Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Online Advent Calendars

In this digital age Advent calendars aren't only physical. Here is a selection of online Advent calendars for you to share with your child. Sorry, no chocolate involved ;)

If you want to learn about other countries and how they celebrate Christmas, have a look at this one from Project Britain. Check out Day 6 if you are exploring with Picture Book Explorers ~ The Best Christmas Present in the World

If you want ideas and inspiration for outdoor activities take a look at this advent calendar from Nature Detectives. Day 9 fits will help with one of the activities in Picture Book Explorers ~ The Best Christmas Present in the World

For an advent calendar that reveals items relating to the First World War, check out this one from The Liverpool Museums. Day 15 is particularly relevant to Picture Book Explorers ~ The Best Christmas Present in the World

For younger children, you might like to try this cute interactive one from Poisson Rouge that will help with mouse control skills or this one from CBeebies which offers different types of games every day.

Older children may enjoy Christmas themed games and puzzles at Santa Games.

Activity Village offer a daily printable colouring sheet - this year's theme is a Christmas train :)

If you want an advent calendar that focuses on the religious aspect of the season, have a look at this one from the Jam Trust in Scotland that gives Bible verses, carols and facts about Christmas traditions.

And, if all else fails, you can even make your own online advent calendar for free at Adventios....I'm book marking this for next year :)

Friday, 12 December 2014

The Book to go with the Latest PBE

If you're looking for the book to go with the latest Picture Book Explorers guide, look no further :)
You can buy a copy of The Best Christmas Present in the World by Michael Morpurgo from The Works for £4.99.

Even if you're not planning on exploring the book right now, it's still worth buying a copy and reading it this year as we approach the centenary of the event depicted in the story - the Christmas day truce and famous football match on no-man's land in 1914.

The words of Michael Morpurgo work well with the pictures of Michael Foreman. Together, they tell the story with a sensitivity that is both heartwarming and heartrending in equal measure.

If you spend £10 at The Works, you can get free delivery and 20% off with the code 

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Reindeers to Remember Them By

This is a simple craft activity to do with little ones that can be repeated year after year to measure how they grow :)

You need
dark brown and light brown paper or card
felt tip pens
pre-cut sticky shapes
googly eyes/glitter etc.

On the dark brown paper, draw round your child's foot. This is the reindeer's head.
On the light brown paper, draw round both your child's hands. These are the reindeer's antlers.
Stick the hands at the toe end of the foot.
Let your child decorate the reindeer as they like, adding eyes, nose, mouth, glitter etc.

I still have the reindeer that my son made when he was 2. It's so fun for him to see how much he has grown. I wish I'd made one every year so he could keep track of his annual growth rate and we could have had our own herd of reindeers to remember him by on our wall :)

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Make a Christmas Bauble

This is one Christmas craft activity that both my youngest children recommend. You could go for neatly organised rotational symmetry, but they enjoy a more organic approach :)

You will need a Polystyrene Ball 
some lengths of ribbon
Coloured Headed Sewing Pins, 

Cut the ribbon into short lengths.
Stick a pin through one end of the ribbon into the polystyrene ball.
Wrap the ribbon round the ball tightly.
Stick another pin through the ribbon into the polystyrene ball.
Repeat until your ball is covered in different coloured ribbons.
Use as many pins as necessary to hold the ribbons in place.
Fold piece of ribbon into a loop and pin this to the ball.
Use the loop to hang your bauble on your tree.

New! Picture Book Explorers ~ The Best Christmas Present in the World

The new Picture Book explorers pack accompanies the book The Best Christmas Present in the World by Michael Morpurgo, illustrated by Michael Foreman. It is a moving story that involves secret drawers, hidden letters, burnt down houses and an elderly lady. The book tells the tale of the Christmas day truce of 1914 in the words of a British soldier.  The book is sensitively illustrated and the combination of words and pictures brings me to tears every time I read it.

There is also a stage show/book reading performance which fills in a little more of Jim Macpherson's story including where he was stationed and when he died. It is read by Michael Morpurgo and Virginia Mckenna and has musical accompaniment.  It will be next performed at St Martin's Cathedral at Ypres on Monday 22nd December 2014.

Whilst researching the Christmas day truce story to write Picture Book Explorers ~ The Best Christmas Present in the World, I have read so many letters and seen so many photographs of the soldiers who were part of this amazing piece of history that the characters in the book feel even more alive to me now. It is such a poignant story of the hope of peace in the midst of war. Some of this information is in the pack but there are also winter weather science experiments, art activities, creative writing prompts, discussion starters and role play opportunities in this hands-on learning pack that includes maps, flags and timelines and recipes.

The first time I remember hearing of the Christmas day truce was in the Paul McCartney music video to his song "The Pipes of Peace" way back in the1980s. Now I'm showing my age ;)

Get a third off the price of  Picture Book Explorers ~ The Best Christmas Present in the World via this
valid until 8th December 2014.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Make Snowflakes

Every year my children spend the first few days of Advent making snowflakes. Each year they have got more complex as well as more numerous. They like to string them across the room instead of paper chains or tinsel.

This year they have been watching snowflake tutorials on Youtube. These are two of their favourites. They like this one because it is fun...

...and they like the second one because it is a more serious tutorial on how to make six-pointed snowflakes which are much more tricky.

For a less messy, less permanent snowflake, you can visit this virtual snowflake maker :) 

Monday, 1 December 2014

Make an Easy Upcycled Advent Calendar

This is a really easy and cheap jigsaw Advent calendar to make. All you need is an old Christmas card, the bigger the better, a pair of scissors, a pen and some glue.

Cut the back half off the old Christmas card and keep on one side. You will need this to use as the base for your jigsaw.

 On the back of the picture, write the numbers 1 to 24, nicely spread out. I've written mine in order so my Boy will get the edge pieces first. Cut in between the numbers to create the 24 jigsaw pieces.

On the other half of the card that you cut off initially, write the numbers 1 to 24 in roughly the corresponding positions to show your child where the pieces should go.


Give your child a piece of jigsaw every day. Stick the pieces on to the card back with glue. At the end of Advent your child will have a complete picture.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Picstick Discount Code

I did a review on Picstick magnets recently on my Home Ed blog which you can read in full here. The upshot being that I was impressed with the service, speed of delivery and the quality of the magnets.

I can see them making cute little Christmas presents for friends and relatives that could easily slip inside a Christmas card.

This is also a project that  children could do themselves; choosing the photographs and uploading them was a fairly simple process.
And you don't have to be limited to photos, you could scan their artwork or write your own messages to have printed on to magnets too :)

There is plenty of potential to use these little photo-magnets educationally. Design your own set of alphabet magnets, or a set of chore chart symbols. For younger children, you could design a set of daily activity must-dos - cleaning teeth, brushing hair etc.
Or how about creating a set with story characters and places to use as prompts in developing imaginative story telling? :)

Picstick are offering an amazing discount on their magnets for #blackfriday which suddenly makes some of these ideas more likely to come to fruition :)
You can buy 1 set of magnets and get 3 sets FREE by using this code at the checkout


This equates to 36 magnets for £9.50/$14.99 with free international postage - which works out at just over 26p each :)

What educational activity would you use the magnets for? :)

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Choosing Picture Book Explorers for Winter

If you want to fit your explorations to fit with the seasons of the year, the following are based on books which have a particular connection with winter in the story.

Picture Book Explorers ~ The Mousehole Cat
features a winter storm and ends on Christmas Eve.
To complete this cross-curricular unit study you will need a copy of The Mousehole Cat
 and, among other things, some Coloured Felt and some glitter.

Picture Book Explorers ~ Greyfriars Bobby
features a snowy scene and an old man getting ill from being too long out in the cold.
The old man dies and this could be a sensitive subject for younger children.
To complete this cross-curricular unit study, You will need a copy of Greyfriars Bobby
and, among other things, some watercolour paints.


Either of these two Picture Book Explorers would fit in well with a project about winter and The Mousehole Cat even includes Christmas and traditions specific to the area in which the story is set.

Happy Exploring!

If you are shopping online at The Works during November2014, you can get 15% off all orders at the checkout with this discount code

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Christmas is Coming

I'm very busy preparing the next Picture Book Explorers study pack which will be out by the end of the month. It will have a Christmas theme and will be particularly significant to this year. More news to follow :)

I'm going to be running a Christmas Activity Advent calendar on this blog with links to crafts and activities relevant to the season, so please remember to come back each day from 1st December. You might want to start saving toilet roll tubes and digging out last year's Christmas cards now ;)

One of our family traditions is to make an "Advent Calendar of Books" which is essentially a pile of 24 books with a Christmas theme :) Many people use this idea and some even wrap the books individually, one parcel to be opened each day during advent. We don't go quite that far. My daughter decides on  the order, numbers them and puts them in a basket. If I have any activities to accompany the book, they go in the basket too.

Some of our favourites are How the Grinch Stole Christmas! , The Gift of the Magi and Twas the Night Before Christmas which we always read on Christmas Eve as well as revisiting the lapbook we made for it years ago. I like to add a few new books to the selection every year. This helps to ensure that they still have age appropriate as they get older, as well as being able to read old favourites that rekindle the sense of wonder from when they were younger. This Advent, we are also reading A Christmas Carol for our book group, so I'll ask my daughter to put that book at the beginning of the Advent pile :)

My children are starting to get pretty excited about Christmas, even though I think it is still a little early yet. Mind you, tomorrow is Stir Up Sunday, so I think I'd better start getting  my head round it quickly.

I'd love some new suggestions of titles to add to our book Advent Calendar. What are your family's favourite Christmas books?

Sunday, 16 November 2014

New Print-and-play Game

My daughter, aka The Girl, came up with a new way to play Bingo. She decide to use it as a maths lesson to help her and her younger brother build their mental arithmetic skills. During the process of fine-tuning and tweaking we came up with a few variations and ideas for extension activities. Consequently, in an attempt to let her see how her ideas can earn her money, I decided to create a print-and-play version, complete with full instructions. Like all Branch Out World materials, the game allows for flexibility and adaptation to make it suit the needs of different families.

This is  what some of the testers had to say said about games galore ~ Equation Bingo:

"We've been playing Equation Bingo and my girls really got into it! They are only aged 9, 7 and 5 and maths is not usually our go to activity, ...but they really enjoyed themselves!"

"It would I feel be well suited to use in small supported learning groups in school where anything flashy can be distracting as it is a good way to encourage mental maths and confidence."

You can buy the new Games Galore ~ Equation Bingo from Currclick for just £1.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

British Egg Week

This week is British Egg Week from 6th to 12th October, a perfect tie-in with  The Flip~Flap Files ~ Humpty Dumpty .

This year's focus is on cooking with eggs in recipes that make good use of any leftovers that you may have. Using leftovers is very important to me, I hate to see good food going to waste. These recipes will come in handy for the last section of The Flip~Flap Files ~ Humpty Dumpty so even if you're not making the lapbook now, why not bookmark the page for future use?

Friday, 12 September 2014

Build Your Child's Vocabulary

Words are so very useful. I love them. I love the way that a particular cocktail of written words can stir the emotions, raise a belly laugh or reduce me to tears. I love how the taste of the words lingers in my mind when clever authors create believable characters, situations and worlds that leave me feeling bereft when I turn the last page of a book. I love the books that change the way I see the world that I inhabit, that make me look at other people and myself with new eyes; books that leave me with the feeling that I have learnt something new.

Pretty much every time I read a book to my children they learn something new, even if it is only the meaning of a new word :) Reading a wide variety of books from different time periods and of different genres really helps to build their vocabulary. And a bigger vocabulary enables them to understand more of what they read as well as helping their writing to become more vivid. But sometimes, much to my regret, I have realised that I don't always answer the question of what a particular word means. Usually it's when I don't really know myself how to define it, or when I know that I am guessing from the context the word is in, and sometimes, it is because it is late or because the question interrupts the flow of the story.

Writing and using Picture Book Explorers has helped me to develop better habits in building my children's vocabulary. I'd like to share these new habits with you :)

On the first day's reading, I just read the book through to them and ask them to listen carefully and not interrupt. Even though I have already read the book a number of times, I want them to hear the story uninterrupted, complete with silly voices and everything. It also stops my older child getting frustrated by her younger brother's questions when she understands the words that he doesn't.

On the second day, I make sure that I have a piece of paper and a pencil to hand so that I (or they) can make a quick note of any words that they ask about. I tell them to let me know when they hear a word they don't understand. At the end of the book, we look at the list of words and then :-
  • Sometimes they will sort the words into alphabetical order, sometimes not. We use an old Pocket Oxford English Dictionaryto look them up. 
  • Spellings are corrected where necessary before they write the words and definitions in their Logbooks. 
  • If the definition is long, or complicated, they may choose to write a sentence using the word instead. 
  • If they have already done some writing that day, they may just write the actual words in the Logbooks
  • We take it in turns to verbally create silly sentences using the words
  • We verbally make up a story between us, each taking it in turns to make up the next section, passing the story on once one of the words has been used and ticked off  the list
  • They act out the word. Sometimes, this turns into a game of charades where we have to guess which word is being acted.
I will be including vocabulary activities more regularly in Picture Book Explorers from now on. I hope they will be useful to you and your children.

How do you help your children build their vocabulary? It would be fab to hear your suggestions :)

Saturday, 30 August 2014

As Promised

Back at the beginning of the month I shared an activity that we had done at our local Home Educators craft group - seaweed pressing.
These pictures are the results of our efforts :)

We're all very happy with how they have come out, although I would suggest that the finer samples work better than the more bulky types of seaweed. I will be buying three frames to put them in as soon as possible because some sections of seaweed are coming away from the paper. And I'm very glad that we put our names on the back as it takes a long time to dry and I couldn't remember who had done which arrangement (although my children tell me that this is due to my age as they can both remember perfectly well which ones they did).

Wednesday, 20 August 2014


Do you love lapbooks? If you home educate chances are you know what I'm talking about. I first came across them a few years ago on one of the American homeschool blogs. I immediately loved the idea of them and my children were 2 and 6 when we made our very first ones. Over the years, we have made them to compliment our book studies, our projects and have even made some that have become precious records of our family.

What are lapbooks, I hear you ask? They are a delightfully simple, yet clever way to present and preserve your child's work. You take a cardboard folder, make lots of little booklets, put the two together and hey presto! You have a beautiful display of your child's work. Of course, there is a little more to it :) Each little booklet, or minibook,  has to be filled in by your child. This can be done in different ways, by drawing, writing or collage to name but a few. Each minibook breaks a topic down into neatly divided, manageable chunks. Reluctant writers can write a word or a sentence, while older children can write short paragraphs in their minibooks. Parents can act as scribes or pictures and diagrams can provide the answers. All in all, you get a beautiful keepsake of each stage of your child's development.

I don't know about your children, but my little boy has always loved books that have pockets in them, and flip-ups to lift and investigate. All those intricate '-ology' books have pride of place on his bookshelf. That's how I knew that lapbooks were the way to go with him. What better way for him to learn than for him to be able to make his own book of flips and flaps to hold his activities and provide him with his own hand-made reference books? We have a large selection of years of work which he still loves to get out and show anyone who will take the time to look. He is so very proud of his lapbooks and each time he does this, he is revisiting the projects and  that learning goes a little deeper into his brain :)

And so The Flip~Flap Files have been born from the my son's love of  his own learning journey.
All the printables you need to make the lapbook are in there. You buy the folders and glue, add an envelope or too, get out the stapler and away you go. Of course, paper-based activities are not enough to keep children enthralled and eager to learn, so you will also find instructions for your child to make his own Humpty Dumpty toy, a hands-on science experiment, cooking ideas, games suggestions and the sheet music for your own music and movement session.

 There will be more to come in this range of products. Nursery rhymes are so familiar to children and such an important part of any culture that they make fine building blocks for early learning adventures.

Monday, 18 August 2014

UK & Ireland Map Review

A customer  recently asked for advice on where to buy a good map of the British Isles to go with their Picture Book Explorers adventures. I realised that the one we use at home is VERY old and no longer available for sale.

I had a good look around and was actually pretty disappointed by what I could find. All the available maps of the British Isles showed Northern Ireland connected toa section of a faded, vague impression of the Republic of Ireland. The worst one I saw had Northern Ireland floating around disembodied from any other land mass. And then Schofield & Sims came to the rescue and sent me a poster sized map of the UK & Ireland to review.

As it is listed as a poster, I anticipated a paper version but was delighted to find that it is laminated, making it much more hardwearing and more likely to last all through our future years of Picture Book Exploring and beyond.

The map is slightly smaller than A1 and hangs on the back of our door perfectly. There are plenty of towns marked on it as well as the all important county boundaries. All important that is, for our PBE explorations :) In fact, Mousehole is the only town visited by Picture Book Explorers so far that isn't on the map.  

Schofield & Sims give free postage in the UK and Ireland, making it cheaper to buy directly from them than buying the same Map of UK and Ireland from Amazon. If you're looking for a wall map to enhance your Picture Book Explorers learning journey, you won't go far wrong with this one :)

Our new map with some of our Explorers flags. Spot the door handle :)
  What are your favourite map recommendations?

*Disclosure: All opinions are my own and are given as honestly as possible.  I received a free copy of the map to review, No money changed hands.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Meeting Kim Lewis

Last Saturday, we went to Tatton Park in Cheshire. The weather was very changeable and we did get a bit wet at one point, but overall, it stayed dry and was fairly warm.
We went to see the exhibition of Kim Lewis's artwork from her children's books and also, to meet her at her book signing event in the farm there.

The artwork is beautiful. You can see the love that goes into the work with every stroke of coloured pencil, so much detail in each picture. As well as the pictures, there are two display cabinets containing props that she used to create her illustrations. Kim very kindly explained to my children how she goes about the process of creating the books.

For each book, Kim makes a little black and white mock-up, some as small as A6 size. She explained that the look of the book as a whole is very important - how the pictures and text fit together; whether the picture is in a frame or not; where the gutters are; and how the page turns fit into the story. All of these things affect the feel of the story and that is why a mock-up is needed so that she can test each story in its book form. The original artwork for the cover of The Shepherd Boy is on exhibition and Kim also explained what she had to take into consideration when she drew it. There had to be space for the barcode, the title and the publisher's bumf on the back. All in all, my children received a very good, impromptu lesson on book production. Thank you, Kim :)

I loved to see the props she used for her artwork as it is a great encouragement for children to realise that many artists draw from observation. My favourite prop was the hand-sewn quilt that Kim Lewis had made to draw the illustrations for her book A Quilt for Baby . She told us that this had lead her into quilting as a hobby. It's not a book I've read, but having seen the quilt, I really want to read it :)

I've previously sent Kim a copy of Picture Book Explorers ~ Floss and her response was "I am completely amazed by the amount of detail in your Picture Book Explorer about Floss!". She told me that she is planning on using it with her grandson when he is a little older, so all you Explorers out there should know you will be in good company :)

It was lovely to meet Kim Lewis, such a friendly, informative lady who took the time to talk to my children all about her work and books. What a great way to top up our explorations of Floss :)

The Kim Lewis exhibition is on at the Farm at Tatton Park until Friday, 22nd August 2014. It's well worth a visit. There's also a Little Baa trail to follow, caps and crooks for dressing up and a maize maze where you can find four of Floss's lost puppies. We really enjoyed the sheep racing and had our money on Little Baa to win ;)

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Upcoming Price Changes

Due to increased costs, Branch Out World will shortly be reviewing the pricing system of Picture Book Explorers packs.
At the end of August there will be some price changes. Some units will remain the same price, but some of the larger ones will be increased in price to either £2.50 or £3. The new PBE will be published at £2 but will go up in price at the end of August too.
Branch Out World will continue to provide high quality, low cost resources for educators everywhere.
I just wanted to let all you lovely blog readers know about the upcoming changes in plenty of time for you to be able to purchase  any units you particularly want before the prices change :)
Happy Exploring!

Friday, 1 August 2014

Summer Seaweed Craft

Seaweed pressing is a very effective craft to do with your children after a trip to the seaside. Not only will they be making beautiful artwork, they will also be learning how to preserve seaweed samples just as scientists do.

It is a craft that would be a welcome extra to any of the Picture Book Explorers packs that accompany books with a seaside connection. Add it to your explorations of Picture Book Explorers~The Lighthouse Keepers Rescue or  Picture Book Explorers ~ The Mousehole Cat or Picture Book Explorers ~ Stone Girl, Bone Girl or Picture Book Explorers ~ Cedric's day at the Castle or Picture Book Explorers ~ Katie Morag and the New Pier

First of all, you need to go to the seaside :)
Whilst you are there, collect as many different types of seaweed as you can find and put them in a bucket of seawater. It helps if your bucket has a lid as you will need to transport bucket, seaweed and water back home. Keep the seaweed in the seawater until you come to press it. You will also need to collect a couple of large bottles of seawater too.

When you get home, you will need:
two A4 size pieces of wood (chopping boards work well)
some A4 size pieces of strong cardboard,
some greaseproof paper cut larger than A4,
two larger than A4 size trays,
some A4 watercolour paper,
a paintbrush,
a couple of canvas belts or some rope.

First prepare your press.
Lay the belts or rope under the one of the wooden boards and add the first layer of strong cardboard.

Pour some seawater in the bottom of one tray to a depth of 5cm/2".
Select your seaweed samples from the bucket and rinse them in the seawater in this tray. If your samples are large, you may want to cut small sections using the scissors.

Place your watercolour paper in the second tray and pour a small amount of seawater onto it, so that it is just covered.

Arrange your seaweed on your paper.

Get someone to help you lift the paper out of the tray and onto a sheet of strong cardboard.
You may need to use a paintbrush to tease some of the fronds apart.

Cover the whole picture in greaseproof paper, taking care not to disturb your arrangement.

Put your picture on its cardboard into the press and cover with another piece of cardboard.

Repeat the process until you have made as many pictures as you want.
Place the second wooden board on top of the pile of cardboard and fasten the whole thing together.
Tighten the belts/rope so that the cardboard is compressed and will not slip.
Leave for about a month.

As we did this activity less than a month ago, here is a picture of pressed seaweed that was made at an earlier workshop by one of the children in our local home educators group. We did this craft at our local home educators craft session. The organisers gave me their kind permission to write this post and share this activity :)

I'll show you the results of my children's projects when we get them back :) 

In the meantime, I would love to hear about your favourite seaside related craft :)

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Summer Reading Challenge

Here in the UK, libraries host the Summer Reading Challenge with a different theme every year. This involves children between the ages of 4 and 11 signing up at their local library to try and read six books over the summer. They receive a record sheet with stickers to add to it every time they read two books. When they complete the sheet and have read all six books they get a medal.

My children have participated in the reading scheme practically every year since they became old enough. They read plenty of books anyway, so don't need much encouragement, but they do  enjoy the recognition; the extra activities in the libraries and collecting the goodies along the way. We have various fridge magnets, mobiles and pencils from previous summers :)

This year's theme is Mythical Maze and if you pop down to your local library they are very likely to be running associated events. Participants can also keep track of their reading here.  They can create a profile, give and receive book recommendations, play games, watch author interviews and enter competitions :) And there's even a Facebook page to like.

Children can read any kind of book they want for the challenge, fiction or non-fiction, chapter book or picture book. Why not combine the Summer Reading Challenge with Picture Book Explorers? Which books would your child recommend to other young readers?
I'd love to know in the comments below ;)

Friday, 11 July 2014

Blog Reader's Choice

This month sees the release of a new Picture Book Explorers pack which is written to accompany the title suggested by winner of the giveaway, the lovely Jax of Liveotherwise. She suggested one of the Cedric the Seahorse titles written and illustrated by the husband and wife team, by Jim and Miggie Wyllie.
The gentle story follows a day out to a Norman castle in Suffolk, East Anglia. The loving relationship between a grandfather and his grand-daughter, Polly, is evident in his willingness to join in her games that involve her imaginary friend, Cedric the Seahorse. The story relatesthe mishaps that he encounters on their day trip.
The study pack includes over 20 suggestions and instructions for hands-on activities that cover geography, history, science, literacy, numeracy, art and technology.  All necessary printables are included.
Cedric's Day at the Castle is available direct from the publisher's at Skycat Publications, along with the other titles in the series.
Colouring sheets and literacy activities to go with the first book, Cedric the Seahorse, are available at the author's own website.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Exploring Stone Girl, Bone Girl

Check out today's Google doodle :)  It celebrates the 215th birthday of Mary Anning. If you click on the doodle it will give you links to investigate further. This is a good one for children. It's the perfect week to be exploring with Picture Book Explorers - Stone Girl, Bone Girl :)
Stone Girl Bone Girl by Laurence Anholt is set in 18th century Lyme Regis. It tells the story of how young Mary Anning, fossil hunter extraordinaire, discovered an ichthyosaurus fossil.

It is beautifully illustrated by Sheila Moxley in bright, bold colours, using unusual and skewed perspectives. It is a book that lent itself very nicely to interesting hands-on art education and activities.
As it is a book about a fossil hunter, it contains, as you would expect, activities related to fossils. It also includes suggestions for literacy and numeracy activities that all relate to the book. And of course, like all Picture Book Explorers, the pack offers the opportunity to learn about the region in which it is set, including local recipes. It also includes a timeline of Mary Anning's life.

You can read a review of this pack at Classroom Free and also on page 40 of  the Spring 2014 issue of Education Outside School magazine.

Other useful go-alongs:

You can also buy fossils and fossil hunting kits at Fossils Galore.