## Planet Earth Facts

This article has been inspired by a book called The Big Countdown: Seven Quintillion, Five hundred Quadrillion Grains of Sand on Planet Earth. Its author is Paul Rockett. It is full of pictures, infographics and amazing planet Earth facts. It was published in 2014 so I imagine that most of the facts are still correct.

### Planet Surface

70.8% of the earth’s surface is water.

29.2% of the earth’s surface is land.

### The Earth’s Atmosphere

This book takes great delight in using enormous numbers. It tells us about the Earth’s atmosphere is that it is made up of atoms as is everything around us.  Apparently, some scientists think that there are about 200 tredecillion atoms in the atmosphere. One tredecillion has 42 zeros in it!

We learn about the 5 layers of the Earth’s atmosphere.  They are the troposphere, the stratosphere, the mesosphere, thermosphere and exosphere. The outer layer of the exosphere is 8000 kilometres away, well not exactly because there isn’t a specific edge. It just drifts off into outer space.

One of the facts I found interesting, is that an estimated 40 tonnes of meteors crash into the middle layer every single day.  Luckily for us, they burnt out before getting any closer to the Earth.

### 7 Quintillion, 500 Quadrillion Grains Of Sand On The Planet Earth

7 Quintillion, 500 Quadrillion Grains Of Sand On The Planet Earth is part of the title of the book and is also a chapter title.

This is obviously an estimate.  There is no way anyone could count all the grains of sand on the Earth.  Sand comes in different sizes anything from 0.06 of a millimetre to 2 mm. To come up with the number 7 quintillion 500 quadrillion,  scientist calculated how many grains of sand would fit into a teaspoon and then they multiplied the number of teaspoons they thought they were in all the beaches in the world and all the deserts in the world. How accurate do you think they might have been?

There are some amazingly long beaches in the world,  according to this book the longest one in the world is Praia do Cassino beach in Brazil which is just over 250 km long. The next couple of longest beaches are Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh which is just over 240 km long and Padre Island Texas where the beach is about 230 km long. After that come to beaches which are both called Ninety Mile Beach one of them is in New Zealand and one of them is in Australia.  The one that is in Australia is actually slightly longer and the one that is in New Zealand is actually about 88 miles long not 90 as its name suggests.

The largest sun sand castle in the world was built in America and was nearly as tall as 3 double decker buses.

Deserts make up about 9.5% of the world surface, however, only about 20% of the deserts in the world are covered by sand. The others are covered with rocks and pebbles and different types of soils.

### People

We now have over 7 billion people living on the Earth. This is twice as many as they were 50 years ago. In the next 50 years it is estimated that we will have over 9 billion people living on the Earth. Nearly 90 babies are born every 20 seconds.

The Earth’s population is spread over 7 continents – Asia, Africa, North  America, South America, Europe, Australasia and Antarctica.

Asia has the largest land mass and also the largest population with over 4 billion people living there, most of those in China.

Australasia has the fewest people living there.  Nobody lives there permanently but about 4000 scientists come To live and work there each year.

### Water

As we’ve said most of the Earth is covered with water,  70.8% of its surface in fact. 68.3% of the earth’s surface is covered with saltwater and 2.5% of the earth’s surface is covered with freshwater. However, about 41% of the known species of fish are only found in freshwater.

The largest fish that is found in salt water is the whale shark which can grow up to 12 metres in length and its mouth is 1 and 1/2 metres wide!

The largest freshwater fish is the Beluga sturgeon this can live in both freshwater and saltwater and it can measure up to 5 metres long.

Sea sponges are a type of animal life, scientists reckon that they have probably been around for over 760 trillion years.

Most of us will have heard of the longest rivers in the world the very longest is the river Nile in Africa which is about 6,650 km long after that is the Amazon in South America, the Yangtze in Asia and the Mississippi in North America.

The largest waterfalls in the world are the Angel Falls in Venezuela Which has a height of 979 m, and then Tugela in South Africa and then or Utigord in Norway.

### Volcanoes

Children often enjoy learning about volcanoes at school.  There are three types of volcanoes – Composite volcanoes, Cinder Cone volcanoes, and Shield volcanoes.

Volcanoes can also be classified as active dormant or extinct.

Active means it’s erupted in the last 10000 years.  Dormant volcanoes, are those which have not erupted but they might erupt again, and Extinct volcanoes are those which are not expected to ever erupt again.

For more details on these and many other subjects you might like to get a copy of the book – it is available for 35% off (at the time of writing) and free P&P to anywhere in the world from Book Depository

Elephants are the largest and heaviest land animals that exist on Earth at the moment. They’re probably also the most intelligent domesticated animal. They have the longest noses of any animal. They have the longest teeth, these are known as tusks. Their gestation period is the longest and it may be that they have the longest memories as well. This article will help you learn some other fun facts about elephants.

Elephants have lived all over the earth, everywhere except Australia and Antarctica.  They have lived in rainforests, deserts and glaciers.

### Species of elephant

There were possibly 300 species of elephant. We now just have 2 left, the African elephant and the Asian elephant. There are two subspecies of the African elephant, the bush elephant and the round-eared elephant. Then there are three subspecies of the Asian elephant, the Sri Lankan, Indian and Sumatran elephants.

### Family organisation

Male and female elephants (also known as bulls and cows) don’t live together. Usually, bulls will live together and the cows and their offspring will live together. The cows and calves (which are baby elephants) are usually in a herd which is led by an older elephant who will be a grandmother or maybe even a great-grandmother.

### Mammoths and mastodons.

Many people will have heard of the woolly mammoth and know that it is one of the elephants’ extinct relatives. A woolly mammoth was found by a fisherman in Russia in 1799. It was frozen in a block of ice. Many other woolly mammoth tusks have been found in this area.

In North America, there were also some mammoths found but there were more mastodon remains found. Mastodons were similar to mammoths but they were shaped slightly differently. The mammoth had back which sloped downwards towards their tails, whereas mastodons have backs which are more level.

Ivory boomerang – Poland 23000 years ago

Stone Age tools weapons

### Elephant feet

Elephants have large round feet and are designed to walk quietly around the forest when they want to. As they put their feet down on the ground the size of their feet expands slightly. Most elephants have five toes on each foot, but some African elephants only have four toes. However, their toes do not stick out like ours do but are covered in skin. Their “toenails” are attached to the front of the round foot rather than their toe bones and look a bit like hooves.

### The Elephant’s Trunk

An elephant’s trunk is a bit like having a combined arm and a nose.

The trunk will suck up water and then put it into its mouth so that it doesn’t have to put its head right down to the water to drink. You will also see elephants squirt water all over their bodies and also each other as a game.

The end of the African elephants’ trunk seems to operate almost like a finger and thumb. It can pick things up and even take grit out of its eyes.

The Asian elephant seems to have one finger on its trunk so it picks things up by curling its trunk around them.

The elephant can move its trunk in any direction and it can also stretch its trunk to reach things.

### Tusks

Tusks are the elephant’s front two teeth but they have grown much bigger than the other teeth. They can grow about 17 cm or 8 inches per year. They are used as tools and weapons and sometimes the elephants will sharpen one or both of them to make them more effective.

Unfortunately, many elephants have been killed for their tusks, also known as ivory, as poachers have been able to sell them for a lot of money.  Tusks don’t wear out and last a whole lifetime unless they get damaged.

An ivory boomerang was found in Poland. It was thought to be 23,000 years ago

Ivory was used in the Stone Age both to make tools and weapons.

### The Other Teeth

Elephants also have to lower teeth which they use to grind up their food. These teeth do get worn out and they get replaced about 6 times in an elephant’s lifetime. Each replacement is bigger than the last. Final teeth will be about the size of house bricks.

### Elephants are constantly eating

Ok, not constantly! But for about three-quarters of the day and night elephants are collecting and eating their food. Elephants eat from 100 to 200 kg of food in the wild. They eat plants, they are herbivores, but they can’t eat cellulose which makes up a lot of what plants are made of. This is why elephant poo doesn’t contain much undigested plant fibre or seeds.

Elephants like bananas, other fruits and sugar cane so they are happy when they find these but they also trample these crops and push over the trees. This is a major problem for the people who have cultivated these as they can have their livelihood destroyed.

### Elephant Quiz

Watch this video and see if you can answer these questions?

Can you name 5 things that elephants eat?

How old are the male elephants when they stop living with their female relatives?

For how long are female elephants pregnant?

How much does a baby elephant weigh when it is born?

Which elephants can’t run?  Why can’t they?

What is special about elephants and mirrors?

How do elephants protect their skin from sunlight?

### Elephants Can Hear Through Their Feet!

The first minute of this video gives you an overview, carry on with the video if you what to know more about the science behind this.

## Planet Facts For Kids

### Planet Facts For Kids

When I was younger, it was said that there were 9 planets in our solar system.  The planets were Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto going around the sun. Later, I came across a mnemonic for it. My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas. However, since that time scientists have decided that we have eight planets in our solar system and that Pluto is a dwarf planet, and actually they have found larger rocks in the area of Pluto than Pluto itself.  On this page of planet facts for kids, I have decided to include Pluto so that you know why it is in some lists.

Here is a video you might like to watch and then there is some information about each planet.

### Mercury

Mercury is the closest planet to the sun. It is also the smallest of the planets.  It is incredibly hot there as it is just 36 million miles from the sun.

It is named after the Roman god Mercury who is the messenger of the gods.

Two spacecraft have flown past Mercury gathering information.  One was called Mariner 10 and this flew past Mercury twice, once in 1974 and then again in 1975.  Then in 2004 MESSENGER was sent. This orbited Mercury 4000 times before running out of fuel and crashing into the planet in 2015.

### Venus

Venus between Mercury and Earth and so will still be much hotter than Earth.

It is named after the Roman god of love.

It is the brightest object in the sky after the sun and the moon.

Whereas the Earth rotates once a day, Venus takes 243 days to rotate on its axis.  It actually goes quicker than this around the sun, taking 224.7 Earth days to make its journey.

Venus also rotates in the opposite direction than the Earth does, which means that the sun would seem to rise in the west and set in the east.

Venus is often referred to as either the morning star or the evening star, especially in poetry.

### Earth

Of course, this is our planet.

From space, it looks blue because of all the sea and also the water vapour covering the land areas.

About two-thirds of the planet’s surface is water.

Earth is 93 million miles away from the sun and a quarter of a million miles from the moon. In kilometres, that is 150 kilometres from the sun and about 384,400 km from the moon. These are approximate distances as it changes throughout the year.

The Earth goes around the sun once a year.

The moon goes around the Earth every 27.3 days. This is known as a lunar month.

The diameter of the Earth at the Equator is 7928 miles, or 12,760 kilometres.

### Mars

Mars comes after Earth.

It is named after the Roman god Mars the god of war because it looks red sometimes in the sky and this reminded people of the blood that you get in battles.

It is often called the red planet and can be spotted in the sky with the naked eye, that is without using a telescope.

Mars is much smaller than Earth. Its diameter is about half of the Earth’s.

Mars rotates once in 24 hours 39 minutes, so the length of its day is almost the same as Earth’s. It has two moons, called Phobos and Deimos. They are not round like the moon but irregular.

### Jupiter

After Mars we get Jupiter.  This is a very big planet, 1000 times smaller than the sun but two and a half times bigger than all of the other planets in the solar system put together.

Jupiter and Saturn are both gas giants.

Jupiter has an area called the Great Red Spot – you can see it on photographs.  There are constant storms here. This area alone is 1.3 times as wide as the earth.

Jupiter is made up of hydrogen and helium as well as other elements which possibly gives it a rocky core. Jupiter has many moons, at least 74,  including four that were discovered by Galileo Galilei in 1610. The largest of these is called Ganymede and it has a diameter that is larger than the planet Mercury.

### Saturn

Next is Saturn which has amazing rings around it.  These rings consist of small rocks that held in a particular orbit.

Saturn is another gas giant, It is the outer layer that is made of gas, The core is probably iron, nickel and rock,  and then there is a layer of metallic hydrogen, with hydrogen and helium surrounding that.

Saturn also has a number of moons, at least 62. 53 of the moons are officially named.  The biggest is called Titan and that is bigger than the planet Mercury.

### Uranus

Uranus is even further away. Uranus, along with Neptune are known as ice giants,  as their interiors are filled with ice and rocks.

Uranus is unique in that it rotates on its side.

It has wind speeds up to 900 km an hour.

It is also the only planet that has been named after a Greek god rather than a Roman god.

Uranus has 27 named moons and 24 are named after characters in Shakespeare plays and 3 after characters in a poem by Alexander Pope. One of these Ariel appears both in The Tempest by Shakespeare and in the poem by Pope.

Voyager 2 was the closest to Uranus on its voyage on January 24, 1986.

### Neptune

Neptune is named after the Roman god of the sea. It is now accepted as being the farthest known planet from the sun. Neptune’s atmosphere is made up of hydrogen and helium but its interior is made up of ices such as water, ammonia and methane.  Its wind speeds reach up to 2100 km an hour!

In 1613 Galileo noticed Neptune but he thought it was just another star.  It is thought that if he had noticed it a few days earlier when the sky was clearer and tracked it he would have realised it was a planet.

Voyager 2 flew past Neptune on 25th August 1989.

### Pluto

And as I said before Pluto is no longer classified as a planet, but you will often see it in a list of planets,  especially if the article or book was written before August 2006.

Pluto has a strange orbit around the sun so sometimes it is nearer the sun than Neptune.

### Planet facts worksheets

Here are some free worksheets about planets that you might find useful.

https://www.education.com/worksheet/article/planets-in-solar-system/

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/FREE-Planet-Research-Worksheet-222661

https://instantworksheets.net/planet_matchup/

And here are 15 planets worksheets – designed for children with English as a second language but useful for all.

https://en.islcollective.com/resources/search_result?Tags=Planets&type=Printables&searchworksheet=GO

### Planet Wordsearch

https://www.superteacherworksheets.com/custom/?ws=xwjgr

## Easy Flower Crafts For Kids

### Easy Flower Crafts For Kids

It is lovely to get flowers through the post from time to time (I recommend Bunches UK) but when you have children, it is even better to receive their own creations.

To get them used to making flowers you could encourage them to make flowers for a variety of different occasions. Consider family members’ birthdays, anniversaries, get well soon times and then you will be sure to be added to the list at some point.

Here is a Mother’s Day card example from Easy Peasy who I will tell you more about below Junk Modelling.

### Junk Modelling

When I started teaching quite a few years ago we used to have a junk modelling afternoon every so often. I loved it and so did the kids. They used to make some amazing models.

Sometimes I was more directive and the model had to be to do with our topic at the time. Other times I was teaching them new skills. Sometimes they were allowed to do whatever they wanted. It was great to see them incorporating the skills that I had been working on with them previously, and see the models become more complex as the year went on.

Although the following craft projects are quite prescriptive, you don’t need to follow all the instructions to the letter. See what materials you have already at home. Let the children consider what they would like to do and how they might improve on some of the ideas. Use the ideas as an inspiration rather than a blueprint that they have to follow exactly.

### Easy Peasy and Fun has 25 original ideas with super photos

This is my favourite on the Easy Peasy site (I love that name!) because they look so realistic. If you click on the link below the picture you can see how to make them. They are Calla Lilies.

https://www.easypeasyandfun.com/flower-crafts/

Some of the ideas on this page are suitable for toddlers and some for older children.

I would also recommend taking a look at the sunflowers underneath this picture on the Easy Peasy site.

For younger children the button activity is easy peasy, but older children could do something similar and I bet it would look fantastic.

### DLTK

If you’re looking for very simple activities for younger children then DLTK is excellent.

http://www.dltk-holidays.com/spring/crafts-flowers.htm

If you like real coffee, then the coffee filter paper flowers are a very original idea.

### Making Paper Flowers

Paper Flower Craft for Kids – Very Easy DIY Paper Flowers by Crafting Hours

### Paper Dahlias from Craftaholics Anonymous

These are relatively straightforward to make but look very effective.

Paper dahlias and full instructions from http://www.craftaholicsanonymous.net/rainbow-paper-dahlia-flowers

### Leaf and Flower Pounding from Buggy and Buddy

If your child can be trusted with a hammer or mallet, you might like to try this.

Can you guess how to make these pictures

### Fairy Flower Lights by Red Ted Art

These amazing fairy lights are made from egg boxes. What a brilliant idea! When I first saw this picture I thought it would be good for slightly older children to do. Actually on the website there are some great pictures of very young children creating most of the artwork.

### Parts of a flowers

Here we have another idea for using egg boxes. This is more like the pictures you often see younger children making, however, this activity is part of a science project with the children using the picture to learn the names of the different parts of the flower.

https://www.schooltimesnippets.com/2012/04/parts-of-plant-with-egg-cartons.html

### DIY Egg Carton Daffodils by Caitlin Ball

I hope you like eating eggs as here’s another idea for using up those old egg boxes.

I’m pondering putting some of these in my garden for some all year round colour.

https://caitlinball.com/2014/04/diy-egg-carton-daffodils/ check out the pipe-cleaners – great idea!

### Origami flowers by Here Come the Girls Blog

There are lots of origami flowers on the internet. I particularly like these ones. As with most flowers, they look better in bunches as you can see on the website mentioned underneath the photograph. there are detailed instructions with photographs every step of the way.

http://www.herecomethegirlsblog.com/2013/03/28/how-to-make-origami-flowers.html

One of the nice things about this idea is that you only need paper although it’s good if it’s colourful paper. Also, you can do little bits of the project if you only have a short amount of time.

You could do this sort of activity on holiday, all you’d have to take with you is some glue and a few paper clips. You could buy a couple of magazines when you are at your destination and use the paper from them. If it is a magazine that you want to read, you could just tear out the adverts. Alternatively, you could go to the information tourist information office, collect some leaflets and find out about the place you are staying and then when you finish with the leaflets you could make use of those.

### A sewing activity by Hello Wonderful

We probably all remember doing something like this when we were at school. You could buy new wool but you might just find you’ve got lots of bits and pieces of wool or yarn that could be used equally well.

If you haven’t got any wool and you need to buy some you might want to consider buying a ball of wool that changes colour giving a sort of rainbow effect rather than buying lots of different coloured balls of wool.

### How to make paper flowers out of crepe streamers by ArtsnCraft4u

This is more fiddly but really quite clever.

Hi,

I would love to hear from you.

Have you tried any of these projects? How did it go?

Have you any other other ideas we should include?

Have fun,

Julia

## How Many Countries In Africa?

### How Many Countries In Africa?

There are 54 countries in Africa.  Here is a list and some interesting information about them.  So next time someone asks, “How many countries in Africa?” you can tell them more than just the number.

Here is a list in alphabetical order (except I put the 2 Congos together)  with some interesting facts about each country. These are not necessarily the most important things about each of these countries but they just grabbed my attention.

### The countries and a few facts about them

Algeria – Algeria is the largest country by area in Africa. It produces some of the best dates in the world.

Angola – Nearly 70% of the people in Angola are under 24 years old.  Dreadlocks were first worn in Angola.

Benin – Royal pythons are worshipped in Benin. There is a place called the Temple of Pythons which houses about 50 adult royal pythons.

Botswana – Many people around the world feel they know a bit about Botswana because the book  “The First Ladies Detective Agency” was set in Botswana. There are large areas for animals to roam around in Botswana as about 40% of the land is made up of nature reserves and national parks.

Burkina Faso – Burkina Faso is the largest producer of cotton in Africa. It is known as “white gold”. Its capital city is called Ouagadougou which is pronounced Wagadugu!

Burundi – at Mugere in Burundi is the Livingstone-Stanley Monument. It overlooks Lake Tanganyika and marks the spot where David Livingstone met Henry Morton Stanley and spent a couple of nights there in 1781.  92% of the population of Burundi still live in rural areas and group jogging is banned!

Cabo Verde – Cabo Verde is also known as the Cape Verde islands. The islands are covered with mountains which makes growing food difficult.  There is lots of interesting marine life around including Loggernest Turtles and Humpback Whales.

Cameroon – Cameroon has a lake called Lake Nyos which is considered the most dangerous in the world as it has poisonous gases from a local volcano going into it. People come to Cameroon to see the hippos and also the forest deer which are called bongos. The bongos have white stripes on them which helps to camouflage them.

Central African Republic – The Central African Republic as its name suggests is in the middle of Africa.  It has lots of lowland gorillas and forest elephants.

Chad – If you go to the to the Tibesti Mountains in Chad you can see some of the best camel racing in the world. About a third of the country is covered by the Sahara desert.  The country is named after Lake Chad. Lake Chad has shrunk by about 95% since 1963 but it’s still the 17th largest lake in the world.

Comoros – The Comoros is made up of three tropical islands with amazing beaches.  There is an active volcano called Mount Karthala which has erupted more than 20 times since the 19th century.

Democratic Republic of the Congo – The Democratic Republic of the Congo is the only country where wild bonobos and the eastern lowland gorillas are found. We need to make sure that they don’t become extinct.

Republic of the Congo – One of the major rivers in the Republic of the Congo is the Congo River which is the deepest in the world in some places. Depths of over 220 metres have been recorded.

Cote d’Ivoire –  The Cote d’Ivoire has the largest church in the world which was modelled on the Vatican and finished in 1990.  It can hold a congregation of 18000. However, it is rarely that full. The national football team is called Les Éléphants.

Djibouti – Lake Assal in Djibouti is saltier than the Dead Sea. After the sun sets taxi fares increase by about 50%.

Egypt – The Egyptian alphabet has over 700 hieroglyphs! Most of Egypt is made up of desert – The Sahara and Libyan Deserts.

Equatorial Guinea – Spanish is the official language. The Goliath frog lives here. The Goliath frog is large – it is about a foot long and weighs more than 3 kilos!

Eritrea – Eritrea means “red”, it is named after the Red Sea. It is likely that early humans migrated out of Africa from Eritrea.

eSwatini (formerly Swaziland) – The Ngwenya Mine is considered to be the world’s oldest mine – red ochre was extracted about 43,000 years ago and then iron later on. There are many rock paintings – some are as old as 25,000 B.C., others maybe just a couple of hundred years old.

Ethiopia – a human fossil which is about 3 million years old and known as Lucy was found in Ethiopia in 1974. Since then even older fossils were found in 2001.  These fossils are about 5 million years old and are the oldest human remains ever found.

Gabon – The first people to live in Gabon were pygmies. The president is called Ali Bongo Ondimba which I think is a great name. 80% of Africa’s gorillas live here.

Gambia – Gambia is the smallest country in Africa. It Is also very narrow. At its widest, it is just 30 miles wide. One of Gambia’s largest exports is peanuts.

Ghana – Ghana used to be known as the Gold Coast. Gold was and is mined there. Ghana has the largest reservoir/artificial lake. It’s over 320 miles long and can be seen from space.

Guinea – There are 22 West African rivers that start in Guinea Including the Niger River, the Gambia River, and the Senegal River.

Guinea-Bissau – People from this region are known as Bissau-Guineans and not Guinea-Bissauans.

Kenya – Kenya has lots of national parks and nature reserves.  Lots of tourists come to Kenya to look at the animals. The highest mountain in Kenya and the second highest in Africa Is called Mount Kenya.

Lesotho – Lesotho has about 300 days of sunshine each year. There is a dinosaur called the Lesothosaurus which means lizard from Lesotho.  Its footprints can be seen in the rocks.

Liberia – The Sapo National Park Is in Liberia and in this park there are some very rare pygmy hippopotami. The Liberian flag is a bit like the American flag it has 11 white and red stripes which are two reminders of the 11 people who signed the Liberian Declaration of Independence.

Libya – Libya is 95% desert and so it needs to import 75% of its food.  It has 1100 miles of coastline which makes it the longest Mediterranean coastline.   There are superb Roman and Greek ruins including at Leptis Magna, which was described as one of the most beautiful Roman cities in the world.

Madagascar – Madagascar is an island country.  In fact, it is the fourth largest island in the world. Lemurs are only found here. There are lots of different species of lemur many of which are rare or endangered.

Malawi – More than a fifth of Malawi is taken up by Lake Malawi.  There are more species of fish there than anywhere else. David Livingstone described it as a “Lake of Stars” because of all the fishing boats with lanterns on it. It has also been called the Calendar Lake as it is 365 miles long and 52 miles wide.

Mali – In the early 1300s, Emperor Mansa Musa went to Mecca on a pilgrimage. Mansa Musa was very rich. He took with him 60,000 men, 12,000 slaves and 80 camels. Each camel carried 30 to 50 pounds of gold. Every Friday along the way Mansa Musa built a mosque.

Mauritania – In Mauritania there is an amazing circular feature in the desert called the Richat Structure or the Eye of the Sahara. It has a diameter of 25 miles! Early astronauts used it as a landmark to look for when they were in space.

Mauritius – The Dodo an exotic bird which is now extinct used to live on Mauritius. About 90% of cultivated land is used for growing sugarcane.  However, Mauritius is probably best known as a tourist destination.

Morocco –  There is a university called al-Qarawiyin in Fez. It was built by a woman in 849 as a madrasa –  which is an educational institution. it is considered by many people to be the oldest university in the world.

Mozambique – Mozambique is the only country in the world that has a weapon on its flag.  It is also the only country in the world to have a one-word name that contains all the vowels.  If you play Scrabble you might also like to know that it is worth 34 points which is more than any other country.  Not that you would use it as you don’t normally include nouns when playing Scrabble.

Namibia – Namibia has desert elephants!  These are not a particular type of elephant although one time it was thought that they might be a subspecies of the African elephant, but these are elephants that have chosen to live in the desert. Now, from large animals to a large plant.  Namibia has an 800-year-old baobab tree which has been hollowed out and used as a church, a Post Office and a hideout. It is at the Ombalantu Baobab Tree Heritage Centre & Campsite.

Niger – A strange looking dinosaur was discovered here, at least its head was strange. It was named Nigersaurus after the country. It had a head like a hammerhead shark with loads of teeth in it which was good for grazing on ferns.  It had a long neck and was about 30 feet long together.

Nigeria – Nigeria has 170 million people which makes it the country with the largest population in Africa. The longest bridge in Africa is in Nigeria. It connects Lagos Island to the mainland. The Nigerian movie industry is called Nollywood. About 200 movies every week are produced.

Rwanda – Rwanda is known as the land of a thousand hills,  as it is covered by grassy hills. You can visit gorillas in the wild in Rwanda. Kigali is incredibly clean as on the last Saturday of every month there is a community clear up programme.

Sao Tome and Principe – There is a beach called Praia Jalé, where you can stay in huts where there is no electricity. On some mornings giant sea turtles come onto the beach to lay their eggs.

Senegal – The most western part of Africa is in Senegal.  There are over a 1000 stone circles which have been created from about 300 BCE and 1600 CE – these are called the Stone Circles of Senegambia.

Seychelles – Esmerelda the largest tortoise in the world lives here and is about 170 years old.  Seychelles used to be a hideout for pirates.

Sierra Leone – In Sierra Leone there are 20 different words for rice including one for rice that sticks to the bottom of the pan.  The name Sierra Leone comes from the Portuguese for “Lion Mountain Range”.

Somalia – There are more camels in Somalia than in any other country.  Somalia has the longest coastline in Africa. It is 1880 miles long.

South Africa – South Africa has hosted the football, rugby and cricket world cups and it the only country to have done so.  There are many wild animals in South Africa, but did you know that there are African Penguins living there?

South Sudan – South Sudan is a very new country. The first baby boy born on the day it became independent was called, “Independent”.

Sudan – Sudan became 25% smaller when South Sudan separated from it. There are more pyramids in Sudan than in Egypt.

Tanzania – Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa and Lake Tanganyika is the deepest lake in Africa. They are both in Tanzania.  Six species of galagos or bushbabies live in Tanzania.

Togo – In Togo, it is considered rude to be seen smelling your food and a compliment to be told you are fat.

Tunisia – Carthage which was a very important city in Roman times and has many amazing ruins which you can visit is in Tunisia.  Lots of scenes from the original Star Wars film like Luke’s home are in Tunisia and are visited by Star Wars fans.

Uganda – Ugandans love trees, they have a rule that if you cut one down, you must plant 3 more. One favourite food is a pan of fried grasshoppers. This is considered a great treat.

Zambia – Zambia’s longest river is the Zambezi, after which it is named.  The Victoria Falls which is classed as the largest waterfall in the world is on the Zambezi river between Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe – In the 10th century this was a rich gold-trading country, where they build big stone houses. It is believed that Zimbabwe means either stone houses or honourable houses.

### Now can you fill in the missing vowels?

(Answers after the films and the craft activity.)

Ngr
Ghn
Ethp
Algr
Mdgscr
Ertr
Ml
Cntrl Afrcn Rpblc
Gmb
Gn-Bss
Rpblc f th Cng
Brnd
Egypt
Gn
Sngl
Djbt
Tnzn
Srr Ln
Btswn
Zmbbw
Sth Sdn
Ugnd
Sdn
Rwnd
Dmcrtc Rpblc f th Cng
Gbn
Mlw
Tg
Angl
Zmb
Eqtrl Gn
Mzmbq
Lsth
Swtn (frmrly Swzlnd)
Sml
Lbr
Cmrs
Kny
Chd
Ngr
Mrtn
Brkn Fs
Mrts
Bnn
Cb Vrd
Sth Afrc
Mrcc
S Tm nd Prncp
Lby
Tns
Sychlls
Nmb
Ct d’Ivr

### A Song about the Countries of Africa

Here is a song from Arthur – if I had listened to this first I could have saved many hours of research!!

You might notice a couple of differences – put them in the comments below if you spot them.

A craft activity

### Answers from the Missing Vowels quiz

Nigeria
Ghana
Ethiopia
Algeria
Eritrea
Mali
Central African Republic
Gambia
Guinea-Bissau
Republic of the Congo
Burundi
Egypt
Guinea
Senegal
Djibouti
Tanzania
Sierra Leone
Botswana
Zimbabwe
South Sudan
Uganda
Sudan
Rwanda
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Gabon
Malawi
Togo
Angola
Zambia
Equatorial Guinea
Mozambique
Lesotho
eSwatini (formerly Swaziland)
Somalia
Liberia
Comoros
Kenya
Niger
Mauritania
Burkina Faso
Mauritius
Benin
Cabo Verde
South Africa
Morocco
Sao Tome and Principe
Libya
Tunisia
Seychelles
Namibia
Cote d’Ivoire
Cameroon

I hope you enjoyed this page.  Please let me know if you have any comments, suggestions or questions below in the comments area.  I look forward to hearing from you!

## Free Word Search Maker

A really useful tool, if you have a child who likes word searches, is a free word search maker aka a word search generator.

There are a number of different types on the internet.

### Why would this be useful?

Although you don’t want to spend all your time creating and solving word searches, they do have their place.

1. Familiarising your child with words for spelling
2. Familiarising your child with specific vocabulary
3. To expand your child’s vocabulary generally
4. A useful way for your child to exercise their brain
5. It’s good for pattern recognition
6. They are fun to do

## Super teacher worksheets

I’ll start with the one which is probably my favourite – it is from Super teacher worksheets.

https://www.superteacherworksheets.com/generator-word-search.html

Just choose the level and then fill in your words.  There are 3 levels to choose from, basic, intermediate and advanced and each one shows you the options you can have.  However, if you want more freedom to choose you need to look at some of the other word search makers.

The thing I really like about this one is that it gives you a smart set of worksheets and the solution – here’s my example

https://www.superteacherworksheets.com/custom/?ws=hrSpS

## atozteacherstuff word search

Here is another very straightforward example

http://tools.atozteacherstuff.com/word-search-maker/wordsearch.php

You just need to fill in the options.

Note the advice about checking it for inappropriate words.  I suspect that it is not just the atozteacherstuff word search that has this problem.

Here I have chosen forward words only but you could have backwards words only or a mixture.

Then this is what it looks like:

## Puzzlemaker at Discovery Education

Another popular puzzle maker is at

http://puzzlemaker.discoveryeducation.com/WordSearchSetupForm.asp

The final puzzle looks like this

I used the same list of capitals as in the last example, but you can see it looks much harder.  However, don’t forget I only chose forward words in the last example.

Here is the word list:

You should be able to click on solution and get a worked example but that doesn’t seem to work for me.

The sheet to input your material looks like this

Here is a video talking you through the process.

How to make a free Word Search using Discovery Puzzlemaker

## Word lists

I find it useful to create my wordlist in Excel first so I can reuse them in different puzzle makers, or choose different numbers when I have a long list.

Talking of Excel here is a video of using Excel to create a Word Search Puzzle.  I used to use this method quite a lot myself. It takes longer but I have more freedom to do what I want with it. However, these days I generally prefer to just use Excel to keep my word lists in and then use one of the automatic word search generators.

## The Word Search . Com

https://thewordsearch.com/

There is a word search maker here but you have to type each word in separately.  This may be useful if you want your child to type in a spelling list or a list of specialised vocabulary.

Also, the puzzles only stay on the site for 30 days, so you must print them out if you want to keep them for longer.

Browse through the categories at https://thewordsearch.com/ or search at https://thewordsearch.com/search/

Image from https://thewordsearch.com/

## ESL – but useful for everyone

These words searches are created for children who are learning English as a Second Language but actually they are very useful for all children.

https://bogglesworldesl.com/wordsearches.htm

Lots more ESL wordsearches here to browse through.

## For More Word Searches

Printable word searches collected on Pinterest

Monster Word Search

Education.com Word Searches

### Topical

If you have an interest in the World Cup

http://allfreeprintable.com/russia-world-cup-teams-word-search

### For a software option that you can use offline

http://www.csfsoftware.co.uk/WrdSrch_info.htm

## Get in touch

There are lots more word searches I could have included – let me know your favourites below in the comments.

Thanks for reading and I look forward to hearing from you!

Julia

PS  Click here if you are interested in spelling activities for younger children.

## Adverbs KS2 – Describing a verb

It is important to learn about adverbs in KS2 but there will be more complex explanations and examples in KS3 and beyond.

An adverb is a word that describes a verb, at least that’s what I remember learning at school. It’s a  little bit more complicated than that.

However, let’s not overcomplicate it when teaching, unless your child is ready for the next stage.

Here’s a song for your child

### Some examples of adverbs that describe a verb.

The adverb is not always next to the verb. It often describes how something was done.

Cautiously, the Fox looked around the farm.

The sailor courageously climbed the mast.

The teacher cheerfully took the children out to play.

The boy played football enthusiastically.

The girl looked around the garden inquisitively.

The postman nervously walked around the dog.

The vet gently put a bandage on the cat.

The market trader shouted loudly to the crowd to come and look at all his goods.

### These next sentences include the adverb that answers the question “when?”

Before we went for our dinner, we washed our hands.

We often went shopping.

We must get to school punctually.

Tomorrow we will go swimming.

I am hoping to get a bicycle soon.

I need to clean my bedroom now.

I have to hoover again.

### These sentences include the adverb that answers the question “how often?”

The clock chimes hourly.

Occasionally we go to the seaside.

I tell her repeatedly not to break my toys.

We pay our car insurance annually.

Usually, the cat likes to be stroked.

I am constantly cleaning up.

I never get to play with the Lego.

The kitchen is downstairs.

Look up to see the sky.

Can you feel the sand below your feet?

I left my gloves here.

Let’s go outside and play.

### These sentences include the adverb that answers the question “how much?”

You ate almost all the biscuits.

I think that dress is rather nice.

We got very wet.

### There are two adverbs in these sentences.

The criminal solemnly swore that he would never steal again.

The police often had to drive quickly to catch criminals who were escaping.

Eventually, the boy carefully hung up all his shirts.

## Games to play with adverbs

Here is a miming game to play – it is free on the TES site if you join.

You can devise your own if you have a list of verbs and a list of adverbs.

Try the quiz on this BBC Bitesize page

https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/topics/zwwp8mn/articles/zgsgxfr

## Some adverb lists for KS2

And these worksheets are from America and so use American spelling rather than British spelling so be careful with them if you are in the UK.

I am including some links here for worksheets to do with adverbs however I never really advocate just using worksheets as they are written.  Sometimes it is helpful for you to see the sort of activity of child might do but I would try and think of a way to cut it up and make a game of it.  At the very least is it possible to make a quiz out of it maybe even with some prizes? Put individual words on cards cut them out and then reorder them.

I am not sure why the first piece is called “nice” homework.

## Interactive stories where you can choose some adverbs

Finish the story – Bushfire

http://www.scootle.edu.au/ec/viewing/L1275/index.html#

Make sure your speakers are turned on!

Super Stories – The Sea Cave

http://www.scootle.edu.au/ec/viewing/L6187/index.html

Or try using one of these storybook creators:

https://www.mystorybook.com/

https://www.storyjumper.com/

https://www.storybird.com/

all of which give you a lot more freedom and lots of actions to describe.

Here are some useful powerpoints –  they are all free.

There are plenty more here and these tell you what year group they are suitable for – http://www.primaryresources.co.uk/english/englishB2.htm

## Videos

There are masses of videos on YouTube here are just a few that you might like to check out.

But the adverbs describing adjectives here are not ones you would want to use too much of.

I like this video – there is more detail.  However, you might want to start with the first one and move on to this one.

Let me know what you think in the comments below.

What have I missed out?

## Free Spelling Activities – for younger children

### Free Spelling Activities

All children and adults need to learn to spell correctly.  The trick is to find ways that are effective and enjoyable.  Here are some free spelling activities you might like to try.  Perhaps they will give you ideas for other you could do?

Although I have included games you might already have or want to get, you can also just write out or print out letters and words and cut them up to use,

Start with helping your child familiarise themselves with the words rather than spelling them immediately. Have a little box or a bag to put the words in. don’t do too many at once.  Swap them around after a week or so and return to words another time if you hit a stumbling block. Expect children to need to revise at least some of then at a later date. Include words that are easy for them to learn.

Give lots of positive praise and encouragement.

For instance, tick off the letters they get right in a word. Don’t criticise them if they’ve spelt it wrong.  Find something to praise – You have got four out of five letters right. It won’t take long before you can spell the whole word.  You have got the right blend at the beginning. Well done, you always get the end of this word right.

Play games with these words such as snap or war, matching games or Kim’s game.  Kim’s game would be far too difficult if you had lots of words so why not start off with 3 or 4.  Read through the words with your child. Then take one word away when your child is not looking. Now ask your child to look again and see if they can spot the missing word.  If it is too easy with just three or four words then you can increase the amount so that it is challenging but not too difficult.

### Fridge magnets

A bunch of magnetic letters would be useful. We have a Scrabble set on our fridge.  You could have some words of the week.

### Plastic letters

Get some plastic letters to play around with.

Pick off 10 letters – how many words can be made with these letters.  Either you or the child should write these words down so that you can keep track of how many you’ve done.  Then put them back and have another go.

You can be sneaky and take out the letters that make some of the children spellings.  e.g if one of the spellings was house you might take out    o u s e h m l b . Then the words might include: be, he, she, house, mouse, louse, and blouse (Decide for yourself whether you would want to include blouse as that doesn’t sound quite the same as house.)

### Boggle

There is a similar game called Boggle, which children who are a bit older might enjoy but it is a bit confusing having to just look at the blog Boggle grid.  If this is too difficult for your children you could use the Boggle set to find the letters, but then match them with individual letters that you can move around and make words out of.

### Scrabble

Why not use an ordinary Scrabble set but make up some of your own rules.  For instance, your child might help themselves to seven letters. If they can’t see a word then they could take another letter. and maybe one or two more.  Then, if they can make a word but not one that joins what is already on the board then perhaps they can put their word in a new place. The rules might be different for yourself.  So you can only have seven letters at the time. You can only use words that your child already knows. You can only put your word down if it connects with a word already on the board.  If not you miss a turn.

Scoring –  again let’s keep this simple  unless your child is ready for something more sophisticated.  Each letter is worth one point. Your child gets one point for each tile that they put down and also for each tile in the word that they connect with.  You, on the other hand, only get a point for each tile you put down.

There is also a game called Junior Scrabble and again you might decide whether you use the usual rules for that or you might want to make up your own ones.

### Bananagrams

This is a similar game to Scrabble but you just get a banana shaped bag with a whole load of letters in.  Your child could just grab any number of letters and then make words from them.

### Create Word Search from your spelling list.

This will have been done in many classrooms and many homes.  Simply create a grid for the letters. Allow your child to write the words into the grid, write them down underneath as well so that they know which words have been used and then fill in all the gaps with random letters.  If you have a photocopier at home you might want to take a copy of it. Then either you could have a go at solving it or another member of the family might want to have a go at solving it or put it to one side and the child can then have a go at solving it themselves on another day. If you’ve taken a few copies then perhaps it can be returned to at various times so these words can be revised at later dates.

Use nice materials to make the whole thing more interesting.

You can have stickers, nice coloured pens, stamps, coloured paper. and envelopes available for your child to use.

### Put labels around your home

Fridge, cooker, my toys, books, painting, lego, my friends (a photo), Uncle David (another photo), cat, basket, bag, chair, table, knife, fork, spoon and so on.  Get your child to help you think of labels. Just do a few. You don’t have to do everything at once.

### Put affirmations up

I am great at maths.  I like to smile. I am a good friend.  I love my dog. I clean my room. I clean my teeth twice a day.

I was brave when I went to the dentist  – uses 3 words children often find difficult.

### Put other phrases up

Change them around

Include words that cause a problem.

If the word “went” needs working on maybe “Last year we went to the seaside.”

What – “What a lovely day it is today!”

When – “When we visit Grandma, she also makes a lovely dinner.”

Saw – “I saw an elephant at the zoo.”

### Create mnemonics

Went – We eat nice toast

Because – Because elephants can always use some envelopes.

### Spot words within words

When is my hen going to lay an egg?

What are you doing with my hat?

Where is my ball?  Here it is. And there is my bat.

### Some activities I found on other websites

An outdoor grid

Draw a grid of letters on your drive/garden/the beach – anywhere you can find and your child can spell out words.

This is a super idea from the Deceptively Educational blog.  The post includes a suggested set of rules to make a game of it.

http://deceptivelyeducational.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/sidewalk-chalk-spelling-hop.html

If you haven’t got any or much outdoor space then this blogger did something similar with tape indoors

http://learnersinbloom.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/phonics-jumping-game-with-video.html

Outdoor Crossword Puzzle

If you have plenty of space to draw outside with chalk then you might also like this idea.   It’s quite a bit of work though.

https://confidencemeetsparenting.com/crossword-puzzle-for-kids/

Dot stickers

Write out the letters of a word on stickers and then your child can work out the order of them

https://www.schooltimesnippets.com/2014/01/dot-sticker-spelling-scramble-fine.html

I hope you liked these ideas.  Let me know if you tried any of them out and how they worked.

I would love to hear any other ideas.  Please use the comments area below to tell me what you think.

## KS2 SATs papers – creative and fun ways to use

### KS2 SATs papers – creative and fun ways to use them

Hi, today I’m going to write about how we might use KS2 SATs papers in a fun way to help to children familiarise themselves with the type of questions asked and how they might answer them.

You can get the papers from a number of sites including:

http://www.satspapers.org.uk/Page.aspx?TId=5

https://www.sats-papers.co.uk/ks2-sats-papers

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/national-curriculum-assessments-practice-materials

On each site they are arranged slightly differently, so see which you prefer.  Just don’t download them and present whole papers to your child.

### The Importance of Practising Questions from KS2 SATs papers

Note I didn’t call this section “The Importance of Practising KS2 SATs papers”.

It is a fact that the best way to do well in the test or exam is to practice doing the test or exam beforehand. However, it is also very important not to put children off of learning as this can backfire disastrously and mean that they can end up doing worse or even switching off or glazing over when a particular topic is mentioned. You never want to push your child to this stage as it is it is notoriously difficult to come back from.

However, with some thought we can change the presentation of what we are doing and have kids loving what they’re doing .

### Presentation is Everything – well nearly

It became very obvious to me, as a teacher, that I could give out the same piece of work to children and get completely different responses depending on what I said.

Scenario 1 – “Hey, I thought we just have a quiz today. I’ve got some new stickers to give out to the winners.”

Scenario 2 – “Well, today we’re going to see how well you’ve learnt what we’ve been doing. I have a worksheet for each person. Try to do as much of it as you can on your own. If you get stuck look for clues around the classroom, ask a friend or if you’re still stuck you can ask me. When you have finished swap papers with somebody else who has finished. Check their work and see if you agree with their answers. If you don’t agree, then see if between you you can figure out why you have different answers and see whether you both still think that your own answers are correct.

Scenario 3 – “Hello class, today we are going to have a test. The results are important as it gives me a good idea of what you already know, and what I need to teach. Please do all of this work on your own. Work in silence. When you have finished, if other people are still working, then read through your answers and check that you haven’t made any mistakes.

As you can imagine a scenario one was usually greeted with “Yes!”, cheers, and other positive noises from most people. Scenario 2 would get a mixed response of positive and negative or maybe slightly nonchalant responses depending on the particular class and the individuals within it. Scenario 3 would probably get rather more negative reactions

So when we are working with our children, let’s make it more interesting and aim to get more positive responses.

### Reframe the SATs papers as a quiz

If you’re very lucky then you might be able to just reframe the SATs papers as a quiz.

One question at a time

Print off the required pages. Cut up the pages so that there is one question on each piece of new paper. Either laminate these new questions  or get some coloured card and stick the questions on the coloured card.

Take it in turns to choose a question, answer it, and give a good explanation as to why you know you’ve come to the right answer.

You can move from you modelling how to answer the question, to working collaboratively with your child to answer the question, to allowing them to work independently to answer the question.

A few pages at a time

Print off the required pages and remove all references to SATs you can do this quite easily by photocopying the SATs page with a piece of paper covering up the party don’t want showing .

I would just give out a few pages and I would set a timer. You might want to do the pages yourself dash also in the given times that you are seen to be doing it dash rather than just watching your child work! Also, you can give you a search you can do model answers making sure your explanation is clear. This has the dual advantage of showing your child how to layout a good answer rather than just coming out with the answer and also by showing them how to tackle any questions that they don’t know how to do.

### Creating Cards for Games

You can create as many cards as you like using the method described above.  However, the SATs papers have been written so that children can write directly onto the paper.

When creating cards for games they don’t need to write directly onto the paper so you can decrease the size of the cards.  You can print out a page and cut up the questions. If you have a photocopier at home, you can decrease the size. Depending on your photocopier, you’ll have different options that you can choose.  Sometimes you can choose to reduce the size by 50% or 25% or 75%, other times you might go from A4 to A5 or something similar.

### Board Games

Find a board game you’ve got at home and think how you might play that game using these questions instead of the cards that go with the game that you have.

Trivial Pursuit

If you have a Trivial Pursuit board, divide up your cards into different piles which then correspond to a colour which might be landed on.

For example:

Green  – a science question

Yellow – a spelling question

Red – a multiplication question

Pink – a punctuation or grammar question

Blue – any level 3 maths question

Orange – a potluck question

These are completely random suggestions. You might want to include some non-SATs tasks, for example, sing any song from the charts. Do a yoga pose. Choose a dessert for next Monday’s dinner.

You might want to play mainly for fun with just a few SATs questions thrown in. You might want to concentrate on mainly one area and divide the cards randomly between the colours. It depends entirely on your children, how close you are to the SATs and what you think would be best for them. Do think of the long-term rather than the short term gains that can be made.

Who wants to be a millionaire?

Have you got this as a board game?  Do you want to buy it? (You can click on it if you do.)

If not, no problem!  Just create the board. Better still, discuss it with your child and create it together. You could make it on an ordinary sheet of A4 photocopying paper.  You could make it from a large piece of cardboard that you take from a piece of shopping, for example, the cardboard around 6 1L cartons of milk. Open it up and that gives you a great piece of cardboard for creating a game.  Alternatively, pick up any small box cardboard box open it out and again you’ve got a large area to create a board game.

Decide on the layout and also the amounts of money to go in each section.  It doesn’t need to be exactly the same as on the game: “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?” In fact, they’ve changed their format and amounts from time to time.

You might want to have alternative prizes to go with the amounts, what you might want to just write the amount down because you might have different prices with each game that you play.

Here are some suggested prizes, but this is just to get you thinking about what you might choose.

£1,000,000 – a trip to the zoo

£500,000 – a museum trip

£125,000 – and item of clothing

£75,000 – cinema tickets

£50,000  – a hardback book

£25,000 – a paperback book

£12,000 –  a new pen

£6,000 – a piece of cake

£3,000 – 2 biscuits

£2,000 – 2 sweets

£1,000 – another sticker

£750 – another sticker

£500  – another sticker

£100  – one sticker