KS3 Science

It has been chaotic here. I had hoped to move house over the summer while we were all taking a break but that never happened and instead moving slotted in right while we were busy with out home educating. And yes if the kids had been younger I probably would have just stopped everything for 3 weeks but my oldest is now in Year 9 and she has quite a bit of work to get through (she has actually opted to include 2 extra subjects this year). So I really did not want a complete shutdown for 3 whole weeks. Luckily our Maths that we started has just been working so effortlessly that she easily continued with that, then her History and her Ancient History, well that is something she loves so she kept those going, her Latin mostly continued but Science was something that I was concerned about. Science is not her area, so she often needs a bit of extra guidance. In September we actually switched to a new set of Science Books – the AQA KS3 set from Hodder Education. It was new so I was still not sure how it would go with the whole upheaval of moving, me being distracted and not as available as I normally would be. But really I had nothing to worry about. The Science just like her Maths is user-friendly and she kept her books in a backpack (so she always knew were they were) and really just kept at it, no extra asking or extra guidance from me was needed (well – I did answer a few questions that she had but that was it).

My daughter tends to read one double page from the student book at a time, if there are examples in the student book to work through she tends to do them orally. Then she flips over to the Practice book and works through the questions. Tthe practice books are not write-on workbooks, so the kids do need somewhere to write their answers. She has the Extend practice book which she is using, so it includes a range of questions from quite easy to fairly challenging (I am going to publish a post later this week where I talk about the different in the two practice books in more detail). I have printed out the answers for her (they are free to download from the site), so she checks her answers herself and if she has any queries she then comes to me. Doing it this way has really suited us.

A bit about how the student book is set out. There are 10 Topics covered in the book. Each Topic starts with a “Transition” page which is an introduction of sorts.

Then they have the “Core” pages. All the Core pages have worked examples and activities for the kids to try (answers for all activities are Free to download from the Hodder website). They also highlight Common Errors made by the kids in boxes on the page (my daughter liked this) and key facts and key words are also boxed in along the side of the page.

After the Core pages you get the “Extend” page (if your kids struggle with Science you could focus of the core pages and leave the Extend pages). And the “Enquiry” page, which my daughter calls Extend.2

My daughter has been working through Physics section of the Student and Practice Books. And I have to admit Physics is the Science that she HATES, she does not want to do Combined Science just because Physics is included she would rather just do Biology and Chemistry. Physics is NEVER popular with her and then to combine it with moving house, which was chaotic and overwhelming, yet she managed, she more than managed, there was no problem at all, she finished 2 topics. She is understanding what she is reading, she is answering the questions and getting most of them correct and yes she has a few questions but honestly she has a lot fewer questions than I expected. So just based on how well she is managing with her Least Favourite Science section I am impressed and I have high hopes for the Biology and Chemistry sections.

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Abridged Shakespeare

We are a bit book obsessed in our house. As much as I love using our library (we often have the maximum number of books out on each on our library cards) I do still like having a selection of books that are permanent. Books that the kids can read multiple times over a number of years but I do try really hard to make sure that our permanent books are quality books, books on topics that you actually want the kids to read, multiple times over a number of different years. So a lot of our permanent books are non-fiction but we also have a permanent set of Classic stories (including Shakespeare). My oldest has actually started reading the proper unabridged versions of Shakespeare but we started collecting abridged retellings of his works quite a few years ago and I love these little gems.

I think we first stumbled onto the BIG CAT series around 4 or 5 years ago. It was quite by accident, I was looking for interesting readers and I found a few books in the series that looked interesting and then I noticed their Shakespeare collection and our own set of Shakespeare’s works started growing.

My aim was simple – I wanted my kids to discover Shakespeare at a young age so they would not be intimidated by the name Shakespeare. I wanted them to get a basic understanding of the plays – the characters and story lines so when they did start reading his original works they would already have a basic understanding.

And these abridged retellings have not failed. Both of my kids have read and reread them over the years. Both, now have an understanding of the basic plots and characters and when we do read Shakespeare together no-one is intimidated by the unusual words.

Each book is slightly different but they often include a summary of the main characters

and sometimes a summary of the story.

They also have interesting illustrations of the characters and events which always help to bring the story to life.

I am really glad we choose to introduce Shakespeare’s works in this format and even now, now that my oldest is reading the proper works she still dips backs and has a quick read of the abridged versions.

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Help Your Kids with Geography – Book Review

I am a big believer in giving kids access to books, and by books I don’t just mean fictional stories to read I also been factual books, books that inform and build a solid foundation of knowledge. I have always been able to find interesting History books and last year I managed to get two good Science books for my daughter but Geography was a tough one. I have picked up a few books but nothing that seemed comprehensive. That was until I spotted this Gem – Help Your Kids With Geography by DK. Now straight away on the cover it says the book is aimed at KS3 and KS4 but I actually think if you have a kid in Upper KS2 who is interested in Geography then this book would also be great for them and parents (Yip I am finding this book both fascinating and VERY helpful).

  • Help Your Kids with Geography. KS3 resource from DK
  • Help Your Kids with Geography. KS3 resource from DK

It is styled in what I view as the typical DK format – lots of quality images (both illustrated and photographed) with facts around the images.

We like this format. My kids find it engaging and interesting without being overwhelmed by massive amounts of endless writing (really suits visual learners).

Each topic tends to cover a double page and the information is separated into blocks. They have also included a really useful block at the top called See Also – and this directs you to other linked pages (I love this little block).

They have broken the book down into 3 sections – Physical Geography, Human Geography and Practical Geography. And in terms of what they cover under each section it is A LOT – too much for me to try and list out so instead I am going to include two photographs of the contents to show you.

I am not a Geography whizz but that looks very comprehensive to me and everything that I know we need to cover in our Geography is included. We naturally prefer the Physical Geography side and I have read the pages on tectonic plates, rivers, glaciers, erosion and all of those pages reinforced what we knew and added in extra information and understanding. I tend to get a bit nervous about the Human Geography side (I just find it easier to explain the earth geography) and already the Human Geography pages have helped to settle my nervousness about it. Practical Geography is something I know we need to work on this year so I had a look at the pages that I need and already I found a number of diagrams that explained the concept far better than I ever would have.

So how do we use this book? The main reason why I like books like this is for further reading. So if we are covering Volcanoes in our student book I will ask my daughter to go and read the linked pages in this book.

Why do we do that? Simply put it helps to cement the understanding of a topic if we read about it in another source, using different words and pictures to explain. Just seeing something more than once in a different wording helps to REALLY understand the topic. And often reading something a second time answers small lingering questions or uncertainties.

We would recommend this book for anyone doing Geography in KS3 and KS4 (and possibly younger kids – my son who is in Year 6 will find this book just as useful as his older sister who is Year 9). And I would also recommend this book for parents and home educators, who like me may need to do a bit of “reading-up”.

For those you want it here is an Amazon link for the book Help Your Kids with Geography, Ages 10-16 (Key Stages 3-4): A Unique Step-by-Step Visual Guide, Revision and Reference

Admin – 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.

Help Your Kids with Geography. KS3 resource from DK
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Maths Books Year 9. Update.

Three weeks in and I can already say I am loving our new Maths Books. They just make Year 9 Maths easy (by easy I mean easy to understand). We have had a crazy first 3 weeks and the next 3 weeks are going to be just as crazy (I hurt my knee and we are moving house) but my daughter’s Maths is the one thing that is not stressing me (and her) out. No prep work required (okay I do read ahead the week before just to make sure I am happy with any explaining or help that I may need to give but that is it). I tell her which pages she needs to work through, she does the work, checks her answers (I have already printed out the FREE to download answers for her) and then if there are any questions she asks and we work through that together. No fuss at all. No me, spending ages on the internet searching for resources. It is all there, in our two books, nothing extra required. Just what we needed. (admission – I wish we had switched to this last year).

And my daughter after three weeks what are her thoughts – she likes all the worked examples that they include in the book and she likes that the questions are in bands which gradually get harder.

She also likes being able to mark her own work and see if she can figure out any errors that she made.

The only thing I think we are going to change/ add is the Practice Book that we are using. We currently have the Develop and Secure Practice Book 3 and she is breezing through it so I think we are going to get her the Extend Practice Book 3 to use.

In terms of content and what they cover. At the moment we are working through the first two chapters (Chp 1 – Powers and Indices, Chp 2 – Fractions) and then we are going to go onto Chapter 3 (Accuracy). For us the first few chapters just seemed like the logical place to start so we are following the books order. But after that I am not sure if I still stick with their order or jump around a bit, just because it makes sense to cover certain Maths sections as they link into our Science. But looking at the content you can do that, you can follow their suggested order or you can change and do chapters in a slightly different order if that suits you better.

In terms of examples given – so far I have NOT felt the need to print off extra examples for us to use. I have also NOT felt the need to find different explanations (which is something I have had to do it the past). However I personally think that using the Practice Book together with the Main student Book is a must. I am a big believer in Maths practice so I like having the extra questions in the practice book (I think it is really worth the £6.99 for all the questions you get).

It is still early days and there is still a lot of content which we need to work through, so I will write update posts during the year. But so far this is a Massive winner, my daughter is happy working through it and I am not having to spend extra time looking for worksheets for her or trying to find well-worded explanations (so for me it is a great time saving set).

  • Mastering Mathematics Book 3. Maths for Year 9 students

For those of you looking for links for the Maths books we are using here they are.

Direct from the Hodder site – Mastering Mathematics Book 3

Develop and Secure Practice Book 3

Extend Practice Book 3

From Amazon

Key Stage 3 Mastering Mathematics Book 3

Key Stage 3 Mastering Mathematics Develop and Secure Practice Book 3

Key Stage 3 Mastering Mathematics Extend Practice Book 3

Admin – 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.

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Twinkl Book Club

I have had a Twinkl membership for years, and over the years they have added a lot more content and ranges to the site and although some of it was too young for our kids so we never tested it out, some of it has been spot on, as if it was “taylor-made” for us. One of their newer “ranges” is the book club (which is included with the Ultimate membership). You actually get 6 books delivered to your door during the course of 12 months. And I have to be totally honest and admit at first I was not too sure about these Twinkl Original Books. I mean anyone can write a story but the question is being able to write a good, engaging story, one which the kids enjoy reading but one which I can also use as a springboard for learning. Now that is not easy. But these Twinkl Original stories are just that (for the purpose of this post I am going to be talking about the KS2 Stories because I have not been following the Twinkl original stories written for KS1 purely because my kids are older).

Now all the Twinkl original books that we have received are actually in an eBook format on their website. But here is the thing, my kids still enjoy reading good old-fashioned books, something that you can hold and turn the page. Yes we use devices in our house but we do limit devices and encourage books for the simple reason that we have seen our kids relax when reading a book. So having a hard-copy of these stories is actually perfect for us.

The stories are always well-written, lots of descriptive language and the topics are varied but always something that you can extend. Sometimes it’s a History topic, sometimes a Science topic and sometimes it is just a great example of creative writing. And for every book there is always a big range of resources which you can download from the site. In fact it is actually one of my son’s favourite English activities – reading a Twinkl original story and then working through the linked resources. But you don’t have to use the resources, you can just read the book and enjoy a good story.

I am a massive fan of the entire concept behind the Twinkl original stories, the linked resources and yes the physical books that arrive on your doorstep as part of the Book Club. Good quality stories are always a win. (And just in case anyone was wondering, this is Not a paid for post, I was not asked to write this, I just happen to enjoy the fact that as part of my Twinkl membership we get 6 books delivered to our doorstep each year).

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