Understanding Maths Series. Fraction Workbook

I have already written a few posts about the Understanding maths series by Schofield & Sims. It is a set of workbooks that I started using with my oldest just over a year ago and am now using the whole set with for my youngest (well planning on we are still working through them). They are Key Stage 2 books (so that is the UK school years of 3, 4, 5 and 6).

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I like the way these books are set out – each page has a quick explanation followed by examples (we have found the explanations really well worded and set out). They are not busy pages – we don’t like workbooks where too much is crammed onto 1 page.

Schofield & Sims Understanding Maths Fraction workbook. An example of the explanations included at the top of each page

But I must say they don’t have pages and pages of practice examples. You get 1 page of examples so I do give him extra examples to practice – and honestly this is often just a case of me writing out more examples onto a piece of paper so he can practice some more. This series does also come with a practice book (Understanding Maths: Practice). And the practice book is very useful but it is 1 book, which contains 72 pages of extra examples for all the books in the series – so it covers all 8 topics in 1 book. So yes we find the practice book handy but in total honesty I am someone who believes Maths practice = Maths confident kids so I am happy to write out extra examples for the kids to practice on.

So for those of you looking for a fraction workbook here is what is included.

  • How fractions are written / unit fractions of shapes (so the start of fractions but there is not a lot of this so if you are just introducing basic fractions to a child in Year 1 this is probably not the book for you)
  • Mixed Fractions
  • Equivalent Fractions
  • Fractions of a Number

Key Stage 2 Fractions with the Schofield & Sims Understanding maths series

  • Tenths
  • Adding and Subtracting Fractions
  • Ordering Fractions
  • Hundredths
  • Simplifying Fractions
  • Fractions on a number line
  • Common denominators
  • Multiplying fractions by a whole number
  • Thousandths
  • Simplest Form
  • Adding and subtracting mixed numbers
  • Dividing fractions by a whole number
  • Multiplying pairs of fractions

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Scattered throughout the book they have 5 progress tests – which is basically revision of what has been covered. Also all answers are included at the book of the book.

We also think these workbooks make excellent revision books. My daughter has just worked through the entire fraction book by herself as a revision activity and it went really well. It highlighted a fraction activity that she did not fully understand, so did the job of a good revision tool.

I bought our workbooks directly from Amazon Understanding Maths: Fractions

Understanding Maths series by Schofield & Sims. The Key stage 2 Fraction workbook

I have included 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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Tara Binns – STEM jobs for young girls

The Tara Binns books are a new series by Collins (part of their BIG CAT reading series) and when they asked if we would like to review them I immediately said yes.  These books have a female character learning about interesting careers (STEM careers) and over the years this has become something that my daughter has constantly been asking me for. Books with female leads and NOT princess stuff.  No, my daughter is NOT a princess book type kid, she wants female characters who are strong and clever, female characters who are doing the same jobs, tasks as the male characters. So even though the books were an easy reading level for my daughter I jumped at the chance to review them because I wanted to spread the word about these positive books.

Plus I knew that my daughter would still read them, appreciate the fact there was a female character, enjoy the case studies and end up chatting about the careers (all of which she did). Her exact words after reading the engineer book – “about time someone wrote this.”

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We have read three of the books and they all start with Tara opening up an old costume box and then being whisked away into an imaginary world where she gets to be a doctor, pilot or engineer for the day. In each story she learns a bit about what the job involves and then normally something happens which means she needs to implement what she has learnt (they all have happy endings).

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I personally love the fact that Tara is depicted in a slightly quirky way – love the curly hair that stands out a bit – for me that enforces the message to young girls that is about using your brains and NOT how you look, or what you wear. Something which I feel very strongly about.

Collins have also created case studies of real women who are currently working in these fields (you can download them FREE from the website – Tara Binns resources). I really appreciate these case studies. Exactly the kind of thing that I wanted for my daughter to read. These right here are the role models we NEED for young girls.  And they have also created some lesson plans which you can download from the Collins website.

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And I know these books are written for young girls to read but I also liked giving them to my son to read for the simple reason it models the fact that girls and boys can do the same careers. And I think that is also something we need to make sure our sons learn.

My daughter and I LOVE the entire concept behind these books.  We think the case studies are brilliant and we hope Collins continues this series so more young girls can be inspired.

Tara Binns Big Ideas Engineer Book by Collins

Admin Bit – as I mentioned I was given 3 of the Tara Binns books to review. However I want to STRESS that my belief that these books are positive for younger girls has nothing to do with the fact I was given these books. I really believe more books like this should be written and our young girls should be actively encouraged to dream about ALL kinds of careers.

You can order the books directly from Collins or from Amazon (these are the three that we have)  Tara Binns: Big Idea Engineer: Band 14/Ruby (Collins Big Cat)

Tara Binns: Double-Quick Doctor: Band 13/Topaz (Collins Big Cat)

Tara Binns: High-Flying Pilot: Band 12/Copper (Collins Big Cat)

I have included 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.

Tara Binns Books by Collins.  Books which show female characters in STEM jobs

Tara Binns readers part of the Collins BIG CAT reading series. All about STEM jobs with a female lead character


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More Frogs and little Toad

Both my kids are currently tadpole obsessed. We have a number of them in a local pond near our house, our neighbour has some in his garden pond and we now have a few in our garden. And when I say obsessed I am honestly not exaggerating. Very day they spend ages watching them, talking about how they have changed and my son even has tried to chase a few of the local birds away (yes food chain happening right before our eyes which normally does not bother the kids but at the moment they are very much wanting as many tadpoles as possible to survive).

So I took some inspiration from their tadpole obsession and decided another frog learning session was in order. We started with a more detailed activity on how the body of the tadpoles change as they develop – so external gills, become internal gills which gives way to lungs. For this we use our lovely Explanatorium Nature book that I bought the kids last year and I printed out the Frog Life Cycle Colouring pages set from Activity Village (I used the set without any labels). I thought the two worked really well together. The book has some more detailed diagrams and information about frogs which I liked.

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We started with the youngest tadpole picture

Labelling the frog life cycle pages from Activity Village

And with each picture we tried to highlight the changes and significant features of the tadpole as it became a frog.

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I thought it worked out really well.

After our labelling the kids tried to draw their own frog skeleton.  We used a skeleton diagram out of our Who Owns these Bones book as a guide. I like skeleton drawing activities because each time we try a new skeleton the kids always notice something new.

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After that we decided to test out knowledge about the difference between Frogs and Toads.

I found this nice summary page on the Education.com website – Frog vs Toad which tied in perfectly with a cut and paste page from kiddyhouse.com – both pages are free download and work really well together.

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I think we might try and look at the organs of a frog next, but that is for another day.



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How Mountains Are Made

After watching a Planet Earth episode my son decided he wanted to relook at how mountains are formed. So while we were at the library picking up reserved books we quickly went to search for a mountain book and he selected this one How Mountains Are Made (Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science 2). We have actually borrowed this book before but I think he was still quite young and he did not seem to remember it. I actually really like this book and think it is a great explanation of how mountains are created so I thought I would write a quick review.

How Mountains Are Made a Science book for younger kids.  Perfect for Key Stage 2 ages

Firstly let me start by saying it is an American publication so it does talk in Feet and Miles and at the back of the book their is map showing mountain ranges in the USA.

It starts off with some kids going for a walk in the mountains where they live and very subtly it mentions how the vegetation changes as they climb up the mountain and how they discover an ammonite fossil at the top of the mountain, which is a bit strange as ammonites were found in oceans and not on top of mountains.

How Mountains Are Made a fossil on top of the mountain.  Geography resource for kids

So it goes on to say that their mountain was once a flat plain in the ocean and it then talks about the different layers of the earth (my daughter found this section a bit too simplified but my son liked it).

How Mountains Are Made. Earth's Mantle

Then there is a great depiction showing four different types of mountains (everyone liked this visual comparison).  After that it goes onto explain how each different mountain type is formed. The explanations are well worded – very concise and they use lots of diagrams to explain.

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My daughter has actually been looking at this in more detail and she commented that she likes these explanations as they managed to wrap everything up into a few neat sentences.

It ends by explaining that just as the mountains are created over millions of years so too are they also worn away over millions of years.

How Mountains Are Made the Rise and Fall of mountains over millions of years.  Geography resource for kids

I personally thought it was perfect explanation for my eight year old and a nice quick revision of key facts for my ten-year old.  We have read a number of books in this series and all of them have been really good.

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.

Children's book that explains how mountains are created. Excellent Geography resource to share with younger kids

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Wyrmstooth Crown by Twinkl

It’s no secret I have two little bookworms. They love books and I have often found story-based learning activities to be big hits with both the kids. So we thought we would try one of the more complex Twinkl eBooks (we have read a few of their easier ones before).

With my kids fascination of dragon-related stories I had a gut feeling that the Wyrmstooth Crown might be a hit. It Was. And I must admit that I was very impressed with this story. The way they described how the dragons would have perceived normal human objects was brilliant. All three of us loved those sections. And my son has chatted about the creative way Guster’s thinking was portrayed over and over again.

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The story is about 2 dragons – Guster and his mother Redbreath who live quietly in a forest until their peace is disturbed by workers creating a quarry. Which happens to be when Guster meats a young girl (Miranda) and they formulate a plan to stop the quarry and safe-guard the dragon’s home. The story has a lovely happy ending with the dragon’s forest being declared a nature reserve.

After reading the eBook together I downloaded some book-themed resources – there is a LOT to choose from – I was surprised by how many English related activities they had created for this eBook. And for all of the resources that I looked at that had multiple levels – so there are often 3 different levels for an activity and you can chose which one is best for your kid’s ability. I find this works really well for us as I can often use an easier level of the activity with my youngest and then a harder level with my oldest. It really suits us. Take for example the Pronoun page– the first level just talks about nouns and pronouns, the second level has pronouns, nouns and proper nouns and the third versions has possessive nouns.

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We found Punctuation pages and plural pages which were perfect for my son and some more complex grammar pages for my daughter.

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We also really liked the coordinates worksheets. Again they have included three different levels – the first with 1 quadrant, the second with 2 quadrants and the third with 4 quadrants. So really a perfect activity if you have different aged kids or different abilities working together.

Wyrmstooth Crown Valley coordinate page

I was really impressed with this story, I thought the writing is the kind that inspires the kids to try something similar themselves.  And all of the worksheets they have created means you can have a really good book-linked language session afterwards.

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Going Against the Trend

We recently had a birthday and over the course of the birthday week I have had a number of insightful conversations with the birthday girl. All of which have yet once again reinforced why I am so happy that we are home educating.

I have always been honest about the fact that we started home educating because of my daughter’s sensory processing diagnosis and we felt very strongly that school would not be the right fit. But the more we have progressed on this journey the more I am aware of the other positive aspects of being where we are and how this choice in education method is shaping the kids for the better.

One of these has to be the example that going against the trend / going against what is expected is not always a bad thing and sometimes it is the right thing for that individual. When we started home education it was not my intention to model this but it turns out we are living this and now both my kids have learnt by our example that following what is expected is not always the right path.

Over the course of her birthday week this seemed to come up as a theme and what amazed me was how comfortable and at ease my daughter is at doing what she feels is right for her and not feeling pressured to follow the group. I have watched as example after example presented itself and without fail she followed her path.

From something as simple as being the only girl spending an afternoon with 4 boys wadding into some local ponds to find bugs. She loves doing things like that and is totally aware that lots of girls her age don’t do that but she is not fussed. She enjoys spending time out in nature, getting a bit muddy and insects, creepy crawlies do not bother her at all.

Her chosen birthday presents were largely books – books about animals and historical figures. She is not interested in the latest trend, she will happily listen to her friends talk about whatever the newest interest is and even discuss it with them (because as she told me recently discussing something that someone else find interesting it is part of being a considerate person) but when it comes to what she wants as presents or what she wants to spend her money on she sticks firmly to her own interests whether they fit the classification of “what is cool” does not affect her choices.

When it came to a choice about how she wanted to spend her birthday yet again she bucked the trend – she wanted to just spend the day with her family.  No fancy outing needed, no big party required.  She does not find parties that enjoyable and she knows that, so why do something that is expected when it does not suit her.  Nope, not this girl, totally happy to do what she knows will make her happy regardless of expectations.

She also had an interesting chat where someone asked if she had thought of modelling – now the person in question meant it in a kind, sweet way however my daughter found this fascinating. She had quite a long chat to me about this. Firstly she could not think of anything more boring than having to wear different clothes and getting make-up and hair done. But what really bugged her was the idea of how modelling is all about looks, something which you are born with, something which does not reflect how kind someone is or what their interests may be. For her, personally, that is not a compliment. She wants to be recognised for kindness or her knowledge on a subject.

As she is growing older I am becoming more and more aware that she is standing firm in who she wants to be. She is not letting expectations of others sway her. If she wants to spend the afternoon with a group of boys, with her wellies on and wading into a pond she will. If she wants to read more about one of the Queens she find interesting she will. She is not going to follow the trend of other girls her age just because that is expected, she is happy to listen to them and chat to them about the latest trend they find interesting but she won’t let that change her. She does not think going against the group expectation is a big deal. We did it with regards to her education, so for her to go against local trends is really not a big deal at all.

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Wrapping Up Circuits

We have never really done “official” electric circuit learning as such, instead we have two different circuit sets and the kids have both just played with them and I must admit that by just simply playing around with the sets they have learnt a LOT. However as my daughter is moving up into secondary school from September  (we are still home educating her) I have been doing some quick checks to see if there have been any sections we have missed. And I realized that the kids have never tried to draw their own circuit (part of the National Curriculum), so last week we had a go.

To start with I did print out two circuit sheets which showed the kids how they would depict certain items in an electric circuit (these are useful for the first few drawings but they quickly picked up the symbols and then no longer needed them). The one below is free to download from the Teachit Primary website – electric circuit mat.

And this one can be downloaded from Twinkl Resources website (part of their paid for Classic sub) – Twinkl’s electric circuit mat

We first built a circuit with one of our sets.

And then the kids would draw that circuit.

And where possible the kids would find ways to change the existing circuit that they had built and then draw the changes as well – so lots of series verses parallel circuits.

And we also tried a few circuits where we changed the lights – so added more lights or took some lights away resulting in a change in the brightness of the lights (also using a combination of lights and motors).

And I must admit I am really glad we did this because it showed me how much they really do understand about circuits and the way they work. It is nice to be able to put a mental tick against that topic and know they have covered everything expected and actually managed to already cover some of the Secondary side of circuits. It also reminded me that they are a few extra bits and bobs that I need to buy for some more advance circuit making for next year (I am slowly building up a list of resources that I want to buy for my daughter for next year).

For those who want to know the two electric circuit sets that we have are these ones – Snap Circuits and The Electro Dough Kit.

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