• 13 Jan
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    This is the final part of 3 online safety guest posts from Matt Lovegrove, an independent esafety trainer, speaker, and practicing teacher

    If you want to help your pupils become safe and responsible users of the Internet, you’ll need to work in tandem with parents.

    Learning about online safety in school is great, but children are most likely to need support when using the Internet at home. It’s in living rooms and bedrooms where children will access the apps they can’t at school and are most likely to be sharing and communicating online.

    Parents need support

    Parents need the skills and understanding to be able to confidently guide their children through the exciting world of online life.

    The problem is, parents often feel that their children know more about being online than they do, and some parents report having no idea what their children are getting up to on the Internet.

    But we can’t blame them; children are becoming digitally literate from an early age now and it’s hard to keep up with the latest games and social networks.

    Brush up on your knowledge first

    The online world changes quickly, so before you address parents, ensure your knowledge is top notch!

    Ask your pupils what apps and websites they are using and start to learn about them; pupils will generally be keen to share this information with you. If you’re unfamiliar with apps and services that pupils mention, use NSPCC Net-aware to find out about them.

    Net Aware - Instagram

    Getting parents on board

    Getting parents on board with online safety doesn’t have to be hard! Start by asking parents about what they’d like advice about. They may feel out of depth and may appreciate you reaching out to them.

    Run an online safety presentation or workshop evening for parents

    Try running a morning or after-school session with parents to encourage them to take a more active role in helping their children become safer Internet users:

    • Share what you know about the apps and websites that children use and your school rules about using the Internet
    • You may have a bigger parent turn out if you offer childcare during after-school sessions; some schools host a film night for children during their sessions to save parents having to pay for babysitters
    • Keep the sessions you run short, friendly and entertaining
    • Use a variety of resources, such as videos and worksheets, to keep interest high

    Avoid scaremongering and be sensitive; online safety shouldn’t be too scary and you should be aware that if you’re going to talk about grooming and abuse, some parents may find this hard to listen to.

    Focus on giving parents the skills to help their children use Internet services properly; spending time telling parents that their children shouldn’t be using services isn’t always effective and doesn’t solve the overall problem.

    Bolt an online safety event on to another event

    If parents’ evening is coming up, why not run an online safety session a number of times during the evening and ask parents to arrive early to attend it? If parents are already in school, engage them there!

    Feature online safety regularly

    Add an online safety tip section to your school’s newsletter; keep it simple, quick and friendly. A weekly reminder will help drip-feed advice to parents.

    Send home parents’ guide

    Why not send home guides or publish blog posts about Internet safety. Use social media to reach as many parents as possible.

    Finally, use homework to encourage debate at home

    Have children complete an Internet safety project as a homework project; this may get them talking about it at home.


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    Matt Lovegrove is an independent eSafety trainer, speaker, and practicing teacher. If you need training or support for your school, please get in touch with Engage eSafety.

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  • 25 Oct
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    The nights are drawing in ever earlier and cutting wintry winds send us scurrying inside to steaming mugs of hot tea, big woollen jumpers, and a cascade of blankets so it’s the perfect time to inside of getting caught up in a good book and to try writing one of your own!

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    NaNoWriMo is national novel writing month where the goal is to complete 50,000 words of a book during the course of November and they run a Young Writers Programme to boot.

    You can find out more about doing NaNoWriMo in the classroom and the plethora of resources available in our blog post from last year: “Sparking Creativity in the classroom with the NaNoWriMo Young Writer’s Program“.

    October marks the time where NaNoWriMo participants across the world start doing the prep for writing their novel in November – things like doing research, coming up with an idea and characters, and getting an outline together so that once November hits you can jump right in to get your 1667 words a day done.

    How can BrainPOP help with NaNoWriMo prep in October?

    1. Take a peek at BrainPOP’s Famous Books and Authors section for a bit of inspiration from the masters and their work, from Roald Dahl to Lord of the Flies to Agatha Christie there’s a bit of everything.

    Maya Angelou

    Maya Angelou

    2. Brush up on writing skills that you’re not confident on like writing dialogue, creating the right mood and tone, or making sure you remember to show not tell with topics from our reading and writing section. Getting confident with these skills ahead of time means you’re less likely to get frustrated while getting down your 1667 words a day and you’ll have to do less revisions when you’re all finished.

    3. Check out our Creative Writing Spotlight if you’re not sure what you need to improve on to see what gaps in your knowledge and skills you have. It’s better to find out now that you’re not sure what a cliché is when you have plenty of time to remind yourself!

    4. If you’re doing research and you’re not finding what you’re looking for or don’t know how best to keep track of all that new knowledge use resources like our Information Literacy Spotlight and our Revving up your Research Skills blogpost and poster to help get the most of your planning time.

    Creative Writing

    5. Check your grammar skills with BrainPOP’s grammar section so you don’t spend precious time trying to remember whether you’re supposed to use a semicolon there or if you’ve used that apostrophe correctly. It’ll also make things much quicker when you get around to redrafting after November!

    6. Get organised with our graphic organisers! Use BrainPOP’s creative writing graphic organisers like story mountain, circles story map, and character map to make your ideas easy to reference when you need them and make sure you’re clear on what the plan for your story is.

    7. Use our outlines and concept mapping topics to help you with the brainstorming process to help you find your idea and then refine it into the best it can be!

    8. Remember to take breaks and have fun! If you get stuck or frustrated during your daily writing session taking a 5 minute break to watch the BrainPOP featured movie keeps your brain in gear so you can easily get back to work but also gives you enough of a break that when you go back to writing it’ll be full steam ahead!

    Let’s get those creative juices flowing!

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  • 10 Oct
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    This Tuesday 11th October is Ada Lovelace Day and there are lots of things you can do to get in the spirit of the day.

    Ada Lovelace on BrainPOP UK

    We’re big fans of Lady Lovelace and other amazing women in STEM and particularly Ada Lovelace Day which is an international celebration day of women in science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM).

    The day aims to increase the profile of women working in STEM and promote and create new role models to both support women already working in STEM fields and to encourage more girls into pursuing STEM careers.

    Firstly our Ada Lovelace topic will be our free featured movie on Ada Lovelace Day so kids all over the world can find out about the life and achievements of the world’s first computer programmer. It’s fantastic to use as an assembly to kick start your school’s Ada Lovelace Day activities.

    BrainPOP - Ada Lovelace

    What else can I do to get involved on Ada Lovelace Day?

    1. Ada Lovelace Day Live is a great event they’ve dubbed a “science cabaret” in London which sounds like it might be one the coolest things ever and they’ve got a lot of amazing speakers including:

    • Yewande Akinola, design engineer focused on sustainable water supply systems and the engineering design coordination of large projects in the built environment
    • Dr Sheila Kanani, planetary physicist, science presenter, secondary school physics teacher and space comedienne with a background in astrophysics and astronomy
    • Dr Kat Arney, science writer and broadcaster whose work has featured in the New Scientist, Wired, the Guardian, the Times Educational Supplement, BBC Radio 4, the Nake

    With music, comedy, geekery and a splash of inspiration it’s suitable for the over 12 crowd and you can get tickets on their eventbrite page. If you can’t make it or you just want to get a taste of what it’s like you can take a look at videos from their past events.Marie Curie2. There are fantastic school resources in the Ada Lovelace Day education pack which includes lesson plans and downloadable posters to help break the gender stereotypes around STEM careers and build up girls’ confidence with STEM subjects.

    3. Code Club, a fantastic network of volunteer-led after school coding clubs that are aimed at children aged 9-11 have created some a Ada Lovelace Day scratch lesson showing how to create a poetry generating machine.

    Wangari Maathai Screenshot

    4. Finally you can create something about a woman in STEM that you admire, whether it’s writing a blog post, giving a presentation, making a video, recording a podcast, creating a comic or animation, anything you like that gets across what you want to say and share it with the world!

    We can’t wait to learn about all these inspiring women and their work!

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  • 06 Oct
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    We’ve uploaded 21 BrainPOP movies from our 7 subjects to our popular Youtube channel.

    This means you are free to embed any of them into your school website, VLE, or blog. Here’s our ‘Space Flight’ video as an example:

    There are many different ways to embed Youtube videos into webpages, but try the ‘Share’ section just underneath each video first.

    Share a Youtube video

    You can see them all on our ‘BrainPOP UK free movies’ playlist.

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  • 28 Jul
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    It’s no secret that the Pokemon Go craze has swept the world but did you know that there’s plenty of ways Pokemon Go can generate learning opportunities in the classroom (and out of it!)?

    Pokemon banner 3

    How do you play Pokemon Go?

    Pokemon Go is an augmented reality app (that means the game elements are overlaid onto the real world).

    So when you’re capturing Pokemon you can see them as though they were in the real world through your phone or tablet camera.

    Pokemon - Ratata

    Players walk around looking for Pokemon trying to “catch ’em all” and visit pokestops which are local areas of interest to get items like pokeballs (what you throw at Pokemon to capture them).

    In our home town of Oxford places like Martyrs’ Memorial in St Giles, the Ashmolean Museum in Beaumont Street, and the Bodleian Library are all Pokestops.

    Players also pick a team to be on (red = Valor, yellow = Instinct, and blue = Mystic) and can compete for control of pokegyms for their team.

    The aim is to discover and capture as many of these creatures as you can, and add them to your Pokedex.

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    But how can Pokemon Go be useful for learning?

    We took a deeper look and discovered there’s a lot of beneficial ways that it can be adapted for learning.

    Let’s catch ’em all!


    Pokemon Go lesson ideas by subject

    There are many different ways Pokemon Go can be used as a way to spark interest so jump to a subject:

    Maths and Data Literacy

    Science

    English

    PSHE

    Geography and Local History


    Maths and data literacy lesson ideas using Pokemon Go:

    There’s a lot of data in the Pokemon Go app. From the journal tracking game play to data on individual pokemon’s height and weight there’s a variety of data available to players (and it’s data that they’re interested in). It’s a great opportunity to practice data literacy skills.

    • Students could track the height and weight of different pokemon and compare them within species and type. Students could even work out different pokemon’s BMI.
    • Students can track their ‘seen’ and ‘caught’ statistics for use in data handling activities.
    • Students could track on Google maps where they’ve caught pokemon and look for patterns. Different types of pokemon spawn in particular kinds of areas. For example water type pokemon spawn near bodies of water. By tracking this data and looking for patterns they could check the veracity of this.
    • Students can track their pokemon data in apps like Airtable to practice their database and spreadsheet skills.
    • Students could track their routes and distances and work out the most efficient routes to different pokestops.

    Some example BrainPOP topics to improve their data literacy skills:


    Science lesson ideas using Pokemon Go:

    While Pokemon themselves aren’t real creatures (physically, at least) they can be an excellent segue into talking about ecosystems in the real world.

    • Where students have encountered Pokemon they could think about different biomes and ecosystems. If these pokemon existed in the real world where would they be most likely to be found?
    • Pokemon Go uses GPS to track players location. Interest in the game creates the opportunity to discuss how GPS and satellites work.
    • Pokemon “evolve” as a form of levelling up. How does evolution in Pokemon differ from real evolution?
    • While playing the game, have students look around, ask them what kinds of animals and plants can they see in the area and explore local habitats.
    • Bioethics – Pokemon are captured and removed from their habitats and most are then transferred to Professor Willow (the character who asks players to capture Pokemon to begin with). Students could investigate the ethics of this practice and whether it would be allowable in the real world.

    Some example BrainPOP topics:


    English lessons ideas using Pokemon Go:

    Pokemon Go encourages imagination and adventure and this spirit can be easily harnessed for creative writing and information writing.

    • Encourage students to write stories about their adventures catching Pokemon. Students could employ digital storytelling by using video editing software and apps such as Thinglink as way to extend the mobile learning experience.
    • Students could write a newspaper article about the Pokemon Go phenomenon.
    • Students could write a manual explaining how to play Pokemon Go.
    • Students could write a diary entry using information from the app’s journal feature to chronicle their game avatar’s experiences.
    • Create a comic strip about Pokemon – either by hand or digitally using a variety of comic making apps like Strip Designer.

    Some example BrainPOP topics:


    PSHE lessons ideas using Pokemon Go:

    • Create a poster showing what online safety and information privacy issues related to the game and what guidelines players should follow to stay safe.

    Some example BrainPOP topics:


    Geography and local history lesson ideas using Pokemon Go:

    • Use Pokestops to discover your local area. Examine and research local areas of interest that have been designated as Pokestops and use them as a way to discover your local area.
    • Create a guide to the locations of different Pokestops and include why it’s an area of interest to local history.
    • Write a proposal for a new Pokestop in your local area and justify why you think it should be a Pokestop.

    Some example BrainPOP topics:

    Good luck catching them all!

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  • 08 Jul
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    This week is a big week for NASA and for Jupiter as the Juno mission has arrived at Jupiter after five years of travel!

    NASA’s pretty busy and has a lot of cool projects so you might be wondering why this particular mission is a big deal – after all it’s no robot on Mars right?

    Juno_in_front_of_Jupiter (1)

    Juno is only the second spacecraft to orbit Jupiter. Because Jupiter has no solid surface and because of the immense pressures any craft that descends into the atmosphere would be crushed.

    The giant planet also has hugely destructive radiation belts that wreak havoc with sensitive scientific equipment and one of the main ways NASA is dealing with this problem is to use a unique “polar orbit”.

    This means that to get close to Jupiter, Juno entered orbit from near the poles – where the radiation is weakest to begin its 37 orbits of Jupiter. This is a actually really difficult manoeuvre as they had to be incredibly precise as the opening they were aiming for is only tens of kilometres wide so it’s an amazing achievement!

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    What is Juno Looking for?

    “Juno is not only going to help us better understand Jupiter, it’s going to help us better understand the universe around us and our place in it,”

    – Barry Maulk, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

    Jupiter is primarily composed of hydrogen and helium, gases created when the solar system was very young, which means Jupiter was most likely one the first of the planets to form in our solar system.

    Because Jupiter is made up of the same material as the solar nebula that was leftover from the formation of our sun it could hold clues about the early history of our solar system and give insight into how planetary systems develop.

    Jupiter is pretty mysterious so NASA is also hoping to investigate its atmosphere, magnetosphere, and what it’s like inside Jupiter.

    Juno Fun Facts

    • Juno will collide into Jupiter at the end of its mission as part of NASA’s planetary protection principle to make sure there’s no accidental contamination of organisms from Earth to another celestial body. In this case they’re worried about contaminating nearby Europa which is theorised to potentially contain life!
    • You can get involved with the Juno mission by voting on where Juno’s camera should point during its science orbits!
    • Juno has a crew of custom Lego minifigures made of space-grade aluminium. The minifigures are of Galileo, and of Jupiter and Juno from Roman myth.

    LEGO-space-minifigs

    • Juno is also looking for water – this will help scientists work out whether Jupiter formed close to where it is now or whether it moved outward over time.
    • Why is it called “Juno”? Juno was Jupiter’s wife, who also had the ability to see through clouds which is exactly what the probe is going to do!
    • Juno has a plaque dedicated to Galileo that is inscribed with some of his writings from 1610.
    • The total distance Juno has travelled from launch to entering Jupiter’s orbit is 2,800 million kilometres.
    • Juno is the first mission to fly 3D printed titanium parts
    • Juno is the farthest solar powered spacecraft from Earth
    • When arriving at Jupiter Juno was travelling at over 150,000 kilometres per hour making it one of the fastest human-made objects ever.
    • Juno will cover 2.8 billion kilometres over its voyage – if it were a commercial jet than it would take Juno 342 years to complete its journey!

    Talking about Juno in the classroom

    NASA is great at providing fantastic resources to help students and the public engage with their missions and Juno is no exception. Here’s a few highlights that are worth a look:

    For background on Galileo, Jupiter and other information to help students understand the Juno mission these BrainPOP UK topics are really helpful:

     

    You can find BrainPOP’s space related topics here and experiment with launching your own spacecraft in class with GameUp’s Fly to Mars game here.

    Finally, one of the most inspiring things I’ve seen NASA do was the travel posters they made for various celestial bodies in our solar system. All of them were fantastic but the Jupiter one below was just jaw dropping.

    Having students make their own Jupiter travel posters based on what scientists predict Juno might find out about Jupiter is a great way of getting them to think deeper about the information with the added bonus of some extra fun and creativity!

    Jupiter_nasa_space_poster

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  • 21 Jun
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    It’s National Insect Week on 20th to 26th June and there’s lots of creepy crawly things going on.

    Honeybees Topic Screenshot

    In celebration of all things chitinous we’ve put together a list of cool events and resources about insects to get excited about for Insect Week 2016.

    Need to identify an insect?

    Never fear the Royal entomological Society is here! You can actually ask one of their experts and even send a picture to find out what your mystery bug is.

    Want to meet some unusual insects?

    There are great events happening all over the country like Meeting a Minibeast at Natural History Museum Tring or the Bug Banquet for Adults at the Oxford Story Museum. Find an Insect Week activity in your area.

    Want to know more about insects?

    There’s lots of great BrainPOP movies on bugs and the things they get up to. Check out our Minibeasts Spotlight to find a whole bunch of them in one convenient place and in the meantime here’s a couple of our favourites to get you started!

    And The Royal Entomological Society has made this great video on why insects are so important:

    We’ll certainly bee wearing our Mo-bee badges with pride this week!


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  • 09 Jun
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    WHAT a creative bunch you all are!

    We are really excited to present the 4 winning badge designs in our 2016 Moby badge idea competition.

    Each winning design will be made into a real life Moby badge, and these children will receive a first print set.

    Thank you to everyone who sent us a design, it was seriously tricky to pick the winners, there were so many terrific ideas. We think these badges will prove super popular.

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    “It Lives! FrankenMoby is…ALIVE!!!”

    Submitted by: Joe Roberts, SJI International

    The BrainPOP team loved the idea of Moby as a green Frankenstein’s monster (and his cheeky grin)! Nice job, Joe!

    FrankenMoby badge

    FrankenMoby badge entry

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    Shocking!

    Submitted by: Maia Saunders, Wix primary

    The BrainPOP team were electrified with the idea Moby being powered up by lightning, a reference to our Thunderstorm and Electricity topics. Nice one, Maia, we think your design’s electric.

    Lightning Bolt Moby badge

     

    Lightning badge winner

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    Mozart Moby

    Submitted by: Alec Godfrey, Caterham Prep school

    A robot Mozart! We thought the big white 18th century wig would look great on Moby. Quite the Viennese dandy.

    Mozart Moby badge

     Mozart badge winner

     

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    Frida Moblo

    Submitted by: Archie Fantom, SJI International

    We all fans of Frida Kahlo at BrainPOP and knew as soon as we saw the design that she’d make a perfect badge. A beautiful piece of work, Archie, well done.

    Frida Moby badge

    Frida badge winner

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  • 02 Jun
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    This June, can you do something wild every day for a month?

    The Wildlife Trust is encouraging people to feel more connected to nature by doing something wild every day in June.

    ElephantsScreenshot3

    What do you mean do something wild?

    It’s actually easier than it sounds – nature is all around us even in the city and if you take a moment to look for it you can find it in your morning commute, walking the dog, or while hanging out the washing.

    For ideas on what to do sign up to take the challenge here and get a cool promo pack with Random Acts of Wildness cards, a wallchart and some fun stickers to help inspire you to be wild. Check out the 30 Days Wild Twitter for more inspiration.

    Don’t forget to check out what your local branch of the Wildlife Trust has in store for this month.

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    How can I use BrainPOP for 30 Days Wild?

    30 Days Wild is great to do at school.

    Nature walks aren’t new to schools and the playground can be a veritable treasure trove and June is a great time of year to stop to appreciate all the nature around us.

    Exploring nature is a great way to trigger kids’ inquisitive sides and sometimes they have more questions than you can answer.

    Thankfully, there’s masses of nature topics on BrainPOP that can answer these questions and, even better, you can take them with you on your expeditions with the BrainPOP UK app.

    Here’s just a small selection of topics you might find useful while you’re going wild this month. Teachers can also request a free trial to unlock all the movies below.

    Don’t worry if the topic you need isn’t in this list, use our search or check our animals, plants and behaviour or geography: features and processes sections to help find what you need.

    Have fun taking a walk on the wild side!

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  • 20 May
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    Are you ready and willing to support the (food) revolution?

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    Food Revolution is an initiative created by celebrated chef Jamie Oliver to help improve access to fresh, nutritious foods and the skills needed to cook. Sounds good to us!

    The Jamie Oliver Food Foundation creates food education programmes and gets involved at a national and international level by influencing government policy.

    What’s Food Revolution Day?

    Food Revolution Day (20th May) is about celebrating the foundation’s success so far and bring attention to what needs to improve in food education and public health.

    Sugar-consumption (1)

    Access to good, fresh, real food can transform lives and it’s key to people’s health. In an age of ever rising obesity levels it’s more important than ever to improve people’s ability to make healthy food choices.

    What can I do on Food Revolution Day?

    1. Firstly head over to the Food Revolution website and sign up!
    2. Check out the BrainPOP UK food topics below to help you make healthy, informed choices about your food
    3. Get cooking with Jamie’s 10 Food Revolution recipes
    4. Get cooking with your kids or students
    5. Take part in the international omelette challenge and create an omelette that symbolises your nation
    6. Try out Moby’s favourite recipe!

    What are BrainPOP’s food Topics?

    To celebrate Food Revolution Day BrainPOP is making the Nutrition topic our free featured movie, but here’s a list of BrainPOP’s food related topics you can use too.

    Moby’s Butternut Squash and Carrot Soup

    Naturally Moby’s favourite foods are orange so it’s not a huge surprise that Moby’s favourite recipe is butternut squash and carrot soup.

    Ingredients

    • 4 medium carrots, thinly sliced
    • 1 small squash, peeled and diced
    • 1 finely chopped leek
    • 100 ml milk
    • 500 ml chicken or vegetable stock
    • 1 tbsp butter
    • 1tbsp honey
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • salt and black pepper to taste
    • couple of springs of fresh thyme
    • nutmeg

    Method

    1. Cook the squash, carrots, garlic, and leek in the butter in a large covered saucepan over a medium heat for about 7-8 minutes stirring occasionally.
    2. Add the stock and honey then bring to the boil.
    3. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until the veggies are tender (usually about 20 – 30 mins)
    4. Divide the squash mixture into thirds and process in a food processor or blender until it is smooth (alternatively you can mash them by hand – especially if you prefer it a bit chunky!)
    5. Return to the saucepan and add salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste.
    6. Add milk and heat through.
    7. Garnish with the thyme and enjoy!

    Moby enjoying his soup

     

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