Christmas is just around the corner and although school may be paused for a couple of weeks, 11+ preparation is likely to be continuing in earnest. ElevenPlusExams has put together a list of some of our top recommendations for educational gifts for the festive period, ideal for 11+ candidates looking to decompress from their usual lessons and revision sessions while continuing to build those core exam skills.
Crosswords are a fantastic tool for Verbal Reasoning practice. At the ElevenPlusExams tuition centre we recommend that our students attempt crosswords in their own time to help with particular reasoning question styles, especially those that require students to identify words based on their definitions.
We use these blocks at the ElevenPlusExams tuition centre to teach 3D NVR; they’re really useful when students are just beginning with the subject as they can help with visualisation in 3D space. Students can recreate the 3D shapes they encounter in questions in order to aid their understanding of plan views, elevations and composite shapes.
These are a great way to improve creative writing skills for the 11+. The idea is to roll some or all of the dice and create a story based on what you’ve rolled. There are over 10 million possible combinations of images, so they’re a fun and easy way to promote imagination and problem solving skills and to generate unseen prompts like students would face in an exam.
This is a great game to get children thinking about vocabulary and spelling and will help boost core Verbal Reasoning skills. The concept of the game is similar to scrabble, where players must use letter tiles to create words, but this version of the classic word game is a little more competitive, fast-paced and easy to set up. The quirky packaging and simplicity make it a much more appealing word game to get children excited about vocabulary.
A series of card games based on the characters from the books of David Walliams. They test spelling, vocabulary, times tables and mental maths. These games are a great present for fans of his books (as Walliams is an incredibly popular name in classrooms!) and they are ideal for quick, easy and fun practice for core topics in the 11+.
Christmas Reading Ideas
We have touched on the importance of reading and the 11+ in previous blog posts as books can help vastly improve a student’s vocabulary as part of their exam practice. Christmas can be a fantastic opportunity for students to read books they are excited about and to foster their enthusiasm for the written word. Here are some of our favourite festive books that may spark a student’s imagination during this of the year and that will make fantastic gifts for Christmas. For more specific 11+ book recommendations, check out our previous blog posts and our monthly book reviews, posted to our Instagram page.
Written by Tom Fletcher and illustrated by Shane Devries, published 2016
Recommended for: Year 3
William Trundle is a young boy who loves dinosaurs more than anything in the world – and this is all he wants for Christmas. Waking up on Christmas Eve, William is amazed to find the Christmasaurus, a real life dinosaur from the North Pole, in his bedroom. He is whisked into a magical adventure packed with elves, reindeer, snow and Santa Claus himself. This is a great story to inspire any child to read over the holiday season as it is full of rhymes, jokes and engaging illustrations. A delight for younger readers with a love for Christmas.
A Boy Called Christmas
Written by Matt Haig and illustrated by Chris Mould, published 2015
Recommended for: Year 4
Before Father Christmas was a jolly old man with a white beard he was once just a little boy from Finland. Nikolas’s life was not easy; his father is poor and he barely got any gifts at Christmas yet he continued to believe that happiness is far more important than money. Then, one day something extraordinary happens. This is a new festive classic, destined to be read and re-read every Christmas. It is a funny and poignant tale that is easy to read and will rope any child in who isn’t afraid to believe in magic.
Written by Philip Pullman, published 1995
Recommended for: Year 5
The first part of the ‘Dark Materials’ trilogy follows the story of Lyra, a young girl living in Jordan College in Oxford. When she begins to uncover secrets about her mysterious guardian, Lyra finds herself embarking on an epic adventure to find her lost friend, Roger. Her search takes her to the ice kingdoms of the North, ruled by armoured bears. The snowy backdrop of this book makes it an ideal read for this time of year, though Lyra’s courage and determination, as well as the amazing imagination and magic of the story itself, make it a timeless book and a modern classic. Original, engaging and epic; Northern Lights is a must-read, jam-packed with advanced vocabulary and prose perfect for 11+ preparation.
We hope some of these gift suggestions will bring equal amounts of fun and learning to your homes this Christmas!