Homeschool activities: Children’s Art Week and maths

Children’s Art Week which is organised by Engage, the National Association for Gallery Education, runs from 29th June to 29th July.

The aim of Children’s Art Week is to inspire children to explore different kinds of art and to experiment with a range of media. Families can participate in online workshops led by artists and try their hand at everything from architecture to snow globe making.

Here we share art activities that also develop children’s maths skills. You can try these at home as part of Children’s Art Week or at any time as a way to engage your child with maths. Art and maths are closely related with both subjects requiring the ability to recognise patterns, to understand shapes, symmetry, proportion and measurement and spatial reasoning.

All the activities need very few resources. We hope you and your child have fun!

Tessellation art

Tessellation is a pattern made with polygons (shapes with three or more sides) that completely fills a space with no gaps at all. Tessellations can be seen everywhere from the brickwork of your house to the tiles on your bathroom floor!

You will need A4 card, a glue stick, and a selection of pre-cut squares, rectangles and triangles of different colours. Challenge your child to choose shapes and arrange them on their piece of paper without leaving any spaces in between. Once they are happy they glue their shapes in place. See Art Inspired by Klee for photographs and further instructions.

Older children can try more challenging patterns – their imagination is the limit!

Pi cityscape

Children don’t need to understand the concept of pi to enjoy this activity, so it’s suitable for all ages. For young children it is a good way to help them to remember that pi = 3.14 when they need to know later. Children in Key Stage 2 might benefit from watching Pi for Kids and carrying out measuring activities to develop their mathematical understanding as a supplement to this activity.

Start by printing out the single page pi poster from 10 MinuteMath. Children will also need a piece of graph paper and felt tipped pens. They create a line of skyscrapers by colouring in blocks of squares to match each number in pi – the finished result looks a bit like a bar chart. So they colour 3 blocks, then 1 block, then 4 blocks and so on (3.14…). For instructions accompanied by pictures, visit What do we do all day?

Aboriginal repeating patterns

We love this activity on Nic Hahn’s blogspot. It’s very easy to follow and the effects are beautiful. Young children will learn about repeating patterns, and older children can adapt the activity by making up more complex repeating patterns.

All you need is paper, paint and cotton wool buds. If you don’t have cotton wool buds then finger prints are fine.

Weaving patterns

This therapeutic activity utilizes children’s measuring and pattern making skills.

You will need a paper plate, either paint or felt tipped pens, scissors, and balls of different coloured wool. Children start by decorating the paper plate however they wish. They then turn the plate into a loom by cutting slits around the rim and weaving wool in and out, before weaving their design between these strands.

Cassie Stephen’s blog spot has some beautiful photographs of finished designs which will fire children’s enthusiasm. However, her instructions are difficult to follow so we recommend watching Paper Plate Weaving before you begin.

Geometric paint by number

Here children think about shapes, use a ruler and show that they know the difference between odd and even numbers.

You will need A4 paper, a pencil, a ruler and paint.  Prepare by setting out 10 different paint pots each containing a different colour – or different shades of the same colour. Number the pots 1-10.

Children draw a grid on their paper with each square roughly 4cm x 5cm (4cm across the width of the paper, and 5cm down the length). They then need to draw a large shape right in the middle of the grid – taking up most of the squares. It doesn’t matter if they turn the grid portrait or landscape. On the inside of the shape, in each grid square, they write a different even number to 10.  On the outside of the shape, in every grid square, they write a different odd number to 10. Children then paint their designs by matching the numbers on their grid to the numbers on the paint pots.

Clear instructions for this activity and examples can be found on Nic Hahn’s blogspot.

Mandala maths

This is a lovely activity for children of all ages. Not only does it takes maths and art outdoors, but children can create designs that are as simple or complex as they like. It is an opportunity for children to practise counting, comparing, matching and sorting, and to learn about symmetry and geometry.

If you’ve just been to the beach and have a collection of seashells then have a look at Nurturestore’s website for instructions and inspiration.  Don’t worry if you haven’t been to the beach lately – you can create mandalas from all sorts of natural or household materials or even toys and craft materials. Type ‘mandalas from nature’ into Google Images and you will get the idea!

Does your child need extra help with maths?

If your child is finding particular mathematical concepts challenging or is generally unenthusiastic about the subject, a one-to-one maths tutor can make a real difference to them.

Our highly-qualified tutors are passionate about maths and they want to help children to learn and to enjoy maths just as they do. They take the time to assess children’s mathematical knowledge and to identify where there are gaps so that they can tailor their teaching accordingly.

During the coronavirus pandemic all tutoring sessions take place one-to-one online. Talk to us today at hello@tutormykids.co.uk

Homeschooling Project: World Oceans Day

Monday 8th June is World Oceans Day. The aim of World Oceans Day is to inspire everybody – young and old –  to understand why oceans are important and to take action to protect them.

Oceans:

  • Are the lungs of our planet, providing most of the oxygen we breathe.
  • Are home to a diverse range of marine life which is vital for a healthy ecosystem supporting all life on Earth.
  • Regulate our climate and weather patterns by transporting heat from the Equator to the poles.
  • Are a major food source giving us not just fish but ingredients for other products too – even peanut butter!
  • Provide ingredients for medicines including those that fight cancer, heart disease and Alzheimers.

Here are some practical activities you can do at home to educate your child about our oceans, encourage them to care and to understand that the choices they make really can make a difference.

Why do we need oceans?

Watch National Geographic’s short film, How to Care for the Ocean.

After watching, ask your child:

  • What do oceans provide us?
  • What are the problems?
  • What could happen if we don’t make changes?
  • Can you think of one thing we can do as a family to help care for our oceans?

Know where your food comes from Together search the internet to find out what surprising foods come from the ocean. The National Ocean Service film, What does peanut butter have to do with the ocean? is a great place to start.

Discover what kinds of seafood come from the ocean and ask your child which they have already tried and which they liked best.

Ask your child to make a ‘Delicious Ocean’ poster by drawing and labelling all the things they have eaten that come from the ocean.

Eat sustainable fish

Watch What is sustainable fishing?

After the film check your child’s understanding by asking them what sustainable fishing is and why it’s important. Together visit the Marine Conservation Society’s website to find out what fish is currently sustainable in the UK.  

You could buy a sustainable fish and experiment with a new recipe. To find a recipe type ‘recipe with…’ followed by your fish of choice into a search engine. For example, ‘recipe with coley’.

At the current time it is tricky to buy specific food so this might be an activity to research now and carry out later! Having said that, some local fishmongers will deliver.

Reduce plastic waste

Plastic waste has recently increased due to Covid-19. We are all having to prioritise immediate safety which can mean having shopping delivered in carrier bags and buying long-life food which is often packaged in single-use plastic.

However, even during the pandemic there are steps we can all take to reduce the amount of waste that will end up in landfill. The World Economic Forum’s article Single use plastic in a pandemic: how to stay safe and sustainable is a positive article to share with your child.

To prepare for the end of lockdown your child could make a reusable shopping bag from an old t-shirt – no sewing required. Bags can be decorated with fabric pens or other random craft supplies such as pom-poms, feathers and sequins. Your child’s imagination is the limit!

Care about endangered species

Together look on the Marine Conservation Society’s website to find out which UK marine species are endangered or under threat.

Ask your child to choose an animal they would like to find out more about. Watch a film on YouTube about your child’s chosen animal – we recommend National Geographic Kids’ films. If possible, read books about the animal or discover facts about it online. Your child could make a book or write a short fact file about their animal to teach others about it.  They could also make themed crafts.

For example, if your child chose to find out more about the bottlenose dolphin they could:

  • Watch National Geographic Kids’ Bottlenose Dolphin.
  • Find out more about bottlenose dolphins from National Geographic Kids and write a fact file or make a book to teach others to love them too.
  • Make a dolphin craft – there are plenty on Pinterest and inspiration can also be found on Google Images by typing in ‘Bottlenose dolphin craft’.

Do you need a homeschooling tutor?

At TutorMyKids we believe that enjoyment is the key to successful learning. All of our tutors are qualified, creative teachers who tailor their teaching to suit your child’s needs.

Our tutors can teach your child one-to-one online or set work for them to complete with you. Whatever support your child needs, we are here to help. Contact us today at hello@tutormykids.co.uk.

Coronavirus implications for school and college students.

Many students will be affected by the Coronavirus school shutdowns. Looking at the latest information from the government, there will be a small number of year groups (Reception, year 1 and year 6) potentially returning to school after half term in early June. And only the following on secondary students and A level students: “Our ambition is that secondary pupils facing exams next year will get at least some time with their teachers before the holidays.”

Biggest Impacts – Year 10 and year 12

At Tutor My Kids, we’re looking at where we see the biggest impacts on students.

First and foremost, we foresee that the current year 10 and year 12s will be the hardest affected.

For year 10s and year 12s, at the moment they’ve missed almost a third of this academic year (getting close to 1 whole term). When you look at the entire GCSE or A level course of 5 terms, this makes 1/5th or 20% of their entire GCSE or A level courses missed.

Given the amount that has to be covered, it’s hard to ensure that all the topics are covered in a normal school year. We think this will be doubly hard with such a lot of time lost and leave massive gaps in the learning of many year 10s and year 12s.

Many schools are providing some good input for these students, but it’s not quite the same as being in school and not all students are taking advantage of the lessons and resources that are being provided. I think that there is a lack of understanding of this problem with many parents and students.

Year 5s impacted

In the same way the year 5s will be the next largest year group to be affected.

The primary school curriculum is so full that it is also tough to get children to the right level in time for year 6 SATs, especially those who have learning difficulties such as dyslexia.

I was surprised that the government had proposed returning year 6s to school (unless to help ‘babysit’ the reception and year 1 students). The gaps that they have, will (in most cases) be made up in year 7 as they transition into their secondary schools.

It is the year 5s have a greater need, I believe to be back in school, to prepare them for the SATs and prevent gaps in their learning becoming problematic – see Why-maths gaps occur-and-the-problems-they-cause/

I appreciate that students in year 5 have many years to catch up, but in reality, many primary school gaps in spelling, punctuation and basic maths remain uncorrected at secondary school as the curriculum moves rapidly onto secondary topics, with the assumption that these basic topics are secure.

What can you do to help?

First and foremost, regardless of their year group, take advantage of the resources that their schools are offering – be it remote lessons, links to learning, work set. One of our tutors has been putting together some amazing resources. See Mission-to-the-moon/ This is a great multi-subject topic block for primary aged children.

I know this is incredibly difficult for parents who are juggling work, caring for younger children, so do what you can. No one is expecting you to replace 5 hours of teaching each day! However, IF you’re schedule enables it, an hour a day is a massive help. See How-much-difference-can-an-hour-of-one-to-one-tuition-make/

Can you either remotely now, or face to face later, team up with other parents who can help with the maths, whilst you help out their kids with the English?

Get a tutor – either now or after lockdown. We’re quite busy at the moment, helping out students remotely, and anticipate that we’ll be called upon to help out during the summer (hopefully face to face by then) to help fill gaps ahead of the next academic year in September. Take a look at our ‘For Parents’ page for more details – For Parents.

For an informal chat about possible options for tuition – email hello@tutormykids.co.uk to arrange a time to talk.

Space Day Homeschool Topic: Mission to the Moon!

To celebrate Space Day on 1st May we share some Moon-themed activities that you can do at home with children from primary age upwards.

These activities develop a range of cross-curricular skills including English, maths, science, design and technology and art.

Children are fascinated by the night sky, so there’s no better topic to fire their enthusiasm for learning.

Mission 1: Find out about the Moon

Ask your child what they would like to find out about the Moon. You could write down their questions so that they can refer back to them. They might ask: “Is there water on the Moon?” “What is the surface like?” “How hot or cold is it?” “What is the weather like?”

Together research the answers to their particular questions using books and/or the internet. Here are some possible websites and books:

Moon Facts for Kids, Cool Kids

Moon Facts for Kids, Science Kids

If You Decide to Go to the Moon by Faith McNulty

One Giant Leap by Robert Burleigh

Mission 2: Design an exercise routine for astronauts

Find out how long it takes to travel to the Moon. Discuss with your child why astronauts need to exercise during this time and how they might do so inside a rocket with limited space.

Ask your child to plan and write a 60 minute exercise programme for astronauts, dividing the time into 5 or 10 minute blocks of exercise (5 minutes of star jumps, 5 minutes jogging on the spot and so on). Your child could use a toy clock to help them to plan exercise intervals that add up to 60 minutes.

For exercise ideas watch Joe Wicks and other exercise instructors on YouTube.

Mission 3: Write a menu for astronauts

Look online to find out how astronauts eat in space. In order to write a menu for astronauts your child will need to consider that food must be non-perishable, not crumbly and so on. Your child could test a few different foods for crumbliness before they begin.

Mission 4: Make a food tray for astronauts

Due to lack of space on a rocket a food tray must be designed to fit as much food on as possible as well as taking into account weak gravity.

Provide your child with plenty of resources to choose from in order to make their tray – old cereal boxes, cellotape, glue, elastic bands, foil and recycled plastic containers such as yoghurt pots and spreadable butter containers.

Your child might decide to make a cardboard tray and create compartments by gluing on different containers or they may do something entirely different.

Mission 5: Gravity experiment

This experiment needs to be performed outside or over a container. Ask your child to put a hole in the side of a disposable cup near the bottom. They cover the hole with their thumb as you fill the cup with water. Ask them to hold the cup up high and uncover the hole observing what’s happening.

Repeat the experiment, this time dropping the cup onto the ground. Your child will notice that when they drop the cup the second time water doesn’t leak through the hole.

To see the experiment in action view the Sci Guys: Science at Home – Gravity Water Cup Drop

Mission 6: Design a Moon colony

Ask your child to tell you what they think people would need to be able to survive on the Moon (food, water, air, stronger gravity, protection from the weather and so on). Look at some artists’ drawings of Moon colonies by typing ‘moon colony’ into Google Images and ask your child what they notice about the people, buildings and other features of the environment.

Ask your child to design a Moon colony on paper labelling the different features. Before they start, they could talk to you about their ideas because this will help them to clarify their thoughts.

If your child is feeling adventurous, they might want to create their finished design in 3D. To do this they could make a paper mache lunar landscape (type ‘paper mache lunar landscape’ into a search engine for ideas) and they could make their Moon colony by taping and gluing recycled materials such as cardboard tubes, plastic containers, cereal boxes, tin foil and paper plates onto the landscape and painting them.

Would you like help to supplement your homeschooling?

All our tutors are experienced, qualified and creative teachers who believe pupil enjoyment is the key to successful learning. During these challenging times a tutor can teach your child online or set individually tailored work for them to complete with you.

Perhaps there are classmates of your child or you have a friend whose children who would also benefit from online tuition? We also offer group tuition sessions to help keep children motivated and on track.

Whatever your needs we are here to help, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today at hello@tutormykids.co.uk.

Have you thought about getting a Tutor for your child whilst schools are closed?

It’s back to school after the Easter holidays this week, home school of course. It’s not ideal for many, especially as parents are also trying to work from home, help other vulnerable members of the family and generally cope with this whole strange situation we find ourselves in. It does however look to be continuing for some time yet.

Here at Tutor My Kids the Coronovirus lockdown has meant changing the way our Tutors teach. Our professional and qualified teachers are used to holding sessions in clients’ homes but now, with social distancing in place, they are carrying out all their tutoring online, usually via Skype or Zoom. This has been working really very well and we are so pleased we are able to continue to help children learn and help keep up some form of routine for them during this time.

If you are interested in getting some support for your child whilst schools are closed, then please do get in touch with us to see how we can help. It might be that you need to supplement the home schooling you are doing with them, or that you are still working and unable to give much time to teaching them yourself. Our excellent tutors can help to keep the children on track with the national curriculum and ensure their learning at home is effective. 

We can provide

  • 1-2-1 online tutoring in various subjects.
  • small group online sessions, perhaps for your child and 2 or 3 class friends who would like to work together.
  • work setting and marking as part of our tutoring sessions, so the children have work to be getting on with during each week.

Did you know that families who home educate are often advised that home schooled children require 1 hour of tuition a day, or the equivalent of 10 minutes for every hour they are in school, due to the one to one attention they receive? This advice varies slightly between local authorities but one hour seems a common guide. This figure is also in keeping with the tuition provided by local authorities to sick children who are unable to attend school, where they tend to provide around 5 to 8 hours tuition a week.

Even one hour tutoring a week with one of our experienced teachers whilst schools are closed could make a huge difference to your child. It can help to ensure they don’t get out of the learning habit, that they are working effectively and that they progress during this time.

If you’d like an informal chat about getting a tutor for your child, take a look at our For Parents page or call 01223 858421 or email Rachel Law to schedule a chat

All our tutors are fully qualified teachers and have been DBS checked.

Spotting English Language Features and Explaining the Effect they have on the reader

Key skills for year 10s to master now for the GCSEs in 2021.

Lyn Moulding has been tutoring English language and literature for Tutor My Kids for many years now and has shared these nuggets of wisdom for year 10s to get ahead, especially in this break from formal lessons, due to the Coronavirus:

Language features – adjectives, adverbs, metaphors, similes, personification etc.

A skill that is tested in all four GCSE English language and literature exams is being able to spot examples of language features and explain the effect they have on the reader. The skill of being able to write using examples of language features is tested in section B ‘creative writing’ on English language component 1.

So, it’s really important that you are confident and skilled in spotting, explaining and writing using language features. Why not try the following revision tactics:

  • Make ‘flash’ revision cards or a language features poster. 
  •   Adjectives = describes a noun – the highly polished, antique, pine table

BBC Bitesize lists many language features and provides great examples and explanations

  • Try reading a passage from one of your GCSE texts. Spot the language features and work out the effect they may have on a reader.

A Christmas Carol – ‘as solitary as an oyster’ = simile – oysters remain closed and ‘isolated’ for most of their lives so the simile emphasises just how isolated Scrooge is. 

Context = Oysters were a main component in the Victorian diet.

  • Write a basic story following the ‘mountain plot model’ and then add examples of language features to make the story more interesting and engaging for the reader.

The platform was packed = the platform was a mass of heaving humanity (alliteration)

The more revision you can do now, the easier it will be next year!

It’s never too early to start revising!

If you’re a qualified teacher and/or have tutoring experience, take a look at our For Tutors page, for information on becoming a tutor in Ely or Cambridge.

If you’d like an informal chat about getting a tutor for your children, take a look at our For Parents page or email Rachel Law to schedule a chat.

Coronavirus survival guide: homeschooling the under 11s

The coronavirus has turned all our lives upside down and homeschooling is going to have a major impact on families. We now have to juggle work, housekeeping, and being a parent with being a teacher. At the moment links to resource websites are circulating on social media, but there are so many of them that it’s overwhelming. We’ve created this guide to cut through the noise. Our aim is to point you towards the resources that we think will be most valuable to you.

It’s likely that your child’s school will send work home either this week or next week if they haven’t already. The ideas and links here are intended to supplement the resources you will already have so that you have enough to keep your child busy, motivated and learning…and to keep you sane!

What does my child need to learn?

To find out what is covered in each year group have a look online at the National Curriculum for each subject. For example, you might type into a search engine ‘National curriculum design and technology year 6’.

The BBC Bitesize website is a great second port of call. On this site you will be able to see what is covered in every subject, across every year group. The best thing about this website is that it also gives activities and supplies interactive materials.

How can I structure the day?

The Five Minute Mum gives some brilliant tips about how to structure your day as well as lots of quick activities. Try to replicate the school day as far as possible, scheduling short break and longer breaks. You will know how long your child is able to concentrate for and this will probably vary day-to-day.

During breaks encourage your child to play with their toys outside. Play with them too so that they build on PE skills such as throwing and catching, dribbling a ball and more. If you want more information about how to help your child with PE see the National Curriculum and BBC Bitesize websites (as above).

Make a plan

At the end of each day sketch out a quick plan with just enough information to tell you what you’re doing the following day. Always try to build on what your child has learnt the day before so you revisit anything they find tricky.

Here’s an example of a plan:

Writing: write the beginning of their own version of The Big Pancake

Maths: revise 2 x table; learn addition pairs to 10

Reading: reading book

Spellings: revise ‘about’ and ‘down’; learn ‘saw’, ‘children’

Art: practise mixing colours from primary colours and paint trees in blossom

Science: materials – go around house/garden listing 5 things made from metal, plastic, glass and wood. Ask child why they think different things are made from different materials.

How do I juggle multiple children’s needs?

Always have tasks on hand that children can do by themselves, so that you can focus your attention on one child at a time when you need to do so.

Children could practise handwriting, do a dot-to-dot or colouring, write a letter to a friend, engage in a craft activity, or simply play with their favourite toy. See The Five Minute Mum website (above) for other activity ideas.

Where can I find resources and teaching ideas?

Some educational resource companies are offering free resources for parents. It’s useful to visit these sites once you’ve established what you want your child to learn. Google Images is also a useful resource to find specific worksheets (for example, if you want your child to label the parts of a plant for science you might type in ‘plant label worksheet’).

The following websites are a great starting point for ideas and activities across every curriculum subject including art and design & technology: Teaching Ideas, The School Run

Activity ideas from TutorMyKids

In Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 English, Maths and Science are core curriculum subjects. Here are some ideas to help you.

English

  • Read books every day. Find free e-books on the Oxford Reading Tree website.
  • Read and write poetry.
  • Read familiar stories such as The Giant Pancake and write your own versions over a few days. For example, write the beginning on Monday, the middle on Tuesday and the end on Wednesday. The child could replace characters with their own ideas and change the ending or other events in the story if they want to.
  • Write book reviews of favourite stories.
  • Do some baking or make magic potions in the garden and then write instructions for somebody else to follow.
  • Practice spellings. Learn a few new spellings every week, but make sure learning is secure before moving on.
  • Play phonics games online.
  • Play phonics board games.
  • Play board games such as Scrabble and Pictionary that help children to practise spellings, extend their vocabulary and encourage conversational skills.
  • Play online English games from Ictgames and Topmarks.

For more ideas see our blog post, Support your child’s literacy every day: quick tips

Maths

  • Learn maths through songs. For example, search ITunes and YouTube for times tables songs.
  • Play maths board games you have at home (eg. Monopoly and Snakes & Ladders) or make your own.
  • Do some baking and use the opportunity to teach children cookery maths skills such as weighing, measuring and comparing.
  • Take maths outside!
  • Play online maths games. On this link we particularly recommend Oxford Owl, Ictgames and Topmarks.
  • Complete maths worksheets.

Science

Start with the BBC Bitesize website as this shows you exactly what your child is learning at school. For further activities see:

TutorMyKids’ blog post, Pop, Bang! Six super-simple science experiments

NurtureSchool, How to homeschool science

The Woodland Trust’s outdoor science activities

Top survival tips

Use rewards to motivate your child during this strange and confusing time. This might be a star chart in which they earn a reward at the end of the week or month (depending upon their patience levels!), or they might want you to replicate the system they have in school.

Our children are likely to miss their friends very much, especially as time goes on. Help them to keep in touch with their friends via Skype or FaceTime if you can to help see them through.

Remember yourself in this too. Some days will be good and some will be difficult. Have that glass of wine at the end of the day – you will have earnt it!

How to balance extra-curricular activities with academic studies

Whether you are at school, college or university it is very important to get the balance right between academic studies and extra-curricular activities. Your studies are important for your future success but extra-curricular activities enable you to develop an array of social, communication, cognitive and physical skills, as well as contributing to your happiness.

Here are some tips to help you to best manage your time:

Studies come first

This is true no matter what. To make the most of your education, it’s important that you attend your classes and do your best to learn so that you can achieve your goals. Falling behind now will cause you stress and panic later.

Choose extracurricular activities wisely

You cannot do everything. With some activities it is not enough to attend, you also have to practise at home. Pick only those activities that really interest you and stick to two or three at the most. If you do too much it’s not just your studies that will come under pressure. You need a healthy social life and time to relax as well.

Manage your time

To ensure a healthy balance between your academic workload, extra-curricular activities, social life and relaxing time consider making yourself a schedule. This will help you to see whether you are managing your time smartly or if any changes need to be made.

Prioritize

There will be certain times, such as when exams are looming or assignments are due that you must prioritize your studies. Equally, if you have a dance performance you will need to allow time for rehearsals. Think about what is most important to you at this moment in time. If you have an exam, can you stop any extra-curricular activities for a while? If you have rehearsals to attend, can you minimise study time and catch up later? Talk to your parents or tutors if you are not sure what to do.

Stay healthy

Staying healthy is key to keeping your stress levels low and your energy levels high, enabling you to manage your lifestyle.

  • Eat and drink well. A balanced diet and drinking plenty of water is important for you to be able to function on every level. Without good nutrition you will be prone to fatigue and illness. To live a full life you need to be alert and energetic.
  • Sleep well. For more about this, see our post, ‘Why is sleep important for academic success?
  • Keep fit. As well as keeping you physically fit and warding off the germs, exercise is brilliant for your mental wellbeing as it relieves stress. Pick the kind of exercise you most enjoy so that you are more likely to stick with it. It’s a great idea to choose something physical as one of your extra-curricular activities.

Take study breaks

Studying for too long can result in depression and memory loss. It is very important to plan breaks into your study time. For every 45 minutes of study you need to take a ten minute break to recharge. This might be to go for a short walk or just to make yourself a drink.

Breaks actually benefit your work in other ways too. After taking a break you may find that a tricky concept suddenly becomes clear, or that you are more able to see where to make changes to a piece of writing.

Seek advice

At TutorMyKids we understand how important it is for you to achieve a healthy work/life balance. Our tutors can help you to make a realistic timetable that enables you to manage your studies effectively.

Call or email us for a chat: hello@tutormykids.co.uk, 01223 858 421

Pop, Bang! 6 super-simple science experiments

It’s World Science Day on 10th November.  Part of the purpose is to highlight the relevance and importance of science in our daily lives. 

Here we’ve compiled six of our favourite experiments.  They’re really easy to follow and you will find all of the ingredients in your kitchen cupboard or local supermarket.

Go ahead and stoke the fire of enthusiasm by amazing your child with the magic of science!

Animated Stickman

You will need:

Dry wipe marker pen

Glass bowl or plate

Water

Instructions:

  1. Draw a stickman on the plate or the bottom of the bowl with the dry wipe marker.
  2. Slowly pour water into the bowl or onto the plate and watch the stickman slowly rise.
  3. Gently swirl the water around to see the stickman move.

What happened?

Marker pen ink contains alcohol and different pigments.  The alcohol dissolves leaving behind the pigments as a solid.  The solid slides about when the glass gets wet because glass is so smooth.

Bag Explosion

You will need:

Bicarbonate of soda

Cellotape

Mixing bowl

Tablespoon

Toilet paper

Vinegar

Ziplock bag

Instructions:

  1. Make a bicarbonate of soda pouch by putting one tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda on a square of toilet paper.  Fold the toilet paper and cellotape closed so that the bicarbonate of soda doesn’t leak out of the sides.  Don’t overdo the cellotape though!
  2. Pour 75ml vinegar into the ziplock bag.
  3. Zip the bag so it is almost closed, but there is enough of a gap to fit the bicarbonate of soda pouch in.
  4. Insert the pouch into the bag but don’t let it touch the vinegar.
  5. Zip the bag tightly shut.
  6. Carefully place the bag in the mixing bowl.
  7. Swish the bowl about to mix the chemicals and watch what happens.

What happened?

When vinegar and bicarbonate of soda mix they react to produce carbon dioxide, water and sodium acetate.  The carbon dioxide builds up and is trapped in the bag and so the bag explodes!

Fizzing Snowballs

You will need:

Bicarbonate of soda

Pipette

Tablespoon

Teacup

Vinegar

Water

Instructions:

  1. Fill the teacup 1/3 with bicarbonate of soda.
  2. Gradually add water to the teacup until the bicarbonate of soda forms a compact snowball.
  3. Place the snowball in the freezer overnight.
  4. Take the snowball out of the freezer.
  5. Pipette drops of vinegar onto the snowball to see it fizz.

What happened?

When vinegar (an acid) is added to bicarbonate of soda (a base) they react to produce carbon dioxide.  Change the experiment by warming the vinegar before squirting it onto the snowball.  You could also try freezing the vinegar instead of the bicarbonate of soda and sprinkling the bicarbonate of soda onto the vinegar. 

Lava Lamp

You will need:

Alka Seltza tablet

Clean, empty lemonade bottle

Food colouring

Torch

Vegetable oil

Water

Instructions:

  1. A quarter fill the bottle with water.
  2. Fill the rest of the bottle up, almost to the top, with vegetable oil.
  3. Add a few drops of food colouring.
  4. Drop half of the Alka Seltza tablet into the bottle.
  5. Turn off the light and shine a torch at the bottle as you watch the lava fizz!

What happened?

You will notice that the oil floats on top of the water – that’s because oil is less dense than water.  The food colouring sinks through the oil and mixes with the water because it is the same density as water.  The Alka Seltza tablet dissolves producing carbon dioxide.  Carbon dioxide is lighter than water and so it floats to the top bringing some of the coloured water with it.  When the carbon dioxide is released from the coloured water the water becomes heavy again and sinks.  This process repeats until the Alka Seltzer tablet has completely dissolved.

No-pop Balloon

You will need:

Balloon

2 pieces of cellotape about 6cm long

Sharp needle

Instructions:

  1. Blow up the balloon.
  2. Make a cross shape on the balloon by sticking the two pieces of cellotape.
  3. Stick the needle into the centre of the cross and leave it there.

What happened?

The cellotape stops the balloon from popping quickly.  What causes a balloon to pop is not the sudden release of air but the widening of the hole.  As the balloon’s hole gets bigger the balloon rips and pops. The cellotape slows down this process.  You can try experimenting with different sized balloons and different sorts of tape to compare what happens.

Storm

You will need:

Food colouring

Dessert spoon

Pint glass

Teacup

Shaving foam

Water

Instructions:

  1. Half fill the pint glass with water.
  2. Spray shaving cream onto the water until the glass is 3/4 full.
  3. Spread the shaving cream evenly over the top of the water with your finger so that it’s flat.
  4. Half fill the teacup with water and add 10 drops of food colouring.
  5. Add the coloured water, spoonful by spoonful, to the shaving cream and watch a storm form under the foam!

What happened?

Like the shaving foam in the glass, clouds in the sky hold onto water.  When the water gets too heavy for the clouds it falls out (precipitates) as rain, hail or snow. 

Does your child need extra help with science?

TutorMyKids can put you in touch with an experienced science tutor who can help your child to understand tricky concepts and rekindle their enthusiasm.  To talk about your child’s requirements, please call us for a chat.

10 stress-busting tips for students

The 6th November is International Stress Awareness Day which focuses our minds on caring for our emotional wellbeing.

Most students at one time or another suffer from stress.  This can be due to workload and deadlines, exams, family expectations, social problems, relationship issues, money worries – so many reasons. 

A little bit of stress is good.  It can motivate you to prepare for exams, for example.  However, too much stress can cause anxiety, depression, and other health issues.  That’s why it’s important to learn to manage stress effectively. 

There will always be stressful times in your life, so stress management is an important life skill to master now.

  1.  Sleep

Sleep is number one on the list because students are famous for late nights!  You need between 7 and 9 hours sleep a night to be productive, focused and safe.  However, if you are feeling stressed then it’s much harder for your brain to shut down so from this respect sleep should be last. 

The main thing is to avoid too many late nights and to keep a consistent sleep pattern.  Go to bed early and read or listen to gentle music for an hour or so to switch off.  If you can’t sleep don’t obsess about it because, of course, this makes the problem worse.  Anybody who has cared for a small baby will tell you that months and even years without adequate sleep is not ideal but will not kill you!

For more about sleep see: Why is sleep important for academic success?

2. Exercise

For your mind and body to function effectively you need regular exercise.  Exercise helps you to concentrate and it improves memory and general cognitive ability as well as lifting your mood and improving your sleep. 

Choose exercise you enjoy so you’re more likely to do it.  If you like to dance, join a class.  If you want to lift weights, join a gym.  Find a gym that runs from a school or leisure centre and doesn’t require you to be locked into an expensive contract.

Meet a friend and go for a jog.  For those who want a challenge check out Couch to 5K.  You could take regular brisk walks combined with a high-impact exercise DVD that raises your heart rate.  If you’re time poor search the internet for 15 minute exercise routine programmes.

Intensive exercise before bedtime can make it difficult to sleep, so stick to Yoga or stretches in the late evening.

3. Healthy eating

Your diet can sap your energy or boost your brain.  A balanced diet is made up of carbohydrate, protein, fruit and vegetables.  Include some of each with every meal.  Here are some examples.

Carbohydrates: brown rice, wholemeal bread, potatoes cooked in skin, wholewheat pasta, low sugar breakfast cereal, oats.

Protein: eggs, fish, read meat, beans, lentils, poultry, milk, cheese, yoghurts.

Fruit and vegetables: carrots, tomatoes (fresh or tinned), frozen peas (and other veg), salad vegetables, onions, peppers, oranges, apples, bananas, pears, grapes, tinned fruit in unsweetened juice.

Food doesn’t have to take long to prepare.  Beans or sardines on toast, boiled eggs, jacket potatoes and vegetable-based pasta dishes are quick and easy. 

Avoid takeaways and fast foods.  Cook from scratch by finding yourself a student cookbook.  Don’t deprive yourself of treats though – all in moderation!

4. Relaxation techniques

There’s a book called 100 Ideas for Primary Teachers: Mindfulness in the Classroom by Tammie Prince which, although not aimed at students, contains a wealth of easy-to-follow and very effective relaxation techniques that are great for everybody.

The techniques in the book draw upon the following:

  • Breathing
  • Active meditation
  • Guided meditation
  • Mindful walking
  • Positive thinking
  • Yoga

The internet has a wealth of information about each of these too.  See Relaxation coping skills – activities to help kids calm down at home and at school.

5. Do what you love!

What makes you happy?  Is it socialising with friends?  Being immersed in a craft project?  Playing basketball?  Whatever you love doing, make time for it alongside your studies.  Remember to have a work-life balance.  If you do you will feel:

  • More motivated and therefore more productive in your studies
  • Have higher self-esteem
  • Happier and friendlier towards others.

6. Listen to music

Music has many benefits.  It can:

  • Help you to concentrate by making you feel calmer.
  • It can inspire creativity, getting your ideas going.
  • Make you feel better.  When you enjoy music your brain releases a chemical called dopamine which lifts your mood.
  • Motivate you to exercise.  Running, spinning or dancing to music keeps you going!
  • Be sociable.  There’s nothing like a shared love of music to bond friends.

7. Think positively

Negative thinking can be paralysing.  It can stop you from moving forward in life and achieving your goals.  Thinking positively boosts confidence, makes you feel happier and reduces stress levels. 

But what is positive thinking and how do you achieve it?  See the NHS Moodzone (below) for ways to manage unhelpful thinking habits.  Also see 7 practical Tips to achieve a positive mindset.

8. Explore Moodzone!

The NHS provides free mental well-being podcasts to help young people who are feeling low or anxious.  Each podcast gives simple advice to boost your mood.  There’s a mood self-assessment to help you to choose which guide will help you the most.  You will find:

  • Anxiety control training
  • Overcoming sleep problems
  • Low confidence and assertiveness

9. Manage your time

Create a study timetable and stick to it as far as you can.  Make sure the timetable is realistic.  It’s vital to rest, exercise and socialise too.  Remember that work can often take longer than you think it will so be kind to yourself when you’re planning.  Set yourself up to succeed.

Choose the best place to study.  Where are there fewest distractions?  Where are you less likely to daydream and procrastinate?  Some people study better when there is a buzz around them and others prefer quiet.  Be honest about which one is you.

10. One step at a time

When you’re on top of your studies you will feel more relaxed.  Sometimes you might feel like you have so much to do that you don’t know where to start.  This becomes a vicious cycle because then you’re too frightened to begin and so the mountain becomes a daunting climb.

So take small steps.

Decide what you want to (realistically) achieve today.  Don’t work for more than 40 minutes in one stretch.  Take 10 to 15 minute breaks with an hour for lunch. 

At the end of the day reflect upon what you’ve achieved.  If you need help from your tutor because you’re grappling with a difficult concept then get help as soon as you can.  Don’t allow any difficulties to become road blocks.

Are you feeling overwhelmed by your studies?

If you feel you need extra help TutorMyKids can find you an experienced, qualified local tutor who will support and motivate you with your studies.  We offer tuition in the evenings, on weekends and during the holidays. 

Whether you need regular tuition or short-term, intensive revision sessions please get in touch.