Category Archives: National Curriculum

The trouble with reading …

Reading incorporates two activities. But what is the most successful way of pulling these two elements together?

Most of us working in primary schools will have witnessed children who have the ability to decode texts at an appropriate level for their age, but who find it hard to grasp and hold the meaning of that text at the same time.

As a result they cannot engage in activities that build upon their reading, because they simply don’t have enough of an immediate understanding of what they have read.

In such cases what is happening is that the brain is working to translate each pattern of letters into a word, but because so much effort is put into this activity the brain does not then take the words of a phrase or sentence and convert those words into something meaningful.

As a result there is little ability for the child to answer any questions about what has been read and (more worrying in the long term) there can be no enjoyment in reading.  Reading is a chore to be got through, not something to be enjoyed.

Unfortunately, many resources that exist to help primary school children read, focus on helping children read the text, but don’t simultaneously focus on giving them something that is enjoyable to read.

And so it was to provide this additional vital element in primary school literacy that we have produced the new edition of Brilliant Activities for Reading Comprehension – Years 1 – 6

The books in this series contain a variety of types of comprehension passages ranging from newspaper articles and dialogues to plays, stories and poems.  Each is followed by a series of enjoyable tasks for the children to undertake which test and stimulate their understanding of what they have read.

There is a lot more information about these books and their content on our website.

The books can be ordered either as a PDF for £13.99 or as a hardcopy book for £19.99. There is also the option to buy the hardcopy and PDF together at a discounted price.

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Filed under Brilliant Publications, English, How children learn, Key Stage 1, Key Stage 2, National Curriculum, Poems and poetry, Primary school, Teaching Ideas

Free Speaking and Listening resources

Speaking and Listening EY - talking about family

Free: speaking and listening resources for Early Years

And before we go any further may I stress that the resources we are offering are completely free of charge.  There is no trickery; no requirement to buy or anything like that.

Our aim is simply to show you what is contained in our volume “Speaking and Listening Activities for the Early Years”.  The activities are available directly from me – all you have to do is drop me an email.

And having got the worksheets, you can re-use them as often as you wish.

The activities in question come from a series that is designed to aid the development of speaking and listening skills for children aged between two and five years and in each case the work is linked to the Statutory Framework for EYFS. 

Through these activities the children who use them will gain the skills they need to succeed at school and to help them develop friendships and the ability to co-operate.

Each lesson in the series is complete in itself and includes such topics as adding descriptions to nouns, saying hello and saying goodbye, learning opportunities linked to early learning goals, learning polite speech, objects which naturally go together, and so on.

In the free lessons we focus on helping children understand the issue of friendship, and how friends can be made.  These practical activities involve children having to make friends and share within a totally safe and controlled environment.

For a link to download these lessons free of charge, please visit this webpage.

If you would like to see details of the book from which these activities come from – please take a look at  Speaking and Listening Activities for the Early Years on our website.

You can order the Speaking and Listening Activities for the Early Years on our website for £18.50 as a printed book, £12.99 as an e-book or both for a discounted price of £22.40.

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Filed under Brilliant Publications, Early years, How children learn, Key Stage, Key Stage 0, National Curriculum, Nursery and Preschool, Teaching Ideas

There are two maths: one is better

What is the most effective way of giving KS2 pupils an understanding of how maths actually works?

Missing Digits Addition Puzzle

There is no doubt that the rote learning of times tables is helpful to most pupils. But for progress to be made beyond that point children also need to understand the meanings behind mathematical problems.

Perhaps the most effective way of encouraging children to think about such issue is to give them maths problems that need them to use their knowledge of the four basic functions to solve simple problems.

Of course this can be done through the classic, “A man goes to a shop three times and buys four items each time…” type of question. But before children are ready to enter into those conundrums, they need to be able to solve the maths problems in purely mathematical terms, without any words in the way.

And the most effective way of doing this is through missing digit puzzles in which the mathematical question is set out with one part of the problem missing.

Thus they can be presented with an additional problem in which part of the answer is written in, and one of the two numbers to be added together. They have to work out what is missing.

Later they can be asked for a number in the eight times table where the first number is between 1 and 6 and the last number is six.

The big benefit with this approach is that because the questions are presented as puzzles to be solved rather than maths to be learned, they are much more stimulating and attractive to most KS2 children – and they really do help the children progress towards a mastery of mathematics’ basic functions.

You can see examples of how this works on our website at: Missing digit puzzles for times tables

And there is more information about the book and its contents here.

You can order Missing Digit Puzzles on our website either as a PDF for £10.99 or as a hardcopy book for £16.50. There is also the option to buy the hardcopy and PDF together at a discounted price of £19.80.

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Filed under Brilliant Publications, Key Stage, Key Stage 2, Mathematics, National Curriculum, Primary school, Teaching Ideas

Get talking about bullying

get talking about bullying

Use this free resource to develop your childrens’ spoken language skills by highlighting a topic they will have been hearing about this week.

‘Some people suggest it is best to give in and do what the bully wants. But that won’t stop the bullying. You shouldn’t just put up with it. You should always report bullying.’

‘Bullies often say that their victims deserve to be bullied. But no one deserves to be bullied.’

After reading some thoughts like these about bullying the children are presented with 10 statements to make them think about the article more deeply. They are then encouraged to discuss their own views on the statements.

Download your free resource Discussing an issue: Bullying to increase the impact of anti-bullying week and get your pupils speaking AND listening.

The resource is taken from Brilliant Activities for Speaking and Listening KS2, a book of activities designed to develop the spoken language skills of children in Years 3–6. The activities provide full coverage of the National Curriculum requirements for spoken language. The pupil assessment sheets and advice on progress ensure that schools can develop competence in this vital area of the curriculum.

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Filed under Brilliant Publications, Citizenship, English, Key Stage, Key Stage 2, National Curriculum, Primary school, PSHE, Teaching Ideas

The 3Ms of times tables

The three factors within the extraordinary 3M method of teaching times tables.

There are indeed three factors that need to be present if all children are going to learn their times tables in good time.
 
First, the children need to be motivated. Second, they need to be taught using a method that keeps that motivation going from one lesson to the next. And third the children need to find the whole process enjoyable.
 
Now, as you may have realised, the only problem here is that “enjoyable” rather breaks the alliterative approach that I was building up with the ideas of “motivation” and “method”, so for my third factor I’m going to say, “mighty fun.”  I hope that’s ok with you.

Motivation, method and mighty fun. That’s our aim.
 
So, to begin: motivation.  We’ve achieved this in the “Mighty Fun Activities for Practising Times Tables set for Primary Schools” by using superheroes through the materials. These instil a positive and competitive attitude towards learning among the children. 

Second: the method. Of course, each child learns in different ways and each needs to have opportunities to apply the knowledge and skills gained in the lessons. Therefore, for each times table there is a mixture of practical activities to develop their understanding and written activities to consolidate their knowledge.

Finally, the mighty fun.  By using superheroes the books instil a positive and competitive attitude towards learning which not only permeates through these times tables activities, but other areas of classroom work as well.

And although I wrote “finally” above, there is one more M benefit. The books contain reproducible sheets and are designed to be used as flexible teaching aids, which teachers can dip in and out of in any order to support the learning of any times table.  

In other words, “Multi-use”.  They work equally well as stand-alone 5 to 20 minute lesson reinforcements or as regular times table learning.

There are more details on our website (although less playing around with the letter M) where you can place an order.

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Filed under Brilliant Publications, Key Stage 1, Key Stage 2, Mathematics, National Curriculum, Primary school

To subject or not to subject?

The one thing about the rules of grammar is that without context they ain’t much help

Now I know “ain’t” isn’t a word that you would want to encourage in a child’s essay – unless, of course, you had a particularly precocious writer in the class who had already developed an understanding of the “voice” of each character in a story.

Likewise there is little to be gained from worrying about the grammatical issues raised by Hamlet’s “to be or not to be” soliloquy by wondering how the subject of the opening line turned up at the end of the line. 

So what’s my point?

My point is that for me to be able to get away with writing a paragraph consisting solely of “So what’s my point?” starting with a preposition which the rule books say should be followed by “that”, is that we all of us first need to know the rules of grammar before we start taking liberties.

But (and there, I’ve done it again, this time starting a paragraph with a conjunction) rules are always best learned in context.  In the case of language, in the context of how authors use grammar in their writing.

For if one starts from the work of authors, and works from there into the grammatical rules, rather than starting from the grammatical rules themselves, three things happen. The learning becomes context-driven, the lessons are more varied, and the understanding of how language can be manipulated for pleasure is ingrained in the child.

This consideration led Charlotte Makhlouf to experiment with how she taught grammar in her classroom.  And (oh, I’ve done it again, starting with “and”) so Charlotte used her classroom experience (not to mention her experience writing the best-selling series Brilliant Activities for Reading Comprehension) to write a new grammar series which teaches grammar in context.

In Getting to Grips with English Grammar grammar and punctuation skills are taught in the context of themes, rather than in isolation. Each unit starts with an engaging reading passage, so pupils can see how the grammar skill being taught is used in context. Activities link to the themes and provide opportunities for children to apply the grammar skills in their own writing.

Of course, the books also provide activities to stretch the more able or fast finishers, mini-quizzes at the end of each themed section to enable you to check children’s comprehension, and answers to the pupil activities.

Click here to see the contents of each of the books in the series

Click here to order the Getting to Grips with Grammar and Punctuation Series Pack for £95.00 

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Filed under Brilliant Publications, English, Key Stage 1, Key Stage 2, lesson plans, National Curriculum, Primary school

Engaging pupils’ fluid intelligence

The important link between fluid intelligence and learning times tables

It has been argued that “crystallized intelligence has become disproportionately valued over fluid intelligence”, yet it is fluid intelligence that is closely linked to working memory and which is responsible for the ability to recognise patterns.

It is therefore important that pupils are taught their times tables in a way which engages their fluid intelligence so that they are not only able to understand why times tables form as they do, but also see how their learned knowledge of times tables can help them to solve maths problems in the future.

With this in mind, Brilliant Publications has developed Mighty Fun Activities for Practising Times Tables – a series of photocopiable activity books suitable for Years One to Six.

The Mighty Fun Activities for Practising Times Tables series uses superheroes to motivate children to practise all of the skills needed to solve multiplication, division and word-based times table problems.

The books contain reproducible sheets and are designed to be used as flexible teaching aids which teachers can dip in and out of in any order to support the learning of any times table. They work equally well as stand alone 5 to 20 minute lesson reinforcements or as regular times table learning.

The Mighty Fun Activities for Practising Times Tables series is divided into three books:

For more information and to download sample pages you can try with your pupils, simply visit the links above.

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Filed under Brilliant Publications, Key Stage 1, Key Stage 2, Mathematics, National Curriculum, Primary school, Teaching Ideas