Starting Year 8 – History Ideas

History is probably my daughter’s favourite subject so we cover it in quite a lot of detail and we do end up watching lots of documentaries and reading lots of extra books just because she is so fascinated by it. But for this post I am going to focus on our key resources that we will use and then during the year as we progress I will write about the extra books and activities that we do.

Our main book for her Year 8 History is going to this one – Revolution, Industry and Empire. It is part of the Oxford University Press KS3 History series (they have three different books for KS3 so we are working through 1 a year).

Revolution, Industry and Empire. KS3 History book by Aaron Wilkes

We actually started my daughter’s year 7 using the Collins range of History books but we found that they did not have enough detail and I was constantly feeling like I needed to supplement them and spent ages searching online for extra pages and activities. So we switched to the Oxford book and both my daughter I were thrilled with it. (Just to note –  The Collins and Oxford books do split the time periods slightly differently between the KS3 years so if you switch between the ranges you may need to do a small catch-up.  We found that switching books meant we did not cover as big a time period as we had initially planned but we definitely covered it in more detail and with a better understanding.)

She thoroughly enjoyed working through the Oxford book and I loved all the extended questions that they have at the end of each chapter and really appreciated the way they help the kids work through the extended questions step by step. So for us it was a no brainer that we would stick with this range for Year 8 History. And she has actually already read it cover to cover and informed me that it is just as good as the first one.

The one thing I think we are going to do differently this year is I am going to buy myself the Teacher’s Guide – I did not use one for Year 7 and really I could manage without it for Year 8 but I am very interested to give it a go and see if it adds more to the subject.

So using this book as our base we are going to be starting at the Tudor Times and then work our way through to the Victorian times.

And like we did last year we are going to be adding in some of the Oaka Book Topic Packs. We like having a bit of variety in the different learning resources that we use and we actually quite like using these two together (the Oxford Book combined with the Oaka Topic Packs).

My daughter especially loves the learning maps with comes with these topic packs. (I must admit I also think they are brilliant – one of the best methods I have come across to revise a history topic).

Tudor themed Topic packs from Oaka Books

I have these three topic packs already  – Henry VIII, Elizabeth 1 and The Spanish Armada but Oaka also have The Dissolution of the Monasteries, Thomas Wolsey and the Battle of Waterloo which would link in nicely.

My son who would be in year 5 if he attended school actually works through his sister’s history topics with us. I know it may sound a bit strange to some that I do the same history with my year 8 and year 5 kids but it actually works really well. My kids enjoy learning about the same topics, I find it much easier to focus on 1 history period at a time with both kids and actually I think History is something which you can extend and challenge an older kid with harder questions while still involving a younger sibling with the topic. So one of the ways we do this effectively is by using the topic packs.  I have found them excellent when you are covering a topic with different aged kids. 

I also actively look for KS2 books for him to read. I really like the BIG CAT reading series for this. They are brilliant little summaries of historical events/ people perfect for my younger kid and also an excellent introductory read for my older. (In the picture beow are Crime and Punishment Through the Ages, Hard Times and The Story of the Suggragettes).

Historical BIG CAT readers perfect for home learning

My son has actually already read the Crime and Punishment one and has been telling me lots of interesting facts from it.

reading Crime and Punishment through the ages

I really like finding good Historical fiction books for my daughter to read.  We have made a point of doing this for about 3 years now and it really brings the time period to life and makes it a lot more interesting. (I also personally think it reinforces a lot about everyday life, things like the houses people lived in, the food, jobs, transport – all of that is normally covered in Good historical fiction).  I am still searching for extra Historical fiction books but two that we already have (both of which I have read and think they are excellent) are Lady Mary  – perfect for Tudor times and The Austen Girls.

That sums up our starting point for History.  But as we progress I will add in some extra items and will share those as we use them.

Admin Bit – The books used are a mix of books that I have bought and some Free press copies which have been given to us.

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.

For those of you looking for the books mentioned on Amazon here are the links

KS3 History 4th Edition: Revolution, Industry and Empire: Britain 1558-1901 Student Book

Henry VIII: His Wives & the King’s Great Matter: Topic Pack (Tudor Series)

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

The Spanish Armada 1588: Topic Pack (Tudor Series)

Crime & Punishment through the Ages: Band 18/Pearl (Collins Big Cat)

Hard Times: Growing Up in the Victorian Age: Find out what Victorian life was like for children in this enthralling non-fiction book. (Collins Big Cat): Band 17/Diamond

The Story of the Suffragettes: Band 17/Diamond (Collins Big Cat)

Lady Mary

The Austen Girls

Year 8 History resources

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The Austen Girls

I have been looking for good fictional books for my daughter to read as part of her year 8 academic year. Books that are entertaining and also link in with our topics. This coming year we are planning on covering the historical periods from the Tudor Times through to the Victorian Times and as part of her English Literature she has asked to work through Pride and Prejudice so I was thrilled when I spotted this book – The Austen Girls .

The Austen Girls written by Lucy Worsley

And even more thrilled that it was written by Lucy Worsley. We are both huge fans of hers (we love watching the different historical documentaries that she does and we enjoyed Lady Mary). I really like Lucy’s writing style because her books are never scary (no nightmares) and there are no explicit scenes between couples. She has a knack for including lots of historical everyday facts in her stories, facts that you don’t always realize are there because they are woven into the story. After reading The Austen Girls I felt like I gained a better understanding of what it would have been like to live in that time period. It’s the everyday type stuff like how a house was run, how shops worked, was it normal to see a women sitting in a pub. The way she talks about the obsession with marrying off the girls, making sure the matches are good. The comparison between the richer Austen household and the poorer household and how it affects the girls’ marriage prospects. I also really enjoyed the way she brought the whole criminal justice system into her story (well really lack of an effective criminal justice system). But she highlighted the way the courts worked, the lack of a proper police force, how convicted people where often sent off to the colonies and even how the jails worked so differently. There is a lot of detail about general living conditions and social norms that she has managed to include in this story. And for that reason I think it would be an excellent book to read if the kids are studying Jane Austen or if the kids are learning about the Georgian time period.

The story itself is lovely. It focuses on Jane Austen’s two nieces – Fanny and Anna both of whom have a close relationship with Jane (Jane lives in her brother’s house).

Fanny's bedroom chapter 1 of the Austen Girls by Lucy Worsley

The story details the two cousins’ introduction into society and their attempts to find a husband. There are some interesting twists and the ending was not what I expected but I actually like the way she chose to end the story. 

The Austen Girls written by Lucy Worsley. The ending

I think The Austen Girls is another lovely book from Lucy Worsley and I am sure my daughter is going to love reading it. (I would say it would be suitable for any tweenagers and older). From a home educators point of view I think it is a brilliant book which can be used when you are studying Georgian History and or Jane Austen’s work in in English literature.

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.

The Austen Girls written by Lucy Worsley. Historical fiction which deals with the Jane Austen books period

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Biology Pairs Game.

I mentioned last week that I have started collecting resources that we plan on using with our daughter in her year 8 academic year. And although I am still gathering together all my science items there is one resource which arrived last week and which both my kids have actually already been using and I REALLY LIKE. It is a Biology Matching pairs game that currently only sells for £4.99 and really is a great science activity. (My husband who has been doing a lot of physics with my daughter has already asked why I don’t have the physics version of this game – he is right I should also get that one.)

Okay First things first. If you look on the site it is marketed as KS3 resource. And it does cover KS3 biology but I have already been using the cards with my youngest (he is 9 years old). Granted he loves animal biology and has very good knowledge in that area so when he has a go at using the cards we separate out the cards that deal with this area.

Younger kid using the biology pair cards

Why would we do this? We like to work on topics together even though my kids would be 3 years apart in a school system for things like Science and History when I am working on topics with his older sister my youngest always sits with us and joins in. He likes it that way, he likes to be included and it works well for us. So when he sees his sister using resources like these cards he naturally wants to try them himself. And the beauty of these cards is you can actually do that, you can split the pack up and share them between 2 kids and you can separate out the cards that you think a younger sibling can work on while his older sibling tries different cards. I think this set works really well if you are educating 2 kids regardless of the fact that they might be different ages.

different aged kids using the biology matching pairs

The cards are split into 5 different sections (each section is colour coded) and altogether you get 75 different images which you need to match to 75 definitions. Which I think is actually quite a lot (I don’t think I could print out all these cards for £4.99).

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The set also comes with an answer booklet (which is very handy).

Pairs Game Biology set answer booklet.  From Oaka Books

We have only had the set for a few days but so far we have used in it 2 different ways. Firstly as a straight forward revision activity – the kids matched the cards for definitions that I knew we had already learnt about (I sifted these out of the set).

And secondly as a new learning activity. My daughter is very tactile she likes to hold things, pick up items and feel something in her hands when she is learning so I selected cards that were linked to some reading that she had just done on the computer. It was a new section so I suggested she just try. She matched the cards that she could and then she took the answer booklet and searched for the cards that she did not know in the booklet and matched those. By just doing this a few times I know she will pick up the new definitions very quickly because not only is she using her hands but there are visual clues (the images) which are linked to the definitions and she always learn better when she can link words to a picture.

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Like I said above – it is early days and the pairs game is a very new resource for us but I have really been so impressed with how many cards they included and the wide range of definitions that I wanted to write something now. We will definitely be using this set during the next academic year and I am also going to invest in the Physics set (and I am sure at some stage in the chemistry set as well – in total honesty if they had a Geography set I would also get that).

Admin – the price that I mention in the post is correct at the time of writing this.

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Days Out at English Heritage sites

We recently visited 5 different English Heritage sites (we split them over 3 different days) and I must admit I was so impressed with everything about the venues. We actually become members before the lockdown started and never got a chance to use our membership until they started reopening the sites. So I was not 100% sure what to expect.

At all of the sites we visited you needed to pre-book your visit (which is really quite straight forward on their website) and then you just show the tickets when you arrive. They were clearly limiting the number of people entering and I never felt like they were admitting too many people. We could walk around with total confidence and spend time reading the signs without feeling pressure to move on. The sites had cafes open (although they were take-away only) and they had toilets open (lovely and clean and no queques to use them).

And one of the biggest bonuses about visiting when they are restricting the numbers is the staff have more time to chat.  At Battle Abbey we got to listen to a lovely talk about the events surrounding the battle of Hastings – everyone sat outside and there was plenty of space.  At Stonehenge the kids spent ages chatting to two of the staff members about all sorts of things from Stone Age tools through to Medieval weapons.  The staff at all of sites we visited were really happy to engage and chat with the kids even when the kids went off topic and spoke about different time periods.  This is one of the reason why I always prefer to visit sites and museums when they are not as busy because that is when you really get the benefit of talking to the people who work there, who have incredible knowledge and who actually love to chat about their area of interest (as long as they are not swamped with huge crowds).

The venues we visited were

Day 1 – Battle Abbey (the site of the Battle of Hastings) and Pevensey Castle

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Day 2 – Stonehenge and Old Sarum

Stonehenge ofamily learning together

Day 3 – Dover Castle (the tunnels were not open).

Dover Castle the medieval Tower

Our day trips were brilliant and enjoyed by everyone. We all got a much needed change of scenery (which is great for boosting everyone’s mood), we got to walk around outdoors and the kids learnt something in a relaxed enjoyable manner.

If you are in England and the kids are feeling a bit frustrated with the current situation and need to get out we highly recommend trying one of the English Heritage sites. We are definitely going to be going to a few more over the next couple of months.

Admin – This post is not linked to English Heritage.  It is just me writing about something that we all enjoyed doing even with the current restrictions in place.

Old Sarum

Old Sarum

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Starting Year 8 – English Literature Ideas

I am starting to slowly gather together the different resources that we are planning on using with our daughter for her Year 8 academic year. And as I did last year I am going to put together a post for each subject outlining which resources we are planning on using. The First one is English Literature (it’s just happens to be the first one because we already know what we want to use and have most of the resources).

I must start by saying my daughter is a bit of a bookworm and she does read a lot. She loves classical stories and Historical fiction. I am not including the books that she reads independently in this post. This post is about the books we are planning on reading / working through together. Books that we are going to discuss in detail and yes she will end up doing activities/ worksheets based on these books.

To start with we are trying something new a “playscript”. We thought it might be fun, to act out sections and just have a bit of fun with the text. We have spoken about Beowulf before when we studied the Anglo-Saxons in History so she knows the basic story and she thought studying it in a bit more detail would be interesting. We are using an Oxford Playscript for this which includes a version of Beowulf written as a play and then a section afterwards where they discuss the play and give some ideas on activities that the kids can do. It is our first time trying one of these playscripts but I have skimmed through already and I think it is going to be a really fun activity (and in our house fun=remembering).

Beowulf an Oxford Playscript perfect for kids in KS 3 years

Then something else which we recently discovered – the Rollercoaster series.

English Literature books for Year 8 UK

These books are aimed at the Key Stage 3 years and they include free to download teachers notes and activities. Let me expand on that. The newer books in this series (like Scavenger) actually have the teachers notes included in the book. And with the older stories the teacher’s notes and activities are FREE to download from the OUP website here – FREE to download Rollercoaster Resources. (Really worth going and having a look).

Like I said we only recently discovered this series and the fact that they come with these free resources. But I have started looking at two sets of resources and I must say I very happy we found them. They are geared for schools, so you do get the terminology linked with schools like “learning objectives” and “learning outcomes”  but I am quite used to using resources used for schools and I just ignore what does not apply to us and focus on the sections that we find useful.

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The packs that I have started looking at include summary notes on the actual stories, lesson plans and the actual worksheets which you can use in the lessons (very useful). I really wish I had discovered this last year.

Then finally my daughter is desperate to study Pride and Prejudice which is normally looked at a bit later on in KS4 years but we are going to have a bash this year. I have a copy of the story and this brilliant literature companion (which I am thrilled about) and just to add a bit extra we have also got the Lucy Worsley book – The Austen Girls (which is a bit of a historical fiction story about the Austen family but it looks like it is going to be very entertaining read and also great for explaining a lot about what it was like to live in that time period).

English literature jane Austen books

Oh and I have not forgotten about Shakespeare but we have not chosen a work yet so when we do I will update the post to include it.

For those of you interested this is our Starting Year 7 English Literature Post.

Amazon links for those who want them-

Soldier Dog

Sky Hawk

The Last Wolf

Oxford Literature Companions: Pride and Prejudice

The Austen Girls

Ideas for Year 8 Engilsh Literature

Admin – the books included are a mixture of Free press copies that I have received and books that I have bought. All items included are works that my daughter and I have chosen together.

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.

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