Plate Tectonics

We have been watching the documentary series – How the Earth was made – it is fascinating and often talks about Plate Tectonics and how the different plate boundaries acted to create different land forms. So I thought it was time that we learnt about plate tectonics in a bit more detail. And luckily for me I happened to have the plate Tectonics, Volcanoes and Earthquake Topic Pack from Oaka Books at home.

We have used a number of Oaka Books topic packs before and we often use them in slightly different ways, depending on the topic, but every time I walk away feeling like they have done the job – the kids have understood the topic and retained the knowledge.

This time we jumped around a bit. We started with the volcano section – purely because it is what my youngest knows quite a bit about and I wanted to engage him and get him involved. We read the Volcano pages and then watched some more volcano clips and spoke more about the different types of volcanoes and how they formed based on plate boundaries and hot spots. And then we moved onto the structure of the Earth and plate boundaries.

For this I started with a lesson plan on BBC bitesize but my youngest struggled with that.  He preferred the way the Oaka Books are set out  – the colourful diagrams and summary points – so we ended up sticking to their explanations.

Plate tectonics BBC lessons together with our Oaka Books topic pack

I also used some hard boiled eggs to show the kids how the earth’s crust is split into different sections and how when the sections meet different things can happen (if you apply pressure to a cracked egg shell you can get the shell to act in similar way to plate boundaries – one section of the shell going under another, two sections just sliding past, some sections sliding away – it can be quite a good visual example when you look at plate boundaries).

egg tectonics different plates

After working through the topic booklet both kids had a go at completing the volcano and plate boundary pages in the Write Your own Notes (we have not covered the earthquake section yet).  

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And my oldest actually took this a step further she decided to create her own notes to go into her own Geography book (an exercise book where she can make summary notes and draw diagrams of Geography topics that we cover).  She wanted to have pages showing the different plate boundaries so she used the diagrams from the Topic Booklet and drew her own plate boundary diagrams.  After drawing the 4 different diagrams she also wrote out a page of summary points, again using the Oaka Topic Booklet as her reference point.

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After she had made her extra notes we also had a go at the learning game.  Now I want to stress this, with all of the Oaka Books games you can play them part way through a topic (we have still not covered earthquakes yet) all you need to do is remove the question cards that deal with the section you have not covered.  And we normally play these games multiple times so I know once we have covered earthquakes we will come back and replay this game.

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The learning games that they include in the packs are always a massive hit with my kids.  It is just a fun way of working through a topic and a great way to wrap up a topic.

For those of you who have not heard of or used an Oaka Books Topic Pack before here is a quick summary. They always consistof 3 items.

  1. Topic Booklet (which explains the concepts in key points with lots of illustrations).
  2. Write Your Own Notes (where the kids add in key words, sentences to a booklet which has the same illustrations as the topic booklet).
  3. Learning game / activity (dice based game where the answer questions about the topic).

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We have used LOTS of these topic packs and every single time they have worked.

Suggestion – we keep all our topic packs on the kid’s bookshelves so they can refer back to them whenever they want. 

KS3 Topic pack on Plate Tectonics, Volcanoes and Earthquakes. Earth Science clearly explained

 

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Twinkl Posters

We tend to have a lot of learning posters scattered throughout our house – quite a few of the posters have been downloaded from the Twinkl Resources website so because a lot of readers have signed up for the Free Twinkl special they are offering I thought I would share some links for a few of our favourites.

Maths

We don’t have this one up anymore but it was up for years so I am starting with their big skip counting poster.

Multiples, skip counting poster from Twinkl Resources

Then Times table we had both of the 2,4 and 8 times table poster up and the Easy way to remember 9 times table poster up which are part of this times table poster pack.

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Fractions and Geometry both seem to lend themselves to posters so we have had a few up.  Some of our favourites have been – fractions, decimals and percentage poster. Angles and measurement poster. Triangles poster. Types of quadrilaterals Poster.

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For Maths this BODMAS page is always quite a handy one.

BODMAS from Twinkl Resources

This Place value page is a permanent one that stays above the kids desks (my one is yellow just because I printed it out onto yellow card).

Twinkl Place value chart

And recently I added this Algebra one.

Learning Algebra poster downloaded from Twinkl Resources

They also have this Missing Numbers algebra one which some may like.

English

We tend to change our English posters quite a lot and they tend to be linked to whatever the kids are currently learning.  So at the moment my son is learning about Expanded Noun Phrases and my daughter is revisiting some punctuation.

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Sciences

At the moment we have some human biology ones up. This Human organ page is part of a human organ pack We also have this Digestive system one up and this one of the Human brain.

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Earth Science – we like the cross-section of a volcano.

Volcano Cross-Section Poster downloaded from Twinkl

We have printed a number of the different maps.  Our most recent one was the World Biomes Map. And ee have also printed off a few of the continent maps like this African one.

World Biomes map from Twinkl Resources

History

I used to have these timeline posters up when the kids where younger but these days we tend to work in more detail and my daughter likes creating her own timelines for whatever period we are working on.

British History Timeline Posters from Twinkl Resources

We have this timeline printed out but the kids have stuck all the pages together and made it into more of a massive scroll that the look at from time to time.  With History I have found printing out the individual time period timeline works well – so for example the Anglo-Saxon timeline.

Both of my kids are very visual learners so we like having posters and reminders pinned up around the house and Twinkl do have a good selection on their site.  Also although I tend to print ours in colour you can often frind a black and white version or an Eco-colour version which is a bit more printer friendly.

 

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The Pack of Pompeii a Twinkl Original eBook

Over the past 2 weeks the kids have watched quite a few different documentaries about Volcanoes and have really enjoyed them.  So this week I thought a volcano topic would be a good topic.

I knew there were some Twinkl eBooks about mountains and rivers with activities linked to them so I hoped there might be one with a volcano theme – straight away I spotted – The pack of Pompeii. A story about Pompeii and animals, I knew it would be a hit. So I downloaded the pack (I love these packs – a story together with some learning activities).

We started by reading the story. It is a really well written story with lots of detail describing typical Roman life and what living through an actual volcanic explosion would have been like. I was thrilled that they included details like the fact that there were earth tremors before the eruption and that it hurt to breath in the air because of all the gases. I was really impressed with this story. Really Impressed. My kids loved that the story was written from the point of view of the dogs (lovely details like talking about humans as two legs and how a pet dogs family is its pack – my kids really enjoy this sort of thing). While we read the story we also went through the guided reading questions – I really appreciated that this was included. I found it emphasised interesting points and made the kids think about key elements of the story and the characters.

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The eBook comes in a pack with a number of different resources. There is a comprehension for the story and an extra non-fiction comprehension on Pompeii. I was impressed that they included both comprehensions in the pack (both have 3 different sets of questions which you choose from and the answers).

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We used the Labelling a Volcano page, the famous volcanoes on a map page and the Volcano Top Cards. But the pack also includes a paper model of a cross-section of a volcano and a science experiment on how to create your own volcano (we have already done both of these before).

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After reading the story and doing the activities in the pack there were three angles that I thought we could explore further – volcanoes, the history angle of Pompeii and Roman life and thirdly personifications.  We have covered Pompeii in quite a bit of detail before so apart from looking at the Pompeii comprehension included in the pack and suggesting that the kids reread our Pompeii book I did not feel like we needed to do more.

I thought exploring Personifications further would be good.  We downloaded the Wildlife personification worksheet and then I suggested the kids write their own version of the Pack of Pompeii but as a different animal (and use personifications in their writing).  They choose to write as a feral cat and a wild fish in a river. To help them think about the story they could write we first completed the Pompeii and eruption senses worksheet.

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We are going to be looking at Volcanos more next week as part of our tectonic plate topic so for this week we focused on parts of the volcano and significant/ famous volcanoes (we actually found two new documentaries on Hawaii and Krakatoa which we also watched).

I downloaded this really nice Cross-section of a Volcano Poster for the kids

Volcano Cross-Section Poster downloaded from Twinkl

And I also found these Volcano Fact Sheets.

Twinkl have lots of different Volcano resources which are all good.  But for me the most outstanding item this week has been the story – The pack of Pompeii – I was really impressed with the story and both my kids thoroughly enjoyed it. 

Original eBook from Twinkl Resources about Pompeii and the volcanic eruption

 

 

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Most Used Year 7 Resources

I am getting more and more emails/questions about the different resources that we use so I thought it might be helpful to write a summary post about the Year 7 resources that we have been using with my daughter. It is going to be a summary post so I am only going to highlight our key resources – the ones we use the most – I will not be including the extra reading or extra documentaries we use.

Maths

We have largely stuck to using websites for her maths.  We like Khan Academy for explanations and some example and then practice pages are from Twinkl’s KS3 section and TeachitMaths.  It took me a little while to get used to the menus and where I could find the different Maths pages that I wanted on Twinkl but now I actually find the site really easy to get around. One of the reasons we like using websites for maths is it allows us to take a step back if we need to or allows us to extend the work and include some pages from other years.  I often find with Maths we end up working through a combination of pages that would be year 6 / year 7 / year 8.  Using websites means we are not restricted by the pages included in a workbook and I can give her as many examples as she needs.

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English

This is a real mix.  We have been using our Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar Workbook from Oxford and then adding to it with extra worksheets from Twinkl and TeachitEnglish.  For Literature we pick books that we read together and then discuss in detail and do activities based on that.  Creative writing – my daughter loves writing and I have largely been leaving her to go wild and write as much as she wants and on whatever topics she likes.  We are about to start working through more structured creative writing activities that I am putting together.

History

Our main History resource has been our Oxford Invasion, Plague and Murder Book.  I cannot say enough good things about this book.  We Love it. It is detailed and has good examples for my daughter to work through (she loves History and we are already certain she will be doing History as an exam subject so we wanted something that would help give her a solid foundation).  And we also add in some of the Oaka Topic packs.  These Topic Packs are popular with both my kids and really they actually just enjoy using them.

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Geography

We are using a combination here of the Geog.1 Books and our Oaka Topic Packs as our main sources (but also lots of documentaries, and extra reading here). I also really like the On the Map board game (probably our most popular board game).

Science

My daughter naturally enjoys Biology but Physics and Chemistry is something we need to work on.  Here I am using a combination of two books – Oxford Activate and Collins Year 7 science book.  We have covered a few topics in excessive detail – like Space – which is just the way my daughter likes to work.  She likes to do a topic and then research it more thoroughly then required by the cirriculum and we go with that and let her get into all the detail. We are also still playing our Science board game from Oaka Books

KS3 Science Books by Oxford and Collins

Art

She did a Bronze art award and we will probably sign up for the Silver one soon.

Food Technology

This happens vey naturally because we bake a lot and she also often helps me prepare meals. I often search for recipes and ideas on Pinterest.

That is a real summary but I hope it helps all those with the questions. When we learn about topics we do go into lots of detail – read extra books, watch documentaries look up activities on a number of different websites but all the detail is too much to include in this post.

KS3 Educational resources

Favourite Year 7 home education resources that we have used this year. Top Homeschooling books for Year 7

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Some of the Home Education Question I am being asked

The past few weeks have been unusual (understatement I know) and as a result I have had numerous chats/emails with lots of different people about their kids and there seems to be a few questions which come through a lot so I am going to try and group them here.

(This is going to be focusing on the questions I have been asked around younger kids)

Follow Your Gut

If you are trying to help your kid with something and they are struggling, really struggling and your gut instinct is telling you that the reason they are struggling is because they do not understand some basics then stop, take some deep breaths and go back to the basics. Making sure they get the basics is vital. A kid struggling to read, who is not confident with their sounds is going to be much happier if you go back to those sounds, go over them as much as they need until they are confident and then retry the basic words. Knowing basics gives the kids confidence to try harder things.

Choose a topic they enjoy

If they kids are not engaging with the workbooks or worksheets you are trying to work on and everyone is getting frustrated, think about choosing a topic that they find interesting. Anything – space, an animal, dinosaurs, a country, vehicles, really it does not matter what the topic is as long as it is something the kid is interested in. Then have a search for topic related ideas – look on Pinterest, websites like Twinkl and Activity village – type the topic in on the search bars and see what ideas pop up. You will be amazed how much the kids learn when it is based on something they find interesting.

Read

Read with them. Read, Read. If nothing else just read and don’t get caught up worrying about “is this book okay?” – which books do your kids enjoy – have fun. Are there stick puppets you could print out that go with the book, possibly some masks, can the kids extend the story, create their own ending or create their own character.

Time

Yes there is no getting around this but home education does take up time. Time to find resources, time to read with the kids, time to watch documentaries together and talk about them, time to play board games, to help them bake, to engage with them. It is time consuming, no sugar coating here because you need to spend time together.

Okay some specific questions that come up a lot.

I don’t know what to do for Art?

A quick and easy solution is print out some colouring pages – but not to colour in to use as templates. The kids can paint on the colouring pages, create collages, trace over one or two items and then try and add their own in. A basic colouring page or template can often open the door to lots of ideas because really giving a kid a blank page and asking them to be creative can be very challenging.

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My kid struggles with writing his letters?

Instead of focusing on writing the letters rather get them to from the letters in other mediums. Playdough is great for this. Find some letter templates and get them to create letter collages, trace around the templates and paint them or decorate them however they want. Magnetic letters are also great – most kid like being able to hold the letters and feel the shape of the letters. Try and think – how can the kids create the letters using their hands in a 3 dimensional way? Anything goes.

Basic Maths?

Think about introducing some Maths manipulatives (something the kids can hold, move around while they do Maths). It can be snap cubes, it can be dried beans, craft sticks, toy cars (yes I have used toy cars for Maths) even sweets. Kids like to pick items up, move them around while they explore basic maths concepts.

Using our Learning Resources snap cubes to create patterns

Times Tables?

Don’t rush in. Are the kids happy with addition, have they done some skip counting? Then introduce the concept using manipulatives they can hold and move around. And get them active, bring in something like a bean bag or a ball, get them moving a bit.

Thowing the bean bag onto a times table card. Fun way of practicing our times table at home

Learning about shapes?

Shapes are a great hands on activity.  They can build them with playdough with card with any crafty item you can think of.  You can compare 2D and 3D shapes by printing out some basic shape nets and compare them the flat shapes printed on paper.  Playdough and craft stick are great for trying a home-made building session otherwise we love our Dive into Shapes set.

They are not interested in History?

What about finding a fictional story based in a historical time period (something like Time Hunters). Read it together, have fun with the story and see if it helps to bring that time period to life. Maybe once you have finished the book you can try and expand, ask them what it would have been like to live in that period, would they have enjoyed it? Just chat about the story and ask them their opinions. See if there is an angle they found interesting that you can expand on.

Reading How to Train Your Dragon series a few years ago sparked a massive Viking Theme that then extended onto Anglo-Saxon England – and it all started from reading the books. The kids ended up reading other Fictional Viking stories (Riddle of the Runes and Way of the Waves where very popular), they read Non-fictional Viking books, we created Long boats, wrote names in Runes, created maps ended up learning about Vikings invading England and the Anglo-Saxons and even went to visit Sutton Hoo – all of which started from a fun fictional book.

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You can always think an interesting person to learn about.  My son loves dinosaurs so he found learning about Mary Anning fascinating.

All my kid wants to learn about is Dinosaurs / Animals?

Go for it. Really go for it. If they want to learn about dinosaurs or animals then dive in. Don’t worry that all they want to read about / talk about is only animals and dinosaurs. If they are interested in this let them run with it. You will be amazed how much they can actually learn by getting lost in a topic they find interesting. They will read with interest, they will question what they read, they might be tempted to draw pictures, write about the animals, create their own (hybrids can be interesting), geography can come in if they learn about habitats, countries, climate where these creatures live. Maths can come in, measuring and comparing different species, even basic maths problems (get creative – if there are a pack of 4 dinosaurs and 2 lay 10 eggs each how many dinosaurs will be in the pack once all the eggs hatch).

I have been asked lots of other questions but these are the ones I seem to get the most often so I hope this helps a bit

 

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New KS3 Maths pages from Twinkl

As a full time home educator (we are not doing this because of the lockdown) I have been a bit overwhelmed by all of the educational resources that are suddenly available. And as we already know what works for our home education set-up we have largely stuck to that – I will admit I have downloaded some of the extra freebies that are suddenly available. But we know what works for our two, so I don’t want to mess with that.

For my daughter’s Maths (she would be Year 7 if she attended UK schools) we have been using Twinkl’s Secondary site a lot. I like using Maths resources where I can print out multiple copies if I want. I have always been a big believer in Maths practice so I like to reprint a page and give it to her a few months later to make sure she understands it. I also like the fact that I can use the website for both her Maths and her younger brother’s maths (he would be Year 4 at school) and I like that I don’t need to stick to a set Years activities like I would if we used workbooks. I often dip back for an extra printout and go forward in areas she is enjoying (we actually started using some of the Secondary Maths pages while she would have still technically been in Year 6). This flexibility that the site gives us is one of the main reasons that we keep coming back to use it again and again.

I will admit I took me some time to get comfortable with the secondary menus and where I can find everything but now that I understand the set-up I move around very quickly. However I still get surprises when I stumble onto new resources. A few days ago I was doing a quick search for 4 quadrant pages for my daughter and I spotted this “different” looking page it was called – Coordinates in 4 quadrants Home learning – now the home learning tag was not something I was used to seeing under KS3 Maths resources so I immediately downloaded it to have a proper look. And I really liked this new format. It had a quick explanation and then 2 exercises plus a challenge afterwards. I really like that it was wrapped up nicely in one document. (And yes there are answers).

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I love this style – the explanation, followed by exercises. It means the kids can remind themselves of key facts and then try the activity themselves – if it something that we have already covered it means they can work through it independently. Love this.

And yes I will admit there are not a lot of exercises attached. But I don’t mind this. Once the kids work through the pages you can always do a quick search and find some extra activities – my daughter quickly worked through the 4 quadrant pages and then she had a go at some of the emoji 4 quadrant pages.

emoji picture with answer page from the Twinkl website

So I looked around some more and found the menu where they are storing these “home learning Ks3 Maths pages” here it is –Maths Home Learning /KS3

And it looks like they are adding more quite quickly. At the moment I could find a number for Geometry and Algebra. (I really liked the Algebra ones because we are moving onto that next).

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I emailed Twinkl to ask what the plans are for these Maths pages and I should have more detail within a day or two  (I will update this post once I know if they are going to add more of these pages). I am hoping they are going to create more of these home learning sets for KS3 maths – with the explanation and then the exercises in 1 document. Fingers crossed they keep this format going even after the schools go back.

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Easter Maths from Twinkl Resources

Since it will be the Easter weekend soon I thought it would be nice to find some fun, Easter themed, where possible puzzly type maths pages for the kids. In past years when the kids where younger I found a number of great Easter Maths activities on Twinkl (they have a lot for Key Stage 1 ages – that cheeky Easter bunny ) so I thought I would start there and see what I can find for slightly older years.

When I started searching, I immediately went to their Maths Mystery sets to see if they had any interesting looking Easter ones (we are huge fans of the Maths Mystery series). I found a few and checked to see if any were revising the Maths activities that I specifically had in mind – and I found two that ticked the right boxes for us.

The Mystery of the Easter Bunny Costume – looked like it would be good for general lower key stage 2 practice.

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And the Mystery of the Contaminated Chocolate included simple solving for x and some coordinates which where two things I was wanting to practice if possible.

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I also remembered I had once printed off a code breaking page to do with simplifying factions and we have recently covered that with my youngest so I searched for Easter simplifying fractions and found it – Easter Code Breaking Simplifying fractions (both of mine always enjoy working out some wort of coded message)

Code Breaker by simplifying fractions

If your kids also like the idea of code breaking pages I did also spot some Easter ones for – multiplication, sequences and 24 hour clock which might be interesting.

I also found a colour by simplifying fractions page, which they took me on a quick colour by worksheet search and I spotted some colour by division pages and a colour by sum Easter egg page in their Secondary section – which had negative numbers included.

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We have also recently revised coordinates so I thought some Easter coordinate pages would be good. I found a bunch – Egg in one quadrant, Easter pictures in four quadrants that all looked interested but I really wanted something that includes translations and I found this one – Easter Coordinates with translations.

Easter coordinates and translations from Twinkl Resources

And finally I know this is not a Maths page but while I was searching the Secondary section I spotted this Easter Egg Hunt page where the kids need to name the countries and I am 100% slipping this page in so here is the link – Atlas Easter Egg Hunt

Easter egg Hunt - name the country

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