Learning and Keeping Busy with Busy Things

As home educators we are always on the look out for fun new ways to learn.  We have tried a few online programmes over the past few years but never renewed a subscription as they are often overly complicated or too limited in their scope.  Now we have found a fun new educational site the girls love and, as its name suggests, it's keeping them very busy indeed!

Featuring a host of colourful characters and bright, fun graphics, the Busy Things website is a vast collection of online learning resources which are carefully matched to the curriculum.  The site boasts more than 600 games and activities across the core subjects, with a strong emphasis on essential maths, literacy and phonics skills.  We have found it invaluable in reinforcing learning, and love the fun look and range of activities.  Here's what Tatiana's (age 4) activities look like:

The site is so easy to use and easy to navigate, although it does take some time to have a proper look around - we are still finding new areas several days in!  You simply sign up - the first 7 days are free so you can see if it's right for your family - then create a profile for each child and away you go!  Each child also has a My Files area to save their activities and creations, and you can of course print them out too.

Our girls are loving the fun art and creative activities, such as creating Rangoli patterns or making their own pizzas and sandwiches - perfect tie-in to our Lighthouse Keeper's Lunch activities.  I love how Busy Things has slotted right in as another resource in our home ed arsenal, rather than taking over and being an end in itself.

The site recommends the level appropriate to each child's date of birth, but if you want to pitch higher or lower you simply adjust the age level accordingly.  Many of the games and activities are across several age groups or suitable for more than one age, but each child can reach their own level as the activity progresses.  The phonics and maths activities have been a big hit with the girls, and perfect for me to sit back a bit and assess their level and their learning so far.

All areas of maths are covered, each with a variety of activities to meet different needs and learning styles.  This is the kind of site I wish I could have sent my class to as homework, great for reinforcing concepts and showing them in different ways how number, operations and concepts work.  It would be perfect for anyone wanting to reinforce school learning at home, or to help a child who is struggling with maths.

There are so many fun activities (150+) for phonics learning, spelling, reading, early and mental maths, and the girls area really enjoying spending some of their learning time on the site.  There is a brilliant resources section in the parents area with sheets for practicing writing letters, matching words, phonics worksheets, printables and much more.  You can create your own custom phonics resources in moments.  So handy to have all this in one place for a mammoth printing session!

Busy Things covers other subjects including Science, Geography, History, Art and Music too.  Everything is covered, from Romans to rainforests!  We have found it really useful for finding activities that back up our other learning, for example this habitats exercise which led into a great discussion on adaptation, and further research online, in books and watching a couple of documentaries.  Great preparation for our next topic!

If your child is in school, or you are a home educator who wants to keep on track with National Curriculum objectives, the NC tracker helps identify which activities meet which objective and help you check your child is on course.  Parents can change their settings too so the site meets curriculum objectives in Scotland and Australia too.  We have found it really useful in identifying which science objectives we should be covering, and ways to meet those both on and offline.

Busy Things covers all primary years from Early Years Foundation Stage (pre-reception) right up to age 11 in Year 6 (P6 in Scotland; Foundation to Year 5 in Australia).  Writing projects, quizzes, and interactive worksheets are ideal for older children, and there is something to back up every area of the curriculum and learning.  One of the best things about the site is that it grows with your child, so once they know the layout and the characters there is always something new for them and you to discover.  Our girls were instantly at home with the fun, quirky characters and their humour, making learning fun.  Whether your children are in school or home educated, these fun activities will engage, entertain and help them learn, almost without them even knowing.

The quickest and easiest way to see if Busy Things would suit your family is by taking out a free trial.  Spend some time each day exploring the site and trying some of the games and activities, and see what you and your kids think.

Busy Things can be used on a laptop, desktop or tablet, and up to 5 children can use it at the same time, just create a profile for each.  It is priced at £4.49 per month, or a very reasonable £34.99 for the year.

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