I really enjoy using iPad apps to help the children explore the world around them. In particular, the TinyBop apps (available on ios, android and google play) are excellent for unravelling layers of understanding. Although these apps are not free, they do come in bundles which reduce the overall price of each app. TinyBop have produced apps which cover aspects of each of the three scientific domains: Biology, chemistry and physics. I will cover a brief run down of one app from each domain in this review. In total, there are 11 TinyBop science apps in the ‘Explorers Library’, and a further 7 in the ‘Digital Toys’ collection.

Each Explorer’s Library app is an interactive model that lets kids explore the invisible and awesome wonders of our world. Kids ages 4+ develop foundational science literacy.

Each Digital Toys app is an open-ended construction kit that lets kids build, test, and play with anything they can imagine. Kids ages 4+ develop creative-thinking, problem-solving, and storytelling skills.


Biology – The Human Body

This app lets you take a look inside the workings of the different body systems, including the skin, nervous system, muscular system, digestive system, circulatory system, respiratory system, skeletal system, and immune system. Each system allows you to see a different ‘layer’ of the human body, and you can apply stimuli to the system you are exploring to investigate the effects. Some of the systems have sub-categories, such as with the digestive system. When in the digestive system tab, for example, you can then narrow down to explore some aspects more closely: the mouth, the stomach, and the small and large intestine.

Chemistry – States of Matter

In this app, you can explore the different freezing, melting and boiling points of a variety of substances. This is surprisingly entertaining, and you can further explore the properties of the different states of matter – if you melt the ice, for example, and then refreeze it, it takes the shape of the container. You can also condense substances which have been evaporated, and separate mixtures. It is possible to investigate the properties of a variety of different substances including water, fizzy drinks, bromine gas, plastics, oil, helium gas, honey, and many more!

Physics – Machines

In this app, you can explore and use different simple machines such as levers, wheels, pulleys, inclined planes, screws, and wedges. Within each simple machine, you can investigate changing different aspects of the machine to explore the effect. Some of them do need a bit of fiddling to get to grips with, but they are largely fun and informative.

Best for: Developing basic scientific literacy and early investigative skills

Age Range: KS1 – KS2


Education must not simply teach work – it must teach Life.

W. E. B. Du Bois

I have always believed that the purpose of school is to produce young people who have experienced a broad and balanced curriculum which has prepared them to enter the real world and become useful citizens.

Education should never be limited by what might be on the test, or restricted to just what the curriculum-writers decided to include. Education is about more than just what is statutory. Education should fill children with awe and confidence and wonder and curiosity, but too often education produces children who have been turned off learning and would rather live in ignorance.

Maybe that is what we can gain from this interlude in formal education. Maybe while our children are at home and learning alongside us, we can bring back some of that curiosity and wonder, and when they return to school maybe they’ll be ready to access their broad and balanced curriculum.


It’s very easy to think that self care is inherently selfish. It isn’t. You can’t care for others if you aren’t caring for yourself. That said, self care shouldn’t be an excuse for continuing unhealthy behaviours or spending excess money you don’t have; creating debt is not an act of self care.

One of my favourite self-care activities is blocking out a set amount of time (anything from 10 minutes for meditation to 2 hours + for a film) and ‘wasting time’. Especially at the moment, with being stuck at home all day, every day with only a short window for going out and having our daily allowance of exercise, there is a lot of pressure to be ‘productive’, particularly if you are suddenly finding yourself working from home. I’ve found that since I’ve been teaching from home and setting work on the virtual learning environment for my students, I’ve been starting work earlier and finishing it later. This is neither healthy nor helpful, as there’s also only so much I can do and a long old time for doing it in. Setting aside some time to ‘waste’ is something I’m enjoying doing, and it means I can do some of my favourite activities guilt-free because it’s in my schedule!

I’ve listed some of my favourite ‘time wasting’ activities below:

  • Binge watch Netflix, Disney Plus or silly YouTube videos (the key here is to watch without working at the same time, or checking your emails or social media – remember, this is self-care time not squeeze-in-extra-work time).
  • Take a quick nap or a hot bath. For extra luxury, make it a bubble bath scented with essential oils or bath salts. Do not take screens into the bathroom – aside from the obvious potential for water damage, it makes a relaxing place stressful. The only exception to this rule might be to take your phone in to play calming spa-like music.
  • Give yourself a spa night – wash your hair and use leave-in conditioner, actually do all the steps in your skincare routine, dig out or make a face mask and spend time just being in the moment.
  • Make a hot drink (or alcoholic drink if you have any), sit in the garden and watch the world go by.
  • Or whatever else makes you happy. For me, this might be spending a significant amount of time with my nose in a good book, painting my nails or playing with my dog.

Audible – Resource Review

Audible is normally a subscription service which requires you to have an account (which happens to be something I have had for years now), but for the duration of the COVID-19 lock downs, audible have made a collection of hundreds of children’s audio-books available for free without needing to sign up to a monthly payment or create an account. These titles can be streamed for free from your PC, tablet or mobile, and don’t require anything to be downloaded. Audible audio-books are high-quality recordings and often feature familiar voices including Tony Robinson, Scarlett Johansson, Rachel McAdams and Bill Bailey.

Storytelling is a fundamental human trait, and while children are unable to attend school sharing a wide range of stories from different contexts and cultures (which is one of the key reading assessment criteria!) is something else you can do at home to help keep your children engaged in learning.

Researchers have proved that listening to an audio-book uses the same parts of the brain as reading a physical book, especially for children who are already fluent readers or who have dyslexia. Being exposed to stories from different cultures and contexts also helps children develop empathy and emotional literacy. What’s not to love?

Personally, I think audible is worth the £7.99 a month as titles which can cost upwards of £30 can be bought for 1 credit (each monthly payment earns 1 credit, and more can be bought in groups of three for £18), meaning access to classics, radio comedies and panel shows, novels, short stories and dramatisations for long car journeys and sleepless nights is easy.

*Please note, I am not affiliated with Audible in any way. I just love accessing new authors and stories – and since I normally have a long commute to work, books are not always the best way of doing this! Audio-books mean I can enjoy new stories while driving.


As the first week of lock down comes to an end (because, let’s be honest, the weekends don’t really count if you’ve been socially distancing properly!), I think it’s time to reflect a little on the changes and challenges it has brought.

This week, I started delivering lessons online using my school’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). I’ve had to learn how to upload links, files and folders, and how to edit pages, modules and topics, and how to be patient when the page refuses to load for the fiftieth time. I’ve had to communicate with my team by phone call, email and text message, and I’m missing being able to have a laugh with them before and after the school day.

I miss my students. I miss my team. In a strange way, I almost miss my 1 hour + commute to work. I’m waking up at 6am every day and the furthest I can go is downstairs, never mind the 50 mile commute to work through the beautiful Hampshire countryside.

I also started this webpage and blog in the last week. My hope is that it proves helpful for parents and carers whose lives have suddenly changed too. I hope we can all remember that kindness is key: kindness to each other, kindness to the planet, and kindness to ourselves.

This week I’ve learned that technology is both a blessing and a curse. That keeping in contact with friends and family helps keep me sane, even when they drive me to distraction. That working from home is a real pain in the butt. That my lovely dog is a real thief and distraction and lightens the load dramatically. That community is key. That I live in a wonderful place with wonderful people. That my students might be irritating at times, but I miss their faces and their laughter and their constantly repeated jokes and their random hugs and long-winded stories.

In short, this week has been a challenge. It’s had personal successes and national disasters. And the end is not yet in sight. Working together as a community will be the way to succeed. We just need to stay positive, stay inside, and stay safe.

Thursday #ThoughtOfTheDay

There should be no pressure to formally “home school” during this time of crisis. This isn’t home schooling. This wasn’t a choice to take a child out of formal education. This is an unprecedented event which no one could prepare for, and it is as scary and unsettling for children as it is for parents, and trying to teach from home is only going to make things more confusing for everyone.

You don’t need to recreate school at home. You don’t need a strict timetable. You are, as you have always been, your child’s primary educator. Love them. Be their safe place. Read, create, play, sing and talk together. Make the best of things. Eventually, we will all be ok.

Don’t worry about your child forgetting the things they have been taught; all children are in the same situation. When they return to school, which they will, teachers will recap and reteach what they need to. Everyone is in this situation; think positive, and where possible make the most of having time to spend with your babies while they are young.


One of my favourite websites and apps for sharing information with my students, particularly those with poor concentration or issues with working memory, is join.me. Available both as a free and ‘pro’ edition, join.me allows screen sharing between PCs, tablets and mobile phones. I have used it in class – sharing the information from my computer screen and projector onto personal iPads directly in front of key children to reduce memory fatigue and problems copying from the board – but it could also be used for long-distance teaching as you can turn on the audio feature and narrate the screen sharing and ask questions. There is also a chat box feature which can be used to facilitate discussion between students, either during inputs or again as part of a long-distance ‘classroom’.

Tech and teaching should be forward-facing and it’s possible that virtual learning environments, web platforms, and virtual teaching will become commonplace in the future – this is one app I can see working well in this scenario, although it has a place in education (and workplaces!) today.

Best for: supporting students to access tasks and information

Age range: KS2+


I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

Maya Angelou

In times of crisis and fear, it is easy to forget that children are emotional sponges. Whatever we feel, they feel. When we’re happy, they’re ecstatic. When we’re sad, they’re inconsolable. When we’re worried, they’re anxious and afraid. Children don’t have the understanding yet to understand and appropriately process the current situation, especially when their emotions are heightened by the fear of their carers.

So please, do whatever you can to make this a positive experience for them even through the fear. Turn days of quarantine into indoor scavenger hunts. Turn lockdown into adventures in the garden or visiting new worlds in books and films. Turn school closures into opportunities for real-life learning like balancing a budget, or writing a letter to an elderly neighbour or relative. Try your hardest to be a positive force in your child’s life at this challenging time, and in the future they will remember the time you spent together, not the fear of the situation you were in.


Mindfulness seems to be everywhere at the moment, but what is mindfulness?

Really, it’s taking a short while to just be in the present in the current moment. For some people this can look like meditation, but meditation doesn’t need to be intimidating or scary.

I enjoy using the Headspace app to take just 10 minutes out of my day (I do it when I’m in bed, before I go to sleep) and practice being aware of my breathing and the way my body feels, noticing the breath coming in and the breath going out, and noticing when my mind wanders away from that point of focus before drawing it back. And that’s it. That’s how simple mindfulness can be.

So if mindfulness is so simple, it can’t be doing anything, right? Well the science disagrees. Recent studies have shown that mindfulness meditation can reduce emotional response and help create a ‘pause’ between feeling an emotion and choosing how to react. This helps you feel calmer and makes your amygdala (the part of your brain responsible for your fight/flight/freeze response and other emotional reactions) less reactive. This makes you happier, less stressed, and more able to deal with upset, disappointment and anger, as well as other heightening emotions like surprise and excitement. You can make better judgements and decisions, and improves your relationships.

All from 10 minutes a day. It’s got to be worth giving it a go, right?

I hope you can take time for yourself this week. Remember, you’re worth it.

*I am not affiliated with Headspace in any way. I do not benefit from any downloads of the app, I am just a happy user!