# missmernagh.com

## Split Digraph Game

I am busy revising split digraphs (a_e, e_e, i_e, o_e, u_e)  with my class this week. I had my fingers crossed that their knowledge was not displaced by Easter break! I think that Hot Potato was a great help with consolidating split digraphs! It was so much fun to play that we practiced them more than any other year. Will be rolling it out again next year, that’s for sure

As we are having a  week long break from “Power Hour” I was on the hunt for a fun, interactive game for split digraphs. I struck gold with this one! It is fun but pretty tricky. You really do need your wits about you!

The link below is for u_e words. They are the trickiest to decode and pronounce by far. The object of the game is to spell the word by tapping on the correct tiles. You must tap them in the correct order. Sounds simple, right? It would be if it wasn’t for the fact that the letter tiles keep moving!!!! You can, thank goodness, use the small arrow key to delete a letter if necessary.

I dare you to play is before your child/class. It is tricky to tap the tiles before they move. Lot of fun and laughter in my room when we played this. I had pupils decode the word before spelling it on the tiles.

I hope that you have lots of fun playing this game. Oh yeah, there is a harder, timed level for those of you who dare!

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh

My class have been playing this “Spot on” addition game for almost a fortnight now. They are really enjoying it and practicing lots of maths skills in the process. Love it!!!!

Some of the skills that this games encourages  includes: an awareness of 10, improved addition and “mental maths”,  ”subitising” and an awareness of “part-part-whole” relationships.

What you need to play “Spot on”:

All you need is a dice, 10 “spots” or counters and a 10 frame. You can download a free 10 frame here.

How to play “Spot on”:

Child 1 rolls the dice and places that amount of “spots” on his/her card.

All other children then have their first turn and place the relevant number of spots on their board.

Before children roll the dice for a second time they must identify “how many more” spots are needed to fill their board.

( See the example below: I rolled 6 and need 4 more to be “spot on”).

You can only win the game by throwing the exact number needed to fill your board. This may mean throwing the dice and placing no “spots” on the board. If I rolled a 5 below I would place no counters on my board. I need exactly 4 to be “spot on”

When you call get the exact number need then you fill the board and shout “spot on!”

Why we have been playing “Spot on”:

For the first few days I circulated and prompted maths talk.

• How many more do you need for “spot on”?
• Can you get that many with one more roll of the dice? Why/why not?
• How many are on your board now? What did you just roll? Make a number sentence with those numbers eg. 5 and 4 more makes 9. I need one more for “spot on”.

Now my pupils naturally talk to each other about their 10 frame and how many more is needed, who have less than them, what their number sentence is.

I encourage my pupils to “subitise” when playing the game. Subitising is recognising a collection (of objects, pictures, dots on dominoes etc) without counting, simply by looking.  In this case, the empty frames on their 10 frame may create a pattern that they can visually recognise.

I also encourage pupils to “count on” and use “mental maths strategies“. They know that each row contains 5 frames and that there are 10 frames in total, 2 rows for 5.  They can use this information to count on. eg if they see 3 spots in the first row: 2  blanks and 5 more in the bottom row:

They should be create number sentence like these below rather than actually “counting” the frames by touching them:

• 2 and 5 more makes 7

To consolidate “part-part-whole knowledge” by establishing the ability to see and recognise a number in terms of its parts, eg see 10 in terms of :

• 7 and 3 more would make 10
• or  7 being 3 less than 10

I hope that you all have lots of fun playing this game. There are lots of versions of this floating around the internet. Have any of you play it already?

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh

## Free Split digraph word game

For the last few weeks I have been teaching my pupils to recognise and “sound out” words that contain a split digraph (a_e, e_e, i_e, o_e, u_e).

A ‘split digraph’ means that a vowel sound has been split. The end vowel (the ‘e’) reaches back over the consonant to make the previous vowel say its “name” and not its “sound”. The sound is now a long vowel sound as in: make, Pete, bike Rome, broke and mule.

Teaching phonics in the small group setting of Power Hour is fantastic. Children have so many more opportunities to interact and learn. I just love playing games with my groups. Bingo and “Roll, Say, Keep”  are always popular. It would be dangerous  to wear out the novelty factor of these games though! We played “Roll, Say, Keep” last week and Bingo the week before. What to do!!!

Well, I sat down the other evening and would not allow myself to leave my study until I had come up with a new split digraph game. I spent some time looking through MS Word Clip Art and then it came to me! It’s called “Hot Potato” and my class are going nuts over it!!!!

Hot Potato is a variation on a classroom game that I have been playing for years called Crash. When you read the instructions I am sure that you will all recognise the game. I just “re-packaged” it. Just like you can’d hold onto a hot potato you can’t hold onto your cards if you draw it from the bundle!

Anyway, here’s how to play Hot Potato!

• Print, laminate and cut out all of the cards. There are over 70 word cards!
• Bundle them into a deck of cards and shuffle.
• Turn the cards face down on the table. Children take it in turns to turn over the top card.
• If the child can read it then he/she can keep it.
• If a child gets the “Hot Potato” card then he/she must give back all of the cards!!
• The winner is the person with the most cards at the end of the game.

I hope that you all have as much fun practicing your split digraphs with this game as we did. I tried to have a balance of words so that all of my pupils could win some cards.There are a few tricky words in there just to keep them on their toes!

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh

With Mother’s Day only around the corner I thought that cake would be the perfect topic for today! This French Yogurt Cake is just perfect for small hands to bake. It even fits into the Junior and Senior Infant Maths Curriculum Objectives. Under the measures strand children are expected to:

• develop an understanding of the concept of weight through exploration, handling of objects and use of appropriate vocabulary
• compare and order objects according to weight
• estimate and weigh in non-standard units
• select and use appropriate non-standard units to weigh objects

What is a “non-standard units of measure”  I hear you ask?! Jugs, cups, buckets… anything that doesn’t involve the use of a weight scales. In this cake we will measure out all of the ingredients using an empty yogurt carton. After that it is as easy as 1, 2, 3…

Chocolate Chip Yogurt Cake

• 1 pot of natural yogurt
• 1  yogurt pot  of chocolate chips
• 1  yogurt pot of flavourless oil
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 2  yogurt pots of sugar
• 3 yogurt pots of self-raising flour
• 3 eggs
1. Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
2. Prepare a 2lb loaf tin. You need to  grease and flour it. This is probably a job for the adult helper
3. Empty  1 pot of yogurt into large mixing bowl.
4. Use the yogurt pot to measure 1 pot of oil and add to  it the bowl.
5. Add 1 tsp of vanilla extract.
6. Wash and dry the yogurt pot. Use it to measure out your flour and sugar.Add 2 pots of sugar and 3 pots of flour to the bowl.Gently whisk.
7. Break 3 eggs into the bowl and then whisk.
8. Stir in 1 pot of chocolate chips.
9. Pour into prepared tin and bake for 30-45 minutes.

Check the cake after 30 minutes but no sooner or it will implode!

If the cake is not yet cooked return to the oven and check in intervals of 5 minutes.

*If it starts to brown but still is not cooked loosely cover it with tinfoil and then return to the oven. This could  just be a problem with my oven!!

Allow to cool if you can. I never do!!!

This recipe has been “tested” and ” approved” by a 3 year old friend of mine. It really is such an easy cake to make. It is not even very messy.  If you are worried just put a tea-towel under the mixing bowl and throw it in the wash afterwards.

There are so much learning opportunities in this yogurt cake. You will be talking about quantities and measuring them out using non-standard units. Your child will be counting out ingredients (1, 2, 3). Sequencing , which is part of the History curriculum, and following instructions is another important part of baking. There is also the fine motor control of measuring, pouring and mixing.

Exact accuracy is not required for this  chocolate chip yogurt cake. It is most forgiving!!! A little more or a little less of any ingredient will not have much of an effect.

It is a great basic cake mixture to play around it. Omit the choc. chips for these variations:

Lemon cake:  Omit vanilla extract. Add the zest of 2 lemons and drizzle with lemony icing sugar.

Marble Cake: Taken out a scoop of the mixed batter and added 2 heaped dessert spoons of cocoa. Pour  some of the “plain batter” into your tin. Add a scoop of “chocolate”. Add some vanilla… Alternate the flavours and then gently “swirl” the mixture in the tin using the handle of a spoon/knife.

Pear and vanilla: chopped tinned pears into cubes. Add the plain batter and bake.

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh

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## th workpack

As I have mentioned I am using the Literacy Lift Off Model of teaching literacy this term. I am in charge of phonics. It is pretty hectic trying to teach and consolidate a lesson in 10 minutes! I have been busy creating worksheets and games that help us along!

I spent quite a while coming up with a “th workpack”. I have included both sounds “th” as in them and “th” as in thick. Below are some of the sheets that I created for Power Hour last week.

I inserted the sheet below into a poly-pocket so that my pupils could write/erase using a whiteboard marker. We used it to explore where the “th” sound was in the word (beginning, middle, end) and then sounded out and wrote the word.

I used these sentence strips for consolidation at the end of the week. It was also a useful way to review capital letters and punctuation marks.

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh

## Literacy Lift Off & “Power Hour”

I am delighted that my class has started the literacy initiative “Literacy Lift Off”!!!  It is an intensive programme of Reading and Writing. Over the course of 1 hour pupils engage in a number of “stations” where activities are tailor made to their own level of competency over time we  gradually lift the complexity of  the what they can do in both reading and writing.

The aim of Literacy Lift-Off is to make pupils constructive learners. It teaches them ‘how’ to problem-solve independently.

Children are divided up into small groups ( max 7 per group). There are 5 stations and children spend 10 minutes at each. By the end of the hour they will have visited each activity and will take home their “new read” for homework.

There are now 5 adults in my room from Monday-Thursday and this is what we are up to!!

Purpose: Development of enjoyment, fluency, comprehension and speed.

Children will explore and then take home a new reader each day. This challenges the pupils to discover new ways to go beyond their current operating ability and lift their literacy processing.

Purpose: Pupils learn to use strategic activities to read new texts.

Station 3: Phonics
Children are supported to improve their abilities in  blending & segmenting words ( to make and break words) through lots of games and activities.

Purpose: To show children how words work, so that they can make a fast visual analysis of their reading

Station 4: Writing
Pupils write sentences using words that they encounter in their readers and the high frequency words that they are studying.

Purpose: That they will learn how they can write their own messages by hearing and recording sounds in words, using analogy and learning unusual words.

Station 5: High Frequency Words
Through games and small group instruction pupils learn to read the most common HFW appropriate to their age

Purpose: Children become aware of “tricky words” that allow them to access text with greater ease and to increase their reading fluency and accuracy.

“Power Hour” as we are calling it is a fantastic reading initiative and I cannot wait to see the results. The school has invested thousands of euro and lots of “teacher power” into Literacy Lift Off !!! I am so grateful to all of those who have  been involved in fundraising over the last number of year.

The kids are LOVING it so far. Mind you, I have never been busy. The team have been meeting 2o minutes early every morning since it started. I spent a few hours planning this weekend for the coming week only!!!

Watch this space as I will be keeping you up to date on our “Power Hour” activities.

If any of you are already doing LLO I would love to hear from you. Any tips or advice for newbies?!!

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh

## Counting Bricks and basic maths concepts

Do you ever “lose” an online resource? I played this Counting Bricks game before Christmas and forgot to bookmark it! I failed to locate it in the history on my work p.c and spent the last 30 min online trying to locate it. Frustrating! I had only played it once before and couldn’t remember anything apart from builders and bricks!

It is a really fun game for Junior or Senior Infants to play. I really love that they whistle as they wheel their barrows! Counting bricks had a definite appeal to the boys in my class when we played it. I know that I harp on about this but most online games seem a bit “girly” to me. So few of them set out to capture the attention of boys.

Counting bricks is a wonderful game to demonstrate the connection between concrete (objects)and the abstract sum. Just wait and see. It is soooooo clear!

Correctly add the bricks and input the number and “bing” you get to move on to another sum…

Just in case you are curious about the cause of my frantic searching for this game I thought I would clue you in. Developing early mathematical concepts requires lots of “hands on activity” to take children from counting from rote memorization to an understanding of number operations.

Counting bricks represents numbers in a very clear manner:

• the blocks are colour coded so we can see the correspondence between 2 bricks in the first pile and the numeral 2 at the start of the sum.
• the blocks are large enough to easily count
• the blocks are clearly divided into 2 sets as our sum has two distinct parts ( 2 and 3 more)

I also love that this game isn’t timed. I can leave it on the whiteboard or PC for as long as I need to explore the concept. You have could have your pupils join in “building the sum” with Unifix cubes or “counting on” using their number line for example.

As I know that many of those who follow my blog are parents I thought that I would give you a brief explanation around some of the counting skills promoted in this game. We sure “play” a lot in maths class but there is a very good reason behind it

One-one-correspondence

The ability to match numbers to objects or object to object. One and only one number word can be matched to each and every object we count. “I say one when I touch one cube, I say 2 when I touch the 2nd cube…”

Cardinality

The number name given to the last object tells you how many objects you have counted in total.

Subitising

To recognise small numbers without counting them.

Cardinality & Subitising:

When children well developed skills we should encourage them to “count on”.

If they can instantly recognise that there are 2 bricks in the first set they can “count on” from this for the second set “2, 3, 4, 5″ rather than counting each brick individually starting from one.

I would expect Senior Infant children to be able to “call out” most of the sums in this game without the need to “count” the bricks. They should be able to recognise the numbers and simply say “3 and 2 makes…”. Being able to give the answer by subitising would be great too, if not allow them to count the bricks by touching them in one-to-one-correspondence.

I hope that you found this post useful . I know that my class will be playing it tomorrow. Will you?!

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh

## Possum Magic

Possum Magic is a great story to purchase if you want to explore the Australian bush with your child/class. I had never heard of it until my friend Brooke brought it from New South Wales to me. She even got us a cute cuddly possum too!!

Here’s a synopsis of the Possum Magic from bookdespository.co.uk:

“Grandma Poss makes bush magic. And her best trick of all is making Hush invisible. Now Hush will truly be safe from snakes.But one day Hush wants to become visible again. Grandma Poss looks and looks, but she can’t find the right magic. Then she remembers. It’s something to do with food! People food–not possum food. So the two set off on what becomes a fascination culinary tour of the cities of Australia to find the magic that will make Hush visible again.”

Possum Magic has been a real voyage of discovery for all of us. We all seem to have an Australian connection these days. My brother works in Onslow, Perth and knows all about protecting the bush and its indigenous wildlife. Lots of my pupils have family members in Australia also. I even have one pupil who lived there a few years ago.

Possum Magic very cleverly takes you on a tour of all the major state capitals tasting typically Australian foods: Sydney, Darwin, Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne, Perth and Hobart. Canberra, the national capital, isn’t included as it wasn’t a state capital.

Aside from the Koala  no bush animals were recognised by my pupils. I have to admit that I could identify the animals but not so much the foods! Well pavlova and steak were fine but of the others the only two that I had ever heard of were anzac biscuits and Lamingtons. Of those the only one that I had tasted was the Anzac biscuits. A very nice Australian Mom brought some to school for my class a long, long time ago. I think that I taught her child in Junior Infants and she is in 5th now! Anyway, I did some research and made my very own anzac biscuits for my class today. Click here if you are feeling the urge to make some Anyone know anything about lamingtons ?!

Any other suggestions of books that would allow us to explore other countries in a fun way? I would love to hear your suggestions.

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh

1 Comment »

## Anzac Biscuits

My class and I have been reading Possum Magic for the last week since my good friend Brooke brought it to us from New South Wales. We have learned lots of fun facts about the Australian bush. I will be blogging more about it later this week.

Today’s post is for those of you who have requested the Anzac Biscuit recipe that I used for our reading today. My kids happily munched their way through an Anzac biscuit as I read to them. Cute!!!! You can see some photos of my cookies on my Facebook page.

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh

1 Comment »

## What time is it Mr. Wolf?

Have you enjoyed the Cambridge Interactive clock ?! My class did and seem to have taken to telling the time with great ease. I am pretty sure that the ease and speed at which they grasped the concept of time has thanks to some great interactive resources. I don’t think that I have ever found it easier to teach  We even did well on the hardest level where the numbers were removed from the clock. I am very proud of my kiddos for this!!!

What time is it Mr. Wolf  is a really fun game and proved a great hit. It was a great way to consolidate their skills further. It is very simple to use and also promoted literacy skills as they had to read number words 1-12 and then move the hands on the clock accordingly. As with the Cambridge Interactive Clock only the hour had moves.

Children have a choice of moving the hands clockwise and anti-clockwise to create the correct time. I encouraged children to move the hands in a clockwise manner as some are a little shaky at counting backwards. I was pleasantly surprised at how many intuitively chose to go anti-clockwise when it was the most sensible and quickest way to the requested time! They knew to go backwards from 8pm to 6pm rather than going all around the clock.

For my pupils the greatest joy came from entering the incorrect answer rather than the correct one. LOL! They just loved to see poor Little Red Riding Hood devoured by the wolf! Seriously, they would show me the correct answer on the clock face and then beg to “make a mistake” just to have her eaten!!!

I hope that your kids have as much fun playing What time is Mr. Wolf as much as mine did!

Miss Mernagh

Have fun,

## The Wonky Donkey

This is hands down the funniest book I have ever read! It isn’t strictly speaking a Christmas story. The fact that it is about a donkey prompts me to read it at this time of year. I only purchased it last year but it already seems like Christmas classic to me.

The Wonky Donkey very funny, cumulative story.  Each page tells us something new about the donkey until we end up with a:

“spunky, hanky-panky, cranky, stinky dinky, lanky, honky tonky, winky wonky donkey”

This book is guaranteed to have children in fits of uncontrollable laughter! My class last year begged me to read it over and over and over again. I can hardly wait to read it with my class next week.

You can purchase The Wonky Donkey from Book Depository at 4.74 Euro

Happy Christmas,

Miss Mernagh

## Jesus’ Christmas Party

Well, it’s that time of year again! I thought that I would share some of my favourite Christmas stories with you this week while you still have time to purchase them. Today’s story is about the real message of  Christmas that all too often gets lost under wrapping paper and tinsel.

Jesus’ Christmas Party is an absolute treasure! It tells the story of Christmas from the Inn Keeper’s perspective. Needless to say he is less than impressed with the constant interruption to his sleep. Some of the one liners in the book are just hilarious.

It is wonderful to see how all the characters in the book come together to celebrate the birth of Jesus. The Inn Keepers hear melts when he sees the infant Jesus in the manger.

My class are performing this story as their Jesus’ Christmas Party Christmas Play this year. It will be magical…

Jesus’ Christmas Party is available from bookdepository.com for only 7.49 Euro with free delivery.

Merry Christmas,

Miss Mernagh

## I love “Bee the Book”!

My class had a tonne of fun with this book today!  It’s called Bee the Book.

My class laughed so hard that some of them almost cried! When I read out the “pig” page I swear they could hardly breathe!

The design is so novel and interactive that you can’t help but love it. You hold the book up to your face and look through the hole.

There is a little flap that opens to reveal a little story about the animal that you are “beeing” . The words are nice and simple and written in a large font size. Senior Infants should have no problem reading it.

I was thrilled to come across 100% Irish publication to support. It’s an absolute bargain a 9.99 Euro!

I have to admit that I actually used the book for Oral Language and Drama rather than story-time. We love to play Hedbanz and this book can be used in a similar way. Children can give clues to the child “beeing” the book to help him/her guess the animal. There was lots of descriptive language going on. For an extra challenge we had a round where the child with the book could only ask ” yes/no”questions of the class to figure  out who he/she is.

I also did a quick review of  farm animals “as Gaeilge”. I will be doing lots more of this next week. The animals in the book are perfect for Junior or Senior Infant Irish. I will be using it to review the phrases:

• An… me?
• Is… tu.

Bee the Book has teamed up with Bee for Battens. They are currently donating a whopping 50% of profits from the sale of the book to the charity. Battens disease is a rare neuro-degenerative and always fatal condition that affects children. At 9.99 Euro ” Bee the book” would make a great stocking filler and support families and children affected by Battens Disease.

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh

## Number Concentration Game

Here is fun number concentration game for your Junior or Senior Infant to play. The sound effects are fun. It is not as simple as it seems! You need to count the objects and remember how many there are and then match it to the correct numeral. You really do need to concentrate

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh