December Planning for Infants: Post Office Topic

Can you believe we are nearing the end of Term 1?

December is such a magical and exciting time in the Infant Classrooms. It can be hectic too with Christmas play rehearsals and at times containing the excitement.

My Aistear topic for this month is the Post Office. I really enjoy this topic especially at Christmas. I use the Jolly Postman to introduce the topic, there is also a book the Jolly Postman at Christmas which you could use. We discuss the post office and the role of the postman.

I change my Aistear areas slightly for this topic. I have my role play area which is the Post Office. I bought a Post Office Set in Argos a few years ago and it has a post box, stampers, and other resources. Twinkl now have an post office display pack based on an Irish setting which is ideal. In Small World, the children can make a town for the postman to deliver the post. In Construction the children can build the post office or other houses. The children can work on a variety of Art activities in the Creative Area including some Christmas Art.

Finally, I don’t have sand in this topic, I changed it to a writing area instead. Children have lots of different fancy pens, pencils, cards and notepaper and can write a letter to post in the Role Play Post Office the next day. I gather boxes of Christmas Cards in the different Euro shops for this topic.

I made my own story sack for this topic too. I included the Jolly Postman at Christmas, character cut-outs, more Christmas cards,notepaper, fancy pens and colouring pencils. Children read the story at home with their parents, and worked on an activity. Feedback from the parents was very positive for this story sack.

My planning template for the Post office is available on Mash.ie. A December Monthly Plan will also be available on my Mash.ie store over the next few days.

Parent Teacher Meetings

It’s that time of year, parent teacher meetings.

In infants, it can be tricky having meetings at this stage of the year, however it can also address issues early in the year too.

In preparation for PT meetings for Junior Infants, I reviewed my own observations from the beginning of the year and chose two points to address at the meeting. My junior infants assessment pack contains the observation sheets on Mash.ie.  While it’s important to outline the child’s academic attainment, I felt that social skills, fine and gross motor skills and friendships became the focus of my meetings.

I would discuss fine motor skills, often I had examples of some of the activities in class. I found having some examples of their cutting activities was beneficial especially for those who may find it challenging. If a parent wished to get more information I had a list of suggested fine motor activities that I could email home.

In Junior Infants, it is also important to address their social skills and friendships. Depending on the location of your school children may come from a variety of playschools. It is important to outline to parents that they are establishing friendships, or if they need support in doing so. I often encourage a wide circle of friends in infants. This has become my most frequent phrase in their school reports at the end of the year.

In Senior Infants, I would discuss the change to Senior infants and whether this had an affect on them. I would also have some examples of assessment such as letter sounds, sight words. A previous blog post discussed some ideas for assessment in Senior Infants. Again in Senior Infants I address friendships, social skills and if it’s warranted fine and gross motor skills.

I always asked the parent at the start of the meeting, if they had any concerns. This may seem daunting for some, but I felt it worked for me.

Always remember the positive sandwich mode for parent teacher meetings. Discuss a positive aspect of their child’s learning, then address any issues and always finish on a positive aspect.

Lastly, I tried to give the parents some information to take with them. I like the tip sheets from the NCCA for Maths, literacy and playing with your child. It can give the parents a focus leaving the meeting.

Best of luck everyone.

A.M.

Scien-tastic

We have been very fortunate in my school to have a number of workshops with Michelle Maher of Scien-tastic. Michelle is based in Wexford and travels to schools in neighbouring counties.

Michelle offers a variety of workshops with different classes from exploring slime and polymers to constructing a C.S.I. investigation.

In my own class I have participated in the polymers workshop and the children had so much fun exploring colours initially to making polymers and slime. The children were so engaged throughout the workshop and really enjoyed the hands on activities too. Further information about the workshops Michelle offers can be found on her facebook page.

Michelle also has classroom kits for various experiments such as slime, electricity and a general primary science kit which we have in my own school. All kits come with suggested lessons plans that link with our curriculum and are very reasonably priced too.

I love using the primary science kit with the infants as they feel they are real scientists using the equipment. In other classes you can introduce the language such as graduated cylinder and funnel to them. Equipment like this will be used in Science in secondary school also.

Overall, I highly recommend Scien-tastic, it gives the children the chance to work as scientists and introduce topics that you might not be comfortable with yourself. Or if you’re like me you just want to part of it all and end up working with the kids and learning things for yourself.

A.M.

Science Week Ideas for Infants

This week is Science Week and light is the suggested theme for Science Week 2016.

There are lots of nice activities suitable for infants to explore in Science Week.

I have used colour mixing as a Science activity. You will need jars of water with some drops of food colouring added, droppers, paint trays and filter paper.

Using the droppers children can add water to one of the wells in the paint tray, they can explore mixing colours by adding different colours. As another activity, you can add some colours the children have created to the filter paper and create butterflies. I have used this activity in class during a Scien-tastic workshop and also by myself during Science Week.

To continue with the theme of light in other curricular areas, you could sort by color in Maths, paint rainbows in Art and identify colours in Gaeilge.

Another great activity for infants is Dancing Raisins. This is an idea suggested within the Primary Science activities. Simply add raisins to graduated cylinders/large jars of sparkling water and watch what happens.

I have also used ramps to explore friction in Aistear. Giving the children different toy cars and a ramp they can explore which car travels further. They can also increase the height of the ramp using text books. The children loved exploring further during this experiment.

It is important to document your experiments especially if your school is applying for Science Excellence Award. I encouraged my class to draw a labelled diagram, they used approximated spelling but it is a process that can be developed in later classes. Here are some examples.

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Back to School: November in Senior Classes

Back to work today, I hope everyone had a great day back.

Taking a break from my infant posts to blog about my own Senior Class and what we plan to do this month.

I have been lucky enough to be offered the chance to exhibit at the RDS Primary Science Fair. I am so excited about this, I will be working on a project about structures and earthquakes over the coming weeks.

I like to give my class a different project each month to develop their research skills and build on autonomous learning in preparation for Secondary School. This month the class will research a large earthquake from different countries across the world and write a report on it. Children are given rubrics for each project which fosters peer assessment and self assessment.

To link with my Primary Science Fair Project I have chosen an Earthquake theme for SESE and English this month. We will explore earthquakes and fault lines in Geography and explore Pompeii in History.

I am continuing my book club this month also. The children are really enjoying this. Groups are based on ability and given books appropriate to their level. I try to mix children from across both classes too. Over the course of the month they work on their journal which has specific activities such as character profiles, interesting words and a book review. This helps to focus the discussion during the book club meeting at the end of the month. The book club journal also contains their reading record for the month which parents must sign at home. My book club journal is available in my mash.ie store.

Looks like it is going to be a busy month. If you have any questions on the above post please send me a PM.

A.M.

Arts and crafts at The Range

I visited this store with my sister over midterm. I hadn’t been in The Range before and was surprised with all the different ‘ranges’ in stock.

Here are some of the art and craft materials in stock.

I really liked their alphabet sponges, ideal for multi sensory approach to sight words or phonics and at only 1.50 they were a bargain.

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Of course it’s coming to close to that time of year. Here are some of the Christmas art and craft resources. All very reasonably priced too.

It’s definitely worth a visit if you’re near Childers Road in Limerick.

A.M.

 

 

Chase across the square

My nephew got this for his birthday earlier in the week and we have had such fun playing it this week.

It contains the game board, dice, coloured counters, game pieces and tally sheets.

The aim of the game is to collect the most counters before you reach the end of the board. The different coloured counters are worth different amounts.

My nephews are in first class and third class, both really enjoyed this game. We played the game as suggested and recorded our counters on the tally sheet. My younger nephew needed some help working out what the value of his cou terms were but once he got the hang of it he was flying.

The verdict:

This game was great, it has a suggested playing time of 15 mins which was an ideal time for board games with a 9 and 7 year old. It is ideal time for a game in the classroom too!

The aim was to get as many counters as you can, so it didn’t focus on reaching the end of the board first. I really liked this concept which could help children to deal with not being first.

There are so many maths concepts in this game, from subitising, one to one correspondence, adding and skip counting to using the tally sheet as you gather the couters.

There are many ways to differentiate the game too, for younger children just collecting the counters and keeping the value at 1 unit or using the dice with just numbers on them. In older classes depending on the tables you are covering you could change the values of the colours to encourage skip counting and multiplication.

Really the list goes on and on for this game. It would be great for any classroom from infants up to senior classes. While the playing time was 15mins, we sat and played lots of games for nearly an hour! This game gets a big thumbs up from my nephews too!

A.M.

November in Infants

Returning to school after the midterm break can be a little difficult for Junior Infants. Take some time next week to remind them of the classroom rules and consequences. It may take one or two days for everyone to settle back in fully.

Junior Infants are now well familiar with phonics, letter sounds and introducing blending. There are many multi sensory approaches to blending. In my own class I used my fingers to help them blend, tapping one finger to my thumb for each letter, then bringing all fingers together to bring the word together. Using this approach allows for more than 3 or 4 letters in each word. I saw a post online using toy cars in parking spaces for this letter. This is also a good activity for auditory processing and phoneme segmentation.

In November I introduce my reading programmes to my Senior Infants, I focused on sight words and oral language for September and October. I use a variety of reading schemes in my class from Rigby Stars and Sails to Songbirds from Julia Donaldson. I have two reading records, one is a reading record for parents to complete each night and the other is specific to the scheme the child is reading. It records the titles the child has read for a specific set of books. I assign the sets of books based on their sight word progress and my own observations in class. Senior Infants also continue to work on sight words, using both flashcards and prompt cards help to develop their fluency. Prompt cards are now available on my Mash.ie store.

In Maths, I continue with the story of number with Senior Infants. I spend three days on number activities and 2 days on topics per week as suggested by the Ready Set Go programme. For Junior Infants they will begin conservation of number and other number activities along with topic work. Topic work is ideal to link in with the Aistear topic also. I have a previous post on Maths Games that can be used with my Ready Set Go printable pack on my Mash.ie site.

I hope everyone is enjoying the midterm break! If you have any questions about this post or any posts on my blog please send me an email.

 

A.M.

Themes for Teaching Practice

I have been contacted by some of my followers regarding themes for teaching practices.

Many of the themes I have outlined for the Aistear topics would be suitable for a teaching practice theme. Here are some themes that could also be explored.

Over arching theme: People who help us

Aistear topic: The Doctor

Aistear Topic: The Optician

Discrete lessons could include parts of the body in Science, Mé féin in Irish, labelling in English, SPHE taking care of my body, people who help us in Geography.

Over arching theme: Living in the Local Community

Topic: The postman/The Post Office

Topic: The library

Topic: Clothes Shop

Discrete lessons could include people who help us in SESE, shapes in Maths (parcels and letters) lots of opportunity for free writing in English, map work and journeys in History and Geography.

There are lots more examples and ideas for discrete lessons on the above topics in my aistear 15 topic plan on Mash.ie

November Planning

I hope everyone is enjoying the break!

My new blog post is about activities for November. A suggested theme within my plan was the Library. I base my Aistear areas and some discrete lessons on the Library Lion story. In my school we also have a book fair during the month of November so this theme works well for that also.

Aistear: my socio-dramatic area is the library, I have a cash register with a barcode scanner attached and the children use this for scanning the barcode at the back, and the barcode for the library card also. This will take some role play and discrete lessons before hand to discuss language specific to the topic.

Small World: In small world, the children can retell the story of the Library Lion using small world people and animals.

Art: The children can paint characters from the story, or another story they like.

Construction: The children can build the library.

Other discrete lessons can include a focus on inferring for comprehension strategies. Focusing on the lions feelings throughout the story will help the children to understand the strategy of inferring.

The story also helps children identify with behaviour when visiting the Library. You can also focus on taking care of books and showing respect for other peoples property.

A suggested plan for discrete lessons that link with the Library Lion topic is now available in my store on Mash.ie.