Horrible histories
Life,  Parenting

Making Learning Fun.


How can you make learning more fun and effective?

Recently one of my children has been struggling at school, and we have tried to spend a lot more time doing extra work at home. I’ve tried various different things to help him, and was really struggling to get through to him, but then I worked something out, he is a ‘visual’ learner. Telling him facts, or getting him to read vast amounts of text just doesn’t stay in his head and nor can he manage a lot of the time to take it in, but show him an educational clip and he just ‘gets’ it.
Luckily in the modern world we have the brilliance that is YouTube, and for pretty much any subject that he learns about at school, there is a YouTube video (or 100’s of them!) which is educational, often fun and much more interesting to him than someone using lots of long words to describe something he can’t visualize.
A good example of this, is that recently he has been learning about natural disasters at school, and was struggling to get his head around what this actually meant, as really if you have never seen a Tsunami or a tornado, how can a few words really explain to you the pure devastation and level of destruction that they cause? He really had no idea, this is where YouTube came in!
We showed him lots of videos on there of natural disasters, and he was fascinated, engaged, and he learnt more in 20 minutes of videos, than we had managed to teach him in hours of reading with him, and trying to explain to him. I have come to the conclusion that some children just find different ways of learning easier than others, as his brother is more of a ‘needs to read it himself’ type. My sons are now actually  on occasion choosing to watch YouTube for learning instead of just ‘try not to laugh’ and Minecraft videos, and are having fun doing it!
Another way I make learning more fun for my boys are our spelling tests that we do, which I have to admit usually include a few ‘ruder’ words in there. They are much more keen to do a spelling test, when they have no idea what words I might come out with, but don’t worry they aren’t THAT rude, more of the cheeky toilet humour variety.
I also bought a long time ago two mini white boards for my children to write on when we are doing spelling tests, or practicing our maths (I need as much help as they do sadly!), and for some reason feeling all important with their own whiteboard, and the novelty of rubbing their words off means they are much more willing to write than they are on paper.
I find this odd myself, but whatever works! We now (2016) also use our Glow Art neon drawing board.

Maths Bingo

I am currently in the middle of making a Math’s Bingo game, with the aid of my trusty laminator, and which I will put on here once it’s finished to show you exactly how it works. It’s pretty much like normal Bingo, except that instead of me calling out a number I will call out and hold up a sum, that they then need to work out, before they can decide whether to mark off a number on their ‘boards’.
bingo board for learning

Horrible Histories

When it comes to learning about history, my sons both love watching Horrible Histories (me too!) and I’m constantly amazed by the facts that they remember about history when watching the shows. It really does make for fun learning, even if it is a little bit gross at times, but then they’re boys so the ‘gross’ and slightly gory bits tend to be their favourite bits!
I was really lucky recently to be contacted by the lovely people at Hall For Cornwall in Truro, who wanted to know if I could review their Horrible Histories show for them in April as a favour to them, well a favour that includes free tickets (cheekily my favourite kind!), and funnily enough considering how much the whole family enjoys the Horrible Histories tv shows, I said yes straight away.
We are going in April to watch Incredible Invaders which on their website they describe as;
‘The Celts are crunched when the Ruthless Romans invade Britain! Can Crazy Caratacus save the nation? Hide behind Hadrian’s Wall. See the Savage Saxons smash their way in. Find out who’s at Sutton Hoo! Will you survive the Vicious Vikings as they sail into the audience? Stop King Alfred burning his buns! It’s a thousand year journey with Incredible Invaders’
Horrible histories
Although they have asked me to review the show, they didn’t ask me to do any ‘plugging’ before hand, I am merely doing that as I am so excited to be going to see this, and also think there are probably a lot of people that don’t realise this show even exists!
If you live in Cornwall you can watch either Incredible Invaders or Groovy Greeks at the Hall for Cornwall in Truro from Tuesday 14th April through til Saturday 18th April, and from a quick googling session I can see that it will also be on all over the country, so even if you don’t live in Cornwall you have a good chance of finding somewhere closer to you to watch it!

For more information on the Hall For Cornwall performance, and indeed any other of their child friendly shows (they’ve had the Snail and the Whale, Peppa Pig and all sorts before!) then visit www.hallforcornwall.co.uk. I’ll let you know how the show goes!
I really do think that this is how history should be taught to children, in a fun memorable way, not just lots of text and lists of dates to memorize. I was lucky when I was younger to have a fantastic history teacher at Newquay Treviglas school by the name of Mr. Firmston, who made history fun for me.


I’m sure he would approve of the Horrible Histories programmes and shows, as he also often focussed on the more gruesome aspects of history, and whilst many teachers I can no longer remember their names even, I can still remember some of his classes in vivid detail!
I am on the look out for other ways to make learning fun for both of my children, and I expect we’ll be making more educational but ‘fun’ games ourselves soon, and will definitely show Maths Bingo off to you once I’ve finished it. Keep an eye out for future posts of this nature (if you like!), and feel free to let me know what methods you use to encourage your own children to learn.
Stevie x



  • Dot Makes 4

    Hey! My son is exactly the same. He struggles with a book or being talked to, but to see it in front of him is so much better for him.
    When he was struggling with learning the times tables I made him some dominoes, which had the question on one side and the answer on the other. These worked a treat, and he’s now become much more confident in maths!
    I love the bingo game and the spelling tests- think I might try that with him!
    Laura x

  • Fern

    Im very much a read it type person, I can look and look at pictures/diagrams etc and not get it at all! But I think sassy is more of a visual learner, we had sat and sang nursery rhymes and done counting etc but she never really picked it up. Then we got Now TV so we’ve got youtube on our TV and so usually we have nursery rhymes on through the day and counting/alphabet things and shes recently gotten so much better!
    Midge however picks everything up from everywhere and can count from 1-7 on her own and to 10 with help at the age of 22 months.. I would say shes further ahead with numbers/alphabet than sassy is.

    The horrible history shows have been on at HfC before, apparently they are really really good! I think they are yearly so hopefully in a couple of years ill be able to take the girls to watch it. My mum loves it too haha! Have fuuun!

  • acornishmum

    I’m really looking forward to going, as Horrible Histories does sound brilliant! As for YouTube, I’m kicking myself I didn’t think of it earlier, as they are both obsessed with it anyway, so actually having them use it for something sensible for a change is great!

    Stevie x

  • Brigitte Ravenscroft

    I’ve worked with children aged 5 to 7 for 16 years and one and one thing I’ve noticed is that many boys are often visual and kinetic learners. Boys get very fidgety and bored sitting on a carpet if they have to listen or try and follow what a teacher is teaching by writing on a whiteboard.
    Use the interactive smartboard, ipads or netbooks and you can see them visibly light up and keen to participate. Try and get them to read a book and it’s sometime torture, make it a comic and they’ll read for hours. They love anything practical too, whereas the girls often hold back. I often teach basic cooking skills which the boys absolutely love. Turn anything into a game too and they’re hooked.
    My boys, both grown now, grew up loving Horrible Histories. The gorier the details the better. The stage versions weren’t around back then which is such a pity as they would have loved them.
    Mums and dad’s who go out of their way to support their children’s learning in fun and varied ways makes such a difference when they are at school and we really value that support . Sadly, we have children who don’t get any from home for one reason or another and they are often the one’s who struggle, are disinterested and are sometimes little tinkers !
    Your little chap is very lucky to have fab parents who are finding ways to make learning fun and using strategies that helps understanding come easier. Definitely deserving of a gold sticker! :-)
    Whiteboards are always a hit. I find as well that if I let them use a “teachers pen” they are often more enthusiastic to write. So much more fun than a boring old pencil! xx

  • acornishmum

    I would love my own interactive whiteboard! I have always tried to do extra work with my boys in as fun a way as possible! I’m really looking forward to seeing Horrible Histories, and so are the boys, it shoulbe be brilliant I’d imagine :)

    Stevie xx

  • Kara

    we are having struggles here too and I agree with you about Horrible Histories, it’s fab. Out problem is Isaac Hayes writing and will do everything not to have to do it. We can normally coax him at home but yesterday he spend the whole day in the head teachers office stubbornly refusing to do any work!

  • acornishmum

    Writing is what one of my son’s struggles with as well, it’s partly a fear of doing it wrong and looking ‘stupid’ and partly I hate to say it laziness!

    Stevie x

  • Ashley Beolens

    Visual learning and learning through play is much better than the standard recite after me method, yet still some schools insist on it, anyway I’m very jealous of the horrible history’s thing I love that show… er… yeah I think the kids do as well.

  • acornishmum

    I’m the same I’ve found myself watching it without them on several occasions! Really looking forward to it and I love Hall for Cornwall!

    Stevie x

  • Jules

    Love the tips. Making learn fun for my boy when he’s older makes me nervous so it’s nice to have done tips stored up for the future! So jel about the Horrible Histories show! #brilliantblogposts

  • acornishmum

    They’re so lucky these days really, for me school work was all books and the occasional film, and if you couldn’t do your homework that was it, whereas now they have so many more fun ways to learn AND google to help them!

    Stevie x

  • Terrie

    Love horrible histories but haven’t seen the live shows before. Look forward to your review!

  • Lisa Bradburn

    I’m always looking for the best ways to make learning fun! I believe it’s key to keep education fun and exciting as this is the best way for kids to learn! Maths bingo looks and sounds ace!

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