Book reviews - Brilliant Publications

"Brilliant Publications is an independent educational publisher committed to creating resources that make teaching and learning enjoyable and rewarding for both teachers and pupils. It is a partnership between Priscilla Hannaford and Richard Dorrance that was established in 1993. Both partners were teachers and have always been involved in the educational sector." They say: "We focus on producing high quality, well-designed materials that make teaching and learning enjoyable and rewarding for both teachers and pupils. We are committed to producing materials that allow children aged 0–14 to learn and develop skills." On this page, you will find many of the books I have reviewed but others can be found on the site. If you want to know more about any of the books reviewed, you can download sample pages from the Brilliant Publications website.

KS1 

Mighty Fun Activities for Practising Times Tables, Book 1: 2, 5 and 10 Times Tables by Hannah Allum and Hannah Smart

This is the first ins a three-book series of reproducible worksheets packed with inventive games and activities to make learning the times tables fun - something that is not always easy to achieve, but which this series does to remarkable effect. Meet a group of friendly superheroes who are here to motivate children to practise all of the skills needed to solve multiplication, division and word based times table problems. As well as the main activity, children are also encouraged to try home challenges and mighty challenges, giving good ways to extend learning. The wide -ranging activities include several different approaches, including colouring and drawing, meaning there is something for every learner. An excellent classroom resource.

Brilliant Activities for Grammar and Punctuation, Year 1: Activities for Developing Key Language Skills by Irene Yates

This is the first in a six book series which covers grammar and punctuation right through the primary years. The new curriculum and the current SATS format both put heavy emphasis on the correct use of grammar and punctuation and by following the guidance in this series, teachers can ensure a consistent whole-school approach, covering every aspect. These aren't dry, boring textbooks - the approach is lively and fun for children to do. This book is matched to the National Curriculum requirements for Year 1; topics include 'and', the alphabet, sentences, nouns, adjectives, days of the week and much more. There is a single page for each topic, with an explanation as well as exercises for children to do. Lively illustrations make the work fun. All the pages can be photocopied by the purchasing institution.

Brilliant Activities for Grammar and Punctuation, Year 2: Activities for Developing Key Language Skills by Irene Yates

Among the Year 2 topics are conjunctions, apostrophes, vowels, verbs, adjectives and suffixes. The single page format gives just enough work for reinforcement during a lesson or to set children for homework. "Brilliant Activities for Grammar and Punctuation is a 6-book photocopiable series to teach basic grammatical and punctuation concepts in a fun and memorable way, which will challenge and stimulate the whole class. Pupils are motivated to think logically about the activities and to share their knowledge and understanding with their peers through working individually, in pairs, groups or, sometimes, in whole class contexts. The sheets enable pupils to practise, reinforce and consolidate grammar and punctuation skills and concepts, and meet the needs of the Programmes of Study in the National Curriculum for England. The books provide teachers with the tools they need to teach grammar effectively and will complement other language and literacy schemes of work. The activities introduce the technical terms pupils need in order to be able to discuss language and promote the necessity of making the childrenʼs learning functional. When pupils properly understand the effects that grammar and punctuation have on text, they can transfer that knowledge to their own writing and thus develop their skills."

Understanding Traditional Stories by Karen Moncrieffe

Subtitled 'Differentiated Comprehension and Reading Activities for 5-7 Year Olds Using Retellings of Stories from Around the World', this is an excellent book which satisfies the requirements of the KS1 curriculum and is especially good because of the range of texts from around the world. Accompanying the story texts are teachers' notes (including follow-up activities) and reading tasks which develop comprehension and reading skills - the tasks can be photocopied for class use. The activities will help prepare pupils for their Year 2 tests in which they are required to demonstrate that they not only have the ability to decode words and retrieve information, but also that they are able to use skills such as inference, deduction and state their opinion of a text. I like the fact that many of the tasks ask children to do a drawing - this encourages those who find writing harder and gives all children an additional way to express themselves. Many of the suggested follow up activities link to PSHE and to other areas of the curriculum such as science, giving the book excellent cross-curricular value and making it a good staffroom resource. The curriculum introduced in 2014 places a heavy emphasis on speaking and listening skills and the activities are carefully planned to develop these skills. The stories are wide-ranging with many less familiar texts, including The Lizard and the Sun and The Fox and the Bagpipes - it's great to see that children will be learning new stories.

Boost Creative Writing for 5-7 Year Olds: Planning Sheets to Support Writers (Especially SEN Pupils) in Years 1-2 by Judith Thornby

Completely up-to-date, this is based on the 2014 National Curriculum for England. Particularly aimed at SEN pupils, this is useful for all abilities and good for facilitating differentiated learning. Creative writing can be quite a challenge for many children so the planning sheets in this book with their range of inspiring ideas will help to stimulate young writers. The activities provide additional reinforcement of key skills for slower learners and a structured framework to enable them to talk about their writing. It's not just fictional writing - the sheets include factual writing plans for example on Emily Davison and Rosa Parks and these tie in with the new history curriculum, making the book an excellent cross-curricular resource. The range of genres is good and I particularly like the use of picture prompts which will help reluctant readers. SEN pupils and slower learners do need extra support to help them to become confident writers and here they are given non-prescriptive writing scaffolds to form a basis for their writing and to overcome that initial problem of knowing where to start., giving them the support they need.

Brilliant Activities for Creative Writing, Year 1-Activities for Developing Writing Composition Skills by Irene Yates

Teachers will be looking for resources to support their teaching of the new curriculum for 2014. The Brilliant Activities for Creative Writing series of books covers Years 1 to 6, giving teachers a planned structure of teaching which progresses through the years. The wide-ranging activities help children to develop writing skills for different genres (including narrative, recounts, creative writing and poetry) and the topics are well selected so that they will interest children - for example, dinosaurs, pets and playgrounds.  Completely self-contained, no additional resources are needed beyond paper and pen or pencil. Hint boxes provide extra support for the children in completing the task. Each activity features illustrations which act as additional writing prompts and these could be used for extension activities.

Brilliant Activities for Creative Writing, Year 2 - Activities for Developing Writing Composition Skills by Irene Yates

Writing in all its forms is key to everything children to, so to give them a firm foundation across a range of genres is vital. This well balanced selection of resources has something to interest all children. There are plenty of writing prompts - it's making a start on writing that is often the hardest thing so prompts get children going. For example, the page on In the Playground has bubbles showing some of the activities that take place. At the bottom of each page are teacher tip boxes which provide useful ideas and suggestions for making the most of the activities. The sheet can be used as stand-alones or part of a structured progression - or a mix of the two. The varied range of the topics means that there are opportunities for cross-curricular work. Clear and easy to use - an excellent book.

Brilliant Activities for Reading Comprehension, Year 1 by Charlotte Makhlouf

Subtitled "Engaging Stories and Activities to Develop Comprehension Skills" this series does just what it says! The useful introduction explains the rationale behind the series and explains why it is vital for children to understand what they are reading. As is appropriate for children in Year 1, the activities in this book are all based on understanding and interpreting the information given in pictures - the pictures include text elements. For each picture, there are 'Yes or No' questions; questions to be answered with sentences; and extension work. The pictures and lively and engaging and can be used as the basis for further discussion.

 

Brilliant Activities for Reading Comprehension, Year 2 by Charlotte Makhlouf

This book moves the child's learning forward - there are passages to read with questions to answer, word work exercises and extension activities. This is what Brilliant Publications say about this series "The importance of being able to read for meaning should never be underestimated. The ability to decode text is not enough. It is vital that children understand what they are reading. More importantly, it is fundamental that they enjoy what they are reading, so that they grow up to become lifelong readers. The passages in the Brilliant Activities for Reading Comprehension series are designed to do just that. They provide children with a variety of engaging, enjoyable texts that will grab their attention, and indeed their teacher's attention as well. The passages begin in Year 1 with simple picture comprehension. They gradually increase in difficulty as you progress though the book, and through the series, encouraging children to develop their ability to read for meaning and use a range of strategies for decoding the text. Tasks range from simple factual recall and vocabulary work to more open-ended questions enabling the reader to provide a more personal response. The cross-curricular activities provide a wealth of ideas for extending the passages further and are ideal for fast-finishers. The Brilliant Activities for Reading Comprehension series provides an invaluable resource for assessing pupils' progress in reading, while helping them to develop their love of reading at the same time."

KS2 

Mighty Fun Activities for Practising Times Tables, Book 2: 3, 4, 6 and 8 Times Tables by Hannah Allum and Hannah Smart

Following on from Book 1, this series continues to teach times tables in the order they will be learnt at school. These enjoyable sheets will help children to: recall and apply times tables rapidly; increase mathematical fluency; understand and use a variety of mathematical language; make connections between times tables; understand the relationship between multiplication and division; and develop mathematical reasoning. As you can see from this, the book goes beyond simply learning tables by rote, and offers children a real insight into times tables and how they impact on all aspects of maths. The activities are fun and engaging with plenty of variety to suit all learners.

Mighty Fun Activities for Practising Times Tables, Book 2: 7, 9, 11 and 12 Times Tables by Hannah Allum and Hannah Smart

This excellent series - which teachers will be delighted to know is photocopiable by the purchaser - uses superheroes to motivate children to practise all of the skills needed to solve multiplication, division and word based times table problems. Superheroes appeal to even the most reluctant of learners and instil a positive and competitive attitude towards learning. The aim is for children to become excited and motivated enough to want to learn and practise their times tables. That aim is certainly met, as the activities are really enjoyable and effective. Teacher’s notes, giving ideas for assessment and parent involvement, will be welcome. Over 40 worksheets are included in each book, and the games and ideas require little or no preparation time - perfect for busy teachers. Children learn in different ways and need to have opportunities to apply their knowledge and skills. For each times table there is a mixture of practical activities to develop their understanding and written activities to consolidate their knowledge. A very good series to help with what can be a dull topic.

&Brilliant French Information Books Pack: Level 1: A Graded French Non-Fiction Reading Scheme for Primary Schools (Brilliant Non Fiction) by Daniele Bourdais

It's really good to see non-fiction books at this simple level for young learners of French - it makes a refreshing change from fiction books. These books are Level One, usually with a single short sentence per page. The books are attractive, with excellent colour photos to make them appealing. Each book contains a fun multiple-choice quiz at the end. The books are packaged by level, together with teacher's notes and a CD-Rom containing audio versions of the books and an e-pdf version of the stories to enable them to be displayed on an interactive whiteboard.

Brilliant French Information Books Pack: Level 2: A Graded French Non-Fiction Reading Scheme for Primary Schools (Brilliant Non Fiction) by Daniele Bourdais

The series fulfils many aims: Introduces children to reading in French and provides practice so they can improve their reading skills; Consolidates and extends pupil's vocabulary; Provides information and pictures of the French-speaking world to support Intercultural Understanding by broadening pupils' perceptions of their own society as well as of another culture; Makes children aware of the value of reading in order to find out information and to build their vocabulary, and encourages them to become independent readers; Makes reading in French motivating and enjoyable. In-built progression To ensure progression and differentiation, there are three easily identifiable levels of difficulty, with 6 books in each stage:Level Two: Usually 1-3 short to medium sentences per page;

Brilliant French Information Books Pack: Level 3: A Graded French Non-Fiction Reading Scheme for Primary Schools (Brilliant Non Fiction) by Daniele Bourdais

Level Three: Usually 3-4 sentences per page, varying in length. If the subjects of the books relate to topics being studied at school, it would be excellent to encourage children to do some of their research in French! The informative teaching guides which accompany each set are excellent, and even non-linguists will find themselves teaching with confidence with these books. A well thought out series which packs a huge amount into each set of books; perfect for use throughout KS2.

Conjugate French Verbs in the Present Tense with Memory Tricks: A Petit Guide by Maria Rice-Jones

An experience French teacher, Maria Rice-Jones has developed a system to make learning the conjugation of French verbs easy. This leaflet offers many clever memory tricks for remembering how to conjugate er, ir and re verbs in the present tense - it's good for French learners of any age. In addition she provides memory tricks for remembering how to conjugate over 20 commonly used irregular verbs. Using colour coding and mind associations these memory tricks will make learning French verbs easy. The guide is made from card so it will stand on a desk but is small enough to fit into a bag and can be referred to anytime, anywhere. Amazing to see how much practical and useful information has been packed into a small format.

Olympics 2016 - French Topic Book: Games, Activities and Resources to Teach French by Priscilla Hannaford

Build on children's interest in the Olympic Games, and show them how useful learning languages can be with this interesting book from Brilliant Publications. The book includes background information on France at the Olympics/Paralympics; photocopiable flashcards, word searches, crossword puzzles and other word games and activities linked to the 28 Olympic sports. There are activities to promote speaking, listening, reading and writing, including reading passages about sports, the Olympics and Brazil, surveys and much more; these will all interest children and stimulate them to learn. Taking a wider perspective, the book also has ideas for incorporating French into PE lessons as well as suggestions for reinforcing vocabulary and sentence structures for a range of other topics, from colours and weather to numbers and travel. There's plenty here to stimulate teaching with ideas that will be useful even when the Olympics are over.

Teaching Values through PSHE and Citizenship: Activities and Worksheets for Discussions and Debates by John Foster

Values are very much top of the agenda at the moment, and an issue of concern for us all. This book offers teachers of Years 5-8 38 activities and worksheets that will help them to fulfil the requirement to promote the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of children aged 9-13. The book contains a wide range of activities which promote the fundamental values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faith and beliefs; each one will really promote discussion and that is key to knowing what is going on in pupils' minds. For each, one page is devoted to teacher's notes, with the facing page being an activity sheet - this facilitates lesson planning. The first section Beliefs, Values, Behaviour focuses on what attitudes and values the children believe should determine behaviour towards others, on the qualities they admire in other people, on what they consider to be good manners and on what they take into consideration when making important decisions. The second section Rules and Responsibilities focuses on the rules that govern peopleʼs lives and the responsibilities they have as family members, as neighbours, at school and as citizens. This includes activities that encourage children to discuss what sort of country they want to live in, what they consider the governmentʼs priorities should be, why we have laws and attitudes to crime and to the police force. The third section Respecting Peopleʼs Rights looks at human rights, exploring issues of stereotyping, prejudice, discrimination, sexism and racism. There are also activities on respecting other peopleʼs religions and cultures and on global concerns. Many of these would also make good themes for assemblies and for School Council discussions. A really good book to have in school to ensure these vital concepts are given full attention.

Daily Sentence Structures: 15 Minutes a Day Towards Better Writing! by Alec Lees

Repetition and practice are key to ensuring a topic is firmly embedded in children's learning. We all know how boring writing can be if every sentence is the same length and structured the same - and good sentence structure is equally important whether in writing or verbally. This practical guide provides a straightforward way of teaching pupils to use a range of sentence structures in their own writing; the approach is suitable for a range of abilities. The sentence structures taught vary from short, dramatic sentences to complex, compound sentences. It can be hard to fit everything into the school day, but the 15 minute approach taken by the book makes it as easy as possible. By completing the daily sessions, pupils will have at their fingertips a system for creating imaginative and interesting writing in as little as six weeks, raising attainment across all abilities and covering many of the writing requirements of the 2014 National Curriculum. The book covers a range of sentence types - eight different sentence structures followed by a range of PCMs. The systematic approach appeals especially to boys, who will enjoy applying the logic to their writing and being able to create 'instant paragraphs'; this is important as so often in schools boys' writing is an area for improvement. All pupils' confidence and self-esteem will increase, leading to better results across all subjects - writing is not confined to English, so the benefits will be wide-ranging..

Problem Solving Across the Curriculum for 7-9 Year Olds: Activities to Develop Lifelong Skills and Strategies by Ann Baker

We don't want to always give our pupils the answers - we want to give them strategies that will enable them to find the answers for themselves. This book aims to do just that - to give pupils the skills, strategies and disposition needed to become lifelong problem solvers. This is one in a series which provides teachers with a wide range of problematic situations for which there is more than one solution or more than one approach to the solution. The book is ideal for cross-curricular use, including for Maths; English; Visual literacy; PSHE/Values; Music and dance. Problem Solving Across the Curriculum can be used to complement any classroom work across the curriculum. The activities can be used in isolation, in sequence or dipped into as teachers require. The book opens with an extensive Teacher File which is packed with ideas - don't miss this section. There are all sorts of ideas here - illustrate a dark and stormy night; create an embarrassing moment; help people to blend into their background. It's an excellent book to have alongside you as you do your lesson planning.

Brilliant Activities for Grammar and Punctuation, Year 3: Activities for Developing Key Language Skills by Irene Yates

The books for KS2 follow on directly from the KS1 books, ensuring a continuity of approach and complete coverage of every aspect needed to cover the National Curriculum requirements for grammar and punctuation. A particular point I like about the books is that they offer plenty of opportunities for children to work in pairs, putting their learning into practice, and offering children the opportunity to work together to enhance each other's understanding - this is a very effective mechanism. Each topic has a single page, but many are expanded on, ensuring total coverage of all that is required. The approach is lively, with plenty of amusing illustrations to capture children's attention. Topics covered include adverbs, sentences, word families, prefixes and many more. Every book in the series has two useful boxes at the end of each page - the first gives activities for children and these will be very well received by teachers; the second offers additional tips for teachers to help in planning and delivery of lessons - again, very useful and practical.

Brilliant Activities for Grammar and Punctuation, Year 4: Activities for Developing Key Language Skills by Irene Yates

As the books acknowledge, it can be hard for children to make the leap from speaking and writing to talking about speaking and writing, and to think in the abstract about the words of our language - after all, how many of us can analyse the words and language that we use, unless we were taught grammar aeons ago - and even then, we will have forgotten most of it! The best way to learn, and to embed learning, is through repetition and this series of books revisits the principles, allowing children to build on earlier learning then giving them an added level to understand. This is an excellent approach, and teachers will really appreciate the fact that the coverage is thorough; pupils will appreciate the appealing learning style.

Brilliant Activities for Grammar and Punctuation, Year 5: Activities for Developing Key Language Skills by Irene Yates

This book includes, among many other topics, prefixes, paragraphs, anagrams and similes - the comments page lists 44 separate topics, so that gives you an idea of the extent of the coverage - truly excellent. Brilliant Activities for Grammar and Punctuation is a 6-book photocopiable series to teach basic grammatical and punctuation concepts in a fun and memorable way, which will challenge and stimulate the whole class. Pupils are motivated to think logically about the activities and to share their knowledge and understanding with their peers through working individually, in pairs, groups or, sometimes, in whole class contexts. The sheets enable pupils to practise, reinforce and consolidate grammar and punctuation skills and concepts, and meet the needs of the Programmes of Study in the National Curriculum for England. The books provide teachers with the tools they need to teach grammar effectively and will complement other language and literacy schemes of work. The activities introduce the technical terms pupils need in order to be able to discuss language and promote the necessity of making the childrenʼs learning functional. When pupils properly understand the effects that grammar and punctuation have on text, they can transfer that knowledge to their own writing and thus develop their skills."

Brilliant Activities for Grammar and Punctuation, Year 6: Activities for Developing Key Language Skills by Irene Yates

This is a critical year - SATS are not the be-all and end-all, but the important thing is being prepared for the transition to secondary school, when pupils will be expected to have a good foundation in grammar and punctuation - and they certainly will if their school has used this series throughout KS1 and KS2. All the books in the series allow photocopying by the purchasing institution, and a page or two will be excellent to send home for revision or homework. The pupil-friendly approach means the children will find the work enjoyable, as well as helping it to be memorable. Across the whole series, the types of question are very varied - and answers are included. An assessment checklist concludes each book, allowing teachers to track learning through each year. A really good series that tackles a complex subject in a way children will enjoy and remember.

50 Brilliant PE Challenges Using Just a Tennis Ball by Will Hussey

The curriculum demands that children have regular PE sessions and nobody would deny the vital importance of this. However, not all teachers are PE experts, so they will welcome the simple and practical guidance given in this book (and the accompanying titles on hoops and bean bags). Short, focused activities that don't demand lots of equipment and lengthy setting-up are ideal to add a little extra PE to the curriculum and this book is perfect for that. The book contains a variety of individual, group and whole class activities, designed to develop skills, foster enjoyment and promote physical exercise. Every activity is rated for difficulty and contains handy tips and suggestions for further development. This offers busy teachers the opportunity to meet the needs of all in their class, ensuring they remain engaged and challenged according to their ability. The activities are easy to follow, with helpful illustrations and complement the September 2014 National Curriculum for England Physical Education requirements. Please note that, although I have put this book under KS2, it is actually contains activities aimed at 5-11 year olds. Find more ideas here.

Deck Ahoy! Primary Mathematics Activities and Games Using Just a Deck of Cards by Janis A. Abbott

Who would have thought such a simple thing as a deck of cards could offer so many learning opportunities? Teachers - this would be a brilliant way to encourage your pupils to learn by trying out some of the ideas at home and involving their families too. There are more than 100 activities and games to teach primary maths skills, covering addition, subtraction, multiplication and division as well as fractions, statistics, time, ratios, squares and cubes and graphs, all geared perfectly to the KS2 curriculum. Throughout the book, clear explanations of the learning are given. Please note that, although I have put this book under KS2, it is actually contains activities aimed at 5-11 year olds, and is in sections for KS1, lower KS2 and upper KS2. Written with great enthusiasm, this is a stimulating book which will encourage teachers to take a fresh look at a very simple and inexpensive resource. Simple and highly effective

Fun with Words - Creative Language Activities to Stretch More Able KS2 Children by John Foster

Busy teachers will welcome the photocopiable creative activities that will stretch and challenge more able KS2 children, especially those in Years 5 and 6. Linking to the 2014 curriculum, the book encourages pupils to enjoy, understand and manipulate language through a selection of engaging activities. Pupils are encouraged to play with words; to learn how much fun words can be; to extend their vocabularies, improve their spelling and develop their language skills. The book also looks at the etymology and morphology of words; this helps understanding of how and when to use words. Children are encouraged to solve and create riddles and to experiment with words in a variety of word play activities, such as playing with words, discovering anagrams and exploring jokes based on homophones. The activities can be used with either individuals or groups. Throughout the book, the activities really draw children in and encourage them to think about how they use language and how to make the most of the variety of the English language. The author is a well known poet, much loved for his lively and engaging poems and for his anthologies, both of which are widely used in schools.

Graphic Organisers for Any Subject: Photocopiable Resources to Enhance Critical Thinking by Marjorie Frank

Graphic organisers are a visual format that help students in many areas, including structuring writing, helping with problem solving, aiding decision making, scheduling study and planning spoken assignments. They help pupils to reason on how they think and learn, and how to best display their ideas showing their level of understanding. This form of organising information has been proven to help in many areas of learning and to appeal to all types of learner. This book contains open-ended resources that can be used in most areas of study and I think will be useful for older pupils too - the complexity of the models can always be increased. They give a positive base to convey a variety of ideas for all sorts of topics. All the books in the Graphic Organisers series include 60 photocopiable pages for teachers to use with their pupils. The variety of formats is impressive - how about telescoping ideas, a wigwam organiser or key ideas? Good for use in displays too.

Graphic Organisers for Reading: Photocopiable Resources to Enhance Critical Thinking by Kathleen Bullock

This title is specifically relating to reading and contains resources for both fiction and non-fiction, literary elements, genre and reading in any content area. The organisers can be used to strengthen and reinforce important reading structures. The lively style of the organisers will appeal to children as they help them to arrange and structure their thoughts. As well as reading comprehension and analysis, the book includes studying genre and a very useful section of graphic organisers for teachers. Many of the pages include extra supporting information, such as the attributes of various forms of writing; these help focus the attention on relevant information.

Graphic Organisers for Writing: Photocopiable Resources to Enhance Critical Thinking by Jill Norris

The use of graphic organisers is a very interesting approach and this innovative range of books shows the huge variety of formats that can be used - and will, no doubt, inspire teachers to develop their own to fit particular needs. Graphic Organisers for Writing contains resources relating to both fiction and non-fiction and integrating explicit elements of good writing. The organisers encourage pupils to produce excellent writing. Good use is made of illustrations and the lively formats of the organisers will stimulate and interest children. I like the fact that there are plenty of factual writing resources, with all the genres covered. This is an excellent series and perfect for busy teachers.

Boost Creative Writing for 7-9 Year Olds: Planning Sheets to Support Writers (Especially SEN Pupils) in Years 3-4 by Judith Thornby

Continuing on from the excellent book for KS1, these two titles give KS2 teachers a structured progression to help all pupils, but with an emphasis on the needs of SEN pupils. Developing confidence in pupils is key to success and this practical series with its wide range of resources will help teachers give pupils plenty of experience of writing, thus building confidence. The resources are imaginative - for instance, I like the activity which asks children to write a poem which is a conversation between a child and a deaf granny. These will generate a good response from children as they find the activities highly engaging.
Judith Thornby is an experienced Learning Support Coordinator. "The sheets have been extensively trialled and tested. They have been shown to boost children's writing skills, give pupils confidence and make them believe that they can write. While designed for SEN pupils these sheets can, and have, been used by pupils of all abilities."

Boost Creative Writing for 9-11 Year Olds: Planning Sheets to Support Writers (Especially SEN Pupils) in Years 5-6 by Judith Thornby

As with all the books in this series on Creative Writing, this addresses the Programme of Study for the 2014 National Curriculum, so teachers can be assured that, if they work through the book, that all necessary areas will be covered - and, of course, if the school uses the series, all children will cover everything needed. This title is packed with good ideas which will work well for all pupils. The Tips for Writing section has excellent suggestions for specific topics including powerful verbs, words to describe the senses and a list of connectives - and this is just a snapshot of the range of resources.There are suggestions for all types of writing, including fiction, poetry and Shakespeare. This is a really practical and easy-to-use book. All the writing sheets can be photocopied for use in the purchasing institution.
 

Brilliant Activities for Creative Writing, Year 3-Activities for Developing Writing Composition Skills by Irene Yates

The Brilliant Activities for Creative Writing series of books provides a flexible, but structured resource for developing writing skills, which both teacher and pupils will enjoy. The activities address many of the Programmes of Study for writing composition in the 2014 National Curriculum for England for primary schools. The activities help children to develop writing skills for different genres, from narrative and poetry to recounts and persuasive writing. The sheets are self-explanatory and ready to use; the only additional resources needed are a pen or pencil and, sometimes, extra paper. Try - Think - Remember boxes provide extra support for think about what they are doing before starting the task. The teacher tip boxes provide useful ideas and suggestions for making the most of the activities.

Brilliant Activities for Creative Writing, Year 4-Activities for Developing Writing Composition Skills by Irene Yates

Just a look at the contents page gives you a good idea of the variety of activities, ensuring all genres of writing are covered. The various aspects to consider before writing a story are covered, with plenty of suggestions which will stimulate pupils Practical activities such as asking the pupil to look up, name five objects then write about them without looking again are excellent ways to develop writing skills. Each page has suggested activities and is laid out so the pupil can work directly onto a photocopied page..To see for yourself just how good these resource are, you can download sample pages for each book from the Brilliant Publications website.

Brilliant Activities for Creative Writing, Year 5-Activities for Developing Writing Composition Skills by Irene Yates

Building on the previous books, children are given a wide range of activities to complete. These include writing a review, a biography, writing about feelings, writing instructions, describing a place and writing a poem. All the books make excellent use of illustrations - as well as making the pages appealing, they do add a great deal to the text, for example in the page 'Teach Your Gran, where the sequence of pictures can be used as the basis for writing the instructions. The 'Remember' boxes provide useful hints to remind the pupil of earlier learning. This is full of inspiration for the classroom teacher, covering all aspects of the new National Curriculum.
 

Brilliant Activities for Creative Writing, Year 6-Activities for Developing Writing Composition Skills by Irene Yates

As pupils near the end of Year 6, they will most likely be preparing for tests and exams. By covering the key areas of the curriculum, this book will ensure they are prepared for whatever questions they face. The activities are carefully selected to appeal to children - and the planning sheets give them plenty of prompts to get started before their imagination takes over; so often, the biggest hurdle is getting started. The way the activities are laid out will help develop a coherent writing outline and the variety of approaches ensures there is something to work for every learning style. All in all, this is an excellent series to support children right through the primary years.
 

Beaucoup Chanter en Francais by Catherine Barlow

We all know that singing songs is a fun way of learning and remembering and this applies just as much to learning another language as it does to English.  The 20 songs in this book are set to familiar tunes, so the focus is on learning the words. The teaching ideas at the start of the book offer suggestions for using each song eg for use at Harvest festival or for learning the time. The. songs introduce and reinforce vocabulary for many frequently taught topics including parts of the body, shopping and directions. English translations of the songs are given at the end of the book. The accopanying CD contains recordings of all the songs sung by native French speakers. There are also music tracks to enable 'karaoke' performances - this is a great way to engage children. The photocopiable flashcards (available in colour on the CD) help children understand the content of the songs. This is a lovely way to introduce the language, to make it fun and memorable.

Brilliant Activities for Reading Comprehension, Year 3 by Charlotte Makhlouf

In Year 3, children move on to longer passages - the passages are well-chosen to give children a lively and entertaining read. A variety of forms is again in evidence - poetry, newspaper reports and non fiction all have their place. Busy parents and teachers will be pleased to know that every book includes answers! Having a series like this is excellent for parents. So often, parents are not quite sure what level their child is at, so a series gives them the opportunity to work through and find out exactly which level suits their child, and then to move on to the next step confident in the knowledge that the passages are giving an excellent progression. This factor makes the books valuable for home educators too.

Brilliant Activities for Reading Comprehension, Year 4 by Charlotte Makhlouf

Progression is assured with the longer passages in this book for Year 4. Again, there is plenty of variety and the passages are enlivened by amusing illustrations. There are questions, word work and extension activities - the latter provide an excellent opportunity for differentiation in the classroom or more extensive homework activities. The books don't stand in isolation, any more than comprehension itself does. I am really impressed by the cross-curricular activities which feature in every book. For every comprehension, there are a whole range of associated activities, making it easy for the teacher (or home educator) to integrate the activities into day-to-day learning. These highlight the fact that comprehension is not just an 'English' subject - comprehension of texts is essential for every aspect of life.

 

Brilliant Activities for Reading Comprehension, Year 5 by Charlotte Makhlouf

Take a look at www.brilliantpublications.co.uk, where you can download sample pages from the books and purchase them. By Year 5, children are reading substantial texts and in this book the majority of the passages are two A4 pages in length. Again, the range is wide - playscripts, letters are diaries are featured. The passages are invariably lively and interesting - good reads in themselves! The pages of the books may be photocopied by the purchasing institution for classroom use. At Parents in Touch, we are very aware of the need to make comprehension interesting, which is why we have such a huge range of comprehension exercises available; this series fulfils the same aim of providing a wide range of differing texts which are sure to appeal to children.

Brilliant Activities for Reading Comprehension, Year 6 by Charlotte Makhlouf

In Year 6, children need plenty of experience of wide-ranging texts, to ensure they approach any form of reading with confidence. There is, once again, a selection of lively and appealing texts (including poems, newspaper reports and letters) with accompanying questions (and answers). Each title in the series includes an outline of the National Literacy Strategy which shows how the activities in the books fulfil the expected criteria. All in all, this is an excellent series - I am very impressed and convinced that it is a great resource for teachers and parents.

 

All Ages

Unforgettable French: Memory Tricks to Help You Learn and Remember French Grammar 2nd edition by Maria Rice-Jones

This is the second edition excellent book to help learners of all ages, fully updated for the 2014 curriculum. Equally valuable whether for a primary pupil studying a language for the first time, a GCSE student struggling to remember everything learnt, or anyone off to France for a holiday. Memory tricks are a tried and tested way of learning and they work for the vast majority of us. The highly visual format makes learning even easier - the book is packed with entertaining cartoons which make it great fun to read and you hardly realise you are learning! I particularly like the way stories are used to help the reader learn key grammatical points. A very clever book, which makes learning French really fun and by doing so, increases confidence. Anyone teaching French should get a copy to give fresh ideas for use in the classroom and to engage their pupils. Highly recommended.

 
 

 

   

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