Archive for Games

Can maths ever be fun? With Britannica SmartMath Practice it can!

Cover of Britannica SmartmathsWhen I was a child they made you stand up in front of class and recite your times tables. It was horribly scary and did not make me look forward to maths class! The idea was that possible embarassment in front of your peers would make you learn – and it did! There are though less terrifying ways to learn math. Let me introduce you to Britannica SmartMaths Practice which aims to help in all areas of maths using games, activities, quizzes and your own make believe character. It covers topics such as:

  • Numbers: addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions and percentages;
  • Shape and Space: curves, angles, quadrilaterals, triangles, circles and symmetry;
  • Algebra: elementary and complex equations;
  • Measures: length and distance, time, money, perimeter, area, volume and speed;
  • Data Handling: pictograms, block graphs, charts, statistics, probability, coordinate geometry.

It is aimed at those aged 6-14 years of age and so covers a variety of levels. You pick what level you are comfortable at. No need for public embarassment. You can even earn badges and points that can be used to choose a different character to cheer you on. I don’t think maths would have been half as traumatic if I could have worked my way through a bright happy place such as this. Have a play with SmartMaths – you will be amazed at how quickly you will learn without even meaning to!

Comments off

Early World of Learning: online fun for little ‘uns !

Who doesn’t like bright pictures, games and great stories? World Book, with advice from early childhood development experts, has produced the Early World of Learning which is aimed at preschoolers and early primary school aged children. There are three fun and interactive learning environments:Early World of Learning

  • Trek’s Travels: learn alongside Trek, a scarecrow, and Taffy the cat, as they travel around learning about colours, numbers, size, shapes, places, taste and smell, opposites and time.  There are also narrated stories and interactive games;
  • Welcome to Reading: features 48 stories in four reading levels. It aims to help strengthen phonics, vocabulary and comprehension skills;
  • Know It: is a child’s first online encyclopedia. All text can be read-aloud by an online narrator and accompanied by word-by-word highlighting.

This fun resource is easy to use, bright and informative in all the right ways. Have a look today from home or in libraries using your library card number and password/PIN. While you are there check out all the other online products we have on the Source for kids!

Comments (2) »

How to edit a magazine (part 3)

Writing isn’t part of every editor’s job – but it’s part of mine. For each Wild Things magazine I write an episode of Owl Kids plus at least one article. I also write word puzzles and devise a board game.

Here’s how we make the game:

First, I think of an idea. Then I draw a rough draft and start testing it on my family. I test it over and over, each time making small changes to the rules until it all works. It’s fun at first, but after several days my kids are begging me please not to make them play the game again!

Once the game is devised, there’s still plenty to do. The game wouldn’t be the game without Rob Di Leva, the designer. So when I’ve settled on the final instructions for it and made a draft layout, I send it all to him. At this stage it doesn’t look much fun to play!

This was my draft layout for the September 2013 game:


Rob spends a lot of time and imagination turning each game into something that people would actually enjoy.

Here’s what he did with the plan above.


Notice that he’s not just a fantastic designer, but a wonderful illustrator.

In fact, if you think Wild Things looks interesting and fun in general – that’s all thanks to Rob. While I’m writing and editing, he’s spending hour after hour taking care of the visual side. Behind every good-looking magazine (or book) is a great designer!

Okay. Once everything is written, illustrated, edited, and designed, and the whole magazine is almost ready to be printed – one last task begins. Proofreading.

This takes ages, and involves the editor and several others going over and over every part of the magazine to try and make sure it’s absolutely, perfectly, incontrovertibly correct – while the designer fixes all the spotted errors.

Now, let me tell you a secret that all editors know. No matter how well you think you’ve done your proofreading, at least one mistake will somehow creep through and end up in the printed magazine.

You just have to hope it’s nothing serious …

For example, you wouldn’t want a single dot left out of an email address so that everyone sends competition entries to the wrong place, causing great panic and an urgent phone call to tech support, who have to drop everything to get all the emails redirected from the wrong email address to the right one …

You wouldn’t want that.

But that is just an example, of course.


Comments off

The BEST school holiday ideas

Summer readingYay – holidays! The only problem with the holidays is figuring out what to do, so we’re here to help fight boredom with the BIGGEST list of ideas.  You can help us add to the list as well by telling us what you’re doing.


  1. Go to the library.  You can get books to read when you’re wrapped up warm inside, DVDs to watch on a rainy day, audiobooks to listen to in the car, plus heaps more.  Find out about the libraries that are open.
  2. Enter our Make-a-monster, invent-a-demon Star Author Competition here on the blog.
  3. Walk around the Botanic Gardens and have fun in amongst the trees.  There are lots of great places to hide or you could have a leaf fight.
  4. Go to your local park and play on the playground or have a game with your friends.  Take a ball or a frisbee and use up all your energy.
  5. Go swimming at one of the Christchurch City Council pools –  Pioneer Leisure Centre and Jellie Park are still open.
  6. Go and see some of the cool movies on these holidays.  There’s the last Harry Potter movie, Deathly Hallows Part 2, Cars 2, Kung Fu Panda 2, or Transformers: Dark of the Moon
  7. Play some board games or card games with your friends and family.  You can even make your own and challenge your friends.
  8. Make your own book trailer for your favourite book.  All you need is PowerPoint, Movie Maker and a bit of creativity.  Here are some instructions to get you started.
  9. Write a story or a poem and send it through to us and we could publish it on the blog.
  10. Bake something yummy like a cake or some biscuits.  Check out our books on baking.
  11. Learn a new skill like  magic tricks, juggling, skateboarding or knitting.
  12. Go to a KidsFest activity.  There are heaps on around the city and we have some great FREE events in the library, including Pandemonium at the Library and The Adventures of Tintin story readings.

If you have any other cool ideas, especially ones that are free, add a comment and let us know.

Comments (4) »

May The Source be with you – resources for learning, fun and play

The Source is full of great resources for learning, fun and play. It’s free, and all you need is your library card number and PIN.

Here are some of the cool resources:

Homework and study


  • Intrepica lets you make your own characters;
  • TumbleBook Library. Fun animated children’s stories, games, quizzes and puzzles. TumbleBooks are online, animated, picture books which you can read, or have read to you

View our full list of the Source for kids.

Want more help?

Comments off

Make-a-monster competition: invent a demon, win a prize!

cristy burne and headsHi! I’m Cristy Burne, author of the Takeshita Demons books and Star Author for July.

I love writing about spooky creatures from Japanese ghost stories and mythology , and all this month I’ll be sharing my favourite Japanese demons (called yokai) with you.

Here’s where the competition starts:
This month, all through July, I’m asking you to invent your own demon. Simply post your demon’s details as a comment and you could win your very own copy of Takeshita Demons.

The winner will be the person whose demon makes us laugh the most (or shiver with fear…)

What you have to do:

What YOU have to do is this: Invent your own favourite demon…then tell me about it!

You can go crazy… Make up any kind of demon you like, and then post about it in the comments.

I want to know:

your demon’s name and

– a couple of interesting things about it.

Just post these details as a comment below and you (and your demon) are in the running to win.

Demonic brain-starters

You don’t have to answer all these questions, but here are some ideas to get your imaginations going…

What does your demon like to eat? What does it look like?
Where does it live?

Is it an evil demon? A love-sick demon?
A demon who likes to eat cold toast and juggle glass eyeballs?

What secret powers does it have? What is its secret weakness?
Why does it always carry a dirty sock in its pocket?

…So…introduce us. I can’t wait to meet it!

Still stuck for ideas? Check out this memory game on my website: it features Japanese demons from 230 years ago and may inspire you to create your own wierd and wonderful demon inventions…

Happy writing and reading!


Cristy Burne
Author of the Takeshita Demons series

Follow me on Twitter
Check out my blog
Like The Filth Licker on Facebook!

Comments (28) »

Think you can’t get to the library? Oh, yes you can!

At the moment there are only a few libraries that are open. But don’t worry – our website is open all the time.  If you’ve read all of the books that you’ve got, head to the Kids pages  – we have plenty of stories for you to enjoy:

  • Start with Stories by New Zealand authors.  There’s heaps of them, by Fleur Beale, Gavin Bishop, Joy Cowley, Brian Falkner, Margaret Mahy and many other authors.  You can even add a comment and let us know what you thought of each one.
  • TumbleBooks Library is one of our cool, free e-book collections.  It has everything from picture books to classics like Black Beauty and Tom Sawyer.  You can read the stories yourself or read along while the story is read to you.  The picture books are animated –  so it’s like reading and watching a cartoon at the same time.  TumbleBooks also has word games and puzzles linked to the story that you can play.  You need to have your library card number and PIN.
  • We have a great list of stories, books and authors where you will find the websites of your favourite author or series, including Roald Dahl, Goosebumps, Narnia and Harry Potter.
  • Try the Space explorer for a fun trip around the solar system.

See? Even if your local library is shut, there’s plenty to do and read on the library website.

Comments off

%d bloggers like this: