Measurement, Geometry and Statistics – a Bond workbook for KS2

I am a big believer that you need to practice Maths. And I am also a big believer that it helps to give the kids a wide range of different questions so I am often on the lockout for practice workbooks – books with questions that the kids can work through and questions that may be slightly different.

About a month ago I was looking for more Geometry and Statistics examples for KS2 ages. And this workbook popped up Bond SATs Skills: Maths Workbook: Measurement, Geometry & Statistics 10-11+ Years Core and Stretch. We have used Bond workbooks before and I actually really love the Arithmetic Bond series (I have used it with both of my kids because I just like the format and I think the questions are good) so I immediately asked the PR person at Oxford University Press if I could get a review copy. And they kindly sent us one.

And before anyone says but what about the fact that they are labelled “SAT skills” and home educated kids don’t write SAT’s (and mine have not / are not going to write SAT’s), ignore that wording and just page through some of the Bond workbooks and you are going to find pages of good practice questions. I often use resources that are labelled SAT’s Skills or Test and we just ignore the wording and do the activities on the page as a normal practice examples.

First off most Bond workbooks cover a few years but with this workbook there is just one Measurement, Geometry and Statistics workbook and it is classed as being for ages 10-11+. But with home education we don’t always stick strictly to the curriculum in terms of what we cover when and straight away I could tell that my son would be able to work through the Geometry questions and the Stats questions but not yet all the measurement questions. Which does not bother me as I always dip in and out of workbooks and use the pages as we cover the sections (so we will leave some of the measurement questions and come back to those once we have covered it in more detail).

The book is split into 10 units. At the start of each unit there is a brief reminder of important facts – they call this Helpful Hints. Now I want to stress this brief reminder is not going to take the place of you explaining the concepts to the kids. This is a reminder of some facts assuming that you have already worked through the section. After the helpful hints there are normally 3, sometimes 4 pages of questions on that topic (and yes the answers are in the book). The questions are also a mix of straight forward calculations and some story sums / problem sums.

So the 10 units are split as follows

  • Geometry – Properties of 2D and 3D shapes
  • Geometry – 2D and 3D shapes including nets
  • Geometry – Angle properties
  • Geometry – Properties of a circle
  • Measurement – metric and imperial units
  • Measurement – area and perimeter (rectangle, triangle and parallelogram)
  • Measurement – volume of cuboids
  • Measurement – problems involving conversion
  • Geometry – translations and reflections in all four quadrants
  • Statistics (pie charts and line graphs)

A good selection of topics although my one criticism would be that I would have liked more stats included. But then you get 46 pages of Maths question (some of which are going to challenge the kids), plus the answers for £4.99 which I do think is a good price.

I think it is a useful workbook with a good selection of questions and one which I actually would have liked to use with my oldest.

You can buy the Bond books directly from the OUP website, at your local bookstore (I have seen them at both WH Smith and Waterstones) or from Amazon – Bond SATs Skills: Maths Workbook: Measurement, Geometry & Statistics 10-11+ Years Core and Stretch

Admin Bit – Like I mentioned above we were given a review copy of this book but all opinions expressed are mine (and my kids).

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 love.

Posted in Homeschooling | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Blitzcat a story about WWII

I am trying to write more reviews about fictional stories aimed at the older kids (so more for kids in the KS3 years / tweens / teens), there just does not seem to be as many reviews for this age range and I often want to read a review myself and just can never find one.

Blitzcat was a book that I saw recommended on a KS3 reading list (I am going through a lot of those at the moment) and I was immediately interested in it because it follows a cat through WWII, which I thought could be an interesting perspective. And it just so happens our local library had a copy.

I really enjoyed this story. I thought the whole concept of this cat’s journey, trying to find its person and then ending up in different situations and so telling different short stories of the war was brilliant. The detail and the way it conveys what it must have been like to live through this period, filled with so many emotions and thoughts was very moving. However having said that I definitely think it is more suited for upper KS3 kids because of some of the content. There are some swear words in it and there are a few scenes where sex is talked about. It is discussed in the context of war so young couples on a hill – ” writhing, heaving bundles”, “gasps of passion”. So although it is not an explicit sex scene it is very clear to the reader that these couples are meeting up for sex. And then further on in the book there is a married women who sleeps with the officer who is staying in her house and shortly afterwards receives a letter from her husband who is flying planes on bombing raids. Very real events and themes of WWII but it is for this reason I am actually holding it back from my daughter (at least for now) because she is still very innocent and does not actually want to read books that deal with people cheating on their spouses.

Having said that there are lots of interesting war themes this book covers. Like a returning soldier who is just a very different person to the one who left, what it would have been like having your home bombed, rations and living in the trenches.

I do think it is a really well written book. I think the stories and the characters that the cat meets on its journey clearly paint an accurate picture of life during WWII. But for us, for now the sex side means we are going to leave it off our reading list for a year or two.

Posted in Homeschooling | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Avoid HP Printers and Instant Ink

In January 2020 I wrote a post saying how much I enjoyed the HP Instant Ink scheme (I have now taken that post down). And in theory I do think it is a great idea but the reason HP offer such a good price for all that printing is because they are banking on the fact that your HP printer is going to break after about 18 months and then you will need to buy a new printer. Yip you get a good price on Ink but every 18 months to 2 years you are expected to buy a new printer.

Okay so the printer is not earth shattering expensive (mine cost about £100) but what about the fact that you now have to throw away your old useless printer? What about all the excess rubbish this so called business model is generating?

I don’t normally write negative posts, I like to keep this site more positive and I enjoy sharing reviews of the good products that I discover but I was left so upset by this blatantly wasteful business model idea and by the fact that it is IMPOSSIBLE to get hold of anyone at the company to talk to that I decided it was time to delete my earlier post and instead write a more up to date post about using HP printers and their HP instant ink service.

Yes on the surface it seems like it is a good cost-effective way to print and it would be incredibly appealing to us home educators who do tend to print a lot. But stop and think about the fact that you are going to be replacing your printer every 18 months to 2 years. Add that cost of having to buy a new printer in and then think about your old printer. Think about the fact that every 2 years you are going to throw out a broken printer.

And okay some people may argue that items these days are just not made like they used too (in those good old days when an item lasted for years). Well I also have a Canon Printer which is over 6 years old and guess what it is still working perfectly, never had an issue with it, never needed to try and contact someone at Canon nor have I needed to replace it in the 6 years that I have owned it.

My honest recommendation is avoid the HP printers if you can. (The photo below is before my printer broke after only 18 months of use).

HP Instant Ink
Posted in Homeschooling | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

English Literature from Twinkl for Secondary years

One of the resources that we are using for KS3 is the Twinkl Website. I know it has traditionally being thought of as a resource for primary years but they have created quite an impressive Secondary section. I must admit there are some areas of their Secondary site that we tend to use more than others (just the way it works out) and one of my favourite sections has to be their English Literature section. I really Love this section. Whenever we are choosing new books I always look at this section for inspiration and resources. And I must admit I don’t just stick to the KS3 section we have actually downloaded and used book resources from the KS4 section already (Pride and Prejudice and Romeo and Juliet)

They have split the Literature menu into logical subsections

  • Poetry
  • Modern Literature
  • Shakespeare
  • Non-Fiction
  • Literacy Heritage (this is where we find a lot of the resources that we use)
  • Author Studies

What I tend to do is once we have selected a book I go onto the site and download the entire unit of work for that book (and I really do mean I download everything linked to that book). I do this so I can look through the resources beforehand and get a good feeling for what they have but also because once or twice they have included a resource under a certain lesson when I would have rather had it included somewhere else (completely personal preference). But by spending a little bit of time looking at the whole unit you get a better understanding of where you are going and what (if any) tweaks you might want to make. Because that is the beauty of these units, it is up to you how you use them. Some of the units we have worked through and done each and every suggested lesson, but more often we tend to focus on certain lessons in the unit, often downloading extra resources from the site to extend it or sometimes even using an outside resource with it. But that is one of the reasons why I like this format as much as I do, you pick the lessons, you pick what you want to print and you pick if you want to extend it. It is a suggested unit, a suggested framework which you can use as you want.

Each lesson comes with a PowerPoint explanation and normally at least one suggested activity of some sort (often a lot more than one). I really appreciate these PowerPoint explanation docs that they create. They include explanations about words, events and characters (depending on the story) and very often have something in them that makes my daughter think about an event or character in a slightly different way.

  • Pride and Prejudice pages from Twinkl Beyond
  • Pride and Prejudice pages from Twinkl Beyond
  • Pride and Prejudice pages from Twinkl Beyond
  • Pride and Prejudice pages from Twinkl Beyond

When I say we sometimes extend the lessons what I mean is we will often find a History element to a story – possibly a time period in which the story is set and then we will spend a bit of time going through the History linked to the story. Or sometimes we find something in the story – possibly a figurative language tool that someones picks up and then we might want to discuss something like Alliteration and then I will find extra resources on that. Which is why I find having the whole site at my disposal so incredibly useful I can quickly search for that Historical period or that language tool and find an activity on it.

I am still getting to know all the resources on the Secondary side of the Twinkl site (they are always adding new ones) but so far I must admit I have been very impressed with their English Literature units. We have used a few already and I have downloaded our next unit so it is ready and waiting (We are going to be doing A Midsummer’s Night Dream Next).

Posted in Homeschooling | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Eliza Rose by Lucy Worsley

My daughter has read two different Lucy Worsley Books and she loved both of them. She appreciates the way Lucy manages to tell a story about interesting Historical characters and weave in all those historical details that just make the time period come to life. She makes the story entertaining without losing that historical authenticity. So when she spotted another Lucy Worsley book – Eliza Rose she immediately wanted to read it. And as luck would have it our local library had it in stock.

The story is about Eliza Rose, a young noble girl who needs to marry well so that her family estate can survive.

She starts off having an arranged marriage (which does not get very far), gets sent away to learn how to be a lady and then ends up being sent to Hampton Court Palace as a lady in waiting. The initial hope was that she would marry one of noble men in the court. While she is learning to be a lady and when she is at Hampton Court Palace she is with her cousin – Katherine Howard. The book talks about Henry’s marriage to Anne of Cleves and to Katherine Howard. Anne of Cleves is portrayed as being very kind (and a bit naive) whereas Katherine Howard is depicted as being more manipulative and very determined to get what she wants. So let me state straight away – there are sections in the book where they talk about Henry having mistresses and Henry sometimes making unwelcome advances onto some of the ladies of the court. There are scenes where sex is implied but it is not explicit.

The one part of the story that my daughter struggled with was when Eliza Rose’s father visited her at Hampton Court Palace and told her she she needed to save her family by becoming Henry’s mistress. That Eliza’s own dad would tell her to do that, that just was shocking for my daughter. But that is actually why I like books like this because they open up a discussion, a discussion about how the role of women in society has changed over the times, how in the Tudor times they were treated as objects controlled by their fathers and husbands. That being said it is because of topics like this that I would suggest the book is suited for kids 12+ years old.

Putting aside the whole Henry wives, Henry mistress aspect of things the book really does make you feel like you are living in the Tudor times with Eliza Rose. Who knew you needed to take your own knife to eat with at Hampton Court Palace? The food they ate, the clothes they wore, the entertainment, how time consuming and uncomfortable travelling in a horse and carriage was. So many details get woven into the story that you feel like you have stepped back in time and you can actually picture Tudor England. And yes after reading the book there is a very strong possibility that your kids will want to visit Hampton Court Palace. Luckily for us we are nearby and love visiting it so I was only too happy to oblige with another trip to talk about which corridors we think Eliza and Katherine might have walked in.

Both my daughter and I have read the book and both of us recommend it. We think anyone who enjoys Historical Fiction and who is interested in Tudor England will find this a fascinating and entertaining read.

The other two Lucy Worsley books that we have read and loved are – Lady Mary and The Austen Girls.

Admin Bit – 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 love.

Posted in Homeschooling | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment