This is the second in our weekly post of fun and engaging ‘Curious Little Monkey’ activities for primary children! You can either use these activities as and when you like, or as part of our weekly homeschool timetable for children (available to download for free at the bottom of this post). These activities were created by Laura McCartney, qualified teacher, homeschooling Mum of 4 and founder of Curious Little Monkeys homeschool group. For more weeks of fun activities see the Activities section of the homeschooling blog posts.
Story Time Activity (Literacy)
Read a story with great descriptive language. We love the Gruffalo. It uses adjectives brilliantly and gives children a really easy structure to copy. If you don’t already own the book you can get it here.
After enjoying the story, see if your child can go back through the story and pick out the fabulous descriptive words and put them in the right places on this adjective alphabet (here’s a Twinkl resource). They can then complete the alphabet with their own ideas and help from thesaurus, online tool or by looking at other stories. Great for spelling, reading and vocabulary building.
As a follow-on activity, challenge your child to design their own ‘terrible creature’ using the Gruffalo as inspiration- here’s a Twinkl resource. They can think about all the different parts of the creature as they do it the book. Children can add some descriptive sentences, single word captions or a little story as is ability appropriate.
As a lovely way to conclude, why not watch the animated version of the story and discuss which you liked better and why?
All aspects of literacy covered!
Super Slime (Science)
Slime is an absolute favourite in our house! The children love to make it themselves and ours will then sit and play with it for ages. We’ve tried lots of different versions and found this recipe to be a really good one. We’ll be posting several adaptations of this in the coming weeks. Younger children will need help to mix up a batch but older children can be given the recipe and instructions to follow independently.
- 150ml of PVA glue
- ½ teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
- 1 ½ tablespoons contact lens solution (we like RevitaLens, available in supermarket online deliveries). A bottle will last approximately 14 batches!
- Mix the colour into the glue in a bowl.
- Then stir in the bicarbonate of soda.
- Add the contact solution a little at a time, it will start to change texture!
- Once you can no longer mix with a spoon, put onto kitchen side/table and knead for at least five minutes. Different products will vary slightly so we always suggest a few tries to get your quantities exactly right.
For a great scientific aspect to this activity you can discuss with the children in an ability appropriate way how you are making a polymer. A polymer is made up of chains of molecules. The substances in the recipe (PVA and contact solution) contain molecules which are held together with chemical bonds. As you mix, chains are made when new chemical bonds are formed between the molecules of both ingredients, making it stretchy!
There are some great youtube resources to help explain this.
Science, literacy, numeracy, art tick!
With a little prep work these can keep children occupied for hours. It adds a great element of believability to make the characters and introduce them to the children when you explain the challenge to them!
If you have more than one child you could have them work together in a team or encourage independent attempts. We like to provide mini whiteboards and paper and pencils for design purposes, but never put any pressure on the children to use them.
“Archaeologists Rex Hardcastle and Sadie Powers have an important, undercover mission. They need to deliver an ancient map to a hidden location on a dessert island. They must get the map safely to the island without being seen so they will need to travel underwater.
They urgently need your help! Your team must design and engineer a vessel to carry Rex, Sadie and the map safely to the dessert island. It will take 32 seconds to travel the distance to the island, so the vessel will need to be submerged for that length of time. It is vital that the map makes it WITHOUT getting wet.
Remember to listen to everyone’s ideas and include all the members of your team. Good luck Lego Masters!“
It can be helpful to give the children a set amount of time to complete the challenge and you should ‘test’ their build to see if they successfully completed their mission at the end. The bath would be perfect for this or even just a large tub of water outside. If you have time, a tiny tea-stained map adds so much authenticity to the challenge (make a few for test runs of their vessel!).
Encourage the children to test as they go and re-think their design if it isn’t working. It would be great to give them something such as a stopwatch to time the submersion with as well.
If you have (or can get) a scrapbook or a folder, children love working on an on-going project. They will cover literacy, science, art & PSHE!
If you have a child interested in all things to do with the underwater world then we absolutely love this documentary. If the Ocean theme doesn’t work for you, pick any other that does.
‘Oceans’ is a Disney nature production which explores all five of Earth’s oceans and has a strong conservation message – minus the explicit imagery of animals suffering shown in other films. Children get to see amazing underwater creatures including the blanket octopus, spider crabs and whale sharks. There is a load of downloadable resources and activities available here.
After you have watched the documentary, ask your child to create a front cover for their scrapbook or folder. Let their imagination run wild with this. It’ll give them a nice sense of ownership and pride.
It can be a great idea to get children to begin a big topic with a mindmap. Simply put the word ‘Ocean’ in the middle of a large piece of paper and let them write or draw things they know about the topic around the edge, they can include questions they would like to find out the answers to and any activities they would like in include in their studies. This is so valuable in assessing their prior knowledge of a subject and tailoring their learning experience going forward.
Once the mindmap is completed, how about moving on with a poster outlining one of the things we can do to help the oceans that they have picked up from the documentary?
Create a Pancake Restaurant (Numeracy)
A super fun way to practise weighing, measuring, number recognition and money is to open a pancake restaurant! You can go to town on this if you have time or scale it back if you need it to be a quicker activity.
When we have done this previously we go ‘all out’ by getting the children to come up with a name and menu for their restaurant. Obviously they need to produce a list of what is available (use whatever you have at home for topping options). Their menu should include pictures to illustrate the options and prices.
Discuss what sensible prices would be a plain pancake and for each topping and ensure they use the correct signs for pounds and pence. Will they have any special offers? Perhaps it’s buy two toppings and get the third free?
I would suggest creating the menu as a first session and the practical making of the pancakes be a separate activity. Before they make the pancakes they will need to set up their restaurant (perhaps they could do this at the kitchen or outdoors weather permitting. We picked some flowers and laid out napkins to make our table fancy!
Once everything is ready the customers can place their orders (children can write these down and soft toys make great customers if you are short on people). If you make up a stack of pancakes they could all be served and enjoyed together for lunch.
Older children will be able to independently follow the recipe and cook the pancakes, younger ones may need help. Let them have a try at as much as possible (even cracking eggs!).
- 100g plain flour
- 2 large eggs
- 300ml milk
- Butter or oil to fry
Once you have enjoyed your feast, the restaurant owner will need to do everyone’s bill and take their money. A pot of coins is fabulous for letting children add up and give change. As a follow-on activity another day, write a few pancake and topping combinations out for your child to work out the cost of and set out the correct money.
Get crafty with a collage (Art)
We absolutely love looking at famous pieces of art and using them to inspire our creativity. This picture called ‘The Snail’ by Matisse is a great discussion starter.
Why do you think Matisse named it the snail? It would be great to examine a real snail shell and make comparisons too. Give children a selection of wrapping paper, tissue paper, coloured paper and card (whatever you have at home) and invite them to create their own ‘snail’.
Investigate the pH scale (Science)
If you can get hold of a red cabbage this is an easy and very visual investigation into the pH scale. Depending on the child’s ability you can explain this in as much depth as you like but for a fairly simple introduction, we like this Youtube video.
Before any investigation, safety points should be discussed and risks assessed. It’s good to get the children involved in doing this.
The investigation itself is very simple. Chop red cabbage up into small pieces, pour boiling water over and leave to sit for a few minutes. It can be gently stirred so children are actively involved in the process. Once the water has gone a lovely shade of purple it can be carefully strained and set aside in a jug.
Collect together the items you wish to test and set up your science area. Clear glasses are ideal for lining up and part filling with your litmus solution (cabbage water). Then you will drop a small amount of each item below into the glass and observe what happens. We used these gorgeous rainbow pipettes to add to the feeling of being a real scientist!
Suggestions for testing:
Bleach, baking powder, washing up liquid, sanitiser, sugar solution, water, lemonade, vinegar, milk, lemon juice (or whatever you have at home).
Make sure the children make a prediction before they test and a conclusion when they are done. You can easily print off the pH scale so results can be compared. What have they learnt? There are some great resources here (for KS1) and here (for KS2) for recording predictions, results and conclusions. Depending on ability, children can draw, write or even take photographs to record. They could tell you what they think and you could record their thought. Whatever is appropriate!
I hope these activities provide you with some fun and stimulation over the next week- for anyone who is overwhelmed with all the resources for children floating around, we have put together a bespoke gentle homeschool timetable with activities included, plus guidance for parents on how to adapt the schedule for your child.
If you’d like even more of these types of activities, see last week’s post Brilliant Homeschool Activities: Initial Week.