Tag Archives: andrew brodie

Andrew Brodie’s Top Ten Summer Holiday Tips!

Andrew Brodie is a popular and trusted name amongst teachers and parents. He has been producing best-selling educational books since 1992, is still very much involved in education and has a wealth of experience as a head teacher and in coaching children to pass the national tests.

Parents frequently ask me how they can help their child during the long summer holidays.  Here are my ten top tips.


  • Enjoy the great outdoors. Talk about what you see: trees, flowers, birds – if you’re not sure what they are look them up together in books or using the internet.  Give points for different species: 10 points for a blackbird, 20 points for a swan, a thousand points for a golden eagle!  Who can gain most points in a day?
  • Plan your days out together. This gives another opportunity for researching information.  Where would you like to go? What would you like to do?  The National Trust for example has plenty of wide, open spaces to explore, houses packed with history and, quite often, exciting play areas.
  • Work out costs. What price is entrance to a park for adults and for children?  What is the total cost for your family?  How much will be left over out of your bbrodie2udget of £20, £50 or £100?
  • Go to places that cost nothing! Beaches, woods, hills are nearly all free!
  • Plan your journeys using public transport. Where can you catch a train or bus?  Where will the train or bus take you? How far will you have to walk?  What will be the total cost of the journey?
  • Plan your journeys by car. Look at maps, road atlases or the internet.  Which route will you take?  Which towns will you pass through or go near?  Which counties will you travel through?  How long should the journey take?
  • Encourage your child to read for a short while every day. This should NEVER be a chore!  Enjoy reading stories together or finding out new facts from non-fiction materials.
  • Suggest that your brodie3child writes something every day. Again, try to avoid this being a chore by only expecting a very small amount: for example, suggest one sentence to summarise the day or one sentence to describe the best bit!  Without pressure, your child may decide to write more.
  • Prepare meals together, taking the opportunity to measure out ingredients using grams for weights and millilitres for liquids.
  • Keep up the multiplication tables practice but keep the activity short. Your child may enjoy the challenge of reciting a particular table in less than brodie5one minute, or thirty seconds, or even faster.


Of course, you will have lots of other ideas for activities that
suit your own family life.  Above all, make sure that you all enjoy the summer.

Check out the Andrew Brodie book series here

More information on Andrew Brodie’s Apps can be found here 

For even more summer holiday ideas see our Pinterest Board


Spelling for Literacy. Andrew Brodie

Andrew Brodie author photoOver the past year I’ve had to face a major challenge in updating the very popular Spelling for Literacy series.

The original series was published in 2001 and consisted of five books: one for Years One and Two combined, then one for each year group in Key Stage Two. The five books contained over three thousand words altogether, grouped in sets according to phonic blends or specific spelling patterns. Selection of words for the forty sets in each book was based on lists that were available at the time – high frequency words and words contained in the National Literacy Strategy Spelling Bank and in the National Curriculum as it existed then.

The latest version of the National Curriculum again specifies lists of words but also shows clear statutory requirements regarding phonics and the spellings that represent particular sounds. As well as these it provides non-statutory example words together with spelling rules and guidance, including exceptions to the rules!

In looking at the original Spelling for Literacy books alongside the latest version of the National Curriculum I was pleased to find a reasonably good match. But it was only reasonably good rather than perfect and my task became clear: I had to ensure that Spelling for Literacy was updated so that teachers could have the confidence of knowing that it would cover the requirements completely.

To reflect the increased demands on pupils’ learning of spelling, there are now six titles in the new Spelling for Literacy series. Here is a quick look at the new editions:

Number skills in the primary curriculum. Andrew Brodie

Andrew Brodie author photoThe new National Curriculum, together with the tests that are planned to accompany it from next year, places a much greater emphasis on pure number skills than has been seen for many years. The tests for Key Stages 1 and 2 will both include a test paper on the subject of ‘arithmetic’, a term that is not used in the National Curriculum itself and that hasn’t been much in evidence since the nineteen sixties. I keep having to remind myself that it is concerned purely with non-contextual number calculations.

For the last fifty years we have been urged to help children to learn number facts and number skills within the context of realistic mathematical problems – problems that can be related to the pupils’ everyday lives; problems that mean something to the children; problems that can be solved because there’s a desire to solve them.

Magnetic numbers
Image credit: John Crane Ltd

There is no doubt that contextually based learning is an educational utopia. But concerns have been growing – what if the problems we set don’t encourage the children to learn all the number facts they may ever need? What if the problems are actually too difficult for the pupils simply because the number facts they have practised are not easily retrievable from the depths of their minds?

Surely then, an ideal recipe for mathematical success has to be the solid acquisition of number skills coupled with the application of these skills in context-based, interesting and challenging problems. Is that what the new curriculum is designed to achieve? Will it achieve it?

Image credit: Hypnosis Power

I have been fortunate enough to be able to produce a wide range of educational books over the past twenty years, including many on problem solving. But the opportunities and demands of the new curriculum and the tests that derive from it have encouraged me to return to looking at pure number skills, an area that is of great interest to me.

When not writing, I spend a considerable amount of term working with students aged between four and twenty-two. Many of the pupils with whom I work are of above average intelligence yet still experience some difficulties with mathematics.

The difficulties encountered by some of the secondary school pupils and university students can be traced back to an inadequate grasp of fundamental skills, which could have been gained at the primary level. It is interesting to observe that these students lack confidence in their own abilities and are likely to make comments such as ‘I hate fractions’ or ‘I can’t do algebra’. When discussed closely, however, the reason why the student can’t find, say, the value of x when 3x = 24 is simply because he/she can’t remember how to divide 24 by 3 and can’t find a strategy for doing so!

              Image credit: GETTY

In my view, the vast majority of children need to learn a wealth of number facts with some contextual clues to start them off. They need to recognize that 3 + 2 = 5 is a representation of a reality, such as three pencils together with two more make a total of five pencils, or that 3 x 2 = 6 could be a representation of three sets of two pencils making a total of six. But once shown the reality there is no reason why they shouldn’t learn all the facts that follow the same pattern. Once learnt these can be applied to a countless number of realistic problems and, ultimately, the fairly abstract concepts represented by algebra. If not learnt, however, the whole of maths is likely to become a mystery.

Let's Do Times Tables coverAndrew Brodie was a head teacher for twelve years after many successful years in the classroom. He began writing his best-selling educational workbooks in 1992 and since then has established himself as an author that parents and teachers have come to trust. Follow him on Twitter @AbrodieWriter

The most recent titles in his Andrew Brodie Basics series are Let’s Do Times Tables, covering ages 5-11. They are designed to improve children’s confidence with 100s of questions and reward stickers and also match the requirements of the National Curriculum.