Book reviews - homework help (page 2)

We regularly review some of the best homework help resources available. There are ideas here to help all children, so please take a look. These resources are ideal both for supporting and extending the work done in school, and for home schooling use. Some of the resources help with early learning at home, in preparation for the start of formal schooling. The selection includes books to help develop key skills, such as learning tables and telling the time. Take a look at Study Guides too.

The most recent reviews are at the top of this page - so these are generally the most recently published books.

How to be a Snappy Speller by Simon Cheshire

This lively book is packed with ideas and activities to help with those tricky spellings. Learning spellings by rote only goes so far, but children need to know the principles behind spelling so they can tackle unfamiliar words with confidence, as well as learning familiar ones. This book helps them do just that. The book explains why correct spelling is important, gives 10 top tips, then takes the reader through various activities, each designed to help with a particular concept. It also includes punctuation - correct punctuation is just as important as correct spelling; and ends with plenty more practice pages. An excellent book which really helps children think about spelling and which offers lots of opportunity to reinforce learning with practical activities.

Junior Illustrated Grammar and Punctuation by Jane Bingham

It is vital that children learn to use the correct grammar and punctuation - they are skills that will stand them in good stead throughout life. Start them off on the right track with this easy-to-use guide which includes nouns, pronouns, verbs, direct speech, apostrophes, quotation marks, exclamation marks and much, more - in fact, all that KS2 children need. The final section of the book is about writing style, and really helps children to understand how to write clearly and to engage the reader. Throughout the book there are clear explanations with plenty of examples; these are accompanied by fun illustrations - the book has great visual appeal. Short quizzes are found in plenty throughout the book and these are excellent to ensure full understanding. A really useful reference book for home and school, which is fun and enjoyable to use, and easy to navigate.

CoderDojo Nano:Build Your Own Website: Create with Code by Clyde Hatter Coder

Dojo is an open source, volunteer led, global movement of free coding clubs for young people, which includes a Wiki with articles, tutorials and community events; it's a great way for children to interact with others, but please be aware of the potential dangers of linking up over the internet - parental supervision is ALWAYS recommended. This book tells you everything you need to know to build your own website with HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Of course, this links perfectly with the KS2 Computing curriculum. First off, get your very own Dojo Nano club up and running. All you need is one or more friends, a computer, and this book, which encourages children to work together, passing their knowledge on to friends. The book is quite detailed, but everything is clearly explained, step-by-step, so with a little effort, children can produce their very own websites which will be well-designed and with good functionality. A great way for enthusiasts to extend and share their knowledge.

200 Tricky Spellings in Cartoons: Visual Mnemonics for Everyone by Lidia Stanton

Each tricky to spell word is pictured in a cartoon and described in text that helps the reader link the word’s meaning and graphical features to its spelling pattern. The spelling hints are visual mnemonics ie memory triggers that help us remember things we can easily forget. Mnemonics are easily memorable because of their funny and unusual associations with things that are part of our daily lives, and they are easily recalled. The book helps with confusing pairs of words, eg homophones or words that ‘go together’; tricky everyday words and tricky formal/academic words The book does not replace structured spelling programmes, but it is excellent to use alongside them; visual learners of any age who struggle with spelling tricky words will really appreciate the approach, which doesn't talk down. It's fun to read and offers a very enjoyable way to learn those tricky words.

Get Coding!: Learn HTML, CSS & JavaScript & build a website, app & game from Young Rewired State

Coding is an exciting topic for children - it opens up a whole new world, so the better the understanding they have, the more they will be able to achieve in this area. Readers will learn how to write code and then build their own website, app and game using HTML, CSS and JavaScript. There are six fun missions which teach the basic concepts of coding or computer programming by helping Professor Bairstone and Dr Day keep the Monk Diamond safe from dangerous jewel thieves. Bite-size chunks teach important real-life coding skills and the interest of following the missions is an excellent way to encourage children to persevere with their learning. The book explains every step clearly and there are plenty of diagrams to illustrate what is needed. Teachers will find this bok invaluable for lessons and coding clubs, and there is plenty here even for adults to learn. Young Rewired State is a global community that aims to get kids coding and turn them into the technology stars of the future This book goes into a lot more detail than many others I have seen, so it gives excellent coverage.

Spell Check (DK) by Jacqueline Harris

It's always good to see a different approach to learning and the unusual approach of this book is really effective. The book offers a fun way to practise spelling and learn tricky words - it encourages children to really think about their spelling, test themselves, and play spelling games. You'll find all the spelling rules children need to know and all the exceptions, with loads of tips and tricks to help kids spell well - the tips are really useful and there are lots of fresh ideas. The presentation of the book is excellent with ,lots of colour pictures to keep children engaged. The spell checker encourages children to look at words, cover them, write them, and then check the spelling, a proven method of learning how to spell. Comes with a wipe clean spell checker, which flaps out to be used on any page, and a wipe-clean pen. This really is the best spelling book I have seen.

Turn to Learn Times Tables from DK

Another innovative idea from DK, and one that will make those times tables much less of a chore. Spin the unique wheel built right into the book's cover and watch the times tables appear. Lift the flaps to find all sorts of multiplication tricks, hints, and tips. Full of colourful pages which reinforce the times tables in different ways: there are number grids, multiplication charts, tips and memory clues, with number lines to say out loud. A bright colourful book which children will love - and they will be keen to get in some of that much-needed practice which will stand them in good stead for years to come.

Oxford Roald Dahl Dictionary

This is a dictionary with a difference, and perfect to have to hand when enjoying Roald Dahl's stories. After all, when you want to know the difference between a 'ringbeller' and a 'trogglehumper', or say why witches need 'gruntles' eggs' or suggest a word for the shape of a 'Knid', no ordinary dictionary is going to help. All the words that Roald Dahl invented are here and you'll find out where words came from, and discover rhyming words, synonyms and lots of alternative words for words that are overused. Perfect for teachers and for classroom use, it's a brilliant way to introduce children to using and enjoying dictionaries. This is the world's first Roald Dahl Dictionary from the word experts at Oxford University Press. It includes real citations from Roald Dahl's children's books and (of course) illustrations by Quentin Blake. Authoritative, engaging and accessible, this colourful and absorbing dictionary is great fun to browse and it will inspire and encourage young writers and readers, as well as encouraging an appreciation for Roald Dahl's wonderful way with words.

Reading Fundamentals: Grade 4 - Nonfiction Activities to Build Reading Comprehension Skills (Flash Kids) by Kathy Furgang

This is one in a series which provides an enjoyable way for children to sharpen their comprehension skills. It's particularly good to see a book devoted to non-fiction - there are plenty of fiction texts around, but children need to experience non-fiction too. The series combines fascinating topics, eye-catching photographs and a bright, appealing design children will love; these combine to make books they will really enjoy, and they will benefit from the knowledge they gain too. The book adheres to the Common Core State Standards that most US states have adopted, but the topics are just as interesting for UK pupils - in fact, they will learn about the US, as well as enjoying the wide range of other topics. The passages cover a range of topics, including science, history and geography. Questions following each passage test key comprehension skills. US Grade 4 is the equivalent of UK Year 5. An attractively presented book that children will enjoy using. Published by Sterling, May 2016, ISBN 9781411478572.

Summer Study: Grade 1 - For the Child Going into First Grade (Flash Kids series)

Such a great concept! We are all well aware of the drop that can occur in children's learning across the long summer break, and this series fills the gap to perfection. It's excellently presented, with lots of colour pictures on glossy paper and a very clear layout; children will really enjoy the wide range of activities and they will approach the new school year with greater confidence with the help of the series. This particular book covers many early learning skills and all the pages are perforated so they can be neatly torn out. There are 180 pages of enjoyable activities which review and build on previous learning and prepare children for the year to come: US First Grade is the equivalent of UK Year 2. The range of activities is excellent and the fun approach means that children will be very happy to do a few pages each day of the holidays without feeling pressurised.

Maths Adventure (Flip-Flap Journeys) by Kjartan Poskitt

Banish any reluctance to practise maths with this engaging lift-the-flap book which explores all the ways that maths will be useful on a camping trip - it's a brilliant way to show children the practical value of maths. Children set off on a camping trip with the family and on the way they will solve puzzles and answer fun questions about shapes, time, money, measurements, adding, subtracting, directions and much more. Kjartan Poskitt is author of the Murderous Maths series and once again brings a fun approach to the subject. This interactive, narrative approach to a core subject supplements what children aged 5+ learn at school. With over 50 flip-tastic flaps, plus plenty of humorous illustrations on every page, children of 5+ will see maths in a completely new light. It's extremely well done, giving a fresh and fun look at maths and making it relevant to everyday life; parents will find they can extend the use of the book by using the ideas in daily life to help embed learning.

Times Tables Activity Book by Rosie Hore

This super book is a great way to encourage children to practise their times tables as it is absolutely packed with lively and enjoyable activities. There are puzzles, activities and stickers to help children learn the times tables from 2 to 12. There are all sorts of different themes, guaranteeing that children will enjoy the activities - puzzles include solving number clues to reach Treasure Island, helping Arctic explorers on their way, working out how long it takes to fly between alien planets and decoding messages in a bottle. Activities are arranged by times table, and quizzes after each section let children test what they've learned. The presentation is engaging and children's learning of this vital subject will be strengthened.

Times Tables (School Stars) from Scholastic

This book is ideal for children age 6 to 8 (Year 2 and Year 3). Give children confidence to tackle their tables with this hands-on guide to developing good number skills. It starts with useful advice for parents, and then covers the tables that should be known at this age - 2, 10, 5, 3, 4 and 8. Each table has four page of colourful and engaging activities, carefully selected to ensure there is something for every type of learner. The activities are really fun and most of them are space-themed; children will really enjoy these and will learn at the same time. The book includes fun press-out playing cards and reward stickers too. It's a super book to help children learn their times tables in a way that will engage them - it's a long way from boring tables tests!

Telling the Time (School Stars) from Scholastic

The School Stars series all have very attractive covers and this is an excellent way to engage children's interest from the start - they look like fun! Telling the Time is the perfect way for primary school pupils to learn how to use clocks and watches, both analogue and digital. The book is ideal for children coming to the end of Key Stage 1 or at the start of KS2, and they will soon develop all the skills they need. The book is divided into sections and each starts with a revision outline. Exercises follow and than there are exercises for two players - this adds an interesting element and encourages children to work together and to help each other, or can be done with adult and child. The book comes with a wipe-clean pen and the stiff glossy pages can be used over and over again. Wipe-clean books are good for learning as children don't need to worry about making mistakes and can keep on practising - it makes them good value too. The book is clear and easy to follow and there are stickers for an added incentive.

RSL 8+ Comprehension by Robert Lomax

This collection of papers is subtitled Practice Papers with Detailed Answers and Question-by-Question Feedback for 8 Plus English. The pack contains detailed instructions to ensure that the papers are used to maximum benefit; it consists of 8 loose leaf question papers with spaces to write the answers, and separate answer sheets. The passages are from classic texts and include poetry and fiction. It is the question-by-question feedback that really makes these stand out. The detailed answers and explanations will really help children understand how to give the best possible answers and it's important that parents and teachers take the time to go through these in detail with the child to gain the maximum benefit. The questions are challenging but the depth of information in the answers will give children confidence and boost their learning; the papers are excellent for extension work in the classroom. Written by a highly experienced tutor, these papers are ideal to start work for Common Entrance and 11+ exams. An excellent selection that stands out from others on the market.

Bond SATs Skills: The complete set of Times Tables Flashcards

Giving children plenty of opportunities to practise their times tables really pays dividends when it comes to tests and exams. This set is specifically designed to cover the learning necessary for KS2 maths SATS, with times tables from 1 to 12. With questions on one side and the sum on the reverse, the flashcards can be used independently or with a parent, tutor or another child to quickly test knowledge - they are eminently portable so are ideal for taking out and about, perhaps to use when you have a few minutes waiting in the car or for an appointment. The cards also meet the new Year 5 requirements to understand square and cube numbers, extending these all the way up to 12 squared and cubed. Furthermore, the cards have been designed to quickly demonstrate number relationships, such as 4 x 6 is the same as 6 x 4, and 12 x 2, 2 x 12, 3 x 8 and 8 x 3, or that 3 x 3 is also 3 squared, introducing square and cube notation. Simple to use, these cards offer easily accessible multiplication practice for children seeking to become secure in this knowledge ahead of National Curriculum and selective school tests. Easy to use and very practical.

Bond SATs Skills: Vocabulary Flashcards: Similar and Opposite Words

Extend your child's vocabulary with this useful set which includes teaching suggestions to ensure the maximum benefit is obtained. This set of cards builds knowledge of synonyms and antonyms, enriching children's vocabularies and developing rich language skills; this will pay dividends in conversation and in descriptive and creative writing. Each card provides a word, a good range of synonyms of that word and, on the reverse, the corresponding antonyms. However, it also covers any homonyms - such as entrance (e.g. a doorway) and entrance (to captivate) or minute (a measure of time) or minute (tiny) to illustrate the importance of context in understanding a word's meaning. Simple to use, these cards offer easily accessible vocabulary building practice and games for children seeking to develop their language skills both generally and for National Curriculum and selective school tests. Easy to use and perfect when you have a few minutes to spare with your child.

My Book of Stories: Write Your Own Adventures by Deborah Patterson

We are often asked for help with creative writing - now I know what to recommend! This is a compendium of story starters taken from the very best stories ever written. Treasure Island, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz and The Hobbit are just a few of the ideas that will inspire new characters to be created, new quests to be undertaken, and perhaps even an adventurous comic strip to unfold. As well as stories, budding authors will have journal entries to fill in, letters to write and pictures of new characters to draw - this all fits in well with the requirement of the National Curriculum to use various types of writing. As well, there fun facts about classic books and their authors, storytelling top tips and puzzles to do and all of these will encourage children to read the originals. Very well presented, this is a superb concept. One of the best ways I have seen to encourage creative writing and perfect for schools.

My Book of Stories: Write Your Own Shakespearean Tales by Deborah Patterson

Another enticing book, beautifully presented with remarkable artwork to really engage children and make them want to write in the book - for this is, most definitely, a book to write in - and then to treasure. Children are encouraged to write all manner of things, based on starter ideas from Shakespeare's plays. A story about a fancy dress party, based on Much Ado About Nothing, a letter based on Romeo and Juliet, a pep talk based on Henry V... the ideas just go on and on. It will encourage children to use their imaginations and they will also learn a lot about the great playwright and be encouraged to read his work. I see and review hundreds of books, and sometimes a book really stands out - these two books are firmly in that category and I really hope there are more to come in the series - it's a brilliant concept.

Computer Coding Games for Kids by Carol Vorderman

This easy-to-follow book will have children coding quickly and confidently right from the start. With illustrations and diagrams to help them every step of the way, the book shows children how to build all types of games, from puzzles and racers to 3D action games. They will learn what makes a good game and are then introduced to Scratch, which is commonly used in schools. There are eight games in all, including Star Hunter, Doom on the Broom and Tropical Tunes; as children progress through the book, they will gradually build up their skills. The games are really satisfying to create, with hacks and tweaks to make the games their own, before sharing with friends; they will be perfect projects for school coding clubs too. If your child finds the prospect of coding daunting or boring, then get them this book and they will change their mind! There is a lot of detail, a lot of information, but the presentation is excellent and the explanations clear, so this book really gives excellent results - games children will be proud to create.

Computer Coding Scratch Made Easy by Carol Vorderman

This book starts right back at the basics and is suitable for beginners at KS1. When they have read this book, children will know their scripts from their sprites when downloading Scratch, which is a simple and free computer language, commonly used in schools for the National Curriculum coding requirement. No experience of coding is necessary to use this workbook as the basics are broken down clearly and simply so children will easily learn how to create their own projects controlling movements, costumes, effects and much more on the screen. The book uses simple language and good illustrations to help children understand and use Scratch quickly and easily. It's a good way to build their confidence and support their learning in school.

Coding for Beginners: Using Scratch by Jonathan Melmoth

Children will be learning how to code at school, as part of the Computing curriculum, so give them a head start with these two informative books from Usborne. Written in user-friendly accessible language, this book covers the basics of coding with Scratch which is commonly used in schools. Step-by-step instructions and accompanying graphics show children how to use code to create games and animations. The book starts them off with projects which include cat and mouse, dancing sprites and bat and ball; the clarity of the instructions means they can work on their own, although adults will probably be drawn in too! Then they can move on to games which include racing car and balloon pop. The clear explanations make every project easily achievable and will really give children confidence to tackle coding for themselves; the end results are great fun and very satisfying, giving children a strong sense of achievement. The practical lie-flat spiral binding makes the book easy to use, too.

Lift-the-Flap Computers and Coding by Rosie Dickins

Children respond well to the interactivity of lift-the-flap books and this book contains a wealth of information both on the pages and under the flaps. They can look inside a computer, learn how computers think, find out how to give them instructions, and learn about languages, code and using the internet. There is also an interesting visual timeline showing the history of computers. There are puzzles to try, useful words to learn and quirky facts to amaze. The lively and highly visual presentation makes sense of what can be a tricky and complex topic - many adults will find it of interest too. It's an ideal way to foster children's interest in computers and to help their understanding so that they can get the most from their Computing lessons at school.

Sing-along Handwriting (Letterland) by Lisa Holt

This book helps children to learn to write both upper and lower case letters; the innovative feature is the CD which is included. It contains 52 songs, each one helps children to write a specific letter. The 52 letter shapes are linked to the well-known fun characters from Letterland - Annie Apple, Bouncy Ben, Clever Cat and so forth. As children listen to each song, they will be helped to remember the sound shapes and movement pathways for each letter. The text for each song is also included on the letter page. For each letter, children first write within the shape, then trace over outlines which gradually get more faint. Personally (and for home use only, of course) I would copy the pages so children can get extra practice. This unusual approach means that children will really enjoy learning their letter shapes and they will learn quickly and with enthusiasm.

Wipe-Clean Spelling Book by Lisa Holt

Wipe-clean books are an excellent way to encourage children's learning. They don't feel inhibited by doing things wrong, but feel free to try and if they don't succeed initially, they know they can just wipe the page clean and try again; great for improving handwriting skills too. This book comes with its own pen, which neatly clips into a holder on the cover after use. Children's reading, writing and spelling starts with the 100 most frequently used words in the English language; children are expected to know these by the end of their first year at school. By using this book to become familiar with reading and writing these words your child will have an excellent foundation in literacy and will be supporting the work done in class. Some of the words are quite tricky to spell, but by placing the words in playful scenarios with the Letterland characters, these spellings become more memorable; the brightly coloured pages are illustrated with the Letterland people and are very attractive for children to use. The book is fun and engaging to use, so children will happily practise their words over and over again until hey have a really firm grasp of the 100 High Frequency words.

The Most Epic Book of Maths Ever (Murderous Maths) by Kjartan Poskitt

If you think maths is boring, this book may well change your mind! Never dared before, The Most Epic Book of Maths EVER this fascinating book answers all manner of questions in an engaging way that can't fail to appeal. Readers can join the cast of crazy characters on a tour of the Murderous Maths building to discover the darkest and deadliest mathematical secrets, including: a sure-fire way how to make birthdays last twice as long, how the number 1 starts fights, how triangles lead to murder, and much more. Put an end to maths misery, once and for all. Great for teachers to have to enliven maths lessons, they can enlighten their pupils on the ruler of Golomb, Pythagoras, the Fibonacci series and much more. Full of colour and with lots of illustrations too. The ideas in the book will certainly help children develop their maths skills but I think that adults will also find the book quite engrossing - I know I did. Brilliant!

How to Code in 10 Easy Lessons (Super Skills) by Sean McManus

The concept of learning in 10 steps is a really good one, especially for a potentially daunting topic like computer coding. By breaking coding down, children (and the adults working with them), can tackle it in easy stages, consolidating one area of learning before progressing to the next. Most of the book is based on using Scratch, commonly used in schools; with step-by-step instructions and plenty of illustrations, the book explains clearly and in layman's language, each step of the process. Practical examples ensure children have understood and are ready to move on. Subtitled Learn How to Design and Code Your Very Own Computer Game, the idea will be really appealing to children as they have something to show for their efforts - and this is at the heart of the new computing curriculum, which this nook supports so excellently. By the end of the book, they will even be able to create a website to show off their new games. A really good book for school and home use - perfect for coding clubs.

Coding Unlocked (Scratch & Python: The Basics) by Hywel Carver

Perfect for the new computing curriculum, this easy-to-follow guide looks at the two programming languages most commonly used in schools. The book introduces the two programming languages in parallel, moving sequentially through key coding concepts. These are illustrated with a narrative-driven problem to solve using Python, and a project to create using Scratch. It guides the reader through the learning process, building skills gradually, providing lots of practical examples to try out and consolidate new ideas. The book shows young users the value of coding and its relevance to our lives. A good introduction to the subject.

Write Your Own Book from DK

Children have great imaginations - the problem can come when we try to get them to put those wonderful thoughts down on paper, and this is an area where may pupils need help - and teachers, inspiration. Here it is! The Write Your Own Book Book guides your child through the excitement of writing their very own story. From setting the scene to describing an action, each section focuses on a different skill for your child to focus on, gradually building up to the very end where your child can write their own story. This step-by-step process is manageable and not daunting. "Talking point" boxes will spark new creative ideas or help children get the story started. "Word boxes" help develop vocabulary and enhance storytelling. For those who enjoy a visual approach, there' are plenty of drawing opportunities, including a space to illustrate their own personalised book cover. I like the topic titles at the bottom of the pages, allowing users to flick through to the section they want. The practical spiral binding makes the book easy to use and every page has space for children to put down their own ideas. Your child will be able to master writing skills required by the national curriculum in The Write Your Own Book Book, including recounting events and persuasive writing. An excellent book which is really fun to use, and packed with many creative ideas.

How to Code: Parent and Teacher Guide by Max Wainewright

The changes in the computing curriculum have meant a rethink of the way schools teach IT and computing. One of the fundamental changes is the need for children to learn about coding, so The How to Code series will be warmly welcomed. It introduces coding through clear and concise information, teamed with simple and practical tasks, from drawing shapes, giving instructions in code, building games and much more. Book 5 is an overview for parents and teachers, an essential complement to books 1 - 4. This title includes background information, troubleshooting and extra activities to support children (and grown-ups!) in learning key coding concepts. The guides cover all the key areas, explaining concepts in layman's terms and giving excellent support for learning.

How to Code: Level 1 (Coding) by Max Wainewright

Book 1 introduces the basic principles of coding, explaining how to give instructions and how to turn those instructions into code. It shows how to debug code, solve problems and use algorithms, and gives simple instructions for getting started with Scratch and Logo, both widely used in schools.The colourful presentation makes good use of flow charts to explain procedures step-by-step and there are plenty of practical exercises for children to try. Also in this excellent series - How to Code: Level 2 (Coding), How to Code: Level 3 (Coding) and How to Code: Level 4 (Coding)

Thesaurus: Ladybird I'm Ready to Spell

This clear easy-to-use thesaurus is an excellent way to introduce young children to using a thesaurus - a key skill and one which will stand them in good stead. The layout and presentation makes it fun to use and they will love the lively illustrations. It is important that children start to use a wide range of words in speech and writing as early as possible, so by showing them how to use this book, they will really gain a head start. Each word has an example sentence to show how it is used as well as a range of synonyms. The alphabet is shown at the side of the pages, with colours to show the letter on the page, helping children learn their alphabet and find words for themselves. There is useful guidance on using the thesaurus, too.

The Silly Book of Weird and Wacky Words by Andy Seed

If you are intrigued by language and love to bring new and unexpected words and phrases into your conversation, this is the book for you. Do you know what 'park your jam on the frog' means? Fancy some ognib? What rhymes with 'circus'? Packed with jokes, tongue-twisters, wordplays, spoonerisms and much, much more, the book also has plenty of activities for you to try out to test your skills with our language. It's great fun but it is also packed with information to help everyone learn about our wonderful language and use it better.

Everyday Maths (Play and Learn with Wallace) by Roger Priddy

Early learning is really fun with Priddy Books. Bright, colourful and engaging, they really encourage children to get involved and have a go. And the best thing about these wipe-clean books is that children can try over and over again, so they are never discouraged by seeing pages full of mistakes. At this age, children are learning through the world around them; they absorb information at a phenomenal rate, so make the most of it. There are sections on weight, money, measurement, shape, fractions, number bonds and more, each full of practical exercises to reinforce first maths learning. As well as including a wipe-clean pen, Everyday Maths comes with a unique early learning ruler printed with measurements in centimetres and inches, plus both upper and lower case alphabets. An excellent book that will really encourage and enhance learning - and be fun for children.

Match it! (Early Learning Fun!) by Roger Priddy

Young children will thoroughly enjoy this colourful activity book which asks them to match pictures. It starts off very simply, with two matches on each page and gradually gets more challenging, finishing up on 40 matching pairs. The wipe-clean pages (and the pen which is included) allow all the matching to be repeated over and over, so children can see their skill increase. There's a clock icon on every game where children can record how long each one takes, and see if they can beat it next time round; times can also be recorded on the chart at the end. A lovely book to help develop memory and concentration skills, as well as improving pen control. Every object is shown by an excellent photo and these are set off by brightly coloured backgrounds, making the book a joy to use; the varied pictures give plenty of chance for discussion too.

How to Write Your Best Story Ever! by Christopher Edge

Many children find story writing challenging and yet, when it is done well, it produces a wonderful sense of satisfaction. The bright colourful presentation of this humorous and authoritative book will be an inspiration to children and their teachers. The book is linked to curriculum requirements, but presents information in a way far removed from boring textbooks. Just some of the topics included are: how to write for your audience; how to overcome writer's block; how to write in different genres and making good use of vocabulary - the pages on 'The language of...' are packed with inspiring words. The book is packed with colourful illustrations and diagrams - a really dynamic presentation that children will love. Children's confidence in their own abilities will really be enhanced by the book and the engaging presentation makes it a real must-read; a book that will be picked up time and time again. Any home with KS2/KS3 children will find this book a real boon. A truly excellent book for school and home.

Animal Flash Cards: 123 by Camilla de le Bédoyère

Sometimes flash cards can be disappointingly small, but these high quality cards are really generously sized, making them a joy to use. 20 double sided cards help children learn their numbers 1 to 20; one side features decorated numerals with pictures of animals; the reverse is animal pictures. Apart from 19 and 20, every creature on each card is different, giving plenty of opportunity for looking at and discussing the pictures; hopefully, they could also lead to researching the animals to find out more. The illustrations are delightfully detailed too. The sturdy well-designed box flaps open and has a ribbon to help you get the cards out without damage. Also available in this super series - ABC and Colours and Opposites.

Scholastic Spelling Cards: Spellings for Years 3-4

Pupils are expected to know a set list of spelling words by the end of Year 4 - these appear in the statutory spelling appendix to the 2014 curriculum. Learning spellings can often seem a chore, so make it fun (and help children remember) with the well-sized set of cards, featuring all the words on the list. Good for use both oat home or at school, game cards encourage children to play games in teams of two using spellings that they need to know - four suggested games are included in the pack. A good way to reinforce spelling.

Learn to Code Pupil Book 1 (Switched on Computing) by Claire Lotriet

Switched on Coding is written for the non-specialist teacher; as such, it will be warmly welcomed as the huge changes in the curriculum van prove challenging. The series is designed for Years 3 to 6 and provides step-by-step guidance to give all teachers the confidence to teach coding at Key Stage 2. Linked to Switched on Computing, the fun and engaging units provide additional coding practice, as well as open-ended activities to stretch and challenge more able pupils. They can be used as Switched on Coding Pack standalone books to practice coding, or used to consolidate knowledge and skills from Switched on Computing. Whether used at school or by parents working with their children at home, the series will really excite children and help them to understand what makes computers work.

Learn to Code Pupil Book 2 (Switched on Computing) by Claire Lotriet

The engaging activities are perfect to support learning the new computing curriculum. The step-by-step guidance means that independent learners will be happy to engage in the activities on their own; equally, the clear presentation makes the processes straightforward for all children.  The open ended activities offer stretch and challenge for more able pupils. Each step is clearly explained with an image alongside which shows exactly what is happening. The language is clear and easy to follow, even for those unfamiliar with coding. Try an activity - creating shapes in scratch.



Learn to Code Pupil Book 3 (Switched on Computing) by Claire Lotriet

There are 12 units in each book, making the books ideally scheduled for the school year. Each of the four books has the same features - visualised outcomes to make activities accessible for all pupils; additional challenges to stretch more able pupils; and key words to develop coding vocabulary. Once pupils have completed the work, there are differentiated assessment statements to identify strengths and weaknesses. Using the four books through KS2 (or for Coding Clubs) will ensure progression in line with National Curriculum requirements.

Learn to Code Pupil Book 4 (Switched on Computing) by Claire Lotriet

"Switched on Computing will help you deliver the new Programme of Study for computing with ease and confidence. Written for the new curriculum, Switched on Computing offers creative units using the latest free software in a format that is designed for teachers of all levels of experience to pick up and use. It covers the new Programme of Study for computing, including programming and computational thinking; delivers clear progression of skills from Year 1 to Year 6; supports teachers of all levels of experience with software demos and detailed step-by-step planning; embeds e-Safety to ensure safe and responsible use of technology."

Grammar and Punctuation (Usborne Better English) by Sam Taplin

Grammar and punctuation are so important but can sometimes seem quite daunting. This handy book explains all the basic rules of grammar and punctuation in a clear manner that is easy to understand. Discover the difference between subjects, objects, verbs, nouns and adjectives, where to use an apostrophe or a semi colon, how to use capital letters and lots of other rules and helpful hints. The layout is unusual and makes good use of graphics to make the pages really appealing and the facts easy to remember. Each topic has a two page section - one page explains the pro=incilpe then has a set of questions; turn the page for the answers and more explanations - this approach really helps children to learn from their mistakes, as they will be able to understand where they went wrong. It's a different approach to many books but I think it works really well.

Who's Afraid of Clear English by David Arscott

Keep it simple! That's the message of this book and if we follow that principle we will avoid much of the confusion caused by the use of jargon and meaningless language. How can you achieve clear, transparent writing? This book shows readers how to achieve it. It's highly practical, with templates on how to write effective job applications, letters of complaint, expressions of condolence - and even a 'Dear John' message of farewell! Fun to read and very accessible, you'll learn to avoid business blather, pesky pitfalls and much more. Dip into this at random or finds ways to improve specific writing styles - either way, this book will really help.

An Unkindness of Ravens: A Book of Collective Nouns by Chloe Rhodes

This is one of those books which is just great for dipping into, as well as for answering that question 'What is the collective noun for...'. It's a fascinating topic - collective nouns are often very onomatopoeic - and great to use for poetry homework as well as in descriptive writing. This fascinating volume gives lots of information about the derivation of these words with fascinating historical detail - an intriguing look back at our culture.

I Used to Know That: English by Patrick Scrivenor

This took me straight back to my schooldays! Hours spent poring over sentences and deciding which parts of speech were there - but it has stood me in good stead so it's good to see that the principles are all clearly explained here. Learn or relearn the essential rules of the English language, from grammar and punctuation to sentence construction and parts of speech. Simple and easy to follow, all the key facts about our language are demystified so we can ensure we use English correctly - without being unnecessarily pedantic.

I Used to Know That: Maths by Chris Waring

Subtitled 'Things you used to know from school' this is another book which will have you exclaiming 'Oh, yes, I remember that...'. Good at maths or not, it is an essential part of daily life and the more readily we can calculate, the easier things will be. Simple principles are clearly explained and there are plenty of examples. It's a great book for parents who would love to help their children with maths homework but don't quite know how. Key concepts are defined and explained in a simple way in this very useful book.

The 25 Rules of Grammar: The Essential Guide to Good English by Joseph Piercy

Whether you just dip into this or read it cover to cover, you will learn all sorts of things about using our language correctly - double negatives, correct use of apostrophes (a popular topic, this!), split infinitives, who or whom are just some of the topics. Joseph Piercy outlines the 25 rules that should be adhered to in written and spoken English, defining the rules themselves and then decoding them for the layman enabling understanding of each rule and how it has been used and developed over time. Full of examples of usage, correct and incorrect, it's a fascinating look at the way our language has evolved as well as a practical guide for today.

Help Your Kids with English by Carol Vorderman

Relying strongly on use of visuals, this unique book is absolutely packed with guidance on all the vagaries of our language.All the key areas are covered, including punctuation, grammar, spelling, and communication skills. Includes cross-references throughout to show links between language ideas and a glossary of key terms. It's the perfect guide not only for for anyone and everyone who wants to use English correctly. It's hugely detailed and packed with all sorts of fascinating snippets which help to make sense of our complex language. The clear layout and design complement the high quality of information making this an exceptional book for all ages.

Ready For School Big Workbook Ages 5-6 (Gold Stars) from Parragon Books

Children will like the look of these books, with the fun colourful cartoon characters and illustrations on the covers and through the books - a great way to encourage them. The book is carefully graded to provide progressive learning and to ensure that parents know what their children should be learning in Key Stage 1. Maths, English and phonics are all covered, with a wide range of activities, ensuring children never get bored or lose interest. The book offers children plenty of practice, with fun exercises that will reinforce learning. Ideal to use during holidays to ensure no gaps in learning - and encourage children with the 100 gold stars inc,luded!.

Telling the Time (Gold Stars Ages 6-7) from Parragon Books

This will be welcomed by many parents, as we are so often asked for books that help with learning to tell the time. I like the slim format of this book - it feels neat and comfortable to hold. Despite the slim size, it manages to pack in over 100 colourful and interesting activities carefully designed to reinforce learning to tell the time. The activities are varied and encourage children to think about the questions - for example, the pages which ask about 'before or after'. These give a broader approach to the subject than simply cock faces and ensure full understanding. Many of the activities also help literacy and numeracy skills too. Excellent value.

Gold Stars Ks2 Maths Workbook Age 7-9 from Parragon Books

Parragon's excellent series of Gold Stars workbooks are developed by teachers and expert consultants so parents can be confident that learning is in line with the National Curriculum and the way children are taught in school - this is especially important in maths, as teaching methods change over the years. This book offers interactive learning with attractive colourful fill-in activities throughout. Definitions of key words and phrases are given and the inclusion of an index is unusual for workbooks - a very helpful feature to locate a specific topic. The book includes a separate test book with 20 pull-out tests (and answers!). A great resource and excellent value.

Gold Stars Preschool Workbook Pack from Parragon Books

This is a lovely set for children starting to learn key skills - 5 small books all packed into a neat carry case - and gold stars too! The books are - Starting Phonics, Starting to Count, Starting to Write, Starting maths and Starting to Add. Each is attractively presented, in full colour with appealing pictures to make learning fun. The activities are carefully graded to give a logical progression. The EYFS is supported by this pack so parents know children will have a good start.

Oxford Children's Rhyming Dictionary

Writing poetry can be hugely enjoyable - but not when you are stuck for a rhyme!  As well as the alphabetical list of words that rhyme this dictionary is full of inspiration to help children write their own poetry. An index of sounds makes it simple to find a rhyme. Throughout the book are lively illustrations plus many amusing and inspiring poems by John Foster. At the back of the book are engaging activities which explain many types of rhymes, from raps and chants to limericks and couplets, to help children understand different varieties of poetry. This ties in perfectly with the various poetry strands taught at school. These are combined with activities, tips and prompts which encourage children to get writing their own verse.  A good grasp of rhyme is also useful to help with spelling and phonics so that's an added bonus with this book. This is an excellent resource that will instill confidence into children can they can write poetry. The presentation is exceptionally attractive and makes the book a joy to use. For lots of FREE downloadable games, puzzles, activities and much more, go to

Oxford First Rhyming Dictionary

Young children love rhyme - you only have to think of the popularity of nursery rhymes and rhyming story books for evidence. Capitalise on that interest with this excellent first rhyme book from OUP. Each letter has at least a page to itself - S has 9 pages! Far more than just rhyming words - there are lots of enjoyable poems and every page is full of delightful colour illustrations. Children's alphabet skills are developed by using the index down the side of every page. There's an index of words plus a useful index of rhyming sounds. Phonics, vocabulary and spelling are strengthened by using rhyme so make the most of this excellent book and let your child have fun writing poetry.

Flash Cards - Numbers by Alain Grée

Flash cards are great for early learning. Long before you think a child is actually going to start learning numbers, they love to play with flashcards and all the time they are 'playing' they are beginning to learn - my grandson has loved flashcards since he was about a year old and now, at three, he is familiar with them and can put them into order and talk about them. The laminated flashcards in this pack, with numbers 1- 50 one side and the number word on the other are ideal for teachers, parents and carers to teach the numbers 0 to 50 to children aged 3+ and to teach sums. Sadly, they don't feature Alain Gree's charming illustrations. The plus, minus, multiply, divide and equals signs are included. Notes provide handy suggestions for a variety of games and activities with the cards. Published by Button Books, April 2014, ISBN 9781908985170.

Lift the Flap Times Tables Book (Usborne Lift-the-Flap-Books) by Rosie Dickins

If your child finds tables boring, they will think again when you give them this book! How often do parents and teachers hear the question 'why?' when it comes to tables? The book starts with a page full of reasons why - all engagingly presented under flaps. Each table - and the book goes up to 12, which is great - has its own page and the tables are presented in question form eg 'if 6 birds catch 2 worms each, how many worms is that?' with the answer under the flap. This format is also invaluable for practising word problems, a key part of maths. It's a lively and engaging presentation and children will really respond well to the interactivity. By the end of the book, they will be ready for the Tables Challenge!

10 Minutes A Day Spelling KS1 (English Made Easy KS1) by Carol Vorderman

10 minutes - just a short time to take out of the day making it easy for children to accept doing a little extra work. This title contains 10 minute activities on doubling letters, homophones, prefixes, adjectives, compound words - all the requirements for the KS1 curriculum. Attractively presented, with plenty of colour and illustrations this is a book which will appeal to children, even reluctant learners. The parents' notes section gives the answers, explains common pitfalls and gives guidance on how to avoid them. Each page includes a 'Time Filler' - a useful extension activity that is well worth doing as they will extend all areas of English skills.

10 Minutes A Day Phonics Ages 3 - 5 (English Made Easy) by Carol Vorderman

Phonics can be a tricky subject for parents to cover with their children but this book makes it simple and fun. Excellent to use before your child starts school so they have a good grounding, the activities are enjoyable and colourful. The 10 minute timer is a good gimic for young children who will happily spend 10 minutes at a time. The book supports the new curriculum and includes a wide range of activities working through from A to Z rather than the more common approach of by sound. This helps develop an understanding of the alphabet alongside the sounds the words make. Parents will appreciate the useful answers and explanations. An excellent series.

Oxford School Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar Dictionary (Oxford School Dictionaries)

This is not a dictionary in traditional form - in fact, I wouldn't describe it as a dictionary at all. That is not in any way to detract from its value which is as an excellent reference book for spelling, punctuation and grammar as outlined by the KS2 curriculum. The clear colour layout makes it easy to navigate and attractive for young users. The first and by far the larger part is a reference section of simple rules, tips, and examples to help students spell, punctuate and write correctly. This is in three sections - Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar. The second part is an alphabetical word list of common tricky words, with inflections, but no meanings. A clear and comprehensive guide with plenty of simple and helpful tips.

Oxford Reading Tree: Read with Biff, Chip and Kipper: My Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling Kit by Annemarie Young

This is an appealing pack for 6 to 7 year olds which is somehow more enticing to work with than just a book. Giving children a good grounding in these skills is essential and it's never too early to start. Children will enjoy working along with their favourite characters - ORT is used in 80% of primary schools. It fits with the National Curriculum for children aged 6 and above. There are three workbooks with enjoyable activities and plenty of spelling, punctuation and grammar practice plus a set of flashcards to reinforce learning with games. The reward chart will encourage children and the leaflet with helpful hints and tips is ideal to help parents get the most out of this useful pack.

Real World Maths Blue Level: Treasure in the Jungle by Wendy Clemson

Wondering how to engage children with maths? This series could well be your answer. It takes subjects which really interest children and makes them the basis for learning many mathematical topics as children solve the puzzles. As well as the maths, the books include interesting facts about the topic and they are colourfully illustrated - a far cry from a traditional maths textbook. In Treasure in the Jungle, the reader joins explorers in the forests of Peru where they can solve puzzles including how many Llamas are needed for the expedition; the grid references to find a hidden Temple; and measuring the wingspan of the Condor, one of the biggest birds in the world. Concepts covered include numbers, shape, space and measurement, data, problem solving and mental arithmetic. This is one in the blue series, for children of 6+.

Real World Maths Orange Level: Extreme Sports by Wendy Clemson

The books at orange level are suitable for children age 8+ and cover all the areas needed for maths at this level. Children will find out what it's like to be an extreme sportsman or sportswoman and they will help solve all sorts of puzzles faced by the experts every day. They will be interested to know that extreme sportsmen and sportswomen use maths to perform tricks and win competitions - hopefully, this will encourage their own learning as they see how maths is a part of many people's lives. The book gives the chance to try lots of exciting maths activities using real life data. As well, there is lots to learn about these exciting sports, all illustrated with colourful photos and diagrams. The challenge questions give an added level of learning. The series provides an excellent example of how maths can be made relevant as children use their maths skills to solve problems; the books in the series also help to develop literacy skills and scientific knowledge. Excellent.

Your Guide to Grammar (How English Works) by Julie Kourdi

Grammar - confusing for many people. The explanations and practical examples in this book, plus the progress check pages, help teachers explain these concepts to children. The examples are easy to follow and the layout clear with plenty of white space on the pages. The content is much wider than many similar books, for example the inclusion of modal verbs, fronted adverbials and run-on sentences.
"How English Works is a series of practical, educational guides designed to help students aged eight to thirteen improve their English skills. Written by professional writers and teachers, How English Works builds knowledge, confidence and ability – enabling students to excel in all aspects of English. Each guide is ideal for self-directed study, in-class teaching, homework assignments and teaching through flipped lessons. The topics are self-contained, with clear explanations, lots of examples and frequent progress checks. Each topic is linked to the appropriate curriculum and testing codes for England – helping teachers with effective lesson planning, target achievement and evaluation."

Your Guide to Factual Writing (How English Works) by Julie Kourdi

Most of us can get by in later years without any great skills in creative writing (although, of course, it's more enjoyable for our readers if we have some skills). However, we all need to be able to write clear factual writing - to give explanations, instructions, recommendations and much more. This workbook provides clear explanations, lots of examples and frequent progress checks. Your Guide to Factual Writing will improve and enrich children's writing by showing them how to use techniques and skills that make writing stand out with the use of a range of writing styles. How English Works is designed for students between the ages of 8 and 13, to help them improve their English skills.As well as classroom use, this series is a valuable resource for home schoolers. I think it is also an excellent series for those of any age who are learning English as a second language.

Your Guide to Creative Writing (How English Works) by Julie Kourdi

Creative writing - we are so often asked for help with this! As well as helping the reader to write more creatively, with plenty of practical advice, the content also helps an understanding of the techniques used by writers and poets - this will help the student going forward to KS3 work where more critical reading is required. The book has clear explanations, lots of examples to follow and frequent progress checks. The series supports teachers in planning their lessons but is also a valuable resource for those home schooling. A note of caution - I have noticed some US spelling, for example meter instead of metre. A useful feature which is common across the series is the inclusion of links (across the top of each page) to the curriculum and testing codes.

Question Bank - Punctuation, Grammar and Writing Tests (How English Works) by Julie Kourdi

Teachers can use these practice tests to build children's confidence and ability in preparation for the English language tests that form part of KS2 SATS - especially the SPAG test. For those not taking tests, they will consolidate skills;  consolidate knowledge and how grammar and punctuation works and point out areas which need extra work.  It is an ideal resource for teachers - designed to help their students gain practice and become familiar with the different types of questions in formal tests. There are 3 tests - one Level 5 and two Level 6 and these are in test format so a great way to prepare children.

Question Bank - Spelling Tests (How English Works) by Julie Kourdi

These practice tests will build children's confidence and ability in the run up to KS2 SATS. They also provide useful revision for anyone studying English as we all need to spell correctly! It's a comprehensive book - 220 pages in all, with three spelling papers, plus answers and progress checks. The tests are not in SATS format - they are more detailed and offer greater opportunity for learning and consolidation. Also included is a useful selection of word lists for self-assessment.

Your Guide to Punctuation (How English Works) by Julie Kourdi

You have only got to look around you to realise just how confusing people find punctuation! This guide offers clear explanations, lots of examples and frequent progress checks - the latter are useful for finding out gaps in knowledge before moving on.  The section entitled 'Further Action' is another good way to encourage students to assess their progress. A comprehensive guide - these are A4 books and this runs to 164 pages, so good value for money. I have a slight reservation, which runs across the series, which is a lack of clarity as to exactly who is being addressed by the books. The strapline is 'Helping you to succeed' but the books seems very much designed to be used as teachers' resources, yet throughout they refer to 'you'. This does not affect the value of the resources but I do find it hard to tell who the books are written for.

English Fun (Language Activity): Language Activity Book by Catherine Bruzzone

Following the format of b small's other language learning books, this is equally useful for both children who are learning English as a second language as for native English speakers. This activity book contains puzzles and games, cutting, and sticking to practice essential first words and phrases saying hello, counting, family members, eating and drinking, shopping and expressing likes and dislikes. It includes colorful press-out characters with clothes to dress them and an English fortune-teller. The book is full of variety, with all sorts of different activities to be enjoyed.

Colour in English (Colour in series) by Catherine Bruzzone

There are over 300 words in this varied book, which contains plenty for young children, either learning English as a second language or reinforcing their first language. children always enjoy colouring and while they are colouring they will be learning the words associated with the various scenes which include the beach, the countryside and the zoo.

Who's Afraid of Grammar by Jacqueline Morley

As users of English language, we come across many questions in our day-to-day use of language, especially when we are using language in a more formal setting.  This handy book explains many of the common problems with plenty of examples to help the reader remember. All the main parts of speech are considered and the sections on vocabulary minefields and danglers and floaters cover areas often missed in other books. A very enlightening read! This is one in a new series which explores various aspects of our language and I very much look forward to seeing more in the series because this approachable and enjoyable way of explaining our very complex language is really beneficial, to children, adults and those learning English as a second language. More, please!

Punctuation and Spelling: Rules That Make Things Clear (Find Your Way With Words) by Rebecca Vickers

Such a vital topic and there can never be too many books on this subject! This is an excellent book, engagingly written in a way that will really help students (young and old!) to remember and apply the principles. Correct punctuation is vital for understanding, as shown on the cover: "Let's eat Grandpa" or "Let's eat, Grandpa". The punctuation section includes sentence punctuation and that all-important punctuation within words. The spelling section includes useful spelling tips and memory rules. Clearly laid out with excellent use of information boxes and appropriate illustrations, this is a very valuable guide.

Gwynne's Grammar by N M Gwynne

Grammar  - essential yet so often a stumbling block, is taught here in a good old-fashioned way that will be remembered by those at school in the 1960s and earlier. Here are all things we should know, packaged in a neat and accessible book which suits all ages. We are given, not just what constitutes correct grammar, but why, so we can take away the principles and apply them every day. Not always an easy read, but if you are looking for help on a particular topic, then the comprehensive index will guide you. The second part of the book is Strunk's Guide to Style - how to write well and avoid pitfalls.

Write Stuff: Creative Writing for Boys by Holly Brook-Piper 

Boys' writing is often a concern when it comes to those all-important SATS papers, so here is a good way to encourage your son to enjoy writing, with a wide range of topics specially chosen to appeal to boys. The book shows how important it is to plan stories carefully and then gives plenty of 'story starters' to get writing off to a flying start. The section on experiments has a range of ideas and there is something to appeal to everyone. The progressive nature of the book is perfect for fostering confidence and the book is practical, appealing and colourful.   Different writing genres - poetry, free verse, reporting, travel writing and comics - all have their place. Finally - a section just for the boy's own work. The book is attractively presented, with fold-flat spiral binding, each section is tabbed for easy reference, and there is lots of space for children's own work. An excellent way to inspire writing.

10 Minutes a Day Maths Ages 7-9 by Carol Vorderman

Such a simple idea, but so much more effective than asking a child to do a set number of pages, as the timing of that can be very variable. Set the timer and your child can tackle a range of maths questions - all the National Curriculum topics for the age group are covered. And there is an element of challenge too "What can I achieve in 10 minutes?" The range of question types is good and I like the 'Time fillers' too, which encourage a wider range of skills. Also available - 10 Minutes a Day Maths Ages 3-5 Minutes a Day Maths Ages 5-7 and 10 Minutes a Day Maths Ages 9-11

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

This is an excellent book to help learners of all ages - whether a primary pupil studying a language for the first time, a GCSE student struggling to remember everything learnt, or 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.

Fisher Price Letters

Five friendly characters guide children through early learning and introduce a world of colourful letters. From a to z, there are lots of different activities for children to enjoy while learning their letters. The pages are well laid out, with good sized child-friendly fonts and plenty of colour. There are lots of opportunities for children to write, draw and colour so they get pencil control practice too. There is guidance for parents and a fun game to play as well. An excellent start to learning.

Write Stuff: Creative Writing for Boys by Holly Brook-Piper 

Boys' writing is often a concern when it comes to those all-important SATS papers, so here is a good way to encourage your son to enjoy writing, with a wide range of topics specially chosen to appeal to boys. The book shows how important it is to plan stories carefully and then gives plenty of 'story starters' to get writing off to a flying start. The section on experiments has a range of ideas and there is something to appeal to everyone. The progressive nature of the book is perfect for fostering confidence and the book is practical, appealing and colourful.   Different writing genres - poetry, free verse, reporting, travel writing and comics - all have their place. Finally - a section just for the boy's own work. The book is attractively presented, with fold-flat spiral binding, each section is tabbed for easy reference, and there is lots of space for children's own work. An excellent way to inspire writing.

First Writing (First Time Learning)

The beginning of learning to write comes with drawing shapes and patterns. Children are given plenty of practice to do this with a series of fun and colourful activities starting with following to line for the arrow to reach its target and finishing with zany zigzags. Each pattern activity is linked to the letter which uses it, so children are learning to link the two.The book focuses on holding the pencil correctly, plus copying and tracing to improve and enhance skills. There are lots of fun stickers included and these also help develop key skills such as coordination. It's a fun way to reinforce key skills before starting school.

Times Tables (Book & Jigsaw)

Learning times tables can seem a bit of a chore to children, but whether learning each table for the first time, or to refresh learning, this combination of workbook and jigsaw puzzle makes it fun - and memorable. The colourful box (complete with carry handle) includes an early learning workbook plus a 30 piece jigsaw for the reader to piece together, and on the back of the jigsaw is a picture the reader can colour in with crayons. Whatever a child's learning style, there is something to help everyone in this excellent pack.

Small Beginnings: Say and Play by Kay Massey

This is one in a series of books which have been specially designed for pre-schoolers who simply love to play. At this age, children are really keen to learn - and to be praised - so build on that enthusiasm to give your child a head start. Suitable for three years plus, there are lots of colourful activities including matching, counting and letters. The book is carefully graded for parents to work through in order, and there are stickers to reward the child and keep him motivated. It uses lots of nursery rhymes and children will appreciate the familiarity of these.



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