Monday, 14 December 2015

Coming Soon - Chapter Book Explorers!

I'm very excited to announce that there will be a new cross-curricular literature-based unit study in the New Year. The last few activities have just been delivered to the tester families and I'm waiting for their feedback with bated breath.

This will be a larger, longer unit study for children aged 8 - 12. Older children will be able to complete the unit independently; younger children will need parental support with some of the activities.

Notebooking pages are included so that children will have a single unit Logbook as a momento of their explorations. There are over 50 hands-on activities, over 50 discussion/essay suggestions and over 50 extension ideas.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Win a copy of the new Michael Morpurgo book

Do you love Michael Morpurgo books?
We do. I think they are real book to home educators and homeschoolers everywhere. They're always moving and always pave the way into deep discussions and further learning.
I reckon that it's very likely that each one of his books would make a good springboard for a literature-based unit study of its own.
Most of them look at events in British and European history, fictionalising true stories in a way that engages modern children.
Last year, we explored The Best Christmas Present in the World and we will be revisiting the unit study, even if only for the recipes :)
If you want to win a copy of his new book An Eagle in the Snow, pop on over to Never The Same 2 Days Running for their free to enter competition.

Good Luck and Happy Exploring!

Friday, 6 November 2015

Deal of the Day

Today's Deal of the Day on Currclick is 50% off this downloadable resource....

Picture Book Explorers ~ The Best Christmas Present in the World.

Written in Britain and available for only £2.32 until approximately 4pm GMT Saturday 7th November 2015.

This complete cross-curricular unit study accompanies the Micheal Morpurgo book about the Christmas Day Truce of 1914.
As well as being a stand-alone literature-based unit, it would fit well into a larger homeschool study about Christmas, World War I, Belgium, Dorset or winter.

Don't miss out. Grab a bargain and share the news with other home educators and families everywhere :)

Happy Exploring!

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Happy Yorkshire Day!!

Happy Yorkshire Day 
50% off 
today only!!

The 1st of August is Yorkshire Day. The day to celebrate the largest county in England.
Although administrative borders were re-jigged in 1974, the old historic county borders were never changed. This has caused some confusion about the current names of counties and where their borders lie. Some people may think this is of no significance, after all where you live is still where you live whatever name it is given. However, it is still an issue that causes strong feelings. I know that my neighbours over the current administrative border, an area most people would consider to now be outside of Yorkshire, will be celebrating Yorkshire Day with gusto.

And it is not just those few villages who believe they are still in Yorkshire, The Association of British Counties completely agrees with them.

Yorkshire was originally divided into three Ridings, West, North and East, whose borders all met at York, the County Town. The word 'Ridings' comes from the old Viking word 'thridding' meaning 'third'. Likewise, the city name 'York' is derived from an old Viking word, 'Jorvik'. You can find out more about the traditional county of Yorkshire at County-Wise, where they also have a map showing the administrative boundaries compared to the historic boundaries. It doesn't look like much of a difference, but it could've been all important in the days when you had to be born in Yorkshire to be able to play cricket for them ;)

Being a Yorkshire lass born and bred, I can tell you that it's a fabulous place to live with a varied landscape. In just a few hours you can travel across bleak moors, over steep hills into the flat area around York and onto the coast with its cliffs, rock pools and sandy beaches. You will pass through quaint villages of stone-built cottages surrounded by fields bounded by drystone walls, as well as the massive urban areas developed during the industrial revolution.

It's a place well worth visiting. If it's too far for you to travel in real life, the Picture Book Explorers~Oscar, cat-about-town unit is a perfect way to introduce the region to your children, using a beautifully illustrated picture book written by the famous vet, James Herriot. It's packed full of activities to keep your young ones learning and loving it :)

Happy Exploring!

Monday, 29 June 2015

FREE Camping Lapbook

As a family, we recently enjoyed a few days at a local home educators camp. While we were there, I ran a workshop on lapbooking. I showed parents how to make lapbooks and passed on some time saving tips. Children got the chance to make a mini lapbook created especially  for that camp.

It was so popular that I decided to re-jig the lapbook a little and make it available on here for free. Tell your friends to pop over and grab their own copy too :)

free lapbook, camping lapbook

Friday, 19 June 2015

Currclick Summer Sale

Currclick are having a summer sale with 259 reduced items available until 22nd June.

Why not pop over to Currclick and bag a bargain?

 Alternatively, go straight to the two deeply discounted Picture Book Explorers units :)

Happy Exploring!

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Summer Exploring

Are you looking for Picture Book Explorers with a connection to summer?

How about Picture Book Explorers ~ Floss with a storyline that ends at a summer show and sheepdog trial?

Or Picture Book Explorers ~ Dogger with the main events happening at a summer fair?

Or Picture Book Explorers ~ I Took the Moon For a Walk, a beautifully illustrated fantasy taking place on a summer's evening?

Or Picture Book Explorers ~ The North Wind and the Sun, a beautifully illustrated re-telling of Fontaine's fable?

Or if you want to tie your studies in with a historical event, how about Picture Book Explorers ~ The Little Ships which covers the Dunkirk evacuations of World War II in May- June 1940?

Happy Exploring!


Thursday, 21 May 2015

Deal of the Day

If you haven't explored with Picture Book Explorers ~ The Day The Crayons Quit  already, now's your chance.

For 24 hours, this literature based unit study will be available with a 60% discount over at Currclick.
That's $2.52 in America and a mere £1.60  for all my UK customers :) International customers can change the site to display the currency of their choice by accessing the drop down menu at the bottom right hand side of the Currclick page.

We had a great time with this book, which was selected for a Picture Book Explorers unit by my 10 year old son :) As always with Picture Book Explorers, there is the chance to learn about a place in the UK. It was lovely to 'hop' over to Northern Ireland and learn about Belfast, the city of Oliver Jeffers childhood. It's a place I visited in the early 1990s and it was inspiring to read how much it has change and learn about all the positive things happening there.

If you're still in two minds whether this unit will appeal to your children, have read of this review over at Adventures in Homeschooling :)

I hope your family has as much fun with this study as mine did. Crayons at the ready ;)
Happy Exploring!

Monday, 4 May 2015

Book People Discount

Here's a new discount code for The Book People giving 5% off orders over £40

Use the code at the checkout to get the discount. Valid until midnight, 10th May 2015. Valid for UK sales only. Not valid for ebooks. One use per customer only.

Free postage on all orders over £25.

Just in case you want to use your code to buy PBE titles, these are the ones currently available through The Book People:

Tabby McTat


The Mousehole Cat


Greyfriars Bobby

Katie Morag Mini Collection - 8 pocket sized books, including Katie Morag & the New Pier

The Tale of Jemima Puddle-duck

The Day The Crayons Quit

The Best Christmas Present in the World

Monday, 30 March 2015

Happy Birthday Van Gogh

Vincent Van Gogh was born on 30th March, 1853. He is so famous that he even appears in a Dr Who episode ;)

Did you know that he only sold one painting in his lifetime? Now his paintings are worth millions.

Laurence Anholt has written a series of children's books about artists, including one about Van Gogh. It tells a story during the time he spent in France when he was 35 and includes examples of his work. There is also a brief biography on the last page. It makes an ideal unit study starter :)

Activities that your child may enjoy:
Painting swirls in the sky just like Van Gogh using bright colours and mixing the paint on the paper
Create self-portraits - Van Gogh made over 30
Visit an art gallery and look for Van Gogh paintings
Grow a sunflower
Serve a sunflower shaped lunch
Make a jelly in a Swiss roll tin and use a star shape cutter to make dessert
Listen to the song 'Vincent' :)

Further resources for a unit study on Van Gogh:
Montessori Cards
Van Gogh Picture Cards
Video clip from BBC Schools
Explore the digital Van Gogh map
Colouring pages
Notebooking page

More books on Vincent Van Gogh:

For a unit study that explores another of Laurence Anholt's books, check out 

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Children's Book Awards

This year, my children will be taking part in the CILIP Shadowing Scheme organised by our local library to follow the Kate Greenaway Award. They will be looking at this year's shortlisted books, writing reviews, researching the artists, designing their own covers and voting for a group winner using the same criteria as the real judges.

The Kate Greenaway Medal was established in 1955 and is awarded for distinguished illustration in a children's book. It has had some well-known winners in the past, such as Helen Oxenbury, Shirley Hughes and Quentin Blake. Librarians select a short-list from the many books submitted and follow strict judging criteria to decide the winner.

Not all the selected picture books are aimed at young children, in fact there are three aimed at the 10+ age group. Older children love picture books too :) This year's shortlist is:

You can shadow the award in your own family and set up an account on the CILIP website. TYour children will be able to submit their own work and post their own reviews. There are free resources available too :)

The Kate Greenaway Award runs alongside the Carnegie Award, Britain's longest running and most prestigious children's book award. You can see all the past winners of the Kate Greenaway Medal here. How many have you read?

Friday, 27 March 2015

Hurry and Save at Currclick

Currclick are having an Easter sale with many publishers offering up to 60% off their products. This is a good opportunity to stock up on educational resources for your family.

As well as the many reduced titles, there are 10 freebies hidden around the site for the Currclick

Search for the free titles from publishers Hands of a Child, A Journey Through Learning, Knowledge Box central and more

Look for the Easter eggs as pictured in this blog, each one will add a free product to your basket.
Happy Hunting :)

Saturday, 7 February 2015

National Libraries Day

My #shelfie :)
How appropriate that National Libraries Day should come at the end of National Storytelling Week :) You can join in by tweeting photos using #shelfies and share your love of libraries with #NLD15

In my family, we use libraries very regularly. These days they seem to offer so much more than just the lending of books with regular storytelling sessions, games clubs, school holiday activities, internet sessions, talks and reading groups.

We're blessed to have a local library in our village with friendly and helpful staff. I find the threat of library closures depressing, especially knowing that  our little local library is well used by the different generations and by people from all walks of life.

I have always used libraries. As a child, the library gave me access to whole series of books one after the other, without having to wait for birthdays or Christmas to get the next one. As a teenager, came access to the adult section which opened my eyes to history and many new and wonderful topics. As mum with young children, it was joy to go and let them choose their own books and I read many, many picture books with them and we all made new friends at storytelling sessions. As a student, it was so easy to go and pick up a book that 'might' be useful for an assignment without having to worry that it was wasted money. And now as a writer, I borrow piles and piles of picture books trying to find ones that will introduce new areas of interest to my children and yours through Picture Book Explorers.


I'd love to hear what your local library offers beyond books. Is it different in other parts of the country, and in other parts of the world. I'm in Yorkshire, England. Please tell me about your local library in the comments :)

Monday, 2 February 2015

National Storytelling Week - UK

This week is the 15th annual National Storytelling Week in the UK running from 31st January until 7th February which also happens to be National Libraries Day :)

Why is storytelling so important that it deserves a whole week?

"Storytelling and reading aloud are powerful tools for a child's development, and for sparking a lifelong love of books:
  • Reading aloud is shown to be the most important thing you can do to help prepare a child for reading and learning
  • The more words a child hears spoken to them, the more words they learn
  • Reading aloud ... opens up new worlds to children and demonstrates the joy of reading."
Scholastic Books

There are a few literature-rich curricular from America that already know the benefits of reading aloud to children. Along with good quality children's literature from the last couple of centuries, many will recommend books of fairy tales, folk tales and other stories that originated from an older oral tradition.

Charlotte Mason was a British educator. Her method goes a step beyond reading aloud by encouraging narration, primarily to develop skills needed for composition writing. One means of narration can be as simple as a child retelling the main points of a story they have just heard, leading to a more in depth retelling by an older child, that in our house sometimes borders on a dramatic production. In this way, narration also develops and encourages the storytelling skills that people have enjoyed for millenia.

"The Boyhood of Raleigh" by John Everett Millais 1870
National Storytelling Week is a celebration of the oral tradition organised by the Society for Storytelling. You can find a list of events here.

If you're on twitter use #NationalStorytellingWeek to join the National Story Week conversation and #picturebookexplorers to share your stories of using Picture Book Explorers to encourage storytelling :)

Picture Book Explorers ~ Greyfriars Bobby would be a good fit for this week with its exploration of oral storytelling activity.

Encouraging storytelling through games:
ORT - Traditional Tales Story Game Flashcards
Letterland Make-a-story card game
Storyonics - Amazing Adventure Stories: 6- 106 years
The Creativity Hub Rory's Story Cubes

Friday, 30 January 2015

National Read Aloud Day

"Reading aloud with children is known to be the single most important activity for building the knowledge and skills they will eventually require for learning to read." - Marilyn Jager Adams

Today is National Read Aloud Day in Kenya :) This event  place annually on the last Friday of January.

In Kenya,  they have 20,000 primary schools without libraries, so events like this can have a significant impact on the children. It's an event organised by Start a Library whose aim is to put a book in every hand. They select an extract from a particular book which is read at 9am in schools and libraries across the country. The book they have selected deals with issues particular to the region.
If you want to join in and read the extract that will be read in Kenya, you can buy the book Attack of the Shidas on Kindle. The Kenyan schools and libraries will be reading an extract from the back of the book and the children will be asked to write their own ending to the story or draw an illustration.

You could celebrate Kenyan national Read Aloud Day too by reading books about Kenya.
Here are some suggestions:

Links to information and printables to help learn about Kenya:
Background information
NGKids Fact File
Free lapbook
Learn Swahili
Children's songs and rhymes from Kenya 
Kenyan recipe
Map and Flag printables
Children from Kenya tell their story
Make an African mask

Films to watch:
Born Free

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

New Review

I just wanted to share this new review for Picture Book Explorers from Adventures in Homeschool. It's a really clear explanation of how Picture Book Explorers ~ The Day the Crayons Quit can be used with more than one child, with a mixture of independent and parent-assisted activities taking place simultaneously.

It's so lovely to see how other families use these resources and how their children interpret the creative activities.

I would love to hear from more families, to see how your children have been inspired. Which was your child's favourite activity?

Thursday, 1 January 2015

New Year's Day

2014 was a very busy year with the release of 10 new Picture Book Explorers and the introduction of The Flip~Flap Files and the Games Galore range.

Branch Out World would like to say a huge THANK YOU to all our customers. We couldn't do it without you :)

Our range will continue to expand throughout 2015 as we endeavour to assist and inspire parents, educators and homeschoolers around the World.

Happy Exploring!

New Picture Book Explorers~Paddington Bear coming soon :)