Category Archives: Key Stage 2

Essential art resources needed in primary schools

What are the absolutely essential art resources you need to deliver high-quality drawing lessons in primary school?

We all know school budgets are tight. And, sadly, art and design are rarely high on a school’s list of priorities for expenditure. Meg Fabian, the author of Drawing is a Class Act, says you can get by with surprisingly few absolute basics:

  • 2B pencils
  • fine line pens (tip size 0.4 mm)
  • charcoal, medium thickness
  • white chalk
  • fixative
  • oil pastels

Discount stores are often an excellent place to pick up art resources cheaply, but make sure you check for quality. Gradually extend your range a little at a time.

If you are lucky enought to have a bit more money, here are Meg’s recommendations for what a well-resourced art cupboard should have:

9781903853627 Drawing is a Class Act, Years 5-6 Brilliant Publications

Drawing is a Class Act, Years 5-6

9781903853610 Drawing is a Class Act, Years 3-4 Brilliant Publications

Drawing is a Class Act, Years 3-4

9781903853603 Drawing is a Class Act, Years 1-2 Brilliant Publications

Drawing is a Class Act, Years 1-2

  • H, B, 2B, 4B, 6B pencils
  • Fine line pens (tip size 0.3 and 0.4 mm), water-based
  • Fine (tip size 0.4 mm), medium and broad permanent pens
  • Charcoal, thick and thin
  • Fixative
  • Oil pastels, 25 colours, bright and subtle, extra white and black
  • Art pastels, good range of colours, including landscape colours
  • Conté crayons (soft pastels), black, white, earth colours, sepia, burned sienna, etc
  • Pens (with nibs) and drawing inks, including white
  • Good-quality crayons, some sets in people colours
  • Art quality coloured pencils, landscape and portrait sets
  • Water colour pencils
  • Graphite
  • Metallic crayons
  • Metallic pens –fine and broad
  • Sketchbooks with cartridge paper pages
  • Clipboards for outside drawing
  • Black plastic viewfinders
  • Magnifying glasses with flexible necks that clamp onto desk
  • Lamps with flexible necks
  • Collection of reproductions of works of art, filed according to topic or subject, or QCA art documents
  • Collection of CD-Roms featuring works of art for use on computer and white boards
  • Collection of artefacts for drawing

For more tips and lesson plans to support a skills-based approach to drawing, get Meg Fabian’s Drawing is a Class Act series for primary schools.

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Filed under Art and design, Key Stage 1, Key Stage 2, Primary school

What’s the best way to introduce French vocabulary?

Flashcards are an excellent way of introducing primary school children to new French vocabulary. They are incredibly versatile and can be used in many different activities.

Furthermore, using flashcards promotes the use of the French as the meaning of the word will be obvious from the image, so there is no need to say the English equivalent.

While it is possible to make flashcards from images, either hand-drawn, cut out from magazines or found on-line, this is a time-consuming process.

To make your life easier, we have created packs of Mon Vocabulaire French flashcards. These time-saving resources are available as pdfs, so you can download and use them straight away.

9781554096800_Mon_Vocabulaire_Au-Zoo Brilliant Publications

Au Zoo – French flashcards and activities for At the zoo

9781554096794_Mon_Vocabulaire_A-La-Ferme Brilliant Publications

À la ferme – French flashcards and activities for At the farm

9781554096763_Mon_Vocabulaire_La-Maison Brilliant Publications

La maison – French flashcards and activities for the House

9781554096688_Mon_Vocabulaire_Animaux_domestiques Brilliant Publications

Les animaux domestiques – French flashcards and activities for Pets










The flashcards are available in 2 sizes. The large colour images are ideal for display on an Interactive Whiteboard. The smaller colour pictures can be easily printed out and made into flashcards for use by individuals or small groups.

We have Mon Vocabulaire packs for many popular French topics:

  • Les animaux domestiques
  • Comptons!
  • Les fruits et les legumes
  • Les forms géométriques
  • La maison
  • Les jours de la semaine
  • Les mois de l’année
  • Les parties du corps
  • À la ferme
  • Au zoo
  • Noël
  • Halloween
  • La Saint-Valentin
  • Pâques

In addition, with each pack you get reproducible activity sheets to reinforce the vocabulary:

  • Coloriez – Introduce new vocabulary
  • Associez les mots – Match the French word to the corresponding illustration
  • Illustrez les mots – Review vocabulary by drawing the image of the printed word
  • Écoutez les mots – Listen to the new words as students mark the corresponding word that the teacher reads aloud
  • Copiez les mots – Spell the new word by printing or writing
  • Mots cachés – Find the hidden words in the puzzle then match the word to the corresponding image
  • Décodez les motes – Match symbols to letter codes to decipher the word
  • Le bon ordre – Unscramble the letters to form the correct word
  • Mots croisés – Identify and spell the word for the corresponding image
  • Mots illustrés – Create a unique word picture
  • Le jeu – A two-player game that reinforces pronunciation and/or spelling of the new words
  • Le livre – Produce an illustrated short-story about the theme.

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Filed under French, Key Stage 1, Key Stage 2, Modern Foreign Languages (MFL)

Top 10 playground games for primary schools

Now that the weather is getting better, are you looking for some good games to get children active in the playground? These games will get children moving and will help to develop PE skills and teamwork. They have been taken from 100+ Fun Ideas for Playground Games.

100+ Fun Idea Playground Games- Brilliant Publications

100+ Fun Ideas Playground Games

1. Hens and Chicks

This is an ideal game for very young children to play.

  • Chalk out two round circles on the playground approximately 15 metres apart.
  • One pupil is chosen to be Mother Hen who must stand in between the two circles. The remainder of the class are then divided into two groups, one team standing in each of the two designated circles.
  • When Mother Hen shouts ‘Come Home Chickens’ each group have to swop locations while Mother Hen has to try and catch as many ‘Chickens’ as she can.
  • Whoever is caught must then remain and help Mother Hen. The last chicken caught gets to be the next Mother Hen.

2. Scream!

Be aware this is a noisy game and so should preferably be played on a large open field well away from the rest of the school.

  • Everyone lines up alongside one another at one end of the field, and as the teacher shouts ‘Now’ each child takes a big breath and screams as loud as they are able, whilst running towards the opposite side of the field.
  • It may sound easy but the trick is that they can only run for as long as they can scream, so when they run out of breath they must stop.
  • Whoever runs the farthest is the winner.

3. Walk tall

  • The ideal rope game, which can be played indoors or outdoors. Place the rope in a straight line on the ground.
  • The aim of each player is to try to walk the straight line, holding out their arms to balance as they walk. It may sound easy but requires a lot of concentration and if they should lose balance at any point then they are out of the game, whoever reaches the end without falling is the winner.

4. Figure ropes

  • This is a fun game to play for all ages. Simply divide the class into groups and supply each one with a rope. Give them three minutes to make up a fun figure using the rope and then see who can guess what each others shape is supposed to be.

5. Time ball

  • The basic aim is for each child to individually throw the ball up into the air as high as they can throw. The teacher records the time before it reaches the ground.
  • Whichever pupil throws the highest (their ball stays up the longest) is the winner.

Note: Make sure to choose the area wisely and well away from school windows.

6. Scavenger hunt

  • Have a good walk around the playing field and playground looking out for certain items that are in abundance. Make a mental note of these and their whereabouts. (Dandelion leaves or flowers, daisies, feathers, small stones, a twig etc)
  • Ask the children to get together in groups of three or four.
  • Give them a list of items you wish to collect. The winners are the first group to collect all the items on your list.

7. Freeze

  • This is another version of the popular game Tag in which one person is still ‘it’ but when they touch someone, then whoever it was must immediately stand still. The only way they can be freed is if someone crawls between their legs. The game continues until all the players are standing in statues and the last person to be tagged is ‘it’ for the following game.

8. Hula-hoop contest

  • Most schools have hula-hoops in their PE store and this is the ideal game for children to get them out, have fun and get fit at the same time.
  • When the teacher announces ‘go’ the players simply hula hoop as long as they can and the winner is the one who manages to keep the hoop spinning the longest. But if they touch it at anytime with their hands or if the hoop drops then they are out of the game.

9. Who’s the Donkey?

  • The children stand in a circle several metres apart.
  • The idea is that the ball is passed between the pupils until it is dropped. As soon as the ball starts being passed around the circle the children begin counting from 10 down to 0 and the last person to have touched the ball at ‘0’ becomes the donkey.
  • Depending on the time-scale allow each person two/three lives. The game continues until there is only one person remaining who is the winner.

10. Tug of War

  • A super challenging team game. Divide the class into two teams but try not to make it boys against girls. A long piece of rope is stretched out across a chalked dividing line on the playground.
  • After the count of three the teacher gives the signal and both teams start pulling towards their direction. Whichever team manages to pull the other team over to their side are the clear winners.

For more ideas for games to play outdoors with children get Christine Green’s 100+ Fun Ideas for Playground Games.

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Filed under Key Stage 1, Key Stage 2, Physical Education (PE)

Practise Times Tables – no paper needed!

When we think of practising  times tables, we often think of chanting in unison or working through endless pages of multiplication problems. But is this the best way to teach the times tables?
Fun Games and Activities for Teaching Times Tables - Brilliant Publications

Fun Games and Activities for Teaching Times Tables

In fact, drilling children in their times tables doesn’t necessarily help them to understand the mathematical concepts that underpin multiplication. Children need to be able to conceptualise the maths involved if they are to develop fluency in the times tables, able to recall and apply them rapidly and accurately.

This is why we decided to publish Fun Games and Activities for Teaching Times Tables. This book takes an active approach to learning times tables, providing stimulating and imaginative games to make the process of learning the times tables both effective and fun.
The first half of the book contains games specifically aimed at teaching the 2, 5 and 10 times tables.The second half contains games appropriate for any of the times tables. These games are subdivided into three groups:

  • Games for learning each table in sequence
  • Games to test pupils’ memories and thinking skills as they try to identify the table they are working on
  • Games to teach children the different factors that can make up each answer.

The games require minimal preparation and ensure that all children gain a firm understanding of their times tables and will be able to recall them quickly and easily.

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Filed under Key Stage 1, Key Stage 2, Mathematics

Answering children’s questions about terrorism

What do terrorists want? When will terrorism end?

Children’s questions about terrorism can be penetrating and hard to answer. Many teachers (and parents) will be caught unawares by such questions, uncertain themselves about terrorist motivation and goals and torn between the instinct to reassure and the awareness that Britain is on continuous terrorist alert.

Brilliant Publications has just produced a book  to answer these difficult questions. Talking about Terrorism: Responding to Children’s Questions by Alison Jamieson and Jane Flint is structured around 40 questions that children may ask:

  • What do terrorists want?
  • How can we stop someone becoming a terrorist?
  • Who is keeping us safe in Britain?
  • Why are terrorists so angry and full of hate?
  • When will terrorism end?
Talking about Terrorism - Brilliant Publications

Talking about Terrorism

The authors answer the questions in clear, easy-to-understand language – providing simple, objective explanations and reassurance where possible – while being careful not to raise unrealistic expectations.

As Peter Wanless, Chief Executive of the NSPCC, points out in the Foreword to Talking about Terrorism:

“If we are to reassure our young people, encourage their tolerance of others, and prevent them from being groomed into acts that could hurt themselves or others, we must talk with them and educate them. This book sets out to help teachers do just that.  The Internet and 24-hour news cycle means that it is impossible to shield children from the reality of terrorist attacks. But, with open conversation and clear explanations, we can help them feel safe and know that the world is still a good place.”

The text is interspersed with activities that primary school teachers can use to stimulate critical thinking and encourage creative investigation of key themes. These range from discussions and debates, the use of circle time and hot-seating through to role-play, poetry and music composition, singing and artwork.

Despite the focus on terrorism the authors never lose sight of a core belief in human goodness. They make it a priority to focus on positive actions that children can perform, singly or collectively, to make the world more peaceful. Each section has inspiring stories of peacemaking and reconciliation, about the power of love over hate, of non-violence over violence and the importance of tolerance and respect.

As Iona Lawrence, Director of the Jo Cox Foundation, says in an introductory message to the book:

“Jo [Cox] really did live by the conviction that we have ‘more in common than that which divides us.’ As this book also shows, it is this phrase that can and should guide conversations with children about extremism in all its forms.”


Written by Alison Jamieson, a former consultant to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, and Jane Flint, a teacher, whose work in a multicultural school in Beeston, Leeds, at the time of the 2005 London bombings provided the inspiration for the book. Their book, Radicalisation and Terrorism: A Handbook for Addressing Extremism, was published by Brilliant Publications in 2015.

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Filed under Key Stage 2, PSHE, Radicalisation and Terrorism, Teaching Ideas

Brain teasers to stretch your gifted and talented children

Brilliant Activities for Gifted and Talented Children - Brilliant Publications

These brain teasers will appeal to all children and stretch the more able pupils in your class

(Are you stuck? The answers are at the bottom of the blog!)

  1. Two mothers and two daughters were quilting in the living room. They all quilted busily all day, and discussed memories they had shared with each other. Each one completed a quilt. However, at the end of the day there were only three completed quilts. How is this possible?
  2. A man was sitting at home watching the news. All of a sudden, he stood up, switched on the light, and began to sob uncontrollably. Why did the man switch on the light and begin to cry? Ask as many questions as you would like, but the teacher can only answer yes or no.
  3. Two Australians got on a bus. One of the Australians was the father of the other Australian’s son. How was this possible?
  4. Robert and William Parry were both born just before noon on 7th May 2001. They had the same parents, Andrew and Diana Parry. You see Robert and William in the nursery and say to Diana, “Your twins are lovely!’ Diana looks at you and replies, “They are not twins!” You are very confused. They were born on exactly the same day with the same parents! How is this possible?
  5. Two men walk into a restaurant. They both order exactly the same drink. One man drinks it fast and one man drinks it slowly. The one who drinks it fast lives. The one who drinks it slowly dies. WHY?

These brainteasers have been taken from Brilliant Activities for Gifted and Talented Children by Ashley McCabe Mowat, which contains tasks that will develop all children’s cognitive abilities, whilst stretching the most able pupils in you class.



  1. They were a grandmother, mother and a daughter.
  2. The man is a lighthouse keeper, and he saw on the news that a ship is headed for his point but can see no light. It is inevitable that the ship will crash, which is the man’s fault.
  3. One was the mother.
  4. They are not twins, but triplets!
  5. There was poison in the ice.


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Filed under Gifted and Talented, Key Stage 2, Primary school

Sheila Blackburn talks about being a children’s author

Sheila Blackburn has just been interviewed by Ink Pantry. Read Sheila’s interview here.

Sheila Blackburn is the author of:

Stewie Scraps and the Giant Joggers - Brilliant Publications

Stewie Scraps and the Giant Joggers

Stewie Scraps

Stewie Scraps is an unlikely hero. He doesn’t do sport. He hasn’t got any time for sums or things like that, but he is great at making things. Children will love Stewie’s amazing technological creations – all made from bits and bobs from his dad’s junk shop.
Stewie Scraps is a very likeable character and this series of six adventure stories will appeal to all readers of both sexes. The gripping storylines and simple language make them particularly suitable for use with reluctant readers.

Sam’s Football Stories

Training Night, form Sam's Football Stories, Set A - Brilliant Publications

Training Night, form Sam’s Football Stories, Set A

Sam’s Football Stories are specially written to stimulate and motivate your slower learners and reluctant readers. The books will appeal particularly to reluctant boy readers. The 12 compelling stories tell the story of Sam, a football crazy boy.






Ink Pantry Publishing evolved from a social media group of creative writing students from The Open University who wanted to create an inspiring and supportive platform for new writers.

Sheila Blackburn – author of Stewie Scraps and Sam's Football Stories - Brilliant Publications

Sheila Blackburn





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Filed under Children's fiction, English, Key Stage 1, Key Stage 2, News