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.

Collins Children’s Dictionary: Learn with words

These attractive books will be a great addition to any child's bookshelf. Great care has been given to the presentation - a far cry from boring dictionaries and thesaurii of old. Buy them as a pair - they work perfectly together. Ideal for children of 7+, this dictionary contains up to date coverage of a range of everyday and curriculum vocabulary, ensuring children have access to all they need for KS2, including curriculum requirements. Side bars with the albhabet make navigation easy as the key letter is highlighted. The main word is in blue, with plurals and root words as appropriate, on its own line, followed by the word class and definition(s). Where needed, examples of sentences are included to clarify. Some antonyms and synonyms are included plus a few diagrams. The Word Wizard section provides in-depth support on spelling, punctuation and grammar. This book is designed to build confidence and develop language and dictionary skills at home and in the classroom in preparation for secondary school.There are tips on grammar and spelling to help students understand how to use language more effectively. A lovely hardback book which will really encourage children's interest in words.

Collins Children’s Thesaurus: Learn with words

The essential companion to the book above - all KS2 children need to use words in the best way possible. The attractive presentation makes the books enticing to pick up and dip into, perfect to increase children's vocabulary and love for words. This thesaurus provides support for students’ creative writing and helps build vocabulary - always areas of concern for schools so this will be an excellent classroom as well as home resource. There are full definitions for every synonym and sample sentences for each word so children understand how to use them. A simple, step-by-step introduction shows children how to get the best out of their thesaurus - something that is often overlooked. The colour headwords and A-Z bar on every page make it easy to find the right word. Thematic pages help build vocabulary through carefully selected visually-appealing illustrations. The Writing Wizard section is full of useful ideas. This excellent and attractive thesaurus will stand children in good stead throughout KS2 - so it's good it's a durable hardback.

Master Maths Book 1: Get to Know Numbers: Numbers up to 100 and place value by Anjana Chatterjee

Recent figures (2018) show that 4 in 10 children do not reach the expected maths standard at the end of Year 6. That being the case, changes in teaching are needed and a method that has recently come to the fore is the Singapore Method. The Singapore maths teaching method teaches mathematical concepts in three stages: concrete, pictorial and abstract. This first book, suitable for Year 1, covers numbers up to 100 and place value, this is a clear and simple introduction to mathematical concepts taught in the UK year one syllabus. Parent and teacher notes are included throughout, making the book a valuable resource for any home or classroom.

Master Maths Book 2: Super Calculations: Numbers up to 100 and Calculations by Anjana Chatterjee

This colourful and well presented book really draws the reader in by good use of colour and graphics, making it easy to navigate and find the information you want. The explanations are clear and simple, really giving confidence to parents helping their children. Using simple pictorial exercises and an engaging mascot, Master Maths applies its highly effective technique to the UK maths curriculum, making learning easy and enjoyable for children. These are not workbooks but teaching aids which explain the concepts simply and clearly - a book for non-mathematical parents as well as their children.

Master Maths Book 3: Measure Up: Length, Mass, Capacity, Time and Money by Anjana Chatterjee

Children are guided through the books by Pango, the maths loving pangolin, who will become a familiar friend as they progress. Children are encouraged to think for themselves using the Singapore method - each unit of the book begins with a question or statement that encourages children to begin thinking about a new mathematical concept. This is followed by visual explanations which make excellent use of colour and graphics to get the point across. The hands-on activities that follow lead children to a deep conceptual understanding that will stand them in good stead as they progress on their maths journey, giving them the in-depth understanding they need to work things out for themselves.

Master Maths Book 4: Get in Shape: Shapes, Patterns, Position and Direction by Anjana Chatterjee

Each of the books in the series has a series of practical hands-on activities that can be used to support the learning; a list of tools for success in each book is customised to the topics covered and gives practical ideas for equipment that can easily be supplied at home. The layout throughout is clear and uncluttered, making good use of pastel colours and plenty of space on each page, broken up by clear boxes for information. The tips for parents and teachers are very useful. An excellent series which will really support children's learning.

The Accidental Apostrophe: ... And Other Misadventures in Punctuation by Caroline Taggart

This book really struck a chord with me - incorrect punctuation really grates on me so it's good to see such a considered discussion of the correct usage of punctuation. Starting with the history of punctuation (can you imagine reading a book with no punctuation, not even any paragraphs?), it continues on by examining various punctuation marks, not just the apostrophe, although that is, of course, the ones that produces the most problems. Chapters include 'Things that clarify'; 'Things that show emotion'; 'Things that don't matter any more' and 'Things that have no rules'. Engagingly written, the book is highly readable and will make you think about the way you use punctuation - and that's got to be a good thing.

Lost in the Fourth Dimension (Maths Quest) by Jonathan Litton

Maths Quest is an excellent series of books which is designed to help children practise key maths skills in a fun and lively way. Following on from series one of Maths Quest, these new adventures help develop maths skills through an exciting adventure. They will learn as they go without even realising it! In this exciting story, the reader is lost in the 4th Dimension. To get back to Earth, you need to follow the clues which are throughout the book; mathematical skills are needed and this book focuses on measuring skills. It's excellent that each book uses a different skill. To solve the problems in  Attack on Circuit City (Maths Quest), young readers will need to call on their statistical knowledge. Under attack by bugs, bots and viruses, your computer needs your help.  Finding the answers will enable you to advance through the story, following the clues which are dotted along the way, and learning more about maths – especially statistics - with every step you take.

The Island of Tomorrow (Maths Quest) by Jonathan Litton

Finding a treasure map on the Island of Tomorrow promises great riches - but only if you can avoid fierce creatures, freak weather, and other geometrical perils. Success brings membership of the Explorers' Club? Use your problem-solving skills and geometrical knowledge to help save the day! Finding the answers will enable you to advance through the story, and where you go depends on the answer you give, so it could be different every time - keep trying!  Readers will need to bring their knowledge of numbers to the fore to Escape from Hotel Infinity (Maths Quest). Seeking shelter from a storm, your troubles have only multiplied … can you get to grip with numbers and Escape from Hotel Infinity?  These follow the very successful first 4 books in the series. The books are superbly illustrated in a comic-book style that children will love. The jazzy presentation is perfect and the friendly approach is a great way to instill confidence. A super series that really makes maths enjoyable and meaningful.

How to Think Like a Coder Without Even Trying! by Jim Christian

Coding can seem daunting, but it's all around us and has become an essential part of modern life, so it will benefit us all to get to grips with it - and that's where this book is valuable. It's a back-to-basics for adults or children, which is clear and easy to follow - and quite fascinating! It starts with the basics before moving on to programming - sound building blocks. It explains central concepts such as loops, data types, pseudocode and calculations through everyday equipment such as a set of dice, a deck of cards or a pack of dominoes. Then it moves on to the basic programmes that are available for beginners. It really is an excellent guide, well presented and engaging in its simplicity; an encouraging way to get to grips with coding, suitable for everyone.

Coder Academy: Are you ready for the challenge? by Sean McManus

Computer coding opens up a whole range of exciting possibilities for children; it's great that it is part of the curriculum as it really opens up a world of opportunities. Throughout this book, children are encouraged to undertake a series of imaginative and challenging activities. It starts with the basics, explaining coding and giving simple activities to help children understand the basic principles. It then moves on through a series of exciting projects including animating a character, coding a tube, creating a webpage and making a game. With extras at the back of the book including a game, a pull-out poster, stickers, and even a robot model to press out and make, this is the must-have book for any future junior coders. It's straightforward and does not require any previous knowledge. Ideal for coding clubs in school as well as for home use.

Code Your Own Jungle Adventure: Code with Captain Maria in the City of Gold (Little Coders) by Max Wainewright

Coding is a key part of the computing curriculum so it's good to see these four books which show children just how much fun coding can be. Children will learn to draw characters, animate plot lines and create games as they create their own quest to complete. The straightforward, step-by-step instructions are illustrated in a graphic novel style which will appeal to children. Through simple and practical tasks such as drawing shapes and giving instructions in code to building games, this adventure book makes learning to code fun and accessible. As well as teaching the essentials of coding, the book will also encourage children's imaginations, and give them a challenge that really encourages thinking.

Code Your Own Space Adventure: Code with Major Kate and Save Planet Zyskinar (Little Coders) by Max Wainewright

Follow Major Kate on her space mission to save Planet Zyskinar. The layout is clear and it's easy to follow the progression of the instructions; there are plenty of images to help too. The books take a lively and fun approach by creating a story, and they work really well as a cross-curricular resource as the topics fit well as part of the curriculum. Also available are Code Your Own Pirate Adventure: Code With Pirate Pierre and Find the Lost Treasure (Little Coders) and Code Your Own Knight Adventure: Code With Sir Percival and Discover the Book of Spells (Little Coders). It's good to see there are four books in the series - these offer plenty of opportunity to develop skills as well as ensuring children find a topic or topics that appeal. A super series.

how to write poems (Bloomsbury activity books) by joseph coelho

When asked to write a poem, children can often feel at a loss for ideas, but with this book to hand, they will find inspiration to get those creative ideas flowing. Overflowing with exciting and innovative activities such as making poems out of leaves, carving out a mud poem, going on an outdoors simile hunt, and playing poetry games in the playground, this enticing book is packed with ideas to prompt children to enjoy creating their own poems. Whatever level children are working at, there are useful tips and starting points, all well explained and clearly presented. Well-known poet Joseph Coelho explores a selection of poetry: from laughable limericks to poetic puns, and from ridiculous rhymes to silly sibilance in a way that will really inspire children. Teachers will find this book invaluable when helping their pupils write poetry - it is packed with easy to implement suggestions which are hugely varied, ensuring there is plenty to inspire everyone, and to give children confidence in their own abilities. A really excellent book, highly recommended.

Ready to Read (Skills for Starting School) by DK

As parents, we all know there is plenty we can do to help our children prepare for the start of school - but we don't always know where to begin. That's when books like this are invaluable, giving an outline to follow and principles to build on. Children respond well to the Fun and friendly characters Bip, Bop, and Boo, who take them through the book encouraging children to start developing their reading skills with simple words and exercises. Children will practise their phonics skills by reading letter sounds, finding missing sound stickers, and then by blending letter sounds to read their very first words. Featuring over 90 colourful stickers, the hands-on activities are well designed and show children that reading really is fun, at the same time building confidence. This book is Level 3, for children with a good and growing vocabulary.


My First Coding Book by Kiki Prottsman

... and you don't even need a computer! This introduction to coding, which is suitable for very young children, guides through the first steps which are needed before using a computer for coding. Coding may seem a daunting topic for young children, but it does encourage logical thinking and it's surprising how naturally it comes to children when it is started young. The lively fun approach of the book includes lots of flaps, wheels and sliders which show how to build a robot, hunt for bugs, escape from a jungle and more. The approach is very simple and straightforward, with every step clearly explained. The sturdy board pages mean the book will be durable, ideal for school use. Parents will really enjoy working through this with their children - and it will help them understand coding too!

Raspberry Pi Made Easy (Raspberry Pi Beginner Level) by Carol Vorderman

Raspberry Pi is changing the face of computing, especially for children, who can develop their computer skills using Raspberry Pi. It is an affordable credit-card-sized computer that's a great introduction to computers and coding, accessible to everyone and hugely popular in schools. This Raspberry Pi Made Easy workbook is ideal for showing your child through the basics and giving them the immediate satisfaction of getting started, downloading software and running Pi. The book includes clearly explained and easy-to-follow fun exercises that let children draw, make music, play games, code with Scratch and Python, and much more. These are really satisfying and will encourage children to take steps forward in their computing progress. Perfect for Key Stage 2 pupils, Raspberry Pi Made Easy provides step-by-step guidance to build key computer skills. Help your child learn how to talk to a computer in its own language, for fun or for the future. Clear, straightforward and encouraging - a great introduction.

Maths in 30 Seconds: (Kids' 30 Second) by Anne Rooney

With the subtitle "30 fascinating topics for junior mathematicians explained in half a minute", this promises to be an interesting read and one that will attract children who love succinct yet fascinating facts. Children ask questions endlessly and here is the answer to questions about measuring, data, sets... and much more that children will learn at KS2. The answers are't quite in 30 seconds, as there is an three minute mission activity that gives children a practical application of the topic. The book is excellently illustrated with diagrams which clearly explain facts to children in a way they will find easy to remember. If your child doesn't find maths enjoyable now, they may well do if you introduce this enthralling book to them.


Vikings in 30 Seconds (Kids' 30 Second) by Philip Steele

This is subtitle 30 fascinating viking topics for curious kids explained in half a minute and follows the excellent format reviewed above. In KS2, children will study the Vikings and this book is a really good succinct introduction that covers all the key points. With fast facts, mini missions, and engaging artwork, the book introduces one of the world’s most fascinating cultures. Children will discover all about these amazing warriors, including where they came from, their incredible skill as boat builders and seafarers and how they traded with and settled in other lands. Each topic is presented in a concise 30-second summary, supported by a 3-second flash soundbite and with many three minute missions too. There are also excellent and extensive glossaries for each topic - these are a really good feature. The presentation is excellent - enticing and memerable. "Ivy Kids produces beautiful books that will get kids making, creating, thinking, playing and dreaming. Covering all sorts of areas, including cool, contemporary kids’ crafts, awesome art activities, and fresh nonfiction topics, our books will get kids of all ages imagining, innovating, and above all, having fun!" I am really enjoying what I have seen so far from this innovative publisher and am looking forward to seeing what the future brings.

Letterland Grammar Activity Book 1 - Sentence and Punctuation by Lisa Holt

Using road signs as a practical and familiar analogy as they tell car drivers how to behave on the roads, so punctuation enables readers to successfully navigate sentences and paragraphs. The analogy is clearly exlained at the start of the book, enabling parents to ensure their children gain the maximum benefit. This book introduces sentences and explains how punctuation helps a reader to understand meaning. Each concept is explained an then there are practical activities to check learning. The book includes finger puppets to make, which children can then use to track through the book. The presentation is lively and appealing and there are stickers to add to the fun.

Letterland Grammar Activity Book 2 - Writing Sentences by Lisa Holt

This time, the analogy used is streets - Just as there are lots of different types of streets, so there are lots of different types of sentences; the little car finger puppets help children trace their journey along the streets/sentences. This activity book helps children to recognise the grammatical patterns of expanded noun phrases, statements, questions, exclamations, conjunctions and commands. It's all done through clear, readily understood explanations, accompanied by a range of appropriate activities. Throughout, the bright, colourful activities are very much geared to children's interests and to familiar situations, so they are fun to do and very engaging - helped, of course, by the stickers!

Letterland Grammar Activity Book 3 - Prefixes and Suffixes by Lisa Holt

Again, Letterland use their tried and trusted method of teaching through analogy - this time, buildings. Words are like buildings that can be changed, developed and extended. Prefixes and suffixes are like the porches or extensions we can add to houses.The structure of the house remains the same, but the function is extended. In this book, children learn to use different types of prefixes and suffixes, learn to turn verbs into nouns, adjectives into nouns, and adjectives into adverbs. They are also introduced to compound noun and creating adjectives. All these will help them produce good written work, fiction and fact. A traffic light system is used in the book to good effect, ensuring children progress steadily; there is also an 'I can do' reward chart as an incentive.

Grammar Activity Book 4 - Past and Present Tenses by Lisa Holt

Keeping the consistent theme, stories are described as being like towns. In keeping with the recommended age, the explanations are more detailed and the questions more challenging, which is all very positive as it shows how children will have moved on through the course of the series. The activities are lively and colourful and there are plenty of stickers to enjoy too. This book shows children how to use the present and past tense of verbs appropriately and consistently in their writing. It introduces verbs in their progressive form, both in the present and past tense, in order to describe an activity that is ongoing.Each book in the series very much stands on its own, but by working through all the books, children will have a really thorough grounding in grammar which will stand them in good stead for the future. Book 1 is recommended for 5+; Books 2 and 3 for 6+; Book 4 for 7+.

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.

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