The Boys research piece of Len Johnson …

The Boys Project at Archives+  came to an end today. .This is his finished work on Len Johnson the Manchester Black Boxer born in Moss Side and the colour bar in boxing and how he created an organisation to raise awareness about the colour bar and to stop discrimination..fascinating story and so proud at how much effort he put in. I love his art work too.a surprising talent I didn’t know he had.

The final work will be up on their official blog in a week or so…


Morning reading ritual…

It is has become a ritual now for us all to read in the morning at breakfast.. it also helps that it is less formal and especially for Lil’ Lady there is less pressure for her to “perform”. Now we read becasue we have a love of reading, and because she observes us all reading she wants to find her own enjoyment.

I use this time to listen with one ear for a while, and chime in occassionally, then sit back and let her navigate the pages for herself. Seems to be working….

Breaking through…

Well we’ve had a breakthrough with reading…its like a magic switch has flipped and everything we’ve done has merged and she’s reading…words I didn’t know she knew…..and what was the catalyst?. ….Matilda! 

Yep, Roahl Dahl’s Matilda. 

Don’t get me wrong she struggles through a bit in places…and I have to bite my tongue and let her work on the sounds but she gets thete eventually and us so proud of herself that it’s spurring her on…

So her latest requests are trips to the library…music to a book dragons (no worms here ha ha) ear.

So today we are off to the Cinema to watch Mis Peregrines home for peculiar children followed by a library visit.. 

Reluctant learner

Pop anything remotely looking like a work book, or work sheet in front of Lil and the shutters come down, her arms fold and the strong willed, I’m not entertaining that attitude sets in… and I recognise myself so much. Even now as an adult I still feel this way when all I want to do is learn, soak up the knowledge and not have to bother with the boring stuff. However the boring stuff needs to be done, somehow and someway.. but she’s 6, and I don’t want to turn her off learning so lately. Workbooks and sheets have been put to one side and we are taking a new approach to our daily Literacy and maths work.

We discuss…. we use real application, weighing, measuring, watching. doing and if we feel up to it we write down some info too.

With Literature, especially as she wants to read by herself, we still use the Usbourne books series, however I don’t want her to see reading as a chore. And that’s what I feel it is becoming in schools. Up until a child starts school Literature is a pleasure it is explored through rhyme, through glorious stories, through music and beat and movement…. and then it kind of stops and instead children have to learn the technicalities of literacy to the detriment of the enjoyment of it.

Michael Rosen summed it perfectly recently..READ HERE

.. I couldn’t agree with him more. I want Lil to understand literature, to enjoy it.. to love the written word and not be turned off by the mechanics of it!

So I have changed my stance on her road to reading (and writing)

We have always been residents at the library. She has had a library ticket since she was born. But recently we have been signing up to their reading challenges. We’ve also been taking advantage of their reading events. The most recent being their bed time stories session, were stories and rhymes are shared for an hour in the evening once a month. Very similar to what they do for toddlers but extended for older children. And it is fantastic.


This was the latest session, and I have to admit I really enjoyed it myself. Enjoyed!! ๐Ÿ™‚

I also decided that we would pick an author and read our way through their books. I also wanted to do this as seamlessly as possible, so it didn’t feel like a lesson, so I decided that these books would be our bedtime stories. Reading one to two chapter per night. And lo and behold after deciding to do it this way THIS article made it into the news this week. And I couldn’t agree more with whats written.

One of my fondest memories is my mum reading me the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe at bedtime when I was about 5. We didn’t have a lot and my mum left school at 13, but she never failed to read to me….. Minion 2 only just got a TV in his room last Xmas which he now no longer has as he is a gamer and prolific reader and doesn’t use it. Minion 1 didn’t have a TV in her room until she was 16, and again it is hardly ever used …. and non for Lil… hopefully never… I have a TV in my room and it is never on.. we are a family of book worms. I wouldn’t say that the bedtime story is the key to literacy, but it goes along way to firing a young childs imagination, bonding between parent and child and also for them to love the written word. I don’t read every night, but a good chunk of the week.. ok back to this post…my mind wanders ๐Ÿ™‚

…seeing that Roald Dahl day was approaching we decided to start reading some of his books. We started with The Twits
.. which she didn’t like. I was really surprised. But we discussed it. The main reasons being she didn’t like Mr Twit.. he was mean… The character made her “not feel nice”.. now isn’t that the job of a good villan. But I was happy that she felt that. That she engaged with the characters.

The best bit about choosing Dahl first is that there is a wealth of free resources on the net to accompany his books.ย  One we loved was Puffins Roald Dahl days Virtually live video cast.ย  Where schools, home educators etc all tuned in live from around the world, you can pose questions and they also discussed through some of Dahl’s work, and had small activities and this year they chose the Twit’s… They have past years videos on there too which we are working through.

Roald Dahl Day 2015

Roald Dahl Day 2014

Roald Dahl Day 2013

Roald Dahl Day 2012

Quentin Black Illustrator for Roald Dahl

All virtually Live days.. Lots of children’s authors


Quentin Blake had a drawing class on how to Draw Mr Twit.. here’s Lil following the instructions and her finished Mr Twit complete with fish in his beard ๐Ÿ™‚




We then started The BFG.. WOW!! She loves this book. And thanks to The Roald Dahl museum and their lesson plans we have got stuck in today making a Dream Jar just like the BFG, discussing the use od adjectives, and also talking about Lil’s future dreams and hopes with the culmination of the picture below



She wants to be a paleontologist when she is older… digging up dinosaur bones.




Reading with Lil..

Lil wants to read. She has a hunger for it.

To start with we have being using signs and symbols as with all children they sometimes cannot transfer words on the page to words in everyday situations. We read together a lot. Bedtime stories or just snuggled on the sofa. We are a family of avid readers. My older two have always read above the age range. That is not to say they were early readers. On the contrary I have never pushed for them to read. I let them come to it naturally, in their own time. Just sharing the love of the written word with them. Sometimes a film has spurred them on to pick up a book. What ever works is alright with me.

I then started to look at phonic systems. I was taught this way when a child, and I know schools in the UK have changed their approach over the years back and forth with phonics but it is something that Lil seems to get on with.

I started with the TV show the Alphablocks to help with the phonic sounds. The mix of the visual and correct sound is great for different types of learners. Visual and Auditory mainly but also Kinesthetic. Lil does not do well sat down. She is usually watching these while kart wheeling across the living room.

I bought the DVD’s from amazon but videos can be viewed on YouTube. And also on the Cbeebies website.

They even have their own reading programme.

We dip in and out of these DVD’s, 10 minutes before bed, or when we are having quiet time. At the moment we are blending words so this is learning in a fun way and a little TV time.

However she struggles with words in some books and as a result I ended up buying 3 reading systems for her.


The first being the Biff Chip and Kipper books that are used mainly in schools. I HATE them. The stories are dry and I find that she reads these more by rote. I am not saying that she doesn’t with the other books too once she gets to know the story. I have to prompt her to read the words. But I find with these books she does it more.

The second set. The lovely Julia Donaldson, creator of the Gruffallo has worked with Oford reading tree to createย  Oxford Reading Tree Songbirds: Levels 1+ and 2: Get Started With Julia Donaldson’s Phonics Story Collection
I love this a lot but she needs a lot of assistance with these. I don’t feel they are for a true beginner reader but once they have grasped reading the basics. There are books to read together at first. I love the fact they rhyme. Which leads to conversation about rhyming words and similar sounding words. I love the colourful inviting pictures too.


And the one we use more often is the Usborne My Very First Reading Library 50 Books Set Collection Pack Early Level 1 and 2


These have a page for parent to read, and the opposite page is in large type for the child to read, So you truly share the book. Lil has gotten on with these the best. I also love the fact that they have worksheets to accompany the books as well as word banks on their web page for you to download and use with your child, Which we do.

They also have little activities/puzzles at the back of each book too.

So that’s it for us. Suspect in the end she will read through all three sets but for now we are sticking with the Usbourne set for more formal learning and the Julia Donaldson Songbirds set for a mix up and a change.

So that’s us, what works for me, may not work for you, so have a good look around and find something that suits you are your child. Check them out at the library first before you make an investment. They may have the whole set so you don’t need to purchase, but my experience is that they don’t.

Other reading systems/Phonics books:


Early reader collection

Traditional Tales

Cat in the hat young readers