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 🙂

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For Parents of Junior Infants: Brush up on your (Jolly) Phonics!

This one is especially for parents of children who have just started school. If your child’s school is using Jolly Phonics chances are your child has already begun to learn his or her sounds.

Jolly Phonics is a form of synthetic phonics. This means that it  first teaches the letter sounds and then teaches children to “blend” sounds together to read and write words eg. cat = caat. Blending is often referred to as “sounding out”. Children are also taught to “segment” which involves breaking words up into sounds eg c/a/t. We do this when spelling words.

Your child will probably already have completed the Sounds in Set 1 and perhaps Set 2 at this stage. Here they are:

Click here to download Glance Card

Download this free glance card and save it for when you are doing homework.

You can use it in 2 main ways:

  1. Randomly point to a letter and ask your child what sound it makes.
  2. Call out a sound and ask your child to point it out.

You now have an easy way to check your child’s sounds 🙂 Just remember that it is letter sounds and not letter names that children learn in the beginning.

Be careful when pronouncing these sounds. Think of a simple 3 letter word eg sat and sing it rather than say it! It is easier to hear the constituent sounds if you do.

Here is an explanation of the sounds covered is Sets 1-2. It is always tricky to write down phonetic sounds. I hope that they make sense 😉

“s” is a long sound as in sssssnake and not suh

“a” is a short sound as in a/nt

“t” is a short sound as in t/ap and not  a harsh tuh ( the “uh” at the end in soft)

“i” is a short sound as in it

“p” is a short sound as in pig. It has a very gently “uh” sound at the end. Curl your lips in around your teeth & push them out like a little explosion. The “uh” sound is subtle rather than pronounced.

“n” is a long sound as in nnnnet and not nuh

“c”  and “k” are a short sounds as in cap and kit. It has a very gently “uh” sound at the end.

“e” is a short sound as in egg

“h” is a soft, short sound and not huh. Take a deep breath and sigh to hear it 🙂

“r” is a long sound as in rrrrip and not ruh

“m “is a long sound as in mmmat and not muh

“d” is a soft, short sound as in dip with a quite rather than pronounced uh sound at the end.

I hope that this helps :). It is so important to get it right in the beginning. If you have any further questions please feel free to email me info@missmernagh.com.

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Even more books for emergent readers!

I have been flicking through my collection of children’s books for the last number of days to find the best ones for emergent readers. My study is full of children’s books and the over flow is between my attic and my parent’s house. I think that perhaps I have a small problem… What do you think?!

I really do love this Nick Butterworth series of books for beginner readers. When I saw that they are on sale at 28% off on Book Depository I just knew I had to review them for you! I think that you will like them too. The title is pretty catchy, eh 🙂

Nick Butterworth has produced a gem of a book for young readers or even preschoolers. The illustrations are big and clear. The text is written in a large font size on a separate, uncluttered page with a white background. All of this helps readers to predict ( clear pictures) and read the story for themselves.

Here is a brief synopsis of what this “fantastic Mum can do”!

It doesn’t stop there!

The book contains lots of Dolch words, many of which are constantly repeated throughout the short book  such as “and, she ,can”.

You may prefer some other titles from Nick Butterworth’s Series that are more relevant to your child and his/her special people. How about…

Book Depository are selling these titles for just 5.43 Euro each with their usual free worldwide postage. Please click here for a link.

Preschool children would also find this book very accessible and fun. The print is so large that your child could learn to “track” . ” Tracking” is the term that refers to the direction in which we read and write print. In our culture we read from left to right and top to bottom. This is not intuitive for young readers and needs to be taught by explicitly pointing to words as we read.  Our eye movements are too subtle to communicate that we are “tracking”. Children also need to learn about the “one to one correspondence” between the spoken and written word. This is that one spoken word ( phoneme) is represented by one written word (grapheme). Ok, enough science for now…

Do you have any recommendations for beginner readers? What is your child’s favourite ? Please leave a comment below and share with us.

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

More Books for Emergent Readers

There has been a great response to my post on Bob Books. It seems that lots of you are interested in sourcing stories that your emergent reader can read almost independently. I have had a few tweets asking me to cover more books so here it goes…. Does your child like dogs?!

Emily Gravett is a fantastic author for young children. Here books are big, clear, beautifully illustrated and simply written.

“Dogs” is a very simple story as you can see below. It contains some of those very important “high frequency/Dolch/tricky words” that I keep referring to as being vitally important for developing reading fluency.  In just the illustrations below we see “I, love, and, that, play, won’t”.

The book is also a nice length and would make a great (code for short!) bedtime read.

This book would also be wonderful to read to Preschoolers or as part of an Oral Language Lesson. There is lots of language to explore.

Opposites: big/small, hairy/bald…

Contrasts: stroppy/soppy…

There are lots and lots of  expressive canines in clear, white space on the page, making the text easier to read.  Each dog  tells their own story. There is also a lovely surprise at the end… No, I am NOT giving it away 😉

Dogs is less of a “school reader” format than Bob Books and so may not allow for much “sounding out” but wins on exposure to tricky words, “fun” to read.

Dogs is available from Book Depository for a purse friendly 5.47 Euro. Please click here for a link

Check in later this week for even more book reviews!

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Jolly Phonics Tricky Word Games 1-20

I have been busy planning another game to help reinforce Jolly Phonics Tricky words 1-20. Variety is the spice of life after all!

I have yet to try out the games with my class but am dying to do so. I am saving them up for my Gingerbread Man unit. I though they were too cute to keep and decided to share them with you guys!

There are a number of different ways to use these cards:

  1. A word treasure hunt
  2. Concentration game
  3. Snap or Old Maid
  4. Flashcards or a Word Wall
  5. Word Headbanz

All of these games are explained in my pack. I have created two for you to choose from: black & white or full colour. You choose!

Please click here to download Black & White Tricky Words

Please click here to download Colour Tricky Words

I hope that you have lots of fun learning and revising these Jolly Phonics Tricky words. Let me know that you think. I just love to get comments!

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

ps Clip art by DJ Inkers

Monkey Match for Uppercase & Lowercase Letters

How about an online Concentration Game to help your child  match uppercase and lowercase letters? Children love this one!

Click on the coconuts to reveal a hidden uppercase or lowercase letter. When you make a correct match the coconuts disappear!

Drill and practice has never been so much fun! Monkey Match will have your child happily spending time developing both fluency and accuracy at upper and lowercase letter recognition. An added bonus, and the clue in in the title, is the fact that the game will engage your child and encourage the development of concentration and visual acuity (attention to detail necessary to see the difference between fat and cat, wish and dish, p and q, b and d).

Click here if you are just dying to play!

Why not take a visit to your local Euro Shop and search for some cute notepads or cut-out and make your own “non-digital” version? You could then make the game into a competition to see who can match the most!

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

p.s Keep your comments coming. I am always delighted to hear how you are getting on