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Two-minute tales from history, myth and fiction, accompanied by word games, grammar games and writing practice, all based on traditional school textbooks.

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The Lion and the Ant
two-part story
Music: Anonymous; King Richard I, the Lionheart
Richard I thought a veteran Crusader and conqueror of Saladin could handle a few French peasants.

KING Richard I of England gained his nickname of ‘Lionheart’ in the Holy Land, fighting to liberate Jerusalem from the ruling Muslims. In this he narrowly failed, but returned to his estates in France (he rarely spent time in England) in 1194 a hero, having conquered Cyprus, defeated his arch-enemy Saladin in battle, and been expensively ransomed out of the hands of a disgruntled former ally, Leopold of Austria.

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Featured Topic
Tagged ‘Railways’ (23 posts)
page 1
1 Japan’s First Railway
As Japan’s ruling shoguns resist the tide of progress, a Nagasaki-based Scottish entrepreneur steps in.
2 Thomas Brassey
The unsung surveyor from Cheshire, who built railways and made friends across the world.
3 A Leader by Example
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)
George Stephenson won the admiration of French navvies by showing them how a Geordie works a shovel.
4 The Liverpool and Manchester Railway
Businessmen in Liverpool engaged George Stephenson to build one of his new-fangled railways.
5 The Train of a Life
By Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)
In Charles Dickens’s tale set around Mugby Junction, a man sees his life flash by like a ghostly train.
6 Russia’s First Railway
Sixteen-year-old John Wesley Hackworth brought a locomotive over to St Petersburg, and Russia’s railway revolution was ready for the off.
page 2
7 A Monument to Liberty
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)
Samuel Smiles explains why the London and Birmingham Railway was an achievement superior to the Great Pyramid of Giza.
8 The Rainhill Trials
To prove that steam power was the future of railways, George Stephenson held a truly historic competition.
9 India’s First Railway
The opening of the Bombay to Thane line was the real beginning of British India.
10 Britain’s Best Gift to India
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)
Samuel Smiles reminds us that until we brought the railways to India, we had little to boast about as an imperial power.
11 The Railway Clearing House
All but forgotten today, the RCH was one of the most important steps forward in British industrial history.
12 Ireland’s First Railway
The Dublin to Dun Laoghaire line opened in 1834, and proved a remarkable testimony to the speed of technological progress.
page 3
13 Sir Sandford Fleming
What George Stephenson was to the railways of England, Sandford Fleming was to the railways of Canada.
14 The London and Birmingham Railway
The textile moguls of Manchester and Liverpool engaged the Stephensons to complete their link to the capital.
15 Burning Daylight
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)
George Stephenson argued that his steam engines were solar-powered.
16 The Genius Next Door
William Murdoch’s experiments with steam traction impressed his next-door neighbour, with world-changing results.
17 The Hat that Changed the World
Young William’s hat caught the eye of Matthew Boulton, and the world was never the same again.
18 The Stockton and Darlington Railway
George Stephenson and his son Robert created the world’s first passenger railway.
page 4
19 The Gift of the Gab
There was one form of power that self-taught engineering genius George Stephenson never harnessed.
20 The Iron Horse and the Iron Cow
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)
Railways not only brought fresh, healthy food to the urban poor, they improved the conditions of working animals.
21 The Tanfield Railway
Opened in 1725, the Tanfield Railway is one of the oldest railways still operating anywhere in the world.
22 The First Train Journey by Steam
Richard Trevithick’s boss hailed the engineer as a genius. Today he’d have been fired. (Oh, and the train was delayed.)
23 Timothy Hackworth
Timothy Hackworth (1786-1850) turned steam locomotives into a reliable commercial success.
which is ‘English Style’ ?

Word Play: Adjectives

JB Cramer was one of the finest pianists of his day, though his reverence for Mozart made his own music more popular in the drawing room than the concert hall.
By Percy Bysshe Shelley
(1792-1822)
Poet Percy Bysshe Shelley says that the pinnacle of political achievement is the government not of others, but of ourselves.
By John Keats
(1795-1821)
Poet John Keats speaks of the beauties of Autumn, her colours, her sounds and her rich harvest.
By Percy Bysshe Shelley
(1792-1822)
Poet Percy Shelley calls on November’s sister months to watch by the graveside of the dead Year.
Cut
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Polyword ‘Garden’
Make as many words as you can with the letters below. All your words must be at least four letters long, and must also include the highlighted letter. What’s the nine-letter word?

SEE how many words you can make using the letters below. All your words must be at least 4 letters long, and must include the letter (change).

We found commonly used words, plus one 9-letter word. Can you do better?

Use each letter only once. But if there are e.g. two As, you can used them both.

Don’t count proper nouns such as April, Zeus, or Newcastle (pretty much anything that has to be spelled with a capital letter at the start), or acronyms like HMRC.

Don’t just add -S for plurals or third person singular verbs, e.g. CAT → CATS or SPEAK → SPEAKS.

Note: You can find more Polywords and other games on our Nine Lives puzzle page, and most of our stories are accompanied by games with words, grammar and numbers.

More Puzzles
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with WIND and finish with CASH.
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with FELL and finish with PONY.
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with SPIT and finish with FIRE.
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.
Do you know ‘bashful’ (3), and ‘an open area of shrubs and coarse grass’ (5)?
See if you can guess these words letter-by-letter.
A word-making and word-searching game with a dash of strategy to it.
top topics
History (379)
Fiction (82)

letters game

What is the longest word you can make using these letters?

Press enter or type a space to see feedback on your word.

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numbers game

Work across from the number on the left, applying each arithmetical operation to the previous answer. What’s the final total?

Tip: Click any of the four inner squares to check your running total.

More like this: Maths Steps (Mental Arithmetic Game) Mental Arithmetic