Back to School: Teacher Essentials

I thought it timely to blog about some Teacher Essentials that I purchase each year just before returning to school. I’m a total sucker for customised resources. I love having stickers and stampers that I have designed myself.

My absolute favourite teacher stampers are from http://www.superstickers.com. Superstickers.com have an amazing array of teacher supplies. I want one of everything!!! Superstickers.com have pre-made stampers but also allow you to design your own. Mine is packed up but reads “Miss Mernagh says well done!”. The process of designing your personalised stamper with Superstickers.com is really simple. The quality of the stamper is AMAZING! No, they are not paying me for this blog post! I really, really do love them. They are really durable, last for ages and the ink doesn’t bleed through the page. I would give them 20/10. Click here for a link. I really must order up some of their stickers…

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Another great resource for customised stickers is https://www.thestickerfactory.co.uk. I used these all through the last school  year. Again, they are really high quality and super easy to design. I would highly rate http://www.thestickerfactory.co.uk stickers. Click here for a link

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The next resource I use for stickers is Prim-Ed. While, you cannot customise their sticker they have a great selection and at really affordable prices. I don’t know if many people realise that you can purchase stickers from Prim-Ed. They have an incredibly diverse selection of stickers to choose from. Those of you using Aistear will be thrilled to see so many  Prim-Ed thematic stickers available! Click here for a link. I have used their Merit Stickers for our Monthly Handwriting Assessments. Click here to read more about it and to download your free Handwriting Certificates.

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Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Back to School Routines: Toilet procedures

It’s that time of year again! I am getting lots and lots of questions about my back to school routines. Today I am covering a very important back to school routine: toilet procedures.

Toileting tends to be a hugely emotive and stressful topic for parents and kids a like. We all know that we want to use the facilities more often when we are nervous or feeling a little under pressure. Starting school certainly fits neatly into this. We are also talking about kids who are leaving a familiar environment (home/play school) where they know where the toilet is and facing a “foreign” room with the toilet in an unknown location. The pupil-teacher ratio is generally not as favourable either making it harder to get the attention of the teacher. So we have nerves, a busy teacher and a toilet in an unknown location. I think that I’ve made my point?! So what can we do as teachers?!!!! Read on…

I have been using the following toilet procedure with huge success for a number of years now. It has been an absolute life saver. The toilet procedure has also been influenced by my Montessori background. I really want the children in my class to feel autonomy especially in the delicate topic of visiting the toilet. I mean, who really wants to raise their hand and ask for permission to use the toilet in front of your friends?

I have two rather large stuffed toys that serve as “toilet passes”. It just happens that I have a whale and a shark. You can choose whatever you have access to. The girls use the whale toilet pass and the boys use the shark.

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So, here’s the drill. The toilet passes are displayed in a very prominent and easily accessible place. They need to be easily visible for all kids in the room. When you need to use the toilet you select the appropriate toilet pass (boy or girl) and place it on your desk or the spot that you were sitting on for floor work. The child goes to the toilet and then returns the toilet pass to it’s “home” for others to use. If the toilet pass is not available I must wait to use the toilet. However, if I am “bursting” and can’t wait I can take the remaining toilet pass and use that toilet. This may mean a girl using the boy’s toilet. Owing to the fact that the boy’s toilet pass is in use a boy cannot walk in on a girl using the toilet. This is a very important point. I have had problems in the past where I had 25+ girls in a class with access to one toilet and perhaps only 8 or 9 boys using the other one. You can see how there could be many girls who need to toilet simultaneously. You don’t need to vivid an imagination to know how that story ends!!!!

I like to start this procedure from Day 1 🙂 I explain and demonstrate the procedure and toilet location to one team at a time. I then help “remind” kids to use and return the toilet pass. It can take a little while to become and established routine but it’s worth the effort.

An important point to note is that the toilet pass needs to be pretty large in size. The kids can see it and so can I. I can tell at a glance who has gone to the toilet by spotting where the toilet pass is. I also like to use stuffed toys as I can wash them. If I could find something similar in plastic I would use that either.

I like to send home a letter to explain my toilet procedure. This allows mom/dad to talk to their child about how he/she can use the toilet as needed. I think that it is very important for those at home to understand the system and reassure their child.

I hope that my toilet procedure makes sense and is of use to those of you teaching infants for the first time this year.

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

STEM Projects for wet days!

Well its another glorious morning here. Glorious, that is, for ducks and such but not for the rest of us. Cabin fever is setting in already and its only 10am!

I think that today would be the perfect day for some STEM (Science Technology Engineering Maths) activities, don’t you? (Science Technology Engineering Maths). The following activities involve supplies that are cheap and readily available.  They are great fun and guaranteed to give those brain cells a workout !

Homemade Play-dough

This is always a great hit with my kiddos at school. It’s cheap and easy to make too.

150 g (6 oz) plain white flour
– 300 ml (1/2 pint) hot water with a few drops of food dye
– 75 g (3 oz) salt
– 1 tbsp of vegetable oil
– 2 tsp cream of tartar (Found in the baking section alongside baking powder. Cheap and last forever)

Put all the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl.

Pour in the hot water/food colouring.

Stir until the mixture thickens and becomes a ball of dough. ( I pour in the hot water and stir it a few time until it cools a little and then pass it over to the kids to do the rest 😉 )

Remove the dough and roll/kneed/squish/smush until it is smooth and ready to play with.

Scrape out the dough, allow it to cool a little, and knead it until all ingredients are evenly distributed and you’re left with a smooth ball of dough.

If the dough is a little hard add a tiny drop of water until the desired consistency is achieved.

If the dough is too sticky add a little more flour.

Now that you have your play-dough why not use it to encourage some STEM

Make 3-d geometric shapes with play-dough and cocktail sticks/bamboo skewers (cut the sharp ends off for smaller kids)

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Click here for a link

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Click here for a link

Play-dough fun with straws and cocktails sticks:

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Click here for a link

Make a play-dough boat:

play-doh-ball

Click here for a link

These STEM activities should keep your little ones entertained and challenged over the next few hours.

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Teacher “must have manuals” for the next school year.

I thought it timely to sit down and blog about some of my favourite resources. Some are old favourites that have been indispensable over the years. Some are new finds that I wanted to share. So, without further adieu here we go!…

  1. Prim-Ed New Wave Pre-writing patterns  (ISBN 9781846546365). Click here for a link. Finally, a stand alone pre-writing workbook. I am so tried of Junior Infant writing workbooks that have a few token pre-writing pages. Pre-writing skills should not be rushed! Well done to Prim-Ed for producing this fine publication.Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 16.51.32 Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 16.51.16 Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 16.51.02 Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 16.51.43
  2. Prim-EdListening Comprehension Lower  (ISBN 9781864000382). Click here for a link. This has been a favourite of mine for years and years. Its suitable for Junior-1st. I’ve even used it “as gaeilige” with older kids. A real must have in my opinion.

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3. Jolly Music: The Music Handbook: Beginners.  Click here to learn more about Jolly Music.  I would highly recommend the Jolly music Course on offer with CPD Colleges. It is fully accredited and approved for EPV Days. I learned an amazing amount from it. It is the most enjoyable summer course that I have taken. Click here to learn more about the CPD course. My class are literally jumping for joy these days when I ask them if they want to do some music! They absolutely love the programme and are learning so much about musical literacy. It is just incredible. I wouldn’t be without this book! Here is a short clip showing how the programme works:

4. Developing Fundamental Movement Skills by Sport New Zealand. This back to basics PE programme is fantastic! This is my second year using it. It matches really nicely with Irish curricular objectives :). Did I also mention that its a free download?!!!! Seriously, you need to nab this one! Click here for a link to Developing Fundamental Movement Skills. It covers most objectives as laid down the Gymnastics, Dance, Athletics and Games strands of the P.E Curriculum. Here is a list of what is covered by the programme.

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I hope that you found this blog post useful. I am always curious about the resources used by other teachers!

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Dolch Word Cut-out sheets

I am a HUGE advocate of teaching emerging readers Dolch Words. As you all know, I am a massive advocate of phonics, but only as part of balanced approach to literacy instruction. Sure, kids need to learn the “code” behind our language so that they can “sound out” unfamiliar words. We also want to develop fluent readers, however, and not the have him/her sound out every word on the page. To do this we need to build up a “Lexicon” or library of words that children instantly recognise and read. Sight words account for a large percentage (up to 75%) of the words used in beginning children’s print materials.
Dolch words offer serious bang for your buck in this regard. There are 220 words in the carefully graded list. (adjectives, adverbs, conjunctions, prepositions, pronouns, and verbs) along with a supplementary list of 95 simple nouns. Ideally, all young readers should learn these words by sight.
I teach the Pre-Primer level to my Junior Infant pupils. We are making pretty good progress if I do say so myself 🙂 I create the following format of worksheet for the first 16 words:

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I am sure that  some of you might find these Dolch Word Cut-out sheets useful with your class or indeed your own child. Please let me know what you think by leaving a comment below. Would you like to see more of these Dolch Word Cut-out sheets for the remaining Pre-Primer words? Would some of you prefer Comic Sans as a font? We teach pre-cursive so these worksheets are perfect for my kiddos. Anyway, let me know your thoughts.

Please click here to dolch word cut out worksheets of Dolch Word Cut-out sheets. Apologies for the typo in the earlier version.

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

More Easter Egg Hunt Printables

Last year I used a different format for our Easter Egg Hunt and it worked WAY, WAY, WAY better. For obvious reasons we will be using the same format this year. Intrigued…? Well then read on!

We held our Easter Egg Hunt inside the school building as we were effectively a building site on the outside. Hiding treats amid the rubble and diggers didn’t seem like such a great idea. As a Green School, we didn’t particularly like having to wrap each treat in a plastic bag before hiding it in the garden. We did so for hygiene reasons but wrestled with the waste that it generated. Finally we had children with dietary needs/allergies that could not eat chocolate. We did not want them finding and munching on eggs. So here was my super-duper plan!

I created blank name tags. I created 2 tags per child. The Students’ Council stuck these tags all around the school. Some were under benches, others on the floor, others still on skirting boards… You get the general idea. Tags were low and accessible to our kiddos. Each child needed to find the 2 tags with his/her name on it. Once found, they cashed them in for treats. This allowed us to ensure that those with dietary needs only got what they could eat. The Easter Egg Hunt also took a lot longer and seemed to be much more enjoyable. The treats we provided were: Easter Themed Rice Krispie Buns, these had jelly beans on top and  easter themed chocolate lollipops. I almost forgot, we gave out ‘Bunny Tail” marshmallows to buzz them up before they started their hunt.

Please click here for your own Easter Egg Hunt Printable name-tags.

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Don’t forget to download and print my free Easter Egg Hunt Printables too.

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Easter Themed Maths Journal Prompts

I really like using seasonal themes and real-life experiences to bring maths to life. Here are some free  Easter Maths Journal Prompts that you can use this week.

You can see that the first two require more a little more thought and logical processing. I don’t expect all of my kiddos to fly through these ones. I like to use mind benders to challenge children to problem solve using know information to deduce the unknown. These would be great for Senior Infants too!

The final two prompts relate to the topic of Weight. We are exploring that in class at the moment so the prompt is perfectly timed for us.

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I hope that your class/child enjoys these Maths challenges. I can’t wait to start using these Easter Themed Maths Journal Prompts with my class tomorrow. We have already glued in the Easter Bunny prompt so we will hit the ground running tomorrow!

Click here to download my Easter Themed Maths Journal Prompts

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Currently September

I am excited to be linking up with Farley at Oh Boy 4th Grade for Currently September! It has been an age since I did one of these link ups. So here it goes…
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Listening:

Now that I am back into the regular commuting regime I find myself listening to the radio a lot more. I love the Parenting Slot on Moncrieff every Wednesday and Paulo Tullio on a Thursday. That pretty much covers the main passions in mine life: teaching/kids and food.

Loving:

I love the start of school. It is so amazing to get to know your pupils and come to understand and appreciate their personalities. I love discovering what makes them tick. I also love figuring out ways to bring out the best in them: what motivates them, where to their passions/interest lie? It’s also a time when I have to prove myself to the quieter ones, gain their trust and establish a relationship where they will trust and bloom. Interesting times…

I love The Kissing Hand and my Chester cuddly toy. He has been a big hit with the kids. He is joining in our lessons too. Bless him, he struggled with classifying by colour but the kids have been a great support. He’s really starting to get it now 😉

I LOVE decorating. I am always playing around with displays. I moved some furniture around after school today. I have held back slightly as we are moving to a new school building in the coming months. I am saving my Euro until I see my new space. I have pretty much decided that the colour theme will be red and green.

Thinking:

My brother is getting married next week so there is a lot going on and my mind is working overtime. We have family travelling over from Australia that I last me as a child. I am super excited to see them!!! I am thinking how relieved I am to finally have my outfit. I was cutting it fine to put it mildly. I am thinking about how I will “gain” a “sister”. I always wanted one of those!!!

Wanting:

A colour printer. I would go complete nuts if I had one!!! I have an amazing b&w one that is really economical and fast. I really can’t complain. Besides, colouring is soooo therapeutic!

Needing:

I try to be  a “bloom where you are planted” kind of girl who married a natural born optimist and positive thinker. I am grateful for all that I have.

3 Trips:

The  IIA Net Visionary Awards are only around the corner. I was humbled to be nominated in the “You Did Good”-Best Use of the Internet for Social Good” category. Winning and IIA Award has been on my Bucket List for a number of years now! I want to take this opportunity to thank you all for your good wishes and votes.

I love “road trips” with the girls. I like them even more when they involve birthday cake!

No third trip planned. I must rectify this forthwith 😉

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh

IA Net Visionary Awards 2014: Voting from missmernagh.com

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Click here to vote!

I just wanted to say a huge thank you to all of you out there. I have been receiving so many messages and emails of support. I am, in truth, blown away by the support and encouragement that I am receiving. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I have also had a number of emails today from people saying that they are having problems voting 😦  I have contacted the IIA to see what the problem might be! I will let you know as soon as I hear back from them.

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Please, please, please vote for missmernagh.com in the IIA Net Visionary Awards!

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Hi Everyone,

I am beyond thrilled to be nominated for an IIA Dot Visionary Award ‘Best Use of Internet for Social Good’!!!!
I established this blog all,  those years ago, to support parents of children with literacy difficulties. It was at a time with the Dept. of Education was cutting back on Learning Support and Resource Teaching. Parents were finding themselves with little or even no help in schools and with no one to turn to. Lots of blog and website provide worksheets by no one seemed be showing people the “how”. I have always believed that teaching a child to read isn’t rocket science, but it is a science. I am completely passionate about supporting and empowering parents and carers to help their child fulfil his/her full potential.
The blog and Facebook page have grown and evolved over time. I now provided lessons, worksheets and resources to support my fellow teaching colleagues in their own classrooms all across the world.
I know when teaching practice starts, all over the world, because I get lots and lots of messages asking for help, support and guidance. I do my very, very best to answer each one of them and to hold their hands as they begin their teaching careers.
I have lots of home-schooling Mom’s in the USA who are thrilled to have a teacher at the end of a computer to help and encourage them as they take the brave and dedicated step of  educating their own children.
I get messages for Moms and Dad’s, full of concerns,  just before school start. They want to know what to pack in school bags, how much food to put in their kids lunchbox, what type of pencil to buy and lots more besides. They want and need someone with inside knowledge to hold their hands and tell them that it will be alright. That gal is me in a lot of instances and I am only thrilled to be able to do it!
I have resisted the urge to set up an account on Teacher Pay Teachers and lots of other offers that involved monitizing my blog. Lots of people think that I am crazy for this. I spend lots of my own time and money on blogging. I continue to do what I do for free because I want all of you to have what you need regardless of your incomes. I don’t want any parent, career or teacher to feel that they are on their own, with no one to turn to. I do it because I really, really want to HELP you all.
Today, I am asking for your help. Please help me by casting your vote and asking your friends and family to do the same. Please like and share my post on Facebook or Twitter.
Voting is open from today until Wednesday.
I am attaching a link and crossing my fingers that you can help!
Simply scroll down to number 14, click on ‘Cast your Vote’ put a tick in the box and click submit. Easy!
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This nomination for an IIA Dot Visionary Award ‘Best Use of Internet for Social Good’ proves that I am not crazy to do what I do. I shows me that my tincy little blog can and does effect change and that warms my heart!!
Miss Mernagh 🙂

Please, please, please vote for missmernagh.com!!!

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Hi Everyone,

I am beyond thrilled to be nominated for an IIA Dot Visionary Award ‘Best Use of Internet for Social Good’!!!!
I established this blog all,  those years ago, to support parents of children with literacy difficulties. It was at a time with the Dept. of Education was cutting back on Learning Support and Resource Teaching. Parents were finding themselves with little or even no help in schools and with no one to turn to. Lots of blog and website provide worksheets by no one seemed be showing people the “how”. I have always believed that teaching a child to read isn’t rocket science, but it is a science. I am completely passionate about supporting and empowering parents and carers to help their child fulfil his/her full potential.
The blog and Facebook page have grown and evolved over time. I now provided lessons, worksheets and resources to support my fellow teaching colleagues in their own classrooms all across the world.
I know when teaching practice starts, all over the world, because I get lots and lots of messages asking for help, support and guidance. I do my very, very best to answer each one of them and to hold their hands as they begin their teaching careers.
I have lots of home-schooling Mom’s in the USA who are thrilled to have a teacher at the end of a computer to help and encourage them as they take the brave and dedicated step of  educating their own children.
I get messages for Moms and Dad’s, full of concerns,  just before school start. They want to know what to pack in school bags, how much food to put in their kids lunchbox, what type of pencil to buy and lots more besides. They want and need someone with inside knowledge to hold their hands and tell them that it will be alright. That gal is me in a lot of instances and I am only thrilled to be able to do it!
I have resisted the urge to set up an account on Teacher Pay Teachers and lots of other offers that involved monitizing my blog. Lots of people think that I am crazy for this. I spend lots of my own time and money on blogging. I continue to do what I do for free because I want all of you to have what you need regardless of your incomes. I don’t want any parent, career or teacher to feel that they are on their own, with no one to turn to. I do it because I really, really want to HELP you all.
Today, I am asking for your help. Please help me by casting your vote and asking your friends and family to do the same. Please like and share my post on Facebook or Twitter.
Voting is open from today until Wednesday.
I am attaching a link and crossing my fingers that you can help!
Simply scroll down to number 14, click on ‘Cast your Vote’ put a tick in the box and click submit. Easy!
Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 10.44.12
This nomination proves that I am not crazy to do what I do. I shows me that my tincy little blog can and does effect change and that warms my heart!!
Miss Mernagh 🙂

Substitute teacher essentials!!!

I am so excited to have Aishlín Brown as a Guest Blogger this week. She is the most “AMAZING” teacher. While I hate to be sick I can rest easy if I know that Aishlín is at the helm. She is 1 in a million. I know that she is just dying for a class of her very own. Principals out there take note!! I’d hire her in a heartbeat!!

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Anyway, it’s over to Aishlín:

As a substitute teacher, I never know what school I will work in next, what class I will be teaching or what material I will be covering. Often, this is a really positive aspect of being a “sub”; your days are always different, exciting and challenging! At the same time, it can be difficult to teach amazing lessons in an unfamiliar classroom with no preparation time.

To help me with this, I have a few things that I always bring with me when I am subbing.

My bag

The foundation of my “kit” is a large and sturdy bag with lots of pockets. Mine is also unintentionally waterproof which has been useful this winter! In my bag I keep the things that I have found that I need on a regular basis. I will always have packets of reward stickers, my whistle, some post-its, tissues, hand sanitizer, a selection of children’s books, a book of quiz questions, some DVDs of Tom and Jerry for wet lunchtimes, a packet of Happy Birthday balloons, plain A4 paper and lots of children’s colouring pages.

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My bag is from Tesco, they run a special on them every August/September for the back to school season!

If it is my first time meeting a junior class, I will also have my “treat bag”. This is a colourful bag that I fill with nice things from the “Euro shops” like pens, rubbers, bubbles, “slinkies”, whistles, stampers etc. When I meet a new class I always give out name labels. Children form the junior classes can pick something from my treat bag at the end of the day, as long as they have behaved well AND they still have their name label on them. This works really well as it gives you a good chance to actually learn the children’s names!

My folder

I always bring a large binder folder with me when subbing. In this folder, I keep photocopies of the paperwork that substitutes need to bring and sheets of printed name labels (for me and the children!).

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Often, I sub for teachers who were not expecting to be absent so they have not left any plans for me to follow. I really like this as it allows for a little more creativity for me!

I have sections in my folder with lots of lesson ideas that require few or no resources. I divide these lessons into two categories (Junior Infants to Second class and Third class to Sixth class) so that I can always find something suitable. I have other sections dedicated to Art, PE and Drama that are full of activities that are adaptable for different classes. My favourite subject to teach is art, so I update this section all the time with seasonal projects.

My USB stick

This is by far the most useful thing that I carry with me. I have a huge 32GB USB stick that I keep all my interactive whiteboard presentations on. Every time that I prepare something for a class, it goes on my memory stick so that I can use it again. I file everything by subject so I can find things straight away. One of my favourites is a presentation of riddles and maths puzzles that the older classes love.

I make my presentations using Activinspire software or PowerPoint. For a substitute teacher, I would recommend using PowerPoint because lots of schools do not use Activinspire and you will not be able to open your presentations!

My stamp

My stamp is one of my newer purchases and it was inspired by Miss Mernagh who also has a similar one. It is a pre-inked stamp that says “Miss Brown says well done!” Younger classes (and sometimes older ones too!) become incredibly motivated to do great work when they know they could get “Miss Brown’s special stamp” on their work. It has definitely become a prized possession!

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I ordered mine from https://www.thestickerfactory.co.uk/ and I delighted with their service and the quality of the product. I think my next purchase will be a date stamp which would be so handy for corrections!

My timer

It can be hard for some children to have a different teacher in their classroom, especially for the younger classes. Sometimes a child will have to take a break from an activity for a few minutes. When this happens, I like to use my “ink timer”. This is similar to an egg timer but it is filled with ink drops or “goo”. The child can turn this over and watch the ink/goo drizzle down into the lower chamber. This is very relaxing to watch and always calms the child down. The timer finishes after about five minutes and the child will be ready to return to their task. This is a wonderful resource that has never failed me!

I bought my first one on Ebay (search ooze timer or liquid timer) but Amazon also sell them. I found my ink timer by chance in The Art and Hobby Shop in The Jervis Centre in Dublin.

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My music player

My last item that I want to mention is my Veho music player. It is a portable speaker that is about the size and weight of a large potato. I received this for Christmas a few years ago and I love it. It plays music from a micro SD card and it has really clear and loud sound: I have never turned the volume up fully on it!

I use it all the time whenever I need some music e.g. PE, art, drama, music, SPHE, the list goes on!  It can also be connected to a laptop for those times when the interactive whiteboard speakers just will not work.

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Ebay have a great selection of Veho portable speakers that are not very expensive. “Groupon” also often run promotions where they sell them at discounted prices.

When subbing I feel that preparation is key, but it is also really important to be able to adapt and improvise to handle any situation. These items really help me to do that.

I would love to hear some more ideas of resources for substitutes, if you have any nice ideas please leave them in the comments below!

Thank you so much for reading,

Aishlín

 

 

Maths Journal for Mental Maths

I have had a great response to my “Maths Journal” photos on my Facebook page and on Twitter. In response to lots of questions I have decided to write a blog post in it!

Maths Journals are a wonderful teaching and assessment resource to have in your classrooms. They cost almost nothing and do not take very much time at all. I have used them with both Junior and Senior Infants in the past. I am currently teaching Junior Infants and we have started journaling. I am a huge advocate of challenging children with mental maths and oral maths problems. I mean why else do we need to learn maths if not to use it in our everyday lives!

How to Maths Journal:

Each child needs:

  • blank copy, non-lined type, per child
  • optional Maths Journal cover
  • glue
  • mental maths challenges
  • a 5 minute timer

How do I start?:

From their very first maths class my class are exposed to problem solving and mental/oral maths challenges. It is just a normal part of our day. I “maths talk” and show children how a problem can be solved while illustrating it it on my whiteboard or with manipulatives. I ask for children to suggest and model how they would solve a problem. By the time we come to our “Maths Journal” enteries my class have already developed problem solving skills.

About 2 weeks before children are given their journals I begin to work more formal on recording their answers. I write a question on the board  and “maths talk” what I would do. Demonstrating how to illustrate and record my answer. I try to do this daily during that two week preparation period.

One their first day with their Maths Journal I explain my expectations and the practicality of where they glue the question and how long they have to answer the question. What are my expectations?

  1. That children try to complete these challenges in 5 minutes.
  2. That they focus on the maths rather than the colouring. Its about good maths thinking rather than beautiful drawings.
  3. That it is a maths challenge so they will probably have to write a number to show their answer. That they do not look at another child’s work and if they do to remember that there are often multiple ways of solving a problem so both of them can be correct even if they look different 😉
  4. That the task is completed without talking to their friends about it. It is their challenge to solve

I will sometimes read the question and sometimes not, depending on the age of the children and their literacy levels.  That is as much help as my pupils are given. I ensure that the prompts relate to an aspect of the curriculum that we are currently studying or have already studied. Therefore the challenge should not required modelling. That is the beauty of these journals, I can see thought processes, strenghts and weaknesses at a glance. To my mind they are worth their weight in gold! I used handout last year and regretted it. It is so much better to have a running record.

Here are the Maths Journal covers that I designed for this year:

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Click here to download

Here is a photo of what they look like in real life:

maths journal cover ImageHere are some images of our very first journal entry. It was a revision page for the Number 3. I told my class that there was a “secret number” on their prompt. That number would tell them how many apples to draw. They had to draw that many apples, number them and colour them.
Image 1Image 3Then I set my 5 minute timer and wait to see how they would solve the problem. Click here for a link to the timer.
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That is pretty much it! I aim to complete a minimum of 2 entries per week. In an ideal world I would favour daily entries. With severe curriculum overload those 5 mins/day can be very, very elusive!!!

To encourage you to give it a whirl here is a Junior Infant, a Senior Infant and a 1st Class prompt 😉 Click here to download

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

My Top 5 Teacher Resources!

This post is especially for Aishlin who requested it forever ago. Sorry for the wait. I hope that it was worth it!

I think that this has been one of the toughest posts to write. I have sooooo many favourite things. All of the items shown are reasonably priced and are used frequently,  by this I mean daily or almost weekly, in my classroom. The would be a great starting for for any NQT.

  1. Jolly Phonics Word Book.  This is literally list after list of words sorted by group, initial consonant blends, final consonant blends, digraphs and tricky words. I would be completely lost without it. In fact, I am the proud owner of 2 copies just incase one went missing!!!  Sometimes it can be hard to think of 10 or 20 words that contain “oi” or “ai”. It’s great to be able to just open an book as see lots and lots of examples. It is an absolute bargain at 3Euro including postage! Click here to purchase your own copy of Jolly Phonics Word Book!phonic-word-bookjolly-phonics-word-book-inside-page-1
  2.  Pocket Charts!! I recently purchased this very one to add to my growing collection! It is sooooooo useful. I currently have HFW word flashcards in it. I can take them down to use them and just pop them back. So simple, no messing with blu-tac or thumb tacks. It is pretty light so I have been able to attach it to my noticeboard with just thumb tacks. My “other half” at work, Aoife, recently acquired one for her classroom too and loves it.  It’s great having a double stream because I have a buddy to plan with. So much more fun! Pocket Charts would be great in a “Sub tub” for those of you subbing.  You can just take it down when you are going home. I also use one for my Focus Wall. Click here to visit the page. Click here to purchase  your own pocket chart. It costs 18.93 including postage.
  3. 9781609962289I use this smaller one for my Classroom Management.  It is actually a Daily Schedule Pocket chart that I have re-purposed for my own use. Click here to purchase a Daily Schedule Pocket Chart. It costs 10.03 including postage. It is much, much smaller than it seems. I will take a photo of mine tomorrow and post it on my Facebook page. You will get a better sense of its scale and how I use it. It would be great for displaying the names of helpers and classroom jobs too. 9780545114981My positive behaviour programme is based on 3 different types of frogs: happy frog, uh-uh frog and sad frog. Children start the day on happy frog and stay there by making positive behaviour choices.I simple stuck the laminated frog onto the pocket chart with blu-tac. The name cards are laminated and are an absolute breeze to move up and down, if necessary, on this pocket chart. It is an absolute life saver!!
  4. Two Sided Counters and 5/10 Frames. Possibly the greatest find of 2013!!! How did I survive so long without them?!!!Two-sided counters come as a pack of 200 and cost 9.73 including postage. Click here to purchase . Anyone who has taught composing/decomposing of numbers a.k.a combining/partitioning to 30+ kids knows how “hellish” it is to have the right  quantity and colour of counters. You also spend way to much time talking about the colour of the cubes to use. Ring any bells? This becomes a greater focus than the actual combing and partitioning.                                                                
    Now we just count out  a defined number of counters eg 5  and flip them as necessary. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. And, oh yeah, the kids can actually do combining and partitioning without me dictating the colours to them.
    10345DDI like to Play “spill the beans when teaching combining and partitioning . Give each child an empty plastic cup. Place the desired number of counters inside,  shake and spill. Teacher: What way did you make 5?   Child 1:  2 yellow and 3 red. 2+3 makes 5. Child 2:  1 yellow and 4 red. 1 +4 makes 5  Child 3:  5 yellow and 0 red. 5 +0 makes 5.  I also use them on 5 frames/10 frames and for patterning. They fit perfectly on the 10 frames that I created. Click here for a free download. I will be uploading the Monster 5 Frame Board in the coming weeks too 🙂Screen Shot 2014-01-26 at 18.11.57
  5. Listening Comprehension (Lower) by Prim-Ed. This was one of the 1st purchases I ever made as a teacher and I still use it 10 years on! Simply read the detailed instructions twice and then allow children time to respond on their worksheet. It is just a brilliant resource. When I taught Senior Infants I created a booklet per child and  completed one activity per day for the first week in school. It is a great way to reinforce and encourage good listening skills at the beginning of a school year. “Listen to your teacher when she speaks” is one of my class rules.  Listening is a ‘skill’ that young children need to be assisted in developing. This book is great for that. It also shows me who recognises their colours, understands ordinal language, positional language and can write their own name clearly. It’s a great beginning of the year assessment.Prim-Ed Listening Comprehension also has a few sheets that I saved for seasonally appropriate times of year: skeleton,  Snowman, Easter Bunny and Sandcastle.Prim-Ed Listening Comprehension (Lower) is 14.95 and can be used from Infants to 1st or 2nd class. Click here to purchase.Image 2
  6. Image 3Image 4Behaviour Punch Cards. I know that lots of people are using Classdojo but I am still happy with my regular ol’ punch cards 🙂 I have had so much hardship with school laptops in the past few years, not to mention the endless wait for replacement bulbs for interactive whiteboard!  What would happen to my classroom management if I couldn’t access the programme?!For this reason I prefer my classroom management to be based on cardboard and a puncher.I use the Behaviour Punch Cards along side “smiley’s” and “frowney’s” for a whole class programme. It sounds kinda complicated but I assure you it isn’t. Perhaps it could be another post?! Anyway, I always feel for the “good kids”, you know the one for are always doing their best and keeping the rules, what is the gain for them? Poor behaviour by other class members can mean that they miss out. What’s the advantage to being perpetually good when  it’s only the “chatty” kids gets a prize for not talking!!!If you remain on “Happy Frog” in my classroom you are entitled to get your card punched at the end of each school day. Once you earn 20 punches you get to choose one of the prizes listed on my Prize menu. This is additional to any Golden Time etc. earned by the class. This is an individual prize that each child earns for himself/herself.The great thing about it is “eventually” everyone reaches 20. Even the “chatty” kid.  The closer they get to 20 the more motivated they are to get their card punched.

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All you need is coloured card, a Sharpie to write their names and a puncher. It’s a single hole puncher that you need to purchase and they are not very expensive. I found on online for 4euro. I think that I bought me in Tesco? Not expensive at any rate.

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“Google” the  phrase ” free behavior punch car printables” to find lots of versions for download. Notice that I it is the American spelling of “behavior” rather than “behaviour” that I used. If you are having any difficulties send me an email. I have one saved but I don’t know the original source 🙂

I hope that you found my Top 5 Teacher Resources useful. The total cost of my top 5 Teacher resources is 60.63 Euro. I know that they are so much more valuable than that to me. There is not one of these items that I could last a week without, perhaps even a day! Regardless of whether you teach Junior Infants, Senior Infants or even 1st class all of these items will be useful and worthwhile purchases. They are also all very small and portable for those of you who are working as substitute teachers.

I feel another ” Top 5 Teacher Resources” will be blogged about very soon. Thanks to Aishlin for requesting this. Keep your requests and comments coming. What would make it into your Top 5? Leave a comment below or on my Facebook Page.

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂