Monthly Maths: It’s all about time

I mentioned before that I am trying to purchase books this year that have a “maths” component to them.  As I will be teaching a unit on Time when we return to school after Easter I have been exploring some possible literature tie-ins.

Here are those that I already own and use:

Jasper’s Beanstalk is a fantastic book. It integrated the days of the week and the process of growing a plant from seed. It’s good for literacy, maths and SESE. This book will sure work hard in your classroom/home!

It costs €6.89 from book Click here for a link.

Click here to visit my previous blog post on Jasper’s Beanstalk

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The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle is an absolute classic. I am sure most if not all of you own this beauty!

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Click here to purchase

Here is a free sheet that includes all of the images that you need to re-tell or sequence The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Enlarge it to A3 and you really have something to work with.

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Click here for a link

These are on my wish list ;)

Cookie’s Week by Cindy Ward and Tomie dePoala is a sweet story about a cat, Cookie, who gets up to antics every day of the week!

“On Monday, Cookie (the cat) fell in the toilet.” So what happens? Follow the Cookie’s escapades throughout the whole week to find out!

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It costs €4.19. Click here to purchase.

Here is another Eric Carle classic. I can’t believe that I don’t already own it! It would make a fantastic book for Teaching Practice. I even discovered a song to accompany it!

“String beans, spaghetti, ZOOOOP, roast beef, fresh fish, chicken and ice cream are the delicious fare during the week in this popular children’s song. Until Sunday. Then, all the world’s children are invited to come together and share in the meal”

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Here is a little video so that you can hear the “Today is Monday”. I have to admit that I didn’t know there was such a thing! Am I losing touch?! Did you know about it?

Here are the actions:

If you want to purchase the song in iTunes here is the link

It’sAbout Time is from the MathStart series of books. I absolutely want all of the MathsStart Level 1 books for my classroom. They look amazing and are really well prices.

‘It’s About Time. . .. . . to wake up.. . . to learn, to play, to read.. . . to cuddle up in the blankets and to dream.A twenty-four — hour day is full of great things to do!’


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It’s About Time costs€4.47. Click here for a link

Can you recommend any other books or resources? Please leave a comment if you do!

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh.

Substitute teacher essentials!!!

I am so excited to have Aishlín Brown as a Guest Blogger this week. She is the most “AMAZING” teacher. While I hate to be sick I can rest easy if I know that Aishlín is at the helm. She is 1 in a million. I know that she is just dying for a class of her very own. Principals out there take note!! I’d hire her in a heartbeat!!


Anyway, it’s over to Aishlín:

As a substitute teacher, I never know what school I will work in next, what class I will be teaching or what material I will be covering. Often, this is a really positive aspect of being a “sub”; your days are always different, exciting and challenging! At the same time, it can be difficult to teach amazing lessons in an unfamiliar classroom with no preparation time.

To help me with this, I have a few things that I always bring with me when I am subbing.

My bag

The foundation of my “kit” is a large and sturdy bag with lots of pockets. Mine is also unintentionally waterproof which has been useful this winter! In my bag I keep the things that I have found that I need on a regular basis. I will always have packets of reward stickers, my whistle, some post-its, tissues, hand sanitizer, a selection of children’s books, a book of quiz questions, some DVDs of Tom and Jerry for wet lunchtimes, a packet of Happy Birthday balloons, plain A4 paper and lots of children’s colouring pages.

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My bag is from Tesco, they run a special on them every August/September for the back to school season!

If it is my first time meeting a junior class, I will also have my “treat bag”. This is a colourful bag that I fill with nice things from the “Euro shops” like pens, rubbers, bubbles, “slinkies”, whistles, stampers etc. When I meet a new class I always give out name labels. Children form the junior classes can pick something from my treat bag at the end of the day, as long as they have behaved well AND they still have their name label on them. This works really well as it gives you a good chance to actually learn the children’s names!

My folder

I always bring a large binder folder with me when subbing. In this folder, I keep photocopies of the paperwork that substitutes need to bring and sheets of printed name labels (for me and the children!).

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Often, I sub for teachers who were not expecting to be absent so they have not left any plans for me to follow. I really like this as it allows for a little more creativity for me!

I have sections in my folder with lots of lesson ideas that require few or no resources. I divide these lessons into two categories (Junior Infants to Second class and Third class to Sixth class) so that I can always find something suitable. I have other sections dedicated to Art, PE and Drama that are full of activities that are adaptable for different classes. My favourite subject to teach is art, so I update this section all the time with seasonal projects.

My USB stick

This is by far the most useful thing that I carry with me. I have a huge 32GB USB stick that I keep all my interactive whiteboard presentations on. Every time that I prepare something for a class, it goes on my memory stick so that I can use it again. I file everything by subject so I can find things straight away. One of my favourites is a presentation of riddles and maths puzzles that the older classes love.

I make my presentations using Activinspire software or PowerPoint. For a substitute teacher, I would recommend using PowerPoint because lots of schools do not use Activinspire and you will not be able to open your presentations!

My stamp

My stamp is one of my newer purchases and it was inspired by Miss Mernagh who also has a similar one. It is a pre-inked stamp that says “Miss Brown says well done!” Younger classes (and sometimes older ones too!) become incredibly motivated to do great work when they know they could get “Miss Brown’s special stamp” on their work. It has definitely become a prized possession!

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I ordered mine from and I delighted with their service and the quality of the product. I think my next purchase will be a date stamp which would be so handy for corrections!

My timer

It can be hard for some children to have a different teacher in their classroom, especially for the younger classes. Sometimes a child will have to take a break from an activity for a few minutes. When this happens, I like to use my “ink timer”. This is similar to an egg timer but it is filled with ink drops or “goo”. The child can turn this over and watch the ink/goo drizzle down into the lower chamber. This is very relaxing to watch and always calms the child down. The timer finishes after about five minutes and the child will be ready to return to their task. This is a wonderful resource that has never failed me!

I bought my first one on Ebay (search ooze timer or liquid timer) but Amazon also sell them. I found my ink timer by chance in The Art and Hobby Shop in The Jervis Centre in Dublin.

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My music player

My last item that I want to mention is my Veho music player. It is a portable speaker that is about the size and weight of a large potato. I received this for Christmas a few years ago and I love it. It plays music from a micro SD card and it has really clear and loud sound: I have never turned the volume up fully on it!

I use it all the time whenever I need some music e.g. PE, art, drama, music, SPHE, the list goes on!  It can also be connected to a laptop for those times when the interactive whiteboard speakers just will not work.

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Ebay have a great selection of Veho portable speakers that are not very expensive. “Groupon” also often run promotions where they sell them at discounted prices.

When subbing I feel that preparation is key, but it is also really important to be able to adapt and improvise to handle any situation. These items really help me to do that.

I would love to hear some more ideas of resources for substitutes, if you have any nice ideas please leave them in the comments below!

Thank you so much for reading,




Free St. Patrick’s Day Headband printables!!!

I just love this St. Patrick’s Day hat, don’t you? I updated my tried and tested one with some new DJ Inkers Clip art and it is now even cuter than ever! Kids get such a blast out of  having a rainbow over their head. We always wear them to Assembly to celebrate Seachtain na Gaeilge (Irish Week) and sing a little song. It really is the most adorable sight that you have ever seen!

hatI have included all the necessary clip art in my download: shamrocks, rainbow, Leprechauns and a pot of gold. It’s kinda hard to see, but there is the obligatory “pot of gold” at the other side of the rainbow. Click here to download!

st-paddys-day-hat fullscreen-capture-10032011-201057-bmpfullscreen-capture-10032011-201129-bmpClipart by DJInkers

Print my download onto an A4 sheet of white card (Card is essential for your rainbow to remain upright).

A sheet of A3 coloured card, glue, scissors, a stapler, a ruler,  crayons and creativity are the only other things you need.

1. Measure out the strips for your headband.


2. Cut out the strips.


3. Staple the two strips together to make one long strip.

headband4. “Wrap” it around your child’s head to get the circumference right.

5. Have your budding artist colour in all the necessary clip art and glue them to the band. I find stapling the rainbow works better than glue or tape.

That’s it, guys. I hope that you have lots of fun making and wearing my design.

*Beannachtaí na Feile Pádraig daoibh!

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh :)

Happy St. Patrick’s Day is pronounced:  bann/ockt/tee nih fail/eh pawd/rig dee/iv

Monthly Maths: 5 Frame Dice Template

I purchased a set of Differentiated Instruction Cubes last year and am  “IN LOVE” with them. In fact, I purchased a second set so that I have the potential to have one cube per group for maths activities.



Differentiated Instruction Cubes have 6 clear pockets that you can slip images and flashcards into. My 5 Frame Dice Template slips perfectly inside the pockets. Bring on the fun!

Here is an image of my 5 Frame Dice Template:
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I also use them for literacy and Gaeilge but that’s another blog post of another day ;) I am not sure that I can think of any other teaching resource that can be used in so many diverse ways. Perhaps my pocket charts?

I have programmed them with letters and we rolled CVC’s. As shown below. I have also programmed them with sight vocabulary.


Differentiated Instruction Cubes are €16.26 at Book Depository. Click here for a link.

I am currently teaching Junior Infants and we are exploring the numbers 0-5. As part of our Mental Mats and Number Analysis Programme we use 5 Frames. We are always working on “subtising” and visualising numbers. I have create lots of Subitising PowerPoint Presentations and some fun games. Those of you who follow me on Facebook have  already seem some of them. We are so amazing at subitising 0-5 that we don’t even need to “touch count” the dots on the 5 Frames. We can already recognise them instantly. Love it!!!

It took a bit of messing around to get the sizing right but my persistence paid off. Voila, my 5 Frame Inserts for Differentiated Instruction Cubes:

Screen Shot 2014-03-05 at 16.56.09 Screen Shot 2014-03-05 at 16.56.21Click here to download my 5 Frame Dice Template

I can hardly wait to start using them with Game boards. Now that we have covered Number 5 a whole new world of maths centre games opens out before us. We will be playing our very first game on Friday as part of our World Book Day Themed Activities. I just know that my class will go nuts for it! We will roll the 5 Frame Dice and colour. The first person to fill their board will be the winner. Make sure that you visit my Facebook Page of Friday for some photos.

If you don’t have Differentiated Instruction Cubes you can still use my 5 Frame Dice Templates. I used some Foam Shapes that I purchased in Mr. Price to create a  Subitising Number Flash Game/ Concentration Game. I also have number words and dice images in the game.

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For those of you who scratched your head at the mention of “Subitising” here are some screen shots of a fantastic article by the Winnepeg School Division 2005-2006. Click here to read more. Subitising is a hugely important maths skill and should be made a regular, by this I mean daily, maths activity. It’s so much fun and easy to do!

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Have fun,

Miss Mernagh :)

Maths Lesson for Who Sank the boat?

Who Sank the Boat? is just a fantastic resource for maths and science lessons! It is a no brainer for integrating “prediction” as a comprehension strategy. We follow Building Bridges of Understanding and have termly strategies to teach and revise.


I integrated “predicting” and Data Handling for this fun opening activity to Who Sank the Boat? In Junior Infants we are asked to:

  • represent and interpret a set of simple mathematical data using real objects, models and pictures
  • sort and classify sets of objects by one criterion
  • match sets, equal and unequal

Firstly, I displayed the prediction chart below:

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Secondly, I asked my pupils to “predict” who might sink the boat. They then completed the following sheet. Because my kiddos are still learning to write I had labels for them to choose from and glue on the line.

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Click here to download Prediction Sheets.

Finally, we recorded our predictions and created a graph using Unifix cubes and larger images of the animals. Click here to download images.

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Have fun,

Miss Mernagh :)

Who Sank the Boat?

I am making it my mission of 2014 to source some great stories that will supplement maths/science learning.  This beauty recently arrived in the post and I was chomping at the bit to use it!


“Beside the sea, there once lived a cow, a donkey, a sheep, a pig, and a tiny little mouse. One warm, sunny morning–for no particular reason–they decided to go for a row in the bay.”Do you know who sank the boat?


I love the “open ended” way in which the story is presented. Click here to purchase!

Shame that I have already completed my Maths Unit on weight.  It would be a great way to combine weight with sinking & floating. I should jot that down for next year!!!

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh :)