At Oaka Books they promise a fresh focus on learning and I have to admit that I can see what they mean. I was offered some packs for review along with a board game and this is my honest opinion of the products I received.
A Fresh Focus on Learning Science Subjects
I have two children at school, one in year 7, so he’s just started Secondary school. The other one is in year 10 and doing her GCSE’s. We decided to get some Science packs as they seem to be my children’s weakest subject and where they needed the most help.
Science Scramble Physics
I tend to cringe when I hear the word physics as I am sure I know nothing. The idea of playing a board game with my children on the subject filled me with fear. To be honest, they were not overly keen either. But I caught them at a good moment, and both children agreed to a game with me and my husband.
We set up the game and I read through the rules of play. We seemed to be missing a dice as the rules said to roll both dice. To be fair, this was not a problem, playing with one dice was fine.
The objective of the game is to collect 6 physics cards and to head back to Earth collecting merits as you go. The winner of the game is the person with the most merits after a player has collected all their cards and found their way back to Earth. Although you get more merits when you reach Earth, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve won because other players may have collected more merits.
Setting up the game is fairly simple. The board is opened up on a flat surface and each player chooses a coloured playing piece. Then they are given 6 physics cards at random. Their are two lots of cards, questions and comet cards which are placed in piles on the board. There is also a set of blank questions cards for you to write your own questions. One person is the designated Head Physicist and is in charge of the Merits which can be earned by the players.
Playing the Game. On your turn you roll the dice and move to the designated place. Your aim is to head for the places that match your six physics cards. If you land on a comet card then you pick up a card and follow the instructions, some can be bad, like having to pay back merits to the Head Physicist, or good, like being able to move to anywhere on the board. If you land on a question mark then someone else playing asks you the question card pile (the answer is also on the card.) If you get the question wrong you have to wait until your next turn to answer another question and you don’t get to roll the dice and move again until you get the question right. If you are sent to Outer Space you miss a turn. (This can happen by picking up a comet card, or someone else picking up a comet card that allows them to send another player to Outer Space.) When you have collected all your physics cards by landing on the spaces, you then head back to Earth and then the game ends and everyone counts their merits.
Our Opinion on the Game of Science Scramble Physics.
We found the game fun and discovered we knew a lot more about physics than we realised. Our game lasted an hour and a half which seemed quite long, but everyone was still enjoying the game. The game could be shortened by not missing a turn if you get a question wrong (We got a lot of them wrong) because this means you don’t progress in the game. We played by just not getting the merits rewarded for a correct answer if we didn’t get it right. Another way of shortening the game would be by having less physics cards to collect, or setting a time limit and just counting up the merits at the end of the time.
Moving around the board is fun because it’s not linear and you can choose which direction to go. The questions are varied, some are easier than others, which is good because everyone gets a chance to prove their knowledge. You get merits for answering questions correctly. The comet cards add a sense of excitement as you don’t know what you are going to get. You should read your physics cards as they give you some relevant information that may come in handy when answering questions. The game is aimed at level KS3 which is 11-14 years, but it is also a great revision source for older children.
Overall, we found the game a lot of fun and were amazed at how much we actually knew about physics. I loved it when one of my children got excited over a question saying ‘oh, we just learned this at school, I know it.’ Learning definitely can be fun. Me and my husband had to rely on common sense and previous knowledge. Although my daughter reached Earth first, she lost out to my son who had just 10 more merits than her. My husband came third and I was the sore loser. I’m going to brush up on my physics knowledge before the next game. We had a lot of fun so we will be playing again, and I’m sure it will be great game to aid my daughter’s revision when it’s time for her exams.
The Oaka system of learning can be used by anyone but it is particularly useful for children who have difficulties such as dyslexia. Both my children have mild learning difficulties and find concentration and retaining information difficult. The learning resources from Oaka are perfect for them because they are a simplified way of getting the relevant information across in a way that is interesting and can be absorbed easily.
Each pack contains three methods of learning.
- The topic book is to ‘read’ and contains short bursts of information which are concise and fully illustrated. Great for children who find reading pages of texts difficult and boring.
- The Word bank/learning map (depending on which subjects you are studying) helps the child to learn the facts or events. This also includes Q&A flash cards or character cards
- In the Write Your Own notebook the child will be filling in missing words or phrases in a colourful illustrated book. A lot of children find it difficult to write lots of notes, but when you have so much already there and you just have to add the key points it makes learning so much easier. At this point the child will be using every they have learned from the topic book and word bank.
Our Review of the Topic Packs
We chose science packs and were given Cell Biology, Thermal Energy Transfer and Chemical Analysis. They are all KS4 which are GCSE level learning for ages 14-16 years.
The packs were reminiscent of the magazines I used to buy my children when they were young and learning to write letters and numbers. They looked simple and engaging. The difference is, they are much more difficult subjects and totally age related. While playing the Science Scramble Physics game, my children really enjoyed attempting the questions. I had a little competition going by asking them the questions on the flash cards to see who could get the most right. I remember making my own flash cards when I was revising for my GCSEs and they were incredibly helpful. Short, bitesize, pieces of information can be absorbed and retained so much more easily than reading pages and pages of text.
I cannot fault the topic packs. They may look like toddler magazines, but the important information is there to be easily digested, especially by those who have a little more difficulty when learning.
Oaka books resources can be purchased by parents or schools. They have curriculum based subjects for children from ages 5 to 16 years. Their subjects include, Science, History, Geography, Maths and French with more to come.