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 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.

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.


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


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.


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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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.



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.


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 

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.

Monday, 5 September 2016

Maths Starters The Students Love

Here are a few ideas of games I often start Maths lessons with to reinforce Maths skills.
Last year, I introduced these game when we were doing place value in September but they continually asked to play them throughout the year!
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Digit Bingo

I find it is a very useful way to recap on Maths vocabulary they have learned (factors/product etc.) and develop place value skills.

I usually hand out the whiteboards to the children and ask them to write down a four digit number (can increase or decrease the amount of digits depending on the class level). Sometimes we just do it in our copies if under time constraints. I then read out a list of clues and they mark off their numbers until someone has all of them marked off.

Examples of questions:

-If you have an even/odd number in the thousands mark it off.
-If you have the product of ___, in the tens mark it off.
-If you have a multiple of ___, in the hundreds mark it off.
-If you have the answer to 3x3......
-If you have 3 squared.....
-If you have the second square number....

(As I read out clues, I write down the possible answers on my grid to check their answer at the end.)

Alternative Ways to Play

-use it to develop a sense of tenths/hundredths/thousandths.
-if you have a split class, both classes can compete against each other 
-allow the winner to call out the clues for the rest of the class (which allows you to observe and see which clues/vocabulary the children are still finding challenging).

The Target Number

This is also a great game to revise vocabulary and to develop maths skills.

Again, I usually use the whiteboards for this activity but the copies also work perfectly.
I call out a four/five digit number for the children to take down and I give them 10 questions based on the number.

Examples of questions

-Make the largest/smallest four digit number from the digits
-is it odd or even?
-will it divide by 2/3/5? (They begin to know without even doing a calculation as the year progresses when they learn strategies such as any even number will divide by 2, if you add the digits and the answer is a multiple of 3, then 3 divides into it etc.)
-add all of the digits
-find a prime/composite digit
-find a square/triangular number
-list the digits that are a multiple of __
-Add 2000 to the number
-subtract 1200 from the number
-round it to the nearest 10/100/1000

Alternative Ways to Play

-allow the winner to call out the questions for the rest of the class (which allows you to observe and see which clues/vocabulary the children are still finding challenging).

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Australia Art Ideas

This month, we were learning a lot about Australia. Our Art lessons were also based on the theme.

1. Great Barrier Reef

We explored some of the wild life living in the great Barrier Reef. In particular, we focused on the colours and the shapes of all the different plants and animals.
The children used sponges to create the sea background. Then they used a separate sheet to draw and colour some animals such as clown fish and turtles. When the paint had dried, they added some crepe paper to represent the plants. 

2. Ayers Rock (Uluru)

You can use any materials to do this lesson but we used water pastels (I think they are pretty much the same as oil pastels). They work in a similar way to paint for mixing, so when we layered blue on yellow and rubbed it created green.
We really tried to experiment with blending. The children also added a border to each of their masterpieces.

3. Australia Postcards

Linked with English writing, we wrote and designed postcards from Australia. They children looked at examples of postcards from Australia to begin and then used their own ideas, based on all they had learned on Australia.

4. Aboriginal Stones

I showed the children examples of aboriginal art and we discussed the shapes and colours that they used. The shapes are almost a lesson in themselves as they represent humans, plants and animals to tell a story.  
The children used the technique of pointillism (using thin paintbrushes and earbuds) on small stones. We didn't limit the colours to the usual colours of Aboriginal Art though, they had free reign!

Saturday, 21 May 2016

End of Year Activities...keeping them busy!!

It's almost that time of year again when most of the curriculum is covered and the feeling of holidays is in the air! It can be a long last month though to keep the children occupied and on task.
I have put together a few activities that might be useful for those last few weeks of the year.

1. Maths Murder Mystery

This is a nice group activity that also recaps on many maths strands from the year. the children figure out the Maths clues to eliminate suspects of the crime. If they follow the steps correctly they should be able to identify the killer! You can download them from Primary Resources by clicking here.

2. Display Ideas

It is always nice to ask the children what they really enjoyed during the year and what stood out for them. Here are a few ways to record their year in your class.

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This is a freebie from my Teachers Pay Teachers store that you can download here. There is also another sheet with it entitled 'My star moments this year'.
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3. Writing Activities (Irish)

I have used this with the senior classes to summarise their highlights from the school year. It is a useful way to recap on tenses and sentence structure. It can be used with younger classes too by using the differentiated worksheet.

Click here to download the resource.

4. Writing Activities (English)

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Last year, we used these task cards in the last few weeks of school. I pulled out a name and they chose a number and were assigned that task card. We did short writing sessions (10-15 mins) and they read each others work after wards. They really enjoyed reading each others memories. Click on the picture above to download them.

Here is another free set to download (click on picture to download):
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Please feel free to comment or link other ideas below :)