Knowledge Encyclopedia Human Body

We love the Knowledge Encyclopedia range from DK and this one – The Human Body is brilliant. I bought if for my daughter and she has read and re-read it multiple times. She requested a book all about the human body but wanted one that was visual and not over-simplified and too be honest I was a bit lost on which book to buy her. But based on seeing some of the other Knowledge Encyclopedia’s at the library I took a chance and bought her this one and I am thrilled with it. It is everything we could have wanted and more.

Knowledge Encyclopedia human Body from DK

In true DK style the pictures are incredible with some mind-blowing detail. But I also really like the fact that they do not shy away from using the correct words and terms, nothing is “dumbed-down”, they tackle some complex questions and do so in a concise manner.

Knowledge Encyclopedia human Body from DK

Everything is presented in double-page spreads often with one main picture and then blocks of information, smaller pictures and details surrounding the main image. The blocks of writing and use of images means the reader is not overwhelmed by long, confusing paragraphs.

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So what does it cover?

The book is broken down into 8 main sections – Body Basics, Body Systems. Head and Neck, Chest and Back, Arms and Hands, Abdomen and Pelvis, Legs and Feet and Body Science.

Knowledge Encyclopedia human Body from DK

A logical way to order the topics and one that seems to make sense to the kids. I really appreciated that they included a body systems section, purely because this is the way I like to deal with human biology in our home learning. I just think it makes sense to look at all the bones together or all the organs in the digestive or respiratory system together. 

Knowledge Encyclopedia human Body from DK

And those small blocks of extra information are like gold when it comes to home learning. They are that extra bit of information that helps to cement everything and often just adds an extra something that makes it a bit more fascinating for kids who enjoy learning about the human body and how it works.

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I think this is a great book to add to anyone’s bookshelf and we have found it brilliant to read and use alongside our Biology learning activities.

Knowledge Encyclopedia human Body from DK

This is the Amazon link for the book mentioned in the post Knowledge Encyclopedia Human Body!

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UK and Europe Geography for KS2

When it comes to Geography we normally cover the topics together (my son is in year 5 and my daughter is in year 8) and it works really well. My youngest has jumped right in and done Rivers, Erosion, Biomes, Tectonic plates and Weather with his older sister quite happily (I know I am missing some but those are what jumps to mind). We do the “theory” part together and then I often give them slightly different activities based on their ages. It just works so I really have no intention of changing that. But at the moment my daughter is working through Pride and Prejudice and we are doing a lot of longer written activities on it and my son is not joining in with that. So we had a bit of a think about what he could work on while she did her English Literature and he came up with some activities on the UK and Europe (and granted we have probably not done enough on this side of Geography). I wanted something that he could work though almost independently (because I am very involved in the Pride and Prejudice work), possibly a set where he could read about an area and then do a linked activity – well that was the idea. So I had a look and although I could find possible options on Twinkl just for ease I decided to go with the CGP Books (mainly because I could order the books, not worry about printing out pages and he could just get on with it.)

KS2 Geography. UK and Europe books by CGP

Now I have not been a huge fan of the CGP KS2 books in the past, I found the History ones a bit brief and well History is one subject that we really dive into. We read historical fiction books, we do art, we watch documentaries, we tend to jump right in and I just never felt like the CGP History books fitted in with our style. But because he was going to try this “module” more independently, more as a separate topic I thought they might work well. And they did. He has already flown through his UK set and is just about to start the Europe set. And yes, there are sections where I do feel I would like more detail but we are looking at this as a chance for him to work independently and give him a good foundation (in other words I will be coming back to some areas in more detail later on possibly as a joint activity with both kids).

So what do you get? The Study Book and the Activity Book really do work together. For every double page in the Study Book you get a double page in the Activity Book and if you have read the Study book pages the kids can answer the activity book questions. They do NOT contain a set of “answers” but honestly the answers are in the text in the study book, you will not struggle to know if the kids have gotten the answers correct.

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The Activity Book questions are also great foundation Geography questions. What I mean by this is they weave in questions about erosion, land formations, weather, biomes all kinds of topics that the kids do cover in more detail later on. Also the questions are not massive paragraph questions, so if your kid is not a keen writer they should be fine. And the questions include things like reading maps, weather graphs, grid locations, writing a postcards or creating an advertisement.

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The UK Books covers (i.e. each double page deals with a separate section as follows)

  • The UK
  • The Organisation of the UK
  • In the City
  • In the Country
  • Changes in land use
  • North Eastern England
  • South Eastern England
  • Eastern England
  • South Western England
  • Western England
  • Southern Scotland
  • Central Scotland
  • Northern Scotland
  • South Wales
  • Central and Northern Wales
  • Northern Ireland
  • Where do you Live?

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The Europe Books covers (i.e. each double page deals with a separate section as follows)

  • The countries of Europe
  • Natural Europe
  • Separate by Sea (The British Isles and France)
  • The Centre of the Union
  • The Iberian Peninsula
  • Scandinavia
  • Land of the Midnight Sun
  • The Baltic Nations
  • Land of the Alps
  • In the Middle
  • Following the Danube
  • Crossing into Asia (a bit on Russia)
  • The Eastern Edge
  • At the Ends of Europe (Turkey, Armenia, Georgia)
  • Around the Adriatic
  • South Eastern Europe
  • Working Together

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So far we are really happy with these KS2 Geography Books.

Here are links for the 4 books mentioned in this post

KS2 Discover & Learn: Geography – United Kingdom Study Book: ideal for home learning (CGP KS2 Geography)

KS2 Discover & Learn: Geography – United Kingdom Activity Book: perfect for home learning (CGP KS2 Geography)

KS2 Discover & Learn: Geography – Europe Study Book: ideal for home learning (CGP KS2 Geography)

KS2 Discover & Learn: Geography – Europe Activity Book: ideal for home learning (CGP KS2 Geography)

Admin Bit – 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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Starting Non Fiction Writing

I had this wonderful plan that while the kids had a weeks break from home education (the more structured side) I was going to use the extra time to create a set of Non-Fiction activities. I wanted to create some tasks that both kids could do together – so an explanation and then an activity for my year 5 son and a similar but harder activity for my year 8 daughter. I was feeling quite excited that I was going to get this all done this week. But then life happened in a big way and I found out that I needed to submit 2 reports (granted I did not need to have the reports done this week but I did not want them hanging around once we were back into the normal, crazy, busyness of our home education routine so I thought it best to just get them done).

But, that meant, all that free time I thought I would have to work on this masterpiece (yes, yes I know I was probably being a bit optimistic when I thought I would create a masterpiece of Non-fiction activities – but let this girl dream) was dashed. So what to do? The plan was to have this all sorted out before Monday………..the only solution was  to combine what I had at hand and instead of creating new content rather adjust existing content (probably what I should have aimed to do from the beginning).

I had the Understanding English: Non-fiction: KS2 English Study Book, Ages 7-11, which is written for KS2 but it does give a good framework. If I looked at the book and summarized it I could create the following sub-headings (which could be a way to split our Non-fiction activities up.)

  • What is Non-Fiction, Types of Non-Fiction
  • Reports (Non-Chronological)
  • Instructions
  • Accounts
  • Newspaper Reports
  • Advertisements
  • Discussion
  • Explanations

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So that could be my basic structure but I would still need to make a few adjustments – for example under Newspaper Reports I would need activities showing the different between a normal newspaper and a tabloid.  Plus I knew I wanted to include formal letters somewhere. But the point was I had a starting point to work from.

The next thing I wanted were example texts, good examples that highlighted important features. This was one of things that I had been planning on spending quite a bit of time on this week but now I did not have that time, so what to do.  I was really lost so I went onto the Twinkl site and started searching for non-fiction text examples and suddenly I hit Gold. Wow. And more importantly how did someone like me who uses Twinkl as much as I do not know that they had this? (Just goes to show how much is really on the site.)

I found a huge section under KS2 – Writing Example Texts and I also found a number of KS3 texts (they call them Exemplars).

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I was actually just searching for text example but in the KS2 packs that I downloaded they actually had a number of documents – including a checklist which the kids could use and a word mat (I am thinking these might be very useful for my son).

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And I found a number of examples for each text that I was looking for (really liked that). Plus I found a similar text example for traditional stories and adventure stories which although do not fit in with the current topic are perfect for some fictional writing activities.

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So now a few more bits and pieces (I am going to include a few of the KS3 Non-Fiction Writing lessons from Twinkl), a bunch of printing and I should be set.

Admin Bit- 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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KS3 Maths Catch-up Books

I spend a ridiculous amount of time searching online for resources, reading reviews and comparing different items. The main reason is a hate buying a book and then it arrives and it ends up just sitting there not being used. I really hate that.

On one of my many searches for KS3 books I came across a range of Maths books called Catch-up Books. There are 5 in the range and they each get progressively harder. I was intrigued. Not because I thought we needed a catch-up book but because I wondered if we could use these as revision books/ practice books / way to build up confidence and speed.

When we are busy with a Maths section – e.g. Geometry I still like to give me daughter other Maths pages to “remind her” of the Maths concepts that she has already learnt and just to keep practicing her Maths. I am a huge believer in doing lots of Maths practice.

So the idea of these books seemed interesting. I started looking at them an immediately could tell that the first few books in the series where just going to be too easy so I settled on KS3 Maths Catch-Up Workbook 4 (with Answers): ideal for home learning and catch-up (CGP KS3 Maths) and KS3 Maths Catch-Up Workbook 5 (with Answers): perfect for home learning and catch-up (CGP KS3 Maths).

Maths Catch-Up Books 4 and 5 KS3 Maths

The aim of these books is to improve number skills by practicing them over and over again so that the skills are part of the kids long-term memory and they can quickly recall how to do them. Each double page looks the same. The page starts with a brief explanation of a Maths concept. Then question 1 is practice of this concept. However questions 2 to 4 are practice of other concepts that the kids would have already covered and Question 5 is back to the concept covered on this page. 

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This layout is different to most other books.  In most Maths books a concept is explained and then all the questions on that double page are examples of that concept. The idea behind this layout is the kids do a double page in one sitting so they end up practicing multiple concepts in one day. And the concepts are repeated multiple times over the next 70 pages of exercises so they end up getting a lot of practice over and over again.

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It is a different layout and one that was new to us but I must admit we like it. We really like it. We are using this book as a way of just keeping older Maths concepts ticking over while we work on new Maths and I do think it is helping because she is constantly practicing over and over.  And by doing 1 double page at a time it is a quick Maths warm-up type activity. And each book only costs me just under £5 (which for the amount of Maths examples included is good value for money).

I have not seen what is included in the first 3 books but I did find this summary at the back of the books, I thought it might be useful in helping you select the correct workbook.

KS3 Maths catch-up Books

I have found Book 4 and 5 a good addition to my KS3 maths resource collection.

Admin Bit – 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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The Last Wolf. Book and Free Resources

One of the books we choose to read this year was The Last Wolf by Michael Morpurgo. I am not quite certain how we got around to choosing it as one of our books – possibly because we enjoy Michael Morpurgo books, maybe because it includes a wolf (I think my kids secretly wish they could raise a wolf cub) or possibly the fact that the book was written in a Historical period that we are covering this year. Not sure what our initially thinking was but whatever the reason was I am really glad we selected this book.

The last wolf by Michael Morpurgo

The story is about a young boy who has some really tough breaks and has to deal with a lot in his youth (he is an orphan, has a cruel guardian and then when he finds a couple to love him they die), but it is not a story about lose, it is actually a story about survival and not giving up, about finding somewhere to belong and about hope. And yes there is a wolf cub in the story who loves the main character (I think kids who enjoy animal story will love this angle – both of mine did).

The story is shorter than I expected (we actually covered the whole book and all the activities linked to it in 2 weeks and normally our books last for about 4 weeks, sometimes longer), but still well written and an excellent story to read and talk about with the kids. Like how the author shapes the story, changing time periods, using a will and ancestry search as the reason for the time change (I have a feeling mine are going to steal this trick).

For home educating purposes I downloaded the Free to download Teacher’s Pack from the Oxford University Press website (they have a number of Free teacher’s packs that are linked to stories in their Rollercoaster series).

The Teacher’s pack includes a very useful Navigator page – where the story is summarized and broken down into suggested reading sections.

The last wolf by Michael Morpurgo

Then there are lesson plans for each suggested reading section. The lesson plan highlights ideas that you could talk about with the kids. Sometimes it includes things like looking for metaphors, sometimes asking about the characters or how the setting impacts the story.

The last wolf by Michael Morpurgo

And then for each lesson there are 1 or 2 worksheets.

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This is now the second time that we have used the Teacher Resources from the Oxford University Press site.  And it just makes life easier.  And let’s be honest easier is better. The night before I read the lesson plan, decide what I want to talk about, print out possible worksheets and I am set.  Quick and easy, no fuss. A home educators dream.

And we actually end up covering a lot.  With this book the kids wrote diary entries, book reviews, looked at the use of fonts, how repetition can be used for emphasis, rhetorical questions, they researched wolves, read about Scotland and I am sure I am forgetting some stuff.  But we did a lot and it was all linked to the story and all with very little prep work from me.

The Last Wolf Free download from the OUP site

I think the range of stories they have included in the Rollercoaster series is brilliant and I love how easy it is to use their Teacher Guides.  So yes we will definitely be visiting the Rollercoaster series again, soon.


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