Who Sank the Boat?

I am making it my mission of 2014 to source some great stories that will supplement maths/science learning.  This beauty recently arrived in the post and I was chomping at the bit to use it!


“Beside the sea, there once lived a cow, a donkey, a sheep, a pig, and a tiny little mouse. One warm, sunny morning–for no particular reason–they decided to go for a row in the bay.”Do you know who sank the boat?


I love the “open ended” way in which the story is presented. Click here to purchase!

Shame that I have already completed my Maths Unit on weight.  It would be a great way to combine weight with sinking & floating. I should jot that down for next year!!!

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Free Valentine Printable

As you have probably already worked out I tend to “theme” teach. Every story on our literacy scheme for February has a “love” theme to it.

On my suggestion  Aoife and I spent a lot of time way back in August searching our  book shelves for stories relating to lots and lots of themes. She assures me that she did not think me mad, but I am not sure! It was, however, time well spent. Our Literacy Scheme has been a huge success. Each week there is a different story that is ‘integrated’ into as many aspect of learning as possible.

I am not sure which one of us found this beauty, Love is a Handful of Honey. Could it be that it was languishing unnoticed in my room? Hardly!!!


Love is a Handful of Honey is a wonderful rhyming story where a young bear discovers that love can be found in everything you do — from the time you wake and jump from your bed, until the time you snuggle and hug and say good night. It is a very nice price at 4.80 Euro. Click here to purchase

With Valentine’s Day only around the corner I thought that you might like cute printable. It was created as  a Reader Response Sheet to “Love is is a Handful of Honey”. It would be a perfect “gift” for a parent as an alternative to a traditional Valentine Card.

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Click here to download

Have a lovely week,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Squeezing a story into your day! How story time integrates with other learning.

You might have spotted from my frequent “Reader Response” posts that I love to have a book at the centre of my weekly scheme. Every single week of the school year has a book timetabled. My poor teaching partner, who has the other half of Junior Infants, must be driven mad with me! I am completely obsessed with exposing children to stories, having them engage with them and respond to them in an age appropriate manner!!!Incase you thought that I was joking about how seriously I take literacy and stories I thought that I would include a screen shot of my Long Term/Termly Planning for Literacy.

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The Irish Curriculum is severely overloaded and it can be so hard to squeeze everything in! I make story-time an absolute priority in my classroom. In fact, it is the starting point of all of my planning. Every other subject planning happens after I have planned my stories for the year. This allows me to use these stories to their maximum advantage, tying them into seasonally appropriate terms, matching them to maths/science topics so that the story becomes the springboard for my maths/science lessons that week.

Below I have listed some of the Strands and Units that I have found myself integrating through my story of the week. I hope that you find it helpful!!

I like to integrate my weekly Drama lessons into my literacy. It is much, much easier to explore Drama with small children when you have a familiar topic as your starting point.  Often times I will integrate Music also through creating soundscapes to accompany stories that have strong “sound” under currents. Here are some objectives that I have found relevant to responding  to stories with music:

Strand:Listening & Responding  Unit: Exploring Sounds

  • discover ways of making sounds using body percussion
  • listen to, identify and imitate familiar sounds in the immediate environment from varying sources
  • recognise different voices
  • explore ways of making sounds using manufactured and home-made instruments

Strand: Composing     Unit: 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

History is another subject that has a natural synergy for story telling with infants. Here are some of the main objectives that I try to meet on a weekly basis for History:

Strand: Story   Unit: Stories

  • discuss the chronology of events (beginning, middle, end) in a story
  • express or record stories through art work, drama, music, mime and movement and using information and communication technologies
  • display storyline pictures showing episodes in sequence

Depending on the story you might be able to explore other elements of the science curriculum. For example when we read “Aaaaarrgh Spider” we explored spiders, their body parts, diets…

Strand: Living Things   Unit: Plants and Animals

  • recognise and identify the external parts of living things (spiders)

Data Handling is another great reader response or even pre-reading activity that I love to engage my class in. It makes maths so meaningful and children can see the power and influence of maths in their own lives. I have some printables for download that create graphs for a number of books. Check out the Maths Section of my blog.

Strand: Data   Unit: Representing  &  Interpreting Data

  • represent and interpret a set of simple mathematical data using real objects, models and pictures

I hope that my Teacher followers will see the fantastic opportunity books offer from a teaching & learning perspective. If you haven’t tried using a story as the centre of your planning I would urge you to try doing so next week. Just give it a go for me! Please! Let me know how you get on 😉

I hope that my Parent followers enjoy reading how teacher’s brains work and how we set about planning for your child’s learning!It is complex and time consuming when you consider how many subjects we have to plan for and the fact that each subject must have long-term, short-term and weekly/fortnightly plans and then monthly accounts of what exactly was covered.

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

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 🙂

Peace at Last

Tomorrow is the first day of term and I am looking forward to reading “Peace at Last” by Jill Murphy to my class.

Here is a brief summary of the story for those of you not familiar with it:

It’s late at night and Mr Bear is desperately trying to sleep–but Mrs Bear snores so he tries Baby Bear’s room, but Baby Bear is pretending to be an aeroplane so there’s no peace there. Room by room Mr Bear goes through the house trying to find somewhere to sleep.

It’s a fantastic story for children in terms of participation opportunities, it is chock full of “night time sounds” that just beg to be shouted out at the top of your lungs not to mention a really cute repetitive line: “Oh NO! said Mr. Bear, I can’t stand THIS!”.  One thing is certain, it won’t be a quiet start to my day!!!

The added bonus of all of this soundscaping is that our music lessons for the week can be nicely packaged up/integrated in a fun and meaningful way:

Strand: Music        Unit: Listening & Responding, Composing

  • discover ways of making sounds using body percussion
  • select sounds from a variety of sources to create simple sound ideas, individually and in groups


We will fulfil our science objectives by documenting the differences between night and day. If I can manage it time wise we will explore shadows. Must google how to make some cool shapes!

Strand: Science        Unit: Energy & Forces

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

With out further ado here are my Reader Response sheets for Peace at Last. I hope that you like them!

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Click here to download Peace at Last sheets

Peace at Last is a well loved story and is probably available from your local library. If you wish to purchase a large format version for your classroom click here. It costs 16 Euro including postage and packaging. I just love my copy!

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 🙂