Pride and Prejudice Text Guide from CGP

We have already read Pride and Prejudice and it is one of our options for English Literature (we are still deciding on which book to use for our third set text). So when I was given an option to review a text guide from CGP I was very curious to see what the Pride and Prejudice guide included and how it was set out (would it be easy to follow and helpful or would it be overwhelming and confusing).

My daughter loved it (she actually read the whole thing cover to cover). She specifically commented on how the guide included the quotations from the book. She says that other guides often give you a bunch of quotes all together in a block, which she does not not find helpful, but this guide gives one quotation at a time and explains the significance of the individual quote clearly. She REALLY liked that.

So what is included in this text guide? The guide is broken down into the following 7 sections.

Introduction. I loved this quick but brilliant 5 page introduction. There is a quick background on Jane Austen, a map (we both loved this), a lovely one page summary of the main characters and then a concise two page summary of the entire book. We both thought everything about this introduction section was just spot on, really well worded and wrapped the entire book up beautifully.

Background and Context. I have said this so many times and I will continue to go on about this but making sure our kids understand the time period in which the books are set is vital to their understanding of the story. Both my daughter and I felt like these four pages of background information was well thought out and structured, they managed to really focus on the key points without getting lost in excessive detail (another one of her comments about some other guides she has read).

At the end of this section (and the end of all the other sections in the book) they have included a page of practice questions. These questions are broken down into quick questions (which test your basic understanding on the book), in-depth questions (which are longer discussion type questions) and then the Target Grade 8-9 questions (two harder questions). I must point out that there are no model answers for these questions but I do feel that if you have just read the pages before nice and carefully, understood what you were reading then answering these questions will be fine.

Analysis of Chapters. 14 pages which deals with all the events of the book. We liked the fact that in each page they would highlight things like theme, character or writer technique if it applied to the chapters being summarised. We also really like that they included a key quote at the bottom of the pages.

And after this brilliant 14 page summary you get more practice questions, this time the questions are two pages long and include some exam styled questions.

Characters. My daughter loved the characters that Austen created in this book. They have such depth to them and she loved how they interacted and how learning about one character always meant you gained insight into some of the events. We enjoyed these 12 pages and appreciate the fact that the text guide went into more detail for Elizabeth and Darcy. We found the highlighted blocks in this section insightful and are sure that lots of kids will find them really useful. Again I must stress that we liked the way the quotations were handled, we felt they picked out the essential quotes and made sure they were clearly explained. And again two pages of practice questions broken down into the quick questions, in-depth questions, target Grade 8-9 and the exam-style questions.

Themes. A vital 8 pages. (hint – we would advise anyone using this to make sure they have read the Background and Context section before you read the Themes section as we felt like it gives you a vital starting point for this section.) The individual themes are broken down into nice chunks of information with key points highlighted. We found this section really easy to read, to understand and if I am honest once we had read it we felt like the questions at the end of the chapter made more sense. (Again the same format of practice questions as the earlier chapters, although in this chapter the number of questions are more and the practice questions take up three pages.)

Writer’s Technique. I think this is often the section that lots of students might struggle with, so I always pay close to attention to what any guides that we get say on it. I thought this section took something (structure) which is often confusing and overwhelming and made it clear. Even if you don’t think you need the other sections this right here is reason enough to buy this guide.

Exam advice. Lots of great advice on how to approach the exam and how to structure you answer.

And finally we absolutely adored the quick 2 page cartoon at the very back of the book.

This is the first time we have ever looked at one of the CGP text guides and I have to admit we have really enjoyed it and think it is an excellent resource for anyone studying this classic.

I was given a review copy for the purpose of this post but you can get a copy directly from the CGP website – Pride and Prejudice Text Guide, I have also seen them at my local bookstores and as usual you can get them from Amazon – CGP Text Guide for Pride and Prejudice.

Admin – CGP kindly sent us three different GCSE/IGCSE sample books so we could write reviews on them and this book happened to be one of them.

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.

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Our Soldier on the window

We have been going back and revisiting quite a bit of the World Wars lately and since it is Remembrance Day soon I thought it would be good to combine our History with a quick art project.

We started by printing out the extra large Soldier template from Activity Village. We cut and stuck it all together and then using some blu tack attached it one of the big garden windows.

Next we got out our Woody pencils – we have had these pencils for YEARS. I first bought them because they were just a great size for little hands and then we kept them because they are VERY useful for a number of different crafts. One of our favourites is the fact that we can use them on our windows and sliding doors and then just wipe them off when we are finished.

My son first traced an outline of the soldier and then he coloured the soldier in.

Next we added in a background – we chose to do the ground green and the sky red so that the soldier would stand out against his background.

Really easy but also really effective.

The template that we used is this one – extra large Soldier from Activity Village

And the pencils hat we used are the STABILO Woody 3-in-1 pencils

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I am not entirely sure what I was expecting when I first heard about Sawbones or saw the front cover but I must admit it was a gripping tale and one that I think my eleven (almost twelve-year old) son is going to enjoy.

Ezra (the main character) is a freed slave living in London in 1792 where he is working as an apprentice to a well regarded surgeon (the man who actually freed him and performed surgery which saved Ezra’s life). When the story starts Ezra is trying to figure out what he is going to do and how he can set up a life for himself with a young girl who he has fallen in love with. Then some strange bodies arrive for dissection (and yes this book does deal with dissection in quite a bit of detail on a few occasions so it is not for the squeamish) and chaos follows as a man breaks into the house in an attempt to steal something from one of the dead bodies only to end up killing Ezra’s “master/father figure”.

With the help of a very feisty teen named Loveday Finch, Ezra needs to uncover the truth about not only his masters murder but Loveday’s father’s murder and some stolen jewels.

It is an adventure /solve a mystery book but it is also a historical fiction story and a story about diversity and overcoming hardships. There is a lot wrapped up in this story. I enjoyed the historical context, London in the 1792 was completely different to London of today so it was fascinating to read about the people, places and culture of the city. I actually found the whole body dissection, the resurrectionists, selling cadavers to surgeons, performing surgery as an open event that people can watch, fascinating and yes a bit of it is gory but I honestly read some of that with wide eyes total absorbed in the story. And I really do think that aspect of slightly more gore and gruesomeness is what will grip my son and captivate him (and I am even thinking may prompt him to investigate the medical practices of that time in a bit more detail).

I also have to highlight the fact that the author has managed to include a unique cast of characters in this story – you get the kind master who freed is slave, the slave who is learning to be a surgeon, some surgeons who are manipulative and untrustworthy, a young girl who breaks all stereotypes of women in that time period, member of the Ottoman court, some who are cruel, some weak and someone who is considered respectable but ends up trying to steal from Ezra. The author really has woven in unexpected characters, characters who really show that appearance and status does not automatically mean anything about your true character.

I feel like there is still more about this story that I want to say because it has so many interesting layers but I if I keep writing this post is just going to become too long.

Going on….because this story is published as a Rollercoaster by Oxford University Press it comes with a FREE to download resource pack (this range is aimed at KS3 kids so think ages 11 – 14 for these Rollercoaster packs). Whenever I use one of these books as a unit with my kids I like to read the story beforehand so I can comment, draw their attention to certain aspects of the story but if you don’t get the chance to read the story before then the introduction page, scheme of work and summary of contents pages in this pack are a perfect “catch-up” to get you orientated and aware of what is about to happen.

This resource pack comes with 10 lesson plans (every Rollercoaster pack different because it is based on the story) and for every lesson there are attached resources to use and answers are included.

The resources that they include with this pack focus on vocabulary (there are some great, unusual words in this book), character development (I think the character of Ezra is an interesting one to try and analyse a bit more), genre and using sensory detail in your writing. And I want to stress they have included sample answers for all of the lessons.

I think this is a fascinating book and I like the fact that there is a resource pack which you can use with the book. We will probably use this as one of our English stories towards the end of this year (the end of my son’s Year 7). It is something that I think we could cover in a 6 week period, and one that I think I would be able to use as a springboard to get him to do further research into the medical practices of that time (so you can easily link it into a History topic).

I highly recommend this book for kids who will enjoy the slightly more gory writing and details of surgery.

Admin – From time to time Oxford University Press send us free copies of their books. The choice of which books I will write reviews on is mine as is the opinion expressed in the reviews. This is NOT a paid for post.

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CGP 10 minute test book for Edexcel IGCSE Biology

We have really gotten into our Biology. We are finding it fascinating so we decided not to rush it and rather do it over 2 years so we are taking our time and going through the sections at a nice pace, doing extra reading and activities as she wants. But the one thing that I had not thought of was finding a source of tests for her. She wanted some short tests that she could try as we complete a section, something whereby we could see if she really understood everything and possibly see if there was anything we needed to work on. I did manage to download a few from different internet sources but I could not find a test for every section, and the ones that I did find, did not always have answers, it ended up being a bit chaotic. So I started looking for a book and I very quickly discovered the CGP do a range of these 10 minute test books for Edexcel International GCSE Sciences.

Although CGP do not often send out sample books for reviews I did manage to get one for this book.

Each test is just a double page (they are meant to only be 10 minute tests – I really like that they are quick tests) and each test is split into multiple choice questions and then written questions, but the written questions are no more than 3 mark questions.

In total there are 30 different tests. There are two tests for each of the 9 sections and then at the end of the book there are 4 mixed tests for Paper 1 and another 4 mixed tests for Paper 2.

Also I must stress the answers for all the tests are in the book (I am always amazed at how many books do not contain the answers).

Okay so expectations. This is a black and white test book – do not think student book or activity book – no colours or pretty pictures. This is a TEST book. So something you will use at the end of a section to test to see if you have understood the section. This does NOT take the place of a student book or a workbook but it does work nicely with them. Once you have finished reading your section in your student book and done your activities in your workbook it is nice to test yourself before you move onto the next sections, and this is where this book comes in.

I will write an update once my daughter has had a chance to actually use this and give her thoughts on it. But I really do think this idea of small, quick tests all in one booklet with the answers is brilliant and I have a feeling it is going to be incredibly useful. And I must confess I actually wish I had just gone for a test book in the first place instead of spending all that time trying to find tests and answers. Really this is just much easier and for only £4.95 well worth the time it took me to try and find a fraction of the tests. I also really like that there are 2 tests for each section and that the test is split between multiple choice and written answers. (I am thinking this will tick all our requirements.)

At this stage we only have the test booklet for Biology but I have had a look and I can see they do similar booklets for Maths and the other Sciences – Physics and Chemistry.

You can order the 10 minute test booklet directly from CGP – Edexcel International GCSE Biology 10 minute tests, I have also seen them at both WH Smith stores and Waterstones and as usual they are available from Amazon – GCP Edexcel IGCSE Biology 10 minute test

Admin – CGP kindly sent us three different GCSE/IGCSE sample books so we could write reviews on them and this book happened to be one of them.

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.

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Super Simple Physics

We already have the Super Simple Biology and the Super Simple Chemistry books so I was thrilled when we received this review copy of the Super Simple Physics book.

My daughter has chosen to study both Biology and Physics for her IGCSE’s and we have been using the Super Simple Biology book as part of her reading for her Biology so I suspected we would do the same with the Super Simple Physics book, which is why I was eager to review it.

First impressions – it is set out in the same format as it’s two sister books (The Super Simple Biology and Super Simple Chemistry books). This means visually appealing pages – lots of stunning photographs and detailed illustrations which explain the concepts beautifully for visual learners. Key facts are included in a little box on each page and information is written in very concise paragraphs. Both my daughter and I find these pages inviting and we find the explanations really well worded and easy to understand.

But I must stress – this is not a student book or a workbook. This is an “extra” reading book. We look at this series as a great summary book, a book which explains concepts really well for visual learners. All concepts that the kids will cover in their Physics are in this book but it focuses on key facts and key points (there is detail and practical experiments that will be covered in their student books that are not covered in this book).

My daughter likes having more than one source for her subjects because sometimes the wording in her student book may be a bit confusing but when she turns to one of these books she will see a diagram or a slightly different worded explanation and then it will just make sense. Or she may understand the wording in her student book but possibly this book has a slightly different graph or a different illustration and by seeing that she suddenly links two concepts that she was not linking before. So for us this is part of how we learn, we use multiple sources, and we like visual representations of a concept so this just works for us.

Content wise what exactly does it cover (I thought photographs of the contents page was easier than we trying to list it out as it really is A LOT).

Okay so we have only just received this book (last week) but I have already been through it and picked out quite a few pages for my daughter to read. The pages I have picked out are based on what we have covered over the last 6 weeks and I must admit I like their explanations. They are clear. So she will be reading those as revision before we move onto out next chunk of work. But as we progress I think I will be using this book like we use the Biology one. As we start a new topic we will look for the page in the Super Simple Physics book and read it’s explanation, then we will go back to our student book and do our activities and expand on it there. Then possibly come back once we have finished the section and re-read the relevant pages as a quick wrap-up.

I really do find the Biology book incredibly useful and I am already sure this one is going to be just as useful.

You can order this book directly from DK – DK Super Simple Physics.

I have seen them at a few bookstores and you can also get them from Amazon – Super Simple Physics.

Admin – As I mentioned above I was given a review copy of this book. I already liked this series before I was given the review copy so I knew what to expect. It is NOT a paid for post.

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.

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