Maverick Early Readers – Review

Helping children learn to read is just the start on their journey to developing a life-long passion for reading!

We would like to draw your attention to a series of books from Maverick Publishing called Maverick Early Readers. The books have been designed for guided reading, so it is expected that they are shared with an adult.

There is a fantastic range of titles available, all with really charming illustrations and stories that will appeal to both boys and girls. Each book is well made, with sturdy paperback covers and printed on high-quality paper. We are impressed that the books are colour-coded with the book banding scheme, as developed by the UCL (University College London) Institute of Education, that is widely used in UK schools and libraries. The colours are indicated on the spine, front and back cover of each book, simplifying organisation and reading level identification.

Early Readers children’s reading books, Maverick Publishing

The earliest bands are structured around the Letters and Sounds phonics programme. We like the fact that natural English is used throughout, which keeps a good flow within the stories and avoids forcing phonics awkwardly into sentences. Books in the earliest Pink and Red bands feature around 30-50 words per story, and include two stories per book, which is ideal to keep young children’s interest and focus concentration. Stories are presented in simple sentences and the vocabulary used is mostly one syllable words, with some two syllable words which can be decoded.

Each story features an information page for teachers and parents to use with the child before beginning the story, to practise high frequency words, for example. We also really liked the ‘Letter Trace’ pages where a child can practise forming individual letters with their finger. Arrows indicate the correct letter formation, which is particularly helpful for parents.

Early Readers children’s reading books, Maverick Publishing

Stories in the books at higher levels have gradually more complex sentences, broader vocabularies including visual clues in the illustrations to help with words that aren’t decodable. The story themes move further away from familiar experiences, vary punctuation more, and include words in capital letters for emphasis. Further advances throughout the bands include more dialogue, inference and extended descriptions. Gold and White bands (levels 9 and 10) have short chapters, a feature that we really like.

Early Readers children’s reading books, Maverick Publishing

Maverick Publishing have certainly put a lot of thought into planning their Early Readers scheme. They have included excellent, free downloadable audio files for many of the stories. Children can follow animated text either on their own devices or in a class situation, on an interactive whiteboard. Having these is a useful resource, particularly for those who may need support with pronunciation because English is their second language.

For Pink and Red banded books, free activity sheets are available for each story. We felt that some of these were less useful, because they required young children to have a good knowledge of capital letters. In addition, some words were capitalised which aren’t normally capitalised such as Dog and Panda. We felt it was a shame that the typeface was different to the books in that they featured the more usual typeface of ‘a’ and ‘g’.

Early Readers children’s reading books, Maverick Publishing

Letter Trace and Quiz Example Pages


Another feature that we liked are the quizzes which are found in the higher-banded books, from Yellow (level 3) upwards. These are helpful to both teachers and parents as a check on a child’s understanding of the text.

All in all, we found the Early Readers guided reading scheme very appealing and we have no hesitation in recommending it. We look forward to seeing more books in the scheme which we understand will number 100 books, by May 2019.

The RRP of each book is £5.99. Find Maverick Early Readers titles in all good bookstores and online. 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.

Mission X: Train Like an Astronaut with STEM ideas

Have you seen the challenge programme, Mission X: Train Like and Astronaut 2019? Focusing on fitness and nutrition, it’s a great plan full of STEM activities to encourage pupils with training missions to improve strength, balance, coordination and more.

Mission X, designed in conjunction with international partners NASA, esa (European Space Agency) and the UK Space Agency, is created for children aged 8 to 12. The site is full of resources for teachers, as well as educators who run science clubs and after-school groups, to help teach principles of health and exercise with a space context.

Mission X: Train Like an Astronaut 2019

Many of the lessons and activities are linked to the science curriculum, and are based on real-life physical requirements of humans travelling in space.

Mission X: Train Like an Astronaut 2019

Pupils practice scientific reasoning and teamwork through STEM education and physical activities, whilst targeting strength, endurance, coordination and spatial awareness. Participating teams earn points which can be submitted through the Mission X website. All points earned will help the Mission X mascot, Astro Charlie, walk to the Moon.

Mission X: Train Like an Astronaut 2019

Find the Mission Journal Logbooks for children’s use and free teachers’ notes, plus posters, badges and lots of ideas and videos to spark interest, on the Mission X website, from ESERO-UK (European Space Education Resource Office – UK).

Sign up today and help inspire a new generation of space explorers!

Hit the Button App Updated!

We’ve listened to your feedback and updated our popular Hit the Button App to make it even better. The updated version is available for free if you already own it on iOS, Google Play and Amazon Appstore.

Every game mode can now be optionally practised without the pressure of a clock, to help boost the confidence of players who feel intimidated by the countdown timer. Just hit the button with the timer crossed through on the game intro screens to get started.

untimed-mode

By popular request we’ve added an additional game mode in the Number Bonds section called ‘Subtraction within 10’.

Hit the Button maths app, new version

You tell us your children particularly love to use Hit the Button App for Times Tables practice. We’ve added a whole new section in both the Times Table and Division sections which focus on Times Tables up to 10, for those users where this is the norm. We’ve also added extra ‘Mixed Tables’ levels  which correspond with the order in which tables are taught in England. We’ve also added similar ‘mixed’ levels to the Division section too.

Hit the Button maths app, learning game new version

Hit the Button maths app, learning game new version

We’ve also increased the number of player profiles you can have on one device, from 15 to 30! So now each device with a Hit the Button App has the option of storing the results of up to 30 children.

If you prefer you can still ‘Play as Guest’, and we’ve added the option to reset ‘Guest’ scores under Manage Players.

We have occasionally been asked to adjust the trophy boundaries on various games and again we’ve listened and re-adjusted some levels to make them slightly more achievable.

Why not hold a classroom contest to encourage friendly competition? We’d love to hear how your pupils get on!

If you haven’t tried our Hit the Button game you can always try our free web version to get an idea of what the app has to offer, although the Hit the Button Maths App has additional features.

Go direct to make sure you get the newest, fully updated Hit the Button app today!
iOS App Store
Google Play
Amazon Appstore

Change4Life – ways to cut down on sugar

Topmarks has been exploring a new set of teaching resources, Sugar Smart World, from Change4Life, set to inspire teachers, parents and children to eat less sugar. Healthy living is easy with simple swaps!

New year, new beginnings… this launch is ideally timed when we’re all increasingly conscious of healthier lifestyles and how to make the right choices for our diets.
Public Health England (PHE) exists to help support the nation’s health and wellbeing, and reduce health inequalities. Survey research by PHE shows that children are consuming 2,800 excess sugar cubes each year, that’s around eight extra cubes per day. Enough to wrap around the world more than three and a half times!
With the fun new classroom resources from the Change4Life team, developing healthier habits will be simple.

Change4Life SugarSmartWorld, healthy eating

These dedicated English, Maths and Science resources are perfect for encouraging kids to learn about sugar content of different foods and drinks, then to make the right choices for healthier lifestyles.

Change4Life SugarSmartWorld, healthy eating

The average 10 year old has already consumed at least 138 kilos of sugar; if children were to keep their consumption within the maximum recommended sugar intake after the age of 2, it would take them until they are at least 18 years old to reach this figure.

Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at PHE, said: “Educating children on the importance of a healthy balanced diet in their early years can help them avoid serious illness in future.
“By making simple swaps each day, children can have healthier versions of everyday foods and drinks, while significantly reducing their sugar intake.”

Change4Life SugarSmartWorld, healthy eating

Cllr Sabia Hussain and teacher Rebecca Glanville show pupils from Penn Wood Primary School in Slough how to make healthier choices using Change4Life’s new Be Food Smart app from PHE

The resources are flexible to use and tailored for Reception, Key Stage 1 and upper and lower Key Stage 2 pupils. They’re developed with teachers, complementing the national campaign encouraging parents to “make a swap when you next shop”.

  • The new English lesson plans introduce pupils to the characters of ‘Sugar Smart World’ through fun, interactive PowerPoints, pupil-led activities, recipe ideas and a new video.
  • Change4Life Maths lesson plans will reinforce healthier swaps, while including important problem solving skills using addition, subtraction, division and multiplication.

Change4Life SugarSmartWorld, healthy eating
Change4Life SugarSmartWorld, healthy eating

Visit now to see what’s available, use the social media hashtag #makeaswap and look out for the Sugar Smart World take-home packs (great for beyond-the-classroom working!) arriving in schools from mid-late January. Sign up to the Chnage4Life School Zone newsletter too, to keep up-to-date with more resources that are constantly being added.