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Learning is something that is important to me, coming from a very working class background I was always encouraged by my parents and grandparents to be the best I could be, and to value education, so I want to bring my own children up to have the same values and chances.
I also have to watch myself though, as coming from a teaching background, I know that kids do not want to be forced into learning, but on the same scale, boys in particular can be lazy and not do anything if they are not encouraged, so I try really hard to get the balance right by doing activities that the kids like and find rewarding.
I've known for a while my kids like doing activities in books where they are rewarded with stickers. I find that the activities are usually quite short to do, and they are a good point for a parent to start with knowing what their child should be able to do.
This particular book was bought for my son by my sister last Christmas, as she was using similar books with my nephew to support him at school. I know she bought it from Toys R US, and the RRP on the book is £7.99, which to me sounds a reasonable price to pay for such an item.
This book is aimed at children who have just started spending whole days at school, which is known nowadays as the Reception Year. My sister gave my son this book when he was at nursery, and though he could have done some of the activities then, I didn't use the book until September when he started reception as I wanted to wait until he had settled in school rather than push things too early and get him ahead of everyone else in his class.
This seems to have worked well for us, as he started doing reading in April, so now he has a better awareness of some of the words, and is very motivated to do the activities in it due to currently doing the same things at school.
As outlined in the title, it contains 200 activities to support the early learning goals from the foundation curriculum as set by the Government. Each activity is on one page of the book. You can choose to work through the book in a linear manner from front to back, which is what we are doing as it starts off with the easier material, or you could skip from activity to activity as you choose. I would say you know your child, and you know what motivates them. If it helps to work in a non-linear way, then follow their interest, but just be aware that if you cherry pick their favourites, it might then be harder to go back and fill in the gaps.
Each activity has a set of instructions of what you should be doing. I read this to my son, and then he does the activity while I am sat with him. I find the activities are quite simple as he is in the top stream in the class, but he still seems to get a lot of pleasure out of doing them, and doing them well. It does mean that when we sit down together, he can whizz through several pages in one go. I need to keep buying different books to have something to sit and do with him.
It might be nice as there is 200 activities, and getting on for 200 school days in a year, for you to do one a day after school to get them used to doing homework, or alternatively use in the school holidays so they don't forget all that they have learned.
The activities are also in bright colours, so they are nice to look at and attention grabbing. So far we have been looking at numbers and shapes, so for example, one activity was counting up some steps 1-5, then doing the same backwards, and then there were 5 pictures of ladybirds underneath with 1-5 spots on their back, and my son had to draw a line from the image of how many spots to the number on the steps. We've looked at recognising big and little, matching pairs, drawing shapes, and as we work further through the book we will look at 3D shapes and simple addition and subtraction.
I really do like this book as it provides fun activities at an appropriate level for my child, and it also gives me all the instructions to help him, and if I need them the answers too. The only downside for me is it is advertised as a gold star book, and in big writing it tells you it has gold stars and sticker badges. It is a big let down when you look for these stars and find one sheet with only 28 stars (which is far less than the 200 activities that all have a star shaped space on the page to stick a sticker) and then 5 stickers that are round as well. So there are not enough stickers to award one for every page, which is by far the best way to keep them going with it. So I need to get more stickers to add to the book.
A 2nd problem for me is the stickers are not that sticky. They come off the page as the pages are turned, so they will not stay stuck in while we work all the way through. And the bigger ones I would like to give to my child to wear to show his teachers, or his dad or grandparents, but when we tried to stick it to his clothes, it fell off in less than a minute.
Great idea - awful in practice, which leaves a small child disappointed. Disappointed children are less motivated to keep going.
Overall, I do think the book is worth it, and when we finish this one off I have no qualms about buying another one for him to do, but one thing I do think I will do as well is buy some seperate stickers to use that are actually sticky, and enough to use one a page.
Just before my son was starting reception at primary school we were on a shopping trip in toys r us. In there as we were getting ready to head to the check out I spotted a gold stars activity book which contained 200 maths and English activities for children aged 4-5 years who are in the reception year. From memory the book was selling for around four pounds instead of the recommended retail price of £7.99 so I picked it up and added it to the basket of things to buy.
The book is a thick soft backed book but due to how thick it actually is it is pretty heavy. The front cover is mainly blue but has the title of the book in a white banner as well as a happy looking kangaroo on the front. The book looks fun and inviting and this is what I wanted as I did not want to bombard my son with activities that he would see as a chore- I wanted him to look at them as something fun to do.
What is a nice touch with this book is that you are given a page with twenty four large gold star stickers which can be stuck in the book when an activity is completed. We all know that children love positive reinforcement and stickers are always a good way of doing this as well of praise of course! My son loved the fact that there were star stickers but considering there are 200 activities in this book twenty four stars does seem somewhat pitiful! I think it would be a better option to have many more, but smaller, star stickers so more pages can get a star. In the end when my son completed an activity I just drew a smiley face in the space provided for a sticker and of course gave him lots of praise as well and this sufficed.
Now as I mentioned there are 200 activities in this book and there are both maths and English activities to choose from. There are actually 232 pages in this book but it is not too overbearing as it is presented in a fun way so that each page has brightly coloured pictures or text.
The activities vary in difficulty and at the start of the book you can find some quite simple things to do such as draw a ring around the things that are big. However, as you carry on through the book there will be activities which require reading skill which is obviously something which most children develop during their reception year. Some of the activities which feature in the book are as follows:
-tracing over letters
-more or less
-odd one out
There are so many different activities in this book that it really is impossible to discuss them all but there is certainly a really good mixture of things to do. I would say that some of the activities can be quite hard and would be suited to an able five year old rather than an average child. Of course you can help your child with the activities and each page features a tip for the parent which should help you make the most out of the activity.
My son really enjoyed working on the activities in this book and he will still pick it up now and have a look at some of the pages he didn't complete as there were just so many to do! It is nice that the activities are linked to the early learning goals in the foundation stage as I knew I was helping my son to work towards things he would be learning at school as well whilst also having fun. There are other books in this gold star range and I would certainly purchase another for my son.
Thank you for reading my review!