Thursday, 16 January 2020

Spelling Tips and Tricks

Earlier this school year, I had a post on some ways I approach spellings with my students.  Here is an overview of how I have worked on improving spellings with the children.

I started by asking the children to do a free writing sample (can be based on any topic) to ascertain their spelling strengths and weaknesses.  I also assessed their knowledge of how to spell the 72 tricky words from the Jolly Phonics programme.

Following this, I made a list of their spelling strengths so that we wouldn't waste valuable time on spellings they already knew.  Instead we focused on any tricky words they didn't know.  Following this, we began Brendan Culligan's Corewords List, using dictation sentences. 

Each week the children also choose 1 or 2 words they want to learn to spell themselves, giving them ownership of their learning. Over a 5 week period, one child learned how to spell supercalifragilisticexpialidocious by segmenting it into manageable chunks!

Strategies we use throughout the week include:
A sample worksheet using some strategies
  • magnetic letters
  • finding letter strings
  • finding words within the word
  • using mnemonics to remember the word
  • dictation (using the spellings in context)
  • making their own sentences
  • writing in sand
  • tracing on their palm or on another child's back

One of their favourites!

These posters are used as prompts for the children and they are also encouraged to come up with their own strategies to remember words.  This is an example of what one student did to remember her cousin's name, without any prompt from me! (Isla: I see lego apples!)

Other resources that I find very useful are:
This offers many types of individualised worksheets for your students to practice their spellings.

Dyslexia Daily YouTube
Videos for tricky words:

Click here to read more on spellings.

Feel free to add other ideas below!

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Maths on the Move

Since it is Maths Week, it is nice to do some fun Maths activities away from the book.  This activity can be done with any class level outdoors or in a hall (or even the classroom if you wish!).
Image Source

How I structure it:

1. Choose a Maths topic (e.g. addition facts, long multiplication)
2. Create question cards and matching answer cards.


3. Arrange your class into teams/pairs.
4. Hide the answer cards around the area you will be playing in (if outdoors I put them under cones so they don't blow away).
5. Give each team/pair their first question card.  Together, they work out the answer and then run to find the matching answer card, which they return to you.
6. Give them the next question card and see how many they can complete in a set amount of time or the team to complete a certain amount of them first wins.


  • Print the questions on different coloured pages (one colour per team) so that you can use the same questions with all teams.  Each team must find the answer card to the question card that matches their team colour (e.g. if the answer to my question is 10 and my team colour is orange, I can't take a 10 printed on a blue page back to my team, I must find the orange one!)  The first team to have completed all their question and found the matching cards wins.
  • Teams complete the question behind their cone and only one child from the group runs to find the answer each time.
  • Give one question to each team at a time rather than giving them all the questions together, which encourages them to work together to figure them out.
  • Give a sandwich bag to each group to gather their question and answer cards.
  • It facilitates differentiate, for example, one group could be doing long multiplication but another group may be doing short multiplication.

What can I use the game for?

It can literally be used for all Maths topics but ones that I have used it for include:
  • matching fractions and decimals
  • long multiplication (figure it out and find the answer)
  • matching analogue and digital time

Feel free to share other ideas below!

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Focus on Fuaimeanna

This post focuses on the impact of explicitly teaching fuaimeanna in Gaeilge.

From my own experience, it is an area of Gaeilge that I take for granted especially in the senior end of the school, often presuming that the children understand . However, a couple of years ago when teaching 4th and 5th, I quickly realised that I needed to be more explicit in my teaching of fuaimeanna, just as I would in English.

The benefits were evident in the children's reading fluency and pronunciation. It also really aided their spellings both in written tasks and the weekly scrúdú.

In my class, I used display posters, which I referred to almost daily. I also used these cartaí during Gaeilge stations: matching the fuaim to the correct flashcard.

They are available in 3 different versions on my TPT store: the posters, the matching cards and a set which has both (cheaper as a combo!).  Click on any of the images below to be redirected to download.

Any other tips for teaching fuaimeanna in Irish? Add them in the comment box below!

Monday, 16 September 2019

Sense-ible Spellings

This year some of the classes are following an individual spelling programme.  It will be based on unknown basic sight words, Brendan Culligan's corewords and the children's own personal choices.  These are the blank copies that we use to record their spellings each week.

To help with their spellings, I created these spelling boxes for them to practice.  They are made from old biscuit tins.  The base contains play sand and the lid holds the magnetic letters.  They can be stacked and stored easily when we are finished by popping the lid back on.

The children love them and are keen to use them each day! 

Other strategies we use are:

  • spelling out loud as they trace the letters on their hand 
  • writing on the whiteboards as they spell them 
  • writing a word on another child's back and they have to guess which word it is!

Feel free to comment below with other spelling suggestions.

Monday, 9 September 2019

Recount Writing Resources

I use the following resources to structure how I teach the genre of recount writing with my class.
This year, I am working as a Special Education Teacher but many of the templates will be useful to help children to sequence their ideas before writing.  
Simply click on each image below to access the resource.

Display Posters 

The poster set includes how to structure a recount, the types of recounts and some useful connectives they can incorporate into their writing.  I display this in the classroom for the students and add their samples of recount writing to the display board.

Planning Templates

There are 4 different planning templates included to suit the needs of the children, giving them the opportunity to get their thoughts together before writing a recount.  


These can be downloaded for free on my TPT store, by clicking on the image below.  I usually stick them into the copies and the children can use them to self-assess any piece of recount writing they complete.

Recount Writing can be linked nicely to a classroom timeline of events that occurred throughout the year.  Read more about this here.

Check out other posts on writing genres by clicking the link below.

Thursday, 5 September 2019

Lollipop Stick Questions

I made these to use with some of the children I work with this year.

Rather than writing answers to questions based on a text, we will use these sometimes.  I made them thanks to posters from A Crucial Week, which I laminated and popped onto jumbo lollipop sticks.

I like to turn them upside down and allow the child to choose one.  I then use the question word to ask them a question based on the text we have read.  The children love to take on the role of the teacher and ask the questions too!

They could easily be used to discuss pictures too.

Example Questions:

- Who helped with the costumes?
- When was the concert on?
- Where do you think the children are?
- What is your favourite costume in the picture?
- Why do you like this costume?

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

Maths Problem Solving

Problem Solving is probably the one area in Maths that is challenging for many students. 

Using a strategy to break down the problem can be helpful to students.  In our school, we use the 'RUDE' Approach to problem solving, which is outlined in the images below.

I have also made smaller desk topper versions for the children as a reference point.  It includes some mathematical language that often appears in problems, as well as a multiplication grid.

Some schools follow the 'CUBES' Approach. Display posters and a desk topper for this is also available, just click on each picture to be redirected to download.

I like to encourage the children to make a note of any useful mathematical language that will help them with problem solving in the future.  I usually put it inside their Maths book.  Click on the image to download it for free.