Peace at Last & Shadow Puppets

For those of you who are reading Peace at Last and want to integrate some science lesson here is a fun tutorial on making shadow puppets with your hands.

If you are teaching young children you might prefer the following download.The National Wildlife Federation has some cute animal templates: backyard animals and ocean animals as a free download! Click here. I just love the idea of using a paper puncher to make eyes and other features. I am totally doing this one!!

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Peace at Last is a fantastic story for integrating science and literacy. The objectives of the Science Curriculum for Junior & Senior Infants that can be met through exploring the themes in the book are as follows:

Strand: Energy & Forces         Stand Unit: Light

  • discuss differences between day and night, light and shade
  • explore how shadows are formed

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Igam Ogam Obsessed!

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I  have to admit that I have a bit of a problem… I am becoming obsessed with Igam Ogam on the Cula4 Player and so are my class!!!

Igam Ogam is a 10 minute cartoon series designed for toddlers. That is just about the perfect amount of time for a cartoon in a 2nd language. It is also a perfect duration for showing in class as part of your Gaeilge lesson.

Igam Ogam is an adorable and fun loving Stone Age cave girl. Igam Ogam is always looking for adventure with her pet dinosaur, “Madra” and her monkey friend, “Roly”. Each episode has a specific focus with a repetitive narrative line running through it. Last week poor Igam Ogam was “ró-te” because of a heatwave. After a few viewings my class were joining in and laughing knowledgeably. The next episode saw “Madra” begging Igam Ogam to play with her before breakfast. She was not at all ready to play as she had not eaten her breakfast or washed her teeth. “Ní anois” was the phrase that my class learned.

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I really would encourage Infant teachers to make use of the fantastic Cúla 4 player. It is not blocked by our internet security settings. Igam Ogam is a Telegael/Calon co-production for S4C, Channel Five, TG4 and ZDF Enterprises. It is great to be able to support  TG4 in our classrooms!

Here is a link to the Cúla 4 player.  Scroll down on the right and locate Igam Ogam. Bain triall as!!

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

“Cracking the Code: Phonics and High Frequency Words for Beginner Readers”

I am delighted to invite you all to a talk that I am giving in Wexford Town Library on November 7th at 7.30 pm. It’s called “Cracking the code: Phonics and High Frequency Words for Beginner Readers”.  The lovely staff  have told me that booking is recommended. You can book your place by phoning +353 53 9196760

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I will be demystifying phonics. What it is. Why we teach it. How you can help your child successfully “sound out” words.

Phonics is only one aspect of literacy that beginner readers must learn.

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What happens when my child tries to “sound out” a word and it doesn’t “sound out”?!!! Children also need to build a “lexicon” or word bank. There will be lots to explore here:What are High Frequency words? Are they the same as Dolch Words?! Why should my child know them and what can I do to help?

Here are a few teasers! I am not going to explain. Hopefully you will be intrigued enough to come on the night!!!Screen Shot 2013-11-01 at 15.04.01 Screen Shot 2013-11-01 at 15.04.13

At the end of the night you will leave knowing all of my top tips, my favourite websites for phonics and HFW word games, and a list of my favourite authors for emergent readers and lots, lots more.

Please share this page with your friends who have little ones who are learning to read.

I hope to see you there!

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Ghost Blaster II: making 10

Ghost Blaster II would make a fantastic game for any 1st Class pupil to play over Mid-term. It would also be a great warm-up game on the first day back after Mid-term. Ghost Blaster allows you to revise adding numbers 0-10 which was covered in Senior Infants. The curriculum links are shown here:

Strand: Analysis of Number              Units:  Combining & Numeration

  • explore the components of number, 1-10
  • solve simple oral and pictorial problems, 0-10

I love maths games that allow the teacher/parent to select exactly what numbers are being explored. It is great to be in control and know that children are exploring exactly what they need to explore. No sums that are outside of the curriculum remit will appear. Ghost Blaster ll does not disappoint in this regard. You are in complete control.

Simply type in your selected number in the “practice the sums of…” box. I selected 10 but you could choose any number family you want from 0-10. 

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You can select either 1 or 2 players. Imagine the fun of 2 children or two teams playing against each other in a classroom! It would be tonnes of fun!

A pair of ghosts will briefly flash up on the screen. You need to be fast to play Ghost Blaster II !!! Click “z” on your keyboard if the sum of the two ghosts makes your choosen number. It’s a simple as that 😉

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Click here to play

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh

Halloween Themed Data Handling

Do you love teaching Data Handling? I just ADORE it!!! It is one of my absolute favourite maths topics to explore. It is so much fun and serious cute too!

I always block my data handling and tie it into  fun, seasonal themes. I did a graph a week for the month of October on a Halloween Theme. We created  Halloween themed graphs about spiders, ghosts and bats.

It’s so much easier to get children buzzed up about data handling when you explore it thematically 🙂 I also feel that children understand more fully the use of graphs and graphing when it is linked to something meaningful in their own lives.  Because I am mildly OCD on linking lessons I also  try to tie my Data Handling into the story that we were reading for the week e.g. Aaaaargh Spiders and a graph about spiders.

Here are the Representing and Interpreting Data Curriculum Objectives for Junior Infants, Senior Infants and First Class:

  • represent and interpret data in two rows or columns using real objects, models and pictures

Below is my ghost themed pictogram freebie :

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Click here to download
Screen Shot 2013-10-19 at 13.43.16  Click here to download

I simply cut out the title and stuck it to a sheet of poster paper. Pupils stick their ghost under the column that applies to them. My class seem to be particularly brave. Not one of them said that ghosts were creepy!! Mind you, I think that the ghosts above are particularly cute. They are from the Enlightened Elephant.

Data Handling naturally lends itself to making comparisons and naturally creates language rich Maths Talks. We stopped periodically to predict which column would win and why, what the difference was between columns, what difference one more vote would make to each side… Lots and lots of math talk was generated. I also love it when children spontaneously use maths language in their response. “I predict that creepy will win because it has more” or “I predict that cute can’t win now because only 2 children are left to vote and that’s not enough to win”. Talk like that just blows me away!!! Oh yeah, the use of the word “predict” ties in with the Reading Comprehension Strategies we are exploring.

I hope that you like my Ghost Themed Pictogram Freebie and manage to squeeze it in next week. It would make for a great maths lesson on the day of the holidays 😉

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Jolly Phonics Blending and Decoding, Group 1

I think that I could happily teach phonics all day long! It is definitely one of my absolute favourite things to do!!! I always get really excited when children are learning to blend and segment sounds into words.

For those of you who are not familiar with these terms “blending” is when we sound out a word using a continuous sound eg ccccaaaat= cat. Segmenting is the exact opposite. It the way by which we spell words.  We “chop” them up into their constituent sounds c…/a…/t… It is really important not to confuse the two and for children to be taught to use both blending and segmenting. They also need to know when to use each.

I have met lots of children who only know how to chop up/segment sounds. It is really, really hard to know what an unfamiliar word is when you read it in a robotic voice! When you s-t-r-e-t-c-h it out words are much easier to hear. This strategy will hence forth be known as “stretchy snake”!

Screen Shot 2013-10-08 at 20.30.30You can read more about blending and print my Stretchy Snake poster by clicking here.

I have been busy creating a presentation of Group 1 Words for tomorrow. Group 1 Jolly Phonics words cover: s, a, t, i, p, n

I will open the PDF in Activeinspire. This means that I can get pupils to circle individual sound eg circle the “s”. We can also have lot of practice blending the sounds into words. I will use the same words with a blank page on my flip chart and have my class “sound talk” or use their robotic voice to segment/chop up the sounds in a word and I will write them.

Here are some images of the slides that you can download:

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Click here to download

I hope that you find these useful with your class or your child at home.

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

More about my Focus Wall

I made some slight changes to my Focus Wall this morning before class.  Apologies for the grainy and shiny photo. I took it with my iPhone.

I added some cute owls and changed the lettering to completely red. I think that completely red works well with the border accents I am using behind the pocket chart.  I added our handwriting pattern and some maths. We are exploring the concept of “less” at the moment.


Am I using my Focus Wall? Yes, yes, yes! I love the ease of being able to take things out, use them and return them. No blu-tac stains or ripped bulletin board paper.  The focus board is at the very top of the room and I find myself quickly referring to it during transitions to quickly check words, sounds, maths concepts etc.

If you haven’t tried a Focus Board yet then I would encourage you to give it a go.  Remember that my free Focus Board printables are available here

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂


Funnybones is another Allan Ahlberg book. I have already posted my Reader Response Activities to The Black Cat which is another in this series of books. Funnybones is an absolute classic. If I could only have two Halloween themed books in my repertoire it would be Funnybones and Room and the Broom.

Funnybones is just such a fantastically easy book to integrate into classroom  activities. I lends itself to Drama, Art, Music, Creative Writing….

Anyone care to make a skeleton?! Click here

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What about a complete drama lesson? Any takers? Click here! I have tried and tested this lesson over a number of years now. I think that it is the most popular drama class every year!!! The soundscape element integrates nicely with music. You just have to try this lesson. Please let me know how your class like it when you do!

Sparklebox have some really neat play-doh mats. Click here.


Here is my Reader Response sheet. It’s pretty simple but then again I am teaching Junior Infants 🙂 I tried so hard to add more skeleton graphics but I think that some gremlins are lurking inside my MS Word this weekend!!! Every time I tried all of the boxes move and were superimposed on top of each other! It was seriously frustrating. Any way, I am sure that my class won’t complain. Hopefully yours won’t either 😉

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Click here to download

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Senior Infant Maths: revision of Sorting & Classifying

This sorting game is a fantastic way to review EMA strategies for Senior Infant Classes:

  • classify objects on the basis of one attribute, such as colour, shape, texture or size

It’s a great lesson opener or transition activity. Really simple, clear and child friendly. I like the fact that you can cover a huge variety of classifications and comparisons in one game. It covers: size, number, letters vs numbers, colours, shapes, spots vs stripes… I also like the way that it integrates letter sorting. Sneaky and clever at the same time!

It also covers “half” and “whole’ which are part of the 1st class maths curriculum:

  • establish and identify half of sets to 20

“Sort” does cover “odd” and “even” numbers but you can easily skip ahead if not applicable to your class grade.

If you are teaching Junior Infants or the parent of a Junior Infant child then I would encourage you to bookmark it. This sorting game would be fantastic for an end of year review/assessment.

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Click here to play

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

The Black Cat Reader Response Activities

The Black Cat by Allan Ahlberg is another wonderful story choice for this time of year. If you have not already done so please check out my other “Halloween” suggestion: Room on the Broom.

The Black Cat is one of the titles in Allan Ahlberg’s iconic children’s picture book series, Funnybones . There is nothing scary about The Black Cat in spite of  being set in a dark dark town. The book is brightly coloured and has lots of repetitive lines for younger readers to join it with.The skeleton friends go sledging – whee! And crashing – bang! They can’t see their bones in the white snow but they can see a black cat …until she slips into their dark, dark cellar.

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The Black Cat isn’t just a fantastic story for a classroom. It would make for wonderful reading at home at this time of the year! Click here for a link to purchase it.

The Black Cat provides lot of learning opportunities. It would make a fantastic starting point for  Music, Drama, SESE and English.

Music: Composing: Improvising & Creating:

  • select sounds from a variety of sources to create simple sound ideas, individually and in groups
  • invent and perform short, simple musical pieces with some control of musical elements

There are so many sound effects that could be created to accompany the story-telling- sliding, shouting crashing, barking, banging., bumpety sledge…


  • explore the use of “camouflage” in nature. ” A white leg in the snow is hard to find,  A black cat in show is easy to find’, ‘A white dog in snow is hard to find”, “A black cat in a cellar is hard to find’.
  • body parts -function of our skeleton

English: Reading: Receptiveness to Language:

  • listen to, enjoy and respond to stories
  • become an active listener through the development of a range of listening activities based on stories read or told (linkage with Music above)

English: Reading: Developing Cognitive Abilities through Language:

  • re-read, retell and act out familiar stories, poems or parts of stories

nglish: Reading: Emotional and Imaginative Development through Language:

  • record response to text through pictures and captions

English: Writing: Receptiveness to Language:

  • write and draw

Here is my Reader Response Sheet for The Black Cat. What else could be sliding on the sledge? Encourage children to imagine for themselves.
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Click here to download

Check back later this week for more spooky reads  😉

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Room on the Broom Reader Response Activities

October is just around the corner. In an Infant classroom that means just one thing for story-time… Room on the Broom!

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I am sure that most of you are familiar with this fantastic collaboration between Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. Here is a little “taster” if you haven’t encountered it yet.


It has lots of opportunities for children to join in a “read along” (Choral Reading). It is also completely “non-scary” as Halloween and Witch genres go. Room on the Broom is an absolute classic. Click here for a link to purchase it or visit your local library.

As you all know I just love, love reader response activities. So here are two reader response activities for Room on the Broom!
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click here to download 

I hope that you like my sheet. It is very simple for children to complete. With my Junior Infant class I act as a “scribe”. Each child draws his/her illustration and I write missing word for them. It is a fantastic way of showing emergent readers the significance of words and how they can change the meaning of sentence.

Scholastic have this fantastic colouring sheet as a free download:


Click here to download

I have two more Halloween themed Reader Response activities that I will be sharing with you over the next week. That should give you just enough time to beg, borrow or buy one of them before Halloween invades our classroom and homes!

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh:)

Matching Socks Game

Here is a fantastic resource to demonstrate or have children engage in the Early Mathematical Activity Strands of Matching & Sorting. The objectives below are for both Junior and Senior Infants:


  • compare objects according to colour, size and design


  • match equivalent and non-equivalent sets using one-to-one correspondence

In the  “Sock Pairs Game” simply drag the matching socks to the basket. It is not as simple as it first seems. There are only subtle differences between some of the sock pairs. Children need to concentrate carefully when comparing socks to create a matching pair.

Sock Pairs is very simple and quick to play. It is a really good teaching tool to introduce children to the concepts of Comparing and Matching. It is also a great Oral Language Lesson as I ask my pupils to describe the socks that they are matching in terms of size, colour, and design. There is also a small amount of Algebra involved in the patterning of the socks: pink, blue, pink, blue…

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Click here to play

Why not get your pupils to bring in a pair of socks, mix them up in a laundry basket and have them match them. Who knew that doing the laundry could have such a profound effect on a child’s mathematical processes?!!!!

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Junior Infant Maths: Sorting & Classifying

Here is another fun Sesame Street game to help develop sorting and classifying skills. The Early Maths Strand (EMA) asks children in Junior and Senior Infants to:

  • classify objects on the basis of one attribute, such as colour, shape, texture or size

In “The Laundry Game” Elmo asks children to “sort” or collect his laundry according to colour and shape attributes e.g. the white socks or t-shirts with red circle on them. Children need to pay close attention to detail in order to find the correct items.

It is also a great way of including Oral Language in your maths lesson. Through the “Developing Cognitive Abilities through oral language”  strand unit children in Junior and Senior Infants are asked to:

  • focus on descriptive detail and begin to be explicit in relation to people, places, times, processes, events, colour, shape, size, position

I played “The Laundry Game”  it with my class the other day  and ticked both boxes in my schemes of work :). My class loved it. We will definitely be playing it again. Check out the underwear on the line. Hilarious…!

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Click here to play The Laundry Game

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Jasper’s Beanstalk & the Days of the Week

Have you noticed that now that children are back at school that they are ‘OBSESSED’ by the days of the week?! My Junior Infants are already quizzing me. What day  is “P.E”. When is “art”? The funny thing about it is they probably couldn’t tell you what today is so telling them that P.E is on Wednesday seems kind of pointless, no?

Here is a great little song to help them to learn the sequence of that days of the week. Always a good starting point!

Days of the Week Song

(to the tune of  Oh My Darlin’ Clementine)

“There are 7 days, there are 7 days,

there are 7 days in the week.

Monday, Tuesday,

Wednesday, Thursday,

Friday, Saturday,


It’s based on the Barney song. They start on a “Sunday” in their version.

I have recently stumbled upon and fallen hopelessly in love with the following book: Jasper’s Beanstalk by Mick Inkpen. It would be a fantastic buy for parents or teachers.

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Jasper’s Beanstalk tells the story of a cat who finds a bean on Monday. Each day of the week he tends to it: Tuesday he plants it, Wednesday he waters it… and so on. On Sunday he waited. On Monday he could wait no more and dug it up! It was still a bean! A while later, on a Thursday, it had become a giant beanstalk!!!

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Jasper’s Beanstalk is  not only a fantastic way to introduce children to the days of the week but it also a great Science lesson on growing and caring for plants. There is only so much of the Very Hungry Caterpillar a person can take. I have been reading it for over 11 years now to my class. I still love it but and am glad to have found an alternative.

Jasper’s Beanstalk  is only 6.74 Euro on Book Depository with free postage. Click here of a link.

For those teachers among you here are some curriculum links for Jnr/Snr Infants:

SESE: History: Story: Stories:

  • discuss the chronology of events (beginning, middle, end) in a story
  • display storyline pictures showing episodes in sequence

Science: Living Things: Plants and Animals

  • explore conditions for growth of seeds
  • observe growth and change in seeds

Music: Performing: Song Singing

  • recognise and sing familiar songs : The Days of the Week Song

English: Reading: Receptiveness to language:

  • Listen to, enjoy and respond to stories and songs (Jasper’s Beanstalk, The Days of the Week Song)

Check back next week for printables to go with Jasper’s Beanstalk!

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂