KS3 English Anthology – War – Review Update

I wrote a review, a few months ago, about our new English Anthology book on War. It was a post based on me reading the book, my expectations of the book and not us (my daughter) having actually had time to use it. And I always like to read reviews from people once they have actually had time to use it and figure out if it works for them. So this is our “we have been using it since August and this is what we think of it” – update post.

KS3 English Anthology series from Hodder Education. War

So what is this book – The War book is part of a 9 book series of English Anthology books published by Hodder Education (aimed at KS3 ages). Each anthology book covers a genre or theme – so far we have two of these books – the Myths and Legends Anthology book and this one, the War Anthology book. The books are split into 3 categories – Fiction, Non-Fiction and Poetry. For each of these three categories there are eight examples of War writing (so it could be an extract from a story, it could be a film review of a article and it could be a poem). For each war extract you get get activities linked to the writing. These activities are broken down into different type of tasks and range from questions about the piece of writing to creative writing activities, to possible speaking activities to further research and investigation activities. The activities are vast in their nature.

So what do we think of the actual writing samples (extracts) they have included? I personally think they have chosen well – they are all excellent examples of writing, both in the style that they are written and in the way they convey information and feelings about the war topic. One of the things that I like about these books is they actually inspire us to read (or watch) what they have chosen. After seeing the 1917 movie review in the book we actually watched the film and everyone really enjoyed it and thought it was thought provoking. And I must say that working through the activities on the movie helped to highlight a possible area that we could improve on. Also after completing the War Horse activities my daughter wanted to read the complete story (so possible negative point could be that you end up wanting to buy a number of new books based on the extracts included).

The activities – I really like the range of activities that they have included. They do always have some easier activities and some more longer writing (possibly more challenging) activities. I must confess although I think the “understand the text” type questions are good and useful for the kids to work through I really love the longer writing questions. And yes some of them are a challenge but then I think it is good to challenge the kids, to get them to write about different topics and possibly write them in a format they are not used too. My daughter found the movie review writing activities a bit more challenging (she is far more comfortable writing a book review or writing a letter or even a short story than a movie review). But the fact that she found in more of a challenging writing activity made me realize it was something we needed to talk more about and practice. I also like that some question are a “give your opinion but explain why you say that” question. I think it is an important skill that the kids need to develop and practice – being able to explain why they think a certain way, why they agree or disagree with a statement made. Very important skill. Honestly I could go on and on because I really do think the activities chosen are varied and well chosen.

  • KS3 English Anthology series from Hodder Education. War

But more importantly my daughter, the kid you has been using this resource, what does she think – She likes this range, and I mean really likes it. She likes it so much so wants to try other English Anthology books – that too me is always a good indicator when the kid who is using the book actually asks for the other books in the range then you know they are enjoying using the book. She likes the different sources that they have found and used and she enjoys the fact that the activities are so varied. She says it is an engaging and fun English resource. And yes some of the activities are challenging but she is the kind of kid who will work at the challenging activities and try until she is happy that she has been successful.

She also likes that there are answers (free to download from the Hodder website). She marks her own answers for the shorter questions and then when it comes to the longer writing questions I read her answer and give her feedback.

Both my daughter and I LOVE this book. We really do. We have been impressed with the works they have chosen to base the activities on and we think the activities are brilliant – a good mix of easier and more challenging and they have made the activities interesting so the kids actually enjoy working through them (yes I am using the word enjoy). We really do HIGHLY RECOMMEND the War Anthology book.

I have not spotted this book in our local book stores but you can order it directly from Hodder – English Anthology on War or from Amazon Key Stage 3 English Anthology: War

Admin Stuff – I was given a copy of this book for us to review but the fact that I have now written multiple posts about it and keep mentioning it in other posts is because we are finding it so useful and are really enjoying it.

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.

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New Book sets from Books2Door

I get ridiculously excited when new books arrive and this past week we received our latest delivery from Books2Doors which included 3 stunning book sets. I love the idea of buying book sets because then you get the whole series (or the majority of it) in one go, there is no having to wait to try and find the next book and it is always cheaper then buying the books individually.

For our latest order we went with – the Percy Jackson series – the kids just watched the first Percy Jackson movie recently and loved it and I must confess the home educator in me loves all the references to the Greek Gods and Goddess so I thought it would be good to have the series at hand (confession – we are about to start a whole bunch of work on the Ancient Greeks and as those of you who read this blog know I LOVE using Historical Fiction (in whatever form) to make different aspects of what we are learning a bit more engaging).

Second on the list was this set of Michael Morpurgo books – which I selected because both of the kids have said that want to read more of his books and I must admit I really like his writing style (lots of great descriptive passages to inspire the kids) and he often links his books to historical periods which is great for History. This entire set, consisting of eight Michael Morpurgo stories is only £14.99 (which is roughly £1.87 a book) which is a very good price. (For Michael Morpurgo fans I also spotted this lovely looking 12 book set)

The third set was a bit of a “fingers crossed, hoped it is going to be good series” – Horrible Geography. The Horrible History set that we have has been read and reread and loved by both kids so I am hoping that the Horrible Geography set might also be a hit. I did quickly page through the Volcano book and it does look really engaging and funny and I have a strong suspicion that my son is going to really enjoy it.

I am still what I consider a newish customer to the Books2Door website but so far I have been happy with all of the book sets that we have received – they are always really well priced, arrive in good condition and within just a few days of delivery (I tend to opt for the free delivery option which is 2 to 4 days but you can also get a quicker paid for delivery which is 1 to 2 days).

Admin – Books2Doors contacted us and asked if we would like some new books. The 3 sets featured in this post are the ones that I choose from their website and which Books2Door gave us. This is not the first time we have used the website and we have in the past also ordered their book sets just because we find them really good value for money.

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Soldier Dog – a World War I story for older kids.

We have been covering World War One in our history and as I always like to do, I have linked our History with our English. The book I chose to start our World War One reading is probably not one that most people would think of but it has been one that has truly taken us on a journey. A journey that has changed my kids understanding of life during World War One and made it seem more personal and real.

My initial interest was based on the fact that we had learnt about how dogs where used during the First World War and it was something that both of my kids found fascinating. So when I saw a fictional story about a war dog I thought it might be good story for us to do. And it really was. The book covers the dogs in war topic brilliantly, but I was not expecting the human characters to grip us and really leads us into life during World War I the way they did. And it was not just the main human character (although we really loved him), a number of the smaller characters really came to life and became “real people”, people that we cared about and desperately wanted to know if they survived the war.

The story centers around a fourteen year old boy who lives on a farm and loves looking after his dad’s dogs. But after his dad supposedly kills one of the puppies the boy leaves and joins the army, with the quest to go and find his older brother who is somewhere on the Western Front. You get to walk with the main character through basic training and then through dog training (he manages to get assigned as a dog handler) and finally travel with him as they are shipped out to the Western Front. Although this part seems like it is a long introduction because he is not yet “fighting on the Western Front” it sets a really good image of everything that needed to happen behind the scenes of the Western Front, something which we all thought was actually really interesting.

Once he gets to the Western Front you almost feels like the descriptive writing explodes. I was constantly aware of how noisy and overwhelming it must have been. Both of my kids found the descriptions about no-mans land incredibly powerful and at one part my son lifted his hands to his nose as if to stop the bad smell from the trenches (the descriptions really are powerful). And although it is not a story about suffering from Shell Shock or soldiers deserting it is something that we ended up discussing multiple times because you can not help but understand how living in those conditions must have left so many people emotionally and mentally destroyed.

Even though it is an incredibly descriptive story about how awful trench warfare was the author managed to weave in a number of moments of human goodness and kindness, which helps to keep a balance so the kids are not left feeling depressed or miserable. I was really impressed with this balance as my kids are sensitive kids and I was worried about war literature being hard for them but the author really strikes the right balance here (Spoiler alert – it also helps that the main character and his immediate family survive).

And just to prove how much they enjoyed this book both kids have now requested that we try another war book written by Sam Angus – A Horse Called Hero

For those of you home educating you can actually download a Free set of lesson plans and activities for Soldier Dog from the Oxford University Press site. We did a few of the activities in the beginning but actually the kids and I really got into the story and we did not want to break for activities so we ending up just reading and discussing everything from the middle until the end.

We bought our copy of soldier Dog from Amazon – Soldier Dog

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 love.

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AQA KS3 Science Practice Books

As I mentioned in earlier posts we are using the Hodder AQA KS3 Science Book 2 this year for my daughter’s Science. And that means both a Student Book and Practice Book (there are two practice books to chose from so this post is about the two practice books). But before we go further, so there is no confusion – the Student Book – is the book with the explanations in it and a few questions. The Practice Books do not contain explanations, they are books filled with questions on the topics that are covered in the Student Book (all answers are Free to download from the Hodder website).

The two Practice Books are called – Know and Apply and Extend. This can be a bit confusing because the questions inside each practice book are split up into sections called Know, Apply and Extend (I find this a bit confusing). I was given the Extend practice book a few months ago (to use in a different post) but I was curious to see how the questions in the two Practice Books would differ and I was wanting to figure out if it would help to buy both practice books, so I bought the Know and Apply Practice book myself so I could compare. (Just to clarify I am the type of home educator who likes to have lots of questions, I am of the opinion that it is better to lots of questions and you choose which ones to work through.)

So as the name suggests the Know and Apply Practice Book is the easier one and the Extend Practice Book is the harder one. But they actually have a LOT of identical questions in them.

Each topic is broken down into 3 sets of questions – Know, Apply and Extend. The first practice book (Now and Apply) does NOT have any extend questions in it whereas the Extend practice book has the Know questions, the Apply questions and the Extend questions.

This photo shows some of the Forces questions in the Know and Apply Practice Book.

This photo show some of the Forces questions in the Extend Practice Book. You can see the Know and Apply sections are the same but they have also included an Extend set of questions.

Also in the student book at the end of each Topic there are pages called Extend. The Now and Apply practice book does not cover any of this content. But the Extend practice book has questions for all of the Extend pages that are in the Student book. (In the photo below – Drag and Levers where included under an Extend section in the Student Book so only the Extend Practice Book had questions on Drag and Levers. There were NO questions on Drag and Levers in the Know and Apply Practice Book.)

So straight away the Extend book has a MORE questions in it that the Know And Apply Book.

Now because both practice books contain questions for the Know and Apply sections you might be wondering are the questions under Know and Apply sections always the same in both practice books? That is a tough one, in a lot of the sections the questions under the Know and Apply sections are identical in the two books. But in some sections they have included extra questions in the Know and Apply Workbook. The first photo shows some Know questions from the Know and Apply Practice Book dealing with Stress, in this case they have included extra questions.

And the same Know section in the Extend Practice Book.

And in a few cases they have included a whole page or so at the beginning of the topic in the Know and Apply workbook which is NOT in the Extend practice book.

We have worked through the Physics in both books and although they did include a Few questions in the Know and Apply book that were not in the Extend book for the most part the Extend book had by far the larger range of questions and it really did include most of the questions that were in the Know and Apply practice book. We have only just started using this range and I will probably have a more informed opinion at the end of the year once we have worked through all the sections but currently my thinking is go for the Extend practice book (don’t buy both) and rather just leave out questions that you think may be too hard or why not just talk through the harder questions with the kids and do them together.

You can buy these directly from Hodder Education or you can buy them from Amazon –

AQA Key Stage 3 Science 2 ‘Know and Apply’ Practice Book

AQA Key Stage 3 Science 2 ‘Extend’ Practice Book

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.

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KS3 Science

It has been chaotic here. I had hoped to move house over the summer while we were all taking a break but that never happened and instead moving slotted in right while we were busy with out home educating. And yes if the kids had been younger I probably would have just stopped everything for 3 weeks but my oldest is now in Year 9 and she has quite a bit of work to get through (she has actually opted to include 2 extra subjects this year). So I really did not want a complete shutdown for 3 whole weeks. Luckily our Maths that we started has just been working so effortlessly that she easily continued with that, then her History and her Ancient History, well that is something she loves so she kept those going, her Latin mostly continued but Science was something that I was concerned about. Science is not her area, so she often needs a bit of extra guidance. In September we actually switched to a new set of Science Books – the AQA KS3 set from Hodder Education. It was new so I was still not sure how it would go with the whole upheaval of moving, me being distracted and not as available as I normally would be. But really I had nothing to worry about. The Science just like her Maths is user-friendly and she kept her books in a backpack (so she always knew were they were) and really just kept at it, no extra asking or extra guidance from me was needed (well – I did answer a few questions that she had but that was it).

My daughter tends to read one double page from the student book at a time, if there are examples in the student book to work through she tends to do them orally. Then she flips over to the Practice book and works through the questions. Tthe practice books are not write-on workbooks, so the kids do need somewhere to write their answers. She has the Extend practice book which she is using, so it includes a range of questions from quite easy to fairly challenging (I am going to publish a post later this week where I talk about the different in the two practice books in more detail). I have printed out the answers for her (they are free to download from the site), so she checks her answers herself and if she has any queries she then comes to me. Doing it this way has really suited us.

A bit about how the student book is set out. There are 10 Topics covered in the book. Each Topic starts with a “Transition” page which is an introduction of sorts.

Then they have the “Core” pages. All the Core pages have worked examples and activities for the kids to try (answers for all activities are Free to download from the Hodder website). They also highlight Common Errors made by the kids in boxes on the page (my daughter liked this) and key facts and key words are also boxed in along the side of the page.

After the Core pages you get the “Extend” page (if your kids struggle with Science you could focus of the core pages and leave the Extend pages). And the “Enquiry” page, which my daughter calls Extend.2

My daughter has been working through Physics section of the Student and Practice Books. And I have to admit Physics is the Science that she HATES, she does not want to do Combined Science just because Physics is included she would rather just do Biology and Chemistry. Physics is NEVER popular with her and then to combine it with moving house, which was chaotic and overwhelming, yet she managed, she more than managed, there was no problem at all, she finished 2 topics. She is understanding what she is reading, she is answering the questions and getting most of them correct and yes she has a few questions but honestly she has a lot fewer questions than I expected. So just based on how well she is managing with her Least Favourite Science section I am impressed and I have high hopes for the Biology and Chemistry sections.

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