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.

Debate

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








Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Lighthouse Poetry & Art

A couple of times a year, I like to use a poem as inspiration for my Art lesson.
The Lighthouse by CJ Heck is a favourite of mine and the children really like it too.
This year, the children performed the poem after practicing it in groups during English Station Teaching. They added actions and some interesting props!
We then used the poem as our inspiration for two art lessons. The first was a clay lesson to create a lighthouse setting. After the clay dried, the children painted the lighthouses.




We also used pastels, wallpapers and crepe paper to create lighthouse scenes.


Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Scratch Art (New Year)

This lesson worked really well and the children really enjoyed it, especially as they had no idea what the finished product was going to be!

First of all, we cut an A4 page into a square (about 20cm by 20cm).
Then everyone coloured in their square using oil pastels. I encouraged them to make it as colourful as possible and to use smaller blocks of colour.

When we had this done, I told the children we were going to paint over it in black paint (this really got them wondering what I was up to!)

We let the paint dry over the weekend. The following week everyone used a lollipop stick to scrape out a New Year message with fireworks and /or scene. This could also be done around Halloween for fireworks.


A really nice lesson and quite easy really!





Monday, 13 March 2017

Literacy Stations Oral Language

In our school this year we have decided to do Literacy Stations in every class once a week. In my room, we do 4 x 20 minute stations. One of the stations we do each week is Oral Language.  All teachers have found it hugely beneficial as some children feel more confident speaking out in a smaller group setting rather than the full class. I have also found that they are more engaged and willing to speak out and it gives me the opportunity to listen to them more than a whole class setting often allows.

Here are a few examples of the types of activities we do during Oral Language.

1. Conversation Cards

Sometimes we use these for the full station and other times we use them to start off the 20 minute lesson.  The school purchased these ones from www.clevermindtoys.ie. They really get the children thinking and also encourage them to wait their turn and listen to others!
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There are also lots available online that can be easily printed and laminated. Click on the images below to be redirected to the resources.
                     
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2. Poetry            

I find this a really effective way to teach poetry as it can be difficult to always get around to it.  I usually pick a poem directly related to what theme I am teaching at the moment and recently we compared and contrasted two poems.      
Some activities we do include:

  • our likes/dislikes about the poem
  • the theme of the poem
  • draw a picture to visual what the poem is about
  • make connections to ourselves/other poems 
  • identify rhyming patterns
  • identify any alliteration, metaphors or similes

3. Discussion Questions

This is similar to the Conversation Cards except it is usually based on our theme or something topical. I usually assign a number to each child and we roll a dice. Whoever's number comes up picks a discussion card and we have a chat together about the issue. Over the past few months we used discussion cards to explore:

  • Internet safety
  • Friendship Week
  • Christmas Traditions around the World
  • Racism/discrimination  
Again, the ideas and thoughts that the children come up with as part of a small group never fail to surprise me!


4. Listening & Instructions Activities


I tried this out a few weeks ago as some children still find it difficult to listen to a simple set of instructions. 
First of all, I called out a set of instructions for the children to listen to and draw what they heard. I made it more challenging by not allowing them to ask any questions and I only said each instruction once.
Afterwards, we discussed the challenges including listening carefully and how some instructions were more vague than others.

Then it was the children's turn to pair up. One child had to describe a picture to while the other drew what they interpreted. 
I teach 4th and 5th and they found the exercise really interesting. Now I just have to transfer that to everyday teaching!!
Here are some types of images I used:
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5. Board Games



Not only does it encourage Oral Language skills, it also helps children to pay attention, wait their turn and work co-operatively together.  Our school invested in these board games but we also use the ones from our toy shelf.

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Anyone have any other ideas they find useful or engaging for the children? Feel free to comment below.

Find more resources pinned on my Pinterest for Oral Language here.
  

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

World Book Day

Here are some of the activities I have done over the past few years to celebrate World Book Day.
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1. Dress up as your favourite character

In my previous school, all of the children dressed up, even the older ones! The teachers got into the spirit of it aswell which the children loved.

2. Bring in your favourite book(s)

Each child talked about their book to the class, why it was their favourite etc. What surprised me this year was the authors that some of the children hadn't heard of so it might spark their interest to read some new books.

3. Do a library scavenger hunt

This year, my class library is too small to do a library hunt with clues, but in previous years it was good fun to give them a set of clues and let them explore books in groups to find the answers.  You can give them a list of items to find in books such as a troll, a princess or find a book by '________', find who wrote '_________'.

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4. Design a book cover

I usually give the children a choice between designing a new cover for a book they already know or design a fictional book cover.

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5. Design a bookmark

One of my pet hate is dog ears! So designing their own bookmark is a nice activity to incorporate on World Book Day if they haven't already got one.
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6. Write a Book Report

A perfect day to get them to review a book they have recently written and practice some writing at the same time!

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7. Add a bit of drama

Dramatising some parts of books is also a fun idea for World Book Day. Sometimes I choose one of the children's books and read an excerpt to give a stimulus for the drama.

8. D.E.A.R Time (Drop Everything And Read)

A nice way to wrap up the day or even just give them some time during the day to get lost in a book for a while.
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Monday, 30 January 2017

African Safari Art

We have been learning a lot about Africa over the past few weeks. For Art last week, we created African Safari silhouettes. The step by step instructions and what you need are outlined below.

Equipment:

A4 white sheet
A3 white sheet
Black sheet (we used A4)
Oil pastels (or chalk pastels)
Pencil
Scissors
Crayons/Colouring pencils for border
Pritt Stick

Instructions: 


1. First, we began by getting an A3 and A4 white page. The children drew a border around the A4 page onto the A3 page.

2. Next the children chose an animal skin to decorate their border (giraffe, tiger, cheetah etc.) on the A3 page.






3. Using the A4 sheet, the children then began to do the background sky for the silhouette using oil pastels. (Chalk pastels also blend really well). We used yellows, oranges, reds and some children used white and black to lighten or darken areas.

4. Then using the black paper the children drew outlines of African safari animals and trees. They cut these out and stuck them onto the sky background.
Then  we stuck this onto the A3 page.


Alternatives:


You could use just one page rather than 3 separate ones and paint the silhouette using black paint.



Sunday, 11 September 2016

Maths Station Teaching Ideas

This post is about how I structure and plan Maths Stations for my class.

There are many reasons why I feel station teaching is hugely beneficial to the children. These are just a few:
-more child led than teacher led
-allows me to work with smaller groups and give them more reinforcement or challenge them further
-peer learning 
-a chance to tackle problem solving 
-makes Maths FUN
-chance to use concrete materials 
-ICT can be integrated easily
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Structure:

Once per week (in an ideal world but not always the case.)
Two Teachers
It is a lot easier to have a second teacher (usually a Learning Support Teacher) to help you but I have done it myself too.
3 x 10 min slot: 
This year I am hoping to do 3 x 10 minute slots on a Friday. (With the emphasis on the Language Curriculum this year, it is hard to find more time to allocate) In the past, I have spent up to 1 hour at station teaching.

Planning

Grouping

This can be mixed ability or by ability depending on your preference and your class.
 This year I have 5 groups of 4/5 children in each.

Stations

I have six stations organised that the children will work at over a two week period (3 per week). Again these change a bit depending on the topic but here is an idea of how I break it up:

1. Teacher Led (Class Teacher)

The children work with me on a topic we are currently working on such as steps to long division. It gives me a chance to see if the children have any difficulties or if they are ready to move on.

2.  ICT

Using iPads/classroom computer, I will set out 2/3 games on a particular website for the children to try. It will be linked to the topic we are covering or developing tables. In September we will be using www.crackingmaths.ie 





3. Card games

This month we will practice multiplication and place value using cards.

4. Problem Solving

Our school invested in these Maths Boxes (4 levels) a few years ago. It also comes with a CD so you can put them on the IWB. 

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5. Maths Boardgame

Again, we invested in these board games to reinforce maths skills in a fun way.

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6. Teacher Led (Learning Support) 

The Learning Support Teacher will also work with groups so that each week the children work at a teacher led station and two independent stations.