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 🙂

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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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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 🙂