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Home-educating? Bored of worksheets and work books? Tune in for daily stimuli for Maths & English

I have no idea if this blog will be a welcome addition to many of the amazing resources that are out there. However, as a parent and teacher home-schooling three boys (aged 3, 7 and 9) for the foreseeable future, I have decided to share our daily sessions in case they offer any inspiration or support.

Schools are doing an amazing amount of work in supporting families, be this in being open to support those key workers, or in supplying resources to be completed at home. But many children will fail to be inspired by worksheets or work books and therefore need something more creative and engaging.

I will endeavour to post the ideas that I explored with my own boys, as well as some of the outcomes. The concept is that each day we will choose a different stimulus that will drive the learning in maths and English. This began with:



Sweets provide an amazing array of opportunity in both maths and English. Here are a couple of ideas you may like to play around with.


  • Tallies

  • Pictograms

  • Bar Charts

  • Interpreting Data

  1. Begin by exploring packs of Haribo jellies. Create tables and tally how many of each type there are (remember to use a ruler - an essential mathematical skill). You can then represent these as pictograms.

  2. Draw axes and discuss how to label these accurately (remember to space these out evenly). Plot the data onto the graph.

  3. Raise questions based around the data for the children to answer. e.g. How many more rings are there than hearts? What is the largest/smallest amount? etc.



  • Adjectives / Expanded noun phrases

  • Nouns

  • Verbs

  • Onomatopoeia

  • Alliteration

  • Poetry

One of the things I love most as a teacher of English is encouraging children to explore language without fear and inhibition. One of the techniques I love using is called a Word Waiter, a skill I have learnt from Pie Corbett @TalkforWriting. The idea goes like this:

Start by looking at some photos of sweets and sweet shops - here are a few:

  1. Looking at the pictures, make a list of nouns - things you can either see or imagine would be in a sweet shop (e.g. jelly babies, smarties, popcorn, humbugs, etc.)

  2. Then make a list of adjectives that describe these things (e.g. delicious, succulent, heavenly, vibrant, etc.) Do let the imagination run wild with language ideas - you may also like to use thesauruses to help generate ideas.

  3. The third brainstorm is a list of onomatopoeic words. These are words that mean the sound they make (e.g. slap, rustle, growl, crash, boing, etc.) Again, do search online for a bank of great ideas.

You should now have a list that looks something like this:

This is a bit like a menu. You can now make choices and create a fun little poem based on a sweet shop coming to life.

The starting point is to choose an adjective, noun and onomatopoeic word, e.g. delicious jelly babies splash.

As an additional challenge, we can introduce alliteration. This is where we choose words with the same letter or starting sound at the beginning of the word, e.g. juicy jelly babies juggle.

We can now make a list poem of all the amazing things that may happen when the sweet shop comes to life. To help the children to get started, you may like to begin:

When the lights go out,

the sweet shop comes to life...

juicy jelly babies juggle,

then add in their own ideas using the adjective, noun, onomatopoeic verb

My boys loved this activity and here are all of our written outcomes from the session:

The Sweet Shop

When the lights go out,

the sweet shop comes to life...

fizzy flying saucers flutter

as fluffy candy floss flip-flops and falls,

crunchy candies clank

into cool curtseying cola cubes,

silky smarties swoosh and slide

through a scrumptious spray of sprinkles,

luscious lollies laugh lazily

at the juicy jelly jangling,

mouthwatering mints mingle

whilst delectable donuts dance,

pink popping candy parties

as heavenly Haribo hiccup and howl

at the honourable honking humbugs,

bright, brilliant bottles belch,

ginormous gobstoppers glare,

rocking refreshers rumble and grumble

as pristine popcorn pirouettes...

...for when the lights go out,

the sweet shop comes to life.

©Jamie Thomas 2020

The Sweet Shop by Joshua Thomas

When the lights go out,

the sweet shop comes to life...

sticky candy floss whizz and whisper,

squashy humbugs grunt and fizz,

delicious donuts splutter,

crunchy cakes bam,

bashing smarties explode,

rich Easter eggs rumble and grumble,

scrummy fizzy drinks explode and thump,

yummy chocolate animals jump and wriggle,

silly Haribo jiggle and jangle,

sickly rainbows fizz and whizz,

...for when the lights go out,

the sweet shop comes to life.

The Sweet Shop by Archie Thomas

When the lights go out,

the sweet shop comes to life...

smooth sprinkles spray,

rich rings wriggle,

brilliant balloons belch,

amicable Easter eggs thud,

syrupy Smarties sprinkle,

yum yum in my tum Boosts boing,

delicious floating chocolate flutter,

comfy candy clings,

lovely Love Hearts loop,

brilliant bottles of fizz bloop,

delightful donuts drop,

spicy Mars bars mumble and grumble,

fluffy, floating chocolate flutters,

juicy candy chatters,

...for when the lights go out,

the sweet shop comes to life.

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Thank you. This is a really great blog full of achievable and entertaining ideas which is encouraging my daughters to enjoy writing.


Lisa Ng
Lisa Ng
May 14, 2020

I just came across your site and just wanted to say how amazing the work you are doing is. I will be following your post now on a daily basis to see what insight your provide. Thank you for sharing all of this wonderful work with us, it is so inspirational.

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