skittles rainbow

Easy Home Science Experiments You Can Do With Your Kids

How do you get kids interested in science? Make it fun and hands on. These science experiments are guaranteed to get your kids excited and you don’t need any science knowledge to do them. Just a bit of common sense and a few household ingredients.

Cornflour Magic

You will need:  1 cup of cornflour (it can be any size), 1 cup of water (it has to be the same cup as the one you use to measure the cornflour), 1 large bowl, a spoon,  and food colour (optional)

Add cornflour into the bowl. Add the water and food colour. Mix and play around with the mixture.

  1.  Scrunch up the cornflour into your hands and see if you pick it all up and roll it into a ball. It will become a ball and look like a solid as long as you keep moving the ball between your hands.

  2. Now keep your hands still with the cornflour ball still in your hands. What happens?

  3. Dip your finger into the cornflour mixture, it should be a liquid. You can stir it gently and it look and feel wet.

  4. Stir it really fast. What happens?

  5. Punch the cornflour mixture with your fist. Did it splash?

You can do this on a large-scale, watch this video with the same mixture in a swimming pool.

Skittles Rainbow

You will need: 1 packet of Skittles, a large flat white plate, some water

Place the skittles in a large circle around the edge of the plate. Add water into the middle of the circle but don’t drown the skittles. Do this carefully so that the skittles do not move. Then keep still and watch what happens.

  1. Repeat the experiment with hot water. Do you see a difference?

  2. Repeat using M and M sweets.

  3. Repeat but make a square shape with the skittles.

skittles rainbow

Elephant’s Toothpaste

You will need: 1 sachet of instant dried yeast, 1 small plastic water bottle, 120 ml of hydrogen peroxide (6% strength), a large squirt of washing up liquid, 3 tablespoons of water, food colouring.

You should have most of the ingredients at home, except for the hydrogen peroxide. You can buy this from any chemist. Hydrogen peroxide has a shelf life and over time it changes to water. So don’t use an old bottle that’s been lying around your house for months.

If you do not have safety goggles, then an adult should do this part.  Hydrogen peroxide can irritate your eyes and skin and safety precautions are written on the bottle. Pour the hydrogen peroxide into the empty water bottle. Then add the washing up liquid and food colouring. You can stir the mixture gently. Now place the bottle in a large deep tray or in the sink as it can get messy.

Children can do this part of the experiment. In a separate container, mix the dried yeast and water. Then quickly pour this mixture into the bottle. Do this quickly if you want some drama.

  1.  Try different food colours.

  2. hydrogen peroxide is available in different strengths, try the same experiment with different strengths.

  3. Try different shapes containers, the longer and narrower the container the quicker the foam rises up and out.

Here’s a video of my experiment.


Helping Your Child With Maths Word Problems

Maths word problems are a common area of concern for parents because they don’t know how to help their child.  Hopefully this article will give you some strategies to use so that problem solving is not a problem any more.

In my experience, there are 2 reasons why the child cannot do the maths word problem:

1.  The child does not understand the question.

If comprehension is weak, then the child will struggle to see what he needs to do.  A weak reader reads mechanically and approaches a sentence word by word, and misses out on the bigger picture.  They will often read the whole question and then give you a blank look, because they haven’t thought about what they are reading.

I use “DRAW” method to help children understand a question.  For example in the following question:

“There are 4 boys with 6 sweets each.  How many sweets altogether?”

Ask your child, what they could draw a picture of from the information in the question.  You might need to explain the meaning of the word “each” or the word “altogether”

maths word problem

Another strategy I use is called the “FLOW CHART” method.  This might be more suitable for older children, where they have to work out problems involving more than one step.  Change the sentence into a flow chart or diagram where each step is connected by an arrow.  For the following problem, you might need to teach your child how to half a number.  I have written a blog post on this topic.

“Damien had 6 stickers. His Mum gave him 10 more. He then gave half to his brother. How many did he have left?”

2 step word problem

The “TRANSLATE” strategy is also a useful way of getting children to understand the word problem.  Children need to understand the maths language used in questions.  At the simplest level they need to understand that the word “and” in a question means + in maths.  This blog I wrote on the topic may be useful.

The following example is a GCSE level question  and requires an understanding of the word “profit”.

“A shopkeeper sold 16 articles for a total of £400 and made a profit of £48.00. How much did each article cost him? “

2.  The child cannot do the maths required for the problem.

After ensuring that your child can understand what  to do, you then have to make sure they can do the working out.  For example in the question below,

“A shopkeeper sold 16 articles for a total of £400 and made a profit of £48.00. How much did each article cost him?”

the steps are as follows:

£400-£48 = £352

£352 divided by 16

If the child cannot do column subtraction or long division, she will struggle.

Problem solving questions usually involve the four basic operators in Maths.  At a higher level, they may involve knowledge of time/percentages/algebra and fractions.  If this is the weakness in your child, ensure that he or she gets to learn these skills first.

What To Expect in Year 1 – A Parent’s Guide

The end of the reception year (age 4-5) marks the start of key Stage 1 when the natiohello year 1 goodbye receptionnal curriculum comes into play.  There is a more structured, teacher-led approach to learning, rather than child-centred learning through play and there is more emphasis on reading and writing.  Ask any reception child what they do at school and 9 times out of 10, the word “play” will be mentioned.  Ask any year 1 child what they do in school and they will come out with responses like “we do more work”, “we do harder work”, and more specific responses like “we do more counting” or “we write a lot”.

So it’s no surprise that parents are concerned about this transition, and worry about their child’s ability to cope and manage the work. I have assessed many children at this stage of their schooling, and have seen a wide range of abilities.  Some can write their name neatly, on the line, and remember to start with a capital letter.  Whilst others can  barely hold their pencil properly. DO NOT worry about this as children mature at different rates.

However, if you want to make sure that your child is ready for year 1 and has a firm foundation, then below is a simplified version of what every child in reception should be able to do and I hope this proves useful to you.

Targets in Literacy

  •  Able to write own name and other words from memory.

  • Able to hold a pencil and uses it effectively to form recognisable letters, most of which are correctly formed.

  • Uses phonic knowledge to write simple regular words and use phonics to decode more complex words.

  • To begin to form captions and simple sentences, sometimes using punctuation.

  • To be able communicate meaning through phrases and simple sentences with some consistency in punctuating sentences.

  • Be able to read the 100 high frequency reception words.

100 High Frequency Words For Reception

1. the
2. and
3. a
4. to
5. said
6. in
7. he
8. I
9. of
10. it
11. was
12. you
13. they
14. on
15. she
16. is
17. for
18. at
19. his
20. but
21. that
22. with
23. all
24. we
25. can
26. are
27. up
28. had
29. my
30. her
31. what
32. there
33. out
34. this
35. have
36. went
37. be
38. like
39. some
40. so
41. not
42. then
43. were
44. go
45. little
46. as
47. no
48. mum
49. one
50. them
51. do
52. me
53. down
54. dad
55. big
56. when
57. it’s
58. see
59. looked
60. very
61. look
62. don’t
63. come
64. will
65. into
66. back
67. from
68. children
69. him
70. Mr
71. get
72. just
73. now
74. came
75. oh
76. about
77. got
78. their
79. people
80. your
81. put
82. could
83. house
84. old
85. too
86. by
87. day
88. made
89. time
90. I’m
91. if
92. help
93. Mrs
94. called
95. here
96. off
97. asked
98. saw
99. make
100. an

Maths Targets

  • To know numbers 1-20 verbally and to recognise numbers 1-9 in written form

  • to count up to ten objects

  • to use mathematical language such as more than, bigger, less, add, take away, share.

  • to know one more than/less than a number between 1 and 10

  • add up 2 numbers so the answer is less than 10 and use their fingers or objects if necessary

  • to do simple take away sums again with numbers less than 10 eg 5-3, 10-4

  • To recognise simple patterns

  • Use everyday words to describe the position of objects. A wide  vocabulary including: over, under, above, below, next to, in front,  behind, outside, inside, next to, left, right, up, down, forwards,  backwards, across.

  • To Know the days of the week and vocabulary related to time, eg yesterday, afternoon, tomorrow etc

  • Name shapes such as circle, square, triangle, rectangle, cube, cone, sphere

Other Targets

  • How to share

  • how to play with someone else

  • how to sit and listen to a story

  • to take turns

  • to put their own equipment away

  • to put their coat on

  • to put rubbish in the bin

  • how to hold a paint brush

  • to wash hands after going to the toilet

It’s easy for parents to help their child at this age because it’s almost intuitive, and actually I think most parents teach their child the things on this list anyway.  If you need help for your child who is moving onto year 1, then I can assess them to see where the gaps in their learning are.  Just call for a free assessment or fill in our contact form here.

How To Help Your Child With Place Value and Counting

How To Help Your Child With Place Value and Counting

Knowing how to “count on” in maths is a fundamental skill. This skill is also used when children are working out the next number in a sequence and place value.  Counting is easier when the numbers are written on a number line so start with a number line if you are doing this for the first time with your child.  You can purchase number lines and 100 squares from most good school supplies shops.  Alternatively write out a number line for your child.  Just as important as seeing the numbers is hearing the numbers, so children need to say the numbers as they use them.  In particular this helps children when tackling bigger numbers and fractions. If your child is old enough then you can also get them to write out the number in words.

Counting in Ones

Age 4-5 – choose a number between 10 and 20.  Ask your child to count on from that number.  For example if your child chooses 12, then ask them to count on another 2 numbers.

12, 13,  What are then next 2 numbers?

16, 15, What are the next 2 numbers?

If your child cannot remember the next number, then allow them to use a number line or to write out the numbers.

Age 5-6 –choose a number between 20 and 99.  Repeat as above.  The difficult numbers to count on from are 29, 39, 49, 59, etc

28, 29, What are the next 2 numbers?

58, 59, what are the next 2 numbers?

31, 30, what are the next 2 numbers?

Age 7-8 – choose a number between 100 and 999.  Repeat as above.  The difficult numbers to count on from are 109, 119, etc and 199, 299, 399 etc.

108, 109 what are the next 2 numbers?

398, 399, what are the next 2 numbers?

998, 999, what are the next 2 numbers?

401, 400, what are the next 2 numbers?

Age 9-10 – choose a number between 1000 and 9000.

Age 10-11 – choose any number between 10,000 and 1,000,000

Counting in Multiples

Counting on in multiples of 2 for example can re-enforce times tables and odd and even numbers.  Ask your child to count forward and backward in 2’s from any random number (must be age and ability appropriate so refer to previous paragraph).

Try counting forward and backwards in multiples of 5, 10, 100 and 1000.

Counting in Fractions

Counting can help to address the gap in understanding fractions as numbers in their own right.

Activity 1

Use fractions as a natural part of your vocabulary.  For example you could ask your child to give you 2 halves of an apple.

Activity 2

Cut an apple (or similar) real or drawn into quarters.  Ask your child how many quarters are in the apple.  Count the pieces one quarter, two quarters, three quarters, four quarters and ask your child to write down the fractions. 1/4, 2/4, 3/4, 4/ 4 .  Cut a second apple and ask your child to keep counting the quarters 5/4, 6/4, 7/4, 8/4 and to continue to write the list of fractions.

  • Ask them what is another name for 4 quarters? (1)

  • what is another name for 8 quarters?(2)

  • what is another name for 6 quarters ?(1 2/4 or 1 1/2)

Encourage them to use the apples or drawings to find the answer.

Help your child to draw circles (two or three) on paper and mark them in thirds.

  • Ask them to count in thirds and to write the sequence.

  • Ask them what is another name for 3 thirds? (1)

  • what is another name for 6 thirds?(2)

  • what is another name for 5 thirds? (1 2/3)

Activity 3

First teach your child that:

2 halves = 2/2 = 1 whole

3 thirds = 3/3 = 1 whole

4 quarters = 4/4 = 1 whole

5 fifths = 5/5 = 1 whole

Then we move onto counting.

½, 2/2, 3/2, 4/2,

This says 1 half, 2 halves, 3 halves, four halves.


½, 1, 1½, 2,

Half, 1, one and a half, two.

Once your child can count backwards and forwards in halves then try other fractions.

Visualisation is essential so encourage the use of real things to chop up into fractions and drawings.