Sky Hawk was one of the books we chose to read together this year. It was chosen for two reasons, it is a story about an animal (always a big winner with my kids) and they have a Free set of Teacher’s notes and worksheets on the OUP site for this book. I have been wanting to try one of these Free resource packs for the Rollercoaster books and I thought Sky Hawk would be a good option. But I was not expecting this story, both my kids and I loved it and I mean really LOVED this story. Honestly I thought it would be a popular story with the Osprey angle but I totally underestimated the other aspects of the story, the friendship storyline was heart tugging, it really ended up sending us on a journey. We started off angry with some mean boys, then glad Callum was being nice to Iona, upset when she died, then hopeful but nervous that Jeneba would be okay and finally at the end both sad and happy. What a journey and that is not even taking into account the Osprey angle, that was excitement, then concern, excitement more concern, relief, concern, fearful and at the end so happy. Wow. I really feel like the writing invited us into the story and that we were there with the characters going on their journeys.
If you are just looking for a good book for your kids to read I would recommend Sky Hawk, even if you have no desire to look at the Teacher’s Notes or use it as a learning tool this is still a brilliant story for kids to read.
But if you do want a book to read and study this book just comes alive. There are so many elements that you can look at with the kids but I think what stood out most for us was the writing style. We loved the way the author sculptured her words and described events and scenes. And it inspired some brilliant pieces of creative writing by both my kids.
This book includes lots of topics that you can delve into further. You can talk about conservation, look at Google Earth, how it can be used as a tool, migration patterns, differences between communities living in Scotland and Gambia, the differences in climate between Scotland and Gambia – there are lots of possibilities.
And this is where the Free to download Teacher’s Guide really cames in handy. It broke the book down into 12 possible lessons. And for each lesson it gives you some suggestions on learning activities that you can do with the kids – compare writing emails to writing letters, writing in the third person as opposed to writing in the first person, write a newspaper article or a book review.
It is the first time I have used one of these Rollercoaster Teacher’s Guides and I must confess I really liked it. I liked the way they broke the book down into sections (we did not always stick to their suggested pages, sometimes we could not help ourselves and we had to read ahead – but it is a nice guide). I also liked the suggested activities, the way they guide you and give you ideas. Using the Teacher’s Guide meant we covered a lot of good English activities in a fun way linked to a story that the kids were enjoying. So the kids were a lot more engaged than if I just started randomly talking about writing in the third person or how emails differ to letters. And for me as the educator I found having the Teacher’s Guide available meant I spent a lot less time having to think and plan out our next English session.
We have absolutely loved this story. Really Loved it (there were a few tears at the end). And I found the Free teacher’s Guide an incredibly useful resource. We have already selected our next book and yes it is another Rollercoaster story and yes it also has a Free to Download Teacher’s Guide (don’t be surprised if we work through all of Oxford’s Rollercoasters Free to download teacher’s guides).
Admin Bit – we got our Sky Hawk book directly from xford University Press but you can also buy the book from Amazon – Sky Hawk
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