Posted in Uncategorized

Twinkl, Twinkl… You are a star!

I wanted to let you all know about my new BFF: Twinkl. I have become a huge fan over the last year for a number of reasons.

My school is reducing the number of textbooks that pupils use. YAH!!! I’m not a big fan of workbooks. I won’t go into that now as it would be a blog post in itself. The knock on effect of no textbooks is a greater need for hands on resources, good quality hands on resources.

I will walk you through my year with no textbook for S.E.S.E (Science, History, Geography). Well, those are prop heavy topics when you don’t have resources laid on with a textbook.

I will give you a detailed example of how I created a unit based around minibeasts , Naturama and Twinkl resources.

I purchased Naturama on the advice of a colleague. Wow, what a book!!! Naturama is divided into the 4 Seasons. I based my minibeast and nature studies around the content  for each season. Basically, at the start of Autumn, Winter, Spring and Summer I whipped out Naturama. We read about the signs of the season and then went hunting for them.

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Click here to see more about Naturama.

I found the most perfect resources from Twinkl to accompany and support this unit for the entire school year. I created a bulletin board that we could update as the season progressed. I hope that you like it!!!

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I apologise for the poor quality of this photo. My classroom is so bright that it was really difficult to get a photo where nothing was glaring!!!

I began by printing my Minibeast Investigation Lab sign. Too cute to pass up!! Then I printed an laminated a copy of high quality photos of minibeasts. I also printed and laminated a Minibeast Hunt Checklist and a Minibeast Description Word Mat. I now had everything I need to explore minibeasts the whole year through!

We read, for example, Autumn in Naturama. I pulled out the photos of the minibeasts mentioned in the chapter. We explored them using the Minibeast Description Word Mat. We researched and learned about those that were unfamiliar.  The following lesson we reviewed what we would be likely to find on our minibeast hunt, where we would find them etc. Then it was off for our Minbeast Hunt!!!

At the end of the Minibeast Hunt we pinned up the minibeasts that we had located and checked them off on our Minibeast Hunt Checklist. We pondred why we did not locate some of those mentioned in Naturama: our school environment didn’t have a pond etc.

Those resources remained on your notice board ready for revisiting at the beginning of the next season. The permanent display kept the topic alive in our minds. Kids would excitedly tell me about what they saw at home, in the park… eager to get another photo up on the display!!! Our rule was that it must be located in our school habitat. We often did multiple minibeast hunts per season to see if we could add more to our wall of fame!!!

With the passing season more photos and checklists would be placed on the display. The checklists allowed and indeed encouraged us to compare and contrast our season finds.

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I hope that you find this blog post useful and that it encourages you to get out there and hunt for minibeasts. These resources would be great in any classroom or indeed any home. I love that I could print and use actual photos instead of the usual clipart ones that are available.

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

I was given access to TWINKL but all thoughts and opinons are my own.
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Posted in 5-6 yr olds, 6-7 yr olds, Storybooks, Uncategorized

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 🙂

Posted in 5-6 yr olds, 6-7 yr olds, Reader Response Activities, Uncategorized, Writing

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

Posted in 5-6 yr olds, 6-7 yr olds, Maths games, Phonics, Uncategorized, Word Games

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 🙂

Posted in Uncategorized

Gingerbread Man themed Differentiated Instruction Cube insert

Regular readers will know that I have something of an obsession with Differentiated Instruction Cubes. You will notice them popping up in my maths and phonics games. Differentiated Instruction Cubes are incredibly versatile. I have used them for all sorts of subjects across lots of different grade levels.

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If you don’t have Differentiated Instruction Cubes then I urge you to click here and purchase a set or two!!

I have created this free Gingerbread Man themed Differentiated Instruction Cube insert to liven up any or all of your maths games. It would be a super cute addition to my Christmas Themed Roll and Cover Game

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Click here to gingerbread man dice.

If you are a fan of the Gingerbread Man then you should consider visiting The Gingerbread Man Pre-Primer Game that I created last Christmas. It uses my Differentiated Instruction Cubes too.

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Click here to download The Gingerbread Man Pre-Primer Game.

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Posted in Uncategorized

Christmas Themed Roll and Cover Game

My approach to Christmas can be defined as “go big or go home”!!!! I just love to use my thematic planning to incorporate as much Christmas themed learning as possible. It really is the easiest approach as silly season begins. I am a HUGE fan of Roll and Cover Games. Obviously, Christmas Themed Roll and Cover Game is essential kit for me.

Roll and Cover Game have so many variations to how they can be played:

  • roll a dice
  • roll a numeral dice
  • roll two dice, add and cover that many images
  • using my differentiated learning cube I insert sight vocabulary. Roll a word. If you can read it you can cover an image.

Roll and Cover maths games have the added advantage of exposing children to Algebra/Patterning while also encouraging left-right, top-bottom orientation. You begin on the first Santa. The winner is the first to reach the Christmas Tree.

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Click here to download my  christmas themed roll and cover game

I hope that you have lots of fun playing this!!!!

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Posted in Uncategorized

Christmas Resources for your Classroom

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!!! I’ve had a few enquiries about Nativity Plays etc. With that in mind I have decided to blog about some of my favourite Christmas resources. I’m sure that they would make a fantastic addition to your classroom!!!

It’s Christmas David by David Shannen is one of my absolute favourite Christmas themed book. It is part of the “No David” series of books. Guaranteed to have your class rolling around the floor in hysterics. It’s the top of my “must buy” Christmas list. Click here to purchase It’s Christmas  David.

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“The bestselling star of NO, DAVID! turns Christmas traditions upside down with laugh-aloud humor. Readers of all ages will vividly remember trying to peek at hidden gift packages; writing scrolls of wish lists to Santa; and struggling to behave at formal Christmas dinner parties. Always in the background, we know Santa Claus is watching, soon to decide if David deserves a shiny new fire truck or a lump of coal under the tree. From playing with delicate ornaments to standing in an endlessly long line for Santa, here are common Christmas activities–but with David’s naughty trimmings. A surefire hit that is destined to be an annual classic.”

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If you would like to tie It’s Christmas David into your Writer’s Workshop or Aistear theme then this printable might be right up your alley!

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Click here to download

Christmas: A language theme for the Early Years by Prim-Ed. I find in very, very useful to have  Christmas themed  copymasters to dip into. There is something about this time of year that sends teachers running to the photocopier at short notice… Perhaps it’s just me? It always seems that the last few weeks are a  bit disrupted: church services, nativity shows, visits  from Santa…

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I recently added the following to my arsenal: Christmas: a language theme for the early years is a fantastic resource for Senior-First class. It says 5-6yrs on the cover but I feel that most activities are a little too challenging for most Junior’s at this time of year. If you teach Senior -1st then the book would be a good value investment. They would really be able to sink their teeth into the creative writing aspects of the book. It would be a great resource for Literacy Lift Off or Aistear either.

Here are a few sample pages from Christmas: a language theme for the early years:

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Click here to purchase Christmas: a language theme for the early years

If you purchase by midnight tonight, 30th November you can avail of Prim-Ed’s Cyber Monday deal. Don’t forget to use the code: Black40!!!

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I find myself using even more stickers than usual at this time of the year. I find it very hard  impossible to resist Christmas themed stickers!!

While you are adding the Christmas Prim-Ed book to your shopping cart why not pick up some stickers too? Prim-Ed may not spring to mind when you think of stickers. They have really diversified their sticker collection this year and are well worth a purchase.

They have some super cute Christmas themed ones.  I could easily stock up for the rest of the year and avail of their free shipping for over 25Euro.

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Click here to explore Prim-Ed’s sticker range. 

The Gingerbread Man is a timely read and always plays a big role in my thematic planning for Christmas. Here a lovely Maths themed unit for you to spruce up your Gingerbread Man unit with.  The printables that come with it are just darling! The Mailbox have it nailed!

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Click here for a link.

Colouring Sheets are another vital survival tool for the month of December. I never seem to want to use the ones that I downloaded last year. Anyone else have the same affliction?!  Here are a few to add to your collection if you are itching for some new ones! These are from Oriental Trading. How I wish that they had a European base so I didn’t have to deal with importation taxes….

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Click here for a link to Oriental Trading Learning Christmas Themed colouring sheets. 

I hope that you all find something nice to update your Christmas themed units with.

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh