Electrical Circuits Topic Pack

As we are progressing with our International GCSE Science subjects I have started to discover how starting one of our science topics by spending a few days revising the KS3 work that we did on that topic is really the best start. And it really is NOT a wast of time, in fact when we spend a few days going back over KS3 units we normally end up spending even less time on the IGCSE unit, for the simple reason that we have reminded ourselves of the basics before we start so those vitally important building blocks are there and then when the new information comes along it just seems like an easy extension of what we know. It really is working for us to do it this way. So before we started her electricity topic we chose to revise the KS3 work with the Oaka Books KS3 Electrical Circuits topic pack.

With this pack my daughter read the topic booklet herself and then completed the corresponding Write Your Own Notes (she did this in small 15 minute slots between other work) and then just because we love the games so much we also had a quick go at playing the board game. In total it was quick because it was not new, it was revision but it was brilliant at getting us thinking about these concepts again and reminding us of some very important basics.

Okay so what exactly is included in the Electrical Circuit Topic Booklet and Write Your Own Notes?

  • It starts with the glossary of term
  • What is electrical current and stored energy
  • Conductors and Insulators
  • Series circuits vs parallel circuits
  • The formula – Voltage = current x resistance (also it defines what each of these are)
  • What the different electrical circuit symbols are (this is an extremely useful page)
  • Resistors
  • Voltage and current in circuits
  • Fuses

It really covers a lot and after going through the pack a lot of what is covered in here is what they do for IGCSE, but just in a more detail. So it is the prefect starting activity.

For anyone reading this post who is new to Oaka Topic Packs. All Topic packs come with a topic booklet, write your own notes booklet and an active learning game. The Topic Booklet contains summarized blocks of information with very memorable diagrams (we have found that the diagrams used often help us recall information).

Then the Write Your Own notes is basically a copy of the Topic Booklet but with gaps for the kids to complete themselves (this may sound like a boring step but we have found this really helps because the kids are having to recall the information and then write it down).

And finally the pack comes with an active learning game, which is a “board game” with question cards that the kids need to answer. In the past all of these games have been brilliant ways for me to see what the kids have understood and what we possibly need to go over again.

In the past we used the KS3 Science packs as part of our KS3 Science learning but I am finding that they can also be great starting activities for our IGCSE Sciences. By going through the KS3 Science packs before we start the topic in our IGCSE Science we remind ourselves of what we have already learnt and it tends to make the IGCSE Science topic just seem like an extension of what we know instead of something overwhelming.

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Auslander – a book for older kids about living in Nazi Germany

I had spotted this book (Auslander) in a few Historical Fiction book lists for older kids (11 years and older) so I was pleased when we saw it at our local library.

I had already read a few reviews about it so I knew that the book mentioned some of the medical ideas that were around Nazi Germany, including experiments done on people and how disabled people where simply killed, so with that in mind I thought it would be best if I read it first.

I will say that that it portrays a somewhat scary image (which from what I have read is very realistic) of life in Nazi Germany and it does not shy away from some of the more brutal side of thing so for that reason I do think the age suggestion of 11+ is accurate and for some kids it may be better if they are around 13 or so.

The story centers around Peter. Peter is a German boy who was living in Poland with his family when Germany invaded and after his parents are killed, Peter end up in an orphanage. However Peter is the image of a perfect Aryan boy so he gets picked from the orphanage and sent back to Germany as part of their “reclaimed” project. Here he gets to live with a German family. Now you start to see some of the very unsettling side-effects of the “brain-washed” German life. The way Peter views things verses the way some of the other German family view things. There are a few eye-opening scenes, one which I found very interesting was when he discovered that the doctor he was living with, was involved with the medical experiments that were being carried out.

While you follow the character of Peter living his life in Berlin you get a good understanding of what life was like. There is a scene with the Polish kids who are starving and being made to work physical jobs, a scene where Peter and his friends just want to go and dance to music but it is banned so they have to sneak out, how Peter tried to help by delivering packages of food to Jews in hiding, how his family turn against him and even say he must be sterilized and finally how he is forced to escape or be shot.

Although it is a historical fiction book and the characters are fictional I felt like it painted a realistic image of life in Nazi Germany and I think this is something that is often overlooked. When we cover this period of History we often deal with the British angle and the Holocaust and we don’t often look at life in Germany, what living in that dictatorship must have been like.

There are lots of brilliant Historical Fiction stories on World War II (The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, Waiting for Anya and When Hitler Stole Pink rabbit – are three others that we recommend), but I think World War II, is such a big topic, it effected so many people in so many ways that really it is good to read a number of different books that touch on these different angles and how it effected different people. And for me Auslander is one of those books, it can be difficult to read at times, to understand what some of the policies meant for ordinary humans but for older kids I do think it is a worthwhile read.

I will be recommending this book to both of my kids to read (aged 12 and 14)

Admin – this is a book that I had heard about and found in our local library. 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 recommend.

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Physics IGCSE Workbook

I have not written that much about our Physics IGCSE resources, not sure why, possibly because I am relying on the wonderful Theater of Science so much and we really are enjoying her IGCSE Physics sessions. Every week she explains a concept, gives examples and then gets the kids to work through questions (she provides FREE worksheets) and then every week she sets “homework” which is further reading and more questions for the kids to work through.

But we are book people so we do have a few physics books that we are using along with the Theater of Science lessons and I thought it was time I started to write a few posts about those Physics books. The first one is our CGP Edexcel International Physics workbook. We have the Biology version of this workbook and I have found it very useful so when I started looking around for a Physics workbook I just thought if I would stick with the workbook series that has been working for our Biology (really a case of if it works why change it).

I want to start by stressing this is workbook – there are NO explanations of concepts. This is a straight forward write-in question book (and yes they have included all the answers).

All the Physics concepts that you need to cover for your exams have been included.

Under each section they include a nice range of questions, it is a combination of multiple choice, graphs, explanation, practical, really a good mix. They also indicate which are the harder questions (ie it will say grade 7-9 above the questions). I have been happy with the mix of questions in these books. And at the back of the book they include two practice papers (I am constantly looking for practice papers so I love that they have included 2 examples in this book).

It covers all the topics and it gives you a good range of questions but I will admit you only really get 2 pages of questions on each item. For us that is what we wanted because we are already getting lots of questions in our Theater of Science sessions but if this is you only source of questions then you may find that you want extra.

Also I will mention this is black and white and is not all colourful and pretty, but lets be honest at this stage we really are not that interested in colours, we are looking for practical and realistic.

For us this is exactly what we wanted. It is a source of good questions, with answers and they have indicated which are the harder questions and which are easier. I think it was well worth the money that I paid for it.

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Year 7 the second time around

Before I got into home education I was under the mistaken impression that once I did a year with one kiddo I would cruise through repeating the same thing with the youngest (in the days when I did not really understand home education). The truth is nothing like that. My son (my youngest) has never repeated the exact same activities that his sister (my oldest) did in that academic year. Why? Well simply put they are two different kiddos, their strengths are different, their learning styles are different and if your youngest is in the house when you are home educating your oldest you will be amazed as how much they pick up and understand. Plus as the kids get older the dynamic of your home education, your rhythm naturally changes.

This academic year my oldest has started her year 10 work and my youngest has technically started his year 7 work. But his year 7 is actually looking quite different to what his sister’s year 7 looked like. So I thought I would explain a bit about how we have changed it for him and why.

Firstly one of the best things that I did differently this time around has been the Maths. With my oldest we did Maths topic by topic, using lots of resources from the internet (including Twinkl). It worked really well for her and I feel like it allowed us to build up her Maths confidence but I will admit it was very intensive for me. My youngest is more confident in his Maths (in fact he loves arguing about Maths with me), so I knew he would be able to work through it quite independently and I also knew that with his sister starting Year 10 my time was going to be even more in demand. As luck would happen in his sisters year 9 I switched her to a Maths series, one which I was really happy with so I decided to try that Maths series for my son’s year 7 – Mastering Mathematics. And I have to admit I am thrilled that I changed the Maths for him. The series is so easy to use, the explanations are good and there are a lot of practice questions and he can work it is own pace (in other words I am not slowing him down because I have not had time to find resources etc). It has been a very good change for us.

Then English. I knew that we were going to have to work on English with my son. He is very creative when it comes to writing stories, really his stories are brilliant but actually writing it down, the grammar, spelling and even basic structure is not as “easy / natural” for him as it is for his sister. So English has become the subject that we are really working on this year. We have taken a step back with spelling and are working on fulling some gaps and insecurities that I think he has. We are doing more Grammar (really with him it is a case of just more practice when it comes to Grammar). We are doing lots of Comprehensions (I think Comprehension are great as the cover a range of skills) and he is writing a lot of short stories. It really is a lot more than I did with his sister but it is what my youngest needs. His Maths is cruising along fine, Science ad History he has breezed through so we actually have the time to really try and build on his English skills and try and really improve them.

History. We are rereading the History series that I used with my oldest but again we are doing it very differently. My youngest has already heard all of the content before so this time around he reads the pages by himself and we go through them quite quickly but then we focus on the longer written questions. We are doing this for two reasons. He has already mentioned that he would like to do History as one of his GCSE subjects so I know working on the skills used for the longer written questions is going to be something that will benefit us later and it also ties in really nicely with our focus on our English writing. If you think your kiddo might want to do History as an exam subject that I really recommend this Oxford History series that we discovered, the longer written questions are just such good practice.

Science. He has actually already covered and understood most of the KS3 Science. So I have put his year 7 aside for us to fill in gaps and go over sections that I think we need to redo (Chemistry) but we really are dipping in and out of all of the Science books that I used for my daughters Year 7, Year 8 and Year 9. He is also doing the Theater of Science lessons which he loves. My thoughts are lets cement a few things this year and then when he starts year 8 we are actually going to start prepping him for his first GCSE Science subject. Yes it is early but honestly I think if we don’t start he will just end up bored.

Geography. In all honestly Geography has never really taken off in our house, both my kids do not seem that keen on it. But that being said my son has already covered quite a bit of the Secondary Geography with his sister so we are doing something similar to Science are we are going back and filling in the gaps using all the Geography books so – Geog.1, Geog.2 and Geog.3.

Those are our main subjects.

He is also learning Latin with his dad and sister. It is something that the three of them do together and I must admit I am really thrilled that are doing it because he is starting to link some of the Latin to his English.

And his dad has also started doing some computer programming with him, but honestly I am leaving that it to them to figure out.

And then the fun stuff like art, cooking and baking. Well I really am not involved in that he tends to do all of it just for fun and without anyone really having to ask or suggest.

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Oxford Revise – GCSE Combined Science Trilogy

Just before Christmas I stumbled upon a GCSE Revise series published by Oxford University Press. They had Revise books for the Separate Sciences (so separate books for Biology, Physics and Chemistry) and they also had two combined Science books (one for Foundation and one for Higher). I saw a few photos of the layout and heard that the basic structure was first some knowledge revision, then a retrieval exercise followed by lots of practice questions. So naturally I started getting a bit curious and asked if we could review one of the books. Kindly they agreed and they sent us a copy of their AQA GCSE 9-1 Combined Science Trilogy Higher book.

Now first impressions – it is quite a thick book, my husband actually commented on that fact when it arrived. But then if you think about it, it is covering three sciences in one. On a very quick first look I immediately liked the knowledge pages – these are summary pages of all the key facts (but I want to stress summary) and I really appreciated the number of questions that they have included (the more we go down our GCSSE journey the more I am aware of how important it is for the kids to have lots of different practice questions). And the very important point answers – all answers are free to download from their website, and yes I have logged on and already downloaded all the answers for Biology and Physics and even printed out quite a few of them and I have had no issue.

All three science sections are set out in the exact same manner.

Easy to read Knowledge page (normally 2 pages for each topic). They have set it out in blocks so it is not an overwhelming page and they include diagrams and tables which help explain the information. But please this is a SUMMARY page, an excellent summary page but a summary page.

Second you get the Retrieval questions. The idea here is that the kids cover up the answers with a sheet of paper and test themselves. I was initially not sure about this but actually I love it as it is a quick test of key info.

Then you come onto a page which deals with Maths Skills and Practical skills that may be needed for the topic. Something which is vital for Science so I thought it was very useful that they have included this.

And finally for each topic they have included a lot of exam-styled questions. And I mean a lot. 6 pages of questions for each topic. The questions they have included are varied in terms of the type of questions and the level. On the side of the question page they have also included small blocks called exam tips (some of these blocks will seem a bit basic but others will included some really useful tips).

Okay so ease of use. My daughter has already used some of the Biology topics from this book. She found it easy to use, she worked though it independently and then marked her answers herself. Her favourite feature was the summary notes and I must confess as a home educator my favourite feature were all the practice questions (I know I go one about practice questions but as a home educator finding good questions, at the right level that come with answers for this level is not as easy as I thought).

My thoughts on future use? Yes we are going to use it. My idea is once we have completed a topic we can use this as our wrap-up activity. My daughter can read through the summary sections, make sure she knows the key facts and then test her knowledge with the questions.

I think it is going to be a very useful addition to our Science book collection and I am thrilled we have been able to add it to our bookshelf.

You can get this Revise book directly from the OUP site – AQA GCSE 9-1 Combined Science Trilogy Higher and you can also get it from Amazon – OUP Revise Science Book. I have not yet spotted it at my local bookstores.

Admin Bits – As mentioned above I asked for a review copy and OUP kindly sent us this book. We were NOT paid for this post and we were under no obligation in terms of what we wrote.

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 recommend.

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