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 🙂

 

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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:

Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 09.57.20Sort by Type: Here is a set of Bears:

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 🙂