Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Jenga Blocks in the Classroom

I purchased this set of Jenga blocks for only €4 in Tesco's last week.

I try to have a few games on each set, to get extra value for money! For example I have multiplication on one side of the blocks and a division set on the other.
Here are a few ways I like to use them in station teaching or as an early finisher activity.


  • Multiplication and division tables (useful to leave a multiplication square at the station so they can check answers)
  • Addition and Subtraction tables for younger classes
  • Fractions: 1/4 of 20
  • Percentages: 30% of 10
  • Decimals: 0.1 of 20
  • Number Sequences or patterns: 12, ____, 14 or 3,6,9, ____
  • Rounding numbers to nearest 10, 100, 1000


Write the root of the verbs on the blocks and the children can change the verb to one of the following:
  • Aimsir Chaite
  • Aimsir Láithreach
  • Aimsir Fháistineach
  • Question form/negative of verb


  • Prefix/Suffix
Add a prefix/suffix to each block and the children have to give a word that contains the prefix or suffix

  • Phonics 
Put letters and letter blends (e.g. th) on the blocks and the children have to say a word with that letter sound

  • Conversation Starters (Oral Language)
Image result for conversation jenga
Image Source

Ways to play

Remove one piece at a time and keep it of you get the answer correct. When the tower collapses, whoever has the most blocks is the winner.


Place each piece on top after you answer the question. Use a whiteboard or paper to record correct answers.

Feel free to add other ideas for using Jenga blocks in the comments below.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Tantrix Puzzles

On a recent trip to New Zealand, I stopped off at Puzzle World, home to the first 3D 'Supermaze'.
You can also just grab a coffee and try out lots of puzzles for free!

While there, I bought a couple of puzzles including Tantrix, which originated in New Zealand. It is really good for problem solving skills and requires perseverance!

There are many different sets but I bought a basic one for my class. 

In this set, there are varying levels of difficulty starting with a 3 piece puzzle. The number on the back tells you what colour the loop must form. For example, the number 8 is blue so the eight pieces must make a complete blue loop (while the other colours must link correctly too!)

I am looking forward to seeing how the students get on with it on rainy days or as an early finisher activity! 

I have also ordered this more complex one online since coming home.

                                                Image result for amazon tantrix
You can order from but the shipping charges are expensive. I purchased the second set from Amazon.

To find out more about Tantrix and try it out outline, have a look at

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Books Worth a Look #1 'The Dot'

This is the first in a series of blog posts on some good books that I have come across while teaching a variety of classes. (I have purchased these books myself and do not receive sponsorship/freebies for reviewing them!)

First up is 'The Dot' by Peter H. Reynolds which I will be doing with my new students on the first day of school as I introduce our classroom rules.

Image Source


The book is about a child struggling with an Art activity (but really I think it can be applicable to all subjects). It is about trying, even when it is difficult and you feel you can't do it...YET!  Even though it may be daunting or make us feel uneasy, making a start is important or as we say in Irish 'Tús maith leath na hoibre!' It ties in nicely with the idea of Growth Mindset. 

It encourages us to be creative in our learning and teaching (that there isn't just one way to do something) which is why I have chosen to read it on the first day back to school.


These are just some ideas to pick and choose from that you could use alongside the book.
  • Discuss before reading the story what it feels like when faced with a new beginning or start (first day back to school, new pupil in the class etc.)

  • Read the story again but change it to another subject, for example Maths to show the children that the main idea of the story is applicable to more than just Art

  • The book could also be a stimulus for an Art lesson for the children to make their 'own mark'

  • Chat about how the children could make their mark this year (what they would like to achieve, what they would like to improve on) 

  • Do some Pointillism Art using dots and look at artist Seurat

  • Do some Kandinsky inspired 'Dot' Art
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  • create a class contract for the year to always try our best and 'make our mark'. Each child can sign their name beside their dot (perhaps their fingerprint).

  • Design a Growth Mindset Poster for displaying in the class. Have a look here at some examples or click the image for others.
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They now even have an International Dot Day which is the 15th September this year! More details can be found here where they have more ideas for the book.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

5 printable resources for First Day Back (all Freebies!)

Here are five sheets I will have printed for my first day or two back in the classroom.

1. Checklist Page for Homework Diary

I print this out each year and get the children to attach it to the inside cover of their homework diary. It does take some training in getting them to use it, but it does give them clear expectations on what you expect from homework.
You an download it here.
Writing Checklist for Copies FREEBIE

All About Me Sheet

Free Back to School Info Sheet
A nice way to get to know the children on the first day back. Other ideas of Back to School Activities can be found in another post by clicking here. Click on the image to download it for free.

Mental Maths Sheet

I stick this into the back of their mental maths book.  During the first few weeks back to school, we add key maths language for addition, subtraction etc. as we come across them in our book. This can be used as an aid for the children as the year progresses. Children can also add in their own facts and maths language that they find tricky. You an download this freebie  here.

                                                 Maths Language Template


I print these on card to make them a bit more durable. The children can decorate them and the idea is each time they complete a book they record the name of it on the bookmark, seeing their collection grow (hopefully!) as the year progresses.

                                Bookmark (record books read)

Summer Memories Worksheet

This is another freebie that is differentiated and can be used in all class levels. It is useful as an oral language activity,  to revise recount writing and to see the starting point for each child. I sometimes bind them altogether and make our first class book of the year. Click on the image to download 3 different options.

                                               Summer Memories Freebie (Back to School Activity)

Find other Back to School Posts here:

First Day Back to School Activities

Friday, 18 August 2017

Gaeilge Mé Féin Stations/Activities

In another post I have outlined how I approached and structured Gaeilge Station Teaching last year. 
Here are some ideas for doing stations based on the theme of Mé Féin.

Guess who/ Cé tusa?

I had a Guess Who lying around at home from years ago. It is a great way to get the children to use the language based around hair colour, eye colour etc. A little pre teaching of the questions beforehand is all that is needed or give them a laminated list for questions for the first few games to help them. Here are some ideas of questions:
  • An bean/cailín í?
  • An fear/buachaill é?
  • An bhfuil gruaig ________ air/uirthi?
  • An bhfuil súile _________ aige/aici?
  • An bhfuil sé/sí ard?
  • An bhfuil sé/sí íseal?
  • An bhfuil sé/sí ramhar?
  • An bhfuil sé/sí tanaí?

A lot of families probably have the game so you could ask children to bring it in. Otherwise team up and allow two children to work against two others. For the older students, you can make it trickier by making them miss a turn if they speak any English.

If you don't have the board game, print an A4 page with a photo of each child in the class on it. Use counters to mark off the children as they narrow it down.


Last year, I printed out various images from Google, laminated them and stuck them on a lollipop stick. On the back I wrote a number for their age. The children then pretend to be the character and use sentences such as:
'Dia duit! ______ is ainm dom. Táim __________ bliana/mbliana d'aois. Tá gruaig ______ orm. Tá súile _____ agam.'

The children had great fun putting on different accents, especially when they had the opposite gender on their puppet. Alternatively, they can describe the puppet, to practice using air/ uirthi and aige/aici. 


Practicing the questions about themselves is very important, not only how to answer questions but also to be able to ask questions. There's a poster set of the questions as well as differentiated rólimirt worksheets available on my TPT store. Click the image below to be redirected.

                                Gaeilge Rólimirt Poster & Worksheet Set Mé Féin (Irish Roleplay, Theme=Myself)

Mé Féin Bunting

This is a nice scríbhneoireacht activity to do in station teaching as it doesn't take too long and once the children know the language they should be able to do it almost independently. Again, I have differentiated versions available here

                                                    Bunting Mé Féin (Gaeilge)  Colour & Black/White

Draw the person/ éist, tarraing agus aimsigh an duine

This could be a nice éisteacht lesson. Read a description of a person to the children (cailín/buachaill, cén sort gruaig, dath na súile,  possibly include éadaí, and a badge with their age).
The children have to draw what they hear in the description and choose who they think it is in the classroom. Maybe it could also be a member of staff!

ICT Games/Cluichí Ríomhaire

These games are from one of the few Gaeilge sites that is very good and has some lovely interactive games. It has some differences in the words as it uses the Northern Irish dialect but is still a great resource to use.

Here are two games that link nicely to Mé Féin. Click on the images to be redirected to the website.


You could also download the Anseo Corp App onto the computers which has 6 games to revise the body parts. The clickable image will redirect you to where you can download it.


The children love Biongó. This is a set for the body parts (click on image to download resource). For the older children I make it more challenging by giving them two cards to mark. You can also make it more challenging for the child calling out the words by getting them to put it into a sentence e.g. Ghortaigh mé mo chos.

                                                   Biongó Na Baill Bheatha (Body Parts Bingo in Irish)

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Gaeilge Station Teaching (how it works in my room)

Last year, we decided to try team teaching and station teaching for Gaeilge. I have to admit I was a bit skeptical as to how it would work especially at the independent stations but the benefits were more than I ever expected. These are just a few of the advantages I found:

-development of Oral Language skills,  it gave the children a chance to USE the Gaeilge they already knew in a small group setting
-confidence boosting
-alternative from book (although I did base some stations on tasks similar to the book rather than totally reinventing the wheel!)
-amount of Gaeilge covered (I would never have covered the amount of material in one whole class lesson as I did at the stations)
-FUN for the children and teachers
-opportunity to work with small groups at their pace
Image result for i love gaeilge
Image Source


  • 1 session per week on a Thursday  (as children had opportunity to learn some of the language)
  • 4 stations
  • 10 minutes per station (manageable and they didn't get bored as time was short)
  • 2 teachers (this year I will be doing it by myself but it is great if you have another teacher)

Click on the image below to download free station labels.

Content of Stations

This varied each week but I always linked the content to the theme we were covering. Here are some of the stations I alternated between:

  • Labhairt (at least one station every week)

This station changed every week. A few of the activities we did were:
board games,  
poster discussion,  
conversation flashcards

  • Scríbhneoireacht

Some weeks children would practice their litriú for their scrúdú on Friday, write about a picture, put verbs into sentences etc. I usually used the whiteboards at this station so time wasn't wasted ruling copies.
I also worked on sentence structure with the children at this station. Even the older classes find it challenging to follow the correct structure of an Irish sentence. We used lots of flashcards and worked on forming sentences together.

  • Gramadach

I found it a really effective way to teach some grammar points and reinforce grammar already taught such as tenses and prepositions.

                                                       Luaschártaí Briathra  (Irish verb flashcards)

  • Éisteacht (usually alternate weeks)

Either using the éisteacht activities from the class book or reading instructions myself, I did éist agus tarrraing, éist agaus scríobh

  • Léitheoireacht

I often used texts from the book for this station as I didn't want to bombard my class with more and more texts-the book contains a large amount already. 

  • ICT (usually alternate weeks)

This was a great independent station, unfortunately there aren't many high quality Gaeilge websites. Check out which has some great interactive games.


Our school did invest a lot in resources for the Gaeilge Station teaching. Here are some of the resources the school purchased.  Click on each image to be redirected to the website.

Image result for smarty cat chatty catImage result for smarty cat chatty cat

Junior Scrabble as Gaeilge                  Cártaí Comhrá trí Ghaeilge (Oráiste)

Find other Gaeilge ideas here:

Mé Féin Stations/Activities

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Novel Ideas and Activities

This year, my class did 'Kensuke's Kingdom' as their novel. It was a real hit and here are some ideas that could be used for any class novel.

Design a book cover

Usually I get the children to do this after finishing the novel. It is a nice art activity to do. I download a book cover template on card for them and we discuss the elements of an effective book cover.

Letter to author

Rather than a book review, it can be nicer to use the medium of letter writing to show the author what you liked/disliked about the book. If you do decide to post them, you might be lucky and get a response!

Diary entry

Choose a specific part of the book and a character and ask the children to write a diary entry about what is happening. For Kensuke's Kingdom we used cold teabags to give them an old appearance.

Questions for main character

This can be a fun activity as we are usually the ones asking the questions rather than the children.

It can lead on nicely to the next idea:

Hot seat character

Choose a student to assume the role of a character. The other children then question them on various topics that arise in the novel.

News Report

In this, the children could create a news report for a main event in the novel. For example, in Kensuke's Kingdom we created a news report announcing that Michael was missing. The children can also record the news reports incorporating ICT.


We were doing persuasive writing this term so debating (either written or oral) is a great activity to do with novels. We choose specific points of the novel and debated the various pros and cons.

Chapter Activity Sheets

I designed some activity sheets that I used for some chapters. It includes the strategies of prediction, visualisation, summarising as well as vocabulary and character study.

Create a model/diorama of favourite scene

Another art idea where the children could select a scene from the novel and create a 3D representation or a clay model.

Design a comic strip of favourite scene

Again, a nice art activity. I choose a scene in the book and asked the children to illustrate what each character might be thinking or saying at that particular time.

Create a quiz

A fun way to assess their knowledge of the novel is to get the children to create a quiz. It is also a nice way to peer assess. Why not get the children to use ICT (maybe Powerpoint) to create an interactive quiz?

Alter the Ending

The children could write an alternative ending to the story or continue on the story to show what might happen next.

Letter to a character in the future

Imagine the book fasts forwards 10 or 20 years. Write a letter as if you are a character in the book writing to another character.

Create a wordsearch/crossword based on story

This is a nice way to summarise keys words and vocabulary from the novel. A wordsearch may be easier for younger classes or challenge them to create a crossword for their partner.

Character Profile

I gave the children a blank template to draw a character as they imagine them to look like. They also add some adjectives to describe the character and explain why they chose those specific ones.

Dramatise/mime a scene

Put the class in groups and assign a part of the novel to each group. They can dramatise it or mime the part while the rest of the class try to figure it out.

Create Movie Music

I asked my children to imagine the novel is being made into a movie. Using instruments or body percussion they create music for a particular scene.

Sense Response

Using a chapter in the book the children created a senses page and listed all the senses that the chapter appealed to. For example the waves crashing may appeal to the sense of hearing and sight.

I hope this gives you some ideas for studying novels. Feel free to comment with some other ideas below.

Here are a few that relate directly to Kensuke's Kingdom:

This was an art lesson inspired by Michael in the cave. The children used oil pastels and black paper for the cave.

 The children designed a map of the island based on what they imagined it to be like.

Missing Posters