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


Starting School Series: Prim-Ed Pre-Writing Patterns Write On Posters

Well, it’s only 3 more sleeps until I meet my new class. I am pretty busy right now between setting up my classroom and planning for the first few weeks of school. Starting school means lots and lots of pre-writing activities. I am delighted to have a new “helper” this year 😉

Say hello to my new Prim-Ed Write-On Posters. I think that I might be in love! They are going to be a fantastic resource in the weeks to come.  I just “love” that they are:

  • A3 Sized- can be seen by kids when I demo. Hallelujah!!
  • Can be used with whiteboard markers or traced with fingers
  • Are double-sided: full colour on one side and blue and white on the other
  • Cute and colourful: I ♥ the Russian Doll and the birds!
  • They have all the patterns that I want to use. Yippeee!!!

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I know that they are  also going to be  an extra special support to children who struggle with pencil skills and directionality. If you have a kid in your class with fine-motor control difficulties then these will be indispensable. I just wish that I had them last year for one of my kiddos. It would have made a huge difference. I found myself photocopying sheets to A3 and laminating them to create my own home-made version of these. They were just black and white, though, and not so appealing.

I am looking forward to clipping my Write-On posters to my mini flip chart and giving hand-on demonstrations and practice. My kids will have no problem seeing or reaching the posters.


If you are looking for whiteboard markers then these are my absolute favourites!!! They have a round tip like a marker and are nice and slim for little hands. They also rub away cleanly and easily. I have re-purchased them again for my class this year. Click here for a link. 

Don’t forget to check out my post on developing a good pencil grip. Click here to visit.

Prim-Ed New Wave Pre-Writing Patterns Write-On Posters are also a fantastic resource for Oral Maths and Mental Maths! I will be pulling out my Write-On Posters for lots of maths lessons:

Using the Christmas Tree for example:

  • Counting from 0-10:

How many candy canes/hearts/stars/baubles are on the Christmas tree?

  • Mental Maths/Oral Maths:

If there were as many gifts as there are hearts who many gifts would be under the tree?

How many children can have a candy cane if each child can only get one?

What season would it be? How do you know?

What else can you find on the top of a Christmas tree?

Let’s graph what we have on our trees and home and see which is the most popular: star or angel

  • Comparing:

Are there more baubles or hearts on the tree?

Which bauble is the biggest?

  • Algebra:

Who can find a colour pattern on the Christmas Tree?

I think that these Prim-Ed New Wave Pre-Writing Patterns Write On Posters are going to be a great addition to my pre-writing resources. At just under 20Euro they are not a bad price at all. Check back the week after next for some photos of the posters in my classroom.

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Handwriting Awards Certificate with Prim-Ed Merit Stickers

Calling all teachers who love to give out award certificates but are broke from buying them or printing them with coloured ink!!

 I have created some cute Handwriting Award Certificates in the past and printed them onto coloured paper or card. They just never seem as appealing to me. They look a little cheap or something. I almost died when I saw these:



For 2.95 Euro you get 96 stickers. That’s a whole lot of awards people and at an absolute bargain basement price. Click here for a link.

Who knew that Prim-Ed sold stickers?! Was I living under a rock? Did you know? Break it to me gently if you did 😉 Incase you are only hearing about it now here is a link to their stickers page. Worth checking out. Click here for a link.

Anyway,  these stickers inspired me  to create a new certificate for Handwriting. I think that the merit sticker is just perfect. It makes the award look far more “formal” and “special”.  Just the look I was going for. Click here to download your free Handwriting Award.

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I will use these merit stickers for other forms of  “extra specialness” in workbooks, reading logs, attendance awards etc. Did you notice the “Good Sport” award? Perfect for  Sport’s Day or when a child shows good sportsmanly traits in P.E or in the yard.

I know that this award template can be used without the sticker but I think that 2.95 worth it for the effect. I don’t think that the photos do the stickers justice. The certificates really look like they  have teacher’s seal of approval.

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂


p.s the cute page border is from

Maths Lesson for Who Sank the boat?

Who Sank the Boat? is just a fantastic resource for maths and science lessons! It is a no brainer for integrating “prediction” as a comprehension strategy. We follow Building Bridges of Understanding and have termly strategies to teach and revise.


I integrated “predicting” and Data Handling for this fun opening activity to Who Sank the Boat? In Junior Infants we are asked to:

  • represent and interpret a set of simple mathematical data using real objects, models and pictures
  • sort and classify sets of objects by one criterion
  • match sets, equal and unequal

Firstly, I displayed the prediction chart below:

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Secondly, I asked my pupils to “predict” who might sink the boat. They then completed the following sheet. Because my kiddos are still learning to write I had labels for them to choose from and glue on the line.

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Click here to download Prediction Sheets.

Finally, we recorded our predictions and created a graph using Unifix cubes and larger images of the animals. Click here to download images.

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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 🙂

Preparing for School: Pre-Writing Printables

Children need lots and lots of pencil practice to develop the fluid fine motor control necessary for handwriting.  Tracing over various patterns is the starting point for this.

Tracing over these pre-writing patterns teaches your child:

  • to write from left to right ( the pencil icon on the sheet below indicates the directionality)
  • to develop wrist flexibility and strength ( You need to be able to rotate your wrist to form the following letters: c, a,d, g, o, q. They begin in a semi-circular manner)
  • to stay close to and follow a contoured line
  • the specific line and curves necessary for certain letters of the alphabet
  • hand-eye coordination

Let’s take a close look at this  pre-writing printable, for example.

The first two zig-zag lines are preparation for: “A”, “M”, “V”, “W”, “v”, “w”.

The curved line prepares the hand and eye for letters such as: “h”, “u”, “m”, “n”.


I have been teaching children to write for over 10 years now and this is my motto.

Do not expect or ask a child to sit at a table writing a letter or a shape over and over and over again. It will not improve handwriting one little bit. By the end of the sheet the writing will be just a scribble as he/she wants to be done with it. By contrast, the first few lines or letters are most often the best. Practice is not the answer if the quality of the work is poor.

I constantly remind my class that “perfect practice makes perfect”. This means that I ask them to complete only a line or two but  they must take their time and do it to the best of their ability.

I always ask my pupils to circle or highlight the one that they felt was their very best. This helps children to focus on the key characteristics of that letter and  the attributes of good handwriting, for example :

  • correct shape
  • correct size
  • sitting on the line
  • nice straight lines/curves
  • light pencil lines (not dark black and imprinted into the page!)

Click here for a link to some “Pre-writing practice sheets”.

Promise that you will only do a small amount each day 😉

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Preparing for school: Writing your name

It is vitally important that your child can both read and write his/her name before starting school. So much revolves around “names”. Your child’s name will be everywhere, from lunchboxes to coat hooks, to worksheets and even where he/she should sit. Let’s face it, there is no avoiding it!

It is often these small details that cause children the most distress. I have seen children cheerfully wave “bye-bye” only to dissolve into tears over lunch box. If your child is quiet he/she may be slow to ask for help and fret over which box is theirs. There are bound to be other children with the same lunchbox . If your child cannot read his/her name on  a lunch box or perhaps on a coat hook then how will he or she know which to choose? !

Please, please do not teach your child to write in capital letters only!

I hope that I am making this point very clear for you ;). If you do, your child and his/her teacher will  be forced to spend time and effort “unlearning” this habit and learning to write it correctly.

Many of us have developed bad habits when it comes to letter formation. This is more the case with lower case letters than capital. You might find the link below useful for both you and your child. This clever website demonstates the correct way to write lower case letters.

Click here for a link

Simply click on a letter and then on the pencil icon at the bottom. You just need to watch and learn. The red dot indicates where the pencil should be placed to start the letter. If you click on the “ear” icon you will hear what phonetic sound the letter makes.

If your child can already write his/her name why not bookmark this page . You can then use it when your child has handwriting or phonics homework.

Check back later in the week for more handwriting tips for children starting school!

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

p.s Don’t forget to tell all your friends too

Prediction Activities to develop good readers

Being able to “predict” is an important skill to develop in emergent readers. It allows children to figure out an unfamiliar or phonetically irregular/complex word by thinking about what would make sense in that context or a probable string of words eg ” —- upon a time”. Children with good prediction skills will predict that the missing word is “once” even if they are unable to sound it out ( “once” is phonetically irregular, after all).

Learning to predict starts with guessing games and activities and should begin long before children are learning to read. Children love these sort of games and activities so it is a pretty easy skill to encourage ;).

I decided to create two activity sheets to liven up our prediction lessons this week. My class had lots of fun with these I can tell you. It certainly stimulated lots and lots of chatting and prediction

On Monday I asked my class to “predict” and “draw” four likely contents of my lunchbox. It was hilarious! I eat with my class a few days a week inorder to model healthy eating practices. This meant that everyone had an opinion on what I would be dining on!!

It seems that bananas regularly feature in my lunchbox. There was disbelieve among many when I revealed that I had not packed one that day!!! I have to say this activity was so much fun that I will be doing it every year from now on.

Click here to download

The following morning my pupils were paired off and invited to predict the contents of their partner’s lunchbox. I had warned them the previous day that this would happen. I swear there a few “smart ones” were cataloging contents the previous day in anticipation!

Click here to download

Have fun. We sure did!

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Handwriting Award Printables

My school has decided to acknowledge the importance of handwriting by presenting awards each month and displaying samples the Principal’s noticeboard . As I teach emergent writers I have decided to honour  both the “most improved” and “the best handwriting” in my class. I think that it is important to acknowledge effort and progress as well as greatness 😉

Please click here to download

Perhaps you might find my awards useful in your class. I have made them in black and white and plan to mount/photocopy mine on some brightly coloured card. I don’t have a colour printer at work so black and white is essential ;).

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

ps the clip art is copyright

Friendship Week Resources: My Friend Poem

My school has designated this week as “Friendship Week” as part of our anti-bullying strategy. It is such a lovely idea, isn’t it? I am really excited about marking the importance of valuing our friends.

I thought that it would be a lovely idea to get my class to write a little poem about their friend and then to read it to him/her.  As I teach emergent writers (5-7yrs) I created a “fill-in-the-blanks” format poem.  I think that it will be a good way to encourage my class to think about their friendships and to honor a good friend.

Perhaps it might be of use to you? It would be soooo cute for kids to include in a birthday card to their best friend, wouldn’t it?! Please click here to download a copy of  “My Friend” poem

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

ps. Graphics by DJInkers

Creative Writing Ideas for The 3 Little Pigs

I am focusing on writing postcards with my class at the moment. I created these to compliment the story of the 3 Little Pigs. There is a postcard for each Little Pig and one from Mammy Pig. I wonder what they have to say to each other?

For a refreshing modern take on the story check out Meet Silly Pig, Lazy Pig and my personal favourite Glam Pig ( who resides in an architect designed house!). The story is available to play on your interactive whiteboard

I have also make postcard templates for these modern piggies in case you would prefer to use them 😉

Click here to download all of my postcard templates

Don’t forget to print a stamp too! Click here to download my stamps!

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Cute Star Writer Checklist

What makes a “star writer”? Even beginner readers should be encouraged to edit their own story writing.  It is good practice and it also gives early finishers something to do! I created this “Star Writer Checklist” from my students to use. Just hand it out at the beginning of your lesson and remind your class  to read it before they start and that they are not “finished” until they have used it again at the end. I put in the “sharp pencil”  as writing with blunt pencils is one of my pet hates. It is amazing how many kids don’t bother to get a sharp one before they start!

Click here to download. All you have to do is cut out and laminate these strips!

I hate to waste my laminating pouches! I am sure that you guys are the same.  When I made them for my class I put some cute alphabet strips from on the back. Now they are doubly useful 🙂 .

This is just one of many that you can download for free from this website. There are strips with uppercase letters too.

Top tip: Print my Star Writer Checklist onto card. Then cut out and  glue the alphabet strip to back.  If you don’t use card you will be able to see the strip underneath.

This combined strip is super duper useful. What do you think? What do you use?

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Creative Writing ideas for Goldilocks & the 3 Bears

I have been working on some cute reader response sheets for Goldilock’s  and the 3 Bears. I started off by creating the letter templates. Letter writing is my focus in school this month. Then I got to thinking… What would the Police Report of the crime look like?! I can’t wait to try all these out with my class! What do you think? Please let me know if you use any of them!

Click here to download

Click here to download

Click here to download

I also found a great Interactive Story of Goldilock’s and the 3 Bears. It is perfect for home use or for Interactive Whiteboards. Click here for a link to this site.

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

How to… (writing lesson)

I already have a post about teaching children to write instructions. I created a cute writing template for them to plan how to make a snowman. Check it out on:

My class enjoyed this activity so much that I decided to continue the “How to…” theme. It is a great way to get children thinking logically, systematically and using some maths terms ( first, next, last). It also generates a lot of talk and use of new vocabulary

My new “How to…” sheets are about making jam sandwiches and drawing a face. Again, they are child friendly, familiar and simple for young children to do.

Make sure that you have your Gmail or Google Docs account open before downloading!


Please let me know how you get on with these. Have you any suggestions of more topics that I could include?

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂