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.


4 Key Strategies To Help Your Child With The 11 Plus

Is your child sitting the 11 plus this year? Are you feeling overwhelmed by your child’s forthcoming 11 plus exams? Here are key tips to help your child prepare.


Helping Your Child With The 11 Plus

There is a growing trend in my town. Since starting my education centre 12 years ago, I have seen an exponential increase in children applying to get a place in grammar school. Grammar schools have grown in popularity since the last recession and parents are now more aware of school standards.

The thought is “if I can’t afford to send my child to a private school, I’ll send him to a grammar school even if it is 30 miles away”.

1.  Don’t Start Too Late

Cramming for exams doesn’t work and it’s a short-term solution. You should start preparation at least one year before the exam so ideally at the start of year 5. If you leave it too late it will build unnecessary pressure on you and your child. I find that children who start early also adopt a good work ethic. They get into the habit of regular daily study on top of their school work and these skills will be invaluable at grammar school.

2.  Build a Good Foundation

Grammar schools take the top 5% of students.  For a child to have a good chance of passing the 11 plus exam, I recommend that the child should be in the top set and the top table in both English and Maths.  This alone is not enough, children must be keen readers.  Reading improves vocabulary and general knowledge.  General knowledge cannot be learnt by reading an encyclopaedia, rather it is learnt through experience or through reading around the subject.

3. Involve Your Child In Every Step

A child who is included in decision-making will be more willing to put the work in. It reduces the burden for you too.

  • looking at the websites of all the grammar schools you want to see

  • going to school open days

  • choosing the grammar school

  • knowing what is going to come up the exams – is it just verbal reasoning or is it more?

  • taking charge of preparation; your child should be organised and know what to revise

  • teach your child to mark the practice questions and tests

  • teach your child to monitor and record scores

4. Use a Variety of Resources

Use books. The popular books are by Bond, CGP and  Letts.

Use worksheets. You can download practice questions by searching “practice 11 plus worksheets”. Worksheets are better in some ways because once you have downloaded them, you can print them as many times as you need.

Use online sites. Online sites like provide online practice tests and exercises and also do mock tests.   Wordbuilder is an excellent site for vocabulary practice.

Use practice papers. When doing practice tests, first focus on ensuring that your child answers every question without a time limit. Work on accuracy and technique and let your child familiarise themselves with the different question types.  You don’t want your child reading the instructions on how to answer each question in an exam situation, they should just start working it out. After that you can start doing practice tests under timed conditions.

Play games and puzzles. This blog article talks about how you can still practice verbal reasoning skills to keep your child interested.

Experts say that you cannot prepare a child for grammar school because they either have it or they don’t. I’m not here to argue that point, I’m just here to help you help your child. Whether they get into grammar school or not, it’s the journey that matters more than the outcome.


My Typical Day – Who, What, Where, When and Why

“What do you think I do all day?” I asked one of my GCSE English students.

“Miss I bet you’re having coffee with friends and catching up on Eastenders,” she said.

Lol I wish it was like that.  Another student said that I must have a day job somewhere.


I teach in the evenings so people assume that I must have another job during the day.  WRONG!  My business is a full-time job, and as a centre owner I have many duties.

Meetings, Meetings, Meetings

So first thing this morning, after the school run, I had a meeting at a local school with the inclusion co-ordinator.  A parent of one of the children I teach asked me to come along to the meeting as the child is struggling at school and the school would like my opinion.  The meeting was really productive because they were impressed by the report I had written and I gave them a detailed insight into how the child learns and the difficulties he faces.  They will be giving him extra support in school now and will monitor closely to see if it makes a difference.


Lesson Plans

Then comes the favourite part of my job, planning lessons.  However, this week I made exam revision packs for my GCSE students because they have mocks coming up.  At Kip McGrath we use our own resources but exam practice and exam technique are also essential.  We teach children simple things like working out how much time they should devote to each question depending on how many marks it’s worth, and we get them to learn to use mark schemes.  These skills they can take away and do at home too.  So I made up packs targeted at C/D grades C/B and A/A* grades in both english and maths.

Phone Calls

Chasing up missed calls takes up a lot of my time too, especially if I am talking to a parent who doesn’t know what we do and how we do it.  I’m on the ball when it comes to telling tales too! As soon as a child forgets homework or is not trying, I call the parents.  I always give the children a chance and a warning though, but they never believe me when I say I am going to call their parents – until it happens.  The calls I love to make are the ones where I have to tell a parent that their child has improved.  We test regularly at Kip McGrath and parents don’t always come in to get feedback so it is my job to make sure that the parent knows how well their child has done.

Business Stuff

About 20% of my day is spent on business activities.  I updated my Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram accounts and then wrote an article to go in the Primary Times which is a magazine given to all primary school children in the town.


More Lesson Planning

After that I planned my science lesson which I teach on Tuesdays.  The class I have are terrible at long answer questions.  These questions are worth 6 marks and they just manage to get 2 or 3 marks.   I find it shocking that the children know so little, they don’t think that what they learn in science lessons applies to their lives.  The other day one of my students thought that test tube babies grew and developed in a test tube!

School Run!

After picking up my daughter from school I then go into the centre to teach.  This is when the fun starts.  There is no typical Kip child as I teach children from a variety of backgrounds and children who have a variety of needs.  I suppose the best way of showing you what a Kip child is like is to take a snapshot of the children I teach in a typical day.  For data protection purposes I have changed the names of the students.

Teaching – Yay!!!!

So on Wednesday s I teach:

Linda – Year 11, bubbly, sensitive and avoids maths

Linda has been coming to Kip McGrath since she was in primary school and is now in year 11.  I am helping her with her maths.  One of the areas where Linda needs help is her speed.  She rarely finishes an exam paper and likes to get it neat.  For that reason she believes that you should get it right first time and takes too long thinking about presentation and method.  I also believes this is her way of coping with the task.  This week we had a brilliant lesson on the circle theorem and she left with a beaming smile.  I texted after the lesson to give an update and mum said that Linda had told her all about it already.

Zachary year 1, recently moved to the UK and forgets easily

Zachary came into lesson today with a heart shape he had made out of play dough for me.  He is on our early reading programme and started 4 months ago barely knowing his alphabet.  I had to teach him from scratch.  He is now on book 10 of the early reading programme but is not ready to graduate onto our primary reading programme yet.  This week we did some work on the letter “e” as he forgets the sound it makes in words.  We also drilled some common CVC words like “mop, cat, mud, did, fan, bat” and I discovered that he has a limited vocabulary.  For example he didn’t know that a bat could also be an animal and that a mouse and a rat are similar.  Note to self: do some vocabulary building exercise with him, read non-fiction texts, talk about the books more and encourage him to use and remember one new word per lesson.

Hannah – year 8 with a reading age 3 years below her actual age

Hannah is a real success story.  She has been attending since April and had a real learning block when it came to reading.  She’s worked so hard and overcome her obstacles and is now a free reader.  At school the teachers are in total disbelief that she has made so much progress.  Today I did some creative writing with her and she did a humorous piece of writing on what she thinks I do all day – this is partly what inspired me to write this blog.  We also did some comprehension, but it was too easy for her, so after the first question I changed it to something more on her level.  What I love about Hannah is that now she’s proud of her work, every lesson she wants to show her mum her work and asks me to tell her mum about how hard she has worked.

Joe – year 4, gifted in all areas, needs to learn to focus

Joe’s mum brought him to me for an initial assessment when he was in year 1.  She had been to a parent’s evening at school and was told that he was struggling with reading.  She wanted him to have some extra help with this, and had heard about us through a friend.  His assessment results showed that he was above average in english and maths!  We were both confused!

Three years on and Joe has changed to a better school which meets his needs.  He is extremely intelligent and thrives on challenges.  He asks to do algebra and fractions in class because he enjoys it, and he thrives on solving puzzles and crosswords.  Today he did a comprehension exercise, one which I have chosen because I know that he avoids it.  He likes to read but doesn’t like to write and in the past he has given one word answers. We followed this up by some vocabulary work, choosing 4 words from the passage which he didn’t know the meaning of, and using context clues to figure out the meaning. Then he planned a story for me, focusing on thoughts and feelings of the characters and finally I let him do some maths.

Family Time Is The Best Time

My day ends late evening, by which time I am glad to be at home with my family.

Kip McGrath Luton Summer School 2015

For most children, summer is a time to leave classes and homework behind. While summer is a holiday from school, it does not have to be a holiday from learning. The summer holiday is great for recharging your children’s batteries, because if they are not using the skills and knowledge that was learned in the classroom, they will find themselves lagging behind when school starts up again.Children can lose on average two month’s worth of knowledge over the summer if their brains are not actively engaged in educational activities.

Kip McGrath Luton can offer you the perfect solution to this problem.  Our summer school runs Monday to Friday throughout August.  Your child can attend one or more 2 hour teaching session per week and complete a small amount of homework.  After an initial assessment we can pin-point any areas of weakness that need to be targeted and put together a programme of work designed to focus on these areas and prepare them for the coming school year.  This small amount of effort can make a huge difference and mean that your child is ready to learn in the new school year instead of having to spend the first month relearning skills and wasting valuable time.

Who Comes To Kip McGrath Summer School?

 Children sitting the 11 plus exam
 Children who need to catchup in Maths and English
 Children who have learning difficulties such as Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and Autism
 Children who lack confidence in their abilities
 Children who are not working at the level they are capable of

Monday 3rd August to Friday 28th August

10.00 am to 12.00

If your wish you child to attend our summer school please feel free to call us on 01582 402225 to arrange the initial assessment and discuss in detail your child’s individual needs.  Or fill in this contact form and we can arrange a convenient time to call you back.



All our English courses are taught by qualified English specialist teachers and focus on 2 main areas.

  1. Creative Writing   Creative writing is something many students find challenging! This module breaks down the elements needed to become more confident in relation to creative writing. Students are encouraged to plan, think about their audience and the tone and style of their writing in order to produce a piece with quality and depth. Special attention is given to detail and description, and the student is shown how to apply their knowledge to all types of writing.

  2. Reading and SPaG (Spelling, punctuation and Grammar)  This module helps children to understand the difference between nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs, and the finer points of using an apostrophe and speech marks. A whole range of grammatical activities will enable your child to understand how the English language works.  It will also focus on the student’s understanding of a range of texts at an appropriate level, and also to extend their vocabulary. They will be shown how to find the right answers by skimming and scanning, and also how to work out an answer if it is only implied in the text.


At Kip McGrath our aim is to put the fun back in the subject and build confidence in both mental maths and problem solving through clear and simple explanations.  The student drives the pace of the lesson so if more revision time is needed there is no pressure to ‘move on’ to the next topic.  Maths skills are consolidated by applying knowledge to problem solving questions.  We help develop these skills by teaching the student to read the question and extract the maths needed to answer the question effectively.

11 Plus

One of the changes in the 11+ is the timing of exams. These now take place in September rather than October as in the past. To help with maintaining learning and keep brain cells “fresh” during the summer holidays, we will be holding 11+ Intensive Courses. We recommend that your child attends at least 3 days a week during the summer school.

The course will widen the knowledge base of students so that they are equipped to answer the broad and challenging English, Maths and non-verbal questions. They will be taught examination strategies and how to think positively when faced with a question they find daunting. Students will write a mock exam extracted from the new specification.

Price List

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Brain Active Summer School – Kip McGrath Luton Summer School 2014

Are you looking for ideas for the summer holiday?

Are you worried about your child sitting the 11+ exam in September?

Does your child lack confidence/ need to catch up/ forget what they have learnt too easily?

WE CAN HELPsummer school

The Kip McGrath Luton South summer school has successfully helped students aged 4 – 16 to:

  • Bridge the gap when going into a new school year, moving from primary to secondary or nursery to reception

  • Help children catch up if they have fallen behind at school

  • Learn how to revise, study and prepare for GCSE exams effectively

  • Prepare for the Buckinghamshire (and other counties) 11+ exams in September

  • Build confidence and enjoy learning

  • Be one step ahead when they start the new school year

When a child starts school in September after a 6 week summer break, teachers have to help them catch up on all the work they have forgotten. Most teachers will tell you that this is called “THE SUMMER BRAIN DRAIN”.   But this can be avoided by enrolling your child on our summer school.

The sessions are in the mornings from 10.00 am, so it still leaves the rest of the day to enjoy the summer.  There are only 20 places available, so book now.

Book Now

summer school 2014

How To Revise 2 – Do Some Mock Exams

Right about now, students studying for their GCSE’s should be revising. One thing they should not leave until the last minute is going over past papers and sitting  mock exams to test their knowledge. Here is a blog I wrote a while back explaining the best way to do this.

Kip McGrath Luton Tutor's Blog

There are many aspects to creating good study habits, and the first of these I have already mentioned in a previous post which is to get organised.  Creating a timetable can save many precious hours as we come to exams.

Another component of revision is going through past papers.  In fact this should be included in your revision plan.  Giving yourself mock tests can highlight how you work under pressure and it will show you the gaps in your learning.  Going over your revision notes many times is a pointless exercise if you haven’t  tested your knowledge .

When you are ready to do a mock exam (at least three weeks before the exam), make sure that you do it under exam conditions and that you keep to the time limit.  You may have gone through exam papers in class already, so choose an exam that you know you have not…

View original post 565 more words

21 Ways To Revise GCSE Maths

  1. Start revising early in the year (about now) and learn the work you do in class.

  2. Get a copy of your syllabus and go through each bullet point.  Any topics you don’t understand should be highlighted.

  3. Write a list of all of the topics and cross them off the list once you’re sure you know them.

  4. When you revise topics make notes on the method and then do a few examples, then try some questions yourself on that topic.

  5. Do as many questions as possible, especially on subjects that you find difficult as practice is the only way.  You can get questions from:

    • Text books

    • Revision books (for example CGP books)

    • Homework sheets

    • Class tests

    • Past papers

  6. Online websites such as or bbc bitesize.

  7. Practice loads! do loads of past papers and if you run out of past papers to do, do them again, especially the questions you didn’t do so well on.

  8. After revising a topic, go through past papers but only do the questions on that topic.  For example if you’ve just revised circle theorem, do past paper questions on circle theorem only. 

  9. Your textbook is full of explanations and worked examples you can follow, study and use to improve your understanding. It’s generally a good idea to find a topic you need help with, read through the explanation (looking up anything you don’t understand), before following along with the examples.

  10. After every exam paper, make a list of what you did poorly on and revise it.

  11. Revise with a friend or work in a small group. 

    • You can explain maths to your friends.

    • Your friends can explain things to you.

    • You can work together on problems.

    • You can test each other.

    • friend
  12. One of the most effective ways to learn a new skill is to write down the steps you have to take – either as a list or as a flowchart. 

  13. Make flash cards, but double sided ones, the reverse side having questions on it or page numbers from your text book where you can find these questions.  You could have a set for each of the following:

    • FORMULAS.  The formulas you need to memorise for the exam

    • METHODS.  How to work out a problem, for example the method for working out Pythagoras.

    • DEFINITIONS.  Write down the meanings of maths words you need to know.

    • NEED TO KNOW.  In maths there are quantities and number you must know off by heart.  Such as grams in a kilogram or square numbers.  One side has the question, the other side has the answer.

    • flash cards
  14. Make a cheat sheet.  This is one sheet of A4 paper with a summary of everything you need to know.

  15. Go online and revise topics by watching videos or practicing questions online.

  16. Create mind maps.  There should be a word/question or something in the middle of the page, with questions, facts or methods coming out.

  17. Create posters.  Make them colourful and big so that they catch your eye.  Display these posters on your walls so that you see them all the time.

  18. Use highlighters and shade/colour in important facts from text books and workbooks.highlighter

  19. If you have a really good set of notes or still have your maths workbooks from school, then you can write questions in the margins to jog your memory as you read.

  20. Use sticky notes to write down formulas and facts, they are quick and easy to do, as you learn each fact, just throw the sticky note away.sticky notes

  21. LOOK at a worked example of a question.  COVER it.  WRITE it yourself and work it out from memory.  CHECK to see if you’ve done it right.  If you’ve missed something out or done it wrong, TRY AGAIN.

If after all this you are still not getting anywhere,  let us do the work for you.  Book  a free assessment and let us take care of things.

Fast Track To Success – Kip McGrath Summer School 2013

When a child starts school in September after a 6 week summer break, I have to spend at least a couple of lessons going over work they should know.  Sometimes I have to go down a level of work because the child has forgotten the basics.  Most teachers will tell you that this is called “THE SUMMER BRAIN DRAIN”.

Children have too much time on their hands during the summer and they forget some of what they learn during the school year.  Avoiding this can save time, and for children who have exams coming up, this can be the difference between a pass and a fail.  Academic summer schools can help, as long as the work is tailored to your child’s needs and they have a target to aim for.

How To Avoid the Summer Brain Drain

Past experience has taught us that parents want a more structured approach to their children’s summer learning.  They want to see proof of progress.  Parents want to take advantage of the free time available during summer and are looking for more than just a child care provider.

The Kip McGrath Luton Summer School will run every Tuesday and Wednesday in August from the 6th August 2012 to the 28th August 2012.  Classes are from 10.00 am with lesson durations of either 1 hour 20 minutes, 2 hours or 3 hours.

This year, the format of these classes will be the same format as normal term time Kip lessons, but with a little added extra to cater for your child’s needs.

We will be running specialist workshops in the following areas, so when booking your child’s place, please specify which workshop you would like to enrol your child on.

To enrol your child or for more info, please call Dr Samina Rashid on 01582 402225 or fill in our online form for a free assessment.

If you are a new student we can offer you a free assessment to pinpoint your child’s learning needs and design an individual programme of work to target their areas of need over the summer months.

11+ and Common Entrance

The 11+ exams for Buckinghamshire will be brought forward to early September 2013.  Common entrance exams for private schools will be in either December 2013 or January 2014 depending on which school your child will be going to.

Kip McGrath Luton will be offering intensive summer workshops in 11+ and the common entrance exam. The workshops will familiarise the students with all the types of questions and teach them strategies and techniques to raise their chances for success. Children will be tested before and after the workshop to monitor progress.  It is recommended that children attend the Tuesday and Wednesday classes for this programme.  We will cover:

  • verbal reasoning

  • non-verbal reasoning

  • English

  • numerical reasoning/Maths

Example questions in the new 11 + tests can be found here.

GCSE Maths

Many schools enter all year 11 children for early entry GCSE English and Maths exams in the November before they leave school.  This means that when children start year 11 in September, they have just less than 2 months in which to prepare for the exam.  Children (and parents) panic when they realise this and often it is too late to get help. Please my blog post on this topic to get a more in-depth view.

The summer break is an ideal time to work on key skills needed to pass exams.  After the initial assessment on your child’s academic ability, we will design a unique programme for your child to follow.  This means that we will work on your child’s weaknesses and gradually tailor the programme so that they are working at a level above their expectations.

Students need to know what the best revision strategies are. Effective revision methods like using mind maps, flash cards, colour coding and using practice questions are taught hand in hand with subject knowledge so that your child can see which ones work the best for them.

All too often children lose valuable marks in exams because they have mis-read the question or not answered it fully. Students on this workshop will learn how to read exam questions properly, how to understand the language of exam questions, how to keep track of time, how to judge the difficulty of a question and how to tackle exam nerves.

Spoken English

The speaking and listening unit in English is often overlooked and teachers will focus more on the writing and reading units.  In this workshop every student will learn to improve their speaking and listening skills and apply them to their english lessons at school as well as their daily life.  Improving speaking and listening reinforces and extend children’s developing reading and writing skills.

  • Students will prepare and present a 10 minute presentation on a subject of their choice.

  • Students will learn how to recite a poem

  • Students will lead discussions and debates

  • Students will read with expression, a chapter from a book of their choice

We teach the students about:

  • maintaining a physical presence through effective body language and eye contact

  • having a clear voice with effective use of volume, pace, rhythm and intonation

  • using dramatic appropriateness for different activities

  • engaging the audience

Creative Writing and Essay Writing

This workshop will encourage students to tap into their natural creativity and imagination.  Students learn how to express themselves and tell engaging stories, while picking up good writing habits for a lifetime.

Essay writing is an essential skill for senior secondary and tertiary students.  Kip McGrath’s popular Essay Writing workshop covers all the essential essay writing skills from analysing the question to editing the final draft.

Our in depth and comprehensive essay writing workshop covers common areas of weakness in student essay writing including:

  • Not answering the question – learn how to analyse the question, plan a well structured answer and write a proper opening and concluding paragraph

  • Poor opening argument and essay structure – learn the features of a good thesis, develop skills in analytical reading, presenting a balanced argument, supporting that argument.

  • Editorial writing – learn how to advocate a specific point of view and write a convincing and clear argument

  • Exam essay writing – learn how to write a clear, concise and well structured answer within a time limit.

  • Speech writing – learn how to write an essay designed to be spoken, understand the key elements to successful speech writing, learn how to deliver and present a speech

Taught by qualified English teachers this Essay Writing workshop will give senior students the skills and confidence they need to approach the rigours of both assignments and exams with confidence.


Our science classes always have a practical activity followed by activities to explain the science behind them.  Students will learn to use scientific terminology in their lives and apply the science they have learnt to their own experiences.  The classes are packed full of information covering the national curriculum, but with plenty of opportunity to have discussions and ask questions.

We also cover exam technique and revision methods in this workshop.  The new GCSE has “6 mark questions”, which require a good understanding of the topic but also the ability to understand what the examiner is looking for.  For students doing triple science at GCSE or the Higher paper, we teach them how to approach these type of questions effectively.

Get Ready For School and Little Learners

The transition from pre-school to more formal learning is a significant one for children. It can affect their interest, motivation at school and their future school success. Kip McGrath’s specialised Get Ready for School programme is a gentle introduction to learning which aids the smooth transition from pre-school to “big” school.

Our Get Ready for School programme is an essential for parents who want to ensure the initial school experience is a positive one for their child.

The programme includes activities that promote both learning concepts and school readiness skills.

  • Alphabet

  • Counting

  • Recognising letter sounds and names

  • Writing letter sounds and names

  • Shape Recognition

  • Number Recognition

  • Identifying colours

  • Visual Discrimination

  • Memory Skills

  • Learning behaviours

  • Fine motor skills

  • Hand & Eye Coordination

  • Writing one’s name

  • Pencil grip

Course Highlights

  • Fun and stress free learning

  • Carefully structured course introduces new concepts each lesson and revises previous concepts.

  • Build children’s confidence in their ability to learn and interact in a learning environment

  • Reduce the stress of the initial formal schooling experience

Little Learners

Little Learners education programme for nearly new school children.

Develop a love of learning in your child from the start of school years. Help your child transition from Kindergarten to Year 1 and improve the chances of school success.         Little Learners focuses on building the foundations of literacy and numeracy by engaging children in a variety of structured, yet fun learning activities.

How will your child benefit?

Develop, improve and reinforce learning in:

  • Basic reading including phonemic awareness

  • Comprehension

  • Alphabet and counting

  • Addition and subtraction

  • Number recognition

    Kip McGrath Luton Summer School
    Kip McGrath Luton Summer School

How To Prepare For the 2013 Year 6 SATs

Major changes have been made to the 2013 SATs exams for Key Stage 2 pupils in the UK.  This year is the first time that children will be doing the spelling, grammar and punctuation exam, and the first year in which there will be no writing paper.  Here are some basic facts you need to know:

1.  In all state primary schools in the UK, SATs exams are held in May.

2.  Children in year 6, will be assessed in Maths and English (spelling, grammar, punctuation and reading) externally.  Levels 3-5 of the national curriculum will be tested.  There is an additional level 6 paper for children working above level 5.

3.  English writing will be assessed by your child’s class teacher throughout year 6 based on the work your child completes in class.

4.  English speaking and listening will be assessed by your child’s class teacher.

5.  There are 3 Maths tests, mental maths, non-calculator paper A and calculator paper B.

The results are usually out in July and are often shared with parents in end of year reports.  SATs exam results are used by schools to measure performance and the average year 6 child is expected to get a level 4b in Maths and English.  The teacher assessments are passed onto high schools for them to put children into ability groups in year 7.

What are the implications of these changes when it comes to preparing your child for the exams?

How can you help your child to prepare for the exams?

Where do you start?

As a teacher and a parent, I would start by finding out what level my child is working at.  You can speak to your child’s class teacher about this.  I should warn you that some teachers may come up with comments like “your child is working at a level 4c”.  Unless you are a teacher or are familiar with the grading system used in schools, this doesn’t really tell you much.  Try to get more specific feedback which you can work on. For example, if you want to help your child with maths, then ask the teacher which topics you should be revising to improve the grade. If you can get the teacher to put this in an email to you or to  just jot down a few bullet points, then it’s easier to refer back to it to see if you are covering the right topics.  There’s no point in guessing what your child should be doing because if the works too easy then your child isn’t learning anything and if it’s too hard then you’ll end up getting frustrated and losing patience.  The key is to cover topics at the right level for your child.

Once you have determined what level of work you should be doing, then it’s time to practise the skills needed to improve.  Doing 20 minutes three times a week is better than doing an hour on one day.  As with revision, repetition is important and you should go over the same topic many times.  Sometimes your child will understand straight away, whereas at other times it may take weeks to conquer a subject.  I remember teaching a child about equivalent fractions, and thinking that the child would never understand.  He would turn up to lessons having forgotten what I had taught him the previous week.  It was frustrating but we persevered, and eventually, it clicked!

English skills need drilling as well.  What I mean by drilling is practising.  With the introduction of the new spelling, punctuation and grammar exams, this is now even more essential.  The skills needed to improve in these areas need to be registered in a child’s long-term memory.  I’ve seen many children who get 10 out of 10 in their weekly spelling tests, but spell incorrectly when using those same words in a sentence.  One of the reasons is that the spellings have been crammed and learnt for the test, registered in the short-term memory and then forgotten.  Long term memory can be improved by repeated exposure.  So to help a child remember a spelling, I would get him/her to learn them, use the words in sentences, use the words in stories, put the words in alphabetical order, think of rhyming words, draw pictures to illustrate the words or write out the words in different colours.

Punctuation and grammar have to be learnt in such a way that they become a habit.  It should be learnt so that the child doesn’t have to be reminded to use capital letters and full stops and if they do forget, then there’s a niggling thought in the back of their mind that something is missing from the sentence.

I’ll leave you with links to sample papers and mark schemes for the new style SATs tests introduced for 2013.

Level 3-5 Paper 1 Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling Test Sample

Level 3-5 Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling Test Paper 2 Spelling Script

Level 3-5 Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling Test – Spelling Answer Booklet

Level 3-5 Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling Test – Mark Scheme

Level 6 Paper 1 Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling Test Sample

Level 6 Paper 2, Short Answer Questions

Level 6, Paper 3, Spelling Script

Level 6, Paper 3, Spelling Answer Booklet

Level 6, Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling Mark Scheme

The exams are just 5 months away, is your child ready?  Do you think you can help?  If not, then we are just a phone call away.

But if you haven’t got the time or struggle to explain things simply to your child, let us do the work for you.  Book your child for a free assessment and let us take care of things.

Storybird Website Review

It’s not often that I recommend a website, but when I do then it’s because it ticks all the boxes for me a s a parent and a teacher.  Storybird is:

  • designed for children and adults to use

  • is simple to use

  • can be used to teach children of all ages and abilities

  • is hours of fun on a rainy day

What is Storybird About?

It’s a website which allows users to create and share their own written personalised stories.  The stories can then be published for the whole world to see or just sent via email to close family and friends.  Children age 13 and above can create their own account but younger children have to give their parents email address.  Teachers can add children to their accounts by creating classes.  What I love the most about this site is that it allows children to express themselves in modern, interactive and tech-savvy way.  Even the most reluctant writers want to write a Storybird!  If I asked a child to give me 5 words to do with a “train journey”, they would struggle.  But give them a picture like this and the task doesn’t seem so daunting anymore.  Storybird is the key that has unlocked some of my students minds and got them writing.

How Does It Work?

1.  Start by choosing a picture.  You can either browse the themes or search for a particular subject.  I prefer to search for a topic like “pets” or “Christmas”.  Choose the picture you like and use that artwork to start a storybird.  The artwork provided is by professionals and is colourful, detailed and imaginative. It is designed to kick-start children’s thinking and get their ideas flowing.

2.  Once you have decided on the artwork for your first page, it will appear in the centre of the screen with images as thumbnails surrounding it.  You click and drag images onto the page, add pages and change the layout.

3.  The stories can then be published online for the whole world to see or just sent via email to close family and friends. The end product has a professional finish even if there is only one word per page.

Here is a storybird written by one of my students. Tolu is 7 years old and is a budding writer.  Please feel free to add your comments to encourage him.

Take One Storybird Picture…..

You don’t have to write pages and pages to create a storybird.  I take one picture and get children to write just one page worth.  Here are some ideas to try

  1.  Use the picture as a prompt for some descriptive writing.  For example if you search the word “dragon”, choose the best picture and describe the dragon.

  2. Find a picture of a scene like a beach or party or playground.  Use this as the opening scene of a story.

  3. Choose three different characters, and dedicate one page for each character.

  4. Choose 3 different types of weather scenes, and write a diary entry taking place in each type of weather scene.

  5. Younger children love to make lists.  They can just use it to make lists of things they would like to do, things they would like to eat and places they would like to visit.

  6. Use it to make an illustrated dictionary.

The key, in my opinion, is to help children with the planning of their writing. You can help them by listing related vocabulary, brainstorming ideas, putting them in a logical order and deciding how to connect their ideas.  Why don’t you give it a go?