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Day 9 - Beaches (creative ideas for teaching English and maths at home)

Updated: Apr 20, 2020

My wife, Laura, is never happier than when she is at the beach. This is a fond memory of her childhood. Our family outings to Cornwall seem such a distant memory right now, so today's lesson is aimed at bringing the beach back home. However, not all of us love the beach...

Hope you enjoy!



  • Problem solving

Once a week, I like to try to give the boys a mathematical problem that requires investigation. Developing a systematic approach to problem solving is an essential is resilience.

This is a great problem that can be adapted for any age child. To simplify, use less flavours.

The problem:

Whilst at the beach, you decide to buy a delicious ice cream (or sorbet if you prefer). There are 6 different flavours on offer:

  • vanilla

  • chocolate

  • strawberry

  • mint choc chip

  • toffee

  • honeycomb

The ice cream vendor has a sign up in the van:

6 flavours - 2 scoops

How many different combinations are there?

Answer correctly for a free ice cream.

Can you solve the problem? You will get a free ice cream!

Challenge: if you solve it quickly, how many combinations of 3 scoops are there?

The boys completed this independently and tackled it in different ways, one bing far more systematic than the other. They both reached the correct answer of 21.

We then discussed how they approached the problem and which was most efficient and why.

You may like to use a visual representation for this problem. There is a great interactive resource online:

Although they both qualified for a free ice cream, I did ask them to pay for a few other items using money. This is something that we have initiated throughout the day, focussing on familiarity with money and quick mental calculations. It is also fascinating to see if they can find different ways of making the same amount, e.g. how many ways can you make £4.52?



  • Describing a setting

  • Drawing upon the senses

  • Adjectives / expanded noun phrases

  • Personification / similes / metaphors / onomatopoeia

Getting children to draw upon real, personal experience will also enrich the writing. As a family, we often venture down to Cornwall and immerse ourselves in true British beach fun. We have a mixed response to the beach - some of us love it, some hate it. The importance, in my opinion, is to write what is true as this is is where the writing will come to life.

Our task today was to write a poem, drawing upon the senses. I have included a host of images as inspiration below, but do adapt the theme to be something real and meaningful for the children.

The poetry frame:

To begin, brainstorm all of the things you can see, hear, smell, taste and touch/feel at the beach. The images will help activate ideas and memories. You could also play them sounds from the seaside to activate their ideas and imagination.

Once you have a brainstorm of ideas, show them how to pull these together into a senses poem, using the frame:

I saw...

I heard...

I smelt...

I tasted...

I felt...

I wondered...

The ideas could be very true and simple or more complex and detailed. As I said before, the importance is being truthful to the scene - for example, is the sea in England ever blue?

N.B. If you are wondering if it is smelled or smelt, the truth is that both are acceptable. Below is my model and the writing the boys produced.

The Beach

I saw kites,

fighting for freedom,

leashed and constrained.

I heard the wind,

howling like tormented souls,

lashing and thrashing.

I smelt salt,

encroaching, invading,

reptiling bodies.

I tasted disappointment,

clawing at hoarse throats,

drowning happiness.

I felt the sand:

the Devil's tarmac,

infecting, violating.

I wondered - why?

© Jamie Thomas 2020

The Beach

I saw beach balls bouncing by.

I heard waves wiggling and wooing.

I smelt miracle ice creams.

I tasted fantastic fish and chips.

I felt secret sand, twitching between my feet.

I wondered - was this paradise?

by Archie

The Beach

I saw sandcastles built with rocks, shells and flags.

I heard children shouting in fear at the waves.

I smelt fantastic hot dogs and melting ice cream.

I felt salty sand stuck to my feet.

I wondered - when were we going home?

by Joshua


If you have enjoyed reading this blog, please do follow us. Alternatively, you may like to follow me on Twitter: @JamieWTSA.

My thanks to Pie Corbett and Talk for Writing for inspiring many of the ideas explored.

Do tune in on Monday where the stimulus is:


Have a great weekend!


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