Ten Charlie and the Chocolate Factory activities for younger children

This post was originally published in November 2015. It reappears here in collaboration with million eyez.

We’ve just finished a happy romp through the wonderfully bizarre world of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Having realised from page one that this chapter book was going to be a hit, I gathered a few ideas for activities we could try alongside it. For my four-year-old, it was delightful to dig deeper into the experience of the story. For my 21-month-old, it meant she didn’t keep trying to pull the book out of my hand or take me some place else.

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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-3

Make a family tree
The book opens by orderly naming the people in Charlie Bucket’s family. I’d been wanting to do a family tree for a while so we took the opportunity to print out photos, cut and stick them and draw lines to show relationships. I helped Talitha with ours but she went on later on to draw Charlie Bucket’s family tree on her own.

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Sweetie Swoop game
We’ve been having fun with the whole sweetie theme by playing a board game called Sweetie Swoop which Talitha got for her birthday this year. It nicely accompanies chapter 11 where he goes into the sweet shop. It’s such fun. In general board games and card games are a brilliantly easy way to develop maths skills while doing something together that we both enjoy.

Drink hot chocolate
When you finally make it inside the chocolate factory, meeting the chocolate river calls for a drink. Preferably one offered in a cup by Mr Willy Wonka and not risking falling in!

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-2

Make playdough sweets
Most of the time we read, we got out the playdough. Talitha made playdough sweets and both girls generally had fun squishing and making while listening to the story.

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The Inventing Room
This was an idea I came across on The Imagination Tree when looking for birthday party ideas. I put together an “inventing room” the night before which was the source of much excitement and creativity. I wish I’d taken more pictures because she got the stapler out and put together some 3D sweets later in the day.

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Make real sweets
Of course, who can read about all these amazing sweets and not want to munch something sweet. Better yet, make some! We tied this in with learning about Diwali by making coconut barfi. They were too sweet for the girls, though, so I wonder if we should have gone for biscuits in sweetie shapes instead.

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Play with fizz
All the experimentation you observe in the Mr Willy Wonka’s factory certainly tickles the imagination. The science fiction elements of this book are the bits that shine brightest. Talitha was quite taken with the fizzy lifting drinks that make you float upwards unless you burp to come down again. Inspired by this fizzy fun experiment, we got the muffin tin out and had a messy go (should have put a tray underneath as suggested in that post, mind!).

Here are few more ideas I came across but we didn’t get around to:

Make lickable wallpaper
Pipe cleaner lollipop craft
Chocolate play dough recipe

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I’d love if we could share our ideas on how to help kids get into books and this million eyez Photobox offers the perfect medium. With million eyez you can start a photo box in a topic to receive authentic photos you can’t find, just as I’m hoping to do here, curating, communicating and organising to cleverly crowd source what you need. Just upload your photo of your literary kids activity, whether it’s a dress up, craft, baking, creative writing prompt or invitation to play. Let’s inspire each other!

via million eyez

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This homeschooling life – What March looked like

It’s funny how you can feel like not much is happening when you’re in the middle of something but then look back and be blown away by just how much has happened. That’s one of the reasons I value recording these highlights of home education journey each month.

March has been a tough one for me because I’ve been tired, irritable and struggling to cope with day-to-day tasks quite a lot of the time. I’ve seen the doctor and we’re doing some tests just to rule out the usual physical suspects that come up when pregnant. In the meantime, life goes on as it has to with small children. And looking at this post, I’m so grateful for how much we’re managing without me being that up to it.

This homeschooling life - Dinosaurs

Dinosaurs

This month has been all about dinosaur madness and the interest just seems to be deepening. It started with Jim Henson’s Dinosaur Train which Talitha is utterly hooked on. It’s such a good show too. She’s learning masses about dinosaurs, prehistoric times, animal classification and scientific discovery to just name a little of what this imaginative show manages to weave together.

She wants to talk endlessly about the things she’s learned, often asking questions I can’t answer which we then write down and look for the research online or in books. When we go to the library she wants to borrow dinosaur books and read them repeatedly, asking questions, making observations and drawing comparisons. She has ideas about what she wants to find out more about when we visit the dinosaur section of Bristol Museum so I think a trip to a bigger museum is on the cards.

She’s often role playing with the toy dinosaurs she was given and wants to tell me all about their features, what they are and what they do. Every song from the show is memorised and she’s even adapted the song “I’m a hungry, hungry herbivore” to “I’m a hungry, hungry omnivore” at mealtimes. It’s beyond cute hearing Ophelia join in with the songs and identify the “saurus” too. Talitha is fascinated with how big dinosaurs were so we’ve been doing lots of measuring on the ground with tape and comparing our feet to various dinosaur feet. She’s also been measuring all of us and objects,making comparisons.

Whenever we’ve gone for nature walks she quotes the paleontologist’s line at the end of every episode: “Get out into nature and make your own discovery.” She’s very keen to go look at fossils with Laurence in Lyme Regis when it’s a bit warmer but I don’t think she’s quite wrapped her head around that not being a digging thing.


Whales and Dolphins

Whales and dolphins also got a look-in when she stumbled across an old book Laurence was given as a child. It’s not a children’s book but she asked me to read all of it, comparing animals and asking what words meant when she didn’t understand. I have to admit I was bit taken aback at the comments about captivity (it’s an old book) so I asked her questions about that and fielded hers. I think she’s quite shocked that an orca meant to have so much freedom and autonomy would be kept in a fish tank and made to perform and that this treatment so severely limits its lifespan.

We then looked to see what other marine life books we had and wound up using the website links at the back of Usborne’s Under the Sea which led us into a world of discovery. A happy afternoon was spent listening to whale noises and imitating them then pretending to be a whale family.

This homeschooling life - Spring crafts

Easter
Of course, a highlight of this month has been Easter. I meant to do all sorts of Easter activities and readings in the lead up but just didn’t manage it in the end. We mostly just made things Talitha suggested, read the Easter story over and over and looked for answers to confusing questions. We had a lovely Easter party with our home ed group, which involved an egg hunt and Easter crafts.

We’d made salt dough decorations beforehand but not all of them got used so we took the rest home and Ophelia has been painting them alongside Talitha’s various painting projects. We then hang them up on a branch that was our Easter tree but has become our Spring tree. She’s so proud of them.

Writing lists and letters
Talitha’s been writing lists and letters for a long time now but I was getting a bit tired of always either writing them out for her to copy or having to spell everything at her request. So I suggested that she just start writing them the way they sound and not worry about it being “right”. She was unsure at first but now I think she’s delighted by the freedom in finding she doesn’t need me to be able to write what she wants to write. The spelling is often hilarious but it makes sense and she’s learning so much from thinking about how words sound and what she wants to say.

Someone got the hang of finger knitting today. She even exclaimed, "I love this!" and made herself a bracelet.

A photo posted by Adele Jarrett-Kerr (@beautiful.tribe) on

Finger knitting and sewing
I think my renewed interest in crafting has sparked Talitha’s. Since I’m crocheting a blanket for the new baby, she wanted to do some needlework too. So far she’s finished a sewing card and learned to finger knit. She had said she wanted to actually sew something so we were going to give a fairy a go but she changed her mind and decided she wanted to do more finger knitting instead. Even Ophelia is trying to do it as well but it’s tricky because she really doesn’t have the coordination for it yet and doesn’t want me to help her! N

ext on Talitha’s list is arm knitting because she saw a basket she wants to try. We don’t have the materials for it, though so I might suggest we trying making things with the finger knitting first.

This homeschooling life - Spring gardening-2

Gardening and the outdoors
We are all so happy that Spring is finally here, even if most days are still grey and chilly! The girls have been asking to go outside even more than usual, spending hours in the garden playing with their mud kitchen, which has now become a mud cafe, apparently, going looking for things, playing on their slide and gardening. Ophelia is practising using her scooter out there too.

They’ve been doing lots of gardening with Laurence especially, planting seeds for our summer veg and flower beds, watering the greenhouse and continuing to harvest winter veg. They’re learning so much about growing through it all and more importantly, loving it. He’s also recently taken them foraging for garlic and all of us checked out a cave in Goatchurch to look at bats and minerals.

I am so grateful for his input into this as I can’t say I’ve been that enthusiastic about going outside, getting into nature and making my own discoveries recently! 🙂 I am motivated to do more in the garden, though, especially because Ophelia rang away from an earthworm shouting “snake!” the other day!
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Every month, I’ll give a little update on what we’ve been up to as part of This Homeschooling Life, a new linky I’m hosting with blogger friends Jess, Polly and Laura. I’m sure I’ll have lots more to share next time around. Do read more about it below and if you blog, consider linking up.

This Homeschooling Life is a linky sharing a week, a day or even just a moment from your life as a homeschooling family. We are hoping it will be a great way to discover new blogs and learn how we all do things differently.

The linky will open at 8am on the first Monday of every month and, throughout the rest of the month, the hosts will share your posts on their social media channels.

The Hosts:

Adele who blogs at Beautiful Tribe
Laura who blogs at Side Street Style
FACEBOOK / TWITTER / PINTEREST / INSTAGRAM
Polly who blogs at Enchanted Pixie
FACEBOOK / TWITTER / PINTEREST / INSTAGRAM

The Rules:

1. Link back to one of the hosts. You will find the code for the badge at the bottom or if you prefer you can use a text link.

2. Link up a post from your month, no more than 3.

3. Link directly to a specific post, not your main blog.

4. Follow the hosts on at least one of their social media platforms.

5. Visit and comment on some of the other blogs linking up.

6. If you share on social media then you can use the #thishomeschoolinglife so we can all find each other.

This Homeschooling Life

An InLinkz Link-up



This Homeschooling Life – What January looked like

January has been a strange month. I say that, but with regard to home education, all of our months have been different anyway. I spent half of it still feeling the heavy weight of pregnancy symptoms and the second half being stuck down with what I can only assume actually was the flu, because its still lingering. It’s meant that we haven’t been up to as much as we usually are and after the chaos of Christmas, I admit that I’ve spent a lot of time feeling guilty about that.

I especially felt it last week when we got back into a routine of practising phonics using the Alphablocks Reading Programme we’d set aside for a while. Talitha’s mind is so absorbent and she picks up and retains more complex sound combinations easily now. That should have delighted me but instead I felt guilty for not being more consistent with following the programme. Her reading is coming along so well but there’s always that irrational niggle that says, “Would she be further along by now if she were at school?” And then I remember, she is only four, for goodness sake. There is absolutely no rush. And there’s no need for me to compare her time at home with what happens in a system we’ve chosen to opt out of.

Mostly we’ve just been reading. We’ve been loving Little House in the Big Woods
, which we gave Talitha for Christmas. Nothing really “happens” yet we are both transfixed by it. For me, I’m intrigued by their self-sufficient lifestyle. For her, it’s all about a little girl who lived in a world of bears and panthers and got to make things (even if these things are bullets and butter!). I planned lots of fun activities to go with reading it, like making paper dolls and smoking meat but we haven’t got around to any of it yet! We’re not done reading it yet, though so maybe this month.

Where I haven’t been able to offer more input at times, she’s enjoyed playing, on her own, with her sister and with friends. Indoors and out. She’s gone ahead with creating. Always making something with paper and scissors, glue, tape and junk. Always drawing. Always asking questions. Always wanting to help me with whatever I’m doing.

The other day she suggested we do face painting while Ophelia was sleeping. I painted a butterfly on her face and she painted flowers on mine. Then she wanted to create a story about a butterfly and some flowers for us to act out. We each added parts of the story for “our show”, involving one of the cats as a character. She then suggested that she’d draw the story and write it down. With help, that’s exactly what she did, though we had a bit of brainstorm figuring out how to summarise it in a sentence.

On the weekends and on his days off, Laurence has been doing lots with the girls, whether it’s taking them outdoors somewhere new or just pottering around in the garden. He and Talitha took photographs of a nearby beach the other day and I came downstairs to find them each sketching from one of their shots. This Saturday, they spent a lot of time with a map, checking out the beach we were going to cook lunch on and when we got there, they referred to it again and it was exciting how much she understood from it.

This is something we’ve been talking more about, recently. How can each of us bring our skills and experience to the table with home educating? Something like looking at a map or creating one wouldn’t thrill me. I also wouldn’t find it particularly easy. If we did it, it would be purely for her benefit. On the other hand, it’s a natural thing for him to do with her.

We’ve been doing some bits around Chinese New Year more recently. We’ll be going to a big celebration at a local Chinese supermarket (complete with dragon dance) so in preparation, we’ve been reading books about Chinese New Year, crafts, watching videos and putting up our display.

Spielgaben

Another January highlight has been finally getting our hands on a Spielgaben set. It’s essentially a huge set of beautifully made, non-toxic, environmentally sustainable wooden toys which are divided into sets and come with activity guides for play, creativity and mathematics. They’re “manipulatives” in Maths speak. The set appealed to me because I wanted a system with everything in one place to help us approach maths in a physical, practical way and this looked like a lot of fun.

So far, they girls have played with the sets freely and Talitha has done a few of the activities. We’ve started doing them “in order” but before I read the guides, we were just dipping in and out and she came across these 3D shapes she wanted to build. Naturally we got talking about the different between cubes and cuboids and how many faces a pyramid has. The great thing so far is that it’s something that Ophelia can do alongside us, even though she’s not doing anything structured with the pieces. I’m looking forward to delving more into it.

The Hosts:

Adele who blogs at Beautiful Tribe
Laura who blogs at Side Street Style
FACEBOOK / TWITTER / PINTEREST / INSTAGRAM
Polly who blogs at Enchanted Pixie
FACEBOOK / TWITTER / PINTEREST / INSTAGRAM

The Rules:

1. Link back to one of the hosts. You will find the code for the badge at the bottom or if you prefer you can use a text link.

2. Link up a post from your month, no more than 3.

3. Link directly to a specific post, not your main blog.

4. Follow the hosts on at least one of their social media platforms.

5. Visit and comment on some of the other blogs linking up.

6. If you share on social media then you can use the #thishomeschoolinglife so we can all find each other.

This Homeschooling Life

An InLinkz Link-up



Chinese New Year sensory box

Last year we got seriously into Chinese New Year. With it rolling around again, I thought I’d share the sensory box I put together for Talitha to enjoy when she was three-and-a-half. At going on one, this really wasn’t suitable for Ophelia at the time so I put it up on the table whenever Talitha wanted to play with it.

I had some rice I’d bought cheaply from an Asian grocers, which I coloured with red and yellow ready mix paint by mixing the colours in separate bowls and laying it thinly in baking trays to dry.

Sensory play for Chinese New Year

Then I added yellow beads, lots of pom poms, chopsticks, some envelopes we’d made with Chinese symbols on them, bowls, a cup, a spoon and a ladle. Hours of fun, let me tell you!

She practised picking things up with the chopsticks, threading beads onto a chopstick, pretending she’s making pancakes with the rice and ladle, burying things, tucking things into the envelopes, pouring things – it was endless.

Sensory Box for Chinese New Year

When we moved on from Chinese New Year, I stored the rice and brought it out again for their Autumn sensory box. Ophelia as a toddler was then old enough to safely enjoy it so I put the box on the floor.


10 ideas for celebrating Epiphany with children

I’ve been trying to observe the Christian calendar with my children a bit more this year. I didn’t grow up with it so it’s interesting delving into it myself and making discoveries alongside them. On January 6th, we celebrated Epiphany, the day the wise men found the child Jesus, having followed the star God put in the sky.

We’d been talking about it beforehand and I gathered a few fun ideas for simple ways to celebrate Epiphany with our family. As it turned out, between our home education co-op meet and Talitha’s ballet class, we didn’t have much time but I’m sure this list will be useful again for this coming Epiphany and I may add to it too.

1. Take down the Christmas decorations. We listened to lots of versions of the Twelve Days of Christmas on Spotify while packing the ornaments away and taking the tree outside.

2. Read the story in Matthew. We followed this up with the children’s version in The Beginner’s Bible. This year we’ll look at it in The Jesus Storybook Bible.

Negative-Space-Star-Celebrating-Epiphany-with-Children

3. Negative space star painting – I stumbled across this idea on Explore and Express. I love her explanation: “the star as a symbol of God’s revelation that often comes after a long spiritual journey. I left it white as a metaphor for revelation being an empty or blank place in us that God fills.” However, when I tried to explain that God fills the empty space inside of us, Talitha told me that she was full of yoghurt. So I may not have done the idea full justice – ha!

4. Take the wise men to see Jesus. Our Nativity scene doesn’t have three kings or any kings so I suggested we look for a few amongst her toys. They were almost dinosaurs but in the end two Little Misses and one Mr Man stood in for the wise men. We lit a candle and talked about the story some more.

5. Talk about the three gifts and what they mean. Objects would work well here, perhaps little boxes wrapped up for the children to open, one with gold jewellery, one with frankincense essential oil and the other with myrrh crystals. You could even burn some frankincense. I was going to but in the end, I just explained that gold is what my wedding ring was made of and that they gave it to Jesus because He is a king, frankincense is a perfume that’s used in worship and that they gave it to Jesus because He talks to God for us and myrrh is something that they used to put on people’s bodies when they die and that they gave it to him because He would one day die on the cross.

Three-Kings-Crown

6. Make a crown. She made this one at the church in her grandparents’ village a couple of days ago.

7. Cook and eat Three Kings Pie. This is gorgeous. The recipe comes from a vegetarian cookbook called Gaia’s Feasts. It’s like a cottage pie but replaces meat with mushrooms and all sorts of wonderful spices. I confess, I made it and Talitha helped a little bit but time ran on and it was ready after they’d already had their supper. Next time.

Three-Kings-Pie

8. Exchange gifts. Some parents follow up the story of the wise men giving their gifts with a small gift for their children. I know someone who staggers all of the Christmas gift giving. Her children have stockings from Santa on St Nicholas’ Day, gifts from family on Christmas Day and gifts from their parents on Epiphany. This sounds like a great way to avoid the gift overwhelm.

9. Give to charity. This year, we did a clear out of toys, books and clothes and dropped them off to a charity shop.

10. Make star biscuits. I really wanted to kick start the year’s baking with some savoury stars, especially as Talitha loves any excuse to get the cookie cutters out, but there just wasn’t enough time.


This Homeschooling Life – November

That time’s rolled around again to look back at what we’ve been up to as a home educating family.

This has been a month of contrasts. At the start of the month, we got up to quite a lot of in terms of organised activities but things got looser as the days passed as I’ve not been feeling well and Ophelia’s going through a rough patch sleepwise. Actually, that mix suited us just fine. That’s one of the brilliant things about home educating, slowing down is not a problem when life calls for it.

Time for the highlights:

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Activities for kids
Falling in love with chapter books
We’ve dipped in and out of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in the past but my four-year-old enjoyed it but didn’t seem to quite follow it so having read quite a lot of the book, we shelved it. Then a friend suggested My Father’s Dragon and that was a blast.

On the hunt for the next winner, I picked up a copy of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It was clear from the start that it would be a hit so I themed some activities for us to do alongside it. Check out my list of Ten Charlie and the Chocolate Factory activities for young children.

We’re fully into The Magic Faraway Tree now – such a trippy book and already well-loved.

The tricky thing about reading longer books is finding ways to engage Ophelia while we’re reading so I often wait until she’s having a nap but she doesn’t nap that reliably at the moment (could be linked to the crazy nights above). So I’m often pulling out something for her to do or requesting cups of tea from the toy kitchen while we read.

Diwali in our home-8
Diwali
I totally forgot when I first published this post that we did loads around Diwali this month! And Bonfire Night of course! We made our own diyas and read and looked at lots about India and the Hindu festival of light. Diwali is a big deal in Trinidad and Tobago, where I’m from, so it was a chance to connect my kids with their heritage too. Here’s what we got up to on the day itself in my post, Diwali with my kids.

this homeschooling life november-3
Christmas decorations and other crafts
We made so many Christmas decorations this month. Personal favourites are these pipe cleaner beauties as both girls were able to do them.

We also rearranged the diningroom furniture, making the scrap box (an enormous chest full of recycling) accessible to the girls so they’ve been busy pulling things out and involving the most random objects in their games. Talitha has also been getting the glue and scissors out and making all sorts of amazing things from robots to play food, totally on her own.

On one hand, leaving them access to junk and art supplies makes for a lot of mess (the toddler scribbles on our walls speak the truth of this – thanks, Ophelia). On the other, the creativity, confidence and independence that emerges from it is well worth it. Now that most things have a place, they find it easier to help tidy up too.

Holiday in Madeira this homeschooling life november-2
We spent the last week of November in Madeira with Laurence’s parents and what a brilliant holiday that was. It’s not something that would have been doable if Talitha were in school (certainly not once she’s five) since the term’s still going, so I’m counting it as a home ed highlight.

Of course, being in Madeira raised so many fascinating questions about airports, airplanes, maps, climate, countries – you name it! Kids’ curiosity is primed for learning.

I hope to blog about it later this week, which may interest any families considering Madeira as a holiday destination.

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Every month, I’ll give a little update on what we’ve been up to as part of This Homeschooling Life, a new linky I’m hosting with blogger friends Jess, Polly and Laura. I’m sure I’ll have lots more to share next time around. Do read more about it below and if you blog, consider linking up.

This Homeschooling Life is a linky sharing a week, a day or even just a moment from your life as a homeschooling family. We are hoping it will be a great way to discover new blogs and learn how we all do things differently.

The linky will open at 8am on the first Monday of every month and, throughout the rest of the month, the hosts will share your posts on their social media channels.

The Hosts:

Adele who blogs at Circus Queen
Laura who blogs at Side Street Style
FACEBOOK / TWITTER / PINTEREST / INSTAGRAM
Polly who blogs at Enchanted Pixie
FACEBOOK / TWITTER / PINTEREST / INSTAGRAM

The Rules:

1. Link back to one of the hosts. You will find the code for the badge at the bottom or if you prefer you can use a text link.

2. Link up a post from your month, no more than 3.

3. Link directly to a specific post, not your main blog.

4. Follow the hosts on at least one of their social media platforms.

5. Visit and comment on some of the other blogs linking up.

6. If you share on social media then you can use the #thishomeschoolinglife so we can all find each other.

This Homeschooling Life

An InLinkz Link-up



Coloured rice fireworks craft

We’re heading into that portion of the year again where fireworks come on the scene. I’ll be collecting a few ideas for exploring fireworks with little ones, I’m sure, but for now I thought I’d share this craft we did last year.

Just before Bonfire Night last year, I wanted to do a simple “fireworks” craft with Talitha. We were in Trinidad and Tobago for Independence Day that August so she got to see a hugely impressive fireworks display there and it was the first time we were far enough away from the action for her to admire the beauty of the fireworks without being frightened by the bang. She talked about it for ages afterwards so I knew she’d enjoy crafting around them. These photos are from when we did this craft a year ago. We might try them again this year.

We looked at a video clip I’d taken of the fireworks we’d seen launched from San Fernando hill in Trinidad for Independence Day and talked about what fireworks are and how they work in basic terms. Then I got out a few photographs I’d gathered for inspiration.

We made our coloured rice by mixing tempura paint into bowls of rice, spreading them out on a tray to dry and breaking them up a bit afterward. We then added some glitter but, actually, adding the glitter while the paint on the rice would be an idea too.

Coloured rice fireworks craft

The table was laid with different glue options – a glue pen, a pot with a spreader, and a glue bottle – so she could pick and choose and experiment with what she wanted her fireworks to look like. There was also black paper for the night sky and, of course, our glittery, coloured rice!

I left her to it and, of course, hung the results to dry.

Coloured rice fireworks craft-3

Coloured rice fireworks craft-4

Coloured rice fireworks craft-6

Fireworks feature in so many special occasions: Diwali, Guy Fawkes Night, New Year’s Eve, Independence Day, Chinese New Year and I’m sure there are more! We made New Year’s cards with our coloured rice.

It may seem early for it but we’re already looking forward to the fireworks this Autumn!