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 0–16 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.


Just Great Teaching by Ross Morrison McGill

Ross Morrison McGill, bestselling author of Mark. Plan. Teach. and Teacher Toolkit, pinpoints the top ten key issues that schools in Great Britain are facing today, and provides strategies, ideas and techniques for how these issues can be tackled most effectively. We often talk about the challenges of teacher recruitment and retention, about new initiatives and political landscapes, but day in, day out, teachers and schools are delivering exceptional teaching and most of it is invisible. Ross uncovers, celebrates, analyses and disseminates best practice in teaching. This is supported by case studies and research undertaken by Ross in ten primary and secondary schools across Great Britain, including a pupil referral unit and private, state and grammar schools, as well as explanations from influential educationalists as to why and how these ideas work. Ross explores the issues of marking and assessment, planning, teaching and learning, teacher wellbeing, student mental health, behaviour and exclusions, SEND, curriculum, research-led practice and CPD. This book inspires readers to open their eyes to how particular problems can be resolved and how other schools are already doing this effectively. It is packed with ideas and advice for all primary and secondary classroom teachers and school leaders keen to provide the best education they possibly can for our young people today.

The Arts in Primary Education by Ghislaine Kenyon

'A beautifully reasoned argument, in the age of cuts, as to why the arts absolutely must be at the very heart of primary education' Jon Snow Studying the arts, including visual arts, music, dance, drama and literature, has numerous benefits across the primary curriculum. A truly creative curriculum has the power to motivate and energise pupils; it develops creative and critical thinking, problem solving, language, and fine motor skills. But what is the best way to invest in and improve arts education across a school? Drawing on interviews with successful school leaders, case studies and her own extensive experience working in the education departments of the Courtauld Gallery, the National Gallery and Somerset House, Ghislaine Kenyon presents simple, inexpensive and practical ways to integrate the arts across the primary curriculum. The Arts in Primary Education shows how resources already present in schools, such as picture books or the outdoor environment, can be used to develop a creative culture. With a focus on long-term initiatives including partnerships with art institutions and the training and personal development of teachers, the book also presents clear and accessible explanations of the benefits of integrating the arts across a school. Backed by research and evidence and complete with images and descriptions of artworks, this guide is ideal for helping develop a whole-school arts curriculum to enrich learning and raise attainment in all subject areas.

The Anxiety Survival Guide by Bridie Gallagher, Sue Knowles & Phoebe McEwen

Co-written with psychologists and a college student who has experienced anxiety herself, this is a relatable and straightforward guide to managing worry in emerging adulthood. As well as providing tried-and-tested advice and exercises that are proven to reduce feelings of anxiety, it includes recovery stories from people who have managed their symptoms successfully. It begins with what is difficult and challenging about young adulthood and how you can deal with uncertainty in life. It goes on to examine change and challenges, giving tips about what can help in specific scenarios such as exams, relationships, leaving home and interviews. The guide also includes strategies and techniques for coping with panic attacks; self-care; and calming your mind. The guide uses a range of evidence-based approaches, including CBT, DBT, Compassion Focused Approaches and Mindfulness so you can work out the techniques that are best for you. The signposting included throughout guides young adults towards further support. This is essential reading for any young person experiencing anxiety, worry or going through a difficult transition or stressful experience.

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. The texts in the second editions are the same but the questions have been changed in some instances to be more in line with the curriculum. There are updated links to the national curriculum page.


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."


Tengo seis anos: (I am six years old): Learn Spanish with Luis y Sofia: Part 1, Unit 4: Storybook by Brilliant Publications

Learn Spanish with Luis et Sofía is a story-based scheme for teaching Spanish in primary schools. 1a Parte (Part 1) is for Years 3–4 and 2a Parte (Part 2) is for Years 5–6. The books are written entirely in Spanish, with the text in speech bubbles accompanying lively pictures. They use repetitive phrases and simple sentences to embed vocabulary and language structures making it ideal for Spanish beginners. The stories are engaging and feature familiar settings so children can relate to them. Children with early Spanish language skills will gain confidence, and develop their language skills, when they realise they are able to read and understand a storybook in Spanish. Learning is enhanced by the picture to colour and talk about on the last page which helps to develop all four language learning skills - reading, writing, speaking and listening. A vocabulary list is included after the story. In this story, Luis and Sofía are at the swimming pool. Sofía introduces herself to Marta and they find out how old they both are. Luis tries to join in the conversation. What does Sofía do? There are 14 books in each part plus Teacher's Guides. Find out more about Part 1 and Part 2 These stories are simple and enjoyable, an excellent way to become familiar with Spanish and its everyday use.

Brilliant Activities for Speaking and Listening KS2: Ideas to Develop Spoken Language Skills Years 3-6 by John Foster

The book contains activities designed to develop the spoken language skills of children in Years 3–6, and the activities provide full coverage of the National Curriculum requirements for spoken language. The pupil assessment sheets and advice on progress ensure that schools can develop competence in this vital area of the curriculum. The book is well set ou, easy to follow, and perfectly designed to give teachers full support in theor lesson planning. An excellent feature of Brilliant Publications is that the books come with photocopiable resources for use by the purchasing institution. The wide range of activities in this books are: Interpreting facts and figures; Working out the correct order in which instructions should be given; Discussing and debating issues, such as bullying and junk foods; Role-play; Thought tracking; Hot seating; Retelling stories; Responding to and interpreting poems. The emphasis is on activities in which the children use exploratory talk in order to clarify their viewpoints. Of course, speaking and listening does not just relate to the English curriculum - it covers all aspects of learning, so many of the activities are cross-curricular, with a handy chart which links the activities to other curriculum areas.

Artworks for Kids: Creative Art Projects Using Painting, Weaving, Clay, Printing, Recyclables and Nature by Lori VanKirk Schue

This book, and the one that follows, will give KS2 teachers all they need to deliver inspiring art lessons. We are not all gifted artistically, and sometimes it can be hard for teachers to find inspiration, but the great thing about these two books, used together, is that they will give confidence through the multiplicity of ideas - there is plenty for all, whatever their interest and skill level. Children have a natural creativity and this book harnesses that, providing them with a unique way to express themselves. The activities introduce children to an interesting variety of art media and techniques - painting, weaving, clay, printing, recyclables and nature, with a varied range of projects for each. There are 66 projects in all, each with plenty to guide the teacher each step of the way - a full-colour illustration of a completed project;; art terms relating to the project; a materials list; illustrated step-by-step instructions; special technique tips and how-tos; additional information that will help ensure a successful experience; discussion questions to further appreciation of art techniques and understanding of each project. A great thing about teaching art is that it's a lesson nearly all children enjoy - and they will do so all the more with the fantastic range of activities presented here.


How to Teach Art to Children: Helping Children to Experience and Appreciate Art by Joy Evans and Tanya Skelton

It can seem a daunting task sometimes, but this book will really give teachers confidence that they can help the children in their care understand and really enjoy art. The book outlines the seven basic elements of art – line, shape, colour, value (tones), texture and form,; this really sets the scene and I found it highly informative, with plenty of colour illustrations to make it all crystal clear. There are so many ideas to try out so enhance understanding, and many are very simple to carry out. Each section begins with a definition of the element and provides a series of art experiences that encourage children to experiment with the element, thereby learning aboit its potential. Experiences are labelled as large-group, small-group, partner or individual activities. Each element is introduced with a large-group experience and then pupils’ understanding is extended with small-group and independent projects - it's all perfetly planned for the classroom. The 96 projects have step-by-step directions and full-colour examples; it's all easy to follow and the lessons flow well. The second element of the book features 24 famous artists and cultures and shows how they use the seven elements of art in different ways in their art. I really like the way this builds on the first part, making for continuity. The accompanying activities allow pupils to experience the style of each artist. The book is really designed to instill appreciation in art in all of its many forms, and to show children that there are not rights and wrongs - all art is there to be appreciated, even though we all have different likes and dislikes; the important thing is to look and to appreciate.

Talking about Terrorism: Responding to Children's Questions by Alison Jamieson and Jane Flint

What? Why? Who? Where? How? The book is full of questions, questions we all ask - and here are answers written in a straightforwrd way that will help children. Talking about Terrorism is structured around 40 questions that children may ask – What do terrorists want? How can we stop someone becoming a terrorist? Who is keeping us safe in Britain? Why are terrorists so angry and full of hate? When will terrorism end? – and answers the questions in clear, easy-to-understand language. The authors provide simple, objective explanations and try where possible to reassure, while being careful not to raise unrealistic expectations. A brave subject to handle, and one that has been approached with care. The approach is well balanced and there are plenty of opportunities to encourage discussion on the topics - we may not all agree with everything that is said, but the important thing is to open up lines of communication with our children, and this book does that.

Fun Games and Activities for Teaching Times Tables by Debbie Chalmers

Fun and times tables may not seem to go together, but these inspiring activities really do bring a fun element to an essentail but sometimes tedious part of learning - and teachers need to find it fun just as much as children do - after all, they teach tables year after year! This book provides stimulating and imaginative games to make the process of learning the times tables both effective and fun. It starts off with specific games for 2, 5 and 10 times tables and the second half contains games appropriate for any of the times tables. These games are subdivided into three groups: Games for learning each table in sequence; Games to test pupils’ memories and thinking skills as they try to identify the table they are working on and Games to teach children the different factors that can make up each answer. The games will help pupils develop their own skills for learning. The games require minimal preparation and ensure that all children gain a firm understanding of their times tables and will be able to recall them quickly and easily - essential for all future maths work. The activities are fun and engaging with plenty of variety to suit all learners. Each is clearly set out and explained for ease of use

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..

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. Compound sentences using coordinating conjunctions are included as well as subordinating complex sentences using subordinating conjunctions. 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, 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.


KS3 up

Jane Eyre: Graphic Revision Guides for GCSE English Literature​ by Elizabeth May

The approach taken in these graphic revision guides will really appeal to students with its lively fresh presentation that summarises the stories succinctly and memorably. Each title in the series contains comic-style sheets, especially tailored to strengthen the student's understanding of plot, characters, quotes, themes and more; through using them, learning and revising this iconic novel will become an easier and more enjoyable experience .  The story of Jane Eyre is succinctly re-told in comic form, making it easy to follow the plot. Additionally, there are context pages which set the literary background of 19th Century England. Each of the main characters has their own page, with fact files and comments made by other characters in the book. The book is not intended as a replacement for reading the text and there's nothing that beats reading the classics in full. These books do give a really good overview to use throughout studying the book, from a first introduction to the all-important last-minute revision. .

Pride and Prejudice: Graphic Revision Guides for GCSE English Literature​ by Elizabeth May

The story is briefly retold through comic strip text and illustrations, with the text in modern-day language that will appeal to today's teens. The sheets are designed to be accessible to students with a range of special educational needs (SEN) through the use of: a heavy focus on visuals to help students to remember, understand, get interested in and create associations to the text. The focus on vocabulary – explaining and rephrasing tricky words - will help those who struggle with reading and will extend their understanding and appreciation; I'm pleased to see the text is in lower case which makes it more accessible.  With the focus on plot comprehension, the chapter summaries are condensed to include key events. This has been excellently done, with all the main points in place. Themes such as class, marriage and love are discussed, enhancing students' understanding of the period. Reference sheets and activity pages conclude the book. All the pages can be photocopied by the purchasing institution, making the book excellent value. A really good approach which will stimulate interest and appreciation for classic literature, and well designed to appeal to readers at all levels.

Great Expectations: Graphic Revision Guides for GCSE English Literature​ by Elizabeth May

 The comic strip style retelling of the story is designed to strengthen understanding of plot, characters, themes - all aspects of the book that will be tested in GCSE, in fact. The book (and all in the series) succeeds admirably in being accessible to readers in both KS3 and KS4. These books were initially designed for SEN students, but experience soon showed that all students responded well to the approach - and you only have to look at the lively presentation to see why; it's a world away from traditional revision guides. The activities that conclude each book will be much appreciated by teachers. In this book, examples include Who said it?, Match the couples, quote analysis, Who is Pip describing and more; these are simple to use but effective across a range of levels. The visual presentation of these books is guaranteed to attract students and the lively representations of the characters will help in understanding and remembering them. These are an excellent support to studies of the book, with a lively and informal approach that will be much appreciated for making the classics enjoyable and relevant.

Les Problèmes Logiques et Latéraux: Logic Puzzles that Provide a Fun and Challenging Way To Practise French by Debbie Leadbetter

What a wonderful way to learn a language, so it becomes embedded. This book is designed to consolidate and extend French vocabulary on a variety of topics while at the same time training the brain to solve problems. The cross-curricular approach sees the puzzles are arranged into the main topics that are taught at KS3 and KS4 to make it easy to find a puzzle which fits a lesson objective - it's a brilliant way to incorporate French into other lessons. The puzzles have been extensively trialled in the classroom, and work well when used as starters, in plenaries and as a homework task. Pupils find the puzzles engaging, challenging and most importantly fun, especially when they are set as a class competition. This book will also be ideal entertainment for puzzle lovers who can read French, whether at home or travelling. It's an unusual approach, perfect to stimulate an interest in the language, which will be absorbed almost subconsciously. I found the puzzles were possible with even my limited knowledge of French and offered a great satisfaction when successfully completed - but I was glad to see answers included!

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde: A Graphic Revision Guide for GCSE English Literature by Elizabeth May

Students may well feel they have done enough reading when they have thoroughly studied their set textx, so the innovative visual approach of this book will be warmly welcomed. It hardly seems like work! And yet it seems to be an amazingly effective way to convey quite a detailed amount of information. The graphic pages help in understanding and sequencing the plot, remembering key events, distinguishing between characters and understanding characters’ perspectives -all the elements pupils need to understand the text. The way the information is conveyed is really engaging and memorable, and will appeal especially to visual learners. The concept was designed to help and support SEN students, but testing in the classroom has showed that students at all levels wanted copies of the graphic sheets and benefited from using them. The resources are all photocopiable by the purchasing institution, making these a really good value resource and one that teachers will enjoy using and sharing. The book contains: Visual summaries of the plot; Character profiles, including a fact file and quotes from the book; Exploration of key themes and the context for the book; Additional graphic reference material, to help students understand the setting of the book; Activity sheets, including matching quotes to pictures, vocabulary building and drawing character maps. Unusual and excellent - highly recommended.

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 of an 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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