KS2 Statistics Workbook

I have been going over my planning for our home education, making a few tweaks and adjustments and one of the things I changed was my sons Maths topic. I know I am going to be doing some Statistics with my daughter in May /June and I was working on some projects on how to make the stats more real-life and I realized that the projects would be perfect for both the kids. But my youngest has not done a lot of stats so in order for the joint projects to work more effectively we are going to do some stats with him beforehand.

I am going to use the same Statistics workbook with my son that I used with my daughter. It worked well the first time and I like the way it progresses, I like the order it introduces the different graphs and activities (just makes sense ) and I found it was easy to link the workbook with extra worksheets from Twinkl when I needed it. It is the Understanding Maths: Statistics

We have used this series a lot with both my kids. The pages always have a concise explanation and then a couple of activities below it. And like I mentioned above they always seem to build up the topic in a way that makes sense i.e. talking about tally marks before bar charts and talking about bar charts before pie charts. It’s just an order that I personally like and it would be the order that I would do it even without the workbook.

The one thing I must stress about these workbooks is there is NOT a lot of practice. It explains an idea gives a few examples and then moves on. So we do tend to add in extra practice where we feel necessary. But I just find these books a good foundation and they make my own preparation time a lot smaller and easier.

So what is covered is the Understanding Maths: Statistics

  • Lists
  • Pictograms
  • Frequency tables
  • Tallying
  • Drawing bar charts
  • Reading and scales
  • Venn and Carroll diagrams
  • Interpreting bar charts
  • Drawing and interpreting line graphs
  • Range, mode, median and mode
  • Timetables and distance charts
  • Conversions
  • Interpreting pie charts
  • Drawing pie charts
  • Misleading stats
  • Scatter graphs

They also include 5 progress tests in the workbook, which really is just a way of practicing what you have learnt so far. And all the answers are in the back of the workbook.

Admin Bit. I bought the Stats workbook that I mention in this post. I have included 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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Alex Rider Books

At the beginning of the year my son randomly discovered the Alex Rider books. It was quite by accident, I went to the local library to pick up some reserved books and I spotted the first Alex Rider book there and asked the librarian about it and she said they would probably suit my 10 year old. So I borrowed the first book and he loved it. But then we got into that rut of trying to reserve the books (in the correct order) from the library, having to wait because things were working a lot slower during lockdown. And even though I am so thankful for the reservation service at the library and we love our library and use them a lot my son is a bit of a bookworm and once he finds books that he enjoys he tends to tear through them very quickly, so we were getting a bit frustrated with the waiting. And then I got an email from Books2Door asking if I would like to review a book for them. They sent me a list of possibilities and right there on the list was the Alex Rider series (such perfect timing) so I immediately said YES.

It is only the second time I have used the Books2Door website but so far my experiences have been positive. I logged onto the site Sunday evening, placed my order, selected standard delivery (which costs £3.99) and my books were at our door by Wednesday, all in perfect order.

The set we ordered was the Alex Rider Box set of 11 books for £22.95, which works out at roughly £2 a book – an excellent price.

As soon as the set arrived my son immediately dived in and I must confess I wanted to see what all the fuss was about so I also started reading the set. (I am now on book 6 of the set). I started off with the idea that I would just read the first 2 books in the set so I would have an idea about the story and plot for the review. But my son loved the fact that I was also reading “his Books” and ended up joining me on the couch on a number of occasions. And I am all for anything that encourages reading so we have now agreed that both of us will finish reading the set together (and I must admit I am really enjoying our mother-son reading time).

The basic plot – Alex Rider is an orphan who lives with his uncle until his uncle is killed. Alex then discovers his uncle is a spy working for MI6 and Alex agrees to go undercover to help them find the person who killed his uncle.

It is sort of like a kids version of James Bond / Mission Impossible, with gadgets and no adult scenes. Although the one complaint I have about these books is in every book there is always one line which I think could have been left out, for example “people drifting in and out of pornographic cinemas and striptease clubs. He had accidentally drifted into the famous red-light district of Amsterdam.” My son is 10 years old and he is an innocent 10 year old so really I would have preferred it if the stories were just kids spy stories without these unnecessary lines added in about pornographic images and striptease. They really do not add anything to the story line. But I must also admit that because these one-liners are irrelevant to the main plot my son always seems to skim over them and it is only because I am also reading the books that I have spotted them and think they could have been left out.

The adventures are fun-filled and cover a wide range of activities and experiences – like going scuba diving or going into space and the gadgets are always fun (like exploding gum or a bicycle with all kinds of additional features – think of a kids version of James Bond’s car but it is a bicycle). People do die in the books and Alex does end up killing some himself but it always as a result of him defending himself. He never goes out with the intention of assassinating anyone. There are bad guys/ evil characters in the books but so far the bad guys are not so scary or evil that I have thought it was too much. And there is no swearing or crude language. My son is 10 and I would personally say the age range for these would be 10 – 14 years, I would not recommend them for younger kids but I do think 13/ 14 year olds would enjoy the action.

Also I do think it is a good idea to read the books in order. There are events and characters that are carried through from the earlier books so it does make a bit more sense to try and stick to the order. If you stick to the order you also get to really see the character of Alex Rider develop and grow.

So far we have been enjoying all the books and I have no doubt we will finish reading the set soon. It has definitely been a good find for us.

Admin – As I mentioned above Books2Door asked if I wanted to write a book review for them and I choose the Alex Rider set because my son had already read the first one and enjoyed it. All opinions expressed are that of myself and my son.

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A week of learning with games

The week before Easter and the kids and I are feeling exhausted. So I have decided we are going to change things up a bit this week. We have some Maths and English that we still want to wrap up before Easter arrives but apart from that I thought instead of doing our normal topics we are going to do a game an afternoon.

Yip, one board game per afternoon. And no I am not going completely crazy (well I hope not). The games we are going to be playing this week are these ones.

Four games for four afternoons (because Friday is a holiday). These are our board games that we have had for a few years but they are just brilliant learning games and perfect for some low key revision.

On the Map Board Game. This is our Geography game. There are 2 versions (the board has two sides). One focuses on Europe and the other is the Whole World. This is a map/ monopoly game. As you travel around the board you answer Geography questions and if you get them correct you place one of your pieces on that block and you effectively own it. If another players land on your block they need to answer a quick fire question (which is all about capital cities) if they get the answer correct then they take control of your block.

Both of my kids have learnt a lot by playing this game and the great thing about it is the more they play it the more they remember (and yes in our house parents also play).

Playing and learning with the On the Map board game by Oaka Books

Predators and Producers game. This is Biology, it covers animal, human and plant biology. All three of the Science board games follow the snake and ladders format, in this game you get to climb up the producers and have to fall down if you land on a predator. As you move along the board you answer your questions. Oh and if you have kids of mixed ages, mixed abilities all three of the Science games come with 2 sets of cards – so there are slightly harder questions for older kids (when the kids where younger I would often go through the question cards first and select the questions for the topics that we had already covered).

Oaka Books Predators and producers Board Game

The Space Race game is the physics game.

And the What’s the matter game is chemistry.

So yes I know it might sound a bit crazy saying our plan for the week is to play one board game each day but really when you think about it we will actually end up covering a lot in our week. And the bonus is, it will be fun learning and in our house fun learning= learning that is remembered.

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KS2 Vocabulary Workbook

One of the English resources that I am using with my son (who would be in year 5 if he attended school) is the Schofield & Sims Understanding English range. I discovered this series when my daughter was in Year 6 and we used a few of the workbooks with her and I was really impressed so I have kept this range for my son. The range of workbooks is split into the following:

  • Punctuation
  • Grammar
  • Spelling
  • Vocabulary
  • Poetry
  • Fiction
  • Non-Fiction
  • Practice

The Understanding range series is not written for a specific year (eg x workbook for year 5 and y workbook for Year 6) but rather they focus on one topic per workbook.  So we tend to use all the workbooks but we don’t cover every page in every workbook in one year.  We will look at a section in the Punctuation book, then do a page from the Spelling book possibly a page from the Grammar book.  We jump around a bit between the books, with the broad aim that we would have covered everything by the time he finishes his Year 6.

We have used the Fiction and Non-Fiction books a bit differently.  Last year we used the Fiction workbook over a term and worked our way from the first page all the way through. Both my kids were wanting to focus on their creative writing so it just made sense to do the whole workbook with my son in one go.  And we have recently done something similar with the Non-Fiction book (although we are not quite finished with that one yet).  Using these two as more stand alone books was just down to what suited our family and the topics that my kids were covering in their home education.

All the workbook are written in the same format. At the top of the page there is a brief explanation and then it is normally followed by a couple of activities and there are answers at the back. The explanations are always concise and easy to understand and the activities well thought out.  Both of my kids have found these books useful and easy to use independently.

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So what is covered in the Vocabulary book?

  • Understanding word meanings
  • Using a dictionary
  • Root words and word families
  • Prefixes and meanings
  • Suffixes
  • Homophones
  • Collecting words, word showers
  • Choosing words
  • Using a thesaurus
  • Antonyms
  • Shades of meaning
  • Choosing words for effect
  • Formal and informal words
  • Old words and new meanings
  • Forming new nouns
  • The origins of words
  • Idioms, Similes and Onomatopoeia
  • Using your vocabulary

My personal opinion is that the vocabulary book is better suited for kids in Year 5 and or Year 6 (but that is really dependent on the kid).

Schofield & Sims Understanding English Vocabulary workbook

We have found that the activities in the vocabulary book mixes well with some of the pages out of the spelling book and we have also used some of these pages with completely different English Literature and English writing activities that we were doing.  They really don’t need to be used in isolation.

My aim is to complete all of the activities by the time my son has completed his Year 6 (I am saying this because I want to stress that I am not trying to work through every page in every workbook in one academic year).

I bought our Schofield & Sims Vocabulary book from amazon – Understanding English: Vocabulary: KS2 English Study Book, Ages 7-11

Schofield & Sims Understanding English Vocabulary workbook

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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Update on English Literature

I thought I would give an update on how we are progressing with our English Literature this year. English Lit is definitely a subject that my daughter loves so we do tend to spend a lot of time on it but then I also enjoy it and I find from a home educators perspective that a good book actually tends to cover more than just literature, we also end up doing language activities, we often cover History and Geography (we like to look at the time and place where the stories are set) and sometimes we even manage to sneak in a bit of Science (because if you are reading a book about a Wolf or an Osprey then you just have to do some research – according to my kids).

So what have we covered so far this year? What have we enjoyed? And what are we still planning on working through?

We started off this academic year by finishing up with Romeo and Juliet (I say finishing up but my daughter has gone back and re-read some sections a few times since then). She really enjoys the story, the setting, the characters, really everything about it. And I am thrilled because she is not intimidated by Shakespeare, she actually finds the differences in his writing style interesting.  So we are going to keep the Shakespeare interest alive and moving onto A Midsummer Night’s Dream after Easter.

reading speaches from Romeo and Juliet

I have to admit that I was a bit nervous about covering Shakespeare with the kids, I enjoyed reading Shakespeare when I was younger but I was not sure if I was going to be alright “teaching it/helping them understanding it.”  I did find the RSC School version of Romeo and Juliet incredibly useful and I know both my daughter and I loved the fact that they  included so many photos of the play being performed, it really helps you understand what is being conveyed in the passage you are reading.  We will be using the RSC School Shakespeare book for A Midsummer Night’s Dream and also for any future works we read. Honestly, I can not say enough about this version, just because I don’t think she would have enjoyed reading Romeo and Juliet as much if it was just passage after passage without commentary or photographs to help her understand.

RSC School Shakespeare Books and Pride and Prejudice Companion

My daughter is now about two-thirds through Pride and Prejudice. We are taking it really slowly and are breaking a lot to discuss the characters and events in a lot of detail. I am very happy with how she is progressing and I thrilled that we choose to do this book even though it is challenging, I think she is up to the challenge. And interestingly my youngest has started showing an interest as well and has actually read sections of the book (he does tend to skip some sections but then he is only 10-years-old so I am not fussed with that).

Reading Pride and Prejudice

I also want to stress here that my daughter has really enjoyed having the Pride and Prejudice Literature Companion book to use and read along with the actual book.  She has found it very useful and I must admit I am very thankful that we have had it to turn to during a few of our discussions.

Then onto some “lighter” books. We have completed and worked through the resources for Sky Hawk and The Last Wolf. Both books my kids loved. The Last Wolf was brilliant but if I had to choose I would say Sky Hawk was the favourite. The story just captivated the kids. Naturally the whole animal angle was a winner but the fact that the author also wove in a heart-tugging story about a group of kids, their relationships and how their characters changed and developed with the Osprey was brilliant. I was really impressed with this story.

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So apart from A Midsummer Night’s Dream we are also going to do one more book after Easter. The problem is I cannot decide between Beowulf and Soldier Dog.  I think Beowulf will be interesting because both my kids are fascinated by Anglo-Saxon History and it is written as a play, so we can have some fun acting it out. But then Soldier Dog is also “calling us”. The kids and I keep coming back to the First World War, almost by accident sometimes but it is a topic that both kids are interested in and we have already read some Historical Fictional books based in that time and they were spell-bound so aahh  it is a tough one and honestly I am not sure which one we will go for at this stage.

Soldier Dog and Beowulf

So that is where we currently are in our English Lit.  I hope that helps anyone looking for ideas.

 

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