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 🙂

Christmas Stocking Fillers: Storybooks for 5-8yr olds

Here are two amazing Chapter Book Series for you to consider as stocking fillers. Remember, it’s equally as important to read to your child as it is for him/her to read to you. It exposes children to language that is beyond their capacity to read themselves. Modelling reading also acts as a support and encouragement to your child to read.

Junie B. Jones is a fantastic series of Chapter Books to get your littles ones hooked on reading. There are soon many books it this series. I love when you can get a kid hooked on a “series” of books. It takes the guess work our of “what will we read next?”. It’s worth noting that Junie B. Jones is available as box sets too.

“Barbara Park’s New York Times bestselling chapter book series, Junie B. Jones, is a classroom favorite and has been keeping kids laughing—and reading—for more than twenty years. Over 60 million copies in print and now with a bright new look for a new generation!”

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Here is an example of the antics that lay ahead is you purchase/borrow Junie B. Jones:

“Meet the World’s Funniest Kindergartner—Junie B. Jones! In the second Junie B. Jones book, it’s pooey on B-A-B-I-E-S until Junie B. finds out that her new dumb old baby brother is a big fat deal. Her two bestest friends are giving her everything they own just to see him. And guess what else? Maybe she can bring him to school on Pet Day.”

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Click here for a link to Book Depository to see the entire series of books.

Junie B. Jones has they cutest website for her fans! Check out Junie B. Jones by clicking here.

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Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown is another one of my favourite Chapter Books. It your child is not familiar with Flat Stanley it’s imperative that you purchase this book first: Flat Stanley. It explains how Stanley came to be “flat”. All other books can be read in any order of your choosing.

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There are lots of books in the Flat Stanley series with more due to be release. Again, Flat Stanley is available as a box set too. As he’s been around for a while your local library might be a good place to start. Click here to visit book depository to see the entire series.

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Flat Stanley is also available in an easier to read format for younger/emerging readers.

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Flat Stanley is available in the Level 2 “I Can Read!” series:

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Here is a peak inside Level 2 “I Can Read!” series to see if it is a good fit for your child”

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Again, book depository has lots and lots of these available. Click here.

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 🙂

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 🙂

Preparing your Child for School: Sorting and Classifying Game

This is a follow on from a previous blogpost about sorting and comparing objects. Please click here to visit this post.

“What’s the Difference?” is my favourite online sorting and classifying game. It covers lots of different categories of sort: by colour, safe/unsafe objects, objects that float/sink, 4 wheels/2 wheel… There are 10+levels for your child to play and explore. Why not see if you can re-create some of the classifications using  my Sort It Out sheets from the previous blogpost?

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Click here to play What’s the Difference?

I hope that you have enjoyed using the sorting and classifying resources and games suggested in the last two post. Check back soon for matching activities!

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

 

Preparing your child for school: Sorting and Classifying Objects

Matching and Sorting/Classifying are likely to be the first maths activities that your child will explore in Junior Infants. I have to say that I love exploring Classifying. Its so much fun to see how kids will “sort” things out. I love giving them a “mystery box” a.k.a the contents of “the junk drawer” that never gets fully tidied. You know it, its the one with all sort of bits and pieces in it. Buttons, magnets, bits of lego, McDonalds Happy Meal gifts… The all sorts of everything drawer.

I would like to introduce you to some very dear friends of mine:

Meet the Venn Diagram:

It’s basically a circle. You can classify objects with your Venn Diagram in lots of different ways:

Sort by Colour: Here is a set of yellow bears:

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Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 09.54.47A more advanced form of sorting by colour: Here is a set of yellow bears and a set of bears that are not yellow:

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Now meet the Carroll Diagram. You can sort and classify objects in the same way that you did with your Venn Diagram. It’s a matter of preference as to which form of diagram you use.

Screen Shot 2014-07-27 at 14.05.49Here I used the Carroll Diagram to sort my shapes into two sets. The one on the left is “a set of square” and the one on the right is a “set that are not squares’

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These diagrams just as to help your child to organise his/her thought. I am sure that you all have lots and lots of bits and pieces that can be sorted and classified. If you would like to purchase some “counters” or “manipulatives” to use during the year then check out this link. I just LOVE Prim-Ed’s manipulatives. At a price point of 9,95 Euro,  for 144 plastic pieces, they are quite affordable. The quality of these counters is just fantastic. They are brightly coloured and robust.

I recently got the Vegetable Counters. I have some plastic fruit in my classroom . I think that sorting fruit from vegetables is going to be a nice maths/science lesson. I will be using them in lots of other lessons throughout the year.

I made a set of corn on the cob (my absolute favourite vegetable!!) and then a set of corn and a set of other vegetables.I’m pretty good at classifying, don’t you think?! Image 2

 

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You could add some yellow apples to the corn on the cob and make it a yellow set. Think of the possibilities!!!!

Here are the objectives as laid down by the Department of Education and Science for Junior Infants:

Strand: Early Maths Activities         Unit:  Classifying

  • classify objects on the basis of one attribute, such as colour, shape, texture or size
  • identify the complement of a set (i.e. elements not in a set)

Here are some free sorting mats that I have created for you all to use. Click here to download.

 

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If you have older children then  print out the mats, pop them in polypockets and send them out to the garden on a scavenger hunt. How can they classify their findings? These “early maths activities” are not just “child’s play”. They prepare your child to collect, describe, assess and analysis data. Perhaps you could have a future scientist or engineer on your hands as a result 😉

Have fun sorting and classifying,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Summer Reading: The Lighthouse Keeper Series of Books

A love of books is something that I hope to pass on to any child I teach. That being said, the amount of contact time that children have with their class teacher is limited. I hope that through blogging about books that you will know what to look out for on a visit to your local library or to the book shop. Reading to your child or providing books for him/her to read has the potential to influence their lives in such a positive way.

Take a moment to read this poem and ponder just how powerful reading can be!!!

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The more you read,
The more you know.

The more you know,
The smarter you grow.

The smarter you grow,
The stronger your voice,

When speaking your mind
or making your choice.

Here is a really nice series of books that have a summer vibe about them. My class really, really enjoyed The Lighthouse Keeper’s Lunch. It is only one from an entire series of books by Ronda and David Armitage. They would make a lovely summer read!

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21729-px310-220664Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

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. 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:

                                 click here  to download a copy

I hope that you have fun completing my booklet. It is suitable for classroom, pre-school and home use. I can’t wait to begin making them next week. I hope you like it! Let me know what you think.

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Clipart by DJInkers