Splashing good reads

22nd February 2008 at 00:00
Whether you're exploring the seas or dry land, these books will make lessons more exciting

Oceans (DK Online)

John Woodward

Dorling Kindersley


Awesome. I don't know what I would do without it. Eye catching. Informative. These are just a few adjectives I could use to comment on this wonderful combination of resource book and website.

This is a good quality book. It has a sturdy hardcover, which means that it will stand up to many fingers thumbing through its pages. Pupils will definitely make use of this book, as it combines an informative read with a wealth of information, including homework help and safe websites.

It's a joy to use - the imagery is impressive and enhances the explanations, the concentration on visuals makes it accessible for key stage learners of all abilities; yet the content is suitable for older learners as well.

The book is divided into two main parts: reference and content.

The reference section spans 1500BC to 2007, and highlights major occurrences around the globe that have affected the Earth's ocean habitat and coastal areas. There is an extensive glossary with easy to understand definitions and a helpful index.

The content section is comprehensive and covers physical oceanography, marine biology, waves and currents, marine geology and the environmental impact of modern society on the oceans. Each of the 41 topics comprises two colourful pages. It is superbly written and organised.

The companion website, created by Google, enhances the reading and learning experience. Each of the 41 sections has an accompanying web link. Pupils can view online videos, explore interactive websites and even create their own videos.

All of the websites are run by educational, oceanographic institutions or governmental agencies from around the globe, so you can be sure that pupils are being directed to purposeful and safe use of the internet.

In summary, this is a well made book that is easy and informative. It is a must have for any oceanography teacher as well as a great resource for biology, chemistry and physics teachers, as oceanography encompasses the study of all of these subjects. It is enjoyable and a great learning aid. Fantastic.

Fiona Clark is head of science at Park View Education Centre, Bridgewater, Nova Scotia?

Let's Explore Maps

John Davis

Illustrations by Peter Hancock and Mark Cartin

Educational Printing Services Ltd


Let's Explore Maps is an excellent book for anyone who wants to work on practical geography. It has 12 chapters and covers all essential topics, such as what are maps and why do we need them? It also looks at the history of maps, mapmaking, latitude and longitude and signs and symbols.

And, last but not least, the final chapter presents a map mystery presenting activities around the Bermuda Triangle.

Each chapter is arranged along the following lines: an introduction page to present the topics to teachers and pupils, introduced and summarised by a short word from Gerardus Mercator, the famous geographer.

This is followed by guidelines for teachers (points to reinforce, support tasks, extension ideas and group activities). Finally, three worksheets per chapter are available to photocopy and distribute to the class, enabling the pupils to complete tasks on the points examined in the book.

From local to global, from concrete to more theoretical, all main aspects of geographical knowledge are covered in the book, including the most essential: how to read a map and how not to get lost while walking in the countryside.

All activities are fun to do and should get children interested in many aspects of map reading, map making and how to understand maps.

Written for teachers, (this is not a textbook for pupils) it is aimed at those teaching primary pupils, ages eight to 10, although many activities could probably be used with younger children.

Yet its task-based approach enables another use that the author might not originally have thought of: it is ideally suited for language teachers around the world, and especially those based in Europe who work with the task-based approach described in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.

It could profitably be used with intermediate pupils of all ages, particularly at secondary school level. Pupils are introduced to authentic yet easily accessible language, enabling them to make use of English in an almost natural context, and making it a more natural medium of communication in the classroom.

The final activity, the Bermuda Triangle mystery, is normally used in the language classroom, and could be used as a model to create other activities along the same lines.

Arguably, pound;19.50 is a little expensive for such a short book (78 pages), but bear in mind this is a book for teachers, so it only needs to be bought once, and all activity sheets are photocopiable for your class, so you won't have to worry about copyright issues.

James Costa is a geography researcher at the Institut National de Recherche Pedagogique in Lyon, France.

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