What Your Year 6 Child Needs to Know – A Core Knowledge Book

I am in the middle of writing posts about the different resources I am planning on using for my daughters year 7 and I realized I never actually wrote a post about the Core Knowledge Year 6 Book (What your year 6 child needs to know: Fundamentals of a good year 6 education).  I now own the full set of these books and I have used them all but I want to stress upfront I don’t follow these books word for word.  We don’t cover all the topics they suggest but I still find them very useful for 3 main reasons – Ideas of what we could cover in during out year, good explanations of concepts that I can use and their suggested resource lists. I really love their suggested resource list as the end of each section (they include resources for books, films and DVDs, online and places to visit).

Core Knowledge What Your Year 6 Child Needs to Know

The book is broken down into 6 main Topics

  • Language and Literature
  • History and Geography
  • Visual Arts
  • Music
  • Mathematics
  • Science.

I must confess I have found the Maths and Science sections the most useful but I am going to give a breakdown of what is included in each section.

1. Language and Literature

It gives examples of well-known poems and extracts from stories and myths that they recommend.  I found it interesting seeing which ones they included but as far as our literature goes we have followed our own paths (although even by following our own path we did actually cover a number of the items they suggest).  For me literature at this stage is very much still about enjoyment.  They also mention Shakespeare and I initially had no plan on covering Shakespeare but my daughter actually found some Shakespeare books and started reading them herself so I followed her lead on that.  I did like their explanations for literal and figurative language and then things like personification, onomatopeia, alliteration, simile and metaphor.

This section also covers things word classes (verbs, nouns etc) and punctuation when to use versatile commas and brackets.  Prefixes, suffixes and what is the different between informative writing and persuasive writing.

What Your Year 6 CHild needs to Know. English literal vs figurative language

2. History and Geography

Surprisingly I have not actually used this section because we have been continuing on our Viking / Anglo-Saxon / early Medieval Britain topic for History which has also ended up being a geography topic – the kids have learnt a lot about England and Europe through the History that we have covered.  But although we have not covered their suggested History and Geography topics I  have found reading the pages very useful and I am sure at some stage when we get to covering these topics I will reuse what I learnt from these pages.

The section starts with talking about Longitude, Latitude, time zones, a round earth and a flat map – interesting to read. Then it goes onto exploring Wales, Scotland and different parts of England (very interesting reading) and then American History and American Geography.

British History it starts with Queen Victoria, the Industrial revolution and the entire Victorian Age (which we did sort of cover last year).  They go into quite a bit of detail on this period.  If you are not familiar with this part of British History then it really is a good section to read.

History in the What Your Year 6 Child Needs to Know includes the Industrial revolution in England

3. Visual Arts

The Renaissance, how it started what it meant and some famous works from this period. Personally I wanted more detail but then I love art history and this period is one of my favourites.  It also mentions perspective in art and shading.  And a bit about Victorian Art.

4. Music

I call this Music theory – explaining the different notes, sharps and flats etc. Also some examples of famous songs.

Music Theory

5. Mathematics

(I am going to break this down into sub categories and give more detail just because I find this section so useful)


  • numbers up to billions,
  • positive and negative numbers
  • how you compare integers (I like the way they showed this using number lines).
  • rounding
  • square numbers, power of ten, prime numbers


  • introduction to variables
  • inverse operations
  • division using bigger numbers

Decimals, Fractions and Mixed Numbers

  • comparing decimals and sums with decimals
  • multiplying by decimals
  • decimal division
  • rounding decimals
  • equivalent fractions
  • adding and subtracting fractions
  • adding and subtracting mixed numbers
  • multiplying fractions and whole numbers

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Rations and Probabilities

  • introducing the concepts
  • finding a percentage of a number (I did think they could have covered more on percentages)
  • finding an average

Graphs, Functions and word problems

  • pie charts
  • line graphs
  • functions and inverse operations
  • graphing function
  • writing and solving equations


  • angles
  • triangles and polygons
  • circles
  • finding the area of different shapes
  • volume of shapes
  • plotting points on a grid (all 4 quadrants)
  • symmetry

Maths Quadrants. What Your Year 6 Child Needs to Know

Sorry that is a bit of a list but they include lots of explanations about different Maths concepts which I find very useful.  Please remember this is not a workbook – so there are no examples for the kids try but they do include a few worked examples showing how they would tackle the problem.

6. Science

The Science section starts with Chemistry (I think these pages gives a good introduction).  It talks about atoms, parts of an atom and explains how the periodic table was created.  Then elements, metals and non-metals, molecules and compounds.  This is not covered in huge details (all of this is 9 pages long) but it is well-worded and explains the concepts well.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Onto Classifying Living Things which talks about why we classify, cells, how a cell is constructed and differences in cells

Life Cycles and Reproduction.  Asexual reproduction and sexual reproduction how they differ. Flower fertilisation and plant development, including what monocots and dicots are. Then reproduction in animals.

Next is the Human Body. It starts with Human Reproduction and then glands.

Lastly the section covers a few famous scientists.

I did find the Science section very informative but I did feel like they should have included some physics.

So rather long but that is what is included in the Year 6 Book.  Lots of good explanations about concepts and very useful resource recommendation ideas.  But please this is NOT a do pages 2 and 3 of day 4 type book and it is NOT a workbook.

Core Knowledge What Your Year 6 Child Needs to Know


Posted in Homeschooling | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

There is no one shoe that fits all

I recently had an interesting chat with one of my home education mom friends. It started because she has been reading a book about home education that was just disheartening. The author had a set idea about how you do this and who should be doing this and it did not fit my friend’s set-up. And really looking at this friends family they are so immersed in the home ed life and their kids are thriving (I love chatting to her kids because I always learn something new and interesting) so hearing that according to some book they should not be following this path Shocked me. I actually told her that I think she needs to put this book on her braai (South African for barbeque) and burn it. Yes burn it that is how I felt about it. For the simple reason that every family is unique – EVERY FAMILY. We are not carbon copies of each other so logic dictates that what works for one family will not work 100% for another. Yes there will be aspects that work well, aspects that work with some adaptations and aspects that just not do work. But that is the beauty of home education. You don’t need to copy school, you don’t need to copy other home education families, you can find what works for your family. There will be areas that you kids fly through – so let them fly, find extra items in that area that challenge them (and don’t worry if that is not covered in school curriculum – just let them fly). Likewise there will be areas that your kids struggle in, but that is okay let them work through that slowly, go back if needed, repeat, there is NO rush.

Think about this. My daughter might like a shirt your daughter has, she might even want to buy one for herself. But do you really think she would want to buy every single item that your daughter has? NO. There will be some items that suit her and some that just don’t. She is unique.

Think about watching a documentary or reading a book. I can read a book with my kids and you could read the exact same book with yours. Are our kids going to stop at the exact same points and ask the exact same questions? Are you and I going to stop to explain concepts or ideas at the exact same point? NO. Both our families might enjoy the same book but our experience reading it is not going to be exactly the same, there will be differences.

So if you are new to home education or if you are considering a change please, please don’t think there is a one size fits all situation. Please. And if someone tries to tell you that just walk away (or burn that book).

This is not a sprint that we are on, it is an epic endurance adventure and trying to fit into someone else’s criteria will exhaust you. It will. If you need some encouragement one of the things that I do is I keep examples of what we are doing in a box and every once in a while I go back and look at it – it always reminds me of how far my kids have come and it helps me to stop comparing us to others but rather to focus on us. On our own epic adventure.

Please enjoy your own Epic Adventure, build memories, find areas where your kids fly and don’t worry about fitting into some home-ed mould – there is none, home edders tend to break moulds.

Winter walk. ofamily learning together

Posted in Homeschooling | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Way of the Waves – A Viking Mystery for Kids

Last year my kids were introduced to Alva – a feisty Viking girl who was brave but kind, not one to conform to the traditional views of girls and she even had a pet wolf. (Yes a pet wolf and if I am honest I think both my kids were very jealous of the fact that she got to have a pet wolf and they did not.  But then I guess even I was a bit a jealous of that fact.) All of us adored Alva and loved going on her adventure to solve the Riddle of the Runes our only complaint was that when it was over then second book had not yet been published and we all wanted to know if she would find her father.

Way of the Waves written by Janina Ramirez. A Viking Mystery. Fun reading filled with historical references perfect for kids. Key stage 2

But now the second one is here and we have dived straight in with Alva, her Uncle Magnus and of course Fen (her wolf). They go on another great adventure, this time they join some of the local men who are going aViking (they sneak onto a boat), get to experience the life at sea and they end up travelling to Jorvik and then Tamworth. The adventure was fun to follow although at the end they had still had not found her missing father (there is a third adventure coming soon which we will definitely read).

Way of the Waves. A Viking historical fiction

Alva is as charming as the first time, still adventurous and a wonderful example of girls not being restricted by traditional views (something which my daughter really likes about these books). As fun as the adventure is we really liked the fact that the adventure is set in Viking /Anglo-Saxon times. Both my kids loved reading about Jorvik and they got really excited at the first mention of Tamworth – because they knew it was the capital of the Mercians which meant Aethelflaed. The loved those references and they loved it when Alva meet Athealflaed and her brother King Edward (although again I think my daughter was a bit jealous as she is in awe of Aethelflaed and thinks she is THE most fascinating Anglo-Saxon character – my daughter loves reading about strong female Queens/leaders).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

For me the beauty of this book and its previous one (Riddle of the Runes) is the way the author effortlessly brings in historically accurate references about their way of life. By weaving them so expertly into the story the kids get a real feeling of what it would have been like living in those times – how simple activities like having to ride a horse far for many days would have meant your body would have been bruised and sore all over. Eating food using your hands would have left them sticky so yes you probably would have wanted to clean your fingers in a bowl of water before talking with the Queen.

The names of the characters are all typical names of those times, the mentions of food and drink are all what they would have consumed, the clothes, the homes they stay in, even when they talk about having to send messages and how the monks would be the ones to write the messages because the local people did not know how to write. All of the references, are what brings the story to life and the kids can start imagining what it would have been like living in that period. And for me this is the true beauty – the fact that both of these stories have transported my kids back into those times where they can imagine life then and really get a good understanding of everyday events.

It is a Viking mystery so there is death (death was very much a way of life then) but there are no gruesome details, nothing that is nightmare potential.

If your kids have been learning about the Viking times/ Anglo-Saxon England then this is the perfect story for them to read. But even if your kids know nothing about those times I would still recommend this story as it just might be a way of introducing them to a fascinating period of English History.

You can buy Way of the Waves directy from Amazon – Way of the Waves

Admin – we were given this copy of Way of the Waves after I told the publishers that we loved the first book and would really like to review the next one.

I do include Affiliate links. If you follow an affiliate link and go on to purchase that product, I will be paid a very small commission, however your cost will remain the same. I only include affiliate links for products that we use and love.

Way of the Waves a fun Viking Mystery for kids

Posted in Book Ideas | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Starting Year 7 – History Ideas

History is a BIG topic for my daughter, she really loves learning about all the different periods and the characters that lived in them.  So we end up doing a LOT of history which means we always end up with a huge pile of history related books and I am constantly getting her new books. So this is our “starting set” but I know we will be adding a lot more over the coming year

So far we have the first two Collins History Student books (I have already written a review about them because we have already gotten quite far with the medieval book). My idea is to use the books as a guide, really a way of making sure we are not leaving any gaps as I am already positive she will end up writing a History exam.

But we also want to let her continue with her own projects. Her own projects often “jump around” in different time periods, they are projects that she starts based on something she finds interesting.  Starting points for these projects can be a Historical Fiction books she reads, a documentary we have watched, a place we have visited or sometimes something that she and I have been learning about together.  So for us History resources tend to include 4 main areas – Non-Fictional Books (and she likes to read multiple books about the same topic to get different perspective), Historical Fiction (which we find brings a topic to life), documentaries and visits.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Looking at The Collins Books their first Student book covers Anglo-Saxon England, the Battle of Hastings and then Medieval England.  We have already covered the Anglo-Saxon period and the Battle of Hastings in quite a lot of detail (although we do still have a trip linked to the Battle of Hastings that we want to do).  So we will be starting with Medieval England and then go onto Tudor England, which is part of their second student book. 

But the Tudors is one of the areas that my daughter finds fascinating so she actually already knows quite a bit and is constantly looking for new books on this topic.  She is particularly fascinated with Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth I and I have no doubt that she will be learning about both these queens on her own, without much prompting from me.  I do already have the Spanish Armada Topic pack for her (from Oaka Books) and I will probably add the Elizabeth I topic pack as well.  For us these topic packs work well because they are summaries of what she has read.  And they are also good examples of how to summarize the facts (she has a tendency to get lost in all the detail that she loves so I actually REALLY like to have a good summary for her).  She also really likes the Learning maps that they include in the Topic Packs (if you have not heard of a topic pack have a look at this link on the Battle of Hastings one). 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And then I am guessing we are probably going to spend some time on the Stuarts.  We have watched a few documentaries that talked about the Scottish royal families and she is starting to get really interested in these characters so I think that is probably going to come through more this coming year.

An extra newish topic for us but one that both the kids are talking more and more about is the First World War.  We recently watched a brilliant documentary on it which sparked lots of questions.  So I have started gathering some books on the topic and am looking out for new documentaries (With History documentaries we always preview them first as some can be just a bit too gruesome or explicit but I have found some brilliant ones so I think it is worth the effort searching for them).  I am predicting that World War 1 will be more a general topic that we cover slowly over time – more like a background topic but I want to encourage all the questions that have started coming and I  know she already finds the fact that Queen Victoria’s grandchildren where scattered throughout Europe and on different sides of the war fascinating.  So that is something we will explore further. But how exactly this topic unfolds I am leaving it for the kids to direct.  We will also tie it in with a few trips this year.

WWI books to read with Tweens and Kids. Informative but not too graphic

Book wise I am determined to keep up our huge success of reading Historical Fiction books going (I just need to find more).  Over this past year we have read a LOT of historical fiction and I have seen that they really bring the History to life.  If you find a good one – the kids get lost in the story and they end up learning about everyday life without even realizing it.  So it might sound a bit strange but Historical Fiction is now something I consider a good History resource.

Also the BIG CAT readers that we have been using this year have really worked well.  Yes I know they were created as readers and yes the History ones we have been using are written for Key Stage 2 ages but they have been such brilliant books and always cover important facts that I am going to keep using them (I already have one for WWI – The Battle of Passchendaele).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I like these books because although I am trying hard to make sure my oldest has the material to keep challenging her interest in History I do also have her younger brother to think about and these books are perfect for me to read with both of them.  He gets the right amount of information that enables him to join in with our conversations on the topic and she gets a good solid starting point for her more detailed reading.  So I liked to make sure we have at least one of these on hand for our different topics.

Website wise – I feel I must mention the Teachit History site.  I have set up a free membership on the site (free membership means you can download their PDF docs) and over the past 2 months I have already downloaded a number of different items.  It is a sister site of Teachitprimary (which is how I found it) and their downloads look very similar but just have more detail.  So far a VERY useful site for us.

This year I am also getting us a English Heritage membership.  We recently went out to the Isle of Wight and visited Osborne House.  It was a great day out and my daughter loved being able to visit a place she has read so much about so I would like to do more of that this year.

As I said at the start – History is a BIG one for us so we do tend to cover quite a lot.

Here are the Books that I mention above (affiliate links)

KS3 History Medieval Britain (410-1509) (Knowing History)

KS3 History Early Modern Britain (1509-1760) (Knowing History)

Kings and Queens (History of Britain)

Tudors & Stuarts (Usborne History of Britain)

Sister Queens: The Lives and Reigns of Mary and Elizabeth: Band 15/Emerald (Collins Big Cat)

Palaces, Peasants and Plagues – England in the 14th century: Band 18/Pearl (Collins Big Cat)

The Spanish Armada CE/KS3 Revision Guide: Bringing Learning to Life!

Elizabeth I: and the Elizabethan Settlement: Topic Pack (Tudor Series)

The Story of the First World War for Children (1914-1918)

The Battle of Passchendaele: Band 18/Pearl (Collins Big Cat)i

Admin Bit – some of the resources mentioned have been given to us (after I requested them) and some have been bought by me.  The Story of the First World War for children was given to us by Carlton Books and the Battle of Passchendaele was given to us by Collins.  The Spanish Armada topic pack was given to us earlier this year by Oaka Books.

I do include Affiliate links. If you follow an affiliate link and go on to purchase that product, I will be paid a very small commission, however your cost will remain the same. I only include affiliate links for products that we use.

Posted in Homeschooling | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Space Race Game – a Physics Game Review

We already own two of the Oaka Books Games (The Predators and Producers game and the On the Map game) and both have been popular board games my kids. Both games have been a fun learning activity and one that I have found works well with different aged kids (I have an 11-year-old and an 8-year-old). So I was keen to try the physics version – The Space Race Game

Space Race Game by Oaka Books

But I must admit I was not sure if it was going to be as popular as the other two games just because my kids are naturally more interested in Biology and Geography.  But that is the beauty of these games, even if they are in a subject that your kids are not that interested in the game angle makes it more interesting and mine enjoyed playing it.  It ended up being just as popular as our other 2 Oaka Books games.

It is the same format as the Predators and Producers Game. The game is set up like a typical board game (so not complex rules). The kids throw a dice and them move the corresponding number of squares. If they land on a square with a question mark they get a question to answer (right answers wins point cards). If you land on a comet you need to move down the comet and if you land on a rocket you get to move up (snakes and ladders concept). So really easy rules.

The Space race board game by Oaka Books. The board with some questions

Also the game comes with different coloured question cards – so if you want you can stick to the light cards (which are designed for lower key stage 2) or the darker cards (written for Upper Key Stage 2) or as we normally do just mix them all together. There is a fourth option in that you can only select question cards based on topics that you have covered.

Question Cards from the Space Race game by Oaka Books

The question cards cover a wide range of topics – quick breakdown

  • Earth, Sun & Moon
  • Light & Shadows
  • Sound
  • Magnets
  • Electrical Circuits and Electrical Conductors
  • Forces and Friction

So a good physics base.

Some of you may be wondering does playing the game actually help, is it not just a bit gimmicky?  For us it really works.  Even just comparing the first and second time we played the game – the amount the kids remembered from the first session really impressed me.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And every time we have played the game I have noticed they are getting more and more questions correct.  And they not just remembering facts often the questions sparks another question and we end up discussing something in more detail or even pausing the game and we go and read up something. For us it works as both a learning tool and a revision tool. The game is geared for Key Stage 2 ages but I am going to continue playing it with our oldest as she starts Key Stage 3 because it is just a good grounding and it helps to highlight possible areas that she may not understand properly and might need some extra help with.

We Highly Recommend this game.

Admin Bit – We went sent a parcel of goodies from Oaka Books earlier in the year.  It was up to us what we used / how we used it / when we used it and what we thought of it.



Posted in Homeschooling | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Starting Year 7 – English Literature Ideas

As of September by daughter will technically be moving into Year 7 (the start of Secondary school in the UK). Over the past 6 months she has naturally started working on longer projects and reading more complex books both of which we want to continue to encourage. But she also wants more structured activities to work through so we are trying to find a balance of giving her the slightly more structured approach she wants with still allowing for lots of flexibility and an emphasis on her creating and driving a number of her own learning projects. I am determined that we continue with this independent learning streak that she has as I strongly believe that building on that and encouraging her to do her own research and create her own projects is something that will serve her well in life.

So I am starting to put together some resource ideas for her Year 7. Now I am now doing detailed structured planning where I set out pages for each day – that does NOT work for us. But we are creating broader goals for the year – (when I say we I mean my daughter, my hubbie and myself are combining our thoughts on this). And I am as always pencil planning – making broad plans that we can and do change as need be.

Having said all of that I know lots of readers like to get ideas of possible resources so over August I am going to write a couple of posts setting out what we are planning on using with her for Year 7. (Bearing in mind some plans and resources may change as we progress through the academic year)

Today I am starting with English Literature. I am lucky in that both my kids love reading and introducing new books or getting them to read has never been an issue. For Literature we are coming up with a loose list of books we want to cover together but we are not making this list too long as we want to leave room for new discoveries.

We have always done family-read-togethers and our plan is it continue that with our set Literature books (for us this also means my eight -year old joins in). We are starting with Black Beauty. The idea is we will read it together like we have always done in the past – the 3 of us on the couch reading, chatting about events and characters, breaking to look something up – that is not going to change because it has worked really well for us. But scattered in-between those reading sessions we are also going to add some writing activities based on the book. I had spotted a potential set on the Twinkl Secondary site but they have since removed the pages so I am will probably make some pages for her myself – probably focusing on her writing character and event summaries.

Black Beauty and Anne of Green Gables Oxford Children's Classics

Another book she has requested is Anne of Green Gables – she actually knows the story and has read a condensed version but was keen for us to tackle a more detailed version together. Both of our books are part of the Oxford Children’s Classic range which we have already used before and we really like this series of classic stories.  Depending on how we go with our other books we may add another one from this range (my daughter really enjoys these classics and I know she has Little Women included on her own private list of books to read).

Oxford Children's classics

Then Shakespeare. We have already read a bit about Shakespeare and my daughter has read a few condensed modern versions of his plays and actually enjoyed them (we even did a few activities around Romeo and Juliet). So we have decided that this year we are going to read one of his comedies together – we are thinking of A Midsummer Night’s Dream or possibly Much Ado About Nothing. But we thought a more light hearted Shakespeare work would be a good one for us to start with (although the history part of her is also very keen to do Henry V – who knows we might possibly fit in two of his works?). And again I found some extra pages / printouts that we can use from the Twinkl Secondary site (A Midsummer Night’s Dream Twinkl Resources).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Posted in Homeschooling | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Warrior Cats

Earlier this year (I think it was sometime in April) I borrowed the first Warrior Cats book for our local library thinking it might appeal to my daughter (she was ten at the time) but before she even had a chance to try it her younger brother started reading it and did not want to put it down. I think he read the first one in two days and then was begging for the second. He convinced her she needed to read and that was the start of our Warrior Cat obsession.

Both of mine love these books and used to stash them in my bag whenever we were going somewhere (because you never know when you might have 5 minutes while you wait for your mom to finish her coffee).

reading Warrior Cats in a local coffee shop

They have read them cover to cover.

reading Warrior Cat a dangerous path

The story is about a pet cat who goes into the wild and discovers a whole new world of wild cats, where entire clans exist and the kits train up to become warriors.  There are multiple clans with lots of different cats in each clan – I must admit I find the who’s who of each clan a bit confusing but my kids totally get it and have long involved discussions about the different goings on in the clans.

The storyline has totally gripped my two kids and has captivated their imagination.

One of my son’s favourite bits is that the cats call humans “2 legs” – and yes he does from time to time refer to us as “2 legs”.

Both of them have started creating their own clans – with written descriptions and drawings of the different characters and they have even mapped out which of their new clans are friends and who their ancestors are (apparently there is a link between their made up clans and the ones from the books).

writing inspired by reading Warrior Cats

I have been blown away by how captivating this series has been. (For sensitive kids the cats do get into fight – nothing too gory and some do die).  I think the big attraction has been how these everyday cats created their own world, and the way this world works where everything is based around the clans, where allegiances are made and broken – it fascinates the kids.  And the way the cats see themselves – really not as pet cats but as fighters (I think the book cover below sums it up nicely with the cat and lion image). 

Warrior Cats the darkest hour

The way the cat characters are written is brilliant – they really came to life and you feel like you get to know the individual cats.

Just one warning – if your kids start this series they may not want to put the books down. Also we managed to borrow a few from our local library but the waiting time can be quite long and I did end up ordering some from Amazon just because my kids could not wait 3 weeks for the next book to be available.

And we do strongly recommend that you read the books in order because the events and characters do build on what has happened in the earlier books.

Warrior Cats series 1 books

Series 1 goes in this order.

Warrior Cats (1) Into the Wild

Fire and Ice (Warrior Cats)

Forest of Secrets (Warrior Cats)

Rising Storm (Warrior Cats)

Dangerous Path (Warrior Cats)

The Darkest Hour (Warrior Cats)

Both my kids highly recommend these books. And from a mom point of view these are gems.

The warrior cat series 1 written by Erin Hunter

I do include Affiliate links. If you follow an affiliate link and go on to purchase that product, I will be paid a very small commission, however your cost will remain the same. I only include affiliate links for products that we use and love.


Posted in Homeschooling | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment