I have mentioned a few times that my kids are visual learners and that they like working on projects / topics and will often get themselves totally lost in whatever topic they are learning about. I am finding more and more that their preferred way of learning is topics / project based which does not always tie in with tradition school books. Often a school book will cover a topic over 2 pages and then the next year’s book will add more detail. Or the text book will be geared at KS2 ages so they don’t go into detail and even though my youngest is 9 and still technically in Year 4 (part of KS2) he finds that frustrating. If we are learning about a topic he likes to LEARN about it and not be restricted by KS2 verses KS3 detail.
Just recently we covered Rivers and he did all the detail on Rivers that would be covered in the KS3 years in fact I actually printed off a few pages from an educational website that were marked KS4 – they were matching definitions to pictures type pages. But the point is he wanted to learn about Rivers and all of it’s details. And I understanding that he is 9 so although he is learning the theory he is not writing elaborate detailed essay type answers. (The photo below is my nine-year old playing the River Topic pack game which is a KS3 topic pack, he loved the game)
One of the resources that we find adapts well for our topic/ project style learning are the Oaka Topic Packs. They give us a good foundation for a topic – the kids pick up key definitions and wording without getting lost in long paragraphs.
Now we don’t ONLY use the topic packs, when we do a topic we tend to use a number of resources. We will watch documentaries, look for clips on education sites and find books to read (sometimes even fictional books that are woven around our topic). But the Topic Packs have become a good starting base for us. They set us on the right track, make sure we pick up key points and normally end up being reread as a summary at the end to help tie it together.
For me the topic packs work across the ages, so if my nine year old is learning about the Spanish Armanda we will use the Spanish Armanda Topic pack even though it is considered a KS3 section.
And we do adapt the way we use them with different subjects and different kids. Take my daughter’s History – last year she discovered the Oxford History KS3 books and LOVES them, so she decided to work through them page by page, slowly and very deliberately making sure she does not miss out anything. And then when she gets to a topic that she wants to investigate further, she normally digs out one of the topic packs and starts creating her own extra activities. She loves History and really enjoys spending extra time reading multiple sources and then creating her own booklets / timelines based on the different sources she has read. And she had found that the Oxford History book works really nicely with the Oaka Books topic packs. Although both sources are covering the same subject they do it in very different ways. So she is finding the combination works well, and her the topic pack reinforces what she has just learnt and sometimes includes some extra detail (plus she finds the pictures included in the topic packs help her remember – the ones below are from The Battle of Hastings pack).
For my son’s history he prefers smaller more bite-size history, he could not work through each page of the Oxford Book the way his sister does, he is just not as fascinated by the subject as she is. So he sticks to his topics/ projects for history and finds the summarized nature of the topic books perfect (his other favourite History resources are actually the History readers in the BIG CAT reading series).
Both of my kids seem to do well with this more in-depth topic style learning and although we do adapt it as we go I think it is something that we are going continue doing.