Update on our Activate 2 Science Books

I wrote in August that we were sticking with the Activate 2 Student Book and adding in the Activate 2 workbook as our main Science resource, so I thought I would give a quick update on how we are progressing.

KS3 Science. Activate 2 student book and Activate 2 workbook

We have started with the Biology section and my daughter has decided to do the Biology section independently.  Now I am going to admit that Biology is my daughter’s favourite Science and she does know a fair bit of biology already so she is quite confident when it comes to Biology.  Her decision to do Biology independently (although in all truth it is not totally indpendently because she talks to us about what she is learning and we discuss it but she is working through the books by herself) was a bit if a surprise. But I like encouraging them to research and work on topics that they like so we are going with it.

So the way we are working through the Biology section is as follows.  She reads the pages in the Student book, sometimes comes and chats to me about something interesting and then she first completes the Foundation workbook page and then the Higher workbook page. She checks her answers herself and if there is an issue (very rare that there is) she comes and talks to me about it.  She is really enjoying doing it this way and is actually working through the pages a lot quicker then I had expected.  She has told me that the questions in the Foundation workbook are very easy but she likes doing them first because it is quick refresh of what she has read.

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Biology is definitely one of the subjects that my daughter enjoys so she does do extra reading (she often takes out human biology books from the library) and we do look for documentaries that we can watch together.  She is also a very conscientious kid so I know that if she is getting questions wrong or not understanding she will come to me (she has often marked her own work in the past she always brings examples that she did not get correct to me so we can work through them).

I also think that the Activate 2 range works well for this more independent style because the Student Books are well written, they do not dump a lot of confusing information all at once. The kids can read them bit by bit and they gradually build up in a clear and logical manner.  The workbooks are also perfectly linked to the student book.  For every double page in the student book that she reads there is also a question page in the workbook and the workbooks have the answers at the back. 

Do I think we will continue the whole year in this manner? No, we will work through Physics and Chemistry together.  She does not enjoy those two and is not confident with them.

That being said. I love this. I love that she is working through Biology independently, she is taking more control over her own learning and is enjoying doing it this way. And I am thankful that we have found some Science resources that are encouraging her to do this.

For more detailed posts about what is included in the individual books you can read these posts – Activate 2 Student Book, Activate 2 Workbooks.


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Watching Jane Austen

The last 2 weeks have been a bit of a Jane Austen watching marathon. It started when my daughter had some flu and was just not feeling great so she asked to rewatch Emma (the mini-series) which she has watched before and loved it. We did and everyone loved it. It was her second time watching the series and I must admit she did take in a lot more detail and asked more questions about the time period and the customs. I knew that our Pride and Pejudice Literature Companion had a section called context, which spoke about Georgian society so we went to those pages and read them together which even though it was written for Pride and Prejudice still helped with some of her questions on Emma.

Jane Austen

After watching Emma and loving it (she currently rates Emma as her favourite) we moved onto Pride and Prejudice. Wow what a story, both of the kids really got involved in the story and the characters. And there were big discussions comparing the mother figure in Pride and Prejudice (Mrs Bennet) to the Mother in Little Women. It was interesting to hear the kids compare the different mothers and the way they acted.  I must confess it was not a comparison I would have naturally thought of but my daughter loves Little Women and has read the book multiple times so for her it seemed like a natural comparison. Also the mother in Little Women is very much about her daughters being happy whereas Mrs Bennet is all about them marrying a man with money.

After Pride and Prejudice we moved onto Sense and Sensibility. Which my daughter was not that keen on. She was upset by the scene of the father dying and then the way the brother treated them. So I don’t think it will ever be as popular a Jane Austen piece as Emma or Pride and Prejudice.

And we are not finished this week we are moving onto watching Persuasion.

So is all this watching of mini-series really educational? I know a lot of my home education friends will think it is wonderful that the kids have lost themselves in the world of Jane Austen and have just been soaking it in. But I also know lots of non-home educators will question it. So here goes. No we do not always spend this much time watching movies or mini-series. Yes we do read and we do lots of other learning activities. But after doing this home education thing for years I have learnt that kids go through periods where they just want to submerge themselves in a topic and when we dive in with the kids and let them submerge themselves the learning is incredible, the amount they soak in and retain often blows my mind. And I will also say I have seen time and time again when the kids discover an audio story, a movie or mini-series that they enjoy nine times out of ten they actually search for the books to read.

I will totally admit in my mind we were going to wait and cover Pride and Prejudice in the spring when we look at Georgian History and I was planning on starting another Shakespeare work this week (A Midsummer Night’s Dream) because I thought it would be nice to tie our English literature in with our History.  But my plans have changed.  I can see how much my daughter is loving all the Jane Austen works at the moment, she is excited, constantly talking about the books and really, when it comes to learning if the kids are this excited it makes sense to go with it.  So Shakespeare can wait until after Christmas and we have started reading our Pride and Prejudice book instead.

reading Pride and Prejudice

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Elizabeth I and the Elizabethan Settlement

We are really enjoying our History at the moment. The Tudors were such a colourful group of characters and my daughter has always found Elizabeth I fascinating (I think Elizabeth I and Victoria are her two favourite monarchs purely because they were powerful women who excelled in what was typically a male role). She has already done quite a bit of background reading about Elizabeth I, the Spanish Armada and general life in the Elizabethan area (she is also very interested in Shakespeare and his works which tie into this time period). So bearing that in mind I thought we would tackle the Elizabethan Settlement, what is was, what it meant and the more long-term effects. But I must admit this is not a topic that I know that much about. So to start us off I turned to the Oaka Books Topic Pack – Elizabeth 1 and the Elizabethan Settlement.

Elizabeth 1 Topic Pack from Oaka Books

The Topic Booklet (the notes) starts off with a really useful mind map.  We really liked this summary right at the beginning.  Then it gives a quick background into Elizabeth and what her four main issues were (again I really liked this – other books we have read have not broken it down into four key points which I think is really useful for the kids to know and be able to go back to when they are answering questions). And then from the four main issues it goes onto the religious problem of Catholics vs Protestants. It also deals with the Act of Supremacy and the Act of Uniformity in nice key points.  I really liked these concise explanations.  I think you need to understand the basic points before you try and read extra detail otherwise it all becomes very confusing.

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We also really liked the timeline and the “Was Elizabeth I good for England” pages at the end.  Both are excellent as summarises and ordering the key points.

The Write Your Own Notes is as always, the same boxes and images but with no words so you need to try and remember what you have learnt.  This might look simple but the act of sitting down and writing out the key events not only reinforces what you have read but it highlights if there is something that you did not understand or something that you got mixed up.

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And last but one of our favourites – the character cards and active learning map.  We love doing this as our wrap-up.  Such a straight forward idea but so effective – the kids get to explain the events using the character cards and map.

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I really liked the Elizabethan pack and I think it works really well if you use it with the The Spanish Armada pack.  The Elizabeth I pack only mentions that the Spanish Armada occurred and that Elizabeth was victorious whereas the Spanish Armada pack deals with the Spanish threat and attempted invasion in stages.

Elizabethan Packs from Oaka Books

One of the things that I really appreciate about the Oaka Packs is they keep using the same images for figures and events in their different packs. I love this. My daughter is a visual learner and she immediately identifies the characters and events when she sees the images in the different packs. This might sound like an insignificant fact to some but it really does help to tie the events together and I am convinced helps her recall the events, which ones were linked and who the common characters were.

I think both packs are a great addition to anyone learning about the Tudors.

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The six wives of Henry VIII comprehensions

We have been looking at the Tudor period in a lot more detail and although I found lots of information and activities on Henry and his children I did not find that much on his different wives. And the topic of his wives is something that fascinates my kids, they wanted to read a bit more about how the wives differed, in terms of their backgrounds, personalities and their relationship with Henry.

So to get us started on the wives topic I downloaded the 6 comprehensions from Twinkl – Yes they have a different comprehension for each wife.  Here the links – Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard and Catherine Parr.

Twinkl Resources comprehensions on the 6 wives of Henry VIII

I love comprehensions because the kids are reading, having to apply their understanding and they practice writing and spelling when they write out the answer. So as far as activities goes a good comprehension is a great way to cover quite a bit in one go but I do always try and make a point of finding comprehensions on topics that they find interesting and want to actually learn a bit more about so these were perfect for the current interest. (I must mention for each comprehension Twinkl have created 3 different versions so you can use them for kids of different ages or abilities. And answers are included).

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We did our comprehensions in order of the wives and although they are focused on each wife you get to see how Henry changed and evolved over time. A lot of detail comes through in these comprehensions, including how his relationships with his kids changed from Mary being shunned to finally him including both his daughters in the line succession.

My oldest actually used the comprehensions in a slightly different way.  She used them as fact pages and ended up creating her own table comparing the different wives. They have categories like background, personalities, relationship with the kids, outcome (ie divorced, died etc). I had never thought of using a comprehension in this way before but in this instance it worked really well and ended up becoming a brilliant History activity (she has since gone to to research a few things about the wives in a bit more detail).

using the comprehensions to create a comparison page

If you are learning about the Tudors we recommend spending a bit of time on the wives. It is great to learn a bit about each wife and their personalities so the kids start seeing them as individuals in their own right.

Admin – This is not a sponsored post, I am just sharing a resource that we found useful.

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Remembrance Day Luminaries

We love making luminaries (glass lanterns) and having them on our window sills in the winter months. They just make the house seem cosy on those longer, darker days. This year we decided to try and make some new ones with a Remembrance Day theme.

We had our soldier templates that we used in our soldier template pictures and I also downloaded the poppy printable sheet from Activity Village. As always the glass jars that we use for our luminaries are recycled glass jars that we have just cleaned and our very handy Mod Podge (really handy for all kinds of crafts).

setting up remembrance day lanterns

We used the smallest soldier template, traced around it with a black sharpie and then coloured in the silhouette.

tracing the soldier image

And then with the poppies we just cut them out and glued them onto the glass jars with our Mod Podge. When you apply the Modge Podge it does leave white streaks but they dry completely transparent so don’t be afraid to apply the Mod Podge over the images.

remembrance day lanterns all gued up

And of course leave to dry. Then find a good place to display them, insert your candles and you are all set.

remembrance day lanterns lit up

We love thaving these home made lanterns on the window sills and even though the poppies are for Remembrance Day they make a very striking lantern and give that house a nice cosy feeling.

Remembrance Day Lanterns made by kids at home

poppy lanterns

Admin bits – I do include Affiliate links. (Mod Podge 8 oz Waterbase Sealer, Glue and Finish, Gloss) 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.

Both the soldier template and the poppies are from the Activity Village site which is a membership site.  It currently costs £12.95 for 12 months

soldier lantern lit up

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