RE resources for Foundation and KS1

Make the most of a new set of open-access resources developed to encourage children to engage with the world around them, learning about different faiths.

These free resources have been produced by a team at the University of Warwick, in collaboration with the St Mary’s Centre. They are for widespread use in schools, following studies on diversity and what it feels like for children growing up amongst many different religious groups, often in a largely secular society.

Religious Education curriuculum resources from Warwick UniversityIt is hoped they will be useful for schools when creating informed and safe environments, with positive and respectful attitudes.

Two series of books and accompanying activity worksheets and downloads have been developed: ‘Exploring Why’ and ‘Exploring Our World’.

Religious Education curriuculum resources from Warwick University

Each book is based on two central characters, Alex and Sian, and their friendships and widening experiences.
Several versions of each title have been produced, allowing maximum flexibility – such as, ‘short version’ story books aimed for group reading, or ‘extended version’ stories for more advanced pupils. Deeper learning can come from the ‘key questions’ books, which encourage more focused observations.
Religious Education curriuculum resources from Warwick UniversityTeachers are also encouraged to respond to a voluntary feedback survey on the resources, which can be completed anonymously.

FREE Teach Your Monster to Read App

Special Offer this week! There’s a great promotion on for the learning app, Teach Your Monster to Read.

If you have children who are learning to read then don’t miss the Teach Your Monster to Read app which is on offer this week only, from Monday 4 March to Sunday 10th March. The good news is that this is not just a free trial so you can continue to use the app after the promotion period. The app is normally priced at £4.99.

Teach Your Monster to Read app, children's literacy

The app is available to play on iPad, iPhone, Android and Kindle Fire. It perfectly complements different phonics schemes used in schools, with three game levels for differentiation and progression. Read more about what the game teaches on the game home page here.

Take a look from now until Sunday 10 March 2019 for your free download – it’ll stay free to play even after this time!

The Big Battery Hunt is back for 2019

Following a successful launch year, The Big Battery Hunt is back for 2019!

It’s a great environmental initiative that aims to educate children about making positive differences to our planet, including putting the battery recycling on the agenda. The campaign is being hosted again by the National Schools Partnership, and is funded by Duracell.

Big Battery Hunt
It’s hoped that young people in schools all across the UK will be getting involved. Last year’s campaign saw over 4 million batteries collected, so fingers crossed, that total will be smashed this time around, and all those old batteries will be saved from landfill.
Here are some of the children inspired to take part in last year’s initiative – why not join them this year?!
Big Battery Hunt

Even if your school took part last time, you’ll need to make sure you register again for a free school recycling bin and recycling boxes for each pupil, to help protect the environment.
Plus, there will be learning packs available for all schools taking part, with a curriculum-linked activity booklet aimed at Key Stage 2 children, and downloadable resources online.

Big Battery Hunt

The Big Battery Hunt will come and collect your recycling bins (both during, and after the campaign!) to make sure those batteries are dealt with safely. A battery takes over 100 years to decompose so each battery recycled in the scheme will be taken apart and the materials repurposed, stopping any toxic fragments entering water sources.

Don’t miss out on the competition, too. Every school which has a recycling box collected under the scheme will be entered and there are some great prizes available, including a 2-night class trip to the Sustainability Centre, iPads, £2,000 worth of school equipment vouchers, and more besides.

Big Battery HuntPupils who really get behind the programme and encourage others to do the same can be nominated as Battery Recycling Pioneers. Teachers can put them forward for the chance to win extra prizes and glory!
Big Battery Hunt
Register today, to start recycling and help save our planet!

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.