GCSE Osmosis Topic Pack

Over the years we have used a number of the Oaka Books topic packs for both primary and secondary (KS3) subjects. My daughter really enjoys them, and I have become a massive fan of the way they sum everything up and present the information in such an easy to remember style. So it was not a massive surprise when my daughter asked if I could get her some of the GCSE Topic Packs from Oaka Books (Yes she actually asked if I could get all of the Oaka Topic packs that relate to her IGCSE subjects).

And after using the Osmosis GCSE Topic Pack I have to say it is just as good as the other Topic Packs (the ones for KS3). The explanations are concise, the diagrams help to both explain and remember and we loved the fact that they included some question cards.

Okay so first of all – it is what you expect from an Oaka Books Topic Pack – you get a Topic note booklet, you get a Write your own Notes booklet (this is where the kids need to fill in key words and phrases) and then instead of an active learning game you get some question cards. If your kids enjoyed the KS3 Topic Pack style of learning they are going to enjoy this.

I will however say please be realistic – this is GCSE / IGCSE content, so there are going to be some more challenging concepts in these compared to the KS3 booklets. But that is what you expect at this level. And having said that even though the content is more challenging they still present it in a very easy to digest manner. Also with these packs there are no key words at the top of the page (In the Write Your Own Notes booklet), instead there is a separate key word sheet. This means the kids can choose to try and complete the write your own booklets without the key word help (their choice). It is a small change but one that I really like.

Okay so what exactly is covered in the Osmosis Pack?

  • There is a glossary of terms used
  • Explanation of what Diffusion is and what Osmosis is and concentration gradients
  • They also talk about water concentration and changing levels, net movement
  • They include detail about turgid, vacuole, cell walls
  • They discuss the plan experiment which kids are expected to know (loved that this was included)
  • Percentage change, plotting a graph and calculating water uptake (again I really liked that they included these sections)
  • Active transport and a few other bits and pieces.

It is everything that we needed.

Okay so how did we use this pack and why did we include it? We covered our Diffusion, Osmosis, Active transport section from our main student book that we are using, we watched a few youtube clips about it and my daughter did some questions. And it was fine but I felt like we were missing a nice summary / wrap-up activity. And I felt like even though she understood it she was just not 100% confident with everything. Which has happened before and in the past that is exactly when we have used one of these packs. So that is what we did. We worked through the pack as our “summary activity” but also as our “lets just make 100% we understand all of this” before we move on activity. And it was prefect. It did all of that and afterwards we both felt like we had really covered the topic well and were happy to move on.

I know Oaka’s GCSE content is newish and they are still adding to it but I think their GCSE Topic Packs are going to be very popular in our house.

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It can’t be all about school work

I have always thought that home education can not just be about getting “school work done”, rather it is about the learning journey and nurturing a love of learning. But I will admit it is a lot easier to adhere to that when the kids are younger. As they progress and as they start thinking about writing exams (if that is the path they chose) so the pressure gets bigger, there is more work to get through and it can be hard to maintain a good balance. But balance is vital.

We are now at the stage where my oldest is already working on some subjects with the intention of writing some exams next year. My youngest is in the secondary stage and we are already thinking about the possibility of him writing exams earlier (still thinking). So the quantity of more formal learning has naturally increased but I have also been forced to remind myself that we still need to squeeze in the other stuff.

Both of my kids actually enjoy learning. We have always tried to make learning fun and the result has been that they actually get excited to discover new things. So I am trying to make sure that we keep including the more relaxed /fun learning that we have always done. Learning and discovering things that are not going to be in exams but things that they find fascinating. And yes time is a factor, but I am trying to ensure we squeeze one or two of these “fun learning” activities in a week (and I am not implying that it is an entire day, it is often just the case of us investigating something interesting for 45 minutes). But the point is it is not learning for an exam. It is not learning because it is required. It is learning because something is interesting, so it is fun, relaxed and it keeps that spark of learning is fun (which believe me when you are having to do GCSE Maths can sometimes be a thing that you forget).

And exercise. Okay so we are not the competitive sports type. In my experience competitive sport and sensory processing do not work well together. But I do know 100% that exercise helps my kids cope with their sensory processing disorder. I have seen time and time again when we let the exercise slip they struggle and when I get them out for a good long walk I see their bodies start to relax. So we make a point that every day (even when the weather sucks) we get out, sometimes it is to go for a swim, sometimes we just take a local 45 minute walk along the river, sometimes we quickly slip out to a local Natural Trust site for just 2 hours, it varies, but the point is we are getting our bodies moving and we are taking a break from our books and computers.

It is more challenging to keep the home education lifestyle that we have loved alive as the kids get older. Priorities change, time management becomes more of an issue but one of my goals has always been that at the end of it all I want them to have enjoyed learning. Exams come and go but that natural desire to learn more things, that not been afraid to discover something new, turning to a good book instead of spending hours on social media, not been scared to write your own story, all of that is more important (in the long term) than if they can answer a question the way some exam board thinks is correct.

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Animals Lost and Found

My son recently found this book in the local library and we both thought it was a fascinating find so I thought I would write a quick post about it.

This stunning book shines a spotlight on the amazing animals that are extinct, rediscovered, endangered and recovering. It is a great read for all kiddos who are interested in these exquisite creatures.

The book starts with a interesting 10 page introduction before it goes into the four categories in more detail. The introduction pages deal with the 6 main mass extinction events, the causes of extinction, classification, conservation and ecosystems (high level pages but great for just setting the scene).

But while the introduction pages are interesting it is the next section where the book deals with the different creatures that fall into the four categories of – extinct, rediscovered, endangered and recovering that really interested my son.

These four sections are split into double pages which feature amazing creatures. The double page includes a stunning illustration and facts about the different creatures.

I think lots of kids will be interested in the creatures included in the extinct section, and I must admit is interesting to learn about creatures that no longer walk this earth.

But my favourite section was the rediscovered creatures. I find this amazing, learning about creatures that were once thought it be extinct but have now been rediscovered. This just amazes me and it gives me hope.

After the rediscover section you also get animals that are endangered and animals that are now recovering, both of which is well worth reading.

I have to say that some of the books on conservation and animals that have gone extinct can be a bit negative and in the past my kids have read them and then come away feeling a bit depressed about the state of animals on our planet. But this one, this book had a positive feel to it, I think the fact that they included the sections called rediscovered and recovering really helps the kids to understand that not all is lost and that things can be turned around and improved.

Honestly, this book, that we very randomly discovered at the library is full of interesting creatures for kids to discover and learn about. Every member of our family has read it and found something new and interesting in these pages. We highly recommend keeping an eye out for this book.

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International GCSE Biology Workbook

When I was selecting which resources to use (and how many resources to use) I was a bit unsure about practice questions. Which workbook should we use, how many workbooks would we need, how many different types of questions do we need, aah lots of questions and I was not sure what the answer was. But as we have progressed I have found that you really do need a number of different practice question sources (in other words you need more that just one workbook or one website). Because as much as the kids need to understand the content (they really do need to understand it) they also need to practice answering questions, they need to practice putting their thoughts into words and practice understanding what exactly the questions are asking them to do.

So that being said I discovered a really great internet site which we use for both Biology and Physics questions and I also bought an additional workbook for both Biology and her Physics. After reading lots of reviews and paging through a bunch of different workbooks I went with the CPG International GCSE Biology Exam Practice Workbook.

It was not that expensive (under £8), it covers all the topics,

it includes a wide range of questions, it indicates which are the harder questions, it has all the answers included at the back of the book and it even includes 2 practice papers.

And they have included questions on the practicals that the kids need to cover (I really like this)

Okay so it really does cover everything. But I will say this, you do only get a page or two of questions per topic. So if you are using this as you only source of questions you may find that is not enough. But if you are like us, it is one of the four sources of questions then it is exactly what you need (yes I did say 4 sources of questions because we like to practice the questions).

It is not flashy, it is black and white but really for a workbook I am not expecting colour with bells and whistles. Black and white is perfectly fine for us and honestly the important thing is the quality of questions, the variety of questions and if the diagrams that they use are accurate. All of which is it.

For us this workbook for just under £8 is brilliant value for money and we really ars using it with every Biology topic that we cover.

Admin – 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.

This post is not linked to any publisher. I bought this book for my daughter to use.

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IGCSE Edexcel Biology Revision Guide

One of the books that my daughter actually asked for was this one – her Biology Revision Guide from CGP. The reason why she wanted it was simple – she likes having a condensed, summarized book for Biology, something that she can read after she has gone through her main Biology text book.

Now I must confess I have often struggled with these CGP Revision Guides. I find some of the pages can be a bit overwhelming in that it sometimes feels like they have crammed a lot onto a page. However I must also admit that if you just concentrate on a block at a time they do manage to really condense the work and they are excellent summaries. For anyone with kiddos who struggle with how much is on a page they can always do my trick and block out the sections that they are not reading by just covering them up with a page.

Okay so it covers everything that you are going to need for your International GCSE Biology course (really everything is here).

It is summarized so the book is a lot thinner that the traditional text books. I personally think it needs to be used together with a textbook (student book) which has all the detail, but I have heard some people say that their kids used this as their main book. Now everyone works differently, but this really is a summary book, it does not have the detail that the other student books do have. And I do think you would miss out on understanding the concepts if you only used this book in isolation. But like I said that is our personal preference. We like being able to read about a concept in more detail, look at the summary in this book and then answer some questions. So for us that does mean we are using at a minimum 3 Biology books all together (1 student book, 1 summary book and at least 1 workbook).

I have said we like the way that they summarize the information into small blocks. It really does help to focus your attention onto the key parts.

But I also want to mention that we are massive fans of their labelled diagrams (really vital for Biology).

I am glad my daughter asked for this book because it is not one I would have normally thought of buying her. It really is a useful summary of all the key points and well worth the money I spent.

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