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 🙂

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 🙂

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

Free Roll Say Keep Printable

I decided to “funk up” a very, very old favourite resource of mine: “Roll, Say, Keep”. “Roll Say Keep” is just one of those incredibly useful and versatile resources. All you need to play is a dice, relevant flashcards and a “Roll Say Keep” template per child.

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How to use “Roll Say Keep” in your classroom or home:

High Frequency word practice

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Phonics practice:

Here we were practicing phonemes and digraphs

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Here we were practicing “ee/ea” sounds

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Maths Facts:

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The list of uses for “Roll Say Keep” is pretty much endless!!!! My Differentiated Instruction Cubes are making another appearance in this blog post. They are one of my top 5 favourite teacher resources of all time. I swear that I’d be lost without them!!! You can purchase them here.

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I have inserted 5 Frame images in this instance to encourage “subitising” of number as well as literacy practice. Double whammy. Love it!!!

How to play:

Roll the dice and find the corresponding flashcards e.g Roll a 6 and you must read/answer the card in the number 6 dice box. If you can read/answer it you keep it.The card is removed from the gameboard and another placed in that box. The winner is the first to correctly win “X” number of flashcards. If the word/answer if unknown remove it from the board too and set aside for practice either/instruction.

You can download my free ‘Roll Say Keep’ template by clicking here: roll say keep.

 

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Frozen Themed Phonics Game

With “back to school” around the corner I figured that you might be in the market for a fun phonics game! By using “Frozen” as my theme it is still “Winter-themed” but with no reference to Santa!!!  My Frozen  themed phonics game is designed for your pupils to revise or explore “ai words”.

Frozen is very simple to make and to set up. You simply need a large bag of cotton wool balls /snowballs and to laminate the “ai” words sheets provided. Cut out the snowballs and toss them into a container. My pupils really loved “digging in the snow” to find the “ai” words. My Frozen  themed phonics game would be a great addition to your Literacy Lift Off stations.

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The “winner” gets to take home a lovely certificate :Screen Shot 2016-01-02 at 14.47.18

Detailed instructions on how to play my Frozen themed phonics game are included in the download. Enjoy!!!

Click here to download my Frozen ai game.

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Pocket It template for Combining and Partitioning Number

I posted some photos during the week of my Pocket It template on my Facebook Page. Please hop on over and give me a “like” if you haven’t already done so. I often post photos of what is happening in my classroom on this page. It’s a great way to see what I am up to on an almost daily basis.

Here are some of those photos:

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I use my Pocket It template for Combining/Composing and Partitioning/Decomposing number. Apologies for the duplication of maths terms in the previous sentence. I am conscious that  different terms are used in different parts of the world. Here in Ireland we use the terms Composing and Decomposing. It seems that the U.S and Australia use the tees Combining and Partitioning. I thought I would use both terms as I like to be inclusive :)!

My photos generated some requests for the Pocket It template. It seems that when I originally created it I inadvertently forgot to save the copyright information for the clipart :(. I searched my computer and the internet, but alas they exact images eluded me…

I hate to disappoint so I created a new version of Pocket It, complete with copyright information. So… Here it is…

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I hope that you will love this version too! Click here to download Pocket It.

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Prim-Ed’s Gross Motor Skills Development Activities

I recently found a fantastic Prim Ed resource, Gross Motor Skills Development Activities. It would be an amazing resource for Learning Support Teachers, Resource Teachers, Infant Teachers, Aistear, Pre-School Teachers,  or parents of children with coordination difficulties. Because I love you all so much I have even given you a curriculum match up guide so keep reading!
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Over the years I have taught many children with Dyspraxia and other coordination difficulties. It’s  great to have a resource that you can dip in and out of. Gross Motor Skills Development Activities is very easy to follow and extremely comprehensive:

  • Seven sections  which cover- Spatial and body awareness; Locomotor skills; Ball skills; Equipment; Sensory tables; Creative play; and Games, obstacles and relays

I have to say that the that I will definitely be using Gross Motor Skills Development Activities when I sit down to plan my P.E Scheme next year. It ticks so many boxes in the P.E Curriculum:

  • Creative Movement
  • Travelling
  • Jumping & Hopping
  • Throwing & Catching
  • Rolling
  • Batting
  • Parachutes
  • Hula hoops
  • Skipping ropes
  • Games
  • Obstacles Courses

Here are some samples to whet your appetite:

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We have a few commerically bought scoops but not enough. I will definitely be making my own now that I have read this. Inspired! They would also be much, much easier to catch a ball with. I can start with these homemade ones and then advance to the others. SCORE!

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There are lots of Black Line Masters/BLM’s that would make station teaching so much easier to plan for and set up. They are clear, large and well illustrated:

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In fact, I was sooooo excited to see how useful this book would be from P.E class in general that I sat down and created this!:

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If you would like a copy of my table showing exactly how Prim-Ed’s Gross Motor Skills Development Activities exactly maps onto our P.E Curriculum click here. It will make you planning a lot easier 😉 I clearly have too much time on my hands, LOL!!!

Click here to purchase Prim-Ed’s Gross Motor Skills Development Activities or to view sample pages.

For those of you who follow my blog from abroad it is worth noting that Prim-Ed’s Gross Motor Skills Development Activities is available as a digital download. Click here to purchase as a digital download.

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

The Gingerbread Man Dolch Pre-Primer Game

Today’s post was heavily requested following the photos I uploaded to Facebook last week. It was a big hit with my kiddos so it should go down well with yours too 😉

I am always trying to create fun ways of learning/practicing Dolch Words. I will be teaching my class to read the Pre-Primer List:

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Click here to download the above sheet from mrsperkins.com

I created the Gingerbread Man game as we were reading it for our story that week. I try to theme teach where possible. I found some fabulous glittery pipe cleaners in the art section of Tesco. The red ones were just perfect for a mouth, after I cut each pipe cleaners into thirds. I also used buttons and mini pop-poms from Mr. Price to allow them to “build” their gingerbread man. I slipped 5 words and fox into my Carson-Dellosa Differentiated Instruction Cubes. Regular followers will be acquainted with my long running obsession with my Carson-Dellosa Differentiated Instruction Cubes! Once they had coloured in their Gingerbread Man, we were all set to play!

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They just roll the dice and read the word The first person to complete his/her Gingerbread Man shouts “Run, run as fast as you can! You can’t catch me, I’m the gingerbread man!”. Rolling a fox is effectively “miss a turn” and the game rotates back the following direction. You should hear the groans and moans when the game swaps direction around the circle!!!

I create the Dolch Pre-Primer words and the Fox to exactly fit my Carson-Dellosa Differentiated Instruction Cubes. You could print multiple copies of the words,  place them face down and have pupils draw a card to play. I would highly recommend purchasing the cubes if you are a classroom teacher!

Here are some photos of the game being played last week I particularly like to one with the sad face. Clever, no?!

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Click here to download the Gingerbread Man sheet (available as colour and B&W)

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Click here to download the game cards for your Differentiated Instruction Cube:

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Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

 

Prim-Ed: Cutting Skills Series

I like to spend a lot of time at the beginning of the year working on fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. I feel that it is always time well spent. It can be tempting to jump into handwriting as it takes and age to teach all 26 letters of the alphabet not to mention the trauma of writing words and sentences! Oh man, it can be hard, hard work!!!

I was really excited when Prim-Ed gave me one of their Cutting Skills books to road test. You can see that I used Stage 4. I already had an ancient cutting skills book from Prim-Ed, an oldie but a goodie, which is out of print.

 

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Click here to visit the Prim-Ed website and see some sample pages

I have to say that I really liked this cutting skills book, as did my pupils. It has lots of challenges that are introduced in a really gradual way. This allows children to move on in very small increments. I really, really like this! I love that this Developing Cutting Skills book covers just corners and curves. Most, but not all,  of my pupils were already able to cut along straight lines. Some were actually completely unable to use a scissors which is another issue entirely.

There is a great assortment of worksheets to choose from. There are some really simple sheets that allow you to just cut along a curved line and even indicate where you should place your fingers when holding the sheet. Then there are more that involve pupils cutting out large animals and masks. These were a big hit as we had explored Dear Zoo in literacy. My kids loved colouring and cutting out their Zoo Animals! I swear that my classroom sounded like a Zoo at times with all of the animal sound effects that accompanied their cutting 😉 Some of these sheets have tricky nooks and crannies to cut out. It is interesting to see who could potentially grow up to be a brain surgeon, cutting with great care and precision, and who can “hack” things to bits. Couldn’t come up with a career path to turn this hacking skill into a positive. Any ideas?  Leave a comment below!!!

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The “jigsaw” format ones are easier to cut out and come earlier in the book. Some of my kids found pasting them back together to be a much, much tricker process. They are learning to take time to lay the pieces out in the correct order and glue them down one piece at a time. It seems that making jigsaws might be a thing of the past. With each passing year I see more children challenged by them. Shame, they are so important for fine motor control and visual discrimination skills.

 

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I am so, so proud of my kiddos emerging skills that I have created this fun certificate. I will be presenting them to my class later this week. I am hoping that it will provide an incentive to some to slow down and stop attacking their page with the scissors, lol! I know that they are actually more skilful than it can first appear. When I sit beside them and remind them to  cut slowly using “small bites” of the scissors their cutting skills blow me away.  Turn around and count to 3 and it’s Edward Scissorshands!

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I am really happy with my Developing Cutting Skills Book. Well done Prim-Ed. It will be a well used teacher resource for years to come! If you have looked at the photos of our Pumpkins you will see just how skilled my kiddos have become at cutting. I am one proud Teacher!

If you would like to download a copy of my  Cutting Skills Certificate please click here. It is available in both black and white and in colour.

 

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 18.12.20Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

 

Free Pumpkin Art Printable

I have to say that Autumn is probably my favourite season! I just love the colours, the flavours and the crisp mornings. It is allows me to do lots and lots of fun thematic teaching too! My class are fast becoming experts on all thing relating to apples and pumpkins.

I posted a photo on Facebook the other day of some Pumpkin Art that I had completed with my class. It got lots of favourable comments and some requests for a copy.

As promised, here it is in time for the next school week. Click here for a link to the Pumpkin Colouring Page. Click here for the facial features. 

Here is how to make my Halloween Pumpkin:

  • Pupils start by drawing the “ribs” on the pumpkin using a peach Crayola Twistable. It’s the pale colour that comes in the pack
  • Cut out and glue facial features onto pumpkin
  • Colour in the stem

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Then I “curled” some narrow strips of green paper using a ruler and stapled it to the stem. Et Voila… The finished pumpkin

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Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

First Day at School Routine

I have received a number of emails and messages on Facebook about my “First Day at School” Routine. Drum ROLL… Here it is!

Classroom Set-up

I begin by placing a toy on each table. I try to put out an appealing assortment. Some that girls might gravitate towards and some for boys. I only set up table top toys for the first day. The Farm Set is usually used with the mat that you can see on the floor. For that morning only it was placed on the table.

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I also like to create an ambience by playing some fun kids music in the background. I think that it feels more welcoming. Especially for the first few to arrive. It can be a little quiet and serious if not.

I also ensure that coat hooks are tagged and that I have sufficient space for lunchbox storage. I’m all about routine people, even on ESPECIALLY on the first day. I feel that establishing routines from Day 1 gives my pupils a feeling of security and empowers them with independence. They will only need gently prompting the following day on where to put their lunchboxes etc.

I also have “Dropbox” on my windowsill ready for all of the notes and classroom expenses envelopes. I find it to be indispensable. The kids love popping notes, drawings etc. into Dropbox in the mornings. It also means that the likelihood of putting a note down somewhere and spending the next hour panicking about its wherebaouts  is gone. If I see parents with envelope/notes I explain that we will be using Dropbox and send them over to it

Here is a rather beat up Dropbox from the end of the last school year.

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I like to ‘Meet and Greet” each pupil, shaking hands, introducing myself and “stickering” them. Is “stickering” a verb? It really should be 😉 Our wonderful secretary, Shannen, always has a set of stickers ready for the first day or too. She’s the bomb!

After Mom and Dad have left

If the kiddos are settled I just let them continue playing while I empty school bags. I remove all books and any monies that I find. I will sort through these after school.

I introduce the class to “Whole Brain Thinking” and we practice ‘Class? Yes!” and “Look at your teacher when she speaks”. These are the two class rules and procedures that we will focus on for the coming days. If you are interested in learning more about Whole Brain Thinking then click here. I have used it for the past 2 years and love it!

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We also learn about “Teams/Groups”. I use Colours to distinguish between each group. If you look below you will see that I use coloured lanterns to distinguish groups. I call groups to    hang up their coats, place lunch boxes on the shelf and to show them where the toilets. I also demonstrate our ‘Toilet Pass System’.

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Then we learn where to sit for ‘Floor Work’ and story time. This is how we will start our school day from now on. We read The Kissing Hand and met Chester.

Screen Shot 2014-08-30 at 14.59.22We then returned to our seats for our first piece of “work”. We had a Chester colouring sheet that read ‘Ask me to tell you about The Kissing Hand’. I thought that it might be useful for parents to chat about with their kids when they got home. I circulate and record who is right handed/left handed and who already has a well developed pencil grip.

After our colouring sheet we learned the “2 Little Feet” poem below. It will be one of our movement break activities for the year. Click here to download.

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Then we had our lunch and went out to play. When we returned from the yard I gave my class their gift of “Magic Play-doh”. Click here to learn about Magic Play-doh. It’s a really old blogpost. I seriously need to save up and buy a camera!!!

I then presented each child with a “Hoot Hoot Hurray'” certificate and we began packing to go home. Click here for  a link to the Hoot Hoot Hurray Certificate.

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Reading back over this post it seems like we did very little but honestly, we were flat out. We were even 10min late going home!!!

I know that you will not be able to find the same stories and certificates by Monday morning. Pick your own favourite kids story and see if you can find a corresponding colouring sheet. That allow parents a window into the world of their child’s first day. “So tell me about The Kissing Hand!”.  I would really encourage you to buy or create a certificate. Starting school is a huge milestone and should be celebrate. You certainly have time to make Magic Play-doh. It takes 4 min to make the doh and then a few more to roll into balls and add colouring. It’s great to see the excitement that it brings.

I hope that this helps all of you new Junior Infant/Kindergarten teachers out there. If you have any specific questions leave a comment below or visit missmernagh on Facebook.

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Starting School Series: Prim-Ed Pre-Writing Patterns Write On Posters

Well, it’s only 3 more sleeps until I meet my new class. I am pretty busy right now between setting up my classroom and planning for the first few weeks of school. Starting school means lots and lots of pre-writing activities. I am delighted to have a new “helper” this year 😉

Say hello to my new Prim-Ed Write-On Posters. I think that I might be in love! They are going to be a fantastic resource in the weeks to come.  I just “love” that they are:

  • A3 Sized- can be seen by kids when I demo. Hallelujah!!
  • Can be used with whiteboard markers or traced with fingers
  • Are double-sided: full colour on one side and blue and white on the other
  • Cute and colourful: I ♥ the Russian Doll and the birds!
  • They have all the patterns that I want to use. Yippeee!!!

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I know that they are  also going to be  an extra special support to children who struggle with pencil skills and directionality. If you have a kid in your class with fine-motor control difficulties then these will be indispensable. I just wish that I had them last year for one of my kiddos. It would have made a huge difference. I found myself photocopying sheets to A3 and laminating them to create my own home-made version of these. They were just black and white, though, and not so appealing.

I am looking forward to clipping my Write-On posters to my mini flip chart and giving hand-on demonstrations and practice. My kids will have no problem seeing or reaching the posters.

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If you are looking for whiteboard markers then these are my absolute favourites!!! They have a round tip like a marker and are nice and slim for little hands. They also rub away cleanly and easily. I have re-purchased them again for my class this year. Click here for a link. 

Don’t forget to check out my post on developing a good pencil grip. Click here to visit.

Prim-Ed New Wave Pre-Writing Patterns Write-On Posters are also a fantastic resource for Oral Maths and Mental Maths! I will be pulling out my Write-On Posters for lots of maths lessons:

Using the Christmas Tree for example:

  • Counting from 0-10:

How many candy canes/hearts/stars/baubles are on the Christmas tree?

  • Mental Maths/Oral Maths:

If there were as many gifts as there are hearts who many gifts would be under the tree?

How many children can have a candy cane if each child can only get one?

What season would it be? How do you know?

What else can you find on the top of a Christmas tree?

Let’s graph what we have on our trees and home and see which is the most popular: star or angel

  • Comparing:

Are there more baubles or hearts on the tree?

Which bauble is the biggest?

  • Algebra:

Who can find a colour pattern on the Christmas Tree?

I think that these Prim-Ed New Wave Pre-Writing Patterns Write On Posters are going to be a great addition to my pre-writing resources. At just under 20Euro they are not a bad price at all. Check back the week after next for some photos of the posters in my classroom.

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Two little feet go tap, tap, tap

Well, it’s only two sleeps until I head back to school and only three sleeps until I meet my new class. My Mom and I spent Friday morning setting up the classroom and hanging some decorations to welcome my new class. It’s always such an exciting time. No major changes to how I decorated my room this year. We are moving to a new school building in December so it seems silly to do too much chopping and changing. I will wait until I am in my new school to purchase new bulletin board borders etc. I have no real sense of what my new room will be like. I have lots of ideas that I am hoping will work in the new space…

It’s always handy to have some poems and rhymes for transitions. x Here is a copy of the poem that I will be using to settle my kid for floor work or when they need to get some “giggles” out. Two little feet go tap, tap, tap is a really cute poem that I have used before but kind of forgot about until the other day. I thought that if I typed it up really cutely and stuck it on my wall that I might remember to use it. I like to have a “print rich” classroom. I can’t wait until my class will be able to read it for themselves!

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Click here to download Two little feet go tap, tap, tap

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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

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Here’s a close up of the fingers:

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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 🙂