Drawing Minecraft Characters

My son always like to extend his interests into drawing or modelling (creating a 3D versions of some sort). He has made a massive collection of fish drawings and even created one huge picture where he did an entire underwater river scene. He has also had a blast trying to recreate his favourite dinosaurs and create a few hybrids (inspired by the Jurassic movies) so I knew he would enjoy getting a How to Draw Minecraft book (very kindly given to him by some friends for a recent birthday).

How to draw for Minecrafters. A step by step easy guide.

This book (How to Draw for Minecrafters A Step by Step Easy Guide: Sketch Book for Kids 8 to 14/Practice How to Draw Book for Kids (Unofficial Minecraft Book)) is set out with double pages for each characters. (They have included 42 characters). The first page shows step by step how to create the characters and the second page is a blank page for the kids to try and draw their characters.

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The book is aimed at kids between 8 and 14 years so they do not start with very basic elements – ie it is not draw this line and then add this line. It is more draw a shape and then add extra shapes onto it. Also as Minecraft is basically blocks, the characters are 3D shapes so it does help if the kids have an understanding of how to draw a basic square or rectangle in 3D. But that being said my son has found all of the steps easy enough to follow and is quickly building up his own collection of Minecraft characters.

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For us, books like this are the starting point that the kids need to build up a bit of confidence and then they always end up going off and creating their own versions. With just a bit of time and practice I know my son is going to end up creating a lot of different Minecraft scenes with the aid of some of these characters.

My son recommends this book for other kids who enjoy creating their own pictures of the games that they play.

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.

How to draw for Minecrafters

 

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Heroes, Incredible true stories of courageous animals

We love this book.

Heroes Incredible true stories of courageous animals. amazing stories

I bought if for my son last year as a Christmas present and it has been one of those books that both my kids have kept coming back to over the year. And often while we are talking about something one of them will randomly insert a “Mom did you know that story about x animal that did …………… and saved so many lives?”

The book (Heroes: Incredible true stories of courageous animals) is a compilation of 33 different stories about courageous animals who saved lives (most of them are during World War I and World War II). Most of the stories are 4 to 6 pages long. Which means they make a nice quick read, perfect if one kiddo is waiting for the other to finish something.

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We love these stories and think they are amazing but I must stress they are stories about animals doing incredible things during war time so they do talk about things like prisoner of war camps, finding people trapped, bombings, injuries even death, which some kids might find a bit difficult (but there is nothing gruesome).  I saw the recommended age range was 9+ and I think that is probably the reason why.

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That being said we thought these stories were amazing to read and they really do show how incredible animals are. And I have also noticed how the kids have picked up lots of other information about war time life just by reading these stories. Small bits of information but bits that make wartime life seem so real, like what it must have been like living through the Blitz, or the conditions in a prisoner of war camp – eating rotting food drinking filthy water, getting sick a lot and still having to work hard. 

I think the fact that these stories are about animals and how they helped during times of war does actually make reading the hard bits a bit easier for the kids.  The story about being in the prisoner of war camp was easier for my son because the prisoners have their dog with them. So it actually ends up being a gentler way of the kids learning about some of the elements of what happened during war time.

Both my kids and I think this is a brilliant book and we have loved reading about these truly incredible animals. We highly recommend this book.

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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Knowledge Encyclopedia Dinosaur

My son is slightly dinosaur obsessed. He loves reading up about them and he already has quite a collection of detailed dinosaur books at home.

But just before the second lockdown he found a new dinosaur book at our local library – Knowledge Encyclopedia Dinosaur!: Over 60 Prehistoric Creatures as You’ve Never Seen Them Before and even I must admit it is a really good dinosaur book.

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The first impression you get when you page through this book is how incredible the pictures are. The details, the realism, it really makes you feel like they have taken a photograph of a real life animal.

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Once you get past the stunning pictures what impressed me was how factual this book is. It is aimed at kids over 9 and they have not over-simplified the dinosaur facts which both my son and I really appreciate.

My son has also commented on how many other unusual prehistoric creatures they have included. He loves that there are some new creatures which he had not heard about before.

Knowledge Encyclopedia Dinosaur

So how is this book set out.

The book is split into 5 main sections.

  1. The Dinosaurs
  2. Triassic Life
  3. Jurassic Life
  4. Cretaceous Life
  5. A new Era

The first section includes interesting pages like how did Vertebrates evolve and What is inside a Dinosaur.  Then under each of the other sections they include an introduction page on the era and then double pages on the different creatures that lived in that era.

Knowledge Encyclopedia Dinosaur

In the individual dinosaur pages they also include interesting details like how they adapted or what having a specific bone or joint meant.

Knowledge Encyclopedia Dinosaur

I know there are lots of dinosaur book out there and we already have quite a few of them but this one is a great addition to any kids dinosaur book collection.  The pictures are incredible and they have managed to include a lot of fascinating facts in short concise paragraphs.

We recommend this Knowledge Encyclopedia for other Dinosaur-interested-kids.

Knowledge Encyclopedia Dinosaur

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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Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar in KS3

Last year we used the Get It Right Workbook 1 for Spelling, Grammar and Punctuation and this year we are continuing with the series, so I thought it might be helpful to write a post about the whole series and how they can fit together. For KS3 there are three different workbooks (so you could do one workbook for each year), and there are answer books to go with each workbook. There is also a GCSE workbook (Get It Right: for GCSE: Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar workbook) and answer book in this series, but we are not going to cover that in this post. This post is just about the KS3 books.

Get It Right workbooks 1 - 3. Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling for KS3

The idea is one workbook a year and if you look at the workbooks they do tend to develop the topics over the years. For example, the Nouns pages in Workbook 2 builds on the Noun pages in workbook 1 (in case anyone is concerned I have not found any duplication, when topics are covered across multiple workbooks they are different, each subsequent workbook goes into more and more detail).

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I understand the idea of one workbook per year but as a home educator we can work a bit differently to schools and my daughter likes covering topics in a lot of detail. We are actually finding that sometimes we use the pages out of Workbook 2 and workbook 3 together and it works well. It really is down to personal preference.

The series also has answer books for each workbook. Now it all honestly, we used Workbook 1 without an answer book but we have an Answer Book for Workbook 2 and I must admit I love having the answer book. I like being able to double check what we think the answer should be back to a model answer and it also means my daughter can work more independently. She can work through the activities and then check her answers herself. So yes even though you could manage without the answer book I actually really enjoying having them.

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The page layouts for all the workbooks are the same. They tend to be double-page spreads that start with an explanation about the topic and are then followed up with normally three activities. Some of the key topics are followed up with an  “in context” double page as well.

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Workbook 1 is split into – Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling. Workbooks 2 and 3 are split into – Grammar, Punctuation, Spelling and Style. Style is an interesting section which deals with things like narrative voice, figurative language but I must stress the Style section is not included in Workbook 1.

What exactly does each workbook cover? I am going to list it below so readers and can make sure they are getting the workbook that covers the topics they want (although I really think for £4.99 per workbook it is worthwhile getting the whole set and using them altogether).

Get It Right: KS3; 11-14: Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar workbook 1

  • Grammar – Nouns, Adjectives, adjectives in context, verbs, verbs in context, verb tenses, auxiliary verbs, subject and object, personal and possessive pronouns, determiners, prepositions, adverbs, adverbs in context, phrases, phrases in context, conjunctions, conjunctions in context, clauses, clauses in context, sentence types, single-clause sentence, multi-clause sentence, sentences in context and paragraphs.
  • Punctuation – Capital letters, full stops, question marks and exclamation marks, commas, colons and semi-colons, colons and semi-colons in context, lists, apostrophes for possession and apostrophes for contraction, direct speech and direct speech in context.
  • Spelling – Why is spelling important, vowels and consonants, plurals, silent letters, prefixes, suffixes, commonly confused words, how to learn spellings.

Get It Right: KS3; 11-14: Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar workbook 2

  • Grammar – Nouns, noun phrases, noun phrases in context, pronouns, phrasal verbs and imperative form, phrasal verbs and imperative form in context, participles, progressive forms, subject and verb agreement, active and passive voices, adverbs and adverbials,  adverbs and adverbials in context, adjectives and adjective phrases,  adjectives and adjective phrases in context, determiners, prepositions and prepositional phrases,  prepositions and prepositional phrases in context, clauses, single-clauses sentences, multi-clause sentences, sentences in context, common mistakes in grammar.
  • Punctuation -Capital letters, full stops and commas, parenthesis, parenthesis on context, colons and semi-colons, apostrophes, direct speech and reported speech, direct speech and reported speech in context.
  • Spelling – How to improve your spelling, plurals, silent letters, double consonants, endings – le, el, al and il, tricky letter groups and common spelling mistakes.
  • Style – Standard and non-standard English, standard and non-standard English in context, formal and informal language, formal and informal language in context, narrative voice, narrative voice in context, paragraphs and cohesive devices, rhetorical devices and rhetorical devices in context.

Get It Right: KS3; 11-14: Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar Workbook 3

  • Grammar – Nouns, noun phrases, adjectives and adjective phrases, pronouns and determiners, nouns, adjectives, pronouns and determiners in context, verbs, verb tenses, verbs in context, voice, prepositions and prepositional phrases, adverbs and adverbial phrases, prepositional phrases and adverbials in context, clauses and sentences, clauses and sentences in context.
  • Style – Vocabulary and formality, grammar and different types of writing, formal and informal styles in context, colloquial language, colloquial language in context, imagery and figurative language, imagery and figurative language in context, cohesion and cohesion in context.
  • Punctuation – Sentence punctuation, commas, colons and semi-colons, speech punctuation, dashes and parenthesis and punctuation in context.
  • Spelling – Prefixes for forming opposites, suffixes – able, ible, apostrophes, one word or two, Americanisms, commonly misspelled words.

That is a lot covered across the three workbooks.  And yes, the kids would have learnt some of this already, but it is important to refresh that knowledge and build on it.  I must also say that the “in context” pages are great, think extra practice pages but practice that is linked to a source text. So it is very practical practice. I really like these pages. 

So what are my main reasons for using this series? Accuracy and Completeness.  I need to know that I can hand my daughter a resource that is accurate, and no, that is not always the case.  I recently gave her a worksheet to complete and the definitions they were using were wrong.  (My daughter and I actually did a little exercise comparing that worksheet with what our Get It Right Book said and we found the Get It Right Book was spot on.)  And completeness, I want to know that we are covering everything because my daughter is going to be writing GCSE exams so I want to make sure her foundations are good.

With this range, it is from Oxford University Press which has an excellent reputation for their education range and for me, as a home educator that is important.  I need to know that we are using quality resources.

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.

From time to time Oxford University Press do send us books.  How we use the books, what we think of the books and what I include in my posts is 100% up to me and my testers.  They did send us the Get It Right workbook 1 and I liked it so much that I requested the others in the series.

Get It Right workbooks 1 - 3. Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling for KS3

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KS3 Comprehensions

I have always been a big fan of using comprehensions in our home learning. For the simple reason that when kids work through a comprehension they are actually practicing a lot of different skills all at the same time – reading, writing, grammar, spelling and if it is a non-fiction comprehension they could be covering Science, Geography or History (we love working through non-fiction comprehensions on topics that we have just covered).

For the KS2 years I often turned to the Twinkl website for their comprehensions and always liked the fact that they had such a wide range of topics. But when my daughter first moved up to KS3 and I searched for KS3 comprehensions on the site there were not that many so I admittedly did not go back and keep checking to see if they were adding more (a bit silly of me because I knew that the Ks3 section was still new so of course they were still building it up). But then last week I was looking at some English Literature units on the site (side note – we love the English Literature units if you have never looked at them it is worth having a look they cover lots of different books). Anyway while I was searching for some English Literature pages I came upon the Northanger Abbey Comprehension which was new (well it was not on the site when I first looked through the comprehensions), so I quickly went back to see what else had been added and I was stunned. They now have a lovely wide range of comprehensions for the KS3 years and sticking with the Twinkl formula they have different levels for the comprehensions (so for each comprehension you can normally choose from 3 different question papers depending on your kids age and ability) and they have included some vocabulary sheets – which I love. Oh and of course they have included answer pages.

So why am I so thrilled to find a good source of comprehensions for KS3 when I could just buy a comprehension book?  Firstly, the different level of questions – we like covering Topics with both kids (I currently have one in Year 5 and one in Year 8) so I can use the Lower level of KS3 activities with my youngest. Secondly, I like the range of topics, no I Love the range of topics. They have included some fascinating comprehensions for holidays like Christmas and Easter (we have some of the Christmas ones already printed out).

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They have comprehensions on famous people which I always find interesting to use and they have some on stunning Classic Literature works. And then some rather more unexpected ones – like Schools around the world and How to win a war with the weather report, and some interesting ones that I know my son will like – Giant Rats and Spiders one and the Lego one.

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They also have created bumper packs which I really appreciate so you can download the Weird and Wonderful pack and you end up getting 10 different comprehensions on 10 different topics. I love these packs. I spent a few minutes just downloading a few packs and I quickly had a good set of Comprehensions to choose from.

I am really happy that I stumbled upon that Northanger Abbey comprehension and then went to discovered all the new ones that have added. And it also reminded me that a site like Twinkl is always adding content so just because I could not find something 18 months ago does not not mean it is still not on the site.

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