Try a poetry competition – Too Good To Go

Get involved with this fantastic new poetry-writing contest, called the Save The Food Poetry Competition!

Launching this Monday 10 February, it’s hosted by Too Good To Go, the social impact group and app which strives to fight food waste and aims to educate consumers on the environmental issues food waste causes.

Too Good To Go logo

This exciting poetry-writing competition is all set to get children inspired around food waste issues, and fire them up with creativity as a learning tool around the wider message.

Too Good To Go was founded to connect consumers with suppliers who have unsold, surplus food. The app was created in 2016 and has 2.5m registered users in the UK. This contest is supported by Defra.

Save The Food Poetry Competition

Jamie Crummie, TGTG co-founder, said: “We are truly excited to be launching the first food waste poetry competition in the UK. Poetry is the most accessible of art forms and we want everyone to be able to join in. We’re inviting all primary school children to try their hand at writing a poem at school or at home and we can’t wait to see the creative results.”

Too Good To Go - fighting food waste

Getting involved
– The competition is open to all primary school children across the UK
– It’s open from 10 February to 31 March 2020
– Entrants are encouraged to balance good knowledge of the food waste issue with creativity, and can submit any style of poem, from rhyming couplets to haikus
Find out more now

And what about prizes?
✔️ The winner will receive £100 in book vouchers for personal use, a £200 book voucher for their school library and a food waste fighting pack!
✔️ Two runners up will receive £50 of book vouchers!
✔️ Jamie Crummie, Co-Founder of Too Good To Go will also visit all three winning schools to host fun food-waste-fighting workshops!
See full t&cs here.

So what are you waiting for…? We hope your young learners will enjoy this fun challenge!

QR codes for learning games

We’re excited to share our new feature to help make using Topmarks’ education games even easier. We’ve created QR codes for you to use, linking directly to the game pages.

What’s a QR code?
If you’re not familiar with these, don’t worry… they’re so easy and we’ve designed them to be used by even young learners. Each one is like a barcode for that particular game, and acts as a web-bookmark or hotlink, so that when it’s scanned using the camera in a mobile device, it opens up the game page instantaneously.

Here’s what the QR Code for our Teddy Numbers counting game looks like…
Teddy Numbers QR code

Why are they a good idea?

Using QR codes is a great time-saving boon in the classroom, as teachers are able to maintain the pace of learning! There’s no hold up while children type URLs, or need to click through a sequence of different pages. Even young children are able to scan the QR to load the web page straight away.

Keep a class ‘master set’ of codes, printed out for quick use and compiled together as a ‘fan’ book on a tag loop or metal book ring, so they’re easy to flip through. (Topmarks’ Tip: we found mounting on them sturdy card will make sure they’re long-lasting. We don’t recommend laminating the codes as the reflective surface drastically hinders the code reader.)

You could try keeping a set as part of a classroom wall display so the codes are easily accessible for everyone.

They work ‘on-screen’ too, so children are able to aim their tablet’s camera directly at the QR Code displayed  on the teacher’s desktop screen.

QR codes for Topmarks' games

How do I use QR codes?
The good news is that depending on the device, you may not even need a QR reader or scanner.
1. Check our table of compatible operating systems, to see how quickly and easily you can access a QR code.


The following free apps are the ones we tried, but there are many others.

For Apple, up to iOS10Free QR Code Reader and Scanner
For AndroidQR Code Reader and Scanner

2. For the newest iPads, open the camera app and simply hold the device’s camera in front of the QR code.
If using an older device or Android, just open the Reader app, and point at the QR code, again, either as a printout or on-screen.

THAT’S IT! We told you it is easy.
We’ll be updating our QR code collection every time we add a new game. You can search our database any time – just type ‘QR codes’ into the search box on our home page. It’ll always be the most up-to-date version, so just download the .PDF each time, and print out the new QR code(s) you need. Single page printing means you only need to print out the pages featuring the games you want to use.

Click to download your set of Topmarks QR codes now

Hit the Button app now available for Windows and Mac

We’re excited to announce that our highly popular Hit the Button mental maths learning game is now also available as an app for Windows and for Mac!

You can now play the Hit the Button app with up to 30 player profiles and 166 game modes on Windows and Mac computers. As ever, the game features randomly generated questions so it is very replayable.

Hit the Button mental maths app game

Download the new Hit the Button apps for Windows and for Mac – priced at £2.99 (or regional equivalent) – it’s perfect for classroom use, as well as after-school practise.

Learn with Maverick Early Readers

It’s always exciting to see more new book releases from the Maverick Publishing house, and to know that there are more titles to inspire children into reading is great news!

We’re great fans of the Early Readers guided reading programme by Maverick, with its book banding system approved by the Institute of Education’s colour-coded scheme. Pink is ideal for very young children, then through red, yellow, blue, green onto orange, turquoise, purple, gold and finally white for the highest level and more confident, independent readers.

The books in Maverick’s brand new release include four fiction titles (all of which are Pink banded) and four non-fiction titles. These are ‘City Animals’ (Turquoise band), ‘Going Green’ (White band), ‘Our Place in Space’ (white band) and ‘Food for Thought’ (Purple band).

Maverick Books Early Readers guided reading books, new fiction titles

The fiction titles are as delightful as those previously released, and will surely appeal to both boys and girls equally. As ever, the top-quality illustrations to the stories really set these books apart. They’re lively and colourful, with good cues to the text, which children will be sure to find engaging. The stories also each feature pages to help young learners, such as the ‘Letter Trace’ pages which we especially like, in which a child can practise forming individual letters with their finger. There are tips for parents too, with opportunities to practise the relevant high frequency and tricky words within the stories, and discussion activities, for example.

Maverick Books Early Readers guided reading books, new fiction titles

Each book in the Pink band includes two different stories of 30-50 words length, which we think is ideal, as these are long enough for children to focus fully on each story, before moving to the next. The language is natural English and avoids forcing phonics awkwardly. The more difficult words – some two-syllable words, for example – that are included allow pupils to get to grips with phonic decoding.
Look for ‘Duck is Stuck and Get the Ball’, ‘Let’s Dress Up and In the Net’, ‘Dig for Gold and Go Rocket!’ and ‘Look Out! and Dot and Dan’s Trip’.

Maverick Books Early Readers guided reading books, new non-fiction titles

We also highly recommend the new non-fiction Early Readers titles. These are a perfect length – not too long as to be off-putting for struggling readers. And the presentation is ideal for learners getting to grips with non-fiction, as the titles each include contents pages, a glossary, an index and even a quiz that will be handy for teacher’s to check children’s understanding.

Maverick Books Early Readers guided reading books, new non-fiction titles

The subjects covered fit in really well with topics in curriculum-linked learning, so it is super to see the way the material has been chosen so thoughtfully. Across all the books, we like the great blend of photographs, illustrations and the consistent use of the fun cartoon alien characters, Jake and Finn, as ‘tour guides’ to introduce the new subject matter.

All the Early Readers books are RRP £5.99 and are out now.
Trade enquiries welcome via educational suppliers.

Disclosure: Topmarks was supplied with a selection of the Early Readers books by Maverick Publishing, free of charge for a fair and honest review, with no obligation.