I’ve known Renita for a while now. Originally from America, Renita now lives in Wigtown, which the book town in Scotland, with the most stunning views across the estuary. When I’ve performed at the festival, the children have all been whipped up to a frenzy by Renita, who welcomes them in and “settles them down” [...]
Intro to geometry for primary kids
I was so impressed with the sample pages I bought this book immediately and whizzed through it. This book helps refresh those of us who did geometry a LONG time ago, and puts everything simply enough that you can use it to help your kids learn it too.
The videos are superb instruction in how to construct shapes using a pencil, compass and ruler and bisect lines and angles. All of which is coming for your child in school, so it helps if YOU know how to do it. The great thing about the videos is that your child can select the chapter relevant to their current topic of study, use the video to follow step by step, pause, play and go again as necessary.
The jokes are enjoyably cheesy, perfect for a primary school audience, the comic-book character illustrations and simple animations attractively add to the text and I enjoyed the overall look of the book, which does NOT feel at all ‘textbookish’, but instead manages to get across all the important stuff in a fun story style. At the end of each short chapter is a 3-question quiz designed to point children to the right answers, and if they get it wrong, they can keep checking till they find the right answer. It feels very low pressure and I think children will enjoy it.
Cleverly done, and thank you for creating this book, Mr Rayner.
I highly recommend this book
I love it when a plan comes together! I’ve been working like crazy to get my Euclid project up and running by the end of the month – why? Well I’m debuting Euclid at the Wigtown Book Festival in Scotland (why not come along?). This will be my third visit to the festival and the organisers now feel like old friends. Because of that I feel safe trying something new with them, and they are being kind in letting me try!
There is nothing like a deadline to get you moving though! I think I made the decision while working on the iPad version of Euclid. I thought it would be great to do book version too, so I looked at the calendar, worked backwards and decided it was do-able.
I’m a week ahead of schedule. The books have arrived, my banner is magnificent, postcards and posters are printed and I’m ready to go – just waiting for the Tee-shirt!
If you would like a signed copy of the book the head over to eBay where I have them for sale. Buy one and you will also receive a Free A3 Poster!
Meanwhile, the ebook for iPad, which contains extra video tutorials, is riding high at number 2 on the Us Science Charts on iTunes – how amazing is that? You can download a preview for free here.
If you would like me to come and visit your school for a Euclid Geometry day full of story and drawing and constructing angles, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
I’m having great fun with this project. I loved Geometry when I was young and geometry so informs what I draw. An understanding of simple geometry helps so much in shape and pattern recognition when sorting out how to draw something. I think a bit of geometry is a great thing for would-be artists to have.
The idea of the ebook is to show shapes and how they are constructed using story, illustration, diagrams and How to videos.
I’m planning on making a paper version too. I need to get on with things because I’m booked to give a Euclid session at the Wigtown Book Festival at the ned of September. There’s nothing like a deadline to keep a project moving!
I love it when parents tell me that the first book their child read all on their own was one of mine. Often the book they mention is the Ginger Ninja. They tell me how reluctant the children were to read but, for some reason, this was the one that grabbed their attention.
I remember very well the first book I read on my own. Because my parents were in the army, I went to boarding school when I was five years old. I was the only full boarder in the school. There were one or two weekly boarders and kids who stayed while their parents were away.
On Sunday mornings I would wake on my own in a four bed dormitory in a beautiful Queen Anne mansion, and wait until I was told it was time to get up. The owners of the school were pillars of local society and often out late on Saturday night, so Sunday morning lie-ins could be quite extended!
I was desperate to learn how to read. I knew those book things were filled with wonderful stories. There was nothing I like better as a child, than listening to stories. I realised that if I could work out the trick of reading, I’d be able to have stories on tap.
I remember badgering my class teacher to do extra reading in break times and after-school. The Head Master or his wife would tuck me up in bed at night and do some more reading practice.
I don’t know why, but my father bought me stories from the Blackberry Farm series by Jane Pilgrim. Small Square books that were just right for small hands, they were maybe well marketed at the time and easily available where he went shopping. They had just the right amount of text on each page and lovely pictures of all the animals that I got to know and love. Walter Duck was my particular favourite in his rakish college scarf!
It was a sunny Sunday morning and, as usual, I looked through my little collection of books, telling the stories to myself by looking at the pictures.
I opened Christmas at Blackberry Farm, a warm and cosy tale in which Mr and Mrs Smiles, the perfect middle-class English couple, invite their animals in for a wonderful Christmas meal and presents.
I can remember to this day how a feeling come over me, and how I heard a little voice I’m my head saying, “you can read this – you can do it on your own!”
And I did, paragraph by paragraph, page by page, until I reached the end of the book. I can also still remember the amazing feeling of success. I had done it! I had read a whole book all on my own – I had to do it again there and then! And so I did. I read another Blackberry Farm Book and another.
And that is how children get to be good readers and that’s why series of books, with strong characters and short, sharp, snappy stories, are so important at this stage of reading, when children have just learned the trick of reading all by themselves.
They need piles of books that they can recognise as being similar to the one they just managed to read all on their own. They need characters whom they get to know and love, characters that become friends and help them on their reading journey.
That Christmas my sister and brother hung up a sheet for a curtain in the sitting room and we put on an entertainment for my parents. I read Christmas at Blackberry Farm, all on my own, from beginning to end. I still remember that too, another wonderful staging post in my learning to read adventure.
What was the first book that you read? Which series helped you gain confidence reading on your own? Which characters helped you on your reading journey?
Yes, that’s me – posing at the starting line of the sacred running track of Ancient Olympia, home of the original Olympic Games that started some 2500 years ago. We went there on holiday three years ago and that’s where the stories for my Olympia series began to take shape.
As I stood in the tunnel that leads out to the stadium at Olympia, I knew I was standing where the great olympians of old once stood. I could feel their energy, strength, purpose and hopes recorded in the stone of the walls
I could hear the cheers of the crowd, thronging the grassy banks and smell the smoke from hundreds of burning sacrifices. I knew what it was like to be an olympian, ready to take the stage and show the world that at, that moment, I was the best, the fastest, the strongest, the leanest and the fittest.
I suppose I have a very strong imagination! That’s why I do what I do.
I’m not sporty, nor do I watch much sport from the sidelines, but once every four years I’m gripped by the endeavours of the world’s greatest, as they push themselves to the very limits of human physicality and mental strength.
It’s the psychology of sport that really interests me. What is it that keeps the best going? What pushes them through the pain barrier again and again, just to win some stupid race?
Walking around the ruins of Ancient Olympia I realised that the Ancient Olympics were about more than just sport. They were a religious festival. The athletes weren’t only running for glory, they were running to please the gods. They put up with the pain because they knew the gods were with them and for a moment, they were their mortal representatives.
Religious fervour was their motive. Realising this gave me the key to writing the series. Olly is inspired by the stories of the gods that are told by Simonedes, his history teacher. It is the pact Olly makes with the gods that support him, that give him the mental strength to beat his arch enemy, Spiro.
This format allowed me to explore the ancient myths as well as to tell of Olly’s mental and physical efforts to be the best. As I wrote each story, I ran and wrestled, swam, threw and jumped every step of the way with Olly. After each writing session I would be quite exhausted, for I had, in my mind, been Olly and had done all the training and competing myself.
And that’s where art and sport and psychology meet. Great athletes know how to visualise their races. They go through upcoming competitions in their minds, again and again and again, imagining and rehearsing every move they should make until they know how to run the race to perfection.
No Olympic gold medal is ever one without having been won a thousand times before in the imagination of the winner.
It the exact same process I go through when writing my Olympia books. When I’m writing such a series, I go to sleep dreaming of high-jumping and wrestling and throwing discus and javelins. I wake up and carry on imagining, rehearsing and re-running the race, day after day, until it is perfect and I know that Olly is fit and ready to win. Then I sit down and write – and write and write. I write like the clappers, breathless with anticipation – can Olly really do it? Can he really win against all odds?
The first draught is often garbled and full of typos, but that’s what editing is for. I have the memory of that epic race to bask in while I polish up the text until it resembles the emotion and excitement I felt while writing as much as possible.
And that’s how those of us, who don’t get up at five in the morning to train, day in day out, win our secret olympic medals in the fantasy world of sport.
That’s also why sporty children should read and read, immersing themselves in action and fantasy books.
Any unthinking idiot can create the perfect body. Your genes bring the luck of the right physique for the competition. But it is only with imagination and visualisation that great athletes put all the physical attributes together to convince themselves that this is their time – the time to be Champion of the World, to raise that gold medal high into the air and receive the rapturous applause of the adoring crowds – the crowds who only watch and dream.
Designing your own cartoon characters is not easy. It takes time and thought. Of course you can just do carbon copies of other people’s characters, but in the end that won’t get you far. You need to design original characters. Thes come from you and are very often a prt of your personality. Just keep drawing and let the character evolve.
You May well know that this is a drawing of Olly from my Olympia books. He’s tearing down the sacred running track of Olympia. Once you’ve drawn him, pop down to the Libraray and borrow a copy of the books or get one from Amazon!
The movie and comic book Spiderman are copyright, I’m afraid, so I’ can’t show you how to draw him. But I wrote my own book called “The Spider Man” in my series called Little Horrors. It’s about a creepy guy who is a spider expert and keeps spiders in jam-jars in his pockets! So I can show you how to draw him! Im hoping to do the Little Horrors series as ebooks for iPad quite soon.
The Summer is here and that means that over the next few months hundreds of thousands of children will be visiting libraries up and down the land, borrowing books, reading them and getting small prizes for their effort. I remember the long summer holidays going on for ever. By the time I got back to school, I’d forgotten everything I’d learned the year before. The Summer reading challenge helps to keep up the habit of reading – the most important skill and person can learn in this world. Not analysis of text – reading – that means books and stories that make you laugh or cry or hyperventilate with fear.
I’m very proud to have been a part of the start of the Summer reading challenge. Andrea Reece was a brilliant Marketing Director at Hodder Children’s Books, whom I’d worked with previously, when she worked at Harper Collins. She came up with the idea of selling a “Leap into Reading” summer reading scheme to bookshop. He idea inadvertently pioneered the format of the Summer Reading Challenge we have all come to know and love. Dump Bins full of early readers were sold to bookshops. With each dump bin full of books came pencils, badges, posters and erasers, which were prizes for reading a book each week of the holidays. There was a passport that had to filled in to gain the next prize. Some libraries spotted the possibilities and bought the bins too. They started their own, individual summer reading schemes.
What were they to do the next year – well somewhere along over the next year, the Summer Reading Challenge got started and has carried on ever since.
I remember all this because my character, The Ginger Ninja, was leaping over the top of the dump bin and all the gifts had his smiling face all over them.
My readers will know that the Ginger Ninja has moved onto the 21st century, gracing the iPad with a built in video drawing lesson!and you can get a free story by joining my mailing list.
Good luck to all involved in the Summer Reading Challenge – I know it’s a lot of hard work, but I know that many Librarians look forward to those happy, smiling faces coming for the next book each week through the summer – and in many areas it has a quite profound effect in inspiring and maintaining reading proficiency through the long, long holiday.