18
Jun

You, me and those who came before - Refugee Week 2019

For most of us, if we look at our family history, there will have been refugees. Some of them may be so far back in history it isn't taught much in most schools - like the French Huguenots of the 17th century. Others are more recent; many families in England, the USA, Canada, New Zealand and Australia are likely to have ancestors who fled the Irish Famine, or the Scottish Clearances, or World War Two. Many of us are likely to have family members or friends or colleagues who came to our country in more recent displacements, due to war in Syria, or economics in Europe, or the early stages of climate change.

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18
Jun

‘Brain breaks’ for new arrivals – art activities to help transitions to a new school

The first few weeks at a new school are crucial, for educators as well as for pupils. All those rules you thought you knew are suddenly overturned, and you have to learn new ones: new names, new faces, new ways of doing things. Every June, Refugee Week celebrates contributions in the arts made by those who have made it to a safe country. One of the ways in which routine can gradually be restored is when children are in a position to attend school in their new host country. 

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16
Jun

Dual Language Books - A Whistle Stop Tour

No matter what you encounter in life, there are six questions that are invaluable: what, when, where, who, how, and why.

And dual language books are no exception. Anyone who’s ever had to learn more than one language knows how much easier it is to remember new words, phrases and syntax when you can relate them to something you already know. So if you already know your own version of, say, Cinderella or The Very Hungry Caterpillar, it makes a lot of sense that a dual language edition can help you acquire new vocabulary in your new target language.

And while everyone has their own language learning style, and some people may prefer hearing a story to reading it, dual language books are an essential tool in our bilingual language learning virtual cabinet.
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12
Jun

June bugs and barbecues or raining cats and dogs? What's the June weather like where you are?

After a warm and sunny Easter, we had high hopes for a similar kind of summer - but so far it's been a bit of a washout, as they say. I know it's a cliché that we talk about the weather such a lot in Britain and many other countries, but to be fair, it's because we have such a lot of it. The fact that I have had to dig out wellies and waterproofs (and a sturdy umbrella or two) in the last few days really got me thinking about how we talk about the weather, in general. While we all know that climate change is now a reality, the daily weather remains a popular topic of conversation.
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11
Jun

Bicycles, balls and Video Assistant Referees - is June the month of exercise?

Even if you’re not much of a sports fan, or you just prefer to watch sport from the sidelines and cheer the players, you’ve probably noticed that there’s a World Cup going on. Just like the FIFA World Cup, the Women’s Football World Cup is regulated by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, and takes place every four years. The first Women’s Football World Cup took place in 1991, when the United States of America won; just a dozen teams took part. By 2015, the number of teams competing had doubled and for the 2019 contest, 35 teams were in the initial qualifying rounds. Read More
30
May

Wild March winds and gentle April showers eventually help May flowers to grow in our gardens, so where are the bees and butterflies?

Green fingers don’t exactly run in my family, but we love visiting gardens and learning how to grow things, and like many of us, we’ve noticed how we don’t see as many bees and butterflies in the garden as we used to.

Last weekend in the garden I was overjoyed to hear one of our bushes buzzing, actually buzzing, there were so many bees enjoying the flowers. I still believe the very first lavender bush I ever grew flourished at least in part because my local bees were so active on it.

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30
May

When is a fruit not a fruit? When it’s a tomato…which is also a vegetable...

When I was buying our groceries this week I found out that it’s week 2 of British Tomato Fortnight (it ends on 2 June 2019). For years, I mainly associated tomatoes with summer salads. I actually grew up thinking I hated tomatoes: every time I was given a salad, it had tomatoes on it. (Along with the obligatory boiled egg and limp lettuce leaf.) (I grew up thinking I hated salads too.)

While I loved the colour of tomatoes, and the taste was okay, I really disliked the squidgy bit in the middle, with the seeds. If only someone had explained to me earlier that tomatoes are actually fruits as well as vegetables, I might have coped with them a little better. It did explain why my mother used to insist on adding a little sprinkling of sugar to make them palatable.

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17
May

What are the seven types of human intelligence? Or are there eight, or even ten, intelligence types?

As we’re now well and truly into this year’s exam season, heads are down throughout the land (and further afield): SATs, GCSEs, ‘A’ Levels, Ebacc, and so many more – it can seem endless. And while exams are certainly important for some professions and walks of life, academic intelligence is not the only intelligence out there.

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15
May

Still enjoying Share-a-Story month? Travel to new worlds, even if it’s just in your imagination

So we’re half-way through Share-a-Story month 2019, and this year’s theme is travel.

You might think that travel only means getting on a plane or a ship or a train to go some place other than where you usually live: but actually, whenever you read or tell a story, you’re also taking a journey.  You can explore different ways to see the world, taking a journey without physically going anywhere. Many stories are about journeys, inner or outer.

So what makes a story, anyway?

Well, you can’t have a story without characters, although they don’t always have to be human. Most stories are about a main character, or protagonist, their friends, their enemies, and some kind of challenge they are facing.

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08
May

A new kind of PENfriend – Mantra Lingua’s new digital device to help make sense of the world all around you

If you’ve ever listened, really listened, to the soundscape of the world around you, you’ll know how important our sense of hearing really is. It helps us work out what’s going on, and listening is one of the four basic skills of language (the others being speaking, reading and writing).

Penfriend is a reassuring word; it speaks of kindness and a way of seeing the world through the eyes of someone else, interpreting the world around you so it starts to make sense. This is exactly what the new PENfriend3™ allows you to do.

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