Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Skips CrossWord and CrossMaths Books review

In France, there is a huge market for educational "cahiers de vacances" or summer holiday activity books. You can get them for every single school year in primary and secondary education and you have the choice of one subject or a quick overview of the whole year. We sometimes buy them, not because we're pushy parents but because the kids ask for them, but they usually do a few pages then get bored and find better things to do ! I must admit, I always think it's a bit of a shame making the kids sit down and do vast quantities of homework over the summer, and I'm a teacher myself ! When Skips got in touch and asked if we'd like to try out some of their educational activity books focusing on English and maths, I was keen to see what we'd think. They describe them as "innovative activity books for spending quality time together, having fun and learning school stuff without the pain and frustration sometimes experienced". Sounds perfect.

Well, I think this photo says it all. Juliette, just out of bed, still in her onesie, eagerly clutching her Skips book and a pen, working her way through the puzzles then coming and showing them to me with a big smile on her face AND SHE DOESN'T LIKE MATHS ! Despite following the school curriculum and being highly educational, making Juliette reuse all the skills that she's been practising (and sometimes struggling with) at school, the crossword puzzles manage to stay fun and motivating. If you ask Juliette, she's playing, not learning, which is absolutely ideal.

We got some KS1 and KS2 books, as well as Year 7, which both of the girls have been happily working through, but little brother Pierre wanted to get involved too so Juliette let him trace over the numbers and count the dots in some of the earlier puzzles, which he was very proud to do.

Each puzzle focuses on a different skill and they get harder as you work through the book, gaining in confidence. The KS1 Crossmaths book, for example, contains three chapters. In chapter 1, you practise adding, subtracting, one more or one less and number lines up to 30. Chapter 2 focuses on tens and units, 2/10/5 more or less, ranking numbers, odd and even numbers, money and time. Each chapter ends with a test and chapter 3 contains five practice crosswords that mix up everything you've used in the book.

The bright colours are really appealing to little learners and, for extra motivation, there are gold stars and "well done" stickers for you to put at the bottom of successfully completed pages.

I picked up Juliette's book for writing this review and was amazed to see how many of the pages are already complete. On several pages, she's put wrong answers then crossed them out and corrected them as she realises she's made a mistake due to an interlocking answer, so it's a great tool for making your kids work out where they've gone wrong and solve the problem all by themselves. If you're not great at maths youself, you get all the answers at the back of the book too.

You can view some of the worksheets for yourself over on the Skips website and there's a nouns crossword that you can print to try out. Skips suggest doing about half an hour a day and we've got into a routine of doing a page before bed (or at another quiet moment in the day) but the girls are also working their way through all by themselves with no encouragement or help from me. Even better than seeing them have fun while learning is seeing them gain in confidence. Juliette said to me the other day that she's "not very good" at maths at school but she can manage to get all the answers right in her CrossMaths book - I pointed out that she's using exactly the same exercises as at school, just in a different format so she must be good at maths. Her shy little smile showed that the positive message got through and for that alone, I'd definitely suggest buying these books !

star rating : 5/5

RRP : £7.99

for more information : http://www.skipscrosswords.co.uk/

Disclosure : We received the books in order to write an honest review.

Linking up with Kids' Corner where the kids get to do the reviewing !

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  1. These look fantastic! I have a geeky 7 year old who would love something like this. Thank you ever so much for being the first person to link up to #KidsCorner! :)