20
Mar

Amazing Audio Books - And How They Can Help Literacy Skills

Those of us of a certain age might still remember that golden time at the end of the day when our class teachers read to us, introducing us to a whole host of magical worlds and wonderful characters. In the modern crowded curriculum there isn’t always time to have a designated reading slot, but fear not! ICT is at hand to bring books to life!
 
You might already know that audio books have been one of the fastest growing areas for the last couple of years when it comes to stories. If you’re lucky (?) enough to have an Alexa, or a Siri, or a Google Home, or even a Cortana in your home, then you might know that one of the apps or skills available is to ask to have a story read to you.
 
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11
Feb

A Few Fun February Facts

Amazingly, we’re already around halfway through February, which itself is a sort of halfway kind of month. (Ready for half-term, anyone?? Do we even need to ask?)
 
And while it’s the shortest month in the calendar, if months can be said to have personality or at least character, February certainly fits the bill. Some years it’s icy cold, with storms blowing in from the Atlantic; other years, it’s mild and clear and spring comes early. And some years, it just can’t make up its mind. There’s even more than one way to pronounce February, with some people opting to say “Feb-ru-ary” and others saying “Feb-u-ary”. (That “r” in the middle can literally be pretty hard to get your tongue around!)
 
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11
Feb

Look Before You Leap – And What Have Silk Gloves Got To Do With Leap Years?

2020 is a particularly special year. As well as being a palindrome (that is, it reads the same backwards and forwards), it’s a Leap Year. Every four years, instead of the 365 days that we have most years, there’s a year with 366 days: a Leap Year.
 
Ever wondered why we have Leap Years? Well, it takes the Earth 365.25636 days to make a complete single orbit of the sun (sidereal year), and 365.242189 days to move through all four seasons (tropical year). So the 365 days, with an extra day added in every fourth February, is a way to keep our calendar more or less in line. Otherwise, the seasons would become seriously out of sync: every year they would fall later and later.
 
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31
Jan

Dragons, Pandas And Fourteen Neighbours – A Few Facts About China

China has been in the news more than usual over the last couple of weeks for various reasons. Now that we’re at the start of the Chinese Year of the Rat, we thought it might be interesting to have a look at a few facts and figures about the People’s Republic of China.

China’s history stretches back into the millennia. Based on the evidence, archaeologists think that hominids were alive in China at least 250,000 years ago. It may even be that they could be found as long ago as 2.24 million years in the past.

China is the most populous country in the world, with a population of slightly less than 1.5 billion. (The Earth has an estimated 7.63 billion people alive at present.)
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31
Jan

Bugs and butterflies, seaweed and stars – nature surveys for citizen scientists

Trusty bird guide in hand (or at least downloaded to the tablet), we donned our waterproofs and wellies, made a flask of coffee, braved the weather, and settled down under the overhang of the garden shed. From there we could watch what brave birds ventured onto our domain.

Not many, it turned out. There was one very, very brave (and soggy) woodpigeon and one (equally soggy) cheeky magpie. (Since he was on his own, we made sure we gave the traditional country greeting of "Good morning, Mr Magpie, how are Mrs Magpie and all the other little magpies?"

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24
Jan

Out Of This World: Bedtime Stories From The International Space Station?

You probably already know we're fascinated by the variety of this amazing little world where we live. Actually, our curiosity isn't limited only to the Earth. We've also always had a fascination with space and what space exploration means in the long term.

Once upon a time it might have meant trying to find a new home amongst the stars. These days, however, it's often about trying to understand our environment and the challenges facing the Earth.

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15
Jan

Not Everyone Celebrates New Year on 1 January....

The streamers have long since been cleared away, the party food eaten, and we're already halfway through the first month of the year (eeek!). And while 1 January is the accepted start of the New Year in many parts of the world, it's not the only one....so we thought we'd have a quick peek at some other New Year dates we have marked on the calendar for 2020.

The next celebration we have marked is the Chinese New Year, which, in 2020, falls on Saturday 25 January. The festival lasts until the 8th of February, or about 2 weeks, and this year is the Year of the Rat, acording to the Chinese zodiac.

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15
Jan

Bird Brains And Other Wildlife - The Next RSPB Birdwatch Is Heading Our Way...

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13
Dec

December - a time for endings, and thinking of new beginnings

When you think about it, life for all of us is a series of new beginnings and first days. Sometimes they’re disguised as endings, but you’ve probably heard that saying about one door closes and another one opens. And while we often think of December as heralding the end of a calendar year, it also means January is just around the corner, with a chance for a new start.

For many of us in the northern hemisphere, September is the start of the new school year, but that isn’t always the case. Many teachers and other professionals start new jobs in January, and many children also change schools.

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13
Dec

How does Christmas sound to you? The noises, tastes and textures of the festive season

Ah, Christmas-time. Twinkling lights, the red and white of candy canes, the green of pine trees – and then there are the smells and sounds and textures and tastes of this time of year too, all adding to the experience. So we thought we’d take a quick look at some non-visual ways of experiencing this time of year.

Scents and Tastes of Christmas

We don’t know about you, but we know Christmas is on the way when the gorgeous scents of cinnamon, allspice, cloves and oranges, gingerbread, and marzipan start wafting out of bakeries. And it’s even better when those lovely scents accompany the gorgeous tastes of seasonal treats like stollen or mince pies, with or without clotted cream.

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