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 :)

 

Starting School Series: Developing a good pencil grip

Humor me… Grab a pencil  and hold it as though you are going to write.

pencil_8

Take a moment to examine how you are holding your pencil. How many fingers can you see at the front of the pencil? How many are hidden behind? The way that you are holding your pencil now is likely to be the exact same way you held it when you were 4 or 5 years old! Now that’s what I call a well entrenched habit!

Ok, so here’s the bit when you are likely to become a little nervous and perhaps start to squirm around in your chair…I have something of an obsession about children using a correct pencil grip when holding their pencil.

Pencil grips are something that naturally evolve over time from when children first start to scribble with a crayon. They go from wrapping their fist around the crayon, to holding a pencil at the top, then with lots of fingers around the middle of the pencil and finally with a tripod grip. Phases 1-3 generally happen naturally and without any adult prompting, the same way children go from pulling to stand, to cursing to walking.

Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 13.08.12

 

However, that final step from the modified tripod grasp to the tripod grasp does require some “teaching” and “encouragement”.

So what is the Tripod grip?

In the Tripod grip, the thumb, forefinger, and middle finger form a triangle, with the ring finger and pinkie supporting the middle finger. The pencil should be positioned between the three key fingers – the pad of the thumb, the side of the middle finger,and the tip of the index finger – so that there is equal pressure from all three fingers.All three fingers should be bent slightly. The tripod grip facilitates the proper control of the pencil, allowing your child to write more quickly and easily. It also prevents wrist fatigue when writing for long periods of time.

Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 13.09.02

Grab that pencil again. Do you use a Tripod Grip? Perhaps you don’t and your writing is legible and your wrist never tires. The thing is, it’s really about habit. If as a parent or teacher you demonstrate a Tripod Grips and gently support and prompt children then it will become their default pencil grip. If you don’t, then they won’t, but the world won’t fall off its axis. Here’s a close up view of a right handed grip:

Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 14.25.11

 

 

 

Here’s a close up view of a left handed grip:

Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 14.24.46

Here’s a close up of the fingers:

Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 14.26.14

Click here to download these images as a handout.

I use this fun rhyme with my kiddos to help them remember the fingers to use and where to position them:

First your pointer.

Then your thumb.

Give a little squeeze.

Hide the others underneath and writing is a breeze!

Check back later this week for my favourite pre-writing activities for kid to practice their Tripod Grip!

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh :)

Teacher Prep. for Back to School: E.M.A Matching

I am so excited that I finally got around to ordering “A Pair of Socks” from MathStart, Level 1 by Stuart J. Murphy and Lois Ehlert. For those of you who don’t know, Lois Ehlert is the  illustrator of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom!!!! This is for the benefit of those of you who are new to following me ” I LOVE CHICKA CHICKA BOOM BOOM“. Click here for a link!

Of course, the illustrations are just to die for in “A Pair of Sock”. I mean just look at this!

Screen Shot 2014-07-31 at 09.45.05

The idea of Mathstart Books just rocks my world. A whole series of books, across multiple levels, that explores maths. I just want to give a big shout out to Stuart J. Murphy and Lois Ehlert for such an inspired and amazing series of books. I literally want them all!!! Even the ones that are beyond what I would teach in Junior/Senior Infants.

I found it really difficult to get photos of the inside of any of the Mathstart books and just decided to take a chance on buying it, based primarily on the reputation of the author and illustrator. I have taken a few snaps so that you can get a feel for the book. They are iPhone quality. Need to save up for a camera…

 

Image 5 Image 6 Image 10 Image 12 Image 13

The whole book is about finding a “matching sock” to make a pair. I think that “A Pair of Socks” is a great resource for teaching EMA Matching and Classifying. It’s also going to be useful for Algebra. There’s a whole lot of patterning going on in her peeps. Drum roll of the price reveal… About 5 euro including delivery :) Click here to view or purchase. It seems to be out of stock today. It would be worth

I will be blogging more about EMA Matching over the coming weeks. Please leave me a comment if you have any  “go to” resources or games. We would all love to hear from you!

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh :)

Preparing your Child for School: Sorting and Classifying Game

This is a follow on from a previous blogpost about sorting and comparing objects. Please click here to visit this post.

“What’s the Difference?” is my favourite online sorting and classifying game. It covers lots of different categories of sort: by colour, safe/unsafe objects, objects that float/sink, 4 wheels/2 wheel… There are 10+levels for your child to play and explore. Why not see if you can re-create some of the classifications using  my Sort It Out sheets from the previous blogpost?

Screen Shot 2014-07-06 at 17.36.08

Screen Shot 2014-07-06 at 17.35.47

Click here to play What’s the Difference?

I hope that you have enjoyed using the sorting and classifying resources and games suggested in the last two post. Check back soon for matching activities!

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh :)

 

IA Net Visionary Awards 2014: Voting from missmernagh.com

Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 13.41.01

 

Click here to vote!

I just wanted to say a huge thank you to all of you out there. I have been receiving so many messages and emails of support. I am, in truth, blown away by the support and encouragement that I am receiving. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I have also had a number of emails today from people saying that they are having problems voting :(  I have contacted the IIA to see what the problem might be! I will let you know as soon as I hear back from them.

Miss Mernagh :)

Preparing your child for school: Sorting and Classifying Objects

Matching and Sorting/Classifying are likely to be the first maths activities that your child will explore in Junior Infants. I have to say that I love exploring Classifying. Its so much fun to see how kids will “sort” things out. I love giving them a “mystery box” a.k.a the contents of “the junk drawer” that never gets fully tidied. You know it, its the one with all sort of bits and pieces in it. Buttons, magnets, bits of lego, McDonalds Happy Meal gifts… The all sorts of everything drawer.

I would like to introduce you to some very dear friends of mine:

Meet the Venn Diagram:

It’s basically a circle. You can classify objects with your Venn Diagram in lots of different ways:

Sort by Colour: Here is a set of yellow bears:

Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 09.57.20Sort by Type: Here is a set of Bears:

Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 09.54.47A more advanced form of sorting by colour: Here is a set of yellow bears and a set of bears that are not yellow:

Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 09.54.56

Now meet the Carroll Diagram. You can sort and classify objects in the same way that you did with your Venn Diagram. It’s a matter of preference as to which form of diagram you use.

Screen Shot 2014-07-27 at 14.05.49Here I used the Carroll Diagram to sort my shapes into two sets. The one on the left is “a set of square” and the one on the right is a “set that are not squares’

Screen Shot 2014-07-27 at 14.07.31

 

 

These diagrams just as to help your child to organise his/her thought. I am sure that you all have lots and lots of bits and pieces that can be sorted and classified. If you would like to purchase some “counters” or “manipulatives” to use during the year then check out this link. I just LOVE Prim-Ed’s manipulatives. At a price point of 9,95 Euro,  for 144 plastic pieces, they are quite affordable. The quality of these counters is just fantastic. They are brightly coloured and robust.

I recently got the Vegetable Counters. I have some plastic fruit in my classroom . I think that sorting fruit from vegetables is going to be a nice maths/science lesson. I will be using them in lots of other lessons throughout the year.

I made a set of corn on the cob (my absolute favourite vegetable!!) and then a set of corn and a set of other vegetables.I’m pretty good at classifying, don’t you think?! Image 2

 

Image 1

 

You could add some yellow apples to the corn on the cob and make it a yellow set. Think of the possibilities!!!!

Here are the objectives as laid down by the Department of Education and Science for Junior Infants:

Strand: Early Maths Activities         Unit:  Classifying

  • classify objects on the basis of one attribute, such as colour, shape, texture or size
  • identify the complement of a set (i.e. elements not in a set)

Here are some free sorting mats that I have created for you all to use. Click here to download.

 

Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 10.18.51

 

Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 10.18.58

If you have older children then  print out the mats, pop them in polypockets and send them out to the garden on a scavenger hunt. How can they classify their findings? These “early maths activities” are not just “child’s play”. They prepare your child to collect, describe, assess and analysis data. Perhaps you could have a future scientist or engineer on your hands as a result ;)

Have fun sorting and classifying,

Miss Mernagh :)

Please, please, please vote for missmernagh.com in the IIA Net Visionary Awards!

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 11.30.17
Hi Everyone,

I am beyond thrilled to be nominated for an IIA Dot Visionary Award ‘Best Use of Internet for Social Good’!!!!
I established this blog all,  those years ago, to support parents of children with literacy difficulties. It was at a time with the Dept. of Education was cutting back on Learning Support and Resource Teaching. Parents were finding themselves with little or even no help in schools and with no one to turn to. Lots of blog and website provide worksheets by no one seemed be showing people the “how”. I have always believed that teaching a child to read isn’t rocket science, but it is a science. I am completely passionate about supporting and empowering parents and carers to help their child fulfil his/her full potential.
The blog and Facebook page have grown and evolved over time. I now provided lessons, worksheets and resources to support my fellow teaching colleagues in their own classrooms all across the world.
I know when teaching practice starts, all over the world, because I get lots and lots of messages asking for help, support and guidance. I do my very, very best to answer each one of them and to hold their hands as they begin their teaching careers.
I have lots of home-schooling Mom’s in the USA who are thrilled to have a teacher at the end of a computer to help and encourage them as they take the brave and dedicated step of  educating their own children.
I get messages for Moms and Dad’s, full of concerns,  just before school start. They want to know what to pack in school bags, how much food to put in their kids lunchbox, what type of pencil to buy and lots more besides. They want and need someone with inside knowledge to hold their hands and tell them that it will be alright. That gal is me in a lot of instances and I am only thrilled to be able to do it!
I have resisted the urge to set up an account on Teacher Pay Teachers and lots of other offers that involved monitizing my blog. Lots of people think that I am crazy for this. I spend lots of my own time and money on blogging. I continue to do what I do for free because I want all of you to have what you need regardless of your incomes. I don’t want any parent, career or teacher to feel that they are on their own, with no one to turn to. I do it because I really, really want to HELP you all.
Today, I am asking for your help. Please help me by casting your vote and asking your friends and family to do the same. Please like and share my post on Facebook or Twitter.
Voting is open from today until Wednesday.
I am attaching a link and crossing my fingers that you can help!
Simply scroll down to number 14, click on ‘Cast your Vote’ put a tick in the box and click submit. Easy!
Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 10.44.12
This nomination for an IIA Dot Visionary Award ‘Best Use of Internet for Social Good’ proves that I am not crazy to do what I do. I shows me that my tincy little blog can and does effect change and that warms my heart!!
Miss Mernagh :)