On one of my many internet searches for secondary resources I happened to stumble upon an English series published by Hodder Education called English Anthologies. Now I had never seen these books before or heard about them but I was searching for something on Myths and Legends and the sample that I could see looked interesting and potentially exactly what I wanted. So I contacted the publisher and asked if they had a copy which we could review. They kindly sent us a copy and I must admit as soon and I paged through I was immediately impressed and actually silently scolded myself that I had not discovered this series earlier.
The book is split into three sections – Fiction, Non fiction and Poems (I love this because we have been struggling a bit to find engaging KS3 activities on Non-fiction and Poetry, so the fact that they have included activities for all 3 categories is a big win for me). The activities are written as stand-alone activities so you can work through each activity in the order or you can dip in and out and choose relevant texts. For each activity there is an extract which you read (the extract has notes along the side highlighting important parts) and then there are some questions on the extract.
Straight away I have to say that all the extracts have been exceptionally well chosen, they are engaging extracts and both of my kids have found them interesting. The questions are a combination of write in the book answers and longer answers which you would need to write on a separate page.
The questions are also split into 3 groups –
- 1. Look closer – which are questions that guide the kids to think a bit more carefully about what they have just read.
- 2. Now try this – these questions take the topic a step further (and actually are a lot of fun), and they also include something extra for fast finishers.
- 3. Practice questions – these are often more written questions.
And they vary. And they include lots of fun activities like create your own mythical creature, write a play script, create a TV advert, newspaper report, really lots of different types of questions which keeps it interesting.
Answers. The answers are currently in the Hodder answer database which is set up for school users but I have spoken to a PR contact and they are creating answer booklets which you will be able to download from the site (as soon as the answer booklets are on the site I will add the link). I have seen a sample of the answers and they are exactly what you would require.
Okay so the important part what did my daughter think (she is Year 8 age) – Her words after working through the very first activity – “It’s an interesting activity, I liked all the annotated blocks alongside the text, they helped to guide my thinking. I really enjoyed the activities, it was fun creating my own Mythical creature and drafting a story around it. I am actually looking forward to trying more activities from this book and I think we should consider including other books from this series in our Year 9 English activities.” (And my younger son who is just finishing Year 5 joined in for some of it and said it was actually more engaging than a lot of the other English workbooks he had seen). So both kids approve.
(photo below is of my daughter working through the 3rd activity – did not get a photo of her as she worked through the 1st one.)
I have been really impressed with this book and agree with both my kids that the texts chosen and the activities are engaging. I agree with my daughter and think we should definitely include some more of these in her Year 9 English activities. But that is a problem because honestly in an ideal world I would like to magically work though the remaining 6 books with her next year – which is totally unreasonable – so decision time which ones should we try and fit in? That is a tough one. I am thinking of possibly using the Shakespeare one with her (we are thinking of doing Macbeth in her Year 9) and the War Anthology one (mainly because we are looking at WWI and WWII in her Year 9 history and we will be reading lots of war related fiction). And even though it is geared towards KS3 years my son did dip in and do a few of the activities with us and he really enjoyed them so we may possibly include the Detective one in his Year 6 work. Ohh decisions, I will think about it more when I do their subjects plans over the Summer but I am 100% sure we will be using these again.
You can order this book and the other ones in the series directly from Hodder here – Myths and Legends. or you can order it from amazon Key Stage 3 English Anthology: Myths and Legends (Ks3 English Anthology)
Admin Bits – We were given a review copy of the Myths and Legends Book after I requested it. All opinions expressed are that of my tester (daughter) and myself.
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