Book reviews - homework help (page 3)

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.

First Children's Dictionary from DK

Dictionaries don't have to be boring, as this colourful illustrated dictionary shows. Suitable for children from 5+ (KS1), and matched to the requirements of the curriculum, this First Children's Dictionary is an ideal first reference book for children eager to expand their vocabulary. It's easy to use, with the alphabet running down the edges of the pages, and the appropriate letter highlighted. With over 3,000 entries of updated, curriculum-linked content, this will really help children describe their world, and learn just what a valuable tool a dictionary is. It goes beyond simply defining words, by including word histories that help develop an understanding of where words come from; this helps with spelling too. It's a good way to teach children how to use a reference book and there are plenty of illustrations to add to the information value, including some striking full page spreads. There are also plenty of examples of how to use words, which is really good for this age group. It's a book which will make an excellent addition to a home reference library, and it will be used for many years

Algorithms and Bugs (Kids Get Coding) by Heather Lyons

With computing, things don't always work out - children will learn that from a young age, and with this book, they will also learn to tackle problems and have the confidence to resolve them. This book, one of a series of four, concentrates on algorithms, and what happens when they're full of bugs. Children will learn how to write algorithms that direct computers to search, sort and make decisions; then they can try things out on the companion website - a great resource. The four books cover key areas of the KS1 computing curriculum with simple text. Each title contains practical on- and off-line activities that are easy to follow and fun to try on your own or with friends. Guiding young coders through each title is Data Duck - a computer-programming mastermind here to help with hints and tips! A really good introductory series which will give children knowledge and confidence.

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, with a huge amount of content, covering KS2 pupils will need to know.

20 Games To Create With Scratch by Max Wainewright

Children will be learning to code at school, and that will hopefully stimulate their interest. This book is ideal for following the work up at home, and for having the satisfaction of creating games that really work. The book uses Scratch software which is commonly used in schools. There are easy-to-follow, illustrated step-by-step instructions, and each game is created over the process of a two-page spread, so they are reasonably succinct, producing quite quick results. The book is arrange by difficulty, with five different levels - by the time they reach Level 5, children will be challenged to produce really good games. They will learn to create all types of popular games including Tunnel of Gold,Up in the Clouds Snake and Brick Bouncer. The games use an excellent range of effects, so they are really worthwhile and children will have fun playing them - and sharing their games with others. The book supports classroom learning by teaching key coding concepts through simple and practical tasks from drawing shapes and giving instructions in code to building games and more. An excellently presented book, with lots of good games all clearly explained. Perfect for school coding clubs too.

Julia Donaldson's Songbirds: My First Reading and Activity Book (Oxford Reading Tree)

Much-loved author Julia Donaldson is just the right person to help children learn to read, as children know and love her stories. Songbirds is a complete phonics reading programme, part of the Oxford Reading Tree scheme, carefully created to support children who are learning to read. Children can enhance their learning through the phonics games and linked activities in this book, and parents have the assurance that this will tie in with the reading being done in school. The focus is on building phonics skills, with seven carefully written, very enjoyable and beautifully illustrated stories which introduce children to phonic sounds; each story has an introductory page to help parents. There is also a variety of linked fun activities plus reward stickers. It's colourful and engaging, really making learning fun, and the supportive approach makes it the perfect book for parents who want to help their children at home.

A Beginner's Guide to Coding by Marc Scott

Children now learn coding as part of the computing curriculum, and it will really help their learning if they have the opportunity to extend their skills at home. This easy-to-follow guide introduces the basics of coding, using the free programming languages of Scratch and Python - the languages most commonly used in schools. These step-by-step projects will have children talking to their own chatbot or making their own computer games in no time. The instructions are very clearly laid out, they really do take one small step at a time, and there are plenty of visuals so children can see exactly what they should be doing. Accessible, engaging and very child-friendly, children will learn, among other things, how to make a spaceship game, how to code an optical illusion and how to instruct talking animal sprites - they really are projects to capture children's attention. An excellent introduction to the world of coding.

Write Your Best Story Ever! Notebook by Christopher Edge

When I reviewed How to Write Your Best Story Ever!, I said " 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." Created to work with its predecessor, this notebook contains even more hints and tips and is the perfect place for budding young writers to gather the ingredients for a great story. The colourful pages, with plenty of room for children's own writing, will really inspire them with its practical ideas. Particularly notable are the word webs, which are on many pages - these include a superb collection of words to extend children's vocabulary and to make their writing more colourful and interesting. The book includes ideas for building plot, action, characters, scenes, beginnings and endings; top tips from the Oxford word experts to further creativity and writing skills; and activity pages for jotting down words, sketching characters, and writing in stories. Ideal for capturing the sudden inspirations of a child's everyday world and surroundings, the notebook provides a fun and practical step towards creative writing that no child should be without. I fully endorse that - often children need inspiration for their writing and it is here in abundance.

Story Path by Kate Baker

Writing, and especially creative writing, is almost always a key area of concern in schools. Start children off early on exploring the world of creative writing with this unusual and fascinating book. Children are encouraged to travel along the Story Path and to see where it takes them. They will find an enchanted world where fairy princesses battle with monsters from the deep and vampire cats zoom through the galaxy on silver unicorns. At every stage, young readers can use their own imaginations to take the story in whichever direction they choose; so, for example, the story starts with the child riding along on ... a dragon... an elephant... a plane ... a boat ... or a horse. With a simple, easy-to-follow structure and bold, quirky imagery, the book is so simple to use, but will inspire children and spark their imaginations. A superb classroom resource s well as being perfect for encouraging discussion at home.

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

This series is simply wonderful for teachers who want to encourage their class's creative writing - every title is packed with inspiration. These story starters come from stories that will be familiar to every child, but now they can put their own spin on the stories. Inspiringly presented to appeal to those who respond well to visual stimuli, there are opportunities to write tales of travels through mysterious forests, or to invent new companions to help defeat a wicked witch, or to conjure up the ultimate punishment for an innocent prince. With stories to write, journal entries to fill in and pictures of characters to draw, the book perfectly fills the requirements of the National Curriculum for writing in different genres. As well as all this inspiration, there are writing top tips, fairy tale fun facts and mind-boggling puzzles to complete. A superbly presented book which contains a feast of unusual and inspiring ideas.

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

Use the power of myths to encourage children to develop their creative writing skills - myths are some of the most vividly told tales children will ever read and this book, with its hugely varied range of ideas, will inspire children. Creation myths, gods at war, awesome acts of bravery, bold heroes and amazing creatures will inspire new characters to be created, new stories to be written, and may even even inspire a mythical comic strip to unfold. The book is really well presented, with plenty of illustrations, lots of space for children to complete their own stories, and nuggets of information about mythical characters, storytelling top tips and puzzles to make a complete and very valuable resource. Budding authors will have stories to write, journal entries to fill in and pictures of new characters to draw, all inspired by some of the best-loved myths from around the world, featuring not only the familiar tales of the Norse, Greek and Roman gods, but also the less well-known stories which have their origins in Central America, Australasia and the Far East. It's wide-ranging and will provide inspiration for many different stories. A superb series.