We are busy looking at Medieval England in quite a lot of detail at the moment but that does not stop the kids asking about other events that don’t slot in to the Medieval timeframe. This past week alone my son had some questions about the First World War, so we looked up the answers and spend a bit of time discussing the answers to make sure he understood, they also discovered a book about Boudicca which they are finding fascinating, we revisited Hampton Court Palace so once again we discussed Henry’s wives and then my daughter got onto Queen Elizabeth I. And she ended up back at the Spanish Armada and wanted to know why it failed. And not one of these things are linked to our current History Topic but I always try and answer the questions and help the kids find information to read when they ask, even if it does not link into anything we are “studying”.
For the Spanish Armada I actually turned to our Topic Pack from Oaka Books. And I think the topic packs actually work really well when the kids want to look at an event that happened without looking at the whole time period (Although I must admit my daughter has a good knowledge about the Tudor times so it is not like she was reading the Topic Pack in complete isolation – she knows about the conflict between the Catholics and Protestants at the time and already knows the names of most key figures.)
So for our purposes we read the Topic pack in one go – chatting about key points and characters as we read it.
Two of the reasons I really like these topic packs is that everything is written in point form and they always have pictures depicting the event. So we find the kids remember the points and often link key events or key people to the pictures they saw in the Oaka Packs – which for mine helps them to remember the different events and people (much easier to read the information in this format than in long, winding paragraphs).
After we had finished reading the Topic pack my son actually sat and reread the entire thing. (My son is eight years old so would be in year 4 at school and this topic pack is geared for Key Stage 3 ages so not “written” for his age but honestly it is written in such a way that I think you can use it for a wide range of ages and my eight-year-old managed fine.)
While he was rereading the booklet my daughter took the Learning Map and the Character cards and worked through the events once again from beginning to end. Now I have said this before in other posts but these Learning Maps that they include with the Topic Pack are my daughter’s favourite part. Being able to sit and work through the order and use the character cards as she retells the events really helps to cement everything for her. It seems like such a simple idea using a learning map and character cards but IT WORKS. The pictures used on the character cards are the same ones they use inside the Topic Booklet so it reinforces everything and that simple activity of retelling the events is what allows everything to sink in properly.
For our purposes this week we actually did not use the “Write Your Own Notes”. But for those of you who don’t know about the Oaka Books Topic Packs – they come with a Topic Booklet (you summary notes), write your own booklet (where the kids rewrite what they have learnt) and either a game or a learning map. The write your own booklets follow the same format as the topic booklet and use the same pictures for the events so it does reinforce what the kids have learnt. We normally do work through the write your own booklet but in this instance my daughter was happy using the learning map and character cards and then going to creating her own summary in a history book she is creating. But I am including photos below to show what the Write Your Own Notes looks like.