Teaching Tots with Living Books

This post contains affiliate links which means that if you click on the links I will receive a small percentage of any purchase you make at no extra cost to you.

I’ve had a look at lots of different homeschooling methods and have been most attracted to the Classical and Charlotte Mason styles.

One of Charlotte Mason’s schooling beliefs was that children learn best from living books, which means books which teach through stories rather than encyclopedias. I can certainly see that in how much Bunny has learnt about sea creatures from watching Octonauts! (UK/US affiliate) (I know that’s a TV program rather than a book but let’s call it a living TV program…)

With this idea in mind I started to write some simple stories for Bunny to teach her some maths, when she was about 2 and a half. I used her name and her best friend’s name so that she would be extra-engaged, and drew simple pictures.

The first time I read the stories to her, she was so excited that I had to read them over and over again. I call that a success!

I think this would work for any subject you want to teach to your children, so if you can’t find a living book out there to teach the topic or principle you want to teach then go ahead and have a go at it for yourself!

The first story I wrote for Bunny is called The Numerical Adventures of Bobby and Bunny 1: Bobby and Bunny Count to 10. It really helped her to engage with counting (at the time she had trouble with the numbers 5 and 7) and improve. She still likes to look at them now as well.

Would you like to see more of Bobby and Bunny’s Numerical Adventures?


Menu Plan Monday 3/10/16 with Grocery Budget Tracker

I didn’t do a brilliant job of sticking to my menu plan last week, but this week it is a little more important as we’re having our bible study group round on Wednesday and my in-laws are visiting at the weekend!

I am, however, doing ok at sticking to my grocery budget! We’re quite new to the budgeting process as a family but now that we’re a couple of months in we are starting to get the hang of it. To keep track of my grocery spending (as it is unfeasible for us to use cash, à la Dave Ramsey, following his baby steps, most of my grocery shopping is online) I made a spreadsheet! Yes, I’m the nerd. But you’d probably already guessed that!

The problem I’ve always had with a grocery budget is splitting it into the different weeks of the month, and then what happens if I go over or under? I decided that I would borrow from the next week (or add to it) and then I know how much I can spend next week in my shopping.

My grocery budget tracker keeps track of my budget for me when I tell it how much I spend every time I shop, so I know when to stop spending or when I have a little extra money to stock up. I include a budget line for a monthly expense, mine is Amazon Subscribe and Save (UK/US store, both affiliate links which means I will receive a small percentage of any purchase you make at no extra cost to you), see this post to see how I calculate if it is worth it to subscribe.


Here it is! The yellow boxes are where you fill in to adjust your budget and the green boxes are where you write in what you have spent. There are lots of different sheet options for how the month works out in terms of full and part-weeks, and whether you have a monthly expense (a big stock-up trip or a subscription) or not. When you open the spreadsheet you can create a new sheet for the current month by right-clicking on the correct style of sheet and clicking “Move or Copy”, then make sure you tick the “Create a Copy” box at the bottom of the pop-up, then click OK. You can now alter it with your own budgets.

If you use my grocery budget tracker and find it helpful I would love to hear about it!

Now on to my menu plan:

Monday: Sausages (it’s already 5pm and I can’t think of anything else…)

Tuesday: Pork loin steaks (since my delivery is coming tomorrow)

Wednesday: Bolognese (times lots and lots of people, with 3 different types of pasta…)

Thursday: Toad in the hole (see bottom of post for recipes)

Friday: Pizza! (See bottom of post for my pizza base recipes)

Saturday: Italian chicken? Have to check with hubby!

Sunday: Maybe leftovers from Wednesday, or something fried.

Thanks for stopping by! Linking up to Menu Plan Monday at Org Junkie.

Menu Plan Monday


Multiplying Binary

Last week I talked about how to convert to binary and then how to add binary numbers together in column addition. Today it is time to multiply!

To multiply these numbers together I am going to use a method known as the lattice method, or Napier’s bones (since John Napier invented a sort of mechanical calculator with bone rods which can be used for multiplying using the lattice method).

As an example, multiplying in base 10 will look like this for the calculation 367 x 52:


First you set out the grid with the diagonal lines, then write in the numbers you wish to multiply. Each square should contain the result of multiplying the two numbers at the edges, with the tens above the diagonal line and the units below the diagonal line. The circled square should contain the result of 3 x 5, 15, with the 1 above the line and 5 below the line. All of the squares need to be filled in in this way.


Now we add up along the diagonal sections to find the answer to the calculation, and we can then read it off of the lattice:


So 367 x 52 = 19084. Personally I like the lattice method for a few reasons, including that you know how big it will be before you start, and you don’t have to worry about keeping 0s in the right place (i.e. writing a 0 when you’re multiplying by the number in the tens column, or two 0s for the hundreds column, and so on) like you do for traditional long multiplication. However if I were multiplying 2 (or more) digit numbers in my head (as you do) I’d use long multiplication.

I just explained that I think it is easier to keep your 0s in the right place when you use the lattice method, and this is why I would use it to multiply binary numbers together. Let’s multiply 5 and 6 together in binary, starting by converting them to binary:


So 5 is 101 and 6 is 110. Writing this in the lattice gives:


Now we can see how easy the multiplication is, you only need to know the results of 0 x 0, 0 x 1 and 1 x 1!


Now reading off the lattice shows us the result of our multiplication is 11110.

Converting this back to base 10 by adding up the columns with a 1 in gives 16 + 8 + 4 + 2 = 30, which we know should have been the result of 5 x 6. We did it!

It is worth discussing what happens when the sum of a diagonal of the lattice adds to more than 1. We convert the result to binary (e.g. 2 in binary is 10, 3 is 11, 4 is 100) and then carry the higher digits to the next column. Hopefully this picture helps explain what I mean (a picture is worth 1000 words! By which I don’t mean 8 words…). I think colours are so helpful for explaining things! And pretty too.


Thanks for exploring some binary with me today!