Key Stage 3 Collins History Books

I wrote last year about the two Collins Key Stage 3 History books that my daughter bought after spotting them in a local bookstore. We started using the first one as her main History book but I kept feeling like I needed to find extra resources and questions for her so we switched to the Oxford University Press book – Invasion, Plague and Murder. However my daughter still really likes reading these books. She finds the format very easy and often just sits and reads sections to herself. So in December when we were in the same bookstore and she spotted the third book in the set I happily bought it for her (It costs £7.99 in the bookstore but you can get it for slightly cheaper on Amazon). It is the KS3 History Modern Britain (1760-1900) (Knowing History)

Collins Modern History Key Stage 3 Book by Robert Peal

It is written in the exact same format as the first two and she has already been reading sections to herself, understanding what she is reading and then either asking follow up questions or going to research items further. So for our purposes it is doing the exact job that I bought it for.

KS3 History Modern Britain (1760-1900) (Knowing History) covers the periods 1760 to 1900 and is broken down into 6 sections, each section is 12 pages long and has 5 sub-sections and a summary knowledge organiser at the end.

Collins Modern History. The French Revolution Knowledge Organiser

The Sections are as follows

  1. The British Empire – America, India, Australia, Ruling the Waves and Wealth and Trade
  2. The Americas – American Revolution, American War of Independence, Transatlantic slave trade, Life as a slave, Abolition
  3. The French Revolution – The Ancien Regime, Execution and terror, The rise of Napoleon, Britain’s response, The fall of Napoloen.
  4. The Industrial Revolution – The steam engine, Cotton textiles, Iron and coal, Transport, The Railway Age.
  5. The Age of Reform – Urbanisation, Factory Life, Social reform, Political reform, Law and order.
  6. The Victorian Empire – Queen Victoria, Indian rebellion, Ireland and home rule, The scramble for Africa, Ruling the Empire.

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It is a great summary and for our purposes a good introduction to the events of this period.

Key Stage 3 Collins History books written by Robert Peal ofamily learning together

The three books in the Collins Key Stage 3 History set are KS3 History Medieval Britain (410-1509) (Knowing History), KS3 History Early Modern Britain (1509-1760) (Knowing History), KS3 History Modern Britain (1760-1900) (Knowing History).

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2020 Calendar

After a bit of an unscheduled break over the past month I am trying to catch up on some planning so I thought I would share the link for my Calendar pages that I print out and keep on my desk as my personal reminder of what is going on.

I am using the 2020 Planning Pages from Activity Village. It is one month per page and they always include at least 2 versions of each month so you can select the colour/theme that suits you. (There tends to always be one page for Northern Hemisphere and one for the Southern Hemisphere.)

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For my uses I simply create two holes at the top and tie the pages together with a colourful ribbon. Then I jot down all the activities that we have signed up for – everything from one-off workshops to our weekly classes. I also include planned trips that we want to do with the kids (like English Heritage sites) and possibly holidays.

2020 Calendar pages from Activity Village

This year we are also including some of our own deadlines – my daughter wants to do a yearlong project which needs to be completed by a set date so to help keep us on track we are creating our own mini-deadlines for when we want to have certain stages completed. Just our way of making sure we stay on top of the project and don’t leave everything to last month.

I used the 2019 pages last year and I must admit I used them for the whole year – which was a first for me – in the past I have printed out planning pages and then changed part way through the year. So as straight forward an idea as it may sound having a hard copy lying on my desk really worked well.

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My Top 2019 Finds

For the past 2 years I have written a Top 5 finds of the Year post and everyone seems to really like reading those posts so I thought I would continue. This is NOT a sponsored post, some of the items were given to us for review posts, which I wrote, but the fact that they find themselves in this list is purely based on how much we have ended up using them. This is our personal list of 5 items that we have used and loved over the past 12 months.

The Biggest Book Winner of the Year has to be the Warrior Cat Series.  Wow, what a find, both my kids have spent hours totally absorbed by the stories and they have gone on to create their own versions (I know a fictional story is a true gem which my kids start writing their own versions of the stories).  We managed to borrow most of the books from our local library so if you do have a library card I would recommend reserving the first one and seeing if it grabs your kid’s attention (I do recommend trying to read the books in order as the stories do build on one another).

reading Warrior Cat a dangerous path

The Second set of books which my son has become slightly obsessed with are the animal diaries – they are an older publication so I have bought most of them from 2nd hand sites and managed to borrow a few from the library.  The books are the diary of an animal (written by that animal) and are a fun look at its life, how to grows, its food, enemies, habitat and much more (lots of facts included in a fun way).  They have all been really well written and have prompted my son to create his own animal diaries. (For more on these books I have written 2 posts – animal diaries and Frog diary).

Animal Shark Diaries a great book written as a shark's diary, perfect to encourage kids to write a story

Then a board game that we have played a lot over this year is the On the Map game by Oaka Books.  Now I must admit mine are not the biggest board game players but this one has been a hit with all of us and they seem to enjoy the challenge of replaying the game and seeing how much more they can remember each time.

Playing and learning with the On the Map board game by Oaka Books

Then something a bit different.  Over the summer I signed both kids up for Art Awards (my youngest is doing the Explore Award and my oldest is doing the Bronze Award).  We have never done them before so I was not sure what we were getting into but it has been brilliant.  We have always enjoyed art activities but by signing up for the art awards we ended up attending more art exhibitions, doing extra art activities (like the Jan Brett tutorials), looking at objects like the Sutton Hoo finds from an art perspective and just reading more than we would normally.  It has been fun and challenging and my daughter is already talking about signing up for the next award.  I highly recommend giving these a try, it does take time and commitment to do everything but it really is worthwhile – to read more about the Art Awards have a look here – Art Award. 

And finally my fifth new find has to do with my daughter moving into her secondary years and me not always being sure which resources to use.  My daughter’s favourite subject is History so I really wanted to find the right resources for her, something that would challenge her, help her to build her skills for future exams but keep her interest alive.  And I must admit I have bought a few books, and all of them have been read and reread by my daughter but her top one has been the Invasion, Plague and Murder book by Oxford University Press.  So much so she actually asked for the second book as a Christmas present.

Key Stage 3 History. Invasion, Plague and Murder by Aaron Wilkes. A Year 7 Student Book

So that is our 5 most used, most popular items for 2019.



My other Top 5 Finds posts are here – 2018, 2017

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Christmas Maths Mystery pages from Twinkl

We enjoy doing seasonal activities and we don’t just stick to crafts, a bit of holiday Maths always goes down well – both of mine far prefer the idea of Christmas Maths to normal maths.

We have tried a few of Twinkl’s Maths Mystery sets before and they were hits with both the kids so I had a quick look on the Twinkl site and they had a few Christmas Maths Mysteries that we could choose from, we choose – The Mystery of the Christmas Party and The Mystery of the Missing Christmas Angel.

I liked both of these Maths Mysteries sets because they included maths activities that I knew the kids needed to revise.  But then I must admit I always find the mystery sets good, just because the kids end up practicing a number of different maths activities in one go.  For example the Mystery of the Christmas Party covered number sequences, greater than and less than numbers, column addition and subtraction (with carrying and exchanging), place value, and reading larger numbers – and my son did all of it in one sitting.

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And the Mystery of the Missing Christmas Angel covered square numbers, cube numbers, prime numbers, adding and subtracting with negative numbers, the four operations, place value and rounding.

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In case you have never heard of these Maths Mystery sets – the kids have to solve a number of clues – normally 5 – and the way they solve each clue is by doing different Maths activities, so if there are 5 clues that means 5 different Maths activities.  Each clue then allows them to eliminate some “suspects” from their list of possible suspects.  It is a fairly straightforward concept but I have found it a great way to revise maths and my kids always end up doing more maths in one sitting with a maths mystery than they would do if I just downloaded a number of worksheets (so for me win, win). 

I must stress this is not explaining maths – this is practice / revision maths – so what I mean by that is there are no explanations with each clue, it is assumed that when the kids see the adding and subtracting negative numbers that they have already dealt with negative numbers. (There are lots of explaining Maths pages on the Twinkl site.) But as far as practice maths/ revision maths goes we find these maths mystery sets are perfect.

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And after the success of the Christmas Mystery pages I could not resist looking for some more Christmas themed pages and I found these Elf maze pages which I really like – one is practicing multiplication and the other is fraction addition, subtraction and multiplication – I love the idea of solving the sums to work your way through the maze.

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If you want to read about other Maths Mystery pages from Twinkl you can have a look at this post – Maths Mystery pages


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Book Presents

I love giving books as Christmas presents so sticking with my tradition I have already found a few which are going to be under the Christmas tree this year.

We are going through a bit of an Art Phase at the moment.  So I have two Art books that I discovered and love.  The first is the 15-Minute Watercolor Masterpieces.  This is a gem for anyone who wants to learn about watercolour paintings and is perfect for parents whose kids want to do proper watercolour pictures and you are just not sure where to start. The author has included a wide range of pictures and has broken down each one into manageable and achievable steps.  And along with the steps she has showen visually how you build the picture up.  I have been really impressed with this book and think it is really going to help my daughter with her watercolour paintings.

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Sticking with Art I also chose an Art History book and I went for Book of Famous Artists (Art Books).  I wanted something that covered the important artists and spoke about them in enough detail that the kids could hopefully be inspired to go and do further research.  I think this book ticks those boxes – the artists the included are spot on and the way they discuss both the artists and their works is at just the right level for my two. (I actually picked this copy up at a library sale – you can get brilliant books at their sales)

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Then Fictional Books, I am still searching for a few but I have three stunning ones.  The Explorer is one which I got for my son 100% based on how much he enjoyed Katherine Rubdell’s book Into the Jungle (Into the Jungle is a collection of backstories for a number of the characters from the Jungle Book) .  He really love reading Into the Jungle so I have totally just taken a chance and based on a few other good reviews thought we would try The Explorer.

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The second fictional book I got him is a First World War historical fiction story –The Silver Hand (Flashbacks). Now we have read a few flashback books and enjoyed all of them but I was still a bit nervous just because it is about the First World War and wanted to make sure there was nothing scary in it, so I read it.  And I must admit I love this book. It is a lovely story about a French girl and a German boy who become friends and help each other during the First World War.  And as always with the flashback books they manage to weave into the story lots of accurate details about the First World War – names, battles and the lifestyle of people during the war.  Really a good read if your kids are interested in the First World War.  I highly recommend this one.

The Silver Hand by Terry Deary. A historical fiction book for children written about the First World War

Then one that has come highly recommended by a number of friends (apparently is it laugh out loud funny) is Grandpa’s Great Escape.

David Williams Grandpa's Great Escape. Brilliant story for 9-12 year olds

Now in all honesty we have a large collection of animal related books.  But I recently spotted this one – The Science of Animals: Inside their Secret World and after I paged through I just had to add it to our collection.  It really looks amazing, the photographs are incredible and I love the detailed explanations of how the different animal body parts work.  It is a luxurious book for any animal-obsessed child you wants the detail. (Once the kids have had time to go through it I will write a proper detailed review about this book but for now some quick photos – Really I can already say it is one of the best animal science books I have spotted).

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And for the History obsessed kids, the ones who want more detail than they normally get in children’s books we found this one – The Kings & Queens of Britain.  And Wow, really my daughter is going to be thrilled when she gets this for a Christmas present (I am already betting it is going to be her favourite present this year).  She has read and reread her Usborne Kings and Queens book (which is perfect for kids not as History obsessed as my daughter) but she really has moved onto needing more detailed resources and I think for her level of interest this one is at the correct level. (Again once we have had time to read it properly I will write a proper detailed review about this book).

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So those are 7 books which are going to be under our Christmas tree this year.

Admin Bit – All of these books were selected by me based on my kid’s interests.

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 (is this case are planning on using and I assume going to love).

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Rocks and Soil Topic Pack

We have been looking at Rivers and Erosion quite a bit over the last few weeks but one of the starting points for this topic was been having an understanding about rocks, the different types of rocks and how the wear away differently. So I thought I would show what we used to revise all of that – our Rocks and Soils Topic Pack from Oaka Books.

Rocks and Soil KS2 Topic Pack from Oaka Books

It follows the same format as all the Oaka Books Topic Packs – a Topic Booklet, a Write Your Own Notes booklet and a learning game. And as with all the topic packs you could use this to learn about the topic or to revise about the topic. With this pack we actually used it in both ways – for my oldest it has been a revision session – a very quick read through for her and for my younger son it has been a learning pack – slower read through, sometimes going over sections a few times to make sure he understands. And for me that is one of the reasons why I keep coming back to these topic packs.  You really can use them in different ways – revision, learning new facts, just selecting topics out of the packs to learn about – and I have a feeling we will in the future still find new ways to use them.

So for my daughter she actually just read through the topic booklet quickly and then “tested” herself by completing the write your own notes.  She did this in two sessions and was done (And even though she worked through it really quickly it was still really worthwhile as it cemented some good facts which were important for the Erosion learning).  For my son it was slower, we read, we chatted, sometimes we looked at the write your own notes, sometimes we went back and reread sections. But both ways the topic pack worked well.

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For those of you who have not used Oaka Books Topic packs before they are designed in a very visual format – blocks of key information, with key points and illustrations to highlight the points.

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Then the kids get to reinforce what they have learnt by completing the blocks in the Write Your Own Notes and finally you have a fun learning game (always our favourite part) which cements everything and also possibly highlights areas that the kids did not understand.

busy playing the Rocks and Soils Active learning game

And after playing the game my daughter actually asked me to just use the question cards to test her.

Oaka Books Rocks and Soil Topic pack KS2 learning game question cards

Admin Bit – from time to time Oaka Books send us some resources. It is up to us to decide what we use, when we use and how we use it.  We are not paid for these posts and we only continue to use the Oaka Books Resources because we really like them.

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Mom, you're stimming

This past week has been frustrating, people treating the kids like their needs are irrelevant and not considering our home education to be as important as traditional school. And when I get frustrated I tend to stim more than normal. In the middle of this my daughter had one of those lightbulb moments – “Mom you have the exact same stim as I do!”

And yes I do. And yes the realization was a massive thing for my daughter.

Now I need to say a few things, firstly we are very open in our house, we talk to the kids about the different challenges they face and how they see the world a bit differently, they also know that a lot of it they get from me and we chat about that too. They both know I share lots of the sensory issues they have (only their sensory challenges are a lot more intense). We talk about it at home because home is a safe place from them, it is where we don’t need to mask or hide. But having said that I know I mask, I mask around the kids because I am their parent and it is my responsibility to put them first, I also mask around most people when we are out and about.

But there are a handful of people where I don’t mask and my daughter is slowing realizing this for herself and not only realizing but starting to understand the why’s. With the stimming excalamtion we also had some interesting chats. “Mom I understand why I love H (her godmother) and V (a good friend of mine) so much” – me hmm why? – “You are so relaxed around them because they get you and that means they also get me”

Now I agree with her her statement they are both amazing ladies. But part of me hurts, it hurts that she is getting to that point where she understands that there are certain people who just don’t accept/understand and expect her to be “normal” – oohh I HATE that word, Normal – YUCK!!!

But part of me is rejoicing, I am rejoicing that she sees all those parts of me that she shares, she sees them and she also sees that I am still in am amazing marriage with someone who accepts everything and always stands up for me. I am rejoicing that she sees my handful of friends who accept, understand and enjoying hanging around with both of us.

And I am rejoicing that in the middle of this she also sees outsiders, like her dance teacher who never flinches when she stims in the middle of a choreographed dance but instead rushes up to me beaming from ear to ear (so much so that my daughter noticed) and grabs me and says “Look she is going first, look she is not scared.”

Yes my darling girl I stim and yes it is okay because even in this “normal world” there are people who don’t care.

ofamily learning together

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