Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar workbook for Year 9

We have been using the Get It Right Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar series for part of my daughter’s KS3 English. There are three different workbooks so we split them over the three years and we have been using Workbook 3 for my daughter’s Year 9 (we used Workbook 1 in Year 7 and workbook 2 in Year 8). As a home educator I really liked this series, I felt like it included some good revision and also some extension type questions. And my daughter (the kiddo using it) has commented that it is helpful and that they have used some interesting passages for the activities. This post is going to focus on Workbook 3.

So what is included? The workbook is broken down into four main sections – Grammar, Style, Punctuation and Spelling. Instead of listing out everything covered under each category I have just included a photo so you can see the breakdown for yourself.

The layout is one that we like, it is not overwhelming, there is not too much crammed onto a page. It is easy to read they have included enough writing space for the activities included.

Most of the pages are double pages with a brief explanation followed by three activities.

Most of these explanation-type double pages are more revision pages, which we are totally happy with because I think it is vital to revise this points. But after some of the explanation pages you also get their “in context” pages. Now full confession I LOVE these. LOVE them. They take the concept from the previous page and show how you might apply it when you are looking at a text. For me these pages are vital building blocks for Year 10 and Year 11. (I am determined that we are going to do well with the English Language IGCSE so I have been making sure that in her Year 9 we start working on some basics.)

As someone who is NOT an English teacher I felt like explaining/teaching Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar was fine. I had no problem with those concepts but when it came to writing style I was not as confident but I also knew that it was something that was important because the kids need to be able to anaylse a piece of writing and the writers style, comes into that. So I was relieved when they started covering Style in Workbook 2 and then developed it further in Workbook 3. It was just a starting point for us to develop further but I felt like it is a good base from which we can work and expand. I really do appreciate the fact that this Style category was included and I do think it included some valuable activities for us to work through.

I do also want to state that although the workbooks are stand alone workbooks but I do feel like there is progression and I am glad we worked through all three in order.

The Workbook itself costs £6.99 and the answer book is £12.50 (slightly cheaper on Amazon). I really like the fact that you can buy an answer book and it is not ridiculously priced. And I must admit I have found having model answers really useful for the “in context” questions.

I am glad we used this series with my daughter and I am going to use it with my son when he starts Year 7 in September.

You can buy the Workbook and the answer book directly from Amazon here are the links – workbook 3 and Answer Book 3 (I have not spotted them in my local book stores)

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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A Macbeth book perfect for home learning

We started working through Macbeth and the book (the text) that we are using is the RSC School Shakespeare version of Macbeth. It is actually the third play in this series that we have read and I must admit – I think this format is one of the reasons why Shakespeare is such a hit in our house, something that is not feared but actually something that the kids want to read and discover. In fact even though we have only just finished the first Act my daughter is already asking me which one of Shakespeare’s plays we are going to do next and suggesting that I need to buy the next one so it is ready and waiting for us to read.

So why do we like this format so much. Simply put it is all the extras that they have included which seem to weave a magical spell over the words and make them understandable and the entire play really entertaining and enjoyable.

They start by introducing Macbeth, which includes a really great 4 page summary (we highly recommend reading this first as it just helps the kids to understand the detail later on if they know the basics first).

Then you have the play itself followed by 13 pages called William Shakespeare and his world and then a glossary. This section called William Shakespeare and his world is a must read as it gives the kids context and explains a lot of the themes of the play. To really understand Shakespeare you need to understand the time period in which he lived and the current events which helped to form the characters and events in his plays. So both my daughter and I really appreciate the fact that they have included these pages and we actually think it helps to read these before you get involved in the detail of the play itself (or at the least if you a home educator I would suggest that the adult working through the play should read this section first).

Okay now the play itself. The play is set out in double pages where only one page is the actual text and the other page contains the extras. So yes this does mean that the book is thicker and it does take longer to read but it is these extras that we find help us to understand the words and actually bring his words to life.

On every double page they always include a photo of the scene being acted out. This is magic for us, pure magic. The vibrant photos of actors performing these words help the reader to visualise the play on stage and because you get this image in your head some of the confusing words or phrases just seem to make sense. I remember reading a version of Macbeth without the photographs and it really was not the same, I did not visualise the characters and events like we are doing with this version. I absolutely believe theses photographs are one of the key reasons why my daughter is so engaged in the play (and why she is really understanding it).

Okay so apart from the brilliant photographs each page of extra information will always contain a brief 2 or 3 line summary at the top of the page, a glossary and some activity ideas. The quick summary is written in modern English at the top of the page is a game changer for us (such a simple idea but the fact that they include it on each double page means you are constantly checking that you are still on track with your understanding) and the glossary is our other game changer. Yes there is a glossary at the end of the play but by including a glossary next to the text you are reading means you just check the words as you read and you are not constantly having to flip to the back of the book, which may sound lazy but for kids reading it does make a massive difference. In fact with us, I often read the text and as I am reading out loud my daughter quietly checks any words she is not sure of while I am reading so it still flows naturally.

The extras also include activity ideas – which you don’t need to do and sometimes just reading the activity idea and having a quick think about it helps to just cement what you have read. But they are there for ideas which is really helpful.

Then on some pages you also get other extras – things like explaining a key term, talking about something from the time period or even a bit about how actors would perform it. These can include some really important pieces of information like talking about Iambic Pentameter.

We really do enjoy this format, and I truly do believe it is one of the main reasons why Shakespeare has become such a popular writer in our house – because not only do the kids end up understanding his words but they actually engage with the play and start to really understand the characters.

You can get a copy of this Macbeth directly from the OUP website – Macbeth, from Amazon (RSC Macbeth) and I have also seen copies at our local WH Smith store.

If you are interested in further Shakespeare plays you may be interested to read about Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Admin – Oxford University Press allowed me to chose some Free English resources for review purposes. I chose this Macbeth book because we had already used the Romeo and Juliet version and I knew we enjoyed the format. All opinions expressed are that of my daughter and myself.

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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KS3 Maths series that really works

I have written a few posts about the Mastering Mathematics series that we started using this year (at the start my daughter’s Year 9) and it is honestly such a brilliant series, that I am writing another post. And NO this is not a paid for post or a post that is linked to the publishers in any way this is a happy home educator post, thrilled that we found a Maths series that in 9 months has just lifted my daughter’s confidence, improved her understanding and truly set her up for her IGCSE Maths. I can honestly say that for her IGCSE subjects – Maths is one of the subjects that I am not worried about because I know we have a good foundation, I know we have gotten into good practices and as long as we keep on, in this manner we are going to be absolutely fine, more than fine.

I really feel that by the end of Year 8 she was not happy with her Maths, she was doubting her ability and less than a year later she is cruising through, she is confident, she knows that she is getting it (and she is getting it). I do have to give her lots of credit, she is a hard worker and she has really tried, she reads every explanation, every worked example and then she works through all the practice examples in the text book and the practice book (for a detailed explanation about the practice books please read this post – year 9 practice books). She really does put the effort in and she never complains. So credit to her. She has done an amazing job, I am incredibly proud of her.

But I do want to speak about this range and why I think it has worked so well for us and why I am going to be using it with my son when he starts Year 7 in September.

They break the topics down into sub-sections and then for every sub-section you have a clear (and I do mean clear) explanation followed by worked examples. These worked examples are gold because it just takes that explanation, puts it into context and shows the user how to apply it.

  • Mastering Mathematics by Hodder Education Year 9 Books
  • Mastering Mathematics by Hodder Education Year 9 Books
  • Mastering Mathematics by Hodder Education Year 9 Books

After that you get practice questions broken down into three bands, with every band the questions do get harder. And yes we do all the bands. We start with the easy questions, make sure we are getting the basics, then we do band two and after band two we move to the questions in the practice book and then come back and do band three questions (band three questions are the hardest). And I must stress all the answers for all the questions are free to download from the website. So I printed all the answers out and once she has worked through a set of questions, she marks them herself.

Mastering Mathematics by Hodder Education Year 9 Books

It works, it has really worked for us. We started at the beginning of Book 3 and we have worked through chapter by chapter, reading everything, discussing when we need to and then doing the practice questions. And over the months that she has been working through this book her Maths has gone from a not very confident subject to a subject where she is cruising and often actually ends up doing extra questions just because she worked through her planned Maths so quickly and well, why-not?

I really do believe this series was exactly what she needed and I am so impressed with how her confidence in Maths has soared by just using their series for 9 months.

We really do Highly recommend this Maths series.

Edit – Just to add the series is split into 3 levels the thinking being – Book 1 would be used for Year 7, Book 2 would be used for year 8 and Book 3 would be Year 9 – just wanted to clarify that as someone already asked. This post talks about book 3 because we only started using the series in my daughter’s year 9.

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Out of the Ashes – a story about foot and mouth disease

There are so many brilliant Michael Morpurgo books out there that it is very hard to choose which ones to read but this one, even though it is shorter, should be on your must read list. It is not a true story, the characters are fictional but the events are true, foot and mouth disease did rear its ugly head in England 2001, farms where literally destroyed and farmers and their families were devastated, so in many regards it is a true story about what many people lived through.

The story is written though the eyes of Becky, she is the only child of farmer and her dad happened to give her a diary for Christmas of 2000 so the events of 2001 are written as her diary entries. We (my daughter and I) loved this format, it being written as a diary. We felt like the author included some lovely details that made you feel like you were actually dipping into a private diary and reading how these events affected Becky and her family. We loved the details like the way she talks about her best friend, how she talks about the differences between farmers and townies and even how she admits that she struggles with her mom. We enjoyed reading about her cousin Josh and how she named the lamb who she was hand rearing Little Josh. It really is a masterclass example of writing, of bringing the reader in, giving them enough personal detail about the characters that the reader starts to really care and relate to the characters so when foot and mouth arrives you feel like it is you that is living through it.

It is a very moving story, sad in places, truly sad when the animals are killed and then all burnt and when Becky’s father can’t cope and is hospitalised. It is sad, there is no getting around that but it also rings true, what these farmers and their families must have gone through, having there homes invaded and their farms totally destroyed I do think it could have mentally destroyed quite a few families. And then even though you feel like everything is lost Michael Morpurgo keeps you around a bit longer to show you that there is hope, hope when they bring Becky’s dad home from hospital and when they start bringing back animals to the farm. He beautifully completes the circle (masterclass right there how he does not leave the reader in despair but shows them there is hope if you just keep on going).

Yes it is a short story and that has been one of the criticisms that I have read but in all honesty it is nice to mix up shorter stories with the longer stories and even though it is shorter it is expertly crafted and the reader is taken on a journey, a journey into real events that happened.

Because it is an emotional read I would recommend it for kids aged 10 and older, and even if your kiddo is in Year 10 or 11 I still think it is worth a read because it does explain something which is apart of recent British History.

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Refugee Boy By Benjamin Zephaniah

I must confess I had never heard of this book until I started downloading almost every secondary reading list I could find (I am trying to create my own reading list for my daughter) and I then started searching online for book reviews to see which books might be interesting and also not too graphic. This one popped up and I read some interesting comments so it went onto my pre-reading list and then a few days later I spotted it at our local library so I quickly borrowed it and read it.

Now I must admit I was a bit nervous about this book, it is a story about a refugee from Ethiopia and Eritrea and that immediately made me worried that there might be some graphic scenes about torture, rape or murder. Thankfully there wasn’t but just so everyone is aware in this story there are scenes where the family are threatened and then the boy’s mother is murdered (hacked to death) and later his father is also murdered, but none of these are too graphic. What does stand out when you read this story is that although the characters are fictional the actual story rings true and as you read you nod your head and go – yeah, that is what would have happened. The events, the way they unfold, parents trying everything to protect their kids, adapting to a new country, to foster care then the court case it all reads as if it were a true story and you just know that this author researched his topic really carefully and understood what he was writing about.

Okay so the story centers around a young boy – Alem whose father is Ethiopian and his mother is Eritrean which means that when the countries are at war he is not safe in either country (because the Ethiopians consider him Eritrean and the Eritreans consider him an Ethiopian, so both sides want to kill him). This leads to the family getting threatened and eventually the father brings Alem to England on a holiday but the father then disappears leaving Alem as a refugee in England (this was his fathers plan). The story follows Alem as he struggles to fit in to life in England, and as he adapts to a foster family.

It is a moving story which is beautifully written. You start to understand the struggle of this young boy, he wants to be with his family, he misses them and worries about their safety, he also wants to study hard in England and is desperate to learn yet no where appears to be safe for him, even England has problems for him. I don’t want to give too much away but it is a story about people, not just Alem and his parents but you also get to see a foster family and how the foster sister struggles with the decisions her parents make, you get a glimpse of other families living in a shelter and even a glimpse of the people working to help Alem, their own struggle.

I am adding this book to my daughter’s recommended reading list and I am marking it as an important one to read because I think it covers a wide range of topics that we do need to expose our kids to and discuss with them and for us reading a story is often that starting point for those discussions.

I really do Highly Recommend this for older kids – I would say ages 12 and over

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