# missmernagh.com

## Homework and learning fun for 3-7 year olds!

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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## 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

## Learning to tell the time

My class have been learning to tell the time this week. Our objectives were to:

• develop an understanding of the concept of time through the use of appropriate vocabulary
• read time in one-hour intervals

I wanted to share some of the great interactive “telling the time” resources that we used this week.

By far the best interactive teaching tool I used was the Primary Clock from Cambridge University Press. It was an absolutely invaluable teaching resource! You’ve got to admit that is is pretty cute too

It was such a relief to find this resource. I just love games that are customizable to specific curriculum objectives. The Cambridge Primary Clock ticked all the boxes in that regard. I can be used to explore telling the time at many different levels:

I could hardly believe my luck when I saw this! There are precious few games online that deal with telling time in one hour intervals. Many of those that I found were for children to match the time  to how it would read on a digital clock. Great games, but they don’t meet Irish curricular objectives.

To use you simply click on the orange hand and the time changes. It is so clear that only the small hand moves. Love it!

You can change the settings and have children

This level of the Cambridge Clock challenges children to “read” the words associated with telling them time. A great link up with literacy and the language of maths/time.

This level of the Cambridge Clock requires pupils to match the correct numeral below to the time shown on the clock:

What about this for a final challenge?!!! Anyone know what time it is?! I am going to play this level with my class next week. I wonder how they will get on? Can’t wait to see their faces when I make the numbers disappear from the clock

Do you have any games that you would recommend? Send me an email, tweet or Facebook it. I would love to hear from you!

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh

## 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

## Top Tips for Fluent Reading

Those of you in the Wexford area might be interested in attending a talk that I am giving to mark National Parents Week 2012! I am so, so excited to have been asked by the Wexford County Childcare Committee.

I will be covering reading fluency from Pre-School to 6th Class. During the course of the hour you will learn:

• how to choose an appropriate level of story for your child to read
• my top tips on how to sound out words ( including “digraphs”)
• the importance of Dolch Words/ High Frequency Words
• reading strategies for 2nd class +
• the importance of reading for 20min a day
• how to make reading a habit
• lists of my favourite websites, authors and where I source my books

I hope to see some of you at the talk. Please tell your friends if they live in the area!

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh

# ”A picture paints a 1000 words!”

I created PowerPoint presentations last year for most of  the poems I used in Senior Infant Maith Thu. It worked wonderfully. My class just loved the graphics spinning around! It also circumvents the need to translate ( seeing as it is not allowed ). I would really encourage you to try it out of you have not already done so.

As I am still having technical difficulties with my interactive whiteboard I have created some that can be just printed off and displayed as a timeline. The images are for the poem 1, 2 muc ‘is bo.

Here are some of the images:

I hope that you like them! I am curious as to whether or not these are things that you would like to see on my site in future. Please leave a comment below or email me info@missmernagh.com. If enough people are interested I will create more for you!

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh

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## Ikea Lust!

I just collected my latest Ikea additions . I am really looking forward to using them on Monday.

The little tumblers will have a new life holding crayons and glue. My “teams” have corresponding colours so there will be no problems finding their resources

The large red boxes will store my phonics resources.

The blue boxes will be filled to the brim with Unifix cubes, all ready for maths class. I finally have 5 containers, one for each team. Yippee!!! It will be such a breeze to distribute and store counters now. No more bowls piled high.

The total bill came to 22.55euro including lids which is not bad. Of course, I would love more… It is probably a good thing that I don’t live in Dublin as I would be broke. Thankfully I have friends who will pick up and even deliver items to me ! A big shout out to Anne Marie and Eoin.

Any other teachers with similar addictions? I guess there must be a support group out there somewhere!

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh

## Back to school!

I am so excited to be returning to school. I have been busy, busy, busy setting up my classroom. It is really starting to come together.

Thanks to my friend Anne Marie I have loads of super cute Ikea storage boxes to keep everything in order. I am picking up more of them tomorrow. Apparently she is helping to facilitate some OCD tendencies?! Hopefully it will make life easier for both myself and the wonderful SNA assisting in my room this year.

Here is a peak at the Bulletin Board outside my room. It was super difficult to get a good shot as the corridor is narrow.

As you can see I “tagged” each owl with a child’s name. I just need to add my “Momma” owl and we are pretty much done.

I don’t usually post photos of my room but I wanted to show you all how “cute” it turned out

Are you ready for school? I am praying that my interactive whiteboard will be repaired early next week!!! All of my classroom preparation over the summer is in a digital format. I have tonnes of resources all on “pause” until it is repaired. It will be an interesting first day without all of those resources. Looks like I will have to go “old school” and make cardboard flashcards etc. Yikees!

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh

## More Classroom Rules Posters

It has been great to get so much feedback on my Classroom Rules Posters. It is so interesting to see what rules you all use in your classrooms. I hope that this will be a great help to New Teachers or those who are teaching Infants for the first time.

I just love, love, love  getting requests! This one is especially for Tonya. I hope she likes it! There are two versions to choose from.

If you would like to request a poster email me: info@missmernagh.com

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh

`ps The seriously cute clipart is from www.djinkers.com`

## An Owl Themed Classroom

I have been busy planning and creating resources for my classroom. The start of the school year is only a few short weeks away! I have had a request from Denise to post a few pictures so here they are!

This will be an Owl themed Bulletin Board for outside my classroom:

My “Momma Owl” is almost finished. I need to locate my Twistables and add some details to her tummy to make it look nice and feathery. I also need to some pins to make her wings adjustable. I want to be able to pose her with some of her babies.

Cute or what?! I just fell in love with these as I was making them.

I have made 32 owl babies, one for each of my pupils. I will write a name on each owl before pinning them to a branch. When I re-decorate the noticeboard they may adorn coat cooks etc. I think that they are pretty cute. I have made them in lots of different colours. No two are the same, just like my pupils, all unique…

Here is the start of my owl family. I think that they will look super cute when the display is finished. I need to purchase lots of green card and paper to begin constructing my tree. Looks like another early morning trip to The Treasury is required. It’s so busy with parents buying books that I have to be there by 9am.

Have you created anything for your classroom yet? Why not send me a photo if you have. I am sure that other teachers would love to have a peak and get some new ideas for September

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh

## Even more seriously cute classroom rule posters!

I mentioned in my last post that I would be delighted to modify or create classroom rule posters for you. Here are some that have been requested.  I hope you like them!

I was asked to create a poster that showed the value of sharing. Here are three variations on the theme:

Using kind words  was a little tricky to find graphics for. I hope that you are pleased with the results. I am

I have created a new PDF containing all of my classroom rules including these new ones.

Keep your requests coming.  I love hearing from you guys! Email me at info@missmernagh.com.

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh

## Seriously Cute Classroom Rules Posters

It’s hard to believe that it is almost that time of year again! I am taking a brief respite from my “preparing your child for school series”. It is not only children who are preparing for school but the teachers too!

I decided to spruce up my “Classroom Rules” posters for the coming year. I spent an absolute age on these! I  really hope that you like them and find them to be useful

My classroom theme for this year is centred on “Owls” hence the owl on the first poster. I have the perfect puppet and lots more owl themed goodies all waiting to be laminated. I am really starting to get excited!

Do you have a theme for your classroom every year? Last year I did “Miss Mernagh’s Superstars!”. This years is….”Senior Infants is a Hoot!!!”. Don’t you just love it?! I would love to hear from you if you have a theme. There’s always next year

I created these  classroom rules posters for my own personal use so the term “she” is used in the last image. If you would like this with the word “he” please drop me an email at info@missmernagh.com and I will send it straight to your inbox. How about that for service

Similarly, if there is a rule that you would like added let me know and I will create it for you. It would drive me nuts to post an odd poster on my wall. I would have to have the set matching.

Here is a quick refresher on some key points with regard to classroom rules:

•  There are two types of rules: positive and negative . Positive rules focus on what a pupil should do. The focus of these rules are to encourage pupils to adopt suitable and appropriate behaviours. Negative rules state what should not be done and their main focus in on  and focus is on misbehavior. Positive rules encourage use of positive interactions, while negative rules focus on punishment (Bicard, 2000)
• Classroom expectations must be clear, concise, and explicit so that students can understand them and how to behave in order to follow them (Quinn et al., 2000).
• An optimal number of rules is between 3-5.  (Bicard, 2000; Heins, 1996; McGinnis, Frederick, & Edwards, 1995; Short, Short & Blanton, 1994)
• Classroom rules should be stated in the “positive“, presented visually and consistently enforced.
• Classroom rules should focus on specific observable behaviors rather than nonspecific generalities (Kostewicz, Ruhl & Kubina Jr, 2008)

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh

```P.S:Graphics
The border, owl and star graphics are all DJInkers, the children with their hands raiseD is discoveryschool.com and the rest are Microsoft Word.```

## Memory Book to mark the end a another school year.

It is getting close to the end of the year and I thought that I would remind you all of the cute Memory Book that I created last year. I will be shaking the dust off it and using with my class in the coming weeks. It is a really great end of year activity and hopefully something that a parent would treasure.

It is a lovely way to help children reflect on their year in school. I have created pages that cover favourite subjects, friendship, maths, spelling, handprints, autographs, what I want to be when I grow up… The list goes on. It is a 12 page document.

Children love filling them in. They especially like gathering autographs from classmates. It tends be be a bit chaotic but a lot of fun

Here is a sample page from my booklet: