as perspective illusions, movement illusions, and colour illusions.
Both my daughter and myself pored over this book for hours allowing our minds to be tricked by the images. Some of them we had to move closer or further away to experience the illusion, and a few I couldn’t see at all, but most of them were very obvious. Even knowing that it was an illusion, it was incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to ignore the trick and see the image for what it really was. I loved trying though!
There was a handy little visual interpreter card inside the front cover that could be used to remove the illusion. Throughout the book, if an image could be decoded using the visual interpreter, there was a coloured circle besides the illusion indicating which part of the visual interpreter to use. This made checking whether lines were really straight or areas were the same colour much easier. My second grader liked using this visual interpreter to help her to see the reality of the image.
Optical Illusions is a very entertaining book that really has to be seen to be believed!
To practice using rulers and tape measures (and reading them accurately!) we spent an hour or so measuring different parts of our bodies.
L marking out her foot to measure it.
Measuring A’s hand with the ruler.
Both L and A stood on a sheet of paper and placed a mark along the back of their heel, and at the top of their big toes. They then used a ruler to measure how long their feet are. Both of them found their left feet to be slightly longer than the right. They also used the rulers to measure the length of their hands, from the circlet of wrinkles at the wrist to the end of the middle finger. L drew around her hand carefully and then measured the length of each of her fingers.
L tracing around her hand.
L measuring around her waist.
Measuring my ankle.
L used a tape measure to measure around her waist, but the first few times she read off the inches side, and had to try again to get centimetres. They also used the tape measure to measure around our ankles, wrists, upper arms and heads. They compared all of the measurements. They were quite amazed that the left side of the body can be different to the right side. They also discovered that my head isn’t that much bigger than L’s!
Even the bunny got in on it!
This was a simple activity that needed no preparation to organise, but it gave the kids plenty of practice measuring things. Being able to measure accurately and consistently is an important skill, and we will be practicing it more in the future.
Feeling the buttons.
A made another rainbow today, this time using buttons. We have a big jar of old or odd buttons that are great for crafting with. A tipped the jar all over the mat, and enjoyed running her fingers through the buttons. She looked for unique or special buttons, such as shiny ones or particularly large ones.
Sorting into colours.
She sorted the buttons into piles of like colours in preparation for making her rainbow. This was a good sorting activity for A, where she sometimes had to decide what colour a particular button was. For example, she had to decide whether some of the buttons were more orange and should go in the orange pile, or were they more red and go in the red pile. Picking up the buttons and placing them was also good for her fine motor skills.
Placing the buttons.
A laid out the buttons on a piece of paper to form her rainbow. She started with the green buttons on the bottom because green was the least numerous colour, which she could tell from the size of the pile. Then she worked her way out through the colours. She didn’t glue the buttons down though, so she could reuse them for something else later.
Once A was finished, she packed up all of the buttons very carefully back into their jar.
Basher Basics: Maths by Dan Green, paperback non-fiction, published by Kingsfisher in 2010.
Covering the basics of maths in an amusing and informative way, this book is a good read for younger learners. It is divided into four sections, one introducing numbers, one for shapes, one for operations and one for data. Within each section, the different aspects of maths, such as Add, Fraction and Average, have been personified with imaginative drawings, and a brief overview of what each one is. There are also some examples to help reinforce the information. At the end of the book there is a glossary of maths terms for quick reference.
This book contained simple language and easy to understand explanations of math basics. All of the information is presented in an appealing way suitable for children. The colour illustrations are well designed and fun. I think this book would be most helpful for students in lower to middle primary school. It is a good addition to our home library for both our second grader and our preschooler.
The pile of wooden beads.
A found a little box of wooden beads and laces while we were tidying up her room. She asked to do some beading with them today.
Sorting the beads.
She tipped them out into a pile, and then sorted them by colour. There was also a few bigger beads with flowers on them, and A placed all of these ones together. Once she had them in separate piles, I gave her some little cardboard labels on which I had written the French words for the colours. She read each one, and then put the label next to the correct pile.
Sorted beads with French labels.
A placed the beads onto the laces, making patterns with the colours. Once she was happy with her string of beads, we hung them up in her room.
I wrote numbers in the inside base of twelve muffin cases (numbers 1 to 12), and placed the muffin cases into our muffin trays. Then I asked A to place the correct number of pom poms into each muffin case. She used some big plastic tweezers and some scoop tweezers to pick up the pom poms and transfer them to the muffin cases.
The muffin cases numbered and set out.
The plastic tweezers.
For each muffin case I would ask A how many she needed to put in, and she would read the number out loud. She counted each pom pom as she went, and then re-counted them at the end to make sure she had them all right. As she went, I asked her to do some basic subtraction and addition to work out how many pom poms she had to get to reach the right number.
Scooping up some pom poms.
A liked practicing her numbers and it was fun using the tweezers. Some of the little pom poms were hard to pick up, and this was a good chance for her to practice her fine motor skills.
Placing a pom pom into the muffin case.
Using the tweezers to grab a pom pom.
Marshmallow and straw building.
We practiced our architectural skills using marshmallows, plastic straws and toothpicks. It was lots of fun, and the kids loved eating the marshmallows once they were finished 🙂
Marshmallow and toothpick house.
L discovered that the toothpicks worked better than the straws, as they were shorter and stronger. She also found that using triangles as her base shape created a stronger structure that could be built up much taller than those made with squares.
After the tower building was complete, both L and A made some original sculptures using the marshmallows. I particularly liked L’s ‘Cat doing splits’.
Making crazy sculptures.
Cat doing splits.
During a recent trip to Bunnings I picked up some paint sample cards. Once we’d chosen the colours we wanted, it seemed a bit wasteful to toss the cards out, so we made a matching and memory game with them.
Ordering the numbers.
Each card had three shades of colour on it, so we separated each card into three. I wrote the words zero to ten on these cards, and L wrote the numbers 0 to 10 on more of the cards. We spread all these cards out on the floor, and A matched the numerals to the words. This was a great activity for learning to associate the numeral form with the word form of these numbers.
A placed the numbers in numerical order, and then matched the words to them.
Playing memory with the number cards.
We set the cards out right side down in a grid to play memory. The kids took turns turning over two cards at a time trying to make matches of the numbers to their names. We really enjoy playing memory, and we have several sets of picture memory cards that we often play with. Memory is a simple game for improving concentration, logic and memory and it helps kids learn about taking turns.
Matching ‘friends of ten’.
L used the cards to match the ‘friends of ten’. These are two numbers that add together to give ten, such as 4 and 6, 3 and 7, 10 and 0, etc. Knowing the ‘friends of ten’ is important for quick calculations and improving maths confidence.
We had enough paint colour cards left over to make a shapes version too, with the shape names on some of the cards, and the matching shapes drawn (imperfectly by me) on others. A named all of the shapes for me, and then I helped her match the words to the shapes. She was less familiar with the shape name words, so this was a harder task than matching the numbers to their names.