Prim-Ed: Cutting Skills Series

I like to spend a lot of time at the beginning of the year working on fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. I feel that it is always time well spent. It can be tempting to jump into handwriting as it takes and age to teach all 26 letters of the alphabet not to mention the trauma of writing words and sentences! Oh man, it can be hard, hard work!!!

I was really excited when Prim-Ed gave me one of their Cutting Skills books to road test. You can see that I used Stage 4. I already had an ancient cutting skills book from Prim-Ed, an oldie but a goodie, which is out of print.

 

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Click here to visit the Prim-Ed website and see some sample pages

I have to say that I really liked this cutting skills book, as did my pupils. It has lots of challenges that are introduced in a really gradual way. This allows children to move on in very small increments. I really, really like this! I love that this Developing Cutting Skills book covers just corners and curves. Most, but not all,  of my pupils were already able to cut along straight lines. Some were actually completely unable to use a scissors which is another issue entirely.

There is a great assortment of worksheets to choose from. There are some really simple sheets that allow you to just cut along a curved line and even indicate where you should place your fingers when holding the sheet. Then there are more that involve pupils cutting out large animals and masks. These were a big hit as we had explored Dear Zoo in literacy. My kids loved colouring and cutting out their Zoo Animals! I swear that my classroom sounded like a Zoo at times with all of the animal sound effects that accompanied their cutting ;) Some of these sheets have tricky nooks and crannies to cut out. It is interesting to see who could potentially grow up to be a brain surgeon, cutting with great care and precision, and who can “hack” things to bits. Couldn’t come up with a career path to turn this hacking skill into a positive. Any ideas?  Leave a comment below!!!

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The “jigsaw” format ones are easier to cut out and come earlier in the book. Some of my kids found pasting them back together to be a much, much tricker process. They are learning to take time to lay the pieces out in the correct order and glue them down one piece at a time. It seems that making jigsaws might be a thing of the past. With each passing year I see more children challenged by them. Shame, they are so important for fine motor control and visual discrimination skills.

 

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I am so, so proud of my kiddos emerging skills that I have created this fun certificate. I will be presenting them to my class later this week. I am hoping that it will provide an incentive to some to slow down and stop attacking their page with the scissors, lol! I know that they are actually more skilful than it can first appear. When I sit beside them and remind them to  cut slowly using “small bites” of the scissors their cutting skills blow me away.  Turn around and count to 3 and it’s Edward Scissorshands!

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I am really happy with my Developing Cutting Skills Book. Well done Prim-Ed. It will be a well used teacher resource for years to come! If you have looked at the photos of our Pumpkins you will see just how skilled my kiddos have become at cutting. I am one proud Teacher!

If you would like to download a copy of my  Cutting Skills Certificate please click here. It is available in both black and white and in colour.

 

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 18.12.20Have fun,

Miss Mernagh :)

 

Free Pumpkin Art Printable

I have to say that Autumn is probably my favourite season! I just love the colours, the flavours and the crisp mornings. It is allows me to do lots and lots of fun thematic teaching too! My class are fast becoming experts on all thing relating to apples and pumpkins.

I posted a photo on Facebook the other day of some Pumpkin Art that I had completed with my class. It got lots of favourable comments and some requests for a copy.

As promised, here it is in time for the next school week. Click here for a link to the Pumpkin Colouring Page. Click here for the facial features. 

Here is how to make my Halloween Pumpkin:

  • Pupils start by drawing the “ribs” on the pumpkin using a peach Crayola Twistable. It’s the pale colour that comes in the pack
  • Cut out and glue facial features onto pumpkin
  • Colour in the stem

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Then I “curled” some narrow strips of green paper using a ruler and stapled it to the stem. Et Voila… The finished pumpkin

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Have fun,

Miss Mernagh :)

Currently September

I am excited to be linking up with Farley at Oh Boy 4th Grade for Currently September! It has been an age since I did one of these link ups. So here it goes…
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Listening:

Now that I am back into the regular commuting regime I find myself listening to the radio a lot more. I love the Parenting Slot on Moncrieff every Wednesday and Paulo Tullio on a Thursday. That pretty much covers the main passions in mine life: teaching/kids and food.

Loving:

I love the start of school. It is so amazing to get to know your pupils and come to understand and appreciate their personalities. I love discovering what makes them tick. I also love figuring out ways to bring out the best in them: what motivates them, where to their passions/interest lie? It’s also a time when I have to prove myself to the quieter ones, gain their trust and establish a relationship where they will trust and bloom. Interesting times…

I love The Kissing Hand and my Chester cuddly toy. He has been a big hit with the kids. He is joining in our lessons too. Bless him, he struggled with classifying by colour but the kids have been a great support. He’s really starting to get it now ;)

I LOVE decorating. I am always playing around with displays. I moved some furniture around after school today. I have held back slightly as we are moving to a new school building in the coming months. I am saving my Euro until I see my new space. I have pretty much decided that the colour theme will be red and green.

Thinking:

My brother is getting married next week so there is a lot going on and my mind is working overtime. We have family travelling over from Australia that I last me as a child. I am super excited to see them!!! I am thinking how relieved I am to finally have my outfit. I was cutting it fine to put it mildly. I am thinking about how I will “gain” a “sister”. I always wanted one of those!!!

Wanting:

A colour printer. I would go complete nuts if I had one!!! I have an amazing b&w one that is really economical and fast. I really can’t complain. Besides, colouring is soooo therapeutic!

Needing:

I try to be  a “bloom where you are planted” kind of girl who married a natural born optimist and positive thinker. I am grateful for all that I have.

3 Trips:

The  IIA Net Visionary Awards are only around the corner. I was humbled to be nominated in the “You Did Good”-Best Use of the Internet for Social Good” category. Winning and IIA Award has been on my Bucket List for a number of years now! I want to take this opportunity to thank you all for your good wishes and votes.

I love “road trips” with the girls. I like them even more when they involve birthday cake!

No third trip planned. I must rectify this forthwith ;)

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh

First Day at School Routine

I have received a number of emails and messages on Facebook about my “First Day at School” Routine. Drum ROLL… Here it is!

Classroom Set-up

I begin by placing a toy on each table. I try to put out an appealing assortment. Some that girls might gravitate towards and some for boys. I only set up table top toys for the first day. The Farm Set is usually used with the mat that you can see on the floor. For that morning only it was placed on the table.

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I also like to create an ambience by playing some fun kids music in the background. I think that it feels more welcoming. Especially for the first few to arrive. It can be a little quiet and serious if not.

I also ensure that coat hooks are tagged and that I have sufficient space for lunchbox storage. I’m all about routine people, even on ESPECIALLY on the first day. I feel that establishing routines from Day 1 gives my pupils a feeling of security and empowers them with independence. They will only need gently prompting the following day on where to put their lunchboxes etc.

I also have “Dropbox” on my windowsill ready for all of the notes and classroom expenses envelopes. I find it to be indispensable. The kids love popping notes, drawings etc. into Dropbox in the mornings. It also means that the likelihood of putting a note down somewhere and spending the next hour panicking about its wherebaouts  is gone. If I see parents with envelope/notes I explain that we will be using Dropbox and send them over to it

Here is a rather beat up Dropbox from the end of the last school year.

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I like to ‘Meet and Greet” each pupil, shaking hands, introducing myself and “stickering” them. Is “stickering” a verb? It really should be ;) Our wonderful secretary, Shannen, always has a set of stickers ready for the first day or too. She’s the bomb!

After Mom and Dad have left

If the kiddos are settled I just let them continue playing while I empty school bags. I remove all books and any monies that I find. I will sort through these after school.

I introduce the class to “Whole Brain Thinking” and we practice ‘Class? Yes!” and “Look at your teacher when she speaks”. These are the two class rules and procedures that we will focus on for the coming days. If you are interested in learning more about Whole Brain Thinking then click here. I have used it for the past 2 years and love it!

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We also learn about “Teams/Groups”. I use Colours to distinguish between each group. If you look below you will see that I use coloured lanterns to distinguish groups. I call groups to    hang up their coats, place lunch boxes on the shelf and to show them where the toilets. I also demonstrate our ‘Toilet Pass System’.

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Then we learn where to sit for ‘Floor Work’ and story time. This is how we will start our school day from now on. We read The Kissing Hand and met Chester.

Screen Shot 2014-08-30 at 14.59.22We then returned to our seats for our first piece of “work”. We had a Chester colouring sheet that read ‘Ask me to tell you about The Kissing Hand’. I thought that it might be useful for parents to chat about with their kids when they got home. I circulate and record who is right handed/left handed and who already has a well developed pencil grip.

After our colouring sheet we learned the “2 Little Feet” poem below. It will be one of our movement break activities for the year. Click here to download.

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Then we had our lunch and went out to play. When we returned from the yard I gave my class their gift of “Magic Play-doh”. Click here to learn about Magic Play-doh. It’s a really old blogpost. I seriously need to save up and buy a camera!!!

I then presented each child with a “Hoot Hoot Hurray'” certificate and we began packing to go home. Click here for  a link to the Hoot Hoot Hurray Certificate.

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Reading back over this post it seems like we did very little but honestly, we were flat out. We were even 10min late going home!!!

I know that you will not be able to find the same stories and certificates by Monday morning. Pick your own favourite kids story and see if you can find a corresponding colouring sheet. That allow parents a window into the world of their child’s first day. “So tell me about The Kissing Hand!”.  I would really encourage you to buy or create a certificate. Starting school is a huge milestone and should be celebrate. You certainly have time to make Magic Play-doh. It takes 4 min to make the doh and then a few more to roll into balls and add colouring. It’s great to see the excitement that it brings.

I hope that this helps all of you new Junior Infant/Kindergarten teachers out there. If you have any specific questions leave a comment below or visit missmernagh on Facebook.

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh :)

Starting School Series: Prim-Ed Pre-Writing Patterns Write On Posters

Well, it’s only 3 more sleeps until I meet my new class. I am pretty busy right now between setting up my classroom and planning for the first few weeks of school. Starting school means lots and lots of pre-writing activities. I am delighted to have a new “helper” this year ;)

Say hello to my new Prim-Ed Write-On Posters. I think that I might be in love! They are going to be a fantastic resource in the weeks to come.  I just “love” that they are:

  • A3 Sized- can be seen by kids when I demo. Hallelujah!!
  • Can be used with whiteboard markers or traced with fingers
  • Are double-sided: full colour on one side and blue and white on the other
  • Cute and colourful: I ♥ the Russian Doll and the birds!
  • They have all the patterns that I want to use. Yippeee!!!

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I know that they are  also going to be  an extra special support to children who struggle with pencil skills and directionality. If you have a kid in your class with fine-motor control difficulties then these will be indispensable. I just wish that I had them last year for one of my kiddos. It would have made a huge difference. I found myself photocopying sheets to A3 and laminating them to create my own home-made version of these. They were just black and white, though, and not so appealing.

I am looking forward to clipping my Write-On posters to my mini flip chart and giving hand-on demonstrations and practice. My kids will have no problem seeing or reaching the posters.

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If you are looking for whiteboard markers then these are my absolute favourites!!! They have a round tip like a marker and are nice and slim for little hands. They also rub away cleanly and easily. I have re-purchased them again for my class this year. Click here for a link. 

Don’t forget to check out my post on developing a good pencil grip. Click here to visit.

Prim-Ed New Wave Pre-Writing Patterns Write-On Posters are also a fantastic resource for Oral Maths and Mental Maths! I will be pulling out my Write-On Posters for lots of maths lessons:

Using the Christmas Tree for example:

  • Counting from 0-10:

How many candy canes/hearts/stars/baubles are on the Christmas tree?

  • Mental Maths/Oral Maths:

If there were as many gifts as there are hearts who many gifts would be under the tree?

How many children can have a candy cane if each child can only get one?

What season would it be? How do you know?

What else can you find on the top of a Christmas tree?

Let’s graph what we have on our trees and home and see which is the most popular: star or angel

  • Comparing:

Are there more baubles or hearts on the tree?

Which bauble is the biggest?

  • Algebra:

Who can find a colour pattern on the Christmas Tree?

I think that these Prim-Ed New Wave Pre-Writing Patterns Write On Posters are going to be a great addition to my pre-writing resources. At just under 20Euro they are not a bad price at all. Check back the week after next for some photos of the posters in my classroom.

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh :)

Two little feet go tap, tap, tap

Well, it’s only two sleeps until I head back to school and only three sleeps until I meet my new class. My Mom and I spent Friday morning setting up the classroom and hanging some decorations to welcome my new class. It’s always such an exciting time. No major changes to how I decorated my room this year. We are moving to a new school building in December so it seems silly to do too much chopping and changing. I will wait until I am in my new school to purchase new bulletin board borders etc. I have no real sense of what my new room will be like. I have lots of ideas that I am hoping will work in the new space…

It’s always handy to have some poems and rhymes for transitions. x Here is a copy of the poem that I will be using to settle my kid for floor work or when they need to get some “giggles” out. Two little feet go tap, tap, tap is a really cute poem that I have used before but kind of forgot about until the other day. I thought that if I typed it up really cutely and stuck it on my wall that I might remember to use it. I like to have a “print rich” classroom. I can’t wait until my class will be able to read it for themselves!

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Click here to download Two little feet go tap, tap, tap

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh :)

Ask the Teacher: Sunday 24th from 7-8pm

Ask the teacher!

Do you have a little one starting school next week? Are you more nervous that he/she is? Is your head swimming with questions and concerns?
This Sunday evening from 7-8pm I will be available to answer any of your “starting school” questions on Twitter or Facebook.
Please like and share with your friends who might like to “Ask the Teacher” a question ;)

Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 14.36.22Miss Mernagh :)