Just before the start of the October Half Term we were sent a bundle of Oaka Books Topic packs. I was allowed to select a handful of packs to try at home with L. Helping to make learning fun, easy and engaging they were just what we needed.
Now I’ll be honest, we went away for the half term break and didn’t touch anything even vaguely related to school. He needed a break and so did I! We had a fab holiday in Lincolnshire and made the most of some well needed family time. Since we’ve been back home we have been using two of the packs we selected and just adding them into his homework time and play time, yes at least one of the packs we have tried so far is so much fun he has been asking to do it!
L is in year 4, KS2. He is currently working on the Stone Age as his topic at school, alongside the usual Maths, Science and English work and everything else. Maths being something he struggles with the most and doesn’t feel at all confident with, to the point we have been using an online tutoring service to help him.
So with this in mind I selected the following packs:
- KS2 History: The Stone Age
- KS2 History: Nelson Mandela
- KS2 Maths Fractions 1: The Basics & How to Simplify Fractions
- KS2 Science: Rocks & Soil
- KS2 Physical Processes: Space Race Game
I know he had one lesson focusing on Nelson Mandela during Black History Week, the Stone Age is his current topic work, Fractions are really tricky for him, Rocks & Soil looked really interesting and the Space Race Game just looked like a lot of fun.
Now L is not daft, he knows when I’m trying to slip something educational his way and quite frankly the Oaka Books Packs don’t pretend to be anything other than educational. The difference is they break it down into straightforward and simple chunks, there are flash cards a plenty (I love a flash card and I especially love a flash card I haven’t had to write) and they use games.
Now I don’t know about you but L doesn’t tell me anything about his school day. So whilst I know he is learning about the Stone Age I don’t know what aspects of that they are covering at all. Sitting down to read through the Stone Age topic booklet together he is chirping up with things he already knows, things they have spoken about in class and I get to see this spark in him about what he is learning that is just joyous and I get to be a little part of it.
With the Stone Age pack there is a little booklet with a glossary, a timeline and what I would describe as a synopsis of the entire topic. At the end of the booklet there is a timeline to cut up and pop back into order. Once you have read through all of that there is a lovely little game to play, a simple roll the dice and move the counters but you land on facts to read and questions to be asked and answered using the provided flash cards, thus cementing what you have just read. The game only takes 10 minutes, we played it three times in a row and the flash cards can obviously just be used on their own too. The final part of the pack is a workbook for L, essentially a mirror copy of the information books but with lots and lots of blanks for him to fill out from what he can remember and with the ability to go back to the source information. We fill out a few sections a week, playing the game again and re-reading whatever areas we need to read. All the time building and building on what he has learnt.
It is great for him, great for me and he is really proud of his workbook and will take it in to show his teacher when he has finished it. Whilst we haven’t started the other topic packs yet, they seem to be set up in a similar way which I am excited about.
The only one that is fundamentally different is the Space Race Game. It is a boxed board game, much like snakes and ladders but with rockets and meteors. We love it! There are loads of questions as you work your way round the board and you can’t move on until you get it right. They have been split into two levels of difficulty aimed at lower KS2 and Higher and as you get questions right you earn meteor or star cards that gain you points. When the first person reaches the end you all add up your points, a little added maths practise, and the person with the most points wins.
This game has made it into family games night and is helping push L forwards and learn new things, it opens up discussions and worryingly it is proving how much KS2 science I’ve forgotten! It is actually a really level playing field and takes a nice length of time. Normally about 30 minutes or so. I cannot rave about this enough and I would definitely get more of the games. As I mentioned at the start L knows when I’m trying to slip something educational his way, but the Space Race game he asks to play because it is genuinely fun. He knows he’s learning but he is enjoying it. Win, win.
Oaka Books were developed with the aim to help struggling readers access the curriculum, it quickly became clear that our unique way of presenting information was great for ALL pupils. We are so impressed, both L and I. He is more engaged and in a way I feel more engaged too, it gives me an insight into what he is learning and that helps me help him in so many ways, over and above the Oaka Books Topic Pack. It means we are in it together and we both like that. I’m looking forward to working through the rest of our packs together.
Disclosure – we were gifted our topic packs in return for our review. All thoughts, opinions and images are my own.