My Favourite Board Games to play with Pre-Schoolers and Infants

I have to admit that I have a bit of an obsession with board games. I always try to turn my lessons in school into games.

Why play board games?

From a cognitive perspective playing board games have a hugely positive impact on brain development. They help acquire logical and reasoning skills, boost critical thinking and spatial reasoning. Playing board games also support the learning of social and communication. They help improve verbal abilities and attention skills by encouraging a child concentrate and focus for longer periods of time. Games that involve dice develop mathematical skills such as 1-1 correspondence (I roll 2 on my dice and I count on 2 spaces). Did I also mention that it is a tonne of FUN!!!!

I thought that I’d share some of my favourites and a few recent purchases including one that is winging it’s way to me with Amazon.

My First Snakes and Ladders

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I don’t know how I survived so long without this one!!! It is for 3+years but suitable for all ages if you just want a quick game. It goes from 0-47. My First Snakes and Ladders has some really well thought out features. The squares on the board are huge! There are arrows to direct you on each level. The start and finish are obviously marked. I’d give this Marks and Spencers Game a 10/10 and I’m not that easily pleased.

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Just to note, I didn’t use the counters provided. I hate flat counters. I use the lids of Ella Organic Pouches. They come in an array of colours and are chunky enough for little hands to use.

Click here to purchase.

Plan Toys Mini Stacking Game; 4133

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This is a super fun mini-game that comes in a tin. It’s great to bring on a trip away, aeroplane, to a sleepover etc. Got to love small and portable. This game tests colour recognition and hand-eye coordination. You roll the coloured dice and place a counter of the corresponding colour on the tower. Great problem-solving skills promoted too. You need to work out what is the best counter to choose from the colour rolled and what way to place it.

This Plan Toys Stacking Game is part of a bigger series of Mini-Games and Toys that are perfect for throwing into your bag and can be played anywhere. I just know that I will end up purchasing the whole range. I purchased my Plan Toys Stacking Game from Babipur. Babipur is a fantastic website with tonnes of ethically manufactured toys and games.  I know that it can be daunting to purchase from a retailer that you haven’t heard of before. I have made many, many purchases from Babipur and I have never been disappointed.

Click here to purchase Plan Toys Mini-Stacking Game.

Little Circuit by Djeco 

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This game is beyond cute and a great way of teaching 1-1 correspondence. It is suitable from age 2 1/2 yrs to 5. I play it with a 2 1/2-year-old and it’s always a huge. hit.  You construct the game board for Little Circuit as if you are building a jigsaw. The counters are actual toy animals so they are easy to hold. It’s also a fun twist to have such large counters. You really do feel as if you are taking your animals for a walk.  You roll the coloured dice and move to the next square of that colour. If you roll a bee you move back and a flower allows you to move on.

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I purchased Little Circuit in an amazing shop called Pinocchio’s Toys & Gifts. It’s located on 2 Paul St, Cork, Ireland. It’s a street that runs parallel to Patrick’s Street. I am not joking when I say that I could happily spend my entire wage packet there! They have the most amazing wooden toys and a really good selection of DJECO toys. The staff are so friendly, helpful and knowledgable too. It’s a bit of a drive for me so I make it a “go to” destination before Christmas to stock up. You can find them on Facebook and on their website http://www.pinocchios.ie.

What are your favourite games? I’d love to hear. Leave me a message in the comments section.

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Twinkl, Twinkl… You are a star!

I wanted to let you all know about my new BFF: Twinkl. I have become a huge fan over the last year for a number of reasons.

My school is reducing the number of textbooks that pupils use. YAH!!! I’m not a big fan of workbooks. I won’t go into that now as it would be a blog post in itself. The knock on effect of no textbooks is a greater need for hands on resources, good quality hands on resources.

I will walk you through my year with no textbook for S.E.S.E (Science, History, Geography). Well, those are prop heavy topics when you don’t have resources laid on with a textbook.

I will give you a detailed example of how I created a unit based around minibeasts , Naturama and Twinkl resources.

I purchased Naturama on the advice of a colleague. Wow, what a book!!! Naturama is divided into the 4 Seasons. I based my minibeast and nature studies around the content  for each season. Basically, at the start of Autumn, Winter, Spring and Summer I whipped out Naturama. We read about the signs of the season and then went hunting for them.

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Click here to see more about Naturama.

I found the most perfect resources from Twinkl to accompany and support this unit for the entire school year. I created a bulletin board that we could update as the season progressed. I hope that you like it!!!

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I apologise for the poor quality of this photo. My classroom is so bright that it was really difficult to get a photo where nothing was glaring!!!

I began by printing my Minibeast Investigation Lab sign. Too cute to pass up!! Then I printed an laminated a copy of high quality photos of minibeasts. I also printed and laminated a Minibeast Hunt Checklist and a Minibeast Description Word Mat. I now had everything I need to explore minibeasts the whole year through!

We read, for example, Autumn in Naturama. I pulled out the photos of the minibeasts mentioned in the chapter. We explored them using the Minibeast Description Word Mat. We researched and learned about those that were unfamiliar.  The following lesson we reviewed what we would be likely to find on our minibeast hunt, where we would find them etc. Then it was off for our Minbeast Hunt!!!

At the end of the Minibeast Hunt we pinned up the minibeasts that we had located and checked them off on our Minibeast Hunt Checklist. We pondred why we did not locate some of those mentioned in Naturama: our school environment didn’t have a pond etc.

Those resources remained on your notice board ready for revisiting at the beginning of the next season. The permanent display kept the topic alive in our minds. Kids would excitedly tell me about what they saw at home, in the park… eager to get another photo up on the display!!! Our rule was that it must be located in our school habitat. We often did multiple minibeast hunts per season to see if we could add more to our wall of fame!!!

With the passing season more photos and checklists would be placed on the display. The checklists allowed and indeed encouraged us to compare and contrast our season finds.

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I hope that you find this blog post useful and that it encourages you to get out there and hunt for minibeasts. These resources would be great in any classroom or indeed any home. I love that I could print and use actual photos instead of the usual clipart ones that are available.

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

I was given access to TWINKL but all thoughts and opinons are my own.

Top Reads for Valentine’s Day

I thought that you might like to see my favourite books for Valentine’s Day. I have been busy updating my library and these are my latest purchases. You have just enough time to order them for your littles one’s Valentine gift so don’t delay…

The first is Love from the Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. This book is just adorable.

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This cute book explores what love means: ‘You are the cherry on my cake’

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‘You are the bees knees’

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It’s a small book with lots of sentiments. It would be a lovely gift for a Grandparent either… Just saying…

Click here to purchase Love from The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

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I Wish You More by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld is another heart-warming  book. A real feel good factor. It just warms your hear to read. How wonderful to hear someone telling you that:

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or

‘I wish you more stories than stars’

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It’s one for my top new finds. Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon and The Colour Monster make my current top 3 book purchases. Click here to purchase I Wish You More by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld

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Love Monster is a slightly hairy monster trying to fit in with the cuddly residents of Cutesville. But as it turns out, it’s hard to fit in with the cute and the fluffy when you’re a googly-eyed monster. And so, Love Monster sets out to find someone who will love him just the way he is. His journey is not easy―he looks high, low, and even middle-ish. But as he soon finds out, in the blink of a googly eye, love can find you when you least expect it.

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I won’t spoil the ending for you…!!! It’s a great book to explore how we all need someone to love and that we should never give up on finding it. Click here to purchase Love Monster. 

I hope that you have found a book or two to add to your Valentine collection.

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh

Books for little ones this Christmas​: Primary School edition

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I will be reading this one to my class over the coming weeks. A nice introduction to Winter without the mention of the “C” word!.  It is beautifully illustrated and has an almost vintage feel about it. I have fallen in love…

“Deep in the woods on the coldest day of winter a little boy drops his mitten. And that lost mitten stretches and stretches — and stretches — to provide shelter for many woodland creatures. A Ukrainian folk tale.” Purchase it here. 

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A twist on the classic Gingerbread man tale. Seriously, how cute is the Gingerbread Baby? He stole my heart years ago. I actually purchased this tonight but as a board book this time. I can’t wait to read it to a certain someone!

“Remember how the Gingerbread Boy is eaten by the fox? Well, not this Gingerbread Baby in a delicious twist to a favorite old tale.It all begins when Matti opens the oven too soon and out jumps a cheeky little Gingerbread Bay. He leads Matti’s mother and father, the dog and the cat. And a whole colorful cast of characters on a rollicking chase through the village and into the forest, staying just out of reach, daring them to catch him along the way.But Matti’s not with them. He’s at home in the borders making what turns out to be a gingerbread house into which the Gingerbread Baby runs. Only Matti knows he is safely inside. And readers will too when they look under the lift-the-flap gingerbread house at the end of the story, and there he is!” Purchase it here.

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Please, please purchase this gem of a book if you live in Ireland. I have purchased some as Christmas gifts and have ordered one for my class too. It is so very rare to find a specifically  Irish nature book. The authors have just knocked this one out of the ballpark!!! Incredibly accurate and detailed illustrations. Just enough information and facts to get you started. The Irish Wildlife Trust receive a commission for each book sold. What a great cause. Purchase it here.

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A big shout out to my dear friends Maria, Valeria and Hugo for introducing this to me. I have this on my literacy scheme for school. It’s a great way to open the topic of feelings and emotions. It’s a must for SPHE or indeed any home.

“One day, Colour Monster wakes up feeling very confused. His emotions are all over the place; he feels angry, happy, calm, sad and scared all at once! To help him, a little girl shows him what each feeling means through colour. A gentle exploration of feelings for young and old alike”. Purchase it here.

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Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Books for little ones this Christmas: Pre-school edition

One of my absolute favourite gifts to purchase for any child is a book. It’s my “go-to” for all occasions and celebrations. I thought that I’d take a few moments to list a few of my old and new favourites of the past year. There is still plenty of time to order them for the little ones in your lives!

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I am totally obsessed with this book and know it by heart since purchasing it a few month ago. It’s a great tale about respect, friendship and the power of friends coming together for a common goal. It is so well written that it just trips off the tongue. A fantastic story to get even the youngest child to join in. Purchase it here.

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It’s no secret that I am a huge Dr. Seuss Fan. “Wet foot, dry foot. Low foot, high foot…” It’s a great way to introduce opposites. It is chock full of Dr. Seuss rhyming so it’s a great read from cover to cover. Purchase here.

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I stumbled on this cute series at Halloween and made a few purchases. I am looking forward to reading this one in the coming weeks. When I say read, well it’s a word or two per page. It’s pretty much a picture book so you could let your imagination go wild on this one. You get to see them skating, sledding, and making snow angels and helping Duck decorate their Christmas tree. Cute, simple and one theme. Purchase it here. 

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I’ve owned this book for over 15 years. If you have an interest in the story of the Nativity then this is a must. A hilarious retelling from the perspective of the Inn Keeper. He is far from impressed with all of that knocking at his door!! Purchase it here.

Have fun,Miss Mernagh 🙂

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Platypus Reader Response Activity

I think that I might have Platypus, by Chris Riddell, for as long as I’ve been teaching. Well, maybe not quite that long but it’s a firm favourite.

“A big rock. Some slimy seaweed. An old shoe. None of these is quite what Platypus wants for his special collection. Then he finds a beautiful curly shell–perfect! But the next morning his curly shell is gone. Where can it be?
The star of a brand new series from acclaimed author-illustrator Chris Riddell, the thoughtful, lively, and always curious Platypus is a wonderful companion for every young child.”

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Platypus is just beyond adorable to read. I like to do so early in the year as it’s a very simple read and visiting the beach is not a dim and distant memory. It’s easier to make a “text to self-connection” to the beach in September than in December.

Now that I am teaching Senior Infants I have created a more text rich reader response activity to accompany our reading of Platypus by Chris Riddell. Platypus is a fan of collecting little trinkets and is looking to expand his collection. I have created two different reader response activities to accompany our reading of Platypus. Both involve making a “text to self-connection”. Here they are:

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Click here to download both

Platypus by Chris Riddell is a series of books. Unfortunately, I only own one. They only seem to be available on Amazon at the moment. Click here for a link. I’m a Book Depository kind of gal so I am a little bit disappointed by this. I’d really love to have the entire Platypus series.  I might have to bite the bullet and order them from Amazon. I know that they will be well worth it.

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh

Back to school prep: Speeding Tickets

Speeding Tickets for classrooms seem to be the next big thing on Pinterest. Have you ever used them?! I seem to spend a lot of time writing notes on textbooks and worksheets to that effect. Same kids every time but that’s a different story… Do you feel me?

Anyway, I’ve been tempted to use Speeding Tickets in the past but they always seemed to wordy for my little kiddos. I was messing around with graphics the other day and decided to try my hand at making my own Speeding Tickets. My speeding tickets don’t have that many words on them at all. I wanted to keep them simple and clear so my Senior Infants can read them. I think the simple act of stapling a Speeding Ticket to their work should a great way to reinforce the need to take time and care when completing assignments.

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I generally don’t blog about resources that I haven’t used yet. Obviously, I am on Summer Break and haven’t yet trialed them. Let me know what you think.

Let me know what you think. Do you have any tips to share?

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Click here to download my speeding ticket pdf. I simply photocopied mine onto red card to make them “pop”.

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂