For Children & Students

LATEST – 50 of the best EDUCATION APPS from the Irish Times Just Click Here

If the curriculum is afraid to exercise a child’s brain these days try:

Some Nice Videos

Look Up! The Billion-Bug Highway You Can’t See

The Invisible Universe Of The Human Microbiome

Ants that count their way home!

How much does a hurricane weigh?

The music of a spider’s web

Other Skills

Critical Thinking (See also “Nourishing Teachers and Parents” page.)
1. Teens – How well can you argue? To test your thinking skills Click this link and have fun with the “Students” page.

2. Podcasts introducing critical thinking, how to argue, how to recognise an argument etc with Prof Marianne Talbott: click here

Learn to touch-type with the BBC’s fun lessons (How much more efficient would we be if civil servants could touch-type?) Click here to begin

The Outdoor Classroom – working close to nature, knowing how food grows and that everything lives and dies means gardening is a real education

Should you want to get children thinking visit The Thinking Classroom here (we loved his book Thinking Stories to Wake Up Your Mind)

Learning and Studying Effectively

To learn effectively there are a few things to consider: different people have different preferences for learning – visually, auditorily, by reading and writing and kinaesthetically (summed up as VARK or VAK). Learners and teachers need to be aware of this to make learning personal. Here are some ideas for learners, parents and teachers.

Neuroscience and learning. Short videos produced by Harvard Graduate School of Education on the brain and its structure and function: Brain Matters Videos

The VARK website allows you to take a free online test to ascertain your own learning preference. Visit VARK here

And here’s a couple of books to get you started. Learning Styles and Personalized Teaching by Barbara Prashnig and Multiple Intelligences by Mike Fleetham

When a student is studying independently they can consider ways to improve their study techniques and skills. Here’s a little help:
Learning To Learn by Tom Barwood.
The Good Study Guide   by Andy Northedge
Study Smarter Not Harder by Kevin Paul


Two books by Annabel Pitcher have greatly impressed: link

Sexism begins early in school – just think who dominates the playground with Product Details
their footballs!: Girls Are Best by Sandi Toksvig is a good antidote. (Speech is power: the 4,000 year campaign to silence women. A new BBC documentary Ascent of Woman outlines the origins and history of silencing women. An article on the series by Dr Amanda Foreman can be read here.) 

Multi award-winning novelist Siobhan Dowd has written for older children and teenagers. The Knife of Never Letting Go was finished by Patrick Ness. Have a browse here.

The Song of Achilles  Since the classics – the basis of our civilization – is not taught in school, this prize-winning fictional retelling of a great story is a good compensation for teenagers and adults. (Younger readers might enjoy Rick Riordan’s books on ancient Greece and Egypt.)

A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride. Eimear, from Castlebar, Co. Mayo, won the Goldsmith’s prize and is one of only 8 authors to be nominated for the new Folio prize among other prizes which she’s won. Her novel has now been turned in to a play.

Eimear McBride’s debut novel tells, with astonishing insight and in brutal detail, the story of a young woman’s relationship with her brother, and the long shadow cast by his childhood brain tumour. Not so much a stream of consciousness, as an unconscious railing against a life that makes little sense, and a shocking and intimate insight into the thoughts, feelings and chaotic sexuality of a vulnerable and isolated protagonist, to read A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing is to plunge inside its narrator’s head, experiencing her world first-hand. This isn’t always comfortable – but it is always a revelation.

Green djinns and a green boy: the best summer reading for children by Melanie McDonagh click here

Some Financial Times Recommendations (link)
Young adult
In Darkling Wood, by Emma Carroll, Faber Product Details
While her little brother recovers from surgery, Alice is sent to live with her grumpy Grandmother Nell in a country cottage menaced by encroaching trees. But when Nell plans to have them cut down, this displeases not just the locals, but possibly the fairies, too. A tender tale of family ghosts and secrets.

Arena 13, by Joseph Delaney, Bodley Head Product Details
Delaney’s new series after his bestselling Spook’s saga introduces Leif, a provincial lad who runs away to Gindeen city to join the ranks of teenage gladiators fighting alongside sentient automata called “lacs”. Part futuristic dystopia, part Roman epic fantasy, it’s gutsy, gory and compelling.

The Door that Led to Where, by Sally Gardner, Hot Key Product Details
A troubled London teenager finds the key to a door that opens on to the year 1830. It has to be sealed permanently to stop the traffic of historical artefacts, but which side will he decide to remain on? Juxtaposing gangs, drugs and top hats, it’s another gem from prizewinning author Gardner.

The Terrible Two, by Mac Barnett and Jory John, Amulet Books Product Details
Schoolboy Miles Murphy thinks he is the greatest practical joker ever, until he moves to Yawnee Valley and meets his nemesis, Niles Sparks. Rivalry turns to friendship in an engaging story about the fine art of pranking and the virtue of collaboration.

The 13-Storey Treehouse, by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton, MacmillanProduct Details
Looking for the next Wimpy Kid, Captain Underpants or Tom Gates? Look no further. This rambunctious Australian offering has little in the way of plot but plenty of gags, digressions, postmodern self-awareness, and freewheeling imagination. The titular treehouse, a fusion of theme park and supervillain lair, is every kid’s dream.

Anyone But Ivy Pocket, by Caleb Krisp, BloomsburyProduct Details
The Moonstone meets Harry Potter in a Victorian-era romp featuring ghosts, parallel worlds and creepy hooded dwarfs. Heroine Ivy Pocket is a wonderful creation, dauntless, self-deluded, never letting her own poor judgment or rejection by others stand in her way.

The Whale that Fell in Love with a Submarine, by Akiyuki Nosaka, Pushkin Children’s Books Product Details
First English translation of a 2003 Japanese story collection that draws on the author’s childhood experiences of the firebombing of Kobe in 1945. Amid the madness of war, humans and animals make tentative, half-understood connections. Every tale strikes a plaintive, melancholic note.

Picture books
A White Butterfly, by Laurie Cohen and Barbara Ortelli, Minedition
This board book explores colours and their associations. With die-cutting, embossing and a dash of prismatic silver ink, it’s a lavish, lovely looking product. A compellingly simple text is illuminated by illustrations in a style reminiscent of Eric Carle (The Very Hungry Caterpillar).

The Book With No Pictures, by BJ Novak
As the title suggests, the services of an illustrator were not employed. Instead, US actor-comedian Novak’s witty work relies entirely on text and typesetting. It’s a bedtime book best read aloud by an adult who doesn’t mind having to follow embarrassing instructions and sing silly songs.

How Things Work, by Okido, Thames & Hudson Product Details
From the makers of the bimonthly kids’ magazine Okido comes this beautifully designed, fact-packed compendium. With charts, games, puzzles, quizzes, make-it-yourself projects and Where’s Wally?-style picture searches, this is manna for the inquisitive young mind.