Monday, December 10, 2012

Idioms and Proverbs

If you say, “The cat's out of the bag” instead of “The secret is given away,” you're using an idiom. The meaning of an idiom is different from the actual meaning of the words used. “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” is a proverb. Proverbs are old but familiar sayings that usually give advice. Both idioms and proverbs are part of our daily speech. Many are very old and have interesting histories. See how many of these sayings you know.
“An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”
This proverb comes from the ancient Romans, who believed the apple had magical powers to cure illness. In fact, apples are filled with vitamin C, protein, pectin, natural sugars, copper, and iron. They do promote health.
To “climb on the bandwagon.”
Long ago, bands on the platforms of traveling wagons played music to announce a parade or political speech. To show their support, people would often jump onto the platform and join the band. Today, this idiom usually refers to someone who hopes to benefit from supporting another person's idea.
“Saved by the bell.”
In 17th-century England, a guard at Windsor Castle was accused of falling asleep at his post. He claimed he was wrongly accused and could prove it; he had heard the church bell chime 13 times at midnight. Townspeople supported his claim and he was not executed. Today we think of the bell that ends a round in boxing, often saving the boxer from injury, or the bell at the end of a class period, saving you from more work. Regardless, this idiom means rescue from a situation at the last possible moment.
“Bury the hatchet.”
Native Americans used to bury weapons to show that fighting had ended and enemies were now at peace. Today, the idiom means to make up with a friend after an argument or fight.
To “have a chip on one's shoulder.”
In nineteenth-century America, a boy who thought he was pretty tough would put a wood chip on his shoulder and dare anyone to knock it off. Today the idiom refers to anyone who is “touchy” or takes offense easily.
Bakers once gave an extra roll for every dozen sold, so a baker's dozen is 13.
“A close shave.”
In the past, student barbers learned to shave on customers. If they shaved too close, their clients might be cut or even barely escape serious injury. Today, we use this idiom if a person narrowly escapes disaster.
Dot the i's and cross the t's.
When only handwritten documents were used, it was very important for the clerk to write everything properly, especially letters like i and t, which could easily be confused. The idiom has since come to mean paying attention to every little detail.
“He who pays the piper calls the tune.”
In medieval times, people were entertained by strolling musicians. Whoever paid the price could choose the music. This proverb means that whoever pays is in charge.
“The pen is mightier than the sword.”
In seventeenth-century England, a free press was banned by the government. This meant that people who disagreed with the government and printed their views were punished. In spite of this, people published their ideas and opinions in illegal pamphlets that were distributed to the public. The proverb means that the written expression of ideas cannot be stopped by physical force.
“The pot calling the kettle black.”
In the seventeenth century, both pots and kettles turned black because they were used over open fires. Today, this idiom means criticizing someone else for a fault of one's own.
“Raining cats and dogs.”
In Norse mythology, the dog is associated with wind and the cat with storms. This expression means it's raining very heavily.
To “shed crocodile tears.”
Crocodiles have a reflex that causes their eyes to tear when they open their mouths. This makes it look as though they are crying while devouring their prey. In fact, neither crocodiles nor people who shed “crocodile” tears feel sorry for their actions.
“Clean bill of health.”
When a doctor gives you a “clean bill of health,” you know that you’re perfectly healthy. In the past, when a ship left a port, it was given a Bill of Health if there were no epidemics in the area from which it left.
“Close but no cigar.”
Years ago, cigars were often given as prizes in contests at fairs and carnivals. When a player almost won, the person running the game would say, “Close but no cigar.”
“Cut from the same cloth.”
This means that a person is very similar to another. When making suits, tailors use fabric from the same piece of cloth to make sure the pieces match perfectly.
“Strike while the iron’s hot.”
When you do this, you’re taking advantage of a good opportunity. Blacksmiths must shape iron into objects during the brief time it’s red-hot.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Fun with the Alphabet!

Train with animals and alphabet. - csp4421181

How well do you know your English Alphabet? Play the game and see!
(There are many possible answers.)
A a What begins with A? Can you think of a fruit that starts with A?
B b What begins with B? Can you think of a colour that starts with B?
C c What begins with C? Can you think of a piece of furniture that starts with C?
D d What begins with D? Can you think of an animal that starts with D?
E e What begins with E? Can you think of a body part that starts with E?
F fWhat begins with F? Can you think of a musical instrument that begins with F?
G gWhat begins with G? Can you think of an animal that starts with G?
H hWhat begins with H? Can you think of a body part that starts with H?
I i What begins with I? Can you think of a place that starts with I?
J j What begins with J? Can you think of a verb that starts with J?
K kWhat begins with K? Can you think of an animal that starts with K?
L l What begins with L? Can you think of a body part that starts with L?
M mWhat begins with M? Can you think of a big number that starts with M?
N nWhat begins with N? Can you think of a body part that starts with N?
O oWhat begins with O? Can you think of a fruit that starts with O?
P p What begins with P? Can you think of a job that starts with P?
Q qWhat begins with Q? Can you think a person who starts with Q?
R rWhat begins with R? Can you think of a flower that starts with R?
S sWhat begins with S? Can you think of something in the sky that starts with S?
T t What begins with T? Can you think of a piece of clothing that starts with T?
U u What begins with U? Can you think of a weather word that starts with U?
V vWhat begins with V? Can you think of a musical instrument that starts with V?

W w What begins with W? Can you think of an adjective that starts with W?
X xWhat begins with X. Can you think of any words that starts with X?
Y yWhat begins with Y? Can you think of a colour that starts with Y?
Z z What begins with Z? Can you think of a place that starts with Z?

Keep score:
Play again and this time write your words down and keep score! Try playing with a friend. Who gets more points?
Give yourself 1 point for every word that is not the first word in the example box.
Give yourself 2 points for every word that is not on the list at all! (Check a dictionary to make sure your words fit the definition and are spelled correctly.)
Make your own alphabet game:
Get out a pen and a piece of paper. Write the alphabet down one side of the paper. Write a new question beside each letter. For example: A, a What begins with A? Can you think of an animal that starts with A? (Give your game to your friends to try.)

Learn About Colours

Colour is everywhere! Look around you. How many colours can you see? Do you know the names of colours in English? Do you know how to spell the colours properly? Here is a colour chart to help you with some of the most common colours. The first 7 colours on the wheel are the colours of the rainbow.

* These colours may be slightly different on some computers.
In British English we write colour. In American English we write color.
Listen to the pronunciation...

1 red
2 orange
3 yellow
4 green
5 blue
6 indigo
7 violet
8 purple
9 pink
10 silver
11 gold
12 beige
13 brown
14 grey
15 black
16 white

How to use colour in a sentence

There are three different ways to describe the colour of something:
  1. My dad's car is red.
  2. The red car is my dad's.
  3. Red is the colour of my dad's car.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Learn the Shapes

There are two different ways of making sentences about shapes. You can use a shape as a noun or an adjective. Play the recording to hear the proper pronunciation of the shapes. Then read the example sentences and take the quiz.
(Listen to the pronunciation.)
triangle circle rectangle




heart square oval




star diamond octagon




1. The roof of a house is shaped like a triangle (noun). The roof is triangular (adjective).
2. The clock on the wall is shaped like a circle. The clock is circular. (or The clock is round.)
3. The table in the room is shaped like a rectangle. The table is rectangular.
4. The necklace I wear is shaped like a heart. My necklace is heart-shaped.
5. The picture on the wall is shaped like a square. The picture is square.
6. The rock in the garden is shaped like an oval. The rock is oval.
7. The nose on the pumpkin is shaped like a star. The pumpkin's nose is star-shaped.
8. The ornament on the tree is shaped like a diamond. The ornament is diamond-shaped.
9.The stop sign on my street is shaped like an octagon. The sign is octagonal.
Can you guess the name of another shape?
Octa means 8. An octagon has eight sides.
Penta means 5. What is a shape with five sides called?

Fun Learning Time

Spot the Difference!

Look at the first picture. Then look at the second picture. Write 10 differences on a piece of paper. Then check your answers.


1. The sun is not smiling. The sun is frowning.
2. There is no smoke coming out of the chimney.
3. The red kite is gone. There is only one kite instead of two.
4. There is a person in the left window instead of the right window.
5. There are no curtains in the windows.
6. It is a cloudy day. There are clouds in the sky.
7. The grass is shorter. Someone cut the grass.
8. There are flowers on the tree instead of apples.
9. The flag on the mailbox is down. There is no mail.
10. There are only four birds instead of five. One of the birds flew away.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Short stories

Do you like listening to and reading stories? There are lots and lots of great stories here for you to watch and listen to. There are stories for your little brother and sister too!
You can also see our Stories playlist on YouTube for videos of our most popular short stories for kids.