Book reviews - revision guides Rising Stars

"Rising Stars is an independent publishing company that has come a long way since we opened for business! Since our first books were published in 2002 there has been huge investment in education and as a result we have been able to develop an award-winning range of books, teaching resources and software that support teachers and learners in the UK and across the world. We are very proud of what we have achieved. There is no doubt that we are now living in challenging and changing times and budgets are tighter than ever. A new National Curriculum came into force in September 2014. Throughout the website you will see that many of our resources come with a curriculum guarantee. When you see this sign you can be assured that this resource has been designed with the new curriculum in mind and will support your teaching needs. All of our products are created with teachers and learners (who always know best)."

KS1 study guides and revision books

Skills Builders KS1 English Year 1 Pupil Book by Sarah Turner

This book includes 42 units of activities, sub-divided into revision, grammar, punctuation, spelling and vocabulary. Every page is simply laid out, with good use of colour to distinguish the teaching section, the Investigate section and the activities. The initial revision section is excellent for ensuring that children recollect their learning from their Reception year. Colour is also effectively used to highlight text and make it stand out for children. It's good to see that a double page is used for more complex topics, ensuring they are comprehensively covered. Investigate exercises at the end of each unit provide fun challenges for children to apply their knowledge.

Skills Builders KS1 English Year 2 Pupil Book by Victoria Burrill

Following the same format as the Year 1 book, this is ideal for supporting your child's work in Year 2. One or two pages are given to each topic, with simple explanations of the concept followed by a range of enjoyable activities to consolidate learning; often, the teaching points are further divided within the page, which really helps to reinforce particular points. The layout is clear, with good use of colour and overall the book is excellent to ensure all key aspects of grammar, punctuation, spellings and vocabulary are covered. The final section, flashcards showing the common exception words, is really useful.

Achieve KS1 Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling: Revision and Practice Questions

This book covers all that children need to know for the grammar, punctuation and spelling element of the National Tests. Children are guided through the book by Seren and her team, who tell them what they need to know about each topic and then give practice questions. The book works step-by-step through each topic with a detailed approach which ensures children really know how to tackle the questions. Once they have done the practice question in stages, they are ready to tackle the rest of the questions. Top tips add to their learning. The book is attractively laid out with good use of colour and plenty of white space, leaving the pages clear and clutter-free.

Achieve KS1 Maths Revision & Practice Questions

This 64-page workbook with age appropriate revision guidance and practice questions covers all the necessary areas to help children prepare for the new National Tests. Unique step-by-step flowcharts show children how to answer questions successfully, and ensure that they really do know the importance of reading questions carefully. The question is broken down and illustrated pictorially to aid learning. A clear introduction explains how to get the best out of the book and explains the importance of following the flow chart. On every topic, there are Top Tips, which are succinct, easily memorised facts.

Achieve KS1 Reading Revision & Practice Questions

Following the same successful format as the bocks above, this introduces every topic children will need for KS1 SATS tests in reading. This time, there are fewer topics so more space has been dedicated to each. This means all possible areas are covered, with plenty of practice questions to ensure full understanding. "The Achieve books and resources for Key Stage 1 are written to support the new National Test frameworks and sample pages. They are written and trialled by expert teams of test developers and curriculum advisers to ensure that the content is absolutely right. Our Achieve Key Stage 1 revision resources include Revision and Practice Questions books as well as Practice Tests to familiarise Year 2 children with National test-style questions for Reading, Grammar, Punctuation, Spelling and Mathematics. Teachers will be able to demonstrate to children how to answer test questions with Interactive Lessons for the whiteboard accessed online via My Rising Stars."

Rising Stars Skills Builders Times Tables Book 1 by Steve Mills and Hilary Koll

What could be a dry and boring subject is made appealing by the layout and wide-ranging activities included in this series of books, which covers all the tables up to 12 in the order in which they are generally learnt. This book includes 1, 2,5 and 10 times tables, with division and multiplication facts for each, followed by mixed practice and problem solving - this pattern is followed throughout the series. Much of the practice comes in the form of word problems which make practical application of the tables being learnt - an excellent way to show children the practical value of tables.

Rising Stars Skills Builders Times Tables Book 2 by Steve Mills and Hilary Koll

Moving on, this book covers 3, 4, 6 and 8 times tables. Every page is in full colour and plenty of the questions are illustrated with appealing pictures to hold the child's interest. Three sections of questions allow for differentiation and progression - warming up, getting hotter and burn it up! The number questions encourage children to work quickly and time themselves. There is a useful section 'Hints and tips' at the end - and answers are included. 

Rising Stars Skills Builders Times Tables Book 3 by Steve Mills and Hilary Koll

Especially written to practise and develop key skills in maths, these full-colour pupil activity books are ideal for use in the classroom, as a homework activity and for parents wanting to give their child extra support at home. Each activity includes a quick recap of the learning to ensure understanding, to reinforce learning and to allow pupil self-assessment to ensure progression. Learning the more advanced times tables is, of course, a key stage 2 topic, but I have kept these books together so that the whole set can be viewed in its entirety, and bearing in mind that children all learn their tables at varying ages.

KS2 study guides

Skills Builders Grammar and Punctuation Year 3 Pupil Book by Nicola Morris

With 28 units of full colour activities, once children have worked through the explanations and questions, they will have a good understanding of the grammar and punctuation requirements for Year 3. Initially, there is a comprehensive revision section that includes work children need to have covered in KS1; this allows parents to be sure that concepts are thoroughly understood. Once children move on to new work, which is in grammar and punctuation sections, there are explanations followed by a range of enjoyable activities to consolidate their skills. With clear layout and space to include answers, the book is attractive to use.

Skills Builders Spelling and Vocabulary Year 3 Pupil Book by Nicola Morris

Complement the previous book with this one to ensure all key concepts are covered; there is real benefit to be gained from keeping to a set of books like this, so you can be sure that all topics are covered in a logical and coherent way. Investigate exercises at the end of each unit provide fun challenges for children to apply their knowledge. As with every set of books in the series, there is Skills Builders Year 3 Teacher's Guide new edition to accompany the the books.

Skills Builders Grammar and Punctuation Year 4 Pupil Book by Nicola Morris

The series covers Years 3 to 6, so you can ensure your child has covered all the necessary areas; please be guided by your own child and if the work seems too hard (or too easy), move back or forward a year to ensure you are helping them to work at the right level. This book includes six units on punctuation and 25 units on grammar, with one or tow pages given to each topic for example using commas, using determiners and direct speech. A brief overview of the topic is given, followed by a range of exercises to check and reinforce understanding. Just doing one or two of the activities each night can really help learning without placing too much of a burden on children. The attractive layout will encourage this.

Skills Builders Spelling and Vocabulary Year 4 Pupil Book by Nicola Morris

This Pupil Book includes 28 units of full colour activities, to help children gain a firm understanding of spelling and vocabulary. The simple explanations ensure children understand the concepts, before they move onto fun activities to consolidate their skills. Investigate exercises at the end of each unit provide fun challenges for children to apply their knowledge - these are a very appealing section, which combine fun and learning, giving children a real challenge which will be especially useful for teachers.

Skills Builders Spelling and Vocabulary Year 5 Pupil Book by Sarah Turner

All the Skills Builders books are introduced by the Skills Builders robot - and he will encourage children to follow the work through the book; even the covers feature the robot to make the books attractive to children. It is very obvious as you look through the books year by year, that the work is covered in much more depth as children mature; there are more activities to support each piece of learning. Usefully, there is a list of words that children in Year 5 will need to know; it's good to see these included as children learn words such as physical, rhyme, restaurant and foreign, divided by the type of word.

Skills Builders Grammar and Punctuation Year 5 Pupil Book by Sarah Turner

With 19 units of full colour activities, to help children gain a firm understanding of grammar and punctuation, this book takes an in-depth look at all the grammar and punctuation Year 5 children need to know. The worked examples, with their succinct explanations, ensure children understand the concepts, before they move onto fun activities to practise and consolidate their skills. Investigate exercises at the end of each unit provide fun challenges for children to apply their knowledge - these are an excellent feature, really widening the scope of the book.

Skills Builders Spelling and Vocabulary Year 6 Pupil Book by Sarah Turner

The book has separate sections for spelling and vocabulary, with 14 units on spelling and 6 on vocabulary; each section gives good explanations with plenty of practice exercises to ensure children really understand and that knowledge is firmly embedded. Throughout all the books, attractive full colour illustrations add to the visual appeal of the pages, making them more enticing for children. The clear layout is excellent, and there is space to write the answers in the books. Answers to all the questions can be found online on the Rising Stars website. Again, the book includes word lists for the year - really useful.

Skills Builders Grammar and Punctuation Year 6 Pupil Book by Sarah Turner

Support your child's learning throughout Year 6 and give them a good start for secondary school with this comprehensive coverage of grammar and punctuation. The series covers Years 3 to 6, so you can ensure your child has covered all the necessary areas; please be guided by your own child and if the work seems too hard (or too easy), move back or forward a year to ensure you are helping them to work at the right level. With a good level of consistency in content and layout, the series is excellent. By the time children have worked through all the KS2 books, they will be in an excellent position to take end of KS2 tests - and succeed.

Achieve 100 Science Revision (Achieve 100 Revision)

This is a clear and helpful book, which guides parent and child through with clear explanations. It starts with how to use this book, explains working scientifically and outlines the KS2 science national sampling tests. Each topic has a question and a flow chart which shows exactly how to tackle the question in clear visual step-by-step format. The book outlines the knowledge needed and gives practice questions to ensure the knowledge has been understood. Ideal to use with the question book (below) as they follow the same format. Clear and colourful, this will give pupils an excellent grounding; it is, of course, fully in line with the 2014 curriculum. With its popular flow-chart approach to learning and plenty of hints and tips, the Achieve series is ideal for use at home for independent homework and revision.

Achieve 100 Science Practice Questions

This book contains practice questions for the key content that pupils need to know in science by the end of Year 6. Fully linked to the curriculum, the book is organised by biology, chemistry and physics then by topic, allowing children to study their chosen theme in the revision book and then immediately turn to the corresponding section in the practice questions book for questions. The questions are set out in test paper format, with space to fill in the answers and boxes for marking. Top tips add useful extra information. Answers are at the end of the book.

Achieve 100+ Science Revision

This is a good book to have at home through KS2 as it covers all the topics children will learn at school and adds extra knowledge that is needed for children working at a higher level. It follows the format of the previous book but with more detailed information. There are practice questions for each topic and children are shown how to answer these by the flow charts which follow. Each topic starts by stating the knowledge that is needed to achieve 100+ and it is good guide to achievement. The content and questions are more challenging than the Achieve 100 series, so is good for stretching pupils. A clearly laid out book with plenty of variety in the questions, good use of illustrations and clear explanations in the excellent flowchart format which takes pupils through questions step-by-step. Accompanying this is Achieve 100+ Science Practice Questions (Achieve 100 PLUS Practice Questions) which is a comprehensive bank of questions, based on the additional knowledge to achieve 100+, and following the same order as the revision guide - an excellent pairing for really good coverage.

Achieve 100 Reading Revision

The Achieve series provides a clear and coherent learning progression to help children to learn and understand. They can work through step-by-step at their own pace to reinforce the learning done in class. Or, for home educators, the books show the progression of learning needed. Fully linked to the curriculum, the book uses the excellent flowchart teaching method used in Rising Stars books which breaks the questions right down to ensure pupils are fully aware of every aspect being questioned. It links to the Practice Questions book (below) - although the book includes practice questions. The way the book takes sections of text and analyses the various points makes it clear and easy to follow, and for children to apply this to their own work. Updated for 2016. the book is divided into comprehension, inference and language and meaning sections.

Achieve 100 Reading Practice Questions

Designed to support the new format SATS for 2016 onwards, this book will be equally useful for revision through the year. It contains a variety of texts which are arranged under the three main sections of fiction, non-fiction and poetry. The passages have been carefully chosen, with plenty to interest children as well as offering a wide variety of genres. The questions follow the same format as the SATS papers, this giving children valuable familiarisation. The answers are in a pull-out section in the centre of the book

Achieve 100+ Reading Revision

For children working above the expected level, this book gives plenty of stimulating exercises, accompanied by clear explanations using the flowchart approach which is such a good feature of Rising Stars' revision guides. Each question is broken down into easy steps, shown in diagrammatic form. This approach ensures that children really learn to read the question carefully and fully before attempting to answer. It's excellent preparation for more able pupils, or to use in preparation for Year 7 work, perhaps to give your child a head start before moving on to secondary school. The book is easy to use with clear layout and easily understood explanations, whether use is guided by the teacher or to work at home. It highlights the requirements to achieve above 100 as well as including top tips; it also provides extension work on tricky topics. It's excellent value too - with explanations and practice questions, all laid out with good use of colour for ease of use. It is ably complemented by Achieve 100 Reading Practice Questions (Achieve 100 Practice Questions)

Achieve 100 Grammar, Punctuation & Spelling Revision

Every topic for the SATS test is covered here - but please don't just use these books with SATS in mind; they are excellent for using throughout Years 5 and 6 to support and reinforce classroom learning. The step-by-step flowcharts are an excellent learning aid and will really help pupils to grasp each concept firmly. With plenty of useful tips and guidance on using the book, this is a practical and easy-to-use guide. Each topic includes what is needed to achieve 100; what you need to know; let's practise with the flowchart; a range of try this questions plus a top tip. Achieve 100 Grammar, Punctuation & Spelling Practice Questions complements the book with a wide range of questions.

Achieve 100+ Grammar, Punctuation & Spelling Revision

Parents often ask us for work which will move their child on beyond what is done in the classroom. As long as your child has a strong grasp and complete understanding of the work outlined in the Achieve 100 books, they can move on to this level, knowing that previous work has been fully assimilated. At the start, the book explains the format of the tests and gives useful advice on test techniques. It then explains how to get the best from the book. The layout is excellent, with good use of pastel colours and friendly characters to help children learn. Once children have worked through this book, if they want extra experience of test questions, there is Achieve 100+ Grammar, Punctuation & Spelling Practice Questions (Achieve 100 PLUS Practice Questions) which is set out in exactly the same order, so it's easy to refer back if extra help is needed.

Achieve 100 Maths Revision

Written to support the 2016 tests, this practical book is excellent to have on hand at home to give children confidence when tackling maths questions. It focuses on how to answer questions and the unique flowcharts are a super way of showing children how to tackle questions step-by-step - they are also good for parents who are unsure about teaching methods used in schools today. The layout is clear and progressive, with good use made of colour (I like the way that, throughout the series, the colour in the contents page matches the page tops), and the use of images of children explaining makes the book approachable and lively. Full of practical advice in the form of hints and tips, this is a great way to ensure a full understanding of every concept needed to gain Level 5 in maths.

Achieve 100+ Maths Revision

For more advanced work, following on from the book above, this gives excellent coverage of the more complex questions children may face. "Achieve 100 revision resources for Key Stage 2 include Revision and Practice Questions books as well as Practice Tests to familiarise Year 6 children with National test-style questions for Reading, Grammar, Punctuation, Spelling, Mathematics and Science. Teachers will be able to demonstrate to children how to answer test questions with interactive lessons on the whiteboard in class accessed online via My Rising Stars. Achieve 100 PLUS Revision and Practice Questions books provide additional revision and practice for the trickier areas of the National Test content to help more able children achieve their full potential."

Achieve 100 Mathematics Practice Questions

This is the ideal book to use in the run-up to SATS in Year 6 and is fully up-dated for the 2016 tests. It includes hundreds of practice questions covering all the topics in the maths curriculum at KS2. Arranged in sections which focus on the key topics, the book clearly shows the range taught during KS2. The book is laid out to allow familiarity with the layout of SATS papers (always reassuring for children to be familiar with expectations) and marks are allocated for each question. Useful top tips are given and test techniques are covered. Answers are included in a cut-out section. A practical and useful book which offers plenty of practice.

Achieve 100+ Mathematics Practice Questions

With the ending of assessment by levels, new assessments methods are needed. The 100 series from Rising Stars is for children working at the expected level, and the 100+ series looks at trickier questions and applies knowledge in more complex ways. Ensure your child is fully grounded in the work done in the 100 book before moving on to this book, which is ideal for 11+ and Common Entrance practice as well as for more general use. "Achieve Revision and Practice Questions books are the most popular and reliable revision materials available to primary schools. These essential resources have been newly created to give your Year 6 children the best possible preparation in the 2016 National Tests. Covering the content and written in the style of the new National Tests, these books will help schools meet the raised expectations of the new national curriculum. Achieve books and resources have been written to support the new National Test frameworks and sample pages making them the most reliable revision resources available."
  Rising Stars

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

Record Breaking Comprehension Year 3 (Guinness World Records)

This is a series that will be thoroughly enjoyed by children - far from the dry texts sometimes associated with comprehension. The Guinness Book of Records is always hugely popular with children, who love to marvel at the strange and wonderful facts it includes.The Year 3 book includes Largest Human Wheelbarrow Race, Deepest Underwater Postbox and Heaviest Car Balanced on the Head! The series is carefully graded to ensure progression and each book has an accompanying teacher's book. The layout of each book follows the same pattern, so the comments apply to the whole series.  Record Breaking Comprehension: Teacher's Book Year 3 (Guinness World Records)

Record Breaking Comprehension Year 4 (Guinness World Records)

Reading comprehension is a vital skill that all children (and adults) need. These stimulating books cover the full range of non-fiction genres, including biography, autobiography, journalistic writing, reports, argument and narrative. I mentioned adults earlier - the content and layout of these books are such that they could also be used with adults and older children with reading difficulties. Record Breaking Comprehension: Teacher's Book Year 4 (Guinness World Records)

Record Breaking Comprehension Year 5 (Guinness World Records)

Each of the books in the series starts with some basic strategies to help with comprehension, and this shows exactly how to use the book and where and how to look for the answers in the texts. The books make excellent use of colour without it being overwhelming and each text has a colour illustration to make it more appealing. The questions are split into three sections: On Your Marks requires a factual answer from the text; Get Set asks for a more detailed answer; and Go For Gold includes inferential answers. Finally, there is Beyond the Record, which encourages further thinking and offers extension activities. Record Breaking Comprehension: Teacher's Book Year 5 (Guinness World Records)

Record Breaking Comprehension Year 6 (Guinness World Records)

An excellent series which, with the accompanying Teacher's Guides, will merit a place in every classroom. It will be equally useful at home, as the texts give the adult the opportunity to discuss the answers with the child and I can guarantee you will both find this a very enjoyable exercise which will hardly seem like learning - and yet a vital skill will be reinforced. How about Largest Gathering of People Dressed as Mohandas Gandhi for an intriguing title? After reading the text, students are encouraged to find out about the life of the great leader - the extension activities are an excellent idea. Record Breaking Comprehension: Teacher's Guide Year 6 (Guinness World Records)
 

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