# 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.

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!

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

# Prim-Ed’s Gross Motor Skills Development Activities

I recently found a fantastic Prim Ed resource, Gross Motor Skills Development Activities. It would be an amazing resource for Learning Support Teachers, Resource Teachers, Infant Teachers, Aistear, Pre-School Teachers,  or parents of children with coordination difficulties. Because I love you all so much I have even given you a curriculum match up guide so keep reading!

Over the years I have taught many children with Dyspraxia and other coordination difficulties. It’s  great to have a resource that you can dip in and out of. Gross Motor Skills Development Activities is very easy to follow and extremely comprehensive:

• Seven sections  which cover- Spatial and body awareness; Locomotor skills; Ball skills; Equipment; Sensory tables; Creative play; and Games, obstacles and relays

I have to say that the that I will definitely be using Gross Motor Skills Development Activities when I sit down to plan my P.E Scheme next year. It ticks so many boxes in the P.E Curriculum:

• Creative Movement
• Travelling
• Jumping & Hopping
• Throwing & Catching
• Rolling
• Batting
• Parachutes
• Hula hoops
• Skipping ropes
• Games
• Obstacles Courses

Here are some samples to whet your appetite:

We have a few commerically bought scoops but not enough. I will definitely be making my own now that I have read this. Inspired! They would also be much, much easier to catch a ball with. I can start with these homemade ones and then advance to the others. SCORE!

There are lots of Black Line Masters/BLM’s that would make station teaching so much easier to plan for and set up. They are clear, large and well illustrated:

In fact, I was sooooo excited to see how useful this book would be from P.E class in general that I sat down and created this!:

If you would like a copy of my table showing exactly how Prim-Ed’s Gross Motor Skills Development Activities exactly maps onto our P.E Curriculum click here. It will make you planning a lot easier 😉 I clearly have too much time on my hands, LOL!!!

Click here to purchase Prim-Ed’s Gross Motor Skills Development Activities or to view sample pages.

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

# The Gingerbread Man Dolch Pre-Primer Game

Today’s post was heavily requested following the photos I uploaded to Facebook last week. It was a big hit with my kiddos so it should go down well with yours too 😉

I am always trying to create fun ways of learning/practicing Dolch Words. I will be teaching my class to read the Pre-Primer List:

I created the Gingerbread Man game as we were reading it for our story that week. I try to theme teach where possible. I found some fabulous glittery pipe cleaners in the art section of Tesco. The red ones were just perfect for a mouth, after I cut each pipe cleaners into thirds. I also used buttons and mini pop-poms from Mr. Price to allow them to “build” their gingerbread man. I slipped 5 words and fox into my Carson-Dellosa Differentiated Instruction Cubes. Regular followers will be acquainted with my long running obsession with my Carson-Dellosa Differentiated Instruction Cubes! Once they had coloured in their Gingerbread Man, we were all set to play!

They just roll the dice and read the word The first person to complete his/her Gingerbread Man shouts “Run, run as fast as you can! You can’t catch me, I’m the gingerbread man!”. Rolling a fox is effectively “miss a turn” and the game rotates back the following direction. You should hear the groans and moans when the game swaps direction around the circle!!!

I create the Dolch Pre-Primer words and the Fox to exactly fit my Carson-Dellosa Differentiated Instruction Cubes. You could print multiple copies of the words,  place them face down and have pupils draw a card to play. I would highly recommend purchasing the cubes if you are a classroom teacher!

Here are some photos of the game being played last week I particularly like to one with the sad face. Clever, no?!

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

# Prim-Ed: Cutting Skills Series

I like to spend a lot of time at the beginning of the year working on fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. I feel that it is always time well spent. It can be tempting to jump into handwriting as it takes and age to teach all 26 letters of the alphabet not to mention the trauma of writing words and sentences! Oh man, it can be hard, hard work!!!

I was really excited when Prim-Ed gave me one of their Cutting Skills books to road test. You can see that I used Stage 4. I already had an ancient cutting skills book from Prim-Ed, an oldie but a goodie, which is out of print.

Click here to visit the Prim-Ed website and see some sample pages

I have to say that I really liked this cutting skills book, as did my pupils. It has lots of challenges that are introduced in a really gradual way. This allows children to move on in very small increments. I really, really like this! I love that this Developing Cutting Skills book covers just corners and curves. Most, but not all,  of my pupils were already able to cut along straight lines. Some were actually completely unable to use a scissors which is another issue entirely.

There is a great assortment of worksheets to choose from. There are some really simple sheets that allow you to just cut along a curved line and even indicate where you should place your fingers when holding the sheet. Then there are more that involve pupils cutting out large animals and masks. These were a big hit as we had explored Dear Zoo in literacy. My kids loved colouring and cutting out their Zoo Animals! I swear that my classroom sounded like a Zoo at times with all of the animal sound effects that accompanied their cutting 😉 Some of these sheets have tricky nooks and crannies to cut out. It is interesting to see who could potentially grow up to be a brain surgeon, cutting with great care and precision, and who can “hack” things to bits. Couldn’t come up with a career path to turn this hacking skill into a positive. Any ideas?  Leave a comment below!!!

The “jigsaw” format ones are easier to cut out and come earlier in the book. Some of my kids found pasting them back together to be a much, much tricker process. They are learning to take time to lay the pieces out in the correct order and glue them down one piece at a time. It seems that making jigsaws might be a thing of the past. With each passing year I see more children challenged by them. Shame, they are so important for fine motor control and visual discrimination skills.

I am so, so proud of my kiddos emerging skills that I have created this fun certificate. I will be presenting them to my class later this week. I am hoping that it will provide an incentive to some to slow down and stop attacking their page with the scissors, lol! I know that they are actually more skilful than it can first appear. When I sit beside them and remind them to  cut slowly using “small bites” of the scissors their cutting skills blow me away.  Turn around and count to 3 and it’s Edward Scissorshands!

I am really happy with my Developing Cutting Skills Book. Well done Prim-Ed. It will be a well used teacher resource for years to come! If you have looked at the photos of our Pumpkins you will see just how skilled my kiddos have become at cutting. I am one proud Teacher!

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

# Free Pumpkin Art Printable

I have to say that Autumn is probably my favourite season! I just love the colours, the flavours and the crisp mornings. It is allows me to do lots and lots of fun thematic teaching too! My class are fast becoming experts on all thing relating to apples and pumpkins.

I posted a photo on Facebook the other day of some Pumpkin Art that I had completed with my class. It got lots of favourable comments and some requests for a copy.

As promised, here it is in time for the next school week. Click here for a link to the Pumpkin Colouring Page. Click here for the facial features.

Here is how to make my Halloween Pumpkin:

• Pupils start by drawing the “ribs” on the pumpkin using a peach Crayola Twistable. It’s the pale colour that comes in the pack
• Cut out and glue facial features onto pumpkin
• Colour in the stem

Then I “curled” some narrow strips of green paper using a ruler and stapled it to the stem. Et Voila… The finished pumpkin

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…

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

# First Day at School Routine

I have received a number of emails and messages on Facebook about my “First Day at School” Routine. Drum ROLL… Here it is!

Classroom Set-up

I begin by placing a toy on each table. I try to put out an appealing assortment. Some that girls might gravitate towards and some for boys. I only set up table top toys for the first day. The Farm Set is usually used with the mat that you can see on the floor. For that morning only it was placed on the table.

I also like to create an ambience by playing some fun kids music in the background. I think that it feels more welcoming. Especially for the first few to arrive. It can be a little quiet and serious if not.

I also ensure that coat hooks are tagged and that I have sufficient space for lunchbox storage. I’m all about routine people, even on ESPECIALLY on the first day. I feel that establishing routines from Day 1 gives my pupils a feeling of security and empowers them with independence. They will only need gently prompting the following day on where to put their lunchboxes etc.

I also have “Dropbox” on my windowsill ready for all of the notes and classroom expenses envelopes. I find it to be indispensable. The kids love popping notes, drawings etc. into Dropbox in the mornings. It also means that the likelihood of putting a note down somewhere and spending the next hour panicking about its wherebaouts  is gone. If I see parents with envelope/notes I explain that we will be using Dropbox and send them over to it

Here is a rather beat up Dropbox from the end of the last school year.

I like to ‘Meet and Greet” each pupil, shaking hands, introducing myself and “stickering” them. Is “stickering” a verb? It really should be 😉 Our wonderful secretary, Shannen, always has a set of stickers ready for the first day or too. She’s the bomb!

After Mom and Dad have left

If the kiddos are settled I just let them continue playing while I empty school bags. I remove all books and any monies that I find. I will sort through these after school.

I introduce the class to “Whole Brain Thinking” and we practice ‘Class? Yes!” and “Look at your teacher when she speaks”. These are the two class rules and procedures that we will focus on for the coming days. If you are interested in learning more about Whole Brain Thinking then click here. I have used it for the past 2 years and love it!

We also learn about “Teams/Groups”. I use Colours to distinguish between each group. If you look below you will see that I use coloured lanterns to distinguish groups. I call groups to    hang up their coats, place lunch boxes on the shelf and to show them where the toilets. I also demonstrate our ‘Toilet Pass System’.

Then we learn where to sit for ‘Floor Work’ and story time. This is how we will start our school day from now on. We read The Kissing Hand and met Chester.

We then returned to our seats for our first piece of “work”. We had a Chester colouring sheet that read ‘Ask me to tell you about The Kissing Hand’. I thought that it might be useful for parents to chat about with their kids when they got home. I circulate and record who is right handed/left handed and who already has a well developed pencil grip.

After our colouring sheet we learned the “2 Little Feet” poem below. It will be one of our movement break activities for the year. Click here to download.

Then we had our lunch and went out to play. When we returned from the yard I gave my class their gift of “Magic Play-doh”. Click here to learn about Magic Play-doh. It’s a really old blogpost. I seriously need to save up and buy a camera!!!

I then presented each child with a “Hoot Hoot Hurray'” certificate and we began packing to go home. Click here for  a link to the Hoot Hoot Hurray Certificate.

Reading back over this post it seems like we did very little but honestly, we were flat out. We were even 10min late going home!!!

I know that you will not be able to find the same stories and certificates by Monday morning. Pick your own favourite kids story and see if you can find a corresponding colouring sheet. That allow parents a window into the world of their child’s first day. “So tell me about The Kissing Hand!”.  I would really encourage you to buy or create a certificate. Starting school is a huge milestone and should be celebrate. You certainly have time to make Magic Play-doh. It takes 4 min to make the doh and then a few more to roll into balls and add colouring. It’s great to see the excitement that it brings.

I hope that this helps all of you new Junior Infant/Kindergarten teachers out there. If you have any specific questions leave a comment below or visit missmernagh on Facebook.

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!!!

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 🙂

# Two little feet go tap, tap, tap

Well, it’s only two sleeps until I head back to school and only three sleeps until I meet my new class. My Mom and I spent Friday morning setting up the classroom and hanging some decorations to welcome my new class. It’s always such an exciting time. No major changes to how I decorated my room this year. We are moving to a new school building in December so it seems silly to do too much chopping and changing. I will wait until I am in my new school to purchase new bulletin board borders etc. I have no real sense of what my new room will be like. I have lots of ideas that I am hoping will work in the new space…

It’s always handy to have some poems and rhymes for transitions. x Here is a copy of the poem that I will be using to settle my kid for floor work or when they need to get some “giggles” out. Two little feet go tap, tap, tap is a really cute poem that I have used before but kind of forgot about until the other day. I thought that if I typed it up really cutely and stuck it on my wall that I might remember to use it. I like to have a “print rich” classroom. I can’t wait until my class will be able to read it for themselves!

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

# Ask the Teacher: Sunday 24th from 7-8pm

Do you have a little one starting school next week? Are you more nervous that he/she is? Is your head swimming with questions and concerns?
Please like and share with your friends who might like to “Ask the Teacher” a question 😉

Miss Mernagh 🙂

# Starting School Series: Developing a good pencil grip

Humor me… Grab a pencil  and hold it as though you are going to write.

Take a moment to examine how you are holding your pencil. How many fingers can you see at the front of the pencil? How many are hidden behind? The way that you are holding your pencil now is likely to be the exact same way you held it when you were 4 or 5 years old! Now that’s what I call a well entrenched habit!

Ok, so here’s the bit when you are likely to become a little nervous and perhaps start to squirm around in your chair…I have something of an obsession about children using a correct pencil grip when holding their pencil.

Pencil grips are something that naturally evolve over time from when children first start to scribble with a crayon. They go from wrapping their fist around the crayon, to holding a pencil at the top, then with lots of fingers around the middle of the pencil and finally with a tripod grip. Phases 1-3 generally happen naturally and without any adult prompting, the same way children go from pulling to stand, to cursing to walking.

However, that final step from the modified tripod grasp to the tripod grasp does require some “teaching” and “encouragement”.

### So what is the Tripod grip?

In the Tripod grip, the thumb, forefinger, and middle finger form a triangle, with the ring finger and pinkie supporting the middle finger. The pencil should be positioned between the three key fingers – the pad of the thumb, the side of the middle finger,and the tip of the index finger – so that there is equal pressure from all three fingers.All three fingers should be bent slightly. The tripod grip facilitates the proper control of the pencil, allowing your child to write more quickly and easily. It also prevents wrist fatigue when writing for long periods of time.

Grab that pencil again. Do you use a Tripod Grip? Perhaps you don’t and your writing is legible and your wrist never tires. The thing is, it’s really about habit. If as a parent or teacher you demonstrate a Tripod Grips and gently support and prompt children then it will become their default pencil grip. If you don’t, then they won’t, but the world won’t fall off its axis. Here’s a close up view of a right handed grip:

Here’s a close up view of a left handed grip:

Here’s a close up of the fingers:

I use this fun rhyme with my kiddos to help them remember the fingers to use and where to position them:

Give a little squeeze.

Hide the others underneath and writing is a breeze!

Check back later this week for my favourite pre-writing activities for kid to practice their Tripod Grip!

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

# Teacher Prep. for Back to School: E.M.A Matching

I am so excited that I finally got around to ordering “A Pair of Socks” from MathStart, Level 1 by Stuart J. Murphy and Lois Ehlert. For those of you who don’t know, Lois Ehlert is the  illustrator of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom!!!! This is for the benefit of those of you who are new to following me ” I LOVE CHICKA CHICKA BOOM BOOM“. Click here for a link!

Of course, the illustrations are just to die for in “A Pair of Sock”. I mean just look at this!

The idea of Mathstart Books just rocks my world. A whole series of books, across multiple levels, that explores maths. I just want to give a big shout out to Stuart J. Murphy and Lois Ehlert for such an inspired and amazing series of books. I literally want them all!!! Even the ones that are beyond what I would teach in Junior/Senior Infants.

I found it really difficult to get photos of the inside of any of the Mathstart books and just decided to take a chance on buying it, based primarily on the reputation of the author and illustrator. I have taken a few snaps so that you can get a feel for the book. They are iPhone quality. Need to save up for a camera…

The whole book is about finding a “matching sock” to make a pair. I think that “A Pair of Socks” is a great resource for teaching EMA Matching and Classifying. It’s also going to be useful for Algebra. There’s a whole lot of patterning going on in her peeps. Drum roll of the price reveal… About 5 euro including delivery 🙂 Click here to view or purchase. It seems to be out of stock today. It would be worth

I will be blogging more about EMA Matching over the coming weeks. Please leave me a comment if you have any  “go to” resources or games. We would all love to hear from you!

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

# Preparing your Child for School: Sorting and Classifying Game

“What’s the Difference?” is my favourite online sorting and classifying game. It covers lots of different categories of sort: by colour, safe/unsafe objects, objects that float/sink, 4 wheels/2 wheel… There are 10+levels for your child to play and explore. Why not see if you can re-create some of the classifications using  my Sort It Out sheets from the previous blogpost?

I hope that you have enjoyed using the sorting and classifying resources and games suggested in the last two post. Check back soon for matching activities!

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

# IA Net Visionary Awards 2014: Voting from missmernagh.com

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 🙂

# Preparing your child for school: Sorting and Classifying Objects

Matching and Sorting/Classifying are likely to be the first maths activities that your child will explore in Junior Infants. I have to say that I love exploring Classifying. Its so much fun to see how kids will “sort” things out. I love giving them a “mystery box” a.k.a the contents of “the junk drawer” that never gets fully tidied. You know it, its the one with all sort of bits and pieces in it. Buttons, magnets, bits of lego, McDonalds Happy Meal gifts… The all sorts of everything drawer.

I would like to introduce you to some very dear friends of mine:

Meet the Venn Diagram:

It’s basically a circle. You can classify objects with your Venn Diagram in lots of different ways:

Sort by Colour: Here is a set of yellow bears:

Sort by Type: Here is a set of Bears:

A more advanced form of sorting by colour: Here is a set of yellow bears and a set of bears that are not yellow:

Now meet the Carroll Diagram. You can sort and classify objects in the same way that you did with your Venn Diagram. It’s a matter of preference as to which form of diagram you use.

Here I used the Carroll Diagram to sort my shapes into two sets. The one on the left is “a set of square” and the one on the right is a “set that are not squares’

These diagrams just as to help your child to organise his/her thought. I am sure that you all have lots and lots of bits and pieces that can be sorted and classified. If you would like to purchase some “counters” or “manipulatives” to use during the year then check out this link. I just LOVE Prim-Ed’s manipulatives. At a price point of 9,95 Euro,  for 144 plastic pieces, they are quite affordable. The quality of these counters is just fantastic. They are brightly coloured and robust.

I recently got the Vegetable Counters. I have some plastic fruit in my classroom . I think that sorting fruit from vegetables is going to be a nice maths/science lesson. I will be using them in lots of other lessons throughout the year.

I made a set of corn on the cob (my absolute favourite vegetable!!) and then a set of corn and a set of other vegetables.I’m pretty good at classifying, don’t you think?!

You could add some yellow apples to the corn on the cob and make it a yellow set. Think of the possibilities!!!!

Here are the objectives as laid down by the Department of Education and Science for Junior Infants:

Strand: Early Maths Activities         Unit:  Classifying

• classify objects on the basis of one attribute, such as colour, shape, texture or size
• identify the complement of a set (i.e. elements not in a set)